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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 heretic: 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 anything; 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 warınly 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 was no disgrace, for a Churchill had beat the French ;-that he had been satirised 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 to say,
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 from 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."
* [See, however, p. 719, where his decision on this subject is more favourable to the absentee. M.]
DR. JOHNSON AND DR. PERCY
A Dinner at Sir Joshua's—Horace-Dr. Shipley-Chamier and Goldsmith's “ Traveller ”—Goldsmith's
Genius–Town and Country Life-Foreign Literature-Old Age—“Modern Characters by Shakespeare ”—Mr. Harris of Salisbury-Garrick-C. J. Fox—Sir William Scott--Fame-ActorsWar, Soldiers and Sailors-Cock Lane Ghost-Travel-Johnson's Landlord, Mr. Allen—Dr. Dodd's " Prison Thoughts "—Pennant's Travels - Johnson's Quarrel with Dr. Percy–His Reconciliation
with him-Dinner at Langton's—“Snakes in Iceland ”-Soame Jenyns-Maccaronic Verse. 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,
'Lo que erà Firme huió solamente,
Lo Fugitivo permanece y dura.' JOHNSON : “Sir, that is taken from Janus Vitalis :
-immota labescunt ;
Et quæ perpetuo 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 everything that he did not despise.” BISHOP OF SAINT 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
'Romæ Tibur amem ventosus, Tibure Romam ; than when he boasts of his consistency :
Me constare mihi scis, et discedere tristem,
Quandocunque trahunt invisa negotia Romam.'” + * Epist. 1 1, ep. viii, 12. † Epist. 1. 1, ep. xiv, 16.
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 anything, the public 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; no 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."
Why were 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 minute. I remember Chamier, † after talking with him some time, said, 'Well, I do believe he wrote this poem himself : and, let me tell you, that is believing a great deal.' Chamier once asked him what he meant by slow, the last word in the first line of 'The Traveller,
' Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,'
Did he mean tardiness of locomotion ? Goldsmith, who would say something without consideration, answered, 'Yes.' I was sitting by, and said, “No, Sir ; you do not mean tardiness of locomotion ; you mean that sluggishness of mind which comes upon a man in solitude.' Chamier believed then that I had written the line, as much as if he had seen me write it. Goldsmith, however, was a man who, whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do. He deserved a place in Westminster Abbey; and every year he lived would have deserved it better. He had, indeed, been at no pains to fill his mind with knowledge. He transplanted it from one place to another; and it did not settle in his mind; so he could not tell what was in his own books."
We talked of living in the country. JOHNSON : “No wise man will go to live in the country, unless he has something to do which can be better done in the country. For instance : if he is to shut himself up for a year to study a science, it is better to look out to the fields, than to an opposite wall. Then, if a man walks out in the country, there is nobody to keep him from walking in again; but if a man walks out in London, he is not sure when he shall walk in again. A great city is, to be sure, the school for studying life; and “ The proper study of mankind is man,' as Pope observes.” BoSWELL: “I fancy London is the best place for society; though I have heard that the very first society of Paris is still beyond
* [First published in 1765. M.]
† [Anthony Chamier, Esq., a member of the LITERARY CLUB, and Under-Secretary of State. died Oct. 12, 1780. M.]
LITERATURE IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND
anything that we have here.” JOHNSON : “Sir, I question if in Paris such a company as is sitting round this table could be got together in less than half a year. They talk in France of the felicity of men and women living together : the truth is that there the men are not higher than the women, they know no more than the women do, and they are not held down in their conversation by the presence of women.” RAMSAY:
RAMSAY: “Literature is upon the growth, it is in its spring in France ; here it is rather passée.” JOHNSON : “ Literature was in France long before we had it. Paris was the second city for the revival of letters: Italy had it first, to be sure. What have we done for literature, equal to what was done by the Stephani and others in France ? Our literature came to us through France. Caxton printed only two books, Chaucer, and Gower, that were not translations from the French ; and Chaucer, we know, took much from the Italians. No, Sir, if literature be in its spring in France, it is a second spring ; it is after a winter. We are now before the French in literature; but we had it long after them. In England, any man who wears a sword and a powdered wig, is ashamed to be illiterate. I believe it is not so in France. Yet there is, probably, a great deal of learning in France, because they have such a number of religious establishments; so many men who have nothing else to do but to study. I do not know this, but I take it upon the common principles of chance. Where there are many shooters, some will hit.”
