« 이전계속 »
talked a good deal of him; Ramsay said, he had always found him a very polite man, and that he treated him with great respect, which he did very sincerely. I said I worshipped him. Robertson. But some of you spoil him ; you should worship no man. Boswell, I cannot, help worshipping him, he is so much superior to other men. Robert
to criticism, and in wit and conversation, he is no doubt rery excellent; but in other respects lie is not above other men; he will believe dily thing, and will strenuously defend the most minute circunstance connected with the Church of England. Boswell. Believe me, Doctor, you are much mistaken as to this ; for when you talk with him calmly na private, he is very liberal in his way of thinking. Robertson). He and I have been always very gracious; the first time I met with hin was one evening at Strabau's, when he hud just had an unlucky altercation with Adam Sinith, to whom he had been so rough, that Strahan, after Smith was gone, had remonstrated with him, and told him that I was cunning soon, and that he was uneasy to think that he night behave in the same manner to me,
No, no, Sir, (said Johnson) I warrant you Robertson and I shall do very well. Accordingly he was gentle and good-humoured and courteous with me, the whole evening ; and he has been so upon every occasion that we have met since. I have often said, (laughing) that I have been in a great measure indebted to Smith for my good reception. Boswell, His power of reasoning is very strong, and he has a peculiar art of drawing characters, which is as rare as good portrait painting. Sir Joshua Reynolds. He is undoubted!y admirable in this; but, in order lo mark the characters which he draws, he over-charges them, and gives people more than they really have, whether of good or bad.
No sooner did he, of whom we had been thus talking so easily, arrive, ihan we were all as quiet as a school upon the entrance of the head. master; and were very soon sat down to a table covered with such variety of good things as contributed not a little to dispose him to be pleased.
Ramsay. I am old enough to have been a contemporary of Pope. Flis' poetry was highly admiresi in his life-time, more a great deal than after his death. Juhosoi). Sir, it has not been less admired since his death; no authors ever had so much fame in their own life-time as Pope and Voltaire; and Pope's poetry has been as much admired since his death as during his life; it has only not been as much talked of, but that is owing to its being now more distani, and people having other writings to talk of. Virgil is less talked of than Pope, and Homer is less talked of than Virgil; but they are not less adınired. We must read what the world reads at the moment. It has been maintained that this 'superfetation, this teeming of the press in modern times, is prejudicial 10 good literature, because it obliges us to read so much of what is of inferior value, in order to be in the fashion ; so that better works are neglected for wallt of time, because a man will have more gratification of his vanity in couversation, from liaving read modern buoks than from having read the best works of antiquity. But it must be considered, that we have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read now, which is a great extension, Modern writers are the moons of literature; they shine with reflected light, with light borrowed from the ancients. Greece appears to me to be the fountain of knowledge; Rome of elea gance. Ramsay. I suppose Homer's Iliad to be a collection of pieces which had been written before his time. I should like to seen translation of it in poetical prose, like the book of Ruth or Job. Robertson. Would you, Dr. Johnson, you are master of the English language, but try your hand upon a part of it. Johnson. Sir, you could not read it without the pleasure of verse.
We talked of antiquarian researches. Johnson. All that is really known of the ancient state of Britain is contaiued in a few pages. We can know no more than what the old writers have told us; yet what large books have we upon it, the whole of which, excepting such parts as are taken from those old writers, is all a dream, such as Whitaker's Manchester. I have heard Henry's History of Britain well spoken of; I am told it is carried on in separate divisions, as the civil, the military, the religious history; I wish much to have one branch well done, and that is the history of manners, of common life. Robertson. Henry should have applied his attention to that alone, which is enough for any man; and he might have found a great deal scattered in various books, had he read solely with that view. Henry erred in not selling his first volume at a moderate price to the booksellers, that they might have pushed him on till he had gol reputation. I sold my History of Scotland at a moderate price, as a work by which the booksellers might either gain or not; and Cadell has told me, that Miller and he have got six thousand pounds by it. 1 afterwards received a much higher price for my writings. An author should sell bis first work for what the booksellers will give, tillit shall appear whether he is an author of merit, or, which is the same thing as to purchase-money, an author who pleases the public.
