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In England, whoever practises physick, not being a 1775. Doctor, must practise by a licence: but the docto
Ætat, 66, rate conveys a licence in itself.
“ By what accident it happened that he and the other physicians were mentioned in different terms, where the terms themselves were equivalent, or where in effect that which was applied to him was the most honourable, perhaps they who wrote the paper cannot now remember. Had they expected a lawsuit to have been the consequence of such petty variation, I hope they would have avoided it. But, probably, as they meant no ill, they suspected no danger, and, therefore, consulted only what appeared to them propriety or convenience.”
A few days afterwards I consulted him upon a cause, Paterson and others against Alexander and others, which had been decided by a casting vote in the Court of Session, determining that the Corporation of Stirling was corrupt, and setting aside the election of some of their officers, because it was proved that three of the leading men who influenced the majority, had entered into an unjustifiable compact, of which, however, the majority were ignorant. He dictated to me, after a little consideration, the following sentences upon the subject :
“ There is a difference between majority and superiority; majority is applied to number, and superiority to power; and power like many other things, is to be estimated non numero sed pondere. Now though the greater number is not corrupt, the greater weight is corrupt, so that corruption predominates in
2 In justice to Dr. Memis, though I was against him as an Advocate, I must mention, that he objected to the variation very earnestly, before the translation was printed off.
1775. the borough, taken collectively, though, perhaps,
taken numerically, the greater part may be uncorÆtat. 66.
rupt. That borough, which is so constituted as to act corruptly, is in the eye of reason corrupt, whether it be by the uncontrolable power of a few, or by an accidental pravity of the multitude. The objection, in which is urged the injustice of making the innocent suffer with the guilty, is an objection not only against society, but against the possibility of society. All societies, great and small, subsist upon this condition; that as the individuals derive advantages from union, they may likewise suffer inconveniences; that as those who do nothing, and sometimes those who do ill, will have the honours and emoluments of general virtue and general prosperity, so those likewise who do nothing, or perhaps do well, must be involved in the consequences of predominant corruption."
This in my opinion was a very nice case ; but the decision was affirmed in the House of Lords.
On Monday, May 8, we went together and visited the mansions of Bedlam. I had been informed that he had once bec. there before with Mr. Wedderburne, (now Lord Loughborough,) Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Foote ; and I had heard Foote give a very entertaining account of Johnson's happening to have his attention arrested by a man who was very furious, and who, while beating his straw, supposed it was William Duke of Cumberland, whom he was punishing for his cruelties in Scotland, in 1746.3. There
3 My very honourable friend General Sir George Howard, wha served in the Duke of Cumberland's army, has assured me that the cruelties were not imputable to ltis Royal Highness.
was nothing peculiarly remarkable this day; but the 1775. general contemplation of insanity was very affecting.
Ætat. 66, I accompanied him home, and dined and drank tea with him.
Talking of an acquaintance of ours, distinguished for knowing an uncommon variety of miscellaneous articles both in antiquities and polite literature, he observed, “ You know, Sir, he runs about with little weight upon his mind.” And talking of another very ingenious gentleman, who from the warmth of his temper was at variance with many of his acquaintance, and wished to avoid them, he said, “ Sir, he leads the life of an outlaw."
On Friday, May 12, as he had been so good as to assign me a room in his house, where I might sleep occasionally, when I happened to sit with him to a late hour, I took possession of it this night, found every thing in excellent order, and was attended by honest Francis with a most civil assiduity. I asked Johnson whether I might go to a consultation with another lawyer upon Sunday, as that appeared to me to be doing work as much in my way, as if an artisan should work on the day appropriated for religious rest. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, when you are of consequence enough to oppose the practice of consulting upon Sunday, you should do it: but you may go now. It is not criminal, though it is not what one should do, who is anxious for the preservation and increase of piety, to which a peculiar observance of Sunday is a great help. The distinction is clear between what is of moral and what is of ritual obligation."
On Saturday, May 13, I breakfasted with him by
1775. invitation, accompanied by Mr. Andrew Crosbie, a
Scotch Advocate, whom he had seen at Edinburgh, Ætat. 66.
and the Hon. Colonel (now General) Edward Stopford, brother to Lord Courtown, who was desirous of being introduced to him. His tea and rolls and butter, and whole breakfast apparatus were all in such decorum, and his behaviour was so courteous, that Colonel Stopford was quite surprized, and wondered at his having heard so much said of Johnson's slovenliness and roughness. I have preserved nothing of what passed, except that Crosbie pleased him much by talking learnedly of alchymy, as to which Johnson was not a positive unbeliever, but rather delighted in considering what progress had actually been made in the transmutation of metals, what near approaches there had been to the making of gold ; and told us that it was affirmed, that a person in the Russian dominions had discovered the secret, but died without revealing it, as imagining it would be prejudicial to society. He added, that it was not impossible but it might in time be generally known.
It being asked whether it was reasonable for a man to be angry at another whom a woman had preferred to him;--JOHNSOX. “ I do not see, Sir, that it is reasonable for a man to be angry at another, whom a woman has preferred to him: but angry he is, no doubt; and he is loath to be angry at himself.”
Before setting out for Scotland on the 23d, I was frequently in his company at different places, but during this period have recorded only two remarks: one concerning Garrick: “ He has not Latin enough. He finds out the Latin by the meaning rather than
the meaning by the Latin." And another concern- 1775. ing writers of travels, who, he observed, “ were more Ætat. 66. defective than any other writers.”
I passed many hours with him on the 17th, of which I find all my memorial is, “ much laughing." It should seem he had that day been in a humour for jocularity and merriment, and upon such occasions I never knew a man laugh more heartily. We may suppose, that the high relish of a state so different from his habitual gloom, produced more than ordinary exertions of that distinguishing faculty of man, which has puzzled philosophers so much to explain. Johnson's laugh was as remarkable as any circumstance in his manner. It was a kind of good hu- . moured growl. Tom Davies described, it drolly enough: “ He laughs like a rhinoceros.”
“ I HAVE an old amanuensis in great distress. I have given what I think I can give, and begged till I cannot tell where to beg again. I put into his hands this morning four guineas. If you
could collect three guineas more, it would clear him from his present difficulty, I am, Sir,
" Your niost humble servant, “May 21, 1775.
“ Sam. JOHNSON."
" TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ I Make no doubt but you are now safely lodged in your own habitation, and have told all your adventures to Mrs. Boswell and Miss Veronica.