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Johnson gave his evidence in a slow, deliberate, and distinct manner, which was uncommonly impressive. ()) It is well known that Mr. Baretti was acquitted. (?) (1)
The following is the substance of Dr. Johnson's evidence: -“ Dr. J. I believe I began to be acquainted with Mr. Baretti about the year 1753 or 54. I have been intimate with him. He is a man of literature, a very studious man, a man of great diligence. He gets his living by study. I have no reason to think he was ever disordered with liquor in his life. A man that I never knew to be otherwise than peaceable, and a man that I take to be rather timorous. -Q. Was he addicted to pick up women in the streets? - Dr. J. I never knew that he was.
-Q. How is he as to eyesight? - Dr. J. He does not see me now, nor do I see him. I do not believe he could be capable of assaulting any body in the street, without great provocation.”— Gent. Mag.
(2) On the subject of sympathy with the distress of others, discussed in the forgoing conversation (p. 96. antè), Mrs. Piozzi says - While Dr. Johnson possessed the strongest compassion for poverty or illness, he did not even pretend to feel for those who lamented the loss of a child, a parent, or a friend. “These are the distresses of sentiment,” he would reply, “which a man who is really to be pitied has no leisure to feel. The sight of people who want food and raiment is so common in great cities, that a surly fellow like me has no compassion to spare for wounds given only to vanity or softness.' Canter, indeed, was he none: he would forget to ask people after the health of their nearest relations, and say, in excuse, “ That he knew they did not care: why should they ?" said he, “every one in this world has as much as they can do in caring for themselves, and few have leisure really to think of their neighbours' distresses, however they may delight their tongues with talking of them.” We talked of Lady Tavistock *, who grieved herself to death for the loss of her husband. “ She was rich and wanted employment,” says Johnson, “ so she cried till she lost all power of constraining, her tears: other women are forced to outlive their husbands, who were just as much beloved, depend on it; but they have no time for grief: and I doubt not, if we had put my Lady Tavistock into a small chandler's shop, and given her a nurse-child to tend, her life would have been saved. The poor and the busy have no leisure for sentimental sorrow.” I men. tioned an event, which, if it had happened, would greatly have injured Mr. Thrale and his family -- " and then, dear sir,” said 1," how sorry you would have been !" _“I hope,” replied he, after a long pause, “ I should have been very sorry; but remember Rochefoucault's maxim." An acquaintance lost the almost certain hope of a good estate that had been long expected. “Such a one will grieve,” said I, “ at her friend's disappointment.”—“She will suffer as much, perhaps,” said he, " as your horse did when your cow miscarried.” I professed myself sincerely grieved when accumulated distresses had crushed Sir George Colebrook's family; and I was so. “ Your own prosperity,” said he, “may possibly have so far increased the natural tenderness of your heart, that for aught I know you may be a little sorry; but it is sufficient for a plain man if he does not laugh when he sees a finé new house tumble down all on a sudden, and a snug cottage stand by ready to receive the owner, whose birth entitled him to nothing better, and whose limbs are left him to go to work again with.” — Nothing, indeed, more surely disgusted Dr. Johnson than hyperbole: he loved not to be told of sallies of excellence, which he said were seldom valuable, and seldom true. “ Heroic virtues," said he, “ are the bon mots of life; they do not appear often, and when they do appear are too much prized, I think; like the aloe-tree, which shoots and flowers once in a hundred years. But life is made up of little things; and that character is the best, which does little but repeated acts of beneficence: as that conversation is the best which consists in elegant and pleasing thoughts expressed in natural and pleasing terms. With regard to my own notions of moral virtue,” continued he, “I hope I have not lost my sensibility of wrong; but I hope likewise that I have lived long enough in the world, to prevent me from expecting to find any action of which both the original motive and all the parts were good.”
* Lady Elizabeth Keppel, fifth daughter of the second Earl of Albemarle, married, in 1764, to Francis, eldest son of the fourth Duke of Bedford. He was killed by a fall from his horse, March, 1767. His lady did not die till October, 1768. They were the parents of the late and present Dukes of Bedford. - C.
Dr. Johnson had been a great reader of Mandeville, and was ever on the watch to spy out those stains of original corruption, so easily discovered by a penetrating observer even in the purest minds. The natural depravity of mankind and the remains of original sin were so fixed in his opinion, that he was a most acute observer of their effects; and used to say sometimes, half in jest, half in earnest, that his observations were the remains of his old tutor Mandeville's instructions. No man, therefore, who smarted from the ingratitude of his friends, found any sympathy from our philosopher: “Let him do good on higher motives next time,” would be the answer; “ he will then be sure of his reward." As a book, however, he took care always loudly to condemn the Fable of the Bees, but not without adding, “ that it was the work of a thinking man.
