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'violent Johnson was against the people of that country. He talked a great deal; but I am sorry I have preserved little of the conversation, Miss Beresford was so much charmed, that she said to me aside, “How he does talk! Every sentence is an
She amused herself in the coach with knotting. He would scarcely allow this species of employment any merit. . Next to mere idleness (said he), I think knotting is to be reckoned in the scale of insignificance; though I once attempted to learn knotting !: Dempster's sister (looking to me) endeavoured to teach me it, but I made no progress.
I was surprised at his talking without reserve in the publick post coach of the state of his affairs : "I have (said he) about the world I think above a thousand pounds, which I intend shall afford Frank an annuity of seventy pounds a year."
Indeed his openness with people at a first interview was remarkable. He said once to Mr. Langton, “I think I am like Squire Richard” in “The Journey to London,' I'm never strange in a strange place.” He was truly social.
He strongly censured what is much too common in England among persons of condition, -maintaining an absolute silence when unknown to each other; as, for instance, when occasionally brought together in a room before the master or mistress of the house has appeared. “Sir, that is being so uncivilized as not to understand the common rights of humanity.
At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton which we had for dinner. The ladies, I saw, wondered to see the
[See ante, vol. iv. p. 97, n. ; but this repetition of the name renders the Editor doubtful as to the suggestion made in that note, though he cannot discover where or when Dr. Johnson could have been so familiarized with Mr. Dempster's family.--Ed.]
? [The remark is made by Miss Jenny, and not by her brother. It would have been ill suited to one who was originally described in the dramatis personæ as “a mere whelp.”—J. H. MARKLAND.]
great philosopher, whose wisdom and wit they had been admiring all the way, get into ill-humour from such a cause.
He scolded the waiter, saying, “ It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest.”
He bore the journey very well, and seemed to feel himself elevated as he approached Oxford, that magnificent and venerable seat of learning, orthodoxy, and toryism. Frank came in the heavy coach, in readiness to attend him; and we were received with the most polite hospitality at the house of his old friend Dr. Adams, Master of Pembroke College, who had given us a kind invitation. Before we were set down, I communicated to Johnson my having engaged to return to London directly for the reason I have mentioned, but that I would hasten back to him again. He was pleased that I had made this journey merely to keep him company. He was easy and placid, with Dr. Adams, Mrs. and Miss Adams, and Mrs. Kennicot, widow of the learned Hebræan', who was here on a visit. He soon despatched the inquiries that were made about his illness and recovery by a short and distinct narrative, and then assuming a gay air, repeated from Swift,
"Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills." Dr. Newton, the Bishop of Bristol, having been mentioned, Johnson, recollecting the manner in which he had been censured by that prelate”, thus
1 [See ante, vol i. p. 386.-Ed.]
2 Dr. Newton in his Account of his own Life, after animadverting upon Mr. Gibbon's History, says,
6 Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets' afforded more amusement; but candour was much hurt and offended at the malevolence that predominates in every part. Some passages, it must be allowed, are judicious and well written, but make not sufficient compensation for so much spleen and ill-humour. Never was any biographer more sparing of his praise, or more abundant in his censures. He seemingly delights more in exposing blemishes, than in recommending beauties; slightly passes over excellences, enlarges upon imperfections, and, not content with his own severe reflections, revives old scandal, and produces large quotations from the forgotten works of former criticks. His reputation was so high in the republick of letters, that it wanted not to be raised
retaliated:-" Tom knew he should be dead before what he has said of me would appear.
He durst not have printed it while he was alive.” DR. ADAMS. “I believe his · Dissertations on the Prophecies' is his great work.” JOHNSON. “Why, sir, it is Tom's great work; but how far it is great, or how much of it is Tom's, are other questions. I fancy a considerable part of it was borrowed.” DR. ADAMS. “ He was a very successful man.” JohnSON. “I don't think so, sir. He did not get very high. He was late in getting what he did get; and he did not get it by the best means. I believe he was a gross flatterer.”
I fulfilled my intention by going to London, and returned to Oxford on Wednesday the 9th of June, when I was happy to find myself again in the same agreeable circle at Pembroke College, with the comfortable prospect of making some stay. Johnson welcomed my return with more than ordinary glee.
