templated without wonder, when we con- | sider that he was then only in his twentyninth year, and had yet been so little in the "busy haunts of men."

Yet while we admire the poetical excellence of this poem, candour obliges us to allow, that the flame of patriotism and zeal for popular resistance with which it is fraught had no just cause. There was, in truth, no "oppression;" the "nation" was not "cheated." Sir Robert Walpole was a wise and a benevolent minister, who thought that the happiness and prosperity of a commercial country like ours would be best promoted by peace, which he accordingly maintained with credit, during a very long period. Johnson himself afterwards acknowledged the merit of Walpole, whom he called "a fixed star;" while he characterised his opponent, Pitt, as a "meteor." But Johnson's juvenile poem was naturally impregnated with the fire of opposition, and upon every account was universally ad


Though thus elevated into fame, and conscious of uncommon powers, he had not that bustling confidence, or I may rather say, that animated ambition, which one might have supposed would have urged him to endeavour at rising in life. But such was his inflexible dignity of character, that he could not stoop to court the great; without which, hardly any man has made his way to a high station. He could not expect to produce many such works as his London," and he felt the hardships of writing for bread; he was therefore willing to resume the office of a schoolmaster, so as to have a sure, though moderate income for his life; and an offer being made to him of the mastership of a school? [at vigorous and bitter invective against it. The truth is, he was now writing for bread, cared comparatively little about the real merits or defects of the minister or the metropolis, and only thought how best to make his poem sell.-ED.]

1 [This seems to be an erroneous and mischievous assertion. If Mr. Boswell, by stooping to court the great, means base flatteries and unworthy compliances, then it may be safely asserted that such arts, (whatever small successes they may have had), are not those by which men have risen to high stations. Look at the instances of elevation to be found in Mr. Boswell's own work-Lord Chatham, Lord Mansfield, Mr. Burke, Mr. Hamilton, Lord Loughborough, Lord Thurlow, Lord Stowell, and so many dignitaries of the law and the church, in whose society Dr. Johnson passed his latter days-with what can they be charged which would have disgraced Johnson? Boswell, it may be suspected, wrote this under some little personal disappointment in his own courtship of the great, which he more than once hints at. Johnson's opinions on this point will be found under Feb. 1766, and Sept. 1777.-ED.] ' [Mr. Boswell had here inserted a long note to


p. 62.

Appleby, in Leicestershire,] provided he could obtain the degree of Master of Arts, Dr. Adams was applied to, by a common friend, to know whether that could be granted him as a favour from the university of Oxford. But though he had made such a figure in the literary world, it was then thought too great a favour to | be asked.

Pope, without any knowledge of him but from his "London," recommended 3 him to Earl Gower, who endeavoured to procure for him a degree from Dublin, by the following letter to a friend of Dean Swift:

"SIR,-Mr. Samuel Johnson (authour of LONDON, a satire, and some other poetical pieces) is a native of this country, and much respected by some worthy gentlemen in this neighbourhood, who are trustees of a charity-school now vacant; the certain salary is sixty pounds a year, of which they are desirous to make him master; but, unfortunately he is not capable of receiving their bounty, which would make him happy for life, by not being a master of arts; which, by the statutes of this school, the master of it must be.

"Now these gentlemen do me the honour to think that I have interest enough in you, to prevail upon you to write to Dean Swift, to persuade the university of Dublin to send a diploma to me, constituting this poor man master of arts in their university. They highly extol the man's learning and probity; and will not be persuaded, that the university will make any difficulty of conferring such a favour upon a stranger, if he is recommended by the dean. They say, he is not afraid of the strictest prove, first, that the school in question was Newport in Shropshire; and secondly, on the evidence of a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine (May, 1793), that it was Appleby in Leicestershire, though Mr. Pope, by mistake, had said Shropshire; but as Sir J. Hawkins had already stated Appleby to be the school in question, Mr. Boswell took a great deal of unnecessary trouble, and his note is therefore omitted.-ED.]


[It seems not easy to reconcile Lord Gower's and Pope's letters, and Mr. Boswell's account of this transaction. Lord Gower's letter says that it is written at the request of some Staffordshire neighbours. Nothing more natural. He does not even allude to Pope; and certainly it would have been most extraordinary that Pope, the dearest friend of Swift, should solicit Lord Gower to ask a favour of the Dean. Pope says (see post, p. 56.) that he wrote unsolicited to Lord Gower in Johnson's favour; but did not succeed. He makes no allusion to Swift, or the master's degree. Perhaps Pope's application to Lord Gower related, as his letter says, to a school in Shropshire, and, failing there, the school of Appleby was thought of afterwards. This supposition would remove all difficulties.—ED.]


