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In 1773. his only publication was an edition of his folio Dictionary, with
Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæfar habet.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. " DEAR SIR,
“ I have read your kind letter much more than the elegant Pindar which it accompanied. I am always glad to find myself not forgotten, and to be forgotten by you would give me great uneasiness. My northern friends have never been unkind to me: I have from you, dear Sir, testimonies of affection, which I have not often been able to excite; and Dr. Beattie rates the testimony which I was desirous of paying to his merit, much higher than I should have thought it reasonable to expect.
“ I have heard of your mafquerade. What fays your Synod to such innovations ? I am not studiously scrupulous, nor do I think a masquerade either evil in itself, or very likely to be the occasion of evil ; yet-as the world thinks it a very licentious relaxation of manners, I would not have been one of the first masquers in a country where no masquerade had ever been before”.
“ A new edition of my great Dictionary is printed, from a copy which I was persuaded to revise ; but having made no preparation, I was able to do
Some superfluities I have expunged, and some faults I have corrected, and here and there have scattered a remark; but the main fabrick of the work remains as it was. I had looked very little into it since I wrote it, and, I think, I found it full as often better, as worse, than I expected.
“ Baretti and Davies have had a furious quarrel; a quarrel, I think, irreconcileable. Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which is expected in the
* There had been masquerades in Scotland before; but not for a very long time.
1773• spring. No name is yet given it. The chief diversion arises from a stratagem Ærat. 04. by which a lover is made to mistake his future father-in-law's house for an
inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. The dialogue is quick and gay,
think the arguments on your side unanswerable. But you seem, I think, to say that you gained reputation even by your defeat; and reputation you will daily gain, if you keep Lord Auchinleck’s precept in your mind, and endeavour to confolidate in your mind a firm and regular system of law, instead of picking up occasional fragments.
“ My health seems in general to improve ; but I have been troubled for many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and physick; and am afraid, that I must expect help from brighter days and softer air.
« Write to me now and then ; and whenever any good befalls you, make haste to let me know it, for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear Sir,
« Your most humble servant, « London, Feb 24, 1773.
SAM. JOHNSON. “ You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale.”
On Saturday, April 3, the day after my arrival in London this year, I went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs. Williams till he came home. I found in the London Chronicle, Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph in a newfpaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his ; but when he came home he soon undeceived us. When he said to Mrs. Williams, “Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifefto has got into your paper;" I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith. JOHNSON. “ Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do any thing else that denoted his imbecillity. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen himn do it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a fooliíh thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new
comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick.” Boswell. “I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that
Ætet. 64. he has been engaged in such an adventure.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat ; he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.”
I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's “Memoirs of Great-Britain and Ireland,” and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney. Johnson. “Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals.” Johnson. “Consider, Sir; would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France ? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing : it is the mere bouncing of a school-boy. Great He! but greater She! and such stuff.”
I could not agree with him in this criticism; for though Sir John Dalrymple's style is not regularly formed in any respect, and one cannot help smiling sometimes at his affected grandiloquence, there is in his writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.
At Mr. Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical declamation against action in publick speaking.
“ Action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but it never can enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action ; you hold up your hand thus, - because he is a brute; and in proportion as men are removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them.” MRS. THRALE. « What then, Sir, becomes of Demofthenes's saying? Action, action, action!” Johnson. “ Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of brutes; to a barbarous people.”
I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.
Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of that celebrated nobleman's witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship’s saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both very old and infirm : “ Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.”
He talked with approbation of an intended edition of “ The Spectator," Etal. 64. with notes ; two volumes of which had been prepared by a gentleman eminent
in the literary world, and the materials which he had collected for the remainder had been transferred to another hand. He observed, that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw light upon “ The Spectator.” He said, “ Addison had made his Sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments; but that he had thought better, and made amends by. making him found an hospital for decayed farmers.” He called for the volume of “ The Spectator” in which that account is contained, and read it aloud to Us. He read so well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his utterance.
The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads, and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that ridicule which he always displayed when this subject was mentioned.
He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse. This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.
On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he was very silent. He said, “Burnet's History of his own Times,' is very entertaining. The style, indeed, is mere chit-chat. I do not believe that Burnet intentionally lyed; but he was so much prejudiced, that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch ; but will not inquire whether the watch is right or not.”
Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave him ; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock, he cried, “What's that to you and me?” and ordered Frank to tell Mrs. Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. It was settled that we should go to church together next day.
On the oth of April, being Good Friday, 1 breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns; Doctor Levet, as Frank called him, making the tea. He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had his seat; and
his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly devout. I never shall
We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval between
In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read to Dr. Johnson:
“ 1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince Charles', at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally of many things with his attendants. Among other things, he said, that if he were necessitated to take any particular profession of life, he could not be a lawyer, adding his reasons: 'I cannot (faith he,) defend a bad, nor yield in a good cause.” Johnson. “Sir, this is false reasoning; because every
cause has a bad side: and a lawyer is not overcome, though the cause which he has endeavoured to support be determined against him.”
I told him that Goldsinith had said to me a few days before, “As I take my Moes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the taylor, so I take my religion from the priest.” I regretted this loose way of talking. Johnson. “ Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about nothing."
To my great surprize, he asked me to dine with him on Eafter-day. I never supposed that he had a dinner at his house ; for I had not then heard of any one of his friends having been entertained at his table. He told me, “I generally have a meat pye on Sunday: it is baked at a publick oven, which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress dinners.”
April 11, being Easter-Sunday, after having attended divine service at St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with Jean Jacques Rousseau, while he lived in the wilds of Neufchatel: I had as great a curiosity to dine with Dr. Samuel Johnson, in the dusky recess of a court in Fleet-street. I supposed we should scarcely have knives and forks, and only some strange uncouth ill-drest dish: but I found every thing in very good order. We had no other company but Mrs. Williams and a young woman whom I did not know. As a dinner here was considered as a singular phænomenon, and as I was frequently interrogated on the subject, my