페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

1763. Etat. 54.

ever." I asked him privately how he could expofe me fo. JOHNSON. "Poh, poh! (faid he) they knew nothing about you, and will think of it no more." In the afternoon the gentlewoman talked violently against the Roman Catholicks, and of the horrours of the Inquifition. To the utter aftonishment of all the passengers but myself, who knew that he could talk upon any fide of a question, he defended the Inquifition, and maintained, that "falfe doctrine fhould be checked on its firft appearance; that the civil power should unite with the church in punishing those who dared to attack the established religion, and that fuch only were punished by the Inquifition." He had in his pocket "Pomponius Mela de fitu 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 fo minute, that having observed at one of the stages that I oftentatioufly gave a fhilling to the coachman, when the custom was for each paffenger to give only fix-pence, he took me afide and scolded me, faying that what I had done would make the coachman diffatisfied with all the reft of the paffengers, who gave him no more than his due. This was a just reprimand; for in whatever way a man may indulge his generofity or his vanity in spending his money, for the fake of others he ought not to raise the price of

any article for which there is a conftant demand.

He talked of Mr. Blacklock's poetry, fo far as it was defcriptive of visible objects; and observed, that "as its authour had the misfortune to be blind, we may be abfolutely fure that fuch paffages are combinations of what he has remembered of the works of other writers who could fee. That foolish fellow Spence has laboured to explain philofophically how Blacklock may have done, by means of his own faculties, what it is impoffible he should do. The folution, as I have given it, is plain. Suppofe, I know a man to be fo lame that he is abfolutely incapable to move himself, and I find him in a different room from that in which I left him; fhall I puzzle myself with idle conjectures, that, perhaps, his nerves have by fome 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, Johnfon talked of that town with veneration, for having stood a fiege 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 fuperiority of the criminal jurifprudence 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 confeffion. But Johnfon was as ready for this, as for the Inquifition.

"Why,

4

"Why, Sir, you do not, I find, understand the law of your own country. The 1763.
torture in Holland is confidered as a favour to an accused perfon; for no man Etat. 54.
is put to the torture there, unless there is as much evidence against him as
would amount to conviction in England. An accufed perfon among you,
therefore, has one chance more to escape punishment, than thofe who are tried
among us."

At fupper this night he talked of good eating with uncommon fatisfaction. "Some people (faid 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 upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind any thing elfe." He now appeared to me Jean Bull philofophe, and he was, for the moment, not only ferious but vehement. Yet I have heard him, upon other occafions, 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 gulofity. His practice, indeed, I must acknowledge, may be confidered as cafting the balance of his different opinions upon this fubject; 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 rivetted to his plate; nor would he, unless when in very high company, say one word, or even pay the least attention to what was faid by others, till he had fatisfied his appetite, which was fo fierce, and indulged with fuch intenfenefs, that while in the act of eating, the veins of his forehead swelled, and generally a ftrong perfpiration was vifible. To thofe whofe fenfations were delicate, this could not but be disgusting; and it was doubtlefs not very fuitable to the character of a philofopher, who fhould be diftinguifhed by felfcommand. 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 use moderately. He told me, that he had fasted two days without inconvenience, and that he had never been hungry but once. They who beheld with wonder how much he eat upon all occafions when his dinner was to his taste, could not easily conceive what he must have meant by hunger; and not only was he remarkable for the extraordinary quantity which he eat, but he was, or affected to be, a man of very nice difcernment in the science of cookery. He used to descant critically on the dishes which had been at table where he had dined or fupped, and to recollect very minutely what he had liked. I remember, when he was in Scotland, his praifing "Gordon's palates," (a dish of palates at the Honourable Alexander Gordon's,) with a warmth of expreffion which might have done honour to more important

fubjects..

1

1763.

Etat. 54.

fubjects. "As for

-'s imitation of a made difh it was a wretched attempt." He about the fame time was fo much difpleafed with the performances of a nobleman's French cook, that he exclaimed with vehemence, "I'd throw fuch a rascal into the river;" and he then proceeded to alarm a lady at whose house he was to fup, by the following manifefto of his skill: "I, Madam, who live at a variety of good tables, am a much better judge of cookery, than any person who has a very tolerable cook, but lives much at home; for his palate is gradually adapted to the taste of his cook; whereas, Madam, in trying by a wider range, I can more exquifitely judge." When invited to dine, even with an intimate friend, he was not pleafed if fomething better than a plain dinner was not prepared for him. I have heard him fay on fuch an occafion, "This was a good dinner enough, to be fure; but it was not a dinner to ask a man to." On the other hand, he was wont to exprefs, with great glee, his satisfaction when he had been entertained quite to his mind. One day when he had dined with his neighbour and landlord in Bolt-court, Mr. Allen, the printer, whofe old housekeeper had studied his taste in every thing, he pronounced this eulogy, "Sir, we could not have had a better dinner had there been a Synod of Cooks."

