Slike strani

have told nothing but to yourself, who had told “ I wish to be informed in what condition your more than you intended.

brother's death has left your fortune; if he has be“ I hope you read more of Nepos, or of some queathed you competence or plenty, I shall sincerely other book, than you construe to Mr. Bright. The rejoice; if you are in any distress or difficulty, I more books you look into for your entertainment, will endeavour to make what I have, or what I with the greater variety of style you will make can get, sufficient for us both. I am, Madam, yourself acquainted. Turner I do not know; but yours affectionately,

Sam. Johnson." think that if Clark be better, you should change it, Pearson MSS. for I shall never be willing that you should trouble yourself with more than one book to learn the JOHNSON TO GEORGE STRAHAN. government of words. What book that one shall be, Mr. Bright must determine. Be but diligent

“ 16th April, 1763. in reading and writing, and doubt not of the suc

“ Dear Sir, — Your account of your proficience cess. Be pleased to make my compliments to Miss is more nearly equal, I find, to my expectations Page and the gentlemen. I am, dear Sir, yours which you took so much pains was at last a kind


your own. You are angry that a theme on affectionately,

Sam, Johnson." Rose MSS.

of English Latin ; what could you expect more?

If at the end of seven years you write good Latin, JOHNSON TO GEORGE STRAHAN.

you will excel most of your contemporaries : Scri

“26th March, 1763. bendo disces scribere. It is only by writing ill “ Dear Sir, — You did not very soon answer that you can attain to write well. Be but diligent my letter, and therefore cannot complain that I and constant, and make no doubt of success. make no great haste to answer yours.

I am well

“ I will allow you but six weeks for Tully's enough satisfied with the proficiency that you Offices. Walker's Particles I would not have you make, and hope that you will not relax the vigour trouble yourself to learn at all by heart, but look in of your diligence. I hope you begin now to see it from time to time, and observe his notes and rethat all is possible which was professed. Learning marks, and see how they are exemplified. The transis a wide field, but six years spent in close appli- lation from Clark's history will improve you, and I cation are a long time; and I am still of opinion, would have you continue it to the end of the book. that if you continue to consider knowledge as the “ I hope you read by the way at loose hours most pleasing and desirable of all acquisitions, and other books, though you do not mention them ; do not suffer your course to be interrupted, you for no time is to be lost; and what can be done may take your degree not only without deficiency, with a master is but a small part of the whole. I but with great distinction.

would have you now and then try at some English “ You must still continue to write Latin. This

When you find that you have mistaken is the most difficult part, indeed the only part that any thing, review the passage carefully, and settle is very difficult of your undertaking. If you can it in your mind. exemplify the rules of syntax, I know not whether " Be pleased to make my compliments, and it will be worth while to trouble yourself with any those of Miss Williams, to all our friends.

am, more translations. You will more increase your dear Sir, yours most affectionately, number of words, and advance your skill in phrase- Rose MSS.

Sam. Johnson.") ology, by making a short theme or two every day; and when you have construed properly a stated In 1763 he furnished to “The Poetical Canumber of verses, it will be pleasing to go from lendar," published by Fawkes and Woty, a reading to composition, and from composition to

character of Collins, which he afterwards reading. But do not be very particular about method; any method will do, if there be but dili- ingrafted into his entire Life of that admirable gence. Let me know, if you please, once a week poet, in the collection of Lives which he wrote what you are doing. I am, dear, George, your published by the booksellers of London. His

for the body of English poetry, formed and humble servant,

. Rose MSS.

account of the melancholy depression with

which Collins was severely afflicted, and which JOHNSON TO MISS PORTER.

brought him to his grave, is, I think, one of

April 12. 1763. “ My Dear,

the most tender and interesting passages in the - The newspaper has informed me of the death of Captain Porter. I know not what whole series of his writings. He also favoured to say to you, condolent or consolatory, beyond the Mr. Hoole with the Dedication of his translacommon considerations which I suppose you have tion of Tasso to the Queen,* which is so happroposed to others, and know how to apply to your- pily conceived and elegantly expressed, that I self. In all afflictions the first relief is to be asked cannot but point it out to the peculiar notice of God.

of my readers.



