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described him thus:-"Sir, his ambition is to be a fine talker; so he goes to Buxton, and such places, where be may find companies to listen to him. And, Sir, he is a valetudinarian, one of those who are always mending themselves. I do not know a more disagreeable character than a valetudinarian, who thinks he may do any thing that is for his ease, and indulges bimself in the grossest freedoms : Sir, he brings himself to the state of a hoy in a stye.”
Dr. Taylor's nose happening to bleed, be said it was because he had omitted to have himself blooded four days after a quarter of a year's interval. Dr. Johnson, who was a great dabbler in physic, disa pproved much of periodical bleeding. “For said be) you accustom yourself to an evacuation which Nature cannot perforın of herself, and therefore she cannot help you, should you from forgetfulness or any other cause omit it: so you may be suddenly suffocated. You may accustom yourself to other periodical evacuations, because, should you omit them, Nature can supply the omission; but Nature cannot open a vein to blood you.”—“1 do not like to take an emetic, (said Taylor) for fear of breaking soine small vessels.”_ Poh! (said Johnson) if you have so many things that will break, you had better break your neck at once, and there's an end ou't. You will break no small vessels :" (blowing with high derision.)
I mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that David Hump's persisting in his infidelity, when he was dying, shocked me much. Johnson, Why should it shock you, Sir? Hume owned he had never read the New Testament with attention. Here then was a man who had been at no paios to enquire into the truih of religion, and bad continually turned bis mind the
It was not to be expected that the prospect of death would alter his way of thinking, voless God should send an angel to set him right. I said, I had reason to believe that the thought of annihilation gave Hume
no paio. Jobuson. “ It was not so, Sir. He had a vanity in being thought easy. It is more probable that he should assume ao appearance of ease, than so very improbable a thing should be, as man not afraid of going -(as, in spite of bis delusive theory, he cannot be sure but he may go,) into an unknown state, and not being uneasy at leaving all he kuew. And you are to consider, that upon his own principle of annihilation he had no motive to speak the truth.” The horror of death, which I had always observed io Dr. Johnson, appeared strong to-night. I ventured to tell him, that I had been, for moments in my life, not afraid of death; therefore I could suppose another man in that state of mind for a considerable space of time. He said “he never had a moment in which death was not terrible to hini." He added, that it had been observed, that scarce any man dies in public, but with apparent resolution ; from that desire of praise which never quits us. I said, Dr. Dodd seemed to be willing to die, and full of hopes of happiness. “Sir, (said he,) Dr. Dodd would have given both his hands and both his legs to have lived. The better a man is, the more afraid is he of death, having a clearer view of infinite purity." He owned, that our being in
an unbappy uncertainty as to our salvation, was mysterious; and said, “Ah! we just wait till we are in another state of being, to have many things explained to us." Even the powerful mind of Johuson seemed foiled by futurity. But I thought, that the gloom of uncertainty in solemn religious speculation, being mingled with hope, was yet more consolators than the emptiness of infidelity. A man can live in thick air, but perishes in an exhausted receiver.
Dr. Johnson was much pleased with a remark which I told him was made to me by General Puoli :-" That it is impossible not to be afraid of death; and that those who at the time of dying are not afraid, are not thinking of death, but of applause, or something else, which keeps death out of their sight: so that all men are equally afraid of death when they see it; only some have a power of turning their sight away froin it better than others."
On Wednesday, September 17, Dr. Butter, physician at Derby, drank tea with us ; and it was settled that Dr. Johnson and I should go on Friday and dine with him. Johnson said, “ I'm glad of this." He seemed weary of the uniformity of life at Dr. Taylor's.
Talking of biography, I said, in writing a life, a man's peculiarities should be mentioned, because they mark his character. Johnson, Sir, there is no doubt as to peculiarities: the question is, whether a man's vices should be mentioned ; for instance, whether it should be mentioned that Addison and Parnell drank too freely: for people will probably more easily indulge in drinking from knowing this; so that more ill may be done by the example, than good by telling the whole truth." Here was an instance of his varying from himself in talk; for when Lord Hailes and he sat one morning calmly conversing in my house at Edinburgh, I well remember that Dr. Johnson maintained, that “If a man is to write A Panegyric, he may keep vices out of sight: but if he profetses to write A Life, he must represent it really as it was ;” and when I objected to the danger of telling that Parnell drank to excess, he said, that "it would produce an instructive caution to avoid drinking, when it was seen, that even the learning and genius of Parnell could be debased by it." And in the Hebrides he maintained, as appears from my “ Journal,” that a man's intimate friend should mention his faults, if he writes his life.
