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You may try to find them in the perusal.? Before

1771. his order, a sufficient number were dispersed to do S

Ætat. 62. all the mischief, though, perhaps, not to make all the sport that might be expected from it.

“Soon after your departure, I had the pleasure of finding all the danger past with which your navigation was threatened. I hope nothing happens at home to abate your satisfaction ; but that Lady Rothes, and Mrs. Langton, and the young ladies, are all well.

“ I was last night at THE CLUB. Dr. Percy has written a long ballad in many fits; it is pretty enough. He has printed, and will soon publish it. Goldsmith is at Bath, with Lord Clare. At Mr. Thrale's, where I am now writing, all are well. I am, dear Sir,

“ Your most humble servant, March 20, 1771.


Mr. Strahan, the printer, who had been long in intimacy with Johnson, in the course of his literary labours, who was at once his friendly agent in re.. ceiving his pension for him, and his banker in supplying him with money when he wanted it; who was himself now a Member of Parliament, and who loved much to be employed in political negociation ; thought he should do eminent service, both to government and Johnson, if he could be the means of his getting a seat in the House of Commons.

2 By comparing the first with the subsequent editions, this curious circumstance of ministerial authourship may be discovered.

[It can only be discovered (as Mr. Bindley observes to me) by him who possesses a copy of the first edition issued out before the sale was stopped. M.]

1771. With this view, he wrote a letter to one of the Ætat. 62.

Secretaries of the Treasury, of which he gave me a copy in his own hand-writing, which is as follows:


“ You will easily recollect, when I had the honour of waiting upon you some time ago, I took the liberty to observe to you, that Dr. Johnson would make an excellent figure in the House of Commons, and heartily wished he had a seat there. My reasons are briefly these :

“ I know his perfect good affection to his Majesty, and his government, which I am certain he wishes to support by every means in his power.

“ He possesses a great share of manly, nervous, and ready eloquence; is quick in discerning the strength and weakness of an argument; can express himself with clearness and precision, and fears the face of no man alive.

“ His known character, as a man of extraordinary sense and unimpeached virtue, would secure him the attention of the House, and could not fail to give him a proper weight there.

“He is capable of the greatest application, and can undergo any degree of labour, where he sees it necessary, and where his heart and affections are strongly engaged. His Majesty's ministers might therefore securely depend on his doing, upon every proper occasion, the utınost that could be expected from him. They would find him ready to vindicate such measures as tended to promote the stability of government, and resolute and steady in carrying them into execution. Nor is any thing to be apprehended from the supposed impetuosity of his temper.

To the friends of the King you will find him a lamb, 1771. to his enemies a lion.

Ætat.62. “ For these reasons, I humbly apprehend that he would be a very able and useful member. And I will venture to say, the employment would not be disagreeable to him; and knowing, as I do, his strong affection to the King, his ability to serve him in that capacity, and the extreme ardour with which I am convinced he would engage in that service, I must repeat, that I wish most heartily to see him in the House.

“ If you think this worthy of attention, you will be pleased to take a convenient opportunity of mentioning it to Lord North. If his Lordship should happily approve of it, I shall have the satisfaction of having been, in some degree, the humble instrument of doing my country, in my opinion, a very essential service. I know your good-nature, and your zeal for the publick welfare, will plead my excuse for giving you this trouble. I am, with the greatest respect, Sir,

" Your most obedient and humble servant, " New-street,

“ WILLIAM STRAHAN." March 30, 1771.

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This recommendation, we know, was not effectual; but how, or for what reason, can only be conjectured. It is not to be believed that Mr. Strahàn would have applied, unless Johnson had approved of it. I never heard him mention the subject; but at a later period of his life, when Sir Joshua Reynolds told him that Mr. Edmund Burke had said, that if he had come early into Parliament, he certainly would have been the greatest speaker that ever was there, Johnson exclaimed, “I should like to try my hand now."

1771. It has been much agitated among his friends and Srothers, whether he would have been a powerful Ætat. 62.

speaker in Parliament, had he been brought in when
advanced in life. I am inclined to think, that his
extensive knowledge, his quickness and force of
mind, his vivacity and richness of expression, his wit
and humour, and above all his poignancy of sarcasm,
would have had great effect in a popular assembly;
and that the magnitude of his figure, and striking
peculiarity of his manner, would have aided the
effect. But I remember it was observed by Mr.
Flood, that Johnson having been long used to sen-
tentious brevity and the short flights of conversation;
might have failed in that continued and expanded
kind of argument, which is requisite in stating com-
plicated matters in publick speaking; and as a proof
of this he mentioned the supposed speeches in Par-
liament written by him for the magazine, none of
which, in his opinion, where at all like real debates.
The opinion of one who was himself so eminent an
orator, must be allowed to have great weight. It
was confirmed by Sir William Scott, who mentioned,
that Johnson had told him, that he had several times
tried to speak in the Society of Arts and Sciences,
but “had found he could not get on.” From Mr.
William Gerrard Hamilton I have heard, that John-
son, when observing to him that it was prudent for
a man who had not been accustomed to speak in
publick, to begin his speech in as simple a manner
as possible, acknowledged that he rose in that society
to deliver a speech which he had prepared ; “ but
(said he,) all my flowers of oratory forsook me." I
however cannot help wishing, that he had “ tried

his hand” in Parliament; and I wonder that ministry.' 1771. did not make the experiment.

Ætat, 02. I at length renewed a correspondence which had been too long discontinued :



“Edinburgh, April 18, 1771. “ I can now fully understand those intervals of silence in your correspondence with me, which have often given me anxiety and uneasiness ; for although I am conscious that my veneration and love for Mr. Johnson have never in the least abated, yet I have deferred for almost a year and a half to write to him.”.

In the subsequent part of this letter, I gave him an account of my comfortable life as a married man, and a lawyer in practice at the Scotch bar; invited him to Scotland, and promised to attend him to the Highlands, and Hebrides.



“ If you are now able to comprehend that “I might neglect to write without diminution of affection, you have taught me, likewise, how that neglect may be uneasily felt without resentment. I wished for your letter a long time, and when it came, it amply recompensed the delay. I never was so much pleased as now with your account of yourself; and sincerely hope, that between publick business, improving studies, and domestick pleasures, neither melancholy nor caprice will find any place for entrance. Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is certainly true of intellectual

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