These particulars I mention, in the belief that there was only forgetfulness in my friend; but I owe this much to the Earl of Marchmont's reputation, who, were there no other memorials, will be immortalised by that line of Pope, in the verses on his Grotto:

'And the bright flame was shot through Marchmont's soul.'

Various Readings in the Life of POPE.

'[Somewhat free] sufficiently bold in his criticism.

'All the gay [niceties] varieties of diction.

'Strikes the imagination with far [more] greater force.

'It is [probably] certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen.

'Every sheet enabled him to write the next with [less trouble] more facility.

'No man sympathizes with [vanity, depressed] the sorrows of vanity.

'It had been [criminal] less easily excused.

'When he [threatened to lay down] talked of laying down his pen.

'Society [is so named emphatically in opposition to] politically regulated, is a state contra-distinguished from a state of nature.

'A fictitious life of an [absurd] infatuated scholar.

'A foolish [contempt, disregard,] disesteem of Kings.

'His hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows [were like those of other mortals] acted strongly upon his mind.

'Eager to pursue knowledge and attentive to [accumulate] retain it.

'A mind [excursive] active, ambitious, and adventurous.

'In its [noblest] widest researches still longing to go forward.

'He wrote in such a manner as might expose him to few [neglects] hazards.

'The [reasonableness] justice of my determination.

'A [favourite] delicious employment of the poets.

'More terrifick and more powerful [beings] phantoms perform on the stormy ocean.

'The inventor of [those] this petty [beings] nation.

'The [mind] heart naturally loves truth.'

In the Life of ADDISON we find an unpleasing account of his having lent Steele a hundred pounds, and 'reclaimed his loan by an execution[182].' In the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, the authenticity of this anecdote is denied. But Mr. Malone has obliged me with the following note concerning it:--

'Many persons having doubts concerning this fact, I applied to Dr. Johnson to learn on what authority he asserted it. He told me, he had it from Savage, who lived in intimacy with Steele, and who mentioned, that Steele told him the story with tears in his eyes.--Ben Victor[183], Dr. Johnson said, likewise informed him of this remarkable transaction, from the relation of Mr. Wilkes[184] 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 afterwards 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 recover it. But of such speculations there is no end: we cannot dive into the hearts of men; but their actions are open to observation[185]."

'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[186]. He saw no reason for this[187]. "If nothing but the bright side of characters should be shewn, we should sit down in despondency, 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 naturally fall, were they not supported by the recollection that others had offended like themselves, and by penitence and amendment of life had been restored to the favour of Heaven."

'E.M.'

'March 15, 1782.'

The last paragraph of this note is of great importance; and I request that my readers may consider it with particular attention. It will be afterwards referred to in this work[188].

Various Readings in the Life of ADDISON.

'[But he was our first great 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 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 poetae, Neo poetae sacerdotis sanctitas[189], deesset.'

Various Readings in the Life of PARNELL.

Please Support the Classic Literature Library

Buy James Boswell Books from Amazon.com

Life of Johnson Vol_04 Page 15

James Boswell

Scottish Authors

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

James Boswell
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book