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exemplify his own instructions. Let those who are tempted to his faults tremble at his punishment; and those whom he impressed from the pulpit with religious sentiments endeavour to confirm them, by considering the regret and self-abhorrence with which he reviewed in prison his deviations from rectitude.”
Johnson gave us this evening, in his happy discriminative manner, a portrait of the late Mr. Fitzherbert of Derbyshire. “There was," said he, “no sparkle, no brilliancy in Fitzherbert ; but I never knew a man who was so generally acceptable. He made every body quite easy, overpowered nobody by the superiority of his talents, made no man think worse of himself by being his rival, seemed always to listen, did not oblige you to hear much from him, and did not oppose what you said. Every body liked him but he had no friend, as I understand the word, nobody with whom he exchanged intimate thoughts. People were willing to think well of everything about him. A gentleman was making an affected rant, as many people do, of great feelings about his dear son,' who was at school near London ; how anxious he was lest he might be ill, and what he would give to see him. 'Can't you,' said Fitzherbert,“ take a post-chaise and go to him. This, to be sure, finished the affected man, but there was not much in it. However, this was circulated as wit for a whole winter, and I believe part of a summer too; a proof that he was no very witty man. an instance of the truth of the observation, that a man will please more upon the whole by negative qualities than by positive; by never offending, than by giving a great deal of delight. In the first place, men hate more steadily than they love ; and if I have said something to hurt a man once, I shall not get the better of this, by saying many things to please him.”
Tuesday, September 16, Dr. Johnson having mentioned to me the extraordinary size and price of some cattle reared by Dr. Taylor, I rode out with our host, surveyed his farm, and was shown one cow which he had sold for a hundred and twenty guineas, and another for which he had been offered a hundred and thirty. Taylor thus described to me his old schoolfellow and friend, Johnson :-"He is a man of a very clear head, great power of words, and a very gay imagination ; but there is no disputing with him. He will not hear you, and, having a louder voice than you, must roar you down."
In the afternoon I tried to get Dr. Johnson to like the Poems of
· Dr. Gisborne, Physician to his Majesty's Household, has obligingly communicated to me a fuller account of this story than had reached Dr. Johnson. The affected gentleman was the late John Gilbert Cooper, Esq., author of a Life of Socrates, and of some poems in Dodsley's collection. Mr. Fitzherbert found him one morning apparently in such violent agitation, on account of the indisposition of his son, as to seem beyond the power of comfort. At length, however, he exclaimed, “I'll write an Elegy.” Mr. Fitzherhert, being satisfied by this of the sincerity of his emotions, slily said, “Had not you better take a postchaise, and go and see him?" It was the shrewdness of the insinuation which made the story be circulated.-BOSWELL.
Mr. Hamilton, of Bangour, which I had brought with me: I had been much pleased with them at a very early age: the impression still remained on my mind; it was confirmed by the opinion of my friend the Honourable Andrew Erskine, himself both a good poet and a critic, who thought Hamilton as true a poet as ever wrote, and that his not having fame was unaccountable. Johnson, upon repeated occasions, while I was at Ashbourne, talked slightingly of Hamilton. He said there was no power of thinking in his verses, nothing that strikes one, nothing better than what you generally find in magazines ; and that the highest praise they deserved was, that they were very well for a gentleman to hand about among his friends. He said the imitation of Ne sit ancillo tibi amor, &c., was too solemn; he read part of it at the beginning. He read the beautiful pathetic song, “Ah! the poor Shepherd's mournful fate !” and did not seem to give attention to what I had been used to think tender elegant strains, but laughed at the rhyme, in Scotch pronunciation, wishes and blushes, reading wushes—and there he stopped. He owned that the epitaph on Lord Newhall was pretty well done. He read the “Inscription in a Summer-house,” and a little of the imitations of Horace's Epistles ; but said he found nothing to make him desire to read on. When I urged that there were some good poetical passages in the book,—“Where,” said he, “will you find so large a collection without some ?" I thought the description of Winter might obtain his approbation
“See Winter, from the frozen north,
Fair Tweeda's silver flood constrains," &c. He asked why an “iron chariot ?" and said, "icy chains ” was an old image. I was struck with the uncertainty of taste, and somewhat sorry that a poet whom I had long read with fondness was not approved by Dr. Johnson. I comforted myself with thinking that the beauties were too delicate for his robust perceptions. Garrick maintained that he had not a taste for the finest productions of genius ; but I was sensible, that when he took the trouble to analyse critically, he generally convinced us that he was right.
