Page images
PDF
EPUB

SON.

“ They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of malignity and meanness, without any abilities; and are quite different from the Italian magician. King James says in his · Dæmonology,' · Magicians command the devils: witches are their servants. The Italian magicians are elegant beings." Ramsay. “ Opera witches, not Drury-lane witches.” -Johnson observed, that abilities might be employed in a narrow sphere, as in getting money, which he said he believed no man could do, without vigorous parts, though concentrated to a point. Ramsay. “ Yes, like a strong horse in a mill; he pulls better."

Lord Graham, while he praised the beauty of Lochlomond, on the banks of which is his family seat, complained of the climate, and said he could not bear it. JOHNSON. “ Nay, my Lord, don't talk so: you may bear it well enough. Your ancestors have borne it more years than I can tell.” This was a handsome compliment to the antiquity of the House of Montrose. His Lordship told me afterwards, that he had only affected to complain of the climate ; lest, if he had spoken as favourably of his country as he really thought, Dr. Johnson might have attacked it. Johnson was very courteous to Lady Margaret Macdonald.

“Madam (said he), when I was in the Isle of Sky, I heard of the people running to take the stones off the road, lest Lady Margaret's horse should stumble.”

Lord Graham commended Dr.Drummond at Naples as a man of extraordinary talents; and added, that he had a great love of liberty. Johnson. “ He is young, my Lord (looking to his Lordship with an arch smile); all boys love liberty, till experience convinces them they are not so fit to govern themselves as they imagined. We are all agreed as to our own liberty; we would have as much of it as we can get ;

but we are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern us.

When that was the case some time ago, no man was at liberty not to have candles in his windows.” RAMSAY. “ The result is, that order is better than confusion.” Johnson. “ The result is, that order cannot be had but by subordination.”

On Friday, April 16, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the favourite of a nobleman. Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what passed, and particularly with his

prayer
for the
mercy

of heaven. He said, in a solemn fervid tone, I hope he shall find mercy.”

This day a violent altercation arose between Johnson and Beauclerk, which having made much noise at the time, I think it proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a minute -account of it.

In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as Judge Blackstone had done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said,

No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself, took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once. Lord

's cook shot himself with one pistol, and lived ten days in great agony.

Mr. who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved, to shoot himself; and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast, before shooting himself

, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion: he had two charged pistols; one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had

[ocr errors]

are

shot himself with the other."-"Well (said Johnson, with an air of triumph), you see here one pistol was sufficient.” Beauclerk replied smartly, “Because it bappened to kill him.” And either then or a very little afterwards, being

piqued at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, “ This is what

you

don't know, and I do." There was then a cessation of the dispute; and some minutes intervened, during which, dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed," Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to talk so petulantly to me, as • This is what

you don't know, but what I know?' One thing I know, which you don't seem to know, that you very uncivil.” BEAUCLERK.“ Because you began by being uncivil (which you always are).

The

words in parentheses were, I believe, not heard by Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me, that the reason why he waited at first some time without taking any notice of what Mr. Beauclerk said, was because he was thinking whether he should resent it. But when he considered that there were present a young Lord and an eminent traveller, two men of the world with whom he had never dined before, he was apprehensive that they might think they had a right to take such liberties with him as Beauclerk did, and therefore resolved he would not let it pass; adding, “ that he would not appear a coward.” A little while after this, the conversation turned on the violence of Hackman's temper, Johnson then said,

It was his business to command his temper, as my friend, Mr. Beauclerk, should have done some time ago.” BEAUCLERK.

I should learn of you, sir.” Johnson. “ Sir, you have given me opportunities enough of learning, when I have been in your company. No man loves to be treated with contempt.”. "BEAUCLERK, (with a polite inclination towards Johnson). “Sir, you have known me twenty

[ocr errors]

years, and however I may have treated others, you may be sure I could never treat

you

with contempt.” Johnson. “Sir, you have said more than was necessary.” Thus it ended ; and Beauclerk’s coach not having come for him till very late, Dr. Johnson and another gentleman sat with him a long time after the rest of the company were gone; and he and I dined at Beauclerk's on the Saturday se’nnight following.

After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars of his conversation :

“I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention ; because you have done a great deal, when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He'll get better books afterwards."

“ Mallet, I believe, never wrote a single line of his projected life of the Duke of Marlborough. He groped for materials; and thought of it, till he had exhausted his mind. Thus it sometimes happens that men entangle themselves in their own schemes."

“ To be contradicted, in order to force you to talk, is mighty unpleasing. You shine, indeed, but it is by being ground.

Of a gentleman who made some figure among the Literati of his time (Mr. Fitzherbert), he said, “What eminence he had was by a felicity of manner : he had no more learning than what he could not help.”

On Saturday, April 24, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk’s, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Jones, (afterwards Sir William), Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise, and Dr. Higgins. I mentioned that Mr. Wilkes had attacked Garrick to me, as a man who had no friend. Johnson. “ I believe he is right, sir. 01 piagh, ou 01205--He had friends, but no friend. 1 Garriek was so diffused, he had no man to whom he wished to unbosom himself.' He found people always ready to applaud him, and that always for the same thing: so he saw life with great uniformity." I took upon me, for once, to fight with Goliath's weapons; and play the sophist.-“ Garrick did not need a friend, as he got from every body alt he wanted. What is a friend ? One who supports you and comforts you, while others do not. Friendship, you know, sir, is the cordial drop, 'to make the nauseous draught of life go down :' but if the draught be not nauseous, if it be all sweet, there is no occasion for that drop." JOHNSON Many men would not be content to live so. I hope I should not. They would wish to have an intimate friend, with whom they might compare minds, and cherish private virtues." One of the company mentioned Lord Chesterfield, as a man who had no friend. Johnson. “ There were more materials to make friendship in Garrick, had he not been so diffused.” BosWELL. “ Garrick was pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf. Lord Chesterfield was tinsel.” JOHNSON. “ Garrick was a very good man, the cheerfulest man of his age; a decent liver in a profession which is supposed to give indulgence to licentiousness; and a man who gave away, freely, money acquired by himself. He began the world with a great hunger for money; the son of a half-pay officer, bred in a family whose study was to make four-pence do as much as others made four-pence halfpenny do. But, when he had got money, he was very liberal.” I presumed to animadvert on his eulogy on Garrick, in his “ Lives of the Poets." “ You say, sir, his death eclipsed the gaiety of na

1 See p. 128 of this vol. and vol. i. p.

161.

« PreviousContinue »