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himself?. And as to his not sleeping, sir ; Tom Davies is a very great man; Tom has been upon the stage, and knows how to do those things: I have not been upon the stage, and cannot do those things.” Boswell. “I have often blamed myself, sir, for not feeling for others as sensibly as many say they do." JOHNSON. “Sir, don't be
· duped by them any more. You will find these very feeling people are not very ready to do you good. They pay you by feeling.”
BOSWELL. “ Foote has a great deal of humour.” Johnson. “ Yes, sir.” Boswell. “He has a singu
“ lar talent of exhibiting character.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, it is not a talent; it is a vice; it is what others abstain from. It is not comedy, which exhibits the character of a species, as that of a miser gathered from many misers; it is farce which exhibits individuals.” BOSWELL.
Did not he think of exhibiting you, sir?” JOHNSON. “Sir, fear restrained him; he knew I would have broken his bones. I would have saved him the trouble of cutting off a leg; I would not have left him a leg to cut off.” BOSWELL. “ Pray, sir, is not Foote an infidel?" JOHNSON. “ I do not know, sir, that the fellow is an infidel; but if he be an infidel, he is an infidel as a dog is an infidel; that is to say, he has never thought upon the subjecta.” BOSWELL.
z In a letter to Granger, Davies says,
“ I have been so taken up with a very unluckly accident that befell an intimate friend of mine, that for this last fortnight I have been able to attend to no business, though ever so urgent.” Gran. ger's Letters, p. 28.-ED.
a When Mr. Foote was at Edinburgh, he thought fit to entertain a numerous Scotch company with a great deal of coarse jocularity at the expense of Dr. Johnson, imagining it would be acceptable. I felt this as not civil to me; but sat very patiently till he had exhausted his merriment on that subject; and then observed, that surely Johnson must be allowed to have some sterling wit, and that I had heard him say a very good thing of Mr. Foote himself. Ah, my old friend Sam,” cried Foote, “no man says better things : do let us have it. Upon which I told the above story, which produced a very loud laugh from the company.
But I never saw Foote so disconcerted. He looked grave and angry, and entered into a serious refutation of the justice of the remark. “ What, sir," said he, “ talk thus of a man of liberal education :--a man who for years was at the university of Oxford : :-a man who has added sixteen new characters to the English drama of his country!"-Boswell.
“I suppose, sir, he has thought superficially, and seized the first notions which occurred to his mind.” JOHNSON.
Why then, sir, still he is like a dog, that snatches the piece next him. Did you never observe that dogs have not the power of comparing? A dog will take a small bit of meat as readily as a large, when both are before him.”
“ Buchanan," he observed, “ has fewer centos than any modern Latin poet. He not only had great knowledge of the Latin language, but was a great poetical genius. Both the Scaligers praise him."
” He again talked of the passage in Congreve with high commendation, and said, “ Sbakspeare never has six lines together without a fault. Perhaps you may find seven : but this does not refute my general assertion. If I come to an orchard, and say there's no fruit here, and then comes a poring man who finds two apples and three pears, and tells me, “Sir, you are mistaken, I have found both apples and pears,' I should laugh at him : what would that be to the purpose?"
? Boswell.“ What do you think of Dr. Young's Night Thoughts, sir?” JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, there are very fine things in them.” BOSWELL.
BOSWELL. “Is there not less religion in the nation now, sir, than there was formerly ?” JOHNSON. " I don't know, sir, that there is.” BosWELL. “ For instance, there used to be a chaplain in every great family, which we do not find now." JohnSON. “ Neither do you find any of the state servants which great families used formerly to have. There is a change of modes in the whole department of life.”
Next day, October 20th, he appeared, for the only time I suppose in his life, as a witness in a court of justice, being called to give evidence to the character of Mr. Baretti, who, having stabbed a man in the street, was arraigned at the Old Bailey for murder. Never did such a constellation of genius enlighten the awful sessions-house, emphatically called JUSTICE HALL; Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, Mr. Beauclerk, and Dr. Johnson: and undoubtedly their favourable testimony had due weight with the
court and jury. Johnson gave his evidence in a slow, deliberate, and distinct manner, which was uncommonly impressive. It is well known that Mr. Baretti was acquitted.
On the 26th of October, we dined together at the Mitre tavern. I found fault with Foote for indulging his talent of ridicule at the expense of his visitors, which I colloquially termed making fools of his company. JOHNSON.
Why, sir, when you go to see Foote, you do not go to see a saint: you go to see a man who will be entertained at your house, and then bring you on a publick stage; who will entertain you at his house, for the very purpose of bringing you on a publick stage. Sir, he does not make fools of his company; they whom he exposes are fools already: he only brings them into action.”
