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ett, and a clergyman, who had come to submit some poetical pieces to his revision. It is wonderful what a number and variety of writers, some of them even unknown to him, prevailed on his good nature to look over their works, and suggest corrections and improvements. My arrival interrupted, for a little while, the important business of this true representative of Bayes ; upon this being resumed, I found that the subject under immediate consideration was a translation, yet in manuscript, of the “ Carmen Seculare ” of Horace, which had this year been set to music, and performed as a public entertainment in London, for the joint benefit of Monsieur Philidor and Signor Baretti. When Johnson had done reading, the author asked him bluntly, “If upon the whole it was a good translation ?" Johnson, whose regard for truth was uncommonly strict, seemed to be puzzled for a moment what answer to make, as he certainly could not honestly commend the performance : with exquisite address he evaded the questiou thus, “Sir, I do not say that it may not be made a very good translation.” Here nothing whatever in favour of the performance was affirmed, and yet the writer was not shocked. A printed “Ode to the Warlike Genius of Britain" came next in review. The bard ? was a lank bony figure, with short black hair ; he was writhing himself in agitation, while Johnson read, and, showing his teeth in a grin of earnestness, exclaimed in broken sentences, and in a keen sharp tone, “Is that poetry, Sir ?—Is it Pindar ?" Johnson. “Why, Sir, there is here a great deal of what is called poetry.” Then, turning to me, the poet cried, “ My muse has not been long upon the town, and (pointing to the Ode) it trembles under the hand of the great critic." Johnson, in a tone of displeasure, asked him, “Why do you praise Anson ?” I did not trouble him by asking his reason for this question.' He proceeded :—“Here is an error, Sir ; you have made
1 Andrew Philidor, a musician and chess-player of eminence. In 1777, he published “ Analyse du Jeu des Echecs."
? This was a Mr. Tasker. Mr. D'Israeli informs me that this portrait is so accurately drawn, that being, some years after the publication of this work, at a watering-place on the coast of Devon, he was visited by Mr. Tasker, whose name, however, he did not then know, but was so struck with his resemblance to Boswell's picture, that he asked him whether he had not bad an interview with Dr. Johnson, and it appeared that he was indeed the author of "The Warlike Genius of Britain."-C.
3 He disliked Lord Anson probably from local politics. On one occasion he visited Lord
Genius feminine." "Palpable, Sir (cried the enthusiast); I know it. But in a lower tone) it was to pay a compliment to the Duchess of Devonshire, with which her grace was pleased. She is walking across Coxbeath in the military uniform, and I suppose her to be the genius of Britain.” Johnson. “Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right. You may have a rea. son why two and two should make five ; but they will still make but four.”
Although I was several times with him in the course of the fol lowing days, such it seems were my occupations, or such my negligence, that I have preserved no memorial of his conversation till Friday, March 26, when I visited him. He said he expected to be attacked on account of his “Lives of the Poets." "However," said he, “I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing ; but starving it is still worse ; an assault
may be unsuccessful, you may have more men killed than
you but if you starve the town, you are sure of victory.”
Talking of a friend of ours associating with persons of very discordant principles and characters ; I said he was a very universal man, quite a man of the world. Johnson. · Yes, Sir ; but one may be so much a man of the world, as to be nothing in the world. I remember a passage in Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield,' which he was afterwards fool enough to expunge.
•I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing.'' BosWELL. That was a fine passage.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir : there was another fine passage too, which he struck out : When I was a young man, being anxious to distinguish myself, I was perpetually starting new propositions. But I soon gave this over ; for I found that generally what was new was
I said I did not like to sit with people of whom I had
Anson's seat, and although, as he confessed, "well received and kindly treated, he, with the true gratitude of a wit, ridiculed the master of the house before he had left it an hour." In the grounds there is a Temple of the Winds, on which he made the following epigram:
Gratum animum laudo ; Qui debuit omnia ventis,
Quam bene ventorum surgere templa jubet !-Piozzi's Anecdotes.-C. · Dr. Burney, in a note introduced in a former page, has mentioned this circumstance concerning Goldsmith, as communicated to him by Dr. Johnson, not recollecting that it occurred
not a good opinion. JOHNSON. “But you must not indulge your delicacy too much, or you will be a tête-à-tête man all your
“March 18, 1779. “On Monday I came late to Mrs. Vesey. Mrs. Montagu was there ; I called for the print,' and got good words. The evening was not brilliant, but I had thanks for my company. The night was troublesome. On Tuesday I fasted, and went to the doctor: he ordered bleeding. On Wednesday I had the teapot, fasted, and was blooded. Wednesday night was better. To-day I have dined at Mr. Strahan's, at Islington, with his new wife. To-night there will he opium ; to-morrow the tea-pot; then heigh for Saturday. I wish the doctor would bleed me again. Yet everybody that I meet says that I look better than when I was last met."
