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 mores 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: '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 whipped 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


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 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; I made one line t'other day; but I made no more.' GOLDSMITH: 'Let us hear it; we'll put a bad one to it.' JOHNSON: 'No, sir; I have forgot it.'

Such specimens of the easy and playful conversation of the great Dr. Samuel Johnson are, I think, to be prized, as exhibiting the little varieties of a mind so enlarged and so powerful when objects of consequence required its exertions, and as giving us a minute knowledge of his character and modes of thinking.


'DEAR SIR,-What your friends have done, that from your departure till now nothing has been heard of you, none of us are able to inform the rest; but as we are all neglected alike, no one thinks himself entitled to the privilege of complaint.

'I should have known nothing of you or of Langton, from the time that dear Miss Langton left us. had not I met Mr. Simpson, of Lincoln, one day in the street, by whom I was informed that Mr. Langton, your mamma, and yourself, had been all ill, but that you were all recovered.

"That sickness should suspend your correspondence I did not wonder, but hoped that it would be renewed at your


'Since you will not inform us where you are, or how you live, I know not whether you desire to know anything of us. However, I will tell you that the Club subsists; but we have the loss of Burke's company since he has been engaged in public business, in which he has gained more reputation than perhaps any man at his [first] appearance ever gained before. He made two speeches in the House for repealing the Stamp Act, which were publicly commended by Mr. Pitt, and have filled the town with wonder.

'Burke is a great man by nature, and is expected soon to attain civil greatness. I am grown greater too, for I have maintained the newspapers these many weeks; and, what is greater still, I have risen every morning since New Year's Day at about eight: when I was up I have indeed done but little; yet it is no slight advancement to obtain for so many hours more the consciousness of being.

'I wish you were in my new study; I am now writing the first letter in it. I think it looks very pretty about me.

'Dyer is constant at the Club; Hawkins is remiss; I am

1 [Samuel Dyer, Esq., a most learned and ingenious member of the Literary Club, for whose understanding and attainments Dr. Johnson had great respect. He died Sept. 14, 1772. A more particular account of this gentleman may be found in a Note on the Life of Dryden, p. 186, prefixed to the edition of that great writer's prose works, in four volumes 8vo, 1800, in which his character is vindicated, and the very unfavourable representation of it given by Sir John Hawkins in his Life of Johnson, pp. 222-232, is minutely examined.-M.]

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