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Politiani Poemata Latina, quibus Notas, of a person, who will undertake, on reasonable cum historia Latina poeseos, a Petrarcha terms, sometimes to fill a column.
“His opinion is, that the public would not give avo ad Politiani tempora deducta, et vita you a bad reception, if, beside the current wit of Politiani fusius quam antehac enarrata, the month, which a critical examination would addidit SAM. JOHNSON.” 1
generally reduce to a narrow compass, you ad
mitted not only poems, inscriptions, &c., never It appears that his brother Nathaniel printed before, which he will sometimes supply had taken up his father's trade ; for it is you with ; but likewise short literary dissertations mentioned that “subscriptions are taken in Latin or English, critical remarks on authors in by the Editor, or N. Johnson, book- revival
, or loose pieces, like Floyer's, 4 worth pre
ancient or modern, forgotten poems that deserve seller, of Lichfield.”. Notwithstanding serving. By this method, your literary article the merit of Johnson, and the cheap price or so it might be called, will, he thinks, be better at which his book was offered, there were awkward buffoonery, or the dull scurrilities of
recommended to the public than by low jests, not subscribers enough to
a either party. sufficient sale ; the work
“If such a correspondence will be agreeable to appeared, and probably never was ex
you, be pleased to inform me in two posts, what
the conditions are on which you shall expect it. ecuted.
Your late offer 5 gives me no reason to distrust We find him again this year at Bir- your generosity. If you engage in any literary mingham, and there is preserved the projects besides this paper, i have other designs following letter from him to Mr. Edward to impart, if I could be secure from having others Cave, 3 the original compiler and editor reap the advantage of what I should
Your letter by being directed to S. Smith, to of the Gentleman's Magazine :
be left at the Castle in Birmingham, Warwickshire, will reach
" Your humble servant.'
TO MR. CAVE.
" Nov. 25, 1734.
Mr. Cave has put a note on this letter.
“ Answered Dec. 2. But whether anyAs you appear no less sensible than your thing was done in consequence of it we readers of the defects of your poetical article, you
are not informed. will not be displeased, if, in order to the improvement of it, I communicate to you the sentiments
Johnson had, from his early youth, been sensible to the influence of female
charms. When at Stourbridge school, he tem oris excellentis ingenii præstantia compen was much enamoured of Olivia Lloyd, a savit."
Comment. de Reb. ad eum pertin. young Quaker, to whoin he wrote a copy Edit. Amstel. 1718, p. 200. Huet, Bishop of Avranche, who wrote Memoirs of verses, which I have not been able to of his own time in Latin, from which, Croker has recover ; but with what facility and elepointed out, Boswell extracted this bit of pedan- gance he could warble the amorous lay, try. Paulus Pelissonius Fontanerius was Madame will appear from the following lines which de Sévigné's friend Pelisson, of whom was used he wrote for his friend Mr. Edmund the phrase which has since grown into a proverb:
Qu'il abusait de la permission qu'ont les Hector. hommes d'être laids."
1 The book was to contain more than thirty Verses to a Lady, on receiving from her a sheets; the price to be two shillings and sixpence at the time of subscribing, and two shillings and
SPRIG of Myrtle. sixpence at the delivery of a perfect book in “What hopes, what terrors does thy gift quires. B.
create, 2 After Nathaniel's death his mother kept on Ambiguous emblem of uncertain fate ! the shop so long as she lived. Lucy Porter The myrtle, ensign of supreme command, (Johnson's step-daughter) used to board with old Consign'd by Venus to Melissa's hand ; Mrs. Johnson, according to Miss Seward, and Not less capricious than a reigning fair, serve in the shop.
Now grants, and now rejects a lover's prayer. 3 Miss Cave, the grand-niece of Mr. Edw. In myrtle shades oft sings the happy swain; Cave, has obligingly shewn me the originals of In myrtle shades despairing ghosts complain ; 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 4 Sir John Floyer's Treatise on Cold Baths, worthy and indefatigable editor of that valuable Gent. Mag., 1734, p. 197, B. miscellany signed N.; some of which I shall 5 A prize of fifty pounds for the best poem 'on occasionally transcribe in the course of this work. Life, Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell
Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iv. p. 560. N. (B.)
