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Old men putting themselves to nurse.
consequently a considerable political interest in the county of Derby, which he employed to support the Devonshire family; for though the schoolfellow and friend of Johnson, he was a Whig. I could not perceive in his character much congeniality of any sort with that of Johnson, who, however, said to me, ‘Sir, he has a very strong understanding'. His size, and figure, and countenance, and manner, were that of a hearty English 'Squire, with the parson super-induced: and I took particular notice of his upper servant, Mr. Peters, a decent grave man, in purple clothes, and a large white wig, like the butler or major domo of a Bishop.
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Taylor met with great cordiality; and Johnson soon gave him the same sad account of their schoolfellow, Congreve, that he had given to Mr. Hector2; adding a remark of such moment to the rational conduct of a man in the decline of life, that it deserves to be imprinted upon every mind: 'There is nothing against which an old man should be so much upon his guard as putting himself to nurse 3 Innumerable have been the melancholy instances of men once distinguished for firmness, resolution, and spirit, who in their latter days have been governed like children, by interested female artifice.
Dr. Taylor commended a physician who was known to him and Dr. Johnson, and said, 'I fight many battles for him, as many people in the country dislike him.' JOHNSON. 'But you should consider, Sir, that by every one of your victories he is a loser; for, every man of whom you get the better, will be very angry, and resolve not to employ him; whereas if people get the better of you in argument about him, they'll think, "We'll
Johnson wrote on May 25, 1780 (Piozzi Letters, ii. 136) : ‘—- is come to town, brisk and vigorous, fierce and fell, to drive on his lawsuit. Nothing in all life now can be more profligater than what he is; and if, in case, that so be, that they persist for to resist him, he is resolved not to spare no money, nor no time.' Taylor, no doubt, is meant, and Baretti, in a marginal note, says 'This was the elegant phraseology of that Doctor.' See post, iii. 180.
2 See ante, p. 460.
3 He did not hold with Steele, who in The Spectator, No. 153, writes :'It was prettily said, "He that would be long an old man must begin early to be one." Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 275) says that 'saying of the old philosopher, that he who wants least is most like the gods who want nothing, was a favourite sentence with Dr. Johnson, who required less attendance, sick or well, than ever I saw any human creature.'
The lustre from dress.
send for Dr. ****** 1 nevertheless.' deep and sure in human nature.
This was an observation
Next day we talked of a book in which an eminent judge was arraigned before the bar of the publick, as having pronounced an unjust decision in a great cause. Dr. Johnson maintained that this publication would not give any uneasiness to the judge. 'For (said he,) either he acted honestly, or he meant to do injustice. If he acted honestly, his own consciousness will protect him; if he meant to do injustice, he will be glad to see the man who attacks him, so much vexed.'
Next day, as Dr. Johnson had acquainted Dr. Taylor of the reason for his returning speedily to London, it was resolved that we should set out after dinner. A few of Dr. Taylor's neighbours were his guests that day.
Dr. Johnson talked with approbation of one who had attained to the state of the philosophical wise man, that is, to have no want of any thing. Then, Sir, (said I,) the savage is a wise man.' 'Sir, (said he,) I do not mean simply being without,but not having a want.' I maintained, against this proposition, that it was better to have fine clothes, for instance, than not to feel the want of them. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; fine clothes are good only as they supply the want of other means of procuring respect. Was Charles the Twelfth, think you, less respected for his coarse blue coat and black stock3? And you find the King of Prussia dresses plain, because the dignity of his character is sufficient.' I here brought myself into a scrape, for I heedlessly said, 'Would not you, Sir, be the better for velvet and embroidery?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you put an end to all argument when you introduce your opponent himself. Have you no better manners? There is your want. I apologised by saying, I had mentioned him as an instance of one who wanted as little as any man in the world, and yet, perhaps, might receive some additional lustre from dress.
'Dr. Butter, of Derby, is mentioned post, iii. 163, and under May 8, 1781. Andrew Stuart's Letters to Lord Mansfield (ante, ii. 229).
3 Johnson was thinking of Charles's meeting with the King of Poland.
'Charles XII. était en grosses bottes, ayant pour cravate un taffetas noir qui lui serrait le cou; son habit était, comme à l'ordinaire, d'un gros drap bleu, avec des boutons de cuivre doré.' Voltaire's Works, ed. 1819, xx. 123.
IN the Bodleian is the following autograph record by Johnson of Good Friday, March 28, Easter Sunday, March 30, and May 4, 1766, and the copy of the record of Saturday, March 29. They belong to the series published by the Rev. Mr. Strahan under the title of Prayers and Meditations, but they are not included in it.
'Good Friday, March 28, 1766.—On the night before I used proper Collects, and prayed when I arose in the morning. I had all the week an awe upon me, not thinking on Passion week till I looked in the almanack. I have wholly forborne M [? meat] and wines, except one glass on Sunday night.
'In the morning I rose, and drank very small tea without milk, and had nothing more that day.
'This was the day on which Tetty died. I did not mingle much men [? mention] of her with the devotions of this day, because it is dedicated to more holy subjects. I mentioned her at church, and prayed once solemnly at home. I was twice at church, and went through the prayers without perturbation, but heard the sermons imperfectly. I came in both times at the second lesson, not hearing the bell.
'When I came home I read the Psalms for the day, and one sermon in Clark. Scruples distract me, but at church I had hopes to conquer them. 'I bore abstinence this day not well, being at night insupportably heavy, but as fasting does not produce sleepyness, I had perhaps rested ill the night before. I prayed in my study for the day, and prayed again in my chamber. I went to bed very early-before eleven.
