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been more literate, they had been better companions. might have sometimes introduced her unwelcome topic with more success, if she could have diversified her conversation. Of business she had no distinct conception; and therefore her discourse was composed only of complaint, fear, and suspicion. Neither of them ever tried to calculate the profits of trade, or the expenses of living. My mother concluded that we were poor, because we lost by some of our trades; but the truth was, that my father, having in the early part of his life contracted debts, never had trade sufficient to enable him to pay them, and maintain his family; he got something, but not enough.
It was not till about 1768, that I thought to calculate the returns of my father's trade, and by that estimate his probable profits. This, I believe, my parents never did.
This year, in Lent-12. I was taken to London, to be touched for the evil by Queen Anne. My mother was at Nicholson's, the famous bookseller, in Little Britain. (1) I always retained some memory of this journey, though I was then but thirty months old. I remembered a little dark room behind the kitchen, where the jack-weight fell through a hole in the floor, into which I once slipped my leg. (2)
I remember a boy crying at the palace when I went to be touched. Being asked, "on which side of the shop was the I answered, "on the left from the entrance," many years after, and spoke, not by guess, but by memory. We went in the stage-coach, and returned in the waggon, as my mother said, because my cough was violent. The hope of saving a few shillings was no slight motive; for she, not having
(1) My mother, then with child, concealed her pregnancy, that she might not be hindered from the journey. - Orig.
(2) I seem to remember, that I played with a string and a bell, which my cousin Isaac Johnson gave me; and that there was a cat with a white collar, and a dog, called Chops, that leaped over a stick: but I know not whether I remember the thing, or the talk of it. - - Orig.
been accustomed to money, was afraid of such expenses as now She sewed two guineas in her petticoat, lest
seem very small.
she should be robbed.
We were troublesome to the passengers; but to suffer such inconveniences in the stage-coach was common in these days to persons in much higher rank. (1) She bought me a small silver and cup spoon, marked SAM. I., lest, if they had been marked
S. I., which was her name, they should, upon her death, have been taken from me. She bought me a speckled linen frock, which I knew afterwards by the name of my London frock. The cup was one of the last pieces of plate which dear Tetty (2) I have now the spoon. She bought at sold in our distress. the same time two tea-spoons, and till my manhood she had no
My father considered tea as very expensive, and discouraged my mother from keeping company with the neighbours, and She lived to say, many from paying visits or receiving them. years after, that if the time were to pass again, she would not comply with such unsocial injunctions. (3)
I suppose that in this year I was first informed of a future state. I remember, that being in bed with my mother one morning, I was told by her of the two places to which the inhabitants of this world were received after death: one, a fine place filled with happiness, called Heaven; the other, a sad That this account much affected my place, called Hell. When I was risen, my imagination, I do not remember. mother bade me repeat what she had told me to Thomas Jackson. When I told this afterwards to my mother, she
(1) I was sick; one woman fondled me, the other was disgusted. — Orig. (2) His wife, whom he called by this familiar contraction of Elizabeth. - CROKER.
(3) When Dr. Johnson, at an advanced age, recorded all these minute circumstances, he contemplated, we are told, writing the history of his own life, and probably intended to develope, from his own infant recol lections, the growth and powers of the faculty of memory, which he possessed in so remarkable a degree. From the little details of his domestic history he perhaps meant also to trace the progressive change in the habits of the middle classes of society. - CROKER.
seemed to wonder that she should begin such talk so late as that the first time could be remembered.
[Here there is a chasm of thirty-eight pages in the manuscript.]
examination. We always considered it as a day of ease; for we made no preparation, and indeed were asked commonly such questions as we had been asked often before, and could regularly answer. But I believe it was of use at first.
On Thursday night a small portion of Æsop was learned by heart, and on Friday morning the lessons in Æsop were repeated; I believe, not those in Helvicus. On Friday afternoon we learned Quæ Genus; I suppose that other boys might say their repetition, but of this I have now no distinct remembrance. To learn Qua Genus was to me always pleasing; and As in Præsenti was, I know not why, always disgusting.
When we learned our Accidence we had no parts, but, I think, two lessons. The boys that came to school untaught read the Accidence twice through before they learned it by heart.
