« AnteriorContinuar »
THE SENATE OF LILLIPUT
It appears that he was now enlisted who deserves to be respectably recorded by Mr. Cave, as a regular coadjutor in in the literary annals of this country. his magazine,
by which he probably He was descended of an ancient family in obtained a tolerable livelihood. At Scotland; but having a small patrimony, what time or by what means, he had ac- and being an adherent of the unfortunate quired a competent knowledge both of House of Stuart, he could not accept of French and Italian, I do not know; but any office in the state ; he therefore came he was so well skilled in them, as to be to London, and employed his talents and sufficiently qualified for a translator. learning as an
“ Author by profession.” That part of his labour which consisted His writings in history, criticism, and in emendation and improvement of the politics, had considerable merit. He a productions of other contributors, like was the first English historian who had that employed in levelling ground, can recourse to that authentic source of inforbe perceived only by those who had an mation, the Parliamentary Journals; and opportunity of comparing the original such was the power of his political pen, with the altered copy.
What we that, at an early period, government certainly know to have been done by him thought it worth their while to keep it in this way, was the Debates in both quiet by a pension, which he enjoyed till Houses of Parliament, under the name of his death. Johnson esteemed him " The Senate of Lilliput,” sometimes enough to wish that his life should be with feigned denominations of the several written. The debates in Parliament, speakers, sometimes with denominations which were brought home and digested formed of the letters of their real names, by Guthrie, whose memory, though surin the manner of what is called anagram, - passed by others who have since followed so that they might easily be deciphered. him in the same department, was yet very Parliament then kept the press in a kind quick and tenacious, were sent by Cave of mysterious awe, which made it neces to Johnson for his revision ; and after sary to have recourse to such devices. some time, when Guthrie had attained to In our time it has acquired an unre- greater variety of employment, and the strained freedom, so that the people in speeches were more and more enriched all parts of the kingdom have a fair, open, by the accession of Johnson's genius, it and exact report of the actual proceedings was resolved that he should do the whole of their representatives and legislators, himself, from the scanty notes furnished which in our constitution is highly to be by persons employed to attend in both yalued; though, unquestionably, there Houses of Parliament. Sometimes, howhas of late been too much reason to com- ever, as he himself told me, he had noplain of the petulance with which obscure thing more communicated to him than the scribblers have presumed to treat men of names of the several speakers, and the the most respectable character and situa- part which they had taken in the debate. tion.
Thus was Johnson employed during This important article of the “Gentle some of the best years of his life, as a man's Magazine ” was, for several years, mere literary labourer “ for gain not executed by Mr. William Guthrie, a man glory,” solely to obtain honest
Where solemn themes in fuller splendour shine, 1 How much poetry he wrote, I know not : but (Delightful mixture,) blended with the gay, he informed me that he was the author of the Where in improving, various joys we find, beautiful little piece, “The Eagle and Robin A welcome respite to the wearied mind. Redbreast,” in the collection of poems entitled,
Union, though it is there said to be written
B. Thus when the nymphs in some fair verdant by Archibald Scott, before the year 1600. mead,
Peter Cunningham told Croker that he had seen Of various flow'rs a beauteous wreath compose, a letter of Jos. Warton's declaring the poem to The lovely violet's azure-painted head
have been written by his brother Tom who Adds lustre to the crimson-blushing rose,
edited the volume. For many years Guthrie This splendid Iris, with her varied dye, received a regular pension from the ministry of sa es in the æther, and adorns the sky. £200 : see D’Israeli's Calamities and Quarrels of --BRITON.” B. Authors, i. 5.
May this year, him.
support. He, however, indulged himself There are in Oldham's imitation, many in occasional little sallies, which the prosaic verses and bad rhymes, and his French so happily express by the term poem sets out with a strange inadvertent jeux d'esprit, and which will be noticed blunder : in their order, in the progress of this
“Tho' much concern'd to leave my dear old work.
friend, But what first displayed his transcendent
I must, however, his design commend powers, and “gave the world assurance Of fixing in the countryof the Man,” was his “ London, a poem in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juve his friend ; his friend was going to leave
It is plain he was not going to leave nal”; which came out and burst forth with splendour, the rays this with good critical sagacity, to
A young lady at once corrected of which will for ever encircle his name. Boileau had imitated the same satire with
'Though much concern'd to lose my dear old great success, applying it to Paris ; but friend." an attentive comparison will satisfy every
There is one passage in the original, reader, that he is much excelled by the English Juvenal. Oldham 1 had also
better transsused by Oldham than by imitated it
, and applied it to London : all Johnson : which performances concur to prove, that “Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se, great cities in every age, and in every Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.”—V. 152. country, will furnish similar topics of which is an exquisite remark on the gallsatire. Whether Johnson had previously read Oldham's imitation, I do not know: ing meanness and contempt annexed to but it is not a little remarkable, thał poverty : Johnson's imitation is : there is scarcely any coincidence found “Of all the griefs that harass the distrest, between the two performances, though Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest. upon the very same subject. The only
OLDHAM's, though less elegant, is more instances are, in describing London as the sink of foreign worthlessness :
Nothing in poverty so ill is borne, -the common shore,
As its exposing men to grinning scorn." Where France does all her filth and ordure pour."
