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He was not, however, precisely exact in his statement, which he mentioned from hasty recollection; for it is sufficiently evident, that his composition of them began November 19, 1740, and ended February 23, 1742-3.
It appears from some of Cave's letters to Dr. Birch, that Cave had better assistance for that branch of his Magazine, than has been generally supposed; and that he was indefatigable in getting it made as perfect as he could.
Thus, 21st July, 1735, “ I trouble you with the inclosed, because you said you could easily correct what is herein given for Lord C-ld's speech. I beg you will do so as foon as you can for me, because the month is far advanced."
And, 15th July, 1737. « As you remember the Debates so far as to per-ceive the speeches already printed are not exact, I beg the favour that you will peruse the inclosed, and, in the best manner your memory will serve, correct the mistaken passages, or add any thing that is omitted. I should be very glad to have something of the Duke of N-le's speech, which would be particularly of service.
“A gentleman has Lord Bathurst's speech to add something to.”
And, July 3, 1744, “ You will see what stupid, low, abominable stuff is. put? upon your noble and learned friend's' character, such as I should quite reject, and endeavour to do something better towards doing justice to the character. But as I cannot expect to attain my desires in that respect, it would be a great satisfaction to me, as well as an honour to our work, to have the favour of the genuine speech. It is a method that several have been pleased to take, as I could shew, but I think myself under a restraint. I shall say so far, that I have had some by a third hand, which I understood well enough to come from the first; others by penny-post, and others by the speakers themselves, who have been pleased to visit St. John's Gate, and shew particular marks of their being pleased !.”
There is no reason, I believe, to doubt the veracity of Cave. It is, however, remarkable, that none of these letters are in the years during which Johnson alone furnished the Debates, and one of them is in the very year after he ceased from that labour. Johnson told me, that as soon as he found that the speeches were thought genuine, he determined that he would write no more of them, for “ he would not be accessary to the propagation of falfhood.” And such was the tenderness of his conscience, that a short time before his.
$ Doubtless, Lord Hardwicke.
? I suppose in another compilation of the same kind. · Birch's MSS. in the British Museum, 4302..
THE LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON.
He nevertheless agreed with me in thinking, that the Debates which he had
year I find that his tragedy of Irene had been for some time ready
“ Sept. 9, 1741.
I have already mentioned that “ Irene” was not brought into publick notice till Garrick was manager of Drury-lane theatre.
· I am well assured, that the editor is Mr. George Chalmers, whose commercial works are well
3 A bookseller of London.
be an exercise for ingenious conjecture.
In 1742 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine the “ Preface, f" the "" Parliamentary Debates, *” “ Eflay on the Account of the Conduet of the Atar. 33. Duchess of Marlborough,*" then the popular topick of conversation. This Effay is a short but masterly performance. We find him, in No. 13 of his Rambler, censuring a profligate sentiment in that “ Account;” and again insisting upon it strenuously in conversation 8. " An Account of the Life of Peter Burman, *" I believe chiefly taken from a foreign publication; as, indeed, he could not himself know much about Burman; “ Additions to his Life of Baretier ; *” “ The Life of Sydenham, *" afterwards prefixed to Dr. Swan's edition of his works; " Proposals for printing Bibliotheca Harleiana, or a Catalogue of the Library of the Earl of Oxford.*" His account of that celebrated collection of books, in which he displays the importance to literature, of what the French call a catalogue raisonnée, when the subjects of it are extensive and various, and it is executed with ability, cannot fail to impress all his readers with admiration of his philological attainments. It was afterwards prefixed to the first volume of the Catalogue, in which the Latin accounts of books were written by him. He was employed in this business by Mr. Thomas Osborne the bookseller, who purchased the library for 13,000l. a fum, which Mr. Oldys says, in one of his manuscripts, was not more than the binding of the books had cost; yet, as Dr. Johnson assured me, the nowness of the sale was such, that there was not much gained by it. It has been confidently related, with many embellishments, that Johnson one day knocked Osborne down in his shop, with a folio, and put his foot upon
his neck. The simple truth I had from Johnson himself. Sir, he was impertinent to me, and I beat him. But it was not in his shop: it was in
my own chamber.”
