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life, must be damped by the gloomy consciousness of being under an almost inevitable doom to sink back into a situation which we recollect with disgust. It surely may be prevented, by constant attention and unremitting exertion to establish contrary habits of superior efficacy.
The “ Beggar's Opera," and the common question, whether it was pernicious in its effects, having been introduced ;-Johoson. As to this matter, which has been very much contested, I myself am of opinion, that more influence has been ascribed to “The Beggar's Opera,' than it in reality ever had; for I do not believe that any man was ever made a rogue by being present at its representation. At the same time I do not deny that it may have some influence, by making the character of a rogue familiar, and in some degree pleasing. Then collecting himself, as it were, to give a heavy stroke, There is in it such a labefactation of all principles, as may be injurious to morality,
While he pronounced this response, we sat in a comical sort of restraint, smothering a laugh, which we were afraid might burst out. In his life of Gay, he has been still more decisive as to the inefficiency of • The Beggar's Opera' in corrupting society. But I have ever thought somewhat differently; for, indeed, not only are the gaiety and heroism of a highwayman very captivating to a youthful imagination, but the arguments for adventurous depradation are so plausible, the allusions so lively, and the contrasts with the ordinary and more painful modes of acquiring property are so artfully displayed, that it requires a cool and strong judgment to resist so imposing an aggregate : yet, I own, I should be very sorry to have · The Beggar's Opera' suppressed; for there is in it so much of real London life, so much brilliant wit, and such a variety of airs, which, from early association of ideas, engage, soothe, and enliven the mind, that no performance which the theatre exhibits, delights me
The late 'worthy' Duke of Queensbury, as Thomson, in his Seasons, justly characterizes him, told me, that when Gay shewed him • The Beggar's Opera,' his Grace's observation was, This is a very odd thing, Gay; I am satisfied that it is either a very good thing or a very bad thing.
It proved the former, beyond the warmest expectations of the author or his friends. Mr. Cambridge, however, shewed us to-day, that there was good reason enough to doubt concerning its succes. He was told by Quin, that during the first night of its appearance it was long in a very dubious state ; that there was a dispositiou to damn it, and that it was saved by the song,
“ Ob, pouder well! be not severe !"
the audience being much affected by the innocent looks of Polly, when she came to those two lines, which exhibit at once a painful and ridiculo ous image,
the rope that hangs my dear, * Depends poor Polly's life.'
Quin himself had so bad au opinion of it, that he refused the part of Captain Macheath, and gave it to Walker, who acquired great celebrity by his grave yet animated performance of it.
We talked of a young gentleman's marriage with an eminent singer, and his determination that she should no longer sing in public, though his father was very earnest she should, because her taleots would be liberally rewarded, so as to make her a good fortune. It was questioned whether the young gentleman, who had not a shilling in the world, but was blest with very uncommon talents, was not foolishly delicate, or foolishly proud, and his father troly rational without being mean. Johnson, with all the high spirit of a Roman senator, exclaimed, He res solved wisely and nobly to be sore. He is a brave man. Would not a gentleman be disgraced by having his wife singing publicly for hire No, Sir, there can be no doubt here. I know not if I should not prepare myself for a public singer, as readily as let my wife be one.
Johnson arraigned the modern politics of this country, as entirely de, void of all principle of whatever kind. Politics (said be) are now nothing more than the means of rising in the world. With this sole view do men engage in politics, and their whole conduct proceeds upon it.
How different in that respect is the stute of the nation now from what it was in the time of Charles the First, during the Usurpation, and after the Restoration, in the time of Charles the Second. Hudibras affords a strong proof how much hold political principles had then upon the minds of men.
