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Smart to write a monthly miscellany, called • The Universal Visitor.' There was a formal written contract, which Allen the printer saw. Gardener thought as you do of the judge. They were bound to write nothing else; they were to have, I think, a third of the profits of his sixpenny pamphlet; and the contract was for ninety-nine years. I wish I had thought of giving this to Thurlow, in the cause about literary property. What an excellent instance would it have been of the oppression of booksellers towards poor authors !" smiling (1) Davies, zealous for the honour of the trade, said Gardener was not properly a bookseller. Johnson. “Nay, Sir; he certainly was a bookseller. He had served his time regularly, was a member of the Stationers' Company, kept a shop in the face of mankind, purchased copyright, and was a bibliopole, Sir, in every sense. I wrote for some months in The Universal Visitor' for
poor Smart, while he was mad, not then knowing the terms on which he was engaged to write, and thinking I was doing him good. I hoped his wits would soon return to him. Mine returned to me, and I wrote in • The Universal Visitor' no longer.”
Friday, 7th April, I dined with him at a tavern, with a numerous company. (2) Johnson. “I have
(1) There has prooaply been some mistake as to the terms of this supposed extraordinary contract, the recital of which from hearsay afforded Johnson so much play for his sportive acute
Or if it was worded as he supposed, it is so strange that I should conclude it was a joke. Mr. Gardener, I am assured, was a worthy and liberal man.
(2) At the Club, where there were present Mr. Charles Fox (president), Sir J. Reynolds, Drs. Johnson and Percy, Messrs. Beauclerk, Boswell, Chamier, Gibbon, Langton, and Steevens:
been reading • Twiss's Travels in Spain ('), which are just come out. They are as good as the first book of travels that you will take up. They are as good as those of Keysler or Blainville; nay, as Addison's, if you except the learning. They are not so good as Brydone's, but they are better than Pococke’s. I have not, indeed, cut the leaves yet; but I have read in them where the pages are open, and I do not suppose that what is in the
which are closed is worse than what is in the open pages. It would seem,” he added, “ that Addison had not acquired much Italian learning, for we do not find it introduced into his writings. The only instance that I recollect is his quoting • Stavo bene ; per star meglio, sto qui.'" (2)
I mentioned Addison's having borrowed many of his classical remarks from Leandro Alberti.(3) Mr.
why Mr. Boswell sometimes sinks the club is not quite clear. He might very naturally have felt some reluctance to betray the private conversation of a convivial meeting, but that feeling would have operated on all occasions. It may, however, be observed that he generally endeavours to confine his report to what was said either by Johnson or himself. — C.
(1) (Richard Twiss, Esq. also published a Treatise of Chess, and a Tour through Ireland. He died in 1821.]
(2) Addison, however, does not mention where this celebrated epitaph, which has eluded a very diligent inquiry, is found. WALONE. — It is mentioned by old Howels
. “ The Italian saying may be well applied to poor England: - I was well - would be better — took physic — and died." "--Lett. Jan. 20. 1647.-C.
(3) This observation is, as Mr. Markland observes to me, to be found in Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son : “ I have been lately informed of an Italian book, written by one Alberti, about fourscore or a hundred years ago, a thick quarto. It is a classical description of Italy; from whence I am assured tha.
Beauclerk said, “It was alleged that he had borrowed also from another Italian author." Johnson
Why, Sir, all who go to look for what the classics have said of Italy must find the same passages (); and I should think it would be one of the first things the Italians would do on the revival of learning, to collect all that the Roman authors have said of their country.
Ossian being mentioned ;-JOHNSON. “Supposing the Irish and Erse languages to be the same, which I do not believe (2), yet as there is no reason to suppose that the inhabitants of the Highlands and Hebrides ever wrote their native language, it is not to be credited that a long poem was preserved among them. If we had no evidence of the art of writing being practised in one of the counties of England, we should not believe that a long poem was preserved there, though in the neighbouring counties, where the same language was spoken, the inhabitants could write." BEAUCLERK. “The ballad of Lilliburlero' was once in the mouths of all the people of this country, and is said to have had a great effect in
Mr. Addison, to save himself trouble, has taken most of his
bringing about the revolution.
Yet I question whether any body can repeat it now(); which shows how improbable it is that much poetry should be preserved by tradition."
One of the company suggested an internal objection to the antiquity of the poetry said to be Ossian's, that we do not find the wolf in it, which must have been the case had it been of that age.
The mention of the wolf had led Johnson to think of other wild beasts; and while Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Langton were carrying on a dialogue about something which engaged them earnestly, he, in the midst of it, broke out, “ Pennant tells of bears." What he added I have forgotten. They went on, which he, being dull of hearing, did not perceive, or, if he did, was not willing to break off his talk ; so he continued to vociferate his remarks, and bear (“ like a word in a catch,” as Beauclerk said) was repeatedly heard at intervals; which coming from him who, by those who did not know him, had been so often assimilated to that ferocious animal, while we who were sitting round could hardly stifle laughter, produced a very ludicrous effect. Silence having ensued, he proceeded : “ We are told, that the black bear is innocent; but I should not like to trust myself with him.” Mr. Gibbon muttered in a low tone of voice, “ I should not like to trust
(1) [Of this celebrated song, Burnet says, “ Perhaps never had so slight a thing so great an effect.” According to Lord Dartmouth, “there was a particular expression in it which the king remembered he had made use of to the Earl of Dorset, from whence it was concluded that he was the author.” The song will be found in Percy's Reliques, vol. ii. p. 376., where it is attributed to Lord Wharton. MARKLAND.)
* Geneland sincetiam inetnew, 1852
myself with you." This piece of sarcastic pleasantry was a prudent resolution, if applied to a competition of abilities. (1)
Patriotism having become one of our topics, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: “ Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” (?) But let it be considered, that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism, which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest. I maintained, that certainly all patriots were not scoundrels. Being urged (not by Johnson) to name one exception, I mentioned an eminent person (3), whom we all greatly admired. Johnson. “Sir, I do not say
that he is not honest; but we have no reason to conclude from his political conduct that he is honest. Were he to accept a place from this ministry, he would lose that character of firmness which he has, and might be turned out of his place in a year. This ministry is neither stable, nor grateful to their friends,
(1) Mr. Green, the anonymous author of the “ Diary of a Lover of Literature” (printed at Ipswich), states, under the date of 13th June, 1796, that a friend whom he designates by the initial M (and whom I believe to be my able and obliging friend Sir James Mackintosh), talking to him of the relative ability of Burke and Gibbon, said, “ Gibbon might have been cut out of a corner of Burke's mind without his missing it.” I fancy, now that enthusiasm has cooled, Sir James would be inclined to allow Gibbon a larger share of mind, though his intellectual powers can never be compared with Burke's.-C.
(2) This remarkable sortie, which has very much amused the world, will hereafter be still more amusing, when it is known, that it appears, by the books of the Club, that at the moment it was uttered, Mr. For was in the chair, - C.
3) No doubt Mr. Burke. --C.