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but for ancient politesse, "la vieille cour," and he made no reply,
His lordship was drest in a rustic suit, and wore a little round hat; he told us, we now saw him as Farmer Burnet, and we should have his family dinner, a farmer's dinner. He said, "I should not have forgiven Mr. Boswell, had he not brought you here, Dr. Johnson." He produced a very long stalk of corn, as a specimen of his crop, and said, "You see here the Icetas segetes:" he added, that Virgil seemed to be as enthusiastic a farmer as he, and was certainly a practical one. Johnson. "It does not always follow, my lord, that a man, who has written a good poem on an art, has practised it. Philip Miller told me, that in Philips's " Cyder," a poem, all the precepts were just, and indeed better than in books written for the purpose of instructing; yet Philips had never made cyder."'
I started the subject of emigration. Johnson. "To a man of mere animal life, you can urge no argument against going to America, but that it will be some time before he will get the earth to produce. But a man of any intellectual enjoyment will not easily go and immerse himself and his posterity for ages in barbarism."
He and my lord spoke highly of Homer. Johnson. "He had all the learning of his age. The shield of Achilles shows a nation in war, a nation in peace: harvest sport, nay stealing."2 Monboddo. "Ay, and what we (looking to me) would call a parliament-house scene; a cause pleaded." Johnson. "That is part of the life of a nation in peace. And there are in Homer such characters of heroes, and combinations of qualities of heroes, that the united powers of mankind ever since have not produced any but what are to be found there." Monboddo. "Yet no character is described." Johnson. "No; they all develope themselves. Agammemnon is always a gentleman-like character: he has always f3aat\tn6v rt. That the ancients held so, is plain from this; that Euripides, in his Hecuba, makes him the person to interpose."' Monboddo. "The history of manners is the most valuable. I never set a high value on any other history." Johnson. "Nor I; and therefore I esteem biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn to use." BosWell. "But in the course of general history we find manners. In wars, we see the dispositions of people, their degrees of humanity, and other particulars." Johnson. "Yes; but then you must take all the facts to get this, and it is but a little you get." Monboddo. "And it is that little which makes history valuable." Bravo! thought I; they agree like two brothers. Monboddo. "I am sorry, Dr. Johnson, you were not longer at Edinburgh, to receive the homage of our men of learning." Johnson. "My lord, I received great respect and great kindness." Boswell. "He goes hack to Edinburgh after our tour." We talked of the decrease of learning in Scotland, and of the "Muses' Welcome." Johnson. "Learning is much decreased in England, in my remembrance." Monboddo. "You, Sir, have lived to see its decrease in England, I its extinction in Scotland." However, I brought him to confess that the high school of Edinburgh did well. Johnson. "Learning has decreased in England, because learning will not do so much for a man as formerly. There are other ways of getting preferment. Few bishops are now made for their learning. To be a bishop, a man must be learned in a learned age, factious in a factious age, but always of eminence. Warburton is an exception, though his learning alone did not raise him. He was first an antagonist to Pope, and helped Theobald to publish his Shakspeare; but, seeing Pope the rising man, when Crousaz attacked his 'Essay on Man,' for some faults which it has, and some which it has not, Warburton defended it in the Keview of that time. This brought him acquainted with Pope, and he gained his friendship. Pope introduced him to Allen, Allen married him to his niece; so, by Allen's interest and his own, he was made a bishop. But then his learning was the sine qua non. He knew how to make the most of it. but I do not find by any dishonest means." Monboddo. "He is a great man." Johnson. "Yes, he has great knowledge, great power of mind. Hardly any man brings greater variety of learning to bear upon his point." MonBoddo. "He is one of the greatest lights of your Church." Johnson. "Why, we are not so sure of his being very friendly to us. He blazes, if you will, but that is not always the steadiest light. Lowth is another bishop who has risen by his learning."
1 This Johnson repeated in his Life of Philips. Miller, the author of the Gardener's Dictionary, was born at Chelsea in 1691, and died in 1771. — Wright.
* My note of this is much too short. Srecis esse laboro, obscurus fio. Yet as I have resolved, that the very Journal which Dr. Johnson read shall be presented to the public, I will not expand the text in any considerable degree, though I may occasionally supply a word to complete the sense, as I fill up the blanks of abbreviation in the writing, neither of which can be said to change the genuine Journal. One of the best critics of our age conjectures that the imperfect passage above has probably been as follows: "In his book we have an accurate display of a nation in war. and a nation in peace; the peasant is delineated as truly as the general; nay, even harvest sport, and the modes of ancient theft, are described."
The critic was probably Dr. Hugh Blair.— Walter Scott.
