Slike strani

Aetat. 56.]

Old Thrale.


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 gentility 3


* Mr. Blakeway, in a note on this of his master, old Child, of the Anchor passage, says :—The predecessor of Brewhouse, Southwark, and old Thrale was Edmund Halsey, ceeded to the business upon Child's Esq.; the nobleman who married death. He sent for one of his sister's his daughter was Lord Cobham. The sons to London (my Mr. Thrale's family of Thrale was of some con father); said he would make a man sideration in St. Albans; in the of him, and did so; but made him Abbey-church is a handsome monu work very hard, and treated him very ment to the memory of Mr. John roughly.' He left him nothing at Thrale, late of London, merchant, his death, and Thrale bought the who died in 1704.' He describes the brewery of Lord and Lady Cobham. arms on the monument.

Mr. Hay

? See post, under April 4, 1781, and ward, in Mrs. Piozzi's Autobiography, June 16, 1781. i. 9, quotes her marginal note on this 3 Mrs. Burney informs me that she page in Boswell. She says that heard Dr. Johnson say, 'An English Edmund Halsey, son of a miller at Merchant is new species of St. Albans, married the only daughter Gentleman.' He, perhaps, had in


A new system of gentilily.

(A.D. 1765.

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 Lovers ; and I must own, in the latter passage in The Conscious Lovers, there are some things almost solemn activ. scene ii, where Mr. Sea enough for a sermon.' Joseph Anland thus addresses Sir John Bevil: drews, Book III. chap. xi. “Give me leave to say, that we * In the first number of The Hypomerchants are a species of gentry chondriack Boswell writes :-'It is a that have grown into the world this saying in feudal treatises, Semel last century, and are as honourable, Baro semper Baro, “Once a baron and almost as useful as you landed always a baron.”) London Mag. folks, that have always thought your 1777, p. 493. He seems at times to selves so much above us ; for your mark his sense of Mr. Thrale's intrading forsooth is extended no feriority by speaking of him as farther than a load of hay, or a fat Thrale and his house as Thrale's. ox.—You are pleasant people indeed! See post, April 5 and 12, 1776, April because you are generally bred up to 7, 1778, and under March 30, 1783. be lazy, therefore, I warrant your in He never, I believe, is thus familiar dustry is dishonourable.' BOSWELL. in the case of Beauclerk, Burke,

The Conscious Lovers is by Steele. Langton, and Reynolds. I never heard of any plays fit for ? For her extraction see Hayward's a Christian to read,' said Parson Mrs. Piozzi, i. 238. Adams, “but Cato and The Conscious

Aetat. 56.]

A new home for Johnson.


which contributed so much to the happiness of his life, was owing to her desire for his conversation, is very probable and a 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 in Southwark, and in their villa at Streatham?.

are at

• Miss Burney records in May or which makes me less desirous of 1779, how one day at Streatham reposing at that place which your

Mr. Murphy met with a very joyful kindness and Mr. Thrale's allows me reception; and Mr. Thrale, for the to call my home. Piozzi Letters, i. first time in his life, said he was “a 4. From Mull, on Oct. 15, 1773, he good fellow;" for he makes it a sort wrote :-'Having for many weeks of rule to salute him with the title of had no letter, my longings are very “scoundrel,” or “rascal.” They are great to be informed how all things very old friends; and I question if

ome, as you and mistress Mr. Thrale loves any man so well.' allow me to call it.' Ib. p. 166. Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 210. Miss Burney in 1778 wrote that

? From the Garrick Corres. i. ‘though Dr. Johnson lives almost 116, it seems that Murphy intro wholly at Streatham, he always keeps duced Garrick to the Thrales. He his apartments in town.' Mme. D’Arwrote to him on May 13, 1760 : blay's Diary, i. 58. Johnson (Works, “You stand engaged to Mr. Thrale viii. 381) tells how, in the house of for Wednesday se'ennight. You Sir Thomas Abney, 'Dr. Watts, need not apprehend drinking; it is with a constancy of friendship and a very easy house.'

uniformity of conduct not often to 3 Murphy (Life, p. 98) says that be found, was treated for thirty-six Johnson's introduction to the Thrales years with all the kindness that

contributed more than anything friendship could prompt, and all the else to exempt him from the solici attention that respect could dictate.' tudes of life. He continues that He continues :-'A coalition like 'he looks back to the share he had this, a state in which the notions of in that business with self congratu patronage and dependence were lation, since he knows the tenderness overpowered by the perception of which from that time soothed John- reciprocal benefits, deserves a particuson's cares at Streatham, and pro lar memorial.' It was such a coalition longed a valuable life.' Johnson which he formed with the Thraleswrote to Mrs. Thrale from Lichfield a coalition in which, though the on July 20, 1767 :-*I have found benefits which he received nothing that withdraws my affections great, yet those which he conferred from the friends whom I left behind, were still greater.




