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1754

Ætat. 45:

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inquiring in the literary circle with which his Lordship was well acquainted, and was, indeed, himself one of its ornaments.

Dr. Adams expostulated with Johnson, and suggested, that his not being admitted when he called on him, was, probably, not to be imputed to Lord Chesterfield; for his Lordship had declared to Dodney, that “ he would have turned off the best servant he ever had, if he had known that he denied him to a man who would have been always more than welcome;" and, in confirmation of this, he insisted on Lord Chesterfield's general affability and easiness of access, especially to literary men. “ Sir, (faid Johnson) that is not Lord Chesterfield; he is the proudest man this day existing." “ No, (faid Dr. Adams) there is one person, at least, as proud; I think, by your own account, you are the prouder man of the two.“ But mine (replied Johnson, instantly) was defensive pride.” This, as Dr. Adams well observed, was one of those happy turns for which he was so remarkably ready.

Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not refrain from expressing himself concerning that nobleman with pointed freedom: “ This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits ; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords !” And when his Letters to his natural fon were published, he observed, that “ they teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing-master”,

The character of a “respectable Hottentot,” in Lord Chesterfield's letters, has been generally understood to be meant for Johnson, and I have no doubt that it was, But I remember when the Literary Property of those letters was

2 That collection of letters cannot be vindicated from the serious charge of encouraging, in some passages, one of the vices most destructive to the good order and comfort of society, which his Lordship represents as mere fashionable gallantry; and, in others, of inculcating the base practice of dissimulation, and recommending, with disproportionate anxiety, a perpetual attention to external elegance of manner. But it must, at the same time be allowed, that they contain many good precepts of conduct, and much genuine information upon life and manners, very happily expressed ; and that there was considerable merit in paying fo much attention to the improvement of one who was dependent upon his Lordship's protection ; it has, probably, been exceeded in no instance by the most exemplary parent; and though I can by no means approve of confounding the distinction between lawful and illicit offspring, which is, in effect, infulting the civil establishment of our country, to look no higher ; I cannot help thinking it laudable to be kindly attentive to those, of whose existence we have, in any way, been the cause. Mr. Stanhope's character has been unjustly represented as diametrically opposite to what Lord Chesterfield wished him to be. He has been called dull, gross, and aukward : but I knew him at Dresden, when he was Envoy to that court; and though he could not boaft of the graces, he was, in truth, a fenfible, civil, well-behaved man,

contested

contested in the Court of Session in Scotland, and Mr. Henry Dundas, one of the 1754•
Counsel for the proprietors, read this character as an exhibition of Johnson, Sir Ætat. 45.
David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, one of the Judges, maintained, with some
warmth, that it was not intended as a portrait of Johnson, but of a late noble
Lord, distinguished for abftrufe science. I haye heard Johnson himself talk
of the character, and say that it was meant for George Lord Lyttelton, in
which I could by no means agree ; for his Lordship had nothing of that
violence which is a conspicuous feature in the composition. Finding that my
illustrious friend could bear to have it supposed that it might be meant for
him, I said, laughingly, that there was one trait which unquestionably did not
belong to him; “ he throws his meat any where but down his throat.”
“ Sir, (faid he) Lord Chesterfield never saw me eat in his life.”

On the 6th of March came out Lord Bolingbroke's works, published by
Mr. David Mallet. The wild and pernicious ravings, under the name of
“ Philosophy,” which were thus ushered into the world, gave great offence to
all well-principled men. Johnson, hearing of their tendency, which nobody
disputed, was roused with a just indignation, and pronounced this memorable
sentence upon the noble authour and his editor. “ Sir, he was a scoundrel,
and a coward: a scoundrel, for charging a blunderbuss against religion and
morality; a coward, because he had not resolution to fire it off himself, but
left half a crown to a beggarly Scotchman, to draw the trigger after his
death !” Garrick, who I can attest from my own knowledge, had his mind
seasoned with pious reverence, and sincerely disapproved of the infidel writings
of several, whom, in the course of his almost universal gay intercourse with
men of eminence, he treated with external civility, distinguished himself upon
this occasion. Mr. Pelham having died on the very day on which Lord
Bolingbroke's works came out, he wrote an elegant Ode on his death,
beginning

« Let others hail the rising sun,
“ I bow to that whose course is run."

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1754.

Ætat. 45.

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Johnson this year found an interval of leisure to make an excursion to Oxford, for the purpose of consulting the libraries there. Of this, and of resting circumstances concerning him, during a part of his life when he conversed but little with the world, I am enabled to give a particular account, by the liberal communications of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Warton, who has obligingly furnished me with several of our common friend's letters, which he has illustrated with notes. These I shall insert in their proper places.

To the Reverend Mr. THOMAS WARTON.

« SIR,

« IT is but an ill return for the book with which you were pleased to favour me), to have delayed my thanks for it till now. I am too apt to be negligent; but I can never deliberately shew my difrepect to a man of your character: and I now pay you a very honest acknowledgement, for the advancement of the literature of our native country. You have fhewn to all, who shall hereafter attempt the study of our ancient authours, the way to success; by directing them to the perusal of the books which those authours had read. Of this method, Hughes“, and men much greater than Hughes, seem never to have thought. The reason why the authours, which are yet read, of the fixteenth century, are so little understood, is, that they are read alone ; and no help is borrowed from those who lived with them, or before them. Some part of this ignorance I hope to remove by my books, which now draws towards its end; but which I cannot finish to my mind, without visiting the libraries of Oxford, which I, therefore, hope to see in a fortnight”. I know not how long I shall stay, or where I shall lodge ; but shall be sure to look for you at my arrival, and we shall easily settle the rest. I am, dear Sir,

" Your most obedient, &c. “ (London,] July 16, 1754.

