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of life, he could not be a lawyer, adding his reasons: 'I cannot,' saith he, 'defend a bad, nor yield in a good cause.””
JOHNSON. “Sir, this is false reasoning ; because every cause has a bad side: and a lawyer is not overcome, though the cause which he has endeavoured to support be determined against him.”
I told him that Goldsmith had said to me a few days before, “ As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the tailor, so I take my religion from the priest.” I regretted this loose way of talking. Johnson. “ Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about nothing."
To my great surprise he asked me to dine with him on Easter Day. I never supposed that he had a dinner at his house; for I had not then heard of any one of his friends having been entertained at his table. He told me, “ I generally have a meat pie on Sunday: it is baked at a public oven, which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress dinners.”
April 11., being Easter Sunday, after having attended divine service at St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with JEAN JAQUES ROUSSEAU, while he lived in the wilds of Neufchâtel : I had as great a curiosity to dine with DR. SAMUEL Johnson, in the dusky recess of a court in Fleet Street. I supposed we should scarcely have knives and forks, and only some strange, uncouth, ill-drest dish : but I found every thing in very good order. We had no other company but Mrs. Williams and a young woman
whom I did not know. As a dinner here was considered as a singular phenomenon, and as I was frequently interrogated on the subject, my readers may perhaps be desirous to know our bill of fare. Foote, I remember, in allusion to Francis, the negro, was willing to suppose that our repast was black broth. But the fact was, that we had a very good soup, a boiled leg of lamb and spinach, a veal pie (1), and a rice pudding.
Of Dr. John Campbell, the author, he said, “ He is a very inquisitive and a very able man, and a man of good religious principles, though I am afraid he has been deficient in practice. Campbell is radically right; and we may hope, that in time there will be good practice.”
He owned that he thought Hawkesworth was one of his imitators, but he did not think Goldsmith (2) was. Goldsmith, he said, had great merit. Boswell. “ But, Sir, he is much indebted to you for his getting so high in the public estimation.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, he has, perhaps, got sooner to it by his intimacy with me.” · Goldsmith, though his vanity often excited him to occasional competition, had a very high regard for Johnson, which he had at this time expressed in the strongest manner in the Dedication of his comedy, entitled, “She Stoops to Conquer.” (3)
(1) Mr. Boswell does not say whether the pie had the ex. traordinary addition of “plums and sugar,” which Mrs. Piozzi tells us were ingredients in Dr. Johnson's veal pies. See antè, Vol. II. p. 260.-C.
(2) See antè, Vol. II. p. 194.-C.
(3) “ By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me
Johnson observed, that there were very few books printed in Scotland before the union. He had seen a complete collection of them in the possession of the Hon. Archibald Campbell, a non-juring bishop (1) I wish this collection had been kept entire. Many of them are in the library of the faculty of advocates at Edinburgh. I told Dr. Johnson that I had some intention to write the life of the learned and worthy Thomas Ruddiman. (°) He said, “I should take pleasure in helping you to do honour to him. But his farewell letter to the faculty of Advocates, when he resigned the office of their librarian, should have been in Latin."
I put a question to him upon a fact in common life, which he could not answer, nor have I found any one else who could. What is the reason that women servants, though obliged to be at the expense of purchasing their own clothes, have much lower wages than men servants, to whom a great proportion of that article is furnished, and when in fact our female house-servants work much harder than the male ? (3)
He told me that he had twelve or fourteen times attempted to keep a journal of his life, but never
some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety."
(1) See an account of this learned and respectable gentleman, and of his curious work on the “ Middle State," post, Oct, 25. 1773.
(2) (See antè, Vol. II. p. 246.]
(3) There is a greater variety of employment for men, than for women: therefore the demand raises the price. - KEARNEY.
could persevere. He advised me to do it. “ The great thing to be recorded,” said he, “is the state of your own mind; and you should write down every thing that you remember, for you cannot judge at first what is good or bad ; and write immediately while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same a week afterwards.”
I again solicited him to communicate to me the particulars of his early life. He said, “ You shall have them all for twopence. I hope you shall know a great deal more of me before you write my Life.” He mentioned to me this day many circumstances, which I wrote down when I went home, and have interwoven in the former part of this narrative.
“ April 11. 1773. I had more disturbance in the night than has been customary for some weeks past. I rose before nine in the morning, and prayed and drank tea. I came, I think, to church in the beginning of the prayers. I did not distinctly hear the Psalms, and found that I had been reading the Psalms for Good Friday. I went through the Litany, after a short disturbance, with tolerable attention.
" After sermon, I perused my prayer in the pew, then went nearer the altar, and being introduced into another pew, used my prayer again, and recommended my relations, with Bathurst and [Miss] Boothby, then my wife again by herself. Then I went nearer the altar, and read the collects chosen for meditation. I prayed for Salusbury (1), and, I think, the Thrales. I then communicated with calmness, used the collect for Easter Day, and returning to the first pew, prayed my prayer the third time. I came home again; used my
(1) Mrs. Salusbury, Mrs. Thrale's mother.-C.
prayer and the Easter Collect. Then went into the study to Boswell, and read the Greek Testament. Then dined, and when Boswell went away, ended the four first chapters of St. Matthew, and the Beatitudes of the fifth. I then went to Evening Prayers, and was composed. I gave the pew-keepers each five shillings and threepence.” ()
On Tuesday, April 13., he and Dr. Goldsmith and I dined at General Oglethorpe's. Goldsmith expatiated on the common topic, that the race of our people was degenerated, and that this was owing to luxury. Johnson. “ Sir, in the first place, I doubt the fact. (2) I believe there are as many tall men in England now, as ever there were. But, secondly, supposing the stature of our people to be diminished, that is not owing to luxury; for, Sir, consider to how very small a proportion of our people luxury can reach. Our soldiery, surely, are not luxurious, who live on sixpence a day; and the same remark will apply to almost all the other classes. Luxury, so far as it reaches the poor, will do good to the race of people ; it will strengthen and multiply them. Sir, no nation was ever hurt by luxury ; for, as I said before, it can reach but to a very few. I admit that the great increase of commerce and manufactures hurts the military spirit of a people; because it pro
, (1) [Quarter guineas were at that time in circulation.]
(2) There seems no reason whatever to believe the fact: old coffins and old armour do not designate a taller race of men. The doors, windows, and ceilings of old houses are not loftier than those of modern days. Other animals, too, cannot have degenerated in size by the luxury of man ; and they seem, by all evidence, to have borne in old times the same proportion to the human figure that they now bear.-C.