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He said, I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermons on devation, from the text' Cornelius, a devout man.' His doctrine is the best limited, the best expressed; there is the most warmth without fanaticism, the most rational transport. There is one part of it which I disapprove, and I'd have him correct it; which is, that he who does not feel joy in religion is far from the kingdom of heaven! there are many good men whose fear of God predominates over their love. It may discourage. It was rashly said.' A noble sermon it is indeed. I wish Blair would come over to the church of England."
When Mr. Langton returned to us, the "flow of talk went on." an eminent author being mentioned: JOHNSON. "He is not a pleasant man. His conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant. He does not talk as if impelled by any fullness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His conversation is like that of any other sensible man. He talks with no wish either to inform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not become to sit in company
and say nothing.
Mr. Langton having repeated the anecdote of Addison having distinguished between his powers in conversation and in writing, by saying, "I have only ninepence in my pocket; but I can draw for a thousand pounds ;"-JOHNSON. "He had not that retort ready, Sir; he had prepared it beforehand." LANGTON (turning to me). "A fine surmise. Set a thief to catch a thief."
Johnson called the East Indians barbarians. BOSWELL, "You will except the Chinese, Sir?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir." BOSWELL. "Have they not arts ?" JOHNSON. They have pottery." BasWELL. What do you say to the written characters of their la
1 The passage referred to is, " Of what nature must that man's religion be, who professes to worship God and to believe in Christ, and yet raises his thoughts towards God and his Saviour without any warmth of gratitude or love? This is not the man whom you would choose for your bosom friend, or whose heart you would expect to answer with reciprocal warmth to yours; such a person must as yet be far from the kingdom of heaven."-Blair's Sermons, vol. i. p. 261. Dr. Johnson's remark is certainly just; and it may be, moreover, observed that, from Blair's expressions, and his reference to human friendships and affec tions, he might be understood to mean, that unless we feel the same kind of "warmth " and affection towards God that we do towards the objects of human love, we are far from the kingdom of heaven-an idea which seems to countenance fanaticism, and which every sober-minded Christian feels to be a mere play on words; for the love of God and the love of one's wife and friend are certainly not the same passion.-C.
2 No doubt Dr. Robertson.-C.
guage?" JOHNSON. " JOHNSON. "Sir, they have not an alphabet. They have not been able to form what all other nations have formed." BosWELL. "There is more learning in their language than in any other, from the immense number of their characters." JOHNSON. "It is only more difficult from its rudeness; as there is more labour in hewing down a tree with a stone than with an axe.”
He said, "I have been reading Lord Kames's 'Sketches of the History of Man.' In treating of severity of punishment, he meutions that of Madame Lapouchin, in Russia, but he does not give it fairly; for I have looked at Chappe D'Auteroche,' from whom he has taken it. He stops where it is said that the spectators thought her innocent, and leaves out what follows,-that she nevertheless was guilty. Now this is being as culpable as one can conceive, to misrepresent fact in a book; and for what motive? It is like one of those lies which people tell, one cannot see why. The woman's life was spared; and no punishment was too great for the favourite of an empress, who had conspired to dethrone her mistress." BosWELL. "He was only giving a picture of the lady in her sufferings." JOHNSON. "Nay, don't endeavour to palliate this. Guilt is a prin- · cipal feature in the picture. Kames is puzzled with a question that puzzled me when I was a very young man. Why is it that the interest of money is lower, when money is plentiful; for five pounds has the same proportion of value to a hundred pounds when money is plentiful, as when it is scarce? A lady explained it to me. It is (said she) because when money is plentiful there are so many more who have money to lend, that they bid down one another. Many have then a hundred pounds; and one says-Take mine rather than another's, and you shall have it at four per cent. BOSWELL. "Does Lord Kames decide the question ?" JOHNSON. "I think he leaves it as he found it." BOSWELL. "This must have been an extraordinary lady who instructed you, Sir. May I ask who she was?" JOHNSON. "Molly Aston, Sir, the sister of those ladies with whom
1 "Journey into Siberia, made by order of the King of France; published in 1768."
The passage is to be found in b. i. sk. 5. The motive of Lord Kames for this certainly cub pable suppression, was evidently to heighten our indignation at the barbarity of the punishment of which he cites this as an unparalleled example.-C.
• Johnson had an extraordinary admiration of this lady, notwithstanding she was a violent
you dined at Lichfield.—I shall be at home to-morrow." BOSWELL. "Then let us dine by ourselves at the Mitre, to keep up the old custom, the custom of the manor,' custom of the Mitre." JOHNSON. "Sir, so it shall be."
On Saturday, May 9, we fulfilled our purpose of dining by ourselves at the Mitre, according to the old custom. There was, on these occasions, a little circumstance of kind attention to Mrs. Williams, which must not be omitted. Before coming out, and leaving her to dine alone, he gave her her choice of a chicken, a sweetbread, or any other little nice thing, which was carefully sent to her from the tavern ready drest.