* Viz. : “ In the misfortunes of our best friends there is always some. thing to please us."
“ Making Fools of one's Visiters.” Trade. Mrs.
Williams's Tea-table. James Ferguson. Medicated Baths. Coddling ” Children. · Popula. tion of Russia. Large Farms. Attachment to Soil. Roman Catholic Religion. Conversion to Popery. Fear of Death. Steevens. Tyers." Blackmore's - Creation.” The Marriage Service. “ The False Alarm.” Percival Stockdale. Self-examination. Visit to Lichfield
- and Ashbourne. Baretti's Travels.- Letters to Mrs. Thrale - Warton, &c.
On the 26th of October, we dined together at the Mitre tavern. I found fault with Foote for indulging his talent of ridicule at the expense of his visiters, which I colloquially termed making fools of his company. JOHNSON.
Why, Sir, when you go to see Foote, you do not go to see a saint: you go to see a man who will be entertained at your house, and then bring you on a public stage; who will entertain you at his house, for the very purpose of bringing you on a public stage. Sir, he does not make fools of his company; they whom he exposes are fools already: he only brings them into action."
Talking of trade, he observed, “It is a mistaken notion that a vast deal of money is brought into a nation by trade. It is not so. Commodities come
from commodities ; but trade produces no capital accession of wealth. However, though there should be little profit in money, there is a considerable profit in pleasure, as it gives to one nation the productions of another; as we have wines and fruits, and many other foreign articles, brought to us.” Bos
“ Yes, Sir, and there is a profit in pleasure, by its furnishing occupation to such numbers of mankind.” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, you cannot call that pleasure, to which all are averse, and which none begin but with the hope of leaving off; a thing which men dislike before they have tried it, and when they have tried it.” Boswell. But, Sir, the mind must be employed, and we grow weary when idle.” JOHNSON. " That is, Sir, because others being busy, we want company ; but if we were all idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another. There is, indeed, this in trade; — it gives men an opportunity of improving their situation. If there were no trade, many who are poor would always remain poor. But no man loves labour for itself.” Boswell. “Yes, Sir, I know a person who does. He is a very laborious Judge, and he loves the labour.” Johnson. “Sir, that is because he loves respect and distinction. Could he have them without labour, he would like it less." Bos
• He tells me he likes it for itself.” John
Why, Sir, he fancies so, because he is not accustomed to abstract.”
We went home to his house to tea. Mrs. Williams made it with sufficient dexterity, notwithstanding her blindness, though her manner of satisfying her
self that the cups were full enough, appeared to me a little awkward ; for I fancied she put her finger down a certain way, till she felt the tea touch it. (1) In my first elation at being allowed the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson at his late visits to this lady, which was like being è secretioribus consiliis, I willingly drank
cup, as if it had been the Heliconian spring. But as the charm of novelty went off, I grew more fastidious; and besides, I discovered that she was of a peevish temper.
There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very good humour, lively, and ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Ferguson, the selftaught philosopher (2), told him of a new-invented machine which went without horses (3): a man who sat in it turned a handle, which worked a spring that drove it forward. “ Then, Sir,” said Johnson, “what is gained is, the man has his choice whether he will move himself alone, or himself and the machine too."
(1) I have since had reason to think that I was mistaken; for I have been informed by a lady, who was long intimate with her, and likely to be a more accurate observer of such matters, that she had acquired such a niceness of touch, as to know, by the feeling on the outside of the cup, how near it was to being full.
(2) (James Ferguson was born in Bamff, in 1710, of very poor parents. While tending his master's sheep, he acquired a knowledge of the stars, and constructed a celestial globe. This attracted the notice of some gentlemen, who procured him further instructions. At length, he went to Edinburgh, where he drew portraits in miniature at a small price; and this profession he pursued afterwards, when he resided'in Bolt Court. His mathematical and miscellaneous works are comprised in ten volumes. He died Nov. 16. 1776.]
(3) [“ The very ingenious Mr. Patence, of Bolt Court, has constructed a phaeton which goes without horses, and is built on a principle different from any thing of the kind hitherto attempted.” - London Chron. Sept. 11. 1769. ]