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you contracted them, and the spirit with which you endure them. I wish my esteem could be of more use. I have been invited, or have invited myself, to several parts of the kingdom; and will not incommode my dear Lucy by coming to Lichfield, while her present lodging is of any use to her. I hope, in a few days, to be at leisure, and to make visits. Whither I shall fly is matter of no importance. A man unconnected is at home every where; unless he may be said to be at home no where. I am sorry, dear Sir, that where you have parents, a man of your merits should not have a home. I wish I could give it you. I am, my dear Sir, affectionately yours,
He now refreshed himself by an excursion to Oxford, of which the following short characteristical notice, in his own words, is preserved (1):—
is now making tea for me. in my gown ever since I came here. (2) first coming, quite new and handsome.
I have been
It was, at my
I have swum
thrice, which I had disused for many years. I have proposed to Vansittart (3) climbing over the wall, but he has refused me. And I have clapped my hands till they are sore, at Dr. King's speech." (4)
His negro servant, Francis Barber, having left him, and been some time at sea, not pressed as has
(1) Gent. Mag. 1785, p. 288.
(2) Lord Stowell informs me that he prided himself in being, during his visits to Oxford, accurately academic in all points; and he wore his gown almost ostentatiously. — C.
(3) Dr. Robert Vansittart, of the ancient and respectable family of that name in Berkshire. He was eminent for learning and worth, and much esteemed by Dr. Johnson.
(4) [At the installation of John, Earl of Westmoreland, as Chancellor of the University, July 7. 1759.]
been supposed, but with his own consent, it appears from a letter to John Wilkes, Esq. from Dr. Smollett, that his master kindly interested himself in procuring his release from a state of life of which Johnson always expressed the utmost abhorrence. He said, “No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned." [Aug. 31. 1773.] And at another time, "A man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company." [Sep. 23. 1773.] The letter was as follows:
LETTER 72. TO JOHN WILKES, ESQ.
"Chelsea, March 16. 1759.
"DEAR SIR,-I am again your petitioner, in behalf of that great CHAM(1) of literature, Samuel Johnson. His black servant, whose name is Francis Barber, has been pressed on board the Stag frigate, Captain Angel,
(1) In my first edition this word was printed Chum, as it appears in one of Mr. Wilkes's Miscellanies, and I animadverted on Dr. Smollett's ignorance; for which let me propitiate the manes of that ingenious and benevolent gentleman. CHUM was certainly a mistaken reading for CHAM, the title of the sovereign of Tartary, which is well applied to Johnson, the monarch of literature: and was an epithet familiar to Smollett. See "Roderick Random," chap. 56. For this correction I am indebted to Lord Palmerston, whose talents and literary acquirements accord well with his respectable pedigree of Temple. .B.
After the publication of the second edition of this work, the author was furnished by Mr. Abercrombie of Philadelphia, with the copy of a letter written by Dr. John Armstrong, the poet, to Dr. Smollett, at Leghorn, containing the following paragraph: :-"As to the K. Bench patriot, it is hard to say from what motive he published a letter of yours asking some trifling favour of him in behalf of somebody for whom the great CHAM of literature, Mr. Johnson, had interested himself."- M.
