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travelled, talked to us of his “ History of Gustavus Adolphus,” which he said was a very good book in the German translation. Johnson. excessively vain. He put copies of his book in manuscript into the hands of Lord Chesterfield and Lord Granville, that they might revise it. Now how absurd was it to suppose that two such noblemen would revise so big a manuscript. Poor man! he left London the day of the publication of his book, that he might be out of the way of the great praise he was to receive; and he was ashamed to return, when he found how ill his book had succeeded. It was unlucky in coming out on the same day with Robertson's History of Scotland. His husbandry, however, is good.” "Boswell. “ So he was fitter for that than for heroic history: he did well, when he turned his sword into a ploughshare."
Mr. Eliot mentioned a curious liquor peculiar to his country, which the Cornish fishermen drink. They call it mahogany; and it is made of two parts gin and one part treacle, well beaten together. I begged to have some of it made, which was done with proper skill by Mr. Eliot. I thought it very good liquor; and said it was a counterpart of what is called Athol porridge in the Highlands of Scot, land, which is a mixture of whisky and honey. Johnson said, “ that must be a better liquor than the Cornish, for both its component parts are better.” He also observed, “ Mahogany must be a modern name; for it is not long since the wood called mahogany was known in this country." I mentioned his scale of liquors:-claret for boys,
port for men, - brandy for heroes.
“ Then," said Mr. Burke, “let me have claret: I love to be a boy; to have the careless gaiety of boyish days." JOHNSON “ I should drink claret too, if it would give me that; but it does not: it neither makes boys men, nor men boys. You 'll be drowned by it before it has any effect upon you."
I ventured to mention a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that Dr. Johnson was learning to dance of Vestris. Lord Charlemont, wishing to excite him to talk, proposed, in a whisper, that he should be asked whether it was true. 6 Shall I ask him ?” said his lordship. We were, by a great maiority, clear for the experiment. Upon which his lordship very gravely, and with a courteous air,
Pray, Sir, is it true that you are taking lessons of Vestris ?" This was risking a good deal, and required the boldness of a general of Irish volunteers to make the attempt. Johnson was at first startled, and in some heat answered, “ How can your lordship ask so simple a question ?" But immediately recovering himself, whether from unwiljingness to be deceived or to appear deceived, or whether from real good humour, he kept up the joke: “ Nay, but if any body were to answer the paragraph, and contradict it, I'd have a reply, and would
that he who contradicted it was no friend either to Vestris or me, For-why should not Dr. Johnson add to his other powers a little corporeal agility ? Socrates tearnt to dance at an advanced age, and Tato learnt Greek at an advanced age: Then it might proceed to say, that this Johnson,
not content with dancing on the ground, might dance on the rope ; and they might introduce the elephant dancing on the rope. A nobleman (1) wrote a play called · Love in a Hollow Tree.' He found out that it was a bad one, and therefore wished to buy up all the copies and burn them. The Duchess of Marlborough had kept one; and when he was against her at an election, she had a new edition of it printed, and prefixed to it, as a frontispiece, an elephant dancing on a rope, to show that his lordship’s writing comedy was as awkward as an elephant dancing on a rope."
On Sunday, April 1., I dined with him at Mr. Thrale’s, with Sir Philip Jennings Clerk and Mr. Perkins, who had the superintendence of Mr. Thrale's brewery, with a salary of five hundred pounds a year. Sir Philip had the appearance of a gentleman of ancient family, well advanced in life. He wore his own white hair in a bag of goodly size, a black velvet coat, with an embroidered waistcoat, and very rich laced ruffles ; which Mrs. Thrale said were old fashioned, but which, for that reason, I thought the more respectable, more like a Tory; yet Sir Philip was then in opposition in parliament. “ Ah! Sir,” said Johnson, “ancient ruffles and modern principles do not agree.” Sir Philip defended the opposition to the American war ably and with temper, and I joined him. He said the majority of the nation was against the ministry. Johnson."1,
(1) William, the first Viscount Grimston. — B.- Lord Charlemont was far from being pleased with Mr. Boswell's having published this conversation. See “ Memoirs" by Hardy, vol. . p. 401.-C.
Sir, am against the ministry ; but it is for having too little of that of which opposition thinks they have too much. Were I minister, if any man wagged his finger against me, he should be turned out; for that which it is in the power of government to give at pleasure to one or to another should be given to the supporters of government. If you will not oppose at the expense of losing your place, your opposition will not be honest, you will feel no serious grievance; and the present opposition is only a contest to get what others have. Sir Robert Walpole acted as I would do. As to the American war, the sense of the nation is with the ministry. The majority of those who can understand is with it; the majority of those who can only hear is against it; and as those who can only hear are more numerous than those who can understand, and opposition is always loudest, a majority of the rabble will be for opposition."
This boisterous vivacity entertained us; but the truth in my opinion was that those who could understand the best were against the American war, as almost every man now is, when the question has been coolly considered.
Mrs. Thrale gave high praise to Mr. Dudley Long (now North). Johnson. “ Nay, my dear lady, don't talk so. Mr. Long's character is very short. It is nothing. He fills a chair. He is a man of genteel appearance, and that is all. (') I
(1) Here Johnson condescended to play upon the words long and short. But little did he know that, owing to Mr. Long's reserve in his presence, he was talking thus of a gentleman disa
know nobody who blasts by praise as you do: for whenever there is exaggerated praise, every body is set against a character. They are provoked to attack it. Now there is Pepys (): you praised that man with such disproportion, that I was incited to lessen him, perhaps more than he deserves. His blood is upon your head. By the same principle, your malice defeats itself; for your censure is too violent. And yet (looking to her with a leering smile) she is the first woman in the world, could she but restrain that wicked tongue of hers; — she would be the only woman, could she but command that little whirligig."
Upon the subject of exaggerated praise I took the liberty to say, that I thought there might be very high praise given to a known character which deserved it, and therefore it would not be exaggerated. Thus, one might say of Mr. Edmund Burke, he is a very wonderful man. Johnson. “ No, Sir, you would not be safe, if another man had a mind perversely to contradict. He might answer, · Where is all the wonder? Burke is, to be sure, a man of
tinguished amongst his acquaintance for acuteness of wit; and to whom, I think, the French expression, “I pétille d'esprit,” is particularly suited. He has gratified me by mentioning that he heard Dr. Johnson say, “ Sir, if I were to lose Boswell it would be a limb amputated.”
(2) William Weller Pepys, Esq., one of the masters in the High Court of Chancery, and well known in polite circles. My acquaintance with him is not sufficient to enable me to speak of him from my own judgment. But I know that both at Eton and Oxford he was the intimate friend of the late Sir James Macdonald, the Marcellus of Scotland, whose extraordinary talents, learning, and virtues will ever be remembered with ado miration and regret.