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be insensible to his energy of diction, to his splendour of images, and comprehension of thought. Tastes may differ as to the violin, the flute, the hautboy ; in short all the lesser instruments : but who can be insensible to the powerful impressions of the majestic
His “ Taxation no Tyranny" being mentioned, he said, “ I think I have not been attacked enough for it. Attack is the re-action; I never think I have hit hard, unless it re-bounds.” BOSWELL. “I don't know, sir, what you would be at. Five or six shots of small arms in every newspaper, and repeated cannonading in pamphlets, might, I think, satisfy you. But, sir, you ’ll never make out this match, of which we have talked, with a certain political lady', since you are so severe against her principles.” Johnson.
Nay, sir, I have the better chance for that. She is like the Amazons of old; she must be courted by the sword. But I have not been severe upon her.” BOSWELL. “Yes, sir, you have made her ridiculous.” Johnson. " That was already done, sir. To endeavour to make her ridiculous, is like blacking the chimney."
I put him in mind that the landlord at Ellon in Scotland said, that he heard he was the greatest man in England, next to Lord Mansfield. “Ay, sir (said he), the exception defined the idea. A Scotchman could go no farther :
The force of Nature could no farther go.'” Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were put into her Vase at Batheaston villa, near Bath, in competition for honorary prizes,
[Mrs. Macaulay : see ante, v. i. p. 225. Dr. Macaulay had been dead some years, and the lady did not re-marry till 1778.- Ed.]
? [Batheuston.-The following extract, from one of Horace Walpole's letters, will explain the personages and proceedings of this farce : “You must know, that near Bath is erected a new Parnassus, composed of three laurels, a myrtle-tree,
being mentioned, he held them very cheap: “Boutsrimés," said he, “is a mere conceit, and an old conceit now ; I wonder how people were persuaded to write in that manner for this lady.” I named a gentleman of his acquaintance? who wrote for the Vase. JOHNSON. “He was a blockhead for his pains.” BOSWELL. "The Duchess of Northumberland wrote.” JOHNSON. “Sir, the Duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases: nobody will say any thing to a lady of her high rank. But I should be apt to throw ******'s verses in his face.”
a weeping-willow, and a view of the Avon, which has been now christened He. licon." Ten years ago there lived a Madam (Riggs), an old rough humourist, who passed for a wit; her daughter, who passed for nothing, married to a captain (Miller), full of good-natured officiousness. These good folks were friends of Miss Rich *, who carried me to dine with them at Bath-Easion, now Pindus. They caught a little of what was then called taste, built, and planted, and begot children, till the whole caravan were forced to go abroad to retrieve. Alas! Mrs. Miller is returned a beauty, a genius, a Sappho, a tenth muse, as romantic as Mademoiselle Scuderi, and as sophisticated as Mrs. V[esey t]: The captain's fingers are loaded with cameos, his tongue runs over with virtù ; and that both may contribute to the improvement of their own country, they have introduced bouts-rimés as a new discovery. They hold a Parnassus-fair every Thursday, give out rhymes and themes, and all the flux of quality at Bath contend for the prizes. A Roman vase, dressed with pink ribands and myrtles, receives the poetry, which is drawn out every festival: six judges of these Olympic games retire and select the brightest composition, which the respective successful acknowledge, kneel to Mrs. Calliope (Miller], kiss her fair hand, and are crowned by it with myrtle, with–I don't know what you may think this a fiction, or exaggeration. Be dumb, unbelievers ! The collection is printed, published,,yes, on my faith! there are bouts-rimés on a buttered muffin, by her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland ; receipts to make them by Corydon the venerable, alias ; others very pretty by Lord P[almerston] ; some by Lord C[armarthen]; many by Mrs. (Miller) herself, that have no fault but wanting metre; and immortality promised to her without end or measure. In short, since folly, which never ripens to madness but in this hot climate, ran distracted, there never was any thing so entertaining, or so dull_for you cannot read so long as I have been telling.”-Works, vol. v. p. 185.—Ev.]
[Probably the Rev. Richard Graves, who was for some years tutor in the house of Johnson's friend, Mr. Fitzherbert, and who contributed to the Batheaston Vase. He was Rector of Claverton, near Bath, where he died in 1804.-Ed.]
? [Lady Anne Stuart, second daughter of Lord Bute, married in 1764 to the second Duke of Northumberland, from whom she was divorced in 1779.--Ed.]
* Daughter of Sir Robert Rich, and sister to the second wife of George, Lord Lyttelton.
+ [A literary lady, of whom we shall see more hereafter. -Ed.]
