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at it, he'll make the other nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine laugh too." I could not agree with him in this. ;
Sir John Pringle had expressed a wish that I would ask Dr. Johnson's opinion what were the best English sermons for style. I took an opportunity to-day of mentioning several to him. Atterbury? 'Johnson. “ Yes, sir, one of the best.” Boswell. “ Tillotson ?” JOHNSON. “
Why, not now. I should not advise a preacher at this day to imitate Tillotson's style; though I don't know; I should be cautious of objecting to what has been applauded by so many suffrages South is one of the best, if you except his peculiarities, and his violence, and sometimes coarseness of language. - Seed has a very fine style; but he is not very theological.-Jortin's sermons are very elegant. Sherlock's style too is very elegant, though he has not made it his principal study.-And you may add Smallridge. All the latter preachers have a good style. Indeed, nobody now talks much of style: every body composes pretty well. There are no such inharmonious periods as there were a hundred years ago. I should recommend Dr. Clarke's sermons, were he orthodox. However, it is very well known where he is not orthodox, which was upon the doctrine of the Trinity, as to which he is a condemned heretick; so one is aware of it.” Boswell.“ I like Ogden's Sermons on Prayer very much, both for neatness of style and subtilty of reasoning." Johnson. “ I should like to read all that Ogden has written.” BOSWELL. “ What I wish to know is, what sermons afford the best specimen of English pulpit eloquence." JOHNSON. “ We have no sermons addressed to the passions, that are good for any thing; if you mean that kind of eloquence." A CLERGYMAN: (whose name I do not recollect). « Were not Dodd's sermons addressed to the passions?" JOHNSON. " They
were nothing, sir, be they addressed to what they may.”
At dinner, Mrs. Thrale expressed a wish to go and see Scotland. Johnson. Seeing Scotland, madam, is only seeing a worse England. It is seeing the flower gradually fade away to the naked stalk. Seeing the Hebrides, indeed, is seeing quite a different scene.” Our poor
friend, Mr. Thomas Davies, was soon to have a benefit at Drury-lane theatre, as some relief to his unfortunate circumstances. We were all warmly interested for his success, and had contributed to it. However, we thought there was no harm in having our joke, when he could not be hurt by it. I proposed that he should be brought on to speak a Prologue upon the occasion; and I began to mutter fragments of what it might be: as, that when now grown old, he was obliged to cry, “Poor Tom's a-cold ;”-that he owned he had been driven from the stage by a Churchill, but that this was no disgrace, for a Churchill had beat the French ;—that he had been satyrised as “mouthing a sentence as curs mouth a bone,” but he was now glad of a bone to pick.--" Nay said Johnson), I would have him
• Mad Tom is come to see the world again.”” He and I returned to town in the evening. Upon the road, I endeavoured to maintain, in argument, that a landed gentleman is not under any obligation to reside upon his estate; and that by living in London he does no injury to his country. Johnson. “Why, sir, he does no injury to his country in general, because the money which he draws froin it gets back again in circulation; but to his particular district, his particular parish, he does an injury. All that he has to give away is not given to those who
have the first claim to it. And though I have said that the money circulates back, it is a long time before that happens. Then, sir, a man of family and estate ought to consider himself as having the charge of a district, over which he is to diffuse civility and happiness.”
Next day I found him at home in the morning. He praised Delany's “ Observations on Swift;" said that his book and Lord Orrery's might both be true, though one viewed Swift more, and the other less, favourably; and that, between both, we might have a complete notion of Swift.
Talking of a man's resolving to deny himself the use of wine, from moral and religious considerations, he said, “ He must not doubt about it. When one doubts as to pleasure, we know what will be the conclusion. I now no more think of drinking wine, than a horse does. The wine upon the table is no more for me, than for the dog that is under the table.”
On Thursday, April 9, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the Bishop of St. Asaph, (Dr. Shipley), Mr. Allan Ramsay, Mr. Gibbon, Mr. Cambridge, and Mr. Langton. Mr. Ramsay had lately returned from Italy, and entertained us with his observations upon Horace's villa, which he had examined with great care.
I relished this much, as it brought fresh into my mind what I had viewed with great pleasure thirteen years before. The Bishop, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Cambridge, joined with Mr. Ramsay, in recollecting the various lines in Horace relating to the subject.
Horace's journey to Brundusium being mentioned, Johnson observed, that the brook which he describes is to be seen now, exactly as at that time; and that he had often wondered how it happened, that small brooks, such as this,, kept the same situation for ages, notwithstanding earthquakes, by which even mountains have been changed, and agriculture, which produces such a variation upon the surface of the earth. CAMBRIDGE. “ A Spanish writer has this thought in a poetical conceit. After observing that most of the solid structures of Rome are totally perished, while the Tiber remains the same, he adds,
1 [See, however, pp. 18—20, where his decision on this sub. ject is more favourable to the absentee. M.]
'Lo que èra Firme huió solamente,
Johnson. “ Sir, that is taken from Janus Vitalis:
immota labescunt; Et quæ perpetuò sunt agitata manent.""
The Bishop said, it appeared from Horace's writings that he was a cheerful contented man. Johnson. “We have no reason to believe that, my Lord. Are we to think Pope was happy, because he says so in his writings? We see in his writings what he wished the state of his mind to appear. Dr. Young, who pined for preferment, talks with contempt of it in his writings, and affects to despise every thing that he did not despise.” Bishop OF ST. ASAPH. “ He was like other chaplains, looking for vacancies: but that is not peculiar to the clergy. I remember when I was with the army, after the battle of Lafeldt, the officers seriously grumbled that no general was killed.” CAMBRIDGE. “We may believe Horace more, when
• Roma Tibur amem, ventosus Tibure Romam ;'
than when he boasts of his consistency:
Me constare mihi scis, et decedere tristem,
BoswELL. “ How hard is it that man can never be at rest.” RAMSAY. “ It is not in his nature to be at rest. When he is at rest, he is in the worst state that he can be in ; for he has nothing to agitate him. He is then like the man in the Irish song,
• There liv'd a young man in Ballinacrazy,
Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson observed, that it was long before his merit came to be acknowledged: that he once complained to him, in ludicrous terms of distress, “ Whenever I write any thing, the publick make a point to know nothing about it." but that his “ Traveller”' brought him into high reputation. LANGTON. “ There is not one bad line in that poem; not one of Dryden's careless verses.” Sir Joshua. “ I was glad to hear Charles Fox say,
it was one of the finest poems in the English language.” LANGTON. " Why was you glad? You surely had no doubt of this before.” Johnson. “No; the merit of • The Traveller' is so well established, that Mr. Fox's praise cannot augment it, nor his censure diminish it.” Sir Joshua. “ But his friends may suspect they had too great a partiality for him." Johnson. “Nay, sir, the partiality of his friends was always against him. It was with difficulty we could give him a hearing. Goldsmith had no settled notions upon any subject; so he talked always at random. It seemed to be his intention to blurt out whatever was in his mind, and see what would become of it. He was angry too, when catched in an absurdity; but it did not prevent him from falling into another the next
1 [First published in 1765. M.]