Appendix A.


I lately thought no man alive
Could e'er improve past forty-five,
And ventured to assert it;
The observation was not new,
But seem'd to me so just and true,
That none could controvert it.

'No, Sir,' says Johnson, "tis not so;
That's your mistake, and I can show
An instance, if you doubt it;

You who perhaps are You, Sir, who are near forty-eight,
May much improve, 'tis not too late ;
I wish you'd set about it.'



Genius I knew was

what none can


Encouraged thus to mend my faults,
I turn'd his counsel in my thoughts,
Which way I should apply it :

Learning and wit seem'd past my reach,

Annual Register.

For who can learn where none will teach? when none will

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Horace Walpole, on Dec. 27, 1775, speaks of these verses as if they were fresh. 'They are an answer,' he writes, 'to a gross brutality of Dr. Johnson, to which a properer answer would have been to fling a glass of wine in his face. I have no patience with an unfortunate monster trusting to his helpless deformity for indemnity for any impertinence that his arrogance suggests, and who thinks that what he has read is an excuse for everything he says.' Horace Walpole's Letters, vi. 302. It is strange that Walpole should be so utterly ignorant of Johnson's courage and bodily strength. The date of Walpole's letter makes me suspect that Richard Burke dated his Jan. 6, 1775 (he should have written 1776), and that the blunder of a copyist has changed 1775 into 1773.

(Page 238.)

Had Boswell continued the quotation from Priestley's Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity he would have shown that though Priestley could not hate the rioters, he could very easily prosecute them. He


'If as a Necessarian I cease to blame men for their vices in the ultimate sense of the word, though, in the common and proper sense of it, I continue to do as much as other persons (for how necessarily soever they act, they are VOL. IV.



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influenced by a base and mischievous disposition of mind, against which I must guard myself and others in proportion as I love myself and others),' &c. Priestley's Works, iii. 508.

Of his interview with Johnson, Priestley, in his Appeal to the Public, part ii, published in 1792 (Works, xix. 502), thus writes, answering 'the impudent falsehood that when I was at Oxford Dr. Johnson left a company on my being introduced to it':—

'In fact we never were at Oxford at the same time, and the only interview I ever had with him was at Mr. Paradise's, where we dined together at his own request. He was particularly civil to me, and promised to call upon me the next time he should go through Birmingham. He behaved with the same civility to Dr. Price, when they supped together at Dr. Adams's at Oxford. Several circumstances show that Dr. Johnson had not so much of bigotry at the decline of life as had distinguished him before, on which account it is well known to all our common acquaintance, that I declined all their pressing solicitations to be introduced to him.'

Priestley expresses himself ill, but his meaning can be made out. Parr answered Boswell in the March number of the Gent. Mag. for 1795, p. 179. But the evidence that he brings is rendered needless by Priestley's positive statement. May peace henceforth fall on 'Priestley's injured name.' (Mrs. Barbauld's Poems, ii. 243.)

When Boswell asserts that Johnson 'was particularly resolute in not giving countenance to men whose writings he considered as pernicious to society,' he forgets that that very summer of 1783 he had been willing to dine at Wilkes's house (ante, p. 224, note 2).

Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, ed. 1833, iii. 157) wrote to Dr. Price in 1784:'It is said that scarce anybody but yourself and Dr. Priestley possesses the art of knowing how to differ decently.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, i. 304), describing in 1789 the honestest members of the French Assembly, calls them 'a set of wild visionaries, like our Dr. Price, who gravely debate, and dream about the establishment of a pure and perfect democracy of five and twenty millions, the virtues of the golden age, and the primitive rights and equality of mankind.' Admiration of Price made Samuel Rogers, when a boy, wish to be a preacher. 'I thought there was nothing on earth so grand as to figure in a pulpit. Dr. Price lived much in the society of Lord Lansdowne [Earl of Shelburne] and other people of rank; and his manners were extremely polished. In the pulpit he was great indeed.' Rogers's Table Talk, p. 3.

The full title of the tract mentioned by Boswell is, A small WholeLength of Dr. Priestley from his Printed Works. It was published in 1792, and is a very poor piece of writing.

Johnson had refused to meet the Abbé Raynal, the author of the Histoire Philosophique et Politique du Commerce des Deux Indes, when


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he was over in England in 1777. Mrs. Chapone, writing to Mrs. Carter on June 15 of that year, says :

'I suppose you have heard a great deal of the Abbé Raynal, who is in' London. I fancy you would have served him as Dr. Johnson did, to whom when Mrs. Vesey introduced him, he turned from him, and said he had read his book, and would have nothing to say to him.' Mrs. Chapone's Posthumous Works, i. 172.

See Walpole's Letters, v. 421, and vi. 444. His book was burnt by the common hangman in Paris. Carlyle's French Revolution, ed.

1857, i. 45.


(Page 253.)

Hawkins gives the two following notes:


'As Mr. Ryland was talking with me of old friends and past times, we warmed ourselves into a wish, that all who remained of the club should meet and dine at the house which once was Horseman's, in Ivy-lane. I have undertaken to solicit you, and therefore desire you to tell on what day next week you can conveniently meet your old friends.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Bolt-court, Nov. 22, 1783.'


'In perambulating Ivy-lane, Mr. Ryland found neither our landlord Horseman, nor his successor. The old house is shut up, and he liked not the appearance of any near it; he therefore bespoke our dinner at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Church-yard, where, at half an hour after three, your company will be desired to-day by those who remain of our former society.

'Dec. 3.'

'Your humble servant,


Four met-Johnson, Hawkins, Ryland, and Payne (ante, i. 243).

'We dined,' Hawkins continues, 'and in the evening regaled with coffee. At ten we broke up, much to the regret of Johnson, who proposed staying;

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but finding us inclined to separate, he left us with a sigh that seemed to come from his heart, lamenting that he was retiring to solitude and cheerless meditation.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 562.

Hawkins is mistaken in saying that they had a second meeting at a tavern at the end of a month; for Johnson, on March 10, 1784, wrote:

'I have been confined from the fourteenth of December, and know not when I shall get out.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 351.

He thus describes these meetings:

'Dec. 13. I dined about a fortnight ago with three old friends; we had not met together for thirty years, and one of us thought the other grown very old. In the thirty years two of our set have died; our meeting may be supposed to be somewhat tender.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 339.

'Jan. 12, 1784. I had the same old friends to dine with me on Wednesday, and may say that since I lost sight of you I have had one pleasant day.' Ib. p. 346.

'April 15, 1784. Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving another dinner to the remainder of the old club. We used to meet weekly, about the year fifty, and we were as cheerful as in former times; only I could not make quite so much noise, for since the paralytick affliction my voice is sometimes weak.' Ib. p. 361.

'April 19, 1784. The people whom I mentioned in my letter are the remnant of a little club that used to meet in Ivy-lane about three and thirty years ago, out of which we have lost Hawkesworth and Dyer; the rest are yet on this side the grave. Our meetings now are serious, and I think on

all parts tender.' Ib. 363.

See ante, i. 191, note 5.


(Page 254.)

It is likely that Sir Joshua Reynolds refused to join the Essex Head Club because he did not wish to meet Barry. Not long before this time he had censured Barry's delay in entering upon his duties as Professor of painting.

'Barry answered :-"If I had no more to do in the composition of my lectures than to produce such poor flimsy stuff as your discourses, I should soon have done my work, and be prepared to read." It is said this speech was delivered with his fist clenched, in a menacing posture.' (Northcote's Life of Reynolds, ii. 146.)


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