صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

"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 medinm 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. 1 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 opiniou with regard to placing most of the resolutions, &c. in the margin, and think we shall give the mo«t 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 £. 13 2*. 6d. reckoning the half guinea of last Saturday. As you hinted to me that you had many calls for money, I would not press you too hard, and therefore shall desire only, as I send it in, two guineas for a sheet of copy; the rest you may pay me when it may be more convenient; and even by this sheet payment I shall, for some, time, be very expensive.

"The Life of Savage 1 am ready to go upon; and in Great Primer, and Pica notes, I reckon on sending 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 not I have business enough? if 1 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 1 am, Sir, "Your's, &c.


"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 to extort a price. I could think of nothing, till to day. If yon 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. 1 am almost well again."

« To Mr. Cave. "sir. "You did not tell me yonr determination about the Soldier's Letter, 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 all, I believe you do not think I set it high, and 1 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.]

I would also -ascribe to him an " Essay on the Description of China, from the French of Du Halde."+

His writings in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1743, are, the Preface,f the Parliamentary Debates.f "Considerations of the Dispute between Crousaz and Warburton, on Popes's Essay on Man ;"f in which, while he defends Crousaz, he shews an admirable metaphysical acuteness and temperance in controversy; Ad Lauram parituram Epigramma ;"* and, "A Latin Translation of Pope's Verses on his Grotto ;"* and, as he could employ his pen with equal success upon a small matter as a great, I suppose him to be the author of an advertisement for Osborne, concerning the great Harleian Catalogue.

But 1 should think myself much wanting, both to my illustrious friend and my readers, did I not introduce here, with more than ordinary respect, an exquisitely beautiful Ode, which has not been inserted in any of the collections of Johnson's poetry, written by him at a very early period, as Mr. Hector informs me, and inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine of this year.

Friendship, an Ode.'
Friendship, peculiar boon of heav'n,

The noble mind's delight and pride,
To men and angels only giv'n,

To all the lower world deny'd.

While love, unknown among the blest,

Parent of thousand wild desires,
The savage and the human breast

Torments alike with raging fires;

With bright, but oft destructive, gleam,

Alike o'er all his lightnings fly;
Thy lambent glories only beam

Around the fav'rites of the sky.

Thy gentle flows of guiltless joys

On fools and villains ne'er descend .
Jn vain for thee the tyrant sighs,

And hugs a flatterer for a friend.

Directress of the brave and just,

O guide us through life's darksome way
And let the tortures of mistrust

On selfish bosoms only prey.

Nor shall thine ardour cease to glow,

When souls to bissful climes remove
What rais'd our virtue here below,

Shall aid our happiness above

Secretary of State's Office, but could find no trace whatever of any warrant having been issued to apprehend the authour of this pamphlet.''

"Marmor Norfolciense" became exceedingly scarce, so that 1 for many years endeavoured in vain to procure a copy of it. At last I was indebted to the malice of one of Johnson's numerous petty adversaries, who, in J 775, published a new edition of it, "with Notes and a Dedication to Samuel Johnson, LL. D. by Trircnus ;" in which some puny scribbler invidiously attempted to found upon it a charge of inconsistency against its author, because he had accepted of a pension from his present Majesty, and had written in support of the measures of government. As a mortification to such impotent malice, of which there are so many instances towards men of eminence, I am happy to relate, that this telum imbelle did not reach its exalted object, till about a year after it thus appeared, when I mentioned it to him, supposing that he knew of the re-publication. To my surprise, he had not yet heard of it. He requested me to go directly and get it for him, which 1 did. He looked at it and laughed and seemed to be much diverted with the feeble efforts of his unknown adversary, who, 1 hope, is alive to read this account. "Now (said he) here is somebody who thinks he has vexed me sadly; yet, if it had not been for you, you rogue, I should probably never have seen it."

As Mr. Pope's note concerning Johnson, alluded to in a former page refers both to his "London," and his "Marmor Norfolciense," I have deferred inserting it till now. I am indebted for it to Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, who permitted me to copy it from the original in his possession. It was presented to his Lordship by Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom it was given by the son of Mr. Richardson the painter, the person to whom it is addressed. 1 have transcribed it with minute exactness, that the peculiar mode of writing, and imperfect spelling of that celebrated poet, may be exhibited to the curious in literature. It justifies Swift's epithet of " paper-sparing Pope," for it is written on a slip no larger than a common message-card, and was sent to Mr. Richardson, along with the imitation of Juvenal.

"This is imitated by one Johnson who put in for a public-school in Shropshire, but was disappointed. He has an infirmity of the convulsive kind, that attacks him sometimes, so as to make Him a sad Spectacle. Mr. P. from the Merit of This Work which was all the knowledge he had of Him endeavour'd to serve Him without his own application; & wrote to my M. gore, but he did not succeed. Mr. Johnson published afterwds. another Poem in Latin with Notes the whole very numerous call'd the Norfolk Prophecy. "P."

Johnson had been told of this note ; and Sir Joshua Reynolds informed him of the compliment which it contained, but, from delicacy, avoided shewing him the paper itself. When Sir Joshua observed to Johnson that he seemed very desirous to see Pope's note he answered "Who would not be proud to have such a man as Pope so solicitous in enquiring about him.'"

