struck in a manner that delicacy forbids me to express. While I contended that she ought to be treated with an inflexible steadiness of displeasure, Mrs. Thrale was all for mildness and forgiveness, and according to the vulgar phrase, making the best of a bad bargain. JOHNSON. "Madam, we must distinguish. Were I a man of rank, I would not let a daughter starve who had made a mean marriage; but having voluntarily degraded herself from the station which she was originally entitled to hold, I would support her only in that which she herself has chosen; and would not put her on a level with my other daughters. You are to consider, Madam, that it is our duty to maintain the subordination of civilised society; and when there is a gross and shameful deviation from rank, it should be punished so as to deter others from the same perversion."

After frequently considering this subject, I am more and more confirmed in what I then meant to express, and which was sanctioned by the authority, and illustrated by the wisdom, of Johnson; and I think it of the utmost consequence to the happiness of Society, to which subordination is absolutely necessary. It is weak, and contemptible, and unworthy, in a parent to relax in such a case. It is sacrificing general advantage to private feelings. And let it be considered, that the claim of a daughter who has acted thus, to be restored to her former situation, is either fanatical or unjust. If there be no value in the distinction of rank, what does she suffer by being kept in the situation to which she has descended? If there be a value in that distinction, it ought to be steadily maintained. If indulgence be shewn to such conduct, and the offenders know that in a longer or shorter time they shall be received as well as if they had not contaminated their blood by a base alliance, the great check upon that inordinate caprice which generally occasions low marriages, will be removed, and the fair and comfortable order of improved life will be miserably disturbed.

Lord Chesterfield's letters being mentioned, Johnson said, "It was not to be wondered at that they had so great a sale, considering that they were the letters of a statesman, a wit, one who had been so much in the mouths of mankind, one long accustomed virûm volitare per ora."

On Friday, March 31, I supped with him and some friends at a tavern. One of the company' attempted, with too much forwardness, to rally him on his late appearance at the theatre; but had reason to repent of his temerity. "Why, Sir, did you go to Mrs. Abington's benefit? Did you see?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir." "Did

1 A club meeting.-Croker.

Probably Boswell himself.


you hear?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir." "Why then, Sir, did you go?" JOHNSON. "Because, Sir, she is a favourite of the publick: and when the publick cares the thousandth part for you that it does for her, I will go to your benefit too."

Next morning I won a small bett from Lady Diana Beauclerk, by asking him as to one of his particularities, which her Ladyship laid I durst not do. It seems he had been frequently observed at the club to put into his pocket the Seville oranges, after he had squeezed the juice of them into the drink which he made for himself. Beauclerk and Garrick talked of it to me, and seemed to think that he had a strange unwillingness to be discovered. We could not divine what he did with them; and this was the bold question to be put. I saw on his table the spoils of the preceding night, some fresh peels nicely scraped and cut into pieces. "O, Sir, (said I,) I now partly see what you do with the squeezed oranges which you put into your pocket at the club." JOHNSON. "I have a great love for them." BoSWELL. "And pray, Sir, what do you do with them? You scrape them, it seems, very neatly, and what next?" JOHNSON. "I let them dry, Sir." BOSWELL. "And what next?" JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, you shall know their fate no further." BOSWELL. "Then the world must be left in the dark. It must be said, (assuming a mock solemnity,) he scraped them, and let them dry, but what he did with them next, he never could be prevailed, upon to tell.” JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, you should say it more emphatically:-he could not be prevailed upon, even by his dearest friends, to tell." 1


He had this morning received his Diploma as Doctor of Laws from the University of Oxford. He did not vaunt of his new dignity, but I understood he was highly pleased with it. I shall here insert the progress and completion of that high academical honour, in the same manner as I have traced his obtaining that of Master of Arts.

To the Reverend Dr. FOTHERGILL, Vice Chancellor of the University of OXFORD, to be communicated to Heads of Houses, and proposed in Convocation.

"MR. VICE-CHANCELLOR AND GENTLEMEN,-The honour of the degree of M. A. by diploma, formerly conferred upon Mr. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in consequence of his having eminently distinguished him

We find, by Dr. Campbell's amusing diary, that Boswell posted straight to Thrale's, to retail the sayings of his great friend. His eagerness about the orange-peel secret was truly absurd. "The Doctor's reply that his dearest friend should not know that, this has

made poor Boswell unhappy, and I verily think he is as anxious to know the secret as a green sick girl." Here Murphy told "a comical story of a Scotchman's introduction to Johnson," which was only fresh ridicus of Boswell, he being its hero.

self by the publication of a series of essays, excellently calculated to form the manners of the people, and in which the cause of religion and morality has been maintained and recommended by the strongest powers of argument and elegance of language, reflected an equal degree of lustre upon the University itself.

