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Johnson's Imitations of Juvenal.

[A.D. 1754.

always a high opinion of Warburton'. Indeed, the force of mind which appeared in this letter, was congenial with that which Warburton himself amply possessed'.'

There is a curious minute circumstance which struck me, in comparing the various editions of Johnson's imitations of Juvenal. In the tenth Satire, one of the couplets upon the vanity of wishes even for literary distinction stood thus:

“Yet think what ills the scholar's life assail,

Pride', envy, want, the garret, and the jail.? But after experiencing the uneasiness which Lord Chesterfield's fallacious patronage made him feel, he dismissed the

· Soon after Edwards's Canons of Criticism came out, Johnson was dining at Tonson the Bookseller's, with Hayman the Painter and some more company. Hayman related to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that the conversation having turned upon Edwards's book, the gentlemen praised it much, and Johnson allowed its merit. But when they went farther, and appeared to put that authour upon a level with Warburton, ‘Nay, (said Johnson,) he has given him some smart hits to be sure; but there is no proportion between the two men; they must not be named together. A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.' BOSWELL. Johnson in his Preface to Shakespeare ( Works, v. 141) wrote: · Dr. Warburton's chief assailants are the authors of The Canons of Criticism, and of The Revisal of Shakespeare's Tert. ... The one stings like a fly, sucks a little blood, takes a gay flutter and returns for more; the other bites like a viper. ... When I think on one with his confederates, I remember the danger of Coriolanus, who was afraid that “girls with spits, and boys with stones, should slay him in puny battle;" when the other crosses my imagination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth:

“A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place,

Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd.” Let me, however, do them justice. One is a wit and one a scholar.'

* To Johnson might be applied what he himself said of Dryden :'He appears to have known in its whole extent the dignity of his character, and to have set a very high value on his own powers and performances. Works, vii. 291.

• In the original Yet mark. • In the original Toil.


Aetat. 45.]

For 'garret' read 'patron.'


word garret from the sad group, and in all the subsequent editions the line stands

*Pride', envy, want, the Patron', and the jail.' That Lord Chesterfield must have been mortified by the lofty contempt, and polite, yet keen satire with which Johnson exhibited him to himself in this letter, it is impossible to doubt. He, however, with that glossy duplicity which was his constant study, affected to be quite unconcerned. Dr. Adams mentioned to Mr. Robert Dodsley that he was sorry Johnson had written his letter to Lord Chesterfield. Dodsley, with the true feelings of trade, said he was very sorry too; for that he had a property in the Dictionary, to which his Lordship's patronage might have been of consequence.' He then told Dr. Adams, that Lord Chesterfield had shewn him the letter. 'I should have imagined (replied Dr. Adams) that Lord Chesterfield would have concealed it.' Poh! (said Dodsley) do you think a letter from Johnson could hurt Lord Chesterfield ? Not at all, Sir. It lay upon his table, where any body might see it. He read it to me; said, “this man has great powers," pointed out the severest passages, and observed how well they were expressed.' This air of indifference, which imposed upon the worthy Dodsley, was certainly nothing but a specimen of that dissimulation which Lord Chesterfield inculcated as one of the most essential lessons for the conduct of life'. His Lordship endeavoured to justify

· In the original Toil.

* In his Dictionary he defined patron as 'commonly a wretch who supports with insolence and is paid with flattery.' This definition disappears in the Abridgement, but remains in the fourth edition.

• Chesterfield, when he read Johnson's letter to Dodsley, was acting up to the advice that he had given his own son six years earlier (Letters, ii. 172) :- When things of this kind [bons mots) happen to be said of you, the most prudent way is to seem not to suppose that they are meant at you, but to dissemble and conceal whatever degree of anger you may feel inwardly; and, should they be so plain, that you cannot be supposed ignorant of their meaning, to join in the laugh of the company against yourself; acknowledge the hit to be a fair one, and the jest a good one, and play off the whole thing in seeming good 308

himself natural

Defensive pride.

[A.D. 1754,

himself to Dodsley from the charges brought against him by Johnson; but we may judge of the Aimsiness of his defence, from his having excused his neglect of Johnson, by saying that he had heard he had changed his lodgings, and did not know where he lived ;' as if there could have been the smallest difficulty to inform himself of that circumstance, by inquiring in the literary circle with which his Lordship was well acquainted, and was, indeed, himself one of its ornaments.

Dr. Adams expostulated with Johnson, and suggested, that his not being admitted when he called on him, was, probably, not to be imputed to Lord Chesterfield; for his Lordship had declared to Dodsley, that`he would have turned off the best servant he ever had, if he had known that he denied him to a man who would have been always more than welcome;' and, in confirmation of this, he insisted on Lord Chesterfield's general affability and easiness of access, especially to literary men. "Sir, (said Johnson) that is not Lord Chesterfield; he is the proudest man this day existing'.' 'No, (said Dr. Adams) there is one person, at least, as proud; I think, by your own account, you are the prouder man of the two.' But mine, (replied Johnson, instantly) was defensive pride.' This, as Dr. Adams well observed, was one of those happy turns for which he was so remarkably ready.

Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not refrain from expressing himself concerning that nobleman with pointed freedom : ‘This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords'!' And when his Letters to his

humour; but by no means reply in the same way; which only shows that you are hurt, and publishes the victory which you might have concealed.'

See post, March 23, 1783, where Johnson said that ‘Lord Chesterfield was dignified, but he was insolent;' and June 27, 1784, where he said that ‘his manner was exquisitely elegant.'

* Whate'er of mongrel no one class admits,
A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.'

Pope's Dunciad, iv. 90.

Aetat. 45.] Chesterfield's 'Respectable Hottentot.'


natural son were published, he observed, that 'they teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master'.'

The character of a respectable Hottentot,' in Lord Chesterfield's letters”, has been generally understood to be meant for Johnson, and I have no doubt that it was. But I remember when the Literary Property of those letters was contested in the Court of Session in Scotland, and Mr. Henry Dundas”,


*A true choice spirit we admit;
With wits a fool, with fools a wit.'

Churchill's Duellist, Book iii.
*The solemn fop, significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.'

Cowper's Poems, Conversation, 1. 299. According to Rebecca Warner (Original Letters, p. 204), Johnson telling Joseph Fowke about his refusal to dedicate his Dictionary to Chesterfield, said :— Sir, I found I must have gilded a rotten post.'

"That collection of letters cannot be vindicated from the serious charge of encouraging, in some passages, one of the vices most destructive to the good order and comfort of society, which his Lordship represents as mere fashionable gallantry; and, in others, of inculcating the base practice of dissimulation, and recommending, with disproportionate anxiety, a perpetual attention to external elegance of man

But it must, at the same time, be allowed, that they contain many good precepts of conduct, and much genuine information upon life and manners, very happily expressed ; and that there was considerable merit in paying so much attention to the improvement of one who was dependent upon his Lordship’s protection; it has, probably, been exceeded in no instance by the most exemplary parent; and though I can by no means approve of confounding the distinction between lawful and illicit offspring, which is, in effect, insulting the civil establishment of our country, to look no higher; I cannot help thinking it laudable to be kindly attentive to those, of whose existence we have, in any way, been the cause. Mr. Stanhope's character has been unjustly represented as diametrically opposite to what Lord Chesterfield wished him to be. He has been called dull, gross, and aukward : but I knew him at Dresden, when he was Envoy to that court; and though he could not boast of the graces, he was, in truth, a sensible, civil, well-behaved man. BOSWELL. See post, March 28, 1775, under April 29, 1776, and June 27, 1784.

• Chesterfield's Letters, iii. 129.

• Now one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State. BosWELL. Afterwards Viscount Melville.



Chesterfield's 'Respectable Hottentot.' [A.D. 1754.

one of the counsel for the proprietors, read this character as an exhibition of Johnson, Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, one of the Judges, maintained, with some warmth, that it was not intended as a portrait of Johnson, but of a late noble Lord, distinguished for abstruse science'. I have heard Johnson himself talk of the character, and say that it was meant for George Lord Lyttelton, in which I could by no means agree; for his Lordship had nothing of that violence which is a conspicuous feature in the composition. Finding that my illustrious friend could bear to have it supposed that it might be meant for him, I said, laughingly, that there was one trait which unquestionably did not belong to him ; 'he throws his meat anywhere but down his throat.' 'Sir, (said he,) Lord Chesterfield never saw me eat in his life’.'


Probably George, second Earl of Macclesfield, who was, in 1752, elected President of the Royal Society. CROKER. Horace Walpole (Letters, ii. 321) mentions him as 'engaged to a party for finding out the longitude.'

. In another work (Dr. Johnson: His Friends and his Critics, p. 214), I have shewn that Lord Chesterfield's 'Respectable Hottentot' was not Johnson. From the beginning of 1748 to the end of 1754 Chesterfield had no dealings of any kind with Johnson. At no time had there been the slightest intimacy between the great nobleman and the poor author. Chesterfield had never seen Johnson eat. The letter in which the character is drawn opens with the epigram:

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare,

Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te. Chesterfield goes on to show how it is possible not to love anybody, and yet not to know the reason why. ... How often,' he says, “have I, in the course of my life, found myself in this situation with regard to many of my acquaintance whom I have honoured and respected, without being able to love.' He then instances the case of the man whom he describes as a respectable Hottentot. It is clear that he is writing of a man whom he knows well and who has some claim upon his affection. Twice he says that it is impossible to love him. The date of this letter is Feb. 28, 1751, more than three years after Johnson had for the last time waited in Chesterfield's outward rooms. Moreover the same man is described in three other letters (Sept. 22, 1749; Nov. 1749; and May 27, 1753), and described as one with whom Chesterfield lived on terms of intimacy. In the two former of these letters


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