Page images

you love


when it is fit.”-Johnson. “Sir, I shall not consult you."-Boswell. If you are to run away from us, as soon as you get loose, we will keep you confined in an island.”—He was however, on the whole, very good company. Mr. Donald M‘Leod expressed very well the gradual impression made by Dr. Johnson on those who are so fortunate as to obtain his acquaintance. “When you see him first you are struck with awful reverence ;-then you admire him ;-and then him cordially."

I read this evening some part of Voltaire's History of the War in 1741, and of Lord Kames against Hereditary Indefeasible Right. This is a very slight circumstance, with which I should not trouble my reader, but for the sake of observing, that every man should keep minutes of whatever he reads. Every circumstance of his studies should be recorded; what books he has consulted; how much of them he has read; at what times; how often the same authors; and what opinions he formed of them, at different periods of his life. Such an account would much illustrate the history of his mind.

Friday, 1st October.

I shewed to Dr. Johnson verses in a magazine, on his Dictionary, composed of uncommon words taken from it;

6 Little of Anthropopathy has he," &c.

He read a few of them, and said, “I am not answerable for all the words in my Dictionary.”—I told him, that Garrick kept a book of all who had either praised or abused him.-On the subject of his own reputation, he

said, “Now that I see it has been so current a topick, I wish I had done so too; but it could not well be done now, as so many things are scattered in news-papers. He said, he was angry at a boy of Oxford, who wrote in his defence against Kenrick; because it was doing him hurt to answer Kenrick. He was told afterwards, the boy was to come to him to ask a favour. He first thought to treat him rudely, on account of his meddling in that business; but then he considered, he had meant to do him all the service in his power, and he took ano- . ther resolution; he told him he would do what he could for him, and did so; and the boy was satisfied. He said, he not know how his pamphlet was done, as he had read very little of it. The boy made a good figure at Oxford, but died. He remarked, that attacks on authours did them much service. “A man who tells me my play is very bad, is less my enemy than he who lets it die in silence. A man, whose business it is to be talked of, is much helped by being attacked.”Garrick, I observed, had been often so helped.—Johnson. “Yes, sir; though Garrick had more opportunities than almost any man, to keep the publick in mind of him, by exhibiting himself to such numbers, he would not have had so much reputation, had he not been só much attacked. Every attack produces a defence; and so attention is engaged. There is no sport in mere praise, when people are all of a mind.”_Boswell. “ Then Hume is not the worse for Beattie's attack?" Johnson. “He is, because Beattie has confuted him. I do not say, but that there may be some attacks which will hurt an authour. Though Hume suffered from Beattie, he was the better for other attacks.” (He certainly could not include in that number those of Dr. Adams, and Mr. Tytler.)-Boswell. Goldsmith is the better for attacks.”Johnson. “Yes, sir; but he does not think so yet. When Goldsmith and I published, each of us something, at the same time, we were given to understand that we might review each other. Goldsmith was for accepting the offer. I said, No; set Reviewers at defiance. It was said to old Bentley, upon the attacks against him, "Why, they'll write you down.' No, sir, he replied ; depend upon it, no man was ever written down but by himself.” He observed to me afterwards, that the advantages authours derived from attacks, were chiefly in subjects of taste, where you cannot confute, as so much may be said on either side. He told me he did not know who was the authour of the Adventures of a Guinea, but that the bookseller had sent the first volume to him in manuscript, to have his opinion if it should be printed; and he thought it should.

The weather being now somewhat better, Mr. James M‘Donald, factor to Sir Alexander M‘Donald in Slate, insisted that all the company at Ostig should go to the house at Armidale, which Sir Alexander had left, having gone with his lady to Edinburgh, and be his guests, till we had an opportunity of sailing to Mull. We accordingly got there to dinner; and passed our day very cheerfully, being no less than fourteen in number.

Saturday, 2d October.

Dr. Johnson said, that “a Chief and his Lady should make their house like a court. They should have a certain number of the gentlemen's daughters to receive their education in the family, to learn pastry and such things from the housekeeper, and manners from my lady. That was the way in the great families in Wales; At a great

at Lady Salisbury's, Mrs. Thrale's grandmother, and at Lady Philips's. I distinguish the families by the ladies, as I speak of what was properly their province. There were always six young ladies at Sir John Philips's: when one was married, her place was filled up. There was a large school-room, where they learnt needle work and other things.”-I observed, that, at some courts in Germany, there were academies for the pages, who are the sons of gentlemen, and receive their education without any expense to their parents. Dr. Johnson said, that manners were best learnt at those courts. "You are admitted with great facility to the prince's company, and yet must treat him with much respect. court, you are at such a distance that you get no good.” -I said, “Very true : a man sees the court of Ver. sailles, as if he saw it on a theatre." —He said, “The best book that ever was written upon good-breeding, 1 Corteggiano, by Castiglione, grew up at the little court of Urbino, and you should read it.”—I am glad always to have his opinion of books. At Mr. M‘Pherson's, he commended Whitby's Commentary, and said, he had heard him called rather lax; but he not perceive it. He had looked at a novel, called The Man of the World, at Rasay, but thought there was nothing in it. He said to-day, while reading my Journal, “ This will be a great treasure to us some years hence.”

Talking of a very penurious gentleman of our acquaintance, he observed, that he exceeded L’Avare in the play. I concurred with him, and remarked that he would do well, if introduced in one of Foote's farces; that the best way to get it done, would be to bring Foote to be entertained at his house for a week, and then it would be facit indignatio.Johnson. “Sir, I wish he had him. I, who have eaten his bread, will not give him to him ; but I should be glad he came honestly by him."

He said, he was angry at Thrale, for sitting at General Oglethorpe's without speaking. He censured a man for degrading himself to a non-entity. I observed, that Goldsmith was on the other extreme; for he spoke at all ventures.-Johnson. Yes, sir ; Goldsmith, rather than not speak, will talk of what he knows himself to be ignorant, which can only end in exposing him.”—“I wonder (said I,) if he feels that he exposes himself. If he was with two taylors”—“Or with two founders, (said Dr. Johnson interrupting me,) he would fall a talking on the method of making cannon, though both of them would soon see that he did not know what metal a cannon is made of.”—We were very social and merry in his room this forenoon. In the evening the company danced as usual. We performed, with much activity, a dance which, I suppose, the emigration from Sky has occasioned. They call it America. Each of the couples, after the common involutions and evolutions, successively whirls round in a circle, till all are in motion ; and the dance seems intended to shew how emigration catches, till a whole neighbourhood is set afloat.—Mrs. M.Kinnon told me, that last year when a ship sailed from Portree for America, the people on shore were almost distracted when they saw their relations go off ; they lay down on the ground, tumbled, and tore the grass with their teeth.—This year there was not a tear shed. The people on shore seemed to think that they would soon follow. This indifference is a mortal sign for the country.

We danced to-night to the musick of the bagpipe, which made us beat the ground with prodigious force. I thought it better to endeavour to conciliate the kind

« PreviousContinue »