Page images

in at the assizes; the circular room for a jury chamber ; and the room above for prisoners.” Still he thought the large room ill lighted, and of no use but for dancing in; and the bedchambers but indifferent rooms; and that the immense sum which it cost was injudiciously laid out. Dr. Taylor had put him in mind of his appearing pleased with the house. But,” said he, " that was when lord Scarsdale was present. Politeness obliges us to appear pleased with a man's works when he is present. No man will be so ill bred as to question you. You may, therefore, pay compliments without saying what is not true. 1 should say to lord Scarsdale of his large room, ' My lord, this is the most costly room that I ever saw;' which is true.”

Dr. Manningham, physician in London, who was visiting at lord Scarsdale's, accompanied us through many of the rooms, and soon afterwards my lord himself, to whom Dr. Johnson was known, appeared, and did the honours of the house. We talked of Mr. Langton. Johnson, with a warm vehemence of affectionate regard, exclaimed, “The earth does not bear a worthier man than Bennet Langton.” We saw a good many fine pictures, which I think are described in one of Young's tours. There is a printed catalogue of them, which the housekecper put into my hand; I should like to view them at leisure. I was much struck with Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream, by Rembrandt. We were shown a pretty large library. In his lordship's dressing-room lay Johnson's small dictionary: he showed it to me with some eagerness, saying, “Look ye! 'Quæ terra nostri non plena laboris?'” He observed also Goldsmith's Animated Nature; and said, “ Here's our friend ! the poor doctor would have been happy to hear of this."

In our way Johnson strongly expressed his love of driving fast in a post-chaise. “If,” said he, “ I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and


[blocks in formation]

would add something to the conversation.” I observed, that we were this day to stop just where the highland army did in 1745. Johnson. " It was a noble attempt." Boswell. “I wish we could have an authentick history of it.” JOHNSON. “ If you were not an idle dog you might write it, by collecting from every body what they can tell, and putting down your authorities.” BOSWELL. “But I could not have the advantage of it in my lifetime.” JOHNSON. “You might have the satisfaction of its fame, by printing it in Holland; and as to profit, consider how long it was before writing came to be considered in a pecuniary view. Baretti says, he is the first man that ever received copy-money in Italy." I said that I would endeavour to do what Dr. Johnson suggested; and I thought that I might write so as to venture to publish my History of the Civil War in Great Britain in 1745 and 1746, without being obliged to go to a foreigo press'.

When we arrived at Derby, Dr. Butter accompanied us to see the manufactory of china there. I admired the ingenuity and delicate art with which a man fashioned clay into a cup, a saucer, or a tea-pot, while a boy turned round a wheel to give the mass rotundity. I thought this as excellent in its species of power, as making good verses in its species. Yet I had no respect for this potter. Neither, indeed, has a man of any extent of thinking for a mere verse-maker, in whose numbers, however perfect, there is no poetry, no mind. The china was beautiful, but Dr. Johnson justly observed it was too dear; for that he could have vessels of silver, of the same size, as cheap as what were here made of porcelain.

I felt a pleasure in walking about Derby, such as I always have in walking about any town to which I am not

f I am now happy to understand that Mr. John Home, who was himself gallantly in the field for the reigning family in that interesting warfare, but is generous enough to do justice to the other side, is preparing an account of it for the press.—Boswell.

This account appeared in 1802; since which time several have been published, but most of them too full of romantic adventure for sober history.--Ed.

accustomed. There is an immediate sensation of novelty; and one speculates on the way in which life is passed in it, which, although there is a sameness everywhere upon the whole, is yet minutely diversified. The minute diversities in every thing are wonderful. Talking of shaving the other night at Dr. Taylor's, Dr. Johnson said, “ Sir, of a thousand shavers, two do not shave so much alike as not to be distinguished.” I thought this not possible, till he specified so many of the varieties in shaving ;-holding the razor more or less perpendicular ;--drawing long or short strokes ;-beginning at the upper part of the face, or the under;-at the right side or the left side. Indeed, when one considers what variety of sounds can be uttered by the windpipe, in the compass of a very small aperture, we may be convinced how many degress of difference there may be in the application of a razor.

