Johnsoniana Related by Edmund Hector, Birmingham, Monday 28March1 1785
MS. Yale (C 1524). In JB's hand.
- Particulars of Dr. Johnson's Life communicated to me
- by Mr. Hector at Birmingham 17852
Sir John Floyer Physician at Lichfield recommended to Dr. Johnson's Parents to have their son carried to London and touched by Queen Anne which was done. He was very well when he came to school, and had only the scars.3
When at school he never engaged in any of the boyish sports. But in frost he used to go upon Stowpool and make a boy pull off his stockings and shoes and put a garter round him and draw him on the ice.4
When he returned from Oxford he remained some time at Lichfield.5 Then went to Bosworth as under Master of the school. This situation was very irksom to him. He remained there about a year and a half.6
Mr. Hector had been settled at Birmingham about three years. Johnson came there to visit him.7 Mr. Hector had appartments at the house of Mr. Warren Bookseller in the highstreet opposite to where the Swan Inn now is. Mr. Warren was the first established Bookseller in Birmingham.8 Before he opened a shop there, Dr. Johnson's Father used to come every market day and open a shop for books and stationary ware.9 Mr. Hector invited him to live with him which he did—not knowing then whether he might stay a forthnight or a month or what time.10 He was Mr. Hector's guest at the boarding table of Mr. Warren who was also very civil to him on account of the great use Dr. Johnson was to him with his advice in his trade.11 Warren in his Newspaper began a Periodical paper. Johnson furnished some numbers.12 About six months after he took lodgings for himself in the lower part of the town.13 Johnson mentioned that he had read at Pembroke College Lobosts History of Abyssinia and thought an Abridgement and Translation of it might do well.14 How to get the book was the question. Hector borrowed it of the Library of Pembroke.15 Johnson was very indolent.16 Osborn the Printer employed by Warren could not get other work till it was finished and Johnson furnished him with copy only progressively. Hector went to Johnson and told him how the poor Printer and his family suffered. He lay in bed—got the book before him and dictated while Hector wrote.17 Hector wrote it over almost the whole of it and carried it to the Press, and Johnson saw little of the proofsheets. Hector corrected most of them.18 He had five guineas for this Work.19 Johnson was then very idle lounged about with Hector and had a few acquaintances Mr. Porter and Mr. Taylor who afterwards acquired an immense fortune.20 He would sometimes pg 71steal an hour and read but had a vanity in concealing that he ever studied. It was all to be from his own mind.21 When at Stourbridge he was much enamoured of a fair young Quaker Olivia LLoyd on whom he wrote a copy of verses.22 The story which Peter Garrick23 was told by Victor24 that Johnson was one of the three gallants of the dissolute Wife of Mr. Paul (Gimcrack)25 was not true. Dr. James[,]26 Victor and Johnson were said by Victor to be the Triumvirate and Victor said the Lady told him Johnson was the most seducing man she had ever known.27 Johnson never was at Birmingham till James left it.28 James was fond of her— then grew tired—and to get rid of her he palmed her on Dr. Larkin29 by giving her a guinea to fee him that he might be catched. Larkin said to Hector30 'Now here is a guinea which I beleive James has given her to give to me.' Yet with his eyes open he was taken in. Mr. Hector said Johnson never was given to Women.31 Yet he then did not appear to have much Religion.32 He drank freely particularly Bishop33 with a roasted Orange in it. He used to be absent and talk to himself and take peevish fits and abuse Hector who would then keep aloof upon which Johnson would come and coax him.34 Sir Harry Gough told Hector he was obliged to put him out of one of his houses in Gough Square for the Neighbours complained they could not get rest for a man who walked all night and talked to himself.35 When at Birmingham the time now mentioned36 Hector was affraid of Dr. Johnson's head, and he thought there was the same apprehension after he went to London. Johnson had been conscious of it all along but had been affraid to ask Hector for fear of an answer in the affirmative. When last at Birmingham he asked Hector if he had observed in him a tendency to be disorde[re]d in his mind. Hector said he had.37 Hector did not think he would have died So soon. As Water had been carried from his scrotum by punctures he suggested it might be taken by the same means from his legs and that he might grow better.38 Johnson gave a spring of joy, and said 'You have given me another twig.' Parson Ford a Relation of his by the mother's side recommended to him to be sent to Stourbridge School.39 Dr. Johnson some years ago told me there was no man alive who had seen him drunk. Mr. Hector said—'Then he had forgot me.' For once when he lived at Birmingham there came a Relation of his of the name of Ford from Stourbridge to whom he had been under obligations.40 He was it seems a hard drinker and he engaged Johnson and Hector to spend the evening with him at the Swan Inn. Johnson said to Hector 'This fellow will make41 us both drunk. Let us take him by turns, and get rid of him.' It was settled that Hector should go first. He and Ford had drank three bottles of Port before Johnson came. When Johnson arrived, Hector found he had been drinking at Mr. Porter's instead of saving himself. Hector went to bed at the Swan leaving Johnson to drink on with Ford. Next morning he perceived that Johnson who had been his bedfellow had been Very drunk and he damned him. Johnson tried to deny the charge. Literally speaking Hector had not seen him drunk, though he was sure of the fact.42 I said He must have been a monstrous Silenus.pg 72pg 73pg 74pg 75