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has been more extensive, and that he has once been Mahometan. How. ever, now that he has published his infidelity, he will probably persist in it, `Boswell. I am not quite sure of ihat, Sir.
I mentioned Sir Richard Steele having published his “ Christian Hero,”. with the avowed purpose of obliging himself to lead a religious life; yet that his conduct was by no means strictly suitable. Johnson. Steele, I believe, practiced ihr lighter vices,
Mr. Warton being engaged, could not sup with us at our inn ; we had therefore another evening by ourselves. I asked Johnson, whether a man's being forward 10 make himself kuovo lo eminent people, and seeing as much of life and getting as much information as he could in every way, was not yet lessening himself by his forwardness. Johnson. No, Sir; a mau always makes himself greater as he increases his knowledge.
I censured some ludicrous fantastic dialogues between two coach-liorses, and other such stuff, which Baretti had lately published. He joined with me, and said, Nothing odd will do long. •Tristram Shaidy' did not last. I expressed a desire to be acquainted with a lady who had been much talked of, and universally celebrated for extraordinary address and insinuation. Johnson. Never believe extraordinary characters which you hear of people. Depend upon it, Sir, they are exaggerated. You do not see one man shoot a great deal higher than another. I mentioned Mr. Burke. Johnson. Yes, Burke is an extraordinary man. His stream of mind is perpetual. It is very pleasing to me to record, that Johnson's high estimation of the talents of this gentleman was uniform from their early acquaintance. Sir Joshua Reynolds informs me, that when Mr. Burke was first elected a member of Parliment, and Sir Jobo Hawkios expressed a wonder at his attaining a seat, Johnson said, Now we who know Mr. Burke, know, that he will be one of the first men in the country. And once, when Johnson was ill, and unable to exert himself as much as usual without fatigue, Mr. Burke having been mentioned, he said, That fellow calls forth all iny powers.
Were I to see Burke now, it would kill me. So much was he accustomed to consider conversation as a contest, and such was his notion of Burke as an opponent.
Next morning, Thursday, March 21, we set out in a post-chaise to pursue our ramble.
It was a delightful day, and we rode through Blenheim park. When I looked at a magnificent bridge, built by John, Duke of Marlborough, over a sinall rivulet, and recollected the Epigram made upou it
“The lofty arch bis bigh ambition shows,
and saw that
by the genius of Brown, a magnificent body of water was collected, I said, They have druwned the Epigram. I observed 10 him while in the midst of the noble scene around us. You and I, Sir, have, I think, seen together the extremes of what can be seen in Britain the wild rough island of Mull, and Blenheim park.
We dined at an excellent ion at Chapel-house, where he expatiated oni the felicity of England in its taverns and inns, and triumphed over the French for not having, in any perfection, the tavern life.
There is no private hou-e, (said he,) in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that every body should be easy; in the nature of things it cannot be: ihere must always be some degree of care and anxiety. The inaster of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no man, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house, as if it were his own. Whereas, at a tavern, there is a general freedom fron; anxiety. You are sure you are welcome: and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are, "No servant will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please. No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or ind. He then repeated, with great emotion, Shenstone's lives:
“Whoe’er has travelled life's dull round,
“Where'er his stages may have been, “May sigh to tbink be still has found
“The warmest welcome at an inn." My illustrious friend, I thought, did not sufficiently admire Shenstone. That ingenious and elegant gentleman's opinion of Johnson, appears in one of his letters to Mr. Greaves, dated Feb. 9, 1760. “I have lately been reading one or two volumes of the Rambler; who, excepting agaiost some few hardnesses in his manner, and the want of more examples to enliven, is one of the most nervous, most perspicuous, most concise, most harmonious prose writers I know. A learned diction improves by time.
In the afternoon, as we were driving rapidly along in the post chaise, ke said to me, “Life has not many ihings better than this.”
We stopped at Stratford-upon-Avon, and drank tea and coffee; and it pleased me to be with him, upon the classic ground of Shakspeare's native place.
He spoke slightingly of “Dyer's Fleece."-" The subject, Sir, cannot be made poetical. How can a man write poetically of serges and druggets! Yet you will hear many people talk to you gravely of that excellent poem, “The Fleece.” Having talked of Granger's “Sagar Cane," I mentioned to him Mr. Langton's having told me, that this poem, when read in manuscript at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits burst into a laugh, when, after much blank verse
poet begun a new paragraph thus :
“Now, Muse, let's sing of rats."
And what increased the.ridicule was, that one of the company, who slily overlooked the reader, perceived that the word had been originally mice, and had been altered to rats, as more dignified.
This passage does not appear in the printed work, Dr. Grainger, or some of his friends, it should seem, having become sensible that introducing even rats, in a grave poem, might be liable to banter. He however, could not bring himself to relinquish the idea ; for they are thus, in a still more ludicrous manner, periphrastically exhibited in his poem as it now stands :
“ Nor with less waste the whiskerd vermin race,
Johnson said, that Dr. Grainger was an agreeable man; a man that would do any good that was in his power. His translation of Tibullus, he thought, was very well done; but “ The Sugar-Cane, a Poem," did not please him; for he exclaimed, “What could he make of a sugarcane ? One might as well write the · Parsley-bed, a Poem ;' or • The Cabbage-garden, a Poem." Boswell. You must then pickle your cabbage with the sal Atticum. Johnson. You know there is already • The Hop-Garden, a Poem :' and, I think one could say a great deal about cabbage. The poem might begin with the advantages of civilized society over a rude state, exemplified by the Scotch, who had no cabbages till Oliver Cromwell's soldiers introduced them: and one might just show how arts are propagated by conquest, as they were by the Roman arms. He seemed to be inuch diverted with the fertility of his own funcy.
