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words, and was even indignant that Lord might obtain that regard for which I saw the Chesterfield should, for a moment imag
world contending; but I found my attendance
so little encouraged, that neither pride nor ine, that he could be the dupe of such an
modesty would suffer me to continue it. When artifice. His expression to me concern
I had once addressed your Lordship in pubing Lord Chesterfield, upon this occasion lick, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing was, “Sir, after making great professions,
which a retired and uncourtly scholar can
possess. I had done all that I could; and no he had, for many years, taken no notice of
man is well pleased to have his all neglected, me; but when my Dictionary was com be it ever so little. ing out, he fell a scribbling in 'The Seven years, my Lord, have now past, World' about it. Upon which, I wrote
since I waited in your outward rooms, or
was repulsed from your door; during which him a letter expressed in civil terms, but
time I have been pushing on my work through such as might shew him that I did not difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, mind what he said or wrote, and that I and have brought it, at last, to the verge of had done with him.”
publication, without one act of assistance, one
word of encouragement, or one smile of faThis is that celebrated letter of which
vour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I so much has been said, and about which never had a Patron before. curiosity has been so long excited, with
The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acout being gratified. I for many years
quainted with Love, and found him a native
of the rocks. solicited Johnson to favor me with a copy
Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks of it, that so excellent a composition with unconcern on a man struggling for his might not be lost to posterity. He de
life in the water, and, when he has reached
ground, encumbers him with help? The nolayed from time to time to give it me;
tice which you have been pleased to take of till at last in 1781, when we were on a
my labours, had it been early, had been kind ; visit at Mr. Dilly's, at Southill in Bed but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, fordshire, he was pleased to dictate it to and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and me from memory. He afterwards found
cannot impart it; till I am known, and do
not want it. I hope it is no very cynical among his papers a copy of it, which he
asperity, not to confess obligations where no had dictated to Mr. Baretti, with its benefit has been received, or to be unwilling title and corrections, in his own hand
that the Publick should consider me as owing
that to a Patron, which Providence has enwriting. This he gave to Mr. Lang
abled me to do for myself. ton; adding that if it were to come into Having carried on my work thus far with print, he wished it to be from that copy. so little obligation to any favourer of learnBy Mr. Langton's kindness, I am en
ing, I shall not be disappointed though I
should conclude it, if less be possible, with abled to enrich my work with a perfect
less; for I have been long wakened from transcript of what the world has so that dream of hope, in which I once boasted eagerly desired to see.
myself with so much exultation,
Your Lordship's most humble To the Right Honourable, the EARL OF
Most obedient servant, CHESTERFIELD.
SAM. JOHNSON. February 7, 1755. My Lord,
"While this was the talk of the town, I have been lately informed, by the pro
(says Dr. Adams, in a letter to me) I prietor of the World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the
happened to visit Dr. Warburton, who publick, were written by your Lordship. To finding that I was acquainted with Johnbe so distinguished, is an honour, which, be son, desired me earnestly to carry his ing very little accustomed to favours from the
compliments to him, and to tell him, that great, I know not well how to receive, or in
he honoured him for his manly behaviour what terms to acknowledge.
When, upon some slight encouragement, I | in rejecting these condescensions of Lord first visited your Lordship, I was over Chesterfield, and for resenting the treatpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the en
ment he had received from him with a chantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le
| proper spirit. Johnson was visibly pleased vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre-that I l with this compliment, for he had always
a high opinion of Warburton. Indeed, the force of mind which appeared in this letter, was congenial with that which Warburton himself amply possessed.
There is a curious minute circumstance which struck me, in comparing the various editions of Johnson's Imitations of Juvenal. In the tenth Satire one of the couplets upon the vanity of wishes even for literary distinction stood thus:
Yet think what ills the scholar's life assail, Toil, envy, want, the garret, and the jail.
But after experiencing the uneasiness which Lord Chesterfield's fallacious patronage made him feel, he dismissed the word garret from the sad group, and in all the subsequent editions the line stands,
Toil, envy, want, the Patron, and the jail.
