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Senex, and which I have, in another place', with truth and sincerity applied to Mr. Burke:
"Regum æquabat opes animis.”
4 Geor. 0. 132.
On the subject of the right employment of wealth, Johnson observed, A man cannot make a bad use of his money, so far as regards society, if he does not hoard it”; for if he either spends it or lends it out, society has the benefit. It is in general better to spend money than to give it away ; for industry is more promoted by spending money than by giving it away.
A man who spends his money is sure he is doing good with it: he is not so sure when he gives
A man who spends ten thousand a year will do more good than a man who spends two thousand and gives away eight.”
In the evening I came to him again. He was somewhat fretful from his illness. A gentleman asked him whether he had been abroad to-day.
“ Don't talk so childishly,” said he. “ You may as well ask if I hanged myself to-day.” I mentioned politicks. JOHNSON. “Sir, I'd as soon have a man to break my bones as talk to me of publick affairs, internal or external. I have lived to see things all as bad as they can be.”
Having mentioned his friend, the second Lord Southwell, he said, “ Lord Southwell was the highestbred man without insolence, that I ever was in company with; the most qualitied I ever saw. Lord Orrery was not dignified; Lord Chesterfield was, but he was insolent. Lord
** 3 is a man of coarse
· Letter to the People of Scotland against the Attempt to diminish the Number of the Lords of Session, 1785.
[This surely is too broadly stated ;-society is injured when money is spent in profligacy or corruption, or (as in the case of the Egalité Duke of Orleans) in exciting political sedition.—ED.]
3 [Shelburne, the second Earl, afterwards first Marquis of Lansdowne. -Ed.)
manners, but a man of abilities and information. I don't say he is a man I would set at the head of a nation, though perhaps he may be as good as the next prime minister that comes; but he is a man to be at the head of a club, I don't say our CLUB,for there's no such club.” BOSWELL.
BOSWELL. “But, sir, was he not a factious man?” Johnson. “O yes, sir, as factious a fellow as could be found; one who was for sinking us all into the mob.” BOSWELL. “ How then, sir, did he get into favour with the king?"
JOHNSON. “Because, sir, I suppose he promised the king to do whatever the king pleased.”
He said, “Goldsmith's blundering speech to Lord Shelburne, which has been so often mentioned, and which he really did make to him, was only a blunder in emphasis :—- I wonder they should call your lordship Malagrida, for Malagrida was a very good man ;'-meant, I wonder they should use Malagrida as a term of reproach "."
Soon after this time I had an opportunity of seeing, by means of one of his friends, a proof that his talents, as well as his obliging service to authours, were ready
He had revised “ The Village,” an admirable poem, by the Reverend Mr. Crabbe?. Its sentiments as to the false notions of rustick happiness and rustick virtue were quite congenial with his own; and he had taken the trouble not only to suggest slight corrections and variations, but to furnish some
1 (See ante, vol. iv. p. 299.-ED.]
2 [This amiable gentleman is still alive, resident in his rectory of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire. His subsequent publications have placed him high in the roll of British poets—though his having taken a view of life too minute, too humiliating, too painful, and too just, may have deprived his works of so extensive, or, at least, so brilliant, a popularity as some of his contemporaries have attained; but the Editor ventures to believe, that there is no poet of his times who will stand higher in the opinion of posterity. He generally deals with “ the short and simple annals of the poor,” but he exhibits them with such a deep knowledge of human nature, with such general ease and simplicity, and such accurate force of expression, whether gay or pathetical, as, in the Editor's humble judgment, no poet, except Shakspeare, has excelled.-ED.]
lines when he thought he could give the writer's meaning better than in the words of the manuscript',
On Sunday, March 30, I found him at home in the evening, and had the pleasure to meet with Dr. Brocklesby, whose reading, and knowledge of life, and good spirits, supply him with a never-failing source of conversation. He mentioned a respectable gentleman, who became extremely penurious near the close of his life. Johnson said there must have been a degree of madness about him. “ Not at all, sir,” said Dr. Brocklesby, “his judgment was entire.” Unluckily, however, he mentioned that although he had a fortune of twenty-seven thousand pounds, he denied himself many comforts, from an apprehension that he could not afford them. Nay, sir,” cried Johnson, “ when the judgment is so disturbed that a man cannot count, that is pretty well.”
I shall here insert a few of Johnson's sayings, without the formality of dates, as they have no reference to any particular time or place.
“ The more a man extends and varies his acquaintance the better.” This, however, was meant with a just restriction ; for he on another occasion said to me, “Sir, a man may be so much of every thing, that he is nothing of any thing."
· I shall give an instance, making the original by Roman, and Johnson's substitution in Italick characters :
“ In fairer scenes, where peaceful pleasures spring,
Tityrus, the pride of Mantuan swains, might sing ;
Where Virgil, not where fancy, leads the way?”' Here we find Johnson's poetical and critical powers undiminished. I must, however, observe, that the aids he gave to this poem, as to “ The Traveller," and “ Deserted Village” of Goldsmith, were so small as by no means to impair the distinguished merit of the authour..BoswELL.
“Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong; for it does not make them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad thing for human nature.”
“ It is a very good custom to keep a journal for a man's own use; he may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be written, because there is a great deal of novelty; but when once a man has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down."
“There is nothing wonderful in the Journal' which we see Swift kept in London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be written.”
I praised the accuracy of an account-book of a lady whom I mentioned. JOHNSON. “Keeping accounts, sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.” I mentioned another lady who thought as he did, so that her husband could not get her to keep an account of the expense of the family, as she thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. JOHNSON, “Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes it ; but I do not see its use." I maintained that keeping an account has this advantage, that it satisfies a man that his money has not been lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt
In his Life of Swift, he thus speaks of this Journal: “In the midst of his power and his politics, he kept a journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with ministers, and quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befel him was interesting, and no account could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the dean, may be reasonably doubted : they have, however, some odd attractions : the reader finding frequent mention of names which he has been used to consider as im. portant, goes on in hope of information; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention, if he is disappointed, he can hardly complain.” It may be added, that the reader not only hopes to find, but does find, in this very entertaining Journal, much curious information, respecting persons and things, which he will in vain seck for in other books of the same period.-MALONE.
to imagine, were there no written state of his expense; and, besides, a calculation of economy, so as not to exceed one's income, cannot be made without a view of the different articles in figures, that one may see how to retrench in some particulars less necessary than others. This he did not attempt to answer.
Talking of an acquaintance of ours, whose narratives, which abounded in curious and interesting topicks, were unhappily found to be very fabulous ; I mentioned Lord Mansfield's having said to me,
Suppose we believe one half of what he tells." JOHNSON. “Ay; but we don't know which half to believe. By his lying we lose not only our reverence for him, but all comfort in his conversation." BosWELL. “ May we not take it as amusing fiction ?” Johnson. “Sir, the misfortune is, that you will insensibly believe as much of it as you incline to believe.”
It is remarkable, that notwithstanding their congeniality in politicks, he never was acquainted with a late eminent noble judge', whom I have heard speak of him as a writer with great respect. Johnson, I know not upon what degree of investigation, entertained no exalted opinion of his lordship's intellectual character. Talking of him to me one day, he said, “ It is wonderful, sir, with how little real superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in public life.” He expressed himself to the same purpose concerning another law-lord, who, it seems, once took a fancy to associate with the wits of London; but with so little success, that Foote said, “ What can he mean by coming among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dulness in others.” Trying him by the test of his colloquial powers, Johnson had found him very defective. He once said to Sir Joshua Rey
[No doubt Lord Mansfield. See ante, v. ii. p. 151.--ED.)