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are maintained in the Seven Provinces.
I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
I am sorry to observe, that neither in my own minutes, nor in my letters to Johnson which have been preserved by him, can I find any information how the poor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. But I shall extract from one of my letters what I learnt concerning the other subject of his curiosity.
“ I have made all possible inquiry with respect to the Frisick language, and find that it has been less cultivated than any other of the northern dialects; a certain proof of which is their deficiency of books. Of the old Frisick there are no remains, except some ancient laws preserved by Schotanus in his · Beschryvinge van die Heerlykheid van Friesland ;' and his “Historia Frisica. I have not yet been able to find these books. Professor Trotz, who formerly was of the University of Vranyken in Friesland, and is at present preparing an edition of all the Frisick laws, gave me this information. Of the modern Frisick, or what is spoken by the boors of this day, I have procured a specimen. It is ‘Gisbert Japix's Rymelerie,' which is the only book that they have. It is amazing that they have no translation of the bible, no treatises of devotion, nor even any of the ballads and story-books which are so agreeable to country people. You shall have Japix by the first convenient opportunity. I doubt not to pick up Schotanus. Mynheer Trotz has promised me his assistance."
Early in 1764, Johnson paid a visit to the Langton family, at their seat of Langton in Lincolnshire, where he passed some time much to his satisfaction. His friend Bennet Langton, it will not be doubted, did every thing in his power to make the place agreeable to so illustrious a guest; and the elder Mr. Langton and his lady, being fully capable of understanding his value, were not wanting in attention. He, however, told me, that old Mr. Langton, though a man of considerable learning, had so little allowance to make for his occasional “ laxity of talk," that because in the course of discussion he sometimes mentioned what might be said in favour of the peculiar tenets of the Romish church, he went to his grave believing him to be of that communion.
Johnson, during his stay at Langton, had the advantage of a good library, and saw several gentlemen of the neighbourhood. I have obtained from Mr. Langton the following particulars of this period.
He was now fully convinced that he could not have been satisfied with a country living; for talking of a respectable clergyman in Lincolnshire, he observed, " This man, Sir, fills up the duties of his life well. I approve of him, but could not imitate
To a lady who endeavoured to vindicate herself from blame for neglecting social attention to worthy neighbours, by saying “ I would go to them if it would do them any good;" he said, “ What good, Madam, do you expect to have in your power to do them? It is shewing them respect, and that is doing them good.”
So socially accommodating was he, that once, when Mr. Langton and he were driving together in a coach, and Mr. Langton complained of being sick, he insisted that they should go out, and sit on the back of it in the open air, which they did. And being sensible how strange the appearance must be, observed, that a countryman whom they saw in a field would probably be thinking,
« If these two madmen should come down, what would become of
Soon after his return to London, which was in February, was founded that CLUB which existed long without a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral became distinguished by the title of The LITERARY CLUB. Sir Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first proposer of it (1), to which Johnson acceded, and the original members were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier, and Sir John Hawkins. They met at the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, one evening in every week, at seven, and generally continued their conversation till a pretty late hour. (*) This
(1) Johnson called Sir Joshua their Romulus.- Piozzi.
(2) It was Johnson's original intention, that the number of this club should not exceed nine, but Mr. Dyer, a member of that in Ivy Lane before spoken of, and who for some years had been abroad, made his appearance among them, and was cordially received. The hours which Johnson spent in this society seemed to be the happiest of his life. He would often applaud his own sagacity in the selection of it, and was so constant at its meetings as never to absent himself. It is true, he came late, but then he stayed late, for, as has been already said of him, he little regarded hours. Our evening toast was the motto of Padre Paolo, “Esto perpetua.” A lady (probably Mrs. Montagu], distinguished by her beauty, and taste for literature, invited us, two successive years, to a dinner at her house. Curiosity was her motive, and possibly a desire of intermingling with our conversation the charms of her own. She affected to consider us as a set of literary men, and perhaps gave the first occasion for distinguishing the society by the name of the
club has been gradually increased to its present number, thirty-five. After about ten years, instead of supping weekly (1), it was resolved to dine together once a fortnight during the meeting of Parliament. Their original tavern having been converted into a private house, they moved first to Prince's in Sackville Street, then to Le Telier's in Dover Street, and now meet at Parsloe's, St. James's Street. (?) Between the time of its formation, and the time at which this work is passing through the press, (June, 1792) the following persons, now dead, were
« Literary Club,” an appellation which it never assumed to itself.–At these meetings, Johnson, as indeed he did every where, led the conversation, yet was he far from arrogating to himself that superiority, which, some years before, he was disposed to contend for. He had seen enough of the world to know, that respect was not to be extorted, and began now to be satisfied with that degree of eminence to which his writings had exalted him. This change in his behaviour was remarked by those who were best acquainted with his character, and it rendered him an easy and delightful companion. Our discourse was miscellaneous, but chiefly literary. Politics were alone excluded. HAWKINS.
(1) It was a supper-meeting then, on a Friday night, and I fancy Dr. Nugent (who was a Roman Catholic), ordered an omelet; and Johnson felt very painful sensations at the sight of that dish soon after his death, and cried, “ Ah, my poor dear friend, I shall never eat omelet with thee again!" quite in an agony. The truth is, nobody suffered more from pungent sorrow at a friend's death than Johnson, though he would suffer no one to complain of their losses in the same way. “For," says he, o we must either outlive our friends, you know, or our friends must outlive us : and I see no man that would hesitate about the choice.” - Piozzi.
(2) The Club, some years after Mr. Boswell's death, removed (in 1799) from Parsloe's to the Thatched House in St. James's Street, where they still continue to meet. — M. - [A full List of the Club down to the present time (March, 1835), will be found in the APPENDIX, No. I.]
members of it: Mr. Dunning, (afterwards Lord Ashburton,) Mr. Samuel Dyer, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Shipley Bishop of St. Asaph, Mr. Vesey, Mr. Thomas Warton, and Dr. Adam Smith The present members are, Mr. Burke, Mr. Langton, Lord Charlemont, Sir Robert Chambers, Dr. Percy Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Barnard Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Marlay Bishop of Clonfert, Mr. Fox, Dr. George Fordyce, Sir William Scott, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Charles Bunbury, Mr. Windham of Norfolk, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Gibbon, Sir William Jones, Mr. Colman, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Burney, Dr. Joseph Warton, Mr. Malone, Lord Ossory, Lord Spencer, Lord Lucan, Lord Palmerston, Lord Eliot, Lord Macartney, Mr. Richard Burke junior, Sir William Hamilton, Dr. Warren, Mr. Courtenay, Dr. Hinchliffe Bishop of Peterborough, the Duke of Leeds, Dr. Douglas Bishop of Salisbury, and the writer of this account. Sir John Hawkins represents himself [Life, p.425.]
“ seceder” from this society, and assigns as the reason of his “ withdrawing” himself from it, that its late hours were inconsistent with his domestic arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke in so rude a manner, that all the company testified their displeasure; and at their next meeting their reception was such, that he never came again.” (1)
(1) From Sir Joshua Reynolds. - BOSWELL. — The knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supper, because he usually eat no supper at home, Johnson observed, “ Sir John, Sir, is a very uncludable man.” - BURNEY.-Hawkins was not knighted till October, 1772, long after he had left the club. Burney, in relating the story, puts the nunc pro tunc. -C. VOL. II.