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To prove this alarm to be false was the purpose of Johnson's pamphlet; but even his vast powers are inadequate to cope with constitutional truth and reason, and his argument failed of effect; and the house of commons have since expunged the offensive resolution from their Journals. That the house of commons might have expelled Mr. Wilkes repeatedly, and as often as he should be rechosen, was not denied; but incapacitation cannot be but by an act of the whole legislature. It was wonderful to see how a prejudice in favour of government in general, and an aversion to popular clamour, could blind and contract such an understanding as Johnson's, in this particular case; yet the wit, the sarcasm, the eloquent vivacity which this pamphlet displayed, made it be read with great avidity at the time, and it will ever be read with pleasure, for the sake of its composition. That it endeavoured to infuse a narcotick indifference, as to publick concerns, into the minds of the people, and that it broke out sometimes into an extreme coarseness of contemptuous abuse, is but too evident.

It must not, however, be omitted, that when the storm of his violence subsides, he takes a fair opportunity to pay a grateful compliment to the king, who had rewarded his merit:-"These low-born railers have endeavoured, surely without effect, to alienate the affections of the people from the only king who for almost a century has much appeared to desire, or much endeavoured to deserve them." And "Every honest man must lament, that the faction has been regarded with frigid neutrality by the tories, who being long accustomed to signalise their principles by opposition to the court, do not yet consider, that they have at last a king who knows not the name of party, and who wishes to be the common father of all his people."

Piozzi, p. 31.

Prayers & Med. p. 100.

[This his first and favourite pamphlet was written at Mr. Thrale's between eight o'clock on Wednesday night and twelve o'clock on Thursday night; and Johnson and Mrs. Thrale read it to Mr. Thrale when he came very late home from the house of commons.]

To this pamphlet, which was at once discovered to be Johnson's, several answers came out, in which care was taken to remind the publick of his former attacks upon government, and of his now being a pensioner, without allowing for the honourable terms upon which Johnson's pension was granted and accepted, or the change of system which the British court had undergone upon the accession of his present majesty. He was, however, soothed in the highest strain of panegyrick, in a poem called "The Remonstrance," by the Rev. Mr. Stockdale', to whom he was, upon many occasions, a kind protector.

The following admirable minute made by him describes so well his own state, and that of numbers to whom self-examination is habitual, that I cannot omit it :

"June 1, 1770. Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time and frequency of experiment. This opinion of our own constancy is so prevalent, that we always despise him who suffers his general and settled purpose to be overpowered by an occasional desire. They, therefore, whom frequent failures have made desperate, cease to form resolutions; and they who are become cunning, do not tell them. Those who do not make them are very few, but of their effect little is perceived: for scarcely any man persists in a course of life planned by choice, but as he is restrained from deviation by some external power. He who may live as he will, seldom lives long in the observation of his own rules. I never yet saw a regular family, unless it were that of Mrs. Harriot's, nor a

[The Reverend Percival Stockdale, whose strange and rambling autobiography was published in 1808; he was the author of several bad poems, and he died in 1811, at the age of 75. He was Johnson's neighbour for some years, both in Johnson's-court and Bolt-court.-ED.]

regular man, except Mr. — 1, whose exactness I know only by his own report, and Psalmanazer, whose life was, I think, uniform."

Of this year I have obtained the following letters:


"Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, 21st March, 1770. "SIR, AS no man ought to keep wholly to himself any possession that may be useful to the publick, I hope you will not think me unreasonably intrusive, if I have recourse to you for such information as you are more able to give me than any other


"In support of an opinion which you have already placed above the need of any more support, Mr. Steevens, a very ingenious gentleman, lately of King's College, has collected an account of all the translations which Shakspeare might have seen and used. He wishes his catalogue to be perfect, and therefore entreats that you will favour him by the insertion of such additions as the accuracy of your inquiries has enabled you to make. To this request, I take the liberty of adding my own solicitation.

"We have no immediate use for this catalogue, and therefore do not desire that it should interrupt or hinder your more important employments. But it will be kind to let us know that you receive it. I am, sir, &c. "SAM. JOHNSON."


"1st May, 1770. "Dearest MADAM,—Among other causes that have hindered me from answering your last kind letter, is a tedious and painful rheumatism, that has afflicted me for many weeks, and still continues to molest me. I hope you are well, and will long keep your health and your cheerfulness.

"One reason why I delayed to write was, my uncertainty how to answer your letter. I like the thought of giving away the money very well; but when I consider that Tom Johnson is my nearest relation, and that he is now old and in great want; that he was my playfellow in childhood, and has never done any thing to offend me; I am in doubt whether I ought not rather give it him than any other.

