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Once when somebody produced a newspaper in 1780. which there was a letter of stupid abuse of Sir Joshua Sr
Ætat. 71. Reynolds, of which Johnson himself came in for a' share, Pray, said he, let us have it read aloud from beginning to end ;' which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestness, and not directing his look to any particular person, called out, . Are we alive after all this satire !"
“ He had a strong prejudice against the political character of Secker, one instance of which appeared at Oxford, where he expressed great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established toast, ' Church and King.' "The Archbishop of Canterbury, said he (with an affected smooth smiling grimace) drinks, • Constitution in Church and State.' Being asked what difference there was between the two toasts, he said, “Why, Sir, you may be sure he meant something.' Yet when the life of that prelate, préfixed to his sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr. Stinton his chaplains, first came out, he read it with the utmost avidity, and said, "It is a life well written, and that well deserves to be recorded.”
«s Of a certain noble Lord, he said, “ Respect him, you could not; for he had no mind of his own. Love him you could not ; for that which you could do with him, every one else could.”
s Of Dr. Goldsmith he said, “No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had.”
of expectation. The gentleman provoked at his inordinale vanity, resolved not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of indifference answered, “A mere trifle, Sir, not worth repeating. The mortification of Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words more the whole day. Dr. Johnson was present, and ap. peared to enjoy it much.
“ He told in his lively manner the following literary anecdote: “Green and Guthrie, an Irishman and a Scotchman, undertook a translation of Du. halde's history of China. Green said of Guthrie, that he knew no English, and Guthrie of Green, that he knew no French; and these two undertook to translate Duhalde's history of China. In this translation there was found “ the twenty-sixth day of the new moon.” Now as the whole age of the moon is but twenty-eight days, the moon instead of being new, was nearly as old as it could be. The blunder arose from their mistaking the word neuviéme ninth, nouvelle or neuve, new.”
“ Talking of Dr. Blagden's copiousness and prec sion of communication, Dr. Johnson said, Blagden, Sir, is a delightful fellow."
“ On occasion of Dr. Johnson's publishing his pamphlet of "The False Alarm,' there came out a very angry answer (by many supposed to be by Mr. Wilkes.) Dr. Johnson deterinined on not answering it; but, in conversation with Mr. Langton mentioned a particular or two, which if he had replied to it, he might perhaps have inserted. In the answerer's pamphlet, it had been said with solem-'. nity, 'Do you consider, Sir, that a House of Com. mons is to the people as a creature is to its Creator. To this question, said Dr. Johnson, I could have replied, that in the first place the idea of a CREATOR must be such as that he has a power to unmake or annihilate his creature.
" Then it cannot be conceived that a creature can make laws for its CREATOR.3
, 3 His profound adoration of the GREAT FIRST CAUSE was such as, to set him above that “ Philosophy and yain deceit,” with
« Depend upon it, said he, that if a man talks of 1780. his misfortunes, there is something in them that is for a not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery, there never is any recourse to the mention of it. ",
“ A man must be a poor beast, that should read no more in quantity than he could utter aloud. .
“ Imlac in “ Rasselas," I spelt with a c at the end, because it is less like English, which should always have the Saxon k added to the c.4
" Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life without having it perceived ; for example, a madness has seized a person of supposing himself obliged literally to pray continually ; had the madness turned the opposite way, and the person thought it a crime ever to pray, it might not improbably have continued unobserved.
“ He apprehended that the delineation of characters in the end of the first Book of the “Retreat of the ten thousand' was the first instance of the kind that was known.
“ Supposing (said he) a wife to be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome : for instance, if a woman should continually dwell upon the subject of the Arian heresy.
" No man speaks concerning another, even suppose it be in his praise, if he thinks he does not hear
which men of narrow conceptions have been infected. I have heard him strongly maintain that “what is right is not so from any natural fitness, but because God wills it to be right;" and it is certainly so, because he has predisposed the relations of things so as that which he wills must be right.
BOSWELL. 4 I hope the authority of the great Master of our language will stop that curtailing innovation, by which we see critic, public, &c. frequently written instead of crilick, publick, &c,
1780. him, exactly as he would, if he thought he was with
Ætat. 7 in hearing.
“ The applause of a single human being is of great consequence :" This he said to me with great earnestness of manner, very near the time of his decease, on occasion of having desired me to read a letter ad
dressed to him from some person in the North of · England; which when I had done, and he asked me what the contents were, as I thought being particular upon it might fatigue him, it being of great length, I only told him in general that it was highly in his praise ;-and then he expressed himself as above. .
“ He mentioned with an air of satisfaction what Baretti had told him; that, meeting, in the course of his studying English, with an excellent paper in the Spectator, one of four that were written by the respectable Dissenting Minister Mr.Grove of Taunton, and observing the genius and energy of mind that it exhibits, it greatly quickened his curiosity to visit our country; as he thought, if such were the lighter periodical essays of our authours, their productions on more weighty occasions must be wonderful in. deed! . “He observed once, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, that a beggar in the street will more readily ask alms from a man, though there should be no marks of wealth in his appearance, than from even a welldressed woman ;s which he accounted for from the great degree of carefulness as to money, that is to be found in women ; saying farther upon it, that, the opportunities in general that they possess of improving their condition are much fewer than men have; and
5 Sterne is of a direct contrary opinion. See his “ Sentimental Journey," Article, “ The Mystery."
adding; as he looked round the company, which 1780. consisted of men only,--there is not one of us who
Ætat. 7 1. does not think he might be richer, if he would use his endeavour.
" He thus characterised an ingenious writer of his acquaintance : 'Sir, he is an enthusiast by rule.'
“ He may hold up that SHIELD against all his enemies ; "was an observation on Homer, in reference to his description of the shield of Achilles, made by Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife to his friend Mr. Fitzherbert of Derbyshire, and respected by Dr. Johnson as a very fine one. He had in general a very high opinion of that lady's understanding.
« An observation of Bathurst's may be mentioned, which Johnson repeated, appearing to acknowledge it to be well founded ; namely, it was somewhat remarkable how seldom, on occasion of coming into the company of any new person, one felt any wish or inclination to see hiin again.”
This year the Reverend Dr. Franklin having published a translation of " Lucian,” inscribed to him the Demonax thus :
“ To DR. SAMUEL Johnson, the Demonax of the present age, this piece is inscribed by a sincere admirer of his respectable talents,
- THE TRANSLATOR."
Though upon a particular comparison of Demonax and Johnson, there does not seem to be a great deal of similarity between them, this Dedication is a just compliment from the general character given by