and our lexicographer is in great distress. He says the boy is a sickly lad, of a delicate frame, and particularly subject to a malady in his throat, which renders him very unfit for his Majesty's service. You know what matter of animosity the said Johnson has against you ; and I dare say you desire no other opportunity of resenting it, than that of laying him under an obligation. He was humble enough to desire my assistance on this occasion, though he and I were never catercousins; and I gave him to understand that I would make application to my friend Mr. Wilkes, who, perhaps, by his interest with Dr. Hay and Mr. Elliot, might be able to procure the discharge of his lacquey. It would be superfluous to say more on this subject, which I leave to your own consideration; but I cannot let slip this opportunity of declaring that I am, with the most inviolable esteem and attachment, dear Sir, your affectionate, obliged humble servant,
"T. SMOLLETT." (1)
Mr. Wilkes, who upon all occasions has acted, as a private gentleman, with most polite liberality, applied to his friend Sir George Hay, then one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty; and Francis Barber was discharged, as he has told me, without
(1) Dr. Johnson's acquaintance with Mrs. Montagu probably began about this period. We find, in this year, the first of the many applications which he made to the extensive and unwearied charity of that excellent woman:
"MADAY, I am desired by Mrs. Williams to sign receipts with her name for the subscribers which you have been pleased to procure, and to return her humble thanks for your favour, which was conferred with all the grace that elegance can add to beneficence. I am, madam, your most obedient and most humble servant, "SAM. JOHNSON."
It is necessary to request the attention of the reader to the warm terms in which Johnson so frequently expresses his admiration and esteem for Mrs. Montagu, as we shall see that he afterwards took another tone. — - C.
any wish of his own. He found his old master in Chambers in the Inner Temple, and returned to his service.
What particular new scheme of life Johnson had in view this year, I have not discovered; but that he meditated one of some sort, is clear from his private devotions, in which we find [24th March], "the change of outward things which I am now to make;" and, " Grant me the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that the course which I am now beginning may proceed according to thy laws, and end in the enjoyment of thy favour." But he did not, in fact, make any external or visible change. (1)
LETTER 73. TO MISS LUCY PORTER.
"May 10. 1759.
"DEAR MADAM,-I am almost ashamed to tell you that all your letters came safe, and that I have been always very well, but hindered, I hardly know how, from writing. I sent, last week, some of my works, one for you, one for your aunt Hunter, who was with
(1) "The change of life," says Mr. Croker, " was probably the breaking up his establishment in Gough Square, where he had resided for ten years, and retiring to chambers in Staple Inn; while Mrs. Williams went into lodgings." This economical arrangement, as we learn from the following note, communicated by Mrs. Pearson through Dr. Harwood, took place just at this period:
To Mrs. Lucy Porter.
"March 23. 1759.
"DEAR MADAM, -I beg your pardon for having so long omitted to write. One thing or other has put me off. I have this day moved my things, and you are now to direct to me at Staple Inn, London. I hope, my dear, you are well, and Kitty mends. I wish her success in her trade, I am going to publish a little story book [Rasselas], which I will send you when it is out. Write to me, my dearest girl, for I am always glad to hear from you. I am, my dear, your humble servant,
my poor dear mother when she died, one for Mr. How◄ ard, and one for Kitty.
"I beg you my dear, to write often to me, and tell me how you like my little book. I am, dear love, your affectionate humble servant,
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
LETTER 74. TO MRS. MONTAGU. (1)
Gray's Inn, Dec. 17. 1759. "MADAM,-Goodness so conspicuous as yours will be often solicited, and perhaps sometimes solicited by those who have little pretension to your favour. It is now my turn to introduce a petitioner, but such as I have reason to believe you will think worthy of your notice. Mrs. Ogle, who kept the music-room in Soho Square, a woman who struggles with great industry for the support of eight children, hopes by a benefit concert to set herself free from a few debts, which she cannot otherwise discharge. She has, I know not why, so high an opinion of me as to believe that you will pay less regard to her application than to mine. You know, madam, I am sure you know, how hard it is to deny, and therefore would not wonder at my compliance, though I were to suppress a motive which you know not, the vanity of being supposed to be of any importance to Mrs. Montagu. But though I may be willing to see the world deceived for my advantage, I am not deceived myself, for I know that Mrs. Ogle will owe whatever favours she shall receive from the patronage which we humbly entreat on this occasion, much more to your compassion for honesty in distress, than to the request of, Madam, your most obedient and most humble servant,
56 'SAM. JOHNSON."
At this time there being a competition among the architects of London to be employed in the (1) [From the Montagu MSS. communicated to Mr. Croker.]