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memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind; he was an ingenious and worthy man.
"Please to make my compliments to your lady and to the young ladies. I should like to see them, pretty loves. I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately, "SAM. JOHNSON."
Mrs. Thrale being now at Bath with her husband, the correspondence between Johnson and her was carried on briskly. I shall present my readers with one of her original letters to him at this time, which will amuse them probably more than those well-written but studied epistles which she has inserted in her collection, because it exhibits the easy vivacity of their literary intercourse. It is also of value as a key to Johnson's answer, which she has printed by itself, and of which I shall subjoin extracts.
66 'MRS. THRALE TO DR. JOHNSON.
Bath, Friday, April 28. "I had a very kind letter from you yesterday, dear Sir, with a most circumstantial date. You took trouble with my circulating letter, Mr. Evans writes me word, and I thank you sincerely for so doing: one might do mischief else not being on the spot.
"Yesterday's evening was passed at Mrs. Montagu's: there was Mr. Melmoth; I do not like him though, nor he me; it was expected we should
have pleased each other; he is, however, just Tory enough to hate the Bishop of Peterborough2 for Whiggism, and Whig enough to abhor you for Toryism.
"Mrs. Montagu flattered him finely; so he had a good afternoon on't. This evening we spend at a concert. Poor Queeney's sore eyes have just released her; she had a long confinement, and could neither read nor write, so my master4 treated her very good-naturedly with the visits of a young woman in this town, a tailor's daughter, who professes music, and teaches so as to give six lessons a day to ladies, at five and threepence a lesson. Miss Burney says, she is a great performer; and I respect the wench for getting her living so prettily;
she is very modest and pretty-mannered, and not seventeen years old.
Mr. Wm. Melmoth is known in literary history as the translator of the Letters of Cicero and Pliny, and as the author of "Fitzosborne's Letters." He died in 1799, aged 89.-Ed. 2 Dr. John Hinchliffe.-BOSWELL.
3 A kind of nick-name given to Mrs. Thrale's eldest daughter, whose name being Esther she might be assimilated to a Queen.-BOSWELL. 4 Mr. Thrale.-BOSWELL,
"You live in a fine whirl indeed; if I did not write regularly you would half forget me, and that would be very wrong, for I felt my regard for you in my ace last night, when the criticisms were going on.
"This morning it was all connoisseurship; we went to see some pictures painted by a gentleman artist, Mr. Taylor, of this place; my master makes one everywhere, and has got a good dawdling companion to ride with him now. * * He looks well enough, but I have no notion of health for a man whose mouth cannot be sewed up. Burney and I and Queeney tease him every meal he eats, and Mrs. Montagu is quite serious with him; but what can one do? He will eat, I think, and if he does eat I know he will not live; it makes me very unhappy, but I must bear it. Let me always have your friendship. I am, most sincerely, dear Sir, "Your faithful servant,
"H. L. T."
"DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. THRALE.
London, May 1, 1780.
"Mr. Thrale never will live abstinently, till he can persuade himself to live by rule.1 ** * * * Encourage, as you can, the musical girl. "Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected. There is often on both sides a vigilance not over. benevolent; and as attention is strongly excited, so that nothing drops unheeded, any difference in taste or opinion, and some difference where there is no restraint will commonly appear, immediately generates dislike.
"Never let criticism operate on your face or your mind; it is very rarely that an author is hurt by his critics. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket; a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed. From the author of 'Fitzosborne's Letters' I cannot think myself in much danger. I met him only once about thirty years ago, and in some small dispute reduced him to whistle; having not seen him since, that is the last impression. Poor Moore, the fabulist, was one of the company.
"Mrs. Montagu's long stay, against her own inclination, is very convenient. You would, by your own confession, want a companion; and she is par pluribus; conversing with her, you may find variety in one."
On the 2nd of May I wrote to him, and requested that we might have another meeting somewhere in the north of England, in the autumn of this year.
From Mr. Langton I received soon after this time a letter, of which I extract a passage, relative both to Mr. Beauclerk and Dr. Johnson.
"The melancholy information you have received concerning Mr. Beauclerk's death is true. Had his talents been directed in any sufficient degree as they ought, I have always been strongly of opinion that they were calculated to make an illustrious figure; and that opinion, as it had been in part formed upon Dr.
1 I have taken the liberty to leave out a few lines.-BOSWELL.
Johnson's judgment, receives more and more confirmation by hearing what, since his death, Dr. Johnson has said concerning them: a few evenings ago, he was at Mr. Vesey's; where Lord Althorpe, who was one of a numerous company there, addressed Dr. Johnson on the subject of Mr. Beauclerk's death, saying, 'Our CLUB has had a great loss since we met last.' He replied, 'A loss, that perhaps the whole nation could not repair!' The Doctor then went on to speak of his endowments, and particularly extolled the wonderful ease with which he uttered what was highly excellent. He said, that 'no man ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a look that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look that expressed that it had come.' At Mr. Thrale's, some days before, when we were talking on the same subject, he said, referring to the same idea of his wonderful facility, 'Thomas Beauclerk's talents were those which he had felt himself more disposed to envy, than those of any whom he had known.'
