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· Vicar of Wakefield' I myself did not think would have had much success. 1778. It was written and sold to a bookseller before his Traveller,' but published Ætat. 69. after; so little expectation had the bookseller from it. Had it been sold after • The Traveller,' he might have had twice as much money for it, though sixty guineas was no mean price. The bookseller had the advantage of Goldsmith's reputation from The Traveller' in the sale, though he had it not in felling the copy.” Sir Joshua Reynolds. “ The Beggars Opera affords a proof how ftrangely people will differ in opinion about a literary performance. Burke thinks it has no merit.” JOHNSON. “ It was refused by one of the houses; but I should have thought it would succeed, not from any great excellence in the writing, but from the novelty, and the general spirit and gaiety of the piece, which keeps the audience always attentive, and dismisses them in good humour.”
We went to the drawing-room, where was a considerable increase of company. Several of us got round Dr. Johnson, and complained that he would not give us an exact catalogue of his works, that there might be a complete edition. He smiled, and evaded our intreaties. That he intended to do it I have no doubt, because I have heard him say so; and I have in my possefsion an imperfect lift, fairly written out, which he entitles Historia Studiorum. I once got from one of his friends a list, which there was pretty good reason to suppose was accurate, for it was written down in his presence by this friend, who enumerated each article aloud, and had some of them mentioned to him by Mr. Levett, in concert with whom it was made out; and Johnson, who heard all this, did not contradict it. But when I shewed a copy of this list to him, and mentioned the evidence for its exactness, he laughed, and said, “I was willing to let them go on as they pleased, and never interfered.” Upon which I read it to him, article by article, and got him positively to own or refuse; and then having obtained certainty so far, I got some other articles
, confirmed by him directly, and afterwards, from time to time, made additions under his fanction. His friend Edward Cave having been mentioned, he told us, “ Cave used
to sell ten thousand of · The Gentleman's Magazine ;' yet such was then his minute attention and anxiety that the sale should not feel the finallest diminution, that he would name a particular person who he heard had talked of leaving off the magazine, and would say, “Let us have something good. next month."
It was observed, that avarice was inherent in some dispositions. Johnson. " No man was born a miser, because no man was born to posession. Every
man is born cupidus--desirous of getting ; but not avarus—desirous of keepErato 79. ing.” Boswell. “I have heard old Mr. Sheridan maintain, with much
ingenuity, that a complete miser is a happy man ; a miser who gives himself wholly to the one passion of saving.” Johnson. “ That is flying in the face of all the world, who have called an avaricious man a miser, because he is miserable. No, Sir; a man who both spends and faves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.”
The conversation having turned on Bon Mots, he quoted from one of the Ana an exquisite instance of flattery in a maid of honour in France, who being asked by the Queen what o'clock it was, answered, “What your Majesty pleases.” He admitted that Mr. Burke's classical pun upon Mr. Wilkes's being carried on the shoulders of the mob,
Numerisque fertur s Lege folutus,” was admirable; and though he was strangely unwilling to allow to that extraordinary man the talent of wit “, he also laughed with approbation at another of his playful conceits; which was, that “ Horace has in one line given a description of a good desirable manour :
Eft modus in rebus, funt certi denique fines.' that is to say, a modus as to the tithes and certain fines.”
He observed, “ A man cannot with propriety speak of himself, except he relates simple facts; as, “I was at Richmond :' or what depends on mensuration; as, 'I am six feet high.” He is sure he has been at Richmond ; he is sure he is six feet high: but he cannot be sure he is wise, or that he has any other excellence. Then, all censure of a man's self is oblique praise. It is in order to shew how much he can spare. It has all the invidiousness of self-praise, and all the reproach of falsehood.” Boswell. “ Sometimes it may proceed from a man's strong consciousness of his faults being observed. He knows that others would throw him down, and therefore he had better lye down softly of his own accord.”
4 See this question fully investigated in the Notes upon my “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” edit. 3, p. 21, et feq. And here, as a lawyer mindful of the maxim Suum cuique tribuito, I cannot forbear to mention, that the additional Note beginning with “ I find since the former edition,” is not mine, but was obligingly furnished by Mr. Malone, who was so kind as to superintend the press while I was in Scotland, and the first part of the second edition was printing. He would not allow me to afcribe it to its proper authour; but as it is exquisitely acute and elegant, I take this opportunity, without his knowledge, to do him justice.
On Tuesday, April 28, he was engaged to dine at General Paoli's, where, as I have already observed, I was still entertained in elegant hospitality, and with all the ease and comfort of a home. I called on him, and accompanied him in a hackney-coach. We stopped first at the bottom of Hedge-lane, into which he went to leave a letter, “ with good news for a poor man in distress,” as he told me. I did not question him particularly as to this. He himself often resembled Lady Bolingbroke's lively description of Pope: that “ he was un politique aux choux et aux raves.” He would say, “ I dine to-day in Grosvenor-square ;” this might be with a Duke: or, perhaps, “I dine to-day at the other end of the town:” or, “A gentleman of
“A gentleman of great eminence called on me yesterday.”—He loved thus to keep things Aoating in conjecture: Omne ignotum pro magnifico est. . I believe I ventured to dissipate the cloud, to unveil the mystery, more freely and frequently than any of his friends. We stopped again at Wirgman's, the corner of St. James's-street, a toy-shop, to which he had been directed, but not clearly, for he searched about some time, and could not find it at first, and said, " To direct one only to a corner shop is toying with one." I suppose he meant this as a play upon the word toy : it was the first time that I knew him stoop to fuch sport. After he had been some time in the shop, he sent for me to come out of the coach, and help him to choose a pair of silver buckles, as those he had were too small. Probably this alteration in dress had been suggested by Mrs. Thrale, by associating with whom, his external appearance was much improved. He got better clothes; and the dark colour, from which he never deviated, was enlivened by metal buttons. His wigs, too, were much better; and during their travels in France, he was furnished with a Paris-made wig, of handsome construction. This choosing of silver buckles was a negociation: “Sir, (said he,) I will not have the ridiculous large ones now in fashion ; and I will give no more than a guinea for a pair.” Such were the principles of the business; and, after some examination, he was fitted. As we drove along, I found him in a talking humour, of which I availed myself. Boswell. “ I was this morning in Ridley's Mop, Sir; and was told, that the collection called · Johnsoniana' has sold very much.” Johnson. “ Yet the * Journey to the Hebrides' has not had a great sales.” Boswell. “ That is strange.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir; for in that book I have told the world a great deal that they did not know before.”
