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fits and starts; for we see frequently that many letters are written on the same day. When he had once overcome his aversion to begin, he was, I suppose, desirous to go on, in order to relieve his mind from the uneasy reflection of delaying what he ought to do.
While in the country, notwithstanding the accumulation of illness which he endured, his mind did not lose its powers. He translated an ode of Horace liv. 77, which is printed in his works, and composed several prayers. I shall insert one of them, which is so wise and energetic, so philosophical and so pious, that I doubt not of its affording consolation to many a sincere Christian, when in a state of mind to which I believe the best are sometimes liable.?
And here I am enabled fully to refute a very unjust reflection, by Sir John Hawkins, both against Dr. Johnson and his faithful servant Mr. Francis Barber; as if both of them had been guilty of culpable neglect towards a person of the name of Heely, whom Sir John chooses to call a relation of Dr. Johnson's. The fact is, that Mr. Heely was not his relation : he had indeed been married to one of his cousins, but she had died without having children, and he had married another woman; so that even the slight connection which there once had been by alliance was dissolved. Dr. Johnson, who had shown very great liberality to this man while his first wife was alive, as has appeared in a former part of this work (vol. ii., p. 47), was
“ Against inquisitive and perplexing Thoughts. “ () Lord, my maker and protector, who hast graciously sent me into this world to work out my salvation, enable me to drive from me all such unquiet and perplexing thoughts as may mislead or hinder me in the practice of those duties which thou hast required. When I behold the works of thy hands, and consider the course of thy providence, give me grace always to remember that thy thoughts are not my thoughts, nor thy ways my ways. And while it shall please thee to continue me in this world, where much is to be done and little to be known, teach me, by thy Holy Spirit, to withdraw my mind from unprofitable and dangerous inquiries, from difficulties vainly curious, and doubts impossible to be solved. Let me rejoice in the light which thou hast imparted; let me serve thee with active zeal and humble confidence, and wait with patient expectation for the time in which the soul which thou receivest shall be satisfied with knowledge. Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
2 Life of Johnson, p. 596.
humane and charitable enough to continue his bounty to him occasionally ; but surely there was no strong call of duty upon him or upon his legatee to do more. The following letter, obligingly communicated to me by Mr. Andrew Strahan, will confirm what I have stated :
TO MR. HEELY.
" Ashbourne, Aug. 12, 1784.
“As necessity obliges you to call so soon again upon me, you should at least have told the smallest sum that will supply your present want : you cannot suppose that I have much to spare. Two guineas is as much as you ought to be behind with your creditor. If you wait on Mr. Strahan, in New-Street, Fetter-Lane, or, in his absence, on Mr. Andrew Strahan, show this, by which they are entreated to advance you two guineas, and to keep this as a voucher. I am, Sir, your humble servant,
Indeed it is very necessary to keep in mind that Sir John Hawkins has unaccountably viewed Johnson's character and conduct in almost every particular with an unhappy prejudice.
T I shall add one instance only to those which I have thought it incumbent on me to point out. Talking of Mr. Garrick’s having signified his willingness to let Johnson have the loan of any of his books to assist him in his edition of Shakespeare, Sir John says (Life, p. 444), “ Mr. Garrick knew not what risk he ran by this offer. Johnson had so strange a forgetfulness of obligations of this sort, that few who lent him books ever saw them again." This surely conveys a most unfavourable insinuation, and has been so understood. Sir John mentions the single case of a curious edition of Politian, which he tells us appeared to belong to Pembroke College, which probably had been considered by Johnson as his own for upwards of fifty years. Would it not be fairer to consider this as an inadvertence, and draw no general inference? The truth is, that Johnson was so attentive, that in one of his manuscripts in my possession he has marked in two columns books borrowed and books lent.
We now behold Johnson for the last time in his native city, for which he ever retained a warm affection, and which by a sudden apostrophe, under the word Lich, he introduces with reverence into his immortal work, “The English Dictionary:" “ Salve magna parens !” While here, he felt a revival of all the tenderness of filial affection, an instance of which appeared in his ordering the gravestones
In Sir John Hawkins's compilation there are, however, some passages concerning Johnson which have unquestionable merit. One of them I shall transcribe, in justice to a writer whom I have had too much occasion to censure, and to show my fairness as the biographer of my illustrious friend : “ There was wanting in his conduct and behaviour that dignity which results from a regular and orderly course of action, and by an irresistible power commands esteem. He could not be said to be a staid man, nor so to have adjusted in his mind the balance of reason and passion, as to give occasion to say, what may be observed, of some men, that all they do is just, fit, and right." Yet a judicious friend well suggests, " It might, however, have been added, that such men are often merely just, and rigidly correct, while their hearts are cold and unfeeling: and that Johnson's virtues were of a much higher tone than those of the staid orderly man here described.”
1 The following circumstance, naturally to the honour of Johnson and the corporation of his native city, has been communicated to me by the Rev. Dr. Vyse from the town clerk :
“Mr. Simpson has now before him a record of the respect and veneration which the corporation of Lichfield, in the year 1767, had for the merits and learning of Dr. Johnson. His father built the corner house in the market-place, the two fronts of which, towards Market and Broadmarket Street, stood upon waste land of the corporation, under a forty years' lease, which was then expired. On the 15th of August, 1767, at a common-hall of the bailiffs and citizens, it was ordered (and that without any solicitation), that a lease should be granted to Samuel Johnson, Doctor of Laws, of the encroachments at his house, for the term of ninety-nine years, at the old rent, which was five shillings: of which, as town clerk, Mr. Simpson had the honour and pleasure of informing him, and that he was desired to accept it without paying any fine on the occasion; which lease was afterwards granted, and the doctor died possessed of this property."
