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sity of colouring; it must receive a colour on that side. In the house of commons there are members enough who will not vote what is grossly unjust or absurd. No, sir; there must always be right enough, or appearance of right, to keep wrong in countenance.” Boswell. “ There is surely always a majority in parliament who have places, or who want to have them, and who therefore will be generally ready to support government without requiring any pretext.” E.“ True, sir ; that majority will always follow
Quo clamor vocat et turba faventium.”
BOSWELL. Well now, let us take the common phrase, place-hunters. I thought they had hunted without regard to any thing, just as their huntsman, the minister, leads, looking only to the preyi.” J.“ But taking your metaphor, you know that in hunting there are few so desperately keen as to follow without reserve. Some do not choose to leap ditches and hedges and risk their necks, or gallop over steeps, or even to dirty themselves in bogs and mire.” BOSWELL. “I am glad there are some good, quiet, moderate political hunters.” E. “I believe in any body of men in England I should have been in the minority; I have always been in the minority.” P. “ The house of commons resembles a private company. How seldom is any man convinced by another's argument: passion and pride rise against it.” R.“ What would be the consequence, if a minister, sure of a majority in the house of commons, should resolve that there should be no speaking at all upon his side.” E. He must soon go out. That has been tried; but it was found it would not do.".
E.“ The Irish language is not primitive: it is Teutonick, a mixture of the northern tongues ; it has much English in it.” JOHNSON. “It may have been radically Teu
i Lord Bolingbroke, who, however detestable as a metaphysician, must be allowed to have had admirable talents as a political writer, thus describes the house of commons, in his Letter to Sir William Windham :-“ You know the nature of that assembly; they grow, like hounds, fond of the man who shows them game, and by whose halloo they are used to be encouraged.”-Boswell.
tonick: but English and High Dutch have no similarity to the eye, though radically the same. Once, when looking into Low Dutch, I found in a whole page only one word similar to English; stroem, like stream, and it signified tide.” E. I remember having seen a Dutch sonnet, in which I found this word, roesnopies. Nobody would at first think that this could be English ; but when we enquire, we find roes, rose, and nopie, knob; so we have rosebuds.”
JOHNSON. “ I have been reading Thicknesse's Travels, which I think are entertaining.” BOSWELL. “ What, sir, a good book ?" JOHNSON. “Yes, sir, to read once ; I do not say you are to make a study of it, and digest it; and I believe it to be a true book in his intention. All travellers generally mean to tell truth; though Thicknesse observes, upon Smollett's account of his alarming a whole town in France by firing a blunderbuss, and frightening a French nobleman till he made him tie on his portmanteau, that he would be loath to say Smollett had told two lies in one page; but he had found the only town in France where these things could have happened. Travellers must often be mistaken. In every thing, except where mensuration can be applied, they may honestly differ. There has been of late a strange turn in travellers to be displeased.”
· E. “ From the experience which I have had,—and I have had a great deal,--I have learnt to think better of mankind.” JOHNSON. “ From my experience I have found them worse in commercial dealings, more disposed to cheat than I had any notion of; but more disposed to do one another good than I had conceived.” J. “ Less just and more beneficent.” JOHNSON. “And really it is wonderful, considering how much attention is necessary for men to take care of themselves, and ward off immediate evils which press upon them, it is wonderful how much they do for others. As it is said of the greatest liar, that he tells more truth than falsehood; so it may be said of the worst man, that he does more good than evil.” BOSWELL. “ Perhaps from experience men may be found happier
than we suppose." JOHNSON. “ No, sir; the more we enquire, we shall find men the less happy.” P. “ As to thinking better or worse of mankind from experience, some cunning people will not be satisfied unless they have put men to the test, as they think. There is a very good story told of sir Godfrey Kneller, in his character of a justice of the peace. A gentleman brought his servant before him, upon an accusation of having stolen some money from
but it having come out that he had laid it purposely in the servant’s way, in order to try his honesty, sir Godfrey sent the master to prison k?” JOHNSON. " To resist temptation once, is not a sufficient proof of honesty. If a servant, indeed, were to resist the continued temptation of silver lying in a window, as some people let it lie, when he is sure his master does not know how much there is of it, he would give a strong proof of honesty. But this is a proof to which you have no right to put a man. You know, humanly speaking, there is a certain degree of temptation which will overcome any virtue. Now, in so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury; and if he is overcome, you share bis guilt.” P. “ And when once overcome, it is easier for him to be got the better of again.” Boswell. “Yes, you are his seducer; you have debauched him. I have known a man resolve to put friendship to the test, by asking a friend to lend him money, merely with that view, when he did not want it.” JOHNSON. " That is very wrong, sir. Your friend may be a narrow man, and yet have many good qualities: narrowness may be his only fault. Now you are Pope thus introduces this story :
Faith, in such case if you should prosecute,
Imitations of Horace, Book II. Epist. ii.-Boswell. Horace Walpole, in narrating sir Godfrey's humorous judgements as a justice of the peace, quotes the above lines of Pope, and thus comments on them. “ This alluded to his dismissing a soldier who had stolen a joint of meat, and accused the butcher of having tempted him by it.” See Lord Orford's Works, vol. iii. p. 364.-ED.