The myrtle crowns the happy lovers' heads, His juvenile attachments to the fair sex
were, however, very transient ; and it is And ease the throbbings of an anxious heart!
certain, that he formed no criminal conSoon must this bough, as you shall fix his doom, nection whatsoever. Mr. Hector, who Adorn Philander's head, or grace his tomb.”] lived with him in his younger days in the
? Mrs. Piozzi gives the following account of utmost intimacy and social freedom, has this little composition from Dr. Johnson's own
assured me, that even at that ardent relation to her, on her inquiring whether it was season his conduct was strictly virtuous rightly attributed to him " think it is now in that respect ; and that though he loved just forty years ago, that a young fellow had a sprig of myrtle given him by a girl he courted, to exhilarate himself with wine, he never and asked me to write him some verses that he knew him intoxicated but once. might present her in return. I promised, but In a man whom religious education has forgot ; and when he called for his lines at the secured from licentious indulgences, the time agreed on-Sit still a moment, (says I) dear Mund, and I'll fetch them thee-so’stepped aside passion of love, when once it has seized for five minutes, and wrote the nonsense you now him, is exceedingly strong ; being unimmy first edition I was induced to love the paired by dissipation, and totally concenauthenticity of this account, by the following cir- trated in one object. This was experienced cumstantial statement in a letter to me from Miss by Johnson, when he became the fervent Seward, of Lichfield :-" I know those verses admirer of Mrs. Porter, after her first huswere addressed to Lucy Porter, when he was band's death. Miss Porter told me, that enamoured of her in his boyish days, two or three years before he had seen her mother, his future when he was first introduced to her mother, wife. He wrote them at my grandfather's, and his appearance was very forbidding: he was gave them to Lucy in the presence of my mother, then lean and lank, so that his immense to whom he shewed them on the instant. She used to repeat them to me, when I asked her for structure of bones was hideously striking the Verses Dr. Johnson gave her on a Sprig of to the eye, and the scars of the scrofula were Myrtle, which he had stolen or begged from her deeply visible. He also wore his hair,
We all know honest Lucy Porter to have which was straight and stiff, and separated been incapable of the mean vanity of applying behind : and he often had, seemingly, to herself a compliment not intended for her. Such was this lady's statement, which I make no convulsive starts and odd gesticulations, doubt she supposed to be correct; but it shews which tended to excite at once surprise how dangerous it is to trust too implicitly to tra
Mrs. Porter was so much ditional testimony and ingenious inference ; for and ridicule. Mr.Hector has lately assured me that Mrs. Piozzi's engaged by his conversation that she overaccount is in this instance accurate, and that he looked all these external disadvantages, was the person for whom Johnson wrote those and said to her daughter, “This is the most verses, which have been erroneously ascribed to Mr. Hammond. I am obliged in so many sensible man that I ever saw in my life.” instances to notice Mrs. Piozzi's incorrectness of Though Mrs. Porter was double the relation, that I gladly seize this opportunity of acknowledging, that however often, she is not age of Johnson,2 and her person and always inaccurate.
the compliment in verse. The author having been drawn into a contro
I applied to Johnson, versy with Miss Anna Seward, in consequence of dictated the verses, which I sent to my friend.
who was with me; and in about half an hour he the preceding statement, (which may be found in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. Ixiii. and lxiv.)
I most solemnly declare, at that time, Johnson received the following letter from Mr. Edmund it was almost two years after that I introduced
was an entire stranger to the Porter family; and Hector, on the subject :
him to the acquaintance of Porter, whom I bought DEAR SIR, -I am sorry to see you are en my clothes of. If you intend to convince this gaged in altercation with a lady who seems obstinate woman, and to exhibit to the public unwilling to be convinced of her errors. Surely the truth of your narrative, you are at liberty to it would be more ingenuous to acknowledge than make what use you please of this statement. I to persevere. Lately, in looking over some hope you will pardon me for taking up so much papers I meant to burn, I found the original of your time. Wishing you multos et felices manuscript of the myrtle, with the date on it, annos, I shall subscribe yse Your obliged 1731, which I have enclosed.
