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Politiani Poemata Latina, quibus Notas, cum historia Latina poeseos, a Petrarcha avo ad Politiani tempora deducta, et vita Politiani fusius quam antehac enarrata, addidit SAM. JOHNSON." 1

It appears that his brother Nathaniel had taken up his father's trade; for it is mentioned that "subscriptions are taken in by the Editor, or N. Johnson, bookseller, of Lichfield." Notwithstanding the merit of Johnson, and the cheap price at which his book was offered, there were not subscribers enough to ensure a sufficient sale; SO the work never appeared, and probably never was executed.

We find him again this year at Birmingham, and there is preserved the following letter from him to Mr. Edward Cave, the original compiler and editor of the Gentleman's Magazine:


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tem oris excellentis ingenii præstantia compenComment. de Reb. ad eum pertin. Edit. Amstel. 1718, p. 200. B.-Huetius was Huet, Bishop of Avranche, who wrote Memoirs of his own time in Latin, from which, Croker has pointed out, Boswell extracted this bit of pedantry. Paulus Pelissonius Fontanerius was Madame de Sévigné's friend Pelisson, of whom was used the phrase which has since grown into a proverb: Qu'il abusait de la permission qu'ont les hommes d'être laids.'


1 The book was to contain more than thirty sheets; the price to be two shillings and sixpence at the time of subscribing, and two shillings and sixpence at the delivery of a perfect book in quires. B.

2 After Nathaniel's death his mother kept on the shop so long as she lived. Lucy Porter Johnson's step-daughter) used to board with old Mrs. Johnson, according to Miss Seward, and serve in the shop.

3 Miss Cave, the grand-niece of Mr. Edw. Cave, has obligingly shewn me the originals of this and the other letters of Dr. Johnson to him, which were first published in the Gentleman's Magazine, with notes by Mr. John Nichols, the worthy and indefatigable editor of that valuable miscellany signed N.; some of which I shall occasionally transcribe in the course of this work.



of a person, who will undertake, on reasonable terms, sometimes to fill a column.

"His opinion is, that the public would not give you a bad reception, if, beside the current wit of the month, which a critical examination would generally reduce to a narrow compass, you admitted not only poems, inscriptions, &c., never printed before, which he will sometimes supply you with; but likewise short literary dissertations in Latin or English, critical remarks on authors ancient or modern, forgotten poems that deserve revival, or loose pieces, like Floyer's, worth preserving. By this method, your literary article for so it might be called, will, he thinks, be better recommended to the public than by low jests, awkward buffoonery, or the dull scurrilities of either party.

"If such a correspondence will be agreeable to you, be pleased to inform me in two posts, what the conditions are on which you shall expect it. Your late offer♪ gives me no reason to distrust your generosity. If you engage in any literary projects besides this paper, I have other designs to impart, if I could be secure from having others reap the advantage of what I should hint. "Your letter by being directed to S. Smith, to be left at the Castle in Birmingham, Warwickshire, will reach "Your humble servant."

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Mr. Cave has put a note on this letter. "Answered Dec. 2.1 But whether anything was done in consequence of it we are not informed.

been sensible to the influence of female Johnson had, from his early youth, charms. When at Stourbridge school, he was much enamoured of Olivia Lloyd, a young Quaker, to whom he wrote a copy of verses, which I have not been able to recover; but with what facility and elegance he could warble the amorous lay, will appear from the following lines which he wrote for his friend Mr. Edmund Hector.

VERSES to a LADY, on receiving from her a SPRIG of MYRTLE.

"What hopes, what terrors does thy gift

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The myrtle crowns the happy lovers' heads,
The unhappy lover's grave the myrtle spreads:
O then the meaning of thy gift impart,
And ease the throbbings of an anxious heart!
Soon must this bough, as you shall fix his doom,
Adorn Philander's head, or grace his tomb."1

1 Mrs. Piozzi gives the following account of


this little composition from Dr. Johnson's own relation to her, on her inquiring whether it was rightly attributed to him:-"I think it is now just forty years ago, that a young fellow had a sprig of myrtle given him by a girl he courted, and asked me to write him some verses that he might present her in return. I promised, but forgot; and when he called for his lines at the time agreed on-Sit still a moment, (says I) dear Mund, and I'll fetch them thee-so stepped aside for five minutes, and wrote the nonsense you now keep such a stir about."-Anecdotes, p. 34. my first edition I was induced to doubt the authenticity of this account, by the following circumstantial statement in a letter to me from Miss Seward, of Lichfield - I know those verses were addressed to Lucy Porter, when he was enamoured of her in his boyish days, two or three years before he had seen her mother, his future wife. He wrote them at my grandfather's, and gave them to Lucy in the presence of my mother, used to repeat them to me, when I asked her for the Verses Dr. Johnson gave her on a Sprig of Myrtle, which he had stolen or begged from her bosom. We all know honest Lucy Porter to have been incapable of the mean vanity of applying to herself a compliment not intended for her." Such was this lady's statement, which I make no doubt she supposed to be correct; but it shews how dangerous it is to trust too implicitly to traditional testimony and ingenious inference; for Mr. Hector has lately assured me that Mrs. Piozzi's account is in this instance accurate, and that he was the person for whom Johnson wrote those verses, which have been erroneously ascribed to Mr. Hammond. I am obliged in so many

to whom he shewed them on the instant. She

instances to notice Mrs. Piozzi's incorrectness of relation, that I gladly seize this opportunity of acknowledging, that however often, she is not always inaccurate.

