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inclined to interest yourself much in public transactions, it is no misfortune to you to be distant from them,
“That literature is not totally forsaking us, and that your favourite language is not neglected, will appear from the book,2 which I should have pleased myself more with sending, if I could have presented it bound; but time was wanting. I beg, however, Sir, that you will accept it from a man very desirous of your regard; and that if you think me able to gratify you by anything more important you will employ me.
“I am now going to take leave, perhaps a very long leave, of my dear Mr. Chambers. That he is going to live where you govern, may justly alleviate the regret of parting ; and the hope of seeing both him and you again, which I am not willing to mingle with doubt, must at present comfort as it can, Sir,
“Your most humble servant,
6 SAM. JOHNSON.”
TO THE SAME.
London, Dec. 20, 1774. “Being informed that, by the departure of a ship, there is now an opportunity of writing to Bengal, I am unwilling to slip out of your memory by my own negligence, and therefore take the liberty of reminding you of my existence, by sending you a book which is not yet made public.
“I have lately visited a region less remote and less illustrious than India, which afforded some occasions for speculation ; what has occurred to me I have put into the volume, 2 of which I beg your acceptance.
Men in your station seldom have presents totally disinterested ; my book is received - let me now make my request.
“There is, Sir, somewhere within your government a young adventurer, one Chauncey rence, whose father is one of my oldest friends. Be pleased to show the young man what countenance is fit, whether he wants to be restrained by your authority, or encouraged by your favour. His father is now President of the College of Physicians, a man venerable for his knowledge, and more venerable for his virtue.
“I wish you a prosperous government, a safe return, and a long enjoyment of plenty and tranquillity. “I am, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
- SAM. JOHNSON.”
TO THE SAME.
Jan. 9, 1781. “Amidst the importance and multiplicity of affairs in which your great office engages you, I take the liberty of recalling your attention for a moment to literature, and will not prolong the interruption by an apology which your character makes needless.
1 Jones's “ Persian Grammar."_Boswell.
"Mr. Hoole, a gentleman long known and long esteemed in the India House, after having translated · Tasso,' has undertaken · Ariosto.' How well he is
qualified for his undertaking he has already shown. He is desirous, Sii, of your favour in promoting his proposals, and flatters me by supposing that my testinony may advance his interest.
“It is a new thing for a clerk of the India House to translate poets; it is new for a Governor of Bengal to patronise learning. That he may find his ingenuity rewarded, and that learning may flourish under your protection, is the wish of, Sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
I wrote to him in February, complaining of having been troubled by & recurrence of the perplexing question of Liberty and Necessity; and mentioning that I hoped soon to meet him again in London.
March 14, 1781 “I hoped you had got rid of all this hypocrisy of misery. What have you to do with Liberty and Necessity ? Or what more than to hold your tongue about it? Do not doubt but I shall be most heartily glad to see you here again, for I love every part about you but your affectation of distress.
“I have at last finished my Lives, and have laid up for you a load of copy, all out of order, so that it will amuse you a long time to set it right. Come to me, my dear Bozzy, and let us be as happy as we can. We will go again to the Mitre, and talk old times over. I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately,
On Monday, March 19, I arrived in London, and on Tuesday, the 20th, met him in Fleet-street, walking, or rather indeed moving along ; for his peculiar march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner, in a short Life of him published very soon after his death: “When he walked the streets, wnat with the constant roll of his head, and the concomitant motion of his body, he appeared to make his way by that motion, independent of his feet.” That he was often much stared at while he advanced in this manner, may easily be believed ; but it was not safe to make sport of one so robust as he was. Mr. Langton saw him one day, in a fit of absence, by a sudden start, drive the load off a porter's back, and walk forward briskly, without being conscious of what he had done. The porter was very angry, but stood still, and eyed the huge figure with much earnestness, till he was satisfied that his wisest course was to be quiet, and take up his burden again.
Our accidental meeting in the street, after a long separation, was a pleasing surprise to us both. He stepped aside with me into Falconcourt, and made kind inquiries about my family, and as we were in a hurry going different ways, I promised to call on him next day ; he said he was engaged to go out in the morning. "Early, Sir?” said I. JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, a London morning does not go with the sun.”
I waited on him next evening, and he gave me great portion of his original manuscript of his “Lives of the Poets," which he had preserved
I found on visiting his friend, Mr. Thrale, that he was now very ill, and had removed, I suppose by the solicitation of Mrs. Thrale, to a house in Grosvenor-square. I was sorry to see him sadly changed in his appearance.
He told me I might now have the pleasure to see Dr. Johnson drink wine again, for he had lately returned to it. When I mentioned this to Johnson, he said, “I drink it now sometimes, but not socially." The first evening that I was with him at Thrale's, I observed he poured a large quantity of it into a glass, and swallowed it greedily. Every thing about his character and manners was forcible and violent; there never was any moderation; many a day did he fast, many a year did he refrain from wine ; but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance.
