페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

land. “ Much,” said he, may

be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.”

Boswell told him he 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 Boswell, meaning to laugh with him at one of his prejudices, “ can't you say it is not worth mapping ?”.

Johnson expressed to his friend Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, his wonder at the extreme jealousy of the Scotch, and their resentment at having their country described by him as it really was; when, to say that it was a country as good as England, would have been a gross falsehood. “ None of us," said he,“ would be offended, if a foreigner who has travelled here should say, that vines and olives don't grow in England.” And as to his prejudice against the Scotch, which Boswell always ascribed to that nationality which he observed in them, he said to the same gentleman, “ When I find a Scotchman, to whom an lishman is as a Scotchman, that Scotchman shall be as an Englishman to me.” His intimacy with many gentlemen of Scotland, and his employing so many natives of that country as his amanuenses, prove that his prejudice was not virulent; and Boswell has deposited in the British Museum, among other pieces of his writing, the following note, in answer to one from him, asking if he would meet him at dinner at the Mitre, though a friend of his, a Scotchman, was to be there :“ Mr. Johnson does not see why Mr. Boswell should suppose a Scotchman less acceptable than any other

He will be at the Mitre."

man.

Jobpson told (adds Boswell) of an instance of Scottish nationality, which made a very unfavourable impression upon his mind. A Scotchman, of some consideration in London, solicited him to recommend, by the weight of his learned authority, to be master of an English school, a person of whom he who recommended him confessed he knew no more but that he was his countryman. Johnson was shocked at this unconscientious conduct.

All the miserable cavillings against his Journey, in newspapers, magazines, and other fugitive publications, I can speak from certain knowledge, only furnished him with sport. At last there came out a scurrilous volume, larger than Johnson's own, filled with malignant abuse, under a name, real or fictitious, of some low man in an obscure corner of Scotland, though supposed to be the work of another Scotchman, who has found means to make himself well known both in Scotland and England. The effect which it had upon Johnson was, to produce this pleasant observation to Mr. Seward, to whom he lent the book : " This fellow must be a blockhead. They don't know how to go about their abuse. Who will read a five shilling book against me? No, sir, if they had wit, they should have kept pelting me with pamphlets.'

On the same subject, Dr. Maxwell says, Johnson was often accused of prejudice, nay, an. tipathy, with regard to the natives of Scotland. Surely, so illiberal a prejudice never entered his mind; and, it is well known, many natives of that country possessed a large share in his esteem ; nor were any of them ever excluded from his good offices, as far as opportunity permitted. True it is,

[ocr errors]

he considered the Scotch, nationally, as a crafty, designing people, eagerly attentive to their own interest, and very apt to overlook the claims and pretensions of other people. While they confine their benevolence, in a manner, exclusively to those of their own country, they expect to share iu the good of. fices of other people. Now (said Joluson), this principle is either right or wrong; if right, we should do well to imitate such conduct; if wrong, we cannot too much detest it.'”

But the Scotch were not the people who had most reason to complain of Johnson's prejudices, which his high Tory principles whetted to a great degree of rancour against others; for long before the publication of his Taxation po Tyranny, he had in. dulged the most unfavourable sentiments of his fel. low subjects in America. As a proof of this, Dr. Campbell asserts, that as early as 1769, he said of them,“ Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging."

Thus too, he burst out into a violent declamation against the Corsicans, of whose heroism Boswell talked in high terms. Sir, what is all this rout about the Corsicans ? They have been at war with the Genoese for upwards of twenty years, and have never yet taken their fortified towns. They might have battered down their walls, and reduced them to powder in twenty years. They might have pulled the walls in pieces, and cracked the stones with their teeth, in twenty years.” It was in vain to argue with him upon the want of artillery: he was not to be resisted for the moment.

To the prejudices of others, however, he was not

blipd ; as when Boswell said “Lord Monboddo still maintains the superiority of the savage life.” JOHNSON. What strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known are better than the things which we have known.” Boswell. “Why, sir, that is a common prejudice.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, sir, but a common prejudice should not be found in one whose trade it is to rectify error.”

No. VII.

LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, AND AFFECTION:

Of the passion of love he remarked, “ Its violence and ill effects are much exaggerated; who knows any real sufferings on this head, more than from the exorbitancy of any other passion ?"

It being asked whether it was reasonable for a man to be angry at another whom a woman had preferred to him ? Johnson. “I do not see, sir, that it is reasonable for a man to be angry with another, whom a woman has preferred to him : but angry he is, no doubt; and he is loath to be angry with himself.

Dr. Johnson said to Boswell one morning when they were at Birmingham, “ You will see, sir, at Mr. Hector's, his sister, Mrs. Careless, a clergyman's widow. She was the first woman with whom I was in love. It dropped out of my head imperceptibly; but she and I shall always have a kindness for each other.” He laughed at the notion that a man can never really be in love but once, and considered it as a mere romantic fancy.

When he again talked of Mrs. Careless at night, he seemed to have had his affection revived; for he said, “ If I had married her, it might have been as happy for me.” Boswell.“ Pray, sir, do you not suppose that there are fifty women in the world, with any one of whom a man may be as bappy as with any one woman in particular.” Johnson. " Ay, sir, fifty thousand.” Boswell. “ Then, sir, you are not of opinion with some, who imagine that certain men and certain women are made for each other; and that they cannot be happy if they miss their counterparts.” Johnson. “ To be sure not, sir. I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made by the lord chancellor, upon a due consideration of the characters and circumstances, without the parties having any choice in the matter."

A question was started, how far people who disagree in a capital point can live in friendship together. Johnson said they might. Goldsmith said they could not; as they had not the idem velle atque idem nolle the same likings, and the same aversions. JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, you must shun the subject as to which you disagree. For instance, I can live very well with Burke; I love his knowledge, his genius, his diffusion, and affluence of conversation; but I would not talk to him of the Rockingham party." GOLDSMITH. “ But, sir, when people live together who have something as to which they disagree, and which they want to shun, they will be in the situation mentioned in the story of Bluebeard : ' you may look into all the chambers but one. But we should have the greatest inclination to look iuto that chamberto talk of that subject.” Johnson.. (with a

« 이전계속 »