"On the evening I have spoken of above, at Mr. Vesey's, you would have been much gratified, as it exhibited an instance of the high importance in which Dr. Johnson's character is held, I think even beyond any I ever before was witness to. The company consisted chiefly of ladies, among whom were the Duchess Dowager of Portland, and the Duchess of Beaufort, whom I suppose, from her rank, I must name before her mother Mrs. Boscawen, and her elder sister Mrs. Lewson, who was likewise there; Lady Lucan, Lady Clermont, and others of note both for their station and understandings. Among the gentlemen were Lord Althorpe, whom I have before named, Lord Macartney, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Lucan, Mr. Wraxal, whose book you have probably seen, 'The Tour to the Northern Parts of Europe;' a very agreeable ingenious man; Dr. Warren, Mr. Pepys, the Master in Chancery, whom I believe you know, and Dr. Barnard, the Provost of Eton. As soon as Dr. Johnson was come in, and had taken a chair, the company began to collect round him, till they became not less than four, if not five, deep; those behind standing, and listening over the heads of those that were sitting near him. The conversation for some time was chiefly between Dr. Johnson and the Provost of Eton, while the others contributed occasionally their remarks. Without attempting to detail the particulars of the conversation, which, perhaps, if I did, I should spin my account to a tedious length, I thought, my dear Sir, this general account of the respect with which our valued friend was attended to, might be acceptable."
"TO THE REVEREND DR. FARMER.
May 25, 1780.
"I know your disposition to second any literary attempt, and therefore venture upon the liberty of entreating you to procure from College or University registers, all the dates or other informations which they can supply relating to Ambrose Philips, Broome, and Gray, who were all at Cambridge, and of whose lives I am to give such accounts as I can gather. Be pleased to forgive this trouble from, Sir,
"Your most humble servant,
JOHNSON'S ACCOUNT OF THE RIOTS OF LONDON-LORD GEORGE GORDON COMMITTED TO THE TOWER-JOHN WILKES-CONDUCT OF MR. AKERMAN, GOVERNOR OF NEWGATE— CORRESPONDENCE-BOSWELL'S BROTHER DAVID-DR. BEATTIE-DAVIES' MEMOIRS OF GARRICK-DR. DUNBAR-ADVICE TO DIVINES-JOHNSON'S INSTRUCTIONS ON THE COMPOSITION OF SERMONS-CIVILISATION OF A PARISH-DR. WHEELER-BOSWELL'S PRESSING INVITATIONS TO JOHNSON-SOUTHWARK ELECTION-LADY SOUTHWELL AND MAURITIUS LOWE - MR. MACBEAN-LORD THURLOW-MR. THRALE'S ELECTION DEFEAT-MRS. DESMOULINS A CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF MATRON OF THE CHARTREUX.
WHILE Johnson was thus engaged in preparing a delightful literary entertainment for the world, the tranquillity of the metropolis of Great Britain was unexpectedly disturbed, by the most horrid series of outrage that ever disgraced a civilised country. A relaxation of some of the severe penal provisions against our fellow-subjects of the Catholic communion had been granted by the legislature, with an opposition so
inconsiderable that the genuine mildness of Christianity, united with liberal policy, seemed to have become general in this island. But a dark and malignant spirit of persecution soon showed itself, in an unworthy petition for the repeal of the wise and humane statute. That petition was brought forward by a mob, with the evident purpose of intimidation, and was justly rejected. But the attempt was accompanied and followed by such daring violence as is unexampled in history. Of this extraordinary tumult, Dr. Johnson has given the following concise, lively, and just account in his "Letters to Mrs. Thrale:"1
"On Friday, the good Protestants met in Saint George's-Fields, at the summons of Lord George Gordon,3 and marching to Westminster, insulted the Lords and Commons, who all bore it with great tameness. At night the outrages began by the demolition of the mass-house by Lincoln's-inn.
"An exact journal of a week's defiance of government I cannot give you. On Monday Mr. Strahan, who had been insulted, spoke to Lord Mansfield,4 (who had, I think, been insulted too,) of the licentiousness of the populace; and his lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity. On Tuesday night
they pulled down Fielding's house, and burnt his goods in the street. They had gutted, on Monday, Sir George Savile's house, but the building was saved. On Tuesday evening, leaving Fielding's ruins, they went to Newgate to demand their companions who had been seized demolishing the chapel. The keeper could not release them but by the Mayor's permission, which he went to ask; at his return he found all the prisoners released, and Newgate in a blaze. They then went to Bloomsbury, and fastened upon Lord Mansfield's house,
1 Vol. ii. I have selected passages from several letters, without mentioning dates.BOSWELL.
2 June 2.-BOSWELL.
3 The son of Cosmo George, Duke of Gordon, one of the most turbulent politicians of the time. He sat in Parliament for Luggershall, and became conspicuous by his opposition to ministers, especially on the Roman Catholic question. Being the principal cause of the No Popery riots, he was arrested and tried for high treason; but no evidence being adduced of such a design, he was acquitted. Being then convicted of having libelled the French Ambassador, the Queen of France, and the criminal justice of his country, he fled to Holland; but he was subsequently arrested, sent home, and committed to Newgate, where he died in 1793.-ED.
4 Then Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. His Lordship was a high Tory; hence the hostility of the mob was strongly directed against him.
5 This is not quite correct. Sir John Fielding was, I think, then dead. It was Justice Hyde's house in St. Martin's-street, Leicester Fields, that was gutted and his goods burnt in the street.-BOSWELL.