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“He then took a most affecting leave of me; said, he knew it was a point of duty that called me away.-- We shall all be sorry to lose you,' said he : laudo tamen.'”
the purpose of ascertaining their author : but that gentleman could furnish no aid on this occasion. At length the lines have been discovered by the author's second son, Mr. James Boswell, in the London Magazine for July 1732, where they form part of a poem on Retirement, there published anonymously, but in fact (as he afterwards found) copied, with some slight variations, from one of Walsh's smaller poems, entitled The Retirement; and they exhibit another proof of what has been elsewhere observed by the author of the work before us, that Johnson retained in his memory fragments of obscure or neglected poetry. In quoting verses of that description, he appears by a slight deviation to have sometimes given them a moral turn, and to have dexterously adapted them to his own sentiments, where the original had a very different tendency. Thus, in the present instance (as Mr. J. Boswell observes to me), “the author of the poem above mentioned exhibits himself as having retired to the country, to avoid the vain follies of a town life,-ambition, avarice, and the pursuit of pleasure, contrasted with the enjoyments of the country, and the delightful conversations that the brooks, &c. furnish; which he holds to be infinitely more pleasing and instructive than any which towns afford. He is then led to consider the weakness of the human mind, and, after lamenting that he (the writer,) who is neither enslaved by avarice, ambition, or pleasure, has yet made himself a slave to love, he thus proceeds :
66. If this dire passion never will be gone,
If beauty always must my heart enthral,
Than madly thus become a slave to all :
(For things unknown 'tis ignorance to condemn),
Can coldly say, the trifle I contemn;
Contented could I die. But O, my mind,
With hopes of joys impossible to find.'”
Another instance of Johnson's retaining in his memory verses by obscure authors is given in the Tour to the Hebrides, Aug. 27, 1773.
In the autumn of 1782, when he was at Brighthelmstone, he frequently accompanied Mr. Philip Metcalfe in his chaise, to take the air; and the conversation in one of their excursions happening to turn on a celebrated historian [no doubt Gibbon), since deceased, he repeated, with great precision, some verses, as very characteristic of that gentleman. These furnish another proof of what has been above observed; for they are In 1771 he published another political pamphlet, entitled “Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands,” in which, upon materials furnished to him by the ministry, and upon general topics, expanded in his rich style, he successfully endeavoured to persuade the nation that it was wise and laudable to suffer the question of right to remain undecided, rather than involve our country in another war. It has been suggested by some, with what truth I shall not take upon me to decide, that he rated the consequence of those islands to Great Britain too low. But however this may be, every humane mind must surely applaud the earnestness with which he averted the calamity of war: a calamity so dreadful, that it is astonishing how civilised, nay, Christian nations, can deliberately continue to renew it. His description of its miseries, in this pamphlet, is one of the finest pieces of eloquence in the English language. Upon this occasion, too, we find Johnson lashing the party in opposition with unbounded severity, and making the fullest use of what he ever reckoned a most effectual argumentative instrument,contempt. His character of their very able mysterious champion, Junius, is executed with all the force of his genius, and finished with the highest care. He seems to
found in a very obscure quarter, among some anonymous poems appended to the second volume of a collection frequently printed by Lintot, under the title of Pope's Miscellanies :
“See how the wand'ring Danube flows,
Realms and religions parting;
To Peter, Jack, and Martin.
Not constant long to either,
And ends his journey neither.
Half Protestant, half Papist,
Turn infidel or atheist.” In reciting these verses, I have no doubt that Johnson substituted some word for infidel (perhaps Mussulman] in the second stanza, to avoid the disagreeable repetition of the same expression.-Malone.
have exulted in sallying forth to single combat against the boasted and formidable hero, who bade defiance to “principalities and powers, and the rulers of this world.”
This pamphlet, it is observable, was softened in one particular, after the first edition ; for the conclusion of Mr. George Grenville's character stood thus: “Let him not, however, be depreciated in his grave. He had powers not universally possessed : could he have enforced payment of the Manilla ransom, he could have counted it." Which, instead of retaining its sly sharp point, was reduced to a mere flat unmeaning expression, or, if I may use the word,
—truism : “He had powers not universally possessed : and if he sometimes erred, he was likewise sometimes right.” 1
TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.?
“ March 20, 1771. “Dear Sir,
“After much lingering of my own, and much of the ministry, I have, at length, got out my paper. But delay is not yet at an end. Not many had been dispersed, before Lord North ordered the sale to stop. His reasons I do not distinctly know. You may try to find them in the perusal. Before his order, a sufficient number were dispersed to do all the mischief, though, perhaps, not to make all the sport that might be expected from it.