"The many learned labours which have since that time employed the attention and displayed the abilities of that great man, so much to the advancement of literature and the benefit of the community, render him worthy of more distinguished honours in the republick of letters and I persuade myself, that I shall act agreeably to the sentiments of the whole University, in desiring that it may be proposed in Convocation to confer on him the degree of Doctor in Civil Law by diploma, to which I readily give my consent; and am, "Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen,

"Your affectionate friend and servant,

"Downing-street, March 23, 1775.”



"CANCELLARIUS, Magistri, et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis, omnibus ad quos præsentes Literæ pervenerint, Salutem in Domino Sempiternam.

"SCIATIS, virum illustrem, SAMUELEM JOHNSON, in omni humaniorum literarum genere eruditum, omniumque scientiarum comprehensione, felicissimum, scriptis suis, ad popularium mores formandos summâ verborum elegantiâ ac sententiarum gravitate compositis, ita olim inclaruisse, ut dignus videretur cui ab Academiâ suâ eximia quædam laudis præmia deferentur, quique venerabilem Magistrorum Ordinem summâ cum dignitate cooptaretur :

"Cùm verò eundem clarissimum virum tot posteà tantique labores, in patriâ præsertim linguâ ornandâ et stabiliendâ feliciter impensi, ita insigniverint, ut in Literarum Republicâ PRINCEPS jam et PRIMARIUS jure habeatur; Nos CANCELLARIUS, Magistri et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis, quò talis viri merita pari honoris remuneratione exæquentur, et perpetuum suæ simul laudis, nostræque erga literas propensissimæ voluntatis extet monumentum, in solenni Convocatione Doctorum et Magistrorum regentium et non regentium, prædictum SAMUELEM JOHNSON Doctorem in Jure Civili renunciavimus et constituimus, eumque virtute præsentis Diplomatis singulis juribus, privilegiis et honoribus, ad istum gradum quàquà pertinentibus, frui et gaudere jussimus. In cujus rei testimonium commune Universitatis Oxoniensis sigillum præsentibus apponi fecimus.

• Extracted from the Convocation Register, Oxford.

"Datum in Domo nostra Convocationis die tricesimo mensis Martii, Anno Domini Millesimo, septingentesimo, septuagesimo quinto."

"Viro reverendo THOME FOTHERGILL, S. T. P. Universitatis Oxoniensis Vice-Cancellario.

"S. P. D.


"MULTIS non est opus, ut testimonium quo, te præside, Oxon. ienses nomen meum posteris commendârunt, quali animo acceperim compertum faciam. Nemo sibi placens non lætatur; nemo sibi non placet, qui vobis, literarum arbitris, placere potuit. Hoc tamen habet incommodi tantum beneficium, quod mihi nunquam posthac sine vestræ famæ detrimento vel labi liceat vel cessare; semperque sit timendum, ne quod mihi tam eximiæ laudi est, vobis aliquando fiat opprobrio. Vale."D


"7 Id. Apr. 1775."

The original is in my possession.

Added for third Edition.-[He shewed me the diploma, and allowed me to read it, but would not consent to my taking a copy of it, fearing perhaps that I should blaze it abroad in his life-time. His objection to this appears from his 99th letter to Mrs. Thrale, whom in that letter he thus scolds for the grossness of her flattery of him.-"The other Oxford news is, that they have sent me a degree of Doctor of Laws, with such praises in the Diploma as perhaps ought to make me ashamed; they are very like your praises. I wonder whether I shall ever shew it to you."

It is remarkable that he never, so far as I know, assumed his title of Doctor, but called himself Mr. Johnson, as appears from many of his cards or notes to myself, and I have seen many from him to other persons, in which he uniformly takes that designation. I once observed on his table a letter directed to him with the addition of Esquire, and objected to it as being a designation inferiour to that of Doctor; but he checked me, and seemed pleased with it, because, as I conjectured, he liked to be sometimes taken out of the class of literary men, and to be merely genteel,—un gentilhomme comme un autre.]1

"The original is in the hands of Dr. Fothergill, then Vice-Chancellor, who made this transcript.


1 The words between "crotchets " are found only in Malone's and later editions






« VorigeDoorgaan »