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1768.

Ætat: 59.

the temptation to it was so strong. An irrevocable grant of your friendship,
and your dignifying my desire of visiting Corsica with the epithet of a wise
and noble curiosity,' are to me more valuable than

many
of the
grants

of kings.
“ But how can you bid me empty my head of Corsica ?' My noble-
minded friend, do you not feel for an oppressed nation bravely struggling to
be free ? Consider fairly what is the case. The Corsicans never received any
kindness from the Genoese. They never agreed to be subject to them. They
owe them nothing; and when reduced to an abject state of Navery, by force,
shall they not rise in the great cause of liberty, and break the galling yoke ?
And shall not every liberal soul be warm for them? Empty my head of
Corsica! Empty it of honour, empty it of humanity, empty it of friend-
ship, empty it of piety. No! while I live, Corsica and the cause of the
brave islanders shall ever employ much of my attention, shall ever interest me
in the sincereft manner.

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Upon his arrival in London in May, he surprized me one morning with a visit at my lodgings in Half-Moon-street, was quite satisfied with my explanation, and was in the kindest and most agreeable frame of mind. As he had objected to a part of one of his letters being published, I thought it right to take this opportunity of asking him explicitly whether it would be improper to publish his letters after his death. His answer was, “ Nay, Sir, when I am dead, you may do as you will.”

He talked in his usual style with a rough contempt of popular liberty. “ They make a rout about universal liberty, without considering that all that is to be valued, or indeed can be enjoyed by individuals, is private liberty. Political liberty is good only so far as it produces private liberty. Now, Sir, there is the liberty of the press, which you know is a constant topick. Suppose you and I and two hundred more were restrained from printing our thoughts : what then? What proportion would that restraint upon us bear to the private happiness of the nation?”

This mode of representing the inconveniencies of restraint as light and insignificant, was a kind of sophistry in which he delighted to indulge himself, in opposition to the extreme laxity for which it has been fashionable for too many to argue, when it is evident, upon reflection, that the very essence of government is restraint; and certain it is, that as government produces rational

happiness, happiness, too much restraint is better than too little. But when restraint is

1768. unnecessary, and so close as to gall those who are subject to it, the people Ærat. 59. may and ought to remonstrate ; and, if relief is not granted, to resist. Of this manly and spirited principle, no man was more convinced than Johnson himself.

About this time Dr. Kenrick attacked him, through my sides, in a pamphlet, entitled “ An Epistle to James Boswell, Esq. occasioned by his having transmitted the moral Writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson to Pascal Paoli, General of the Corsicans.” I was at first inclined to answer this pamphlet; but Johnson, who knew that my doing so would only gratify Kenrick, by keeping alive what would soon die away of itself, would not suffer me to take any notice of it.

His sincere regard for Francis Barber, his faithful negro servant, made him so desirous of his further improvement, that he now placed him at a school at Bishop Stortford, in Hertfordshire. This humane attention does Johnson's heart much honour. Out of many letters which Mr. Barber received from his master, he has preserved three, which he kindly gave me, and which I shall insert according to their dates.

To Mr. FRANCIS BARBER.

« DEAR FRANCIS,

“ I have been very much out of order. I am glad to hear that you are well, and design to come foon to see you. I would have you stay at Mrs. Clapp's for the present, till I can determine what we shall do. Be a good boy. “ My compliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Fowler. I am

“ Yours affectionately, “ May 28, 1763.

Sam. JOHNSON."

Soon afterwards, he supped at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in the Strand, with a company whom I collected to meet him. They were Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Carlisle, Mr. Langton, Dr. Robertson the Historian, Dr. Hugh Blair, and Mr. Thomas Davies, who wished much to be introduced to these eminent Scotch literati ; but on the present occasion he had very little opportunity of hearing them talk, for with an excess of prudence, for which Johnson afterwards found fault with them, they hardly opened their lips, and that only to say something which they were Rr

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1768.

Ætat. 59.

certain would not expose them to the sword of Goliah; such was their anxiety for their fame when in the presence of Johnson. He was this evening in remarkable vigour of mind, and eager to exert himself in conversation, which he did with great readiness and Auency; but I am sorry to find that I have preserved but a small part of what passed.

He allowed high praise to Thomson as a poet; but when one of the company said he was also a very good man, our moralist contested this with great warmth, accusing him of grofs fenfuality and licentiousness of manners. I was very much afraid that in writing Thomson's life, Dr. Johnson would have treated his private character with a stern severity, but I was, agreeably difappointed; and I may claim a little merit in it, from my having been at pains to send him authentick accounts of the affectionate and generous conduct of that poet to his sisters, one of whom, the wife of Mr. Thomson, schoolmaster at Lanark, I knew, and was presented by her with three of his letters, one of which Dr. Johnson has inserted in his life.

