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ARCHITECTURE AND STATUARY.
statuary is a noble art of imitation, and preserves a wonderful expression of the varieties of the human frame;
and although it must be allowed that the circumstances of difficulty enhance the value of a marble head, we should consider, that if it requires a long time in the performance, it has a proportionate value in durability.
Gwyn was a fine lively rattling fellow. Dr. Johnson kept him in subjection, but with a kindly authority. The spirit of the artist, however, rose against what he thought a Gothic attack, and he made a brisk defence. What, Sir, you will allow no value to beauty in architecture or in statuary ? Why should we allow it then in writing? Why do you take the trouble to give us so many fine allusions, and bright images, and elegant phrases ? You might convey all your instruction without these ornaments. Johnson smiled with complacency; but said, “Why, Sir, all these ornaments are useful, because they obtain an easier reception for truth; but a building is not at all more convenient for being decorated with superfluous carved work."
Gwyn at last was lucky enough to make one reply to Dr. Johnson, which he allowed to be excellent. Johnson censured him for taking down a church which might have stood many years, and building a new one at a different place, for no other reason but that there might be a direct road to a new bridge; and his expression was, “ You are taking a church out of the way, that the people may go in a straight line to the bridge.” “No, Sir,” said Gwyn, , “I am putting the church in the way, that the
« A man
people may not go out of the way." JOHNSON (with a hearty loud laugh of approbation). “Speak no more. Rest your colloquial fame upon this.”
Upon our arrival at Oxford, Dr. Johnson and I went directly to University college, but were disappointed on finding that one of the fellows, his friend Mr. Scott, who accompanied him from Newcastle to Edinburgh, was gone to the country. We put up at the Angel inn, and passed the evening by ourselves in easy and familiar conversation. Talking of constitutional melancholy, he observed,
so afflicted, Sir, must divert distressing thoughts, and not combat with them.” Boswell.
May not he think them down, Sir?” Johnson. “ No, Sir. To attempt to think them down is mad
He should have a lamp constantly burning in his bed-chamber during the night, and if wakefully disturbed, take a book, and read, and compose himself to rest. To have the management of the mind is a great art, and it may be attained in a considerable degree by experience and habitual exercise.” BosWELL. “ Should not he provide amusements for himself ? Would it noé, for instance, be right for him to take a course of chemistry ?” John. son. “Let him take a course of chemistry, or a course of rope-dancing, or a course of any thing to which he is inclined at the time. Let him contrive to have as many retreats for his mind as he can, as many things to which it can fly from itself. Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy,' is a valuable work. It is, perhaps, overloaded with quotation. But there is a great spirit and great power in
what Burton says, when he writes from his own mind.”
Next morning we visited Dr. Wetherell, master of University College, with whom Dr. Johnson conferred on the most advantageous mode of disposing of the books printed at the Clarendon press, on which subject his letter has been inserted in a former page. I often had occasion to remark, Johnson loved business, loved to have his wisdom actually operate on real life. Dr. Wetherell and I talked of him without reserve in his own presence. WeTheRELL. “I would have given him a hundred guineas if he would have written a preface to his · Political Tracts,' by way of a discourse on the British constitution.” BOSWELL. “ Dr. Johnson, though in his writings, and upon all occasions, a great friend to the constitution, both in church and state, has never written expressly in support of either. There is really a claim upon him for both. I am sure he could give a volume of no great bulk upon each, which would comprise all the substance, and with his spirit would effectually maintain them. He should erect a fort on the confines of each." I could perceive that he was displeased with this dialogue. He burst out, “Why should I be always writing ?" I hoped he was conscious that the debt was just, and meant to discharge it, though he disliked being dunned.
We then went to Pembroke College, and waited on his old friend Dr. Adams, the master of it, whom I found to be a most polite, pleasing, communicative man. Before his advancement to the headship
of his college, I had intended to go and visit him at Shrewsbury, where he was rector of St. Chad's, in order to get from him what particulars he could recollect of Johnson's academical life. obligingly gave me part of that authentic information, which, with what I afterwards owed to his kindness, will be found incorporated in its proper place in this work.
Dr. Adams had distinguished himself by an able Answer (1) to David Hume's “ Essay on Miracles." He told me he had once dined in company with Hume in London : that Hume shook hands with him, and said, 6 You have treated me much better than I deserve;" and that they exchanged visits. I took the liberty to object to treating an infidel writer with smooth civility. Where there is a controversy concerning a passage in a classic author, or concerning a question in antiquities, or any other subject in which human happiness is not deeply interested, a man may treat his antagonist with politeness and even respect. But where the controversy is concerning the truth of religion, it is of such vast importance to him who maintains it, to obtain the victory, that the person of an opponent ought not to be spared. If a man firmly believes that religion is an invaluable treasure, he will consider a writer who endeavours to deprive mankind of it as a robber ; he will look upon him as odious, though the infidel might think himself in the right.
(1) [This tract appeared in 1752, and was republished in 1754.]
A robber who reasons as the gang do in the “ Beggar's Opera," who call themselves practical philosophers, and may have as much sincerity as pernicious speculative philosophers, is not the less an object of just indignation. An abandoned profligate may think that it is not wrong to debauch my wife, but shall I, therefore, not detest him ? And if I catch him in making an attempt, shall I treat him with politeness ? No, I will kick him down stairs, or run him through the body; that is, if I really love my wife, or have a true rational notion of honour. An infidel then should not be treated handsomely by a Christian, merely because he endeavours to rob with ingenuity. I do declare, however, that I am exceedingly unwilling to be provoked to anger, and could I be persuaded that truth would not suffer from a cool moderation in its defenders, I should wish to preserve good humour, at least, in every controversy ; nor, indeed, do I see why a man should lose his temper while he does all he can to refute an opponent. I think ridicule may be fairly used against an infidel ; for instance, if he be an ugly fellow, and yet absurdly vain of his person, we may contrast his appearance with Cicero's beautiful image of Virtue, could she be seen. Johnson coincided with me and said, “when a man voluntarily engages in an important controversy, he is to do all he can to lessen his antagonist, because authority from personal respect has much weight with most people, and often more than reasoning. If my antagonist writes bad language, though that may not be essential to the question, I will attack him for his