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1775. who has acted thus, to be restored to her former Ætat. 66.
situation, is either fantastical or unjust. If there be no value in the distinction of rank, what does she suffer by being kept in the situation to which she has descended? If there be a value in that distinc. tion, it ought to be steadily maintained. If indulgence be shown to such conduct, and the offenders know that in a longer or shorter time they shall be received as well as if they had not contaminated their blood by a base alliance, the great check upon that inordinate caprice which generally occasions low marriages, will be removed, and the fair and comfortable order of improved life will be miserably disturbed.
Lord Chesterfield's letters being mentioned, Johnson said, “ It was not to be wondered at that they had so great a sale, considering that they were the letters of a statesman, a wit, one who had been so much in the mouths of mankind, one long accus. tomed virúm volitare per ora."
On Friday, March 31, I supped with him and some friends at a tavern. One of the company attempted, with too much forwardness, to rally him on his late appearance at the theatre; but had reason to repent of his temerity. “ Why, Sir, did you go to Mrs. Abington's benefit ? Did you see?” JOHNSON. “ No, Sir.” “ Did you hear,” JOHNSON. “ No, Sir.” “ Why then, Sir, did you go?" JOHNSON. “ Because, Sir, she is a favourite of the publick; and when the publick cares the thousandth part for you that it does for her, I will go to your benefit too."
Next morning I won a small bet from lady Diana Beauclerck, by asking him as tooneof his particularities, which her Ladyship laid I durst not do. It seems he
had been frequently observed at the Club to put into 1775. his pocket the Seville oranges, after he had squeezed Ætat. 66. the juice of thein into the drink which he made for himself. Beauclerk and Garrick talked of it to me, and seemed to think that he had a strange unwillingness to be discovered. We could not divine what he did with them; and this was the bold question to be put. I saw on his table the spoils of the preceding night, some fresh peels nicely scraped and cut into pieces. “O, Sir, (said I,) I now partly see what you do with the squeezed oranges
you put into your pocket at the Club." Johnson. “I have a great love for them.” Boswell. " And pray, Sir, what do you do with them?" You scrape them it seems, very neatly, and what next?” JohnSON. “Let them dry, Sir.” Boswell. “And what next?” JOHNSON. “ Nay, Sir, you shall know their fate no further." Boswell. " Then the world must be left in the dark. It must be said (assuming a mock solemnity,) he scraped them, and let them dry, but what he did with them next, he never could be prevailed upon to tell.”
Nay, Sir, say
it more emphatically :-he could not be prevailed upon, even by his dearest friends, to tell.”
He had this morning received his Diploma as Doctor of Laws from the University of Oxford. He did not vaunt of his new dignity, but I understood he was highly pleased with it. I shall here insert the progress and completion of that high academical honour, in the same manner as I have traced his obtaing that of Master of Arts.
To the Reverend Dr. Fothergill, Vice-Chancellor Etat. 66.
of the University of Oxford, to be communicated to the Ileads of Houses, and proposed in Convocation. MR. VICE-CHANCELLOR AND GENTLEMEN,
66 The honour of the degree of M. A. by diploma, formerly conferred upon Mr. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in consequence of his having eminently distinguished himself by the publication of a series of Essays, excellently calculated to form the manners of the
people, and in which the cause of religion and morality has been maintained and recommended by the strongest powers of argun.ent and elegance of language, reflected an equal degree of lustre
the University itself.
“ The many learned labours which have since that time employed the attention and displayed the abilities of that great man, so much to the advancement of literature and the benefit of the community, render him worthy of more distinguished honours in the Republick of letters: and I persuade myself, that I shall act agreeably to the sentiments of the whole University, in desiring that it
may be proposed in Convocation to confer on him the degree of Doctor in Civil Law by diploma, to which I readily give my consent; and am, “ Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen,
“ Your affectionate friend and servant, “ Downing-street,
" NORTH."* March 23, 1775."
4 Extracted from the Convocation Register, Oxford
Ætat. 66. “ CANCELLARIUS, Magistri, et Scholares Uni
versitatis Oxoniensis omnibus ad quos presentes Literce pervenerint, salutem in Domino Sempiternam.
Sciatis, virum illustrem, SAMUELEM JOHNSon, in omni humaniorum literarum genere eruditum, omniumque scientiarum comprehensione felicissimum, scriptis suis, ad popularium mores formandos summa verborum elegantiú ac sententiarum gravitate compositis, ita olim inclaruisse, ut dignus videretur cui ab Academiá suâ eximia quædam laudis præmia deferentur, quique venerabilem Magistrorum Ordinem summâ cuin dignitate cooptaretur:
“ Cùm verò eundem clarissimum virum tot posted tantique labores, in patriâ præsertim lingua ornandå et stabiliendå feliciter impensi, ita insigniverint, ut in Literarum Republicâ Princeps jam et PRIMARIUS jure habeatur; Nos, Cancellarius, Magistri, et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis, qud talis viri merita pari honorisremuneratione cxequentur, et perpetuum suce simul laudis, nostræque ergd literas propensissimæ voluntatis Extet monumentum, in solenni Convocatione Doctorum et Magistrorum Regentium, et non Regentium, prædictum SAMUELEM JOHNSON Doctorem in Jure Civili renunciavimus et constituimus, eumque virtute præsentis Diplomatis singulis juribus, privilegiis et honoribus, ad istum gradum quàqud pertinentibus, frui et gaudere jussimus. In cujus rei testimonium commune Universitatis Oxoniensis sigillum priesentibus apponi fecimus.
“ Datum in Domo nostre Convocationis die tricesimo Mensis Martii, Anno Domini Millesimo septingentesimo, septuagesimo quinto."
1775. Ætat. 66.
“ Tiro Reverendo THOMÆ FOTHERGILL, S. T. P. Universitatis Oxoniensis Vice-Cancellario.
66 S. P. D.
" Sam. JOHNSON. " MULTIS non est opus, ut testimonium quo, te præside, Oxonienses nomen meum posteris commendarunt, quali animo acceperim compertum faciam. Nemo -sibi placens non lætatur; nemo sibi non placet, qui vobis, literarum arbitris, placere potuit. Hoc tamen habet incommodi tantum beneficium, quod mihi nunquam posthức sine vestræ famæ detrimento vel labi liceat vel cessare; semperque sit timendum, ne quod mihi tam eximiæ laudi est, vobis aliquando fiat opprobrio. Vale."
“7. Id. Apr. 1775.
5 The original is in my possession. He shewed me the Diploma, and allowed me to read it, but would not consent to my takeing a copy of it, fearing perhaps that I should blaze it abroad in his life-time. His objection to this appears from his 99th letter to Mrs. Thrale, whom in letter he thus scolds for the grossness of her flattery of him.-" The other Oxford news is, that they have sent me a degree of Doctor of Laws, with such praises in the Diploma as perhaps ought to make me ashamed: they are very like your praises. I wonder whether I shall ever shew it to you.”
It is remarkable that he never, so far as I know, assumed his title of Doctor, but called himself Mr. Johnson, as appears from many of his cards or notes to myself, and I have seen many from him to other persons, in which he uniformly takes that designation.-I once observed on his table a letter directed to him with the addition of Esquire, and objected to it as being a designation inferiour to that of Doctor; but he checked me, and seemed pleased with it, because, as I conjectured, he liked to be sometimes taken out of the class of literary men, and to be merely genteel,-un gentilhomme come un autre.
6 " The original is in the hands of Dr. Fothergill, then Vice: Chancellor, who made this transcript." T. WARTON.