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be harassed with solicitations. You will have num. bers forced upon you, who bave po merit; some will force them upon you from mistaken partiality, and some from downright interested motives, without a scruple; and you will be disgraced. Were I a rich man, I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow in the open air. A green-house is childish. I would introduce foreign animals into the country; for instance, the rein-deer." *
Observing some beggars in the street as they walked along, Boswell said to him, “ I suppose there is no civilized country in the world where the misery of want in the lowest classes of the people is prevented.” Johnson. “ I believe, sir, there is not; but it is better that some should be unhappy, than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality."
Johnson scouted the idea of nations having any peculiar characteristics. He said, " there is no permanent natural character; it varies according to circumstances. Alexander swept the great India : now the Turks sweep Greece.”
He was of opinion that the English nation cultivated both their soil and their reason better than
* This project has since been realized. Sir Henry Liddell, who made a spirited tour into Lapland, brought two rein-deer to his estate in Northumberland, where they bred; but the race has unfortunately perished.
any other people ; but admitted that the French, though not the highest, perhaps, in any department of literature, yet in every department were very high. Intellectual pre-eminence, he observed, was the highest superiority; and that every nation derived their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity of their writers. Voltaire, he said, was a good narrator, and that his principal merit consisted in a happy selection and arrangement of circumstances. Speaking of the French novels, compared with Richardson's, he said, they might be pretty baubles—but a wren was not an eagle. In a Latin conversation with the Pere Boscovitch, at the house of Mrs. Cholmondeley, he maintained the superiority of sir Isaac Newton over all foreign philosophers, with a dignity and eloquence that surprised that learned foreigner.* It being observed to him, that a rage for every thing English prevailed much in France, after Lord Chatham's glorious war; he said, he did not wonder at it; for that we had drubbed those fellows into a proper reverence for us, and that their national petulance required periodical chastisement.
He observed, “ The great in France live very niagnificently, but the rest very miserably. There is no happy middle state as in England. The shops of Paris are mean; the meat in the markets is such
• In a discourse by sir William Jones, addressed to the Asiatic Society, February 25, 1778, is the following passage: “ One of the most sagacious men in this age, who continues, I hope, to improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson, remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had flourished in ancient. Greece, he would have been worshipped as a divinity.” Malone.
as would be sent to a gaol in England : and Mr. Thrale justly observed, that the cookery of the French was forced upon them by necessity; for they could not eat their meat unless they added some taste to it. The French are an indelicate people ; they will spit upon any place. At madam ****'s, a literary lady of rank, the footman took the sugar in his fingers, and threw it into my coffee. I was going to put it aside ; but hearing it was made on purpose for ine, I ev'n tasted Tom's fingers. The same lady would needs make tea à l'Angloise. The spout of the tea-pot did not pour freely; she bade the footman blow into it. France is worse than Scotland in every thing but climate. Nature has done more for the French; but they have done less for themselves, than the Scotch have done."
He said the poor in England were better pro. vided for than in any other country of the same extent: he did not mean little cantons, or petty republics. “Where a great proportion of the people,” said he,“ are suffered to languish in helpless misery, that country must be ill policed, and wretchedly governed : a decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization. Gentlemen of education," he observed, were pretty much the same in all countries; the condition of the lower orders, (the poor especially) was the true mark of national discrimination."
Boswell having observed, that it was strange how well Scotchmen were known to one another in their own country, though born in very distant counties; for we do not find that the gentlemen of neighbouring coupties in England are mutually known to each other : Johnson, with his usual acuteness, at
once saw and explained the reason of this : “Why, sir, you have Edinburgh, where the gentlemen from all your counties meet, and which is not so large but that they are all known. There is no such common place of collection in England, except London, where, from its great size and diffusion, many of those who reside in contiguous counties of Evgland, may long remain unknown to each other."
He defended his remark upon the general insufficiency of education in Scotland, and confirmed to Boswell the authenticity of his witty saying on the learning of the Scotch-" Their learning is like bread in a besieged town : every man gets a little, but no one gets a full meal." “There is,” said he, “ in Scotland a profusion of learning, a certain pora tion of it widely and thinly spread. A merchant has as much learning as one of their clergy."
Boswell put him in mind, that the landlord at Ellon, in Scotland, said that he heard he was the greatest man in England-next to Lord Mansfield,
Ay, sir,” said he, “ the exception defined the idea. A Scotchman could go no farther :
• The force of nature could no farther go.">
He observed, that " the Irish mix better with the English than the Scotch do; their language is nearer to English; as a proof of which they succeed very well as players, which Scotchmen do not. Then, sir, they have not that extreme nationality which we find in the Scotch. I will do you, Bos. well, the justice to say that you are the most unscottified of your countrymen. You are almost the only instance of a Scotchman that I have known,
who did not, at every other sentence, bring in some other Scotchman."
Dr. Barvard, now bishop of Killaloe, having once expressed to him an apprehension, that, if he should visit Ireland, he might treat the people of that country more unfavourably than he had done the Scotch; he answered, with strong double-edged wit, “Sir, you have no reason to be afraid of me. The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countryinen. No, sir; the Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another."
Dining at the Mitre, Boswell attempted to argue for the superior happiness of the savage life, upon the usual fanciful topics. Johnson. “ Sir, there can be nothing more false. The savages have no bodily advantages beyond those of civilized men : they have not better health; and as to care or mental uneasiness, they are not above it, but below it, like bears. No, sir; you are not to talk such paradox: let me have no more on't. It cannot en. tertain, far less can it instruct. Lord Monboddo, one of your Scotch judges, talked a great deal of such nonsense: I suffered him, but I will not suffer you.” BosweLL. “ But, sir, does not Rousseau talk such nonsense ?” Johnson. " True, sir, but Rousseau knows he is talking uonsense, and laughs at the world for staring at him." BOSWELL. “How