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invasion coming, and you know there is none. Let the vexatious and frivolous talk alone, or suffer it at least to teach you one truth ; and learn by this perpetual echo of even unapprehended distress, how historians magnify events expected, or calamities endured; when you know they are at this very moment collecting all the big words they can find, in which to describe a consternation never felt, for a misfortune which never happened. Among all your lamentations, who eats the less ? Who sleeps the worse, for one general's ill success, or another's capitulation ? Oh,
let us hear no more of it!” 39. A good Hater.— Whigs and Americans. No man was more zealously attached to his party; he not only loved a Tory himself, but he loved a man the better if he heard he hated a Whig. “ Dear Bathurst, said he to me one day, was a man to my very heart's content: he hated a fool, and he hated a rogue, and he hated a Whig; he was a very good hater.” Some one mentioned a gentleman of that party for having behaved oddly on an occasion where faction was not concerned :
“ Is he not a citizen of London, a native of North America, and a Whig ?” says Johnson. " Let him be absurd, 1 beg of you : when a monkey is too like a man, it shocks one.
40. Treatment of the Poor. Severity towards the poor was, in Dr. Johnson's opinion, an undoubted and constant attendant or consequence upon Whiggism; and he was not contented with giving them relief, he wished to add also indulgence. He loved the poor as I never yet saw any one else do, with an earnest desire to make them happy. What signifies, says some one, giving halfpence to common beggars ? they only lay it out in gin or tobacco.
« And why should they be denied such sweeteners of their existence ?"
Johnson ; “ it is surely very savage to refuse them every possible avenue to pleasure, reckoned too coarse for our own acceptance. Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding; yet for the poor we delight in stripping it still barer, and are not ashamed to show even visible displeasure, if ever the bitter taste is taken from their mouths."
41. Johnson's Pensioners. In consequence of these principles, he nursed whole nests of people in his house, where the lame, the blind, the sick, and the sorrowful found a sure retreat from all the evils whence his little income could secure them: and, commonly spending the middle of the week at our house, he kept his numerous family in Fleet Street upon a settled allowance ; but returned to them every Saturday, to give them three good dinners, and his company, before he came back to us on the Monday night — treating them with the same, or perhaps more ceremonious civility, than he would have done by as many people of fashion making the Holy Scriptures thus the rule of his conduct, and only expecting salvation as he was able to obey its precepts.
42. Sentimental Miseries. -- Distresses of Friends.
While Dr. Johnson possessed, however, the strongest compassion for poverty or illness, he did not even pretend to feel for those who lamented the loss of a child, a
rent, or a friend. “ These are the distresses of sentiment,” he would reply, “which a man who is really to be pitied has no leisure to feel. The sight of people who want food and raiment is so common in great cities, that a surly fellow like me has no compassion to spare for wounds given only to vanity or softness. therefore, who smarted from the ingratitude of his friends found any sympathy from our philosopher. “Let him do good on higher motives next time,” would be the answer ; “ he will then be sure of his reward.”
It is easy to observe, that the justice of such sentences made them offensive ; but we must be careful how we condemn a man for saying what we know to be true, only because
it is so.
Few things which pass well enough with others would do with him : he had been a great reader of Mandeville,
and was ever on the watch to spy out those stains of original corruption, so easily discovered by a penetrating observer, even in the purest minds. I mentioned an event, which if it had happened would greatly have injured Mr. Thrale and his family—and then, dear Sir, said I, how sorry you would have been !
“ I hope,' replied be, after a long pause, “ I should have been very sorry;
- but remember Rochefoucault's maxim.” i I would rather, answered I, remember Prior's verses, and ask,
“ What need of books these truths to tell,
Which folks perceive that cannot spell ?
To see what hurts our naked eye ?”. Will any body's mind bear this eternal microscope that you place upon your own so ? “ I never,” replied he, “ saw one that would, except that of my dear Miss Reynolds — and hers is very near to purity itself.”
Of slighter evils, and friends less distant than our own household, he spoke less cautiously. An acquaintance lost the almost certain hope of a good estate that had been long expected. Such a one will grieve, said I, at her friend's disappointment.
« She will suffer as much, perhaps,” said he, “ as your horse did when your cow miscarried.”
I professed myself sincerely grieved when accumulated distresses crushed Sir George Colebrook's family; and I was so. “ Your own prosperity,” said he, “may possibly have so far increased the natural tenderness of your heart, that for aught I know you may be a little sorry; but it is sufficient for a plain man if he does not laugh when he sees a fine new house tumble down all on a sudden, and a snug cottage stand by ready to receive the owner, whose birth entitled him to nothing better, and whose limbs are left him to go to work again with.”
1 “ In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something to please us.”