Where, or in what manner, this poem “The common shore of Paris and of Rome." was composed, I am sorry that I neglected
-JOHNSON. to ascertain with precision, from Johnson's and,
own authority. He has marked upon his “No calling or profession comes amiss,
corrected copy of the first edition of it, A needy monsieur can be what he please.”
“Written in 1738 ;” and, as it was pub
-OLDHAM. lished in the month of May in that year, it “All sciences a fasting monsieur knows.” is evident that much time
--JOHNSON. employed in preparing it for the press. The particulars which Oldham has col- The history of its publication I am enabled lected, both as exhibiting the horrors of to give in a very satisfactory manner; and London, and of the times, contrasted judging from myself, and many of my with better days, are different from those friends, I trust that it will not be uninterest of Johnson, and in general well chosen ing to my readers. and well exprest. 2
We may be certain, though it is not i John Oldham (1653-1683), known as the
common a practice in my native city of EdinEnglish Juvenal for his satires against the burgh ! Jesuits.
“If what I've said can't from the town affr'ight, 2 I own it pleased me to find amongst them Consider other dangers of the night; one trait of the manners of the age in London, When brickbats are from upper stories thtown, in the last century, to shield from the sneer of And emptied chamberpots come pouring own English ridicule, what was some time ago too From garret windows." B.
PUBLICATION OF “ LONDON”
to it :
I expressly named in the following letters solicitations in his favour. propose,
my to Mr. Cave, in 1738, that they all relate calculation be near the truth, to engage for the
reimbursement of all that you shall lose by an
impression of 500; provided, as you very geneTO MR. CAVE.
rously propose, that the profit, if any, be set aside
for the author's use, excepting the present you “Castle-street, Wednesday morning. made, which, if he be a gainer, it is fit he should [No date. 1738.) repay. I beg that you will let one of your ser
vants write an exact account of the expense of “When I took the liberty of writing to you
such an impression, and send it with the poem, a few days ago, I did not expect a repetition of that I may know what I engage for. I am very the same pleasure so soon; for a pleasure I shall sensible, from your generosity on this occasion, always think it, to converse in any manner with
of your regard to learning, even in its unhappiest
state; cannot but think such a temper an ingenious and candid man; but having the deserving of the gratitude of those who suffer so inclosed poem in my hands to dispose of for the
often from a contrary disposition. benefit of the author, (of whose abilities I shall say nothing, since I send you his performance,)
“I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
“Sam. JOHNSON.” 2 I believed I could not procure more advantageous terms from any person than from you, who have so much distinguished yourself by your generous
"TO MR. CAVE. encouragement of poetry; and whose judgment
[No date.) of that art nothing but your commendation of my triflel can give me any occasion to call in
“I waited on you to take the copy to question. I do not doubt but you will look over this poem with another eye, and reward it in a
Dodsley's : as I remember the number of lines different manner, from a mercenary bookseller, Eugenio,'3 with the quotations, which must be
which it contains, it will be no longer than who counts the lines he is to purchase, and con- subjoined at the bottom of the page; part of the siders nothing but the bulk. I cannot help taking beauty of the performance (if any beauty be notice, that, besides what the author may hope allowed it) consisting in adapting Juvenal's for on account of his abilities, he has likewise sentiments to modern facts and persons. It will, another claim to your regard, as he lies at present with those additions, very conveniently make under very disadvantageous circumstances of fortune. I beg, therefore, that you will favour five sheets... And since the expense will be no me with a letter to-morrow, that I may know more, I shall contentedly insure it, as I mentioned
in my last. If it be not therefore what you can afford to allow him, that he may
to Dodsley's, either part with it to you, or find out (which I do
I beg it may be sent me by the penny-post, that
I not expect), some other way more to his satisfac
may have it in the evening. I have composed
a Greek Epigram to Eliza, and think she ought tion.
“I have only to add, that as I am sensible I have to be celebrated in as many different language transcribed it very coarsely, which, after having as Lewis le Grand. Pray send me word when altered it, I was obliged to do, I will
, if you you will begin upon the poem, for it is a long way please to transmit the sheets from the press, cor
to walk. I would leave my Epigram, but have
I am, Sir, rect it for you ; and take the trouble of altering not day-light to transcribe it.
“ Yours, &c. any stroke of satire which you may dislike.