Robert Walpor



ney; and will venture it, if the dean thinks it necessary; choosing rather to die upon the road, than be starved to death in translating for booksellers; which has been his only subsistence for some time past.

examination, though he is of so long a jour- | whether a person might be permitted to practise as an advocate there, without a doctor's degree in civil law. "I am (said he) a total stranger to these studies; but whatever is a profession, and maintains numbers, must be within the reach of common abilities, and some degree of industry." Dr. Adams was much pleased with Johnson's design to employ his talents in that manner, being confident he would have attained to great eminence. And, indeed, I cannot conceive a man better qualified to make a distinguished figure as a lawyer; for he would have brought to his profession a rich store of various knowledge, an uncommon acuteness, and a command of language, in which few could have equalled, and none have surpassed him. He who could display eloquence and wit in defence of the decision of the House of Commons upon Mr. Wilkes's election for Middlesex, and of the unconstitutional taxation of our fellow-subjects in America, must have been a powerful advocate in any cause. But here, also, the want of a degree was an insurmountable bar.

I fear there is more difficulty in this affair than those good-natured gentlemen apprehend; especially as their election cannot be delayed longer than the 11th of next month. If you see this matter in the same light that it appears to me, I hope you will burn this, and pardon me for giving you so much trouble about an impracticable thing; but, if you think there is a probability of obtaining the favour asked, I am sure your humanity and propensity to relieve merit in distress will incline you to serve the poor man, without my adding any more to the trouble I have already given you, than assuring you that I am, with great truth, sir, your faithful servant,

"Trentham, Aug. 1, 1739.”


It was, perhaps, no small disappointment 1 to Johnson that this respectable application He was, therefore, under the necessity of had not the desired effect; yet how much persevering in that course into which he reason has there been, both for himself and had been forced; and we find that his prohis country, to rejoice that it did not suc-posal from Greenwich to Mr. Cave, for a ceed, as he might probably have wasted in translation of Father Paul Sarpi's History, obscurity those hours in which he after- was accepted 3. wards produced his incomparable works.

About this time he made one other effort to emancipate himself from the drudgery of authorship. He applied to Dr. Adams, to consult Dr. Smalbroke2 of the Commons,

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Some sheets of this translation were printed off, but the design was dropt; for it happened, oddly enough, that another person of the name of Samuel Johnson, librarian of St. Martin's in the Fields, and curate of that parish, engaged in the same undertaking, and was patronised by the clergy, par

1 [We shall hereafter see strong instances of Johnson's dislike both of Lord Gower and Dean 3 In the Weekly Miscellany, October 21, 1738, Swift; and, considering how Johnson was influenc-there appeared the following advertisement: "Just ed by personal prejudices, it seems not unreasona- published, Proposals for printing the History of ble to suppose, that this disappointment had sour- the Council of Trent, translated from the Italian ed him against both Swift and Lord Gower. It of Father Paul Sarpi; with the Authour's Life, does not appear that Johnson ever saw his lord- and Notes theological, historical, and critical, from ship's letter; nor, if he had, would he be much the French edition of Dr. Le Courayer. To which pleased at the terms in which he is mentioned. are added, Observations on the History, and Notes As to Swift, his mind was certainly, at this time, in and Illustrations from various Authours, both printno condition to exert itself on any remote object; ed and manuscript. By S. Johnson. 1. The work and if his friends ventured to mention the subject will consist of two hundred sheets, and be two volto him, it is likely the Dean gave a peevish an- umes in quarto, printed on good paper and letswer, particularly as he happened to be at this ter. 2. The price will be 188. each volume, to period on very bad terms with the heads of the be paid, half a guinea at the delivery of the first university. Johnson probably knew no more than volume, and the rest at the delivery of the second that an unsuccessful application on his behalf had volume in sheets. 3. Twopence to be abated for been made both to Lord Gower and to Dean Swift, every sheet less than two hundred. It may be and resented the failure without being very scrupu- had on a large paper, in three volumes, at the lous in apportioning the blame.-ED.] price of three guineas; one to be paid at the time of subscribing, another at the delivery of the first, and the rest at the delivery of the other volumes. The work is now in the press, and will be diligently prosecuted. Subscriptions are taken in by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, Mr. Rivington in St. Paul's Church-yard, by E. Cave at St. John's Gate, and the Translator, at No. 6, in Castle-street, by Cavendish-square."-BOSWELL.

