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1772. other; with how little kindness, in a town of low Æra. T3. trade, a man who lives by learning is regarded; and
how implicitly, where the inhabitants are not very rich, a rich man is hearkened to and followed. In a place like Campbelltown, it is easy for one of the principal inhabitants to make a party. It is easy for that party to heat themselves with imaginary grievances. It is easy for them to oppress a man poorer than themselves ; and natural to assert the dignity of riches, by persisting in oppression. The argument which attempts to prove the impropriety of restoring him to the school, by alledging that he has lost the confidence of the people, is not the subject of juridical consideration; for he is to suffer, if he must suffer, not for their judgement, but for his own actions. It may be convenient for them to have another master ; but it is a conveninence of their own making. It would be likewise convenient for him to find another school; but this convenience he cannot obtain.---The question is not what is now convenient, but what is generally right. If the people of Campbelltown be distressed by the restoration of the respondent, they are distressed only by their own fault; by turbulent passions and unreasonable desires; by tyranny, which law has defeated, and by malice, which virtue has surmounted.”
“ This, Sir, (said he,) you are to turn in your mind, and make the best use of it you can in your speech.”
Of our friend Goldsmith he said, “Sir, he is so much afraid of being unnoticed, that he often talks merely lest you should forget that he is in the company.” BOSWELL,“ Yes, he stands forward.” Johnsov. “ True, Sir; but if a man is to stand forward,
he should wish to do it not in an aukward posture, 1772. not in rags, not so as that he shall only be exposed to
Ætat. 63. ridicule.” Boswell. “ For my part, I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk away carelessly.” Johnson. “Why yes, Sir; but he should not like to hear himself.” "On Tuesday April 14, the decree of the Court of Session in the Schoolmaster's cause was reversed in the House of Lords, after a very eloquent speech by Lord Mansfield, who shewed himself an adept in school discipline, but I thought was too rigorous towards
client. On the evening of the next day I supped with Dr. Johnson, at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in the Strand, in company with Mr. Langton and his brother-in-law, Lord Binning. I repeated a sentence of Lord Mansfield's speech, of which, by the aid of Mr. Longlands, the solicitor on the other side, who obligingly allowed me to compare his note with my own, I have a full copy : “My Lords, severity is not the way to govern either boys or men.” Nay (said Johnson,) it is the way to govern them. I know not whether it be the way to mend them.”
I talked of the recent expulsion of six students from the University of Oxford, who were methodists, and would not desist from publickly praying and exhorting. Johnson. “Sir, that expulsion was extremely just and proper. What have they to do at an University, who are not willing to be taught, but will presume to teach? Where is religion to be learnt but at an University? Sir, they were examined, and found to be mighty ignorant fellows.” Boswell. “ But, was it not hard, Sir, to expel them, for I am told they were good beings?” Johnson. “I believe they might be good beings; but they were not fit to
1772. be in the University of Oxford. A cow is a very Ætat. 63. good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a
garden.” Lord Elibank used to repeat this as an illustration uncommonly happy.
Desirous of calling Johnson forth to talk, and exercise his wit, though I should myself be the object of it, I resolutely ventured to undertake the defence of convivial indulgence in wine, though he was not to-night in the most genial humour. After urging the common plausible topicks, I at last had recourse to the maxim, in vino veritas, a man who is well warmed with wine will speak truth. Johnson. “Why, Sir, that may be an argument for drinking, if you suppose men in general to be liars. But, Sir, I would not keep company with a fellow, who lyes as long as he is sober, and whom you must make drunk before you can get a word of truth out of him.”,
Mr. Langton told us, he was about to establish a school upon his estate, but it had been suggested to him, that it might have a tendency to make the people less industrious. Johnson. “ No, Sir. While learning to read and write is a distinction, the few who have that distinction may be the less inclined to work; but when every body learns to read and write, it is no longer a distinction. A man who has a laced waistcoat is too tine a man to work; but if every body had laced waistcoats, we should have people working in laced waistcoats. There are no people
9 Mrs. Piozzi, in her “ Anecdotes," p. 261, has given an erroneous account of this incident, as of many others. She pretends to relate it from recollection, as if she herself had been present; when the fact is that it was communicated to her by me. She bas represented it as a personality, and the true point has escaped her.
whatever more industrious, none who work more, 1772. than our manufacturers; yet they have all learnt to
Ætat. 63. read and write. Sir, you must not neglect doing a thing immediately good, from fear of remote evil; from fear of its being abused. A man who has candles may sit up too late, which he would not do if he had not candles; but nobody will deny that the art of making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, would it not be better to follow Nature; and go to bed and rise just as nature gives us light or withholds it?" JOHNSON. “ No, Sir; for then we should have no kind of equality in the partition of our time between sleeping and waking. It would be very different in different seasons and in different places. In some of the northern parts of Scotland how little light is there in the depth of winter !"
We talked of Tacitus, and I hazarded an opinion, that with all his merit for penetration, shrewdness of judgement, and terseness of expression, he was too compact, too much broken into hints, as it were, and therefore too difficult to be understood. To my great satisfaction Dr. Johnson sanctioned this opinion,
Tacitus, Sir, seems to me rather to have made notes for an historical work, than to have written a history.” At this time it appears from his “
Prayers and Meditations,” that he had been more than commonly
" It is remarkable that Lord Monboddo, whom, on account of his resembling Dr. Johnson in some particulars, Foote called an Elzevir edition of him, has, by coincidence, made the very samo remark. Origin and Progress of Language, vol. iii. 2d edit. p 219
1772. diligent in religious duties, particularly in reading
the holy scriptures. It was Passion Week, that soEtat. 63.
lemn season which the Christian world has appropriated to the commemoration of the mysteries of our redemption, and during which, whatever embers of religion are in our breasts, will be kindled into pious warmth,
I paid him short visits both on Friday and Saturday, and seeing his large folio Greek Testament before him, beheld him with a reverential awe, and would not intrude upon his time. While he was thus employed to such good purpose, and while his friends in their intercourse with him constantly foun a vigorous intellect and a lively imagination, it is melancholy to read in his private register, “ My mind is unsettled and my memory confused. I have of late turned my thoughts with a very useless earnestness upon past incidents. I have yet got no command over my thoughts; an unpleasing incident is almost certain to hinder my rest.” 2 . What philosophick heroism was it in him to appear with such manly fortitude to the world, while he was inwardly so distressed! We may surely believe that the mysterious principle of being “made perfect through suffering, was to be strongly exemplified in him.
On Sunday, April 19, being Easter-day, General Paoli and I paid him a visit before dinner. We talked of the notion that blind persons can distinguish colours by the touch. Johnson said, that Professor Sanderson mentions his having attempted to do it, but that he found he was aiming at an impossibility; that to be sure a difference in the surface makes the