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that will supply your present want; you cannot suppose that I have much to spare. Two guineas is as much as you ought to be behind with your creditor.— If you wait on Mr. Strahan, in New-street, Fetter-lane, or, in his absence, on Mr. Andrew Strahan, show this, by which they are entreated to advance you two guineas, and to keep this as a voucher.
“ I am, Sir,
“ Your humble servant, “Ashbourne, August 12, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
Indeed it is very necessary to keep in mind that Sir John Hawkins has unaccountably viewed Johnson's character and conduct in almost every particular, with an unhappy prejudice.?
; I shall add one instance only to those which I have thought it incumbent on me co point out. Talking of Mr. Garrick's having signified his willingness to let Johnson have the loan of any of his books to assist him in his edition of Shakspeare; Sir John says (page 444,) " Mr. Garrick knew not what risque he ran by this offer. Johnson had so strange a forgetfulness of obligations of this sort, that few who lent him books ever saw them again." This surely conveys a most unfavourable insinuation, and has been so understood. Sir John mentions the single case of a curious edition of Politian, which he tells us, appeared to belong to Pembroke College, which, probably, had been considered by Johnson as his own, for upwards of fifty years. Would it not be fairer to consider this as an inadvertence, and draw no general inference? The truth is, that Johnson was so attentive, that in one of his manuscripts in my possession, he has marked in two columns, books borrowed, and books lent.
In Sir John Hawkins's compilation, there are, however, some passages concerning Johnson which have unquestionable merit. One of them I shall transcribe, in justice to a writer whom I have had too much occasion to censure, and to shew my fairness as the biographer of my illustrious friend : “ There was wanting in his conduct and behaviour, that dignity which results from a regular and orderly course of action, and by an irresistible power commands esteem. He could not be said to be a stayed man, nor so to have ad usted in his
We now behold Johnson for the last time, in his native city, for which he ever retained a warm affection, and which, by a sudden apostrophe, under the word Lich, he introduces with reverence, into his immortal Work, The ENGLISH DICTIONARY :-"Salve magna parens ! ”While here, he felt a revival of all the tenderness of filial affection, an instance of which appeared in his ordering the grave-stone and inscription over Elizabeth Blaney' to be substantially and carefully renewed.
To Mr. Henry White, a young clergyman, with whom he now formed an intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son.
nind the balance of reason and passion, as to give occasion to say what
may be observed of some men, that all they do is just, fit, and right." Yet a judicious friend well suggests, “It might, however, have been added, that such men are often merely just, and rigidly correct, while their hearts are cold and unfeeling; and that Johnson's virtues were of a much higher tone than those of the stayed, orderly man, here described.
8 The following circumstance, mutually to the honour of Johnson and the corporation of his native city, has been communicated to me by the reverend Dr. Vyse, from the Town-Clerk : “Mr. Simpson has now before him, a record of the respect and veneration which the Corporation of Lichfield, in the year 1767, had for the merits and learning of Dr. Johnson. His father built the corner house in the market-place, the two fronts of which, towards Market and Broadmarket-street, stood upon waste land of the Corporation, under a forty years' lease, which was then expired. On the 15th of August, 1767, at a common-hall of the bailiffs and citizens, it was ordered (and that without any solicitation) that a lease should be granted to Samuel Johnson, Doctor of Laws, of the encroachments at his house, for the term of ninety-nine years, at the old rent, which was five shillings. Of which, as Town-Clerk, Mr. Simpson had the honour and pleasure of informing him, and that he was desired to accept it, without paying any fine on the occasion, which lease was afterwards granted, and the Doctor died possessed of this property." 9 See Vol. I.
Once, indeed, (said he,) I was disobedient; I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter-market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault. I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bare-headed in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory.