He had this evening, partly, I suppose, from the spirit of contradiction to his Whig friend, a violent argument with Dr. Taylor, as to the inclinations of the people of England at this time towards the Royal Family of Stuart. He grew so outrageous as to say, “that, if England were fairly polled, the present King would be sent away to-night, and bis adherents hanged to-morrow.” Taylor, who was as violent a Whig as Johnson was a Tory, was roused by this to a pitch of bellowing. He denied, loudly, what Johnson said; and maintained, that there was an abhorrence against the Stuart family, though he admitted that the people were not much attached to the present Kivg. Johnson. “Sir, the state of the country is this: the people knowing it to be agreed on all hands that this King has not the hereditary right to the crown, and there being no hope that he who has it can be restored, have grown cold and indifferent
upon the subject of loyalty, and have no warm attachment to any King. They would not, therefore, risk any thing to restore the exiled family. They would not give twenty shillings a piece to briog it about. But if a mere vote could do it, there would be twenty to one; at least, there would be a very great majority of voices for it. For, Sir, you are to consider, that all those who think a King has a right to his crown, as a man has to his estate, which is the just opinion, would be for restoring the King who certainly has the hereditary right, could he be trusted with it; in which there would be no danger now, when laws and every thing else are so much advanced : and every King will govern by the laws. And you must also consider, Sir, that there is nothing on the other side to oppose to this : for it is not alleged by any one that the present family has any inherent right : so that the Whigs could not have a contest between two rights."
Dr. Taylor admitted, that if the question as to hereditary right were to be tried by a poll of the people of England, to be sure the abstract doctrine would be given in favour of the family of Stuart : but he said, the conduct of that family, which occasioned their expulsion, was so fresh in the minds of the people, that they would not vote for a restoration. Dr. Johnson, I thiok, was contented with the admission as to the hereditary right, leaving the original point in dispute, viz, what the people upon the whole would do, taking in right and affectiou; for he said, people were afraid of a change, even though they think it right. Dr. Taylor said something of the slight foundation of the hereditary right of the house of Stuart. “Sir, (said Johnson,) the house of Stuart succeeded to the full right of both the houses of York and Lancaster, whose common source had the undisputed right. A right to a throne is like a right to any thing else. Possession is sufficient, where no better right can be shown. This was the case with the Royal Family of England, as it is now with the King of France: for as to the first begioning of the right we are in the dark."
Thursday, September 18. Last night Dr. Johnson had proposed that the crystal lustre, or chandelier, in Dr. Taylor's large room, should be lighted up some time or other. Taylor said, it should be lighted up next night. “That will do very well, (said I,) for it is Dr. Joboson's birth-day. When we were in the Isle of Sky, Johnson had desired me not to mention his birth-day. He did not seem pleased at this time that I mentioned it, and said (somewhat sternly,) “ he would not have the lustre lighted the next day.”
Some ladies, who had been present yesterday when I mentioned his birth-day, came to dinner to-day, and plagued bini uointentionally, by wishing him joy. I know not why he disliked having his birth-day mentioned, unless it were that it reminded him of his approaching nearer to death, of which he had a constant dread.
I mentioned to him a friend of mine who was formerly gloomy from low spirits, and much distressed by the fear of death, but was now unia formly placid, and contemplated his dissolution without any perturbation. “Sir, (said Johnson,) this is only a disordered imagination taking a different turn."
We talked of a collection being made of all the English Poets who had published a volume of poems.
Johoson told " that a Mr. Coxeter, whom he knew, had gone the greatest length towards this ; having collected, I think, about five hundred volumes of poets whose works were little known; but that upon his death Tom Osborne bought them, and they were dispersed, which he thought a pity, as it was curious to see any series complete ; and in every volume of poems something good may be found.”
