« 이전계속 »
fettled refidence, to spend a certain number of hours every day amongst your books. The diffipation of thought, of which you complain, is nothing more Etat. 54 than the vacillation of a mind fufpended between different motives, and changing its direction as any motive gains or lofes ftrength. If you can but kindle in your mind any strong defire, if you can but keep predominant any wish for some particular excellence or attainment, the gufts of imagination will break away, without any effect upon your conduct, and commonly without any traces left upon the memory.
"There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a defire of diftinction, which inclines every man firft to hope, and then to believe, that Nature has given him fomething peculiar to himself. This vanity makes one mind nurse averfions, and another actuate defires, till they rife by art much above their original state of power; and as affectation, in time, improves to habit, they at last tyrannise over him who at first encouraged them only for fhow. Every defire is a viper in the bofom, who, while he was chill, was harmless; but when warmth gave him ftrength, exerted it in poifon. You know a gentleman, who, when firit he fet his foot in the gay world, as he prepared himself to whirl in the vortex of pleasure, imagined a total indifference and univerfal negligence to be the most agreeable concomitants of youth, and the strongest indication of an airy temper and a quick apprehenfion. Vacant to every object, and sensible of every impulfe, he thought that all appearance of diligence would deduct fomething from the reputation of genius; and hoped that he should appear to attain, amidst all the ease of careleffnefs and all the tumult of diverfion, that knowledge and those accomplishments which mortals of the common fabrick obtain only by mute abstraction and solitary drudgery. He tried this scheme of life awhile, was made weary of it by his fenfe and his virtue, he then wifhed to return to his ftudies; and finding long habits of idlenefs and pleasure harder to be cured than he expected, ftill willing to retain his claim to fome extraordinary prerogatives, refolved the common confequences of irregularity into an unalterable decree of destiny, and concluded that Nature had originally formed him incapable of rational employment.
"Let all fuch fancies, illufive and deftructive, be banished henceforward from your thoughts for ever. Refolve, and keep your refolution; choose, and pursue your choice. If you spend this day in study, you will find yourself still more able to study to-morrow; not that you are to expect that you fhall at once obtain a complete victory. Depravity is not very easily over'come. Refolution will fometimes relax, and diligence will fometimes be interrupted; but let no accidental furprize or deviation, whether fhort or long,
1763. difpofe you to defpondency. Confider these failings as incident to all mankind. Begin again where you left off, and endeavour to avoid the feducements that prevailed over you before.
"This, my dear Bofwell, is advice which, perhaps, has been often given you, and given you without effect. But this advice, if you will not take from others, you must take from your own reflections, if you purpose to do the duties of the station to which the bounty of Providence has called you. I hope you
"Let me have a long letter from you as foon as you can. continue your journal, and enrich it with many obfervations upon the country in which you refide. It will be a favour if you can get me any books in the
· Frifick language, and can enquire how the poor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. I am, dear Sir,
"Your most affectionate fervant,
"London, Dec. 8, 1763.
I am forry to observe, that neither in my own minutes, nor in my letters to Johnson which have been preserved by him, can I find any information how the poor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. But I fhall extract from one of my letters what I learnt concerning the other subject of his curiofity.
"I have made all poffible enquiry with refpect to the Frifick language, and find that it has been lefs cultivated than any other of the northern dialects; a certain proof of which is their deficiency of books. Of the old Frifick there are no remains, except fome ancient laws preserved by Schotanus in his • Befchryvinge van die Heerlykheid van Friefland;' and his Hiftoria Frifica.' I have not yet been able to find thefe books. Profeffor Trotz, who formerly was of the University of Vranyken, in Friesland, and is at prefent preparing an edition of all the Frifick laws, gave me this information. Of the modern Frifick, or what is fpoken by the boors at this day, I have procured a specimen. It is Gibert Japix's Rymelerie,' which is the only book that they have. It is amazing, that they have no tranflation of the bible, no treatises of devotion, nor even any of the ballads and story-books which are so agreeable to country people. You fhall have Japix by the first convenient opportunity. I doubt not to pick up Schotanus. Mynheer Trotz has promised me his affiftance."
Early in 1764 Johnson paid a visit to the Langton family, at their feat of Langton, in Lincolnshire, where he paffed fome time, much to his fatisfaction. His friend Bennet Langton, it will not be doubted, did every thing in his power to make the place agreeable to fo illuftrious a gueft; and the elder
Mr. Langton and his lady, being fully capable of understanding his value, 1764. were not wanting in attention. He, however, told me, that old Mr. Langton, Etat. 55. though a man of confiderable learning, had fo little allowance to make for his occafional" laxity of talk," that because in the courfe of difcuffion he fometimes mentioned what might be faid in favour of the peculiar tenets of the Romish church, he went to his grave believing him to be of that com
Johnfon, during his ftay at Langton, had the advantage of a good library, and faw feveral gentlemen of the neighbourhood. I have obtained from Mr. Langton the following particulars of this period.
