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1770.

company without perceiving themselves wifer and better than they were before. On ferious fubjects he flashed the most interesting conviction upon tat. 61. his auditors; and upon lighter topicks, you might have fuppofed-Albano mufas de monte locutas.

Though I can hope to add but little to the celebrity of so exalted a character, by any communications I can furnish, yet out of pure respect to his memory, I will venture to tranfmit to you fome anecdotes concerning him, which fell under my own obfervation. The very minutie of fuch a character must be interesting, and may be compared to the filings of diamonds.

"In politicks he was deemed a Tory, but certainly was not fo in the obnoxious or party sense of the term; for while he afferted the legal and falutary prerogatives of the crown, he no less refpected the conftitutional liberties of the people. Whiggism, at the time of the Revolution, he faid, was accompanied with certain principles; but latterly, as a mere party diftinction under Walpole and the Pelhams, was no better than the politicks of stock-jobbers, and the religion of infidels.

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"He detefted the idea of governing by parliamentary corruption, and afferted moft ftrenuously, that a prince fteadily and confpicuously pursuing the interests of his people, could not fail of parliamentary concurrence. prince of ability, he contended, might and should be the directing foul and spirit of his own administration; in fhort, his own minifter, and not the mere head of a party: and then, and not till then, would the royal dignity befincerely refpected.

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Johnson seemed to think, that a certain degree of crown influence over the Houses of Parliament, (not meaning a corrupt and fhameful, dependence,) was very falutary, nay even neceffary, in our mixed government. For, (said he,) if the members were under no crown influence, and difqualified from receiving any gratification from Court, and resembled, as they poffibly might, Pym and Haflerig, and other stubborn and sturdy members of the long Parliament, the wheels of government would be totally obstructed. Such men would oppose, merely to fhew their power, from envy, jealousy, and perversity of difpofition; and not gaining themselves, would hate and oppose all who did not loving the perfon of the prince, and conceiving they owed him little gratitude, from the mere spirit of infolence and contradiction, they would oppose and thwart him upon all occasions.'

"The infeparable imperfection annexed to all human governments, consisted, he said, in not being able to create a sufficient fund of virtue and principle to carry the laws into due and effectual execution. Wifdom might plan, but virtue

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Etat. 61.

virtue alone could execute. And where could fufficient virtue be found? A variety of delegated, and often difcretionary powers must be entrusted fomewhere; which, if not governed by integrity and confcience, would neceffarily be abused, till at last the constable would fell his for a fhilling.

"This excellent perfon was fometimes charged with abetting flavish and arbitrary principles of government. Nothing in my opinion could be a groffer calumny and mifreprefentation; for how can it be rationally fuppofed, that he fhould adopt fuch pernicious and abfurd opinions, who fupported his philofophical character with fo much dignity, was extremely jealous of his perfonal liberty and independence, and could not brook the smallest appearance of neglect or infult, even from the highest personages?

"But let us view him in fome inftances of more familiar life.

"His general mode of life, during my acquaintance, feemed to be pretty uniform. About twelve o'clock I commonly vifited him, and frequently found him in bed, or declaiming over his tea, which he drank very plentifully. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men of letters; Hawksworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens, Beauclerk, &c. &c. and fometimes learned ladies, particularly I remember a French lady of wit and fashion doing him the honour of a vifit. He feemed to me to be confidered as a kind of publick oracle, whom every body thought they had a right to vifit and confult; and doubtless they were well rewarded. I never could difcover how he found time for his compofitions. He declaimed all the morning, then went to dinner at a tavern, where he commonly ftaid late, and then drank his tea at fome friend's house, over which he loitered a great while, but seldom took fupper. I fancy he must have read and wrote chiefly in the night, for I can scarely recollect that he ever refused going with me to a tavern, and he often went to Ranelagh, which he deemed a place of innocent recreation.

"He frequently gave all the filver in his pocket to the poor, who watched him, between his house and the tavern where he dined. He walked the streets at all, hours, and faid he was never robbed, for the rogues knew he had little money, nor had the appearance of having much.

"Though the most acceffible and communicative man alive, yet when he fufpected he was invited to be exhibited, he constantly spurned the invitation. "Two young women from Staffordshire vifited him when I was prefent, to confult him on the fubject of Methodifm, to which they were inclined. • Come, (faid he,) you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will talk over that fubject;' which they did, and after dinner he took one of them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an hour together. "Upon

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"Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenham, he asked what fort of fociety I had there. I told him, but indifferent; as they chiefly tat. 61. confifted of opulent traders, retired from business. He faid, he never much liked that class of people; For, Sir, (faid he,) they have loft the civility of tradesmen, without acquiring the manners of gentlemen.'

"Johnson was much attached to London: he observed, that a man stored his mind better there, than any where else; and that in remote fituations a man's body might be feafted, but his mind was ftarved, and his faculties apt to degenerate, from want of exercise and competition. No place, he said, cured a man's vanity or arrogance, fo well as London; for as no man was either great or good per se, but as compared with others not so good or great, he was fure to find in the metropolis many his equals, and fome his fuperiours. He obferved, that a man in London was in lefs danger of falling in love indifcreetly, than any where elfe; for there the difficulty of deciding between the conflicting pretenfions of a vaft variety of objects, kept him fafe. He told me, that he had frequently been offered country preferment, if he would confent to take orders; but he could not leave the improved fociety of the capital, or confent to exchange the exhilarating joys and splendid decorations of publick life, for the obfcurity, infipidity, and uniformity of remote fituations.

