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giving petty injuries, or in provoking by needless offence. Mr. Jordan, his tutor, had much of his affection, though he despised his want of scholastic learning. “ That creature would (said he) defend his pupils to the last: no young lad under his care should suffer for committing slight improprieties, while he had breath to defend, or power to protect them. If I had had sons to send to college (added he) Jordan should have been their tutor."
Sir William Browne the physician, who lived to a very extraordinary age, and was in other respects an odd mortal, with more genius than understanding, and more self-sufficiency than wit, was the only person who ventured to oppose Mr. Johnson, when he had a mind to shine by exalting his favourite university, and to express his contempt of the Whiggish notions which prevail at Cambridge. He did it once, however, with surprising felicity: his antagonist having repeated with an air of triumph the famous epigram written by Dr. Trapp,
“ Our royal master saw, with heedful eyes,
That that right loyal body wanted learning,”
“ The king to Oxford sent his troop of horse,
For Whigs allow no force but argument.” Mr. Johnson did him the justice to say, it was one of the happiest extemporaneous productions he ever met with; though he once comically confessed, that he hated to repeat the wit of a whig urged in support of whiggism. Says Garrick to him one day, “Why did not you make me a tory, when we lived so much together, you love to make people tories ?” “Why (says Johnson, pulling a heap of halfpence from his pocket), did not the king make these guineas ?”
Of Mr. Johnson's toryism the world has long been witness, and the political pamphlets written by him in defence of his party, are vigorous and elegant. He often delighted his imagination with the thoughts of having destroyed Junius, an anony
mous writer who flourished in the years 1769 and 1770, and who kept himself so ingeniously concealed from every endeavour to detect him, that no probable guess was, I believe, ever formed concerning the author's name, though at that time the subject of general conversation. Mr. Johnson made us all laugh one day, because I had received a remarkably fine Stilton cheese as a present from some person who had packed and directed it carefully, but without mentioning whence it came. Mr. Thrale, desirous to know who we were obliged to, asked every friend as they came in, but nobody owned it : “Depend upon it, Sir (says Johnson), it was sent by Junius.”
The “False Alarm,” his first and favourite pamphlet, was written at our house between eight o'clock on Wednesday night and twelve o'clock on Thursday night; we read it to Mr. Thrale when he came very late home from the House of Commons: the other political tracts followed in their order. I have forgotten which contains the stroke at Junius; but shall for ever remember the pleasure it gave him to have written it. It was however in the
year 1775 that Mr. Edmund Burke made the famous speech in parliament that struck even foes with admiration, and friends with delight. Among the nameless thousands who are contented to echo those praises they have not skill to invent, I ventured, before Dr. Johnson himself, to applaud, with rapture, the beautiful passage in it concerning Lord Bathurst and the Angel ; which, said our Doctor, had I been in the house, I would have answered thus :
Suppose, Mr. Speaker, that to Wharton, or to Marlborough, or to any of the eminent whigs of the last age, the devil had, not with any great impropriety, consented to appear; he would perhaps in somewhat like these words have commenced the conversation :
"You seem, my Lord, to be concerned at the judicious apprehension, that while you are sapping the foundations of royalty at home, and propagating here the dangerous doctrine of resistance; the distance of America may secure its inhabitants from your arts, though active: but I will unfold to you the gay prospects of futurity. This people, now so innocent and harmless, shall draw the sword against their mother country, and
1 On the 22nd of March, 1775, upon moving his resolutions for conciliation with America.-Editor.
bathe its point in the blood of their benefactors: this people, now contented with a little, shall then refuse to spare, what they themselves confess they could not miss; and these men, now so honest and so grateful, shall, in return for peace and for protection, see their vile agents in the house of parliament, there to sow the seeds of sedition, and propagate confusion, perplexity, and pain. Be not dispirited then at the contemplation of their present happy state : I promise you that anarchy, poverty, and death shall, by my care, be carried even across the spacious Atlantic, and settle in America itself, the sure consequences of our beloved whiggism.”
