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1784. to have business. And you must not be too often
seen at publick places, that competitors may not have Ætat. 75,
it to say, 'He is always at the Playhouse or at Ranelagh, and never to be found at his chambers." And, Sir, there must be a kind of solemnity in the manner of a professional man. I have nothing particular to say to you on the subject. All this I should say to any one ; I should have said it to Lord Thurlow twenty years ago."
The Profession may probably think this representation of what is required in a Barrister who would hope for success, to be much too indulgent; but certain it is, that as « The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame," some of the lawyers of this age who have risen high, have by no means thought it absolutely necessary to submit to that long and painful course of study which a Plowden, a Coke, and a Hale, considered as requisite. My respected friend, Mr. Langton, has shewn me in the hand-writing of his grandfather, a curious account of a conversation which he had with Lord Chief Justice Hale, in which that great man tells him, " That for two years after he came to the inn of court, he studied sixteen hours a day; however, (his Lordship added) that by this intense application he almost brought himself to his grave, though he were of a very strong constitution, and after reduced himself to eight hours; but that he would not advise any body to so much ; that he thought six hours a day, with attention and constancy, was sufficient ; that a man must use his body as he would his horse, and his stomach ; not tire him at once, but rise with an appetite."
On Wednesday, June 19, Dr. Johnson and I re- 1784. turned to London; he was not well to-day, and said
Ætat 75.very little, employing himself chiefly in reading Euripides. He expressed some displeasure at me, for not observing sufficiently the various objects upon the road. “If I had your eyes, Sir, (said he) I should count the passengers.” It was wonderful how accurate his observations of visual objects was, notwithstanding his imperfect eyesight, owing to a habit of attention. That he was much satisfied with the respect paid to him at Dr. Adams's is thus attested by himself: “I returned last night from Oxford, after a fortnight's abode with Dr. Adams, who treated me as well as I could expect or wish; and he that contents a sick man, a man whom it is impossible to please, has surely done his part well.”
After his return to London from this excursion, I saw him frequently, but have few memorandums; I shall therefore here insert some particulars which I collected at various tiines.
The Reverend Mr. Astle, of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, brother to the learned and ingenious Thomas Astle, Esq. was from his early years known to Dr. Johnson, who obligingly advised him as to his studies, and recommended to him the following books, of which a list which he has been pleased to communicate, lies before me, in Johnson's own hand-writing:-Universal History (ancient.) —Rollin's Ancient History -Puffendorf's Introduction to History.-Vertot's History of Knights of Malta.--Vertot's Revolution of Portugal.--Vertot's Revolution of Sweden.-Carte's History of England.-Present State of England. --Geo
“ Letters to Mrs. Thrale," Vol. II. p. 372.
1784. graphical Grammar.-Prideaux's Connection. Nels Ætat. 75.
son's Feasts and Fasts.-Duty of Man.-Gentleman's Religion.-Clarendon's History.—Watts’Improvement of the Mind.- Watts's Logick.- Nature Displayed.Lowth's English Grammar.-Blackwell on the Classicks.--Sherlock's Sermons.-Burnet's Life of Hale. Dupin's History of the Church. Skuckford's Connections.-Law's Serious Call.-Walton's Complete Ang' ler.--Sandys's Travels.--Sprat's History of the Royal Society.--England's Gazetteer.--Goldsmith's Roman History.Some Commentaries on the Bible.
It having been mentioned to Dr. Johnson that a gentleman who had a son whom he imagined to have an extreme degree of tiinidity, resolved to send him to a publick school, that he might acquire confidence; --" Sir, (said Johnson,) this is a preposterous expedient for removing his infirmity ; such a disposition should be cultivated in the shade. Placing him at a publick school is forcing an owl upon day.”
Speaking of a gentleman whose house was much frequented by low company; “Rags, Sir, (said he,) will always make their appearance, where they have a right to do it.”
Of the same gentleman's mode of living, he said, “Sir, the servants, instead of doing what they are bid, stand round the table in idle clusters, gaping upon the guests; and seem as unfit to attend a company, as to steer a inan of war.” · A dull country magistrate gave Johnson a long tedious account of his exercising his criminal juris. diction, the result of which was his having sentenced four convicts to transportation. Johnson, in an agony of impatience to get rid of such a companion, exclaimed, " I heartily wish, Sir, that I were a fifth.? ” Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in 1784. which there occurred this line :
Ætat. 75. " Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free."
The company having admired it much, “I cannot agree with you (said Johnson :) It might as well be said,
« Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat."
He was pleased with the kindness of Mr. Cator, who was joined with him in Mr. Thrale's important trust, and thus describes him :) " There is much good in his character, and much usefulness in his knowledge.” He found a cordial solace at that gen. tleman's seat at Beckenham, in Kent, which is indeed one of the finest places at which I ever was a guest; and where I find more and more a hospitable welcome.
Johnson seldom encouraged general censure of any profession; but he was willing to allow a due share of merit to the various departments necessary in civilised life. In a splenetick, sarcastical, or jocular frame of mind, however, he would sometimes utter a pointed saying of that nature. One instance has been mentioned, where he gave a sudden satirical stroke to the character of an attorney. The too indiscriminate admission to that employment, which requires both abilities and integrity, has given rise to injurious reflections, which are totally inapplicable to many very respectable men who exercise it with reputation and honour.
7 ~ Letters to Mrs. Thrale," Vol. II. p. 284. & See Vol. II. pe
126. VOL. IV.
We may sup
Johnson having argued for some time with a pertiÆtat. 75."
nacious gentleman ; his opponent, who had talked in a very puzzling manner, happened to say, " I don't understand you, Sir ;" upon which Jolinson observed, “Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”
Talking to me of Horry Walpole, (as Horace late Earl of Orford was often called,) Johnson allowed that he got together a great many curious little things, and told them in an elegant manner. Mr. Walpole thought Johnson a more amiable character after reading his Letters to Mrs. Thrale: but never was one of the true admirers of that great man. We pose a prejudice conceived, if he ever heard Johnson's account to Sir George Staunton, that when he made the speeches in parliament for the Gentleman's Magazine, “ he always took care to put Sir Robert Walpole in the wrong, and to say every thing he could against the electorate of Hanover.” The celebrated Heroick Epistle, in which Johnsoi: is satyrically introduced, has been ascribed both to 'Mr. Walpole and Mr. Mason. One day at Mr. Courtenay's, when a gentleman expressed his opinion that there was more energy in that poem than could be expected from Mr. Walpole ; Mr. Warton, the late Laureat, observed, “ It may have been written by Walpole, and buckram'd by Mason."?
He disapproved of Lord Hailes, for having modernised the language of the ever-memorable John Hales of Eton, in an edition which his Lordship published
' [In his Posthumous Works, he has spoken of Johnson in the most contemptuous manner! M.]
[It is now (1804) known, that the “ Heroick Epistle" was written by Mason. M.]