Page images
PDF
EPUB

August 19.] Johnson's vocation to active life.

Έργα νεῶν, βουλαίτε μέσων, εὔχαιτε γερόντων.

71

That is a very noble line: not that young men should not pray, or old men not give counsel, but that every season of life has its proper duties. I have thought of retiring, and have talked of it to a friend; but I find my vocation is rather to active life.' I said, some young monks might be allowed, to shew that it is not age alone that can retire to pious solitude; but he thought this would only shew that they could not resist temptation.

He wanted to mount the steeples, but it could not be done. There are no good inscriptions here. Bad Roman characters he naturally mistook for half Gothick, half Roman. One of the steeples, which he was told was in danger, he wished not to be taken down; for, (said he,) it may fall on some of the posterity of John Knox; and no great matter!'-Dinner was mentioned. JOHNSON. 'Ay, ay; amidst all these sorrowful scenes, I have no objection to dinner'.'

We went and looked at the castle, where Cardinal Beaton was murdered', and then visited Principal Murison at his

serious man." This person said to him, "Sir, you wish to serve God and go to heaven. Remember, you cannot serve Him alone; you must therefore find companions or make them; the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion." Wesley never forgot these words.'

[Εργα νέων, βουλαὶ δὲ μέσων, εὐχαὶ δὲ γερόντων.

BOSWELL.

Hesiodi Fragmenta, Lipsiæ 1840, p. 371.] Let youth in deeds, in counsel man engage; Prayer is the proper duty of old age. 'One 'sorrowful scene' Johnson was perhaps too late in the year to see. Wesley, who visited St. Andrews on May 27, 1776, during the vacation, writes ( Journal, iv. 75) :—'What is left of St. Leonard's College is only a heap of ruins. Two colleges remain. One of them has a tolerable square; but all the windows are broke, like those of a brothel. We were informed the students do this before they leave the college.'

''He was murdered by the ruffians of reformation, in the manner of which Knox has given what he himself calls a merry narrative.' Johnson's Works, ix. 3. In May 1546 the Cardinal had Wishart the Reformer killed, and at the end of the same month he got killed him

self.

college,

72

At Dinner with the Professors. [August 19.

college, where is a good library-room; but the Principal was abundantly vain of it, for he seriously said to Dr. Johnson, 'you have not such a one in England'.'

[ocr errors]

The professors entertained us with a very good dinner. Present Murison, Shaw, Cook, Hill, Haddo, Watson, Flint, Brown. I observed, that I wondered to see him eat so well, after viewing so many sorrowful scenes of ruined religious magnificence. Why, (said he,) I am not sorry, after seeing these gentlemen; for they are not sorry.' Murison said, all sorrow was bad, as it was murmuring against the dispensations of Providence. JOHNSON. 'Sir, sorrow is inherent in humanity. As you cannot judge two and two to be either five, or three, but certainly four, so, when comparing a worse present state with a better which is past, you cannot but feel sorrow. It is not cured by reason, but by the incursion of present objects, which wear out the past. You need not murmur, though you are sorry.' MURISON. 'But St. Paul says, "I have learnt, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that relates to riches and poverty; for we see St. Paul, when he had a thorn in the flesh, prayed earnestly to have it removed; and then he could not. be content.' Murison, thus refuted, tried to be smart, and drank to Dr. Johnson, Long may you lecture!' Dr. Johnson

'Johnson says (Works, ix. 5) :—' The doctor, by whom it was shown, hoped to irritate or subdue my English vanity by telling me that we had no such repository of books in England.' He wrote to Mrs. Thrale (Piozzi Letters, i. 113) :-' For luminousness and elegance it may vie at least with the new edifice at Streatham.' 'The new edifice' was, no doubt, the library of which he took the touching farewell. Ante, iv. 181.

The

Sorrow is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past, without looking forward to the future, an incessant wish that something were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting and harassing want of some enjoyment or possession which we have lost, and which no endeavours can possibly regain.' Rambler, No. 47. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on the death of her son: -'Do not indulge your sorrow; try to drive it away by either pleasure or pain; for, opposed to what you are feeling, many pains will become pleasures.' Piozzi Letters, i. 310.

afterwards,

August 19.]

Saying Grace in Latin.

73

afterwards, speaking of his not drinking wine, said, 'The Doctor spoke of lecturing (looking to him). I give all these lectures on water.'

He defended requiring subscription in those admitted to universities, thus: As all who come into the country must obey the king, so all who come into an university must be of the church'.'

And here I must do Dr. Johnson the justice to contradict a very absurd and ill-natured story, as to what passed at St. Andrews. It has been circulated, that, after grace was said in English, in the usual manner, he with the greatest marks of contempt, as if he had held it to be no grace in an university, would not sit down till he had said grace aloud in Latin. This would have been an insult indeed to the gentlemen who were entertaining us. But the truth was precisely thus. In the course of conversation at dinner, Dr. Johnson, in very good humour, said, 'I should have expected to have heard a Latin grace, among so many learned men: we had always a Latin grace at Oxford. I believe I can repeat it.' Which he did, as giving the learned men in one place a specimen of what was done by the learned men in another place.

