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words, and was even indignant that Lord Chesterfield should, for a moment imagine, that he could be the dupe of such an artifice. His expression to me concerning Lord Chesterfield, upon this occasion was, "Sir, after making great professions, he had, for many years, taken no notice of me; but when my Dictionary was coming out, he fell a scribbling in 'The World' about it. Upon which, I wrote him a letter expressed in civil terms, but such as might shew him that I did not mind what he said or wrote, and that I had done with him."
This is that celebrated letter of which so much has been said, and about which curiosity has been so long excited, without being gratified. I for many years solicited Johnson to favor me with a copy of it, that so excellent a composition might not be lost to posterity. He delayed from time to time to give it me; till at last in 1781, when we were on a visit at Mr. Dilly's, at Southill in Bedfordshire, he was pleased to dictate it to me from memory.
He afterwards found among his papers a copy of it, which he had dictated to Mr. Baretti, with its title and corrections, in his own handwriting. This he gave to Mr. Langton; adding that if it were to come into print, he wished it to be from that copy. By Mr. Langton's kindness, I am enabled to enrich my work with a perfect transcript of what the world has so eagerly desired to see.
might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship in publick, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.
Seven years, my Lord, have now past, since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of fa
Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a Patron before.
The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.
Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for his life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity, not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the Publick should consider me as owing that to a Patron, which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.
Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation,
SAM. JOHNSON. "While this was the talk of the town, (says Dr. Adams, in a letter to me) I happened to visit Dr. Warburton, who finding that I was acquainted with Johnson, desired me earnestly to carry his compliments to him, and to tell him, that he honoured him for his manly behaviour in rejecting these condescensions of Lord Chesterfield, and for resenting the treatment he had received from him with a proper spirit. Johnson was visibly pleased with this compliment, for he had always
To the Right Honourable, the EARL OF
February 7, 1755. My Lord,
Í have been lately informed, by the proprietor of the World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the publick, were written by your Lordship. To be so distinguished, is an honour, which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.
When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your Lordship, I was powered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre ;-that I
a high opinion of Warburton. Indeed, the worthy Dodsley, was certainly noththe force of mind which appeared in this ing but a specimen of that dissimulation letter, was congenial with that which which Lord Chesterfield inculcated as Warburton himself amply possessed. one of the most essential lessons for the
There is a curious minute circumstance conduct of life. His Lordship endeavwhich struck me, in comparing the vari- oured to justify himself to Dodsley from ous editions of Johnson's Imitations of the charges brought against him by JohnJuvenal. In the tenth Satire one of the son; but we may judge of the Aimsiness couplets upon the vanity of wishes even of his defence, from his having excused for literary distinction stood thus:
his neglect of Johnson, by saying, that
"he had heard he had changed his lodgYet think what ills the scholar's life assail, ings, and did not know where he lived”; Toil, envy, want, the garret, and the jail.
as if there could have been the smallest
difficulty to inform himself of that cirBut after experiencing the uneasiness which Lord Chesterfield's fallacious pat
cumstance by enquiring in the literary
circle with which his Lordship was well ronage made him feel, he dismissed the
acquainted, and was, indeed, himself, one word garret from the sad group, and in
of its ornaments. all the subsequent editions the line stands,
Dr. Adams expostulated with Johnson,
and suggested, that his not being admitToil, envy, want, the Patron, and the jail.
ted when he called on him, was probably That Lord Chesterfield must have been
not to be imputed to Lord Chesterfield; mortified by the lofty contempt, and po
for his Lordship had declared to Dodsley, lite, yet keen, satire with which Johnson
that "he would have turned off the best exhibited him to himself in this letter, it
servant he ever had, if he had known that is impossible to doubt. He, however,
he denied him to a man who would have with that glossy duplicity which was his
been always more than welcome"; and a constant study, affected to be quite un
confirmation of this, he insisted on Lord concerned. Dr. Adams mentioned to
Chesterfield's general affability and easiMr. Robert Dodsley that he was sorry
ness of access, especially to literary men. Johnson had written his letter to Lord "Sir (said Johnson) that is not Lord Chesterfield. Dodsley, with the true
Chesterfield; he is the proudest man this feelings of trade, said “he was very sorry,
day existing." "No, (said Dr. Adams) too; for that he had a property in the Dic
there is one person, at least, as proud; I tionary, to which his Lordship’s patron
think, by your own account you are the age might have been of consequence.” | prouder man of the two." "But mine He then told Dr. Adams, that Lord
(replied Johnson instantly) was defenChesterfield had shewn him the letter.
sive pride.” This, as Dr. Adams well ob"I should have imagined (replied Dr.
served, was one of those happy turns for Adams) that Lord Chesterfield would
which he was so remarkably ready. have concealed it.” “Poh! (said Dods
Johnson having now explicitly avowed ley) do you think a letter from Johnson
his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not could hurt Lord Chesterfield ? Not at
refrain from expressing himself concernall, Sir. It lay upon his table, where any
ing that novel man with pointed freebody might see it. He read it to me;
dom: “This man (said he) I thought said, 'this man has great powers,' pointed
had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, out the severest passages, and observed
he is only a wit among Lords!” And how well they were expressed." This
when his Letters to his natural son were air of indifference, which imposed upon
published, he observed, that “they teach
the morals of a whore, and the manners of 1 The famous London bookseller of the age
a dancing-master." of Johnson.
The characters of a "respectable Hottentot," 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
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 Aicker 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. Accord abundant 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 essmile 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
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 his ing." "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 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- i 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 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.1 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 Baron 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