When we learned Propria quæ Maribus, our parts were in the Accidence; when we learned As in Præsenti, our parts were in the Accidence and Propria quæ Maribus; when we learned Syntaxis, in the former three. Propria quæ Maribus I could repeat without any effort of recollection. I used to repeat it to my mother and Tom Johnson; and remember, that I once went as far as the middle of the paragraph, "Mascula dicuntur monosyllaba,” in a dream.
On Saturday, as on Thursday, we were examined. were sometimes, on one of those days, asked our Catechism (1), but with no regularity or constancy.
When we learned
The progress of examination was this. Propria quæ Maribus, we were examined in the Accidence particularly we formed Verbs, that is, went through the same person in all the Moods and Tenses. This was very difficult to me; and I was once very anxious about the next day, when this exercise was to be performed, in which I had failed till I
(1) G. Hector never had been taught his Catechism. - Orig.
was discouraged. My mother encouraged me, and I proceeded better. When I told her of my good escape, "We often," said she, dear mother! "come off best, when we are most afraid." She told me, that, once when she asked me about forming verbs, I said, "I did not form them in an ugly shape." "You could not," said she, "speak plain; and I was proud that I had a boy who was forming verbs." These little memorials sooth my mind. Of the parts of Corderius or Æsop, which we learned to repeat, I have not the least recollection, except of a passage in one of the Morals, where it is said of some man, that, when he hated another, he made him rich; this I repeated emphatically in my mother's hearing, who could never conceive that riches could bring any evil. She remarked it, as I
I had the curiosity, two or three years ago, to lock over Garretson's Exercises, Willymot's Particles, and Walker's Exercises; and found very few sentences that I should have recollected if I had found them in any other books. That which is read without pleasure is not often recollected nor infixed by conversation, and therefore in a great measure drops from the memory. Thus it happens that those who are taken early from school, commonly lose all that they had learned. When we learned As in Præsenti, we parsed Propria quæ Maribus by Hoole's Terminations; and, when we learned Syntaxis, we parsed As in Præsenti; and afterwards Que Genus, by the same book; sometimes, as I remember, proceeding in order of the rules, and sometimes, particularly in As in Præsenti, taking words as they occurred in the Index.
The whole week before we broke up, and the part of the week in which we broke up, were spent wholly, I know not why, in examination; and were therefore easy to both us and the master. The two nights before the vacation were free from exercise.
This was the course of the school, which I remember with pleasure; for I was indulged and caressed by my master, and, I think, really excelled the rest.
I was with Hawkins but two years, and perhaps four months.
The time, till I had computed it, appeared much longer by the multitude of novelties which it supplied, and of incidents, then in my thoughts important, it produced. Perhaps it is not possible that any other period can make the same impression on the memory.
In the Spring of 1719, our class consisting of eleven, the number was always fixed in my memory, but one of the names I have forgotten, was removed to the upper school, and put under Holbrook, a peevish and ill-tempered man. We were removed sooner than had been the custom; for the head-master, intent upon his boarders, left the town-boys long in the lower school. Our removal was caused by a reproof from the Townclerk; and Hawkins complained that he had lost half his profit. At this removal I cried. The rest were indifferent. My exercise in Garretson was somewhere about the Gerunds. Our places in Æsop and Helvicus I have totally forgotten.
At Whitsuntide Mrs. Longworth brought me a " Hermes Garretsoni," of which I do not remember that I ever could make much use. It was afterwards lost, or stolen at school. My exercise was then in the end of the Syntax. Hermes furnished me with the word inliciturus, which I did not understand, but used it.
This task was very troublesome to me; I made all the twenty-five exercises, others made but sixteen. I never shewed all mine; five lay long after in a drawer in the shop. I made an exercise in a little time, and shewed it my mother; but the task being long upon me, she said, " Though you could make an exercise in so short a time, I thought you would find it difficult to make them all as soon as you should."
This Whitsuntide, I and my brother were sent to pass some time at Birmingham; I believe, a fortnight. Why such boys were sent to trouble other houses, I cannot tell. My mother had some opinion that much improvement was to be had by changing the mode of life. My uncle Harrison was a widower; and his house was kept by Sally Ford, a young woman of such sweetness of temper, that I used to say she had