Abbildungen der Seite

rived; the preface is noble. There was at length, by the intervention of is a grammar prefixed, and the his- Dr. Taylor, prevailed on to give way tory of the language is pretty full; to the suggestions of Garrick. Yet but you may plainly perceive strokes Garrick had not made him alter all of laxity and indolence. They are that needed altering ; for the first two most unwieldy volumes. I have exhibition of Irene shocked the specwritten to him an invitation. I fear tators with the novel sight of a hehis preface will disgust, by the ex- roine who was to utter two verses pressions of his consciousness of su- with the bowstring about her neck. periority, and of his contempt of pa- This horror was removed from a setronage. In 1773, when he gave a cond representation; but, after the second edition, with additions and usual course of ten nights, the tracorrections, he announced in a few gedy was no longer in request. Johnprefatory lines that he had expunged son thought it requisite, on this ocsome superfluities, and corrected casion, to depart from the usual some faults, and here and there had homeliness of his habit, and to apscattered a remark; but that the pear behind the scenes, and in the main fabric continued the same. I side boxes, with the decoration of a have looked into it,” he observes, in a gold-laced hat and waistcoat. He letter to Boswell, “ very little since I observed, that he found himself unwrote it, and, I think, I found it full able to behave with the same ease in as often better as worse than I ex- his finery, as when dressed in his pected."

plain clothes. In the winter of this To trace in order of time the va- year, he established a weekly club, rious changes in Johnson's place of at the King's Head, in lvy Lane, residence in the metropolis, if it were near St. Paul's, of which the other worth the trouble, would not be pos- members were Dr. Salter, a Camsible. A list of them, which he bridge divine; Hawkesworth ; Mr. gave to Boswell, amounting to se Ryland, a merchant; Mr. John Payne venteen, but without the corres- the bookseller, Mr. John Dyer, a man pondent dates, is preserved by that of considerable erudition, and a writer. For the sake of being near friend of Burke's; Doctors Macghie, his printer, while the Dictionary was Baker, and Bathurst, three physicians; on the anvil, he took a convenient and Sir John Hawkins. house in Gough Square, near Fleet- He next became a candidate for street, and fitted up one room in it as public favour, as the writer of a pean office, where six amanuenses were riodical work, in the manner of the employed in transcribing for him, of Spectator; and, in March, 1750, whom Boswell recounts in triumph published the first number of the that five were Scotchmen.

Rambler, which was continued for In 1748, he wrote, for Dodsley's nearly two years; but, wanting vaPreceptor, the Preface, and the Vision riety of matter, and familiarity of of Theodore the Hermit, to which style, failed to attract many readers, Johnson has been heard to give the so that the largest number of copies preference over all his other writings. that were sold of any one paper did In the January of the ensuing year, not exceed five hundred. The topics appeared the Vanity of Human were selected without sufficient reWishes, being the Tenth Satire of gard to the popular taste. The Juvenal imitated, which he sold for grievances and distresses of authors fifteen guineas; and, in the next particularly were dwelt on to samonth, his Irene was brought on the tiety; and the tone of eloquence stage, not without a previous alter- was more swelling and stately than cation between the poet and his he had hitherto adopted. The paformer pupil, concerning some changes pers allotted to criticism are markwhich Garrick's superior knowledge ed by his usual acumen ; but the of the stage made him consider to be justice of his opinions is often quesnecessary, but which Johnson said tionable. In the humourous pieces, the fellow desired only that they when our laughter is excited, I doubt might afford him more opportunity the author himself, who is always of tossing his hands and kicking his discoverable under the masque of heels. He always treated the art of whatever character he assumes, is as a player with illiberal contempt; but much the object as the cause of out merriment; and, however moral and the author. Their society was very devout his more serious views of agreeable to him; and he was, perlife, they are often defective in that baps, glad to forget himself by joinmost engaging feature of sound reli- ing at times in their sallies of juvegion, a cheerful spirit. The only as- nile gaiety. One night, when he had sistance he received was from Ri- lodgings in the Temple, he was chardson, Mrs. Chapone, Miss Tal- roused by their knocking at his door; bot, and Mrs. Carter, the first of and appearing in his shirt and nightwhom contributed the 97th number; cap, he found they had come together the second, four billets in the 10th; from the tavern where they had the next, the 30th; and the last, the supped, to prevail on him to accom44th and 100th numbers.