In the evening the Reverend Mr. Seward, of Lichfield, who was passing through Ashbourne, in his way home, drank tea with us. Johnson described him thus :-“Sir, his ambition is to be a fine talker; so he goes to Buxton, and such places, where he may find companies to listen to him. And, Sir, he is a valetudinarian,-one of those who are always mending themselves. I do not know a more disagreeable character than a valetudinarian, who thinks he may do any thing that is for his ease, and indulges himself in the grossest freedoms. Sir, he brings himself to the state of a hog in a sty."
Dr. Taylor's nose happening to bleed, he said, it was because he had omitted to have himself blooded four days after a quarter of a year's interval. Dr. Johnson, who was a great dabbler in physic, disapproved much of periodical bleeding. “For,” said he, “you accustom yourself to an evacuation which Nature cannot perform of herself, and therefore she cannot help you, should you, from forgetfulness or any other cause, omit it; so you may be suddenly suffocated. You may accustom yourself to other periodical evacuations, because, should you omit them, Nature can supply the omission; but Nature cannot open a vein to blood you.”? “I do not like to take an emetic," said Taylor, “ for fear of breaking some small vessels.” “Poh !” said Johnson, “ if you havo so many things that will break, you had better break your neck at once, and there's an end on't. You will break no small vessels" (blowing with high derision).
I mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that David Hume's persisting in his infidelity, when he was dying, shocked me much. JOHNSON : “Why should it shock you, Sir ? Hume owned he had never read the Testament with attention. Here then was a man who had been at no pains to inquire into the truth of religion, and had continually turned his mind the other way. It was not to be expected that the prospect of death would alter his way of thinking, unless God should send an angel to set him right.” I said I had reason to believe that the thought of annibilation gave Hume no pain. JOHNSON : “It was not so, Sir. He had a vanity in being thought easy. It is more probable that he should assume an appearance of ease, than so very improbable a thing should be, as a man not afraid of going (as, in spite of his delusive theory, he cannot be sure but he may go) into an unknown state, and not being uneasy at leaving all he knew. And you are to consider that, upon his own principle of annihilation, he had a motive to speak the truth." The horror of death, which I had always observed in Dr. Johnson, appeared strong to-night. I ventured to tell him that I had been for moments in my life not afraid of death ; therefore I could suppose another man in that state of mind for a considerable space of time. He said, "He never had a moment in which death was not terrible to him.” He added, that it had been observed, that scarce any man dies in public but with apparent resolution ; from that desire of praise which never quits us. I said, Dr. Dodd seemed willing to die, and full of hopes of happiness. “Sir,” said he, “Dr. Dodd would have given both his hands and both his legs to have lived. The better a man is, the more he is afraid of death, having a clearer view of infinite purity.” He owned, that our being in an unhappy uncertainty as to our salvation was mysterious ; and said, “Ah! we must wait till we are in another state of being to have many things explained to us.” Even
Nature, however, may supply the evacuation by an hæmorrhage.- KEARNEY.
the powerful mind of Johnson seemed foiled by futurity. But I thought that the gloom of uncertainty in solemn religious speculation, being mingled with hope, was yet more consolatory than the emptiness of infidelity. A man can live in thick air, but perishes in an exhausted receiver.
Dr. Johnson was much pleased with a remark which I told him was made to me by General Paoli :-“That it is impossible not to be afraid of death ; and that those who at the time of dying are not afraid, are not thinking of death, but of applause, or something else, which keeps death out of their sight: so that all men are equally afraid of death when they see it ; only some have a power of turning their sight away from it better than others.”
On Wednesday, September 17, Dr. Butter, physician at Derby, drank tea with us; and it was settled that Dr. Johnson and I should go on Friday and dine with him. Johnson said, “I'm glad of this." He seemed weary of the uniformity of life at Dr. Taylor's.
