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at the Mitre, and we will talk over that subject;' which they did, and after dinner he took one of them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an hour together.
“ Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenham, he asked what sort of society I had there. I told him, but indifferent; as they chiefly consisted of opulent traders, retired from business. He said, he never much liked that class of people ; ' For, Sir,' said he, “they have lost the civility of tradesmen, without acquiring the manners of gentlemen. .“ Johnson was much attached to London (1): he observed, that a man stored his mind better there, than any where else ; and that in remote situations a man's body might be feasted, but his mind was starved, and his faculties apt to degenerate, from want of exercise and competition. 'No place,' he said, 'cured a man's vanity or arrogance, so well as London ; for as no man was either great or good per se, but as compared with others not so good or great, he was sure to find in the metropolis many his equals, and some his superiors.' He observed, that a man in London was in less danger of falling in love indiscreetly, than any where else ; for there the difficulty of deciding between the conflicting pretensions of a vast variety of objects, kept him safe. He told me, that he had frequently been offered country preferment, if he would consent to take orders; but he could not leave the improved society of the capital, or consent to exchange the exhilarating joys and splendid
(1) Montaigne had the same affection for Paris, which Johnson had for London :—“Je l'aime tendrement,” says he, in his Essay on Vanity, “ jusque à ses verrues et à ses taches. Je ne suis François, que par cette grande cité, grande en peuples, grande en félicité de son assiette ; mais sur tout grande et incomparable en variété et diversité des commodités : la gloire de la France, et l'un des plus nobles ornamens du monde." Vol. iji. p. 321, edit, Amsterdam, 1781. — BLAKEWAY.
Ætat. 61. “ ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY.”
decorations of public life, for the obscurity, insipidity, and uniformity of remote situations. .“ Speaking of Mr. Harte ( ), Canon of Windsor, and writer of · The History of Gustavus Adolphus,' he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of the most companionable talents he had ever known. He said, the defects in his history proceeded not from imbecility, but from foppery.
“He loved, he said, the old black-letter books; they were rich in matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully so, considering how conversant the writers were with the best models of antiquity. .“ Burton's ' Anatomy of Melancholy,' he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise. (2) • “ He frequently exhorted me to set about writing a History of Ireland ; and archly remarked, there had been some good Irish writers, and that one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great compassion for the miseries and distresses of the Irish nation, particularly the Papists ; and severely reprobated the barbarous debilitating policy of the British government, which, he said, was the most detestable mode of persecution. To a gentleman who hinted such policy might be necessary to support the authority of the English government, he replied by saying, “Let the authority of the English government perish, rather than be maintained by iniquity. Better would it be to
·(1) Walter Harte, born about 1707, A.M. of St. Mary Hall, in Oxford, was tutor to Lord Chesterfield's natural son, Mr. Stanhope, and was, by his Lordship's interest, made Canon of Windsor: he died in 1774.-C. ** (2) [• Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy' is the most amusing and instructive medley of quotations and classical anecdotes I ever perused. If the reader has patience to go through his volumes, he will be more improved for literary conversation than by the perusal of any twenty other works with which I am acquainted.” — Byron, vol. i. p. 144.]
restrain the turbulence of the natives by the authority of the sword, and to make them amenable to law and justice by an effectual and vigorous police, than to grind them to powder by all manner of disabilities and in. capacities. Better,' said he,' to hang or drown people at once, than by an unrelenting persecution to beggar and starve them. The moderation and humanity of the present times have, in some measure, justified the wisdom of his observations..
“ Dr. Johnson was often accused of prejudices, nay, antipathy, with regard to the natives of Scotland. Surely, so illiberal a prejudice never entered his mind : and it is well known, many natives of that respectable country possessed a large share in his esteem : nor were any of them ever excluded from his good offices, as far as opportunity permitted. True it is, he considered the Scotch, nationally, as a crafty, designing people, eagerly attentive to their own interest, and too apt to overlook the claims and pretensions of other people. While they confine their benevolence, in a manner, exclusively to those of their own country, they expect to share in the good offices of other people. Now,' said Johnson,
this principle is either right or wrong; if right, we should do well to imitate such conduct; if wrong, we cannot too much detest it.'
“ Being solicited to compose a funeral sermon for the daughter of a tradesman, he naturally enquired into the character of the deceased ; and being told she was remarkable for her humility and condescension to inferiors, he observed, that those were very laudable qualities, but it might not be so easy to discover who the lady's inferiors were
“Of a certain player (') he remarked, that his conversation usually threatened and announced more than it performed; that he fed you with a continual renova.
(1) No doubt Mr. Sheridan. — C.
ÆTAT. 61. MAXWELL'S COLLECTANEA.
tion of hope, to end in a constant succession of disappointment.
“ When exasperated by contradiction, he was apt to treat his opponents with too much acrimony: as, “Sir, you don't see your way through that question:'-'Sir, you talk the language of ignorance.' On my observing to him, that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole evening, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, Sir,' said he; the conversation overflowed, and drowned him.'
“ His philosophy, though austere and solemn, was by no means morose and cynical, and never blunted the laudable sensibilities of his character, or exempted him from the influence of the tender passions. Want of tenderness, he always alleged, was want of parts, and was no less a proof of stupidity than depravity.
« Speaking of Mr. Hanway, who publishedAn Eight Days' Journey from London to Portsmouth,'
Jonas,' said he, 'acquired some reputation by travelling abroad (1), but lost it all by travelling at home.
- Of the passion of love he remarked, that its violence and ill effects were much exaggerated; for who knows any real sufferings on that head, more than from the exorbitancy of any other passion ?
“He much commended Ław's Serious Call,' (2) which, he said, was the finest piece of hortatory theology in any language "Law,' said he, 'fell latterly into the reveries of Jacob Behmen (3), whom Law alleged to
(1) He had published “ An Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea, with Travels through Russia, Persia, Germany, and Holland." These travels contain very curious details of the then state of Persia. - C.
(2) [See antè, Vol. I. p. 69.]
(3) A German fanatic, born near Görlitz, in Upper Lusatia, in 1575. He wrote a multitude of religious works, all very mystical. He probably was deranged, and died in an ecstatic vision in 1624. Mr. Law passed many of the latter years of his life in translating Behmen's works, four volumes of which were published after Mr. Law's death. - C.
have been somewhat in the same state with St. Paul, and to have seen unutterable things. Were it even so,' said Johnson, Jacob would have resembled St. Paul still more, by not attempting to utter them.' .“ He observed, that the established clergy in general did not preach plain enough; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew over the heads of the common people without any impression upon their hearts. Something might be necessary, he observed, to excite the affections of the common people, who were sunk in languor and lethargy, and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodism might probably produce so desirable an effect. The mind, like the body, he observed, delighted in change and novelty, and, even in religion itself, courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of some methodist teachers, he said he could scarcely doubt the sincerity of that man, who travelled nine hundred miles in a month, and preached twelve times in a week ; for no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be given for such indefatigable labour.
“Of Dr. Priestley's theological works, he remarked, that they tended to unsettle every thing, and yet settled nothing.
“He was much affected by the death of his mother, and wrote to me to come and assist him to compose his mind; which, indeed, I found extremely agitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was banished from the society of men, and yet great advantages might be derived from it. All acknowledged, he said, what hardly any body practised, the obligations we were under of making the concerns of eternity the governing principles of our lives. Every man, he observed, at last wishes for retreat: he sees his expectations frustrated in the world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for everlasting separation.