Imágenes de página


66 Bouts


[ocr errors]

Lady Miller's collection of verses by, fashionable Art. 66 people, which were put into her Vase at Batheaston

villa, near Bath, in competition for honorary prizes,
being mentioned, he held them very cheap:
rimés (said he,) is a mere conceit, and an old conceit
now ; I wonder how people were persuaded to write
in that manner for this lady.” I named a gentleman
of his acquaintance who wrote for the Vase. John,

“ He was a blockhead for his pains.” BosWELL. “ The Duchess of Northumberland wrote." Johnson. “Sir, the Duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases: nobody, will say any thing to a lady of her high rank. But I should be apt to throw ******'s verses in his face."

I talked of the chearfulness of Fleet-street, owing to the constant quick succession of people which we perceive passing through it. Johnson. “Why, Sir, Fleet-street has a very animated appearance; but I think the full tide of human existence is at Charing cross.'

He made the common remark on the unhappiness which men who have led a busy life experience, when they retire in expectation of enjoying themselves at ease, and that they generally languish for want of their habitual occupation, and wish to return to it. He mentioned as strong an instance of this as can well be imagined. 66 An eminent, tallow chandler in London, who had acquired a considerable fortune, gave up the trade in favour of his foreman, and went to live at a country-house near town. He soon grew weary, and paid frequent visits to his old shop, where he desired they might let him know their melting-days, and he would come and assist them; which he accordingly did. Here, Sir, was a man, to whom

the most disgusting circumstance in the business to 1775. which he had been used, was a relief from idleness.”

Ætat. 66. · On Wednesday, April 5, I dined with him'at Messieurs Dilly's, with Mr. John Scott of Amwell, the Quaker, Mr. Langton, Mr. Miller, (now Sir John,) and Dr. Thomas Campbell, an Irish Clergyman, whom I took the liberty of inviting to Mr. Dilly's table, having seen him at Mr. Thrale's, and been told that he had come to England chiefly with a view to see Dr. Johnson, for whom he entertained the highest veneration. He has since published “A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland," a very entertaining book, which has, however, one fault;that it assumes the fictitious character of an English


We talked of publick speaking:-Johnson. “We must not estimate a man's powers by his being able or not able to deliver his sentiments in publick. Isaac Hawkins Browne, one of the first wits of this country, got into Parliament, and never opened his mouth. For my own part, I think it is more disgraceful never to try to speak, than to try it, and fail; as it is more disgraceful not to fight, than to fight and be beaten." This argument appeared to me fallacious; for if a inan has not spoken, it may be said that he would have done very well if he had tried; whereas, if he has tried and failed, there is nothing to be said for him. “Why then, (I asked,) is it thought disgraceful for a man not to fight, and not disgraceful not to speak in publick ?” Johnson. 6 Because there may be other reasons for a man's not speaking in publick than want of resolution: he may have no, thing to say, (laughing.) Whereas, Sir, you know çourage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues ; be.

1775. cause, unless a man has that virtue, he has no secuEtat. 06.rity for preserving any other."

He observed, that “ the statutes against bribery were intented to prevent upstarts with money from getting into Parliament;" adding, that “ if he were a gentleman of landed property, he would turn out all his tenants who did not vote for the candidate whom he supported.”

LANGTON. “ Would not that, Sir, be checking the freedom of election?" JOHNSON. “Sir, the law does not mean that the privilege of voting should be independent of old family interest ; of the permanent property of the country.”

On Thursday, April 6, I dined with him at Mr. Thomas Davies's, with Mr. Hicky, the painter, and my old acquaintance Mr. Moody, the player.

Dr. Johnson, as usual, spoke contemptuously of Colley Cibber.

" It is wonderful that a man, who for forty years had lived with the great and the witty, should have acquired so ill the talents of conversą. tion: and he had but half to furnish ; for one half of what he said was oaths.” He, however, allowed considerable merit to some of his comedies, and said there was no reason to believe that the of Careless Husband” was not written by himself. Davies said, he was the first dramatick writer who introduced genteel ladies upon the stage. Johnson refuted this observation by instancing several such, characters in comedies before his time. DAVIES. (trying to defend himself from a charge of ignorance,) “ I mean genteel moral characters.” “I think (said Hicky) gentility and morality are inseparable.”. Boswell. 5. By no means, Sir. The genteelest characters are often the most immoral. Does not Lord Chesterfield

[ocr errors]

give precepts for uniting wickedness and the graces ? 1775. A man, indeed, is not genteel when he gets drunk;

Ætat. 66. but most vices may be committed very genteelly: a man may debauch his friend's wife genteelly : he máy cheat at cards genteelly.” Hicky. “ I do not think that is genteel.” BOSWELL. “Sir, it may not be like a gentleman, but it may be genteel.” JOHNson. “ You are meaning two different things. One means exteriour grace; the other honour. It is certain that a man may be very immoral with exteriour grace. Lovelace, in · Clarissa,' is a very genteel and a very wicked character. Tom Hervey, who died t’other day, though a vicious man, was one of the genteelest men that ever lived." Tom Davies instanced Charles the Second. Johnson, (taking fire at any attack upon that Prince, for whom he had an extraordinary partiality,) " Charles the Second was licentious in his practice; but he always had a Teverence for what was good. Charles the Second knew his people, and rewarded merit. The Church was at no time better filled than in his reign. He was the best King we have had from his time till the reign of his present Majesty, except James the Second, who was a very good King, but unhappily believed that it was necessary for the salvation of his subjects that they should be Roman Catholicks. He had the merit of endeavouring to do what he thought was for the salvation of the souls of his subjects, rill he lost a great Empire. We, who thought that we should not be saved if we were Roman Catholicks, had the merit of maintaining our religion, at the expence of submitting ourselves to the government of King William, (for it could not be done otherwise, )--to the government of one of the most worth


1775. less scoundrels that ever existed. No; Charles the

Second was not such a man as Ætat. 66.

> (naming another King). He did not destroy his father's will. He took money, indeed, from France: but he did not betray those over whoin he ruled: He did not let the French fleet pass ours. · George the First knew nothing, and desired to know nothing; did nothing, and desired to do nothing: and the only good thing that is told of him is, that he wished to restore the crown to its hereditary successor.” He roared with prodigious violence against George the Second. When he ceased, Moody interjected, in an Irish tone, and with a comick look, “ Ah! poor George the Second.”

I mentioned that Dr. Thomas Campbell had come from Ireland to London, principally to see Dr. Johnson. He seemed angry at this observation. DAVIES.

Why, you know, Sir, there came a man from Spain to see Livy;' and Corelli came to England to see Purcell,* and, when he heard he was dead, went directly back again to Italy.” Johnson. “ I should not have wished to be dead to disappoint Campbell, had he been so foolish as you represent him; but I should have wished to have been a hundred miles off.” This was apparently perverse ; and I do believe it was not his real way of thinking: he could not but like a man' who came so far to see him. He laughed with some complacency, when I told him Campbell's odd expression to me concerning him: “ That having. iseen such a man, was a thing to

Plin. Epist. Lib. sil Ep. 3.

* [Mr. Davies' was here mistaken. Corelli never was in Eng, land. B.]

« AnteriorContinuar »