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and therefore it must be ever liable to assault and 1776. misrepresentation."
Ætat. 67. On Friday, April 5, being Good Friday, after having attended the morning service at St. Clement's church, I walked home with Johnson. We talked of the Roman Catholick religion. JOHNSOŃ. “ In the barbarous ages, Sir, priests and people were equally deceived ; but afterwards there were gross corruptions introduced by the clergy, such as indulgences to priests to have concubines, and the worship of images, not, indeed, inculcated, but knowingly permitted.” He strongly censured the licensed stews at Rome. Boswell. “ So then, Sir, you would allow of no irregular intercourse whatever between the sexes ?” JOHNSON. “ To be sure I would not, Sir. I would punish it much more than it is done, and so restrain it. In all countries there has been fornication, as in all countries there has been theft ; but there may be more or less of the one, as well as of the other, in proportion to the force of law. All men will naturally commit fornication, as all inen will naturally steal. And, Sir, it is very absurd to argue, as has been often done, that prostitutes are necessary to prevent the violent effects of appetite from violating the decent order of life; nay, should be permitted in order to preserve the chastity of our wives and daughters. Depend upon it, Sir, severe laws, steadily enforced, would be sufficient against those evils, and would promote marriage.”
I stated to him this case :-“ Suppose a man has a daughter, whó he knows has been seduced, but her misfortune is concealed from the world ? should he keep her in his house? Would he not, by doing so,
1776. be accessary to imposition ? And, perhaps, a worthy,
unsuspecting man might come and marry this woÆtat. 67.
man, unless the father inform hiin of the truth.” Johnson. “ Sir, he is accessary to no imposition. His daughter is in his house; and if a man courts her, he takes his chance. If a friend, or, indeed, if any man asks his opinion whether he should marry her, he ought to advise him against it, without telling why, because his real opinion is then required. Or, if he has other daughters who know of her frailty, he ought not to keep her in his house. You are to consider the state of life is this ; we are to judge of one another's characters as well as we can ; and a man is not bound in honesty or honour, to tell us the faults of his daughter or of himself. A man who has debauched his friend's daughter is not obliged to say to every body>" Take care of me; don't let me into your house without suspicion. I once debauched a friend's daughter. I may
debauch yours.” Mr. Thrale called upon him, and appeared to bear the loss of his son with a manly composure. There was no affectation about him ; and he talked, as usual, upon indifferent subjects. He seemed to me to hesitate as to the intended Italian tour, on which, I flattered myself, he and Mr. Thrale and Dr. Johnson were soon to set out ; and, therefore, I pressed it as much as I could. I mentioned that Mr. Beauclerk had said, that Baretti, whom they were to carry with them, would keep them so long in the little towns of his own district, that they would not have time to see Rome. I mentioned this to put them on their guard. JOHNSON. “ Sir, we do not thank Mr. Beauclerk for supposing that we are to be directed by Baretti. No, Sir ; Mr. Thrale is to go 1776. by my advice, to Mr. Jackson, (the all-knowing)
Ætat. 67, and get from him a plan for seeing the most that can be seen in the time that we have to travel. We must, to be sure, see Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and as much more as we can." (Speaking with a tone of animation.)
When I expressed an earnest wish for his remarks on Italy, he said, “ I do not see that I could make a book upon Italy; yet I should be glad to get two hundred pounds, or five hundred pounds, by such a work.” This shewed both that a journal of his Tour upon the Continent was not wholly out of his contemplation, and that he uniformly adhered to that strange opinion which his indolent disposition made him utter; “ No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” Numerous instances to refute this will occur to all who are versed in the history of literature.
He gave us one of the many sketches of character which were treasured in his mind, and which he was wont to produce quite unexpectedly in a very entertaining manner. “ I lately, (said he,) received a letter from the East-Indies, from a gentleman whom I formerly knew very well ; he had returned from that country with a handsome fortune, as it was reckoned, before means were found to acquire those immense sums which have been brought from thence of late; he was a scholar, and an agreeable man, and lived very prettily in London, till his wife died. After
6 A gentleman, who, from his extraordinary stores of knowledge, has been stiled omniscient. Johnson, I think very properly, altered it to all-knowing, as it is a verbum solenne, appropriated to the Supreme Being.
1776. her death, he took to dissipation and gaming, and Ætat. 67.
lost all he had. One evening he lost a thousand pounds to a gentleman whose name I am sorry I have forgotten. Next morning he sent the gentleman five hundred pounds, with an apology that it was all he had in the world. The gentleman sent the money back to him, declaring he would not accept of it; and adding, that if Mr. — had occasion for five hundred pounds more, he would lend it to him. He resolved to go out again to the East Indies, and make his fortune anew. He got a considerable appointment, and I had some intention of accompanying him. Had I thought then as I do now, I should have gone : but at that time, I had objections to quitting England.”
It was a very remarkable circumstance about Johnson, whom shallow observers have supposed to have been ignorant of the world, that very few men had seen greater variety of characters ; and none could observe them better, as was evident from the strong, yet nice portraits which he often drew. I have frequently thought that if he had made out what the French call une catalogue raisonnée of all the people who had passed under his observation, it would have afforded a very rich fund of instruction and entertainment. The suddenness with which his accounts of some of them started out in conversation, was not less pleasing than surprising. I remember he once observed to me, “ It is wonderful, Sir, what is to be found in London. The most literary conversation that I ever enjoyed, was at the table of Jack Ellis, a money-scrivener behind the Royal Exchange, with whom I at one period used to dine generally once a week.”S
This Mr. Ellis was, I believe, the last of that profession called
Volumes would be required to contain a list of his 1776. numerous and various acquaintance, none of whom
Ætat. 67. he ever forgot; and could describe and discriininate them all with precision and vivacity. He associated with persons the most widely different in manners, abilities, rank, and accomplishments. He was at once the companion of the brilliant Colonel Forrester of the guards, who wrote “ The Polite Philosopher," and of the aukward and uncouth Robert Levett; of Lord Thurlow, and Mr. Sastres, the Italian master; and has dined one day with the beautiful, gay, and fascinating Lady Craven, and the next with good Mrs. Gardiner, the tallow-chandler, on Snow-hill.
On my expressing my wonder at his discovering
Scriveners, which is one of the London companies, but of which the business is no longer carried on separately, but is transacted by attornies and others. He was a man of literature and talents. He was the authour of a Hudibrastick version of Maphæus's Canto, in addition to the Æneid; of some poems in Dodsley's collections; and various other small pieces; but being a very modest man, never put his name to any thing. He shewed me a translation which he had made of Ovid's Epistles, very prettily done. There is a good engraved portrait of him by Pether, from a picture by Fry, which hangs in the hall of the Scriveners' company. I visited him October 4, 1790, in his ninety-third year, and found his judgement distinct and clear, and his memory, though faded so as to fail him occasionally, yet, as he assured me, and I indeed perceived, able to serve him very well, after a little recollection. It was agreeable to observe, that he was free from the discontent and fretfulness which too often molest old age. He in the summer of that year walked to Rotherhithe, where he dined, and walked home in the evening. He died on the 31st of December, 1791.
9 Lord Macartney, who with his other distinguished qualities, is remarkable also for an elegant pleasantry, told me that he met Johnson at Lady Craven's, and that he seemed jealous of any interference: “ So, said his Lordship, smiling,) I kept back."