He soon grew
I talked of the cheerfulness of Fleet-street, owing to the constant quick succession of people which we perceive passing through it. JOHNSON.“ Why, sir, Fleet-street has a very animated appearance; but I think the full tide of human existence is at Charingcross.
He made the common remark on the unhappiness which men who have led a busy life experience, when they retire in expectation of enjoying themselves at ease, and that they generally languish for want of their habitual occupation, and wish to return to it. He mentioned as strong an instance of this as can well be imagined. “An eminent tallow-chandler in London, who had acquired a considerable fortune, gave up the trade in favour of his foreman, and went to live at a country-house near town. weary, and paid frequent visits to his old shop, where he desired they might let him know their melting days, and he would come and assist them; which he accordingly did. Here, sir, was a man to whom the most disgusting circumstances in the business to which he had been used was a relief from idleness.”
On Wednesday, 5th April, I dined with him at Messieurs Dillys, with Mr. John Scott of Amwell, the Quaker, Mr. Langton, Mr. Miller (now Sir John), and Dr. Thomas Campbell', an Irish clergyman, whom I took the liberty of inviting to Mr. Dilly's table, having seen him at Mr. Thrale's, and been told that he had come to England chiefly with a view to see Dr. Johnson, for whom he entertained the highest veneration. He has since published “A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland,” a very entertaining book, which has, however, one faultthat it assumes the fictitious character of an English
1 [See post, 6th April. -Ed.]
· We talked of publick speaking. JOHNSON. “We must not estimate a man's powers by his being able or not able to deliver his sentiments in publick. Isaac Hawkins Browne, one of the first wits of this country, got into parliament, and never opened his mouth. For my own part, I think it is more disgraceful never to try to speak, than to try it and fail; as it is more disgraceful not to fight, than to fight and be beaten.” This argument appeared to me fallacious; for if a man has not spoken, it may be said that he would have done very well if he had tried; whereas, if he has tried and failed, there is nothing to be said for him. “Why then,” I asked, " is it thought disgraceful for a man not to fight, and not disgraceful not to speak in publick ?” JOHNSON. “Because there may be other reasons for a man's not speaking in publick than want of resolution: he may have nothing to say (laughing). Whereas, sir, you know courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”
He observed, that “the statutes against bribery were intended to prevent upstarts with money from getting into parliament:" adding, that “if he were a gentleman of landed property, he would turn out all his tenants who did not vote for the candidate whom he supported." LANGTON. “Would not that, sir, be checking the freedom of election ?” Johnson. “Sir, the law does not mean that the privilege of voting should be independent of old family interest, of the permanent property of the country.”
On Thursday, 6th April, I dined with him at Mr. Thomas Davies's, with Mr. Hicky, the painter, and my old acquaintance Mr. Moody, the player.
Dr. Johnson, as usual, spoke contemptuously of Colley Cibber.
“ It is wonderful that a man, who
for forty years had lived with the great and the witty, should have acquired so ill the talents of conversation: and he had but half to furnish; for one half of what he said was oaths.” He, however, allowed considerable merit to some of his comedies, and said there was no reason to believe that the “Careless Husband” was not written by himself. Davies said, he was the first dramatick writer who introduced genteel ladies upon the stage. Johnson refuted his observation by instancing several such characters in comedies before his time. DAVIES (trying to defend himself from a charge of ignorance). “I mean genteel moral characters.” “ I think,” said Hicky,
said Hicky, “gentility and morality are inseparable.” BosweLL. “By no means, sir. The genteelest characters are often the most immoral. Does not Lord Chesterfield give precepts for uniting wickedness and the graces? A man, indeed, is not genteel when he gets drunk; but most vices may be committed very genteelly: a man may debauch his friend's wife genteelly: he may cheat at cards genteelly." HickY. “I do not think that is genteel.” BOSWELL. “Sir, it may not be like a gentleman, but it may be genteel.” Johnson. “You are meaning two different things. One means exteriour grace; the other honour. It is certain that a man may be
very immoral with exteriour grace. Lovelace, in 'Clarissa,' is a very genteel and a very wicked character. Tom Hervey!, who died t’other day, though a vicious man, was one of the genteelest men that ever lived." Tom Davies instanced Charles the Second. JOHNSON (taking fire at any attack upon that Prince, for whom he had an extraordinary partiality). “Charles the Second was licentious in his practice; but he always had a reverence for what was good. Charles the Second knew his people, and rewarded merit. The
[See ante, vol. ii. p. 33.-Ev.)