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Diploma Magistri Johnson.

(A.D. 1755.

Term. Seti


'CANCELLARIUS, Magistri et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis omnibus ad quos hoc presens scriptum pervenerit, salutem in Domino sempiternam.

"Cum eum in finem gradus academici à majoribus nostris instituti fuerint, ut viri ingenio et doctrinâ præstantes titulis quoque præter cæteros insignirentur; cùmque vir doctissimus Samuel Johnson è Collegio Pembrochiensi, scriptis suis popularium mores informantibus dudum literato orbi innotuerit; quin et lingua patriæ tum ornandæ tum stabiliende (Lexicon scilicet Anglicanum summo studio, summo à se judicio congestum propediem editurus) etiam nunc utilissimam impendat operam; Nos igitur Cancellarius, Magistri, et Scholares antedicti, virum de literis humanioribus optimè meritum diutius inhonoratum prætereamus, in solenni Convocatione Doctorum, Magistrorum, Regentium, et non Regentium, decimo die Mensis Februarii Anno Domini Millesimo Septingentesimo Quinquagesimo quinto habitâ, præfatum virum Samuelem Johnson (conspirantibus omnium suffragiis) Magistrum in Artibus renunciavimus et constituimus ; cumque, virtute præsentis diplomatis, singulis juribus privilegiis et honoribus ad istum gradum quàqud pertinentibus frui et gaudere jussimus.

mond,' was the third Chancellor in succession that that family had given to the University. The first of the three, the famous Duke of Ormond, had, on his death in 1688, been succeeded by his grandson, the young Duke. Macaulay's England, iii. 159. He, on his impeachment and flight from England in 1715, was succeeded by his brother, the Earl of Arran. Richardson, writing in 1754 (Corres. ii. 198), said of the University, ‘Forty years ago it chose a Chancellor in despite of the present reigning family, whose whole merit was that he was the brother of a perjured, yet weak, rebel.' On Arran's death in 1758, the Earl of Westmoreland,‘old dull Westmoreland’as Walpole calls him (Letters, i. 290), was elected. It was at his installation that Johnson clapped his hands till they were sore at Dr. King's speech (post, 1759). “I hear,' wrote Walpole of what he calls the coronation at Oxford,my Lord Westmoreland's own retinue was all be-James'd with true-blue ribands.' Letters, iii. 237. It is remarkable that this nobleman, who in early life was a Whig, had commanded the body of troops which George I. had been obliged to send to Oxford, to teach the University the only kind of passive obedience which they did not approve.' Walpole's George II, iii. 167.

Aetat. 46.)

Johnson's letter of thanks.


'In cujus rei testimonium sigillum Universitatis Oxoniensis præsentibus apponi fecimus.

Datum in Domo nostræ Convocationis die 20° Mensis Feb.

Anno Dom. prædicto. 'Diploma supra scriptum per Registrarium lectum erat, et ex decreto venerabilis Domûs communi Universitatis sigillo munitum'.' ‘Dom. DOCTORI HUDDESFORD, OXONIENSIS ACADEMIÆ VICE

CANCELLARIO. * INGRATUS planè et tibi et mihi videar, nisi quanto me gaudio affecerint, quos nuper mihi honores (te credo auctore) decrevit Senatus Academicus, literarum, quo tamen nihil levius, officio, significem: ingratus etiam, nisi comitatem, quâ vir eximius* mihi vestri testimonium amoris in manus tradidit, agnoscam et laudem. Si quid est undè rei tam grata accedat gratia, hoc ipso magis mihi placet, quod eo tempore in ordines Academicos denuo cooptatus sim, quo tuam imminuere auctoritatem, famamque Oxonii lædere", omnibus modis conantur homines vafri, nec tamen acuti: quibus ego, prout viro umbratico licuit, semper restiti, semper restiturus. Qui enim, inter has rerum procellas, vel Tibi vel Academiæ defuerit, illum virtuti et literis, sibique et posteris, defuturum existimo.


After I received my diploma, I wrote you a letter of thanks, with a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, and sent another to Mr. Wise; but have heard from nobody since, and begin to think myself

"The original is in my possession. Boswell.

• We may conceive what a high gratification it must have been to Johnson to receive his diploma from the hands of the great Dr. King, whose principles were so congenial with his own. BOSWELL.

Johnson here alludes, I believe, to the charge of disloyalty brought against the University at the time of the famous contested election for Oxfordshire in 1754. A copy of treasonable verses was found, it was said, near the market-place in Oxford, and the grand jury made a presentment thereon. “We must add,' they concluded, that it is the highest aggravation of this crime to have a libel of a nature so false and scandalous, published in a famous University, &c. Gent. Mag. xxiv. 339. A reward of £200 was offered in the London Gazette for the detection of the writer or publisher. Ib. p. 377.

forgotten. 328

A projected Review.

(A.D. 1758.

forgotten. It is true, I sent you a double letter', and you may fear an expensive correspondent; but I would have taken it kindly, if you had returned it treble : and what is a double letter to a petty king, that having fellowship and fines, can sleep without a Modus in his head?