There is in Hudibras a great deal of bullion which will always last. But to be sure, the brightest strokes of his wit owed their force to the impression of the characters, which was upon ineu's minds at the time: to their knowing them, at table and in the street ; in short, being familiar with them; and above all, to his satire being directed against those whom a little while before they had hated and feared. The nation in general has ever been loyal, has been at all times attached to the monarch, though a few darióg rebels have been wonderfully powerful for a time. The murder of Charles the First was undoubtedly not committed with the approbation or consent of the people. Had that been the case, parliament would not have ventured to consign the regicides to their deseryed punishment. And we know what exuberance of joy there was when Charles the Second was restored. If Charles the Second had bent all his mind to it, had made it his sole object, he might have been as absolute as Louis the Fourteenth. A gentleman observed he would have done no harm if he had. Johnson. Why, Sir, absolute prioces seldom do any harm. But they who are governed by them are governed by chance. There is no security for good goverumeot. Cam. brige. There have been many sad victions to absolute government. Johnson. So, Sir, have there been to popular factions. Boswell. The question is, which is worst, one wild beast or many ?
Johnson praised “The SPECTATOR,' particularly the character of Sir Roger de Coverly. He said, Sir Roger did not die a violent death, as has been generally fancied. He was not killed; he died only because others were to die, and because his death afforded an opportunity to Addison for some very fine writing. We have the example of Cervantes making Don Quixote die.--I never could see why Sir Roger is represented as a little cracked. It appears to ine that the story of the widow was intended to have something superinduced upon it: but the superstructure did not come.
Somebody fouad fault with writing verses in a dead language, maintaining that they were merely arrangements of so many words, and laughed at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, for seuding forth collections of them not only in Greek and Latin, but even in Syriac, Arabic, and other more unknown tongues. Johnson. I would have as many of these as possible ; I would have verses in every language that there are the means of acquiring. Nobody imagines that an University is to have at once two hundred poets; but it should be able to shew two hundred scholars. Pierce's death was lamented, I think, in forty languages. And I would have had at every coronation, and every death of a king, every Gaudium, and every Luctus, University -verses, in as many languages as can be acquired. I would have the world to be thus told, • Here is a school where every thing may be learnt,'
Having set out next day on a visit to the Earl of Pembroke, at Wilton, and to my friend, Mr, Temple, at Mamhead, in Devonshire, and not having returned to town till the second of May, 1 did not see Dr. Johoson for a considerable time, and during the remaining part of my stay in London, kept very imperfect notes of his conversation, which had I according to my usual custom written out at large soon after the time, much might have been preserved, which is nos irretrievably lost. I can now only record some particular scenes, and a few fragments of his memorabilia. But to make some amends for my relaxation of diligence in one respect, I have to present my readers with arguments upon two law cases, with which he favoured me.
On Saturday, the 6th of May, we dined by ourselves at the Mitre, and he dictated to me what follows, to obviate the complaint already mentioned, which had been made in the form of an action in the Court of Session, by Dr. Memis, of Aberdeen, that in the same translation of a character in which physicians were mentioned, he was called Doctor of Medicine.
There are but two reasons for which a physician can decline the title of Doctor of Medicine, because he supposes himself disgraced by the doc. torship, or supposes the doctorship disgraced by himself. To be disgraced by a title which he shares in common with every illustrious name of his profession, with Boerhaave, with Arbuthnot, and with Cullen, can surely diminish no man's reputation. It is, I suppose, to the doctorate, from which he shrioks, that he owes his right of practising physic. A Doctor of Medicine is a physician under the protection of the laws, and by the stamp of authority. The physician who is not a Doctor, usorps a profession, and is authorized only by himself to decide upon health and sickness, and life and death. That this gentleman is a Doctor, bis diploma makes evident; a diploma not obtruded upon him, but obtained by solicitation, and for wbich fees were paid. With what countenance any man can refuse the title which he has either begged or bought, is not easily discovered.
All verbal injury must comprise in it either some false position, or some unnecessary declaration of defamatory truth. That in calling him Doctor, a false appellation was given bim, he himself will not pretend, who, at the same time that he complains of the title, would be offended if we supposed him to be not a Doctor. If the title of Doctor be a de. famatory truth, it is time to dissolve our colleges : for why should the public give salaries to men whose approbation is reproach? It may likewise deserve the notice of the public to consider what help can be given to the professors of physic, who all share with this unbappy gentleman the ignominious appellation, and of whom the very boys in the street are not afraid to say, There goes the Doctor.
