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“Be pleased to accept of this little book', which is all that I have published this winter. The inflammation is come again into my eye, so that I can write very little. I am, sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, “Sam. Johnson.”]
[“ TO MR, RICHARDSON.
“ Gough Square, 16th March, 1756. “ Sir,—I am obliged to entreat your assistance ; I am now under an arrest for five pounds eighteen shillings. Mr. Strahan, from whom I should have received the necessary help in this case, is not at home, and I am afraid of not finding Mr. Millar. If you will be so good as to send me this sum, I will very gratefully repay you, and add it to all former obligations. I am, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
“ SAM, JOHNSON." “ Sent'six guineas ?. Witness William RICHARDSON."]
[“ DR. JOHNSON TO DR. WARTON. of Dr.
“ 15th April, 1756. Warton,
“ DEAR SIR,— Though, when you and your brother were in town, you did not think my humble habitation worth a visit, yet I will not so far give way to sullenness as not to tell you that I have lately seen an octavo books which I suspect to be yours, though I have not yet read above ten pages. That way of publishing, without acquainting your friends, is a wicked trick. However, I will not so far depend upon a mere conjecture as to charge you with a fraud which I cannot prove you to have committed.
“I should be glad to hear that you are pleased with your new situation *. You have now a kind of royalty, and are to be anbail for Dr. Johnson.” The foregoing note is from Richardson's Correspondence; but there must be some mistake in the date of the letter itself. The 19th Feb. 1756, fell on a Thursday. As Johnson's handwriting is not easily read, perhaps the transcriber mistook Thursday for Tuesday.-Ed.)
(No work of Johnson's appears to have been published separately about this time, except Williams's Account of the Longitude.—Ep.)
? (Upon this Mr. Murphy regrets, “ for the honour of an admired writer, not to find a more liberal entry—to his friend in distress he sent eight shillings more than was wanted! Had an incident of this kind occurred in one of his romances, Richardson would have known how to grace his hero; but in fictitious scenes generosity costs the writer nothing."-Life, p. 87. This is very unjust. We have seen that Mr. Richardson had, just the month before, been called upon to do Johnson a similar service; and it has been stated that about this period Richardson was his constant resource in difficulties of this kind. Richardson moreover had numerous calls of the same nature from other quarters, which he answered with a ready and well-regulated charity. Instead, therefore, of censuring him for not giving inore, Mr. Murphy might have praised him for having done all that was required on the particular occasion.- ED.)
3 [His Essay on the writings and genius of Pope -Ev.]
swerable for your conduct to posterity. I suppose you care not now to answer a letter, except there be a lucky concurrence of a postday with a holiday. These restraints are troublesome for a time, but custom makes them easy with the help of some honour, and a great deal of profit, and I doubt not but your abilities will obtain both.
“ For my part, I have not lately done much. I have been ill in the winter, and my eye has been inflamed; but I please myself with the hopes of doing many things with which I have long pleased and deceived myself.
“ What becomes of poor dear Collins ? I wrote him a letter which he never answered. I
suppose writing is
troublesome to him. That man is no common loss. The moralists all talk of the uncertainty of fortune, and the transitoriness of beauty ; but it is yet more dreadful to consider that the powers of the mind are equally liable to change, that understanding may make its appearance and depart, that it may blaze and expire.
“Let me not be long without a letter, and I will forgive you the omission of the visit; and if you can tell me that you are now more happy than before, you will give great pleasure to, dear sir, your most affectionate and most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."]
His works this year were, an abstract or epitome, in octavo, of his folio Dictionary, and a few essays in a monthly publication, entitled “ THE UNIVERSAL VISITER.” Christopher Smart, with whose unhappy vacillation of mind he sincerely sympathised, was one of the stated undertakers of this miscellany; and it was to assist him that Johnson sometimes employed
All the essays marked with two asterisks have been ascribed to him; but I am confident, from internal evidence, that of these, neither “ The Life of Chaucer," “ Reflections on the State of Portugal,” nor an “Essay on Architecture,” were written by him. I am equally confident, upon the same evidence, that he wrote “Further Thoughts on Agriculture t;' being the sequel of a very inferior essay on the same
1 [Collins died in this year.--E..]
subject, and which, though carried on as if by the same hand, is both in thinking and expression so far above it, and so strikingly peculiar, as to leave no doubt of its true parent; and that he also wrote “ A Dissertation on the State of Literature and Authours t,” and “A Dissertation on the Epitaphs written by Pope *.” The last of these, indeed, he afterwards added to his “ Idler.” Why the essays truly written by him are marked in the same manner with some which he did not write, I cannot explain; but with deference to those who have ascribed to him the three essays which I have rejected, they want all the characteristical marks of Johnsonian composition.