s Here he either was mistaken, or had a different notion of an extensive sale from what is generally entertained : for the fact is, that four thousand copies of that excellent work were fold very quickly. A new edition has been printed since his death, befides that in the collection of his works.
OF DR. JOHNSO N. 1778. Boswell. “ I drink chocolate, Sir, this forenoon with Mr. Eld; and, to Arat. 09. my no small surprize, found him to be a Staffordshire Whig, a being which I did not believe had existed.” Johnson. “Sir, there are rascals in all coun
JOHNSON tries.” Bosw-IL. " Eld faid, a Tory was a creature generated between a non-juring parfon and one's grand-mother.” Johnson.
« And I have always faid, the first Whig was the Devil.” Boswell. “He certainly was, Sir. The Devil was impatient of subordination; he was the first who resisted power:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” At General Paoli's were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Marchese Gherardi of Lombardy, and Mr. John Spottiswoode, of Spottiswoode', the folicitor. At this time fears of an invasion were circulated; to obviate which, Mr. Spottiswoode observed, that Mr. Fraser the engineer, who had lately come froin Dunkirk, faid, that the French had the same fears of us. Johnson. “ It is thus that mutual cowardice keeps us in peace. Were one half of mankind brave, and one half cowards, the brave would be always beating the cowards. Were all brave, they would lead a very uneasy life ; all would be continually fighting : but being all cowards, we go on very well.”
” We talked of drinking wine. Johnson. “I require wine only when I am alone. I have then often wished for it, and often taken it.” SportISWOODE. “ What, by way of a companion, Sir?” Johnson. “ To get rid of myself, to send myself away. Wine gives great pleasure ; and every pleasure is of itself a good. It is a good, unless counterbalanced by evil. A man may have a strong reason not to drink wine ; and that may be greater than the pleasure. Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others. Sometimes it does. But the danger is, that while a man grows better pleased with himself, he may be growing less pleasing to others . Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out
6 In the phraseology of Scotland, I should have said, “ Mr. Spottiswoode, of that ilk." Jolinson knew that sense of the word very well, and has thus explained it in his Di&ionary, voce Ilk-" It also fignifies the same;' as, Mackintosh of that ilk, denotes a gentleman whose furname and the title of his estate are the same.”
? It is observed in Waller's Life, in the Biographia Britanntca, that he drank only water; and that while he fat in a company who were drinking wine," he had the dexterity to accommodate
“ This discourse to the pitch of theirs as it sunk.” If excess in drinking be meant, the remark is acutely just. But surely, a moderate use of wine gives a gaiety of spirits which water-drinkers know not.
what a dread of the company has represied. It only puts in motion what 1778. has been locked up in frost. But this may be good, or it may be bad.” Ærat. 69. Spottiswoode.“ So, Sir, wine is a key which opens a box: but this box may be either full or empty.” JOHNSON. “ Nay, Sir, conversation is the key: wine is a pick-lock which forces open the box and injures it. A man should cultivate his mind so as to have that confidence and readiness without wine, which wine gives.” Boswell. “ The great difficulty of resisting wine is from benevolence. For instance, a good worthy man asks you to taste his wine which he has had twenty years in his cellar.” Johnson.
Johnson. “ Sir, all this notion about benevolence arises from a man's imagining himself to be of more importance to others, than he really is. They don't care a farthing whether he drinks wine or not." Sir Joshua Reynolds. “ Yes, they do for the time.” Johnson. “ For the time !--If they care this minute, they forget it the next. And as for the good worthy man; how do we know he is good and worthy? No good and worthy man will insist upon another man's drinking wine. As to the wine twenty years in the cellar—of ten men, three say this, merely because they must say something ;-three are telling a lie, when they say they have had the wine twenty years ;-three would rather save the wine ;-one, perhaps, cares. I allow it is something to please one's company; and people are always pleased with those who partake pleasure with them. But after a man has brought himself to relinquish the great personal pleasure which arises from drinking wine, any other consideration is a trifle. To please others by drinking wine, is something, only if there be nothing against it. I should, however, be sorry to offend worthy men:
Boswell. “Curst be the spring, the water.” Johnson. " But let us consider what a sad thing it would be, if we were obliged to drink or do any thing else that may happen to be agreeable to the company where we are.” LANGTON. “ By the same rule you must join with a gang of cut-purses." JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir: but yet we must do justice to wine ; we must allow it the power it possesses.
it possesses. To make a man pleased with himself, let me tell you, is doing a very great thing;
Si patriæ volumus, si Nobis vivere cari,”