Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

you do not flatter me by imputing to me more good than I have really done. Those whom my arguments have persuaded to change their opinion, show such modesty and candour as deserve great praise.

I hope the worthy translator goes diligently forward. He has a higher reward in prospect than any honours which this world can bestow. I wish I could be useful to him.

“ The publication of my letter, if it could be of use in a cause to which all other causes are nothing, I should not prohibit. But first, I would have you to consider whether the publication will really do any good; next, whether by printing and distributing a very small number, you may not attain all that you propose; and, what perhaps I should have said first, whether the letter, which I do not now perfectly remember, be fit to be printed.

“ If you can consult Dr. Robertson, to whom I am a little known, I shall be satisfied about the propriety of whatever he shall direct. If he thinks that it should be printed, I entreat him to revise it; there'may, perhaps, be some negligent lines written, and whatever is amiss, he knows very well how to rectify"

“ Be pleased to let me know, from time to time, how this excellent design goes forward.

“ Make my compliments to young Mr. Drummond, whom I hope you will live to see such as you desire bim.

“I have not lately seen Mr. Elphinston, but believe him to be prosperous. I shall be glad to hear the same of you, for I am, sir, “ Your affectionate humble servant,

[ocr errors]

“SAM. JOHNSON.

Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,

April 21, 1767.

4 This paragraph shows Johnson's real estimation of the character and abilities of the celebrated Scottish historian, however lightly, in a moment of caprice, be may have spoken of his works.—Boswell.

TO THE SAME.

SIR,-I returned this week from the country, after an absence of near six months, and found your letter with many others, which I should have answered sooner, if I had sooner seen them.

“ Dr. Robertson's opinion was surely right. Men should not be told of the faults which they have mended. I am glad the old language is taught, and honour the translator, as a man whom God has distinguished by the high office of propagating his word.

“I must take the liberty of engaging you in an office of charity. Mrs. Heely, the wife of Mr. Heely, who had lately some office in your theatre, is my near relation, and now in great distress. They wrote me word of their situation some time ago, to wbich I returned them an answer which raised hopes of more than it is proper for me to give them. Their representation of their affairs I have discovered to be such as cannot be trusted: and at this distance, though their case requires haste, I know not how to act. She, or her daughters, may be heard of at Canongate Head. I must beg, sir, that you will enquire after them, and let me know what is to be done. I am willing to go to ten pounds, and will transmit you such a sum, if, upon examination, you find it likely to be of use.

If they are in immediate want, advance them what you think proper. What I could do, I would do for the woman, having no great reason to pay much regard to Heely himself".

“I believe you may receive some intelligence from Mrs. Baker of the theatre, whose letter I received at the same time with yours; and to whom, if you see her, you will make my excuse for the seeming neglect of answering her. "Whatever you advance within ten pounds shall be immediately returned to you, or paid as you shall order. I trust wholly to your judgement.

r This is the person concerning whom sir John Hawkins has thrown out very unwarrantable reflections both against Dr. Johnson and Mr. Francis Barber.Boswell. See sir J. Hawkins's Postscript to his Life of Dr. Jolinson, p. 596, where it is difficult to say whether imbecility or malignity of mind is predominant.-Ev.

I am, sir, etc.

“ Sam. JOHNSON. " London, Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,

Oct. 24, 1767.

Mr. Cuthbert Shawo, alike distinguished by his genius, misfortunes, and misconduct, published this year a poem, called, The Race, by Mercurius Spur, Esq. in which he whimsically made the living poets of England contend for pre-eminence of fame by running :

Prove by their heels the prowess of the head.
In this poem there was the following portrait of Johnson :

Here Johnson comes,-unblest with outward grace,
His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face.
While strong conceptions struggle in his brain;
(For even wit is brought to bed with pain :)
To view him, porters with their loads would rest,
And babes cling frighted to the nurses' breast.
With looks convuls'd he roars in pompous strain,
And, like an angry lion, shakes his mane.
The nine, with terrour struck, who ne'er had seen
Aught human with so terrible a mien,
Debating whether they should stay or run,
Virtue steps forth, and claims him for her son.
With gentle speech she warns him now to yield,
Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field ;
But wrapt in conscious worth, content sit down,
Since Fame, resolv'd his various pleas to crown,
Though forc'd his present claim to disavow,
Had long reserv'd a chaplet for his brow.
He bows, obeys; for time shall first expire,

Ere Johnson stay, when Virtue bids retire.
The honourable Thomas Hervey and his lady having

• See an account of him in the European Magazine, Jan. 1786.