Dr. Robertson expatiated on the character of a certain nobleman ; that he was one of the strongest minded men that ever lived; that he would sit in company quite sluggish, while there was nothing to call forth his intellectual vigour; but the moment that any importaut subject was started, for iostance, how this country is to be defended against a French invasion, he would rouse himself, and shew his extraordinary talento with the most powerful ability and animation. Johuson. Yet this man cut his own throat. The true strong and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small. Now I am told the King of Prussia will say to a servant, • Bring me a bottle of such a wine, which came in such a year; it lies in such corner of the cellars.' I would have a man great in great things, and elegant in little things. He said to me afterwards, when we were by ourselves, Robertson was iv a mighty romantic humour, he talked of one whom he did not know; but I
downed him with the King of Prussia.-Yes, Sir, (said 1,) you threw a bottle at his head,
An ingenious gentleman was mentioned, concerning whom both Roo bertsov and Ramsay agreed that he had a constant firmness of mind; for after a laborious day, and amidst a multiplicity of cares and anxieties, he would sit down with his sisters and be quite cheerful and gnoda humoured. Such a disposition, it was observed, was a happy gift of nature. Johnson. I do not think so; a man has from nature a certain portion of mind; the use he makes of it depends upon his own free will. That a man as always the same firmness of mind, I do not say, because every man feels his mind less firm at one time than another ; but I think, a man's being in a bad or good humour depends upon his own will.-1, however, could not help thinking that a man's humour is often uncontroulable by his will.
Johnson harangued against drinking wine. A man, (said he,) may choose whether he will have abstemiousness and knowledge, or claret and iguorance. Dr. Robertson, (who is very companionable,) was beginning to dissent as to the proscription of claret. Johnson : (with a placid smile.) Nay, Sir, you shall not differ with nie: as I have said that the man is most perfect who takes in the most things, I am for koowledge and claret. Robertson : (holding a glass of generous claret in his hand.) Sir, I can only driok your health. Johnson, Sir, I should be
you should be ever in such a state as to be able to do nothing more. Robertson. Dr. Johnson, allow me to say that in one respect I have the advantage of you; when you were in Scotland you would not come to hear any of our preachers, whereas, when I am here, I attend your public worship without scruple, and indeed, with great satisfaction. Johnson. Why, Sir, that is not so extraordinary : the King of Siam sent ambassadors to Louis the Fourteenth; but Louis the Fourteenth sent none to the King of Siam.
Here my friend for once discovered a want of knowledge or forgetfulness ; for Louis the Fourteenth did send an embassy to the King of Siam, and the Abbé Choisi, who was employed in it, published an account of it in two volumes.
Next day, Thursday, April 30, I found him at home by himself. John900. Well, Sir, Ramsay gave us a splendid dinner. I love Ram-ay. You will not find a man in wliose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's. Boswell. What I admire in Ramsay, is his continuing to be so young. Johnson. Why, yes, Sir, it is to be admired. I value myself upon this, that there is nothing of the old man in my conversation. I am now sixty-eight, und I have no more of it than at twenty-eight. Boswell. But, Sir, would not you wish to know old age ? He who is never an old man, does not know the whole of human life : for old age is one of the divisions of it. Joho800. Nay, Sir, what talk is this? Boswell. I mean, Sir, the Sphinx's deseription of it ;
-morning, noon, and night. I would know night, as well
as morning and soon. Johnson. What, Sir, would you know what it is to feel the evils of old age? Would you have the yout? Would you have decrepitude ? --Seeing him beated, I would not argue any farther; but I was confident that I was in the right. I would, in die time, be a Nestor, an elder of the people; and there should be some difference between the conversation of twenty-eight and sixty-tight. A grave picture should not be gay. There is a serene, solemn, placid old age. Johnson. Mrs. Thrale's mother said of me what fluttered me much. A clergyman was complaining of want of society in tlie country where he lived; and said, “ They talk of runts;" (that is, young cows.) “Şir, (said Mrs. Salusbury,) Mr. Johnson would learn to talk of runts ;" ineaning that I was a man who would make the most of my situation, whatever it was. He added, I think myself a very polite man.
