« PrejšnjaNaprej »
or the original principles of Reid and of Beattie; without admitting which, we can no more argue in metaphysics, than we argue in mathematics without axioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by pure reasoning; but I know that the nice and difficult task was to have been undertaken by one of the most luminous minds of the present age, had not politics "turned him from calm philosophy aside." What an admirable display of subtlety, united with brilliance, might his contending with Berkeley have afforded us! How must we, when we reflect on the loss of such an intellectual feast, regret that he should be characterised as the man,
“Who, born for the universe, narrow'd his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind?"
JOHNSON TO MISS REYNOLDS.
"Oxford, 27th Oct. [1763.] "Your letter has scarcely come time enough to make an answer possible. I wish we could talk over the affair. I cannot go now. I must finish my book. I do not know Mr. Collier. I have not money beforehand sufficient. How long have you known Collier, that you should have put yourself into his hands? I once told you that ladies were timorous, and yet not cautious.3
'If I might tell my thoughts to one with whom they never had any weight, I should think it best to go through France. The expense is not great; My revered friend walked down with me to I do not much like obligation, nor think the grossthe beach, where we embraced and parted withness of a ship very suitable to a lady. Do not go tenderness, and engaged to correspond by till I see you. I will see you as soon as I can. letters. I said, "I hope, Sir, you will not I am, my dearest, most sincerely yours, - Reyn. MSS. "SAM. JOHNSON."] forget me in my absence." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, it is more likely you should forget me, than that I should forget you." As the vessel put out to sea, I kept my eyes upon him for a considerable time, while he remained rolling his majestic frame in his usual manner; and at last I perceived him walk back into the town, and he disappeared.
[JOHNSON TO GEORGE STRAHAN. "20th Sept. 1763. "DEAR SIR,—I should have answered your last letter sooner if I could have given you any valuable or useful directions; but I know not any way by which the composition of Latin verses can be much facilitated. Of the grammatical part, which comprises the knowledge of the measure of the foot, and quantity of the syllables, your grammar will teach you all that you can be taught, and even of that you can hardly know any thing by rule but the measure of the foot. The quantity of syllables, even of those for which rules are given, is commonly learned by practice and retained by observation. For the poetical part, which comprises variety of expression, propriety of terms, dexterity in selecting commodious words, and readiness in changing their order, it will all be produced by frequent essays and resolute perThe less help you have the sooner you will be able to go forward without help. “I suppose you are now ready for another author. I would not have you dwell longer upon one book than till your familiarity with its style makes it easy to you. Every new book will for a time be difficult. Make it a rule to write some
1 Mr. Burke. - CROKER.
In the latter years of his life, Mr. Burke reversed the conduct which Goldsmith so elegantly reprehended, and gave up party for what he conceived to be the good of mankind. CROKER.
3 Captain, afterwards Sir George Collier, was about to
thing in Latin every day; and let me know what you are now doing, and what your scheme is to do next. Be pleased to give my compliments to Mr. Bright, Mr. Stevenson, and Miss Page. I am, dear Sir, your affectionate servant,
· Rose MSS.
Boswell at Utrecht. Letter from Johnson. - The
UTRECHT seeming at first very dull to me, after the animated scenes of London, my spirits were grievously affected; and I wrote to Johnson a plaintive and desponding letter, to which he paid no regard. Afterwards, when I had acquired a firmer tone of mind, I wrote him a second letter, expressing much anxiety to hear from him. At length I received the following epistle, which was of important service to me, and, I trust, will be so to many others.
sail to the Mediterranean, and offered Miss Reynolds a passage; and she appears to have wished that Johnson might be of the party. Johnson was not aware that Captain Collier's lady was also going. Sir Joshua had gone to the Mediterranean in a similar way with Captain Keppel.CROKER.
A la Cour de l'Empereur, Utrecht.
"DEAR SIR,— You are not to think yourself forgotten, or criminally neglected, that you have had yet no letter from me. I love to see my friends, to hear from them, to talk to them, and to talk of them; but it is not without a considerable effort of resolution that I prevail upon myself to write. I would not, however, gratify my own indolence by the omission of any important duty, or any office of real kindness.
