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1781. lived in intimacy with Steele, and who mentioned, that Etat,

Steele told him the story with tears in his eyes.-Ben 72. Victor, Dr. Johnson said, likewise informed him of this

remarkable transaction, from the relation of Mr. Wilkes
the comedian, who was also an intimate of Steele's.
Some in defence of Addison, have said, that the act
was done with the good natured view of rousing Steele,
and correcting that profusion which always made him
necessitous.'_ If that were the case, (said Johnson,)
and that he only wanted to alarm Steele, he would'af-
terwards have returned the money to his friend, which
it is not pretended he did.' This, too, (he added,)
might be retorted by an advocate for Steele, who might
alledge, that he did not repay the loan intentionally,
merely to see whether Addison would be mean and
ungenerous enough to make use of legal process to re-
cover it. But of such speculations there is no end :
we cannot dive into the hearts of men ; but their ac-
tions are open to observation.'

“I then mentioned to him that some people thought
that Mr. Addison's character was so pure, that the fact,
though true, ought to have been suppressed. He saw
no reason for this. 'If nothing but the bright side of
characters should be shewn, we should sit down in de-
spondency, and think it utterly impossible to imitate
them in any thing. The sacred writers (he observed)
related the vicious as well as the virtuous actions of
men ; which had this moral effect, that it kept mankind
from despair, into which otherwise they would natur-
ally fall, were they not supported by the recollection
that others had offended like themselves, and by peni-
tence and amendment of life had been restored to the
favour of Heaven.
March 15, 1782.

E. M."

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The last paragraph of this note is of great importance ; and I request that my



consider it with par

* [The late Mr. Burke informed me, in 1792, that Lady Dorothea Primrose, who died at a great age, I think in 1768, and had been well acquainted with Steele, told him the same story. M.]


ticular attention. It will be afterwards referred to in 1781. this work.


72. Various readings in the Life of Addison. * [But he was our first example] He was, however, one of our earliest examples of correctness.

" And (overlook] despise their masters.

“ His instructions were such as the [state] character of his own time readers made (necessary) proper.

His purpose was to [diffuse) infuse literary curiosity by gentle and unsuspected conveyance [among] into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy.

“ Framed rather for those that (wish] are learning not to write.

“ Domestick (manners] scenes.In his life of PARNELL, I wonder that Johnson omitted to insert an Epitaph which he had long before composed for that amiable man, without ever writing it down, but which he was so good as, at my request, to dictate to me, by which means it has been preserved.

Hic requiescit THOMAS PARNELL, S. T. P.

Qui sacerdos pariter et poeta,

Utrasque partes ita implevit,
Ut neque sacerdoti suavitas poetæ,
Nec poetæ sacerdotis sanctitas, deesset.

Various readings in the Life of PARNELL. “ About three years [after] afterwards.

[Did not much want] was in no great need of improvement.

“But his prosperity did not last long (was clouded with that which took away all his powers of enjoying either profit or pleasure, the death of his wife, whom he is said to have lamented with such sorrow, as hastened his end.5 ] His end, whatever was the cause, was now approaching.


I should have thought that Johnson who had felt the severe affliction from which Parnell never recovered, would have preserved this passage.

(He omitted it, doubtless, because he afterwards learned that, however he might have lamented his wife, his end was hastened by other means. M.]

1781. In the Hermit, the [composition) narrative, as it

is less airy, is less pleasing." Etat. 72.

In the life of BLACKMORE, we find that writer's reputation generously cleared by Johnson from the cloud of prejudice which the malignity of contemporary wits had raised around it. In this spirited exertion of justice, he has been imitated by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his praise of the architecture of Vanburgh.

We trace Johnson's own character in his observations on Blackmore's “magnanimity as an authour.” “ The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself.” Johnson, I recollect, once told me, laughing heartily, that he understood it had been said of him, “ He appears not to feel ; but when he is alone, depend upon it, he suffers sadly." I am as certain as I can be of any man's real sentiments, that he enjoyed the perpetual shower of little hostile arrows as evidences of his fame.

Various readings in the Life of BLACKMORE. “ To [set] engage poetry (on the side] in the cause of virtue.

“ He likewise [established] enforced the truth of Revelation.

“ (Kindness] benevolence was ashamed to favour.

“ His practice, which was once (very extensive] invidiously great.

“ There is scarcely any distemper of dreadful name [of] which he has not (shewn) taught his reader how it is to be opposed) to oppose. “ Of this contemptuous) indecent arrogance.