Mr. Thrale.

[A.D. 1765.

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 manners such as presented the character of a plain independent English 'Squire'. As this family will frequently be mentioned in the course of the following pages, and as a false notion has prevailed that Mr. Thrale was inferiour, 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.

'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 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 school-boy 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". She

1 On this Mrs. Piozzi notes : 1778. Mme. D'Arblay (Memoirs of 'No, no! Mr. Thrale's manners Dr. Burney, ii. 104) gives one reason presented the character of a gay for Thrale's fondness for Johnson's man of the town ; like Millamant, in society. “Though entirely a man of Congreve's comedy, he abhorred

peace, and a gentleman in his characthe country and everything in it.' ter, he had a singular amusement Hayward's Piozzi, i. 10. Mrs Milla in hearing, instigating, and promant, in The Way of the World, voking a war of words, alternating act iv. sc. iv., says :- I loathe the triumph and overthrow, between country and everything that relates clever and ambitious colloquial comto it.'

batants, where there was nothing 2 "It is but justice to Mr. Thrale to that could inflict disgrace upon de say, that a more ingenuous frame of feat.' mind no man possessed. His educa In like manner he called Mr. tion at Oxford gave him the habits Thrale Master or My master. •I of a gentleman ; his amiable temper hope Master's walk will be finished recommended his conversation, and. when I come back.' Piozzi Letters, the goodness of his heart made him i. 355. “My master may plant and a sincere friend.' Murphy's Johnson, dig till his pond is an ocean. Ib. p. 99. Johnson wrote of him to p. 357. See post, July 9, 1777. Mrs. Thrale :-'He must keep well, Miss Burney thus described her for he is the pillar of the house ; and in 1776 :-'She is extremely lively you must get well, or the house will and chatty ; and showed none of hardly be worth propping. Piozzi the supercilious or pedantic airs so Letters, i. 340. See post, April 18, scoffingly attributed to women of


Aetat. 56.]

Mrs. Thrale.


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'?' Mr. Thrale gave his wife a liberal indulgence, both in the choice of their company, and in the mode of entertaining 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 man.

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 lessened3 by association with an agreeable and wellordered family. He was treated with the utmost respect, and even affection. The vivacity of Mrs. Thrale's literary talk roused him

learning or celebrity; on the con better than the general course of trary, she is full of sport, remarkably things gives man a right to expect. gay, and excessively agreeable. I I think on it with great delight; I liked her in everything except her am not very apt to be delighted.' entrance into the room, which was Piozzi Letters, ii. 7. Johnson's rather florid and flourishing, as who friends suffered from this connection. should say, “It is 1 !--No less a See post, March 20, 1778, where it is person than Mrs. Thrale !” How said that "at Streatham he was in a ever, all that ostentation wore out in

great measure absorbed from the the course of the visit, which lasted society of his old friends.' the whole morning ;. and you could 3 Yet one year he recorded :not have helped liking her, she is so March 3, I have never, I thank God, very entertaining--though not simple since new year's day deviated from enough, I believe, for quite winning the practice of rising. In this your heart.' Memoirs of Dr. Burney, practice I persisted till I went to Mr. ü. 88.

Thrale's sometime before MidsumMrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 279. mer ; the irregularity of that family BOSWELL.

broke my habit of rising. I was * Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on there till after Michaelmas. HawOct. 13, 1777 :- 'I cannot but think kins's Johnson, p. 458, note. Hawkins on your kindness and my master's. places this in 1765; but Johnson Life has upon the whole fallen short, states (Pr. and Med. p. 71), I revery short, of my early expectation; turned from Streatham, Oct. I, -66, but the acquisition of such a friend having lived there more than three ship, at an age when new friendships months.' are seldom acquired, is something


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