daughter, made him be treated with much attention ; and his son, both at school and at the university of Oxford, associated with young men of the first rank. His allowance from his father, after he left college, was splendid ; not less than a thousand a year. This, in a man who had risen as old Thrale did, was a very extraordinary instance of generosity. He used to say, “ If this young dog does not find so much after I am gone as he expects, let him remember that he has had a great deal in my own time.”

The son, though in affluent circumstances, had good sense enough to carry on his father's trade, which was of such extent, that I remember he once told me, he would not quit it for an annuity of ten thousand a year :

“ Not,” said he, “ that I get ten thousand a year by it, but it is an estate to a family." Having left daughters only, the property was sold for the immense sum of one hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds; a magnificent proof of what may be done by fair trade in a long period of time.

There may be some who think that a new system of gentility (1) might be established, upon principles

(1) Mrs. Burney informs me that she heard Dr. Johnson say, « An English merchant is a new species of gentleman." He, perhaps, had in his mind the following ingenious passage in “ The Conscious Lovers,” Act iv. Scene 2., where Mr. Sealand thus addresses Sir John Bevil : : -“Give me leave to say, that we merchants are a species of gentry that have grown into the world this last century, and are as honourable, and almost as useful, as you landed-folks, that have always thought yourselves so much above us; for your trading, forsooth, is extended no farther than a load of hay, or a fat ox. You are pleasant people indeed! because you are generally bred up to be lazy, therefore, I warrant you, industry is dishonourable." — B.

If, indeed, Johnson called merchants a new species of gentlemen, he must have forgotten not only the merchants of Tyre,

totally different from what have hitherto prevailed. Our present heraldry, it may be said, is suited to the barbarous times in which it had its origin. It is chiefly founded upon ferocious merit, upon military excellence. Why, in civilised times, we may be asked, should there not be rank and honours, upon principles which, independent of long custom, are certainly not less worthy, and which, when once allowed to be connected with elevation and precedency, would obtain the same dignity in our imagination? Why should not the knowledge, the skill, the expertness, the assiduity, and the spirited hazards of trade and commerce, when crowned with success, be entitled to give those flattering distinctions by which mankind are so universally captivated ?

Such are the specious, but false arguments for a proposition which always will find numerous advocates, in a nation where men are every day starting up from obscurity to wealth. To refute them is needless. The general sense of mankind cries out, with irresistible force,“ Un gentilhomme est toujours gentilhomme."

Mr. Thrale had married Miss Hesther Lynch Salusbury, of good Welsh extraction, a lady of lively talents, improved by education. That Johnson's introduction into Mr. Thrale's family, which contributed so much to the happiness of his life, was owing to her desire for his conversation, is a very probable and the general supposition : but it is not the truth. Mr. Murphy, who was intimate with Mr. Thrale, having spoken very highly of Dr. Johnson, he was requested to make them acquainted. This being mentioned to Johnson, he accepted of an invitation to dinner at Thrale's, and was so much pleased with his reception, both by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, and they so much pleased with him, that his invitations to their house were more and more frequent, till at last he became one of the family, and an apartment was appropriated to him, both in their house at Southwark and in their villa at Streatham.(1)

who were “princes,” and the Medici of Florence, but the Greshams, Cranfields, Osbornes, Duncombes, and so many others, of England. - C.

Johnson had a very sincere esteem for Mr. Thrale, as a man of excellent principles, a good scholar, well skilled in trade, of a sound understanding, and of

(1) The first time I ever saw this extraordinary man was in the year 1764, when Mr. Murphy, who had long been the friend and confidential intimate of Mr. Thrale, persuaded him to wish for Johnson's conversation, extolling it in terms which that of no other person could have deserved, till we were only in doubt how to obtain his company, and find an excuse for the invitation. The celebrity of Mr. Woodhouse *, a shoemaker, whose verses were at that time the subject of common discourse, soon afforded a pretence, and Mr. Murphy brought Johnson to meet him, giving me general cautions not to be surprised at his figure, dress, or behaviour. What I recollect best of the day's talk was his earnestly recommending Addison's works to Mr. Woodhouse as a model for imitation. Give nights and days, Sir,' said he, 'to the study of Addison, if you mean either to be a good writer, or, what is more worth, an honest man.' When I saw something like the same expression in his criticism on that author, lately published [in the Lives of the Poets], I put him in mind of his past injunctions to the young poet, to which he replied, “That he wished the shoemaker might have remembered them as well.' Mr. Johnson liked his new acquaintance so much, however, that from that time he dined with us every Thursday through the winter. Piozzi.

* (See an account of Wodehouse, in Southey's " Essay on the Lives of Uneducated Poets," 1831. p. 114.3

manners such as presented the character of a plain avesseile

? independent English 'squire. As this family will 5.16. frequently be mentioned in the course of the following pages, and as a false notion has prevailed that Mr. Thrale was inferior, and in some degree insignificant, compared with Mrs. Thrale, it may be proper to give a true state of the case from the authority of Johnson himself in his own words.

ii “I know no man,” said he, “who is more master of his wife and family than Thrale. If he but holds up a finger, he is obeyed. It is a great mistake to

344 suppose that she is above him in literary attainments. She is more flippant; but he has ten times her learning : he is a regular scholar; but her learning is that of a schoolboy in one of the lower forms." My readers may naturally wish for some representation of the figures of this couple. Mr. Thrale was tall, well proportioned, and stately. As for Madam, or my Mistress, by which epithets Johnson used to mention Mrs. Thrale, she was short, plump, and brisk.(1) She has herself given us a lively view of the idea which Johnson had of her person, on her appearing before him in a dark-coloured gown: “You little creatures should never wear those sort of clothes, however; they are unsuitable in every way. What! have not all insects gay colours ? ” (2) Mr. Thrale gave his wife a liberal indulgence, both in the choice of their company, and in the mode of enter

(1) Mrs. Thrale was about twenty-four or twenty-five years of age, when this acquaintance commenced; it not being quite clear whether she was born in January 1740, or 1741. - C.

(2) Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 279.

taining them. He understood and valued Johnson, without remission, from their first acquaintance to the day of his death. Mrs. Thrale was enchanted with Johnson's conversation for its own sake, and had also a very allowable vanity in appearing to be honoured with the attention of so celebrated a


Nothing could be more fortunate for Johnson than this connection. He had at Mr. Thrale's all the comforts and even luxuries of life; his melancholy was diverted, and his irregular habits lessened by association with an agreeable and well-ordered family. He was treated with the utmost respect, and even affection. The vivacity of Mrs. Thrale's literary talk roused him to cheerfulness and exertion, even when they were alone. But this was not often the case ; for he found here a constant succession of what gave him the highest enjoyment, the society of the learned, the witty, and the eminent in every way; who were assembled in numerous companies, called forth his wonderful powers, and gratified him with admiration, to which no man could be insensible.

In the October of this year he at length gave to the world his edition of Shakspeare, which, if it had no other merit but that of producing his Preface, in which the excellences and defects of that immortal bard are displayed with a masterly hand, the nation would have had no reason to complain.(1) A blind

(1) Johnson was insensible to Churchill's abuse; but the poem before mentioned had brought to remembrance that his edition of Shakspeare had long been due. His friends took the alarm, and, by all the arts of reasoning and persuasion, laboured

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