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“When none shall rail, and every lay
Devote a wreath to thee;
Shall I lament to see.” It is surely not a little remarkable that they should appear without a name. Miss Seward, knowing Dr. Johnson's almost universal and minute literary information, signified a desire that I should ask him who was the author. He was prompt with his answer :-“Why, Sir, they were written by one Lewis, who was either undermaster or an usher of Westminster-school and published a Miscellany, in which •Grongar Hill' first came out.” 1 Johnson praised them highly, and repeated them with a noble animation. In the twelfth line, instead of “one established fame," he repeated “one unclouded flame,” which he thought was the reading in former editions; but
1 Lewis's verses addressed to Pope (as Mr. Bindley suggests to me) were first published in a collection of Pieces in verse and prose on occasion of The Dunciad, 8vo., 1729. They are there called an Epigram. In that miscellany the beautiful poem Away, let nought to love displeasing (reprinted in Percy's Reliques, vol. i., Book iii., No. 13[Winifreda]), first appeared ; and is there said to be a translation from the Ancient British. Lewis was author of Philip of Macedon, a tragedy, published in 1727, and dedicated to Pope : and in 1730 he published a second volume of miscellaneous poems. As Dr. Johnson settled in London not long after the verses addressed to Pope first appeared, he probably then obtained some information concerning their author, David Lewis, whom he has described as an usher of Westminster-school; yet the Dean of Westminster who has been pleased to make some inquiry on this subject, has not found any vestige of his having ever been employed in this situation. A late writer (Environs of London. iv., 171) supposed that the following inscription in the churchyard of the church of Low Leyton in Essex, was intended to commemorate this poet : “ Sacred to the memory of David Lewis, Esq., who died the 8th day of April, 1760, aged 77 years; a great favourite of the Muses, as his many excellent pieces in poetry sufficiently testify.
• Inspired verse may on this marble live.
But can no honour to thy ashes give." "But it appears to me improbable that this monument was erected for the author of the verses to Pope, and of the tragedy already mentioned : the language both of the dedication prefixed to that piece, and of the dedication addressed to the Earl of Shaftesbury, and prefixed to the Miscellanies, 1730, denoting a person who moved in a lower sphere than this Essex squire seems to have done.-Malone.
I believe was a flash of his own genius. It is much more poetical than the other.
On Monday, 14th June, and Tuesday, 15th, Dr. Johnson and I dined, on one of them, I forget which, with Mr. Mickle, translator of the “Lusiad,” at Wheatley, a very pretty country place a few miles from Oxford ; and on the other with Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College. From Dr. Wetherell's he went to visit Mr. Sackville Parker, the bookseller; and when he returned to us gave the following account of his visit, saying, “I have been to see my old friend, Sack. Parker ; I find he has married his maid ; he has done right. She had lived with him many years in great confidence, and they had mingled minds; I do not think he could have found any wife that would have made him so happy. The woman was very attentive and civil to me; she pressed me to fix a day for dining with them, and to say what I liked, and she would be sure to get it for me. Poor Sack! he is very ill indeed. We parted as never to meet again. It has quite broken me down.” This pathetic narrative was strangely diversified with the grave and earnest defence of a man's having married his maid. I could not but feel it as in some degree ludicrous.
In the morning of Tuesday, 15th of June, while we sat at Dr. Adams's, we talked of a printed letter from the Reverend Herbert Croft, to a young gentleman who bad been his pupil, in which he advised him to read to the end of whatever books he should begin to read. JOHNSON. “ This is surely a strange advice; you may as well resolve that whatever men you happen to get acquainted with, you are to keep to them for life. A book may be good for nothing; or there may be only one thing in it worth knowing; are we to read it all through? These Voyages ? (pointing to the three large volumes of · Voyages to the South Sea' which were just come out) who will read them through ? A man had better work his way before the mast than read them through: they will be eaten by rats and mice, before they are read through. There can be
[An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his present Majesty for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere. Drawn up by Hawkesworth. 3 vols., 4to. London. 1783.]
little entertainment in such books; one set of savages is like another.” BOSWELL. “I do not think the people of Otaheite can be reckoned savages.” Johnson. “ Don't cant in defence of savages.” BOSWELL. “They have the art of navigation.” JOHNSON. “A dog or cat can swim.” BOSWELL. “ They carve very ingeniously.” JOHNSON. “A cat can scratch, and a child with a nail can scratch.” I perceived this was none of the mollia tempora fandi ; so desisted.
