At length, after it had slept several years, the author published it to avoid false copies. It is also reprinted in a book entit. Wit and Loyalty revived, in a collection of some smart satyrs in verse and prose on the late times. Lond. 1682, qu. said to be written by Abr. Cowley, Sir John Birkenhead, and Hudibras, alias Sam. Butler.'--For this information I am indebted to Mr. Reed, of Staple Inn. BOSWELL. This tract is in the Harleian Misc., ed. 1810, vi. 57. Mr. Reed's quotation differs somewhat from it.

[169] 'When a Scotchman was talking against Warburton, Johnson said he had more literature than had been imported from Scotland since the days of Buchanan. Upon the other's mentioning other eminent writers of the Scotch; "These will not do," said Johnson, "Let us have some more of your northern lights; these are mere farthing candles."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 208. Dr. T. Campbell records (Diary, p. 61) that at the dinner at Mr. Dilly's, described ante, ii. 338, 'Dr. Johnson compared England and Scotland to two lions, the one saturated with his belly full, and the other prowling for prey. He defied any one to produce a classical book written in Scotland since Buchanan. Robertson, he said, used pretty words, but he liked Hume better; and neither of them would he allow to be more to Clarendon than a rat to a cat. "A Scotch surgeon may have more learning than an English one, and all Scotland could not muster learning enough for Lowth's Prelections."' See ante, ii. 363, and March 30, 1783.

[170] The poem is entitled Gualterus Danistonus ad Amicos. It begins:--

'Dum studeo fungi fallentis munere vitae'

Which Prior imitates:--

'Studious the busy moments to deceive.'

Sir Walter Scott thought that the poem praised by Johnson was 'more likely the fine epitaph on John, Viscount of Dundee, translated by Dryden, and beginning Ultime Scotoruml' Archibald Pitcairne, M.D., was born in 1652, and died in 1713.

[171] My Journal, from this day inclusive, was read by Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL. It was read by Johnson up to the second paragraph of Oct. 26. Boswell, it should seem, once at least shewed Johnson a part of the Journal from which he formed his Life. See ante, iii. 260, where he says:--'It delighted him on a review to find that his conversation teemed with point and imagery.'

[172] See ante, ii. 20, note 4.

[173] Goldsmith, in his Present State of Polite Learning, published in 1759, says, (ch. x):--'When the great Somers was at the helm, patronage was fashionable among our nobility ... Since the days of a certain prime minister of inglorious memory [Sir Robert Walpole] the learned have been kept pretty much at a distance. ... The author, when unpatronised by the Great, has naturally recourse to the bookseller. There cannot be perhaps imagined a combination more prejudicial to taste than this. It is the interest of the one to allow as little for writing, and of the other to write as much as possible; accordingly tedious compilations and periodical magazines are the result of their joint endeavours.'

[174] In the first number of The Rambler, Johnson shews how attractive to an author is the form of publication which he was himself then adopting:--'It heightens his alacrity to think in how many places he shall have what he is now writing read with ecstacies to-morrow.'

[175] Yet he said 'the inhabitants of Lichfield were the most sober, decent people in England.' Ante, ii. 463.

[176] At the beginning of the eighteenth century, says Goldsmith, 'smoking in the rooms [at Bath] was permitted.' When Nash became King of Bath he put it down. Goldsmith's Works, ed. 1854, iv. 51. 'Johnson,' says Boswell (ante, i. 317), 'had a high opinion of the sedative influence of smoking.'

[177] Dr. Johnson used to practise this himself very much. BOSWELL.

[178] In The Tatler, for May 24, 1709, we are told that 'rural esquires wear shirts half a week, and are drunk twice a day.' In the year 1720, Fenton urged Gay 'to sell as much South Sea stock as would purchase a hundred a year for life, "which will make you sure of a clean shirt and a shoulder of mutton every day."' Johnson's Works, viii. 65. In Tristram Shandy, ii. ch. 4, published in 1759, we read:--'It was in this year [about 1700] that my uncle began to break in upon the daily regularity of a clean shirt.' In the Spiritual Quixote, published in 1773 (i. 51), Tugwell says to his master:--'Your Worship belike has been used to shift you twice a week.' Mrs. Piozzi (Journey, i. 105, date of 1789) says that she heard in Milan 'a travelled gentleman telling his auditors how all the men in London, that were noble, put on a clean shirt every day.' Johnson himself owned that he had 'no passion for clean linen.' Ante, i. 397.

[179] Scott, in Old Mortality, ed. 1860, ix. 352, says:--'It was a universal custom in Scotland, that, when the family was at dinner, the outer-gate of the court-yard, if there was one, and if not, the door of the house itself, was always shut and locked.' In a note on this he says:--'The custom of keeping the door of a house or chateau locked during the time of dinner probably arose from the family being anciently assembled in the hall at that meal, and liable to surprise.'

[180] Johnson, writing of 'the chapel of the alienated college,' says:--'I was always by some civil excuse hindered from entering it.' Works, ix.

Life of Johnson Vol_05 Page 154

James Boswell

Scottish Authors

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

James Boswell
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book