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had more ease and vivacity than any of his earlier productions.
He mentioned it to me now, for the first time, that he had been distressed by melancholy, and for that reason had been obliged to fly from study and meditation to the dissipating variety of life. Against melancholy he recommended constant occupation of mind, a great deal of exercise, moderation in eating and drinking, and especially to shun drinking at night'. He said melancholy people were apt to fly to intemperance for relief, but that it sunk them much deeper in misery. He observed, that labouring men who work hard, and live sparingly, are seldom or never troubled with low spirits.
He again insisted on the duty of maintaining subordination of rank. “Sir, I would no more deprive a nobleman of his respect than of his money. I consider myself as acting a part in the great system of society, and I do to others as I would have them to do to me. I would behave to a nobleman as I should expect he would behave to me, were I a nobleman and he Sam. Johnson. „Sir, there is one Mrs. Macaulay in this town, a great republican. One day when I was at her house, I put on a very grave countenance, and said to her, ' Madam, I am now become a convert to your way of thinking, I am convinced that all mankind are upon an equal footing; and to give you an' unquestionable proof, madam, that I am in earnest, here is a very sensible, civil, well-behaved fellowcitizen, your footman; I desire that he may be allowed to sit down and dine with us.' I thus, sir, showed her the absurdity of the levelling doctrine. She has never liked me since. Sir, your levellers
[Sce ante, p. 74, note. ED.] ? This one Mrs. Macaulay was the same personage who afterwards made herself so much known as “ the celebrated female historian.” (See ante, p. 225. -Ep.)
wish to·level down as far as themselves; but they cannot bear levelling up to themselves. They would all have some people under them ; why not then have some people above them?” I mentioned a certain authour' who disgusted me by his forwardness, and by showing no deference to noblemen into whose company he was admitted. he was admitted. Johnson.
Johxson. “Suppose a shoemaker should claim an equality with him, as he does with a lord : how he would stare. «Why, sir, do you stare? (says the shoemaker) I do great service to society. 'Tis true I am paid for doing it; but so are you, sir: and I am sorry to say it, better paid than I
am, for doing something not so necessary. For mankind could do better without your books, than without my shoes.' Thus, sir, there would be a perpetual struggle for precedence were there no fixed invariable rules for the distinction of rank, which creates no jealousy, as it is allowed to be accidental.”
He said, Dr. Joseph Warton was a very agreeable man, and his “ Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope," a very pleasing book. I wondered that he delayed so long to give us the continuation of it. JOHNSON. “Why, sir, I suppose he finds himself a little disappointed, in not having been able to persuade the world to be of his opinion as to Pope.”
We have now been favoured with the concluding volume, in which, to use a parliamentary expression, he has explained, so as not to appear quite so adverse to the opinion of the world, concerning Pope, as was at first thought; and we must all agree, that his work is a most valuable accession to English literature.
A writer” of deserved eminence being mentioned,
· [Something of this kind has been imputed to Goldsmith. -Ed.]
? (It is not easy to say who was here meant. Murphy, who was born poor, was distinguished for elegance of manners and conversation ; and Fielding, who could not have been spoken of as alive in 1763, was born to better prospects, though he kept low company; and had it been Goldsmith, Boswell would probably have had no scruple in naming him.--Ed.]
Johnson said, Why, sir, he is a man of good parts, but being originally poor, he has got a love of mean company and low jocularity; a very bad thing, sir. To laugh is good, and to talk is good. But you ought no more to think it enough if you laugh, than you are to think it enough if you talk. You may laugh in as many ways as you talk; and surely every way of talking that is practised cannot be esteemed.”
I spoke of Sir James Macdonald ' as a young man of most distinguished merit, who united the highest reputation at Eton and Oxford, with the patriarchal spirit of a great highland chieftain. I mentioned that Sir James had said to me, that he had never seen Mr. Johnson, but he had a great respect for him, though at the same time it was mixed with some degree of terrour. JOHNSON. “Sir, if he were to be acquainted with me, it might lessen both.”