that illustrious family bave found a more liberal and potent “ MADAM, - To approach the high and illustrious has been patronage. in all ages the privilege of poets; and though translators “ I cannot but observe, Madam, how unequally reward is cannot justly claim the same honour, yet they naturally

proportioned to merit, when I reflect that the happiness follow their authors as attendant: ; and I hope that in return

which was withheld from Tasso is reserved for me, and for having enabled Tasso to diffuse his fame through the that the poem which once hardly procured to its author the British dominions, I may be introduced by him to the pre

countenance of the princes of Ferrara, bas attracted to its sence of your Majesty:

translator the favourable notice of a British queen. ** Tasso has a peculiar claim to your Majesty's favour, as

* Had this been the fate of Tasso, he would have been able follower and panegyrist of the house of Este, which has one

to have celebrated the condescension of your Majesty in common ancestor with the house of Hanover; and in review- nobler language, but could not have felt it with more ardent ing his life, it is not easy to forbear a wish that he had lived gratitude, chan, Madam, your Majesty's most faithful and in a happier time, when he might among the decendants of devoted servant,

John Hoole."

duced you.

I had a kindness for Derrick, and am sorry he is dead."

In the summer of 1761, Mr. Thomas Sheri

dan was CHAPTER XV.

at Edinburgh, and delivered lec

tures upon the English Language and Public 1763.

Speaking to large and respectable audiences.

I was often in his company, and heard him Boswell becomes acquainted with Johnson. - Derrick, dinary knowledge, talents, and virtues, repeat

frequently expatiate upon Johnson's extraor-Mr. Thomas Sheridan. - Mrs. Sheridan.- Mr. Thomas Davies. Mrs. Davies. First Interriew. and boast of his being his guest sometimes till

his pointed sayings, describe his particularities, - Johnson's Dress. His Chumbers in Temple two or three in the morning. At his house I Lane. - Dr. Blair. Dr. Jumes Fordyce.Ossian, Christopher Smart. -Johnson,

the hoped to have many opportunities of seeing Equestrian. Clifton's Eating House.

The the sage, as Mr. Sheridan obligingly assured Mitre. Colley Cibber's Odes. Gray. Belief me I should not be disappointed. in Apparitions. Cock-Lane Ghost. Churchill. When I returned to London in the end of

Goldsmith. Mallet's Elvira," Scotch 1762, to my surprise and regret I found an Landlords. Plan of Study,

irreconcileable difference had taken place be

tween Johnson and Sheridan. A pension of This is to me a memorable year; for in it I two hundred pounds a year had been given to had the happiness to obtain the acquaintance Sheridan. Johnson, who, as has been already of that extraordinary man whose memoirs I mentioned, thought slightingly of Sheridan's am now writing; an acquaintance which I art, upon hearing that he was also pensioned, shall ever esteem as one of the most fortunate exclaimed, “What! have they given him a circumstances in my life. Though then but pension? Then it is time for me to give up two and twenty, I had for several

