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138

2

Johnson's lines on Mr. Levett.

Yet still he fills affection's eye,
Obscurely wise', and coarsely kind;
Nor, letter'd arrogance2, deny

Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.

When fainting Nature call'd for aid,
And hov'ring Death prepar'd the blow,
His vigorous remedy display'd

The power of art without the show.
In Misery's darkest caverns known,
His ready help was ever nigh,
Where hopeless Anguish pour'd his groan,
And lonely want retir'd to die3.
No summons mock'd by chill delay,
No petty gains disdain'd by pride;
The modest wants of every day
The toil of every day supply'd.

His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure the Eternal Master found
His single talent well employ'd.

The busy day, the peaceful night*,

Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;

His frame was firm, his powers were bright,
Though now his eightieth year was nigh5.

'Content thyself to be obscurely good!

Addison's Cato, act iv. sc. 4.

In both editions of Sir John Hawkins's Life of Dr. Johnson, 'letter'd ignorance' is printed. BosWELL. Mr. Croker (Boswell, p. 1) says that Mr. Boswell is habitually unjust to Sir J. Hawkins.' As some kind of balance, I suppose, to this injustice, he suppresses this note.

3 Johnson repeated this line to me thus :

'And Labour steals an hour to die.' But he afterwards altered it to the present reading. BOSWELL. This poem is printed in the Ann. Reg. for 1783, p. 189, with the following variations-1. 18, for 'ready help' 'use

[A.D. 1782.

ful care'; 1. 28, 'His single talent,' 'The single talent'; l. 33, 'no throbs of fiery pain,' 'no throbbing fiery pain'; 1. 36, 'and freed,' 'and forced.' On the next page to it is printed John Gilpin.

Mr. Croker says that this line shows that 'some of Gray's happy expressions lingered in Johnson's memory.' He quotes a line that comes at the end of the Ode on Vicissitude'From busy day, the peaceful night.' This line is not Gray's, but Mason's. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:- If you want events, here is Mr. Levett just come in at fourscore from a walk to Hampstead, eight miles, in August.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

5

Then,

Aetat. 73.]

His mean opinion of the Ministry.

139

Then, with no throbs of fiery pain,
No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,

And freed his soul the nearest way.'

In one of Johnson's registers of this year, there occurs the following curious passage:—

'Jan. 201. The Ministry is dissolved. I prayed with Francis and gave thanks.'

It has been the subject of discussion, whether there are two distinct particulars mentioned here? or that we are to understand the giving of thanks to be in consequence of the dissolution of the Ministry? In support of the last of these conjectures may be urged his mean opinion of that Ministry, which has frequently appeared in the course of this work3; and it is strongly confirmed by what he said on the subject to Mr. Seward:- I am glad the Ministry is removed. Such a bunch of imbecility never disgraced a country. If they sent a messenger into the City to take up a printer, the messenger was taken up instead of the

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3 See ante, ii. 355, iii. 46, iv. 81, 100. Mr. Seward records in his Biographiana, p. 600-without however giving the year-that 'Johnson being asked what the Opposition meant by their flaming speeches and violent pamphlets against Lord North's administration, answered : "They mean, Sir, rebellion; they mean in spite to destroy that country which they are not permitted to govern.""

In the previous December the City of London in an address, writes Horace Walpole, 'besought the King to remove both his public and pri

vate counsellors, and used these stunning and memorable words:-" Your armies are captured; the wonted superiority of your navies is annihilated, your dominions are lost." Words that could be used to no other King; no King had ever lost so much without losing all. If James II. lost his crown, yet the crown lost no dominions.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 483. The address is given in the Ann. Reg. xxiv. 320. On Aug. 4 of this year Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor :-' Perhaps no nation not absolutely conquered has declined so much in so short a time. We seem to be sinking. Suppose the Irish, having already gotten a free trade and an independent Parliament, should say we will have a King and ally ourselves with the House of Bourbon, what could be done to hinder or overthrow them?' Mr. Morrison's Autographs, vol. ii.

printer,

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Bolt-court clouded with gloom.

