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1775. Next day I dined with Johnson at Mr. Thrale's.
He attacked Gray, calling him “a dull fellow." Ætat. 66.
BOSWELL. " I understand he was reserved, and might appear dull in company; but surely he was not dull in poetry.” Johnson. “Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull every where. He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him GREAT. He was a mechanical poet.” He then repeated some ludicrous lines, which have escaped my memory, and said, “ Is not that GREAT, like his Odes?” Mrs. Thrale maintained that his Odes were melodious ; upon which he exclaimed,
“ Weave the warp, and weave the woof;" — I added, in a solemn tone,
“ The winding-sheet of Edward's race. There is a good line.”—“Ay, (said he,) and the next line is a good one,” (pronouncing it contempt* uously ;)
“Give ample verge and room enough,”— ** No, Sir, there are but two stanzas in Gray's poetry,
which are in his . Elegy in a Country Church-yard:" *He then repeated the stanza,
“ For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey," &c. mistaking one word; for instead of precincis he
propriety it means all the parts of a musical composition noted down in the characters by which it is exhibited to the eye of the skilful.
[It was declamation that Steele pretended to reduce to notation by new characters. This he called the melody of speechy not the harmony, which the term-in score implies. B.]"
said confines. He added, “The other stanza I for- 1775.
Ætat. 66. A young lady who had married a man much her inferiour in rank being mentioned, a question arose how a woman's relations should behave to her in such à situation; and, while I recapitulate the debate, and recollect what has since happened, I cannot but be struck in a manner that delicacy forbids me to express. · While I contended that she ought to be treated with an inflexible steadiness of displeasure, Mrs. Thrale was all for mildness and forgiveness, and, according to the vulgar phrase, “making the best of a bad bargain." JOHNSON. “ Madam, we must distinguish. Were I a man of rank, I would not let a daughter starve who had made a mean marriage ; but having voluntarily degraded herself from the station which she was originally entitled to hold, I would support her only in that which she herself had chosen ; and would not put her on a level with my other daughters. You are to consider, Madam, that it is our duty to maintain the subordination of civilized society; and when there is a gross and shameful deviation from rank, it should be punished so as to deter others from the same perversion,"
After frequently considering this subject, I am more and more confirmed in what I then meant to express, and which was sanctioned by the authority, and illustrated by the wisdom, of Johnson; and I think it of the utmost consequence to the happiness of Society, to which subordination is absolutely necessary. It is weak, and contemptible, and unwortay, in a parent to relax in such a case. It is sacrificing general advantage to private feelings. And let it be considered, that the claim of a daughter
1775. who has acted thus, to be restored to her former
situation, is either fantastical or unjust. If there be Ætat. 66.
nó value in the distinction of rank, what does she suffer by being kept in the situation to which she has descended? If there be a value in that distinction, it ought to be steadily maintained. If indulgence be shown to such conduct, and the offenders know that in a longer or shorter. time they shall be received as well as if they had not contaminated their blood by a base alliance, the great check upon that inordinate caprice which generally occasions low marriages, will be removed, and the fair and comfortable order of improved life will be miserably disturbed.
Lord Chesterfield's letters being mentioned, Johnson said, “It was not to be wondered at that they had so great a sale, considering that they were the letters of a statesman, a wit, one who had been so much in the mouths of mankind, one long accustomed virum volitare per ora."
On Friday, March 31, I supped with him and some friends at a tavern.
One of the company attempted, with too much forwardness, to rally him on his late appearance at the theatre ; but had reason to repent of his temerity. “ Why, Sir, did you go to Mrs. Abington's benefit? Did you see?” JOHNSON, “No, Sir:” “ Did you hear ?" JUHINSON. “ No, Sir." Why then, Sir, did you go?". . JOHNSON. “ Because, Sir, she is a favourite of the publick; and. when the publick cares the thousandth part for you that it does for her; I will go to your benefit too."
Next morning I won a small bet from lady Diana Beauclerck, by asking him as to one of his particularities; which her Ladyship laid I durst not do. It seems he
had been frequently observed at the Club to put into 1775. his pocket the Seville oranges, after he had squeezed tr.66. the juice of them into the drink which he made for himself. Beauclerk and Garrick talked of it to me, and seemed to think that he had a strange unwillingness to be discovered. We could not divine what he did with them; and this was the bold question to be put. I saw on his table the spoils of the preceding night, some fresli peels nicely scraped and cut into pieces. “O, Sir,- (said !,) I now partly see what you do with the squeezed oranges which you put into your pocket at the Club.”, Johnson. “I have a great love for them.”; Boswellynand pray, Sir, what do you do with them" Y them it seems, very neatly, and what next" JOHNSON. “Let them dry, Sir.” · BoswellAnd what next!”. Johnson. "Nay, Sir, you shall know their fate no furher.” Boswell. “Then the world must be left in the dark. It must be said (assuming a mock solemnity,) he scraped them, and let them
at what he did with them next, he never could be preyajled upon to tell,” Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, you should say it inore emphatically:-he could not besprevailed upon, even by his dearest friends, to
He had this morning received bis: Diploma as Doctogof. Laws from the University of Oxford. He did
not vaunt of his new dignity, but I understood he was highly pleased with it. I shall here insert the progress and completion of that high academical honour, in the same manner as I have traced his obtaining that of.Master of Arts.
1775. To the Reverend Dr. FOTHERGILL, Vice-Chancellor Ætat. 66. of the University of Oxford, so be cammunicated to
the Heads of Houses, and proposed in Convocation. « MR. VICE-CHANCELLOR AND GENTLEMEN,
“ The honour of the degree of M. A. by diplo ma, formerly conferred upon Mr. Samuel JOHNSON, in consequence of his having eminently distinguished himself by the publication of a series of Essays, excellently calculated to form the manners of the people, and in which the cause of religion and morality has been maintained and recommended by the strongest powers of argument and elegance of language, reflected an equal degree of lustre
the University itself.
« The many learned labours which have since that time employed the attention and displayed the abilities of that great man, so much to the advancement of literature and the benefit of the community, render him worthy of more distinguished honours in the Republick of letters : and I persuade myself, that I shall act agreeably to the sentiments of the whole University, in desiring that it may be proposed in Convocation to confer on him the degree of Doctor in Civil Law by diploma, to which I readily give my consent; and am,
« Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen,
" Your affectionate friend and servant, “ Downing-street,
« NORTH, March 23, 1775.",
* Extracted from the Convocation Register Oxford