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a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a King to pay. It was decisive.” When asked by another friend, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, whether he made any reply to this high compliment, he answered, “No, Sir. When the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to bandy civilities with my sovereign.” Perhaps no man who had spent his whole life in courts could have shewn a more nice and dignified sense of true politeness, than Johnson did in this instance. His Majesty having observed to him that he supposed he must have read a great deal; Johnson answered that he thought more than he read; that he had read a great deal in the early part of his life, but having fallen into ill health, he had not been able to read much, compared with others: for instance, he said he had not read much compared with Dr. Warburton. Upon which the King said, that he heard Dr. Warburton was a man of such general knowledge, that you could scarce talk with him on any subject on which he was not qualified to speak; and that his learning resembled Garrick's acting, in its universality. His Majesty then talked of the controversy between Warburton and Lowth, which he seemed to have read, and asked Johnson what he thought of it. Johnson answered, “Warburton has most general, most scholastic learning; Lowth is the more correct scholar. I do not know which of them calls names best.” The King was pleased to say he was of the same opinion; adding, “You do not think then, Dr. Johnson, that there was much argument in the case.” Johnson said, he did not think there was. “Why truly, (said the King,) when once it comes to calling names, argument is pretty well at an end.” His Majesty then asked him what he thought of Lord Lyttelton's history, which was then just published. Johnson said, he thought his style pretty good, but that he had blamed Henry the Second rather too much. “Why, (said the King,) they seldom do these things by halves.” “No, Sir, (answered Johnson,) not to Kings.” Cor. et Ad.—Line 18: On universality put the following note:– “The Reverend Mr. Strahan clearly recollects having been told by Johnson, that the King observed that Pope made Warburton a Bishop. “True, Sir, (said Johnson,) but Warburton But fearing to be misunderstood, he proceeded to explain himself; and immediately subjoined, “That for those who spoke worse of Kings than they deserved, he could find no excuse, but that he could more easily conceive how some might speak better of them than they deserved, without any ill intention; for, as Kings had much in their power to give, those who were favoured by them would frequently, from gratitude, exaggerate their praises; and as this proceeded from a good motive, it was certainly excuseable, as far as errour could be excuseable.” The King then asked him what he thought of Dr. Hill. Johnson answered, that he was an ingenious man, but had no veracity; 1 and immediately mentioned, as an instance of it, an assertion of that writer, that he had seen objects magnified to a much greater degree by using three or four microscopes at a time, than by using one. “Now, (added Johnson,) every one acquainted with microscopes knows, that the more of them he looks through, the less the object will appear.” “Why, (replied the King, this is not only telling an untruth, but telling it clumsily; for, if that be the case, every one who can look through a microscope will be able to detect him.” “I now, (said Johnson to his friends, when relating what had passed,) began to consider that I was depreciating this man in the estimation of his sovereign, and thought it was time for me to say something that might be more favourable.” He added, therefore, that Dr. Hill was, notwithstanding, a very curious observer; and if he would have been contented to tell the world no more than he knew, he might have been a very considerable man, and needed not to have recourse to such mean expedients to raise his reputation. The King then talked of literary journals, mentioned particularly the Şournal des Savans, and asked Johnson if it was well done. Johnson said, it was formerly very well done, and gave some account of the persons who began it, and carried it on for some years; enlarging at the same time, on the nature and use of such works. The King asked him if it was well done now. Johnson answered, he had no reason to think that it was. The King then asked him if there were any other literary journals published in this kingdom, except the Monthly and Critical Reviews; and on being answered there were no other, his Majesty asked which of them was the best;
did more for Pope; he made him a Christian : " alluding, no doubt, to his ingenious comments on the “Essay on Man.’”
* It has been objected to this remark of the king's, that Warburton did not obtain his bishoprick until sixteen years after Pope's death, so that the poet could have had no hand in obtaining the preferment for him. But it is plain that the king intended to refer to the prestige of Pope's friendship, the influence of
which extended beyond his death. Johnson's reply, it will be noted, has the same ambiguity, meaning that Warburton justified the Christian spirit of the “Essay on Man.” Boswell, however, showed his usual caution, and contented himself with introducing Mr. Strahan's amendment in a note.
Johnson answered, that the Monthly Review was done with most
reason for his gloom and seeming inattention, that he apprehended
“Sunday, Oct. 18, 1767. Yesterday, Oct. 17, at about ten in the morning, I took my leave for ever of my dear old friend, Catherine Chambers, who came to live with my mother about 1724, and has been but little parted from us since. She buried my father, my brother, and my mother. She is now fifty-eight years old.
“I desired all to withdraw, then told her that we were to part for ever; that as Christians, we should part with prayer; and that I would, if she was willing, say a short prayer beside her. She expressed great desire to hear me; and held up her poor hands, as
* It is proper here to mention, that when I speak of his correspondence, I consider it independent of the voluminous collection of letters which, in the course of many years, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale, which forms a separate part of his works; and
as a proof of the high estimation set on anything which came from his pen, was sold by that lady for the sum of five hundred pounds.
Cor. et Ad.—After line II, read,
“To BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.
“Lichfield, Oct. Io, 1767. “DEAR SIR,-That you have been all summer in London is one more reason for which I regret my long stay in the country. I hope that you will not leave the town before my return. We have here only the chance of vacancies in the passing carriages, and I have bespoken one that may, if it happens, bring me to town on the fourteenth of this month ; but this is not certain. “It will be a favour if you communicate this to Mrs. Williams: I long to see all my friends. I am, dear Sir, your most humble servant, “SAM. Johnson.”
she lay in bed, with great fervour, while I prayed, kneeling by her, nearly in the following words: “Almighty and most merciful Father, whose loving-kindness is over all thy works, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness may add strength to her faith, and seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help of thy Holy Spirit, after the pains and labours of this short life, we may all obtain everlasting happiness, through JESUS CHRIST our Lord; for whose sake hear our prayers. Amen. Our Father, &c. “I then kissed her. She told me that to part was the greatest pain that she had ever felt, and that she hoped we should meet again in a better place. I expressed with swelled eyes, and great emotion of tenderness, the same hopes. We kissed and parted. I humbly hope to meet again, and to part no more.”
By those who have been taught to look upon Johnson as a man of a harsh and stern character, let this tender and affectionate scene be candidly read; and let them then judge whether more warmth of heart, and grateful kindness, is often found in human nature.
We have the following notice in his devotional record:
“August 2, 1767. I have been disturbed and unsettled for a long time, and have been without resolution to apply to study or to business, being hindered by sudden snatches.”
He, however, furnished Mr. Adams with a Dedication * to the King of that ingenious gentleman's “Treatise on the Globes,” conceived and expressed in such a manner as could not fail to be very grateful to a monarch, distinguished for his love of the sciences.
This year was published a ridicule of his style, under the title of “Lexiphanes.” Sir John Hawkins ascribes it to Dr. Kenrick; but its authour was one Campbell, a Scotch purser in the navy. The ridicule consisted in applying Johnson’s “words of large meaning,” to insignificant matters, as if one should put the armour of Goliath upon a dwarf. The contrast might be laughable; but the dignity of the armour must remain the same in all considerate minds. This malicious drollery, therefore, it may easily be supposed, could do no harm to its illustrious object.”
It appears from his notes of the state of his mind," that he
* Prayers and Meditations, p. 77 and 78. b Ibid. p. 73. • Ibid. p. 81.
* Only in his first edition. known by the strange name of “horrible * “It vexed him, however.”—(Mrs. Campbell.” Piozzi, Marginalia.) Its author was