We dined with Dr. Butter®, whose lady is daughter of my cousin sir John Douglas, whose grandson is now presumptive heir of the noble family of Queensberry. Johnson and he had a good deal of medical conversation. Johnson said, he had somewhere or other given an account of Dr. Nichols's discourse De Anima Medica. He told us, " that whatever a man's distemper was, Dr. Nichols would not attend him as a physician, if his mind was not at ease; for he believed that no medicines would have any influence. He once attended a man in trade, upon whom he found none of the medicines he prescribed had any effect: he asked the man's wife privately whether his affairs were not in a bad way.

She said no. He continued his attendance some time, still without success. At length the man's wife told him, she had discovered that her husband's affairs were in a bad way. When Goldsmith was dying, Dr. Turton said to him, ' Your pulse is in greater disorder than it should be, from the degree of fever which

& Dr. Butter was at this time a practising physician at Derby. He afterwards removed to London, where he died in his 79th year, March 22nd, 1805. He is the author of several medical tracts.-MALONE.


mind at ease?' Goldsmith answered it

you have: is was not.”

After dinner, Mrs. Butter went with me to see the silkmill which Mr. John Lombe h had had a patent for, having brought away the contrivance from Italy. I am not very conversant with mechanicks; but the simplicity of this machine, and its multiplied operations, struck me with an agreeable surprise. I had learnt from Dr. Johnson, during this interview, not to think with a dejected indifference of the works of art, and the pleasures of life, because life is uncertain and short; but to consider such indifference as a failure of reason, a morbidness of mind; for happiness should be cultivated as much as we can, and the objects which are instrumental to it should be steadily considered as of importance, with a reference not only to ourselves, but to multitudes in successive ages. Though it is proper to value small parts, as

Sands make the mountain, moments make the year i;

yet we must contemplate collectively, to have a just estimation of objects. One moment's being uneasy or not, seems of no consequence ; yet this may be thought of the next, and the next, and so on, till there is a large portion of misery. In the same way one must think of happiness, of learning, of friendship. We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over. We must not divide the objects of our attention into minute parts, and think separately of each part. It is by contemplating a large mass of human existence, that a man, while he sets a just value on his own life, does not think of his death as annihilating all that is great and pleasing in the world, as if actually contained in his mind, according to Berkeley's reverie. If his imagination be not sickly and feeble, it " wings its distant way” far beyond himself, and views the world in unceasing activity of every sort. It must be acknowledged, however, that Pope's plaintive reflection, that all things would be as gay as ever on the day of his death, is natural and common. We are apt to transfer to all around us our own gloom k, without considering that at any given point of time there is, perhaps, as much youth and gaiety in the world as at another. Before I came into this life, in which I have had so many pleasant scenes, have not thousands and ten thousands of deaths and funerals happened, and have not families been in grief for their nearest relations ? But have those dismal circumstances at all affected me? Why then should the gloomy scenes which I experience, or which I know, affect others ? Let us guard against imagining that there is an end of felicity upon earth, when we ourselves grow old, or are unhappy.

h See Hutton's History of Derby, a book which is deservedly esteemed for its information, accuracy, and good narrative. Indeed the age in which we live is eminently distinguished by topographical excellence.—Boswell.

i Young

Dr. Johnson told us at tea, that when some of Dr. Dodd's pious friends were trying to console him by saying that he was going to leave “ a wretched world,” he had honesty enough not to join in the cant:-“No, no," said he, “ it has been a very agreeable world to me." Johnson added, " I respect Dodd for thus speaking the truth; for, to be sure, he had for several years enjoyed a life of great voluptuousness."

He told us, that Dodd's city friends stood by him so, that a thousand pounds were ready to be given to the gaoler, if he would let him escape. He added, that he knew a friend of Dodd's, who walked about Newgate for some

k Sir Philip Sidney, in his Defence of Poetry, considers this transferring power as an essential quality of the poetic spirit. He not only advises poets on the subject, but in many of his most beautiful sonnets he exemplifies his precepts by transferring the colour of his own thoughts and feelings to the external objects of


With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb'st the skies;

How silently, and with how wan a face, etc. We must observe, that the Defence of Poetry has furnished matter for every essay and dissertation on subjects connected with poetry that has appeared since the production of that exquisite treatise.--Ed.

« PreviousContinue »