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Trinity College, Dublin.
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 16. I received seventy-five pounds. Lent Mr. Davis twentyfive.'
Trinity College, Dublin, at this time surprised Johnson with a spontaneous compliment of the highest academical honours, by creating him Doctor of Laws3. The diploma, which is in my possession, is as follows:
See ante, p. 346.
2 His quarter's pension. See ante, p. 376.
3 Mr. Croker, misunderstanding a passage in Hawkins, writes:-'Hawkins says that he disliked to be called Doctor, as reminding him that he had been a schoolmaster.' What Hawkins really says (Life, p. 446) is this:-'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.' It is clear that 'it' in the last line refers only to the title of Domine. Murphy (Life, p. 98) says that Johnson never assumed the title of Doctor, till Oxford conferred on him the degree. Boswell states (post, March 31, 1775, note) :—‘It is remarkable that he never, so far as I know, assumed his title of Doctor, but called himself Mr. Johnson.' In this,
as I show there, Boswell seems to be not perfectly accurate. I do not believe Hawkins's assertion that Johnson was little pleased to be called Doctor in consequence of his Dublin degree.' In Boswell's Hebrides, most of which was read by him before he received his Oxford degree, he is commonly styled Doctor. Boswell says in a note on Aug. 15, 1773:— 'It was some time before I could bring myself to call him Doctor.' Had Johnson disliked the title it would have been known to Boswell. Mrs. Thrale, it is true, in her letters to him, after he had received both his degrees, commonly speaks of him as Mr. Johnson. We may assume that he valued his Oxford degree of M.A. more highly than the Dublin degree of LL.D.; for in the third edition of the Abridgment of his Dictionary, published in 1766, he is styled Samuel Johnson, A.M. In his Lives of the Poets he calls himself simply Samuel Johnson. He had by that time risen above degrees. In his Journey to the Hebrides (Works, ix. 14), after stating that 'An English 'OMNIBUS
Aetat. 56.] Johnson created Doctor of Laws.
'OMNIBUS ad quos præsentes literæ pervenerint, salutem. Præpositus et Socii seniores Collegii sacrosanctæ et individuæ Trinitatis Regina Elizabethæ juxta Dublin, testamur, Samueli Johnson, Armigero1, ob egregiam scriptorum elegantiam et utilitatem, gratiam concessam fuisse pro gradu Doctoratus in utroque Jure, octavo die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto. In cujus rei testimonium singulorum manus et sigillum quo in hisce utimur apposuimus; vicesimo tertio die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto. FRAN. ANDrews. R. MURRAY. Præps. ROBtus LAW. MICH. KEARNEY.'
This unsolicited mark of distinction, conferred on so great a literary character, did much honour to the judgement and liberal spirit of that learned body. Johnson acknowledged the favour in a letter to Dr. Leland, one of their number; but I have not been able to obtain a copy of it2.
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 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. Amen3.'
His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled, 'Engaging in POLITICKS with H———————n,' no doubt his friend, the Right Honourable William Gerard Hamilton, for whom, during
or Irish doctorate cannot be obtained by a very young man,' he continues :
It is reasonable to suppose . . . that he who is by age qualified to be a doctor, has in so much time gained learning sufficient not to disgrace the title, or wit sufficient not to desire it.'
Trinity College made him, it should seem, Armiger at the same
time that it made him Doctor of Laws.
* See Appendix D for this letter. 3 Pr. and Med. p. 66. BosWELL.
Single-speech Hamilton, as he was commonly called, though in the House of Commons he had spoken more than once. For above thirty sessions together, however, he held his tongue. Prior's Burke, p. 67. a long
Johnson's introduction to the Thrales. [A.D. 1785.
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 go with you, Sir, as far as the streetdoor.' In what particular department he intended to engage does not appear, nor can Mr. Hamilton explain'. His prayer is in general terms :
'Enlighten my understanding with knowledge of right, and govern my will by thy laws, that no deceit may mislead me, nor temptation corrupt me; that I may always endeavour to do good, and hinder evil2.'
