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names to that of my illustrions friend. That sketch is, however, an entertaining little collection of fragments. Those which he published of Pope and Addison are of higber merit; but his fame must chiefly rest upon his “Political Conferfences,” in which he introduces several eminent persons delivering their sentiments in the way of dialogue, and discovers a considerable share of learning, various knowledge, aud discernment of character. This much may I be allowed to say of a man who was exceedingly obliging to me, and who lived with Dr. Johnson in as easy a manner as almost any of his very numerous acquaintance.
Mr. Edwards had said to me aside, that Dr. Johnson should have been of a profession. I repeated the remark to Johnson that I might have his own thoughts on the subject. Johnson. “Sir, it would have been better that I had been of a profession. I ought to have been a lawyer.” BOSWELL. “ I do not think, Sir, it would have been better, for we should not have had the English Dictionary.” Johnson. would have had Reports.” BosWELL. “Aye; but there would not have been another, who could have written the Dictionary. There have been many very good judges. Suppose you had been Lord Chancellor; you would have delivered opinions with more extent of mind, and in a more ornamented manner, than perhaps any chancellor ever did, or ever will do. But, I believe, causes have been as judiciously decided as you could have done.” JOHNSON.
Yes, Sir. Property has been as well settled.” Johnson, however, had a noble ambition
" But you
floating in his mind, and had, undoubtedly, often speculated on the possibility of his supereminent powers being rewarded in this great and liberal country by the highest honours of the state. Sir William Scott informs me, that upon the death of the late Lord Litchfield, who was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he said to Johnson, “What a pity it is, Sir, that you did not follow the profession of the law. You might have been Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, and attained to the dignity of the peerage; and now that the title of Litchfield, your native city, is extinct, you might have had it.” Johnson, upon this, seemed much agitated; and, in an angry tone, exclaimed, “Why will you vex me by suggesting this when it is too late?”
But he did not repine at the prosperity of others. The late Dr. Thomas Leland told Mr. Courtenay, that when Mr. Edmund Burke shewed Johnson his fine house and lands near Beaconsfield, Johnson coolly said, non equidem invideo; miror magis.
# I am not entirely without suspicion that Johnson may have felt a little momentary envy; for no man loved the good things of this life better than he did; and he could not but be conscious that he deserved a much larger share of them, than he ever had. I attempted in a news-paper to comment on the above passage in the manner of Warburton, who must be allowed to have shewn uncommon ingenuity, in giving to any authour's text whatever meaning he chose it should carry. As this imitation may amuse my readers, I shall here introduce it.
“ No saying of Dr. Johnson's has been more misunderstood than his applying to MR. BURKE when he first saw him at his fine place at Beaconsfield, Non equidem invideo ; miror magis. These two celebrated men had been friends
Yet no man had a higher notion of the dignity of literature than Johnson, or was more determined in maintaining the respect which he justly considered as due to it. Of this, besides the general tenure of his conduct in society, some characteristical instances may be mentioned.
He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, that once when he dined in a numerous company of booksellers, where the room being small, the head of the table, at which he sat, was almost close to the fire, he persevered in suffering a great deal of inconvenience from the heat, rather than quit his place, and let one of them sit above him.
Goldsmith, in his diverting simplicity, complained one day, in a mixed company, of Lord Camden. “I met him (said he) at Lord Clare's house in the country, and he took no more notice of me than if I liad been an ordinary
The company having laughed heartily, Johnson stood forth in defence of his friend,
Nay, Gentlemen, (said he) Dr. Goldsmith is in the right. A nobleman ought to have made
for many years before Mr. Burke entered on his parliamentary career. They were both writers, both members of The LITERARY CLUB; when, therefore, Dr. Johnson saw Mr. Burke in a situation so much more splendid than that to which he himself had attained, he did not mean to express that he thought it a disproportionate prosperity ; but while he, as a philosopher, asserted an exemption from envy, non equidem invideo, he went on in the words of the poet, miror magis; thereby signifying, either that he was occupied in admiring what he was glad to see; or, perhaps, that considering the general lot of men of superiour abilities, he wondered, that Fortune, who is represented as blind, should, in this instance, have been so just."
up to such a man as Goldsmith; and I think it is much against Lord Camden that he neglected him."
Nor could he patiently endure to hear, that such respect as he thought due only to higher intellectual qualities, should be bestowed on men foslighter, though perhaps moreamusing talents. I told hini, that one morning, when I went to breakfast with Garrick, who was very vain of his intimacy with Lord Camden, he accosted me tbus :-" Pray now, did you,--did you meet a little lawyer turning the corner, eh?"-"No, Sir, (said I.) Pray what do you mean by the question ?”—“Why, (replied Garrick, with an affected indifference, yet as if standing on tiptoe,) Lord Camden has this moment left me. We have had a long walk together.” Johnson. “Well, Sir, Garrick talked very properly. Lord Camden was a little lauyer to be associating so familiarly with a player.”
Sir Joshua Reynolds observed, with great truth, that Johnson considered Garrick to be as it were his property. He would allow no man either to blame or to praise Garrick in his presence, without contradicting him.
Having fallen into a very serious frame of mind, in which mutual expressions of kindness passed between us, such as would be thought too vain in me to repeat, I talked with regret of the sad inevitable certainty that one of us must survive the other. Johnson. Yes, Sir, that is an affecting consideration. I remember Swift, in one of his letters to Pope, says, “I intend to come over, that we may meet once
more; and when we must part, it is what happens to all human beings.” Boswell. “The hope that we shall see our departed friends again must support the mind. Johnson. “Why, yes, Sir.” Boswell.
" There is a strange unwillingness to part with life, independent of serious fears as to futurity. A reverend friend of ours (naming him) tells me, that he feels an uneasiness at the thoughts of leaving his house, bis study, his books.” Johnson. “ This is foolish in ***** A man need not be aneasy on these grounds; for, as he will retain his consciousness, he may say with the philosopher, Omnia mea mecum porto.” Boswell.
True, Sir: we may carry our books in our heads; but still there is something painful in the thought of leaving for ever what has given us pleasure. I remember, many years ago, when my imagination was warm, and I happened to be in a melancholy mood, it distressed me to think of going into a state of being in which Shakespeare's poetry did not exist. A lady whom I then much admired, a very amiable women, humoured my fancy, and relieved me by saying, “ The first thing you will meet in the other world, will be an elegant copy of Shakespeare's works presented to you.” Dr. Johnson smiled benignantly, at this, and did not appear to disapprove of the notion.
We went to St. Clement's church again in the afternoon, and then returned and drank tea and coffee in Mrs. Williams's room ; Mrs. Desmoulins doing the honours of the tea-table. I observed that he would not even look at a