read mine." Whether this proceeded from a mohis works with delight and instruction, and had mentary indignation, as if it were an affront to the highest reverence for their author, which his exalted merit that a player should be rehad grown up in my fancy into a kind of mys- warded in the same manner with him, or was terious veneration, by figuring to myself a the sudden effect of a fit of peevishness, it was state of solemn elevated abstraction, in which unluckily said, and, indeed, cannot be justiI supposed him to live in the immense metro- fied. Mr. Sheridan's pension was granted to polis of London. Mr. Gentleman', a native him, not as a player, but as a sufferer in the of Ireland, who passed some years in Scotland cause of government, when he was manager of as a player, and as an instructor in the En- the Theatre Royal in Ireland, when parties ran glish language, a man whose talents and worth high in 1753.4 And it must also be allowed were depressed by misfortunes, had given me that he was a man of literature, and had cona representation of the figure and manner of siderably improved the arts of reading and DICTIONARY JOHNSON ! as he was then called; speaking with distinctness and propriety. and during my first visit to London, which Besides, Johnson should have recollected that was for three months in 1760, Mr. Derrick the Mr. Sheridan taught pronunciation to Mr. poet 3, who was Gentleman's friend and coun- Alexander Wedderburne, whose sister was tryman, flattered me with hopes that he would married to Sir Harry Erskine, an intimate introduce me to Johnson, — an honour of which friend of Lord Bute, who was the favourite of I was very ambitious. But he never found an the king; and surely the most outrageous Whig opportunity; which made me doubt that he will not maintain, that, whatever ought to be had promised to do what was not in his power; the principle in the disposal of offices, a pension till Johnson some years afterwards told me, ought never to be granted from any bias of “ Derrick, Sir, might very well have intro- court connection. Mr. Macklin, indeed, shared with Mr. Sheridan the honour of instructing am glad that Mr. Sheridan has a pension, for Mr. Wedderburne'; and though it was too he is a very good man.” Sheridan could never late in life for a Caledonian to acquire the forgive this hasty contemptuous expression. It genuine English cadence, yet so successful rankled in his mind; and though I informed were Mr. Wedderburne's instructors, and his him of all that Johnson said, and that he would own unabating endeavours, that he got rid of be very glad to meet him amicably, be posithe coarse part of his Scotch accent, retaining tively declined repeated offers which I made, only as much of the “native wood-note wild," and once went off abruptly from a house where as to mark his country; which, if any Scotch- he and I were engaged to dine, because he was man should affect to forget, I should heartily told that Dr. Johnson was to be there. I have despise him. Notwithstanding the difficulties no sympathetic feeling with such persevering which are to be encountered by those who resentment. It is painful when there is a have not had the advantage of an English breach between those who have lived together education, he by degrees formed a mode of socially and cordially; and I wonder that there speaking, to which Englishmen do not deny is not, in all such cases, a mutual wish that it the praise of elegance. Hence bis distin- should be healed. I could perceive that Mr. guished oratory, which he exerted in his own Sheridan was by no means satisfied with Johncountry as an advocate in the Court of Session, son's acknowledging him to be a good man. and a ruling elder of the Kirk, has had its That could not soothe his injured vanity. I fame and ample reward, in much higher spheres. could not but smile, at the same time that I was When I look back on this noble person at offended, to observe Sheridan, in the Life of Edinburgh in situations so unworthy of his Swift, which he afterwards published, attemptbrilliant powers, and behold LORD Lough- ing in the writhings of his resentment to deBOROUGH, at London, the change seems almost preciate Johnson, hy characterising him as "a like one of the metamorphoses in Ovid; and writer of gigantic fame, in these days of little as his two preceptors, by refining his utter- men;" that very Johnson whom he once so ance, gave currency to his talents, we may say, highly admired and venerated.4 in the words of that poet, “ Nam vos mutastis." This rupture with Sheridan deprived


1 Francis Gentleman was born in 1728, and educated in literary character had any thing to do with the pension, and Dublin. His father was an officer in the army, and he, at no doubt he endeavoured to soften Johnson's resentment by the age of fifteen, obtained a commission in the same regi-giving, as he does in the above passage, this favour a political me it ; on the reduction, at the peace of 1748, he lost this colour; but there seems no reason believe that Sheridan's profession, and adopted that of the stage, both as an author pension was given to him as a sufferer by a playhouse riot. and an actor ; in neither of which did he attain any eminence. It was probably granted (et hinc illa lacryme) on the same He died in Decezaber, 1784 ; having, in the later course of his motive as Johnson's own, namely, the desire of the King and life, experienced “ all the hardships of a wandering actor, Lord Bute to distinguish the commencement of the new and all the disappointments of a friendless author.” reign by the patronage of literature. Indeed, this is rendered CROKER.

almost certain by various passages of the letters of Mrs. ? A kreat men of antiquity, such as Scipio Africanus, had Sheridan to Mr. Whyte : e.g. "London, Nov. 29. 1762. an epithet added to their names, in consequence of some Mr. Sheridan is now, as I mentioned to you formerly, busied celebrated action, so my illustrious friend was often called in the English Dictionary, which he is encouraged to pursue DICTIONARY JOHNSON, from that wonderful achievement of with the more alacrity as his Majesty has vouchsafed him genius and labour, his * Dictionary of the English Lan- such a mark of royal favour. I suppose you have heard that guage;" the merit of which I contemplate with more and he has granted him a pension of 2001. a year, merely as an Inore admiration.-BOSWELL. Boswell himself was at one encouragement to his undertaking, and this without solicitime anxious to be called Corsica Boswell. See post, Sep- tation, which makes it the more valuable." Whyte's Mistember, 1763.- CROKER.

cellanea Nova, p. 104. 107. lll. Mr. Samuel Whyte, the 3 See ante, p. 35. D.l. - CROKER.

writer of this volume, was a celebrated schoolmaster in 4 Unluckils Boswell, in tenderness to the amour pro- Dublin, a relation of and much attached to the Sheridan pre of Dr. Johnson, cannot bear to admit that Sheridan's family. Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his elder brother he would then have avoided mentioning such a ruffian as 5 See ant?, p. 121. n. 5.

