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Hawkins gives the two following notes :*DEAR SIR,
* 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,
SAM. JOHNSON * Bolt-court, Nov. 22, 1783.'
• DEAR SIR,
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 compahy will be desired to-day by those who remain of our former society.
• Your humble servant,
SAM. JOHNSON. • Dec. 3.'
Four met-Johnson, Hawkins, Ryland, and Payne (ante, i. 281).
• 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; 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,
'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. p. 363.
See ante, i. 221, note 2.
(Page 293.) 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.
The Hon. Daines Barrington was the author of an Essay on the Migration of Birds (ante, ii. 284) and of Observations on the Statutes (ante, iii. 357). Horace Walpole wrote on Nov. 24, 1780 (Letters, vii. 464) 'I am sorry for the Dean of Exeter; if he dies I conclude the leaden
mace of the Antiquarian Society will be given to Judge Barrington.' (He was 'second Justice of Chester.')
For Dr. Brocklesby see ante, iv. 203, 266, 390, 461.
Of Mr. John Nichols, Murphy says that his attachment to Dr. Johnson was unwearied.' Life of Johnson, p. 66. He was the printer of The Lives of the Poets (ante, iv. 42, 43), and the author of Biographical and Literary Anecdotes of William Bowyer Printer, the last of the learned printers,' whose apprentice he had been (ante, iv. 425). Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 259) says :
'I scarce ever saw a book so correct as Mr. Nichols's Life of Jr. Bowyer. I wish it deserved the pains he has bestowed on it every way, and that he would not dub so many men great. I have known several of his heroes, who were very little men.'
The Life of Bowyer being recast and enlarged was republished under the title of Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century. From 1778 till his death in 1826 the Gentleman's Magazine was in great measure in his hands. Southey, writing in 1804, says :
'I have begun to take in here at Keswick the Gentleman's Magazine, alias the Oldwomania, to enlighten a Portuguese student among the mountains; it does amuse me by its exquisite inanity, and the glorious and intense stupidity of its correspondents; it is, in truth, a disgrace to the age and the country. Southey's Life and Correspondence, ii. 281.
Mr. William Cooke, 'commonly called Conversation Cooke,'wrote Lives of Macklin and Foote. Forster's Essays, ii. 312, and Gent. Mag. 1824, p. 374.
Mr. Richard Paul Joddrel, or Jodrell, was the author of The Persian Heroine, a Tragedy, which, in Baker's Biog. Dram. i. 400, is wrongly assigned to Sir R. P. Jodrell, M.D. Nichols's Lit. Anec. ix. 2.
For Mr. Paradise see ante, iv. 420, note 1.
Dr. Horsley was the controversialist, later on Bishop of St. David's and next of Rochester. Gibbon makes splendid mention of him (Misc. Works, i. 232) when he tells how Dr. Priestley's Socinian shield has repeatedly been pierced by the mighty spear of Horsley. Windham, however, in his Diary in one place (p. 125) speaks of him as having his thoughts “intent wholly on prospects of Church preferment;' and in another place (p. 275) says that he often lays down with great confidence what turns out afterwards to be wrong. In the House of Lords lie once said he did not
know what the mass of the people in any country had to do with the laws but to obey them.' Parl. Hist. xxxii. 258. Thurlow rewarded him for his Letters to Priestley by a stall at Gloucester, ‘saying that “ those who supported the Church should be supported by it." Campbell's Chancellors, ed. 1846, v. 635.
For Mr. Windham, see ante, iv. 231.
Hawkins (Life of Johnson, p. 567) thus writes of the formation of the club :
'I was not made privy to this his intention, but all circumstances considered, it was no matter of surprise to me when I heard that the great Dr. Johnson had, in the month of December 1783, formed a sixpenny club at an ale-house in Essex-street, and that though some of the persons thereof were persons of note, strangers, under restrictions, for three pence each night might three nights in a week hear him talk and partake of his conversation.'
Miss Hawkins (Memoirs, i. 103) says
* Boswell was well justified in his resentment of my father's designation of this club as a sixpenny club, meeting at an ale-house. ... Honestly speaking, I dare say my father did not like being passed over.'
Sir Joshua Reynolds, writing of the club, says :
* Any company was better than none; by which Johnson connected himself with many mean persons whose presence he could command. For this purpose he established a club at a little ale-house in Essexstreet, composed of a strange mixture of very learned and very ingenious odd people. Of the former were Dr. Heberden, Mr. Windham, Mr. Boswell, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise. Those of the latter I do not think proper to enumerate.' Taylor's Life of Reynolds, ii. 455.
It is possible that Reynolds had never seen the Essex Head, and that the term "little ale-house' he had borrowed from Hawkins's account. Possibly too his disgust at Barry here found vent. Murphy (Life of Johnson, p. 124) says :
• The members of the club were respectable for their rank, their talents, and their literature.'
The 'little ale-house' club saw one of its members, Alderman Clarke (ante, iv. 298), Lord Mayor within a year; another, Horsley, a Bishop within five years; and a third, Windham, Secretary at War within ten years. Nichols (Literary Anecdotes, ii. 553) gives a list of the 'constant members' at the time of Johnson's death.
Miss Burney's account of Johnson's last days is interesting, but her dates are confused more even than is common with her. I have corrected them as well as I can.
* Dec. 9. He will not, it seems, be talked to—at least very rarely. At times indeed he re-animates; but it is soon over and he says of himself :-“I am now like Macbeth-question enrages me.”' • Dec. 1o.
At night my father brought us the most dismal tidings of dear Dr. Johnson. He had thanked and taken leave of all his physicians. Alas! I shall lose him, and he will take no leave of me. My father was deeply depressed. I hear from everyone he is now perfectly resigned to his approaching fate, and no longer in terror of death.'
• Dec. II. My father in the morning saw this first of men. He was up and very composed. He took his hand very kindly, asked after all his family, and then in particular how Fanny did. “I hope,” he said, “Fanny did not take it amiss that I did not see her. I was very bad. Tell Fanny to pray for me.” After which, still grasping his hand, he made a prayer for himself, the most fervent, pious, humble, eloquent, and touching, my father says, that ever was composed. Oh! would I had heard it! He ended it with Amen! in which my father joined, and was echoed by all present; and again, when my father was leaving him, he brightened up, something of his arch look returned, and he said: “I think I shall throw the ball at Fanny yet." '
* Dec. 12. [Miss Burney called at Bolt-court.] All the rest went away but a Mrs. Davis, a good sort of woman, whom this truly charitable soul had sent for to take a dinner at his house. (See ante, iv. 276, note 2.) Mr. Langton then came. He could not look at me, and I turned away from him. Mrs. Davis asked how the Doctor was. “Going on to death very fast," was his mournful answer. “Has he taken," said she, “anything?” “Nothing at all. We carried him some bread and milk-he refused it, and said :—*The less the better.'”
* Dec. 20. This day was the ever-honoured, ever-lamented Dr. Johnson committed to the earth. Oh, how sad a day to me! My father attended. I could not keep my eyes dry all day; nor can I now in the recollecting it; but let me pass over what to mourn is now so vain. Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 333–339.