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literary history, I shall therefore insert some passages which were struck out, it 1775.
In the paragraph where he says, the Americans were incited to resistance by
And the next paragraph ran thus: “On the original contrivers of mischief, rather than on those whom they have deluded, let an insulted nation pour out its vengeance."
The paragraph which came next was in these words: “Unhappy is that country, in which men can hope for advancement by favouring its enemies. The tranquillity of stable government is not always eafily preserved against the machinations of single innovators ; but what can be the bope of quiet, when fačtions hostile to the legislature can be openly formed and openly avowed ?”
After the paragraph which now concludes the pamphlet, there followed this, in which he certainly means the great Earl of Chatham, and glances at a certain popular Lord Chancellor :
If, by the fortune of war, they drive us utterly away, what they will do next can only be conjectured. If a new monarchy is erezted, they will want a King. He who first takes into his hand the sceptre of America, pould have a name of good
William has been known both as conqueror and deliverer ; and perhaps England, however contemned, might yet supply them with ANOTHER William. Whigs, indeed, are not willing to be governed; and it is possible that King William may be strongly inclined to guide their measures : but Whigs have been cheated like other mortals, and suffered their leader to become their tyrant, under the name of their Protector. What more they will receive from England, no man can tell. In their rudiments of empire they may want a Chancellor.”
Then came this paragraph:
“ Their numbers are, at present, not quite fufficient for the greatness which, in
How it ended I know not, as it is cut off abruptly at the foot of the last of these proof pages.
His pamphlets in support of the measures of administration were published on his own account, and he afterwards collected them into a volume, with the title of “Political Tracts, by the Authour of the Rambler,” with this motto,
“ Fallitur egregio quisquis fub Principe credit
These pamphlets drew upon him numerous attacks. Against the common weapons of literary warfare he was hardened; but there were two instances of animadversion which I communicated to him, and from what I could judge, both from his filence and his looks, appeared to me to impress him much.
One was, a “A Letter to Dr. Samuel Johnson, occasioned by his late political Publications.” It appeared previous to his “ Taxation no Tyranny,” and was written by Dr. Joseph Towers. In that performance, Dr. Johnson was treated with the respect due to so eminent a man, while his conduct as a political writer was boldly and pointedly arraigned, as inconsistent with the character of one, who, if he did employ his pen upon politicks, “it might reasonably be expected should distinguish himself, not by party violence and rancour, but by moderation and by wisdom.”
It concluded thus : “ I would, however, wish you to remember, should you again address the publick under the character of a political writer, that luxuriance of imagination or energy of language will ill compensate for the want of candour, of justice, and of truth. And I shall only add, that should I hereafter be disposed to read, as I heretofore have done, the most excellent of all your performances, “The RAMBLER,' the pleasure which I have been accuftomed to find in it will be much diminished by the reflection that the writer of so moral, so elegant, and so valuable a work, was capable of prostituting his talents in such productions as “The False Alarm,' the · Thoughts on the Transactions respecting Falkland's Inands,' and · The Patriot.”
I am willing to do justice to the merit of Dr. Towers, of whom I will say, that although I abhor his Whiggish democratical notions and propensities, (for I will not call them principles,) I esteem him as an ingenious, knowing, and very convivial man.
The other instance was a paragraph of a letter to me, from my old and most intimate friend the Reverend Mr. Temple, who wrote the character of
Gray, which has had the honour to be adopted both by Mr. Mason and
However confident of the rectitude of his own mind, Johnson may have felt fincere uneasiness that his conduct should be erroneously imputed to unworthy motives, by good men, and that the influence of his valuable writings should on that account be in any degree obstructed or lessened.
He complained to a Right Honourable friend of distinguished talents and very elegant manners, with whom he maintained a long intimacy, and whose generosity towards him will afterwards appear, that his pension having been given to him as a literary character, he had been applied to by administration to write political pamphlets ; and he was even so much irritated, that he delared his resolution to resign his pension. His friend shewed him the impropriety of such a measure, and he afterwards expressed his gratitude, and said he had received good advice. To that friend he once signified a wish to have his pension secured to him for his life; but he neither asked nor received from government any reward whatsoever for his political labours.
On Friday, March 24, I met him at the LITERARY CLUB, where were Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Mr. Colman, Dr. Percy, Mr. Vesey, Sir Charles Bunbury, Dr. George Fordyce, Mr. Steevens, and Mr. Charles Fox. Before he came in, we talked of his « Journey to the Western Inands,” and of his coming away, “ willing to believe the second sight?,” which seemed to excite some ridicule. I was then so impressed with the truth of
fo many of the stories of it which I had been told, that I avowed my conviction, saying, “ He is only willing to believe, I do believe. The evidence is enough for me, though not for his great mind. What will not fill a quart bottle will fill a pint bottle. I am filled with belief.” “ Are you? (faid Colman,) then
cork it up.”
