페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

of the nation ; and that more enjoyment of your elegance, your intelligence, and your benevolence is still reserved for, dear Sir, your most affectionate, &c.

“Sam. Johnson."

The Reverend Mr. Wilson having dedicated to him his “ Archæological Dictionary,” that mark of respect was thus acknowledged :

[ocr errors]

LETTER 428.

TO THE REV. MR. WILSON,
Clitheroe, Lancashire.

“Dec. 31, 1782. REVEREND SIR, — That I have long omitted to return you thanks for the honour conferred upon me by your dedication, I entreat you with great earnestness not to consider as more faulty than it is. A very importunate and oppressive disorder has for some time debarred me from pleasures and obstructed me in the duties of life. The esteem and kindness of wise and good men is one of the last pleasures which I can be content to lose ; and gratitude to those from whom this pleasure is received is a duty of which I hope never to be reproached with the final neglect. I therefore now return you thanks for the notice which I received from you, and which I consider as giving to my name not only more bulk, but more weight; not only as extending its superficies, but as increasing its value. Your book was evidently wanted, and will, I hope, find its way into the school; to which, however, I do not mean to confine it; for no man has so much skill in ancient rites and practices as not to want it. As I suppose myself to owe part of your kindness to my excellent friend, Dr. Patten,' he has likewise a just claim to my acknowledgment, which I hope

1 A letter from Dr. Patten, and Dr. Johnson's answer, have appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine. The latter is subjoined :

LETTER 429.
TO THE REV. DR. PATTEN.

“Sept. 24, 1781. “ DEAR SIR, -It is so long since we passed any time together, that you may be allowed to have forgotten some part of my character; and I know not upon what other supposition I can pass without censure or complaint the ceremony of your address. Let me not trifle time in words, to which while we speak or write them we assign little meaning. Whenever you favour me with a letter, treat me as one that is glad of your kindness and proud of your esteem.

“ The papers which have been sent for my perusal I am ready to inspect, if you judge my inspection necessary or useful : but, indeed, I do not; for what advantage can arise from it! A dictionary consists of independent parts, and therefore one page is not much a specimen of the rest. It does not occur to me that I can give any assistance to the author, and for my own interest I resign it into your hands, and do not suppose that I shall ever see my name with regret where you shall think it proper to be put.

“I think it, however, my duty to inform a writer who intends me so great an honour, that in my opinion he would have consulted his interest by dedicating his work to some powerful and popular neighbour, who can give him more than a name. What will the world do but look on and laugh when one scholar dedicates to another ?

“If I had been consulted about this Lexicon of Antiquities while it was yet only a design,

you, Sir, will transmit. There will soon appear a new edition of my Poetical Biography: if you will accept a copy to keep me in your mind, be pleased to let me know how it may be conveniently conveyed to you. This present is small, but it is given with good will by, reverend Sir, your most, &c.

“ SAM JOHNSON."

I should have recommended rather a division of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman particulars into three volumes, than a combination in one. The Hebrew part, at least, I would have wished to separate, as it might be a very popular book, of which the use might be extended from men of learning down to the English reader, and which might become a concomitant to the Family Bible.

" When works of a multifarious and extensive kind are undertaken in the country, the necessary books are not always known. I remember a very learned and ingenious clergyman, of whom, when he had published notes upon the Psalms, I inquired what was his opinion of Hammond's Commentary, and was answered, that he had never heard of it. As this gentleman has the opportunity of consulting you, it needs not be supposed that he has not heard of all the proper books; but unless he is near some library, I know not how he could peruse them; and if he is conscious that his supelles is nimis angusta, it would be prudent to delay his publication till his deficiencies may be supplied.

“ It seems not very candid to hint any suspicions of imperfections in a work which I have not seen, yet what I have said ought to be excused, since I cannot but wish well to a learned man, who has elected me for the honour of a dedication, and to whom I am indebted for a correspondence so valuable as yours. And I beg that I may not lose any part of his kindness, which I consider with respectful gratitude. Of you, dear Sir, I entreat that you will never again forget for so long a time your most humble servant, SAMUEL JOHNSON."*

* Dr. Thomas Patten had been a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, A.M. 1786, D.D. 1764, He was afterwards Rector of Childry, Berks, where he died in 1790.-O.

CHAPTER XI.

1783.

Country Gentleman-House of Hanover-Conversation-Lies of Vanity-Opium-Exaggera

tion-Neglect of Merit-Use of Riches-Crabbe's “Village"-Keeping Accounts—Lords Mansfield, Loughborough, and Thurlow–Harrington's Nugæ Antiquæ—“Quos Deus vult perdere,” &c—Prince of Wales—Burney's Travels—Chinese Architecture-InnovationTyburn-Dr. Hurd-Parentheses—“Derrick or Smart"_“The great Twalmley”-Owen Cambridge-Family Histories—"Turkish Spy"-Orchards-Oratory-Origin of LanguageMadness Rev. James Compton.