“ SAM. JOHNSON." * By exerting on this occasion your usual generosity, you will not only encourage learning, and relieve distress, but (though it be in com 2 Dr. Hill tells us that the original letter conparison of the other motives of very small account) tains an additional paragraph, -“I beg that you oblige in a very sensible manner, Sir, your very will not delay your answer. humble servant,
3 A poem, published in 1737, of which see an “Sam. Johnson." account under April 30, 1773.
4 Mrs. Elizabeth Carter(1717–1806), daughter "TO MR. CAVE.
of Dr. Nicholas Carter, was one of the most
learned of her sex. She was mistress of many “Monday, No. 6, Castle-street. languages, ancient and modern, and occasionally “SIR,
condescended to poetry, in which she was not so
well versed. Her most remarkable performance “I AM to return you thanks for the present was a translation of the Discourses of Epictetus, you were so kind as to send by me, and to intreat
of which George Long, in the preface to his that you will be pleased to inform me by the penny, translation, has said that probably no Englishpost, whether you resolve to print the poem.
man could have bettered it at the time. Her you please to send it me by the post, with a note erudition did not prevent her from ing an to Dodsley, I will go and read the lines to him, agreeable companion and a sensible woman. that we may have his consent to put his name in Johnson (says Hawkins) hearing a lady once the title-page. As to the printing, if it can be set praised for her learning, observed : “A man is in immediately about, I will be so much the author's general better pleased when he has a good dinner friend, as not to content myself with upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.
My old friend Mrs. Carter could make a pudding 1 His Ode Ad Urbanum, probably. (N.) B. as well as translate Epictetus."
" TO MR. CAVE.
But we have seen that the worthy, modest, [No date.]
and ingenious Mr. Robert Dodsley had “SIR,
"Lam extremely obliged by your kind letter, taste enough to perceive its uncommon and will not fail to attend you to-morrow with merit, and thought it creditable to have a IRENE, who looks upon you as one of her best share in it. The fact is, that, at a future friends.
conference, he bargained for the whole “I was to-day with Mr. Dodsley, who declares very warmly in favour of the paper you sent him, property of it, for which he gave Johnson which he desires to have a share in, it being, as ten guineas ; who told me, “I might perhe says, a creditable ihing to be concerned in. I haps have accepted of less; but that Paul knew not what answer to make till I had con- Whitehead had a little before got ten sulted you, nor what to demand on the author's part, but am very willing that, if you please, he guineas for a poem ; and I would not take should have a part in it, as he will undoubtedly less than Paul Whitehead.” be more diligent to disperse and promote it. If
I may here observe, that Johnson apyou can send ine word to-morro'y what I shall say to him, I will settle matters, and bring the peared to me to undervalue Paul Whitepoem with me for the press, which, as the town head upon every occasion when he was empties, we cannot be too quick with. am, mentioned, and, in my opinion, did not Sir,
do him justice ; but when it is considered "Yours, &c. “ SÁM. JOHNSON.”
!hat Paul Whitehead was a member of a
riotous and profane club," we may account To us who have long known the manly for Johnson's having a prejudice against force, bold spirit, and masterly versifica- him. Paul Whitehead was, indeed, untion of this poem, it is a matter of curiosity fortunate in being not only slighted by to observe the diffidence with which its Johnson, but violently attacked by author brought it forward into public Churchill, who utters the following imnotice, while he is so cautious as not to precation : avow it to be his own production; and with what humility he offers to allow the printer
May I (can worse disgrace on manhood fall ?)
Be born a Whitehead, and baptized a Paul!” stroke of satire which he
any. might dislike. That any such alteration
yet I shall never be persuaded to think was made, we do not know.
If we meanly of the author of so brilliant and did, we could not but feel an indignant pointed a satire as Manners.” regret ; but how painsul is it to see that a Johnson's “ London ” was published in writer of such vigorous powers of mind May, 1738 ; 3 and it is remarkable, that it was actually in such distress, that the small profit which so short a poem, however
2 The Monks of Medmenham Abbey, a society excellent, could yield, was courted as a
of dissipated men of fashion who dubbed them
selves Franciscans after their leader Sir Francis “relief.”
Dashwood. Their Rabelaisian motto, Fay ce It has been generally said, I know not que vous voudras, may still be seen over the with what truth, that Johnson offered his doorway of the picturesque ruins on the banks “ London to several booksellers, none
of the Thames between Henley and Marlow.
