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1767. , At length, the frankness, and simplicity of his natural Ætat. 58.
character prevailed. He sprung from the sopha, advanced to Johnson, and in a kind of flutter, from imagining himself in the situation which he had just been hearing described, exclaimed, “ Well, you acquitted yourself in this conversation better than I should have done ; for I should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it.”
I received no letter from Johnson this year; nor have I discovered any of the correspondence? he ha , except the two letters to Mr. Drummond, which have been inserted, for the sake of connection with that to the same gentleman in 1766. His diary affords no light as to his employment at this time. He passed three months at Lichfield : * and I cannot omit an affecting and solemn scene there, as related by himself:
“Sunday, Oct. 18, 1767. Yesterday, Oct. 17, at about ten in the morning, I took my leave for ever of my dear old friend, Catharine Chambers, who came to live with my mother about 1724, and has been but little parted from us since. She buried my father, my brother, and my mother. She is now fifty-eight years old.
“ I desired all to withdraw, then told her that we
7 It is proper here to mention, that when I speak of his correspondence, I consider it independent of the voluminous collection of letters which, in the course of many years, he wrote to Mrs.Thrale, which, forms a separate part of his works; and as a proof of the high estimation set on any thing which came from his pen, was sold by that jady for the sum of five hundred pounds.
* In his letter to Mr. Drummond dated Oct. 24. 1767, he mentions that he had nearly arrived in London, after an absence, of six months, in the country. Probably part of that time was spent at Oxford. M.]
were to part for ever ; that as Christians, we should 1767. part with prayer; and that I would, if she was wil
Ætat. 58. ling, say a short prayer beside her.
She expressed great desire to hear me ; and held
poor hands, as she lay in bed, with great fervour, while I prayed, kneeling by her, nearly in the following words:
Almighty and most merciful Father, whose loving kindness is over all thy works, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness
may add strength to her faith, and seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help of thy Holy Spirit, after the pains and labours of this short life, we may all obtain everlasting happiness, through Jesus CHRIST our Lord for whose sake hear our prayers. Amen. Our Father, &c.
" I then kissed her. She told me, that to part was the greatest pain that she had ever felt, and that she hoped we should meet again in a better place. I expressed, with swelled eyes, and great emotion of tenderness, the same hopes. We kissed, and parted. I humbly hope to meet again, and to part no more.”
By those who have been taught to look upon Johnson as a man of a harsh and stern character, let this tender and affectionate scene be candidly read; and let them then judge whether more warmth of heart, and grateful kindness, is often found in human
We have the following notice in his devotional record :
August 2, 1767. I have been disturbed and unsettled for a long time, and have been without
* Prayers and Meditations, p. 77 and 78.
1767. resolution to apply to study or to business, being
hindered by sudden snatches.”
He, however, furnished Mr. Adams with a Dedication * to the King of that ingenious gentleman's “ Treatise on the Globes,” conceived and expressed in such a manner as could not fail to be very grateful to a Monarch, distinguished for his love of the sciences.
This year was published a ridicule of his style, under the title of “ Lexiphanes.” Sir John Hawkins ascribes it to Dr. Kenrick; but its authour was one Campbell, a Scotch purser in the navy. The ridicule consisted in applying Johnson's “ words of large meaning,” to insignificant matters, as if one should put the armour of Goliath upon a dwarf. The contrast might be laughable ; but the dignity of the armour must remain the same in all considerate minds. This malicious drollery, therefore, it may easily be supposed, could do no harm to its illustrious object.
TO BENNET LANGTON, ESA. AT MR. ROTHWELL'S,
“ That you have been all summer in London is one more reason for which I regret my long stay in the country. I hope that you will not leave the town before my return. We have here only the chance of vacancies, in the passing carriages, and I have bespoken one that may, if it happens, bring me to town on the fourteenth of this month: but this is not certain.
9 Prayers and Meditations, p. 73.
“ It will be a favour if you communicate this to 1767. Mrs. Williams : I long to see all my friends.
Ætat. 58. “ I am, dear Sir,
“ Your most humble servant, “ Lichfield, Oct. 10, 1767.
It appears from his notes of the state of his mind,' 1768. that he suffered great perturbation and distraction in Ætat. 59 1768. Nothing of his writing was given to the publick this year, except the Prologue* to his friend, Goldsmith's comedy of “ The Good-natured Man." The first lines of this Prologue are strongly characteristical of the dismal gloom of his mind; which in his case, as in the case of all who are distressed with the same malady of imagination, transfers to others its own feelings. Who could suppose it was to introduce a comedy, when Mr. Bensley solemnly began,
« Press'd with the load of life, th weary
mind Surveys the general toil of human kind.”.
But this dark ground might make Goldsmith's humour shine the more.
In the spring of this year, having published my • Account of Corsica, with the Journal of a Tour to that Island," I returned to London, very desirous to see Dr. Johnson, and hear him
the subject. I found he was at Oxford, with his friend Mr. Chambers, who was now Vinerian Professor, and lived in New Inn Hall. Having had no letter from him since that in which he criticised the Latinity of my Thesis, and having been told by somebody that he
no, Sir, if
1768. was offended at my having put into my book an
extract of his letter to me at Paris, I was impatient Etat. 59.
to be with him, and therefore followed him to Oxford, where I was entertained by Mr. Chambers, with a civility which I shall ever gratefully remember. I found that Dr. Johnson had sent a letter to me to Scotland, and that I had nothing to complain of but his being more indifferent to my anxiety than I wished him to be. Instead of giving, with the circumstances of time and place, such fragments of his conversation as I preserved during this visit to Oxford, I shall throw them together in continuation.
I asked him whether, as a moralist, he did not think that the practice of the law, in some degree, hurt the nice feeling of honesty. Johnson. “Why
you act properly. You are not to deceive your clients with false representations of your opinion : you are not to tell lies to a judge.” BOSWELL. “But what do you think of supporting a cause which you know to be bad?” Johnson. “Sir, you do not know it to be good or bad till the Judge determines it. I have said that you are to state facts fairly; so that your thinking, or what you call knowing, a cause to be bad, must be from reasoning, must be from your supposing your arguments to be weak and inconclusive. But, Sir, that is not enough. An argument which does not convince yourself, may convince the Judge to whom you urge it : and if it does convince him, why, then, Sir, you are wrong, and he is right. It is bis business to judge; and you are not to be confident in your own opinion that a cause is bad, but to say all you can for your client, and then hear the Judge's opinion.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, does not affecting a warmth when you have no warmth,