"Of this, my dear, I would have your opinion. I would willingly please you, and I know that you will be pleased best with what you think right.

[The name in the original manuscript is, as Dr. Hall informs me, Campbell, perhaps Dr. John Campbell, whom, on another occasion, (ante, vol. i. p. 431), Johnson calls a "good and a pious man;" but see post, 11th April, 1773.—ED.]



Pearson MSS.

Letters, vol. i.

p. 26.

"Tell me your mind, and do not learn of me to neglect writing; for it is a very sorry trick, though it be mine.

"Your brother is well, I saw him to-day; and thought it long since I saw him before it seems he has called often and could not find me. I am, my dear, your affectionate humble "SAM. JOHNSON."]


["London, 29th May, 1770.

"MY DEAREST DEAR,-I am very sorry that your eyes are bad; take great care of them, especially by candlelight. Mine continue pretty good, but they are sometimes a little dim. My rheumatism grows gradually better.

"I have considered your letter, and am willing that the whole money should go where you, my dear, originally intended. I hope to help Tom some other way. So that matter is over.

"Dr. Taylor has invited me to pass some time with him at Ashbourne; if I come, you may be sure that I shall take you and Lichfield in my way. When I am nearer coming, I will send you word

“ Of Mr. Porter I have seen very little, but I know not that it is his fault, for he says that he often calls, and never finds me; I am sorry for it, for I love him.

“Mr. Mathias has lately had a great deal of money left him, of which you have probably heard already. I am, my dearest, your most affectionate servant,



"London, 23d June, 1770.

"DEAR SIR,-The readiness with which you were pleased to promise me some notes on Shakspeare, was a new instance of your friendship. I shall not hurry you; but am desired by Mr. Steevens, who helps me in this edition, to let you know, that we shall print the tragedies first, and shall therefore want first the notes which belong to them. We think not to incommode the readers with a supplement; and therefore, what we cannot put into its proper place, will do us no good. We shall not begin to print before the end of six weeks, perhaps not so I am, &c. "SAM. JOHNSON."



“Lichfield, 7th July, 1770.

"I thought I should have heard something to-day about Streatham; but there is no letter; and I need some consolation, for rheumatism is come again, though in a less degree than formerly. I reckon to go next week to Ashbourne, and



vol. i.

p. 27.

will try to bring you the dimensions of the great bull. The Letters, skies and the ground are all so wet, that I have been very abroad; and Mrs. Aston is from home, so that I have no motive to walk. When she is at home, she lives on the top of Stowhill, and I commonly climb up to see her once a day. There is nothing there now but the empty nest.

"To write to you about Lichfield is of no use, for you never saw Stow-pool, nor Borowcop-hill. I believe you may find Borow or Boroughcop-hill in my Dictionary, under cop or cob. Nobody here knows what the name imports."

66 Lichfield, 11th July, 1770.

"Mr. Greene1, the apothecary, has found a book which tells who paid levies in our parish, and how much they paid above an hundred years ago. Do you not think we study this book hard? Nothing is like going to the bottom of things. Many families that paid the parish rates are now extinct, like the race of Hercules. Pulvis et umbra sumus. What is nearest us touches us most. The passions rise higher at domestick than at imperial tragedies. I am not wholly unaffected by the revolutions of Sadler-street; nor can forbear to mourn a little when old names vanish away, and new come into their place."

Ashbourne, 20th July, 1770.

"I came hither on Wednesday, having staid one night at a lodge in the forest of Nedewood. Dr. Taylor's is a very pleasant house, with a lawn and a lake, and twenty deer and five fawns the lawn. Whether I shall by any light see Matupon lock I do not yet know.

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p. 31.

"That Baretti's book would please you all I made no doubt. p. 32. I know not whether the world has ever seen such Travels before. Those whose lot it is to ramble can seldom write, and those who know how to write very seldom ramble. If Sidney had gone, as he desired, the great voyage with Drake, there would probably have been such a narrative as would have equally satisfied the poet and the philosopher."

"Ashbourne, 23d July, 1770.

"I have seen the great bull 2; and very great he is. I have seen likewise his heir apparent, who promises to inherit all the bulk and all the virtues of his sire. I have seen the man who

1 [See post, 23d March, 1776.-ED.]

2 [Dr. Taylor had a remarkable fine breed of cattle; and one bull, in particular, was of celebrated beauty and size.-ED.]

p. 33.

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