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times making his tongue play backwards from the roof of his mouth, as if clucking like a hen, and sometimes protruding it against his upper gums in front, as if pronouncing quickly under his breath, too, too, too: all this accompanied sometimes with a thoughtful look, but more frequently with a smile. Generally when he had concluded a period, in the course of a dispute, by which time he was a good deal exhausted by violence and vociferation, he used to blow out his breath like a whale. This I suppose was a relief to his lungs; and seemed in him to be a contemptuous mode of expression, as if he had made the arguments of his opponent fly like chaff before the windi.
I am fully aware how very obvious an occasion I here give for the sneering jocularity of such as have no relish of an exact likeness; which, to render complete, he who draws it must not disdain the slightest strokes. But if witlings should be inclined to attack this account, let them have the candour to quote what I have offered in my defence.
He was for some ne in the summer at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, on a visit to the reverend Dr. Percy, now bishop of Dromore. Whatever dissatisfaction he felt at what he considered as a slow progress in intellectual improvement, we find that his heart was tender, and his affections warm, as appears from the following very kind letter.
TO JOSHUA REYNOLDS, ESQ. IN LEICESTER-FIELDS, LONDON.
"DEAR SIR,-I did not hear of your sickness till I heard likewise of your recovery; and therefore escaped
i We have had occasion, in a former note to this volume, to remark that these strange and grotesque practices of Johnson were probably contracted from a habit of accompanying his thoughts by certain external acts. Two instances of this propensity have fallen under the observation of the present editor. In one of the cases alluded to, a fear of descending steps or stairs, unless with one particular foot first, was the precursor of general insanity.-ED.
that part of your pain, which every man must feel, to whom you are known as you are known to me.
Having had no particular account of your disorder, I know not in what state it has left you. If the amusement of my company can exhilarate the languor of a slow recovery, I will not delay a day to come to you; for I know not how I can so effectually promote my own pleasure as by pleasing you, or my own interest as by preserving you, in whom, if I should lose you, I should lose almost the only man whom I call a friend.
Pray let me hear of you from yourself, or from dear Miss Reynolds. Make my compliments to Mr. Mudge. I am, dear sir,
"Your most affectionate
And most humble servant,
"At the rev. Mr. Percy's, at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, (by Castle Ashby,) Aug. 19, 1764."
Early in the year 1765 he paid a short visit to the university of Cambridge, with his friend Mr. Beauclerk. There is a lively picturesque account of his behaviour on this visit, in the Gentleman's Magazine for March, 1785, being an extract of a letter from the late Dr. John Sharp. The two following sentences are very characteristical : "He drank his large potations of tea with me, interrupted by many an indignant contradiction, and many a noble sentiment."-" Several persons got into his company the last evening at Trinity, where, about twelve, he began to be very great; stripped poor Mrs. Macaulay to the very skin, then gave her for his toast, and drank her in two bumpers."
The strictness of his self-examination, and scrupulous christian humility, appear in his pious meditation on
* Sir Joshua's sister, for whom Johnson had a particular affection, and to whom he wrote many letters which I have seen, and which I am sorry her too nice delicacy will not permit to be published.—BoswELL,
Easter-day this year." I propose again to partake of the blessed sacrament; yet when I consider how vainly I have hitherto resolved at this annual commemoration of my Saviour's death, to regulate my life by his laws, I am almost afraid to renew my resolutions."
The concluding words are very remarkable, and show that he laboured under a severe depression of spirits. "Since the last Easter I have reformed no evil habit; my time has been unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream that has left nothing behind. My memory grows confused, and I know not how the days pass over me. Good Lord, deliver me1!"
No man was more gratefully sensible of any kindness done to him than Johnson. There is a little circumstance in his diary this year, which shows him in a very amiable light.
July 2. I paid Mr. Simpson ten guineas, which he had formerly lent me in my necessity, and for which Tetty expressed her gratitude."
"July 8. I lent Mr. Simpson ten guineas more."
Here he had a pleasing opportunity of doing the same kindness to an old friend, which he had formerly received from him. Indeed his liberality as to money was very remarkable. The next article in his diary is," July 16. I received seventy-five pounds. Lent Mr. Davies twentyfive."
Trinity college, Dublin, at this time surprised Johnson with a spontaneous compliment of the highest academical honours, by creating him Doctor of Laws. The diploma, which is in my possession, is as follows:
"OMNIBUS ad quos præsentes literæ pervenerint, salutem. Nos Præpositus et Socii seniores Collegii sacrosanctæ et individuæ Trinitatis Reginæ Elizabethæ juxta Dublin, testamur, Samueli Johnson, Armigero, ob egregiam scriptorum elegantiam et utilitatem, gratiam concessam fuisse pro gradu Doctoratûs in utroque Jure, Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 223.
octavo die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto. In cujus rei testimonium singulorum manus et sigillum quo in hisce utimur apposuimus; vicesimo tertio die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto.
FRAN. ANDREWS, R. MURRAY.
This unsolicited mark of distinction, conferred on so great a literary character, did much honour to the judgement and liberal spirit of that learned body. Johnson acknowledged the favour in a letter to Dr. Leland, one of their number; but I have not been able to obtain a copy of itm.
He appears this year to have been seized with a temporary fit of ambition, for he had thoughts both of studying law, and of engaging in politicks. His Prayer before the Study of Law is truly admirable.
Since the publication of the edition in 1804, a copy of this letter was communicated to Mr. Malone, by John Leland, esq. son to the learned historian to whom it is addressed.
TO THE REV. DR. LELAND.
SIR,-Among the names subscribed to the degree which I have had the honour of receiving from the university of Dublin, I find none of which I have any personal knowledge but those of Dr. Andrews and yourself.
"Men can be estimated by those who know them not, only as they are represented by those who know them; and therefore I flatter myself that I owe much of the pleasure which this distinction gives me, to your concurrence with Dr. Andrews in recommending me to the learned society.
Having desired the provost to return my general thanks to the university, I beg that you, sir, will accept my particular and immediate acknowledgments.
The letter which Johnson wrote to Dr. Andrews on this occasion, we cannot obtain.-ED.
Sept. 26, 1765.
Almighty God, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs, and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen"."
His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled, Engaging in Politicks with H- n; no doubt his friend the right honourable William Gerard Hamilton, for whom, during a long acquaintance, he had a great esteem, and to whose conversation he once paid this high compliment: "I am very unwilling to be left alone, sir, and therefore I go with my company down the first pair of stairs, in some hopes that they may, perhaps, return again; I go with you, sir, as far as the street door." In what particular department he intended to engage, does not appear, nor can Mr. Hamilton explain. His prayer is in general terms: "Enlighten my understanding with knowledge of right, and govern my will by thy laws, that no deceit may mislead me, nor temptation corrupt me; that I may always endeavour to do good, and to hinder evil P." There is nothing upon the subject in his diary.
Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 225.
• In the preface to a late collection of Mr. Hamilton's pieces, it has been observed, that our author was, by the generality of Johnson's words, "led to suppose that he was seized with a temporary fit of ambition, and that hence he was induced to apply his thoughts to law and politicks. But Mr. Boswell was certainly mistaken in this respect: and these words merely allude to Johnson's having at that time entered into some engagement with Mr. Hamilton, occasionally to furnish him with his sentiments on the great political topicks which should be considered in parliament." In consequence of this engagement, Johnson, in November, 1766, wrote a very valuable tract, entitled, Considerations on Corn, which is printed as an appendix to the works of Mr. Hamilton, published by T. Payne in 1808.-MALONE.
P Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 226.