The honourable Thomas Hervey, whose letter to sir Thomas Hanmer, in 1742, was much read at that time. He was the second son of John, the first

unhappily disagreed, and being about to separate, Johnson interfered as their friend, and wrote him a letter of expostulation, which I have not been able to find : but the substance of it is ascertained by a letter to Johnson in answer to it, which Mr. Hervey printed. The occasion of this correspondence between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Hervey, was thus related to me by Mr. Beauclerk. “Tom Hervey had a great liking for Johnson, and in his will had left him a legacy of fifty pounds. One day he said to me, Johnson may want this money now, more than afterwards. I have a mind to give it him directly. Will you be so good as to carry a fifty pound note from me to him?' This I positively refused to do, as he might, perhaps, have knocked me down for insulting him, and have afterwards put the note in his pocket. But I said, if Hervey would write him a letter, and enclose a fifty pound note, I should take care to deliver it. He accordingly did write him a letter, mentioning that he was only paying a legacy a little sooner. To this letter he added, P.S. I am going to part with my wife. Johnson then wrote to him, saying nothing of the note, but remonstrating with him against parting with his wife.”

When I mentioned to Johnson this story, in as delicate terms as I could, he told me that the fifty pound note was given to him by Mr. Hervey in consideration of his having written for him a pamphlet against sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who, Mr. Hervey imagined, was the author of an attack upon him; but that it was afterwards discovered to be the work of a garretteer, who wrote The Fool: the pamphlet, therefore, against sir Charles was not printed.

In February, 1767, there happened one of the most remarkable incidents of Johnson's life, which gratified his monarchical enthusiasm, and which he loved to relate with all its circumstances, when requested by his friends. This was his being honoured by a private conversation with his majesty in the library at the queen's house. He had frequently visited those splendid rooms, and noble collection of books, which he used to say was more numerous and curious than he supposed any person could have made in the time which the king had employed. Mr. Barnard, the librarian, took care that he should have every accommodation that could contribute to his ease and convenience, while indulging his literary taste in that place ; so that he had here a very agreeable resource at leisure hours.

earl of Bristol, and one of the brothers of Johnson's early friend, Henry Hervey. He married, in 1744, Anne, daughter of Francis Coughlan, esq. and died Jan. 20, 1775.--MALONE.

His majesty having been informed of his occasional visits, was pleased to 'signify a desire that he should be told when Dr. Johnson came next to the library. Accordingly, the next time that Johnson did come, as soon as he was fairly engaged with a book, on which, while he sat by the fire, he seemed quite intent, Mr. Barnard stole round to the apartment where the king was, and, in obedience to his majesty's commands, mentioned that Dr. Johnson was then in the library. His majesty said he was at leisure, and would go to him: upon which Mr. Barnard took one of the candles that stood on the king's table, and lighted his majesty through a suite of rooms, till they came to a private door into the library, of which his majesty had the key. Being entered, Mr. Barnard stepped forward hastily to Dr. Johnson, who was still in a profound study, and whispered him, “Sir, here is the king.” Johnson started up, and stood still. His majesty approached him, and at once was courteously easy

" Dr. Johnson had the honour of contributing his assistance towards the formation of this library; for I have read a long letter from him to Mr. Barnard, giving the most masterly instructions on the subject. I wished much to have gratified my readers with the perusal of this letter, and have reason to think that his majesty would have been graciously pleased to permit its publication ; but Mr. Barnard, to whom I applied, declined it "on his own account.”--Boswell.

* The particulars of this conversatian I have been at great pains to collect, with the utmost authenticity, from Dr. Johnson's own detail to myself; from Mr. Langton, who was present when

gave an account it Dr. Joseph Warton and several other friends at sir Joshua Reynolds's; from Mr. Barnard ;

« ZurückWeiter »