The true history humble servant, E. HECTOR. Birmingham, (which I could swear to) is as follows: Mr. Jan. 9th, 1794. B. Morgan Graves, the elder brother of a worthy 2 She was really in her forty-eighth, and clergyman near Bath, with whom I was ac- Johnson in his twenty-fifth, year at the time of quainted, waited upon a lady in this neighbour- the marriage. Her maiden name was Jervis, a hood, who at parting presented him the branch. family at one time of some position and property He shewed it me, and wished much to return in Leicestershire,
manner, as described to me by the late him, with much gravity, “ Sir, it was a Mr. Garrick, were by no means pleasing love marriage on both sides,” I have had to others, she must have had a superiority from my illustrious friend the following of understanding and talents, as she curious account of their journey to church certainly inspired him with a more than upon the nuptial morn, (9th July) :ordinary passion ; and she having signified “Sir, she had read the old romances, her willingness to accept of his hand, he and had got into her head the fantastical went to Lichfield to ask his mother's notion that a woman of spirit should use consent to the marriage, which he could her lover like a dog. So, Sir, at first she not but be conscious was a very im- told me that I rode too fast, and she prudent scheme, both on account of their could not keep up with me; and, when I disparity of years, and her want of for- rode a little slower she passed me, and tune.” But Mrs. Johnson knew too well complained that I lagged behind. I was the ardour of her son's temper, and was not to be made the slave of caprice ; and too tender a parent to oppose his inclina- I resolved to begin as I meant to end. I tions.
therefore pushed on briskly, till I was I know not for what reason the marriage fairly out of her sight. The road lay ceremony was not performed at Birming between two hedges, so I was sure she ham ; but a resolution was taken that it could not miss it ; and I contrived that should be at Derby, for which place the she should soon come up with me. When bride and bridegroom set out on horse she did, I observed her to be in tears.” back, I suppose in very good humour. This, it must be allowed, was a singular . But though Mr. Topham Beauclerk used beginning of connubial felicity ; but there archly to mention Johnson's having told is no doubt that Johnson, though he thus
1 The following account of Mrs. Johnson, and shewed a manly firmness, proved a most her family (written by Lady Knight, and trans- affectionate and indulgent husband to the mitted by her to Hoole, the translator of Tasso) last moment of Mrs. Johnson's life: and was published in the European Magazine for in his “Prayers and Meditations," we October, 1799: Mrs. Johnson was, that she had a good under- find very remarkable evidence that his standing, and great sensibility, but inclined to be regard and fondness for her never ceased, satirical. Her first husband died insolvent; her
even after her death. sons were much disgusted with her for her second marriage, perhaps because they, being struggling
He now set up a private academy, for to get advanced in life, were mortified to think which purpose he hired a large house, she had allied herself to a man who had not any well situated, near his native city. In visible means of being useful to them; however, the Gentleman's Magazine for 1736, she always retained her affection for them. While they (Dr. and Mrs. Johnson) resided in there is the following advertisement; Gough Square, her son, the officer, knocked at “At Edial, near Lichfield, in Staffordthe door, and asked the maid, if her mistress was shire, young gentlemen are boarded and at home. sick in bed. --O,' says he, 'if it's so, tell her taught the Latin and Greek languages, that her son Jervis, called to know how she did;" by SAMUEL JOHNSON.'
But the only and was going away. The maid begged she pupils who were put under his care were might run up to tell her mistress, and without the celebrated David Garrick and his attending his answer, left him. Mrs. Johnson, enraptured to hear that her son was below, brother George, and a Mr. Offely, a desired the maid to tell him she longed to embrace young gentleman of good fortune, who him. When the maid descended, the gentleman died early. As yet, his name had noihing agitated by the adventure ; it was the only time of that celebrity which afterward comhe ever made an effort to see her. Dr. Johnson manded the highest attention and respect did all he could to console his wife, but told Mrs. of mankind. Had such an advertisement Williams, 'Her son is uniformly undutiful; so I conclude, like many other sober men, he might appeared after the publication of his once in his life be drunk, and in that fit nature London, or his Rambler, or his Dicgot the better of his pride.'
