Page images


- BURKE - FOOTE. 278

pany there.”

who is superior to them all.” Boswell. “ What! had

you them all to yourself, Sir?” Johnson. “] had them all, as much as they were had ; but it might have been better had there been more com

BOSWELL. “ Might not Mrs. Montague have been a fourth ?” Johnson. “Sir, Mrs. Montague does not make a trade of her wit; but Mrs. Montague is a very extraordinary woman : she has a constant stream of conversation, and it is always impregnated; it has always meaning.” BosWELL. " Mr. Burke has a constant stream of conversation.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir; if a man were to go by chance at the same time with Burke under a shed, to shun a shower, he would say, “this is an extraordinary man.' If Burke should go into a stable to see his horse dressed, the ostler would say, we have had an extraordinary man here.'” Bos

“ Foote was a man who never failed in conversation. If he had gone into a stable — ”. Johnson. “ Sir, if he had gone into the stable, the ostler would have said, here has been a comical fellow; but he would not have respected him.” Boswell. “ And, Sir, the ostler would have answered nim, would have given him as good as he brought, as the common saying is.”. JOHNSON. 66 Yes, Sir; and Foote would have answered the ostler. When Burke does not descend to be

merry, his conversation is very superior indeed. There is no proportion between the powers which he shows in serious talk and in jocularity. When he lets himself down to that, he is in the kennel.' I have


[ocr errors]




in another place (1) opposed, and I hope with success, Dr. Johnson's very singular and erroneous notion as to Mr. Burke's pleasantry. Mr. Windham now said low to me, that he differed from our great friend in this observation ; for that Mr. Burke was often very happy in his merriment. It would not have been right for either of us to have contradicted Johnson at this time, in a society all of whom did not know and value Mr. Burke as much as we did. It might have occasioned something more rough, and at any rate would probably have checked the flow of Johnson's good humour. He called to us with a sudden air of exultation, as the thought started into his mind,“ Gentlemen, I must tell you a very great thing. The Empress of Russia has ordered the · Rambler' to be translated into the Russian language (?); so I shall be read or the banks of the Wolga. Horace boasts that his fame would extend as far as the banks of the Rhone, Dow the Wolga is farther from me than the Rhone was from Horace." Bos WELL. “ You must certainly be pleased with this, Sir.” Johnson. “ I am pleased, Sir, to be sure. A man is pleased to find he has succeeded in that which he has endeavoured to do.”

One of the company mentioned his having seen a noble person driving in his carriage, and looking

(1) “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides." See antè, Vol. IV. p. 28.

(2) I have since heard that the report was not well founded ; bat the elation discovered by Johnson, in the belief that it was true, showed a noble ardour for literary fame.

exceedingly well, notwithstanding his great age. JOHNSON. " Ah, Sir, that is nothing. Bacon observes, that a stout healthy old man is like a towe andermined.”

On Sunday, May 16., I found hin: alone: he talked of Mrs. Thrale with much concern, saying, “ Sir, she has done every thing wrong, since Thrale's bridle was off her neck;" and was proceeding to mention some circumstances which have since been the subject of public discussion (1), when he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury.

Dr. Douglas, upon this occasion, refuted a mistaken notion which is very common in Scotlanda that the ecclesiastical discipline (2) of the Church of England, though duly enforced, is insufficient to preserve the morals of the clergy, inasmuch as all delinquents may be screened by appealing to the convocation, which being never authorised by the

(1) No doubt in Baretti's libellous strictures upon her. See untè, Vol. VI. p. 169. — C.

(2) Since the abolition of the High Commission Court in 1640, proceedings against clergymen for ecclesiastical offences, (happily, in this country, of rare occurrence, when compared with the number of the clergy) have been conducted by the same rules as are observed in other criminal cases in the spiritual courts. That inconveniences have attended their application to such suits is not a recent complaint.

The Archbishop” (Tenison), says Evelyn, in 1696, “ told me how unsatisfied he was with the canon law, and how exceedingly unreasonable all their pleadings appeared to him;" and the ecclesiastical commissioners, appointed in 1831, allude in their report to the unnecessary delay, and the large expenses incurred, owing to the present form of proceedings. The report adds, that « the interests of religion evidently require that some prorision shoula be made for the effectual prosecution of suits against clerks, an' particularly to restore to the bishops that persor al jurisdiction which they (riginally exercised.".


[ocr errors]

king to sit for the despatch of business, the appeal never can be heard. Dr. Douglas observed, that this was founded upon ignorance ; for that the bishops have sufficient power to maintain discipline, and that the sitting of the convocation was wholly immaterial in this respect, it being not a court of judicature, but like a parliament, to make canons and regulations as times may require.

Johnson, talking of the fear of death, said, “ Some people are not afraid, because they look


salvation as the effect of an absolute decree, and think they feel in themselves the marks of sanctification. Others, and those the most rational in my opinion, look upon salvation as conditional ; and as they never can be sure that they have complied with the conditions, they are afraid.”

In one of his little manuscript diaries about this time I find a short notice, which marks his amiable disposition more certainly than a thousand studied declarations. “ Afternoon spent cheerfully and elegantly, I hope without offence to God or man; *hough in no holy duty, yet in the general exercise nd cultivation of benevolence.”

On Monday, May 17., I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were Colonel Vallancy, the Reverend Dr. Gibbons, and Mr. Capel Lofft, who, though a most zealous Whig, has a mind so full of learning and knowledge, and so much exercised in various departments, and withal so much liberality, that the stupendous powers of the literary Goliah, though they did not frighten this little David of popular spirit, could not but excite his admiration. There

was also Mr. Braithwaite of the post-office, that amiable and friendly man, who, with modest and unassuming manners, has associated with many of the wits of the age. Johnson was very quiescent to-day. Perhaps too I was indolent. I find nothing more of him in my notes, but that when I mentioned that I had seen in the king's library sixtythree editions of my favourite Thomas à Kempis, - amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabic, and Armenian, — he said he thought it unnecessary to collect many editions of a book, which were all the same, except as to the paper and print; he would have the original, and all the translations, and all the editions which had any variations in the text. He approved of the famous collection of editions of Horace by Douglas (1), mentioned by Pope, who is said to have had a closet filled with them; and he added, “ every man should try to collect one book in that manner, and present it to a public library.”

On Tuesday, May 18., I saw him for a short time in the morning. I told him that the mob had called

(1) The mention by Popę (no very delicate one) is in the following lines of the Dunciad, and the subjoined note :

“ Bid me with Pollio sup, as well as dine,

There all the learned shall at the labour stand,

And Douglas lend his soft obstetric hand, « Douglas, a physician of great learning and no less taste ; above all, curious in what related to Horace; of whom he col.. lected every edition, translation, and comment, to the number of several hundred volumes.” Dunciad, b. iv. l. 392. Dr. James Douglas was born in Scotland in 1675, and died in Lone don in 1742. He published some medical works. C.

« PreviousContinue »