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He put Lord Eliot in mind of Dr. Walter Harte. “I know,” said he, “Harte was your lordship's tutor, and he was also tutor to the Peterborough family. Pray, my lord, do you recollect any particulars that he told you of Lord Peterborough? He is a favourite of mine, and is not enough known; his character has been only ventilated in party pamphlets.” Lord Eliot said, if Dr. Johnson would be so good as to ask him any questions, he would tell what he could recollect. Accordingly some things were mentioned. “But,” said his lordship, “ the best account of Lord Peterborough that I have happened to meet with is in • Captain Carleton's Memoirs.'i Carleton was descended of an ancestor who had distinguished himself at the siege of Derry. He was an officer; and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of engineering." Johnson said, he had never heard of the book. Lord Eliot had it at Port Eliot; but, after a good deal of inquiry, procured a copy in London, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Rey. nolds that he was going to bed when it came, but was so much pleased with it, that he sat up till he had read it through, and found in it such an air of truth, that he could not doubt of its authenticity; adding with a smile (in allusion to Lord Eliot's having recently been raised to the peerage,) “I did not think a young lord could have men. tioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to me.”
An addition to our company came after we went up to the drawing-room; Dr. Johnson seemed to rise in spirits as his audience increased. He said, he wished Lord Orford's pictures 2 and Sir Ashton Lever's museum might be purmanner and appearance, that he could not help asking Mr. Dodsley who he was.- A poph. 209. Hawkins' Edit. of Johnson's Works, vol. xi. p. 209.-- Croker. (See Johnsoniana, p. 132.]
See Appendix to this volume for a note on these Memoirs. - Editor. ? The fine Hougbton collection, which was sold to the Empress.Croker.
3 Sir Ashton Lever was knighted by George the Third. He died in 1788. His celebrated museum (valued before a committee of the House of Commons at 53,0001.) was disposed of, in 1784, by a private lottery, to Mr. Parkinson, who removed it to Albion-place, Blackfriars-bridge, where it was for many years open as an exhibition. The several articles of which it was composed were afterwards sold separately by auction.Croker.
chased by the public, because both the money, and the pictures, and the curiosities would remain in the country; whereas if they were sold into another kingdom, the nation would indeed get some money, but would lose the pictures and curiosities, which it would be desirable we should have for improvement in taste and natural history. The only question was, as the nation was much in want of money, whether it would not be better to take a large price from a foreign state ?
He entered upon a curious discussion of the difference between intuition and sagacity; one being immediate in its effect, the other requiring a circuitous process; one, he observed, was the eye of the mind, the other the nose of the mind.
A young gentleman' present took up the argument against him, and maintained that no man ever thinks of the nose of the mind, not adverting that though that figurative sense seems strange to us, as very unusual, it is truly not more forced tban Hamlet's “In my mind's eye, Horatio.” He persisted much too long, and appeared to Johnson as putting himself forward as his antagonist with too much presumption ; upon which he called to him in a loud tone, “What is it you are contending for, if you be contending ?”—And afterwards, imagining that the gentleman retorted upon him with a kind of smart drollery, he said, “ Mr. *****, it does not become you to talk so to me. Besides, ridicule is not your talent; you have there neither intuition nor sagacity.”—The gentleman protested that he intended no improper freedom, but had the greatest respect for Dr. Johnson. After a short pause, during which we were somewhat uneasy ;-JOHNSON. “Give me your hand, Sir, you were too tedious, and I was too short.” Mr. *****. “ Sir, I am honoured by your attention in any way." JOHNSON, “Come, Sir, let's have no more of it. We offended one another by our contention; let us not offend the company by our compliments.”
He now said, he wished much to go to Italy, and that he dreaded passing the winter in England. I said nothing;
1 The epithet “ young” was added after the two first editions, and the ***** substituted instead of a dash - , which makes it vretty clear that young Mr. Burke was meant.-Croker.
but enjoyed a secret satisfaction in thinking that I had taken the most effectual measures to make such a scheme practicable.
On Monday, June 28, I had the honour to receive from the Lord Chancellor the following letter:
“I should have answered your letter immediately, if (being much engaged when I received it) I had not put it in my pocket, and forgot to open it till this morning.
