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1784. with him. On Monday, the 10th, I dined with him
at Mr. Paradise's, where was a large company; Mr. Ætat. 75.
Bryant, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Hawkins Browne, &c.
On Saturday, May 15, I dined with him at Dr. Brocklesby's, where were Colonel Vallancy, Mr. Murphy, and that ever-cheerful companion Mr. Devaynes, apothecary to his Majesty. Of these days, and others on which I saw him, I have no memorials, except the general recollection of his being able and animated in conversation, and appearing to relish society as much as the youngest man. I find only these three small particulars: When a person was mentioned, who said, “I have lived fifty-one years in this world, without having had ten minutes of uneasiness; he exclaimed, “ The man who says so, lies: he attempts to impose on human credulity.” The Bishop of Exetero in vain observed, that men were very different. His Lordship's manner was not impressive; and I learnt afterwards, that Johnson did not find out that the person who talked to him was a Prelate; if he had,
I was sorry to observe Lord Monboddo avoid any communication with Dr. Johnson. I flattered myself that I had made them very good friends, (see " Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,"" third edition, page 67,) but unhappily his Lordship had resumed and cherished a violent prejudice against my illustrious friend, to whom I must do the justice to say, there was on his part not the least anger, but a good humoured sportiveness. Nay, though he knew of his Lordship’s indisposition towards him, he was even kindly; as appeared from his enquiring of me after him, by an abbreviation of his name," Well, how does Monny?
[Dr. John Ross.]
I doubt not that he would have treated him with 1784. more respect : for once talking of George Psalına
Ætat. 7 nazar, whom he reverenced for his piety, he said, “ I should as soon think of contradicting a Bishop.' One of the company provoked him greatly by doing what he could least of all bear, which was quoting something of his own writing, against what he then maintained. What, Sir, (cried the gentleman,) you say to · The busy day, the peaceful night,
• Unfelt, uncounted, glided by ?" Johnson finding himself thus presented as giving an instance of a man who had lived without uneasiness, was much offended, for he looked upon such a quotation as unfair. His anger burst out in an unjustifiable retort, insinuating that the gentleman's remark was a sally of ebriety; “Sir, there is one passion I would advise you to command: when you have drunk out that glass, don't drink another." Here was exemplified what Goldsmith said of him, with the aid of a very witty image from one of Cibber's Comedies: “ There is no arguing with Johnson: for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you
down with the butt end of it.”
Another was this: when a gentleman of eminence in the literary world was violently censured for attacking people by anonymous paragraphs in newspapers; he, from the spirit of contradiction as I thought, took up his defence, and said, Come, come, this is not so terrible a crime; he means only to vex them a little. I do not say that I should do
1. Verses on the death of Mr. Levett.
1784. it; but there is a great difference between him Ætat. 75.
and me; what is fit for Hephæstion is not fit for Alexander." - Another, when I told him that a young and handsome Countess had said to me, “ I should think that to be praised by Dr. Johnson would make one a fool all one's life;" and that I answered,
Madam, I shall make him a fool to-day, by repeating this to him;' he said, “ I am too old to be made a fool; but if you say I am made a fool, I shall not deny it. I am much pleased with a compliment, especially from a pretty woman.”
On the evening of Saturday, May 15, he was in fine spirits, at our Essex-Head Club. He told us,
, “ I dined yesterday at Mrs. Garric k's with Mrs. Carter, Miss Hannah More, and Miss Fanny Burney. Three such women are not to be found : I know not where I could find a fourth, except Mrs. Lennox, who is superiour to them all.” Boswell. " What! had you them all to yourself, Sir ?" JOHNSON. “ I had them all as much as they were had; but it might have been better had there been more company there." Boswell. “ Might not Mrs. Montague have been a fourth?” Johnson, “ Sir, Mrs. Montague does not make a trade of her wit; but Mrs. Montague is a very extraordinary woman; she has a constant stream of conversation, and it is always impregnated; it has always meaning."
Boswell. " Mr. Burke has a constant stream of conversation.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir; if a man were to go by chance at the same time with Burke under a shed, to shun a shower, he would say-- this is an extraordinary man. If Burke should go into a stable to see his horse drest, the ostler would say—we have had an extraordinary man here.'
BOSWELL, " Foote was a man who never failed in 1784. conversation. If he had gone into a stable-” John
Ætat. 75. SON. “ Sir, if he had gone into the stable, the ostler would have said, here has been a comical fellow; but he would not have respected him.” Boswell. “ And, Sir, the ostler would have answered him, would have given him as good as he brought, as the common saying is.” JOHNSON “ Yes, Sir; and Foote would have answered the ostler. When Burke does not descend to be merry, his conversation is very superiour indeed. There is no proportion between the powers which he shews in serious talk and in jocularity. When he lets himself down to that, he is in the kennel.” I have in another place? opposed, and I hope with success, Dr. Johnson's very singular and erroneous notion as to Mr. Burke's pleasantry. Mr. Windham now said low to me, that he differed from our great friend in this observation; for that Mr. Burke was often very happy in his merriment. It would not have been right for either of us to have contradicted Johnson at this time, in a Society all of whom did not know and value Mr. Burke as much as we did. It might have occasioned something more rough, and at any rate would probably have checked the flow of Johnson's goodhumour. He called to us with a sudden air of exultation, as the thought started into his mind, “ () ! Gentlemen, Imust tell you a very great thing. The Empress of Russia has ordered the “ Rambler' to be translated into the Russian language : so I shall be read on the banks of the Wolga. Horace boasts that
2 “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," third edition, p. 20.
$ I have since heard that the report was not well founded; but the elation discovered by Johnson in the belief that it was true, shewed a noble ardour for literary fame.
1784. his fame would extend as far as the banks of the
Rhone ; now the Wolga is farther from me than the Ætat. 75.
Rhone was from Horace." BosWELL. “ You must certainly be pleased with this, Sir.” Johnson. " I am pleased, Sir, to be sure. A man is pleased to find he has succeeded in that which he has endeavoured to do.'
One of the company mentioned his having seen a noble person driving in his carriage, and looking exceedingly well, notwithstanding his great age. JOHNson. “ Ah, Sir; that is nothing. Bacon observes, that a stout healthy old man is like a tower undermined."
On Sunday, May 16, I found him alone; he talked of Mrs. Thrale with much concern, saying, “Sir, she has done every thing wrong, since Thrale's bridle was off her neck;" and was proceeding to mention some circumstances which have since been the subjeet of publick discussion, when he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury.
Dr. Douglas, upon this occasion, refuted a mistaken notion which is very common in Scotland, that the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church of England, though duly enforced, is insufficient to preserve the morals of the clergy, inasmuch as all delinquents may be screened by appealing to the Convocation, which being never authorized by the King to sit for the dispatch of business, the appeal never can be heard. Dr. Douglas observed, that this was founded upon ignorance ; for that the Bishops have sufficient power to maintain discipline, and that the sitting of the convocation was wholly immaterial in this respect, it being not a Court of judicature, but like a parliament, to make canons and regulations as times may require.