whether I had shown an over-exultation, which provoked his spleen; or whether he was seized with a suspicion that I had obtruded him on Lord Marchmont, and humbled him too much, or whether there was anything more than an unlucky fit of ill-humour, I know not; but to my surprise the result was,-JOHNSON. "I shall not be in town to-morrow. I don't care to know about Pope." MRS. THRALE (surprised as I was, and a little angry). "I suppose, Sir, Mr. Boswell thought, that as you are to write Pope's Life, you would wish to know about him." JOHNSON. "Wish! why yes. If it rained, knowledge, I'd hold out my hand; but I would not give myself the trouble to go in quest of it." There was no arguing with him at the moment. Some time afterwards he said, "Lord Marchmont will call on me, and then I shall call on Lord Marchmont." Mrs. Thrale was uneasy at this unaccountable' caprice; and told me, that if I did not take care to bring about a meeting between Lord Marchmont and him, it would never take place, which would be a great pity. I sent a card to his lordship, to be left at Johnson's house, acquainting him, that Dr. Johnson could not be in town next day, but would do himself the honour of waiting on him at another time. I give this account fairly, as a specimen of that unhappy temper with which this great and good man had occasionally to struggle, from something morbid in his constitution. Let the most censorious of my readers suppose himself to have a violent fit of the toothache or to have received a severe stroke on the shin-bone, and when in such a state to be asked a question; and if he has any candour, he will not be surprised at the answers which Johnson sometimes gave in moments of irritation, which, let me assuré them, is exquisitely painful. But it must not be erroneously supposed that he was, in the smallest degree, careless concerning any work which he undertook, or that he was generally thus peevish. It will be seen that in the following year he had a very agreeable interview with Lord Marchmont, at his lordship's house; and this very afternoon he soon forgot any fretfulness, and fell into conversation as usual.

1 Not quite so unaccountable as Mr. Boswell seems to think. His intervention in this affair, unsolicited and unauthorised, exhibits the bustling vanity of his own character, and Johnson was unwilling to be dragged before Lord Marchmont by so headlong a master of the ceremonies.-C.

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I mentioned a reflection having been thrown out against four peers for having presumed to rise in opposition to the opinion of the twelve judges, in a cause in the House of Lords, as if that were indecent. JOHNSON. Sir, there is no ground for censure. The peers are judges themselves and supposing them really to be of a different opinion, they might from duty be in opposition to the judges, who were there only to be consulted.

In this observation I fully concurred with him; for, unquestionably, all the peers are vested with the highest judicial powers; and when they are confident that they understand a cause, are not obliged, nay, ought not to acquiesce in the opinion of the ordinary law judges, or even in that of those who from their studies and experience are called the law lords. I consider the peers in general as I do a jury, who ought to listen with respectful attention to the sages of the law; but if, after hearing them, they have a firm opinion of their own, are bound, as honest men, to decide accordingly. Nor is it so difficult for them to understand even law questions as is generally thought, provided they will bestow sufficient attention upon them. This observation was made by my honoured relation the late Lord Cathcart, who had spent his life in camps and courts; yet assured me, that he could form a clear opinion upon most of the causes that came before the House of Lords, as they were so well enucleated in the Cases."


Mrs. Thrale told us, that a curious clergyman of our acquaintance had discovered a licentious stanza, which Pope had originally in his "Universal Prayer," before the stanza,—

It was this:

"What conscience dictates to be done,

Or warns us not to do," &c.

"Can sins of moment claim the rod

Of everlasting fires?

And that offend great Nature's God

Which Nature's self inspires?"

and that Dr. Johnson observed, "it had been borrowed from Guarini." There are, indeed, in Pastor Fido, many such flimsy superficial reasonings as that in the last two lines of this stanza.

The occasion was Mr. Horne's writ of error.-C.

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BOSWELL. "In that stanza of Pope's, rod of fies is certainly a bad metaphor." MRS. THRALE. "And 'sins of moment is a faulty expression; for its true import is momentous, which cannot be intended." JOHNSON. "It must have been written of moments? Of moment, is momentous; of moments, momentary. I warrant you, however, Pope wrote this stanza, and some friend struck it out. Boileau wrote some such thing, and Arnaud struck it out, saying, 'Vous gagnerez deux ou trois impies, et perdrez je ne sçais combien d'honnêtes gens.' These fellows want to say a daring thing, and don't know how to go about it. Mere poets know no more of fundamental principles than-." Here he was interrupted somehow. Mrs. Thrale mentioned Dryden. JOHNSON. "He puzzled himself about predestination. How foolish was it in Pope to give all his friendship to lords, who thought they honoured him by being with him; and to choose such lords as Burlington, and Cobham, and Bolingbroke! Bathurst was negative, a pleasing man; and I have heard no ill of Marchmont. And then always saying, 'I do not value you for be ing a lord;' which was a sure proof that he did. I never say I do not value Boswell more for being born to an estate, because I do not care." BosWELL., " Nor for being a Scotchman ?" "Nay, Sir, I do value you more for being a Scotchman. You are a Scotchman without the faults of Scotchmen. You would not have been so

valuable as you are had you not been a Scotchman." Talking of divorces, I asked if Othello's doctrine was not plau sible :

"He that is robb'd, not wanting what is stolen,

Let him not know't, and he's not robb'd at all."

Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale joined against this. JOHNSON. "Ask any man if he'd wish not to know of such an injury." BoswELL "Would you tell your friend to make him unhappy ?" JOHNSON "Perhaps, Sir, I should not; but that would be from prudence on my own account. A man would tell his father." BOSWELL. "Yes; because he would not have spurious children to get any share of the family inheritance." MRS. THRALE. "Or he would tell his brother." BOSWELL. "Certainly his elder brother." JOHNSON. "You would tell your friend of a woman's infamy, to prevent his marrying a

prostitute there is the same reason to tell him of his wife's infidel ity when he is married, to prevent the consequences of imposition. It is a breach of confidence not to tell a friend.” BOSWELL. "Would you tell Mr. -?" (naming a gentleman who assuredly was not in the least danger of such a miserable disgrace, though married to a fine woman.) JOHNSON. "No, Sir; because it would do no good: he is so sluggish, he'd never go to Parliament and get through a divorce."

He said of one of our friends, "He is ruining himself without pleasure. A man who loses at play, or who runs out his fortune at court, makes his estate less, in hopes of making it bigger (I am sure of this word, which was often used by him): but it is a sad thing to pass through the quagmire of parsimony to the gulf of ruin. To pass over the flowery path of extravagance is very well."

Amongst the numerous prints pasted on the walls of the diningroom at Streatham was Hogarth's "Modern Midnight Conversation." I asked him what he knew of Parson Ford, who made a conspicuous figure in the riotous group. JOHNSON. "Sir, he was my acquaintance and relation, my mother's nephew. He had purchased a living in the country, but not simoniacally. I never


saw him but in the country. I have been told he was a man of great parts; very profligate, but I never heard he was impious." BOSWELL. "Was there not a story of his ghost having appeared?" JOHNSON. "Sir, it was believed. A waiter at the Hummums, in which house Ford died, had been absent for some time, and returned, not knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, according to the story, he met him; going down again, he met him a second time. When he came up, he asked some of the people of the house what Ford could be doing there. They told him Ford was dead. The waiter took a fever, in which he lay for some time. When he recovered, he said he had a message to deliver to some women from Ford; but he was not to

1 I fear it will be but too evident at whose expense Mr. Boswell chose to make so offensive an hypothesis.-C.


2 The acquiescence of Johnson, on this occasion, seems to authentics te the fact, that Ford was Hogarth's riotous parson.-0.

tell what, or to whom. He walked out; he was followed; but somewhere about St. Paul's they lost him. He came back, and said he had delivered the message, and the women exclaimed, "Then we are all undone ! Dr. Pellet, who was not a credulous man, inquired into the truth of this story, and he said the evidence was irresist ible. My wife went to the Humm ns (it is a place where people get themselves cupped). I believe she went with intention to hear about this story of Ford. At first they were unwilling to tell her; but, after they had talked to her, she came away satisfied that it was true. To be sure, the man had a fever; and this vision may have been the beginning of it. But if the message to the women, and their behaviour upon it, were true as related, there was something supernatural. That rests upon his word; and there it remains."

After Mrs. Thrale was gone to bed, Johnson and I sat up late. We resumed Sir Joshua Reynolds's argument on the preceding Sunday, that a man would be virtuous, though he had no other motive than to preserve his character. JOHNSON. "Sir, it is not true; for. as to this world, vice does not hurt a man's character." BOSWELL. "Yes, Sir, debauching a friend's wife will." JOHNSON. "No, Sir. Who thinks the worse of [Beauclerk] for it ?" BOSWELL. "Lord [Bolingbroke] was not his friend." JOHNSON. "That is only a circumstance, Sir; a slight distinction. He could not get into the house but by Lord [Bolingbroke]. A man is chosen knight of the shire not the less for having debauched ladies." BOSWELL." What, Sir, if he debauched the ladies of gentlemen in the county, will not there be a general resentment against him?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir. He will lose those particular gentlemen; but the rest will not trouble their heads about it" (warmly). BOSWELL. "Well, Sir, I cannot think so." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, there is no talking with a man who will dispute what everybody knows (angrily). Don't you know this?" BOSWELL. "No, Sir; and I wish to think better of your country than you represent it. I knew in Scotland a gentleman obliged to leave it for debauching a lady; and in one of our counties an earl's brother lost his election because he had debauched the lady of another earl in that county, and destroyed the peace of a noble family."

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