"To tell you that I am or am not well, that I have or have not been in the country, that I drank your health in the room in which we last sat together, and that your acquaintance continue to speak of you with their former kindness, topics with which those letters are commonly filled which are written only for the sake of writing, I seldom shall think worth communicating; but if I can have it in my power to calm any harassing disquiet, to excite any virtuous desire, to rectify any inportant opinion, or fortify any generous resolution, you need not doubt but I shall at least wish to prefer the pleasure of gratifying a friend much less esteemed than yourself, before the gloomy calm of idle vacancy. Whether I shall easily arrive at an exact punctuality of correspondence, I cannot tell. I shall, at present, expect that you will receive this in return for two which I have had from you. The first, indeed, gave me an account so hopeless of the state of your mind, that it hardly admitted or deserved an answer; by the second I was much better pleased; and the pleasure will still be increased by such a narrative of the progress of your studies, as may evince the continuance of an equal and rational application of your mind to some useful inquiry.
"You will, perhaps, wish to ask, what study I would recommend. I shall not speak of theology, because it ought not to be considered as a question whether you shall endeavour to know the will of God.
"I shall, therefore, consider only such studies as we are at liberty to pursue or to neglect; and of these I know not how you will make a better choice, than by studying the civil law as your father advises, and the ancient languages as you had determined for yourself: at least resolve, while you remain in any settled residence, to spend a certain number of hours every day amongst your books. The dissipation of thought of which you complain, is nothing more than the vacillation of a mind suspended between different motives, and changing its direction as any motive gains or loses strength. If you can but kindle in your mind any strong desire, if you can but keep predominant any wish for some particular excellence or attainment, the gusts of imagination will break away, without any effect upon your conduct, and commonly without any traces left upon the memory.
"There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man first to hope, and then to believe, that nature has given him something peculiar to himself. This vanity makes one mind nurse aversion, and another actuate
desires, till they rise by art much above their origi nal state of power; and, as affectation in time im proves to habit, they at last tyrannise over him who at first encouraged them only for show. Every desire is a viper in the bosom, who, while he was chill, was harmless; but when warmth gave him strength, exerted it in poison. You know a gentleman', who, when first he set his foot in the gay world, as he prepared himself to whirl in the vortex of pleasure, imagined a total indifference and universal negligence to be the most agreeable concomitants of youth, and the strongest indication of an airy temper and a quick apprehension. Vacant to every object, and sensible of every impulse, he thought that all appearance of diligence would deduct something from the reputation of genius; and hoped that he should appear to attain, amidst all the ease of carelessness, and all the tumult of diversion, that knowledge and those accomplishments which mortals of the common fabric obtain only by mute abstraction and solitary drudgery. He tried this scheme of life awhile, was made weary of it by his sense and his virtue; he then wished to return to his studies; and finding long habits of idleness and pleasure harder to be cured than he expected, still willing to retain his claim to some extraordinary prerogatives, resolved the common consequences of irregularity into an unalterable decree of destiny, and concluded that Nature had originally formed him incapable of rational employment.
"Let all such fancies, illusive and destructive, be banished henceforward from your thoughts for Resolve, and keep your resolution; choose, and pursue your choice. If you spend this day in study, you will find yourself still more able to study to-morrow; not that you are to expect that you shall at once obtain a complete victory. DeResolution pravity is not very easily overcome. will sometimes relax, and diligence will sometimes be interrupted; but let no accidental surprise or deviation, whether short or long, dispose you to despondency. Consider these failings as incident and endeavour to avoid the seducements that preto all mankind. Begin again where you left off, vailed over you before.
"This, my dear Boswell, is advice which, perhaps, has been often given you, and given you without effect. But this advice, if you will not take from others, you must take from your own reflections, if you purpose to do the duties of the station to which the bounty of Providence has called you.
"Let me have a long letter from you as soon as you can. I hope you continue your journal, and enrich it with many observations upon the country It will be a favour if you in which you reside. can get me any books in the Frisick language, and can inquire how the poor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate servant, SAM. JOHNSON."