We went and saw the church, in which is Archbishop Sharp's monument'. I was struck with the same kind of feelings with which the churches of Italy impressed me. I was much pleased, to see Dr. Johnson actually in St. Andrews, of which we had talked so long. Professor Haddo was with us this afternoon, along with Dr. Watson. We looked at St. Salvador's College. The rooms for students seemed very commodious, and Dr. Johnson said, the chapel

1 See ante, ii. 173.

'The Pembroke College grace was written by Camden. It was as follows: Gratias tibi agimus, Deus misericors, pro acceptis a tua bonitate alimentis; enixe comprecantes ut serenissimum nostrum Regem Georgium, totam regiam familiam, populumque tuum universum tuta in pace semper custodias.'

' Sharp was murdered on May 3, 1679, in a moor near St. Andrews. Burnet's History of his Own Time, ed. 1818, ii. 82, and Scott's Old Mortality, ed. 1860, ix. 297, and x. 203.

was

74

'The Art of Fencing?

was the neatest place of worship he had seen.

[August 19.

The key of

the library could not be found; for it seems Professor Hill, who was out of town, had taken it with him. Dr. Johnson told a joke he had heard of a monastery abroad, where the key of the library could never be found.

It was somewhat dispiriting, to see this ancient archiepiscopal city now sadly deserted'. We saw in one of its streets a remarkable proof of liberal toleration; a nonjuring clergyman, strutting about in his canonicals, with a jolly countenance and a round belly, like a well-fed monk.

We observed two occupations united in the same person, who had hung out two sign-posts. Upon one was, 'James Hood, White Iron Smith' (i. e. Tin-plate Worker). Upon another, 'The Art of Fencing taught, by James Hood.'Upon this last were painted some trees, and two men fencing, one of whom had hit the other in the eye, to shew his great dexterity; so that the art was well taught. JOHNSON. 'Were I studying here, I should go and take a lesson. I remember Hope, in his book on this art', says, "the Scotch are very good fencers."'

We returned to the inn, where we had been entertained at dinner, and drank tea in company with some of the Professors, of whose civilities I beg leave to add my humble and very grateful acknowledgement to the honourable testimony of Dr. Johnson, in his Journey'.

'One of its streets is now lost; and in those that remain there is the silence and solitude of inactive indigence and gloomy depopulation.... St. Andrews seems to be a place eminently adapted to study and education. ... The students, however, are represented as, at this time, not exceeding a hundred. I saw no reason for imputing their paucity to the present professors.' Johnson's Works, ix. 4. A student, he adds, of lower rank could get his board, lodging, and instruction for less than ten pounds for the seven months of residence. Stockdale says (Memoirs, i. 238) that 'in St. Andrews, in 1756, for a good bedroom, coals, and the attendance of a servant I paid one shilling a week.'

The Compleat Fencing - Master, by Sir William Hope. London, 1691.

''In the whole time of our stay we were gratified by every mode We

August 19.]

Instructions for composition.

75

We talked of composition, which was a favourite topick of Dr. Watson's, who first distinguished himself by lectures on rhetorick. JOHNSON. I advised Chambers, and would advise every young man beginning to compose, to do it as fast as he can, to get a habit of having his mind to start promptly; it is so much more difficult to improve in speed than in accuracy'.' WATSON. 'I own I am for much attention to accuracy in composing, lest one should get bad habits of doing it in a slovenly manner.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are confounding doing inaccurately with the necessity of doing inaccurately. A man knows when his composition is inaccurate, and when he thinks fit he'll correct it. But, if a man is accustomed to compose slowly, and with difficulty, upon all occasions, there is danger that he may not compose at all, as we do not like to do that which is not done easily; and, at any rate, more time is consumed in a small matter than ought to be.' WATSON. 'Dr. Hugh Blair has taken a week to compose a sermon.' JOHNSON. Then, Sir, that is for want of the habit of composing quickly, which I am insisting one should acquire.' WATSON. 'Blair was not composing all the week, but only such hours as he found himself disposed for composition.' JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, unless you tell me the time he took, you tell me nothing. If I say I took a week to walk a mile, and have had the gout five days, and been ill otherwise another day, I have taken but one day. I myself have composed about forty sermons'. I have

of kindness, and entertained with all the elegance of lettered hospitality.' Johnson's Works, ix. 3.

'Dugald Stewart (Life of Adam Smith, p. 107) writes:- Mr. Smith observed to me not long before his death, that after all his practice in writing he composed as slowly, and with as great difficulty as at first. He added at the same time that Mr. Hume had acquired so great a facility in this respect, that the last volumes of his History were printed from his original copy, with a few marginal corrections.' See ante, iii. 496 and iv. 14.

Of these only twenty-five have been published: Johnson's Works, ix. 289-525. See ante, iii. 22, note 3, and 206. Johnson wrote on April 20, 1778:-'I have made sermons, perhaps as readily as formerly.' Pr.

begun

« PreviousContinue »