During my stay in London this spring, I find I was unaccountably negligent in preserving Johnson's sayings, more so than at any time when I was happy enough to have an opportunity of hearing bis wisdom and wit. There is no help for it now. I must content myself with presenting such scraps as I have. But I am nevertheless ashamed and vexed to think, how much has been lost. It is not that there was a bad crop this year, but that I was not sufficiently careful in gathering it in. I therefore, in some instances, can only exhibit a few detached fragments.
Talking of the wonderful concealment of the author of the celebrated letters signed Junius, he said, “ I should have believed Burke to be Junius, because I know no man but Burke who is capable of writing these letters ; but Burke spontaneously denied it to me. The case would have been different, had I asked him if he was the author ; a man so questioned, as to an anonymous publication, may think he has a right to deny it."
He observed that his old friend, Mr. Sheridan, had been honoured with extraordinary attention in his own country, by having had an
His remark, however, is not wholly superfluous, as it ascertains that the words which Goldsmith had put into the mouth of a fictitious character in the “Vicar of Wakefield," and which, as we learn from Dr. Johnson, he afterwards expunged, related, like many other passages in his novel, to himself.-M.
Mrs. Montagu's portrait.-C. ? In Upper Street, nearly opposite the church. The house has undergone no exterior alteration.
exception made in his favour in an Irish act of parliament concerning insolvent debtors. “Thus to be singled out,” said he, “by a legislature, as an object of public consideration and kindness, is a proof of no eommon merit.”
At Streatham, on Monday, March 29, at breakfast, he maintained that a father had no right to control the inclinations of his daughter in marriage.
On Wednesday, March 31, when I visited him, and confessed an excess of which I had very seldom been guilty—that I had spent a whole night in playing at cards, and that I could not look back on it with satisfaction instead of a harsh animadversion, he mildly said, “ Alas, Sir, on how few things can we look back with satisfaction !"
On Thursday, April 1, he commended one of the Dukes of Devonshire for "a
a dogged veracity.” He said, too, "London is nothing to some people ; but to a man whose pleasure is intellectual, London is the place. And there is no place where economy can be so well practised as in London : more can be had here for the money, even by ladies, than any where else. You cannot play tricks with your fortune in a small place ; you must make an uniform appear
Here a lady may have well-furnished apartments, and elegant dress, without any meat in her kitchen."
I was amused by considering with how much ease and coolness he could write or talk to a friend, exhorting him not to suppose that happiness was not to be found as well in other places as in London; when he himself was at all times sensible of its being, comparatively speaking, a heaven upon earth. The truth is, that by those who from sagacity, attention, and experience, have learnt the full advantage of London, its pre-eminence over every other place, not only for variety of enjoyment, but for comfort, will be felt with a philosophical exultation. The freedom from remark and petty censure, with which life may be passed there, is a circumstance which a man who knows the teasing restraint of a narrow circle must relish highly. Mr. Burke, whose orderly and amiable domestic habits might make the eye of observation less irksome to him than to most men, said once very pleasantly, in my hearing, “Though I have the honour to represent Bristol, I should not like to live there ; I should
be obliged to be so much upon my good behaviour.” In London, a man may live in splendid society at one time, and in frugal retirement at another, without animadversion. There, and there alone, a man's own house is truly bis castle, in which he can be in perfect safety from intrusion whenever he pleases. I never shall forget how well this was expressed to me one day by Mr. Meynell : “ The chief advantage of London,” said he,"is, that a man is always so near his burrow.”
He said of one of his old acquaintances, “He is very fit for a travelling governor. He knows French very well. He is a man of good principles; and there would be no danger that a young gentleman should catch his manner ; for it is so very bad, that it must be avoided. In that respect he would be like the drunken Helot.”
A gentleman has informed me, that Johnson said of the same person, “Sir, he has the most inverted understanding of any man whom I have ever known."
On Friday, April 2, being Good Friday, I visited him in the morning as usual ; and finding that we insensibly fell into a train of ridicule upon the foibles of one of our friends, a very worthy man, I, by way of a check, quoted some good admonition from “The Government of the Tongue,” that very pious book. It happened also remarkably enough, that the subject of the sermon preached to us to-day by Dr. Burrows, the rector of St. Clement Danes, was the certainty that at the last day we must give an account of “the deeds done in the body;" and amongst various acts of culpability he mentioned evil-speaking. As we were moving slowly along in the crowd from church, Johnson jogged my elbow, and said, “Did you attend to the sermon ?” “Yes, Sir,” said I ; "it was very applicable to us." He, however, stood upon the defensive. “Why, Sir, the sense of ridicule is given us, and may be lawfully used. The author of "The Government of the Tongue’ would have us treat all men alike.”
In the interval between morning and evening service, he endeavoured to employ himself earnestly in devotional exercise ; and, as he has mentioned in his “ Prayers and Meditations,” gave me, “ Les Pensées de Paschal," that I might not interrupt him I preserre