I am sorry to observe, that neither in my own minutes, nor in my letters to Johnson which have been preserved by him, can I find any information how the poor are maintained
1 Boswell himself. - CROKER, 1835.
in the Seven Provinces. But I shall extract from one of my letters what I learnt concerning the other subject of his curiosity.
"I have made all possible inquiry with respect to the Frisick language, and find that it has been less cultivated than any other of the northern dialects; a certain proof of which is their deficiency of books. Of the old Frisick there are no remains, except some ancient laws preserved by Schotanus in his Beschryvinge van die Heerlykeid van Friesland: and his Historia Frisica. I have not yet been able to find these books. Professor Trotz, who formerly was of the University of Vranyken in Friesland, and is at present preparing an edition of all the Frisick laws, gave me this information. Of the modern Frisick, or what is spoken by the boors of this day, I have procured a specimen. It is Gisbert Japix's Rymelerie,' which is the only book that they have. It is amazing that they have no translation of the bible, no treatises of devotion, nor even any of the ballads and story-books which are so agreeable to country people. You shall have Japir by the first convenient opportunity. I doubt not to pick up Schotanus. Mynheer Trotz has promised me his assistance."
Early in 1764, Johnson paid a visit to the Langton family, at their seat of Langton in Lincolnshire, where he passed some time much to his satisfaction. His friend Bennet Langton, it will not be doubted, did every thing in his power to make the place agreeable to so illustrious a guest; and the elder Mr. Langton and his lady, being fully capable of understanding his value, were not wanting in attention. He, however, told me, that old Mr. Langton, though a man of considerable learning, had so little allowance to make for his occasional "laxity of talk," that because in the course of discussion he sometimes mentioned what might be said in favour of the peculiar tenets of the Romish church, he went to his grave believing him to be of that communion.1
Johnson, during his stay at Langton, had the advantage of a good library, and saw several gentlemen of the neighbourhood. have obtained from Mr. Langton the following particulars of this period.
He was now fully convinced 2 that he could not have been satisfied with a country living; for, talking of a respectable clergyman in Lincolnshire, he observed, "This man, Sir, fills up the duties of his life well. I approve of him, but could not imitate him."
To a lady who endeavoured to vindicate herself from blame for neglecting social atten
1 See post, April 1776, an anecdote that does not say much for Mr. Langton's learning or even good sense. - CROKER.
2 This alludes to the offer to him of the living of Langton. See antè, p. 107. The clergyman was probably the person who, on his refusal, had been nominated.- CROKER.
3 This ring is now, as Dr. Harwood informs me, in the possession of Mrs. Pearson. CROKER, 1831.
4 Johnson, as Mrs. Piozzi tells us, called Sir Joshua their Romulus.-CROKER.
It was Johnson's original intention, that the number of
"London, Jan. 10. 1764.
"MY DEAR, I was in hopes that you would have written to me before this time, to tell me that your house was finished, and that you were happy in it. I am sure I wish you happy. By the carrier of this week you will receive a box, in which I have put some books, most of which were your poor dear mamma's, and a diamond ring, which I hope you will wear as my new year's gift. If you receive it with as much kindness as I send it, you will not slight it; you will be very fond of it.
Pray give my service to Kitty, who, I hope, keeps pretty well. I know not now when I shall come down; I believe it will not be very soon. But I shall be glad to hear of you from time to time.
"I wish you, my dearest, many happy years; take what care you can of your health. I am, my
affectionate humble servant,
- Pearson MSS.