* [Richard Smalbroke, LL. D., second son of Bishop Smalbroke, succeeded his brother Thomas as chancellor of the diocese of Lichfield in 1778, and died the senior member of the College of Advocates. The long connexion of the Smalbroke family with Lichfield, probable pointed him out to Johnson as a person able and willing to advise him. -ED.]

ticularly by Dr. Pearce, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. Several light skirmishes passed between the rival translators, in the newspapers of the day; and the consequence was that they destroyed each other, for neither of them went on with the work. It is much to be regretted, that the able performance of that celebrated genius FRA PAOLO lost the advantage of being incorporated into British literature by the masterly hand of Johnson.

I have in my possession, by the favour of Mr. John Nichols, a paper in Johnson's hand-writing, entitled "Account between Mr. Edward Cave and Sam. Johnson, in relation to a version of Father Paul, &c. begun August the 2d, 1738;" by which it appears, that from that day to the 21st of April, 1739, Johnson received for this work 491. 7s. in sums of one, two, three, and sometimes four guineas at a time, most frequently two. And it is curious to observe the minute and scrupulous accuracy with which Johnson had pasted upon it a slip of paper, which he has entitled "Small account," and which contains one article, "Sept. 9th, Mr. Cave laid down 2s. 6d." There is subjoined to this account, a list of some subscribers to the work, partly in Johnson's hand-writing, partly in that of another person; and there follows a leaf or two on which are written a number of characters which have the appearance of a short hand, which, perhaps, Johnson was then trying to learn.


"Wednesday, [August or Sept. 1788.] "SIR,-I did not care to detain your servant while I wrote an answer to your letter, in which you seem to insinuate that I had promised more than I am ready to perform. If I have raised your expectations by any thing that may have escaped my memory, I am sorry; and if you remind me of it, shall thank you for the favour. If I made fewer alterations than usual in the debates, it was only because there appeared, and still appears to be, less need of alteration. The verses to Lady Firebrace 2 may be had when you please, for you know that such a subject neither deserves much thought, nor requires it.

1 [Probably a tavern reckoning.-ED.] 2 [They afterwards appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine (for Sept. 1738), with this title: "Verses to lady F- at Bury Assizes.” It seems quite unintelligible how these six silly lines (at best, only excusable if written impromptu on the occasion) should be the production of Johnson, and made to the order (to use the tradesman's phrase) of Cave. These considerations, and some stupid lines in praise of Suffolk beauties in the same volume, lead to a conjecture that

"The Chinese Stories3 may be had folded down when you please to send, in which I do not recollect that you desired any alterations to be made.

"An answer to another query I am very willing to write, and had consulted with you about it last night, if there had been time; for I think it the most proper way of inviting such a correspondence as may be an advantage to the paper, not a load upon it.

"As to the Prize Verses, a backwardness to determine their degrees of merit is not peculiar to me. You may, if you please, still have what I can say; but I shall engage with little spirit in an affair, which I shall hardly end to my own satisfaction, and certainly not to the satisfaction of the parties concerned1.

"As to Father Paul, I have not yet been just to my proposal, but have met with impediments, which, I hope, are now at an end; and if you find the progress hereafter not such as you have a right to expect, you can easily stimulate a negligent translator.

If any or all of these have contributed to your discontent, I will endeavour to remove it; and desire you to propose the question to which you wish for an answer. "I am, sir, your humble servant,



[Sept. 1738.]

"SIR,-I am pretty much of your opinion, that the Commentary cannot be prosecuted with any appearance of success; for as the names of the authours concerned are of more weight in the performance than its own intrisick merit, the publick will be soon satisfied with it. And I think the Examen should be pushed forward with the utmost expedition. Thus, This day, &c. An Examen of Mr. Pope's Essay, &c. containing a succinct Account of the Philosophy of Mr. Leibnitz on the System of the Fatalists, with a Confutation of their Opinions, and an Illustration of the Doctrine of Free-will;' (with what else you think proper).

Cave may have sent some verses of another correspondent, on Lady Firebrace, to Johnson to correct or curtail. It is next to impossible that they could be originally Johnson's own; and it may also be observed, that Boswell does not afterwards mention them in his list of Johnson's contributions to the magazine.-ED.]

3 Du Halde's Description of China was then publishing by Mr. Cave in weekly numbers, whence Johnson was to select pieces for the embellishment of the magazine.-NICHOLS.

4 A premium of forty pounds proposed for the best poem on the divine attributes is here alluded to.-NICHOLS. [See note p. 33, as to a similar premium.-ED.]

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