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Johnson's letter to Burney.
Voltaire was an antagonist with whom I thought Johnson should not disdain to contend. I pressed him to answer. He said, he perhaps might; but he never did.
Mr. Burney having occasion to write to Johnson for some receipts for subscriptions to his Shakspeare, which Johnson had omitted to deliver when the money was paid', he availed himself of that opportunity of thanking Johnson for the great pleasure which he had received from the perusal of his Preface to Shakspeare; which, although it excited much clamour against him at first, is now justly ranked among the most excellent of his writings. To this letter Johnson returned the following answer :
'TO CHARLES BURNEY, ESQ., IN POLAND-STREET.
'I am sorry that kindness to me has brought upon you
so much trouble, though you have taken care to abate that sorrow, by the pleasure which I receive from your approbation. I defend my criticism in the same manner with you. We must confess the faults of our favourite, to gain credit to our praise of his excellencies. He that claims, either in himself or for another, the honours of perfection, will surely injure the reputation which he designs to assist. 'Be pleased to make my compliments to your family.
'Oct. 16, 1765.'
'I am, Sir,
'And most humble servant,
From one of his journals I transcribed what follows:
'At church, Oct. —65.
'To avoid all singularity'; Bonaventura'.
when, in his Life of Pope (Works, viii. 275), he thus wrote of Voltaire: 'He had been entertained by Pope at his table, when he talked with so much grossness, that Mrs. Pope was driven from the room. Pope discovered by a trick that he was a spy for the court, and never considered him as a man worthy of confidence.'
1 See post, under May 8, 1781. See post, ii. 85.
'He was probably proposing to himself the model of this excellent person, who for his piety was named the Seraphic Doctor. BOSWELL,
Resolutions at church.
'To come in before service, and compose my mind by meditation, or by reading some portions of scriptures. Tetty.
'If I can hear the sermon, to attend it, unless attention be more troublesome than useful.
'To consider the act of prayer as a reposal of myself upon GOD, and a resignation of all into his holy hand.'
JOHNSON'S DEBATES IN PARLIAMENT.
(Pages 136 and 174.)
THE publication of the 'Debates' in the Gentleman's Magazine began in July 1732. The names of the speakers were not printed in full; Sir Robert Walpole was disguised-if a disguise it can be called as Sir R-t W-le, and Mr. Pelham as Mr. P-lh-m. Otherwise the report was open and avowed. During the first few years, however, it often happened that no attempt was made to preserve the individuality of the members. Thus in a debate on the number of seamen (Gent. Mag. v. 507), the speeches of the 'eight chief speakers' were so combined as to form but three. First come the arguments made use of for 30,000 men ;' next 'an answer to the following effect;' and lastly, ‘a reply that was in substance as follows.' Each of these three speeches is in the first person, though each is formed of the arguments of two members at least, perhaps of many. In the report of a two days' debate in 1737, in which there were fourteen chief speakers, the substance of thirteen of the speeches was given in three (ib. vii. 746, 775). In July 1736 (ib. vi. 363) we find the beginning of a great change. 'To satisfy the impatience of his readers,' the publisher promises 'to give them occasionally some entire speeches.' He prints one which likely enough had been sent to him by the member who had spoken it, and adds that he shall be 'grateful for any authentic intelligence in matters of such importance and tenderness as the speeches in Parliament' (ib. p. 365). Cave, in his examination before the House of Lords on April 30, 1747, on a charge of having printed in the Gentleman's Magazine an account of the trial of Lord Lovat, owned that he had had speeches sent him by the members themselves, and had had assistance from some members who have taken notes of other members' speeches' (Parl. Hist. xiv. 60).
It was chiefly in the numbers of the Magazine for the latter half of each year that the publication took place. The parliamentary recess was the busy time for reporters and printers. It was commonly believed that the resolution on the Journals of the House of Commons against publishing any of its proceedings was only in force while parliament was sitting. But on April 13, 1738, it was unanimously resolved 'that it is an high indignity to, and a notorious breach of the privilege of this House to give any account of the debates, as well during the recess as the sitting of parliament' (Parl. Hist. x. 812). It was admitted that this privilege expired at the end of every parliament. When the dissolution had come every one might publish what he pleased. With the House of Lords it was far otherwise, for 'it is a Court of Record, and as such its rights and privileges never die. It may punish a printer for printing any part of its proceedings for thirty or forty years back' (ib. p. 807). Mr. Winnington, when speaking to this resolution of April 13, said that if they did not put a speedy stop to this practice of reporting they will have every word that is spoken. here by gentlemen misrepresented by fellows who thrust themselves into our gallery' (ib. p. 806). Walpole complained that he had been made to speak the very reverse of what he meant. He had read debates wherein all the wit, the learning, and the argument had been thrown into one side, and on the other nothing but what was low, mean, and ridiculous' (ib. p. 809). Later on, Johnson in his reports 'saved appearances tolerably well; but took care that the WHIG Dogs should not have the best of it' (Murphy's Johnson, p. 45).
It was but a few days after he became a contributor to the Magazine that this resolution was passed. Parliament rose on May 20, and in the June number the reports of the debates of the Senate of Lilliput began. To his fertile mind was very likely due this humorous expedient by which the resolution of the House was mocked. That he wrote the introduction in which is narrated the voyage of Captain Gulliver's grandson to Lilliputia can scarcely be doubted. It bears all the marks of his early style. The Lords become Hurgoes, and the Commons Clinabs, Walpole becomes Walelop, Pulteney Pulnub, and Pitt Ptit; otherwise the report is much as it had been. At the end of the volume for 1739 was given a key to all the names. The London Magazine had boldly taken the lead. In the May number, which was published at the close of the month, and therefore after parliament had risen, began