We talked of old age. Johnson (now in his seventieth year) said, " It is a man's own fault, it is from want of use, if his mind grows torpid in old age.” The Bishop asked if an old man does
From a drawing not lose faster than he gets.
HORACE'S VILLA JOHNSON: “I think not, my Since this ancient site was identified, in 1767, by the Abbé Lord, if he exerts himself.”' One
Capmartin de Chaupy as that of Horace's Sabine farm, it
has been generally accepted as such. The farm was the gift of the company rashly observed of Maecenas to the poet, who acknowledged his patron's
kindness in the words : that he thought it was happy for
Satis superque me benignitas tua Ditavit. an old man that insensibility comes
Here, well content with this modest estate, Horace would
pass many months of the year, Satis beatus unicis Sabinis. upon him.
JOHNSON (with a noble elevation and disdain): “No, Sir, I should never be happy by being less rational.” BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH : Your wish then, Sir, is, ypáo KELV Orồao kójevos.” JOHNSON : “ Yes, my Lord.” His Lordship mentioned a charitable establishment in Wales, where people were maintained, and supplied with everything, upon the condition of their contributing the weekly produce of their labour ; and he said they grew quite torpid for want of property. JOHNSON : “ They have no object for hope. Their condition cannot be better. It is rowing without a port."
One of the company asked him the meaning of the expression in Juvenal, unius laceriæ. JOHNSON : “ I think it clear enough ; as much ground as one may have a chance to find a lizard upon.'
Commentators have differed as to the exact meaning of the expression by which the Poet intended to enforce the sentiment contained in the passage where these
words occur. It is enough that they mean to denote even a very small possession, provided it be a man's own :
' Est aliquid, quocunque loco, quocunque recessu,
This season, there was a whimsical fashion in the newspapers of applying Shakspeare's words to describe living persons well known in the world ; which was done under the title of “Modern Characters from Shakespeare;”ťmany of which were admirably adapted. The fancy took so much, that they were afterwards collected into a pamphlet. Somebody said to Johnson, across the table, that he had not been in those characters. Yes (said he), I have. I should have been sorry to be left out.” He then repeated what had been applied to him,
“ You must borrow me GARAGANTUA's mouth."
[" As You Like It," üi, 2.]
Miss Reynolds not perceiving at once the meaning of this, he was obliged to explain it to her, which had something of an awkward and ludicrous effect. “Why, Madam, it has a reference to me, as using big words, which require the mouth of a giant to pronounce them. Garagantua is the name of a giant in Rabelais.' BOSWELL: But, Sir, there is another amongst them for you.
' He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for his power to thunder.' JOHNSON : “ There is nothing marked in that. No, Sir ; Garagantua is the best.” Notwithstanding this ease and good humour, when I, a little while afterwards, repeated his sarcasm on Kenrick, I which was received with applause, he asked, “Who said that ? ” and on my suddenly answering Garagantua, he looked serious, which was a sufficient indication that he did not wish it to be kept up.
When we went to the drawing-room, there was a rich assemblage. Besides the company who had been at dinner, there were Mr. Garrick, Mr. Harris of Salisbury, Dr. Percy, Dr. Burney, the Honourable Mrs. Cholmondeley, Miss Hannah More, etc., etc.
After wandering about in a kind of pleasing distraction for some time, I got into a corner, with Johnson, Garrick, and Harris. GARRICK (to Harris): “Pray, Sir, have you read Potter's 'Æschylus ?'" HARRIS : "Yes; and think it pretty.' GARRICK (to Johnson) : “And what think you, Sir, of it ?" JOHNSON : “I thought what I read of it verbiage : but, upon Mr. Harris's recommendation, I will read a play. (To Mr. Harris.) Don't prescribe two.” Mr. Harris suggested one, I do
* Sat. iii, 230.
† [The title of this interesting little book is Modern Characters for 1778 " by Shakespeare. • London, 1778. It was apparently very popular, for there was a third edition the same year. A second part, or sequel, was also published in 1778, which contained another motto on Johnson :
Oh, Marcius! Marcius! If Jupiter
“ You must borrow me Garagantua's mouth
'Tis a word too great for any mouth of this age's size !”] See p. 300.