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fimilarity with the German. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, to be sure, such parts 1772. of Sclavonia as confine with Germany, will borrow German words; and such Ætat. 63. parts as confine with Tartary, will borrow Tartar words.”

He said, he never had it properly ascertained that the Scotch Highlanders and the Irish understood each other. I told him that my cousin Colonel Graham, of the Royal Highlanders, whom I met at Drogheda, told me they did. Johnson. “Sir, if the Highlanders understood Irish, why translate the New Testament into Erse, as was done lately at Edinburgh, when there is an Irish tranNation?” BOSWELL. “ Although the Erse and Irish are both dialects of the same language, there may be a good deal of diversity between them, as between the different dialects in Italy.-The Swede went away, and Mr. Johnson continued his reading of the papers. I said, “I am afraid, Sir, it is troublesome to you." « Why, Sir, (faid he,) I do not take much delight in it; but I'll go through it.”

We went to the Mitre, and dined in the room where he and I first supped together. He gave me great hopes of my cause. “ Sir, (said he,) the government of a schoolmaster is somewhat of the nature of military government; that is to say, it must be arbitrary, it must be exercised by the will of one man, according to particular circumstances. You must shew some learning upon this occasion.

this occasion. You must shew, that a schoolmaster has a prescriptive right to beat; and that an action of assault and battery cannot be admitted against him, unless there is some great excess, some barbarity. This man has maimed none of his boys. They are all left with the full exercise of their corporeal faculties. In our schools in England, many boys have been maimed; yet I never heard of an action against a schoolmaster on that account. Puffendorf, I think, maintains the right of a schoolmaster to beat his scholars."

On Saturday, March 27, I introduced to him Sir Alexander Macdonald, with whom he had expressed a wish to be acquainted. He received him very courteously.

Sir Alexander observed, that the Chancellors in England are chosen from views much inferiour to the office, being chosen from temporary political views. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, in such a government as ours, no man is appointed to an office because he is the fittest for it, nor hardly in any other government; because there are so many connections and dependencies to be studied. A despotick prince may choofe a man to an office, merely because he is the fittest for it. The King of Prussia may do it.” Sir A. “I think, Sir, almost all great lawyers, such at least as have written upon law, have known only law, and


As to pre

1772. nothing else.” Johnson. “Why no, Sir; Judge Flale was a great lawyer, and Atat. 63. wrote upon law; and yet he knew a great many other things, and has written

upon other things. Selden too.” Sir A. “ Very true, Sir; and Lord Bacon.
But was not Lord Coke a mere lawyer?” Johnson. “ Why, I am afraid he
was; but he would have taken it very ill if you had told him so. He would
have prosecuted you for scandal.” Boswell. “Lord Mansfield is not a mere
lawyer.” Johnson. “No, Sir. I never was in Lord Mansfield's company;
but, Lord Mansfield was distinguished at the University. Lord Mansfield,
when he came first to town, drank champagne with the wits,' as Prior says.
He was the friend of Pope.” Sır. A. “ Barristers, I believe, are not so
abusive now as they were formerly. I fancy they had less law long ago,
and so were obliged to take to abuse, to fill up the time. Now they have
such a number of precedents, they have no occasion for abuse.” Johnson.
“ Nay, Sir, they had more law long ago than they have now.
cedents, to be sure they will increase in course of time; but the more prece-
dents there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is to say, the less
occasion is there for investigating principles.” Sir A. “I have been cor-
recting several Scotch accents in my friend Boswell. I doubt, Sir, if any
Scotchman ever attains to a perfect English pronunciation.” Johnson.
“ Why, Sir, few of them do, because they do not persevere after acquiring a
certain degree of it. But, Sir, there can be no doubt that they may attain to
a perfect English pronunciation, if they will. We find how near they come
to it; and certainly, a man who conquers nineteen parts of the Scottish accent,
may conquer the twentieth. But, Sir, when a man has got the better of nine
tenths, he grows weary, he relaxes his diligence, he finds he has corrected his
accent so far as not to be disagreeable, and he no longer desires his friends to
tell him when he is wrong; nor does he choose to be told. Sir, when people
watch me narrowly, and I do not watch myself, they will find me out to be
of a particular county. In the same manner, Dunning may be found out to
be a Devonshire man. So most Scotchmen may be found out. But, Sir,
little aberrations are of no disadvantage. I never catched Mallet in a Scotch
accent; and yet Mallet, I suppose, was past five-and-twenty before he came
to London.”

Upon another occasion I talked to him on this subject, having myself taken
fome pains to improve my pronunciation, by the aid of the late Mr. Love, of
Drury-lane theatre, when he was a player at Edinburgh, and also of old Mr.
Sheridan. Johnson said to me, “Sir, your pronunciation is not offensive.”



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With this concession I was pretty well satisfied; and let me give my country-
men of North-Britain an advice not to aim at absolute perfection in this respect; Ærat. 63.
not to speak High English, as we are apt to call what is far removed from the
Scotch, but which is by no means good English, and makes “the fools who
use it,” truly ridiculous. Good English is plain, easy, and smooth in the
mouth of an unaffected English gentleman. A studied and factitious pronun-
ciation, which requires perpetual attention, and imposes perpetual constraint,
is exceedingly disgusting. A small intermixture of provincial peculiarities
may, perhaps, have an agreeable effect, as the notes of different birds concur
in the harmony of the grove, and please more than if they were all exactly
alike. I could name some gentlemen of Ireland, to whom a night proportion
of the accent and recitative of that country is an advantage. The fame
observation will apply to the gentlemen of Scotland. I do not mean that
we should speak as broad as a certain prosperous member of parliament from
that country; though it has been well observed, that “ it has been of no small
use to him ; as it rouses the attention of the House by its uncommonness;
and is equal to tropes and figures in a good English speaker.” I would
give as an instance of what I mean to recomniend to my countrymen, the
pronunciation of the late Sir Gilbert Elliot; and may I presume to add
that of the present Earl of Marchmont, who told me, with great good
humour, that the master of a shop in London, where he was not known, said
to him, “ I suppose, Sir, you are an American.” “ Why so, Sir,” said
his Lordship.) Because, Sir, (replied the shopkeeper,) you speak neither
English nor Scotch, but something different from both, which I conclude is
the language of America."

Boswell. “ It may be of use, Sir, to have a Dictionary to ascertain the
pronunciation,” Johnson. Why, Sir, my Dictionary shews you the
accents of words, if you can but remember them.” Boswell. “But, Sir,
we want marks to ascertain the pronunciation of the vowels. Sheridan, I
believe, has finished such a work.” Johnson. " Why, Sir, consider how
much easier it is to learn a language by the ear, than by any marks. Sheridan's
Dictionary may do very well; but you cannot always carry it about with you:
and, when you want the word, you have not the Dictionary. It is like a man
who has a sword that will not draw. It is an admirable sword, to be sure:
but while your enemy is cutting your throat, you are unable to use it. Besides,
Sir, what entitles Sheridan to fix the pronunciation of English? He has, in
the first place, the disadvantage of being an Irishman: and if he says he will



Ætat. 63.

fix it after the example of the best company, why they differ among themselves. I remember an instance: when I published the Plan for my Dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me that the word great should be pronounced so as to rhyme to state; and Sir William Young sent me word that it should be

pronounced so as to rhyme to feat, and that none but an Irishman would pronounce it grait. Now here were two men of the highest rank, the one, the best speaker in the House of Lords, the other, the best speaker in the House of Commons, differing entirely.”

I again visited him at night. Finding him in a very good humour, I ventured to lead him to the subject of our situation in a future state, having much curiosity to know his notions on that point. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, the happiness of an unembodied spirit will consist in a consciousness of the favour of God, in the contemplation of truth, and in the poffeffion of felicitating ideas.” Boswell. “But, Sir, is there any harm in our forming to ourselves conjectures as to the particulars of our happiness, though the scripture has said but very little on the subject? We know not what we shall be.” Johnson. “ Sir, there is no harm. What philosophy suggests to us on this topick is probable: what scripture tells us is certain. Dr. Henry More has carried it as far as philosophy can. You may buy both his theological and philosophical works in two volumes folio, for about eight shillings.” Boswell. “One of the most pleasing thoughts is, that we shall see our friends again.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir; but you must consider, that when we are become purely rational, many of our friendships will be cut off. Many friendships are formed by a community of sensual pleasures: all these will be cut off. We form many friendships with bad men, because they have agreeable qualities, and they can be useful to us; but, after death, they can no longer be of use to us.

We form many friendships by mistake, imagining people to be different from what they really are. After death, we shall see every one in a true light. Then, Sir, they talk of our meeting our relations : but then all relationship is diffolved; and we shall have no regard for one person more than another, but for their real value. However, we shall either have the satisfaction of meeting our friends, or be satisfied without meeting them.” Boswell. “ Yet, Sir, we see in scripture that Dives still retained an anxious concern about his brethren.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, we must either suppose that passage to be metaphorical, or hold with many divines, and all the Purgatorians, that departed souls do not all at once arrive at the utmost perfection of which they are capable.” Boswell. “I think, Sir, that is a very rational supposition.” Johnson. Why yes, Sir; but we do not know it is a true one. There is no harm in 4


believing it: but you must not compel others to make it an article of faith, 1772. for it is not revealed.” Boswell. “Do you think, Sir, it is wrong in a man Ærat. os. who holds the doctrine of purgatory, to pray for the souls of his deceased friends ?” Johnson. “Why no, Sir.” Boswell, “ I have been told, that in the liturgy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, there was a form of prayer for the dead.” JOHNSON. “Sir, it is not in the liturgy which Laud framed for the Episcopal Church of Scotland : if there is a liturgy older than that, I should be glad to see it.” Boswell. “ As to our employment in a future state, the sacred writings say little. The Revelation, however, of St. John gives us many ideas, and particularly mentions musick.”

.” Johnson. Why, Sir, ideas must be given you by means of something which you know: and as to musick, there are some philosophers and divines who have maintained that we hall not be spiritualised to such a degree, but that something of matter, very much refined, will remain. In that case, mufick may make a part of our future felicity.”

Boswell. “I do not know whether there are any well-attested stories of the appearance of ghosts. You know there is a famous story of the appearance of Mrs. Veal, prefixed to · Drelincourt on Death.” Johnson.

" I believe, Sir, that is given up. I believe the woman declared upon her death-bed that it was a lie.” Boswell. “ This objection is made against the truth of ghosts appearing : that if they are in a state of happiness, it would be a punishment to them to return to this world; and if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, as the happiness or misery of unembodied spirits does not depend upon place, but is intellectual, we cannot say that they are less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth.”

We went down between twelve and one to Mrs. Williams's room, and drank tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. Gray, in prose and verse, published by Mr. Mason. Johnson. “I think we have had enough of Gray. I see they have published a splendid edition of Akenside's works. One bad Ode may be suffered, but a number of them together makes one sick.” Boswell. “ Akenside's distinguished poem is his . Pleasures of the Imagination :' but, for my part, I never could admire it so much as most people do.” Johnson. “ Sir, I could not read it through.” Boswell. “I have read it through ; but I did not find any great power in it.”

I mentioned Elwal, the heretick, whose trial Sir John Pringle had given me to read. JOHNSON. “ Sir, Mr. Elwal was, I think, an ironmonger at Wolverhampton; and he had a mind to make himself famous, by being the Aa a 2


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