He was vehement against old Dr. Mounsey, of Chelsea College, as "a fellow who swore and talked bawdy.” “I have been often in his company, (faid Dr. Percy,) and never heard him swear or talk bawdy.” Mr. Davies, who sat next to Dr. Percy, having after this had some conversation aside with him, made a discovery which, in his zeal to pay court to Dr. Johnson, he eagerly proclaimed aloud from the foot of the table: “O, Sir, I have found out a very good reason why Dr. Percy never heard Mounsey fwear or talk bawdy'; for he tells me, he never saw him but at the Duke of Northumberland's table.” “ And so, Sir, (said Johnson loudly, to Dr. Percy,) you would Thield this man from the charge of swearing and talking bawdy, because he did not do so at the Duke of Northumberland's table. Sir, you might as well tell us that you had seen him hold up his hand at the Old Bailey, and he neither swore nor talked bawdy; or that you had seen him in the cart at Tyburn, and he neither swore nor talked bawdy. And is it thus, Sir, that you prelume to controvert what I have related ?” Dr. Johnson's animadversion was uttered in such a manner, that Dr. Percy seemed to be displeased, and soon afterwards left the company, of which Johnson did not at that time take any notice.

Swift having been mentioned, Johnson, as usual, treated him with little respect as an authour. Some of us endeavoured to support the Dean of St. Patrick's, by various arguments. One in particular praised his “ Conduct of the Allies.” Johnson. “Sir, his · Conduct of the Allies' is a performance of very little ability.” “Surely, Sir, (faid Dr. Douglas,) you must allow it

has

has strong facts.” Johnson. “ Why yes, Sir; but what is that to the merit 1768. of the composition? In the Sessions-paper of the Old Bailey there are strong Ætat. 59. facts. Housebreaking is a strong fact; robbery is a strong fact; and murder is a mighty strong fact : but is great praise due to the historian of those strong facts ? No, Sir. Swift has told what he had to tell distinctly enough, but that is all. He had to count ten, and he has counted it right.”—Then recollecting that Mr. Davies, by acting as an informer, had been the occasion of his talking somewhat too harshly to his friend Dr. Percy, for which, probably, when the first ebullition was over, he felt some compunction, he took an opportunity to give him a hit ; so added, with a preparatory laugh, “Why, Sir, Tom Davies might have written the Conduct of the Allies.” Poor Tom being thus suddenly dragged into ludicrous notice in presence of the Scottish Doctors, to whom he was ambitious of appearing to advantage, was grievously mortified. Nor did his punishment rest here ; for upon subsequent occafions, whenever he, “ statesman all o’er,” assumed a strutting importance, I used to hail him," the Authour of the Conduet of the Allies.

When I called upon Dr. Johnson next morning, I found him highly satisfied with his colloquial prowess the preceding evening. “Well, (faid he,) we had good talk.” Boswell. “ Yes, Sir; you toffed and gored several persons.”

The late Alexander Earl of Eglintoune, who loved wit more than wine, and men of genius more than fycophants, had a great admiration of Johnson; but from the remarkable elegance of his own manners, was, perhaps, too delicately sensible of the roughness which sometimes appeared in Johnson's behaviour. One evening about this time, when his Lordship did me the honour to sup at my lodgings with Dr. Robertson and several other men of literary distinction, he regretted that Johnson had not been educated with more refinement, and lived more in polished society. “ No, no, my Lord, (faid Signor Baretti,) do with him what you would, he would always have been a bear." « True, (answered the Earl, with a smile,) but he would have been a dancing bear.”

To obviate all the reflections which have gone round the world to Johnson's prejudice, by applying to him the epithet of a bear, let me impress upon my readers a just and happy saying of my friend Goldsmith, who knew him well:

Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in his manner; but no man alive has a more tender heart. He has nothing of the bear but his skin.

In 1769, so far as I can discover, the publick was favoured with nothing of 1769. his composition, either for himself or any of his friends. His « Meditations”

Rr 2

too

1769. too strongly prove that he suffered much both in body and mind ; yet was he cat. 7o. perpetually striving against evil, and nobly endeavouring to advance his intel

lectual and devotional improvement. Every generous and grateful heart must feel for the distreffes of fo eminent a benefactor to mankind; and now that his unhappiness is certainly known, must respect that dignity of character which prevented him from complaining.

His Majesty having this year instituted the Royal Academy, Johnson had the honour of being appointed Professor of Ancient Literature. In the course of the year he wrote fome letters to Mrs. Thrale, passed some part of the fummer at Oxford and at Lichfield, and when at Oxford wrote the following letter :

To the Reverend Mr. THOMAS WARTON.

" DEAR SIR,

MANY years ago, when I used to read in the library of your College, I promised to recompence the College for that permission, by adding to their books a Baskerville's Virgil. I have now sent it, and desire you to reposit it on the shelves in my name .

If you will be pleased to let me know when you have an hour of leisure, I will drink tea with you. I am engaged for the afternoon, to-morrow and on Friday : all my mornings are my own :.

“ I am, &c. « May 31, 1769

SAM. JOHNSON.

I came to London in the autumn, and having informed him that I was going to be married in a few months, I wished to have as much of his conversation as I could before engaging in a state of life which would probably keep me more in Scotland, and prevent my seeing him so often as when I was a single man; but I found he was at Brighthelmstone with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. I was very sorry that I had not his company with me at the Jubilee, in honour of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, the great poet's native

2 " It has this inscription in a blank-leaf : Hunc librum D. D. Samuel Johnson, quòd hào loci ftudiis interdum vacaret.' Of this library, which is an old Gothick room, he was very fond. On my observing to him that some of the modern libraries of the University were more commodious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he replied, “Sir, if a man has a mind to prance, he must study at Christ Church and All-Souls.”

3 “ During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to be deeply engaged in some sterary work, Mils Williams was now with him at Oxford.”

town.

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