Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson, 1753-1785

Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson, 1753-1785

Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson, 1753-1785

Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson, 1753-1785

Excerpt

Everybody in London, at the time of the American Revolution, took it for granted that Richard Jackson of the Inner Temple was a man of universal knowledge. Dr. Samuel Johnson, no friend to America or to any of America's friends, insisted on April 5, 1776 that before he set out for a projected tour to Italy with the Thrales, "Mr. Thrale is to go by my advice, to Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing), and get from him a plan for seeing the most that can be seen in the time that we are to travel." On September 15, 1777 (again according to James Boswell) Dr. Johnson observed that his recent Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland had been commended by each admirer for what he found in it relating to his own concerns. "For instance (said he), Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing) told me there was more good sense upon trade in it, than he should hear in the House of Commons in a year, except from Burke." Charles Lamb, born in the Inner Temple in 1775, long afterwards remembered, in The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple, "the omniscient Jackson. . . . He had the reputation of possessing more multifarious knowledge than any man of his time. He was the Friar Bacon of the less literate portion of the Temple. I remember a pleasant passage of the cook applying to him, with much formality of apology, for instructions how to write down edge bone of beef in his bill of commons. He was supposed to know, if any man in the world did. He decided the orthography to be--as I have given it--fortifying his authority with such anatomical reasons as dismissed the manciple (for the time) learned and happy. Some do spell it yet, perversely, aitch bone, from a fanciful resemblance between its shape and that of the aspirate so denominated."

It is true that William Markham, Archbishop of York, writing to William Eden on April 11, 1778, said: "Jackson may be a good Index, but I am much mistaken if you wou'd find him an . . .

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