Abbildungen der Seite

the place. This was the first time of his being there, after quitting the University. The next morning after his arrival, he wished to see his old college, Pembroke. I went with him. He was highly pleased to find all the college-servants which he had left there still remaining, particularly a very old butler ; and expressed great satisfaction at being recognised by them, and conversed with them familiarly. He waited on the master, Dr. Radcliffe, who received him very coldly. Johnson at least expected, that the master would order a copy of his Dictionary, now near publication ; but the master did not choose to talk on the subject, never asked Johnson to dine, nor even to visit him, while he staid at Oxford. After we had left the lodgings, Johnson said to me, 'There lives a man, who lives by the revenues of literature, and will not move a finger to support it. (1) If I come to live at Oxford, I shall take up my abode at Trinity. We then called on the Reverend Mr. Meeke, one of the fellows, and of Johnson's standing. Here was a most cordial greeting on both sides. On leaving him, Johnson said, “I used to think Meeke had excellent parts, when we were boys together at the college : but, alas !

* Lost in a convent's solitary gloom !'

(1) There is some excuse for Dr. Ratcliff (so he spelt his name) not ordering a copy of the book, for this visit occurred seven or eight months before the Dictionary was published. His personal neglect of Johnson is less easily to be accounted for, unless it be by the fact, that he was a great invalid; but the imputation of his living by the revenues of literature, and doing nothing for it, cannot, as Dr. Hall informs me, be justly made against Dr. Ratcliff; for he bequeathed to his college 1000l. 4 per cents. for the establishment of an exhibition for the son of a Gloucestershire clergyman - 10001. for the improvement of the college buildings - 1001. worth of books and 1001. for contingent expenses. The residue of his property (except 600l. left for the repair of the prebendal house at Gloucester) he left to the old butler mentioned in the text, who had long been his servant: a bequest which Johnson himself imitated in favour of his own servant, Barber. — C.

“I remember, at the classical lecture in the Hall, I could not bear Meeke’s superiority, and I tried to sit as far from him as I could, that I might not hear him construe.

As we were leaving the college, he said, 'Here I translated Pope's Messiah. Which do you think is the best line in it? – My own favourite is,

*Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes.' I told him, I thought it a very sonorous hexameter. I did not tell him, it was not in the Virgilian style. He much regretted that his first tutor was dead; for whom he seemed to retain the greatest regard. He said, “I once had been a whole morning sliding in Christ Church meadows, and missed his lecture in logic. After dinner he sent for me to his room. I expected a sharp rebuke for my idleness, and went with a beating heart. (1) When we were seated, he told me he had sent for me to drink a glass of wine with him, and to tell me, he was not angry with me for missing his lecture. This was, in fact, a most severe reprimand. Some more of the boys were then sent for, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon. Besides Mr. Meeke, there was only one other fellow of Pembroke now resident: from both of whom Johnson received the greatest civilities during this visit, and they pressed him very much to have a room in the college.

“ In the course of this visit Johnson and I walked three or four times to Ellsfield, a village beautifully situ

(1) This was Johnson's earliest account of this little event, and probably the most accurate; many years after this he told the story to Boswell and Mrs. Piozzi, and made a parade of his having waited on his tutor, not with a beating heart,but with ( nonchalance and even insolence.” It would seem as if Johnson had been induced, by the too obsequious deference of his later admirers, to assign to his character in youth a little more of sturdy dignity than, when his recollection was fresher and his ear unspoiled by flattery, he assumed to Mr. Warton. (See antè, Vol. I. p. 59.)-C.

ated about three miles from Oxford, to see Mr.[Francis] Wise, Radclivian librarian, with whom Johnson was much pleased. At this place, Mr. Wise had fitted up a house and gardens, in a singular manner, but with great taste.

Here was an excellent library, particularly a valuable collection of books in Northern literature, with which Johnson was often very busy. One day Mr. Wise read to us a dissertation which he was preparing for the press, intitled “A History and Chronology of the fabulous Ages.” (1) Some old divinities of Thrace, related to the Titans, and called the Cabiri, made a very important part of the theory of this piece ; and in conversation afterwards, Mr. Wise talked much of his Cabiri. As we returned to Oxford in the evening, I outwalked Johnson, and he cried out Sufflamina, a Latin word which came from his mouth with peculiar grace, and was as much as to say, Put on your drag chain. Before we got home, I again walked too fast for him ; and he now cried out, Why, you walk as if you were pursued by all the Cabiri in a body.' In an evening we frequently took long walks from Oxford into the country, returning to supper. Once, in our way home, we viewed the ruins of the abbeys of Oseney and Rewley, near Oxford. After at least half an hour's silence, Johnson said, 'I viewed them with indignation !' We had then a long conversation on Gothic buildings ; and in talking of the form of old halls, he said, 'In these halls, the fire place was anciently always in the middle of the room, till the Whigs removed it on one side.' (%) About this time

(1) [This work was not published till 1764. The author died in 1767: five years before his death, the following anticipation of it appeared in the London papers: “ Dec. 9. 1762, died the Rev. Solomon Wise, greatly regretted by the studious part of *** university of Oxford. His death was occasioned by a Folent cold, contracted by too close attendance in the Bodleian and Radcliffe libraries.”

(2) What can this mean? What had the Whigs to do with reinoving the smoky hearth: from the centre of the great halls to

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors]


« ZurückWeiter »