He engaged also to superintend and contribute largely to another monthly publication, entitled “ THE LITERARY MAGAZINE, OR UNIVERSAL REVIEW*!;" the first number of which came out in May this year.
What were his emoluments from this undertaking, and what other writers were employed in it, I have not discovered. He continued to write in it, with intermissions, till the fifteenth number; and I think that he never gave better proofs of the force, acuteness, and vivacity of his mind, than in this miscellany, whether we consider his original essays, or his reviews of the works of others. The
Preliminary Address " to the publick is a proof how this great man could embellish, with the graces of superiour composition, even so trite a thing as the plan of a magazine.
His original essays are, “ An Introduction to the Political State of Great Britain f;" “ Remarks on the Militia Bill +;" “ Observations on his Britannick Majesty's Treaties with the Empress of Russia and the Landgrave of Hesse Casselt;"
;" “ Observations
(Probably this was the execution of the design which he mentioned to Dr. Adams. See anto, p. 270.--Ed.]
on the Present State of Affairs +;" and "Memoirs of Frederick III. King of Prussia t.” In all these he displays extensive political knowledge and sagacity, expressed with uncommon energy and perspicuity, without any of those words which he sometimes took a pleasure in adopting, in imitation of Sir Thomas Browne; of whose “ Christian Morals” he this year gave an edition, with his “ Life *” prefixed to it, which is one of Johnson's best biographical perform
In one instance only in these essays has he indulged his Brownism. Dr. Robertson, the historian, mentioned it to me, as having at once convinced him that Johnson was the authour of the “ Memoirs of the King of Prussia.” Speaking of the pride which the old king, the father of his hero, tuok in being master of the tallest regiment in Europe, he says, “ To review this towering regiment was his daily pleasure, and to perpetuate it was so much his care, that when he met a tall woman he immediately commanded one of his Titanian retinue to marry her, that they might propagate procerity.” For this Anglo-Latian word procerity, Johnson had, however, the authority of Addison.
His reviews are of the following books: “Birch's History of the Royal Societyt;" “ Murphy's Gray’sInn Journalt;" “ Warton's Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope, vol. I.+;" “ Hampton's Translation of Polybiust;" “ Blackwell's Memoirs of the Court of Augustust;" “ Russel's Natural History of Aleppot;” “ Sir Isaac Newton's Arguments in Proof of a Deityt;" “ Borlase's History of the Isles of Scillyt; " Holme's Experiments on Bleachingt; “Browne's Christian Moralst;” “Hales on distilling Sea-Water, Ventilators in Ships, and curing an ill Taste in Milkt;" “ Lucas's Essay on Waterst;" “ Keith's Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops t; “ Browne's
Byng *;" "
History of Jamaicat;” “ Philosophical Transactions, vol. XLIX. ;" “Mrs. Lenox's Translation of Sully's Memoirs * ;” “ Miscellanies by Elizabeth Harrisont;” “ Evans's Map and Account of the Middle Colonies in America t;" “ Letter on the Case of Admiral Byng * ;” “ Appeal to the People concerning Admiral
Hanway's Eight Days' Journey, and Essay on Tea* ;" “ The Cadet, a Military Treatiset;" “ Some further Particulars in Relation to the Case of Admiral Byng, by a Gentleman of Oxford “ The Conduct of the Ministry relating to the present War impartially examined t;" “ A Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil *.” All these, from internal evidence, were written by Johnson: some of them I know he avowed, and have marked them with an asterisk accordingly. Mr. Thomas Davies, indeed, ascribed to him the Review of Mr. Burke's “ Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful ;” and Sir John Hawkins, with equal discernment, has inserted it in his collection of Johnson's works: whereas it has no resemblance to Johnson's composition, and is well known to have been written by Mr. Murphy, who has acknowledged it to me and many others.
It is worthy of remark, in justice to Johnson's political character, which has been misrepresented as abjectly submissive to power, that his “ Observations on the present State of Affairs” glow with as animated a spirit of constitutional liberty as can be found any where. Thus he begins:
1 [Dr. Johnson's political bias is nowhere, that the editor knows, represented as having been, at this date," abjectly submissive to power.” On the contrary, he was supposed, and with some justice, to be adverse to the reigning house and its successive ministers. The charge (which Mr. Boswell thus ingeniously answers by shifting it) was, that after the grant of his pension he became too “ subunissive to power ;" but the truth is, that in spite of his party bias, Johnson was always a friend to discipline in the political, as in the social world; and although he joined in the clamour against Walpole, and hated George the Second, his general disposition was always to support the monarchical part of the constitution.-Ed.]