While we were left by ourselves, after the Dutchman had gone to bed, Dr. Johnson talked of that studied behaviour which many have recommended and practifed. He difapproved of it; and faid, "I never confidered whether I fhould be a grave man, or a merry man, but just let inclination, for the time, have its courfe."

He flattered me with fome hopes that he would, in the course of the following fummer, come over to Holland, and accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.

I teized him with fanciful apprehenfions of unhappiness. A moth having fluttered round the candle, and burnt itself, he laid hold of this little incident to admonish me; faying, with a fly look, and in a folemn but quiet tone, "That creature was its own tormentor, and I believe its name was BOSWELL."

Next day we got to Harwich to dinner; and my paffage in the packetboat to HelvoetЛfluys being fecured, and my baggage put on board, we dined at our inn by ourselves. I happened to fay it would be terrible if he should not find a speedy opportunity of returning to London, and be confined to fo dull a place. JOHNSON. "Don't, Sir, accuftom yourself to use big words for little matters. It would not be terrible, though I were to be detained some time here." The practice of ufing words of difproportionate magnitude,

1763.

tude, is, no doubt, too frequent every where; but, I think, moft remarkable among the French, of which, all who have travelled in France must have tat. 54.

been ftruck with innumerable inftances.

We went and looked at the church, and having gone into it and walked up to the altar, Johnson, whose piety was conftant and fervent, sent me to my knees, faying, "Now that you are going to leave your native country, recommend yourself to the protection of your Creator and Redeemer."

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for fome time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious fophiftry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I obferved, that though we are fatisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impoffible to refute it. I never fhall forget the alacrity with which Johnson anfwered, ftriking his foot with mighty force against a large ftone, till he rebounded from it, "refute it thus." This was a tout exemplification of the first truths of Pere Bouffier, or the original principles of Reid and of Beattie; without admitting which, we can no more argue in metaphyficks, than we can argue in mathematicks without axioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by pure reasoning. But I know that the nice and difficult task was to have been undertaken by one of the most luminous minds of the present age; had not politicks "turned him from calm philofophy afide." What an admirable display of fubtilty, united with brilliance, might his contending with Berkeley have afforded us ! How must we, when we reflect on the lofs of fuch an intellectual feast, regret that he should be characterised as the man,

"Who born for the univerfe narrowed his mind,
"And to party gave up what was meant for mankind?”

My revered friend walked down with me to the beach, where we embraced and parted with tenderness, and engaged to correfpond by letters. I faid, “I hope, Sir, you will not forget me in my abfence." JOHNSON. " Nay, Sir, it is more likely you should forget me, than that I fhould forget you." As the vessel put out to sea, I kept my eyes upon him for a confiderable time, while he remained rolling his majestick frame in his ufual manner; at last I perceived him walk back into the town, and he disappeared.

Utrecht feeming at firft very dull to me, after the animated scenes of London, my fpirits were grievoufly affected; and I wrote to Johnson a plaintive and defponding letter, to which he paid no regard. Afterwards, when I had acquired a firmer tone of mind, I wrote him a second letter, LI expreffing

1763.

expreffing much anxiety to hear from him. At length I received the followEtat. 54. ing epiftle, which was of important service to me, and, I trust, will be fo

alfo to many others.

A Mr. Mr. BoSWELL, à la Cour de l'Empereur, Utrecht.

"DEAR SIR,

"YOU are not to think yourself forgotten, or criminally neglected, that you have had yet no letter from me. I love to fee my friends, to hear from them, to talk to them, and to talk of them; but it is not without a confiderable effort of refolution that I prevail upon myself to write. I would not, however, gratify my own indolence by the omiffion of any important duty, or any office of real kindness.

"To tell you that I am or am not well, that I have or have not been in the country, that I drank your health in the room in which we fat laft together, and that your acquaintance continue to speak of you with their former kindnefs, topicks with which thofe letters are commonly filled which are written only for the fake of writing, I feldom fhall think worth communicating; but if I can have it in my power to calm any harraffing difquiet, to excite any virtuous defire, to rectify any important opinion, or fortify any generous refolution, you need not doubt but I fhall at least wish to prefer the pleasure of gratifying a friend much less esteemed than yourself, before the gloomy calm of idle vacancy. Whether I fhall eafily arrive at an exact punctuality of correfpondence, I cannot tell. I fhall, at prefent, expect that you will receive this in return for two which I have had from you. The first, indeed, gave me an account fo hopeless of the flate of your mind, that it hardly admitted or deferved an anfwer; by the fecond I was much better pleased: and the pleasure will still be increased by fuch a narrative of the progrefs of your ftudies, as may evince the continuance of an equal and rational application of your mind to fome useful enquiry.

"You will, perhaps, wish to ask, what study I would recommend. I fhall not fpeak of theology, because it ought not to be confidered as a queftion whether you fhall endeavour to know the will of GOD.

"I fhall, therefore, confider only fuch ftudies as we are at liberty to purfue or to neglect; and of these I know not how you will make a better choice, than by studying the civil law, as your father advises, and the ancient languages, as you had determined for yourself; at least refolve, while you remain in any

4.

fettled

« 이전계속 »