[He wrote] but produced likewise a work of a different kind.

“ At least (written] compiled with integrity.

“ Faults which many tongues (were desirous] would have made haste to publish.

“ But though he had not] could not boast of much critical knowledge.



" He (used) waited for no felicities of fancy. 1781. “Or had ever elated his (mind) views born to that

Ætat. ideal perfection which every (mind) genius born to ex- 72. cel is condemned always to pursue and never overtake.

“ The first great] fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.”

Various readings in the Life of PHILIPS. “ His dreadful (rival] antagonist Pope.

“They have not often much] are not loaded with thought.

“ In his translation from Pindar, he [will not be de. nied to have reached] found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard.”

Various reudings in the Life of CONGREVE.

“ Congreve's conversation must surely have been at least equally pleasing with his writings.

" It apparently (requires] pre-supposes a familiar knowledge of many characters.

" Reciprocation of (similes] conceits.
“ The dialogue is quick and (various] sparkling.

“ Love for Love; a comedy (more drawn from life] of nearer alliance to life.

“ The general character of his miscellanies is, that they shew little wit and [no] little virtue.

[Perhaps] certainly he had not the fire requisite for the higher species of lyrick poetry.”

Various readings in the Life of TICKELL. “[Longed] long wished to peruse it. “ At the [accession] arrival of King George.

" Fiction (unnaturally) unskilfully compounded of Grecian deities and Gothick fairies.

Various readings in the Life of AKENSIDE. " For [another) u different purpose.

[A furious] an unnecessary and outrageous zeal.

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Ætat. liberty.


[Something which] what he called and thought “ Å [favourer of innovation] lover of contradiction. “ Warburton's (censure] objections. “ His rage (for liberty] of patriotism. “ Mr. Dyson with [a zeal) an ardour of friendship.”

In the life of LYTTELTON, Johnson seems to have been not favourably disposed towards that nobleman. Mrs. Thrale suggests that he was offended by Molly Aston's preference of his Lordship to him. I can by

• Let not my readers smile to think of Johnson's being a candidate for female favour; Mr. Peter 'Garrick assured me, that he was told by a lady, that in her opinion Johnson was “a very seducing man.Disadvantages of person and manner may be forgotten, where intellectual pleasure is communicated to a susceptible mind; and that Johnson was capable of feeling the most delicate and disinterested attachment, appears from the following letter, which is published by Mrs. Thrale, with some others to the same person, of which the excellence is not so apparent :



January, 1775. “Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my congratulations on the new year; and to declare my wishes that your years to come may be many and happy. In this wish, indeed, I include myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes ; yet surely I wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest, dearest Madam,

“ Your, &c.

“ SAM. JOHNSON." [There is still a slight mistake in the text. It was not Molly Aston, but Hill Boothby, for whose affections Johnson and Lord Lyttelton were rival candidates. See Mrs. Piozzi's “ Anecdotes," P. After mentioning the death of Mrs. Fitzherbert (who was a daughter of Mr. Meynell of Bradley in Derbyshire,) and Johnson's high admiration of her, she adds, “ The friend of this lady, Miss Boothby, succeeded her in the management of Mr. Fitzherbert's family, and in the esteem of Dr. Johnson ; though he told me, she pushed her piety to bigotry, her devotion to enthusiasm ; that she somewhat disqualified herself for the duties of this life, by her perpetual aspirations after the next : such was, however, the purity of her mind, he said, and such the graces of her manner, that Lord Lyttelton and he used to strive for her preference with an emulation that occasioned hourly disgust, and ended in lasting animosity. You may see (said he to me, when the Poets' Lives were printed,) that dear Boothby is at my heart still."

Miss Hill Boothby, who was the only daughter of Brook Boothby, Esq. and his wife, Elizabeth Fitzherbert, was somewhat older than Johnson. She was born October 27, 1708, and died January 16, 1756. Six Letters addressed to her by Johnson in the year 1755, are printed in Mrs. Piozzi's Collection ; and a Prayer composed by him on her death may be found in his “ Prayers and Meditations.” His affection for her induced him to preserve and bind up in a volume thirty three of her Letters, which were purchased from the widow of his servant, Francis Barber, and published by R. Phillips, in 1805.

But highly as he valued this lady, his attachment to Miss Molly Aston, (afterwards Mrs. Brodie,) appears to have been still more ardent. He burned (says Mrs,

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