The author having been drawn into a controversy with Miss Anna Seward, in consequence of the preceding statement, (which may be found in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. lxiii. and Ixiv.) received the following letter from Mr. Edmund Hector, on the subject:


DEAR SIR, I am sorry to see you are engaged in altercation with a lady who seems unwilling to be convinced of her errors. Surely it would be more ingenuous to acknowledge than to persevere. Lately, in looking over some papers I meant to burn, I found the original manuscript of the myrtle, with the date on it, 1731, which I have enclosed. The true history (which I could swear to) is as follows: Mr. Morgan Graves, the elder brother of a worthy clergyman near Bath, with whom I was acquainted, waited upon a lady in this neighbourhood, who at parting presented him the branch. He shewed it me, and wished much to return

His juvenile attachments to the fair sex were, however, very transient; and it is certain, that he formed no criminal connection whatsoever. Mr. Hector, who lived with him in his younger days in the utmost intimacy and social freedom, has assured me, that even at that ardent season his conduct was strictly virtuous in that respect; and that though he loved to exhilarate himself with wine, he never knew him intoxicated but once.

In a man whom religious education has secured from licentious indulgences, the passion of love, when once it has seized him, is exceedingly strong; being unimpaired by dissipation, and totally concentrated in one object. This was experienced by Johnson, when he became the fervent admirer of Mrs. Porter, after her first husband's death. Miss Porter told me, that when he was first introduced to her mother, his appearance was very forbidding: he was then lean and lank, so that his immense structure of bones was hideously striking to the eye, and the scars of the scrofula were deeply visible. He also wore his hair, which was straight and stiff, and separated behind: and he often had, seemingly, convulsive starts and odd gesticulations, which tended to excite at once surprise and ridicule. Mrs. Porter was so much engaged by his conversation that she overlooked all these external disadvantages, and said to her daughter, "This is the most sensible man that I ever saw in my life.”

Though Mrs. Porter was double the age of Johnson,2 and her person and

the compliment in verse. I applied to Johnson, who was with me; and in about half an hour he I most solemnly declare, at that time, Johnson dictated the verses, which I sent to my friend. it was almost two years after that I introduced was an entire stranger to the Porter family; and him to the acquaintance of Porter, whom I bought my clothes of. If you intend to convince this obstinate woman, and to exhibit to the public the truth of your narrative, you are at liberty to make what use you please of this statement. I hope you will pardon me for taking up so much of your time. Wishing you multos et felices annos, I shall subscribe myself Your obliged humble servant, E. HECTOR. Birmingham, Jan. 9th, 1794." B.

2 She was really in her forty-eighth, and Johnson in his twenty-fifth, year at the time of the marriage. Her maiden name was Jervis, a family at one time of some position and property in Leicestershire,


manner, as described to me by the late Mr. Garrick, were by no means pleasing to others, she must have had a superiority of understanding and talents,1 as she certainly inspired him with a more than ordinary passion; and she having signified her willingness to accept of his hand, he went to Lichfield to ask his mother's consent to the marriage, which he could not but be conscious was a very imprudent scheme, both on account of their disparity of years, and her want of fortune. 2 But Mrs. Johnson knew too well the ardour of her son's temper, and was too tender a parent to oppose his inclina- | tions.

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I know not for what reason the marriage ceremony was not performed at Birmingham; but a resolution was taken that it should be at Derby, for which place the bride and bridegroom set out on horseback, I suppose in very good humour. But though Mr. Topham Beauclerk used archly to mention Johnson's having told 1 The following account of Mrs. Johnson, and her family (written by Lady Knight, and transmitted by her to Hoole, the translator of Tasso) was published in the European Magazine for October, 1799: Mrs. Williams's account of Mrs. Johnson was, that she had a good understanding, and great sensibility, but inclined to be satirical. Her first husband died insolvent; her sons were much disgusted with her for her second marriage, perhaps because they, being struggling to get advanced in life, were mortified to think she had allied herself to a man who had not any visible means of being useful to them; however, she always retained her affection for them. While they [Dr. and Mrs. Johnson] resided in Gough Square, her son, the officer, knocked at the door, and asked the maid, if her mistress was at home. She answered, 'Yes, Sir; but she is sick in bed.'-'O,' says he, if it's so, tell her that her son Jervis, called to know how she did;' and was going away. The maid begged she might run up to tell her mistress, and without attending his answer, left him. Mrs. Johnson, enraptured to hear that her son was below, desired the maid to tell him she longed to embrace him. When the maid descended, the gentleman was gone, and poor Mrs. Johnson was much agitated by the adventure; it was the only time he ever made an effort to see her. Dr. Johnson did all he could to console his wife, but told Mrs. Williams, Her son is uniformly undutiful; so I conclude, like many other sober men, he might once in his life be drunk, and in that fit nature got the better of his pride.'