pany them in a nocturnal ramble. Three days after the completion of He readily entered into their prothe Rambler (March 17, 1752), he posal ; and, having indulged themwas deprived of his wife, whom, not- selves till morning with such frolics withstanding the disparity in their as came in their way, Johnson and age, and some occasional bickerings, Beauclerk were so well pleased with he had tenderly loved. Those who their diversion, that they continued are disposed to scrutinize narrowly it through the rest of the day; while and severely into the human heart, their less sprightly companion left may question the sincerity of his them, to keep an engagement with sorrow, because he was collected some ladies at breakfast, not without enough to write her funeral sermon. reproaches from Johnson for desertBut the shapes which grief puts on ing his friends “ for a set of unin different minds are as dissimilar as idea'd girls.” the constitution of those minds. Mil- In 1753, he gave to Dr. Bathurst, ton, in whom the power of imagina- the physician, whom he regarded tion was predominant, soothed his with much affection, and whose anguish for the loss of his youthful practice was very limited, several friend, in an irregular, but most essays for the Adventurer, which beautiful assemblage of those poetic Hawkesworth was then publishing ; objects which presented themselves and wrote for Mrs. Lenox a Dedicato his thoughts, and consecrated tion to the Earl of Orrery, of her them to the memory of the deceased; Shakspeare illustrated; and, in the and Johnson, who loved to act the following year, inserted in the Genmoralizer and the rhetorician, alle- tleman's Magazine a Life of Cave, viated his sufferings by declaiming its former editor. on the instability of human hap- Previously to the publication of piness.

his Dictionary, it was thought adDuring this interval, he also wrote visable by his friends that the degree the Prologue to Comus, spoken by of Master of Arts should be obtained Garrick, for the benefit of Mrs. Eli- for him, in order that his name might zabeth Foster, grand-daughter to appear in the title page with that Milton; the Prologue and Postscript addition; and it was accordingly, to Lauder's impudent forgeries con- through their intercession, conferred cerning that poet, by which Johnson on him by the University of Oxford. was imposed on, as well as the rest The work was presented by the Earl of the world ; a Letter to Dr. Dou- of Orrery, one of his friends then at glas, for the same impostor, after he Florence, to the Della Crusca Acahad been detected, acknowledging demy, who, in return, sent their Dicand expressing contrition for the tionary to the author. The French fraud ; and the Life of Cheynel, in Academy paid him the same comthe Student.

pliment. But these honours were Soon after his wife's death, he be- not accompanied by that indiscame intimate with Beauclerk and pensable requisite, “ provision for Langton, two young men of family the day that was passing over him." and distinction, who were fellow col- He was arrested for debt, and legians at Oxford, and much attached liberated through the kindness of to each other; and the latter of Richardson, the writer of Clarissa, whom admiration of the Rambler who became his surety. To prevent had brought to London with the such humiliation, the efforts of his express view of being introduced to own industry were not wanting. In

[ocr errors]

1756, he published an Abridgment of To Miss Porter, in Lichfield.
his Dictionary, and an Edition of Sir You will conceive my sorrow for the loss
Thomas Browne's Christian Morals, of my mother, of the best mother. If
to which he prefixed a Life of that she were to live again, surely I should be
writer; he contributed to a periodical have better to her. But she is happy, and
miscellany, called the Universal Vie what is past is nothing to her ; and, for
sitor, by Christopher Smart,* and me, since I cannot repair my faults

to her, yet more largely to another work of turn you, and all those that have been good

I hope repentance will efface then. I rethe same kind, entitled, the Literary to her, my sincerest thanks, and pray God Magazine; and wrote a dedication

to repay you all with infinite advantage. and preface for Payne's Introduction Write to me, and comfort me, dear child. to the Game of Draughts, and an I shall be glad likewise, if Kitty will write Introduction to the newspaper called to me. I shall send a bill of twenty pounds the London Chronicle, for the last of in a few days, which I thought to have which he received a single guinea. brought to my mother ; but God suffered Yet either conscientious scruples, or

it not. I have not power nor composure to his unwillingness to relinquish a Lon- say much more. God bless you, and bless

us all. don life, induced him to decline the offer of a valuable benefice in Lin

I am, dear Miss,

Your affectionate humble servant, colnshire, which was made him by

Sam. Jouxsox. the father of his friend, Langton, provided he could prevail on himself

Her attention to his mother, as it to take holy orders, a measure that is reported in the following words, would have delivered him from lite- by Miss Seward, ensured to Johnson rary toil for the remainder of his the sympathy of Lucy Porter. days. But literary toil was the oc- From the age of twenty till her fortieth cupation for which nature had de- year, when affluence came to her by the signed him. In the April of 1758, death of her eldest brother, she had board. he commenced the Idler, and con

ed in Lichfield with Dr. Johnson's mo. tinued to publish it for two years in ther, who still kept that little bookseller's the Universal Chronicle. of these shop, by which her husband had supplied