I found his “ Journey” the common topick of conversation in London at this time, wherever I happened to be. At one of Lord Mansfield's formal Sunday evening conversations, strangely called Levées, his Lordship addressed me, “We have all been reading your travels, Mr. Boswell.” I answered, “I was but the humble attendant of Dr. Johnson.” The Chief Justice replied, with that air and manner which none, who ever saw and heard him, can forget, “ He speaks ill of nobody but Olian.”
2 Johnson's “ Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland," edit. 1785, p. 256.
Johnson was in high spirits this evening at the club, and talked with great animation and success. He attacked Swift, as he used to do upon all occasions. « The Tale of a Tub' is so much superiour to his other writings, that one can hardly believe he was the authour of it. There is in it such a vigour of mind, such a swarm of thoughts, so much of nature, and art, and life.” I wondered to hear him say of “ Gulliver's Travels,” “ When once you have thought of big men and little men, it is very easy to do all the rest.” I endeavoured to make a stand for Swift, and tried to rouse those who were much more able to defend him; but in vain. Johnson at last of his own accord allowed very great merit to the inventory of articles found in the pockets of the Man Mountain, particularly the description of his watch, which it was conjectured was his God, as he consulted it upon all occasions. He observed, that “ Swift put his name to but two things, (after he had a name to put,) · The Plan for the Improvement of the English Language, and the last · Drapier's Letter."
From Swift, there was an easy transition to Mr. Thomas Sheridan.Johnson. “ Sheridan is a wonderful admirer of the tragedy of Douglas, and presented its authour with a gold medal. Some years ago, at a coffee-house in Oxford, I called to him, “Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Sheridan, how came you to give a gold medal to Home, for writing that foolish play?' This, you see, was wanton and insolent; but I meant to be wanton and insolent. A medal has no value but as a stamp of merit. And was Sheridan to assume to himself the right of giving that stamp? If Sheridan was magnificent enough to bestow a gold medal as an honorary reward of dramatick excellence, he should have requested one of the Universities to choose the person on whom it should be conferred. Sheridan had no right to give a stamp of merit: it was counterfeiting Apollo's coin.”
On Monday, March 27, I breakfasted with him at Mr. Strahan's. He told us, that he was engaged to go that evening to Mrs. Abington's benefit. “ She was visiting some ladies whom I was visiting, and begged that I would come to her benefit. I told her I could not hear: but she insisted so much on my coming, that it would have been brutal to have refused her.” This was a speech quite characteristical. He loved to bring forward his having been in the gay circles of life; and he was, perhaps, a little vain of the solicitations of this elegant and fashionable actress. He told us, the play was to be « The Hypocrite,” altered from Cibber's “ Nonjuror,” so as to fatyrize the Methodists. “ I do not think (faid he,) the character of the Hypocrite justly applicable to the Methodists; but it was very applicable to the Nonjurors.
I once said to Dr. Madan, a clergyman of Ireland, who was a great Whig,
I was startled at his argument, and could by no means think it convincing.
had he not resembled “ My father as he swore
s This was not merely a cursory remark; for in his Life of Fenton he observes, “ With many other wise and virtuous men, who at that time of discord and debate [about the beginning of this century,] consulted conscience well or ill informed, more than interest, he doubted the legality of the government; and refusing to qualify himself for publick employment, by taking the oaths required, left the University without a degree.” This conduct, Johnson calls “ perverseness of integrity.”
The question concerning the morality of taking oaths, of whatever kind, imposed by the prevailing power at the time, rather than to be excluded from all consequence, or even any considerable usefulness in society, has been agitated with all the acuteness of casuistry. It is related, that he who devised the oath of abjuration, profligately boasted, that he had framed a test which should damn one half of the nation, and starve the other. Upon minds not exalted to inflexible rectitude, or minds in which zeal for a party is predominant to excess, taking that oath against conviction, may have been palliated under the plea of necessity, or ventured upon in heat, as upon the whole producing more good than evil.
At a county election in Scotland, many years ago, when there was a warm contest between the friends of the Hanoverian succession and those against it, the oath of abjuration having been demanded, the freeholders upon one side rose to go away. Upon which a very fanguine gentleman, one of their number, ran to the door to stop them, calling out with much earnestness, “Stay, stay, my friends, and let us swear the rogues out of it!"