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King's Evil *. Jacobites at that time believed in the efficacy of the royal touch. His mother, yielding to this superstitious notion, and the corresponding advice of Sir John Floyer, then a physician at Lichfield, in her anxiety for his cure, when he was two years old carried him to London, where he was actually touched by Queen Annet. But the disease, too obstinate
:;*." I was, by: my father's persuasion, put to one Marclew, commonly called Bellison, the servant or wife of a servant of my father, to be nursed, in Georgelanè, where my mother visited me every day. Dr Swinfen told me that the scrofulous sores which afflicted me, proceeded from the bad humours of the nurse, whose son had the same distemper. My mother thought my disease derived from her family." Annals, &c. p. 10.
+ This healing gift is said to have been derived to the kings of England from Edward the Confessor, who performed the first cure of this kind. The last of our prin. ces that practised this delusion was Queen Anne. In the London Gazette of the year 1707, is inserted a proclamation, inviting her scrofulous subjects to receive the benefit of this inherent power. The ritual for this office is to be found in Bishop Sparrow's Collection of Articles, Canons,'&c. and in most of the impressions of the Common Prayer Book, printed in Queen Anne's reign. See Barrington's “ Observations on Ancient Statutes," p. 107.
to yield to remedies more powerful, greatly disfigured his countenance, naturally harsh and rugged *, impaired his hearing, and deprived him of the sight of his left eye ; of which he has been heard to say, that he never remembered to have enjoyed the use." The dog,” said he,“ never was good for any thing.”
He was first taught to read English by Dame Oliver, a widow, who kept a school for young children in Lichfield. His next instructor, in English, was a master whom he familiarly called Tom Brown, who, he said, “ published a spelling book, and dedicated it to the UNIVERSE.” At eight years old he began to learn Latin in the free-school of Lichfield, at first under the care of Mr Hawkins, the under-master, whom he has described as “a man skilful in his little way.” With him he was about two years ; a period, “ which,” he says,
* His countenance was not so harsh and rugged as has been misrepresented, and no otherwise disfigured by the King's Evil than its having a scar under one of his jaws, where some humour had been opened, but afterwards healed. And this being only a simple scar, attended with no discoloration, excited no disgust. Bishop Percy,
“ I remember with pleasure; for I was indulged and caressed by my master, and, I think, really excelled the rest*. He was then removed to the upper school, and put under Mr Holbrook; whom Dr. Taylor has described as “one of the most ingenious men, best scholars, and best preachers of his age t.” Mr Hunter, the headmaster, under whose tuition he rose progressively, was a very respectable teacher, and a worthy man; but, according to his account, was “very severe, and wrongheadedly severe.” He had for his school-fellows, Dr James, Author of the “ Medicinal Dictionary," and inventor of the fever-powder, 'Mr Lowe, canon of Windsor ; Dr Taylor, prebendary of Westminster and rector of Market-Bosworth ; Mr Congreve, chaplain to Archbishop Boulter, and Mr Hector, surgeon in Birmingham t. With Dr Taylor and Mr Hector, he afterwards maintained a particular intimacy.
* Annals, &c. p. 25. # Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. i, p. 21. ed. 1799.
# Among other eminent men, Addison, Wollaston, Garrick, Bishop Newton, &c. were educated at this semi
While at school, he is said by Mr Hector to have been indolent, and averse from study. But the procrastination of his studies seems neither to have prevented the timely performance of his exercises, nor to have blemished them with inaccuracies; for “ he was never known to have been corrected at school, unless for talking and diverting other boys from their business." Indeed, such was the superiority of his talents above those of his companions, that three of the boys, of whom Mr Hector was sometimes one, are said to have assembled submissively every morning, to carry him triun,phantly upon their shoulders to schools -- This ovation is believed by Mr Boswell to have been an honour paid to the early predoihinance of his intellectual powers alone ; but they who remember what boys are, and who consider that Johnson's corporeal prowess was by no means despicable, will be' apt to
nary. There were, at one period, five judges upon the bench of that school; Lord Chief Justice Willes, Lord Chief Baron Parker, Mr Justice Noel, Sir Robert Lloyd, Baron of Exchequer, and Mr Justice, afterwards. Lord Chief Justice Wilmot.
suspect that the homage was enforced, at least as much by awe of the one, as by admiration of the other.*
In the autumn 1725, when he was about sixteen years old, he received an invitation from his cousin Ford, to pass a few days at his parsonage-house, on the borders of Staffordshire, who detained him some months, became his instructor in the classics, and the director of his studies. He was always sensible how much he owed to this witty and profligate relative; who, with talents that might have made him conspicuous in literature, and respectable in any profession, chose to be eminent for vice; and always spoke of him with tenderness, praising his acquaintance with life and manners, and recollecting one general direction for his studies, which he followed with a good inclination: “ Obtain,” said he, “ some general principles of every science : he who can talk only on one subject, or act only in one depart
* Though a strong boy may command weaker boys when present, it is not likely he could compel them, at a distance, to come and carry him to school, in the manner here described. Bishop PERCY.