Soon after his return to London, which was in February, was founded that CLUB which existed long without a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral became distinguished by the title of THE LITERARY CLUB. Sir Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first proposer of it; to which Johnson acceded, and the original members were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier, and Sir John Hawkins. They met at the Turk's Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, one evening in every week, at seven, and generally continued their conversation till a pretty late hour.5 club has been gradually increased to its present
this club should not exceed nine, but Mr. Dyer, a member of that in Ivy Lane before spoken of, and who for some years had been abroad, made his appearance among them, and was cordially received. The hours which Johnson spent in this society seemed to be the happiest of his life. He would often applaud his own sagacity in the selection of it, and was so constant at its meetings as never to absent himself. It is true, he came late, but then he stayed late, for, as has been already said of him, he little regarded hours. Our evening toast was the motto of Padre Paolo, "Esto perpetua.' "" A
 number, thirty-five. After about ten years, instead of supping weekly, it was resolved to dine together once a fortnight during the meeting of Parliament. Their original tavern having been converted into a private house, they moved first to Prince's in Sackville Street, then to Le Telier's in Dover Street, and now meet at Parsloe's, St. James's Street. Between the time of its formation, and the time at which this work is passing through the press (June, 1792), the following persons, now dead, were members of it: Mr. Dunning (afterwards Lord Ashburton), Mr. Samuel Dyer, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Shipley Bishop of St. Asaph, Mr. Vesey, Mr. Thomas Warton, and Dr. Adam Smith. The present members are, Mr. Burke, Mr. Langton, Lord Charlemont, Sir Robert Chambers, Dr. Percy Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Barnard Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Marlay Bishop of Clonfert, Mr. Fox, Dr. George Fordyce, Sir William Scott, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Charles Bunbury, Mr. Windham of Norfolk, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Gibbon, Sir William Jones, Mr. Colman, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Burney, Dr. Joseph Warton, Mr. Malone, Lord Ossory, Lord Spencer, Lord Lucan, Lord Palmerston, Lord Eliot, Lord Macartney, Mr. Richard Burke junior, Sir William Hamilton, Dr. Warren, Mr. Courtenay, Dr. Hinchliffe Bishop of Peterborough, the Duke of Leeds, Dr. Douglas Bishop of Salisbury, and the writer of this account.
Sir John Hawkins represents himself [Life, p. 425.] as a "seceder" from this society, and assigns as the reason of his "withdrawing" himself from it, that its late hours were inconsistent with his domestic arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke in so rude a manner, that all the company testified their displeasure; and at their next meeting their reception was such, that he never came again.'
He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr. Garrick, of whom he says, "He trusted that the least intimation of a desire to come among us, would procure him a ready admisbut in this he was mistaken. Johnson
lady distinguished by her beauty, and taste for literature, invited us, two successive years, to a dinner at her house. Curiosity was her motive, and possibly a desire of intermingling with our conversation the charms of her own. She affected to consider us as a set of literary men, and perhaps gave the first occasion for distinguishing the society by the name of the "Literary Club," an appellation which it never assumed to itself. At these meetings, Johnson, as indeed he did every where, led the conversation, yet was he far from arrogating to himself that superiority, which, some years before, he was disposed to contend for. He had seen enough of the world to know, that respect was not to be extorted, and began now to be satisfied with that degree of eminence to which his writings had exalted him. This change in his behaviour was remarked by those who were best acquainted with his character, and it rendered him an easy and delightful companion. Our discourse was miscellaneous, but chiefly literary. Politics were alone excluded. -Hawkins. "It was a supper-meeting then," says Mrs.
Either Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Vesey, or Mrs. Ord. Mr. Pennington (Miss Carter's nephew) thought the latter.CROKER.
consulted me upon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed, 'He will disturb us by his buffoonery ;'- and afterwards so managed matters, that he was never formally proposed, and, by consequence, never admitted."
In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, I think it necessary to rectify this mis-statement. The truth is, that not very long after the institution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. "I like it much," said he; "I think I shall be of you." When Sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. "He'll be of us,” said Johnson, "how does he know we will permit him? the first duke in England has no right to hold such language.' However, when Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected [March, 1773], was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.
Piozzi, "on a Friday night, and I fancy Dr. Nugent [Mrs. Burke's father, who was a Roman Catholic] ordered an omelet; and Johnson felt very painful sensations at the sight of that dish soon after his death, and cried, Ah, my poor dear friend, I shall never eat omelet with thee again!' quite in an agony. - CROKER.
1 From Sir Joshua Reynolds. - BOSWELL. The knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supper, because he usually ate no supper at home, Johnson observed, "Sir John, Sir, is a very unclubable man." BURNEY. Hawkins was not knighted till October, 1772, long after he had left the club. Burney, in relating the story, puts the nunc pro tunc.- CROKER.
