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Ætat. 55.

resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for Jesus Christ's fake. Amen." Such a tenderness of conscience, such a fervent desire of improvement, will rarely be found. It is, surely, not decent in those who are hardened in indifference to spiritual improvement, to treat this pious anxiety of Johnson with contempt.

About this time he was afficted with a very severe return of the hypochondriack disorder, which was ever lurking about him. He was so ill, as, notwithstanding his remarkable love of company, to be entirely averse to society, the most fatal fymptom of that malady. Dr. Adams told me, that, as an old friend, he was admitted to visit him, and that he found him in a deplorable state, fighing, groaning, talking to himself, and restlessly walking from room to room. He then used this emphatical expression of the misery which he felt : « I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits.”

Talking to himself was, indeed, one of his singularities ever since I knew him. I was certain that he was frequently uttering pious ejaculations, for fragments of the Lord's Prayer have been distinctly overheard. His friend Mr. Thomas Davies, of whom Churchill says,

“ That Davies hath a very pretty wife :" when Dr. Johnson muttered “ lead us not into temptation,” used with waggish and gallant humour to whisper Mrs. Davies, “ You, my dear, are the cause of this.”

He had another particularity, of which none of his friends ever ventured to ask an explanation. It appeared to me some superstitious habit, which he had contracted early, and from which he had never called upon his reason to dis-entangle him. This was his anxious care to go out or in at a door or passage, by a certain number of steps from a certain point, or at least so as that either his right or his left foot, (I am not certain which,) should constantly make the first actual movement when he came close to the door or passage. Thus I conjecture: for I have, upon innumerable occasions, observed him suddenly stop, and then seem to count his steps with a deep earnestness; and when he had neglected or gone wrong in this sort of magical movement, I have seen him go back again, put himself in a proper posture to begin the ceremony, and, having gone through it, break from his abstraction, walk briskly on, and join his companion. A strange instance of something of this nature, even when on horseback, happened when he was in the

· Prayers and Meditations, p. 58.

isle of Sky'. Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed him to go a good way about, 1764. rather than cross a particular alley in Leicester-fields; but this Sir Joshua Ætat. 55. imputed to his having had some disagreeable recollection associated with it.

That the most minute singularities which belonged to him, and made very observable parts of his appearance and manner, may not be omitted, it is requisite to mention, that while talking or even musing as he sat in his chair, he commonly shook his head in a tremulous manner, moving his body backwards and forwards, and rubbing his left knee in the same direction, with the palm of his hand. In the intervals of articulating he made various sounds with his mouth, sometimes as if ruminating, or what is called chewing the cud, sometimes giving a half whistle, sometimes making his tongue play backwards from the roof of his mouth, as if clucking like a hen, and sometimes protruding it against his upper gums in front, as if pronouncing quickly under his breath, too, too, too: all this accompanied fometimes with a thoughtful look, but more frequently with a smile.

I am fully aware how very obvious an occasion I here give for the sneering jocularity of such as have no relish of an exact likeness; which, to render complete, he who draws it must not disdain the nightest strokes. But if witlings should be inclined to attack this account, let them have the candour to quote what I have offered in my defence.

He was for some time in the summer at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, on a visit to the Reverend Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore. Whatever disfatisfaction he felt at what he considered as a Now progress in intellectual improvement, we find that his heart was tender, and his affections warm, as appears from the following very kind letter:

TO JOSHUA REYNOLDS, Esq. in Leicester-Fields, London. *** DEAR SIR,

“ I did not hear of your sickness till I heard likewise of your recovery, and therefore escaped that part of your pain, which every man must feel, to whom you are known as you are known to me.

Having had no particular account of your disorder, I know not in what state it has left you. If the amusement of my company can exhilarate the languor of a Now recovery, I will not delay a day to come to you; for I know not how I can fo effectually promote my own pleasure as by plealing

Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3d edit. p. 316.




Atat. 55

you, or my own interest as by preserving you, in whom, if I should lose

I should lose almost the only man whom I call a friend.

Pray let me hear of you from yourself, or from dear Miss Reynolds.
Make my compliments to Mr. Mudge. I am, dear Sir,

« Your most affectionate

" And most humble servant,
" At the Rev. Mr. Percy's, at Easton

Maudit, Northamptonshire, (by
Çastle Ashby,) Aug. 19, 1564."


Early in the year 1765 he paid a short visit to the University of Cambridge, with his friend Mr. Beauclerk. There is a lively picturesque account of his behaviour on this visit, in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1785, being an extract of a letter from the late Dr. John Sharp. The two following sentences are very characteristical : “He drank his large potations of tea with me, interrupted by many an indignant contradiction, and many a noble fentiment.”——" Several persons got into his company the last evening at Trinity, where, about twelve, he began to be very great; stripped poor Mrs. Macaulay to the very skin, then gave her for his toast, and drank her in two bumpers.”

