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"The publication of my letter, if it could be of use in a cause to which all other causes are nothing, I should not prohibit. But first, I would have you to consider whether the publication will really do any good; next, whether by printing and distributing a very small number, you may not attain all that you propose; and, what perhaps I should have said first, whether the letter, which I do not now perfectly remember, be fit to be printed.


If you can consult Dr. Robertson, to whom I am a little known, I shall be satisfied about the propriety of whatever he shall direct. If he thinks that it should be printed, I entreat him to revise it; there may, perhaps, be some negligent lines written, and whatever is amiss, he knows very well how to rectify '.

"Be pleased to let me know, from time to time, how this excellent design goes forward.

"Make my compliments to young Mr. Drummond, whom I hope you will live to see such as you desire him.


"I have not lately seen Mr. Elphinston, but believe him to be prosperous. I shall be glad to hear the same of you, for I am, sir, your affectionate humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON."


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"London, Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, 24th Oct. 1767. "SIR,-I returned this week from the country, after an absence of near six months, and found your letter with many others, which I should have answered sooner, if I had sooner seen them. Dr. Robertson's opinion was surely right. Men should not be told of the faults which they have mended. I am glad the old language is taught, and honour the translator, as a man whom God has distinguished by the high office of propagating his word.

"I must take the liberty of engaging you in an office of charity. Mrs. Heely, the wife of Mr. Heely, who had lately some office in your theatre, is my near relation, and now in great distress. They wrote me word of their situation some time ago, to which I returned them an answer which raised hopes of more than it is proper for me to give them. Their representation of their affairs I have discovered to be such as

This paragraph shows Johnson's real estimation of the character and abilities of the celebrated Scottish historian, however lightly, in a moment of caprice, he may have spoken of his works. BOSWELL. [He seems never to have spoken otherwise than slightingly of Dr. Robertson's works, however he may have respected his judgment on this particular subject. See post, p. 53, and 14th April, 1772.-ED.]

cannot be trusted: and at this distance, though their case requires haste, I know not how to act. She, or her daughters, may be heard of at Canongate-head. I must beg, sir, that you will inquire after them, and let me know what is to be done. I am willing to go to ten pounds, and will transmit you such a sum, if upon examination find it likely to be of use. you they are in immediate want, advance them what you think proper. What I could do I would do for the woman, having no great reason to pay much regard to Heely himself1.


"I believe you may receive some intelligence from Mrs. Baker of the theatre, whose letter I received at the same time with yours; and to whom, if you see her, you will make my excuse for the seeming neglect of answering her.

"Whatever you advance within ten pounds shall be immediately returned to you, or paid as you shall order. I trust wholly to your judgment.-I am, sir, &c. "SAM. JOHNSON."

Mr. Cuthbert Shaw, alike distinguished by his genius, misfortunes, and misconduct, published this year a poem, called "The Race, by Mercurius Spur, Esq." in which he whimsically made the living poets of England contend for pre-eminence of fame by running:

"Prove by their heels the prowess of the head."

In this poem there was the following portrait of Johnson:

"Here Johnson comes,-unblest with outward grace,

His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face;

This is the person concerning whom Sir John Hawkins has thrown cut very unwarrantable reflections both against Dr. Johnson and Mr. Francis Barber.BOSWELL. [Hawkins wished to persuade the world that Dr. Johnson acted unjustifiably in preferring (in the disposal of his property,) Barber to this man, whom Sir John and his daughter, in her Memoirs, call, with a most surprising disregard of truth, Johnson's relation, but who, in fact, had only married his relation. She was dead and Heely had married another woman at the time when Hawkins affected to think that he had claims to be Dr. Johnson's heir, and we find that, so early as this year, Johnson expressed his disregard for Heely himself. Some scenes took place in the last days of Johnson's life which, as we shall see, do little credit to Sir John Hawkins, and it seems probable that Barber detected and reported them, as was his duty, to his master; whence, perhaps, Hawkins's malevolence both to Johnson and Barber, and his endeavour to set up a rival to the latter. See post, 12th August, and sub November, 1784. -ED.]

2 See an account of him in the European Magazine, Jan. 1786.-BoSWELL.

While strong conceptions struggle in his brain;
(For even wit is brought to bed with pain :)
To view him, porters with their loads would rest,
And babes cling frighted to the nurses' breast.
With looks convulsed he roars in pompous strain,
And, like an angry lion, shakes his mane.
The nine, with terrour struck, who ne'er had seen
Aught human with so terrible a mien,
Debating whether they should stay or run,
Virtue steps forth and claims him for her son.
With gentle speech she warns him now to yield,
Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field;

But wrapt in conscious worth, content sit down,
Since Fame, resolved his various pleas to crown,
Though forced his present claim to disavow,
Had long reserved a chaplet for his brow.
He bows, obeys; for time shall first expire,
Ere Johnson stay, when Virtue bids retire."


The honourable Thomas Hervey and his lady having unhappily disagreed, and being about to separate, Johnson interfered as their friend, and wrote him a letter of expostulation, which I have not been able to find; but the substance of it is ascertained by a letter to Johnson in answer to it, which Mr. Hervey printed. The occasion of this correspondence between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Hervey was thus related to me by Mr. Beauclerk. "Tom Hervey had a great liking for Johnson, and in his will had left him a legacy of fifty pounds. One day he said to me, ' Johnson may want this money now, more than afterwards. I have a mind to give it him directly. Will you be so good as to carry a fifty pound note from me to him?' This I positively refused to do, as he might, perhaps, have knocked me down for insulting him, and have afterwards put the note in his pocket. But I said, if Hervey would write him a letter, and enclose a fifty pound note, I should take care to deliver it. He

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1 The Honourable Thomas Hervey, whose letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, in 1742, was much read at that time. He was the second son of John, the first Earl of Bristol, and one of the brothers of Johnson's early friend, Henry Hervey. He [was born in 1698] married in 1744, Anne, daughter of Francis Coughlan, Esq., and died Jan. 20, 1775.-MALONE.

accordingly did write him a letter, mentioning that he was only paying a legacy a little sooner. To his letter he added, P. S. I am going to part with my wife?' ' Johnson then wrote to him, saying nothing of the note, but remonstrating with him against parting with his wife."