[99 The Rev. Mr. Warner, of Bath, who does not seem to have been aware of Mr. Boswell's notice of the above story, relates it in the following manner, in his “ Tour through the Northern counties of England," published in 1802.-“During the last visit which the doctor made to Lichfield, the friends with whom he was staying missed him one morning at the breakfast: table; on inquiring after him of the servants, they understood he had set off from Lichfield at a very early hour, without mentioning to any of the family whither he was going. The day passed without the return of the illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account, when, just before the supper hour, the door opened, and the doctor stalked into the room. A solemn-silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody daring to enquire the cause of his absence, which was at length relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following manner, 'Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my de
your house this morning : but I was constrained to it by my conscience. Fifty years ago, madam, on this day, I committed a breach of filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated. My father, you recollect, was a bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending market: and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day. Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty years ago, to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place. But, madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my father a refusal. To do away the sin of this disobedience, I this day went in a post-chaise to and going into the market at the time of high business, uncovered my head, and stood with it bare an hour before the stall which my father had formerly used, exposed to the sneers of the standers-by, and the inclemency of the weather : a penance by which, I trust, I have propitiated heaven for this only instance, I believe, of contumacy toward my father.'' A. C.]
“ I told him (says Miss Seward) in one of my latest visits to him, of a wonderful learned pig, which I had seen at Nottingham; and which did all that we have observed exhibited by dogs and horses.
The subject amused him. Then, (said he,) the pigs are a race unjustly calumniated.
Pig has, it seems, not been wanting to man, but man to pig. We do not allow time for his education, we kill him at a year old.’: Mr. Henry White, who was present, observed that if this instance had happened in or before Pope's time, he would not have been justified in instancing the swine as the lowest degree of groveling instinct. Dr. Johnson seemed pleased with the observation, while the person who made it proceeded to remark, that great torture must have been employed, ere the indocility of the animal could have been subdued. --Certainly, (said the Doctor;) but, (turning to me,) how old is your pig?' I told him, three years old. • Then (said he,) the pig has no cause to complain; he would have been killed the first year if he had not been educated, and protracted existence is a good recompence for very considerable degrees of torture.”
As Johnson had now very faint hopes of recovery, and as Mrs. Thrale was no longer devoted to him, it might have been supposed that he would naturally have chosen to remain in the comfortable house of his beloved wife's daughter, and end his life where he began it. But there was in him an animated and lofty spirit,"
9 Mr. Burke suggested to me as applicable to Johnson, what Cicero, in his Cato MAJOR, says of Appius : “ Intentum enim animum, tanquam arcum, habebat, nec languescens succumbebat senectuti;" repeating at the same time the following noble words in the same passage : “ Ita enim senectus honesta est, si seipsa defendit, si jus suum retinet, si nenini emancipata est, si usque ad extremum vita spiritum vindicet jus suum."
and however complicated diseases might depress ordinary mortals, all who saw him beheld and acknowledged the invictum animum Catonis. Such was his intellectual ardour even at this time, that he said to one friend,
Sir, I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance;” and to another, when talking of his illness, “ I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.” And such was his love of London, so high a relish had he of its magnificent extent, and variety of intellectual entertainment, that he languished when absent from it, his mind having become quite luxurious from the long habit of enjoying the metropolis; and, therefore, although at Lichfield, surrounded with friends who loved and revered him, and for whom he had a very sincere affection, he still found that such conver. sation as London affords, could be found nowhere else. These feelings, joined, probably, to some flattering hopes of aid from the eminent physicians and surgeons in London, who kindly and generously attended him without accepting fees, made him resolve to return to the capital.
From Lichfield he came to Birminghan, where he passed a few days with his worthy old schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, who thus writes to me: “He was very solicitous with me to recollect some of our most early transactions, and transmit them to him, for I perceived nothing gave him greater pleasure than calling to mind those days of our innocence. I complied with his request, and he only received them a few days before his death. I have transcribed for your inspection, exactly the minutes I wrote to him.” This paper having been
! [Atrocem animum Catonis, are Horace's words, and it may be doubted whether atrox is used by any other original writer in the
Stubborn is perhaps the most correct translation of this epithet. MALONE.]