The strictness of his self-examination and fcrupulous Christian humility, appear in his pious meditation on Easter-day this year." I purpose again to partake of the blessed facrament; yet when I consider how vainly I have hitherto resolved at this annual commemoration of my Saviour's death, to regulate my life by his laws, I am almost afraid to renew my resolutions ?."

No man was more gratefully sensible of any kindness done to him than Johnson. There is a little circumstance in his diary this year, which shews him in a very amiable light.

“ July 2. I paid Mr. Simpson’ ten guineas, which he had formerly lent
me in my necessity, and for which Tetty expressed her gratitude.”

July 8. I lent Mr. Simpson ten guineas more.”
Here he had a pleasing opportunity of doing the same kindness to an old
friend, which he had formerly received from him. Indeed his liberality as to
money was very remarkable. The next article in his diary is, “ July 16, I
received seventy-five pounds. Lent Mr. Davies twenty-five.”

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2 Prayers and Meditations, p. 61.

Joseph Simpson, Esq. mentioned in p. 188. He wrote a tragedy entitled “The Patriot;" in which Dr. Johnson having made fome corrections, advantage was taken of this circumstance after his death, and the piece falsely published under his name.

He appears this year to have been seized with a temporary fit of ambition, 1765. for he had thoughts both of studying law and of engaging in politicks. His Ætat. 56. Prayer before the Study of Law” is truly admirable :

Sept. 26, 1765. “ Almighty God, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual ; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen 4.”

His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled, “Engaging in POLITICKS with

Hn,” no doubt his friend, the Right Honourable William Gerard Hamilton, for whom, during a long acquaintance, he had a great esteem, and to whose conversation he once paid this high compliment: “ I am very unwilling to be left alone, Sir, and therefore I


with my company down the first pair of stairs, in some hopes that they may, perhaps, return again. I go with you, Sir, as far as the street-door.” In what particular department he intended to engage does not appear, nor can Mr. Hamilton explain. His prayer is in general terms. Enlighten my understanding with knowledge of right, and govern my will by thy laws, that no deceit may mislead me, nor temptation corrupt me; that I may always endeavour to do good, and hinder evils.” There is nothing upon the subject in his diary.

This year was distinguished by his being introduced into the family of Mr. Thrale, one of the most eminent brewers in England, and Member of Parliament for the borough of Southwark. Foreigners are not a little amazed when they hear of brewers, distillers, and men in similar departments of trade, held forth as persons of considerable consequence. In this great commercial country it is natural that a situation which produces much wealth should be considered as very respectable ; and, no doubt, honest industry is entitled to esteem. But, perhaps, the too rapid advance of men of low extraction tends to lessen the value of that distinction by birth and gentility, which has ever been found beneficial to the grand scheme of subordination. Johnson used to give this account of the rise of Mr. Thrale's father: “He worked at fix shillings a week for twenty years in the great brewery, which afterwards was his own.

The proprietor of it had an only daughter, who was married to a


+ Prayers and Meditations, p. 66.

s Ibid. p. 67. Mm 2


1765. nobleman. It was not fit that a peer should continue the businefs. On Ærat. 56. the old man’s death, therefore, the brewery was to be fold. To find a pur

chaser for so large a property was a difficult matter; and, after some time, it was suggested, that it would be adviseable to treat with Thrale, a sensible, active, honest man, who had been long employed in the house, and to transfer the whole to him for thirty thousand pounds, security being taken upon the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thrale paid the purchase-money. He acquired a large fortune, and lived to be Member of Parliament for Southwark. But what was most remarkable was the liberality with which he used his riches. He gave his son and daughters the best education. The esteem which his good conduct procured him from the nobleman who had married his master's daughter, made him be treated with much attention; and his son, both at school and at the University of Oxford, associated with young men of the first rank. His allowance from his father, after he left college, was splendid ; no less than a thousand a year. This, in a man who had risen as old Thrale did, was a very extraordinary instance of generosity. He used to say, “If this young dog does not find so much after I am gone as he expects, let him remember that he has had a great deal in

my own time.”

The son, though in aMuent circumstances, had good sense enough to carry on his father's trade, which was of such extent, that I remember he once told me, he would not quit it for an annuity of ten thousand a year ; “ Not (faid he,) that I get ten thousand a year by it, but it is an estate to a family." Having left daughters only, the property was sold for the immense sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds; a magnificent proof of what may be done by fair trade in no long period of time.

There may be some who think that a new system of gentility might be established, upon principles totally different from what have hitherto prevailed. Our present heraldry, it may be said, is suited to the barbarous times in which it had its origin. It is chiefly founded upon ferocious merit, upon military excellence. Why, in civilised times, we may be asked, should there not be rank and honours, upon principles, which, independent of long custom, are certainly not less worthy, and which, when once allowed to be connected with elevation and precedency, would obtain the same dignity in our imagination? Why should not the knowledge, the skill, the expertness, the assiduity, and the spirited hazards of trade and commerce, when crowned with fuccefs, be entitled to give those flattering distinctions by which mankind are so universally captivated


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