The Corporation of Lichfield renewed the lease March 6, 1866, “the tenant covenanting to keep the premises in the present state, in remembrance of Dr. Johnson” (words of the minute). I gladly record that I owe this information to Charles Simpson, Esq., now (1882) Town Clerk of Lichtield, and grandson of Mr. Charles Simpson, who held the same office in the corporation of the city, when, as we see above, a lease was granted, Aug. 15, 1767. Mr. Simpson, by whom this fact was communicated, was intimately acquainted with Henry White, of whom we read in the next paragraph, and heard from him many of the Lichtield traditious concerning Johnson. See vol. i., p. 14, note.-Editor.
and inscription over Elizabeth Blaney (see vol. i., p. 12, n. 1) to be substantially and carefully renewed.
To Mr. Henry White, a young clergyman, with whom he now formed an intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son. “Once, indeed," said he, “I was disobedient: I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault. I went to Uttoxeter’ in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bare-headed in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall' used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory."
To whom there is a memorial tablet in Lichfield Cathedral with this inscription : “Henry White, sacrist of Lichfield Cathedral. Died April 8, 1836. Aged 74 years."--Editor.
? It has been mentioned (vol. i., p. 14, note) that a statue of Johnson, by Lucas, was presented, 1838, to the city of Lichfield, by Chancellor Law, and erected immediately opposite to the Johnson house. It bas also been there stated, that three bas-reliefs illustrative of events in Johnson's life adorn the pedestal of this statue. One, as we have seen above, represents the Sacheverel incident; another Johnson borne to school by his school companions (see vol. i., p. 20); and the third, Johnson's penance at Uttoxeter. A replica of the latter has been inserted in the conduit of the market place of Uttoxeter (1878) by the munificence of the Rev. Henry Abud, the present incumbent. In the Rev. Richard Warner's Tour (1802) through the Northern Counties, vol. i., p. 105-107, there is another version of this incident, of which the incoherence is transparent. There the act of penance is placed in the last visit of Johnson to Lichfield, some time, therefore, during the month of October, 1781, and just fifty years to a day since the act of disobedience for which Johnson sought to atone. But if we read the text. we see that during this visit he had formed an acquaintance with Henry White, a young clergyman of the city, and told him that “a few years ago”—a few years, therefore, before 1781-he atoned for the act of disobedience to his father in the manner described. We are not aware that this story of Johnson's penance at Uttoseter can be traced to any other authority than that of this young clergyman, Henry White; and if his version be accepted as true, Warner's must be regarded as a version with embellishments.-Editor.
3 Though rather out of due place, it may be mentioned that Michael Johnson was a publisher-a distinction by no means common, in those days, among booksellers in provincial cities or towns. There is in the Forster Library, South Kensington Museum, a rare and curious volume : “Grammatica-Anglo-Romana : or, a Syncritical Grammar, teaching “I told him,” says Miss Seward, “ in one of my latest visits to him, of a wonderful learned pig which I had seen at Nottingham; and which did all that we have observed exhibited by dogs and horses. The subject amused him. • Then,' said he, 'the pigs are a race unjustly calumniated. Pig has, it seems, not been wanting to man, but man to pig. We do not allow time for his education ; we kill him at a year old.' Mr. Henry White, who was present, observed that if this instance had happened in or before Pope's time, he would not have been justified in instancing the swine as the lowest degree of grovelling instinct. Dr. Johnson seemed pleased with the observation, while the person who made it proceeded to remark, that great torture must have been employed, ere the indocility of the animal could have been subdued.—Certainly,' said the Doctor;
but,' turning to me, how old is your pig?' I told him, three years old. Then,' said he, “the pig has no cause to complain ; he would have been killed the first year if he had not been educated, and protracted existence is a good recompense for very considerable degrees of torture.'”
As Johnson had now very faint hopes of recovery, and as Mrs. Thrale was no longer devoted to him, it might have been supposed that he would naturally have chosen to remain in the comfortable house of his beloved wife's daughter, and end his life where he began it. But there
English Youth the Latin Tongue by Few and Easy Rules, comparing English and Latin, with a Comment for the Use of Riper Years; containing the elegancies and explaining the difficult phrases and idioms, which are peculiar to the Latin. Fitted to the sense of the Learned Oxford Commentator upon Lilly's Grammar. By Samuel Shaw, Master of the Free School in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. London. Printed for Michael Johnson, Bookseller; and are to be sold at his shops in Lichfield and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, and Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. 1687.” Notes and Queries, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 459, mentions : “ The Præternatural State of Animal Humours described, by Sir John Floyer: London, printed by W. Downing for Michael Johnson, and are to be sold by Robert Clavel, Sam. Smith, and Benjamin Walford, in St. Paul's Churchyard. 1696," and also, ibid., vol. iv., p. 388, a somewhat later publication, an Exposition of the Revelation, by showing the agreement of the prophetical symbols with the history of the Roman, Saracen, and Ottoman Empire, and of the Poredom, &c. 8vo. Printed for Michael Johnson, Bookseller in Lichfield. 1719.-Editor.