Meana Essays, he was supplied with Nos. time, Lucy Porter kept the best company

the scanty means of existence. 33, 93, and 96, by Thomas Warton; of our little city, but would make no enwith No. 67 by Langton, and with gagement on market-days, lest Granny, as Nos. 76, 79, and 82 by Reynolds. she called Mrs. Johnson, should catch cold Boswell mentions twelve papers by serving in the shop. There Lucy Porter being given by his friends, but does took her place, standing behind the counnot say who were the contributors of ter, nor thought it a disgrace to thank a the remaining five. The Essay on poor person who purchased from her a Epitaphs, the Dissertation on Pope's penny battledore.t Epitaphs, and an Essay on the Bra- To defray the expenses of his movery of the English common Sol- ther's funeral, he had recourse to his diers, were subjoined to this paper, pen; and, in the evenings of one when it was collected into volumes. week produced the Rasselas, for It does not differ from the Rambler, which he received one hundred otherwise than as the essays are pounds, and was presented by the shorter, and somewhat less grave and purchasers with twenty-five more on elaborate.

its reaching a second edition. RasAnother wound was inflicted on selas is a noble monument of the gehim by the death of his mother, who nius of its author. Reflections so had however reached her ninetieth profound, and so forcible a draught year. His affection and his regret of some of the great outlines of the will best appear from the following human intellect and passions, are to letter to the daughter of his deceased be found in few writers of any age or wife.

country. The mind is seldom pre

The writers, beside Smart, were Richard Rolt, Garrick, and Dr. Percy. Their papers are signed with the initials of their surnames. Johnson's are marked by two asterisks. See Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 351.

+ Miss Seward's Letters, vol. i. p. 117.

sented with any thing so marvellous : I think in a few weeks to try another as the character of the philosopher, excursion ; though to what end? Let me who has persuaded himself that he is know, my Baretti, what has been the reentrusted with the management of sult of your return to your own country; the elements. Johnson's dread of whether time has made any alteration for insanity was, perhaps, relieved by

the better, and whether, when the first rapembodying this mighty conception. find your thoughts confessed their disap

tures of salutation were over, you did not He had seen the shadowy form in

pointment. the twilight, and might have dissipated or eased his apprehensions by

Henceforward Johnson had no coming up to it more closely, and longer to struggle with the evils of examining into the occasion of his extreme poverty. A pension of 3001. fears. In this tale, the censure which was granted him, in 1762, by His he has elsewhere passed on Milton, Majesty. Before his acceptance of that he is a lion who has no skill in it, in answer to a question put by dandling the kid, recoils upon him- him to the Earl of Bute, in these self. His delineation of the female words, “ Pray, my Lord, what am I character is wanting in delicacy. to do for the pension?” he was as

In this year he supplied Mr. New, sured by that nobleman that it was bery with an Introduction to the not given him for any thing he was World Displayed, a Collection of to do, but for what he had done. Voyages and Travels: till the pub- The definition he had given of the lication of his Shakspeare, in 1765, word pension, in his dictionary, that the only writings acknowledged by in England it was generally underhimself were a Review of Tytler's stood to mean pay, given to a state Vindication of Mary Queen of Scots, hireling, for treason to his country, in the Gentleman's Magazine ; an raised some further scruples whether Introduction to the Proceedings of he ought himself to become a penthe Committee for Clothing the sioner; but they were removed by French Prisoners; the Preface to the arguments, or the persuasion of Rolt's Dictionary of Trade and Com- Reynolds, to whom he had recourse merce; a Dedication to the King, of for advice in this dilemma. What Kennedy's Complete System of As- advice Reynolds would give him he tronomical Chronology, unfolding the must have known pretty well beforeScriptures; and a Dedication to the hand; but this was one of the many Queen, of Hoole's Tasso.

