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tone, “ that consumes me away for my pretty Fanny' here, and she is
cruel.” He told us, however, in the course of the same chat, how his negro Francis had been eminent for his success among the girls. Seeing us all laugh, “I must have you know, ladies," said he, “that Frank has carried the empire of Cupid further than most men. When I was in Lincolnshire so many years ago, he attended me thither; and when we returned home together, I found that a female haymaker had followed him to London for love. Francis was indeed no small favourite with his master; who retained, however, a prodigious influence over his most violent passions.
On the birthday of our eldest daughter, and that of our friend Dr. Johnson, the 17th and 18th of September, we every year made up a little dance and supper, to divert our servants and their friends, putting the summer-house into their hands for the two evenings, to fill with acquaintance and merriment. Francis and his white wife were invited of course. She was eminently pretty, and he was jealous, as my maids told me. On the first of these days' amusements (I know not what year) Frank took offence at some attentions paid his Desdemona, and walked away next morning to London in wrath. His master and I driving the same road an hour after, overtook him. “ What is the matter, child,” says Dr. Johnson, “that you leave Streatham to-day? Art sick ? ” “ He is jealous," whispered I. “Are you jealous of your wife, you stupid blockhead ? ” cries out his master in another tone. The fellow hesitated; and, “ To be sure, Sir, I don't quite approve, Sir," was the stammering reply.
Why, what do they do to her, man ? do the footmen kiss her ?” “No, Sir, no ! - Kiss my wife, Sir! - I hope not, Sir." “ Why, what do they do to her, my lad ?”
Why nothing, Sir, I'm sure, Sir." Why, then, go back directly and dance, you dog, do ; and let's hear no more of such
empty lamentations." I believe, however, that Francis was scarcely as much the object of Mr. Johnson's personal kindness, as the representative of Dr.
['Miss Burney, the author of “Evelina."]
dog ; but
Bathurst, for whose sake he would have loved any body, or any thing. When he spoke of negroes, he always appeared to think them of a race naturally inferior, and made few exceptions in favour of his own; yet whenever disputes arose in his household among the many odd inhabitants of which it consisted, he always sided with Francis against the others, whom he suspected (not unjustly, I believe) of greater malignity.
102. Poverty of Sentiment. It was never against people of coarse life that his contempt was expressed, while poverty of sentiment in men who considered themselves to be company for the parlour, as he called it, was what he would not bear. A very ignorant young fellow who had plagued us all for nine or ten months, died at last consumptive : “I think,” said Mr. Johnson, when he heard the news, “I am afraid, I should have been more concerned for the death of the
” (hesitating a while) “I am not wrong now in all this, for the dog acted up to his character on every occasion that we know ; but that dunce of a fellow helped forward the general disgrace of humanity.” “ Why, dear Sir,” said I, “how odd you are! you have often said the lad was not capable of receiving further instruction.” “He was,” replied the Doctor, corked bottle, with a drop of dirty water in it, to be sure; one might pump upon it for ever without the smallest effect ; but when every method to open and clean it had been tried, you would not have me grieve that the bottle was broke at last ?"
This was the same youth who told us he had been reading Lucius Florus ; Florus Delphini was the phrase ; and “my mother,” said he," thought it had something to do with Delphos ; but of that I know nothing. “ Who founded Rome, then?” inquired Mr. Thrale. The lad replied, “Romulus.” « And who succeeded Romulus ?" said I. A long pause, and apparently distressful hesitation, followed the difficult question. will you ask him in terms that he does not comprehend ?" said Mr. Johnson enraged. “ You might as well bid
“ like a
who phlebotomised Romulus. This fellow's dulness is elastic,” continued he, “and all we do is but like kicking at a woolsack.”
103. Public Schools. — Useful Knowledge. I remember his saying, “ A boy should never be sent to Eton or Westminster school before he is twelve
years old at least ; for if in his years of babyhood he 'scapes that general and transcendent knowledge without which life is perpetually put to a stand, he will never get it at a public school, where if he does not learn Latin and Greek, he learns nothing."
Mr. Johnson often said, “ that there was too much stress laid upon literature as indispensably necessary : there is surely no need that every body should be a scholar, no call that every one should square the circle. Our manner of teaching," said he,“ cramps
warps many a mind, which if left more at liberty would have been respectable in some way, though perhaps not in that. We lop our trees, and prune them, and pinch them about,” he would say, “and nail them tight up to the wall, while a good standard is at last the only thing for bearing healthy fruit, though it commonly begins later. Let the people learn necessary knowledge ; let them learn to count their fingers, and to count their money, before they are caring for the classics ; for,” says Mr. Johnson, “ though I do not quite agree with the proverb, that Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, yet we may very well say, that Nullum numen adest - ni sit
104. Ignorance. We had been visiting at a lady's house, whom as we returned some of the company ridiculed for her ignorance: “ She is not ignorant,” said he, “ I believe, of any thing she has been taught, or of any thing she is desirous to know ; and I suppose if one wanted a little run tea, she might be a proper person enough to apply to.”