He was now fully convinced that he could not have been fatisfied with a country living; for, talking of a respectable clergyman in Lincolnshire, he obferved, "This man, Sir, fills up the duties of his life well. I approve of him, but could not imitate him."
To a lady who endeavoured to vindicate herself from blame for neglecting social attention to worthy neighbours, by faying, "I would go to them if it would do them any good;" he faid, "What good, Madam, do you expect to have in your power to do them? It is fhewing them refpect, and that is doing them good."
So focially accommodating was he, that once when Mr. Langton and he were driving together in a coach, and Mr. Langton complained of being fick, he infifted that they should go out, and fit on the back of it in the open air, which they did. And being fenfible how ftrange the appearance must be, observed, that a countryman whom they faw in a field would probably be thinking, "If these two madmen fhould come down, what would become of me?"
Soon after his return to London, which was in February, was founded that club which exifted long without a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral became distinguished by the title of THE LITERARY CLUB. Sir Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first propofer of it, to which Johnfon acceded, and the original members were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnfon, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier, and Sir John Hawkins. They met at the Turk's Head, in Gerardstreet, Soho, one evening in every week, at feven, and generally continued their converfation till a pretty late hour. This club has been gradually increased, and instead of affembling in the evening, they now dine together at a tavern in Doverftreet, once a fortnight, during the meeting of Parliament. Between the time of its formation, and the time at which this work is paffing through the
1764. Etat. 55.
prefs, (1790,) the following perfons, now dead, were members of it: Mr.
Sir John Hawkins' reprefents himself as a feceder" from this fociety, and affigns as the reason of his " withdrawing" himself from it, that its late hours were inconfiftent with his domeftick arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke in fo rude a manner, that all the company teftified their difpleafure; and at their next meeting his reception was fuch, that he never came again *.
He is equally inaccurate with refpect to Mr. Garrick, of whom he says, "he trufted that the leaft intimation of a defire to come among us, would procure him a ready admiffion; but in this he was mistaken. Johnson confulted me upon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed, He will difturb us by his buffoonery;'-and afterwards fo managed matters, that he was never formally propofed, and, by confequence, never admitted 5."
In juftice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnfon, I think it neceffary to rectify this mif-statement. The truth is, that not very long after the inftitution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. " I like it much, (faid he,) I think I fhall be of you." When Sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. "He'll be of us, (said Johnson,) how does he know we will permit him? The firft duke in England has no right to hold fuch language." However, when Garrick was regularly propofed fome time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected, was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.
Life of Johnson, p. 425.
4 From Sir Joshua Reynolds. 5 Life of Johnfon, p. 425.
Mrs. Piozzi' has alfo given a fimilar mifrepresentation of Johnfon's treatment of Garrick in this particular, as if he had ufed these contemptuous Etat. 55. expreffions: "If Garrick does apply, I'll black-ball him.--Surely, one ought to fit in a fociety like ours,
Unelbow'd by a gamefter, pimp, or player."
I am happy to be enabled by fuch unquestionable authority as that of Sir Jofhua Reynolds, as well as from my own knowledge, to vindicate at once the heart of Johnson and the focial merit of Garrick.
In this year, except what he may have done in revising Shakspeare, we do not find that he laboured much in literature. He wrote a review of Grainger's Sugar Cane, a Poem," in the London Chronicle. He told me, that Dr. Percy wrote the greatest part of this review; but, I imagine, he did not recollect it diftinctly, for it appears to be moftly, if not altogether, his own. He also wrote in the Critical Review, an account† of Goldsmith's excellent poem, "The Traveller."
The ease and independence to which he had at last attained by royal munificence, increased his natural indolence. In his "Meditations" he thus accuses himself: "GOOD FRIDAY, April 20, 1764. I have made no reformation; I have lived totally useless, more fenfual in thought, and more addicted to wine and meat"." And next morning he thus feelingly complains: "My indolence, fince my laft reception of the facrament, has funk into groffer sluggishness, and my diffipation spread into wilder negligence. My thoughts have been clouded with fenfuality; and, except that from the beginning of this year I have, in some measure, forborne excess of strong drink, my appetites have predominated over my reason. A kind of strange oblivion has overfpread me, fo that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pafs over me, without leaving any impression." He then folemnly fays, "This is not the life to which heaven is promised;" and he earnestly refolves on amendment.
It was his custom to obferve certain days with a pious abstraction; viz. New-year's-day, the day of his wife's death, Good Friday, Eafter-day, and his own birth-day. He this year fays, "I have now fpent fifty-five years in refolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is preffing, fince the time of doing is fhort. O GOD, grant me to
• Letters to and from Dr. Johnfon. Vol. II. p. 278. 7 Prayers and Meditations, p. 50.
• Ibid. p. 54.