be expected, that they should know the reverence 1781. : due to a judicial determination ; and, having been once dismissed, should sit down in silence.”

I am ashamed to mention, that the Court, by a plurality of voices, without having a single additional circumstance before them, reversed their own judgement, made a serious matter of this dull and foolish joke, and adjudged Mr. Robertson to pay to the Society five pounds (sterling money) and costs of suit. The decision will seem strange to English lawyers.

On Tuesday, June 5, Johnson was to return to London. He was very pleasant at breakfast ; I mentioned a friend of mine having resolved never to marry a pretty woman. Johnson. “Sir, it is a very foolish resolution to resolve not to marry a pretty woman. Beauty is of itself very estimable. No, Sir, I would prefer a pretty woman, unless there are objections to her. A pretty woman inay be foolish; a pretty woman may be wicked ; a pretty woman may not like me. But there is no such danger in marrying a pretty woman as is apprehended; she will not be persecuted if she does not invite persecution. A pretty woman, if she has a mind to be wicked, can find a readier way thai. another; and that is all.”

I accompanied him in Mr. Dilly's chaise to Shef. ford, where talking of Lord Bute's never going to Scotland, he said, “ As an Englishman, I should wish all the Scotch gentlemen should be educated in England ; Scotland would become a province; they would spend all their rents in England.” This is a subject of much consequence, and much delicacy. The adyantage of an English education is unques

1781. tionably very great to Scotch gentlemen of talents

and ambition; and regular visits to Scotland, and Ætat. 79

perhaps other means, might be effectually used to prevent them from being totally estranged from their native country, any more than a Cumberland or Northuniberland gentleman, who has been educated in the South of England. I own, indeed, that it is no small misfortune for Scotch gentlemen, who have neither talents nor ambition, to be educated in England, where they may be perhaps distinguished only by a nick-name, lavish their fortune in giving expensive entertainments to those who laugh at them, and saunter about as mere idle insignificant hangerson even upon the foolish great ; when if they had been judiciously brought up at home, they might have been comfortable and creditable members of society.

At Shefford I had another affectionate parting from my reverend friend, who was taken up by the Bedford coach and carried to the metropolis. I went with Messieurs Dilly, to see some friends at Bedford ; dined with the officers of the militia of the county, and next day proceeded on my journey.





“ How welcome your account of yourself and your invitation to your new house was to me, I need not tell you, who consider our friendship not only as formed by choice, but as matured by time. We have been now long enough acquainted to have many images in common, and therefore to have a source

of conversation which neither the learning nor the 1781. wit of a new companion can supply.

Ætat. 72.. “ My Lives are now published; and if you will tell me whither I shall send them, that they may come to you, I will take care that you shall not be without them.

“ You will, perhaps, be glad to hear, that Mrs. Thrale is disincumbered of her brewhouse; and that it seemed to the purchaser so far from an evil, that he was content to give for it an hundred and thirtyfive thousand pounds. Is the nation ruined ?

" Please to make my respectful compliments to Lady Rothes, and keep me in the memory of all the little dear family, particularly Mrs., Jane.

“ I am, Sir, " Your affectionate humble servant, “ Bolt-court, June 16, 1781. “ SAM. JOHNSON."

Johnson's charity to the poor was uniform and extensive, both from inclination and principle. He not only bestowed liberally out of his own purse, but what is more difficult as well as rare, would beg from others, when he had proper objects in view. This he did judiciously as well as humanely. Mr. Philip Metcalfe, tells me, that when he has asked him for some money for persons in distress, and Mr. Metcalfe has offered what Johnson thought too much, he insisted on taking less, saying “ No, no, Sir ; we must not pamper them." · I am indebted to Mr. Malone, one of Sir Joshua Reynolds's executors, for the following note, which was found among his papers after his death, and which, we may presume, his unaffected modesty

1781. prevented him from communicating to me with the

other letters from Dr. Johnson with which he was pleased to furnish me. However slight in itself, as it does honour to that illustrious painter, and most amiable man, I am happy to introduce it.



" It was not before yesterday that I received your splendid benefaction. To a hand so liberal in distributing, I hope nobody will envy the power of acquiring

“I am, dear Sir, “ Your obliged and most humble servant, “ June 23, 1781.




“I AM ashamed that you have been forced to call so often for your books, but it has been by no fault on either side. They have never been out of my hands, nor have I ever been at home without seeing you; for to see a man so skilful in the antiquities of my country, is an opportunity of improveinent not willingly to be missed.

“ Your notes on Alfredo appear to me very judicious and accurate, but they are too few. Many

* The Will of King Alfred, alluded to in this letter, from the original Saxon, in the library of Mr. Astle, has been printed at the expence of the University of Oxford,

1781. Yo

things familiar to you, are unknown to me, and to most others; and you must not think too favourably of your readers ; by supposing them knowing, you will leave them ignorant. Measure of land, and value of money, it is of great importance to state with care. Had the Saxons any gold coin?

I have much curiosity after the manners and transactions of the middle ages, but have wanted either diligence or opportunity, or both. You, Sir, have great opportunities, and I wish you both diligence and success.

“I am, Sir, &c. “ July 17, 1781.

“ Sam. Johnson."

The following curious anecdote I insert'in Dr. Burney's own words. “ Dr. Burney related to Dr. Johnson the partiality which his writings had excited in a friend of Dr. Burney's, the late Mr. Bewley, -well known in Norfolk by the name of the Philosopher of Massingham: who, from the Ramblers and Plan of his Dictionary, and long before the authour's fame was established by the Dictionary itself, or any other work, had conceived such a reverence for him, that he earnestly begged Dr. Burney to give him the cover of his first letter he had received from him, as a relick of so estimable a writer. This was in 1755. In 1760, when Dr. Burney visited Dr. Johnson at the Temple in London, where he had then Chambers, he happened to arrive there before he was up; and being shewn into the room where he was to breakfast, finding himself alone, he examined the contents of the apartment, to try whether he could undiscovered steal any thing to send to his friend Bewley, as another relick of the admirable Dr.

« ElőzőTovább »