He talked with great regard of the Honourable Archibald Campbell, whose character he had given at the Duke of Argyll's table when we were at Inverary', and at this time wrote out for me, in his own hand, a fuller account of that learned and venerable writer, which I have published in its proper place. Johnson made a remark this evening which struck me a good deal. “I never (said he) knew a nonjuror who could reason.” Surely he did not mean to deny that faculty to many of their writers-to Hickes, Brett, and other eminent divines of that persuasion; and did not recollect that the seven bishops, so justly celebrated for their magnanimous resistance of arbitrary power, were yet nonjurors' to the new government. The nonjuring clergy of Scotland, indeed, who, excepting a few, have lately, by a sudden stroke, cut off all ties of allegiance to the house of Stuart, and resolved to pray for our present lawful sovereign by name, may be thought to have confirmed this remark; as it may be said, that the divine indefeasible hereditary right which they professed to believe, if ever true, must be equally true still. Many of my readers will be surprised when I mention that Johnson assured me he had never in his life been in a nonjuring meeting-house.
upon the ruins of others. But these essays, instead of raising a higher idea than was before entertained of his understanding, have certainly given the world a worse opinion of his temper. The bishop was therefore the more surprised and concerned for his townsman, for he respected him not only for his genius and learning, but valued him much for the more amiable part of his character his humanity and charity, his morality and religion.” The last sentence we may consider as the general and permanent opinion of Bishop Newton; the remarks which precede it must, by all who have read Johnson's admirable work, be imputed to the disgust and peevishness of old age. I wish they had not appeared, and that Dr. Johnson had not been provoked by them to express himself not in respectful terms of a prelate whose labours were certainly of considerable advantage both to literature and religion.-BOSWELL.
1 “Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” ante, vol. iii. p. 52.-BosWELL. 2 The Rev. Mr. Agutter has favoured me with a note of a dialogue between victory.”
Next morning at breakfast, he pointed out a passage in Savage's “Wanderer,” saying “ These are fine verses.' * If,” said he, “I had written with hostility of Warburton in my Shakspeare, I should have quoted this couplet:
'Here Learning, blinded first, and then beguiled,
Mr. John Henderson and Dr. Johnson on this topick, as related by Mr. Henderson, and it is evidently so authentick that I shall here insert it:HENDERSON. “What do you think, sir, of William Law ?” Johnson. “ William Law, sir, wrote the best piece of parenetick divinity; but William Law was no reasoner.” HENDERSON. Jeremy Collier, sir?” Johnson. Jeremy Collier fought without a rival, and therefore could not claim the
Mr. Henderson mentioned Ken and Kettlewell; but some objections were made; at last he said, “But, sir, what do you think of Lesley ?” Johnson. “Charles Lesley I had forgotten. Lesley was a reasoner, and a reasoner who was not to be reasoned against.”_Boswell. [Charles was the son of Dr. John Lesley, Bishop of Clogher in Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Though zealous against popery and King James's popish measures, he could not reconcile his conscience to the oaths to William and Mary, and so became a nonjuror, of which party he was one of the chief literary and theological supports and ornaments. After many years of exile, he returned to his native country, and died in 1722, at his own house at Glaslough, in the county of Monaghan, where his descendants have continued to reside. The present possessor, Mr. Charles Powell Leslie, his great grandson, has represented that county in several parliaments. -Ed.]
· [Mr. Boswell is mistaken : two of the seven bisi:ops (Lloyd, of St. Asaph's, and Trelawney) were not nonjurors.--Ed.]
You see they'd have fitted him to a T,” (smiling.) DR. ADAMS. “ But you did not write against Warburton." JOHNSON. “ No, sir, I treated him with great respect both in my preface and in my notes 1
Mrs. Kennicot spoke of her brother, the Reverend Mr. Chamberlayne, who had given up great prospects in the Church of England on his conversion to the Roman Catholick faith. Johnson, who warmly admired every man who acted from a conscientious regard to principle, erroneous or not, exclaimed fervently, “God bless him.”
Mrs. Kennicot, in confirmation of Dr. Johnson's opinion that the present was not worse than former ages, mentioned that her brother assured her there was now less infidelity on the continent than there had been?; Voltaire and Rousseau were less read. I asserted, from good authority, that Hume's infidelity was certainly less read. JOHNSON. “ All infidel writers drop into oblivion when personal connexions and the floridness of novelty are gone; though now and then a foolish fellow, who thinks he can be witty upon them, may bring them again into notice. There will sometimes start up a college joker, who does not consider that what is a joke in a college will not do in the world. To such defenders of religion I would apply a stanza of a poem which I remember to have seen in some old collection:
• Henceforth be quiet and agree,
Each kiss his empty brother:
But dreads a friend like tother.'
The point is well, though the expression is not correct: one, and not thee, should be opposed to ť other 3.”
[See ante, vol. iv. p. 414.-Ed.] ? (A few years afforded lamentable evidence how utterly mistaken was this opinion.--Ed.] 3 I have inserted the stanza as Johnson repeated it from memory; but I