2 She appears however to have at least brought more fortune than Johnson to the marriage. The school at Edial was hired and fitted up with her




him, with much gravity, "Sir, it was a love marriage on both sides," I have had from my illustrious friend the following curious account of their journey to church upon the nuptial morn, (9th July) :"Sir, she had read the old romances, and had got into her head the fantastical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover like a dog. So, Sir, at first she told me that I rode too fast, and she could not keep up with me; and, when I rode a little slower she passed me, and complained that I lagged behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I resolved to begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed on briskly, till I was fairly out of her sight. The road lay between two hedges, so I was sure she could not miss it; and I contrived that she should soon come up with me. When she did, I observed her to be in tears."

This, it must be allowed, was a singular beginning of connubial felicity; but there is no doubt that Johnson, though he thus shewed a manly firmness, proved a most affectionate and indulgent husband to the last moment of Mrs. Johnson's life and in his " Prayers and Meditations," find very remarkable evidence that his regard and fondness for her never ceased, even after her death.


He now set up a private academy, for which purpose he hired a large house, well situated, near his native city. In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1736, there is the following advertisement; "At Edial, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, young gentlemen are boarded and taught the Latin and Greek languages, by SAMUEL JOHNSON." But the only pupils who were put under his care were the celebrated David Garrick and his brother George, and a Mr. Offely, a young gentleman of good fortune, who died early. As yet, his name had nothing of that celebrity which afterward commanded the highest attention and respect of mankind. Had such an advertisement appeared after the publication of his London, or his Rambler, or his Dictionary, how would it have burst upon the world! with what eagerness would the great and the wealthy have embraced an opportunity of putting their

sons under the learned tuition of SAMUEL he did not appear to have been profoundly JOHNSON! The truth, however, is, that he was not so well qualified for being a teacher of elements, and a conductor in learning by regular gradations, as men of inferior powers of mind. His own ac quisitions had been made by fits and starts, by violent irruptions in the regions of knowledge; and it could not be expected that his impatience would be subdued, and his impetuosity restrained, so as to fit him for a quiet guide to novices. The of communicating instruction, of whatever kind, is much to be valued; and I have ever thought that those who devote themselves to this employment, and do their duty with diligence and success, are entitled to very high respect from the community, as Johnson himself often maintained. Yet I am of opinion, that the greatest abilities are not only not required for this office, but render a man less fit for it.


While we acknowledge the justness of Thomson's beautiful remark,1


"Delightful task! to rear the tender thought, To teach the young idea how to shoot! we must consider that this delight is perceptible only by "a mind at ease, mind at once calm and clear; but that a mind gloomy and impetuous, like that of Johnson, cannot be fixed for any length of time in minute attention, and must be so frequently irritated by unavoidable slowness and error in the advances of scholars, as to perform the duty, with little pleasure to the teacher, and no great advantage to the pupils. Good temper is a most essential requisite in a preceptor. paints the character as bland:


"Ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi Doctores, elementa velint ut discere prima." Sat. 1. 1. 1. 25.

Johnson was not more satisfied with his situation as the master of an academy, than with that of the usher of a school; we need not wonder, therefore, that he did not keep his academy above a year and a half. From Mr. Garrick's account

1 The Seasons, "Spring," 1149. Thomson was writing not of the drudgery of a schoolmaster, but of the first education of a child by its parents.

reverenced by his pupils. His oddities of manner, and uncouth gesticulations, could not but be the subject of merriment to them; and in particular, the young rogues used to listen at the door of his bedchamber, and peep through the key-hole, that they might turn into ridicule his tumultuous and awkward fondness for Mrs. Johnson, whom he used to name by the familiar appellation of Tetty or Tetsey; which, like Betty or Betsey, is provincially used as a contraction for Elizabeth, her Christian name, but which to us seems ludicrous, when applied to a woman of her age and appearance. Mr. Garrick described her to me as very fat, with a bosom of more than ordinary protuberance, with swelled cheeks, of a florid red, produced by thick painting, and increased by the liberal use of cordials; flaring and fantastic in her dress, and affected both in her speech and her general behaviour. have seen Garrick exhibit her, by his exquisite talent of mimicry, so as to excite the heartiest bursts of laughter; but he, probably, as is the case in all such representations, considerably aggravated the picture.2


believed, as that lady tells us in her Anecdotes
2 He certainly did, if Mrs. Piozzi is to be
that she saw a picture of Mrs. Johnson at Lich-
field which made her out a pretty woman, and
was assured by Miss Porter that it was a good
likeness. Garrick stood in considerable awe of

