« ElőzőTovább »
With his father he stayed but a short time, and then set out rambling northwards. At Avignon, by shameless lying, he had obtained a pass 'as a young student in theology, of Irish extract [sic] who had left his country for the sake of religion' (p. 98). It was wonderful that his fraud had escaped detection there, for he had kept his own name, 'because it had something of quality in it' (p. 99). He now resolved on a more impudent pretence; for 'passing as an Irishman and a sufferer for religion, did not only,' he writes, 'expose me to the danger of being discovered, but came short of the merit and admiration I had expected from it' (p. 112). He thereupon gave himself out as a Japanese convert, and forged a fresh pass, 'clapping to it the old seal' (p. 116). He went through different adventures, and at last enlisted in the army of the Elector of Cologne-an 'unhappy herd, destitute of all sense of religion and shamefacedness.' He got his discharge, but enlisted a second time, 'passing himself off for a Japanese and a heathen, under the name of Salmanazar' (pp. 133–141). Later on he altered it, he says, 'by the addition of a letter or two to make it somewhat different from that mentioned in the Book of Kings' (Shalmaneser, II Kings, xvii. 3). In his Description of Formosa he wrote it Psalmanaazaar, and in later life Psalmanazar. In his vanity he invented 'an awkward show of worship, turning his face to the rising or setting sun, and pleased to be taken notice of for so doing (p. 144). He had moreover the ambition of passing for a moral heathen' (p. 147). By way of singularity he next took to living altogether upon raw flesh, roots, and herbs (p. 163).
It was when he was on garrison duty at Sluys that he became acquainted with Innes, who was chaplain to a Scotch regiment that was in the pay of the Dutch (p. 148). This man found in him a tool ready made to his hand. He had at once seen through his roguery, but he used his knowledge only to plunge him deeper in his guilt. By working on his fears and his vanity and by small bribes he induced him to profess himself a convert to the Church of England and to submit to baptism (p. 158). He brought him over to London, and introduced him to the Bishop of London, and to Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury (pp. 164, 179). Psalmanazar spoke Latin fluently, but his Grace had either forgotten his, or being unused to the foreign pronunciation was forced to have it interpreted to him by Dr. Innes in English' (p. 178). The young impostor everywhere gave himself out as a Formosan who had been entrapped by a Jesuit priest, and brought to Avignon. "There I could expect,' he wrote, 'no mercy from the Inquisitors, if I had not in hypocrisy professed their religion' (History of Formosa, p. 25). He was kept, he says, in a kind of custody, but I trusted under
God to my heels' (p. 24). It was Innes who made him write this History.
In the confession of his fraud Psalmanazar seems to keep back nothing. His repentance appears to be sincere, and his later life, there can be little question, was regular. Yet, as I have said, even his confessions apparently are not free from the old leaven of hypocrisy. It is indeed very hard, if not altogether impossible, for a man who has passed forty years and more as a lying hypocrite altogether to 'clear his mind of cant.' In writing of the time when he was still living the life of a lying scoundrel, he says:-'I have great reason to acknowledge it the greatest mercy that could befall me, that I was so well grounded in the principles and evidence of the Christian religion, that neither the conversation of the then freethinkers, as they loved to stile themselves, and by many of whom I was severely attacked, nor the writings of Hobbes, Spinosa, &c. against the truth of Divine revelation could appear to me in any other light than as the vain efforts of a dangerous set of men to overturn a religion, the best founded and most judiciously calculated to promote the peace and happiness of mankind, both temporal and eternal' (Memoirs, p. 192). Two pages further on he writes, a little boastfully it seems, of having had 'some sort of gallantry with the fair sex; with many of whom, even persons of fortune and character, of sense, wit, and learning, I was become,' he continues, 'a great favourite, and might, if I could have overcome my natural sheepishness and fear of a repulse, have been more successful either by way of matrimony or intrigue.' He goes on:-'I may truly say, that hardly any man who might have enjoyed so great a variety ever indulged himself in so few instances of the unlawful kind as I have done.' He concludes this passage in his writings by 'thankfully acknowledging that there must have been some secret providence that kept me from giving such way to unlawful amours as I might otherwise have done, to the ruin of my health, circumstances,' &c.
When he came to wish for an honest way of life he was beset with difficulties. 'What a deadly wound,' he writes, must such an unexpected confession have given to my natural vanity, and what a mortification would it have been to such sincere honest people [as my friends] to hear it from my mouth!' (p. 213.) This was natural enough. That he long hesitated, like a coward, on the brink is not to be cast in his teeth, seeing that at last he took the plunge. But then in speaking of the time when he weakly repeated, and to use his own words, 'as it were confirmed anew,' his old falsehoods, he should not have written that 'as the assurance of God's mercy gave me good grounds to hope, so that hope inspired me with a design
to use all proper means to obtain it, and leave the issue of it to his Divine Providence' (p. 214). The only proper means to obtain God's mercy was at once to own to all the world that he had lied. It is only the Tartuffes and the Holy Willies who, whilst they persist in their guilt, talk of leaving the issue to the Divine Providence of God.
Since this Appendix was in type I have learnt, through the kindness of Mr. C. E. Doble, the editor of Hearne's Remarks and Collections, ed. 1885, that a passage in that book (i. 271), confirms my conjecture that Psalmanazar was lodged in Christ Church when at Oxford. Hearne says (July 9, 1706):-' Mr. Topping of Christ Church . . . also tells me that Salmanezzer, the famous Formosan, when he left Christ Church (where he resided while in Oxon) left behind him a Book in MSt., wherein a distinct acct was given of the Consular and Imperial coyns by himself.' Mr. Doble has also pointed out to me in the first edition of the Spectator the following passage at the end of No. 14:
'On the first of April will be performed at the Play-house in the Hay-market an opera call'd The Cruelty of Atreus. N.B. The Scene wherein Thyestes eats his own children is to be performed by the famous Mr. Psalmanazar lately arrived from Formosa: The whole Supper being set to Kettle-drums.'