“Soon after your departure, I had the pleasure of finding all the danger past with which your navigation was threatened." I hope nothing happens at home to abate your satisfaction ; but that Lady Rothes,' and Mrs. Langton and the young ladies, are all well.
1 P. 68, Lond. 1771. 2 This letter appeared for the first time in the Third Edition, ii., 130. -Editor,
3 By comparing the first with the subsequent editions, this curious circumstance of ministerial authorship may be discovered.-Note in the Third Edition, ii., 131.–Editor.]
4 Probably a canal, in which Mr. Langton was, and his family is, I Croker.
s Mr. Langton married May 24, 1770. Llore of Talen, eighth Earl of Rothes, who died in 1762
“I was last night at the Club. Dr. Percy has written a long ballad in many fits; it is pretty enough. He has printed, and will soon publish it. Goldsmith is at Bath with Lord Clare. At Mr. Thrale's, where I am now writing, all are well. I am, dear Sir, your most humble servant, “Sam. JOHNSON."
Mr. Strahan, the printer, who had been long in intimacy with Johnson, in the course of his literary labours, who was at once his friendly agent in receiving his pension for him, and his banker in supplying him with money when he wanted it; who was himself now a member of parliament, and who loved much to be employed in political negotiation; thought he should do eminent service, both to government and Johnson, if he could be the means of his getting a seat in the House of Commons. With this view, he wrote a letter to one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, of which he gave me a copy in his own handwriting, which is as follows:
MR. STRAHAN TO
“New Street, March 30, 1771.
“You will easily recollect, when I had the honour of waiting upon you some time ago, I took the liberty to observe to you, that Dr. Johnson would make an excellent figure in the House of Commons, and heartily wished he had a seat there. My reasons are briefly these :
1 The Hermit of Warkworth; London, 1771, 4t0.—P. Cunningham,
2 Robert Nugent, an Irish gentleman, who married the sister and heiress of Secretary Craggs. He was created, in 1767, Baron Nugent and Viscount Clare, and in 1777, Earl Nugent. His only daughter married the first Marquis of Buckingham, on whose second son the title of Baron Nugent devolved. Lord Nugent wrote some odes and light pieces, which had some merit and a great vogue. He died in 1788. Goldsmith addressed to him his lively verses called The Haunch of Venison. The characters exhibited in this piece are very comic, and were no doubt drawn from nature; but Goldsmith ought to have confessed that he had borrowed the idea and some of the details from Boileau.-Croker.
3 The Secretaries of the Treasury, at this time, were Sir Grey Cooper and James West, Esq.-Croker.
“I know his perfect good affection to his Majesty and his government, which I am certain he wishes to support by every means in his power. “He possesses a great share of manly, nervous, and ready eloquence; is quick in discerning the strength and weakness of an argument; can express himself with clearness and precision, and fears the face of no man alive. “His known character, as a man of extraordinary sense and unimpeached virtue, would secure him the attention of the House, and could not fail to give him a proper weight there. “He is capable of the greatest application, and can undergo any degree of labour, where he sees it necessary, and where his heart and affections are strongly engaged. His Majesty's ministers might therefore securely depend on his doing, upon every proper occasion, the utmost that could be expected from him. They would find him ready to vindicate such measures as tended to promote the stability of government, and resolute and steady in carrying them into execution. Nor is anything to be apprehended from the supposed impetuosity of his temper. To the friends of the king you will find him a lamb, to his enemies a lion. “For these reasons I humbly apprehend that he would be a very able and useful member. And I will venture to say, the employment would not be disagreeable to him; and knowing, as I do, his strong affection to the king, his ability to serve him in that capacity, and the extreme ardour with which I am convinced he would engage in that service, I must repeat, that I wish most heartily to see him in the House. “If you think this worthy of attention, you will be pleased to take a convenient opportunity of mentioning it to Lord North. If his lordship should happily approve of it, I shall have the satisfaction of having been, in some degree, the humble instrument of doing my country, in my opinion, a very essential service. I know your good-nature, and your zeal for the public welfare, will plead my excuse for giving you this trouble. I am, with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, “WILLIAM STRAHAN.”
This recommendation, we know, was not effectual; but how, or for what reason, can only be conjectured." It is
* Hawkins tells us (Life of Johnson, pp. 512-13) that Mr. Thrale made a like attempt. “Mr. Thrale, a man of slow conceptions, but of a