'After church I selected collects for the Sacraments.
'Finding myself upon recollection very ignorant of religion, I formed a purpose of studying it.
'I went down and sat to tea, but was too heavy to converse.
Saturday, 29.—I rose at the time now usual, not fully refreshed. Went to tea. A sudden thought of restraint hindered me. I drank but one dish. Took a purge for my health. Still uneasy. Prayed, and went to dinner. Dined sparingly on fish [added in different ink] about four. Went to SimpWas driven home by my physick. Drank tea, and am much refreshed. I believe that if I had drank tea again yesterday, I had escaped the heaviness of the evening. Fasting that produces inability is no duty, but I was unwilling to do less than formerly.
'I had lived more abstemiously than is usual the whole week, and taken physick twice, which together made the fast more uneasy.
'Thus much I have written medically, to show that he who can fast long must have lived plentifully.
'Saturday, March 29, 1766.—I was yesterday very heavy. I do not feel myself to-day so much impressed with awe of the approaching mystery. I had this day a doubt, like Baxter, of my state, and found that my faith, though weak, was yet faith. O God! strengthen it.
'Since the last reception of the sacrament I hope I have no otherwise grown worse than as continuance in sin makes the sinner's condition more dangerous.
'Since last New Year's Eve I have risen every morning by eight, at least not after nine, which is more superiority over my habits than I have ever before been able to obtain. Scruples still distress me. My resolution, with the blessing of God, is to contend with them, and, if I can, to conquer them. 'My resolutions are
'To conquer scruples.
'To read the Bible this year.
'To study Divinity.
"To live methodically.
'To oppose idleness.
'To frequent Divine worship.
Almighty and most merciful Father! before whom I now appear laden with the sins of another year, suffer me yet again to call upon Thee for pardon and peace.
'O God! grant me repentance, grant me reformation. Grant that I may be no longer distracted with doubts, and harassed with vain terrors. Grant that I may no longer linger in perplexity, nor waste in idleness that life which Thou hast given and preserved. Grant that I may serve Thee in firm faith and diligent endeavour, and that I may discharge the duties of my calling with tranquillity and constancy. Take not, O God, Thy holy Spirit from me : but grant that I may so direct my life by Thy holy laws, as that, when Thou shalt call me hence, I may pass by a holy and happy death to a life of everlasting and unchangeable joy, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 'I went to bed (at) one or later; but did not sleep, tho' I knew not why. 'Easter Day, March 30, 1766.-I rose in the morning. Prayed. Took my prayer book to tea; drank tea; planned my devotion for the church. I think prayed again. Went to church, was early. Went through the prayers with fixed attention. Could not hear the sermon. After sermon, applied myself to devotion. Troubled with Baxter's scruple, which was quieted as I returned home. It occurred to me that the scruple itself was its own confutation.
'I used the prayer against scruples in the foregoing page in the pew, and commended (so far as it was lawful) Tetty, dear Tetty, in a prayer by herself, then my other friends. What collects I do not exactly remember. I gave a shilling. I then went towards the altar that I might hear the service. The communicants were more than I ever saw. I kept back; used again the foregoing prayer; again commended Tetty, and lifted up my heart for the rest. I prayed in the collect for the fourteen S. after Trinity for encrease of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and deliverance from scruples; this deliverance was the chief subject of my prayers. O God, hear me. I am now to try to conquer them. After reception I repeated my petition, and again when I came home. My dinner made me a little peevish; not much. After dinner
I retired, and read in an hour and a half the seven first chapters of St. Matthew in Greek. Glory be to God. God grant me to proceed and improve, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
'I went to Evening Prayers, and was undisturbed. At church in the morning it occurred to me to consider about example of good any of my friends had set me. This is proper, in order to the thanks returned for their good examples.
'My attainment of rising gives me comfort and hope. O God, for Jesus Christ's sake, bless me. Amen.
'After church, before and after dinner, I read Rotheram on Faith.
'After evening prayer I retired, and wrote this account.
'I then repeated the prayer of the day, with collects, and my prayer for night, and went down to supper at near ten.
'May 4, -66. I have read since the noon of Easter day the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark in Greek.
'I have read Xenophon's Cyropædia.'
BODLEIAN LIBRARY. SELECT AUTOGRAPHS.
JOHNSON'S sentiments towards his fellow-subjects in America have never, so far as I know, been rightly stated. It was not because they fought for liberty that he had come to dislike them. A man who, 'bursting forth with a generous indignation, had said :-"The Irish are in a most unnatural state; for we see there the minority prevailing over the majority" (ante, ii. 255), was not likely to wish that our plantations should be tyrannically governed. The man who, in company with some very grave men at Oxford, gave as his toast, "Here's to the next insurrection of the negroes in the West Indies”' (post, iii. 200), was not likely to condemn insurrections in general. The key to his feelings is found in his indignant cry, 'How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?' (b.) He hated slavery as perhaps no man of his time hated it. While the Quakers, who were almost the pioneers in the Anti-slavery cause, were still slaveholders and slave-dealers, he lifted up his voice against it. So early as 1740, when Washington was but a child of eight, he had maintained 'the natural right of the negroes to liberty and independence.' (Works, vi. 313.) In 1756 he described Jamaica as 'a place of great wealth and dreadful wickedness, a den of tyrants and a dungeon of slaves.' (Ib. vi. 130.) In 1759 he wrote:-'Of black men the numbers are too great who