Our conversation to-day, I know not how, turned, I think, for the only time at any length, during our long acquaintance, upon the sensual intercourse between the sexes, the delight of which he ascribed chiefly to imagination. "Were it not for imagination Sir," said he, "a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess. But such is the adventitious charm of fancy, that we find men who have violated the best principles of society, and ruined their fame and their fortune, that they might possess a woman of rank." It would not be proper to record the particulars of such a conversation in moments of unreserved frankness, when nobody was present on whom it could have any hurtful effect. That subject, when philosophically treated, may surely employ the
Whig. In answer to her high-flown speeches for liberty, he addressed to her the following epigram, of which I presume to offer a translation:
"Liber ut esse velim, suasisti, pulchra Maria,
Ut maneam liber-pulchra Maria, vale!"
A correspondent of "The Gentleman's Magazine," who subscribes himself Sciolus, to whom I am indebted for several excellent remarks, observes, "The turn of Dr. Johnson's lines to Miss Aston, whose Whig principles he had been combating, appears to me to be taken from an ingenious epigram in the 'Menagiana,' vol. iii. p. 876, edit. 1716, on a young lady who appeared at a masquerade, habillée en Jésuite, during the fierce contentions of the followers of Molinos and Jansenius concerning free-will:
"On s'étonne ici que Caliste,
mind in a curious discussion, and as innocently as anatomy; provided that those who do treat it keep clear of inflammatory incentives.
"From grave to gay, from lively to severe,”— -we were soon engaged in very different speculation; humbly and reverently considering and wondering at the universal mystery of all things, as our imperfect faculties can now judge of them. "There are," said he, "inuumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was to be created, why was it not created sooner ?"
On Sunday, May 10, I supped with him at Mr. Hoole's, with Sir Joshua Reynolds. I have neglected the memorial of this evening, so as to remember no more of it than two particulars: one, that he strenuously opposed an argument by Sir Joshua, that virtue was preferable to vice, considering this life only; and that a man would be virtuous were it only to preserve his character; and that he expressed much wonder at the curious formation of the bat, a mouse with wings; saying, that it was almost as strange a thing in physiology, as if the fabulous dragon could be seen.
On Tuesday, May 12, I waited on the Earl of Marchmont to know if his lordship would favour Dr. Johnson with information concerning Pope, whose Life he was about to write. Johnson had not flattered himself with the hopes of receiving any civility from this nobleman; for he said to me, when I mentioned Lord Marchmont, as one who could tell him a great deal about Pope,-" Sir, he will tell me nothing." I had the honour of being known to his lordship, and applied to him of myself, without being commissioned by JohnHis lordship behaved in the most polite and obliging manner, promised to tell all he recollected about Pope, and was so very courteous as to say, "Tell Dr. Johnson I have a great respect for him, and am ready to show it in any way I can. I am to be in the city to-morrow, and will call at his house as I return." His lordship however asked, "Will he write the 'Lives of the Poets' impartially? He was the first that brought Whig and Tory into a dictionary. And what do you think of the definition of Excise? Do you know the history of his aversion to the word transpire?" Then taking down the folio Dictionary, he showed it with this censure on its secondary sense: To escape from secrecy to notice; a senзe
lately innovated from France, without necessity." "The truth was, Lord Bolingbroke, who left the Jacobites, first used it; therefore it was to be condemned. He should have shown what word would do for it, if it was unnecessary." I afterwards put the question to Johnson: "Why, Sir," said he, "get abroad." BOSWELL. "That, Sir, is using two words." JOHNSON. "Sir, there is no end to this. You may as well insist to have a word for old age." BOSWELL. "Well, Sir, senectus." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, to msist always that there should be one word to express a thing in English, because there is one in another language,' is to change the language."
I availed myself of this opportunity to hear from his lordship many particulars both of Pope and Lord Bolingbroke, which I have in writing.
I proposed to Lord Marchmont, that he should revise Johnson's Life of Pope: "So," said his lordship, "you would put me in a dangerDus situation. You know he knocked down Osborne, the bookseller."
Elated with the success of my spontaneous exertion to procure material and respectable aid to Johnson for his very favourite work, "the Lives of the Poets," I hastened down to Mr. Thrale's, at Streatham, where he now was, that I might insure his being at home next day; and after dinner, when I thought he would receive the good news in the best humour, I announced it eagerly: "I have been at work for you to-day, Sir. I have been with Lord Marchmont. He bade me tell you he has a great respect for you, and will call on you to-morrow at one o'clock, and communicate all he knows about Pope." Here I paused, in full expectation that he would be pleased with this intelligence, would praise my active merit, and I would be alert to embrace such an offer from a nobleman. But
1 Few words, however, of modern introduction have had greater success than this-for it is not only in general, but even in vulgar use. Johnson's awkward substitute of "get abroad" does not seem to express exactly the same meaning: a secret may get abroad by design, by accident, by breach of confidence; but it is said to transpire when it becomes known by small indirect circumstances-by symptoms-by inferences. It is now often used in the direct sense of "get abroad," but, as appears to me, incorrectly.-C.
2 The truth was, that Bolingbroke left and embraced every party in succession,
"Was every thing by turns, and nothing long."-C.
This is not just. Lord Marchmont and Boswell argued for having one word for one idea, and when the idea is a simple one, common to all mankind, like old age, the language which has no single expression for it, is, so far, imperfect.-C.