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scientific improvements are rated at their utmost
Justified, as I trust, thus far in the opinion of the
SAMUEL JOHNSON, the subject of the following
great eminence, and father of the famous Cornelius
* Of this person, who yet lives in the remembrance of a few of his associates, little can be related but from oral tradition. He was, as I have heard Johnson fay, a man of great wit and stupendous parts, but of very profligate manners. He was chaplain to Lord Chesterfield during his residence at the Hague ; but, as his lordship
find it noted in his diary, on the seventh day of September, 1709: his brother, named Nathanael, was born some years after. Mr. Johnson was a man of eminence in his trade, and of such reputation in the city abovementioned, that he, more than once, bore, for a year, the office of bailiff or chief magistrate thereof, and discharged the duties of that exalted station with honour and applause. It may here be proper, as it will account for some particulars respecting the character of his son Samuel, to mention, that his political principles led him to favour the pretensions of the exiled family, and that though a very honest and sensible man, he, like many others inhabiting the county of Stafford, was a Jacobite.
It may farther be supposed, that he was poffeffed of some amiable qualities either moral or personal, from a circumstance in his early life, of which evidence is yet remaining. While he was an apprentice at Leek in Staffordshire, a young woman of the same town fell in love with him, and upon his removal to Lichfield followed him, and took lodgings opposite his house. Her passion was not unknown to Mr. Johnson, but he had no inclination to return it, till he heard that it so affected her mind that her life was in danger, when he visited her, and made her a tender of his hand, but feeling the approach of death, she declined it, and Mortly after died, and was interred in Lichfield cathedral. In pity to her sufferings, Mr. Johnson caused a stone to be placed over her grave with this inscription :
was used to tell him, precluded all hope of preferment by the want of a vice, namely, hypocrisy. It was fupposed that the parfon in Hogarth's modern midnight conversation, was intended to represent him in his hour of festivity, four in the morning.
Here lies the body of
She departed this life,
2d of September, 1694. The first born child of Mr. Johnson and his wife, their fon Samuel, had the misfortune to receive, together with its nutriment derived from a hired nurse, the feeds of that disease which troubled him through life, the struma, or, as it is called, the king's-evil; for the cure whereof his mother, agreeable to the opinion then entertained of the efficacy of the royal touch, presented him to Queen Anne, who, for the last time, as it is said, that she ever performed that office, with her accustomed grace and benignity administered to the child as much of that healing quality as it was in her power to dispense, and hung about his neck the usual amulet of an angel of gold, with the impress of St. Michael the archangel on the one side, and a ship under full fail on the other.* It was probably this disease that deprived him of the sight of his left eye, for he has been heard to say, that he never remembered to have enjoyed the use of it,
this * This healing gift is said to have been derived to our princes from Edward the Confessor, and is recorded by his historian, Alured Rivallensis. In Stow's annals we have a relation of the first cure of this kind which Edward performed; but, as it is rather disgusting to read it, I chuse to give it in the words of the author from whence it is apparently taken, with this remark, that the kings of France lay claim to the same miraculous power. Adolescentula quædam tradita ? nuptiis duplici laborabat incommodo. Nam faciem ejus morbus de
formaverat, amorem viri fterilitas prolis ademerat: fub faucibus • quippe quasi glandes ei succreverant, quæ totam faciem deformi tu. ! more fædantes, putrefactis sub cute humoribus, sanguinem in saniem
• verterant, inde nati vermes odorem teterrimum exhalabant. Ita • viro incutiebat morbus horrorem, fterilitas minuebat affectum. • Vivebat infelix mulier odiosa marito, parentibus onerosa. Rarus • ad eam vel amicorum accessus propter fætorem, vel aspectus viri * propter horrorem. Hinc dolor, hinc lacrimæ, hinc die noctuque
suspiria, cum ei vel fterilitas opprobrium, vel contemptum infir• mitas generaret. Induftriam medicorum avertebat inopia. Quid
ageret misera ? Quod folum fupererat, ubi humanum deerat divinum precabatur auxilium, quafi in illam illius æque miseræ mulieris
vocem erumpens, Peto, Domine, ut de vinculo improperii hujus at • solvas me, aut certe fuper terram eripias me. Jubetur tandem in • somnis adire palacium, ex regiis manibus sperare remedium, • quibus fi lota, fi tacta, fi fignata foret, reciperet ejus meritis sani
tatem. Expergefacta mulier, fexus fimul et conditionis oblita,
prorumpit in curiam, regis se repræsentat obtutibus, exponit oracu·lum, auxilium deprecatur. Ille more suo vi&tus pietate, nec fordes
cavit, nec fætorem exhorruit. Allata denique aqua, partes corporis
quas morbus fædaverat propriis manibus lavit, locaque tumentia • contrectans digitis fignum sanctæ crucis impressit. Quid plura ? • Subito rupta cute, cum fanie vermes ebulliunt, refedit tumor, dolor • omnis abcessit: ammirantibus qui aderant tantam sub purpura
fanctitatem, tantam fceptrigeris manibus ineffe virtutem. Paucis
vero diebus substitit in curia mulier regiis ministris neceffaria mi• niftrantibus, donec obducta vulneribus cicatrice incolumis rediret • ad propria. Verum ut nichil deeffet regi ad gloriam, pauperculæ • nichil ad gratiam, donatur fterili inopina fæcunditas, ventrifque fui • desiderato fructu ditata, facile fibi mariti gratiam conciliavit.'
The reader will find much curious matter relating to the royal touch, in Mr. Barrington's observations on ancient statutes 107, and in Chambers's dictionary, art. EVIL, to which I shall add, that the vindication of this power, as inherent in the pretender, by Mr. Carte, destroyed the credit of his intended history of England, and put a stop to the completion of it.
The ritual for this is to be found in Bishop Sparrow's collection of articles, canons, &c. and also in all or most of the impressions of the Common Prayer Book, printed in Queen Anne's reign, but in thefe latter with great variations.
It may seem a ridiculous attempt to trace the dawn of his poetical faculty so far back as to his very infancy; but the following incident I am compelled to mention, as it is well attested, and therefore makes part of his history. When he was about three years old, his mother had a brood of eleven ducklings which she permitted him to call his own. pened that in playing about he trod on and killed one of them, upon which running to his mother, he, in great emotion bid her write. Write, child? said she, what must I write? Why write, answered he, fo:
Here lies good Master Duck,
That Samuel Johnson trod on,
For then there'd been an odd one. and she wrote accordingly.
Being arrived at a proper age for grammatical instruction, he was placed in the free school of Lichfield, of which Mr. Hunter was then master, The progress he made in his learning soon attracted the notice of his teachers ; and among other discernible qualities that distinguished him from the rest of the school, he was bold, active and enterprising, so that without affecting it, the feniors in the school looked on him as their head and leader, and readily acquiesced in whatever he proposed or did. There dwelt at Lichfield a gentleman of the name of Butt, the father of the reverend Mr. Butt, now a King's Chaplain, to whose house on holidays and in school-vacations he was ever welcome. The children in the family, perhaps offended with the rudeness of his behaviour, would frequently call him the great boy, which the father once overhearing, said,