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mitted that he could not tell the reason. however, probably owing to his having had in his view the worst part of the Scottish nation, the needy adventurers', many of whom he thought were advanced above their merits by means which he did not approve. Had he in his early life been in Scotland, and seen the worthy, sensible, independent gentlemen, who live rationally and hospitably at home, he never could have entertained such unfavourable and unjust notions of his fellow-subjects. And accordingly we find, that when he did visit Scotland, in the latter period of his life, he was fully sensible of all that it deserved, as I have already pointed out when speaking of his “ Journey to the Western Islands."
Next day, Saturday, 22d March, I found him still at Mrs. Thrale's, but he told me that he was to go to his own house in the afternoon. He was better, but I perceived he was but an unruly patient; for Sir Lucas Pepys, who visited him, while I was with him said, “ If you were tractable, sir, I should prescribe for you."
I related to him a remark which a respectable friend had made to me upon the then state of government, when those who had been long in opposition had attained to power, as it was supposed, against the inclination of the sovereign. 66 You need not be uneasy,” said this gentleman, "about the king. He laughs at them all; he plays them one against
· [This can hardly have been the cause. Many of Johnson's earliest associates were indeed “needy Scotch adventurers;" that is, they were poor scholars, indigent men of education and talent, who brought those articles to the London market, as Dr. Johnson himself had done. Such were Sheils, Stewart, Macbean, &c. But Johnson had no aversion to these men : on the contrary, he lived with them in familiar friendship, did them active kindnesses, and with Macbean (who seems to have been the survivor of his earliest friends) he continued in the kindest intercourse to his last hour.-Ed.]
another.” JOHNSON. “Don't think so, sir. The
. king is as much oppressed as a man can be. If he plays them one against another, he wins nothing.
I had paid a visit to General Oglethorpe in the morning, and was told by him that Dr. Johnson saw company on Saturday evenings, and he would meet me at Johnson's that night. When I mentioned this to Johnson, not doubting that it would please him, as he had a great value for Oglethorpe, the fretfulness of his disease : unexpectedly showed itself; his anger suddenly kindled, and he said, with vehemence, “ Did not you tell him not to come?
Am I to be hunted in this manner?” I satisfied him that I could not divine that the visit would not be convenient, and that I certainly could not take it upon me of my own accord to forbid the general.
I found Dr. Johnson in the evening in Mrs. Williams's room, at tea and coffee with her and Mrs. Desmoulins, who were also both ill; it was a sad scene, and he was not in a very good humour. He said of a performance that had lately come out, “Sir, if you
should search all the madhouses in England, you would not find ten men who would write so, and think it sense.”
I was glad when General Oglethorpe’s arrival was announced, and we left the ladies. Dr. Johnson attended him in the parlour, and was as courteous as
The general said he was busy reading the writers of the middle age. Johnson said they were
OGLETHORPE. “The house of com
[Johnson evidently suspected that Boswell, with his usual officiousness, had invited Oglethorpe to this unseasonable visit. When Johnson chides his overzealous friend for such intermeddling, Boswell, with easy self-complacency, can discover no cause for the reprimand but Johnson's sickness or ill-humour. Ed.]
(The editor suspects that “ Annus Mirabilis ; or, the Eventful Year 1782, an Historical Poem, by the Rev. W. Tasker, author of the Warlike Genius of Britain,” (see ante, vol. iv. p. 243) is here meant.-ED.) VOL. V.
mons has usurped the power of the nation's money and used it tyrannically. Government is now carried on by corrupt influence, instead of the inherent right of the king.” Johnson. “Sir, the want of inherent right in the king occasions all this disturb
What we did at the revolution was necess sary: but it broke our constitution ?.” OGLETHORPE. “My father did not think it necessary.”
