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426
MR. GEORGE GRENVILLE

(1771 fullest use of what he ever reckoned a most effectual argumentative instrument,-contempt. His character of their very able mysterious champion, JUNIUS, is executed with all the force of his genius, and finished with the highest care. He seems to have exulted in sallying forth to single combat against the boasted and formidable hero, who bade defiance to principalities and powers, and the rulers of this world.'

This pamphlet, it is observable, was softened in one particular, after the first edition ; for the conclusion of Mr. George Grenville's character stood thus : ‘Let him not, however, be depreciated in his grave. He had powers not universally possessed : could he have enforced payment of the Manilla ransom, he could have counted it. Which, instead of retaining its sly sharp point, was reduced to a mere flat unmeaning expression, or, if I may use the word,—truism:

He had powers not universally possessed : and if he sometimes erred, he was likewise sometimes right.'

To BENNET LANGTON, Esq. 'DEAR SIR, -After much lingering of my own, and much of the ministry, I have at length got out my paper But delay is not yet at an end : Not many had been dispersed, before Lord North ordered the sale to stop. His reasons I do not distinctly know. You may try to find them in the perusal Before his order, a sufficient number were dispersed to do all the mischief, though, perhaps, not to make all the sport that might be expected from it.

Soon after your departure, I had the pleasure of finding all the danger past with which your navigation was threatened. I hope nothing happens at home to abate your satisfaction ; but that Lady Rothes, and Mrs. Langton, and the young ladies, are all well.

'I was last night at THE CLUB. Dr. Percy has written a long ballad in many fits ; it is pretty enough. He has printed, and will soon publish it. Goldsmith is at Bath, with Lord Clare. At Mr. Thrale's, where I am now writing, all are well. I am, dear Sir, your most humble servant, March 20, 1771.'

SAM. JOHNSON.' Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands. . By comparing the first with the subsequent editions, this curious circumstance of ministerial authorship may be discovered.

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1771)
A SEAT IN PARLIAMENT

427 Mr. Strahan, the printer, who had been long in intimacy with Johnson, in the course of his literary labours, who was at once his friendly agent in receiving his pension for him, and his banker in supplying him with money when he wanted

it; who was himself now a Member of Parliament, and who :: loved much to be employed in political negociation ; thought " he should do eminent service both to government and John

son, if he could be the means of his getting a seat the c House of Commons. With this view, he wrote a letter to

one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, of which he gave me a copy

in his own hand-writing, which is as follows :

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'SIR,-You will easily recollect, when I had the honour © of waiting upon you some time ago, I took the liberty to

observe to you, that Dr. Johnson would make an excellent iš figure in the House of Commons, and heartily wished he had a seat there. My reasons are briefly these :

'I know his perfect good affection to his Majesty, and his government, which I am certain he wishes to support : by every means in his power.

He possesses a great share of manly, nervous, and ready eloquence ; is quick in discerning the strength and weakness of an argument; can express himself with clearness and precision, and fears the face of no man alive.

'His known character, as a man of extraordinary sense and unimpeached virtue, would secure him the attention of the House, and could not fail to give him a proper weight there.

He is capable of the greatest application, and can underi go any degree of labour, where he sees it necessary, and

where his heart and affections are strongly engaged. His Majesty's ministers might therefore securely depend on his doing, upon every proper occasion, the utmost that could

be expected from him. They would find him ready to vindiEcate such measures as tended to promote the stability of

government, and resolute and steady in carrying them into execution. Nor is any thing to be apprehended from the supposed impetuosity of his temper. To the friends of the King you will find him a lamb, to his enemies a lion.

'For these reasons, I humbly apprehend that he would be a very able and useful member. And I will venture to say, the employment would not be disagreeable to him ;

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428
JOHNSON AS A DEBATER

[1771 and knowing, as I do, his strong affection to the King, his ability to serve him in that capacity, and the extreme ardour with which I am convinced he would engage in that service, I must repeat, that I wish most heartily to see him in the House.

* If you think this worthy of attention, you will be pleased to take a convenient opportunity of mentioning it to Lord North. If his Lordship should happily approve of it, I shall have the satisfaction of having been, in some degree, the humble instrument of doing my country, in my opinion, a very essential service. I know your good-nature, and your zeal for the publick welfare, will plead my excuse for giving you this trouble. I am, with the greatest respect, Şir, your most obedient and humble servant,

New-street, March 30, 1771.' WILLIAM STRAHAN.'