Upon his mentioning that when he came to college he wrote his first exercise twice over, but never did so afterwards :-Miss ADAMS. “I suppose, Sir, you could not make them better?” JOHNSON. “Yes, Madam, to be sure, I could make them better. Thought is better than no thought.” Miss ADAMS, “Do you think, Sir, you could make your Ramblers better?” JOHNSON. “Certainly I could.” BOSWELL. “I'll lay a bet, Sir, you cannot.” JOHNSON. “But I will, Sir, if I choose. I shall make the best of them you shall pick out, better.” BoSWELL. “But you may add to them. I will not allow of that.” John. son. “Nay, Sir, there are three ways of making them better; putting out, adding, or correcting.”
During our visit at Oxford, the following conversation passed between him and me on the subject of my trying my fortune at the English bar. Having asked whether a very extensive acquaintance in London, which was very valuable, and of great advantage to a man at large, might not be prejudicial to a lawyer, by preventing him giving sufficient attention to his business ? JOHNSON. “Sir, you will attend to business as business lays hold of you. When not actually employed, you may see your friends as much as you do now. You may dine at a club every day, and sup with one of the members every night; and you may be as much at public places as one who has seen them all would wish to be. But you must take care to attend constantly in Westminster Hall; both to mind your business, as it is almost all learnt there (for nobody reads now), and to show that you want to have business. And you must not be too often seen at public places, that competitors may not have it to say, 'He is always at the playhouse or at Ranelagh, and never to be found at his chambers.' And, Sir, there must be a kind of solemnity in the manner of a professional man, I have nothing particular to say to you on the subject. All this I should say to any one; I should have said it to Lord Thurlow twenty years ago.”
The profession may probably think this representation of what is required in a barrister who would hope for success, to be much too indulgent; but certain it is, that as
“ The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame,' some of the lawyers of this age who have risen high have by no means thought it absolutely necessary to submit to that long and painful course of study which a Plowden, a Coke and a Hale considered as requisite. My respected friend, Mr. Langton, has shown me, in the handwriting of his grandfather, a curious account of a conversation which he had with Lord Chief Justice Hale, in which that great man tells him, “ That for two years after he came to the inn of court, he studied sixteen hours a day; however, his lordship added, that by this intense application he almost brought himself to his grave, though he were of a very strong constitution, and after reduced himself to eight hours; but that he would not advise any body to so much; that he thought six hours a day, with attention and constancy, was sufficient; that a man must use his body as he would his horse, and his stomach; not tire him at once, but rise with an appetite.'
On Wednesday, June 16th, Dr. Johnson and I returned to London: he was not well to-day, and said very little, employing himself chiefly in reading Euripides. He expressed some displeasure at me for not observing sufficiently the various objects upon the road. “If I had your eyes, Sir,” said he, “ I should count the passengers." It was wonderful how accurate his observation of visual objects was, notwithstanding his imperfect eyesight, owing to a habit of attention. That he was much satisfied with the respect paid to him at Dr. Adams's is thus attested by himself: “I returned last night from Oxford, after a fortnight's abode with Dr. Adams, who treated me as well as I could expect or wish; and he that contents a sick man, a
1 This interesting conversation is given at length, in Seward's Anecdotes of distinguished Persons, vol. iv., p. 489.-Markland.
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
man whom it is impossible to please, has surely done his part well.”1
After his return to London from this excursion, I saw him frequently, but have few memorandums; I shall therefore here insert some particulars which I collected at various times.
The Reverend Mr. Astle, of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, brother to the learned and ingenious Thomas Astle, Esq., was from his early years known to Dr. Johnson, who obligingly advised him as to his studies, and recommended to him the following books, of which a list which he has been pleased to communicate lies before me, in Johnson's own handwriting :
“Universal History (ancient)—Rollin's Ancient History, Puffendorf's Introduction to History—Vertot's History of Knights of Malta—Vertot's Revolution of Portugal—Vertot's Revolution of Sweden—Carte's History of England Present State of England-Geographical Grammar-Prideaux's Connexion-Nelson's Feasts and Fasts—Duty of Man—Gentleman's Religion—Clarendon's History— Watt's Improvement of the Mind—Watts Logic~Nature Displayed-Lowth’s English Grammar-Blackwall on the Classics—Sherlock's SermonsBurnet's Life of Hale-Dupin's History of the Church-Shuckford's Connexions—Law's Serious Call— Walton's Complete Angler-Sandys's Travels—Sprat's History of the Royal Society—England's Gazetteer--Goldsmith's Roman History, Some Commentaries on the Bible.”
It having been mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that a gentleman who had a son whom he imagined to have an extreme degree of timidity, resolved to send him to a public school, that he might acquire confidence: “Sir," said Johnson,
this is a preposterous expedient for removing his infirmity; such a disposition should be cultivated in the shade. Placing him at a public school is forcing an owl upon day.”
Speaking of a gentleman whose house was much frequented by low company: “Rags, Sir,” said he, “will
· Letters to Mrs. Thrale, vol. ii., p. 372.