Abbildungen der Seite

ing peculiarity of his manner, would have aided the effect. But I remember it was observed by Mr. Flood, that Johnson, having been long used to sententious brevity, and the short flights of conversation, might have failed in that continued and expanded kind of argument which is requisite in stating complicated matters in publick speaking; and as a proof of this he mentioned the supposed speeches in parliament written by him for the magazine, none of which, in his opinion, were at all like real debates. The opinion of one who was himself so eminent an orator, must be allowed to have great weight. It was confirmed by sir William Scott, who mentioned that Johnson had told him, that he had several times tried to speak in the Society of Arts and Manufactures, but "had found he could not get on." From Mr. William Gerard Hamilton I have heard that Johnson, when observing to him that it was prudent for a man who had not been accustomed to speak in publick, to begin his speech in as simple a manner as possible, acknowledged that he rose in that society to deliver a speech which he had prepared; "but," said he, "all my flowers of oratory forsook me." I, however, cannot help wishing that he had "tried his hand" in parliament; and I wonder that ministry did not make the experiment.

I at length renewed a correspondence which had been too long discontinued.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"MY DEAR SIR,-I can now fully understand those intervals of silence in your correspondence with me, which have often given me anxiety and uneasiness; for although I am conscious that my veneration and love for Mr. John

' Dr. Kippis, however, Biograph. Britan. article J. Gilbert Cooper, p. 266, n. new edit. says, that he "once heard Dr. Johnson speak in the Society of Arts and Manufactures, upon a subject relative to mechanicks, with a propriety, perspicuity, and energy which excited general admiration."

son have never in the least abated, yet I have deferred for almost a year and a half to write to him.”

In the subsequent part of this letter I gave him an account of my comfortable life as a married man, and a lawyer in practice at the Scotch bar; invited him to Scotland, and promised to attend him to the highlands and Hebrides.


"DEAR SIR,-If you are now able to comprehend that I might neglect to write without diminution of affection, you have taught me, likewise, how that neglect may be uneasily felt without resentment. I wished for your letter a long time; and when it came, it amply recompensed the delay. I never was so much pleased as now with your account of yourself; and sincerely hope, that between publick business, improving studies, and domestick pleasures, neither melancholy nor caprice will find any place for entrance. Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is certainly true of intellectual nature, that it abhors a vacuum: our minds cannot be empty; and evil will break in upon them if they are not preoccupied by good. My dear sir, mind your studies, mind your business, make your lady happy, and be a good christian. After this,

-tristitiam et metus

Trades protervis in mare Creticum

Portare ventis.

"If we perform our duty, we shall be safe and steady, 'Sive per,' etc. whether we climb the highlands, or are tossed among the Hebrides; and I hope the time will come when we may try our powers both with cliffs and water. I see but little of lord Elibank, I know not why; perhaps by my own fault. I am this day going into Staffordshire and Derbyshire for six weeks.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


"DEAR SIR,-When I came to Lichfield, I found that my portrait" had been much visited, and much admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place; and I was pleased with the dignity conferred by such a testimony of your regard.

"Be pleased, therefore, to accept the thanks of, sir, your most obliged

[blocks in formation]

"MY DEAR SIR,-The bearer of this, Mr. Beattie, professor of moral philosophy at Aberdeen, is desirous of being introduced to your acquaintance. His genius and learning, and labours in the service of virtue and religion, render him very worthy of it; and as he has a high esteem of your character, I hope you will give him a favourable reception. I ever am, etc.



"DEAR SIR,-I am lately returned from Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The last letter mentions two others which you have written to me since you received my

"The portrait above alluded to was the second painted by sir Joshua Reynolds; with his arms raised, and his hands bent. It was at this time, it is believed, in the possession of Miss Lucy Porter, but was probably only a copy; as the original picture by sir Joshua is at Knowle, the seat of the duke of Dorset. See Northcote's Memoirs of sir Joshua Reynolds.-Ed.

pamphlet. Of these two I never had but one, in which you mentioned a design of visiting Scotland, and, by consequence, put my journey to Langton out of my thoughts. My summer wanderings are now over, and I am engaging in a very great work, the rivision of my Dictionary: from which I know not, at present, how to get loose.

"If you have observed, or been told, any errours or omissions, you will do me a great favour by letting me know them.

"Lady Rothes, I find, has disappointed you and herself. Ladies will have these tricks. The queen and Mrs. Thrale, both ladies of experience, yet both missed their reckoning this summer. I hope, a few months will recompense your


[ocr errors]

Please to tell lady Rothes how highly I value the honour of her invitation, which it is my purpose to obey as soon as I have disengaged myself. In the mean time I shall hope to hear often of her ladyship, and every day better news and better, till I hear that you have both the happiness, which to both is very sincerely wished by, sir, "Your most affectionate and

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In October I again wrote to him, thanking him for his last letter, and his obliging reception of Mr. Beattie; informing him that I had been at Alnwick lately, and had good accounts of him from Dr. Percy.

In his religious record of this year, we observe that he was better than usual, both in body and mind, and better satisfied with the regularity of his conduct. But he is still

trying his ways" too rigorously. He charges himself with not rising early enough; yet he mentions what was surely a sufficient excuse for this, supposing it to be a duty seriously required, as he all his life appears to have thought it. "One great hindrance is want of rest my

nocturnal complaints grow less troublesome towards morn-
ing; and I am tempted to repair the deficiencies of the
night." Alas! how hard would it be, if this indulgence
were to be imputed to a sick man as a crime. In his re-
trospect on the following Easter-eve, he says, "When I
review the last year, I am able to recollect so little done,
that shame and sorrow, though perhaps too weakly, come
upon me."
Had he been judging of any one else in the
same circumstances, how clear would he have been on the
favourable side. How very difficult, and in my opinion
almost constitutionally impossible it was for him to be
raised early, even by the strongest resolutions, appears
from a note in one of his little paper books, (containing
words arranged for his Dictionary,) written, I suppose,
about 1753: "I do not remember that since I left Oxford,
I ever rose early by mere choice, but once or twice at
Edial, and two or three times for the Rambler." I think
he had fair ground enough to have quieted his mind on the
subject, by concluding that he was physically incapable of
what is at best but a commodious regulation.

In 1772 he was altogether quiescent as an author; but it will be found, from the various evidences which I shall bring together, that his mind was acute, lively, and vigorous.


"DEAR SIR,-Be pleased to send to Mr. Banks, whose place of residence I do not know, this note, which I have sent open, that, if you please, you may

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »