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written.” BOSWELL: “What I wish to know is, what sermons afford the best specimen of English pulpit eloquence.” JOHNSON : “We have no sermons addressed to the passions, that are good for anything ; if you mean that kind of eloquence.” A CLERGYMAN (whose name I do not recollect): “Were not Dodd's sermons addressed to the passions ?" JOHNSON: They were nothing, Sir, be they addressed to what they may."
At dinner Mrs. Thrale expressed a wish to go and see Scotland. JOHNSON : “Seeing Scotland, Madam, is only seeing a worse England. It is seeing the flower gradually fade away to the naked stalk. Seeing the Hebrides, indeed, is seeing quite a different scene.”
Our poor friend, Mr. Thomas Davies, was soon to have a benefit at Drury-lane theatre, as some relief to his unfortunate circumstances. We were all warmly interested for his success, and had contributed to it. However, we thought there was no harm in having our joke, when he could not be hurt by it. I proposed that he should be brought on to speak a Prologue upon the occasion; and I began to mutter fragments of what it might be; as, that when now grown old, he was obliged to cry, "Poor Tom's a-cold;"—that he owned he had been driven from the stage by a Churchill, but that was no disgrace, for a Churchill had beat the French ;- that he had been satirised as “mouthing a sentence as curs mouth a bone," but he was now glad of a bone to pick. “Nay,” said Johnson, “I would have him to say,
Mad Tom is come to see the world again.'”
He and I returned to town in the evening. Upon the road, I endeavoured to maintain, in argument, that a landed gentleman is not under any obligation to reside upon his estate ; and that by living in London he does no injury to his country. JOHNSON : Why, Sir, he does no injury to his country in general, because the money which he draws from it gets back again into circulation ; but to his particular district, his particular parish, he does an injury. All that he has to give away is not given to those who have the first claim to it. And though I have said that the money circulates back, it is a long time before that happens. Then, Sir, a man of family and estate ought to consider himself as having the charge of a district, over which he is to diffuse civility and happiness.
1 See, however, the conversation under Sept. 20, 1777, where his decision on this subject is
more favourable to the absentee.-MALONE.
DELANY'S “OBSERVATIONS ON SWIFT"-HORACE'S VILLA-MR. CAMBRIDGE-GOLDSMITH'S
“ TRAVELLER "-LITERATURE OF FRANCE-OLD AGE-GARAGANTUA-DR. KENRICKDR. BURNEY-POTTER'S ÆSCHYLUS-ON POETIC TRANSLATIONS—WRITINGS OF SIR WM. TEMPLE-ELPHINSTON'S TRANSLATION OF MARTIAL-HAWKINS' “ SIEGE OF ALEPPO " -SIR WM. SCOTT-ON SUBORDINATION-FAME-PROPER USE OF WEALTH-SOLDIERS AND SAILORS-CHARLES Fox-DE FOE-COCK-LANE GHOST-JOHNSON'S ANGER AT BEING ASKED FRIVOLOUS QUESTIONS-TRAVELLING-BOSWELL'S SYSTEM OF SHORTHAND-DR. Dond's “ THOUGHTS IN PRISON"-WRITINGS OF PENNANT-JOHNSON AND DR. PERCYCORRESPONDENCE-JOHNSON'S HIGH OPINION OF DR. PEBCY.
NEXT day I found him at home in the morning. He praised Delany's
“ Observations on Swift;" said that his book and Lord Orrery's might both be true, though one viewed Swift more, and the other less favourably; and that, between both, we might have a complete notion of Swift.
Talking of a man's resolving to deny himself the use of wine, from moral and religious considerations, he said, “He must not doubt about it. When one doubts as to pleasure, we know what will be the conclusion. I now no more think of drinking wine than a horse does. The wine upon the table is no more for me than for the dog that is under the table.”
On Thursday, April 9, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the Bishop of St. Asaph (Dr. Shipley), Mr. Allan Ramsay, Mr. Gibbon, Mr. Cambridge, and Mr. Langton. Mr. Ramsay had lately returned from Italy, and entertained us with his observations upon Horace's villa, which he had examined with great care. I relished this much, as it brought fresh into my mind what I had viewed with great pleasure thirteen years before. The Bishop, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Cambridge joined with Mr. Ramsay in recollecting the various lines in Horace relating to the subject.
Horace's journey to Brundusium being mentioned, Sat. 1. i. 5, Johnson observed, that the brook which he describes is to be seen now, exactly as at that time: and that he had often wondered how it happened, that small brooks, such as this, kept the same situation for ages, notwithstanding earthquakes, by which even mountains have been changed, and agriculture, which produces such a variation upon the surface of the earth. CAMBRIDGE: “A Spanish writer has this thought in a poetical conceit.” After observing that most of the solid structures of Rome are totally perished, while the Tiber remains the same, he adds,
JOHNSON: “Sir, that is taken from Janus Vitalis :
The Bishop said, it appeared from Horace's writings that he was a cheerful contented man. JOHNSON : We have no reason to believe that, my Lord. Are we to think Pope was happy, because he says so in his writings? We see in his writings what he wished the state of his mind to appear. Dr. Young, who pined for preferment, talks with contempt of it in his writings, and affects to despise everything that he did not despise.” BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH: “He was like other chaplains, looking for vacancies : but that is not peculiar to the clergy. I remember when I was with the army, after the battle of Lafeldt, the officers seriously grumbled that no general was killed.” CAMBRIDGE : “We may believe Horace more, when he says,
1 Allan Ramsay, painter to his Majesty, who died 10th of August, 1784, in the seventy-first year of his age, much regretted by his friends.-BOSWELL.
*Roma Tibur amem ventosus, Tibure Romam ;'
than when he boasts of his consistency :
Me constare mihi scis, et discedere tristem,
BOSWELL : “How hard is it that man can never be at rest." RAMSAY :
“It is not in his nature to be at
unaisy.' Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson observed that it was long before his merit came to be acknowledged: that he once complained to him, in ludicrous terms of distress, “ Whenever I write anything, the public make a point to know nothing
about it:" but that his “ Travelveller," brought him into high reputation. LANGTON: “There is not one bad line in that poem-no one of Dryden's careless verses.”
SIR JOSHUA: “I was glad to hear Charles Fox say, it was one of the finest poems in the English language." LANGTON : “Why were you glad ? You surely had no doubt of this before.” JOHNSON : "No; the merit of 'The Traveller' is so well established, that Mr. Fox's praise cannot augment it, nor his censure diminish it.” SIR JOSHUA : But his friends may suspect they had too great a partiality for him." JOHNSON : “Nay, Sir, the partiality of his friends was always against him. It was with difficulty we could give him a hearing. Goldsmith had no settled notions upon any subject ; so he talked always at random. It seemed to be his intention to blurt out whatever was in his mind, and see what would become of it. He was angry too, when caught in an absurdity;
1 First published in 1765.-MALONE.
but it did not prevent him from falling into another the next minute. I remember Chamier,' after talking with him some time, said, “Well, I do believe he wrote this poem himself: and, let me tell you, that is believing a great deal.' Chamier once asked him, what he meant by slow, the last word in the first line of 'The Traveller,'
'Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow.' Did he mean tardiness of locomotion ? Goldsmith, who would say something without consideration, answered, 'Yes.' I was sitting by, and said, “No, Sir; you do not mean tardiness of locomotion ; you mean that sluggishness of mind which comes upon a man in solitude.' Chamier believed then that I had written the line, as much as if he had seen me write it. Goldsmith, however, was a man, who, whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do. He deserved a place in Westminster Abbey; and every year he lived, would have deserved it better. He had indeed been at no pains to fill his mind with knowledge. He transplanted it from one place to another; and it did not settle in his mind; so he could not tell what was in his own books.”
We talked of living in the country. JOHNSON : “No wise man will go to live in the country, unless he has something to do which can be better done in the country. For instance: if he is to shut himself up for a year to study a science, it is better to look out to the fields, than to an opposite wall. Then if a man walks out in the country, there is nobody to keep him from walking in again; but if a man walks out in London, he is not sure when he shall walk in again. A great city is, to be sure, the school for studying life; and the proper study of mankind is man,' as Pope observes.” BOSWELL: “I fancy London is the best place for society : though I have heard that the very first society of Paris is still beyond anything that we have here." JOHNSON : “Sir, I question if in Paris such a company as is sitting round this table could be got together in less than half a-year. They talk in France of the felicity of men and women living together : the truth is, that there the men are not higher than the women, they know no more than the women do, and they are not held down in their conversation by the presence of women." RAMSAY: “Literature is upon the growth; it is in its spring in France ; here it is rather passée." JOHNSON : “ Literature was in France long before we had it. Paris was the second city for the revival of letters : Italy had it first, to be sure.
What have we done for literature, equal to what was done by the Stephani and others in France ? Our literature came to us through France. Caxton printed only two books, Chaucer and Gower, that were not translations
1 Anthony Chamier, Esq., a member of the LITERARY CLUB, and Under-Secretary of State. He died Oct. 12, 1780.-MALONE.