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This year Mr. William Payne, brother of the respectable bookseller of that name, published “ An Introduction to the Game of Draughts,” to which Johnson contributed a Dedication to the Earl of Rochford, * and a Preface,* both of which are ad
vulgar circumstances of abuse which had circulated amongst the ignorant
C“ Here lies poor Johnson. Reader, have a care,
Tread lightly, lest you rouse a sleeping bear;
Gent. Mag. 1786.] This was an unbecoming indulgence of puny resentment, at a time when he himself was at a very advanced age, and had a near prospect of descending to the grave. I was truly sorry for it; for he was then become an avowed and (as my Lord Bishop of London, who had a serious conversation with him on the subject, assures me) a sincere Christian. He could not expect that Johnson's numerous friends would patiently bear to have the memory of their master stigmatized by no mean pen, but that, at least, one would be found to retort. Accordingly, this unjust and sarcastic epitaph was met in the same public field by an answer, in terms by no means soft, and such as wanton provocation only could justify:
Who, judging only from its wretched self,
And blink'd at JOHNSON with its last poor puff,"_BoSWELL The answer was no doubt by Mr. Boswell himself, and does more credit to his zeal than his poetical talents. — C. —[Soame Jenyns died in 1787.]
mirably adapted to the treatise to which they are prefixed. Johnson, I believe, did not play at draughts after leaving College, by which he suffered; for it would have afforded him an innocent soothing relief from the melancholy which distressed him so often. I have heard him regret that he had not learnt to play at cards; and the game of draughts we know is peculiarly calculated to fix the attention without straining it. There is a composure and gravity in draughts which insensibly tranquillises the mind; and, accordingly, the Dutch are fond of it, as they are of smoking, of the sedative influence of which, though he himself never smoked, he had a high opinion. (1) Besides, there is in draughts some exercise of the faculties; and accordingly, Johnson, wishing to dignify the subject in his Dedication with what is most estimable in it, observes, “ Triflers may
find or make any thing a trifle: but since it is the great characteristic of a wise man to see events in their causes, to obviate consequences, and ascertain contingencies, your lordship will think nothing a trifle by which the mind is inured to caution, fore sight, and circumspection.”
As one of the little occasional advantages which he did not disdain to take by his pen, as a man whose profession was literature, he this year accepted of a guinea from Mr. Robert Dodsley, for writing the Introduction to “The London Chronicle," an evening newspaper; and even in so slight a per
(1) See post, August, 19. 1773. I have heard Johnson say, that insanity had grown more frequent since smoking had gone out of fashion, -HAWKINS.
formance exhibited peculiar talents. This Chronicle still subsists (1), and from what I observed, when I was abroad, has a more extensive circulation upon the continent than any of the English newspapers. It was constantly read by Johnson himself; and it is but just to observe, that it has all along been distinguished for good sense, accuracy, moderation, and delicacy.
Another instance of the same nature has been communicated (?) to me by the Reverend Dr. Thomas Campbell, who has done himself considerable credit by his own writings. Sitting with Dr. Johnson one morning alone, he asked me if I had known Dr. Madden, who was author of the premiumscheme (3) in Ireland. On my answering in the affirmative, and also that I had for some years lived in his neighbourhood, &c., he begged of me that
(1) [The London Chronicle, or Universal Evening Post, was published three times a week. The first number, containing Johnson's Introduction, appeared Jan. 1. 1757. Mr. Bosweli often wrote in this journal.]
(2) See post, April 6. 1775. (3) In the College of Dublin, four quarterly examinations of the students are held in each year, in various prescribed branches of literature and science; and premiums, consisting of books impressed with the College Arms, are adjudged by examiners (composed generally of the Junior Fellows), to those who have most distinguished themselves in the several classes, after a very rigid trial, which lasts two days. This regulation, which has subsisted about seventy years, has been attended with the most beneficial effects. Dr. Samuel Madden was the first proposer of premiums in that University. They were instituted about the year 1734. He was also one of the founders of the Dublin Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Agriculture. In addition to the premiums which were and are stihi annually given by that society for this purpose, Dr. Madden gave others from his own fund. Hence he was usually called “ Premium Madden,” - M.
when I returned to Ireland, I would endeavour to procure for him a poem of Dr. Madden's called “ Boulter's Monument.” (1) The reason (said he) why I wish for it, is this: when Dr. Madden came to London, he submitted that work to my castigation; and I remember I blotted a great many lines, and might have blotted many more without making the poem worse. (2) However, the Doctor was very thankful, and very generous, for he gave me ten guineas, which was to me at that time a great sum.” (3)
He this year resumed his scheme of giving an edition of Shakspeare with notes. He issued Pro
(1) Dr. Hugh Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of Ireland. He died Sept. 27. 1742, at which time he was, for the thirteenth time, one of the Lords Justices of that kingdom. Johnson speaks of him in high terms of commendation, in his Life of Ambrose Philips. - -J. Boswell, Jun. (2) Dr. Madden wrote very bad verses.
See those prefixed to Leland's Life of Philip of Macedon, 4to. 1758. — KEARNEY,
(3) Such casual emoluments as these, Johnson frequently derived from his profession of an author. For the dedication to his present Majesty, of Adams's book on the use of the globes, he was, as himself informed me, gratified with a present of a very curious meteorological instrument, of a new and ingenious construction. About this time, as it is supposed, for sundry beneficed clergymen that requested him, he composed pulpit disa courses, and for these, he made no scruple of confessing, he was paid : his price, I am informed, was a moderate one,-a guinea; and such was his notion of justice, that having been paid, he considered them so absolutely the property of the purchaser, as to renounce all claim to them. He reckoned that he had written about forty sermons; but, except as to some, knew not in what hands they were;
“ I have,” said he, “ been paid for them, and have no right to inquire about them.” — HAWKINS.
This practice is of very doubtful propriety. In the case of an elective chapel, it might, as the Bishop of Ferns observes to me, amount to an absolute fraud, as a person might be chosen for the merits of a sermon not written by himself. - C,
posals of considerable length(1), in which he shewed that he perfectly well knew what a variety of research such an undertaking required; but his indolence prevented him from pursuing it with that diligence which alone can collect those scattered facts, that genius, however acute, penetrating, and luminous, cannot discover by its own force. It is remarkable, that at this time his fancied activity was for the moment so vigorous, that he promised his work should be published before Christmas, 1757. Yet nine years elapsed before it saw the light. His throes in bringing it forth had been severe and remittent; and at last we may almost conclude that the Cæsarian operation was performed by the knife of Churchill, whose upbraiding satire, I dare say, made Johnson's friends urge him to dispatch.
66 He for subscribers baits his hook,
And takes your cash ; but where's the book ?
Forbids the cheating of our friends? About this period he was offered a living of considerable value in Lincolnshire, if he were inclined to enter into holy orders. It was a rectory in the gift of Mr. Langton, the father of his much valued friend. But he did not accept of it; partly I believe from a conscientious motive, being persuaded that his temper and habits rendered him unfit for that assiduous and familiar instruction of
(1) They have been reprinted by Mr.Malone, in the Preface to his edition of Shakspeare,