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waiting still. JOHNSON.
1775. should not have come to the levee, to be in the way Ætat.66. of people of consequence. He saw Lord Bute at all times; and could have said what we had to say at any time, as well as at the levee. There is now no Prime Minister : there is only an agent for govern- . ment in the House of Commons. We are governed by the Cabinet : but there is no one head there since Sir Robert Walpole's time.” Boswell. “ What then, Sir, is the use of Parliament ?" Johnson. « Why, Sir, Parliament is a large council to the King; and the advantage of such a council is, having a great number of men of property concerned in the legislature, who, for their own interest, will not consent to bad laws. And you must have observed, Sir, the administration is feeble and timid, and cannot act with that authority and resolution which is necessary.
Were I in power, I would turn out every man who dared to oppose me. Government has the distribution of offices, that it may
be enabled to maintain its authority.”
“ Lord Bute (he added,) took down too fast, without building up something new.” BOSWELL. “ Because, Sir, he found a rotten building. The political coach was drawn by a set of bad horses ; it was necessary to change them.” Johnson. “But he should have changed them one by one."
I told him that I had been informed by Mr. Orme, that
many parts of the East-Indies were better mapped than the Highlands of Scotland. JOHNSON. “ That a country may be mapped, it must be travelled over.” “ Nay, (said I, meaning to laugh with him at one of his prejudices,) can't you say, it is not worth mapping ?"
1775. As we walked to St. Clement's church, and saw
several shops open upon this most solemn fast-day of Ætat. 66.
the Christian world, I remarked, that one disadvantage arising from the immensity of London, was, that nobody was heeded by his neighbour ; there was no fear of censure for not observing Good-Friday, as it ought to be kept, and as it is kept in countrytowns. He said, it was, upon the whole, very well observed even in London. He however, owned, that London was too large ; but added, “ It is nonsense to say the head is too big for the body. It would be as much too big, though the body were ever so large; that is to say, though the country were ever so extensive. It has no similarity to a head connected with a body."
Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College, Oxford, accompanied us home from church; and after he was gone, there came two other gentlemen, one of whom uttered the common-place complaints, that by the increase of taxes, labour would be dear, other nations would undersell us, and our commerce would be ruined. Johnson, (smiling.) “ Never fear, Sir. Our commerce is in a very good state ; and suppose we had no commerce at all, we could live very well on the produce of our own country.” I cannot omit to mention, that I never knew any man who was less disposed to be querulous than Johnson. Whether the subject was his own situation, or the state of the publick, or the state of human nature in general, though he saw the evils, his mind was turned to resolution, and never to whining or complaint.
We went again to St. Clement's in the afternoon. He had found fault with the preacher in the morning
for not choosing a text adapted to the day. The 1775. preacher in the afternoon had chosen one extremely Ætat. 66. proper: “ It is finished.”
After the evening service, he said, shall go home with me, and sit just an hour.” But he was better than his word; for after we had drunk tea with Mrs. Williams, he asked me to go up to his study with him, where we sat a long while together in a serene undisturbed frame of mind, sometimes in silence, and sometimes conversing, as we felt ourselves inclined, or more properly speaking, as he was inclined; for during all the course of my long intimacy with him, my respectful attention never abated, and my wish to hear him was such, that I constantly watched every dawning of communication from that great and illuminated mind.
He observed, “ All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable, that I would not rather know it than not. In the same manner, all power, of whatever sort, is of itself desirable. A man would not submit to learn to hem a ruffle, of his wife, or his wife's maid; but if a mere wish could attain it he would rather wish to be able to hem a ruffle.”
He again advised me to keep a journal fully and minutely, but not to mention such trifles as, that meat was too much or too little done, or that the weather was fair or rainy. He had, till very near his death, a contempt for the notion that the weather affects the human frame.
I told him that our friend Goldsmith had said to me that he had come too late into the world, for that Pope and other poets had taken up the places in the Temple of Fame; so that as but a few at any
1775. period čán possess poetical reputation, a man of A genius can now hardly acquire it. JOHNSON. “ That
is one of the most sensible things I have ever heard of Goldsmith. It is difficult to get literary fame, and it is every day growing more difficult. Ah, Sir, that should make a man think of securing happiness in another world, which all who try sincerely for it may attain. In comparison of that, how little are all other things! The belief of immortality is impressed upon all men, and all men act under an impression of it, however they may talk, and though, perhaps, they may be scarcely sensible of it.” I said, it appeared to me that some people had not the least notion of immortality; and I mentioned a distinguished gentleman of our acquaintance. JOHNSON. “ Sir, if it were not for the notion of immortality, he would cut a throat to fill his pockets.” When I quoted this to Beauclerk, who knew much more of the gentleman than we did, he said, in his acid manner, “ He would cut a throat to fill his pockets, if it were not for fear of being hanged."
Dr. Johnson proceeded: “Sir, there is a great cry about infidelity: but there are, in reality, very few infidels. I have heard a person, originally a Quaker, but now, I am afraid, a Deist, say, that he did not believe there were, in all England, above two hun. dred infidels.”
He was pleased to say, “ If you come to settle here, we will have one day in the week on which we will meet by ourselves. That is the happiest conversation where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm quiet interchange of sentiments.” In his private register this evening is thus marked, " Boswell sat with me till night; we had some se
rious talk." It also appears from the same record, that after I left him he was occupied in religious duties, in “ giving Francis, his servant, some directions for preparation to communicate; in reviewing his life, and resolving on better conduct.” The humility and piety which he discovers on such occa. sions, is truely edifying. No saint, however, in the course of his religious warfare, was more sensible of the unhappy failure of pious resolves, than Johnson. He said one day, talking to an acquaintance on this subject, “Sir, Hell is paved with good inten
On Sunday, April 16, being Easter-day, after having attended the solemn service at St. Paul's, I dined with Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Williams. I maintained that Horace was wrong in placing happiness in Nil admirari, for that I thought admiration one of the most agreeable of all our feelings; and I regretted that I had lost much of my disposition to admire, which people generally do as they advance in life. JOHNSON. “ Sir, as a man advances in life, he gets what is better than admiration, -judgement, to estimate things at their true value.” I still insisted that admiration was more pleasing than judgement, as love is inore pleasing than friendship. The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roasted beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne. JOHNSON. “ No, Sir; admiration and love are like being intoxicated with champagne; judgement and friendship like being enlivened.
9 Prayers and Meditations, p. 138.
? [This is a proverbial sentence. “Hell (says Herbert) is full of good meanings and wishings." JACULA PRUDENTUM, P. 11, edit. 1651, M:] .