Dear Mr. Warton, let me hear from you, and tell me something, I care not what, so I hear it but from you. Something I will tell you :-I hope to see my Dictionary bound and lettered, next week ;vastà mole superbus. And I have a great mind to come to Oxford at Easter; but you will not invite me. Shall I come uninvited, or stay here where nobody perhaps would miss me if I went? A hard choice! But such is the world to, dear Sir,

Yours, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON.' '[London) March 20, 1755.


“Though not to write, when a man can write so well, is an offence sufficiently heinous, yet I shall pass it by. I am very glad that the Vice-Chancellor was pleased with my note.

I shall impatiently expect you at London, that we may consider what to do next. I intend in the winter to open a Bibliothèque, and remember, that you are to subscribe a sheet a year; let us try, likewise, if we

· A single letter was a single piece of paper; a second piece of paper, however small, or any inclosure constituted a double letter; it was not the habit to prepay the postage. The charge for a single letter to Oxford at this time was three-pence, which was gradually increased till in 1812 it was eight-pence. Penny Cyclo. xviii. 455.

• •The words in Italicks are allusions to passages in Mr. Warton's poem, called The Progress of Discontent, now lately published. WARTON.-Boswell.

• And now intent on new designs,
Sighs for a fellowship--and fines.




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And ev'ry night I went to bed,
Without a Modus in my head.'

Warton's Poems, ii. 192. For modus and fines see post, April 25, 1778.


Aetat. 46.]

Dr. Maty.


cannot persuade your brother to subscribe another. My book is now coming in luminis oras'. What will be its fate I know not, nor think much, because thinking is to no purpose. It must stand the censure of the great vulgar and the small; of those that understand it, and that understand it not. But in all this, I suffer not alone: every writer has the same difficulties, and, perhaps, every writer talks of them more than he thinks.

*You will be pleased to make my compliments to all my friends: and be so kind, at every idle hour, as to remember, dear Sir,

'Your, &c.

‘Sam. Johnson.' '[London,] March 25, 1755.'

Dr. Adams told me, that this scheme of a Bibliothèque was a serious one: for upon his visiting him one day, he found his parlour floor covered with parcels of foreign and English literary journals, and he told Dr. Adams he meant to undertake a Review. 'How, Sir, (said Dr. Adams,) can you think of doing it alone? All branches of knowledge must be considered in it. Do you know Mathematicks? Do you know Natural History?' Johnson answered, “Why, Sir, I must do as well as I can. My chief purpose is to give my countrymen a view of what is doing in literature upon the continent; and I shall have, in a good measure, the choice of my subject, for I shall select such books as I best understand.' Dr. Adams suggested, that as Dr. Maty had just then finished his Bibliothèque Britannique", which was a well-executed work, giving foreigners an account of British publications, he might, with great advantage, assume him as an assistant. (said Johnson) the little black dog! I'd throw him into the Thames". The scheme, however, was dropped.

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· Lucretius, i. 23.

Hence ye prophane; I hate ye all,
Both the Great Vulgar and the Small.'

Cowley's Imit. of Horace, Odes, iii. 1. Journal Britannique. It was to Maty that Gibbon submitted the manuscript of his first work. Gibbon's Misc. Works, i. 123.

• Maty, as Prof. de Morgan pointed out, had in the autumn of 1755 been guilty of 'wilful suppression of the circumstances of Johnson's attack on Lord Chesterfield. In an article in his Journal he regrets


Dr. Birch's letter.

(A.D. 1755.

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In one of his little memorandum-books I find the following hints for his intended Review or Literary Journal:

* The Annals of Literature, foreign as well as domestick. Imitate Le Clerk-Bayle--Barbeyrac. Infelicity of Journals in England. Works of the learned. We cannot take in all. Sometimes copy from foreign Journalists. Always tell.' "To DR. BIRCH.

• March 29, 1755. Sir,

'I have sent some parts of my Dictionary, such as were at hand, for your inspection. The favour which I beg is, that if you do not like them, you will say nothing. I am, Sir, *Your most affectionate humble servant,


•Norfolk-street, April 23, 1755. 'SIR,

* The part of your Dictionary which you have favoured me with the sight of has given me such an idea of the whole, that I most sincerely congratulate the publick upon the acquisition of a work long wanted, and now executed with an industry, accuracy, and judgement, equal to the importance of the subject. You might, perhaps, have chosen one in which your genius would have appeared to more advantage; but you could not have fixed upon any other in which your labours would have done such substantial service to the present age and to posterity. I am glad that your health has supported the application necessary to the performance of so vast a task; and can undertake to promise you as one (though perhaps the only) reward of it, the approbation and thanks of every well-wisher to the honour of the English language. I am, with the greatest regard,

*Your most faithful and
· Most affectionate humble servant,

“THO. Birch.'


the absence from the Dictionary of the Plan. Elle eût épargné à l'auteur la composition d'une nouvelle préface, qui ne contient qu'en partie les mêmes choses, et qu'on est tenté de regarder comme destinée à faire perdre de vue quelques-unes des obligations que M. Johnson avait contractées, et le Mécène qu'il avait choisi.' Notes and Queries, 2nd S. iv. 341.


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