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TO MRS. MONTAGU.
“Dec. 15, 1775, “MADAM,
“Having, after my return from a little ramble to France, passed some time in the country, I did not hear, till I was told by Miss Reynolds, that you were in town: and when I did hear it, I heard likewise that you were ill. To have you detained among us by sickness is to enjoy your presence at too dear a rate. I suffer myself to be flattered with hope that only half the intelligence is now true, and that you are now so well as to be able to leave us, and so kind as not to be willing. I am,
Madam, your most humble servant, “SAM. Johnson.”
TO MRS. MONTAGU.
“Dec. 17, 1775. “MADAM,
“All that the esteem and reverence of mankind can give you has long been in your possession, and the little that I can add to the voice of nations will not merely exalt; of that little, however, you are, I hope, very certain. I wonder, Madam, if you remember Col in the Hebrides. The brother and heir of poor Col has just been to visit me, and I have engaged to dine with him on Thursday. I do not know his lodging, and cannot send him a message, and must therefore suspend the honour which you are pleased to offer to, Madam, your most humble
servant, “SAM. JoHNson.”
TO MRS. MONTAGU.
“Thursday, Dec. 21, 1775. “MADAM,
“I know not when any letter has given me so much pleasure or vexation as that which I had yesterday the honour of receiving. That you, Madam, should wish for my company is surely a sufficient reason for being pleased; that I should delay twice, what I had so little right to expect even once, has so bad an appearance, that I can only hope to have it thought I am ashamed.—You have kindly allowed me to name a day. Will you be pleased, Madam, to accept of me any day after Tuesday ? Till I am favoured with your answer, or despair of so much condescension, I shall suffer no engagement to fasten itself upon me. I am, Madam, your most obliged and most humble servant, “SAM. Johnson.”
TO ME. GRANGER.
About 1775—but undated. “SIR,
“When I returned from the country I found your letter; and would very gladly have done what you desire, had it been in my power. Mr. Farmer is, I am confident, mistaken in supposing that he gave me any such pamphlet or cut. I should as soon have suspected myself, as Mr. Farmer, of forgetfulness ; but that I do not know, except from your letter, the name of Arthur O'Toole, nor recollect that I ever heard of it before. I think it impossible that I should have suffered such a total obliteration from my mind of any such thing that was ever there. This at least is certain, that I do not know of any such pamphlet; and equally certain I desire you to think it, that if I had it, you should immediately receive it from, Sir, your most humble
servant, “SAM. Johnson.”
II. THE CLUB. THE CLUB was founded in 1764, by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr.
Samuel Johnson, and for some years met on Monday evenings. In 1772 the day of meeting was changed to Friday; and about that time instead of supping they agreed to dine together once in every fortnight during the sitting of Parliament. In 1773, THE CLUB, which soon after its foundation consisted of twelve members, was enlarged to twenty; March 11, 1777, to twenty-six; November 27, 1778, to thirty; May 9, 1780, to thirty-five; and it was then resolved that, it never should exceed forty. They met originally at the “Turk's Head,” in Gerrard Street, and continued to meet there till 1783, when the landlord died, and the house was soon afterwards shut up. They then removed to Prince's in Sackville Street; and on his house being soon afterwards shut up, they removed to Baxter's, which afterwards became Thomas's, in Dover Street. In January, 1792, they removed to Parsloe's, in St. James's Street; and on February 26, 1799, to the “Thatched House,” in the same street. The “Thatched House” having been pulled down, THE CLUB met, in 1863, at the “Clarendon,” in Albemarle Street, but it removed to Willis's Rooms in 1869. From the foundation to this time, the number of members has been one hundred and eighty-four: among whom are found, omitting the mention of living members, many illustrious historical names—of men of letters, such as Johnson, Goldsmith, Adam Smith, Walter Scott, Sydney Smith ; of statesman, such as Burke, C. J. Fox, Sheridan, Windham, Canning, Mackintosh, Brougham, Russell; of historians, such as Gibbon, Hallam, Grote, Macaulay ; of artists, such as Reynolds, Chantrey, Lawrence; of men of science, such as Davy, Wollaston, Young, Whewell; of churchmen, such as Copleston, Wilberforce, Stanley, Tait, besides of many eminent in social life. At the meetings of THE CLUB the chair is taken in rotation by the members, according to the alphabetical arrangement of their names; the only permanent officer being the Treasurer. Mr. Malone was the first treasurer, and upon his decease, in 1812, Sir Henry Charles Englefield was elected to that office, which, however, on account of weakness of sight, he resigned in 1814, when the Rev. Dr. Charles Burney was chosen, and continued to be treasurer until his death, which took place in December, 1817, and on the 10th of March, 1818, Mr. Hatchett was elected. On the resignation of Mr. Hatchett, June 22nd, 1841, the Rev. H. H. Milman, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's, was elected; and on the resignation of the Dean, the Right Hon. Sir Edmund Head, in June, 1864. He continued to fill the office
until his death in January, 1868. At the first meeting of THE CLUB in that year (February, 1868), Mr. Henry Reeve was requested by THE CLUB to succeed him.
