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"They are beings of his own creation; they | passed, and particularly with his prayer for are a compound of malignity and meanness, the mercy of Heaven. He said, in a solwithout any abilities; and are quite differ- emn fervid tone, "I hope he shall find ent from the Italian magician. King mercy 4." James says in his Dæmonology,' 'Magicians command the devils: witches are their servants.' The Italian magicians are elegant beings." RAMSAY. "Opera witches, not Drury-lane witches." Johnson observed, that abilities might be employed in a narrow sphere, as in getting money, which he said he believed no man could do without vigorous parts, though concentrated to a point. RAMSAY. "Yes, like a strong horse in a mill; he pulls better."
Lord Graham, while he praised the beauty of Lochlomond, on the banks of which is his family seat, complained of the climate, and said he could not bear it. JOHNSON. "Nay, my lord, don't talk so: you may bear it well enough. Your ancestors have borne it more years than I can tell." This was a handsome compliment to the antiquity of the house of Montrose. His lordship told me afterwards that he had only affected to complain of the climate, lest, if he had spoken as favourably of his country as he really thought, Dr. Johnson might have attacked it. Johnson was very courteous to Lady Margaret Macdonald. "Madam," said he, "when I was in the Isle of Sky 1, I heard of the people running to take the stones off the road, lest Lady Margaret's horse should stumble."
Lord Graham commended Dr. Drummond at Naples as a man of extraordinary talents; and added, that he had a great love of liberty. JOHNSON. "He is young 2, my lord (looking to his lordship with an arch smile), all boys love liberty, till experience convinces them they are not so fit to govern themselves as they imagined. We are all agreed as to our own liberty; we would have as much of it as we can get; but we are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern When that was the case some time ago, no man was at liberty not to have candles in his windows." RAMSAY. "The result is, that order is better than confusion." JOHNSON. "The result is, that order cannot be had but by subordination."
On Friday, 16th April, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the favourite of a nobleman 3. Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day with some other friends, was much interested by an account of what
[See ante, vol. i. p. 412.-ED.] 2 [His lordship was twenty-four.-ED.] 3 [John, sixth Earl of Sandwich.-ED.]
This day a violent altercation arose between Johnson and Beauclerk, which having made much noise at the time, I think it proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a minute account of it.
In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as Judge Blackstone had done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, "No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once. Lord -'s cook shot him
self with one pistol, and lived ten days in great agony. Mr. -5, who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself; and then he ate three buttered mullins for breakfast, before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion; he had two charged pistols; one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the other."—" Well," said Johnson, with an air of triumph, “you see here one pistol was sufficient." Beauclerk replied smartly, "Because it happened to kill him." And either then or a very little afterwards, being piqued at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, "This is what you don't know, and I do." There was then a cessation of the dispute; and some minutes intervened, during which, dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed, "Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to talk so petulantly to me, as This is what you don't know, but what I know?' Ŏne thing I know, which you don't seem to know, that you are very uncivil." BEAUCLERK. "Because you began by being uncivil (which you always are)." The words in parentheses were, I believe, not heard by Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me,
4 [See ante, vol. i. pp. 32, 33.-ED.]
["The Honourable [John Damer], son to the Lord [Milton, afterwards Earl of Dorchester], Bedford Arms, in Covent Garden. He was heir shot himself at three o'clock this morning, at the centric to be confined within the limits of any to 30,000l. a year, but of a turn rather too ecfortune. Coroner's verdict, Lunacy."-Gent. Mag. 15th Aug. 1776.-Though the editor was assured, from what he thought good authority, that Mr. Damer was here alluded to, he has since reason to suppose that another and more respectable name was meant, which, however, without more certainty, he does not venture to mention -ED.]
about the world with my wits ready to ob-
that the reason why he waited at first some
After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars of his conversation:
When Mr. Thrale, in consequence of this declaration, teased him in the year 1769 to give a new edition of it, because, said he, there are four or five gross faults: "Alas, sir!" replied Johnson, "there are four or five hundred faults, instead of four or five; but you do not consider that it would take me up three whole months' labour, and when the time was expired the work would not be done." When the booksellers set him about it, however, some years after, he went cheerfully to the business, said he was well paid, and that they deserved to have it done carefully.]