I have dwelt the longer upon this remark- Johnson of one of his most agreeable reable instance of successful parts and assiduity, sources for amusement in his lonely evenings; because it affords animating encouragement to for Sheridan's well-informed, animated, and other gentlemen of North Britain to try their bustling mind never suffered conversation to fortunes in the southern part of the island, stagnate ; and Mrs. Sheridan was where they may hope to gratify their utmost agreeable companion to an intellectual man. ambition; and now that we are one people by She was sensible, ingenious, unassuming, yet the Union, it would surely be illiberal to main communicative. I recollect, with satisfaction, tain, that they have not an equal title with the many pleasing hours which I passed with her natives of any other part of his Majesty's domi- under the hospitable roof of her husband, nions.

who was to me a very kind friend. Iler Johnson complained that a man who dis- novel, entitled “ Memoirs of Miss Sydney liked him repented his sarcasm to Mr. Sheri- Biddulph," contains an excellent moral, while dan, without telling him what followed, which it inculcates a future state of retribution; was, that after a pause he added, “ However, I and what it teaches is impressed upon the




Charles, were placed very early under his tuition, as was, at critics in these times is, that virtue and happiness are conan interval or above thiriy years, my friend Thomas Moore, stant concomitants; and it is regarded as a kind of dramatic who, in his Life of Sheridan, pays an affectionate tribute to impiety to maintain that virtue should not be rewarded, nor their common preceptor. – CROKER.

vice punished, in the last scene of the last act of every 1 This is an odd coincidence. A Scotchman who wishes to tragedy. This conduct in our modern poets is, however, in learn a pure English pronunciation, employs one preceptor my opinion, extremely injudicious : for 'it labours in vain to who happens to be an Irishman, and afterwards another, inculcate a doctrine in theory, which every one knows to be likewise an Irishman – and this Irish-taught Scot becomes false in fact, viz. that virtue in real life is always productive - and mainly by his oratory -- one of the chief ornaments of of happiness; and vice of misery. Thus Congreve concludes the English senate, and the first subject in the British em- the tragedy of “The Mourning Bride” with the following pire. - CROKER.

foolish couplet : 2 But Johnson seems to have kept it alive by persevering sarcasıns. - CROKER.

For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, 3 Why should he have been ? his goodness had nothing

And, though a late, a sure reward succeeds.' to say to the question. Sheridan's pension was given for his “When a man eminently virtuous, a Brutus, a Cato, or a literary character, and Johnson's following up his attack on Socrates, finally sinks under the pressure of accumulated his talents by a supercilious acknowledgment that he was misfortune, we are not only led to entertain a more indignant nevertheless a very good man, was an additional insult. hatred of vice, than if he rose from his distress, but we are See next page, n. 4. - CROKER.

inevitably induced to cherish the sublime idea that a day of * Dr. Johnson had depreciated the talents and character of future retribution will arrive, when he shall receive not Dr. Swift, not merely in conversation, but in his Lives of merely poetical, but real and substantial justice." - Essays the Poets. Sheridan, in his Life of Świft, advocated the Philosophical, Historical, and Literary, London, 1791, 8vo. cause of the dean, for whom he had a natural and hereditary vol. ii. p. 317. veneration ; and though he observed on Johnson's criticism's This is well reasoned and well expressed. I wish, indeed, and censures with a severity sharpened probably by his per- that the ingenious author had not thought it necessary to sonal feelings, he treated him on all other points with introduce any instance of “a man eminently virtuous ; moderation and respect. - CROKER.

Brutus under that description. Mr. Belsham discovers in 6 My position has been very well illustrated by Mr. Bel- his Essays so much reading and thinking, and good com. sham, of B: rd, in his Essay on Dramatic Poetry:

position, that regret hi not having been fortunate enough “ The fashionable doctrine (says he) both of moralists and to be educated a member of our excellent national establish


[graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »