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The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel,
He added, “These are all of which I can be sure." They bear a small proportion to the whole, which consists of four hundred and thirty-eight verses. Goldsmith, in the couplet which he inserted, mentions Luke as a person well known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite smoothly; while those of more attention have been as much perplexed by Luke as by Lydiat, in "The Vanity of Human Wishes." The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. In the 66 Respublica Hungarica," there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brothers of the name of Zeck, George and Luke. When it was quelled, George, not Luke, was punished by his head being encircled with a red-hot iron crown: (6 Corona candescente ferreû coronatur." The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl of Athol, one of the murderers of King James I. of Scotland.1
Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which he furnished to Goldsmith's "Deserted Village," which are only the last four:—
́ That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
Talking of education, “People have now-a-days,” said he, “got a strange opinion that everything should be taught by lectures. Now, I cannot see that lectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lectures, except where experiments are to be shown. You may teach chemistry by lectures :-You might teach making of shoes by lectures ! ”
At night I supped with him at the Mitre tavern, that we might renew our social intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now a considerable difference in his way of living. Having had an illness, in which he was advised to leave off wine, he had, from that period, continued to abstain from it, and drink only water, or lemonade.
I told him that a foreign friend of his, whom I had met with abroad, was so wretchedly perverted to infidelity that he treated the hopes of immortality with brutal levity: and said, “ As man dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog." JOHNSON: "If he dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog.” I added, that this man said to me, “ I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.”
1 On the iron crown, see Mr. Steevens's note 7, on Act iv. sc. i. of “Richard III.” It seems to be alluded to in “Macbeth," Act iv. se. i. "Thy crown does sear, &c." See also Gough's "Camden," vol. iii. p. 396.-J. BLAKEWAY.
JOHNSON: 66 Sir, he must be very singular in his opinion if he thinks himself one of the best of men, for none of his friends think him so."He said, "No honest man could be a deist, for no man could be so after a fair examination of the proofs of Christianity." I named Hume. JOHNSON: "No, Sir; Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishopric of Durham that he had never read the New Testament with attention."I mentioned Hume's notion, that all who are happy are equally happy ; a little Miss with a new gown at a dancing-school ball, a general at the head of a victorious army, and an orator after having made an eloquent speech in a great assembly. JOHNSON: "Sir, that all who are happy are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher.” I remember this very question very happily illustrated in opposition to Hume, by the Rev. Mr. Robert Brown, at Utrecht. "A small drinking-glass and a large one," said he, " may be equally full: but the large one holds more than the small." 1
Dr. Johnson was very kind this evening, and said to me, "You have now lived five-and-twenty years, and you have employed them well.” Alas, Sir," said I, "I fear not. Do I know history? Do I know mathematics? Do I know law?" JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, though you may know no science so well as to be able to teach it, and no profession so well as to be able to follow it, your general mass of knowledge of books and men renders you very capable to make yourself master of any science, or fit yourself for any profession." I mentioned that a gay friend had advised me against being a lawyer, because I should be excelled by plodding blockheads. JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, n the formulary and statutory part of law, a plodding blockhead may excel; but in the ingenious and rational part of it a plodding blockhead can never excel."
I talked of the mode adopted by some to rise in the world, by courting great men, and asked him whether he had ever submitted to it. JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, I never was near enough to great men to
1 Bishop Hall, in discussing this subject, has the same image: "Yet so conceive of these heavenly degrees that the least is glorious. So do these vessels differ, that are all full." Epistles, Dec. iii. cp. 6. "Of the different degrees of heavenly glory." This most learned and ingenious writer, however, was not the first who suggested this image; for it is found also in an old book entitled "A Work worth the reading," by Charles Gibbon, 4to. 1591. In the fifth dialogue of this work, in which the question debated is, "whether there be degrees of glorie in heaven, or difference of paines in hell," one of the speakers observes, that no doubt in the world to come, (where the least pleasure is unspeakable,) it cannot be but that he which hath bin most afflicted here, shall conceive and receive more exceeding joy than he which hath bin touched with lesse tribulation; and yet the joys of heaven are fitlie compared to vessels filled with licour of all quantities; for everie man shall have his full measure there." By all quantities" this writer, who seems to refer to a still more ancient author tha himself, I suppose, means different quantities.-MALONE.
court them. You may be prudently attached to great men, and yet independent. You are not to do what you think wrong; and, Sir, you are to calculate, and not to pay too dear for what you get. You must not give a shilling's worth of court for sixpence worth of good. But it you can get a shilling's worth of good for sixpence worth of court, you are a fool if you do not pay court."
He said, "If convents should be allowed at all, they should only be retreats for persons unable to serve the public, or who have served it. It is our first duty to serve society; and, after we have done that, ve may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged."
I introduced the subject of second sight, and other mysterious manifestations; the fulfilment of which, I suggested, might happen by chance. JOHNSON: "Yes, Sir, but they have happened so often, that mankind have agreed to think them not fortuitous."
I talked to him a great deal of what I had seen in Corsica, and of my intention to publish an account of it. He encouraged me by saying, "You cannot go to the bottom of the subject: but all that you tell us will be new to us. Give us as many anecdotes as you can."
Our next meeting at the Mitre was on Saturday the 15th of February, when I presented to him my old and most intimate friend, the Rev. Mr.
Temple, then of Cambridge. I having mentioned that I had passed some time with Rousseau, in his wild retreat, and having quoted some remark made by Mr. Wilkes, with whom I had spent many pleasant hours in Italy, Johnson said, sarcastically, "It seems, sir, you have kept very good company abroad, Rousseau and Wilkes!" Thinking it enough to defend one at a time, I said nothing as to my gay friend, but answered with a smile, "My dear Sir, you don't call Rousseau bad company. Do you really think him a bad man?". JOHNSON: "Sir, if you are talking jestingly of this, I don't talk with you.
hean to be serious, I think him one of the worst of men; a rascal, who ought to be hunted out of society, as he has been. Three or four nations have expelled him, and it is a shame that he is protected in this country." BOSWELL: "I don't deny, Sir, but that his novel may, perhaps, do harm; but I cannot think his intention was bad." JOHNSON: "Sir, that will not do. We cannot prove any man's intention to be bad. You may shoot a man through the head, and say you intended to miss him; but the judge will order you to be hanged. An alleged want of intention, when evil is committed, will not be
allowed in a court of justice. Rousseau, Sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for his transportation than that of any felon who has gone from the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to have him work in the plantations." BOSWELL: "Sir, do you think him as bad a man as Voltaire?" JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, it is difficult to settle the proportion of iniquity between them."
This violence seemed very strange to me, who had read many of Rousseau's animated writings with great pleasure, and even edification; had been much pleased with his society, and was just come from the continent where he was generally admired. Nor can I yet allow that he deserves the very severe censure which Johnson pronounced upon him. His absurd preference of savage to civilised life, and other singularities, are proofs rather of a defect in his understanding, than of any depravity in his heart. And notwithstanding the unfavourable opinion which many worthy men have expressed of his "Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard," I cannot help admiring it as the performance of a man full of sincere reverential submission to Divine mystery, though beset with perplexing doubts: a state of mind to be viewed with pity rather than with anger.
On his favourite subject of subordination, Johnson said, "So far is it from being true that men are naturally equal, that no two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other."
I mentioned the advice given us by philosophers, to console ourselves, when distressed or embarrassed, by thinking of those who are in a worse situation than ourselves. This, I observed, could not apply to all, for there must be some who have nobody worse than they are. JOHNSON: "Why, to be sure, Sir, there are; but they don't know it. There is no being so poor and so contemptible, who does not think there is somebody still poorer, and still more contemptible.”
As my stay in London at this time was very short, I had not many opportunities of being with Dr. Johnson; but I felt my veneration for him in no degree lessened, by my having seen multorum hominum more et urbes. On the contrary, by having it in my power to compare him with many of the most celebrated persons of other countries, my admiration of his extraordinary mind was increased and confirmed.
The roughness, indeed, which sometimes appeared in his manners, was more striking to me now, from my having been accustomed to the studied, smooth, complying habits of the continent; and I clearly recognised in him, not without respect for his honest conscientious zeal, the same indignant and sarcastical mode of treating every attempt to unhinge or weaken good principles.
One evening, when a young gentleman teased him with an account of the infidelity of his servant, who, he said, would not believe the scriptures, because he could not read them in the original tongues, and
be sure that they were not invented :-" Why, foolish fellow," said Johnson, "has he any better authority for almost everything that he believes?" BOSWELL: 66 Then the vulgar, Sir, never can know they are right, but must submit themselves to the learned." JOHNSON: "To be sure, Sir. The vulgar are the children of the State, and must be taught like children." BOSWELL: "Then, Sir, a poor Turk must be a Mahometan, just as a poor Englishman must be a Christian?" JOHNSON: “Why, yes, Sir; and what then? This, now, is such stuff as I used to talk to my mother, when I first began to think myself a clever fellow; and she ought to have whipt me for it."
Another evening Dr. Goldsmith and I called on him, with the hope of prevailing on him to sup with us at the Mitre. We found him indisposed, and resolved not to go abroad. Come, then," said Goldsmith, we will not go to the Mitre to-night, since we cannot have the big man with us." Johnson then called for a bottle of port, of which Goldsmith and I partook, while our friend, now a water-drinker, sat by us. GOLDSMITH: “I think, Mr. Johnson, you don't go near the theatres now. You give yourself no more concern about a new play, than if you had never had anything to do with the stage." JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, our tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore." GOLDSMITH: "Nay, Sir, but your Muse was not a whore." JOHNSON: "Sir, I do not think she was. But as we advance in the journey of life, we drop some of the things which have pleased us; whether it be that we are fatigued and don't choose to carry so many things any farther, or that we find other things which we like better." BOSWELL: “But, Sir, why don't you give us something in some other way?" GOLDSMITH : "Ay, Sir, we have a claim upon you." JOHNSON: "No, Sir, I am not obliged to do any more. No man is obliged to do as much as he can do. A man is to have part of his life to himself. If a soldier has fought a good many campaigns, he is not to be blamed if he retires to ease and tranquillity. A physician, who has practised long in a great city, may be excused if he retires to a small town and takes less practice. Now, Sir, the good I can do by my conversation bears the same proportion to the good I can do by my writings, that the practice of a physician, retired to a small town, does to his practice in a great city.” BOSWELL: "But I wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in writing than in not writing." JOHNSON: "Sir, you may wonder."
He talked of making verses, and observed, "The great difficulty is, to know when you have made good ones. When composing, I have generally had them in my mind, perhaps fifty at a time, walking up and down in my room; and then I have written them down, and often, from laziness, have written only half lines. I have written a hundred lines in a day. I remember, I wrote a hundred lines of 'The Vanity of Human Wishes' in a day. Doctor (turning to Goldsmith), I am not quite idle;