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Of this year I have obtained the following letters :
TO THE REVEREND DR. FARMER, CAMBRIDGE. “SIR,
Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, March 21, 1770. "As no man ought to keep wholly to himself any possession that may be useful to the public, I hope you will not think me unreasonably intrusive, if I have recourse to you for such information as you are more able to give me than any other man.
“In support of an opinion which you have already placed above the need of any more support, Mr. Steevens, a very ingenious gentleman, lately of King's College, has collected an account of all the translations which Shakspeare might have seen and used. He wishes his catalogue to be perfect; and, therefore, entreats that you will favour him by the insertion of such additions as the accuracy of your inquiries has enabled you to make. To this request I take the liberty of adding my own solicitation.
“We have no immediate use for this catalogue; and, therefore, do not desire that it should interrupt or hinder your more important employments. But it will be kind to let us know that you receive it. I am, Sir, &c.,
“ TO THE REVEREND MR. THOMAS WARTON. “Dear SIR,
London, June 23, 1770. “The readiness with which you were pleased to promise me some notes on Shakspeare, was a new instance of your friendship. I shall not hurry you; but am desired by Mr. Steevens, who helps me in this edition, to let you know that we shall print the tragedies first, and shall, therefore, want first the notes which belong to them. We think not to incommode the readers with a supplement; and, therefore, what we cannot put into its proper place will do us no good. We shall not begin to print before the end of six weeks, perhaps not so soon.
I am, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." " TO THE REV. DR. JOSEPH WARTON. “Dear SIR,
Sept. 27, 1770. “I am revising my edition of Shakspeare, and remember that I formerly misrepresented your opinion of Lear. Be pleased to write the paragraph as you would have it, and send it. If you have any remarks of your own upon that or any other play, I shall gladly receive them.
“ Make my compliments to Mrs. Warton. I sometimes think of wandering for a few days to Winchester, but am apt to delay. I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
“Sam. Johnson." “TO MR. FRANCIS BARBER, AT MRS. CLAPP'S, BISHOP-STORTFORD,
HERTFORDSHIRE. “DEAR FRANCIS,
London, Sept. 25, 1770. “I am at last sat down to write to you, and should very much blame myself for having neglected you so long, if I did not impute that and many other failings to want of health. I hope not to be so long silent again. I am very well satisfied with your progress, if you can really perform the exercises which you are set; and I hope Mr. Ellis does not suffer you to impose on him or on yourself.
“Make my compliments to Mr. Ellis, and to Mrs. Clapp, and Mr. Smith.
“Let me know what English books you read for your entertainment. You can never be wise unless you love reading.
“Do not imagine that I shall forget or forsake you; for if, when I examine you, I find that you have not lost your time, you shall want no encouragement from
“SAM. JOHNSON." TO THE SAME. “ DEAR FRANCIS,
December 7, 1770. "I hope you mind your business. I design you shall stay with Mrs. Clapp these holidays. If you are invited out you may go, if Mr. Ellis gives leave. I have ordered you some clothes, which you will receive, I believe, next week. My compliments to Mrs. Clapp, and to Mr. Ellis, and Mr. Smith, &c. I am, your affectionate,
SAM. JOHNSON." During this year there was a total cessation of all correspondence between Dr. Johnson and me, without any coldness on either side, but merely from procrastination, continued from day to day; and as I was not in London, I had no opportunity of enjoying his company and recording his conversation. To supply this blank, I shall present my readers with some Collectanea, obligingly furnished to me by the Rev. Dr. Maxwell, of Falkland, in Ireland, some time assistant preacher at the Temple, and for many years the social friend of Johnson, who spoke of him with a very kind regard.
“ COLLECTANEA. “My acquaintance with that great and venerable character commenced in the year 1754. I was introduced to him by Mr. Grierson, his Majesty's. printer, at Dublin,—a gentleman of uncommon learning, and great wit and vivacity. Mr. Grierson died in Germany, at the age of twenty-seven. Dr. Johnson highly respected his abilities, and often observed, that he possessed more extensive knowledge than any man of his years he had ever known. His industry was equal to his talents; and he particularly excelled in every species of philological learning, and was, perhaps, the best critic of the age he lived in.
