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well observed, was one of those happy turns for which he was so remarkably ready.
Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not refrain from expressing himself concerning that nobleman with pointed freedom : “ This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords !” And when his Letters to his natural son were published, he observed, that “they teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master.”
The character of a “respectable Hottentot," in Lord Chesterfield's letters, has been generally under
2 Tha't collection of letters cannot be vindicated from the serious charge of encouraging, in some passages, one of the vices most destructive to the good order and comfort of society, which his Lord ship represents as mere fashionable gallantry ; and, in others, of inculcating the base practice of dissimulation, and recommending, with disproportionate anxiety, a perpetual attention to external elegance of manners. But it must, at the same time, be allowed, that they contain many good precepts of conduct, and much genuine information upon life and manners, very happily expressed ; and that there was considerable merit in paying so much attention to the improvement of one who was dependent upon his Lordship's protection ; it has, probably, been exceeded in no instance by the most exemplary parent; and though I can by no means approve of con, founding the distinction between lawful and illicit offspring, which, is, in effect, insulting the civil establishment of our country, to look no higher ; I cannot help thinking it laudable to be kindly attentive to those, of whose existence we have, in any way, been the cause, Mr. Stanhope's character has been unjustly represented as diametri. cally opposite to what Lord Chesterfield wished him to be. He has been called dull, gross, and aukward: but I knew him at Dres, den, when he was Envoy to that court; and though he could not boast of the graces, he was, in truth, a sensible, civil, well-behaved man,
stood to be meant for Johnson, and I have no doubt that it was. But I remember when the Literary Property of those letters was contested in the Court of Session in Scotland, and Mr. Henry Dundas, one of the counsel for the proprietors, read this character as an exhibition of Johnson, Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, one of the Judges, maintained, with some warmth, that it was not intended as a portrait of Johnson, but of a late noble Lord, distinguished for abstruse science. I have heard Johnson himself talk of the character, and say that it was meant for George Lord Lyttelton, in which I could by no means agree; for his Lordship had nothing of that violence which is a conspicuous feature in the composition. Finding that my illustrious friend could bear to have it
supposed that it might be meant for him, I said, laughingly, that there was one trait which unquestionably did not belong to him ; “ he throws his meat any where but down his throat.” “ Sir, (said he,) Lord Chesterfield never saw me eat in his life.”
On the 6th of March came out Lord Bolingbroke's works, published by Mr. David Mallet. The wild and pernicious ravings, under the name of “ Philosophy,” which were thus ushered into the world, gave great offence to all well-principled men. Johnson, hearing of their tendency, which nobody disputed, was roused with a just indignation, and pronounced this memorable sentence upon the noble authour and his editor. “ Sir, he was a scoundrel, and a coward : a scoundrel, for charging a blunderbuss against religion and morality ; a coward, because he had not resolution to fire it off himself, but left
3 Now one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State.
half a crown to a beggarly Scotchman, to draw the trigger after his death !” Garrick, who I can attest from my own knowledge, had his mind seasoned with pious reverence, and sincerely disapproved of the infidel writings of several, whom, in the course of his almost universal gay intercourse with men of eminence, he treated with external civility, distinguished himself upon this occasion. Mr. Pelham having died on the very day on which Lord Bolingbroke's works came out, he wrote an elegant Ode on his death, beginning
- Let others hail the rising sun,
in which is the following stanza :
“ The same sad morn, to Church and State
“ A double stroke was given;
" And Pelham fled to heaven.'
Johnson this year found an interval of leisure to make an excursion to Oxford, for the purpose of consulting the libraries there. Of this, and of many interesting circumstances concerning him, during a part of his life when he conversed but little with the world, I am enabled to give a particular account, by the liberal communications of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Warton, who obligingly furnished me with several of our common friend's letters, which he illustrated with notes. These I shall insert in their proper places.
TO THE REVEREND MR. THOMAS WARTON.
“ It is but an ill return for the book with which you were pleased to favour me, to have delayed my thanks for it till now. I am too apt to be negligent; but I can never deliberately shew my disrespect to a
character: and I now pay you a very honest acknowledgement, for the advancement of the literature of our native country.
You have shewn to all, who shall hereafter attempt the study of our ancient authours, the way to success; by directing them to the perusal of the books which those authours had read. Of this method, Hughes and men much greater than Hughes, seem never to have thought. The reason why the authours, which are yet read, of the sixteenth century, are so little understood, is, that they are read alone; and no help is borrowed from those who lived with them, or before them. Some part of this ignorance I hope to remove by my book,s which now draws towards its end; but which I cannot finish to my mind, without visiting the libraries of Oxford, which I, therefore, hope to see in a fortnight. I know not how long I shall stay, or where I shall lodge : but shall be sure to look for you at my arrival, and we shall easily settle the rest. I am, dear Sir,
“ Your most obedient, &c. “[London] July 16, 1754.
“ Sam. Johnson.”
3 “ Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen, the first edition of which was now just published.
4 “ Hughes published an edition of Spenser.” 5 « His Dictionary.” @ “ He came to Oxford within a fortnight, and stayed about five
Of his conversation while at Oxford at this time, Mr. Warton preserved and communicated to me the following memorial, which, though not written with all the care and attention which that learned and elegant writer bestowed on those compositions which he intended for the publick eye, is so happily expressed in an easy style, that I should injure it by any
alteration : “ When Johnson came to Oxford in 1754, the long vacation was beginning, and most people were leaving the place. This was the first time of his being there, after quitting the University. The next morning after his arrival, he wished to see his old College, Pembroke. I went with him. highly pleased to find all the College-servants which he had left there still remaining, particularly a very old butler; and expressed great satisfaction at being recognised by them, and conversed with them familiarly. He waited on the master, Dr. Radcliffe, who received him very coldly. Johnson at least expected, that the master would order a copy of his Dictionary, now near publication : but the master did not choose to talk on the subject, never asked Johnson to dine, nor even to visit him, while he stayed at Oxford. After we had left the lodgings, Johnson said to me, • There lives a man, who lives by the revenues of literature, and will not move a finger to support it. If I come to live at Oxford, I shall take up my abode at Trinity.' We then called on the Reverend Mr. Meeke, one of the fellows, and of Johnson's standing. Here was a most cordial greeting on both
weeks. He lodged at a house called Kettel-hall, near Trinity College. But during this visit at Oxford, he collected nothing in the libraries for his Dictionary,