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Burke, junior, sir William Hamilton, Dr. Warren, Mr. Courtenay, Dr. Hinchcliffe, bishop of Peterborough, the duke of Leeds, Dr. Douglas, bishop of Salisbury, and the writer of this account *.
Sir John Hawkins' represents himself as a "seceder" from this society, and assigns as the reason of his “withdrawing" himself from it, that its late hours were inconsistent with his domestick arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke in so rude a manner, that all the company testified their displeasure; and at their next meeting his reception was such, that he never came again”.
* The Literary Club has since been deprived by death of Dr. Hinchcliffe, bishop of Peterborough, Mr. Gibbon, sir William Jones, Mr. Richard Burke, Mr. Colman, Mr. Boswell, (the author of this work,) the marquis of Bath, Dr. Warren, Mr. Burke, the rev. Dr. Farmer, the duke of Leeds, the earl of Lucan, James, earl of Charlemont, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Warton, Mr. Langton, lord Palmerston, Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Marlay, bishop of Waterford, sir William Hamilton, sir Robert Chambers, lord Eliot, lord Macartney, Dr. Barnard, bishop of Limerick, Mr. Fox, Dr. Horseley, bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Douglas, bishop of Salisbury, and Dr. French Lawrence. Its latest and its irreparable loss was that of the right hon. William Windham, the delight and admiration of this society, and of every other with whom he ever associated. Of the persons above mentioned some were chosen members of it after the preceding account was written. It has since that time acquired sir Charles Blagden, major Rennell, the hon. Frederick North, the right hon. George Canning, Mr. Marsden, the right hon. J. H. Frere, the right hon. Thomas Grenville, the reverend Dr. Vincent, dean of Westminster, Mr. William Lock, jun. Mr. George Ellis, lord Minto, the right hon. sir William Grant, master of the rolls, sir George Staunton, bart. Mr. Charles Wilkins, the right hon. sir William Drummond, sir Henry Halford, M.D. sir Henry Englefield, bart. Henry lord Holland, John, earl of Aberdeen, Mr. Charles Hatchett, Mr. Charles Vaughan, Mr. Humphry Davey, and the rev. Dr. Burney. The club, some years after Mr. Boswell's death, removed (in 1799) from Parsloe's to the Thatched House in St. James'sstreet, where they still continue to meet.
The total number of those who have been members of this club, from its foundation to the present time, (October 1810,) is seventy-six; of whom fiftyfive have been authors. Of the seventy-six members above mentioned, fortythree are dead; thirty-three living.-MALONE. Since the above note was written, death has deprived the club of Mr. Malone, Mr. George Ellis, Dr. Burney, Dr. Vincent, etc.-A. C.
Life of Johnson, p. 425.
z From sir Joshua Reynolds.
The knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supper,
He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr. Garrick, of whom he says, "he trusted that the least intimation of a desire to come among us, would procure him a ready admission; but in this he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; and, when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed,' He will disturb us by his buffoonery ;'-and afterwards so managed matters, that he was never formally proposed, and, by consequence, never admitted a."
In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, I think it necessary to rectify this misstatement. The truth is, that not very long after the institution of our club, sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. "I like it much," said he; " I think I shall be of you." When sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. "He'll be of us," said Johnson; "how does he know we will permit him? The first duke in England has no right to hold such lauguage." However, when Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected', was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.
Mrs. Piozzi has also given a similar misrepresentation of Johnson's treatment of Garrick in this particular, as if he had used these contemptuous expressions: "If Garrick does apply, I'll black-ball him.-Surely, one ought to sit in a society like ours,
Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or player."
I am happy to be enabled by such unquestionable au
because he usually eat no supper at home, Johnson observed, a very unclubable man."-BURNEY.
a Life of Johnson, p. 425.
b Mr. Garrick was elected in March, 1773.-MALONE. Letters to and from Dr. Johnson. Vol. ii. p. 278.
"Sir John, sir, is
thority as that of sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as from my own knowledge, to vindicate at once the heart of Johnson and the social merit of Garrick.
In this year, except what he may have done in revising Shakspeare, we do not find that he laboured much in literature. He wrote a review of Granger's Sugar Cane, a Poem, in the London Chronicle. He told me that Dr. Percy wrote the greatest part of this review; but, I imagine, he did not recollect it distinctly, for it appears to be mostly, if not altogether, his own. He also wrote in the Critical Review, an account + of Goldsmith's excellent poem, the Traveller.