"Speaking of Mr. Harte, Canon of Windfor, and writer of The Hiftory of Gustavus Adolphus,' he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of the most companionable talents he had ever known. He faid, the defects in his history proceeded not from imbecillity, but from foppery.

"He loved, he faid, the old black letter books; they were rich in matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully fo, confidering how converfant the writers were with the best models of antiquity.

"Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy,' he faid, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours fooner than he wished to rife.

"He frequently exhorted me to fet about writing a History of Ireland, and archly remarked, there had been fome good Irifh writers, and that one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great compaffion for the miseries and diftreffes of the Irish nation, particularly the Papists; and severely reprobated the barbarous debilitating policy of the British government, which he faid was the most deteftable mode of perfecution. To a gentleman, who hinted fuch policy might be neceffary to fupport the authority of the English government, he replied by faying, 'Let the authority of the English government perish, rather than be maintained by iniquity. Better

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1770.

would it be to restrain the turbulence of the natives by the authority of the Etat. 61. fword, and to make them amenable to law and juftice by an effectual and vigorous police, than to grind them to powder by all manner of disabilities and incapacities. Better (faid he,) to hang or drown people at once, than by an unrelenting perfecution to beggar and ftarve them.' The moderation and humanity of the present times have, in fome measure, justified, the wisdom of his obfervations.

"Dr. Johnson was often accused of prejudices, nay, antipathy, with regard to the natives of Scotland. Surely, fo illiberal a prejudice never entered his mind: and it is well known, many natives of that refpectable country poffeffed a large fhare in his efteem; nor were any of them ever excluded from his good offices, as far as opportunity permitted. True it is, he confidered the Scotch, nationally, as a crafty, defigning people, eagerly attentive to their own interest, and too apt to overlook the claims and pretenfions of other people. While they confine their benevolence, in a manner, exclusively to those of their own country, they expect to fhare in the good offices of other people. Now (faid Johnson,) this principle is either right or wrong; if right, we fhould do well to imitate fuch conduct; if wrong, we cannot too much deteft it."

"Being folicited to compofe a funeral fermon for the daughter of a tradesman, he naturally enquired into the character of the deceased; and being told fhe was remarkable for her humility and condefcenfion to inferiours, he obferved, that those were very laudable qualities, but it might not be so easy to discover who the lady's inferiours were.

"Of a certain player he remarked, that his converfation ufually threatened and announced more than it performed; that he fed you with a continual renovation of hope, to end in a constant fucceffion of disappointment.

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"When exasperated by contradiction, he was apt to treat his opponents with too much acrimony; as, Sir, you don't fee your way through that queftion: Sir, you talk the language of ignorance. On my obferving to him that a certain gentleman had remained filent the whole evening, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned fociety, Sir, (faid he,) the conversation overflowed and drowned him.'

"His philofophy, though auftere and folemn, was by no means morose and cynical, and never blunted the laudable fenfibilities of his character, or exempted him from the influence of the tender paffions. Want of tenderness, he always alledged, was want of parts, and was no lefs a proof of stupidity than depravity.

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"Speaking of Mr. Hanway, who published A Six Weeks Tour through the South of England,' Jonas, (faid he,) acquired fome reputation by travelling abroad, but loft it all by travelling at home.'

"Of the paffion of love he remarked, that its violence and ill effects were much exaggerated; for who has known any real fufferings on that head, more than from the exorbitancy of any other paffion?

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'Law (faid he,) fell

"He much commended Law's Serious Call,' finest piece of hortatory theology in any language. latterly into the reveries of Jacob Behmen, whom Law alledged to have been fomewhat in the fame state with St. Paul, and to have seen unutterable things. Were it even fo, (faid Johnfon,) Jacob would have refembled St. Paul still more, by not attempting to utter them.?

"He obferved, that the established clergy in general did not preach plain enough; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew over the heads of the common people, without any impreffion upon their hearts. Something might be neceffary, he obferved, to excite the affections of the common people, who were funk in languor and lethargy, and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodifm might probably produce fo desirable an effect. The mind, like the body, he obferved, delighted in change. and novelty, and even in religion itself, courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of fome methodist teachers, he said, he could scarcely doubt the fincerity of that man, who travelled nine hundred miles in a month, and preached twelve times a week; for no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be given for fuch indefatigable labour.

"Of Dr. Priestly's theological works, he remarked, that they tended to unfettle every thing, and yet fettled nothing..

"He was much affected by the death of his mother, and wrote to me to come and affist him to compofe his mind, which indeed I found extremely agitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was banished from the fociety of men, and yet great advantages might be derived from it. All acknowledged, he faid, what hardly any body practifed, the obligation we were under of making the concerns of eternity the governing principles of our lives. Every man, he obferved, at last wishes for retreat: he fees his expectations fruftrated in the world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for everlasting feparation.

"He obferved, that the influence of London now extended every where, and that from all manner of communication being opened, there fhortly would be no remains of the ancient fimplicity, or places of cheap retreat to be found.

"He

1770.

Ætat. 61.

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