tionary, how would it have burst upon 2 She appears however to have at least brought the world ! with what eagerness would school at Edial was hired and fitted up with her the great and the wealthy have emmoney.
braced 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 reverenced by his pupils. His oddities of he was not so well qualified for being a manner, and uncouth gesticulations, could teacher of elements, and a conductor in not but be the subject of merriment to learning by regular gradations, as men of them ; and in particular, the young rogues inferior powers of mind. His own ac- used to listen at the door of his bedquisitions had been made by fits and starts, chamber, and peep through the key-hole, by violent irruptions in the regions of that they might turn into ridicule his knowledge ; and it could not be expected tumultuous and awkward fondness for that his impatience would be subdued, Mrs. Johnson, whom he used to name by and his impetuosity restrained, so as to the familiar appellation of Tetty or Tetsey ; fit him for a quiet guide to novices. The which, like Betty or Betsey, is provincially art of communicating instruction, of used as a contraction for Elizabeth, her whatever kind, is much to be valued ; Christian name, but which to us seems and I have ever thought that those who ludicrous, when applied to a woman of her devote themselves to this employment, age and appearance. Mr. Garrick de. and do their duty with diligence and suc- scribed her to me as very fat, with a bosom cess, are entitled to very high respect from of more than ordinary protuberance, with the community, as Johnson himself often swelled cheeks, of a florid red, produced maintained. Yet I am of opinion, that by thick painting, and increased by the the greatest abilities are not only not re liberal use of cordials ; flaring and fanquired for this office, but render a man tastic in her dress, and affected both in less fit for it.
her speech and her general behaviour. I While we acknowledge the justness of have seen Garrick exhibit her, by his exThomson's beautiful remark,
quisite talent of mimicry, so as to excite
the heartiest bursts of laughter ; but he, “Delightful task ! to rear the tender thought,
probably, as is the case in all such reTo teach the young idea how to shoot !
presentations, considerably aggravated the we must consider that this delight is per- picture. 2 ceptible only by “a mind at ease, mind at once calm and clear ; but that a 2 He certainly did, if Mrs. Piozzi is to be mind gloomy and impetuous, like that of that she saw a picture of Mrs. Johnson at Lich
believed, as that lady tells us in her Anecdotes Johnson, cannot be fixed for any length of field which made her out a pretty woman, and time in minute attention, and must be so was assured by Miss Porter that it was a good
likeness. frequently irritated by unavoidable slow- Johnson to his face, and used to console himself
Garrick stood in considerable awe of ness and error in the advances of scholars, by making fun of him and his wife behind his as to perform the duty, with little pleasure back. Bishop Percy, who has warned us not to to the teacher, and no great advantage to take Garrick's descriptions too seriously, says
that Johnson was by no means so repulsive as the pupils. Good temper is a most essen
has been commonly supposed, that his countential requisite in a preceptor. Horace ance when in a good humour was not disagree. paints the character as bland :
able, and that many ladies have thoughi his
features might not be unattractive when he was “--Ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi
On the other hand Dr. Thomas CampDoctores, elementa velint ut discere prima."
bell has left a very unflattering portrait of the Sat. l. 1. 1. 25.
great man in his Diary of a Visit to England in 1775 :
He has the aspect of an idiot, without Johnson was not more satisfied with his the faintest ray of sense gleaming from any one
feature-with the most awkward garb and unsituation as the master of an academy, powdered grey whig, on one side only of his than with that of the usher of a school ; head-he is for ever dancing the devil's jig, and we need not wonder, therefore, that he sometimes he makes the most drivelling effort to
whistle some thought in his absent paroxysms. did not keep his academy above a year His awkwardness at table is just what Chesterand a half. From Mr. Garrick's account field described, and his roughness of manners
kept pace with that. Campbell was an. Irish 1 The Seasons, “Spring," 1149. Thomson was clergyman, of some repute in his day as a writer, writing not of the drudgery of a schoolmaster, who met Johnson several times at the Thrales but of the first education of a child by its parents. and elsewhere as will be seen in the course of
HIS IDEA OF A GRAMMAR SCHOOL
That Johnson well knew the most in those of the purest ages ; as Terence, Tully, proper course to be pursued in the Cæsar, Sallust, Nepos, Velleius Paterculus, Virgil, instruction of youth,
Horace, Phædrus. is authentically
“The greatest and most necessary task still ascertained by the following paper in his remains, to attain a habit of expression, without own handwriting, given about this period which knowledge is of little use.