On Sunday, 230 March, I breakfasted with Dr. Johnson, who seemed much relieved, having taken opium the night before. He however protested against it, as a remedy that should be given with the utmost reluctance, and only in extreme necessity. I mentioned how commonly it was used in Turkey, and that therefore it could not be so pernicious as he apprehended. He grew warm, and said, “ Turks take opium, and Christians take opium; but Russel, in his account of Aleppo, tells us, that it is as disgraceful in Turkey to take too much opium, as it is with us to get drunk. Sir, it is amazing how things are exaggerated. A gentleman was lately telling in a company where I was present, that in France as soon as a man of fashion marries, he takes an opera girl into keeping; and this he mentioned as a gene
' [What could General Oglethorpe mean by saying that “the house of commons had usurped the power of the nation's money?" Since a house of commons has existed, has it not exercised the power of the nation's money? Then when he says that "
government was carried on by corrupt influence, instead of the inherent right of the king,” he must mean, if he means any thing, that the king ought to rule in his own exclusive right, and by his own despotic will, and without the aid or the control of parliament, whose assent to the measures of the crown must be obtained by influence of some kind, or anarchy must ensue. In short, if Mr. Boswell did not make an erroneous note, General Oglethorpe talked nonsense,
which indeed there is reason to suspect that this amiable and garrulous old gentleman sometimes did.-Ed.]
? I have, in my “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” fully expressed my sentiments upon this subject. The revolution was necessary, but not a subject for glory; because it for a long time blasted the generous feelings of loyalty. And now, when by the benignant effect of time the present royal family are established in our affections, how unwise is it to revive by celebrations the memory of a shock, which it would surely have been better that our constitution had not required !--BOSWELL.
ral custom. Pray, sir,” said I, how many opera girls may there be ?" He answered, “About fourscore.' Well then, sir,' said I, 'you see there can be no more than fourscore men of fashion who can do this 1.'
Mrs. Desmoulins made tea; and she and I talked before him upon a topick which he had once borne patiently from me when we were by ourselves,—his not complaining of the world, because he was not called to some great office, nor had attained to great wealth. He flew into a violent passion, I confess with some justice, and commanded us to have done.
Nobody,” said he,“ has a right to talk in this manner, to bring before a man his own character, and the events of his life, when he does not choose it should be done. I never have sought the world ; the world was not to seek me. It is rather wonderful that so much has been done for me. All the complaints which are made of the world are unjust. I never knew a man of merit neglected : it was generally by his own fault that he failed of success. A man may hide his head in a hole: he may go into the country, and publish a book now and then, which nobody reads, and then complain he is neglected. There is no reason why any person should exert himself for a man who has written a good book : he has not written it for any individual. I may as well make a present to the postman who brings me a letter. When patronage was limited, an authour expected to find a Mæcenas, and complained if he did not find one. Why should he complain? This
[Yes, but it may be doubted whether there were fourscore persons whom the society of Paris would admit to be strictly and par exccilence men of fashion. The fact, thus expressed with colloquial latitude, was substantially true; one of these degrading connexions was considered essential to those who pretended to the title of a man of fashion._En.]
Mæcenas has others as good as he, or others who have got the start of him.” BoswELL. “But, surely, sir, you will allow that there are men of merit at the bar, who never get practice.” Johnson. “Sir, you
. JOHNSON are sure that practice is got from an opinion that the person employed deserves it best; so that if a man of merit at the bar does not get practice, it is from errour, not from injustice. He is not neglected. A horse that is brought to market may not be bought, though he is a very good horse: but that is from ignorance, not from inattention."
There was in this discourse much novelty, ingenuity, and discrimination, such as is seldom to be found. Yet I cannot help thinking that men of merit, who have no success in life, may be forgiven for lamenting, if they are not allowed to complain. They may consider it as hard that their merit should not have its suitable distinction. Though there is no intentional injustice towards them on the part of the world, their merit not having been perceived, they may yet repine against fortune, or fate, or by whatever name they choose to call the supposed mythological power of destiny. It has, however, occurred to me, as a consolatory thought, that men of merit should consider thus:-How much harder would it be, if the same persons had both all the merit and all the prosperity ? Would not this be a iniserable distribution for the poor dunces? Would men of merit exchange their intellectual superiority, and the enjoyments arising from it, for external distinction and the pleasures of wealth ? If they would not, let them not envy others, who are poor where they are rich, a compensation which is made to them. Let them look inwards and be satisfied ; recollecting with conscious pride what Virgil finely says of the Corycius