“I must always remember with gratitude my obligation to Mr. Grierson, for the honour and happiness of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance and friendship, which continued uninterrupted and undiminished to his death: a connection, that was at once the pride and happiness of my life.
“ What pity it is, that so much wit and good sense as he continually exhibited in conversation, should perish unrecorded ! Few persons quitted
} Son of the learned Mrs. Grierson, who was patronised by the late Lord Granville, and was the editor of several of the classics.-BOSWELL.
Her edition of Tacitus, with the notes of Rychius, in three volumes 8vo, 1730, was dedicated, in every elegant Latin, to John, Lord Carteret (afterwards Earl Granville), by whom she was patronised during his residence in Ireland as Lord Lieutenant between 1724 and 1730.-MALONE.
his company without perceiving themselves wiser and better than they were before. On serious subjects he flashed the most interesting conviction upon his auditors : and upon lighter topics, you might have supposed-Albano musas de monte locutas.
“ Though I can hope to add but little to the celebrity of so exalted a character, by any communications I can furnish, yet out of pure respect to his memory, I will venture to transmit to you some anecdotes concerning him, which fell under my own observation. The very minutice of such a character must be interesting, and may be compared to the filings of diamonds.
“In politics he was deemed a Tory, but certainly was not so in the obnoxious or party sense of the term; for while he asserted the legal and salutary prerogatives of the crown, he no less respected the constitutional liberties of the people. Whiggism, at the time of the Revolution, he said, was accompanied with certain principles ; but latterly, as a mere party distinction under Walpole and the Pelhams, was no better than the politics of stock. jobbers, and the religion of infidels.
“He detested the idea of governing by parliamentary corruption, and asserted most strenuously, that a prince steadily and conspicuously pursuing the interests of his people, could not fail of parliamentary concurrence. А prince of ability, he contended, might and should be the directing soul and spirit of his own administration; in short, his own minister, and not the mere head of a party; and then, and not till then, would the royal dignity be sincerely respected.
“Johnson seemed to think that a certain degree of crown influence over the Houses of Parliament (not meaning a corrupt and shameful dependence), was very salutary, nay, even necessary, in our mixed government. For,' said he, 'if the members were under no crown influence, and disqualified from receiving any gratification from court, and resembled, as they possibly might, Pym and Haslerig, and other stubborn and sturdy members of the Long Parliament, the wheels of government would be totally obstructed. Such men would oppose, merely to show their power, from envy, jealousy, and perversity of disposition; and not gaining themselves, would hate and oppose all who did ; not loving the person of the prince, and conceiving they owed him little gratitude, from the mere spirit of insolence and contradiction, they would oppose and thwart him upon all occasions.'
“ The inseparable imperfection annexed to all human governments, consisted, he said, in not being able to create a sufficient fund of virtue and principle to carry the laws into due and effectual execution. Wisdom might plan, but virtue alone could execute. And where could sufficient virtue be found? A variety of delegated, and often discretionary, powers must be entrusted somewhere: which, if not governed by integrity and conscience, would necessarily be abused, till at last the constable would sell his for a shilling
“This excellent person was sometimes charged with abetting slavish and arbitrary principles of government. Nothing in my opinion could be a grosser calumny and misrepresentation; for how can it be rationally supposed that he should adopt such pernicious and absurd opinions, who supported his philosophical character with so much dignity, was extremely jealous of his personal liberty and independence, and could not brook the smallest appearance of neglect or insult, even from the highest personages ?
“But let us view him in some instances of more familiar life.