Johnson to his face, and used to console himself
by making fun of him and his wife behind his
back. Bishop Percy, who has warned us not to
take Garrick's descriptions too seriously, says
that Johnson was by no means so repulsive as
has been commonly supposed, that his counten-
ance when in a good humour was not disagree-
able, and that many ladies have thought his
features might not be unattractive when he was
On the other hand Dr. Thomas Camp-
bell has left a very unflattering portrait of the
great man in his Diary of a Visit to England in
1775: "He has the aspect of an idiot, without
the faintest ray of sense gleaming from any one

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feature-with the most awkward garb and unpowdered grey whig, on one side only of his head-he is for ever dancing the devil's jig, and sometimes he makes the most drivelling effort to whistle some thought in his absent paroxysms. . . . His awkwardness at table is just what Chesterfield described, and his roughness of manners kept pace with that.' Campbell was an. Irish clergyman, of some repute in his day as a writer, who met Johnson several times at the Thrales and elsewhere as will be seen in the course of


That Johnson well proper course to be instruction of youth,

knew the most pursued in the is authentically ascertained by the following paper in his own handwriting, given about this period to a relation, and now in the possession of Mr. John Nichols :


"WHEN the introduction, or formation of nouns and verbs, is perfectly mastered, let them learn Corderius, by Mr. Clarke; beginning at the same time to translate out of the introduction, that by this means they may learn the syntax. Then let them proceed to Erasmus, with an English translation, by the same author.

"Class II. Learns Eutropius and Cornelius Nepos, or Justin, with the translation.

"N.B. The first class gets for their part every morning the rules which they have learned before, and in the afternoon learns the Latin rules of the nouns and verbs.

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They are examined in the rules which they have learned, every Thursday and Saturday. "The second class does the same whilst they are in Eutropius; afterward their part is in the irregular nouns and verbs, and in the rules for making and scanning verses. They are examined as the first.


"Class III. Ovid's Metamorphoses in the morning, and Cæsar's Commentaries in the "Practise in the Latin rules till they are perfect in them; afterward in Mr. Leed's Greek

Grammar. Examined as before.

"Afterward they proceed to Virgil, beginning at the same time to write themes and verses, and to learn Greek: from thence passing on to Horace, &c. as shall seem most proper.

"I know not well what books to direct you to, because you have not informed me what study you will apply yourself to. I believe it will be most for your advantage to apply yourself wholly to the languages, till you go to the University; The Greek authors I think it best for you to read are these:

"Cebes. "Elian.

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in those of the purest ages; as Terence, Tully, Cæsar, Sallust, Nepos, Velleius Paterculus, Virgil, Horace, Phædrus.

"The greatest and most necessary task still remains, to attain a habit of expression, without which knowledge is of little use. This is necesand can only be acquired by a daily imitation of sary in Latin, and more necessary in English; the best and correctest authors.1


Mr. Peter

While Johnson kept his academy, there can be no doubt that he was insensibly furnishing his mind with various knowledge; but I have not discovered that he wrote anything, except a great part of his tragedy of Irene. Garrick, the elder brother of David, told me that he remembered Johnson's borrowing the Turkish History 2 of him, in order to form his play from it. When what he had done to Mr. Walmsley, who he had finished some part of it, he read objected to his having already brought his heroine into great distress, and asked him, How can you possibly contrive to plunge her into deeper calamity?" Johnson, in sly allusion to the supposed oppressive proceedings of the court of which Mr. Walmsley was registrar, replied, "Sir, I can put her into the Spiritual Court!"


Mr. Walmsley, however, was well pleased with this proof of Johnson's him to finish the tragedy, and produce it abilities as a dramatic writer, and advised on the stage.

Johnson now thought of trying his fortune in London, the great field of genius and exertion, where talents of every kind have the fullest scope and the highest encouragement. It is a memorable circumstance that his pupil David


1 Croker has pointed out that this paper contains two schemes, one for a school, the other for the individual studies of some young friends. is obvious from Boswell's admiration for this paper that he did not know "the most proper course to be pursued in the instruction of youth.'

2 Knolles' History of the Turks. See The Rambler (122). "Old Knolles," said Byron at Missolonghi a few weeks before his death, "was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child; and I believe it had much influence on my future wishes to visit the Levant, and gave perhaps the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry." Byron's Life and Works, ix. 141, Ed. 1832.

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