Lord Sandwich and Wilkes were both members of of whom would purchase it. To this this precious crew. See Almon's Life of Wilkes circumstance Mr. Derrick 1 alludes in the and Sir George Trevelyan's Early History of
For. following lines of his “Fortune, a Rhap
3 Sir John Hawkins, p. 86, tells us, sody:
is antecated, in the poem of London :' but in “Will no kind patron JOHNSON own?
every particular, except the difference of a year,
what is there said of the departure of Thales, Shall JOHNSON friendless range the town? And every publisher refuse
must be understood of Savage, and looked upon
as true history." This conjecture is, I believe, The offspring of his happy Muse ?”
entirely groundless. I have been assured that
Johnson said he was not so much as acquainted 1 Samuel Derrick, an Irishman (1724-69), was with Savage, when he wrote his London. If apprenticed to a linen-draper, which useful the departure mentioned in it was the departure business he abandoned for the stage, and the of Savage, the event was not antedated but stage very soon for literature. He succeeded foreseen; for London was published in May, Beau Nash as Master of the Ceremonies at Bath, 1738, and Savage did not set out for Wales till where he was more in his element, but his loose July, 1739. However well Johnson could defend and extravagant life kept him always in want. the credibility of second sight, he did not pretend
RECEPTION OF THE POENI
came out on the same morning with Pope's become cold and callous, and discontented satire, entitled 1738”; so that England with the world, from the neglect which had at once its Juvenal and Horace as he experienced of his public and private poetical monitors. The Reverend Dr. worth, by those in whose power it was to Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury, to gratify so gallant a veteran with marks whom I am indebted for some obliging of distinction. This extraordinary person communications, was then a student at was as remarkable for his learning and Oxford, and remembers well the effect taste, as for his other eminent qualities ; which “London " produced. Every body and no man was more prompt, active, was delighted with it ; and there being and generous, in encouraging merit. I no name to it, the first buzz of the literary have heard Johnson gratelully acknowcircles was,
“ Here is an unknown poet, ledge, in his presence, the kind and greater even than Pope.” And it is re effectual support which he gave to his corded in the “Gentleman's Magazine “London,” though unacquainted with its of that year, - that it “got to the second author. edition in the course of a week.”
Pope, who then filled the poetical throne One of the warmest patrons of this without a rival, it may reasonably be prepoem on its first appearance was General sumed, must have been particularly struck Oglethorpe, 3 whose“ strong benevolence by the sudden appearance of such a poet ; of soul ” was unabated during the course of and, to his credit, let it be remembered, a very long life; though it is painful to that his feelings and conduct on the occathink, that he had but too much reason to sion were candid and liberal.
quested Mr. Richardson, son of the that he himself was possessed of that faculty. B. painter, to endeavour to find out who this Dr. Hill, however, gives good reasons for believing Boswell to have been mistaken.
new author was. Mr. Richardson, after 1 Dr. Douglas (1721–1807), the son of a Scottish some inquiry, having informed him that merchant, was educated at Oxford, appointed he had discovered only that his name was chaplain to the Third regiment of Footguards, and Johnson, and that he was some obscure was present with them at Fontenoy. afterwards tutor to Lord Bath's eldest son. He man, Pope said, “He will soon be published many books, theological and others, déterré." We shall presently see, from a including editions of Clarendon's History, and note written by Pope, that he was himself, Cook's Voyages. In 1787 he was made Bishop afterward more successful in his inquiries of Carlisle and in 1791 translated to the See of Salisbury.
than his friend. 2 Page 269. B.
That in this justly-celebrated poem may 3 "One, driven by strong benevolence of soul; be found a few rhymes which the critical
Shall fiy, like Oglethorpe, from pole to pole.”
precision of English prosody at this day
would disallow, cannot be denied ; but James Edward Oglethorpe (1698-1725) was with this small imperfection, which in the educated at Oxford, served under Prince Eugene general blaze of its excellence is not perrebellion of 1745, where he was considered to have ceived, till the mind has subsided into cool been rather too lenient to the enemy. His con- attention, it is, undoubtedly, one of the duct was the subject of an inquiry, and though he noblest productions in our language, both He sat for several Parliaments, where he acquired for sentiment and expression. The nation the reputation of a Jacobite. The quotation was then in that ferment against the Court refers to his exertions in the reform of our prisons and the Ministry, which some years after and the colonization of the province of Georgia, ended in the downfall of Sir Robert where he spent ten years.
His wisdom does not seem to have been always equal to his philan- Walpole ; and as it has been said, that thropy: Horace Walpole. (Letters viii. 548) Tories are Whigs when out of place, and thus describes him in his eighty-seventh year: Whigs Tories when in place ; so, as a would suit a boy, if a boy could recollect a century Whig Administration ruled with what backwards. His teeth are gone; he is a shadow force it could, a Tory Opposition had all and a wrinkled one ;
but his spirits and his the animation and all the eloquence of spirit are in full bloom': two years and a half ago he challenged a neighbouring gentleman for 4 Sir Joshua Reynolds, from the information trespassing on his manor.
of the younger Richardson.