Open main menu

Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/122

This page needs to be proofread.


9 o ST. LEONARD'S COLLEGE.

only a heap of ruins." ' Of the inside of the ancient chapel Johnson could not get a sight :

" I was always, by some civil excuse, hindered from entering it. A decent attempt, as I was since told, has been made to convert it into a kind of green-house, by planting its area with shrubs. This new method of gardening is unsuccessful; the plants do not hitherto prosper. To what use it will next be put, I have no pleasure in conjecturing. It is something, that its present state is at least not ostentatiously displayed. Where there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue."

The virtue was somewhat slow in coming. Saint-Fond, who got a peep into the chapel, inferred that it was used for a winter store-house for the carrots and turnips which grew in the kitchen- garden that surrounded it. It has of late years been cleared of rubbish and restored to decency, which, perhaps, is all the restora- tion that is desirable. Some shrubs and overhanging trees have been allowed to throw a graceful veil over man's neglect. One strange sight the old monkish cells had witnessed earlier in the century. A man of liberal views had been elected Rector of the University. In his honour " the students made a bonfire at St. Leonard's Gate, into which they threw some of the Calvinistic systems which they were enjoined to read." 1 Not very many years before this innocent and even meritorious sacrifice was made, the terrible flames of religious persecution had blazed up in this city dedicated to piety and learning. It is possible that Johnson passed in the streets some aged man who in his childhood had seen a miserable woman burnt to death for withcraft on the Witch Hill. So late as the seventh year of the present century a gentleman was living who had known a person who had witnessed this

In Dr. Watson's house the two travellers "found very comfort- able and genteel accommodation." The host "wondered at John- son's total inattention to established manners ; " but he does not seem to have let his wonder be discovered by his guest. " I take great delight in him," said Johnson. How much delight Watson took in him we are not told. " He allowed him a very strong understanding;" and as well he might, for he heard some "good talk." It was at his breakfast-table that Johnson proudly pointed out how authors had at length shaken themselves free of patrons. " Learning," he said, " is a trade. We have done with patronage.

1 Wesley's Journal, iv. 77. Innes's literary fraud described in Boswell's

  • Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Johnson, i. 360, and the father of " Lexiphanes."

Century, i. 268. The popular rector was Archi- 16. ii. 44.

bald Campbell, the victim of the Rev. Dr. 3 St. AndreiJs As it was and as ft is, p. 161.

�� �