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Dr. Maxwell's Collectanea. Johnson's Politics, and
general Mode of Life. — Opulent Tradesmen. • Ion don. Black-letter Books. “ Anatomy of Melan. choly.” Government of Ireland. Love. - Jacob Behmen. Established Clergy. Dr. Priestley. Blank Verse. - French Novels.-- Père Boscovich.Lord Lyttelton's Dialogues. Ossian. - Woodhouse, the Poetical Cobbler. - Boetius. - National Debt. Mallet.- Marriage. Foppery. — Gilbert Cooper.Homer. Gregory Sharpe. Poor of England. Corn Laws.- Dr. Browne.—Mr. Burke.--Economy.
- Fortune-hunters.—Orchards.-Irish Clergy.
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 (1), of Falkland, in Ireland, some time
(1) Dr. William Maxwell was the son of Dr. John Maxwell, Archdeacon of Downe, in Ireland, and cousin of the Honourable Henry Maxwell, Bishop of Dromore in 1765, and of Meath in 1766, from whom he obtained preferment; but having a considerable property of his own, he resigned the living when, as it is said, his residence was insisted on; and he fixed himself in Bath, where he died, so late as 1818, at the age of 87.-C. VOL. III.
assistant preacher at the Temple, and for many years the social friend of Johnson, who spoke of him with a very kind regard.
“My acquaintance with that great and venerable character commenced in the year 1754. I was introduced to him by Mr. Grierson (1), 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 his company without perceiving themselves wiser and better
(1) Son of the learned Mrs. Grierson, who was patronised by the late Lord Granville, and was the editor of several of the classics-B.- Her edition of Tacitus, with the notes of Rychius, in three volumes, 8vo, 1730, was dedicated, in very 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. — M. - Lord Carteret gave her family the lucrative patent office of king's printer in Ireland, still enjoyed by her descendants. She was very beautiful, as well as learned. - C.
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 minutiæ 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. A 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 erown influence (1) over the Houses of Parliament,
(1) On the necessity of crown influence, see Boucher's “ Sermons on the American Revolution,” p. 218.; and Paley's “ Moral Philosophy,” b. vi. ch. vii. p. 491., 4to, there quoted. - BLAKEWAY.
(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 en. trusted 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 visiters, chiefly men of letters ; Hawkesworth, Gold. smith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens, Beauclerk, &c. &c. and sometimes learned ladies ; particularly I remember a French lady (1) 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 every body thought they had a right to visit and consult; and doubtless they were well rewarded. I never could discover how 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 gre 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.
“ 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.
“ 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
(1) No doubt Madame de Bouffiers. See post, sub an. 1775.-C.