There is nothing upon the subject in his diary.
This year3 was distinguished by his being introduced into the family of Mr. Thrale, one of the most eminent brewers in England, and Member of Parliament for the borough of Southwark. Foreigners are not a little amazed when they hear of brewers, distillers, and men in similar departments of trade, held forth as persons of considerable consequence. In this great commercial country it is natural that a situation which produces much wealth should be considered as very respectable; and, no doubt, honest industry is entitled to esteem. But, perhaps, the too rapid advance of men of low extraction tends to lessen the value of that distinction by birth and gentility, which has ever been found beneficial to the grand scheme of subordination. Johnson used to give this account of the rise of Mr. Thrale's father: He worked at six shillings a week for twenty years in the great brewery, which afterwards was his own. The proprietor of it had an only daughter, who was married to a nobleman. It was not fit that a peer should continue the business. On the old man's death, therefore, the brewery was to be sold. To find a purchaser for so large a property was a difficult matter; and, after some time, it was suggested, that it would be adviseable to treat with Thrale, a sensible, active, honest man, who had been employed in the house, and to transfer the whole to him for thirty thousand pounds, security being taken upon
See Appendix E for an explanation.
2 Pr. and Med. p. 67. BOSWELL. 3 See Appendix F.
the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thrale paid the purchase-money'. He acquired a large fortune, and lived to be Member of Parliament for Southwark. But what was most remarkable was the liberality with which he used his riches. He gave his son and daughters the best education. The esteem which his good conduct procured him from the nobleman who had married his master's 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; no 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 no long period of time.
There may be some who think that a new system of gentility3
Mr. Blakeway, in a note on this passage, says :—‘The predecessor of old Thrale was Edmund Halsey, Esq.; the nobleman who married his daughter was Lord Cobham. The family of Thrale was of some consideration in St. Albans; in the Abbey-church is a handsome monument to the memory of Mr. John Thrale, late of London, merchant, who died in 1704.' He describes the arms on the monument. Mr. Hayward, in Mrs. Piozzi's Autobiography, i. 9, quotes her marginal note on this page in Boswell. She says that Edmund Halsey, son of a miller at St. Albans, married the only daughter
of his master, old Child, of the Anchor Brewhouse, Southwark, and succeeded to the business upon Child's death. He sent for one of his sister's sons to London (my Mr. Thrale's father); said he would make a man of him, and did so; but made him work very hard, and treated him very roughly.' He left him nothing at his death, and Thrale bought the brewery of Lord and Lady Cobham. See post, under April 4, 1781, and June 16, 1781.
3 Mrs. Burney informs me that she heard Dr. Johnson say, 'An English Merchant is a new species of Gentleman.' He, perhaps, had in
A new system of gentility.
might be established, upon principles 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,
his mind the following ingenious passage in The Conscious Lovers, act iv. scene ii, 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 landedfolks, that have always thought yourselves so much above us; for your trading forsooth is extended 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 your industry is dishonourable.' BOSWELL.
The Conscious Lovers is by Steele. 'I never heard of any plays fit for a Christian to read,' said Parson Adams, 'but Cato and The Conscious
Lovers; and I must own, in the latter there are some things almost solemn enough for a sermon.' Joseph Andrews, Book III. chap. xi.
In the first number of The Hypochondriack Boswell writes :-'It is a saying in feudal treatises, Semel Baro semper Baro, "Once a baron always a baron." London Mag. 1777, p. 493. He seems at times to mark his sense of Mr. Thrale's inferiority by speaking of him as Thrale and his house as Thrale's. See post, April 5 and 12, 1776, April 7, 1778, and under March 30, 1783. He never, I believe, is thus familiar in the case of Beauclerk, Burke, Langton, and Reynolds.
2 For her extraction see Hayward's Mrs. Piozzi, i. 238.