On Saturday, May 2, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where there was a very large company, and a great deal of conversation ; but owing to some circumstance which I cannot now recollect, I have no record of any part of it, except that there were several people there by no means of the Johnsonian school; so that less attention was paid to hima than usual, which put him out of humour; and upon soine imaginary offence from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and ungry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so much hurt, and had my pride so much rousell, that I kept away from him for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much louger, nay, gone to Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been reconciled. To such unhappy chances are humau friendships liable.
On Friday, May 8, I dined with lim at Mr. Langtou's. I was reserved and silent, which I suppose he percrived, and might recollect the
After dinner, when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by ourselves, he drew his chair near lo mive, and said, in a tone of conciliating courtesy, Well, how have you done? Boswell. Sir, you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. You know, my dear Sir, no man has a greater respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the world to serve you. Now to treat me so-.He insisted that I had interrupted him, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded - But why treat me so before people who weither love you nor me? Johnson. Well, I am sorry for it. I'll make it up to you twenty different winy's, as you please. Boswell. I said to-day to Sir Joshua, when he observed that you tossed me someliines—I don't care loow often, or how biglı he tosses me, when only friends are present, for then I fall upon soft ground: but I do not like falling on stones, which is the case when enemies are present. I think this a pretty good image, Sir. Johnson. Sir, it is one of the buipo piest I have ever heard.
The truth is, there was no venom in the wounds which he inflicted at any time, unless they were irritated by some malignant infusion by other hands. We were instantly as cordial again as ever, and joined in hearty laugh at some Indicrous but innocent peculiarities of one of our friends. Boswell. Do you think, Sir, it is always culpable to laugh at a man to his face ? Johnson. Why, Sir; that depends upon the man and the thing. If it is a slight man, and a slight thing, you may; for you take nothing valuable from him.
He said, I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermon on Devotion, from the test “ Cornelius, a devout man." His doctrine is the best limited, the best expressed: there is the most warmth without fanaticism, the most rational traosport. There is one part of it which I disapprove, and I'd have him correct it; which is, that "he who does not feel joy in religion is far from the kingdom of Heaven !" there are many good men whose fear of God predominates over their love. It may discourage. It was rashly said. A doble sermon it is indeed. I wish Blair would come over to the Church of Eugland.
When Mr. Langton returned to us, the flow of talk went on. An eminent author being mentioned ;-Johnson. He is not a pleasant man. His conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant. He does not talk as if impelled by any fullness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His conversation is like that of any other sensible man. He talks with no wish either to foform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not becoine-- to sit in a company and say nothing.
Mr. Langton having repeated the anecdote of Addison having distina guished between his powers in conversation and in writing, by saying ! have only nivepence in my pocket; but I can draw for a thousand pounds; Johnson. He had not that retort ready, Sir; he had prepared it before: band. Langtoo : (turning to me.) A fine surmise. Set a thief to catch à thief.
Johnson called the East-Indiang barbarians. Boswell. You will ex. čept the Chinese, Sir? Johnson. No, Sir. Boswell, Have they not erts ? Johnson. They have pottery. Boswell. What do you say to the written character of their language? Juhuson. Sir, they have not an alphabet. They have not been able to form what all other nations have formed Boswell. There is more learning in their language than in any other, from the immense number of their characters. Johnson. It is only mort difficult from its rudeness ; as there is more labour in hewing down a tree with a stone than with an axe.
He said, I have been reading Lord Kames's “ Sketches of the History of Moo." la treatiog of severity of punishment, he mentions that of Madame L-poucbin, in Russia, but he does not give it fairly; for I huye looked at Chappe D'Anteroche, from whom he has taken it. He store where it is said that the spectators thought her innocent, and leaves out what follows; that she the nevertheless was guilty. Now this is being is culpable as one can conceive, to misrepresent fact in a buok, and forget No.o.