That Lord Chesterfield must have been mortified by the lofty contempt, and polite, yet keen, satire with which Johnson exhibited him to himself in this letter, it is impossible to doubt. He, however, with that glossy duplicity which was his constant study, affected to be quite unconcerned. Dr. Adams mentioned to Mr. Robert Dodsleythat he was sorry Johnson had written his letter to Lord Chesterfield. Dodsley, with the true feelings of trade, said "he was very sorry, too; for that he had a property in the Dictionary, to which his Lordship's patronage might have been of consequence." He then told Dr. Adams, that Lord Chesterfield had shewn him the letter. "I should have imagined (replied Dr. Adams) that Lord Chesterfield would have concealed it.” “Poh! (said Dodsley) do you think a letter from Johnson could hurt Lord Chesterfield ? Not at all, Sir. It lay upon his table, where any body might see it. He read it to me; said, 'this man has great powers,' pointed out the severest passages, and observed how well they were expressed.” This air of indifference, which imposed upon
the worthy Dodsley, was certainly nothing but a specimen of that dissimulation which Lord Chesterfield inculcated as one of the most essential lessons for the conduct of life. His Lordship endeavoured to justify himself to Dodsley from the charges brought against him by Johnson; but we may judge of the Alimsiness of his defence, from his having excused his neglect of Johnson, by saying, that "he had heard he had changed his lodgings, and did not know where he lived"; as if there could have been the smallest difficulty to inform himself of that circumstance by enquiring in the literary circle with which his Lordship was well acquainted, and was, indeed, himself, one of its ornaments.
Dr. Adams expostulated with Johnson, and suggested, that his not being admitted when he called on him, was probably not to be imputed to Lord Chesterfield; for his Lordship had declared to Dodsley, that "he would have turned off the best servant he ever had, if he had known that he denied him to a man who would have been always more than welcome"; and a confirmation of this, he insisted on Lord Chesterfield's general affability and easiness of access, especially to literary men. "Sir (said Johnson) that is not Lord Chesterfield; he is the proudest man this day existing." "No, (said Dr. Adams) there is one person, at least, as proud; I think, by your own account you are the prouder man of the two.” “But mine (replied Johnson instantly) was defensive pride.” This, as Dr. Adams well observed, was one of those happy turns for which he was so remarkably ready.
Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not refrain from expressing himself concerning that novel man with pointed freedom: “This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords!” And when his Letters to his natural son were published, he observed, that “they teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing-master
The characters of a "respectable Hot
1The famous London bookseller of the age of Johnson.
tentot,” in Lord Chesterfield's letters, has Johnson himself talk of the character, and been generally understood to be meant for | say that it was meant for George Lord Johnson, and I have no doubt that it Lyttelton, in which I could by no means was. But I remember when the Literary agree; for his Lordship had nothing of Property of those letters was contested in that violence which is a conspicuous the Court of Session in Scotland, and Mr. feature in the composition. Finding that Henry Dundas, one of the counsel for my illustrious friend could bear to have the proprietors, read this character as an it supposed that it might be meant for exhibition of Johnson, Sir David Dal him, I said, laughingly, that there was rymple, Lord Hailes, one of the Judges one trait which unquestionably did not maintained, with some warmth, that it belong to him; "he throws his meat any was not intended as a portrait of John | where but down his throat.” “Sir, (said son, but of a late noble Lord, distin- / he), Lord Chesterfield never saw me eat guished for abstruse science. I have heard | in his life.”
DISRAELI AND THE QUEEN
LYTTON STRACHEY The Queen Victoria (1921) of Lytton Strachey (1880- ) stands as a supreme achievement in modern biographical literature, a masterpiece of subtle characterization and piquant commentary. Ignoring all but a few significant dates, Mr. Strachey presupposes on the part of the reader a general knowledge of the Victorian period, and gives his whole attention to the personality of the Queen. He unhesitatingly reveals incidents, interviews, conversations, correspondence, and all suggestive material which has been the fruit of his investigations. As a result we have no mere glorification of royalty, but a faithful portrait of a woman in the highest office of empire. In the arch cynicism which pervades the book lies no small part of its fascination.
