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said, “ They talk of runts;" (that is, young cows".) “Sir,' said Mrs. Salusbury, “Mr. Johnson would learn to talk of runts;' meaning that I was a man who would make the most of my situation, whatever it was.” He added, “I think myself a very polite man,"
On Saturday, May 2nd, I dined with him at sir Joshua Reynolds’s, where there was a very large company, and a great deal of conversation ; but, owing to some circumstance which I cannot now recollect, I have no record of any part of it, except that there were several people there by no means of the Johnsonian school; so that less attention was paid to him than usual, which put him out of humour: and upon some imaginary offence from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and angry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so much hurt, and had my pride so much roused, that I kept away from him for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much longer, nay, gone to Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been reconciled. To such unhappy chances are buman friendships liable.
On Friday, May 8th, I dined with him at Mr. Langton's. I was reserved and silent, which I suppose he perceived, and might recollect the cause. After dinner, when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by ourselves, he drew his chair near to mine, and said, in a tone of conciliating courtesy, “Well, how have you done?" BOSWELL. Sir, you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last at sir Joshua Rey
Such is the signification of this word in Scotland, and it should seem in Wales. (See Skinner in v.) But the heifers of Scotland and Wales, when brought to England, being always smaller than those of this country, the word runt has acquired a secondary sense, and generally signifies a heifer diminutive in size, small beyond the ordinary growth of that animal; and in this sense alone the word is acknowledged by Dr. Johnson in his Dictionary.-MALONE.
The adjective runty is often used in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire by the common people.--ED.
nolds's. You know, my dear sir, no man has a greater respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the world to serve you. Now to treat me so—.” He insisted that I had interrupted him, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded—“ But why treat me so before people who neither love you nor me?” John
“ Well, I am sorry for it. I'll make it up to you twenty different ways, as you please." BOSWELL. “I said to-day to sir Joshua, when he observed that you tossed me sometimes—I don't care how often or how high he tosses me, when only friends are present, for then I fall upon soft ground: but I do not like falling on stones, which is the case when enemies are present.--I think this is a pretty good image, sir.” Johnson. “ Sir, it is one of the happiest I have ever heard."
The truth is, there was no venom in the wounds which he inflicted at any time, unless they were irritated by some malignant infusion by other hands. We were instantly as cordial again as ever, and joined in a hearty laugh at some ludicrous but innocent peculiarities of one of our friends. Boswell. “ Do you think, sir, it is always culpable to laugh at a man to his face?” Johnson. Why, sir, that depends upon the man and the thing. If it is a slight man, and a slight thing, you may; for you take nothing valuable from him.”
He said, “I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermon on devotion, 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, -John
SON. “ He is not a pleasant man. His conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant. He does not talk as if impelled by any fulness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His conversation is like that of any other sensible
He talks with no wish either to inform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not become to sit in a 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.” BOSWELL. “ What do you say to the written characters of their language?" 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 mentions 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 principal 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
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 you dined at Lichfield. I shall be at home to-morrow.” BOSWELL.“ Then let us dine by
• Johnson had an extraordinary admiration of this lady, notwithstanding she was a violent 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:
For, who beholds thy charms a slave must be. 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 com_ bating, appears to me to be taken from an ingenious epigram in the Menagiana, vol. iii. p. 376, 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
Puisque cette jeune beauté
Ote à chacun sa liberté,
N'est-ce pas une Janseniste ?-Boswell. The best and most lucid treatise on political economy that has appeared since Adam Smith's day, was written by a lady, Mrs. Marcet.–Ed.
ourselves at the Mitre, to keep up the old custom, the custom of the manour,' custom of the Mitre.” JOHNSON. Sir, so it shall be.”
On Saturday, May 9th, 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 mind in a curious discussion, and as innocently as anatomy; provided that those who do treat it keep clear of inflammatory incentives. From
grave from lively to severe, 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.
said he, " innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was
is world created? Since it was to be created, why was it not created sooner ?"
On Sunday, May 10th, I supped with him at Mr.
c. There are,