The infirmity to which Mr. Pope alludes, appeared to me also, as I have elsewhere observed, to be of the convulsive kind, and of the nature of that distemper called St. Vitus's dance : and in this opinion I am confirmed by the description which Sydenham gives of that disease. "This disorder is a kind of convulsion. It manifests itself by halting or unsteadiness of one of the legs, which the patient draws after him like an ideot. If the hand of the same side be applied to the breast, or any other part of the body, he cannot keep it a moment in the same posture, but it will be drawn into a different one by a convulsion, notwithstanding all bis efforts to the contrary." Sir Joshua Reynolds, however, was of a different opinion, and favoured me with the following paper.

"Those motions or tricks of Dr. Johnson are improperly called convulsions. He could sit motionless, when he was told so to do, as well as any other man. My opinion is, that it proceeded from a habit which he had indulged himself in, of accompanying his thoughts with certain untoward actions, and those actions always appeared to me Ss if they were meant to reprobate some part of his past conduct. Whenever he was engaged in conversation, such thoughts were sure to rush into his mind; and, for this reason, any company, any employment whatever, he pre- • ferred to being alone. The great business of his life (he said) was to escape from himself; this disposition he considered as the disease of his mind, which nothing cured but company.

"One instance of his absence of mind and particularity, as it is characteristic of the man, may be worth relating. When he and I took a journey together into the West, we visited the late Mr. Banks of Dorsetshire; the conversation turning upon pictures, which Johnson could not well see, he retired to a corner of the room, stretching out his right leg as far as he could reach before him, then bringing up his left leg, *nd stretching his right still further on. The old gentleman observing him, went up to him, and in a very courteous raunner assured him, though it was not a new house, the flooring was perfectly safe. The Doctor started from bis reverie, like a person waked out of his sleep, but spoke uot a word."

While we are on this subject, my readers may not be displeased with another anecdote, communicated to me by the same friend, from the relation of Mr. Hogarth,

Johnson used to be a pretty frequent visitor at the house of Mr. Richardson, author of Clarissa, and other novels of extensive reputation. Mr. Hogarth came one day to see Richardson, soon after the execution of Dr. Cameron, for having taking arms for the house of Stuart in 1745-6; and being a warm partisan of George the Second, he observed to Richardson, that certainly there must have been some very unfavourable circumstances lately discovered in this particular case, which had induced the King to approve of un execution for rebellion so long after the time when it was committed, as this had the appearance of putting a man to death ■ n cold blood, and was very unlike bis Majesty's usual clemency. While he was talking, he perceived a person standing at a window in the room,

Johnson had now an opportunity of obliging his schoolfellow Dr. James, of whom he once observed, " no man brings more mind to his profession." James published this year his " Medicinal Dictionary," in three volumes folio. Johnson, as I understood from him, had written, or assisted in writing, the proposals for this work; and being very fond of the study of physic, in which James was his master, he furnished some of the articles. He, however, certainly wrote for it the Dedication to Dr. Mead,f which is conceived with great address, to conciliate the patronage of that very eminent man.

It has been circulated, I know not with what authenticity, that Johnson considered Dr. Birch as a dull writer, and said of him, "Tom Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation; but no sooner does he take a pen in his hand, than it becomes a torpedo to him, and benumbs all his faculties." That the literature of this country is much indebted to Birch's activity and diligence must certainly be acknowledged. We have seen that Johnson honoured him with a Greek Epigram; and bis correspondence with him, during many years, proves that he had no mean opinion of him.

"To Dr. Birch. "sir, "Thursday, Sept. 29, 1743.

"I hOPE you will excuse me for troubling you on an occasion on which 1 know not whom else I can apply to; 1 am at a loss for the Lives and Characters of Earl Stanhope, the twoCraggs, and the minister Sunderland; and beg that you will inform [me] where 1 may find them, and send any pamphlets, &c. relating to them to Mr. Cave to be perused for a few days by, Sir, "Your most humble servant,

"Sam. Johnson." His circumstances were at this time embarrassed; yet his affection for his mother was so warm, and so liberal, that he took upon himself, a debt of her's, which, though small in itself, was then considerable to him. This appears from the following letter which he wrote to Mr. Levett, of Lichfield, the original of which lies now before me.

"To Mn. Levett; In Lichfield. "sir, December 1, 1743.

"I Am extremely sorry that we have encroached so much upon your forbearance with respect to the interest, which a great perplexity of affairs hindered me from thinking of with that attention that 1 ought, and which I am not immediately able to remit to you, but will pay it (1 think twelve pounds,) in two months. I look upon this, and on the future interest of that mortgage, as my own debt: and beg that you will be pleased to give me directions how to pay it, and not mention it to my dear mother. If it be necessary to pay this in less time, I believe I can do it; but I take two months for a certainty, and beg an answer whether you can allow me so much time. 1 thiak myself very much obliged to your forbearance, and shall esteem it a great happiness to be able to serve you. I have great opportunities of dispersing any thing that you

« السابقةمتابعة »