This I thought a thing so very particular, that I begged his leave to write it down directly, before anything could intervene that might make me forget the force of the expressions, a trick, which I have however seen played on common occasions, of sitting steadily down at the other end of the room to write at the moment what should be said in company, either by Dr. Johnson or to him, I never practised myself, nor approved of in another. There is something so ill-bred, and so inclining to treachery in this conduct, that were it commonly adopted, all confidence would soon be exiled from society, and a conversation assembly-room would become tremendous as a court of justice. A set of acquaintance joined in familiar chat may say a thousand things, which (as the phrase is) pass well enough at the time, though they cannot stand the test of critical examination; and as all talk beyond that which is necessary to the purposes of actual business is a kind of game, there will be ever found ways of playing fairly or unfairly at it, which distinguish the gentleman from the juggler. Dr. Johnson, as well as many of my acquaintance, knew that I kept a common-place book; and he one day said to me good-humouredly, that he would give me something to write in my repository. “I warrant (said he) there is a great deal about me in it: you shall have at least one thing worth your pains; so if you
will get the pen and ink, I will repeat to you Anacreon's Dove directly; but tell at the same time, that as I never was struck with any thing in the Greek language till I read that, so I never read any thing in the same language since, that pleased me as much. I hope my translation (continued he) is not worse than that of Frank
See Life, vol. iv., June 30, 1784.
Fawkes.” Seeing me disposed to laugh, “Nay nay (said he),
“Lovely courier of the sky,
666 Soft Anacreon's vows I bear,
Grac'd with all that charms the heart,
Vested with a master's right
Weighty charge consign'd to me:
Freedom my return awaits.
Can a prudent Dove decline
Over bills and fields to roam,
Slightly shelter'd, coarsely fed;
Then with luscious plenty gay,
Let me now my pinions ply,
When I had finished, “ But you must remember to add (says Mr. Johnson) that though these verses were planned, and even begun, when I was sixteen years old, I never could find time to make an end of them before I was sixty-eight.”
This facility of writing, and this dilatoriness ever to write, Mr. Johnson always retained, from the days that he lay a bed and dictated his first publication to Mr. Hector, who acted as his amanuensis, to the moment he made me copy out those variations in Pope's “Homer which are printed in the “ Poets Lives :" “ And now (said he, when I had finished it for him), I fear not Mr. Nicholson of a pin.”—The fine “Rambler” on the subject of Procrastination was hastily composed, as I have heard, in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s parlour, while tic boy waited to carry it to press : and numberless are the instances of his writing under immediate pressure of importunity or distress. He told me that the character of Sober in the “ Idler," was by himself intended as his own portrait; and that he had his own outset into life in his eye when he wrote the eastern story of Gelaleddin. Of the allegorical papers in the “ Rambler," Labour and Rest was his favourite; but Serotinus, the man who returns late in life to receive honours in his native country, and meets with mortification instead of respect, was by him considered as a masterpiece in the science of life and manners. The character of Prospero in the fourth volume, Garrick took to be his; and I have heard the author say, that he never forgave the offence. Sophron was likewise a picture drawn from reality; and by Gelidus the philosopher, he meant to represent Mr. Coulson, a mathematician, who formerly lived at Rochester. The man immortalised for purring like a cat was, as he told me, one Busby, a proctor in the Commons. He who barked so ingeniously, and then called the drawer to drive away the dog, was father to Dr. Salter of the Charterhouse. He who sung a song, and by correspondent motions of his arın chalked out a giant on the wall, was one Richardson, an attorney. The letter signed Sunday, was written by Miss Talbot; and he fancied the billets in the first volume of the “ Rambler,” were sent him by Miss Mulso, now Mrs. Chapone. The papers contributed by Mrs. Carter, had much of his esteem, though he always blamed me for preferring the letter signed Chariessa to the allegory, where religion and superstition are indeed most masterly delineated.
When Dr. Johnson read his own satire, in which the life of a scholar is painted, with the various obstructions thrown in his way to fortune and to fame, he burst into a passion of tears one