페이지 이미지


please the chief magistrate ?” Goldsmith. “ I do wish to please him. I remember a line in Dryden,

' And ev'ry poet is the Monarch's friend.'

Ætat. 64.

It ought to be reversed.” Johnson. “Nay, there are finer lines in Dryden.

. on this subject :

• For colleges on bounteous Kings depend,

And never rebel was to arts a friend.”

General Paoli observed, that successful rebels might. MARTINELLI.“ Happy rebellions.” GOLDSMITH.

Goldsmith. “We have no such phrase.” General Paoli. “ But have you not the thing ?” Goldsmith. “ Yes; all our happy revolutions. They have hurt our constitution, and will hurt it, till we mend it by another HAPPY REVOLUTION.”-I never before discovered that my friend. Goldsmith had so much of the old prejudice in him.

General Paoli, talking of Goldsmith's new play, said, « Il a fait un compliment très gracieux à une certaine grande dame;" meaning a Duchess of the first rank.

I expressed a doubt whether Goldsmith intended it, in order that I might hear the truth from himself. It, perhaps, was not quite fair to endeavour to bring him to a confession, as he might not wish to avow positively his taking part against the Court. He smiled and hesitated.

He smiled and hesitated. The General at once relieved him, by this beautiful image : “ Monsieur Goldsmith est comme la mer qui jette des perles et beaucoup d'autres belles choses, sans s'en appercevoir.GOLDSMITH. “ Très bien dit, et très élégamment.

A person was mentioned, who it was said could take down in short hand the speeches in parliament with perfeci exactness. Johnson. “Sir, it is impoffible. I remember one Angel, who came to me to write for him a Preface or Dedication to a book upon short hand, and he professed to write as fast as a man could speak. In order to try him, I took down a book, and read while he wrote ; and I favoured him, for I read more deliberately than usual. I had proceeded but a very little way, when he begged I would defist, for he could not follow me.” Hearing now for the first time of this Preface or Dedication, I said, “What an expence, Sir, do you put us to in buying books, to which you have written Prefaces or Dedications.” JOHNSON. Why I have dedicated to the Royal Family all round; that is to say, to the last generation of the Royal Family.” GOLDSMITH. “ And perhaps, Sir, not one sentence of wit

[ocr errors]


Ætat, 64

in a whole Dedication.” Johnson. “ Perhaps not, Sir.” Boswell. " What then is the reason for applying to a particular person to do that which any one may do as well ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, one man has greater readiness at doing it than another.”

I spoke of Mr. Harris, of Salisbury, as being a very learned man, and in particular an eminent Grecian. Johnson. “I am not sure of that. His friends give him out as such, but I know not who of his friends are able to judge of it.” GOLDSMITH. “He is what is much better : he is a worthy humane man.” Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, that is not to the purpose of our argument : that will as much prove that he can play upon the fiddle as well as Giardini, as that he is an eminent Grecian.” GOLDSMITH. “ The greatest musical performers have but small emoluments. Giardini, I am told, does not get above seven hundred a year.” JOHNSON. “ That is, indeed, but little for a man to get, who does best that which so many endeavour to do. There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shewn so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing."

On Monday, April 19, he called on me with Mrs. Williams, in Mr. Strahan's coach, and carried me out to dine with Mr. Elphinston, at his academy at Kensington. A printer having acquired a fortune sufficient to keep his coach, was a good topick for the credit of literature. Mrs. Williams faid, that another printer, Mr. Hamilton, had not waited so long as Mr. Strahan, but had kept his coach several years -sooner. Johnson, “ He was in the right. Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better.”

Mr. Elphinston talked of a new book that was much admired, and asked Dr. Johnson if he had read it. Johnson. “ I have looked into it.” “What (said Elphinston,) have you not read it through ?” Johnson, offended at being thus pressed, and so obliged to own his cursory mode of reading, answered tartly, “ No, Sir; do you read books through?

He this day again defended duelling, and put his argument upon what I have ever thought the most solid basis; that if publick war be allowed to be consistent with morality, private war must be equally so. Indeed we may observe what strained arguments are used, to reconcile war with the Christian religion. But, in my opinion, it is exceedingly clear that duelling having better reasons for its barbarous violence, is more justifiable than war, in


Ætat. 64

which thousands go forth without any cause of personal quarrel, and massacre
each other.

On Wednesday, April 21, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale’s. A gentle-
man attacked Garrick for being vain. JOHNSON. “ No wonder, Sir, that he
is vain; a man who is perpetually flattered in every mode that can be con-
ceived. So many bellows have blown the fire, that one wonders he is not by
this time become a cinder.” Boswell. “ And such bellows too. Lord
Mansfield with his cheeks like to burst: Lord Chatham like an Æolus. I
have read such notes from them to him as were enough to turn his head.”
JOHNSON. “ True.

« True. When he whom every body else flatters, Aatters me, I
then am truly happy.” Mrs. THRALE. “ The sentiment is in Congreve, I
think.” Johnson. “ Yes, Madam, in “The Way of the World :'

* If there's delight in love, 'tis when I see
" That heart which others bleed for, bleed for me.'

[ocr errors]

No, Sir, I should not be surprized though Garrick chained the ocean, and
lashed the winds." BOSWELL. “ Should it not be, Sir, lashed the ocean and
chained the winds ?” Johnson. “ No, Sir; recollect the original :

In Corum atque Eurum folitus fævire flagellis
Barbarus, Æolio nunquam hoc in carcere pasos,

Ipsum compedibus qui vinxerat Eunosigaum."