“I am much obliged to you for the suggestion; and I will adopt and press it as far as I can. The best argument, I am sure, and I hope it is not likely to fail, is Dr. Johnson's merit. But it will be necessary, if I should be so unfortunate as to miss seeing you, to converse with Sir Joshua on the sum it will be proper to ask,-in short, upon the means of setting him out. It would be a reflection on us all if such a man should perish for want of the means to take care of his health. Yours, &c.,
This letter gave me very high satisfaction; I next day went and showed it to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was exceedingly pleased with it. He thought that I should now communicate the negotiation to Dr. Johnson, who might afterwards complain if the attention with which he had been honoured should be too long concealed from him. I intended to set out for Scotland next morning ; but Sir Joshua cordially insisted that I should stay another day, that Johnson and I might dine with him, that we three might talk of his Italian tour, and, as Sir Joshua expressed himself, “ have it all out.”
I hastened to Johnson, and was told by him that he was rather better to-day. BosWELL. “I am very anxious about you, Sir, and particularly that you should go to Italy for the winter, which I believe is your own wish.” JOHNSON. “It is, Sir.” BosWELL. “You have no objection, I presume, but the money it would require." JOHN
son. “Why, no, Sir.” Upon which I gave him a particular account of what had been done, and read to him the Lord Chancellor's letter. He listened with much attention; then warmly said, “ This is taking prodigious pains about a man.” “0, Sir,” said I, with most sincere affection, “your friends would do every thing for you.” He paused,
-grew more and more agitated, —till tears started into his eyes, and he exclaimed with fervent emotion, “GOD bless you all!” I was so affected that I also shed tears. After a short silence, he renewed and extended his grateful benediction, “God bless you all, for JESUS CHRIST's sake." We both remained for some time unable to speak. He rose suddenly, and quitted the room, quite melted in tenderness. He staid but a short time, till he had recovered his firmness ; soon after he returned I left him, having first engaged him to dine at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s next day.
I never was again under that roof which I had so long reverenced.
On Wednesday, June 30, the friendly confidential dinner with Sir Joshua Reynolds took place, no other company being present. Had I known that this was the last time that I should enjoy in this world the conversation of a friend whom I so much respected, and from whom I derived 80 much instruction and entertainment, I should have been deeply affected. When I now look back to it, I am vexed that a single word should have been for. gotten.
Both Sir Joshua and I were so sanguine in our expectations, that we expatiated with confidence on the liberal provision which we were sure would be made for him, conjecturing whether munificence would be displayed in one large donation, or in an ample increase of his pension. He himself catched so much of our enthusiasm as to allow himself to suppose it not impossible that our hopes might in one or other be realised. He said that he would rather have his pension doubled than a grant of a thousand pounds. “For," said he, “though probably I may not live to receive as much as a thousand pounds, a man would have the consciousness that he should pass the remainder of his life in splendour, how long soever it might be.”
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
Considering what a moderate proportion an income of six hundred pounds a-vear bears to innumerable fortunes in this country, it is worthy of remark, that a man so truly great should think it splendour.
As an instance of extraordinary liberality of friendship, he told us that Dr. Brocklesby had upon this occasion offered him a hundred a year for his life. A grateful tear started into his eye, as he spoke in a faltering tone.
Sir Joshua and I endeavoured to flatter his imagination with agreeable prospects of happiness in Italy. “Nay,” said he, “I must not expect much of that; when a man goes to Italy merely to feel how he breathes the air, he can enjoy very little."
Our conversation turned upon living in the country, which Johnson, whose melancholy mind required the dissipation of quick successive variety, had habituated himself to consider as a kind of mental imprisonment. “Yet, Sir," said I, “there are many people who are content to live in the country," JOHNSON. - Sir it is in the intellectual world as in the physical world; we are told by natural philosophers that a body is at rest in the place that is fit for it; they who are content to live in the country are fit for the country.”
Talking of various enjoyments, I argued that a refinement of taste was a disadvantage, as they who have attained to it must be seldomer pleased than those who have no nice discrimination, and are therefore satisfied with every thing that comes in their way. JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir, that is a paltry notion. Endeavour to be as perfect as you can in every respect.”
I accompanied him in Sir Joshua Reynolds's coach to the entry of Bolt Court. He asked me whether I would not go with him to his house; I declined it, from an apprehension that my spirits would sink. We bade adieu to each other affectionately in the carriage. When he had got down upon the foot pavement, he called out, “Fare
" It is stated in the Biographical Dictionary, that he pressed Johnson in his last illness to remove to his house for the more immediate convenience of medical advice. Dr. Brocklesby died in 1797 æt. 76. —