JOHNSON'S TRAVELS AND LOVE OF TRAVELLING.
On the passage in the text Macaulay in his Review of Croker's Edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson partly founds the following criticism:
'Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced him to a state of society completely new to him; and a salutary suspicion of his own deficiencies seems on that occasion to have crossed his mind for the first time. He confessed, in the last paragraph of his Journey, that his thoughts on national manners were the thoughts of one who had seen but little, of one who had passed his time almost wholly in cities. This feeling, however, soon passed away. It is remarkable that to the last he entertained a fixed contempt for all those modes of life and those studies which tend to emancipate the mind from the prejudices of a particular age or a particular nation. Of foreign travel and of history he spoke with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance. "What does a man learn by travelling? Is Beauclerk the better for travelling? What did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there was a snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?"> aulay's Essays, ed. 1843, i. 403.
In another passage (p. 400) Macaulay says:—
'Johnson was no master of the great science of human nature. He had studied, not the genus man, but the species Londoner. Nobody was ever so thoroughly conversant with all the forms of life and all the shades of moral and intellectual character which were to be seen from Islington to the Thames, and from Hyde-Park corner to Mile-end green. But his philosophy stopped at the first turnpike-gate. Of the rural life of England he knew nothing, and he took it for granted that everybody who lived in the country was either stupid or miserable.'
Of the two assertions that Macaulay makes in these two passages, while one is for the most part true, the other is utterly and grossly false. Johnson had no contempt for foreign travel. That curiosity which animated his eager mind in so many parts of learning did not fail him, when his thoughts turned to the great world outside our narrow seas. It was his poverty that confined him so long to the neighbourhood of Temple Bar. He must in these early days have sometimes felt with Arviragus when he says:—
'What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing.'
With his pension his wanderings at once began. His friendship with the Thrales gave them a still wider range. His curiosity, which in itself was always eager, was checked in his more prosperous circumstances by his years, his natural unwillingness at any one moment to make an effort, and by the want of travelling companions who were animated by a spirit of inquiry and of enterprise equal to his own. He did indeed travel much more than is commonly thought, and was far less frequently to be seen rolling along Fleet-street or stemming the full tide of human existence at Charing Cross than his biographers would have us believe.
The following table, imperfect though it must necessarily be, shows how large a part of his life he passed outside the first turnpike-gate,' and beyond the smoke of London:1709-1736. The first twenty-seven years of his life he spent in small country towns or villages-Lichfield, Stourbridge, Oxford, Market-Bosworth, Birmingham. So late as 1781 Lichfield did not contain 4,000 inhabitants (Harwood's History of Lichfield, p. 380); eight years later it was reckoned that a little over 8,000 people dwelt in Oxford (Parker's Early History of Oxford, ed. 1885, p. 229). In 1732 or 1733 Birmingham, when Johnson first went to live there, had not, I suppose, a population of 10,000. Its growth was wonderfully rapid. Between 1770 and 1797 its inhabitants increased from 30,000 to nearly
80,000 (Birmingham Directory for 1780, p. xx, and A Brief History of Birmingham, p. 8).
1736-7. The first eighteen months of his married life he lived quite in the country at Edial, two miles from Lichfield. Ante, i. 97. 1737. He was twenty-eight years old when he removed to London. Ante, i. 110.
1739. He paid a visit to Appleby in Leicestershire and to Ashbourn. Ante, i. 82, 133 note 1.
Oxford. July and August, about five weeks. Ante, i. 270, note 5.
1759. Oxford. July, length of visit not mentioned. Ante, i. 347. 1761-2. Lichfield. Winter, a visit of five days. Ante, i. 370. 1762. In the summer of this year his pension henceforth had the means of travelling. A trip to Devonshire, from Aug. 16 to Sept. 26; six weeks. Ante, i. 377.
was granted, and he Ante, i. 372.
Oxford. December. 'I am going for a few days or weeks to Oxford.' Letter of Dec. 21, 1762. Croker's Boswell,
1763. Harwich. August, a few days.
Oxford. October, length of dated Oxford, Oct. 27 .
Ante, i. 464.
visit not mentioned. A letter Croker's Boswell, p. 161.
1764. Langton in Lincolnshire, part of January and February. Ante, i. 476.
Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire, part of June, July, and August. Croker's Boswell, p. 166, note, and ante, i. 486.
Oxford, October. Letter to Mr. Strahan dated Oxford, Oct. 24, 1764. Post, Addenda to vol. v.
Either this year or the next Johnson made the acquaintance of the Thrales. For the next seventeen years he had 'an apartment appropriated to him in the Thrales' villa at Streatham' (ante, i. 493), a handsome house that stood in a small park. Streatham was a quiet country-village, separated by wide commons from London, on one of which a highwayman had been hanged who had there robbed Mr. Thrale (ante, iii. 239, note 2). According to Mrs. Piozzi Johnson commonly spent the middle of the week at their house, coming on the Monday night and returning to his own home on the Saturday (post, iv. 169, note 3). Miss Burney, in 1778, describes him 'as living almost wholly at Streatham' (ante, i. 493, note 3). No doubt she was speaking chiefly of the summer half of the year, for in the winter time the Thrales would be often in their town house, where he also had his apartment. Mr. Strahan G g 2 complained