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probably at another time would have admitted this opi nion And let it be kept in remembrance, that he was very careful not to give any encouragement to irregular conduct. A gentleman, not adverting to the distinction made by him upon this subject, supposed a case of singular perverseness in a wife, and heedlessly said, that “ then he thought a husband might do as he pleased with a safe conscience.” Johnson. “ Nay, sir, this is wild indeed, (smiling:) you must consider that fornication is a crime in a single man; aud you cannot have more liberty by being married.”
He this evening expressed himself strongly against the Roman catholics; observing, “In every thing in which they differ from us, they are wrong." He was even against the invocation of saints; in short, he was in the humour of opposition.
Having regretted to him that I had learnt little Greek, as is too generally the case in Scotland ; that I had for a long time hardly applied at all to the study of that noble language, and that I was desirous of being told by him what method to follow; he recommended to me as easy helps, Sylvanus's First Book of the Iliad ; Dawson's Lexicon to the Greek New Testament; and Hesiod, with Pasoris Lexicon at the end of it.
On Tuesday, October 12th, I dined with him at Mr. Ramsay's, with lord Newhaven and some other company, none of whom I recollect, but a beautiful Miss Grabam, a relation of his lordship’s, who asked Dr. Johnson to hob or nob with her. He was flattered by such pleasing attention, and politely told her, he never drank wine ; but if she would drink a glass of water, he was much at her service. She accepted. “Oho, sir!" said lord Newhaven, “ you are caught." JOHNSON. “ Nay, I do not see how I am caught; but if I am caught, I don't want to get free again. If I am caught, I hope to be kept." Then when the two glasses of water were brought, smiling placidly to the young lady, he said, “ Madam, let us reciprocate.' ”
• Now the lady of sir Henry Dashwood, bart.
Lord Newhaven and Johnson carried on an argument for some time concerning the Middlesex election. Johnson said, “ Parliament may be considered as bound by law, as a man is bound where there is nobody to tie the knot. As it is clear that the house of commons may expel, and expel again and again ; why not allow of the power to incapacitate for that parliament, rather than have a perpetual contest kept up between parliament and the people.” Lord Newhaven took the opposite side ; but respectfully said, " I speak with great deference to you, Dr. Johnson ; I speak to be instructed.” This had its full effect on my friend. He bowed his head, almost as low as the table, to a complimenting nobleman; and called out, “ My lord,
, my lord, I do not desire all this ceremony; let us tell our minds to one another quietly.” After the debate was over, he said, “ I have got lights on the subject to-day which I had not before.” This was a great deal from bim, especially as he had written a pamphlet upon it.
He observed, “ The house of commons was originally not a privilege of the people, but a check for the crown on the house of lords. I remember Henry the eighth wanted them to do something; they hesitated in the morning, but did it in the afternoon. He told them, “It is well you did ; or half your heads should have been upon Temple-bar.' But the house of commons is now no longer under the power of the crown, and therefore must be bribed.” He added, “I have no delight in talking of publick affairs."
Of his fellow-collegian, the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield, he said, “ Whitefield never drew as much attention as a mountebank does : he did not draw attention by doing better than others, but by doing what was strange. Were Astley to preach a sermon standing upon his head on a horse's back, he would collect a multitude to hear him; but no wise man would say he had made a better sermon for that. I never treated Whitefield's ministry with contempt; I believe he did good. He had devoted himself to the lower classes of mankind, and among
bares, ee how
then dly to
them he was of use. But when familiarity and noise claim the praise due to knowledge, art, and elegance, we must beat down such pretensions.”
What I have preserved of his conversation during the remainder of my stay in London at this time, is only what follows: I told him that when I objected to keeping company with a notorious infidel, a celebrated friend of ours said to me, “I do not think that men who live laxly in the world, as you and I do, can with propriety assume such an authority. Dr. Johnson may, who is uniformly exemplary in bis conduct. But it is not very consistent to shun an infidel to-day, and get drunk to-morrow.” JOHNSON. “Nay, sir, this is sad reasoning. Because a man cannot be right in all things, is he to be right in nothing? Because a man sometimes gets drunk, is he therefore to steal? This doctrine would very soon bring a man to the gallows."
After all, however, it is a difficult question how far sincere christians should associate with the avowed enemies of religion; for, in the first place, almost every man's mind may be more or less corrupted by evil communications :' secondly, the world may very naturally suppose that they are not really in earnest in religion, who can easily bear its opponents : and thirdly, if the profane find themselves quite well received by the pious, one of the checks upon an open declaration of their infidelity, and one of the probable chances of obliging them seriously to reflect, which their being shunned would do, is removed.
He, I know not why, showed upon all occasions an aversion to go to Ireland, where I proposed to him that we should make a tour. JOHNSON. “ It is the last place where I should wish to travel.” BOSWELL. “Should you not like to see Dublin, sir?” JOHNSON. “No, sir; Dublin is only a worse capital.” BOSWELL. “Is not the Giant's Causeway worth seeing ?" JOHNSON. “ Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see.”
Yet he had a kindness for the Irish nation, and thus generously expressed himself to a gentleman from that
country, on the subject of an union which artful poli-
Of an acquaintance of ours, whose manners and every
A foreign minister of no very high talents, who had been in his company for a considerable time quite overlooked, happened luckily to mention that he had read some of his Rambler in Italian, and admired it much. This pleased him greatly: he observed that the title had been translated, Il Genio Errante, though I have been told it was rendered more ludicrously, Il Vagabondo; and find. ing that this minister gave such a proof of his taste, he was all attention to him, and on the first remark which he made, however simple, exclaimed, “ The ambassadour says well—His excellency observes-—;" and then he expanded and enriched the little that had been said, in so strong a manner, that it appeared something of consequence. This was exceedingly entertaining to the company who were present; and many a time afterwards it furnished a pleasant topick of merriment: “The ambassadour says well” became a laughable term of applause, when no mighty matter had been expressed.
I left London on Monday, October 18th, and accompanied colonel Stuart to Chester, where his regiment was to lie for some time.
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
“ Chester, October 22, 1779.
enough that night. The colonel had heard so preferable a character of the George, that he would not put up at the Three Crowns, so that I did not see our host Wilkins. We found at the George as good accommodation as we could wish to have ; and I fully enjoyed the comfortable thought that I was in Lichfield again. Next morning it rained very hard; and as I had much to do in a little time, I ordered a post-chaise, and between eight and nine sallied forth to make a round of visits. I first went to Mr. Green, hoping to have had him to accompany me to all my other friends ; but he was engaged to attend the bishop of Sodor and Man, who was then lying at Lichfield very ill of the gout. Having taken a hasty glance at the additions to Green's museum, from which it was not easy to break away, I next went to the friary, where I at first occasioned some tumult in the ladies, who were not prepared to receive company so early: but my name, which has by wonderful felicity come to be closely associated with yours, soon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb and Miss Adey reassumed their seats at the breakfast table, which they had quitted with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of an old acquaintance; and, after we had joined in a cordial chorus to your praise, Mrs. Cobb gave me the high satisfaction of hearing that you said, “Boswell is a man who, I believe, never left a house without leaving a wish for his return.' And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell me, that if ever I came to Lichfield, she hoped I would take a bed at the friary. From thence I drove to Peter Garrick’sd, where I also found a very flattering welcome. He appeared to me to enjoy his usual cheerfulness; and he very kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass a week with him. From Mr. Garrick's I went to the palace to wait on Mr. Seward. I was first entertained by his lady and daughter, he himself being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he desired to see me; and I found
d The brother of David Garrick.-Ep.