2 Hawkins no doubt meant "never" while he himself belonged to the Club. - CROKER.
3 Letters, vol. ii. p. 387. - BOSWELL.
4 It does not appear how Sir Joshua Reynolds's authority can be made available in this case. The expression is stated to have been used to Mr. Thrale; and the apt quotation from Pope, the saucy phrase which Boswell admits that Garrick used, and the fact, that he was for near ten years excluded from the Club, seem to accredit Mrs. Piozzi's anecdote.CROKER.
"My indolence, since my last reception of the sacrament, has sunk into grosser sluggishness, and my dissipation spread into wilder negligence. My thoughts have been clouded with sensuality; and, except that from the beginning of this year I have, in some measure, forborne excess of strong drink, my appetites have predominated over my reason. A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression."
He then solemnly says, "This is not the life to which heaven is promised;" and he earnestly resolves an amendment.
["Easter-day, April 22. 1764. Having, before I went to bed, composed the foregoing meditation, and the following prayer, I tried to compose myself, but slept unquietly. I rose, took tea, and prayed for resolution and perseverance. Thought on Tetty, dear poor Tetty, with my eyes full. I went to church; came in at the first of the Psalms, and endeavoured to attend the service, which I went through without perturbation. After sermon, I recommended Tetty in a prayer by herself; and my father, mother, brother, and Bathurst, in an
other. I did it only once, so far as it might be
lawful for me.
"I then prayed for resolution and perseverance to amend my life. I received soon: the communicants were many. At the altar, it occurred to me that I ought to form some resolutions. I resolved, in the presence of God, but without a vow, to repel sinful thoughts, to study eight hours daily, and, I think, to go to church every Sunday, and read the Scriptures. I gave a shilling; and seeing a poor girl at the sacrament in a bedgown, gave her privately a crown, though I saw Hart's Hymns' in her hand. I prayed earnestly for amendment, and repeated my prayer at home. Dined with Miss Williams]; went to prayers at church; went to -, spent the evening not pleasantly. Avoided wine, and tempered a very few glasses
with sherbet. Came home and prayed. I saw at the sacrament a man meanly dressed, whom I have always seen there at Easter.""]
It was his custom to observe certain days with a pious abstraction: viz. New-year's-day, the day of his wife's death, Good Friday. Easter-day, and his own birth-day. He this year [on his birth-day] says,
"I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O God, grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.'
fervent desire of improvement, will rarely be Such a tenderness of conscience, such a found. It is, surely, not decent in those who are hardened in indifference to spiritual improvement, to treat this pious anxiety of Johnson with contempt.
About this time he was afflicted with a very severe return of the hypochondriac disorder, which was ever lurking about him. He was so ill, as, notwithstanding his remarkable love of company, to be entirely averse to society, the most fatal symptom of that malady. Dr. Adams told me, that, as an old friend, he was admitted to visit him, and that he found him in a deplorable state, sighing, groaning, talking to himself, and restlessly walking from room to room. He then used this emphatical expression of the misery which he felt: "I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits."
Talking to himself was, indeed, one of his singularities ever since I knew him. I was certain that he was frequently uttering pious ejaculations; for fragments of the Lord's Prayer have been distinctly overheard. His friend Mr. Thomas Davies, of whom Churchill
"That Davies hath a very pretty wife;" when Dr. Johnson muttered "lead us not into
temptation"-used with waggish and gallant humour to whisper Mrs. Davies, "You, my dear, are the cause of this."
He had another particularity, of which none of his friends ever ventured to ask an explanation. It appeared to me some superstitious habit, which he had contracted early, and from which he had never called upon his reason to disentangle him. This was his
case, for I was once, perhaps unperceived by him, writing at a table, so near the place of his retreat, that I heard him repeating some lines in an ode of Horace, over and over again, as if by iteration to exercise the organs of speech, and fix the ode in his memory:
"Audiet cives accuisse ferrum
Quo graves Persa melius perirent, Audiet pugnas
"Our sons shall hear, shall hear to latest times, Of Roman arms with civil gore imbued,
Which better had the Persian foe subdued."- Francis.
It was during the American war. - BURNEY.