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sides. On leaving him, Johnson said, 'I used to think Meeke had excellent parts, when we were boys together at the College: but, alas !
• Lost in a convent's solitary gloom !" I remember, at the classical lecture in the Hall, I could not bear Meeke’s superiority, and I tried to sit as far from him as I could, that I might not hear him construe.'
“ As we were leaving the College, he said, 'Here I translated Pope's Messiah. Which do
Which do you think is the best line in it ?-My own favourite is,
Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes.' I told him, I thought it a very sonorous hexameter. I did not tell him, it was not in the Virgilian style. He much regretted that his first tutor was dead ; for whom he seemed to retain the greatest regard. He said, “I once had been a whole morning sliding in Christ-Church Meadow, and missed his lecture in logick. After dinner, he sent for me to his room. I expected a sharp rebuke for my idleness, and went with a beating heart. When we were seated, he told me he had sent for me to drink a glass of wine with him, and to tell me, he was not angry, with me for missing his lecture. This was, in fact, a most severe reprimand. Some more of the boys were then sent for, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon.' Besides Mr. Meeke, there was only one other Fellow of Pembroke now resident : from both of whom Johnson received the greatest civilities during this visit, and they pressed him very much to have a room in the College.
" In the course of this visit (1754,) Johnson and
I walked, three or four times, to Ellsfield, a village beautifully situated about three miles from Oxford, to see Mr. Wise, Radclivian librarian, with whom Johnson was much pleased. At this place, Mr. Wise had fitted up a house and gardens, in a singular manner, but with great taste. Here was an excellent library; particularly, a valuable collection of books in Northern literature, with which Johnson was often very busy. One day Mr. Wise read to us a dissertation which he was preparing for the press, intitled, • A History and Chronology of the fabulous Ages.' Some old divinities of Thrace, related to the Titans, and called the CABIRI, made a very important part of the theory of this piece; and in conversation afterwards, Mr. Wise talked much of his CABIRI. As we returned to Oxford in the evening, I outwalked Johnson, and he cried out Sufflamina, a Latin word which came from his mouth with peculiar grace, and was as much as to say, Put on your drag chain. Before we got home, I again walked too fast for him; and he now cried out, “Why, you walk as if you were pursued by all the Cabiri in a body.' In an evening, we frequently took long walks from Oxford into the country, returning to supper. Once, in our way home, we viewed the ruins of the abbies of Oseney and Rewley, near Oxford. After at least half an hour's silence, Johnson said, “I viewed them with indignation ! We had then a long conversation on Gothick buildings; and in talking of the form of old halls, he said, 'In these halls, the fire place was anciently always in the middle of the room, till the Whigs removed it on one side.'--About this time there had been an execution of two or three criminals at Oxford on a Monday. Soon afterwards,
one day at dinner, I was saying that Mr. Swinton the chaplain of the gaol, and also a frequent preacher before the University, a learned man, but often thoughtless and absent, preached the condemnationsermon on repentance, before the convicts, on the preceding day, Sunday; and that in the close he told his audience, that he should give them the remainder of what he had to say on the subject, the next Lord's Day. Upon which, one of our company, a Doctor of Divinity, and a plain matter-of-fact man, by way of offering an apology for Mr. Swinton, gravely remarked, that he had probably preached the same sermon before the University : Yes, Sir, (says Johnson) but the University were not to be hanged the next morning.'
“ I forgot to observe before, that when he left Mr. Meeke, (as I have told above) he added, "About the same time of life, Meeke was left behind at Oxford to feed on a Fellowship, and I went to London to get my living : now, Sir, see the difference of our literary characters !"
The following letter was written by Dr. Johnson to Mr. Chambers, of Lincoln College, afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of the judges in India:?
“The commission which I delayed to trouble you with at your departure, I am now obliged to send you ; and beg that you will be so kind as to carry it to Mr. Warton, of Trinity, to whom I should
* Communicated by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Warton, who had
have written immediately, but that I know not if he
yet come back to Oxford.
“ In the Catalogue of MSS. of Gr. Brit. see vol. 1. pag. 18. MSS. Bodl. MARTYRIUM xv, martyrum sub Juliano, auctore Theophylacto.
“ It is desired that Mr. Warton will inquire, and send word, what will be the cost of transcribing this manuscript.
“Vol. II. pag. 32. Num. 1022.58. Coll. Nov.m Commentaria in Acta Apostol.--Comment. in Septem Epistolas Catholicas.
“ He is desired to tell what is the age of each of these manuscripts : and what it will cost to have a transcript of the two first
of each. “If Mr. Warton be not in Oxford, you may try if you can get it done by any body else ; or stay till he comes, according to your own convenience. It is for an Italian literato.
“ The answer is to be directed to his Excellency Mr. Zon, Venetian Resident, Soho-Square.
“ I hope, dear Sir, that you do not regret the change of London for Oxford. Mr. Baretti is well, and Miss Williams;& and we shall all be glad to hear from you, whenever you
shall be so kind as to write
“ Your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
« Nov. 21, 1754• ,
8« I presume she was a relation of Mr. Zachariah Williams, who died in his eighty-third year, July 12, 1755. When Dr. Johnson was with me at Oxford, in 1755, gave
to the Bodleian Library a thin quarto of twenty-one pages, a work in Italian, with an English translation on the opposite page. The English title-page is this: • An Account of an Attempt to ascertain the Longitude at Sea, by an exact Variation of the Magnetical Needle, &c. By Zachariah
The degree of Master of Arts, which, it has been observed, could not be obtained for him at an early period of his life, was now considered as an honour of considerable importance, in order to grace the title-page of his Dictionary ; and his character in the literary world being by this time deservedly high, his friends thought that, if proper exertions were made, the University of Oxford would pay him the compliment.
TO THE REVEREND MR. THOMAS WARTON.
“I am extremely obliged to you and to Mr. Wise, for the uncommon care which you have taken of my interest :' if you can accomplish your kind design, I shall certainly take me a little habitation among you.
“ The books which I promised to Mr. Wise,' I
Williams. London, printed for Dodsley, 1755' The English translation, from the strongest internal marks, is unquestionably the work of Johnson. In a blank leaf, Johnson has written the age, and time of death, of the authour Z. Williams, as I have said above. On another blank leaf, is pasted a paragraph from a newspaper, of the death and character of Williams, which is plainly written by Johnson. He was very anxious about placing this book in the Bodleian : and, for fear of any omission or mistake, he entered, in the great Catalogue, the title-page of it with his own hand.”
[In this statement there is a slight mistake. The English account, which was written by Johnson, was the original; the Italian was a translation, done by Baretti. See p. 267.]
9 In procuring him the degree of Master of Arts by diploma at Oxford.”
"" Lately fellow of Trinity College, and at this time Radclivian librarian, at Oxford. He was a man of very considerable learning, and eminently skilled in Roman and Anglo-Saxon antiqui, ties. He died in 1767."