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to have appeared more respectable, by showing how intimate he was with Dr. Johnson, and who might now, on the contrary, go away with an opinion to his disadvantage. He begged I would mention this to Dr. Johnson, which I afterwards did. His observation upon it was, “ This comes of stratagem; had he told me that he wished to appear to advantage before that gentleman, he should have been at the top of the house all the time.” He spoke of Dr. Percy in the handsomest manner. “ Then, sir,” said I,“ may I be allowed to suggest a mode by which you may effectually counteract any unfavourable report of what passed? I will write a letter to you upon the subject of the unlucky contest of that day, and you will be kind enough to put in writing, as an answer to that letter, what you have now said, and as Lord Percy is to dine with us at General Paoli's soon, I will take an opportunity to read the correspondence in his lordship's presence.” This friendly scheme was accordingly carried into execution without Dr. Percy's knowledge. Johnson's letter placed Dr. Percy's unquestionable merit in the fairest point of view; and I contrived that Lord Percy should hear the correspondence, by introducing it at General Paoli's as an instance of Dr. Johnson's kind disposition towards one in whom his lordship was interested. Thus every unfavourable impression was obviated that could possibly have been made on those by whom he wished most to be regarded. I breakfasted the day after with him, and informed him of my scheme, and its happy completion, for which he thanked me in the warmest terms, and was highly delighted with Dr. Johnson's letter in his praise, of which I gave
He said, “I would rather have this than degrees from all the universities in Europe. It will be for me, and my children and grandchildren."
him a copy
Dr. Johnson having afterwards asked me if I had given him a copy of it, and being told I had, was offended, and insisted that I should get it back, which I did. As, however, he did not desire me to destroy either the original or the copy, or forbid me to let it be seen, I think myself at liberty to apply to it his general declaration to me concerning his own letters, “That he did not choose they should be published in his life-time; but had no objection to their appearing after his death.” I shall therefore insert this kindly correspondence, having faithfully narrated the circumstances accompanying it.
“ TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “MY DEAR SIR,- I beg leave to address you in behalf of our friend Dr. Percy, who was much hurt by what you said to him that day we dined at his house'; when, in the course of the dispute as to Pennant's merit as a traveller, you told Percy tható he had the resentment of a narrow mind against Pennant, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland.' Percy is sensible that you did not mean to injure him ; but he is vexed to think that your behaviour to him on that occasion may be interpreted as a proof that he is despised by you, which I know is not the case. I have told him, that the charge of being narrow-minded was only as to the particular point in question ; and that he had the merit of being a martyr to his noble family.
* Earl Percy is to dine with General Paoli next Friday; and I should be sincerely glad to have it in my power to satisfy his lordship how well you think of Dr. Percy, who, I find, apprehends that your good opinion of him may be of very essential consequence; and who assures me that he has the highest respect and the warmest affection for you.
“ I have only to add, that my suggesting this occasion for the exercise of your candour and generosity is altogether unknown to Dr. Percy, and proceeds from my good-will towards him, and my persuasion that you will be happy to do him an essential kindness. I am, more and more, my dear sir, your most faithful and affectionate humble servant,
“ James Boswell."
· Sunday, April 12, 1778. -- Boswell.
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“23d April, 1778. “ Sır,—The debate between Dr. Percy and me is one of those foolish controversies which begin upon a question of which neither party cares how it is decided, and which is, nevertheless, continued to acrimony, by the vanity with which every man resists confutation. Dr. Percy's warmth proceeded from à cause which, perhaps, does him more honour than he could have derived from juster criticism. His abhorrence of Pennant proceeded from his opinion that Pennant had wantonly and indecently censured his patron. His anger made him resolve, that, for having been once wrong, he never should be right. Pennant has much in his notions that I do not like ; but still I think him a very intelligent traveller. If Percy is really offended, I am sorry; for he is a man whom I never knew to offend any one. He is a man very willing to learn, and very able to teach ; a man, out of whose company I never go without having learned something. It is sure that he vexes me sometimes, but I am afraid it is by making me feel my own ignorance. So much extension of mind, and so much minute accuracy of inquiry, if you survey your whole circle of acquaintance, you will find so scarce, if you find it at all, that you will value Percy by comparison. Lord Hailes is somewhat like him : but Lord Hailes does not, perhaps, go beyond him in research ; and I do not know that he equals him in elegance. Percy's attention to poetry has given grace and splendour to his studies of antiquity. A mere antiquarian is a rugged being
“Upon the whole, you see that what I might say in sport or petulance to him, is very consistent with full conviction of his merit. I am, dear sir, your most, &c.
