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" there is all the difference in the world between characters of nature and characters of manners; and there is the difference between the characters of Fielding and those of Richardson. Characters of manners are very entertaining; but they are to be understood by a more superficial observer than characters of nature, where a man must dive into the recesses of the human heart."
He always appeared to estimate the compositions of Richardson too highly, and to have an unreasonable prejudice against Fielding. In comparing these two writers, he used this expressiou : " There is as great a difference between them, as between a man who knows how a watch is made, and a man who can tell the hour by looking on the dial-plate.” This was a short and figurative statement of his distinction between drawing characters of nature and characters only of manners.
6 But I cannot help being of opinion,” remarks Boswell, “ that the neat watches of Fielding are as well constructed as the large clocks of Richardson, and that his dialplates are brighter. Fielding's characters, though they do not expand themselves 60 widely in dissertation, are as just pictures of human nature, and I will venture to say, have more striking features, and nicer touches of the pencil; and though Johnson used to quote with approbation à saying of Richardson's, that the virtues of Fielding's heroes were the vices of a truly good man,' I will venture to add, that the moral tendency of Fielding's wri, tings, though it does not encourage a strained and rarely possible virtue, is ever favourable to honour aud lionesty, and cherishes the benevolent and geberous affections. He who is as good as Fielding
would make him, is an amiable member of society, and may be led on by more regulated instructors, to a higher state of ethical perfection.” Johnson proceeded : “Even sir Francis Wronghead is a character of manners, though drawn with great- humour.” He then repeated, very happily, all sir Francis's credulous account to Manly of his being with “ the great man" and securing a place. Boswell asked him, if the Suspicious Husband did not furnish a well-drawn character, that of Ranger ? Johnson. “ No, sir; Ranger is just a rake, a mere rake, and a lively young fellow, but no character."
“ As a curious instance," says Boswell, little a man knows, or wishes to know, his own character in the world; or, rather as a convincing proof, that Johnson's roughness was only external, and did not proceed from his heart, I insert the following dialogue :-JOHNSON. ' It is wonderful, sir, how rare a quality good humour is in life : we meet with very few good-humoured men,' I mentioned four of our friends, none of whom he would allow to be good-humoured : one was acid, another was muddy, and to the others he had objections which have escaped me. Then shaking his head, and stretching himself at ease in the coach, and smiling with much complacency, he turned to me, and said, • I look upon myself as a good-humoured fellow.' The epithet fellow, applied to the great lexicographer, the stately moralist, the masterly critic, as if he had been Sam Johnson, a mere pleasant companion, was highly diverting; and this light notion of himself struck me with wonder. I answered (also smiling), 'No, no, sir ; that will not
do : you are good-natured, but not good-humoured; you are irascible : you have not patience with folly and absurdity. I'believe you would pardon them, if there were time to deprecate your vengeance ; but punishment follows so quick after sentence, that they cannot escape.'
Boswell being about to travel, says of Johnson, “ He advised me, when abroad, to be as much as I could with the professors in the universities, and with the clergy ; for, from their conversation I wight expect the best accounts of every thing, in whatever country I should be, with the additional advantage of keeping my learning alive.
“ It will be observed, that when giving me advice as to my travels, Dr. Johnson did not dwell upon cities, and palaces, and pictures, and shows, and Arcadian scenes. He was of Lord Essex's opinion, who advises his kinsman Roger, earl of Rutland,
rather to go a hundred miles to speak with one wise man, than five miles to see a fair town.'”
At a period long subsequent to this, he tells us, “ He talked with an uncommon animation of travelling into distant countries ; that the mind was enlarged by it, and that an acquisition of dignity of character was derived from it. He expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall of China. I catched it for the moment, and said, I really believed I should go and see the wall of China,
had I not children, of whom it was my duty to take care. 'Sir,' said he, by doing so, you would do what would be of importance in raising your chil. dren to eminence. There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, sir.''
Speaking of Bruce, Boswell says, “ Johnson told me, that he had been in the coinpany of a gentle. man whose extraordinary travels had been much the subject of conversation : but I found he had not listened to him with that full confidence, with. out which there is little satisfaction in the society of travellers. I was curious to hear what opinion so able a judge as Johnson had formed of his abi. lities, and I asked, if he was not a man of sense. Johnson. “Why, sir, he is not a distinct relater; and I should say, he is neither abounding nor deficient in sense. I did not perceive any superiority of urderstanding.' Boswell. 'But will you not allow him a nobleness of resolution, in penetrating into distant regions ?' Johnson. " That, sir, is not to the present purpose ; we are talking of sense. A fighting-cock. has a nobleness of resolution.'
The following conversation occurred at a tavern, dining with a numerous company. Johnson. " I have 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 uot, 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 pages 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.'"
Boswell mentioned Addison's having borrowed many of his classical remarks from Leandro Alberti. Mr. 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 hare said of their country.”.
Mr. Thrale had long planned a journey to Italy with his family, in which Dr. Johnson was to accompany them; and even after the death of Mr. Thrale's son, a journey to Italy was still in the doctor's thoughts. He said, “A man who has not eenin It aly is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of travelling is, to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world the As. syrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come from the shores of the Mediterranean." General Paoli observed, “ The Mediterranean would be a poble subject for a poem.”