[ocr errors]

This does very well, when both the winds and the sea are personified, and mentioned by their mythological names, as in Juvenal; but when they are mentioned in plain language, the application of the epithets suggested by me, is the most obvious; and accordingly my friend himself, in his imitation of the passage which describes Xerxes, has

« The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind.”

The modes of living in different countries, and the various views with which men travel in queft of new scenes, having been talked of, a learned gentleman who holds a considerable office in the law, expatiated on the happiness of a savage life; and mentioned an instance of an officer who had actually lived for some time in the wilds of America, of whom, when in that state, he quoted this reflection with an air of admiration, as if it had been deeply philofophical: “Here am I, free and unrestrained, amidst the rude magnificence of Nature, with this Indian woman by my side, and this gun, with which I can




Ætat. 64.

procure food when I want it: what more can be desired for human happinefs ?” It did not require much fagacity to foresee that such a sentiment would not be permitted to pass without due animadversion. JOHNSON. “Do not allow yourself, Sir, to be imposed upon by such gross absurdity. It is fad stuff; it is brutish. If a bull could speak, he might as well exclaim,--Here am I with this cow and this grass ; what being can enjoy greater felicity?”

We talked of the melancholy end of a gentleman who had destroyed himself. Johnson. “ It was owing to imaginary difficulties in his affairs, which, had he talked with any friend, would soon have vanished.” Boswell.“ Do you think, Sir, that all who commit suicide are mad?” Johnson. “ Sir, they are often not universally disordered in their intellects, but one passion presses so upon them that they yield to it, and commit suicide, as a passionate man will stab another.” He added,

He added, “ I have often thought, that after a man has taken the resolution to kill himself, it is not courage in him to do any thing, however desperate, because he has nothing to fear.” GOLDSMITH. “I don't see that." Johnson. “Nay but, my dear Sir, why should not you fee what every one else sees??" GOLDSMITH.“ It is for fear of something that he has resolved to kill himself; and will not that timid disposition restrain him?” Johnson. “It does not signify that the fear of something made him resolve; it is upon the state of his mind after the resolution is taken, that I argue. Suppose a man, either from fear, or pride, or conscience, or whatever motive, has resolved to kill himself; when once the resolution is taken, he has nothing to fear. He may then go and take the King of Prusia by the nose, at the head of his army. He cannot fear the rack, who is resolved to kill himself. When Eustace Budgel was walking down to the Thames determined to drown himfelf, he might, if he pleased, without any apprehension of danger, have turned aside, and first set fire to St. James's palace.”

On Tuesday, April 27, Mr. Beauclerk and I called on him in the morning. As we walked up Johnson's-court, I said, “I have a veneration for this court;” and was glad to find that Beauclerk had the same reverential enthusiasm. We found him alone. We talked of Mr. Andrew Stuart's elegant and plausible Letters to Lord Mansfield; a copy of which had been sent by the authour to Dr. Johnson Johnson.“ They have not answered the end. They have not been talked of: I have never heard of them. This is owing to their not being sold. People seldom read a book which is given to them; and few are given. The way to spread a work is to sell it at a low price. No man will send to buy a thing that costs even six-pence, without an intention to read it.” Boswell, " May it not be doubted, Sir, whether it be proper to



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

publish letters, arraigning the ultimate decision of an important cause by the
supreme judicature of the nation ?” Johnson. “ No, Sir, I do not think it Ærar. .
was wrong to publish these letters. If they are thought to do harm, why not
answer them? But they will do no harm. If Mr. Douglas be indeed the
son of Lady Jane, he cannot be hurt : if he be not her son, and yet has the
great eftate of the family of Douglas, he may well submit to have a pamphlet
against him by Andrew Stuart. Sir, I think such a publication does good, as
it does good to shew us the possibilities of human life. And, Sir, you will
not say that the Douglas cause was a cause of easy decision, when it divided

Court as much as it could do, to be determined at all. When your
Judges were seven and seven, the casting vote of the President must be given
on one side or other; no matter, for my argument, on which ; one or the
other must be taken ; as when I am to move, there is no matter which leg
I move first. And then, Sir, it was otherwise determined here. No, Sir, a
more dubious determination of any question cannot be imaginedo.”

He said, “ Goldsmith should not be for ever attempting to shine in conversation : he has not temper for it, he is so much mortified when he fails. Sir, a game of jokes is composed partly of skill, partly of chance. A man may be beat at times by one who has not the tenth part of his wit. Now Goldsmith's putting himself against another, is like a man laying a hundred to one who cannot spare the hundred. It is not worth a man's while. A man should not lay a hundred to one, unless he can easily spare it, though he has a hundred chances for him: he can get but a guinea, and he may lose a hundred. Goldsmith is in this state. When he contends, if he gets the better, it is a very little addition to a man of his literary reputation : if he does not get the better, he is miserably vexed."

Johnson's own superlative power of wit set him above any risk of such uneasiness. Garrick had remarked to me of him, a few days before, “Rabelais and all other wits are nothing compared with him. You may be diverted by them; but Johnson gives you a forcible hug, and shakes laughter out of


will or no.”

you, whether

6 I regretted that Dr. Johnson never took the trouble to study a question which interested nations. Ile would not even read a pamphlet which I wrote upon it, entitled “ The Essence of the Douglas Cause," which, I have reason to flatter myself, had considerable effect in favour of Mr. Douglas; of whose legitimate filiation I was then, and am still, firmly convinced. Let me add, that no fact can be more respectably ascertained, than by a judgement of the most august tribunal in the world; a judgement, in which Lord Mansfield and Lord Camden united in 1769, and from which only five of a numerous body entered a protest.

Fff 2


« 이전계속 »