Page images
PDF
EPUB

could be better furnished with inscriptions from monuments, coins, or other antiquities, which he might more probably find on a coast so immediately opposite to Carthage, than the antiquaries of any other countries. Johnson. “I am very sorry you were not gratified in your expectations.” CAMBRIDGE. “ The language would have been of little use, as there is no history existing in that tongue to balance the partial accounts which the Roman writers have left us.”

JOHNSON. “No, sir. They have not been partial, they have told their own story without shame or regard to equitable treatment of their injured enemy; they had no compunction, no feeling for a Carthaginian. Why, sir, they would never have borne Virgil's description of Eneas's treatment of Dido, if she had not been a Carthaginian.

I gratefully acknowledge this and other communications from Mr. Cambridge, whom, if a beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames, a few miles distant from London, a numerous and excellent library, which he accurately knows and reads, a choice collection of pictures, which he understands and relishes, an easy fortune, an amiable family, an extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, distinguished by rank, fashion, and genius, a literary fame, various, elegant, and still increasing, colloquial talents rarely to be found, and, with all these means of happiness, enjoying, when well advanced in years, health and vigour of body, serenity and animation of mind, do not entitle to be addressed fortunate senex! I know not to whom, in any age, that expression could with propriety have been used. Long may he live to hear and to feel it?!

· Mr. Cambridge enjoyed all the blessings here enumerated for many years after this passage was written. He died at his seat near Twickenham, Sept. 17, 1802, in his eighty-sixth year.-MALONE.

Johnson's love of little children, which he discovered upon all occasions, calling them "pretty dears," and giving them sweetmeats, was an undoubted proof of the real humanity and gentleness of his disposition'.

His uncommon kindness to his servants, and serious concern, not only for their comfort in this world, but their happiness in the next, was another unquestionable evidence of what all, who were intimately acquainted with him, knew to be true.

Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he showed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat; for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants, having that trouble, should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend, smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail ; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, “ Why, yes, sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;" and then, as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, “ But he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.”

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton of the despicable state of a young gentleman of good family. “Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.” And then, in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought

(See ante, vol. iii. p. 394, where Johnson gives a less amiable account of himself.-Ed.]

himself of his own favourite cat, and said, “ But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.”

He thought Mr. Beauclerk made a shrewd and judicious remark to Mr. Langton, who, after having been for the first time in company with a well-known wit about town, was warmly admiring and praising him,—“See him again,” said Beauclerk.

His respect for the hierarchy, and particularly the dignitaries of the church, has been more than once exhibited in the course of this work. Mr. Seward saw him presented to the Archbishop of York, and described his bow to an ARCHBISHOP as such a studied elaboration of homage, such an extension of limb, such a flexion of body, as have seldom or ever been equalled.

I cannot help mentioning with much regret, that by my own negligence I lost an opportunity of having the history of my family from its founder, Thomas Boswell, in 1504, recorded and illustrated by John

Such was his goodness to me, that when I presumed to solicit him for so great a favour, he was pleased to say, “Let me have all the materials you can collect, and I will do it both in Latin and English; then let it be printed, and copies of it be deposited in various places for security and preservation.” I can now only do the best I can to make up for this loss, keeping my great master steadily in view. Family histories, like the imagines majorum of the ancients, excite to virtue; and I wish that they who really have blood, would be more careful to trace and ascertain its course. Some have affected to laugh at the history of the house of Yvery': it would be well if many others would transmit their pedigrees to

son's pen.

· Written by John, Earl of Egmont, and printed (but not published) in 1764. -MALONE.

posterity, with the same accuracy and generous zeal with which the noble lord who compiled that work has honoured and perpetuated his ancestry.

On Thursday, April 10, I introduced to him, at his house in Bolt-court, the Honourable and Reverend William Stuart ', son of the Earl of Bute; a gentleman truly worthy of being known to Johnson; being, with all the advantages of high birth, learning, travel, and elegant manners, an exemplary parish priest in every respect.

After some compliments on both sides, the tour which Johnson and I had made to the Hebrides was mentioned. Johnson. “I got an acquisition of more ideas by it than by any thing that I remember. I saw quite a different system of life.” BOSWELL. “ You would not like to make the same journey again ?” Johnson. “Why no, sir; not the same: it is a tale told. Gravina, an Italian critick, observes, that every man desires to see that of which he has read; but no man desires to read an account of what he has seen: so much does description fall short of reality. Description only excites curiosity; seeing satisfies it. Other people may go and see the Hebrides." BOSWELL. “I should wish to go and see some country totally different from what I have been used to; such as Turkey, where religion and every thing else are different.” JOHNSON. “Yes, sir; there are two objects of curiosity,—the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous.” BOSWELL. “Pray, sir, is the “ Turkish Spy' a genuine book ?" JOHNSON. “No, sir. Mrs. Manley, in her life, says, that her

1 At that time vicar of Luton, in Bedfordshire, where he lived for some years, and fully merited the character given of him in the text; he was afterwards Lord Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of Ireland—MALONE : (and died May, 1822, in a very strange way, having had poison, by mistake for medicine, administered to him by the hand of his lady.-Ed.]

father wrote the first two volumes : and in another book, ‘Dunton's' Life and Errours,' we find that the rest was written by one Sault, at two guineas a sheet, under the direction of Dr. Midgeley ?."

BOSWELL. “This has been a very factious reign, owing to the too great indulgence of government.” JOHNSON. I think so, sir. What at first was lenity, grew timidity. Yet this is reasoning à posteriori, and may not be just. Supposing a few had at first been punished, I believe faction would have been crushed; but it might have been said, that it was a sanguinary reign. A man cannot tell à priori what will be best for government to do. This reign ha been very unfortunate. We have had an unsuccessful war; but that does not prove that we have been ill governed. One side or other must prevail in war, as one or other must win at play. When we beat Louis, we were not better governed; nor were the French better governed when Louis beat us.”

On Saturday, April 12, I visited him, in company with Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, whom, though a whig, he highly valued. One of the best things he ever said was to this gentleman; who, before he set out for Ireland as secretary to Lord Northington, when lord lieutenant, expressed to the sage some modest and virtuous doubts, whether he could bring himself to practise those arts which it is supposed a person in that situation has occasion to employ. “Don't be afraid, sir,” said Johnson, with a pleasant smile; “ you will soon make a very pretty rascal.”

[John Dunton was a mad bookseller. -Ed.] 95 The Turkish Spy” was pretended to have been written originally in Arabick; from Arabick translated into Italian, and thence into English. The real author of the work, which was in fact originally written in Italian, was I. P. Marana, a Genoese, who died at Paris in 1693. John Dunton, in his life, says, that “ Mr. William Bradshaw received from Dr. Midgeley forty shillings a sheet for writing part of the Turkish Spy;' but I do not find that he any where mentions Sault as engaged in that work.”-MALONE.

« PreviousContinue »