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fills the town with pamphlets, and greater subjects 1773. are forgotten in the noise of discord.
Ætat. 64. “Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of myself I can only add, that have ing been afflicted many weeks with a very troublesome cough, I am now recovered.
“ I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of which you will please to fill up the direction. I am, Sir,
6. Your most humble servant, “ Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, “ SAM. JOHNSON.”
London, March 4, 1773.
On Saturday, April 3, the day after my arrival in London this year, I went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs. Williams till he came home. I found in the London Chronicle, Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph* in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his; but when he came home, he soon undeceived us. When he said to Mrs. Williams, “Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper;" I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith. Johnson. “ Sir,
* [The offence given, was a long abusive letter in the London Facket. A particular account of this transaction, and Goldsmith's Vindication, (for such it was, rather than an Apology,) may be found in the new Life of that Poet, prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works, in 4 vols. 8vo. pp. 105--108. M.]
1973. Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to Ætat. 64.
write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do any thing else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had, he shown it to any one friend,
he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick.” Boswell. “ I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure.” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat; he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.” I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's
“ Memoirs of Great-Britain and Ireland," and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of Government thought them rascals before. Is is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals.” Johnson. “Consider, Sir? would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France ? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing, it is the mere bouncing of a school-boy. Great He ! but greater She! and such stuff.”
I could not agree with him in this criticism ; for
though Sir John Dalrymple's style is not regularly 1773. formed in any respect, and one cannot help smiling sometimes at his affected grandiloquence, there is in his writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.
At Mr. Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical declamation against action in publick speaking.
- Action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but it never can enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action; you hold up your hand thus, because he is a brute ; and in proportion as men are removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them.” MRS. THRALE.“ What then, Sir, becomes of Demosthenes's saying ? 'Action, action, action!” JOHNSON. “ Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of brutes; to a barbarous people.”
I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.
Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of that celebrated nobleinan's witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to bìs Lordship’s saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both very old and infirm: Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.”
He talked with an approbation of an intended edition of “ The Spectator," with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared by a gentlemar
1773. eminent in the literary world, and the materials
which he had collected for the remainder had been Ætat. 64.
transferred to another hand. He observed, that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw light upon “ The Spectator.” He said, “ Addison had made his Sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments ; but that he had thought better, and made amends by making him found an hospital for decayed farmers.” He called for the volume of “ The Spectator," in which that account is contaired, and read it aloud to us. He read so well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his utterance.
The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads, and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that ridicule which he always displayed when that subject was mentioned.
He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse. This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.
On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he was very silent. He said, “ Burnet’s ‘History of his own times,' is very enter
taining. The style, indeed, is mere chit-chat. I do 1773. not believe that Burnet intentionally lyed; but he
Ætat. 64. was so much prejudiced, that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch ; but will not inquire whether the watch is right or not.”
Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave him; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock, he cried, “ What's that to you and me?" and ordered Frank to tell Mrs. Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. It was settled that we should go to church together next day.
On the oth of April, being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns; Doctor Levet as Frank called him, making the tea. He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had his seat; and his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly devout. I never shall forget the tremulous earnestness with which he
pronounced the aweful petition in the Litany: “ In the hour of death, and at the day of judgement, good LORD deliver us.”
We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval between the two services we did not dine; but he read in the Greek New Testa. ment, and I turned over several of his books.
In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read to Dr. Johnson:
“ 1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince Charles, at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally of many
8 Afterwards Charles I.