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1772. Dr. Johnson went home with me to my lodgings Atat.63.
in Conduit-street and drank tea, previous to our going to the Pantheon, which neither of us had seen before.
He said, “Goldsmith's life of Parnell is poor; not that it is poorly written, but that he had poor materials ; for nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
I said, that if it was not troublesome and presuming too much, I would request him to tell me all the little circumstances of his life ; what schools he attended, when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, &c. &c. He did not disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars; but said, “ They'll come out by degrees, as we talk together."
He censured Ruffhead's Life of Pope ; and said, “ he knew nothing of Pope, and nothing of poetry.” He praised Dr. Joseph Warton's Essay on Pope ; but said, he supposed we should have no more of it; as the authour had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he did. Boswell.“ Why, Sir, should that prevent him from continuing his work : He is an ingenious Counsel, who has made the most of his cause : he is not obliged to gain it.” JOHNson. “ But, Sir, there is a difference, when the cause is of a man's own making.”
We talked of the proper use of riches. JOHNSON. “If I were a man of a great estate, I would drive all the rascals whom I did not like out of the county, at an election."
I asked him, how far he thought wealth should be employed in hospitality. JOHNSON. “You are to consider that ancient hospitality, of which we hear
so much, was in an uncommercial country, when men being idle, were glad to be entertained at rich men's Ætat. 63. tables. But in a commercial country, a busy country, time becomes precious, and therefore hospitality is not so much valued. No doubt there is still room for a certain degree of it; and a man has a satisfaction in seeing his friends eating and drinking around him. But promiscuous hospitality is not the way to gain real influence. You must help some people at table before others ; you must ask some people how they like their wine oftener than others. You therefore offend more people than you please. You are like the French statesman, who said, when he granted a favour, ' J'ai fait dix mécontents et un ingrat.' Besides, Sir, being entertained ever so well at a man's table, impresses no lasting regard or esteem. No, Sir, the way to make sure of power and influence is, by lending money confidentially to your neighbours at a small interest, or perhaps at no inte· rest at all, and having their bonds in your possession."
Boswell. " May not a man, Sir, employ his riches to advantage, in educating young men of merit ?” JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir, if they fall in your way; but if it be understood that you patronize young men of merit, you will be harassed with solicitations. You will have numbers forced upon you, who have no merit ; some will force them upon you from mistaken partiality; and some from downright interested motives, without scruple; and you will be disgraced.”
“ Were I a rich man, I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow in the open air. house is childish. I would introduce foreign anin mals into the country; for instance, the rein-deer." *
air. A green
* This project has since been realized. Sir Henry Liddes, who
The conversation now turned on critical subjects, JOHNSON. “ Bayes, in “The Rehearsal, is a mighty silly character. If it was intended to be like a particular man, it could only be diverting while that man was remembered. But I question whether it was meant for Dryden, as has been reported; for we know some of the passages said to be ridiculed, were written since the Rehearsal ; at least a passage mentioned in the Preface * is of a later date." I maintained that it had merit as a general satire on the selfimportance of dramatick authours. But even in this light he held it very cheap.
We then walked to the Pantheon. The first view of it did not strike us so much as Ranelagh, of which he said, the "coup d'æil was the finest thing he had cver seen.” The truth is, Ranelagh is of a more beautiful form ; more of it, or rather indeed the whole rotunda, appears at once, and it is better lighted. However, as Johnson observed, we saw the Pantheon in time of mourning, when there was a dull uniformity; whereas we had seen Ranelagh, when the view was enlivened with a gay profusion of co
made a spirited tour into Lapland, brought two rein-deer to his estate in Northumberland, where they bred: but the race has unfortunately perished
* [There is no Preface to “The Rehearsal," as originally published. Dr. Johnson seems to have meant the Address to the Reader with a Key subjoined to it; which have been prefixed to the modern editions of that play. He did not know, it appears, that several additions were made to “ The Rehearsal” after the first edition. The ridicule on the passages here alluded to, is found among those additions. They therefore furnish no ground for the doubt here suggested. Unquestionably Bayes was meant to be the representative of Dryden, whose familiar phrases in his ordinary conversation are frequently introduced in this piece. M.]
lours. Mrs. Bosville, of Gunthwait, in Yorkshire, 1772. joined us, and entered into conversation with us,
Ætat. 63. Johnson said to me afterwards, “ Sir, this is a mighty intelligent lady."
I said there was not half a guinea's worth of pleasure in seeing this place. Johnson. “But, Sir, there is half a guinea's worth of inferiority to other people in not having seen it.” BosweLL. “I doubt, Sir, whether there are many happy people here." Johnson. “ Yes, Sir, there are many happy people here. There are many people here who are watching hundreds, and who think hundreds are watching them."
Happening to meet Sir Adam Furgusson, I presented him to Dr. Johnson. Sir Adam expressed some apprehension that the Pantheon would encourage luxury, “Sir, (said Johnson,) I am a great friend to publick amusements; for they keep people from vice. You now (addressing himself to me,) would have been with a wench, had you not been here.-0! I forgot you were married.”
Sir Adam suggested, that luxury corrupts a people, and destroys the spirit of liberty. JOHNSON. “ Sir, that is all visionary. I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual. Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private man. What Frenchman is prevented from passing his life as he pleases ?" ŞİR ADAM. “But, Sir, in the British constitution it is surely of importance to keep up a spirit in the people, so as to preserve a balance against the crown.' JOHNSON. “ Sir, I perceive you are a vile Whig:Why all-this childish jealousy of the power of the
1772. crown? The crown has not power enough. When Atat. 63. I say that all governments are alike, I consider that
in no government power can be abused long. Man-, kind will not bear it. If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government. Had not the people of France thought themselves honoured in sharing in the brilliant actions of Louis XIV. they would not have endured him ; and we may say the same of the King of Prussia's people.”
people.” Sir Adam introduced the ancient Greeks and Romans. Johnson. “Sir, the mass of both of them were barbarians. The mass of every people must be barbarous where there is no printing, and consequently knowledge is not generally diffused. Knowledge is diffused among our people by the news-papers."
Sir Adam mentioned the orators, poets and artists of Greece. Johnson. “Sir, I am talking of the mass of the people. We see even what the boasted Athenians were. The little effect which Demosthenes's orations had upon them, shews that they were barbarians.”
Sir Adam was unlucky in his topicks; for he suggested a doubt of the propriety of Bishops having seats in the House of Lords. Johnson. “ How so, Sir? Who is more proper for having the dignity of a peer, than a bishop, provided a Bishop be what he ought to be; and if improper Bishops be made, that is not the fault of the Bishops, but of those who make them."
On Sunday, April 5, after attending divine service at St. Paul's church, I found him alone. Of a schoolmaster of his acquaintance, a native of Scot