Talking of biography, I said, in writing a life, a man's peculiarities should be mentioned, because they mark his character. JOHNSON : * Sir, there is no doubt as to peculiarities : the question is, whether a man’s vices should be mentioned ; for instance, whether it should be mentioned that Addison and Parnell drank too freely ; for people will probably more easily indulge in drinking from knowing this ; so that more ill may be done by the example, than good by telling the whole truth.” Here was an instance of his varying from himself in talk ; for when Lord Hailes and he sat one morning calmly conversing in my house at Edinburgh, I well remember that Dr. Johnson maintained, that “if a man is to write A Panegyric, he may keep vices out of sight: but if he professes to write A Life, he must represent it really as it was:" and when I objected to the danger of telling that Parnell drank to excess, he said, that “it would produce an instructive caution to avoid drinking, when it was seen that even the learning and genius of Parnell could be debased by it." And in the Hebrides he maintained, as appears from my “ Journal,” that a man's intimate friend should mention his faults, if he writes his life.
He had this evening (partly, I suppose, from the spirit of contradiction to his Whig friend) a violent argument with Dr. Taylor, as to the inclinations of the people of England at this time towards the royal family of Stuart. He grew so outrageous as to say, “ that if England were fairly polled the present king would be sent away to-night, and his adherents hanged to-morrow.” Taylor, who was as violent a Whig as Johnson was a Tory, was roused by this to a pitch of bellowing. He denied loudly what Johnson said, and maintained that there was an abhorrence against the Stuart family, though he admitted that the
1 " Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," 3d edit., p. 240.-BOSWELL.
people were not much attached to the present king." JOHNSON : “Sir, the state of the country is this : the people knowing it to be agreed on all hands that this king has not the hereditary right to the crown, and there being no hope that he who has it can be restored, have grown cold and indifferent upon the subject of loyalty, and have no warm attachment to any king. They would not, therefore, risk anything to restore the exiled family. They would not give 20s. a piece to bring it about. But if a mere vote could do it, there would be twenty to one; at least, there would be a very great majority of voices for it. For, Sir, you are to consider, that all those who think a king has a right to his crown, as a man has to his estate, which is the just opinion, would be for restoring the king who certainly has the hereditary right, could he be trusted with it; in which there would be no danger now, when laws and every thing else are so much advanced : and every king will govern by the laws. And you must also consider, Sir, that there is nothing on the other side to oppose this; for it is not alleged by any one that the present family has any inherent right : so that the Whigs could not have a contest between two rights.”
Dr. Taylor admitted, that if the question as to hereditary right were to be tried by a poll of the people of England, to be sure the abstract doctrine would be given in favour of the family of Stuart; but he said the conduct of that family, which occasioned their expulsion, was so fresh in the minds of the people, that they would not vote for a restoration. Dr. Johnson, I think, was contented with the admission as to the hereditary right, leaving the original point in dispute, viz. what the people upon the whole would do, taking in right and affection ; for he said, people were afraid of a change, even though they think it right. Dr. Taylor said something of the slight foundation of the hereditary right of the house of Stuart. “Sir,” said Johnson, “the house of Stuart succeeded to the full right of both the houses of York and Lancaster, whose common source had the undisputed right. A right to a throne is like a right to anything else. Possession is sufficient, where no better right can be shown. This was the case with the royal family of England, as it is now with the king of France : for as to the first beginning of the right we are in the dark.”
Thursday, September 18. Last night Dr. Johnson had proposed that the crystal lustre, or chandelier, in Dr. Taylor's large room should be lighted up some time or other. Taylor said it should be lighted up next night. “ That will do very well,” said I," for it is Dr. Johnson's birthday.” When we were in the Isle of Sky, Johnson had desired me not to mention his birthday. He did not seem pleased at this time
· Dr. Taylor was very ready to make this admission, because the party with which he was connected was not in power. There was then some truth in it, owing to the pertinacity of factious clamour. Had he lived till now, it would have been impossible for him to deny that his Majesty possesses the warmest affection of his people.-BOSWELL.