trying his general character as a friend by one particular singly, in wbich he happens to be defective, when in truth his character is composed of many particulars."
E.“ I understand the hogshead of claret which this society was favoured with by our friend the dean, is nearly out; I think he should be written to, to send another of the same kind. Let the request be made with a happy ambiguity of expression, so that we may have the chance of his sending it also as a present.” JOHNSON. “I am willing to offer my services as secretary on this occasion." P.“ As many as are for Dr. Johnson being secretary, hold up your hands.-Carried unanimously.” Boswell. “He will be our dictator.” JOHNSON. “No, the company is to dictate to me. I am only to write for wine ; and I am quite disinterested, as I drink none; I shall not be suspected of having forged the application. I am no more than humble scribe.” E.“ Then you shall prescribe.” BOSWELL. “Very well. The first play of words to-day.” J. “No, no; the bulls in Ireland.” JOHNSON. “Were I your dictator, you should have no wine. It would be my business cavere ne quid detrimenti respublica caperet;' and wine is dangerous. Rome was ruined by luxury,” (smiling.) E. “If you allow no wine as dictator, you shall not have me for your master of borse.”
On Saturday, April 4th, I drank tea with Johnson at Dr. Taylor's, where he had dined. He entertained us with an account of a tragedy written by a Dr. Kennedy, (not the Lisbon physician.) “The catastrophe of it,” said he, “was, that a king, who was jealous of his queen with his prime minister, castrated himself". This tragedy was
· The reverse of the story of Combabus, on which Mr. David Hume told lord Macartney that a friend of his had written a tragedy. It is, however, possible that I may have been inaccurate in my perception of what Dr. Johnson related, and that he may have been talking of the same ludicrous tragical subject that Mr. Hume had mentioned.-Boswell. The story of Combabus, which was originally told by Lucian,
be found in Bayle's Dictionary.—MALONE.
Bayle's account of Combabus is almost entirely extracted from Lucian's Syrian Goddess, ġarnished with some strange comments from the fathers.—Ed.
actually shown about in manuscript to several people, and, amongst others, to Mr. Fitzherbert, who repeated to me two lines of the prologue:
Our hero's fate we have but gently touch'd;
It is hardly to be believed what absurd and indecent images men will introduce into their writings, without being sensible of the absurdity and indecency. I remember lord Orrery told me that there was a pamphlet written against sir Robert Walpole, the whole of which was an allegory on the PHALLICK OBSCENITY. The duchess of Buckingham asked lord Orrery who this person was. He answered, he did not know. She said she would send to Mr. Pulteney, who, she supposed, could inform her. So then, to prevent her from making herself ridiculous, lord Orrery sent her grace a note, in which he gave her to understand what was meant.”
He was very silent this evening; and read in a variety of books; suddenly throwing down one, and taking up another.
He talked of going to Streatham that night. TAYLOR. “You'll be robbed, if you do; or you must shoot a highwayman. Now I would rather be robbed than do that. I would not shoot a highwayman." JOHNSON. “But I would rather shoot him in the instant when he is attempting to rob me, than afterwards swear against him at the Old Bailey, to take away his life after he has robbed me. I am surer I am right in the one case than in the other. I may be mistaken as to the man when I swear : I cannot be mistaken if I shoot him in the act. Besides, we feel less reluctance to take away a man's life when we are heated by the injury, than to do it at a distance of time by an oath, after we have cooled.” BOSWELL.
Boswell. “So, sir, you would rather act from the motive of private passion, than that of publick advantage.” Johnson. “Nay, sir, when I shoot the highwayman, I act from both.” BOSWELL,