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terian kirk of Scotland have its General Assembly, and the Church of England be denied its Convocation ?” He was walking up and down the room, while I told him the anecdote; but when he uttered this explosion of high-church zeal, he had come close to my chair, and his eyes flashed with indignation. I bowed to the storm, and diverted the force of it, by leading him to expatiate on the influence which religion derived from maintaining the church with great external respectability.
I must not omit to mention that he this year wrote “ The Life of Ascham," + and the Dedication to the Earl of Shaftesbury,t prefixed to the edition of that writer's English works, published by Mr. Bennet. ()
On Friday, August 5., we set out early in the morning in the Harwich stage-coach. A fat elderly gentlewoman, and a young Dutchman, seemed the most inclined among us to conversation. At the inn where we dined, the gentlewoman said that she had done her best to educate her children; and particularly, that she had never suffered them to be a mo ment idle. JOHNSON. “I wish, Madam, you would educate me too: for I have been an idle fellow all my life.” “I am sure, Sir," said she, “ you have not been idle." Johnson. “Nay, madam, it is very
(1) Johnson was, in fact, the editor of this work, as appears from a letter of Mr. T. Davies to the Rev. Edm. Bettesworth: - “Reverend Sir,- I take the liberty to send you Roger Ascham's works in English. Though Mr. Bennet's name is in the title, the editor was in reality Mr. Johnson, the author of the Rambler, who wrote the life of the author, and added several notes. Mr. Johnson gave it to Mr. Bennet, for his advantage,” &c. - C.
true; and that gentleman there," pointing to me, " has been idle. He was idle at Edinburgh. His father sent him to Glasgow, where he continued to be idle. He then came to London, where he has been very idle ; and now he is going to Utrecht, where he will be as idle as ever.' I asked him privately how he could expose me so. Johnson. “ Poh, poh!” said he, “they knew nothing about you, and will think of it no more.” In the afternoon the gentlewoman talked violently against the Roman Catholics, and of the horrors of the Inquisition. To the utter astonishment of all the
passengers but myself, who knew that he could talk upon any side of a question, he defended the Inquisition, and maintained, that “false doctrine should be checked on its first appearance; that the civil power should unite with the church in punishing those who dare to attack the established religion, and that such only were punished by the Inquisition." He had in his pocket “ Pomponius Mela de Situ Orbis,” in which he read occasionally, and seemed very intent upon ancient geography. Though by no means niggardly, his attention to what was generally right was so minute, that having observed at one of the stages that I ostentatiously gave a shilling to the coachman, when the custom was for each passenger to give only sixpence, he took me aside and scolded me, saying that what I had done would make the coachman dissatisfied with all the rest of the pas. sengers,
gave him no more than his due. This was a just reprimand ; for in whatever way a man may indulge his generosity or his vanity in spend
ing his money, for the sake of others he ought not to raise the price of any article for which there is a constant demand.
He talked of Mr. Blacklock's (1) poetry, so far as it was descriptive of visible objects; and observed, that, as its author had the misfortune to be blind, we may be absolutely sure that such passages are combinations of what he has remembered of the works of other writers who could see. That foolish fellow, Spence, has laboured to explain philosophically how Blacklock may have done, by means of his own faculties, what it is impossible he should do. The solution, as I have given it, is plain. Suppose, I know a man to be so lame that he is absolutely incapable to move himself, and I find him in a different room from that in which I left him ; shall I puzzle myself with idle conjectures, that, perhaps, his nerves have by some unknown change all at once become effective ? No, Sir, it is clear how he got into a different room; he was carried.”
Having stopped a night at Colchester, Johnson talked of that town with veneration, for having stood
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(1) Dr. Thomas Blacklock was born in 1721 : he totally lost his sight by the small-pox at the age of six years, but was, nevertheless, a descriptive poet. He died in 1791. conclude,” says his biographer, “ with Denina, in his “ • Dis. corso della Letteratura,' that Blacklock will appear to posterity a fable, as to us he is a prodigy. It will be thought a fiction, that a man blind from his infancy, besides having made himself master of various foreign languages, should be a great poet in his own, and without having hardly seen the light, should be so remarkably happy in description.” Johnson, no doubt, gives the true solution of Blacklock's power, which was memory and not miracle ; and, mark the result! who now quotes, nay, who reads a line of Blacklock ? - C.
COLCHESTER. - GOOD EATING.
a siege for Charles the First. The Dutchman alone now remained with us. He spoke English tolerably well; and, thinking to recommend himself to us by expatiating on the superiority of the criminal jurisprudence of this country over that of Holland, he inveighed against the barbarity of putting an accused person to the torture, in order to force a confession. But Johnson was as ready for this, as for the inquisition. Why, Sir, you do not, I find, understand the law of your own country. To torture in Holland is considered as a favour to an accused person; for no man is put to the torture there, unless there is as much evidence against him as would amount to conviction in England. An accused person among you, therefore, has one chance more to escape punishment, than those who are tried among us.” (1)
At supper this night he talked of good eating with uncommon satisfaction. “ Some people,” said he, " have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully ; for I look
(1) [“ By a law of Holland, the criminal's confession is essential to a capital punishment; no other evidence being held sufficient, and yet if he insists on his innocence, he is tortured till he pronounces the words of confession.” KAMES's Hist. of Man, b. iii. sec. 12.
It has, in several systems of law, been the practice not to execute a criminal, till his confession was obtained in some way or other. It was so with the inquisition; and it is remarked, I think, in Ellis's Collection of Letters, that almost all those who were executed in Henry VIII.'s reign, acknowledged on the scaffold the justice of their sentences. We trace the remains of this in the silly practice now in use, of endeavouring to prevail on convicts to confess, -- a practice which, as long as the least hope of pardon remains, is productive of nothing but accumulated falsehood. — FONNEREAU.]
upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind any thing else.” He now appeared to me Jean Bull philosophe, and he was for the moment, not only serious, but vehement. Yet I have heard him, upon other occasions, talk with great contempt of people who were anxious to gratify their palates; and the 206th number of his Rambler is a masterly essay against gulosity. His practice, indeed, I must acknowledge, may be considered as casting the balance of his different opinions upon this subject; for I never knew any man who relished good eating more than he did. When at table, he was totally absorbed in the business of the moment: his looks seemed riveted to his plate; nor would he, unless when in very high company, say one word, or even pay the least attention to what was said by others, till he had satisfied his appetite ; which was so fierce, and indulged with such intenseness, that, while in the act of eating, the veins of his forehead swelled, and generally a strong perspiration was visible. To those whose sensations were delicate, this could not but be disgusting ; and it was doubtless not very suitable to the character of a philosopher, who should be distinguished by self-command. But it must be owned, that Johnson, though he could be rigidly abstemious, was not a temperate man either in eating or drinking. He could refrain ('), but he could not
(1) If hypercritically examined, refrain is not, perhaps, the word which exactly gives Mr. Boswell's
meaning. The late Mr. Richard Warton, Secretary of the Treasury, and author of the poem of “ Roncesvalles," used to express the idea with more verbal accuracy, by saying that he could abstain, but found it hard to refrain. — C.-- [The most simple expression is the most forcible: “ Abstinence is easier than temperance.”FONNEREAU.]