The ease and independence to which he had at last attained by royal munificence, increased his natural indolence. In his Meditations, he thus accuses himself: "Good Friday, April 20, 1764. I have made no reformation; I have lived totally useless, more sensual in thought, and more addicted to wine and meat." And next morning he thus feelingly complains: "My indolence, since my last reception of the sacrament, has sunk into grosser sluggishness, and my dissipation spread into wilder negligence. My thoughts have been clouded with sensuality; and, except that from the beginning of this year, I have in some measure forborne excess of strong drink, my appetites have predominated over my reason. A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression." He then solemnly says, "This is not the life to which heaven is promised;" and he earnestly resolves an amendment.
It was his custom to observe certain days with a pious abstraction: viz. New-year's day, the day of his wife's death, Good Friday, Easter-day, and his own birth-day. He this year says, "I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have d Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 220.
done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O God, grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amenf." Such a tenderness of conscience, such a fervent desire of improvement, will rarely be found. It is, surely, not decent in those who are hardened in indifference to spiritual improvement, to treat this pious anxiety of Johnson with contempt.
About this time he was afflicted with a very severe return of the hypochondriack disorder, which was ever lurking about him. He was so ill as, notwithstanding his remarkable love of company, to be entirely averse to society, the most fatal symtom of that malady. Dr. Adams told me, that as an old friend he was admitted to visit him, and that he found him in a deplorable state, sighing, groaning, talking to himself, and restlessly walking from room to room. He then used this emphatical expression of the misery which he felt: "I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits."
Talking to himself was, indeed, one of his singularities ever since I knew him. I was certain that he was frequently uttering pious ejaculations; for fragments of the Lord's prayer have been distinctly overheards. His friend Mr. Thomas Davies, of whom Churchill says,
That Davies has a very pretty wife,
Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 222.
g It used to be imagined at Mr. Thrale's, when Johnson retired to a window or corner of the room, by perceiving his lips in motion, and hearing a murmur without audible articulation, that he was praying; but this was not always the case, for I was once, perhaps unperceived by him, writing at a table, so near the place of his retreat, that I heard him repeating some lines in an ode of Horace, over and over again, as if by iteration to exercise the organs of speech, and fix the ode in his memory:
Audiet cives acuisse ferrum
Quo graves Persæ melius perirent;
It was during the American war.-] -BURNEY. See too a former note in this vo lume on Johnson's mode of composing, in which this common mistake is corrected, p. 40.-Ed.
when Dr. Johnson muttered-" lead us not into temptation," used with waggish and gallant humour to whisper Mrs. Davies, "You, my dear, are the cause of this."
He had another particularity, of which none of his friends ever ventured to ask an explanation. It appeared to me some superstitious habit, which he had contracted early, and from which he had never called upon his reason to disentangle him. This was, his anxious care to go out or in at a door or passage by a certain number of steps from a certain point, or at least so as that either his right or his left foot, (I am not certain which,) should constantly make the first actual movement when he came close to the door or passage. Thus I conjecture: for I have, upon innumerable occasions, observed him suddenly stop, and then seem to count his steps with a deep earnestness; and when he had neglected or gone wrong in this sort of magical movement, I have seen him go back again, put himself in a proper posture to begin the ceremony, and, having gone through it, break from his abstraction, walk briskly on, and join his companion. A strange instance of something of this nature, even when on horseback, happened when he was in the Isle of Sky1. Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed him to go a good way about, rather than cross a particular alley in Leicesterfields; but this sir Joshua imputed to his having had some disagreeable recollection associated with it.
That the most minute singularities which belonged to him, and made very observable parts of his appearance and manner, may not be omitted, it is requisite to mention, that while talking or even musing as he sat in his chair, he commonly held his head to one side towards his right shoulder, and shook it in a tremulous manner, moving his body backwards and forwards, and rubbing his left knee in the same direction, with the palm of his hand. In the intervals of articulating he made various sounds with his mouth; sometimes as if ruminating, or. what is called chewing the cud, sometimes giving a half whistle, someh Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3d edit. p. 316.