"Mallet, I believe, never wrote a single line of his projected life of the Duke of He groped for materials, Marlborough. and thought of it, till he had exhausted his mind. Thus it sometimes happens that men entangle themselves in their own schemes."
"To be contradicted in order to force you to talk is mighty unpleasing. You shine, indeed; but it is by being ground."
Of a gentleman who made some figure among the literati of his time (Mr. Fitzherbert 1), he said, "What eminence he had was by a felicity of manner he had no more learning than what he could not help."
On Saturday, April 24, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, with Sir Joshua Rey
["I would never," said he, on Apoph. another occasion, "desire a young man to neglect his business for the purpose of pursuing his studies, because it is unreasonable; I would only desire him to read at those hours when he would other-nolds, Mr. Jones (afterwards Sir William), wise be unemployed. I will not promise Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise that he will be a Bentley; but if he be a and Dr. Higgins. I mentioned that Mr. lad of any parts, he will certainly make a Wilkes had attacked Gawick to me, as a Iman who had no friend. JOHNSON. "I sensible man."] believe he is right, sir. O, Dino, ou piños-He had friends, but no friend 2. Garrick was so diffused, he had no man to whom he wished to unbosom himself. He found people always ready to applaud him, and that al
[Dr. Johnson had never, by his
"I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal, when you have brought him to have enterHe'll get better tainment from a book.
[See ante, p. 109.-ED.] 2 See vol. i. p. 83. and p. 168 of this vol. BOSWELL.
ways for the same thing: so he saw life
pleasure is in general dangerous, and per nicious to virtue; to be able therefore to furnish pleasure that is harmless, pleasure pure and unalloyed, is as great a power as man can possess." This was, perhaps, as ingenious a defence as could be made; still, however, I was not satisfied 1.
[To Sir J. Hawkins he said, Hawk. Garrick, I hear, complains that I Apoph. am the only popular author of his P. 215. time who has exhibited no praise of him in print; but he is mistaken, Akenside has forborne to mention him. Some indeed are lavish in their applause of all who come within the compass of their recollection; yet he who praises every body praises nobody; when both scales are equally loaded, neither can preponderate."]
A celebrated wit2 being mentioned, he said, "One may say of him as was said of a French wit, Il n'a de l'esprit que contre Dieu. I have been several times in company with him, but never perceived any strong power of wit. He produces a general effect by various means; he has a cheerful countenance and a gay voice. Besides, his trade is wit. It would be as wild in him to come into company without merriment, as for a highwayman to take the road without his pistols."
Talking of the effects of drinking, he said, "Drinking may be practised with great prudence; a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated has not the art of getting drunk; a sober man who happens occasionally to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing; he is without skill in inebriation. I used to slink home when I had drunk too much. A man accustomed to self-examination will be conscious when he is drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be conscious of it. I knew a physician, who for twenty years was not sober; yet in a pamphlet, which he wrote upon fevers, he appealed to Garrick and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness. A bookseller3
1 [Most readers will agree with Mr. Boswell that this eulogium is not very happily expressed; yet it appears to have been satisfactory to Garrick's immediate friends, for it is inscribed on the cenotaph erected by Mrs. Garrick to his memory in Lichfield Cathedral. Harwood's History of Lichfield, p. 86.—ED.]
George Selwyn is here meant ; but he cannot [It has been suggested to the editor that Mr. trace any acquaintance between Selwyn and John
3 [This was Andrew Miller, of whom, when talking one day of the patronage the great sometimes affect to give to literature and literary men, Johnson said, "Andrew Miller is the Macenas of the age."-Hawk. Apoph. p. 200.-ED.]
(naming him) who got a large fortune by trade was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more sober at one time than another."