This recommendation, we know, was not effectual; but how, or for what reason, can only be conjectured. It is not to be believed that Mr. Strahan would have applied, unless Johnson had approved of it. I never heard him mention the subject; but at a later period of his life, when Sir Joshua Reynolds told him that Mr. Edmund Burke had said, that if he had come early into parliament, he certainly would have been the greatest speaker that ever was there, Johnson exclaimed, 'I should like to try my hand now.'

It has been much agitated among his friends and others, whether he would have been a powerful speaker in Par. liament, had he been brought in when advanced in life. I am inclined to think that his extensive knowledge, his quickness and force of mind, his vivacity and richness of expression, his wit and humour, and above all his poignancy of sarcasm, would have had great effect in a popular assembly; and that the magnitude of his figure, and striking peculiarity of his manner, would have aided the effect. But I remember it was observed by Mr. Flood, that Johnson, having been long used to sententious brevity and the short flights of conversation, might have failed in that continued and expanded kind of argument, which is requisite in stating complicated matters in publick speaking; and as a proof of this he mentioned the supposed speeches in Parliament written by him for the magazine, none of which,

1771] BOSWELL A MARRIED MAN

429 in his opinion, were at all like real debates. The opinion of one who was himself so eminent an orator, must be allowed to have great weight. It was confirmed by Sir William Scott, who mentioned that Johnson had told him that he had several times tried to speak in the Society of Arts and Sciences, but had found he could not get on.' From Mr. William Gerrard Hamilton I have heard that Johnson, when observing to him that it was prudent for a man who had not been accustomed to speak in publick, to begin his speech in as simple a manner as possible, acknowledged that he rose in that society to deliver a speech which he had prepared ; 'but (said he,) all my flowers of oratory forsook me. I however cannot help wishing, that he had tried his hand ’ in Parliament; and I wonder that ministry did not make the experiment.

I at length renewed a correspondence which had been too long discontinued :

"To DR. JOHNSON. 'MY DEAR SIR,

' Edinburgh, April 18, 1771. 'I can now fully understand those intervals of silence in your correspondence with me, which have often given me anxiety and uneasiness; for although I am conscious that my veneration and love for Mr. Johnson have never in the least abated, yet I have deferred for almost a year and a half to write to him.'

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In the subsequent part of this letter, I gave him an account of my comfortable life as a married man, and a I lawyer in practice at the Scotch bar; invited him to Scoti land, and promised to attend him to the Highlands, and ! Hebrides.

To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. 'DEAR SIR,- If you are now able to comprehend that I might neglect to write without diminution of affection, you have taught me, likewise, how that neglect may be uneasily felt without resentment. I wished for your letter a long time, and when it came, it amply recompensed the delay. I never was so much pleased as now with your account of yourself; and sincerely hope, that between

publick business, improving studies, and domestick pleati

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430
JOHNSON'S PORTRAIT

[1771 sures, neither melancholy nor caprice will find any place for entrance. Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is certainly true of intellectual nature, that it abhors a vacuum : our minds cannot be empty; and evil will break in upon them, if they are not pre-occupied by good. My dear Sir, mind your studies, mind your business, make your lady happy, and be a good Christian. After this,

tristitiam et metus Trades protervis in mare Creticum

Portare ventis." 'If we perform our duty, we shall be safe and steady, Sive per, &c., whether we climb the Highlands, or are tost among the Hebrides ; and I hope the time will come when we may try our powers both with cliffs and water. I see but little of Lord Elibank, I know not why ; perhaps by my own fault. I am this day going into Staffordshire and Derbyshire for six weeks. I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate, and most humble servant, 'London, June 20, 1771.'

SAM. JOHNSON.'

"To SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, IN LEICESTER-FIELDS.

DEAR SIR,—When I came to Lichfield, I found that my portrait had been much visited, and much admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place; and I was pleased with the dignity conferred by such a testimony of your regard.

' Be pleased, therefore, to accept the thanks of, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, *Ashbourn in Derbyshire,

• SAM. JOHNSON.' July 17, 1771." Compliments to Miss Reynolds.'

"To DR. JOHNSON. MY DEAR SIR,

' Edinburgh, July 27, 1771. The bearer of this, Mr. Beattie, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Aberdeen, is desirous of being introduced to your acquaintance. His genius and learning, and labours in the service of virtue and religion, render him very worthy of it; and as he has a high esteem of your character, I hope you will give him a favourable reception. I ever am, &c.

'JAMES BOSWELL.'

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