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(LETTER 90. TO DAVID GARRICK, ESQ. (1)
• May 18. 1765. “ DEAR SIR, — I know that great regard will be had to your opinion of an Edition of Shakspeare. I desire, therefore, to secure an honest prejudice in my favour by securing your suffrage, and that this prejudice may really be honest, I wish you would name such plays as you would see, and they shall be sent you by, Sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
LETTER 91. FROM MR. GARRICK.
“ May 31. 1765. “ DEAR SIR,--My brother greatly astonished me this. morning, by asking me 'if I was a subscriber to your | Shakspeare?' I told him, yes, that I was one of the
first, and as soon as I had heard of your intention; and that I gave you, at the same time, some other names, among which were the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Beigh. ton, &c. I cannot immediately have recourse to my memorandum, though I remember to have seen it just before I left England. I hope that you will recollect it, and not think me capable of neglecting to make you so trifling a compliment, which was doubly due from me, not only on account of the respect I have always had for your abilities, but from the sincere regard I shall ever pay to your friendship. I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“ David GARRICK.”]
LETTER 92. TO MR. G. STRAHAN,
“ May 25. 1765. “ DEAR SIR,—That I have answered neither of your letters you must not impute to any declension of good
(1) [This and the following letter are from the originals in the possession of Mr. Upcott.]
(2) This young man, son of his friend, the printer, was after- : wards Prebendary of Rochester, and edited Johnson's “Prayers nd Meditations." -C.
will, but merely to the want of something to say. I suppose you pursue your studies diligently, and diligence will seldom fail of success. Do not tire yourself so much with Greek one day as to be afraid of looking on it the next; but give it a certain portion of time, suppose four hours, and pass the rest of the day in Latin or English. I would have you learn French, and take in a literary journal once a month, which will accustom you to various subjects, and inform you what learning is going forward in the world. Do not omit to mingle some lighter books with those of more importance ; that which is read remisso animo is often of great use, and takes great hold of the remembrance. However, take what course you will, if
be diligent you will be a scholar. I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately,
"Sam. Johnson.” (' No man was more gratefully sensible of
kindness done to him than Johnson. There is a little circumstance in his diary this year, which shews him in a very amiable light.
“ July 2. I paid Mr. Simpson ten guineas, which he had formerly lent me in my necessity, and for which Tetty expressed her gratitude.”
“July 8. I lent Mr. Simpson ten guineas more."
Here he had a pleasing opportunity of doing the same kindness to an old friend, which he had formerly received from him. Indeed his liberality as to money was very remarkable. The next article in his diary is, “July 16th, I received seventy-five pounds. Lent Mr. Davies twenty-five."
(1) This letter has been communicated to Dr. Hall, for the use of this edition, by the Rev. Charles Rose, fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. - C.
Trinity College, Dublin, at this time surprised Johnson with a spontaneous compliment of the highest academical honours, by creating him Doctor of Laws. The diploma, which is in my possession, is as follows:
“ OMNIBUS ad quos præsentes literæ pervenerint, salutem. Nos Præpositus et Socü Seniores Collegii sacrosanctæ et individue Trinitatis Regina Elizabethæ juxta Dublin, testamur, Samueli Johnson, Armigero, ob egregiam scriptorum elegantiam et uti litatem, gratiam concessam fuisse pro gradu Doctoratûs in utroque Jure, octavo die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo seragesimo-quinto. In cujus rei testimonium singulorum manus et sigillum quo in hisce utimur apposuimus ; vicesimo tertio die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto.
GUL. CLEMENT. FRAN. ANDREWS. R. MURRAY.
Mich. KEARNEY.”(2) This unsolicited mark of distinction, conferred on so great a literary character, did much honour to the judgment and liberal spirit of that learned body. Johnson acknowledged the favour in a letter to Dr. Leland, one of their number.
LETTER 93. TO THE REV. DR. LELAND.
“ Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, London,
“ Oct. 17. 1765. · Among the names subscribed to the degree which I have had the honour of receiving from the University of Dublin, I find none of which I have any personal knowledge but those of Dr. Andrews and yourself.
(1) [Dr. Thomas Leland, the translator of Demosthenes, and author of the History of Ireland, was born at Dublin, in 1722, and died in 1785.]
(2) The same who has contributed some notes to this work.
“ Men can be estimated by those who know them not, only as they are represented by those who know them;. and therefore I flatter myself that I owe much of the pleasure which this distinction gives me, to your concurrence with Dr. Andrews in recommending me to the learned society.
Having desired the Provost to return my general thanks to the University, I beg that you, Sir, will accept my particular and immediate acknowledgments. I am, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOANSON.” (1) He appears this year to have been seized with a temporary fit of ambition, for he had thoughts both of studying law, and of engaging in politics. His “Prayer (p. 67.] before the Study of Law" is truly admirable:
“Sept. 26. 1765. Almighty God, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual ; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
(1) His great affection for our own universities, and particularly his attachment to Oxford, prevented Johnson from receiving this honour as it was intended, and he never assumed the title which it conferred. He was as little pleased to be called Doctor in consequence of it, as he was with the title of Domine, which a friend of his once incautiously addressed him by. He thought it alluded to his having been a schoolmaster; and, though he has ably vindicated Milton from the reproach that Salmasius meant to fix on him, by saying that he was of that profession, he wished to have it forgotten, that himself had ever been driven to it as the means of subsistence, and had failed in the attempt. — HAWKINS.
His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled, “ Engaging in politics with H-n," no doubt, his friend, the Right Hon. William Gerard Hamilton ('), for whom, during a long acquaintance, he had a great esteem, and to whose conversation he once paid this high compliment : “ I am very unwilling to be left alone, Sir, and therefore I go with my company down the first pair of stairs, in some hopes that they may, perhaps, return again; I with you, Sir, as far as the streetdoor.” In what particular department he intended to engage (2) does not appear, nor can Mr. Hamil
(1) Mr. Hamilton had been secretary to Lord Halifax, as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and remained a short time with his successor, Lord Northumberland, but he resigned in 1764. Though he never spoke in parliament after this, his biographer informs us (perhaps on the authority of this passage), that he meditated taking an active part in political life: he, however, did not, and his alliance with Johnson, whatever it was intended to be, seems to have produced little or nothing. He died in 1796. — C.
(2) In the preface to a late collection of Mr. Hamilton's Pieces, it has been observed that our author was, by the generality of Johnson's words, led to suppose that he was seized with a temporary fit of ambition, and that hence he was induced to apply his thoughts to law and politics. But Mr. Boswell was certainly mistaken in this respect: and these words merely allude to Johnson's having at that time entered into some engagement with Mr. Hamilton occasionally to furnish him with his
sentiments on the great political topics which should be considered in parliament.” In consequence of this engagement, Johnson, in November, 1766, wrote a very valuable tract, entitled “ Considerations on Corn,” which is printed as an appendix to the works of Mr. Hamilton, published by T. Payne in 1808. - M. It seems very improbable that so solemn a'"
prayer, on engaging in politics,” should have had no meaning. It were perhaps vain now to inquire after what Mr. Hamilton professed not to be able to explain ; but we may be sure that it was, in Johnson's opinion, no such trivial and casual assistance as is suggested in Mr. Malone's Fro a letter to Miss Porter