“His general mode of life, during my acquaintance, seemed to be pretty uniform. About twelve o'clock I commonly visited him, and frequently found him in bed, or declaiming over his tea, which he drank very plentifully. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men of letters; Hawkesworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens, Beauclerk, &c. &c., and sometimes learned ladies ; particularly I remember a French lady of wit and fashion doing him the honour of a visit. He seemed to me to be considered as a kind of public oracle, whom everybody thought they had a right to visit and consult; and, doubtless, they were well rewarded. I never could discover how “He frequently gave all the silver in his pocket to the poor, who watched him, between his house and the tavern where he dined. He walked the streets at all hours, and said he was never robbed, for the rogues knew he had little money, nor had the appearance of having much.
he found time for his compositions. He declaimed all the morning, then went to dinner at a tavern, where he commonly stayed late, and then drank his tea at some friend's house, over which he loitered a great while, but seldom took supper. I fancy he must have read and wrote chiefly in the night, for I can scarcely recollect that he ever refused going with me to a tavern, and he often went to Ranelagh, which he deemed a place of innocent recreation.
1 On the necessity of crown influence; see Boucher's “Sermons on the American Revolution," p. 218; and Paley's “Moral Philosophy," b. vi, c. vii., p. 491, 4to, there quoted.BLAKEWAY.
? Ranelagh, a celebrated place of fashionable resort, somewhat similar to Vanxhall-gardens, was situate between Pimlico and Chelsea. It was so named from its occupying the site of Viscount Ranelagh's villa. At the present day not a vestige remains of it, although its memory is preserved by naming after it the streets, roads, and places which have been built upon its grounds.-ED.
“Though the most accessible and communicative man alive, yet when he suspected he was invited to be exhibited, he constantly spurned the invitation.
* Two young women from Staffordshire visited him when I was present, to consult him on the subject of Methodism, to which they were inclined. Come,' said he, ‘you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will talk over that subject;' which they did, and after dinner he took one of them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an hour together.
“Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenham, he asked what sort of society I had there. I told him but indifferent; as they chiefly con. sisted of opulent traders, retired from business. He said he never much liked' that class of people; ‘For, Sir,' said he, “they have lost the civility of tradesmen, without acquiring the manners of gentlemen.'
“Johnson was much attached to London ;1 he observed, that a man stored his mind better there than anywhere else; and that in remote situations a man's body might be feasted, but his mind was starved, and his faculties apt to degenerate, from want of exercise and competition. No place, he said, cured a man's vanity or arrogance so well as London; for as no man was either great or good per se, but as compared with others not so good or great, he was sure to find in the metropolis many his equals, and some his superiors. He observed that a man in London was in less danger of falling in love indiscreetly than anywhere else ; for there the difficulty of deciding between the conflicting pretensions of a vast variety of objects, kept him safe. He told me that he had frequently been offered country preferment, if he would consent to take orders; but he could not leave the improved society of the capital, or consent to exchange the exhilarating joys and splendid decorations of public life, for the obscurity, insipidity, and uniformity of remote situations.
“Speaking of Mr. Harte, Canon of Windsor, and writer of "The History of Gustavus Adolphus,' he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of the most companionable talents he had ever known. He said the defects in his history proceeded not from imbecility, but from foppery.
“ He loved, he said, the old black-letter books; they were rich in matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully so, considering how conversant the writers were with the best models of antiquity.
“Burton's · Anatomy of Melancholy,' he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.
"He frequently exhorted me to set about writing a History of Ireland, and archly remarked, there had been some good Irish writers, and that one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great compassion for the miseries and distresses of the Irish nation, particularly the
1 Montaigne had the same affection for Paris which Johnson had for London. “Je l'aime tendrement,” says he in his Essay on Vanity, "jusqu'à ses verrues et à ses taches. Je ne suis François que par cette grande cité, grande en peuples, grande en félicité de son assiette, mais sur tout grande et incomparable en variété et diversité des commoditez: la gloire de la France, et l'un des plus nobles ornemens du monde.” Vol. iii., p. 321 edit Amsterdam, 1781.-BLAKEWAY.