instances in which men having first • In the course of this period, he determined how to act, are willing made a short visit to Lichfield, and to imagine that they are going for thus communicates his feelings on clearer information, where they in the occasion, in a letter dated July truth expect nothing but a confirma20, 1762, to Baretti, his Italian tion of their own resolve. The libefriend, who was then at Milan. rality of the nation could not have

been extended to one who had better Last winter I went down to my native deserved it. But he had a calamity town, where I found the streets much narrower and shorter than I thought I had left yet more dreadful than poverty to them, inhabited by a new race of people, encounter. The depression of his to whom I was very little known. My spirits was now become almost intoplayfellows were grown old, and forced me lerable. « I would have a limb amto suspect that I am no longer young. My putated,” said he to Dr. Adams, “ to only remaining friend had changed his recover my spirits." He was conprinciples, and was become the tool of the stantly tormented by harassing repredominant faction. My daughter-in-law, flections on his inability to keep the from whom I expected most, and whom I many resolutions he had formed of met with sincere benevolence, had lost the leading a better life ; and complained beauty and gaiety of youth, without having that a kind of strange oblivion had gained much of the wisdom of age. wandered about for five days, and took the overspread him, so that he did not first convenient opportunity of returning to

know what was become of the past a place, where, if there is not much hap year, and that incidents and intelpiness, there is at least such a diversity of ligence passed over him without good and evil, that slight vexations do not leaving any impression. fix upon the heart.

Neither change of place nor the

society of friends availed to prevent the ground floor was Miss AnnaWillior to dissipate this melancholy. In ams, daughter of Zechariah Williams, 1762, he made an excursion into De a man who had practised physic in vonshire, with Sir Joshua Reynolds; Wales, and, having come to London the next year he went to Harwich, in hopes of obtaining the reward with Boswell ; in the following, when proposed by Parliament for the dishis malady was most troublesome, covery of the longitude, had been the meeting which acquired the name assisted by Johnson in drawing up of the Literary Club was instituted, an account of the method he had and he passed a considerable time in devised. This plan was printed Lincolnshire, with the father of with an Italian translation, which is Langton; and, in the year after, vic supposed to be Baretti's, on the opsited Cambridge, in the company of posite page; and a copy of the Beauclerk. Of the literary club, first pamphlet, presented by Johnson to proposed by Reynolds, the other the Bodleian, is deposited in that members at its first establishment library. Miss Williams had been a were Burke, Dr. Nugent, Beauclerk, frequent visitor at Johnson's before Langton, Goldsmith, Chamier, and the death of his wife, and having, afSir John Hawkins. They met at the ter that event, come under his roof in Turk’s Head, in Gerrard-street, order to undergo an operation for a Soho, one evening in the week, and cataract on her eyes with more conusually remained together till á late venience than could have been had hour. The society was afterwards in her own lodgings, continued to extended, so as to comprise a large occupy an apartment in his house, number of those who were most whenever he had one, till the time eminent, either for their learning or of her death. Her disease ended in their station in life, and the place of total blindness, which gave her an meeting has been since at different additional claim on his benevolence. times changed to other parts of the When he lived in the Temple, it town, nearer to the Parliament was his custom, however late the House, or to the usual resorts of hour, not to retire to rest till he had gaiety. A club was the delight of drunk tea with her in her lodgings Johnson. We lose some of our awe in Bolt-court. One night when for him, when we contemplate him Goldsmith and Boswell were with as mimicked by his old scholar Gar- him, Goldsmith strutted off in the rick, in the act of squeezing a lemon company of Johnson, exclaiming into the punch-bowl, and asking, as he with an air of superiority, “ I go to looks round the company, in his pro- Miss Williams,” while Boswell slunk vincial accent, of which he never got away in silent disappointment; but entirely rid, “ Who's for poonch?” it was not long, as Boswell adds, If there was any thing likely to gra- before he himself obtained the same tify him more than a new club, it mark of distinction. Johnson prewas the public testimony of respect vailed on Garrick to get her a befrom a learned body; and this he nefit at the play-house, and assisted received from Trinity College, Dub- her in preparing some poems she had lin, in a diploma for the degree of written for the press, by both which Doctor of Laws, an honour the more means she obtained the sum of about flattering, as it came without solici- 3001. The interest of this, added to tation.

some small annual benefactions, proAt the beginning of 1766, his bably hindered her from being any faithful biographer, James Boswell, pecuniary burden to Johnson; and who had knowu him for three years, though she was apt to be peevish found him in a good house in Johna and impatient, her curiosity, the reson's-court, Fleet-street, to which tentiveness of her memory, and the he had removed from lodgings in the strength of her intellect, made her, Temple. By the advice of his phy- on the whole, an agreeable compasicians, he had now begun to ab- nion to him. The other inmate, stain from wine, and drank only whose place was in one of his garwater or lemonade. He had brought rets, was Robert Levett, a practiser two companions into his new dwell- of physic among the lower people, ing, such as few other men would have grotesque in his appearance, formal chosen to enliven their solitude. On in his manners, and silent before com

« ZurückWeiter »