The mention of this gentleman led us to talk of the Western Islands of Scotland, to visit which he expressed a wish that then appeared to me a very romantick fancy, which I little thought would be afterwards realised. He told me that his father had put Martin's account of those islands into his hands when he was very young, and that he was highly pleased with it; that he was particularly struck with the St. Kilda man's notion that the high church of Glasgow had been hollowed out of a rock”; a circumstance to which old Mr. Johnson had directed his attention. He said he would go to the Hebrides with me, when I returned from my travels, unless some very good companion should offer when I was absent, which he did not think probable; adding,
« There are few people whom I take so much to as you.” And when I talked of my leaving England, he said
[See post, 27th March, 1772, and 5th September, 1773.-ED.) ? (In the Spectator, No. 50, Addison makes the Indian king suppose that St. Paul's was carved out of a rock. Ed.]
with a very affectionate air, “My dear Boswell, I should be very unhappy at parting, did I think we were not to meet again.” I cannot too often remind my readers, that although such instances of his kindness are doubtless very flattering to me, yet I hope my recording them will be ascribed to a better motive than to vanity; for they afford unquestionable evidence of his tenderness and complacency, which some, while they were forced to acknowledge his great powers, have been so strenuous to deny.
He maintained that a boy at school was the happiest of human beings. I supported a different opinion, from which I have never yet varied, that a man is happier: and I enlarged upon the anxiety and sufferings which are endured at school. Johnson. “Ah! sir, a boy's being flogged is not so severe as a man's having the hiss of the world against him. Men have a solicitude about fame; and the greater share they have of it, the more afraid they are of losing it.”
I silently asked myself, “ Is it possible that the great SAMUEL JOHNSON really entertains any such apprehension, and is not confident that his exalted fame is established upon a foundation never to be shaken ?”
He this evening drank a bumper to Sir David Dalrymple, [afterwards Lord Hailes,] “ as a man of worth, a scholar, and a wit.” “I have (said he) never heard of him, except from you; but let him know my opinion of him: for as he does not show himself much in the world, he should have the praise of the few who hear of him.”
On Tuesday, July 26, I found Mr. Johnson alone. It was a very wet day, and I again complained of the disagreeable effects of such weather'. Johnson. “Sir, this is all imagination, which physicians en
[See ante, pp. 318 and 441.-Ed.]
courage; for man lives in air, as a fish lives in water; so that if the atmosphere press heavy from above, there is an equal resistance from below. To be sure, bad weather is hard upon people who are obliged to be abroad; and men cannot labour so well in the open air in bad weather, as in good; but, sir, a smith or a tailor, whose work is within doors, will surely do as much in rainy weather, as in fair. Some very delicate frames, indeed, may be affected by wet weather ; but not common constitutions."
We talked of the education of children, and I asked him what he thought was best to teach them first. Johnson. “Sir, it is no matter what you teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your breeches first. Sir, you may stand disputing which is best to put in first, but in the mean time your breech is bare. Sir, while you are considering which of two things you should teach your child first, another boy has learnt them both.”
On Thursday, July 28, we again supped in private at the Turk's-head coffee-house. JOHNSON. “Swift has a higher reputation than he deserves. cellence is strong sense; for his humour, though very well, is not remarkably good. I doubt whether the • Tale of a Tub' be his; for he never owned it, and it is much above his usual manner 1."
• Thomson, I think, had as much of the poet about him as most writers. Every thing appeared to him through the medium of his favourite pursuit. He could not have viewed those two candles burning but with a poetical eye.”
"This opinion was given by him more at large at a subsequent period. See post, 16th Aug. 1773.-Boswell. (How could Johnson doubt that Swift was the author of the Tale of a Tub, when, as he himself relates in his Life of Swift, “No other claimants can be produced ; and when Archbishop Sharpe and the Duchess of Somerset, by showing it to Queen Anne, debarred Swift of a bishoprick, he did not deny it.” We have, moreover, Swift's own acknow. ledgment of it, in his letter to Ben. Tooke the printer, 29th June, 1710.-Ed.]