In 1783 he was more severely afflicted than ever, as will appear in the course of his correspondence ; but still the same ardour for literature, the same constant piety, the same kindness for his friends, and the same vivacity, both iu conversation and writing, distinguished hím.

Having given Dr. Johnson a full account of what I was doing at Auchinleck, and particularly mentioned what I knew would please him,—my having brought an old man of eighty-eight from a lonely cottage to a comfortable habitation within my inclosures, where he had good neighbours near to him,-I received an answer in February, of which I extract what follows:

“I am delighted with your account of your activity at Auchinleck, and wish the old gentleman, whom you have so kindly removed, may live long to promote your prosperity by his prayers. You have now a new character and new duties : think on them and practise them.

“Make an impartial estimate of your revenue; and whatever it is, live upon less. Resolve never to be poor. Frugality is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help himself. We must have enough before we have to spare.

“I am glad to find that Mrs. Boswell grows well; and hope that, to keep her well, no care nor caution will be omitted. May you long live happily together. When you come hither, pray bring with you Baxter's Anacreon. I cannot get that edition in London.”

On Friday, March 21, having arrived in London the night before,

I was glad to find him at Mrs. Thrale's house, in Argyll Street, appearances of friendship between them being still kept up. I was shown into his room; and after the first salutation he said, “I am glad you are come ; I am very ill.” He looked pale, and was distressed with a difficulty of breathing ; but after the common inquiries, he assumed his usual strong animated style of conversation. Seeing me now for the first time as a laird, or proprietor of land, he began thus : “Sir, the superiority of a country gentleman over the people upon his estate is very agreeable ; and he who says he does not feel it to be agreeable, lies ; for it must be agreeable to have a casual superiority over those who are by nature equal with us.” BOSWELL. “Yet, Sir, we see great proprietors of land who prefer living in London.". JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, the pleasure of living in London, the intellectual superiority that is enjoyed there, may counterbalance the other. Besides, Sir, a man may prefer the state of the country gentleman upon the whole, and yet there may never be a moment when he is willing to make the change, to quit London for it.” He said, “It is better to have five per cent. out of land than out of money, because it is more secure ; but the readiness of transfer and promptness of interest make many people rather choose the funds. Nay, there is another disadvantage belonging to land, compared with money : a man is not so much afraid of being a hard creditor, as of being a hard landlord.” BOSWELL. “Because there is a sort of kindly connection between a landlord and his tenants.Johnson. " No, Sir ; many landlords with us never see their tenants. It is because, if a landlord drives away his tenants, he

may not get others; whereas the demand for money is so great, it may always be lent.”

He talked with regret and indignation of the factious opposition to government at this time, and imputed it in a great measure to the revolution. 'Sir," said he, in a low voice, having come nearer to me, while his old prejudices seemed to be fermenting in his mind, “this Hanoverian family is isolée here. They have no friends. Now the Stuarts had friends who stuck by them so late as 1745. When the right of the king is not reverenced, there will not be reverence for those appointed by the king.”

His observation that the present royal family has no friends bas

been too much justified by the very ungrateful behaviour of many who were under great obligations to his majesty : at the same time. there are honourable exceptions ; and the very next year after this conversation, and ever since, the king has had as extensive and generous support as ever was given to any monarch, and has had the satisfaction of knowing that he was more and more endeared to his people.

He repeated to me his verses on Mr. Levett, with an emotion which gave them full effect ; and then he was pleased to say, "You must be as much with me as you can. You have done me good. You cannot think how much better I am since you came in.”

He sent a message to acquaint Mrs. Thrale that I was arrived. I had not seen her since her husband's death. She soon appeared, and favoured me with an invitation to stay to dinner, which I accepted. There was no other company but herself and three of her daughters, Dr. Johnson, and I. She too said she was very glad I was come ; for she was going to Bath, and should have been sorry to leave Dr. Johnson before I came. This seemed to be attentive and kind ; and I, who had not been informed of any change, imagined all to be as well as formerly. He was little inclined to talk at dinner, and went to sleep after it : but when he joined us in the drawing-room he seemed revived, and was again himself.

Talking of conversation, he said, “There must, in the first place, be knowledge—there must be materials ; in the second place, there must be a command of words ; in the third place, there must be imagination, to place things in such views as they are not commonly seen in ; and, in the fourth place, there must be presence of mind, and a resolution that is not to be overcome by failures ; this last is an essential requisite ; for want of it many people do not excel in conversation. Now I want it ; I throw up the game upon losing a trick." I wondered to hear him talk thus of himself, and said, “I don't know, Sir, how this may be ; but I am sure you beat other people's cards out of their hands.” I doubt whether he heard this remark. While he went on talking triumphantly, I was fixed in admiration, and said to Mrs. Thrale, “O for short-hand to take this down !"_“You'll carry it all in your head," said she:

a long head is as good as short-hand.

« 이전계속 »