What is implied by the term Doctor is well known. It distinguishes him to whom it is granted, as a man who has attained such knowledge of his profession as qualifies him to instruct others. A doctor of Laws is a man who can form lawyers by his precepts. A doctor of Medicine is a man who can teach the art of curing diseases. This is an old axiom, which no man has yet thought fit to deny, Nil dat quod non habet. Upon this principle to be Doctor implies skill, for nemo docet quod non didicit. In England, whoever practises physic, not being a Doctor, must practice by a licence : but the doctorate conveys a licence in itself.
By what accident it happened that he and the other physicians were mentioned in different terms, where the terms themselves were equivalent, or where in effect that which was applied to him was the most honourable, perhaps they who wrote the paper cannot now remember. Had they expected a lawsuit to have been the consequence of such petty variation, I hope they would have avoided it. But, probably, as they meant no ill, they suspected no danger, and therefore consulted only what appeared to them propriety or convenience.
A few days afterwards, I consulted him upon a cause, Paterson and others against Alexander and others, which had been decided by a casting vote in the Court of Session, determining that the Corporation of Stirling was corrupt, and setting aside the election of some of their officers, because it was proved that three of the leading men who iofuenced the majority, had entered into an unjustifiable compact, of which, however, the majority were igooraut. He dictated to me, aster a little considera tion, the following sentences upon the subject :
" There is a difference between majority and superiority; majority is applied to number, and superiority to power: and power, like many other things, is to be estimated non numero sed pondere. Now though the greater number is not corrupt, the greater weight is corrupt, so that corruption predomiuates in the borough, taken collectively, though, perhaps, taken numerically, the greater part may be uncorrupt. That borough, which is so constituted as to act corruptly, is in the eye son corrupt, whether it be by the uncontrolable power of a few, or by an accidental pravity of the multitude. The objection, in which is urged the injustice of making the innocent suffer with the guilty, is an objection not only against society, but against the possibility of society. All societies, great and small, subsist upon this condition ; that as the individuals derive advantages from union, they may likewise suffer inconveniences; that as those who do nothing, and sometimes those who do ill, will have the honours and emoluments of general virtue and general prosperity, so those likewise who do nothing, or perhaps do well, must be involved in the consequences of predominant corruption."
This in my opinion was a very nice case; but the decision was affirmed in the House of Lords.
On Monday, May 8, we went together and visited the mansions of Bedlam. I had been informed that he had once been there before with Mr. Wedderburne, (now Lord Loughborough,) Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Foote; and I had heard Foote give a very entertaining account of Johuson's happening to have his atteution arrested by a man who was very furious, and who, while beating his straw, supposed it was William, Duke of Cumberland, whom he was punishing for bis cruelties in Scotland, in 1746. There was nothing peculiarly remarkable this day; but the general contemplation of insanity was very affecting. I accompanied him home, and dined and drank tea with him,
Talking of an acquaintance of ours, distinguished for knowing an uncommon variety of miscellaneous articles both in antiquities and polite literature, he observed, You know, Sir, he runs about with little weight upon his mind. And talking of another very ingenious gentleman, who fruin the warmth of his temper was at variance with many of his acquaintance, and wished to avoid them, he said, “Sir, he leads the life of an outlaw.
On Friday, May 12, as he had been so good as to assign me a room in bis house, where I might sleep occusionally, when I happened to sit with bin to a late hour, I took possession of it this night, foued every thing in excrllent order, and was attended by honest Francis with a most civil assiduity. I asked Johnson whether I might go to a consultation with another lawyer upon Sunday, as that appeared to me to be doing work as inuch in my way, as if an artizan should work on the day appropriated for religious rest. Johnson. Why, Sir, when you are of consequence enough to oppose the practice of consulting upon Sunday, you should do