This is necesto a relation, and now in the possession and can only be acquired by a daily imitation of
sary in Latin, and more necessary in English; of Mr. John Nichols :
the best and correctest authors. 1
“SAM. JOHNSON." “ SCHEME for the Classes of a GRAMMAR
School. “When the introduction, or formation of
While Johnson kept his academy, nouns and verbs, is perfectly mastered, let them there can be no doubt that he was insenlearn Corderius, by Mr. Clarke; beginning at sibly furnishing his mind with various the same time to translate out of the introduction, knowledge ; but I have not discovered that by this means they may learn the syntax, that he wrote anything, 'except a great Then let them proceed to Erasmus, with an English translation, by the same author.
part of his tragedy of Irene. Mr. Peter "Class II. Learns Eutropius and Cornelius Garrick, the elder brother of David, told Nepos, or Justin, with the translation. "N.B. The first class gets for their part every
me that he remembered Johnson's bormorning the rules which they have learned before, rowing the Turkish History? of him, in and in the afternoon learns the Latin rules of the order to form his play from it. When nouns and verbs. "" They are examined in the rules which they what he had done to Mr. Walmsley, who
he had finished some part of it, he read have learned, every Thursday and Saturday.
“ The second class does the same whilst they objected to his having already brought are in Eutropius ; afterward their part is in the his heroine into great distress, and asked making and scanning verses. They are exam- him, “How can you possibly contrive to ined as the first.
plunge her into deeper calamity ?” “Class III. Ovid's Metamorphoses in the Johnson, in sly allusion to the supposed morning, and Cæsar's Commentaries in the afternoon.
oppressive proceedings of the court of “Practise in the Latin rules till they are per- which Mr. Walmsley was registrar, refect in them; afterward in Mr. Leed's Greek plied, “Sir, I can put her into the SpiritGrammar. Examined as before.
ual Court ! “Afterward they proceed to Virgil, beginning at the same time to write themes and verses, and
Mr. Walmsley, however, was well to learn Greek: from thence passing on to Horace, pleased with this proof of Johnson's &c. as shall seem most proper.
abilities as a dramatic writer, and advised “I
know not well what books to direct you to; him to finish the tragedy, and produce it because you have not informed me what study you will apply yourself to. I believe it will be on the stage. most for your advantage to apply yourself wholly Johnson now thought of trying his to the languages, till you go to the University; fortune in London, the great field of The Greek authors I think it best for you to read are these :
genius and exertion, where talents of “Cebes.
every kind have the fullest scope and the “ Ælian.
highest encouragement. It is a memor"Lucian by Leeds.
able circumstance that his pupil David
i Croker has pointed out that this paper con"Euripides. Attic and Doric. tains two schemes, one for a school, the other for
It "Thus you will be tolerably skilled in all the the individual studies of some young friends. dialects, beginning with the Attic, to which the is obvious from Boswell's admiration for this
paper that he did not know “the most proper rest must be referred.
"In the study of Latin, it is proper not to course to be pursued in the instruction of youth.' read the latter authors, till you are well versed
2 Knolles' History of the Turks. See The Rambler (122). “Old Knolles,” said Byron at
Missolonghi a few weeks before his death, “was this book. His Diary was first published at one of the first books that gave me pleasure when Sydney in New South Wales in 1854. For the a child ; and I believe it had much influence on curious manner of its discovery in that colony, my future wishes to visit the Levant, and gave and for further particulars of its writer, see Mr. perhaps the oriental colouring which is obNapier's second volume, appendix v., and his served in my poetry.” Byron's Life and Works, Johnsoniana for the Diary itself.
ix. 141, Ed. 1832.