IF VICTORIA had died in the early sev- | due to the skill and vigor of Disraeli.? enties, there can be little doubt that the He returned to office, no longer the duvoice of the world would have pro bious commander of an insufficient host, nounced her a failure.
but with drums beating and flags flying, But she was reserved for a very dif a conquering hero. And as a conquering ferent fate. The outburst of republic hero Victoria welcomed her new Prime anism had been in fact the last flicker of Minister. an expiring cause. The liberal tide, which Then there followed six years of exhad been flowing steadily ever since the citement, of enchantment, of felicity, of Reform Bill, reached its height with Mr. | glory, of romance. The amazing being, Gladstone's first administration; and who now at last, at the age of seventy, towards the end of that administration after a lifetime of extraordinary strugthe inevitable ebb began. The reaction, gles, had turned into reality the absurdwhen it came, was sudden and complete. est of his boyhood's dreams, knew well The General Election of 1874 changed enough how to make his own, with absothe whole face of politics. Mr. Glad lute completeness, the heart of the Sovstone and the Liberals were routed; and ereign Lady whose servant, and whose the Tory party, for the first time for over master, he had so miraculously become. forty years, attained an unquestioned su In women's hearts he had always read as premacy in England. It was obvious that in an open book. His whole career had their surprising triumph was preëminently turned upon those curious entities; and
1From Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey. Published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, 2Earl of Beaconsfield, Tory leader and Inc. Reprinted by permission.
| political opponent of Gladstone.
the more curious they were, the more in the first that in dealing with the Faery timately at home with them he seemed the appropriate method of approach was to be. But Lady Beaconsfield, with her the very antithesis of the Gladstonian; cracked idolatry, and Mrs. Brydges and such a method was naturally his. It Williams, with her clogs, her corpulence, was not his habit to harangue and exhort and her legacy, were gone: an even more and expatiate in official conscientiousness : remarkable phenomenon stood in their he liked to scatter flowers along the path place. He surveyed what was before of business, to compress a weighty arguhim with the eye of a past-master; and he ment into a happy phrase, to insinuate was not for a moment at a loss. He what was in his mind with an air of realized everything—the interacting com friendship and confidential courtesy. He plexities of circumstance and character, was nothing if not personal; and he had the pride of place mingled so inextricably perceived that personality was the key with personal arrogance, the super that opened the Faery's heart. Accordabundant emotionalism, the ingenuous ingly, he never for a moment allowed his ness of outlook, the solid, the laborious intercourse with her to lose the personal respectability, shot through so incongru tone; he invested all the transactions of ously by temperamental cravings for the State with the charms of familiar concolored and the strange, the singular in versation; she was always the royal lady, tellectual limitations, and the mysteri the adored and revered mistress, he the ously essential female elements impreg devoted and respectful friend. When nating every particle of the whole. A once the personal relation was firmly es. smile hovered over his impassive features, tablished, every difficulty disappeared. and he dubbed Victoria “the Faery.” The But to maintain that relation unintername delighted him, for, with that epi ruptedly in a smooth and even course a grammatical ambiguity so dear to his particular care was necessary: the bearheart, it precisely expressed his vision of ings had to be most assiduously oiled. the Queen. The Spenserian allusion was Nor was Disraeli in any doubt as to the very pleasant-the elegant evocations of nature of the lubricant. “You have heard Gloriana; but there was more in it than me called a flatterer," he said to Matthat: there was the suggestion of a di- | thew Arnold, “and it is true. Everyone minutive creature, endowed with magical likes flattery; and when you come to roy--and mythical-properties, and a por | alty you should lay it on with a trowel.” tentousness almost ridiculously out of He practised what he preached. His keeping with the rest of her make-up. adulation was incessant, and he applied it The Faery, he determined, should hence in the very thickest slabs. “There is no forward wave her wand for him alone. honor and no reward,” he declared, "that Detachment is always a rare quality, and with him can ever equal the possession of rarest of all, perhaps, among politicians; your Majesty's kind thoughts. All his but that veteran egotist possessed it in a own thoughts and feelings and duties and supreme degree. Not only did he know affections are now concentrated in your what he had to do, not only did he do Majesty, and he desires nothing more for it; he was in the audience as well as on his remaining years than to serve your the stage; and he took in with the rich Majesty, or, if that service ceases, to relish of a connoisseur every feature of the live still on its memory as a period of his entertaining situation, every phase of the existence most interesting and fascinatdelicate drama, and every detail of hising." "In life," he told her, “one must own consummate performance.
