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210. Gauge = measure the capacity of vessels.
221. Nut-brown draughts = draughts of nut-brown ale. With his convivial habits, we may be sure that Goldsmith was not a stranger to the scenes he here describes.
229. Double debt to pay: to serve a double use.
231. For ornament and use. — They were probably used to hide defects in the walls.
232. Twelve good rules. These are worth repeating: 1. Urge no healths. 2. Profane no divine ordinances. 3. Touch no state matters. Reveal no secrets. 5. Pick no quarrels. 6. Make no comparisons. 7. Maintain no ill opinions. 8. Keep no bad company. 9. Encourage no vice. 10. Make no long meals. 11. Repeat no grievances. 12. Lay no wagers. the game of the fox and the geese.
Game of goose
236. Chimney = fireplace.
243. Farmer's news. - His visits to the neighboring markets would naturally make him the newsman. Barber's tale. - The endless loquacity
of barbers is a continual theme for jest or disgust among the writers of the time.
300. Band family.
but to the public.
enclosed tract of land belonging, not to an individual,
321. Blazing square, that is, filled with torches, which the rich used before the introduction of street-lights.
403. Shore, strand. — By strand the poet means the line of sand next the sea; by shore, the ground above the sand.
418. Torno's cliffs the heights around Lake Tornea in the north of Sweden. - Pambamarca = a mountain near Quito in South America.
THERE is no other English author with whom we are so intimately acquainted. Through the hero-worship of his biographer Boswell we are permitted to see and hear him as he appeared in the circle of his most intimate friends. We get close to the man as he actually was. We know his prejudices, foibles, and peculiarities; and, strange to say, this minute acquaintance does not lessen, but increase our admiration and love. He was a piece of rugged Alpine manhood. But his towering greatness was softened by a benevolence that never failed to reach out a helping hand to the needy; and his brusqueness of manner was relieved by an integrity of character that scorned every form of hypocrisy. In the midst of so
much pettiness and cant it is delightful to contemplate his sturdy uprightness and independence; as Carlyle said of Luther, “a true son of nature and fact, for whom these centuries, and many that are to come yet, will be thankful to Heaven."
His peculiarities of person and manner are well known. He was ponderous in body as in intellect. A scrofulous affection, for which Queen Anne had laid royal hands upon him, had disfigured his face, and also tinged his mind, perhaps, with whim and melancholy. He had a rolling walk, and made it a habit to touch the posts as he passed. His appetite for tea was enormous; and he ate with an absorbing interest that might properly be called ravenous. His sight was defective; but when Reynolds painted him with a pen held close to his eye, he protested that he did not want to descend to posterity as "blinking Sam." He was singularly insensible to music; and when a musical performance was praised as being difficult,
he simply said that he wished it had been impossible. After he had published his dictionary he was once with a friend at the top of a hill. "I haven't had a roll for a long time," said the great lexicographer; and, emptying his pockets, he stretched himself on the ground, turning over and over, like a barrel, till he reached the bottom.
But in spite of physical defects and eccentric manners, he dominated, by the sheer force of genius, the most brilliant club of London, and became the most imposing literary figure of his age. In conversation he was ready and eloquent, though apt to bear down an opponent by mere vociferation or savage personality. "There is no arguing with Johnson," said Goldsmith; "for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the but-end of it." He looked upon conversation as an intellectual wrestling, and delighted in it as a skilled and powerful athlete. "That fellow," he once said when sick, "calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now, it would kill me."
He sometimes offended his friends by his rude personalities; but his repentance was so prompt and genuine that he was speedily forgiven. He set a high value on friendship, which, he said, one ought to keep in constant repair. “I look upon a day as lost," he said in his later years, "in which I do not make a new acquaintance." With all his clearness of judgment and honesty of purpose, he was sometimes narrow and prejudiced in his opinions. Not everything he says is to be taken as true, though expressed in the most dogmatic way. "No man but a blockhead," he said, "ever wrote except for money." His principles as a Tory and Churchman sometimes warped his literary criticism. Upon the death of Dr. Bathurst, a friend of his earlier years, he said, "Dear Bathurst was a man to my very heart's content: he hated a fool, and he hated a rogue, and he hated a Whig; he was a very good hater."
Samuel Johnson was born at Lichfield in 1709, the son of a bookseller of considerable ability and reputation. As a boy he was fond of athletic exercises, in which he excelled; and he possessed a constitutional fearlessness that made him a natural
leader. At the grammar school of his native town he acquired the rudiments of Latin under a stern discipline. Though he afterwards complained of the severity of his teachers, he remained a believer in the virtues of the rod. "A child that is flogged," he said, "gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundations of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other."
He left school at sixteen, and spent the next two years at home, probably learning his father's business. He continued his studies, became a good Latin scholar, and accumulated large stores of general information. He was a voracious reader. In 1728 he entered Pembroke College, Oxford, with an unusual store of knowledge. He suffered from poverty; and at the end of three years he left the University without taking a degree. Attacks of melancholy sometimes drove him to the verge of insanity. When reminded in after-years that he had been "a gay and frolicsome fellow," he replied, “Ah, sir, I was mad and violent. It was bitterness which they mistook for frolic. I was miserably poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and my wit; so I disregarded all power and all authority." In his poverty he remained proud; and when a new pair of shoes was placed at his door by some benevolent person, he ungraciously flung them away.
In 1731 he left the University to make his way in the world. For the next thirty years his life was a constant struggle with poverty and hardship. Though of a deeply religious nature, he did not turn to the church for a living. He tried teaching, and failed. At the age of twenty-six he married a fat, gaudy widow of forty-eight. To Johnson's defective sight she always remained a "pretty creature," while she had discernment enough to see the worth and ability of her husband. Though his declaration that "it was a love match on both sides " is apt to meet with some incredulity, the marriage did not prove an unhappy one, and there is something pathetic in the tenderness with which he always referred to her.
In 1737 he went to London with three or four guineas and half of the tragedy of " Irene" in his pocket. Literature at this time did not offer an inviting field. It generally meant poorly paid hack-work for publishers. Long afterwards, in recalling the trials of this period, Johnson burst into tears. One of the publishers to whom he applied for work advised him, after surveying his athletic frame, to get a "porter's knot and carry trunks." He was often in want of food, clothes, and lodging. In these days of precarious livelihood he was befriended by Harry Hervey, toward whom he ever afterwards cherished a lively sense of gratitude. Harry Hervey," he said shortly before his death, 66 was a vicious man, but very kind to me. If you call a dog Hervey, I shall love him."
Notwithstanding his dependent condition, he did not become obsequious. His feeling of manly independence and self-respect never deserted him. He was employed once by Osborne to make a catalogue of the Harleian Library. Reproved by his employer in an offensive manner for negligence, Johnson knocked him down with a huge Greek folio.
The year after his arrival in London we find him at work on the Gentleman's Magazine, a periodical of wide circulation. His most important contributions were his reports of the proceedings of Parliament, which the publisher, as a measure of precaution, sent forth as "Reports of the Debates of the Senate of Lilliput." He was furnished with notes, generally meagre and inaccurate; and on these as a basis it was his business to write the speeches. He did the work marvellously well. Many years afterwards one of Pitt's speeches was pronounced superior to anything in Demosthenes. Johnson replied, "I wrote that speech in a garret in Exeter Street." When his impartiality was once praised in a friendly company, he answered with charming frankness, "That is not quite true; I saved appearances pretty well, but I took care that the Whig dogs should not have the best of it."
In 1738 appeared a poem entitled " London," an imitation of the third satire of Juvenal. It met with a favorable reception;