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nights. We were now at but a little distance from the shore, and saw the sea from our windows, which made our voyage seem nearer. Mr. McPherson's manners and address pleased us much. He appeared 'to be a man of such intelligence and taste as to be sensible of the extraordinary powers of his illustrious guest. He said to me, "Dr. Johnson is an honour to mankind, and, if the expression may be used, is an honour to religion."
Col, who had gone yesterday to pay a visit at Camuscross, joined us this morning at breakfast. Some other gentlemen also came to enjoy the entertainment of Dr. Johnson's conversation. The day was windy and rainy, so that we had just seized a happy interval for our journey last night. We had good entertainment here, better accommodation than at Corrichatachin, and time enough to ourselves. The hours slipped along imperceptibly. We talked of Shenstone. Dr. Johnson said, he was a good layer-out of land, but would not allow him to approach excellence as a poet. He said, he believed he had tried to read all his "Love Pastorals,” but did not get through them. I repeated the stanza,
"She gazed as I slowly withdrew;
I thought that she bade me return."
He said, "That seems to be pretty." I observed that Shenstone, from his short maxims in prose, appeared to have some power of thinking; but Dr. Johnson would not allow him that merit. He agreed, however, with Shenstone, that it was wrong in the
brother of one of his correspondents to burn his letters; "for," said he, "Shenstone was a man whose correspondence was an honour." He was this afternoon full of critical severity, and dealt about his censures on all sides. He said, Hammond's "Love Elegies" were poor things. (1) He spoke contemptuously of our lively and elegant, though too licentious lyric bard, Hanbury Williams, and said, "he had no fame, but from boys who drank with him." (2)
While he was in this mood, I was unfortunate enough, simply perhaps, but I could not help thinking, undeservedly, to come within "the whiff and wind of his fell sword." I asked him, if he had ever been accustomed to wear a night-cap. He said, "No." I asked, if it was best not to wear one. JOHNSON. "Sir, I had this custom by chance, and perhaps no man shall ever know whether it is best to sleep with or without a night-cap." Soon afterwards he was laughing at some deficiency in the Highlands, and said, "One might as well go without shoes and stockings." Thinking to have a little hit at his own deficiency, I ventured to add, “or without a night-cap, Sir." But I had better have been silent, for he retorted directly, "I do not see the connection there (laughing). Nobody before
(1) ["The truth is, these Elegies have neither passion, nature, nor manners. Where there is fiction, there is no passion: he that describes himself as a shepherd, and his Neæra or Delia as a shepherdess, and talks of goats and lambs, feels no passion. He that courts his mistress with Roman imagery deserves to lose her; for she may with good reason suspect his sincerity." JOHNSON, Life of Hammond.]
(2) [See antè, Vol. III. p. 19.]
was ever foolish enough to ask whether it was best to wear a night-cap or not. This comes of being a little wrong-headed." He carried the company along with him and yet the truth is, that if he had always worn a night-cap, a is the common practice, and found the Highlanders did not wear one, he would have wondered at their barbarity; so that my hit was fair enough.
Thursday, Sept. 30. -There was as great a storm of wind and rain as I have almost ever seen, which necessarily confined us to the house; but we were fully compensated by Dr. Johnson's conversation. He said, he did not grudge Burke's being the first man in the House of Commons, for he was the first man every where; but he grudged that a fellow who makes no figure in company, and has a mind as narrow as the neck of a vinegar cruet, should make a figure in the House of Commons, merely by having the knowledge of a few forms, and being furnished with a little occasional information. (1) He told us, the first time he saw Dr. Young was at the house of Mr. Richardson, the author of "Clarissa." He was sent for, that the doctor might read to him his "Conjectures on Original Composition," which he did, and Dr. Johnson made his remarks; and he was surprised to find Young receive as novelties, what he thought very common maxims. He said, he believed Young was not a great scholar, nor had studied regularly the art of writing; that there were very fine
(1) He did not mention the name of any particular person; but those who are conversant with the political world will probably recollect more persons than one to whom this observation may be applied
things in his "Night Thoughts," though you could not find twenty lines together without some extravagance. He repeated two passages from his "Love of Fame,"—the characters of Brunetta and Stella(1), which he praised highly. He said Young pressed him much to come to Wellwyn. He always intended it, but never went. He was sorry when Young died. The cause of quarrel between Young and his son, he told us, was, that his son insisted Young should turn away a clergyman's widow, who lived with him, and who, having acquired great influence over the father, was saucy to the son. Dr. Johnson said, she could not conceal her resentment at him, for saying to Young, that "an old man should not resign himself to the management of any pody." I asked him if there was any improper connection between them. "No, Sir, no more than between two statues. He was past fourscore, and she a very coarse woman. She read to him, and I suppose, made his coffee, and frothed his chocolate, and did such things as an old man wishes to have done for him." (2)
Dr. Doddridge (3) being mentioned, he observed
(1) ["Brunetta's wise in actions great and rare
But scorns on trifles to bestow her care:
Think nought a trifle, though it small appear;
Small sands the mountain, moments make the year."
"See Stella; her eyes shine as bright
As if her tongue was never in the right;
(2) [Mrs. Hallows was a woman of piety, improved by reading. She was always treated by Dr. Young and by his guests, even those of the highest rank, with the politeness and respect due to a gentlewoman. She died in 1780. - ANDERSON.]
(3) Dr. Phillip Doddridge, an eminent dissenting divine, born in 1702, died at Lisbon (whither he had gone for the re
"he was author of one of the finest epigrams in the English language. It is in Orton's Life of him. The subject is his family motto, "Dum vivimus, vivamus," which, in its primary signification, is, to be sure, not very suitable to a Christian divine; but he paraphrased it thus :—
'Live while you live, the Epicure would say,
I asked if it was not strange that government should permit so many infidel writings to pass without censure. JOHNSON. "Sir, it is mighty foolish. It is for want of knowing their own power. The present family on the throne came to the crown against the will of nine tenths of the people. Whether those nine tenths were right or wrong, it is not our business now to inquire. But such being the situation of the royal family, they were glad to encourage all who would be their friends. Now you know every bad man is a Whig; every man who has loose notions. The church was all against this family They were, as I say, glad to encourage any friends; and, therefore, since their accession, there is no instance of any man being kept back on account of his bad principles; and hence this inundation of impiety." I observed that Mr. Hume, some of whose writings were very unfavourable to re
covery of his health) in 1751. Some of his letters have been recently published, with no great advantage to his fame. — C.