Soon after this time a little incident occurred, which I will not suppress, because I am desirous that my work should be, as much as is consistent with the strictest truth, an antidote to the false and injurious notions of his character, which have been given by others, and therefore I infuse every drop of genuine sweetness into my biographical cup.
"TO DR. JOHNSON.
"South-Audley-street 4, Monday, 26th April. "MY DEAR SIR,-I am in great pain with an inflamed foot, and obliged to keep my bed, so am prevented from having the
Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physick, he said, "Taylor was the most ignorant man I ever knew, but sprightly; Ward, the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him," laughing. "I quoted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of my own speech. He said a few words well enough." BEAUCLERK. "I remember, sir, you said, that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry ig-pleasure to dine at Mr. Ramsay's to-day, norance.' Mr. Beauclerk was very enter- which is very hard; and my spirits are sadtaining this day, and told us a number of ly sunk. Will you be so friendly as to come short stories in a lively elegant manner, and and sit an hour with me in the evening? I with that air of the world which has I know am ever your most faithful and affectionate not what impressive effect, as if there was humble servant, "JAMES BOSWELL." something more than is expressed, or than perhaps we could perfectly understand. As Johnson and I accompanied Sir Joshua Reynolds in his coach, Johnson said, "There is in Beauclerk a predominance over his company, that one does not like. But he is a man who has lived so much in the world, that he has a short story on every occasion: he is always ready to talk, and is never exhausted."
"TO MR. BOSWELL
"Harley-street "MR. 5 JOHNSON laments the absence of Mr. Boswell, and will come to him."
2 [Probably Mr. Burke.-ED.]
[Wisely and mercifully; wisely to ensure the preservation and education of children, and mercifully to render less afflictive the loss of parents, which, in the course of nature, children must suffer.-ED.]
He came to me in the evening, and brought Sir Joshua Reynolds. I need scarcely say, that their conversation, while they sat by my bedside, was the most pleasing opiate to pain that could have been ad ministered.
Johnson being now better disposed to obtain information concerning Pope than he was last year 6, sent by me to my Lord Marchmont a present of those volumes of his "Lives of the Poets" which were at this time published, with a request to have permission to wait on him; and his lordship, who had called on him twice, obligingly appointed Saturday, the first of May, for receiving us.
Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, Sir Joshua's sister. I mentioned that an eminent friend 2 of ours, talking of the common remark, that affection descends, said, that "this was wisely 3 contrived for the preservation of mankind; for which it was not so necessary that there should be affection from children to parents, as from parents to children; nay, there would be no harm in that view though children should at a certain age eat their parents." JOHNSON. "But, sir, if this were known generally to be the case, parents would not have affection for children." BOSWELL. "True, sir; for it is in expectation of a return that parents are so attentive to their children; and I know a very pretty instance of a little girl of whom her father was very fond, who once, when he was in a melancholy fit, and had gone to bed, persuaded him to rise in good humouring you the high respect I have for you, by saying, 'My dear papa, please to get up, sir." Johnson was exceedingly courteous; and let me help you on with your clothes, and the interview, which lasted about two that I may learn to do it when you are an hours, during which the earl communicated old man.' his anecdotes of Pope, was as agreeable as I could have wished. [His first Hawk. 1 The Chevalier Taylor, the celebrated oculist. question, as he told Sir J. Haw-MALONE. "What kind of a man kins, was, was Mr. Pope in his conversation?" His
On that morning Johnson came to me from Streatham, and after drinking chocolate at General Paoli's in South-Audleystreet, we proceeded to Lord Marchmont's in Curzon-street. His lordship met us at the door of his library, and with great politeness said to Johnson, "I am not going to make an encomium upon myself, by tell
Apoph. p. 200.
4 [The residence of General Paoli.-ED.]
[See, as to his calling himself Mr. Johnson, ante, vol. i. pp. 218, (n.) and 513.-Ed.]
