« ZurückWeiter »
bad language." ADAMS. "You would not jostle a chimney-sweeper." JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir, if it were necessary to jostle him down."
Dr. Adams told us, that in some of the colleges at Oxford, the fellows had excluded the students from social intercourse with them in the common room. JOHNSON. " They are in the right, Sir: there can be no real conversation, no fair exertion of mind amongst them, if the young men are by: for a man who has a character does not choose to stake it in their presence." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, may there not be very good conversation without a contest for superiority?” JOHNSON. "No animated conversation (1), Sir; for it cannot be but one or other will come off superior. I do not mean that the victor must have the better of the argument, for he may take the weak side; but his superiority of parts and knowledge will necessarily appear; and he to whom he thus shows himself superior is lessened in the eyes of the young men. You know it was said, Mallem cum Scaligero errare quam cum Clavio recte sapere.' In the same manner take Bentley's and Jason de Nores' Comments upon Horace (2), you will admire Bentley more when wrong, than Jason when right."
We walked with Dr. Adams into the master's garden, and into the common room. JOHNSON (after a reverie of meditation). Ay! here I used to play
(1) See post, March 30. 1783, his distinction between talk and conversation. — C.
(2) A learned Cypriot, who, when the Turks took Cyprus in 1570, retired into Italy, where he published several Italian and Latin works; among the latter was a "Commentary on Horace's Art of Poetry.'
at draughts with Phil. Jones and Fludyer. (1) Jones loved beer, and did not get very forward in the church. Fludyer turned out a scoundrel (2), a whig, and said he was ashamed of having been bred at Oxford. He had a living at Putney; and got under the eye of some retainers to the court at that time, and so became a violent whig; but he had been a scoundrel all along, to be sure." BOSWELL. "Was he a scoundrel, Sir, in any other way than that of being a political scoundrel? Did he cheat at draughts?" JOHNSON." Sir, we never played for money."
He then carried me to visit Dr. Bentham, canon of Christ Church, and divinity professor, with whose learned and lively conversation we were much pleased. He gave us an invitation to dinner, which Dr. Johnson told me was a high honour. "Sir, it is a great thing to dine with the canons of Christ Church." We could not accept his invitation, as we were engaged to dine at University College. We had an excellent dinner there, with the masters and fellows, it being St. Cuthbert's day, which is kept by them as a festival, as he was a saint of Durham, with which this college is much connected.
We drank tea with Dr. Horne, late President of Magdalen College and Bishop of Norwich, of whose abilities in different respects the public has had eminent proofs, and the esteem annexed to whose
(1) Fludyer entered within a month of Johnson's entrance. Jones must have been about a year their senior, having become M.A. March, 1734.- HALL.
(2) See post, March 27. 1776, 1. —
character was increased by knowing him personally. He had talked of publishing an edition of Walton's Lives, but had laid aside that design, upon Dr. Johnson's telling him, from mistake, that Lord Hailes intended to do it. I had wished to negotiate between Lord Hailes and him, that one or other should perform so good a work. JOHNSON. "In order to do it well, it will be necessary to collect all the editions of Walton's Lives. By way of adapting the book to the taste of the present age, they have, in a late edition, left out a vision which he relates Dr. Donne had, but it should be restored ('); and there should be a critical catalogue given of the works of the different persons whose lives were written by Walton, and therefore their works must be carefully read by the editor."
We then went to Trinity College, where he introduced me to Mr. Thomas Warton, with whom we passed a part of the evening. We talked of biography. JOHNSON. "It is rarely well executed. They only who live with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and discrimination; and few people who have lived with a man know what to remark about him. The chaplain of a late bishop (2), whom I was to assist in writing some
(1) The vision which Johnson speaks of was not in the original publication of Walton's "Life of Dr. Donne," in 1640. It is not found in the three earliest editions; but was first introduced into the fourth, in 1765. I have not been able to discover what modern republication is alluded to in which it was omitted. It has very properly been restored by Dr. Zouch. J. BOSWELL, jun.
(2) The Bishop was Zachary Pearce, and the Chaplain, Mr. Derby. See post, sub May, 1777.-C.