« AnteriorContinuar »
kind, who might live so agreeably, had they all their 1773. portions of land, and none to domineer over an
Ætat. 64. other. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, I reconcile my principles very well, because makind are happier in a state of inequality and subordination. Were they to be in this pretty state of equality, they would soon degenerate into brutes ;-they would become Monboddo's nation ;-their tails would grow. Sir, all would be losers, were all to work for all :-they would have no intellectual improvement. All intellectual improvement arises from leisure : all leisure arises from one working for another.”
Talking of the family of Stuart, he said, “ It should seem that the family at present on the throne has now established as good a right as the former family, by the long consent of the people ; and that to disturb this right might be considered as culpable. At the same time I own, that it is a very difficult question, when considered with respect to the house of Stuart. To oblige people to take oaths as to the disputed right, is wrong. I know not whether I could take them: but I do not blame those who do.” So conscientious and sodelicate was he upon this subject, which has occasioned so much clamour against him.
Talking of law cases, he said, “ The English reports, in general, are very poor : only the half of what has been said is taken down; and of that half, much is mistaken. Whereas, in Scotland, the arguments on each side are deliberately put in writing, to be considered by the Court. I think a collection of your cases upon subjects of importance, with the opinions of the Judges upon them, would be valuable."
1773. On Thursday, April 15, I dined with hiin and Ætat. 64. Dr. Goldsmith at General Paoli's. We found here
Signor Martinelli, of Florence, authour of a History of England in Italian, printed at London.
I spoke of Allan Ramsay's “ Gentle Shepherd,” in the Scottish dialect, as the best pastoral that had ever been written; not only abounding with beautiful rural imagery, and just and pleasing sentiments, but being a real picture of manners; and I offered to teach Dr. Johnson to understand it.
“ No, Sir, (said he,) I won't learn it. You shall retain your superiority by my not knowing it.”
This brought on a question whether one man is lessened by another's acquiring an equal degree of knowledge with him. Johnson asserted the affirmative. I maintained that the position might be true in those kinds of knowledge which produce wisdom, power, and force, so as to enable one man to have the government of others; but that a man is not in any degree lessened by others knowing as well as he what ends in mere pleasure :-eating fine fruits, drinking delicious wines, reading exquisite poetry.”
The General observed, that Martinelli was a Whig. Johnson. “I am sorry for it. It shows the spirit of the times: he is obliged to temporise.” BoswELL. “ I rather think, Sir, that Toryism prevails in this reign.” Johnson. “I know not why you should think so, Sir. You see your friend Lord Lyttelton, a nobleman, is obliged in his History to write the most vulgar Whiggism.”
An aimated debate took place whether Martinelli should continue his History of England to the present day. GOLDSMITH. “To be sure he should.” JOHNson. “ No, Sir; he would give great offence. He
would have to tell of almost all the living great what 1773. they do not wish told.” GOLDSMITH.“ It may, Ætat. 04. perhaps, be necessaiy for a native to be more cautious; but a foreigner who comes among us without prejudice, may be considered as holding the place of a Judge, and may speak his mind freely.” JOHNSON. “Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the errour and mistaken enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to be.” Goldsmith. “Sir, he wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest, the other a laudable motive.” JOHNSON.
Sir, they are both laudable motives. It is laudable in a man to wish to live by his labours ; but he should write so as he may live by them, not so as he may be knocked on the head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he publishes his history of the present age. A foreigner who attaches himself to a political party in this country, is in the worst state that can be imagined : he is 18oked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest.” BosWELL. “ Or principle.” GOLDSMITH. “There are people who tell a hundred political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely, then, one may tell truth with safety.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. But besides; a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him, than one truth which he does not wish should be told.” GOLD MITH. “ For my part, I'd tell truth, and shame the devil.” Joanson. “ Yes, Sir; but the devil will be angry. I wish to shame the devil as -much as you do, but I should choose to be out of the reach of his claws." GOLDSMITH. " His claws
1773. can do you no harm, when you have the shield of
truth.” Ætat. 64.
It having been observed that there was little hospitality in London; Johnson.“ Nay, Sir, any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing, will be very generally invited in London. The man, Sterne, I have been told, has had engagements for three months.” GOLDSMITH.“ And a very dull fellow." Johnson. “ Why, no, Sir.” "
Martinelli told us, that for several years he lived much with Charles Townshend, and that he ventured to tell him he was a bad joker. Johnson. " Why, Sir, thus much I can say upon
can say upon the subject. One day he and a few more agreed to go and dine in the country, and each of them was to bring a friend in his carriage with him. Charles Townshend asked Fitzherbert to go with him, but told him, “ You must find somebody to bring you back: I can only carry you
there.” Fitzherbert did not much like this arrangement. He however, consented, observing sarcastically, “ It will do very well; for then the same jokes will serve you in returning as in going.”
An eminent publick character being mentioned ; -Johnson. “ I remember being present when he shewed himself to be so corrupted, or at least something so different from what I think right, as to maintain, that a member of parliament should go along with his party right or wrong. Now, Sir, this is so remote from native virtue, from scholastick virtue, that a good man must have undergone a great change before he can reconcile himself to such a doctrine. It is maintaining that you may lie to the publick; for
you call that right which you think wrong, or the reverse.
A friend of ours,
who is too much an echo of that gentleman, ob- 1773. served, that a man who does not stick uniformly to a
Ætat. 64. party, is only waiting to be bought. Why then, said I, he is only waiting to be what that gentleman is already."
We talked of the King's coming to see Goldsmith's new play.-" I wish he would,” said Goldsmith; adding, however, with an affected indifference, “Not that it would do me the least good.” Johnson. “ Well then, Sir, let us say it would do him good, (laughing.) No, Sir, this affectation will not pass ;it is mighty idle. In such a state as ours, who would not wish to please the Chief Magistrate ?" GOLDSMITH. “I do wish to please him. I remember a line in Dryden,
* And every poet is the monarch's friend.' It ought to be reversed.” JOHNSON. “Nay, there are finer lines in Dryden on this subject : • For colleges on bounteous Kings. depend, ! And never rebel was to arts a friend.' General Paoli observed, that successful rebels might. MARTINELLI. “ Happy rebellions.” GOLDSMITH. “ We have no such phrase.” GENERAL PAOLI. “ But have you not the thing?” GOLDSMITH.
« Yes; all our happy revolutions. They have hurt · our constitution, and will hurt it, till we mend it by another HAPPY REVOLUTION."--I never before discovered that
friend Goldsmith had so much of the old prejudice in him.
General Paoli, talking of Goldsmith’s new play, said, “Il a fait un compliment très gracieux à une certaine grande dame;" meaning a Duchess of the first rank. VOL. II.