• See p. 191 of this volume.-BoswELL
ordship answered, "That if the conversation did not take something of a lively or epigrammatick turn, he fell asleep, or, perhaps, pretended to be so."] When we came out, I said to Johnson, "that, considering his lordship's civility, I should have been vexed if he had again failed to come." "Sir," said he, "I would rather have given twenty pounds than not to have come." I accompanied him to Streatham, where we dined, and returned to town in the even ing.
On Monday, May 3, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's. I pressed him this day for his opinion on the passage in Parnell, concerning which I had in vain questioned him in several letters, and at length obtained it in due form of law.
"3d of May, 1779.
"CASE FOR DR. JOHNSON'S OPINION;
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
Is there not a contradiction in its being first supposed that the Hermit knew both what books and swains reported of the world; yet afterwards said, that he knew it by swains alone?"
"I think it an inaccuracy. He mentions two instructers in the first line, and says he had only one in the next1."
This evening I set out for Scotland.
["TO MRS. ASTON. 4th May, 1779. "DEAR MADAM,-When I sent Pemb you the little books, I was not sure MSS. that you were well enough to take the trouble of reading them, but have lately heard from Mr. Greeves that you are much recovered. I hope you will gain more and more strength, and live many and many years, and I shall come again to Stowhill, and live as I used to do, with you and dear Mrs. Gastrel.
"I am not well: my nights are very troublesome, and my breath is short; but I know not that it grows much worse. I wish to see you. Mrs. Harvey has just sent to me to dine with her, and I have promised to wait on her to-morrow.
"Mr. Green comes home loaded with curiosities 2, and will be able to give his friends new entertainment. When I come, it will be great entertainment to me if I can find you and Mrs. Gastrel well, and willing to receive me. I am, dearest madani, your most humble servant,
"I do not," says Mr. Malone, "see any difficulty in this passage, and wonder that Dr. Johnson should have acknowledged it to be inaccurate. The Hermit, it should be observed, had no actual experience of the world whatsoever all his knowledge concerning it had been obtained in two ways; from books, and from the relations of those country swains who had seen a little of it. The plain meaning, therefore, is, To clear his doubts concerning Providence, and to obtain some knowledge of the world by actual experience; to see whether the accounts furnished by books, or by the oral communications of swains, were just representations of it;' [I say swains,] for his oral or vivá voce information had been obtained from that part of mankind alone, &c. The word alone here does not relate to the whole of the preceding line, as has been supposed, but, by a common license, to the words, of all mankind, which are understood, and of which it is restrictive." Mr. Malone, it must be owned, has shown much critical ingenuity in his explanation of this passage. His interpretation, however, seems to me much too recondite. The meaning of the passage may be certain enough; but surely the expression is confused, and one part of it contradictory to the other.-BOSWELL. But why too recondite? When a meaning is given to a pas sage by understanding words in an uncommon sense, the interpretation may be said to be recon
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHField. "4th May, 1779, "DEAR MADAM,-Mr. Green has informed me that you are much Pearson. better; I hope I need not tell you that I am glad of it. I cannot boast of being much better; my old nocturnal complaint still pursues me, and my respiration is difficult, though much easier than when I left you the summer before last. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale are well; miss has been a little indisposed; but she is got well again. They have, since the loss of their boy, had two daughters; but they seem likely to want a son.
dite, and, however ingenious, may be suspected not to be sound; but when words are explained in their ordinary acceptation, and the explication which is fairly deduced from them, without any force or constraint, is also perfectly justified by the context, it surely may be safely accepted; and the calling such an explication recondite, when nothing else can be aid against it, will not make it the less just.-MALONE. [It is odd enough that these critics did not think it worth their while to consult the original for the exact words on which they were exercising their ingenuity. Parnell's words are not "if books AND stains," but "if books OR swains," which might mean, not that books and swains agreed, but that they differed, and that the Hermit's doubt was excited by the difference between his authorities. This, however, would make no great alteration in the question, on which Dr. Johnson's decision seems just.—ED.]
2 [Mr. Green, it will be recollected, had a museum at Lichfield.-ED.]