When I mentioned to Johnson this story, in as delicate terms as I could, he told me that the fifty pound note was given1 to him by Mr. Hervey in consideration


1 [This is not inconsistent with Mr. Beauclerk's account. It may have been in consideration of this pamphlet that Hervey left Johnson the fifty pounds in his will, and on second thoughts he may have determined to send it to him. It were however to be wished, that the story had stood on its original ground. The acceptance of an anticipated legacy from a friend would have had nothing objectionable in it; but can so much be said for the employment of one's pen for hire, in the disgusting squabbles of so mischievous and profligate a madman as Mr. Thomas Hervey?" He was well known," says the gentle biographer of the Peerage, "for his genius and eccentricities." The letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, above mentioned, was the first, it is believed, of the many appeals which Mr. Hervey made to the public, relative to his private concerns. The subject is astonishing. Lady Hanmer eloped from her husband with Mr. Hervey, and made, it seems, a will, in his favour, of certain estates, of which Sir Thomas had a life possession. Hervey's letter avows the adultery, and assigns very strange reasons for the lady's leaving her husband, and then goes on to complain, that Sir Thomas was cutting timber on the estate which had belonged to our wife," so he calls her, and of which the reversion was his, and begging that, if he did sell any more timber, he would give him, Hervey, the refusal of it. All this is garnished, and set off by extravagant flights of fine writing, the most cutting sarcasms, the most indecent details, and the most serious expressions of the writer's conviction, that his conduct was natural and delicate, and such as every body must approve; and that, finally, in Heaven, Lady Hanmer, in the distribution of wives (suam cuique), would be considered as his. Twenty years did not cool his brain. Just at the close of the reign he addressed a letter to King George the Second, complaining of the king's ministers for not paying him 20007. which they owed him, and which sum was composed of 2001. per annum for 10 years, which the said ministers should have added to the salary of an office which Mr. Hervey held. In this letter he pretty clearly explains the state of his intellect. He talks of "the hideous subject of his mental excruciation," and laments that "a troubled and resentful mind, in a distempered body, is almost the consummation of human misery." He complains that "his doctor mistook his case, by calling that a nervous disorder which was clearly inflammatory, and, in consequence of that fatal error, Hervey “passed eleven years without any more account of time, or other notice of things, than a person asleep, under the influence of some horrid dream." He talks of his father as a 66 monster of iniquity," of "his weak and passionate mother," of "his base and cruel brother," and so on. It is this letter which Horace Walpole thus characterizes: "Have you seen Tom Hervey's letter to the king? full of absurdity and madness, but with here and there gleams of genius and happy expressions that are wonderfully fine."-Letter to Conway, Dec. 1766. His quarrel with his second wife, in 1767, referred to in the text, he, according to his custom, blazoned to the public by the following advertisement: "Whereas Mrs. Hervey has been three times from home last year, and at least as many the year before, without my leave or privity, and hath encouraged her son to persist in the like rebellious practices, I hereby declare, that I neither am nor will be accountable for any future debts VOL. II. D

of his having written for him a pamphlet against Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who, Mr. Hervey imagined, was the authour of an attack upon him; but that it was afterwards discovered to be the work of a garreteer1, who wrote "The Fool:" the pamphlet, therefore, against Sir Charles was not printed.

In February, 1767, there happened one of the most remarkable incidents of Johnson's life, which gratified his monarchical enthusiasm, and which he loved to relate with all its circumstances, when requested by his friends. This was his being honoured by a private conversation with his majesty in the library at the queen's house. He had frequently visited those splendid rooms, and noble collection of books 2, which he used to say was more numerous and curious than he supposed any person could have made in the time which the king had employed. Mr. Barnard, the librarian, took care that he should have every accommodation that could contribute to his ease and convenience, while indulging his literary taste in that place; so that he had here a very agreeable resource at leisure hours.

His majesty having been informed of his occasional visits, was pleased to signify a desire that he should

of her whatsoever. She is now keeping forcible possession of my house, to which I never did invite or thought of inviting her in all my life.-THOMAS HERVEY." He afterwards proceeded further, and commenced a suit against his lady for jactitation of marriage, which finally ended in his discomfiture. Johnson, as we shall see hereafter, characterized his friend, Tom Hervey, as he had already done (ante, vol. i. p. 76.) his brother Henry, as very vicious. Alas! it is but too probable, that both were disordered in mind, and that what was called vice was, in truth, disease, and required a madhouse rather than a prison.Ep.1

[Some curiosity would naturally be felt as to who the garreteer was, who wrote a pamphlet, which was attributed to Sir C. H. Williams, the wittiest man of his day, and to answer which, the wild and sarcastic genius of Hervey required the assistance of Dr. Johnson. His name was William Horsley, but his acknowledged works are poor productions.-ED.]

2 Dr. Johnson had the honour of contributing his assistance towards the formation of this library; for I have read a long letter from him to Mr. Barnard, giving the most masterly instructions on the subject. I wished much to have gratified my readers with the perusal of this letter, and have reason to think that his majesty would have been graciously pleased to permit its publication; but Mr. Barnard, to whom I applied, declined it "on his own account."

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