« SAM. JOHNSON,”
“ TO THE REV. DR. PERCY, NORTHUMBERLAND-HOUSE.
“South Audley-street, 25th April. “ DEAR SIR,—I wrote to Dr. Johnson on the subject of the Pennantian controversy ; and have received from him an answer which will delight you. I read it yesterday to Dr. Robertson, at the Exhibition ; and at dinner to Lord Percy, General Oglethorpe, &c. who dined with us at General Paoli's; who was also a witness to the high testimony to your honour.
“General Paoli desires the favour of your company next Tuesday to dinner, to meet Dr. Johnson. If I can, I will call
on you to-day. I am, with sincere regard, your most obedient humble servant,
“JAMES BOSWELL'." [It has been already stated”, that there seems Ed. reason to doubt whether Johnson had any great regard or respect for Dr. Percy. The following anecdotes will throw some light on that subject. Mr. Cr.d.
Mem. Cradock happened to be in London once when Dr. Percy returned from Northumberland, and found that he was expected to preach a charity sermon almost immediately; this had escaped his memory, and he said, that “though much fatigued, he had been obliged to sit up very late to furnish out something from former discourses ; but suddenly recollecting that Johnson's fourth Idler was exactly to his purpose, he had freely engrafted the greatest part of it.” He preached, and his discourse was much admired; but being requested to print it, he most strenuously opposed the honour intended him, till he was assured by the governors, that it was absolutely necessary, as the annual contributions greatly depended on the account that was given in the appendix. In this dilemma, he earnestly requested that Mr. Cradock would call upon Dr. Johnson, and state particulars. Mr. Cradock assented; and endeavoured to introduce the subject with all due solemnity; but Johnson was highly diverted with his recital, and, laughing, said, “ Pray, sir, give my kind respects to Dr. Percy, and tell him, I desire he will do whatever he pleases in regard to my Idler; it is entirely at his service.”
But these days of friendly communication were, from various causes, speedily to pass away, and worse
Though the Bishop of Dromore kindly answered the letters which I wrote to him, relative to Dr. Johnson's early history ; yet, in justice to him, I think it proper to add, that the account of the foregoing conversation, and the subsequent transaction, as well as of some other conversations in which he is men. tioned, has been given to the publick without previous communication with his lordship.---BOSWELL.
? [See vol. iii. p. 342.-Ep.}
than indifference to succeed; for one morning Dr. p. 241. Percy said to Mr. Cradock, “I have not seen Dr. John
son for a long time. I believe I must just call upon him, and greatly wish that you would accompany me. I intend,” said he, “to tease him a little about Gibbon's pamphlet'.” “I hope not, Dr. Percy,” was Cradock's reply. “Indeed I shall, for I have a great pleasure in combating his narrow prejudices.” They went together; and Dr. Percy opened with some anecdotes from Northumberland-house ; mentioned some rare books that were in the library; and then threw out that the town rang with applause of Gibbon's “Reply to Davis;" that the latter “had written before he had read,” and that the two “confederate doctors," as Mr. Gibbon termed thein, “had fallen into some strange errors."
Johnson said, he knew nothing of Davis's pamphlet, nor would he give him any answer as to Gibbon; but, if the “confederate doctors," as they were termed, had really made such mistakes, as he alluded to, they were blockheads.
Dr. Percy talked on in the most careless style possible, but in a very lofty tone; and Johnson appeared to be excessively angry. Mr. Cradock only wished to get released; for, if Dr. Percy had proceeded to inform him, that he had lately introduced Mr. Hume to dine at the king's chaplains' table, there must have been an “ explosion.”
Mr. Cradock possessed several letters which threw a full light on these unhappy differences; and with all his partiality for Dr. Johnson, Mr. Cradock freely declared, that he thought Dr. Percy had received very great cause to take real offence at Dr. Johnson, who, by a ludicrous parody on a stanza in the “ Hermit of
(Published in 1779.-Ed.]