He observed, that a gentleman of eminence in literature had got into a bad style of Poetry of late. “He puts (said he) a very common thing in a strange dress till he does not know it himself, and thinks other peow ple do not know it." Boswell. That is owing to his being so much versant in old English poetry. Johnson. What is that to the purpose, Sir? If I say a man is drunk, and you tell me it is owing to his taking much drink, the matter is not mended. No, Sir, -has taken to an odd mode. For example; he'd write thus;
“Hermit hoar, in solema cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray,"
Gray evening is common enough; but evening gray he'd think fine. Stay ;-we'll make out the stanza :
“ Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray:
What is bliss ? and which the way?"
Boswell. But why smite his bosom, Sir! Johnson, Why to shew he was in earnest, (smiling.) ---He at an after period added the following staaza:
“ Thus I spoke; and speaking sigh'd ;
Scarce represe'd the starting tear ;-
Come, my lad, and drink some beer.”
I cannot belp thinking the first stanza very good solemn poetry, as also the first three lines of the second. Its last line is an excellent burlesque surprise on gloomy sentimental enquirers. And, perhaps, the advice is as good as can be given to a low-spirited dissatisfied being "Don's trouble your head with sickly thinking: take a cup, and be merry," No.8,
Friday, September 19, after breakfast, Dr. Johnson and I set out in Dr. Taylor's chaise to go to Derby. The day was foe, and we resolved to go by Keddlestone, the seat of Lord Scarsdale, that I might see bis Lordship's fine house. I was struck with the magnificence of the building; and the extensive park, with the finest verdure, covered with deer, and cattle, and sheep, delighted me. The number of old oaks, of an immense size, filled me with a sort of respectful admiration : for one of them sixty pounds was offered. The excellent smooth gravel roads : the large piece of water formed by his Lordship from some small brooks, with a handsome barge upon it; the venerable Gothic church, now the family chapel, just by the house; in short, the grand group of objects agitated and distended my mind in a most agreeable manner. “Ooe should think (said I,) that the proprietor of all this must be happy.". “ Nay, Sir, (said Johnson,) all this excludes but one evil-poverty."
Our names were sent up, and a well drest elderly housekeeper, a most distinct articulator, shewed us the house; which I need not describe, as there is an account of it published in “ Adam's Works in Architeoture." Dr. Johnson thought better of it to-day, than when he saw it before ; for he had lately attacked it violently, saying, “It would do excellently for a town-hall. The large room with the pillars (said he) would do for the Judges to sit in at the assizes; the circular room for a jury-chamber; and the room above for prisoners.” Still he thought the large room ill lighted, and of no use but for dancing in ; and the bed-chambers but indifferent rooms; and that the immense sum which it cost was injudiciously laid out. Dr. Taylor had put him in mind of his appearing pleased with the house. “But (said he) that was when Lord Scarsdale was present. Politeness obliges as to appear pleased with a man's works when he is present.
No man will be so ill bred as to question you. You may therefore pay compliments without saying what is not true. I should say to Lord Scarsdale of his large room, • My Lord, this is the most costly room that I ever saw;' which is true.”
Dr. Manningham, physician in London, who was visiting at Lord Scarsdale's, accompanied us through many of the rooms, aud soon afterwards my Lord himself, to whom Dr. Johnson was known, appeared, and did the honours of the house. We talked of Mr. Langton. Johnson, with warm vehemence of affectionate regard, exclaimed, “ The earth does not bear a worthier'man than Bennet Langton." We saw a good many fine pictures, which I think are described in one of • Young's Tours." There is a printed catalogoe of them, which the housekeeper put into my hand; I should like to view them at leisure. I was much struck with Daniel interpreting Nebuchadvezzar's dream, by Rembrandt. -We were shown a pretty large library. In his Lordship's dressingrom lay Johnson's small Dictionary: he shewed it to me, with some tugerness, saying, “Look'ye! Quæ regio in terris nostri non plena laboris." He observed, also, Goldsmith's “ Animated Nature:" and