She, or her daughters, may be heard of at Canongate Head. I must beg, Sir, that you will enquire after them, and let me know what is to be done. I am willing to go to ten pounds, and will transmit you such a sum, if upon examination you find it likely to be of use. If they are in immediate want, advance them what you think proper. What I could do, I would do for the women, having no great reason to pay much regard to Heely himself[86].

'I believe you may receive some intelligence from Mrs. Baker, of the theatre, whose letter I received at the same time with yours; and to whom, if you see her, you will make my excuse for the seeming neglect of answering her.

'Whatever you advance within ten pounds shall be immediately returned to you, or paid as you shall order. I trust wholly to your judgement.

'I am, Sir, &c. 'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'London, Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, Oct. 24, 1767.'

Mr. Cuthbert Shaw[87], alike distinguished by his genius, misfortunes, and misconduct, published this year a poem, called The Race, by 'Mercurius Spur, Esq.[88],' in which he whimsically made the living poets of England contend for pre-eminence of fame by running:

'Prove by their heels the prowess of the head.'

In this poem there was the following portrait of Johnson:

'Here Johnson comes,--unblest with outward grace, His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face. While strong conceptions struggle in his brain; (For even wit is brought to bed with pain:) To view him, porters with their loads would rest, And babes cling frighted to the nurse's breast. With looks convuls'd he roars in pompous strain, And, like an angry lion, shakes his mane. The Nine, with terrour struck, who ne'er had seen, Aught human with so horrible a mien, Debating whether they should stay or run, Virtue steps forth, and claims him for her son: With gentle speech she warns him now to yield, Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field; But wrapt in conscious worth, content sit down, Since Fame, resolv'd his various pleas to crown, Though forc'd his present claim to disavow, Had long reserv'd a chaplet for his brow. He bows, obeys; for time shall first expire, Ere Johnson stay, when Virtue bids retire.'

The Honourable Thomas Hervey[89] and his lady having unhappily disagreed, and being about to separate, Johnson interfered as their friend, and wrote him a letter of expostulation, which I have not been able to find; but the substance of it is ascertained by a letter to Johnson in answer to it, which Mr. Hervey printed. The occasion of this correspondence between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Hervey, was thus related to me by Mr. Beauclerk[90]. 'Tom Hervey had a great liking for Johnson, and in his will had left him a legacy of fifty pounds. One day he said to me, "Johnson may want this money now, more than afterwards. I have a mind to give it him directly. Will you be so good as to carry a fifty pound note from me to him?" This I positively refused to do, as he might, perhaps, have knocked me down for insulting him, and have afterwards put the note in his pocket. But I said, if Hervey would write him a letter, and enclose a fifty pound note, I should take care to deliver it. He accordingly did write him a letter, mentioning that he was only paying a legacy a little sooner. To his letter he added, "P.S. I am going to part with my wife." Johnson then wrote to him, saying nothing of the note, but remonstrating with him against parting with his wife.'

When I mentioned to Johnson this story, in as delicate terms as I could, he told me that the fifty pound note was given to him by Mr. Hervey in consideration of his having written for him a pamphlet against Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who, Mr. Hervey imagined, was the authour of an attack upon him; but that it was afterwards discovered to be the work of a garreteer who wrote The Fool[91]: the pamphlet therefore against Sir Charles was not printed.[92]

In February, 1767, there happened one of the most remarkable incidents of Johnson's life, which gratified his monarchical enthusiasm, and which he loved to relate with all its circumstances, when requested by his friends. This was his being honoured by a private conversation with his Majesty, in the library at the Queen's house[93]. He had frequently visited those splendid rooms and noble collection of books[94], which he used to say was more numerous and curious than he supposed any person could have made in the time which the King had employed. Mr. Barnard, the librarian, took care that he should have every accommodation that could contribute to his ease and convenience, while indulging his literary taste in that place; so that he had here a very agreeable resource at leisure hours.

His Majesty having been informed of his occasional visits, was pleased to signify a desire that he should be told when Dr. Johnson came next to the library. Accordingly, the next time that Johnson did come, as soon as he was fairly engaged with a book, on which, while he sat by the fire, he seemed quite intent, Mr. Barnard stole round to the apartment where the King was, and, in obedience to his Majesty's commands, mentioned that Dr.

Life of Johnson Vol_02 Page 11

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