LETTER FROM DR. JOHNSON TO MR. BARNARD."
“May 28, 1768. “SIR,
“It is natural for a scholar to interest himself in an expedition, undertaken, like yours, for the importation of literature; and therefore, though, having never travelled myself, I am very little qualified to give advice to a traveller; yet, that I may not seem inattentive to a design so worthy of regard, I will try whether the present state of my health will suffer me to lay before you what observation or report have suggested to me, that may direct your inquiries, or facilitate your success. Things of which the mere rarity makes the value, and which are prized at a high rate by a wantonness rather than by use, are always passing from poorer to richer countries; and therefore, though Germany and Italy were principally productive of typographical curiosities, I do not much imagine that they are now to be found there in great abundance. An eagerness for scarce books and early editions, which prevailed among the English about half a century ago, filled our shops with all the splendour and nicety of literature; and when the Harleian Catalogue was published, many of the
books were bought for the library of the King of France. “I believe, however, that by the diligence with which you have enlarged the library under your care, the present stock is so nearly exhausted, that, till new purchases supply the booksellers with new stores, you will not be able to do much more than
* Mr., afterwards Sir Francis, Barnard, was Librarian to King George III. See ante, p. 51.—This is the letter which, I cannot guess why, Mr. Barnard refused to Boswell after his Majesty had consented to its production.—Croker.
glean up single books, as accident shall produce them; this, therefore, is the time for visiting the continent. “What addition you can hope to make by ransacking other countries we will now consider. English literature you will not seek in any place but in England. Classical learning is diffused every where, and is not, except by accident, more copious in one part of the polite world than in another. But every country has literature of its own, which may be best gathered in its native soil. The studies of the learned are influenced by forms of government and modes of religion; and, therefore, those books are necessary and common in some places, which, where different opinions or different manners prevail, are of little use, and for that reason rarely to be found. “Thus in Italy you may expect to meet with canonists and scholastic divines, in Germany with writers on the feudal laws, and in Holland with civilians. The schoolmen and canonists must not be neglected, for they are useful to many purposes; nor too anxiously sought, for their influence among us is much lessened by the Reformation. Of the canonists at least a few eminent writers may be sufficient. The schoolmen are of more general value. But the feudal and civil law I cannot but wish to see complete. The feudal constitution is the original of the law of property, over all the civilized part of Europe; and the civil law, as it is generally understood to include the law of nations, may be called with great propriety a regal study. Of these books, which have been often published, and diversified by various modes of impression, a royal library should have at least the most curious edition, the most splendid, and the most useful. The most curious edition is commonly the first, and the most useful may be expected among the last. Thus, of Tully's Offices, the edition of Fust is the most curious, and that of Graevius the most useful. The most splendid the eye will discern. With the old printers you are now become well acquainted; if you can find any collection of their productions to be sold, you will undoubtedly buy it; but this can scarcely be hoped, and you must catch up single volumes where you can find them. In every place things often occur where they are at least expected. I was shown a Welsh grammar written in Welsh, and printed at Milan, I believe, before any grammar of that language had been printed here. Of purchasing entire libraries, I know not whether the inconvenience may not overbalance the advantage. Of