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opposition had all the animation and all the eloquence of resistance to power, aided by the common topicks of patriotism, liberty, and independence Accordingly, we find in Johnson’s “London " the most spirited invectives against tyranny and oppression, the warmest predilection for his own country, and the purest love of virtue; interspersed with traits of his own particular character and situation, not omitting his prejudices as a “true-born Englishman,”“ not only against foreign countries, but against Ireland and Scotland. On some of these topicks I shall quote a few passages: “The cheated nation's happy fav'rites see; Mark whom the great caress, who frown on me.”
“Has heaven reserv'd, in pity to the poor,
“How, when competitors like these contend,
“This mournful truth is every where confess'd,
We may easily conceive with what feeling a great mind like his cramped and galled by narrow circumstances, uttered this last line, which he marked by capitals. The whole of the poem is eminently excellent, and there are in it such proofs of a knowledge of the world, and of a mature acquaintance with life, as cannot be contemplated without wonder, when we consider that he was then only in his twenty-ninth 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 honestly acknowledged the merit of Walpole, whom he called “a fixed star; ” while he characterized 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 admired. 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 high station. He could not expect to produce many such works as his “LoNDoN,” and he felt the hardship 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 a school in Staffordshire," provided he could
* It is, however, remarkable, that he uses the epithet, which, undoubtedly, since the union between England and Scotland, ought to denominate the natives of both parts of our island:
“Was early taught a BRITON's rights to prize.”
• In a billet written by Mr. Pope in the following year, this school is said to have been in Shropshire; but as it appears from a letter from Earl Gower, that the trustees of it were “some worthy gentlemen in Johnson's neighbourhood,” I conclude that Pope must have, by mistake, written Shropshire instead of Staffordshire. Cor. et Ad.—Line 17, dele. “in Staffordshire.” Cor. et Ad.—After the note add: Mr. Spearing, attorney-at-law, was so good as to furnish me with several circumstances of probable conjecture that it was the school of Newport, in Shropshire. But Mr. Henn, one of the masters of the school of Appleby, in Leicestershire, in a letter to the Gentleman's Magazine for May, 1793, demonstrated that to be the school for which Johnson was a candidate. Second Edition.—In a billet written by Mr. Pope in the following year, this school is said to have been in Shropshire; but as it appears from a letter from Earl Gower, that the trustees of it were “some worthy gentlemen in Johnson's neighbourhood,” I in my first edition suggested that Pope must have, by mistake, written Shropshire, instead of Staffordshire. But I have since been obliged to Mr. Spearing, attorney-at-law, for the following information:—“William Adams, formerly citizen and haberdasher of London, founded a school at Newport, in the county of Salop, by deed dated 27th November, 1656, by which he granted the ‘yearly sum of sixty pounds to such able and learned schoolmaster, from time to time, being of godly life and conversation, who should have been educated at one of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and had taken the degree of Master of Arts, and was well read in the Greek and Latin tongues, as should be nominated from time to time by the said William Adams, during his life, and after the decease of the said Willian, Adams by the governours (namely, the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company of the City of London) and their successors.” The manour and lands out of which the revenues for the maintenance of the school were to issue are situate at A nighton and Adbaston, in the county of Stafford.” From the foregoing account of this foundation, particularly the circumstances of the salary being sixty pounds, and the degree of Master of Arts being a requisite qualification in the teacher, it seemed probable that this was the school in contemplation; and that Lord Gower erroneously supposed that the gentlemen who possessed the lands, out of which the revenues issued, were trustees of the charity. Such was probable conjecture. But in the Gentleman's Magazine for May, 1793, there is a letter from Mr. Henn, one of the masters of the school of Appleby, in Leicestershire, in which he writes as follows: “I compared time and circumstance together, in order to discover whether the school in question might not be this of Appleby. Some of the trustees at that
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 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 county, and much respected by some worthy gentlemen in his 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 examination, though he is of so long a journey; 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. “I fear there is more difficulty in this affair, than those goodnatured 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
period were ‘worthy gentlemen of the neighbourhood of Lichfield.' . Appleby itself is not far from the neighbourhood of Lichfield: the salary, the degree requisite, together with the time of election, all agreeing with the statutes of Appleby. The election, as said in the letter, could not be delayed longer than the 11th of next month, which was the 11th of September, just three months after the annual audit day of Appleby school, which is always on the 11th of June, and the statutes enjoin neullius praeceptorum electio diutius tribus mensibus morarefur. “These I thought to be convincing proofs that my conjecture was not ill-founded, and that in a future edition of that book the circumstances might be recorded as a fact. “But what banishes every shadow of doubt is the Minute Book of the school, which declares the head-mastership to be at that time vacANT.” I cannot omit returning thanks to this learned gentleman for the very handsome manner in which he has, in that letter, been so good as to speak of my work."
* Boswell's difficulty here, as well as of Mr. Croker's extraordinary hypothesis
Mr. Croker's, has arisen from assuming that Pope had exerted his interest with Lord Gower on this particular occasion, viz. when the vacancy in the school offered. The truth seems to be, that Pope, wishing to serve Johnson, secured a general promise of patronage for the humble scholar, of which Lord Gower was reminded when a suitable opening came. This reconciles all difficulties, such as Pope's addressing, as it were by deputy, so intimate a friend as Swift, and disposes
that Lord Gower's letter might have been addressed to Pope himself. The allusion to the Shropshire school merely shows that Pope had heard of one of Johnson's many failures to obtain a situation. There then remains the question, What was the school alluded to by Lord Gower P Notwithstanding Mr. Henn's ingenious arguments, which were so convincing to Boswell, it does not seem likely that Appleby was intended. The present head-master, Mr. Bamber, has been kind “Trentham, Aug. 1, 1739.”
“Your faithful humble servant,
enough to look through the minute-books,
three months. The 11th of June, St.
It was, perhaps, no small disappointment to Johnson that this respectable application had not the desired effect; yet how much reason has there been, both for himself and his country, to rejoice that it did not succeed, as he might probably have wasted in obscurity those hours in which he afterwards produced his incomparable works. About this time he made one other effort to emancipate himself from the drudgery of authourship. He applied to Dr. Adams, to consult Dr. Smalbroke of the Commons, whether a person might be permitted to practice 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. He was, therefore, under the necessity of persevering in that course, into which he had been forced; and we find, that his proposal from Greenwich to Mr. Cave, for a translation of Father Paul Sarpi's History, was accepted." 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 patronized by the Clergy, particularly by Dr. Pearce, after
• In the Weekly Miscellany, October 21, 1738, there appeared the following advertisement : “Just published, Proposals for Printing the History of the Council of Trent, translated from the Italian of Father Paul Sarpi; with the Authour's Life, and Notes theological, historical, and critical, from the French edition of Dr. Le Courayer. To which are added, Observations on the History, and Notes and Illustrations from various Authours, both printed and manuscript. By S. Johnson. 1. The work will consist of two hundred sheets, and be two volumes in quarto,
* Six sheets were printed off, and this preserved were afterwards lost among portion of the impression was sold as Cave's papers.-Micholls. waste paper. The few copies that were