have for one's thoughts a sacred deposiThe smile hovered and vanished, and, tory, and Lord Beaconsfield ever prebowing low with Oriental gravity and sumes to seek that in his Sovereign Oriental submissiveness, he set himself Mistress.” She was not only his own to his task. He had understood from I solitary support; she was the one prop of the State. “If your Majesty is ill,” subject were indistinct; and when he emhe wrote during a grave political crisis, phatically declared that there ought to "he is sure he will himself break down. be "a real Throne,” it was probably with All, really, depends upon your Majesty.” the mental addition that that throne “He lives only for Her," he asseverated, would be a very unreal one indeed whose "and works only for Her, and without occupant was unamenable to his cajolerHer all is lost.” When her birthday ies. But the vagueness of his language came he produced an elaborate confection | was in itself an added stimulant to Vicof hyperbolic compliment. “To-day Lord toria. Skilfully confusing the woman Beaconsfield ought fitly, perhaps, to con and the Queen, he threw, with a grangratulate a powerful Sovereign on her diose gesture, the government of England imperial sway, the vastness of her Em at her feet, as if in doing so he were perpire, and the success and strength of her forming an act of personal homage. In Aleets and armies. But he cannot, his his first audience after returning to power, mind is in another mood. He can only he assured her that "whatever she wished think of the strangeness of his destiny that should be done.” When the intricate it has come to pass that he should be the | Public Worship Regulation Bill was beservant of one so great, and whose infinite ing discussed by the Cabinet, he told the kindness, the brightness of whose intelli Faery that his “only object" was "20 gence and the firmness of whose will, have further your Majesty's wishes in this matenabled him to undertake labors to which ter.” When he brought off his great he otherwise would be quite unequal, and coup over the Suez Canal, he used exsupported him in all things by a con pressions which implied that the only descending sympathy, which in the hour gainer by the transaction was Victoria. of difficulty alike charms and inspires. "It is just settled," he wrote in triumph; Upon the Sovereign of many lands and "you have it, Madam.... Four many hearts may an omnipotent Provi- 1 millions sterling! and almost immediately. dence shed every blessing that the wise There was only one firm that could do can desire and the virtuous deserve !" it-Rothschilds. They behaved admiraIn those expert hands the trowel seemed bly; advanced the money at a low rate, to assume the qualities of some lofty ma and the entire interest of the Khedive is sonic symbol-to be the ornate and glit now yours, Madam.” Nor did he limit tering vehicle of verities unrealized by himself to highly-spiced insinuations. the profane.
Writing with all the authority of his ofSuch tributes were delightful, but they fice, he advised the Queen that she had remained in the nebulous region of words, the constitutional right to dismiss a Minand Disraeli had determined to give his istry which was supported by a large blandishments a more significant solidity. | majority in the House of Commons; he He deliberately encouraged those high even urged her to do so, if, in her opinviews of her own position which had al- ion, "your Majesty's Government have ways been native to Victoria's mind and from wilfulness, or even from weakness, had been reinforced by the principles of deceived your Majesty.” To the horror Albert and the doctrines of Stockmar." of Mr. Gladstone, he not only kept the He professed to a belief in a theory of the Queen informed as to the general course Constitution which gave the Sovereign a of business in the Cabinet, but revealed to leading place in the councils of govern her the part taken in its discussions by ment; but his pronouncements upon the individual members of it. Lord Derby,
the son of the late Prime Minister and 1Baron Stockmar, German physician and Disraeli's Foreign Secretary, viewed diplomat, was the emissary in England of
these developments with grave mistrust. King Leopold of Belgium. He became the confidant of Prince Albert and the adviser of
"Is there not,” he ventured to write to Queen Victoria.
his Chief, "just a risk of encouraging her