Published by Kearsley, with this well-chosen motto of Shakspeare's :
From his cradle
Mrs. Thrale and I had a dispute, whether Shakspeare or Milton had drawn the most admirable picture of a man." I was for Shakspeare ; Mrs. Thrale for Milton ; and after a fair hearing, Johnson decided for my opinion.
I told him of one of Mr. Burke's playful sallies upon Dean Marlay :: I don't like the Deanery of Ferns, it sounds so like a barren title.”“ Dr. Heath should have it,” said I. Johnson laughed, and condescending to trifle in the same mode of conceit, suggested Dr. Moss.
He said, “ Mrs. Montagu has dropped me. Now, Sir, there are people whom one should like very well to drop, but would not wish to be dropped by.” He certainly was vain of the society of ladies, and could make himself very agreeable to them, when he chose it ; Sir Joshua Reynolds agreed with me that he could. Mr. Gibbon, with his usual sneer, controverted it, perhaps in resentment of Johnson's having talked with some disgust of his ugliness, which one would think a philosopher would not mind. Dean Marlay wittily observed, “A lady may be vain, when she can turn a wolf-dog into a lap dog.'
The election for Ayrshire, my own county, was this spring tried upon a petition, before a committee of the House of Commons. I was one of the counsel for the sitting member, and took the liberty of previously stating different points to Johnson, who never failed to see them clearly, and to supply me with some good hints. He dictated to me the following note upon the registration of deeds :
“ All laws are made for the convenience of the community; what is legally done should be legally recorded, that the state of things may be known, and that wherever evidence is requisite, evidence may be had. For this reason, the obligation to frame and establish a legal register is enforced by a legal penalty, which penalty is the want of that perfection and plenitude of right Shakspeare makes Hamlet thus describe his father :
“See what a grace was seated on this brow,
Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
To give the world assurance of a man.'
“ His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Clust'ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad."-BOSWELL. 2 It is strange that the picture drawn by the unlearned Shakspeare should be full of classical images, and that by the learned Milton void of them. Milton's description appears to me more picturesque.-Kearney.
3 Dr. Richard Marlay, afterwards Lord Bishop of Waterford, a very amiable, benevolent, and ingenious man. He was chosen a member of the Literary Club in 1777, and died in Dublin, July 2, 1802, in his 75th year.-MALONE,
which a register would give. Thence it follows that this is not an objection merely legal, for the reason on which the law stands being equitable, makes it an equitable objection.
“This,” said he, “you must enlarge on, when speaking to the committee. You must not argue there, as if you were arguing in the schools; close reasoning will not fix their attention-you must say the same thing over and over again, in different words. If you say it but once, they miss it in a moment of inattention. It is unjust, Sir, to censure lawyers for multiplying words when they argue; it is often necessary for them to multiply words.”
His notion of the duty of a Member of Parliament sitting upon an election-committee was very high ; and when he was told of a gentleman upon one of those committees, who read the newspapers part of the time, and slept the rest, while the merits of a vote were examined by the counsel ; and, as an excuse, when challenged by the chairman for such behaviour, bluntly answered, “I had made up my mind
that case;”—Johnson, with an indignant contempt, said, “If he was such a rogue as to make up his mind upon a case without hearing it, he should not have been such a fool as to tell it.” “I think,” said Mr. Dudley Long, now North, “the Doctor has pretty plainly made him out to be both rogue and fool.”
Johnson's profound reverence for the Hierarchy made him expect from bishops the highest degree of decorum ; he was offended even at their going to taverns : “A bishop,” said he, “has nothing to do at a tippling-house. It is not indeed immoral in him to go to a tavern ; neither would it be immoral in him to whip a top in Grosvenor-square ; but, if he did, I hope the boys would fall upon him, and apply the whip to him. There are gradations in conduct ; there is morality—decency -propriety. None of these should be violated by a bishop. A bishop should not go to a house where he may meet a young fellow leading out a wench.” BOSWELL: “But, Sir, every tavern does not admit women. JOHNSON : “Depend upon it, Sir, any tavern will admit a well-dressed man and a well-dressed woman ; they will not perhaps admit a woman whom they see every night walking by their door, in the street. But a well-dressed man may lead in a well-dressed woman to any tavern in Londoni. Taverns sell meat and drink, and will sell them to any body who can eat and can drink. You may as well say, that a mercer will not sell silks to a woman of the town.”
He also disapproved of bishops going to routs, at least of their staying at them longer than their presence commanded respect. He mentioned a particular bishop. “Poh!" said Mrs. Thrale, “the Bishop of
is never minded at a rout." BOSWELL : “When a bishop places himself in a situation where he has no distinct character, and is of no consequence, he degrades the dignity of his order.” JOHNSON : Boswell, Madam, has said it as correctly as it could be.”
Nor was it only in the dignitaries of the Church that Johnson