SAM. Johnson.”

Of his conversation while at Oxford at this time, Mr. Warton has preserved and communicated to me the following memorial, which, though not written

3 - Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen, the first edition of which was now just published.” 4 “ Hughes published an edition of Spenser."

S“ His Dictionary." 6 « He came to Oxford within a fortnight, and stayed about five weeks. He lodged at a house called Kettel-hall, near Trinity College. But during this vifit at Oxford, he collected nothing in the libraries for his Dictionary."

with all the care and attention which that learned and elegant writer bestows 1754• on those compositions which he intends for the publick eye, is so happily rat. 45. expressed in an easy style, that I should injure it by any alteration :

« When Johnson came to Oxford ip 1754, the long vacation was beginning, and most people were leaving the place. This was the first time of his being there, after quitting the University. The next morning after his arrival, he wished to see his old College, Pembroke. I went with him. He was highly pleased to find all the College-servants which he had left there still remaining, particularly a very old butler ; and expressed great satisfaction at being recognised by them, and conversed with them familiarly. He waited on the master, Dr. Radcliffe, who received him very coldly. Johnson at least expected, that the master would order a copy of his Dictionary, now near publication: but the master did not choose to talk on the subject, never asked Johnson to dine, nor even to visit him, while he stayed at Oxford. After we had left the Lodgings, Johnson said to me, 'There lives a man, who lives by the revenues of literature, and will not move a finger to support it. If I come to live at Oxford, I shall take up my abode at Trinity.' We then called on the Reverend Mr. Meeke, one of the fellows, and of Johnson's standing. Here was a most cordial greeting on both sides. On leaving him, Johnson said, “I used to think Meeke had excellent parts, when we were boys together at the College: but, alas !

· Lost in a convent's folitary gloom!'

I remember, at the classical lecture in the Hall, I could not bear Meeke's superiority, and I tried to sit as far from him as I could, that I might not hear him construe.'

“ As we were leaving the College, he said, “ Here I translated Pope's Messiah. Which do you think is the best line in it? My own favourite is,

<Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes.'

I told him, I thought it a very sonorous hexameter. I did not tell him, it was not in the Virgilian style. He much regretted that his first tutor was dead i for whom he seemed to retain the greatest regard. He said, “I once had been a whole morning Niding [Skating] in Christ-Church Meadow, and missed his lecture in logick. After dinner, he sent for me to his room. I expected a sharp rebuke for my idleness, and went with a beating heart. When we were seated, he told me he had sent for me to drink a glass of wine with him, and

1754

Ætat.

45.

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to tell me, he was not angry with me for missing his lecture. This was, in
fact, a most severe reprimand. Some more of the boys were then sent for,
and we spent a very pleasant afternoon.' Besides Mr. Meeke, there was only
one other Fellow of Pembroke now resident: from both of whom Johnson
received the greatest civilities during this visit, and they pressed him
to have a room in the College.

“ In the course of this visit (1754), Johnson and I walked, three or four
times, to Ellsfield, a village beautifully situated about three miles from Oxford,
to see Mr. Wise, Radclivian librarian, with whom Johnson was much pleased.
At this place, Mr. Wife had fitted up a house and gardens, in a singular
manner, but with great taste. Here was an excellent library; particularly,
a valuable collection of books in Northern literature, with which Johnson was
often very busy. One day Mr. Wise read to us a dissertation which he was
preparing for the press, intitled, “A History and Chronology of the fabulous
Ages.' Some old divinities of Thrace, related to the Titans, and called the
Cabiri, made a very important part of the theory of this piece; and in
conversation afterwards, Mr. Wife talked much of his CABIRI. As we
returņed to Oxford in the evening, I out-walked Johnson, and he cried out
Suffiamina, a Latin word which came from his mouth with peculiar grace,
and was as much as to say, Put on your drag-chain. Before we got home, I
again walked too fast for him; and he now cried out, “Why, you walk
as if you were pursued by all the Cabire in a body.' In an evening, we
frequently took long walks from Oxford into the country, returning to sup-
per. Once, in our way home, we viewed the ruins of the abbies of Oseney
and Rewley, near Oxford. After at least half an hour's silence, Johnson
said, 'I viewed them with indignation! We had then a long conversation
on Gothick buildings; and in talking of the form of old halls, he said, " In
these halls, the fire-place was anciently always in the middle of the room,
till the Whigs removed it on one side.'-About this time there had been an
execution of two or three criminals at Oxford on a Monday. Soon after-
wards, one day at dinner, I was saying that Mr. Swinton the chaplain of the
gaol, and also a frequent preacher before the University, a learned man, but
often thoughtless and absent, preached the condemnation-fermon on repentance,
before the convicts, on the preceding day, Sunday: and that in the close he
told his audience, that he should give them the remainder of what he had to
say on the subject, the next Lord’s Day. Upon which, one of our company,
a Doctor of Divinity, and a plain matter-of-fact-man, by way of offering an
apology for Mr. Swinton, gravely remarked, that he had probably preached

the

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