Talking of trade, he observed, “ It is a mistaken notion that a vast deal of money is brought into a nation by trade. It is not so.
Commodities come from commodities; but trade produces no capital accession of wealth. However, though there should be little profit in money, there is a considerable profit in pleasure, as it gives to one nation the productions of another; as we have wines, and fruits, and many other foreign articles brought to us." BosWELL. · Yes, sir, and there is a profit in pleasure, by its furnishing occupation to such numbers of mankind.” Johnson. “ Why, sir, you cannot call that pleasure to which all are averse; and which none begin but with the hope of leaving off; a thing which men dislike before they bave tried it, and when they have tried it.” BOSWELL.
But, sir, the mind must be employed, and we grow weary when idle.” JOHNSON. " That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were all idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another. There is, indeed, this in trade :-it gives men an opportunity of improving their situation. If there were no trade, many who are poor would always remain poor. But no man loves labour for itself.” BosWELL. “ Yes, sir, I know a person who does. He is a very laborious judge, and he loves the labour.” Johnson,
Sir, that is because he loves respect and distinction, Could he have them without labour, he would like it less." BOSWELL. “ He tells me he likes it for itself.”- Why, sir, he fancies so, because he is not accustomed to abstract."
We went home to his house to tea. Mrs. Williams made it with sufficient dexterity, notwithstanding her blindness, though her manner of satisfying herself that the cups were full enough, appeared to me a little awkward ; for I fancied she put her finger down a certain way, till she felt the tea touch itb. In my first elation at being allowed the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson at his late visits to this lady, which was like being “ e secretioribus
e consiliis,” I willingly drank cup after cup, as if it had been the Heliconian spring. But as the charm of novelty went off, I grew more fastidious; and besides, I discovered that she was of a peevish temper.
There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very good humour, lively, and ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Fergusson, the self-taught philosopher, told him of a new-invented machine which went without horses; a man who sat in it turned a handle, which worked a spring that drove it forward. “Then, sir,” said Johnson, “what is gained is, the man has his choice whether he will move himself alone, or himself and the machine too.” Dominicetti being mentioned, he would not allow him any merit. “There is nothing in all this boasted system. No, sir;. medicated baths can be no better than warm water: their only effect can be that of tepid moisture.” One of the company took the other side, maintaining that medicines of various sorts, and some too of most powerful effect, are introduced into the human frame by the medium of the pores; and, therefore, when
b I have since had reason to think that I was mistaken; for I have been informed by a lady who was long intimate with her, and likely to be a more accurate observer of such matters, that she had acquired such a niceness of touch, as to know by the feeling on the outside of the cup, how near it was to being full.-Boswell. If it were of importance to establish Mrs. Williams's character for tea-table decorum, we might add the testimony of bishop Percy to that of the lady quoted by Boswell.--En.
warm water is impregnated with salutiferous substances, it may produce great effects as a bath. This appeared to me very satisfactory. Johnson did not answer it; but talking for victory, and determined to be master of the field, he had recourse to the device which Goldsmith imputed to him in the witty words of one of Cibber's comedies : “There is no arguing with Johnson"; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.” He turned to the gentleman, “Well, sir, go to Dominicetti, and get thyself fumigated; but be sure that the steam be directed to thy head, for that is the peccant part.” This produced a triumphant roar of laughter from the motley assembly of philosophers, printers, and dependents, male and female.
I know not bow so whimsical a thought came into my mind, but I asked, “If, sir, you were shut up in a castle, and a new-born child with you, what would you do?" JOHNSON. “Why, sir, I should not much like my company."
BOSWELL. “But would you take the trouble of rearing it?" He seemed, as may well be supposed, unwilling to pursue the subject: but upon my persevering in my question, replied, “ Why yes, sir, I would; but I must have all conveniencies. If I had no garden, I would make a shed on the roof, and take it there for fresh air. I should feed it, and wash it much, and with warm water to. please it, not with cold water to give it pain.” BosWELL. “But, sir, does not heat relax ?" JOHNSON. “Sir, you are not to imagine the water is to be very hot. I would not coddle the child. No, sir, the hardy method
. of treating children does no good. I'll take you five children from London, who shall cuff five highland children. Sir, a man bred in London will carry a burden, or run, or wrestle, as well as a man brought up in the hardiest manper in the country.” BOSWELL. “Good living, I sup
, pose, makes the Londoners strong." Johnson. “Why,
JOHNSON sir, I don't know that it does. Our chairmen from Ireland, who are as strong men as any, have been brought up upon potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality.” Bos