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once memory and invention; and, with little intermediate use of the pen, form and polish large masses by continued meditation, and write their productions only when, in their own opinion, they have completed them.”


The extraordinary prejudice and dislike of Swift, manifested on all occasions by Johnson, whose political opinions coincided exactly with his, has been difficult to account for; and is therefore attributed to his failing in getting a degree, which Swift might not choose to solicit, for a reason given below. The real cause is believed to be as follows: The Rev. Dr. Madden, who distinguished himself so laudably by giving premiums to the young students of Dublin College, for which he had raised a fund, by applying for contributions to the nobility and gentry of Ireland, had solicited the same from Swift, when he was sinking into that morbid idiocy which only terminated with his life, and was saving every shilling to found his hospital for lunatics; but his application was refused with so little delicacy, as left in Dr. Madden a rooted dislike to Swift's character, which he communicated to Johnson, whose friendship he gained on the following occasion : Dr. Madden wished to address some person of high rank, in prose or verse; and, desirous of having his composition examined and corrected by some writer of superior talents, had been recommended to Johnson, who was at that time in extreme indigence; and having finished his task, would probably have thought himself well rewarded with a guinea or two, when, to his great surprise, Dr. Madden generously slipped ten guineas into his hand. This made such an impression on Johnson, as led him to adopt every opinion of Dr. Madden, and to resent as warmly as himself, Swift's rough refusal of the contribution ; after which the latter could not decently request any favour from the University of Dublin.


The account of the manner in which Johnson compiled his Dictionary, as given by Mr. Boswell

, is confused and erroneous, and, a moment's reflection will convince every person of judgment, could not be correct; for, to write down an alphabetical arrangement of all the words in the English language, and then hunt through the whole compass of English literature for all their different significations, would have taken the whole life of any individual; but Johnson, who among other peculiarities of his character, excelled most men in contriving the best means to accomplish any end, devised the following mode for completing his Dictionary, as he himself expressly described to the writer of this account. He began his task by devoting his first care to 3 diligent perusal of all such English writers as were most ccrrect in their language, and under every sentence which he meant to quote he drew a line, and noted in the margin the first letter of the word under which it was to occur. He then delivered these books to his clerks, who transcribed each sentence on a separate

paper, and arranged the same under the word referred to. By these means he collected the several words and their different significations; and when the whole arrangement was alphabetically formed, he gave the definitions of their meanings, and collected their etymologies from Skinner, Junius, and other writers on the subject. In completing his alphabetical arrangement, he, no doubt, would recur to former dictionaries, to see if any words had escaped him ; but this, which Mr. Boswell makes the first step in the business, was in reality the last; and it was doubtless to this happy arrangement that Johnson effected in a few years, what employed the foreign academies nearly half a century.

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During the summer of 1764, Johnson paid a visit to me, at my vicarage-house in Easton-Mauduit, near Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire, and spent parts of the months of June, July, and August with me, accompanied by his friend Miss Williams, whom Mrs. Percy found a very agreeable companion. As poor Miss Williams, whose history is so connected with that of Johnson, has not had common justice done her by his biographers, it

proper to mention, that so far from being a constant source of disquiet and vexation to him, although she had been totally blind for the last thirty years of her life, her mind was so well cultivated, and her conversation so agreeable, that she very much enlivened and diverted his solitary hours; and, though there may have happened some slight disagreements between her and Mrs. Desmoulins, which, at the moment, disquieted him, the

may be

friendship of Miss Williams contributed very much to his comfort and happiness. For, having been the intimate friend of his wife, who had invited her to his house, she continued to reside with him, and in her he had always a conversable companion; who, whether at his dinners or at his tea-table, entertained his friends with her sensible conversation. Being emely clean and neat in her person and habits, she never gave the least disgust by her manner of eating; and when she made tea for Johnson and his friends, conducted it with so much delicacy, by gently touching the outside of the cup, to feel, by the heat, the tea as it ascended within, that it was rather matter of admiration than of dislike to every attentive observer.


Johnson was fond of disputation, and willing to see what could be said on each side of the question, when a subject was argued. At all other times, no man had a more scrupulous regard for truth; from which, I verily believe, he would not have deviated to save his life.


Mr. Boswell describes Levett as a man of a strange, grotesque appearance, stiff and formal in his manner. This is misrepresented. He was a modest, reserved man; humble and unaffected; ready to execute any commission for Johnson; and grateful for his patronage.


Of Mr. Thrale, Johnson has given a true character in a Latin epitaph, inscribed on his monument in Streatham church. This most amiable and worthy gentleman certainly deserved every tribute of gratitude from the Doctor and his literary friends ; who were always welcome at his hospitable table. It must therefore give us great concern to see his origin degraded by any of them, in a manner that might be extremely injurious to his elegant and accomplished daughters, if it could not be contradicted; for his father is represented to have been a common drayman; whereas, he was well known to have been a respectable citizen, who increased a fortune, originally not contemptible, and

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proved his mind had been always liberal, by giving a superior education to his son.

THE RAMBLER.” Mr. Boswell objects to the title of “Rambler," which he says, was ill-suited to a series of grave and moral discourses, and is translated into Italian, “Il Vagabondo," as also because the same title was afterwards given to a licentious magazine. curious reasons. But, in the first place, Mr. Boswell assumes, that Johnson intended only to write a series of papers on

grave and moral” subjects : whereas, on the contrary, he meant this periodical paper should be open for the reception of every subject, serious or sprightly, solemn or familiar, moral or amusing ; and therefore endeavoured to find a title as general and unconfined as possible. He acknowledged, that “ The Spectator was the most happily chosen of all others, and “The Tatler” the next to it: and after long consideration how to fix a third title, equally capacious and suited to his purpose, he suddenly thought upon “ The Rambler; ” and it would be difficult to find any other that so exactly coincided with the motto he has adopted in the title-page

Quo me cunque rapit tempestas deferor hospes."



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Mr. Boswell states, that Dr. Johnson's conduct, after he had associated with Savage and others, was not so strictly virtuous, in one respect, as when he was a younger man. This seems to have been suggested by Mr. Boswell, to account for Johnson's religious terrors on the approach of death; as if they proceeded from his having been led by Savage to vicious indulgences with the women of the town, in his nocturnal rambles. This, if true, Johnson was not likely to have confessed to Mr. Boswell, and therefore must be received as a pure invention of his own. But if Johnson ever conversed with those unfortunate females, it is believed to have been in order to reclaim them from their dissolute life, by moral and religious impressions ; for to one of his friends he once related a conversation of that sort which he had with a young female in the street, and that, asking her what she thought

? A paper, entitled The Rambler, appeared in 1712. Only one number of it seems to have escaped the ravages of time; this is in the British Museum.- Wright.

she was made for, her reply was, " she supposed to please the gentlemen.” His friend intimating his surprise, that he should have had communications with street-walkers, implying a suspicion that they were not of a moral tendency, Johnson expressed the highest indignation that any other motive could ever be suspected.

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