1 Dr. Johnson modestly said, he had not read Homer so much as he wished he had done. But this conversation shows how well he was acquainted with the Mceonian bard; and he has shown it still more in his criticism upon Pope's Homer, in his life of that poet. My excellent friend, Mr. Langton, told me he was once present at a dispute between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke, on the comparative merits of Homer and Virgil, which was carried on with extraordinary abilities on both sides. Dr. Johnson maintained the superiority of Homer.
Dr. Johnson examined young Arthur,1 Lord Monboddo's son, in Latin. He answered very well; upon which he said, with complacency, "Get you gone! When King James comes back,2 you shall be in the 'Muses' Welcome !'" My lord and Dr. Johnson disputed a little, whether the savage or the London shopkeeper had the best existence; his lordship, as usual, preferring the savage. My lord was extremely hospitable, and I saw both Dr. Johnson and him liking each other better every hour.
Dr. Johnson having retired for a short time, his lordship spoke of his conversation as I could have wished. Dr. Johnson had said, " I have done greater feats with my
1 Arthur died when only eleven years old. See Morrison's Dictionary of Decisions in Court of Session, pp. 8105-8106.—Editor.
2 I find some doubt has been entertained concerning Dr. Johnson's meaning here. It is to be supposed that he meant " when a king shall again be entertained in Scotland."
This was, probably, another touch of Jacobite pleasantry; and Johnson was. perhaps, as Mr. Chambers suggested to me, thinking of one of the addresses in the Muses' Welcome, which was spoken by a very young boy, the son of the Earl of Winton.—Croker.
knife than this;" though he had eaten a very hearty dinner. My lord, who affects or believes he follows an abstemious system, seemed struck with Dr. Johnson's manner of living. I had a particular satisfaction in being under the roof of Monboddo, my lord being my father's old friend, and having been always very good to me. We were cordial together. He asked Dr. Johnson and me to stay all night. When I said we must be at Aberdeen, he replied, " Well, I am like the Romans: I shall say to you, 'Happy to come; happy to depart!'' He thanked Dr. Johnson for his visit. Johnson. "I little thought, when I had the honour to meet your lordship in London, that I should see you at Monboddo." After dinner, as the ladies were going away, Dr. Johnson would stand up. He insisted that politeness was of great consequence in society. "It is," said he, "fictitious benevolence. It supplies the place of it amongst those who see each other only in public, or but little. Depend upon it the want of it never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other. I have always applied to good breeding, what Addison, in his Cato, says of honour:—
"' Honour's a sacred tie; the law of kings;
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
That aids and strengthens Virtue where it meets her,
And imitates her actions where she is not.'"
When he took up his large oak stick, he said, "My lord, that's Homeric; " thus pleasantly alluding to his lordship's favourite writer.
Gory, my lord's black servant, was sent as our guide, to conduct us to the high road. The circumstance of each of them having a black servant was another point of similarity between Johnson and Monboddo. I observed how curious it was to see an African in the north of Scotland, with little or no difference of manners from those of the natives. Dr. Johnson laughed to see Gory and Joseph riding together most cordially. "Those two fellows," said he, " one from Africa, the other from Bohemia, seem quite at home." He was much pleased with Lord Monboddo to-day. He said, he would have pardoned him for a few paradoxes, when he found that he had so much that was good: but that, from his appearance in London, he thought him all paradox; which would not do. He observed that his lordship had talked no paradoxes to-day. "And as to the savage and the London shop-keeper," said he, "I don't know but I might have taken the side of the savage equally, had any body else taken the side of the shopkeeper."' He had said to my lord, in opposition to the value of the savage's courage, that it was owing to his limited power of thinking, and repeated Pope's verses, in which " Macedonia's madman" is introduced, and the conclusion is,
Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose."*
I objected to the last phrase, as being low. Johnson, "Sir, it is intended to be low: it is satire. The expression is debased, to debase the character."
When Gory was about to part from us, Dr. Johnson called to him, " Mr. Gory, give me leave to ask you a question! are you baptized?" Gory told him he was—and confirmed by the Bishop of Durham. He then gave him a shilling.
We had a tedious driving this afternoon, and were somewhat drowsy. Last night I was afraid Dr. Johnson was beginning to faint in his resolution; for he said, "If we must ride much we shall not go; and there's an end on't." To-day, when he talked of Sky with spirit, I said, "Why Sir, you seemed to me to despond yesterday. You are a delicate Londoner; you are a maccaroni; you can't ride." Johnson. "Sir, I shall ride better than you. I was only afraid I should not find a horse able to carry me." I
1 Johnson says to Mrs. Thrale, " We agree pretty well, only we disputed in adjusting the claim of merit between a shopkeeper of London and a savage of the American wildernesses. Our opinions were, I think, maintained on hoth sides without full conviction. Monboddo declared boldly for the savage, and I, perhaps for that reaton, sided with the citizen."—Letters, vol. i., p. 115.—Craker.
* "Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
Essaj on Man, iv., 219.— Wright.