[A.D. 1782.

printer, and committed by the sitting Alderman'. If they sent one army to the relief of another, the first army was defeated and taken before the second arrived. I will not say that what they did was always wrong; but it was always done at a wrong time3.'

'DEAR MADAM,

'To MRS. STRAHAN.

'Mrs. Williams shewed me your kind letter. This little habitation is now but a melancholy place, clouded with the gloom of disease and death. Of the four inmates, one has been suddenly snatched away; two are oppressed by very afflictive and dangerous illness; and I tried yesterday to gain some relief by a third bleeding, from a disorder which has for some time distressed me, and I think myself to-day much better.

'I am glad, dear Madam, to hear that you are so far recovered as to go to Bath. Let me once more entreat you to stay till your health is not only obtained, but confirmed. Your fortune is such as that no moderate expence deserves your care; and you have a husband, who, I believe, does not regard it. Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my part, very much deserted; but complaint is useless.

In February and March, 1771, the House of Commons ordered eight printers to attend at the bar on a charge of breach of privilege, in publishing reports of debates. One of the eight, Miller of the Evening Post, when the messenger of the House tried to arrest him, gave the man himself into custody on a charge of assault. The messenger was brought before Lord Mayor Crosby and Aldermen Wilkes and Oliver, and a warrant was made out for his commitment. Bail was thereupon offered and accepted for his appearance at the next sessions. The Lord Mayor and Oliver were sent to the Tower by the House. Wilkes was ordered to appear on April 8; but the Ministry, not daring to face his appearance, adjourned the House till the 9th. A committee was appointed by ballot to inquire into the late obstructions to the execution of the

orders of the House. It recommended the consideration of the expediency of the House ordering that Miller should be taken into custody. The report, when read, was received with a roar of laughter. Nothing was done. Such was, to quote the words of Burke in the Annual Register (xiv. 70), 'the miserable result of all the pretended vigour of the Ministry.' See Parl. Hist. xvii. 58, 186.

2 Lord Cornwallis's army surrendered at York Town, five days before Sir Henry Clinton's fleet and army arrived off the Chesapeak. Ann. Reg. xxiv. 136.

3 Johnson wrote on March 30:'The men have got in whom I have endeavoured to keep out; but I hope they will do better than their predecessors; it will not be easy to do worse.' Croker's Boswell, p. 706.

Aetat. 73.]

Mr. Malone.

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I hope GOD will bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish

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'I have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with you and Dr. Farmer. I hope hereafter to see you often.

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'I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton1 more unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said.

'March 7, 1782.'

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

These short letters shew the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every respect have been fully

This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley, &c. Mr. Thomas Warton's very able Inquiry appeared about three months

afterwards; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable Vindication of his Appendix in the summer of the same year, left the believers in this daring imposture nothing but the resolution to say again what had been said before.' MALONE.

gratified.

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Melancholy accounts of sickness.

[A.D. 1782.

gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably succeeded him as an Editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done great and just honour to Johnson's memory.

'TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.

'DEAR MADAM,

I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my breath; for some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I could not get the violence abated, till I had been let blood three times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written, and am sorry that I neglected it.

'My dwelling is but melancholy; both Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself, are very sickly: Frank is not well; and poor Levett died in his bed the other day, by a sudden stroke; I suppose not one minute passed between health and death; so uncertain are human things.

'Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. Let us, therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can; though the loss of friends will be felt, and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for thirty years.

'Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing; I hope to mend that and my other faults. Let me have your prayers.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and the whole company of my friends.

I am, my dear,

'Your most humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'London, March 2, 1782.'

TO THE SAME.

'DEAR MADAM,

'My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much more cheerful; I am, however, willing to write, because you are desirous to hear from me.

'My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet over. I was last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself much relieved, but I am very tender and easily hurt; so that since we parted I have had but little comfort, but I hope that the spring will recover me; and that in the summer I shall see

Lichfield

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