I told him, that I heard Dr. Percy was writing the history of the wolf in Great Britain. Johnson. The wolf, Sir! why the wolf? Why does he not write of the lear, which we had formerly ? Nay, it is said we had the beaver. Or why does he not write of the grey rat, the Hanover rat, as it is called, because it is said to have come into this country about the time that the family of Hanover came? I should like to see • The History of the Grey Rat, by Thomas Percy, D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty,' (laughing immoderately.) Boswell. I ain afraid a court chaplain could not decently write of the grey rat. Johnson. Sir, he veed not give it the name of the Hanover rat. Thus could be indulge a luxuriant sportive imagination, when talking of a friend whom he loved and esteemed.
He mentioned to me the singular history of an ingenious acquaintance. He had practised physic in various situations with no great emolament. A West-India gentleman, whom he delighted by his couversation, gave him a bond for a handsome annuity during his life, on the condition of his accompanying him to the West-Indies, and living with him there for two yeurs. He accordingly embarked with the gentleman; but upon the voyage fell in love with a young woman who happened to be one of the passengers, and married the wench. From the imprudence of his disposition he quarrelled with the gentleman, and declared he would have no connection with him. So, he forfeited the annuity. He settled as a physician in one of the Leeward Islands. A man was sent out:10 him merely to compound his medicines. This fellow set up as rival to him in his practice of physic, and got so much the better of him in the opinion of the people of the island, that he carried away all the business, upon which he returned to England, and soon after died.
On Friday, March 22, having set out early from Henley, where we had lain the preceding night, we arrived at Birmingham about nine o'clock, aod, after breakfast, went to call on his old schoolfellow Mr. Hector. A very stupid maid, who opened the door, told us, that, “ her master was gone out; he was gone to the country; she could not tell when he would return.” In short, she gave us a miserable reception ; and Johnson observed, “She would have behaved no better to people who wanted him in the way of his profession.” He said to her, “My name is Johnson ; tell him I called. Will you remember the name?” She answered with rustic simplicity in the Warwickshire pronunciation, “I don't understand you, Sir.”_"Blockhead, (said he,) I'll write. I never heard the word blockhead applied to a woman before, though I do vot see why it should not, when there is evident occasion for it. He, however, made another attempt to make her understand him and roared loudin her ear, “Johnson," and then she catched the sound.
We next called on Mr. Lloyd, one of the people called Quakers. We too was not at home, but Mrs. Lloyd was, and received us courteously, and asked us to dinner. Johoson said to ine, After the uncertainty of all human things at Hector's, this invitation came very well. We walked about the town, and he was pleased to see it increasing.
I talked of legitimation by subsequent marriage, which obtained in the Roman law, and still obtains in the law of Scotland. Johnson. I think it a bad thing; because the chastity of women being of the utmost importance, us all property depends upon it, they who forfeit it should not have any possibility of being restored to good character; nor should the children, by an illicit connection, attain the full right of lawful children, by the posterior consent of the offending parties. His opinion upon this subject deserves consideration. Upon his principle there may, at times, be a hardship, and seemingly a strange one, upon individuals; but the general good of society is better secured. And, after all, it is uureasonable in an individual lo repine that he has not the advautage of a state, which is made different from his own, by the social institution under which he is born. A woman does not complain that her brother, who is younger than ber, gets their common father's estate. Why then should a natural son complain that a younger brother, by the same pareats lawfully begotton, gets it? The operation of law is similar in both cases. Besides, an illegitimate son, who has a younger legitimate brother by the same father and mother, has no stronger claim to the father's estate, than if that legitimate brother had only the same father, from whom alove the estate descends.
Mr. Lloyd joined us in the street; and in a little while we met Friend Hector, as Mr. Lloyd called him. It gave me pleasure to observe the joy which Johnson and he expressed, on seeing each other again. Mr. Lloyd and I left them together, while he obligiugly shewed me some of the manufactures of this very curious assemblage of artificers. We all met at dinner at Mr. Lloyd's, where we were entertained with great hospitality. Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd had been married the same year with their Majesties, and like them, had been blessed with a numerous family of fine children, their numbers being exactly the same. Johnson suid, Marriage is the best state for a man iu general; and every man is a worse man, in proportion as he is unfit for the married state.
I have always loved the simplicity of manners, and the spiritual mindedness of the Quakers; and talking with Mr. Lloyd, I observed, that the essential part of religion was piety, a devout iotercourse with the Divinity; and that many a man was a Quaker without knowing it.
As Dr. Johnson had said to me in the morning, while we walked together, that he liked individuals among the Quakers, but not the sect : when we were at Mr. Lloyd's, I kept clear of introducing any questions concerning the peculiarities of their faith. But I haring asked to look at Baskerville's edition of “Barclay's. Apology," Johnson laid hold of it; and the chapter on baptism happening to open, Johnson remarked, He says there is neither precept nor practice for baptism, in the scriptures ; that is false. Here he was the aggressor, by no means in a gentle Inanner; and the good Quakers had the advantage of him ; for he had read negligently, and had not observed that Barclay speaks of infant baptism; which they calmly made him perceive. Mr. Lloyd, however, was in a great mistake; for when insisting that the rite of baptism by water was to cease, when the spiritual administratiou of Christ began, he maintained, that John the Baptist said, “My baptism shall decrease, but his shall increase." Whereas the words are, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
One of them having objected to the observance of days, and months, and years, Johnson answered, The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another ; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.
He said to me at another time, Sir, the holidays observed by our church are of great use in religion. There can be no doubt of this in a limited seose, I mean if the nuinber of such consecrated portions of time be not too extensive. The excellent Mr. Nelson's "Festivals and Fasts," which has, 1 understand, the greatest sale of any bok ever printed in