A very diligent observer may trace him where we should not easily suppose him to be found. I have no doubt that he wrote the little abridgement entitled “ Foreign History,” in the Magazine for December. To prove it, I shall quote the introduction. “ As this is that season of the year in which Nature may be said to command a suspension of hostilities, and which seems intended, by putting a short stop to violence and Naughter, to afford time for malice to relent, and animosity to subside; we can scarce expect any other accounts than of plans, negociations and treaties, of proposals for peace, and preparations for war.” As also this passage:
As also this passage: “Let those who despise the capacity of the Swiss, tell us by what wonderful policy, or by what happy
conciliation of interests, it is brought to pass, that in a body made up of different communities and different religions, there should be no civil commotions, though the people are so warlike, that to nominate and raise an army is the same."
I am obliged to Mr. Astle for his ready permission to copy the two following letters, of which the originals are in his possession. Their contents shew that they were written about this time, and that Johnson was now engaged in preparing an historical account of the British Parliament.
TO Mr. CAVE,
[No date.] I BELIEVE I am going to write a long letter, and have therefore taken a whole sheet of paper. The first thing to be written about is our historical design.
“ You mentioned the proposal of printing in numbers, as an alteration in the scheme, but I believe you mistook, some way or other, my meaning; I had no other view than that you might rather print too many of five sheets, than of five and thirty.
“ With regard to what I shall say on the manner of proceeding, I would have it understood as wholly indifferent to me, and iny opinion only, not my resolution. Emptoris fit eligere.
“ I think the insertion of the exact dates of the most important events in the margin, or of so many events as may enable the reader to regulate the order of facts with sufficient exactness, the proper medium between a journal which has regard only to time, and a history which ranges facts according to their dependence on each other, and postpones or anticipates according to the convenience of narration. I think the work ought to partake of the spirit of history, which is contrary to minute exactness, and of the regularity of a journal, which is inconsistent with spirit. For this reason, I neither admit numbers or dates, nor reject them.
“ I am of your opinion with regard to placing most of the resolutions, &c. in the margin, and think we shall give the most complete account of parliamentary proceedings that can be contrived. The naked papers, without an historical treatise interwoven, require some other book to make them understood. I will date the succeeding facts with some exactness, but I think in the margin. You told me on Saturday that I had received money on this work, and found set down 131. 25. 6d. reckoning the half guinea of last Saturday. As you hinted to me hat you had many calls for money, I would not press you too hard, and therefore shall desire only, as I send it in, two 4
guineas for a sheet of copy, the rest you may pay me when it may be more 1742. convenient; and even by this sheet-payment I shall, for some time, be very Ætat. 33. expensive.
“ The Life of Savage I am ready to go upon; and in Great Primer, and Pica notes, I reckon on fending in half a sheet a day; but the money
for that shall likewise lye by in your hands till it is done. With the debates, shall I not have business enough ? if I had but good pens.
“ Towards Mr. Savage’s Life what more have you got? I would willingly have his trial, &c. and know whether his defence be at Bristol; and would have his collection of poems, on account of the preface-The Plain Dealer, all the magazines that have any thing of his, or relating to him.
“I thought my letter would be long, but it is now ended; and I
“ Your's, &c.
“ Sam. JOHNSON.” “ The boy found me writing this almost in the dark, when I could not quite easily read yours.
“ I have read the Italian-nothing in it is well.
“ I had no notion of having any thing for the Inscription. I hope you don't think I kept it it to extort a price. I could think of nothing, till to day. If you could spare me another guinea for the history, I should take it very kindly, to night; but if you do not, I shall not think it an injury.I am almost well again.”
“YOU did not tell me your determination about the Soldier's Letter I, which I am confident was never printed. I think it will not do by itself, or in any other place, so well as the Mag. Extraordinary. If you
will have it at all, I believe you do not think I set it high, and I will be glad if what you give, you will give quickly.
“ You need not be in care about something to print, for I have got the State Trials, and shall extract Layer, Atterbury, and Macclesfield from them, and shall bring them to you in a fortnight; after which I will try to get the South Sea Report.”
[No date, nor signature.]