“trifles: he was a giant gaining a purchase to lift

a feather."

In consequence of the popularity of Johnson's writings, and the admiration in which he was held, an immense multitude of his sayings and remarks in conversation have been published. As might have been expected, from the indiscriminate manner in which these collections were made, they in general contain little that is either very pointed or instructive. In conversation with his humble admirers, Johnson could not well be profound or learned, because he was not stimulated by equally energetic and independent minds; and we have no statement of his colloquial contests with Burkę or with Thurlow, and much less with Charles Fox, who, though he associated with Johnson, took no delight, like him, in rendering conversation a field for the exertion of eloquence. Even if we possessed the detail of such conversations, they would probably exhibit more rapidity than depth of thought, because, though the conversation of men of equal talents affords a happy mode of correcting errors, or refuting opinions rashly adopted, yet profound wisdom, and originality of thought, must be attained by patient meditation, and seldom come as the result of momentary and spontaneous impulse.

Of the sayings of Johnson, the merit of many has been acknowledged by the public, by finding their way into the

memory of all persons; or into these repositories of extemporaneous wit, the ordinary jest books. After the example of the great father of biography, Plutarch, we shall here recite a few of them. Some of them are of a

pointed and ludicrous nature, and others consist of remarks expressive of his own reflections and character. It is well known, that the Scottish nation afforded to Johnson a general topic of attack. and several of his ludicrous remarks relate to that people. Boswell has recorded, that Mr Ogilvy, a Scottish clergyman, having remarked, “ that • Scotland had a great many noble wild pros

pects.” JOHNSON. “ I believe, Sir, you have a great many : Norway, too, has noble 'wild prospects, and Lapland is remarkable for

pro“ digious noble wild prospects; but, Sir, let me “ tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotch

man ever saw, is the high-road that leads him to “ England.” Mr Arthur Lee mentioned. some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they should chuse it. JOANSON. “ Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative ; the Scotch would not know it 6 to be barren.” Boswell. “ Come, come; he “ is flattering the English. You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and


did not see meat " and drink enough there.” JOHNSON. “Why,

yes, Sir, meat and drink enough to give the in“ habitants sufficient strength to run away

from 6 home.” His

negro servant, Francis Barber, having left him, and been sometime at sea, Johnson applied to the celebrated Dr Smollett, to endeavour to obtain his liberation from that service. Smollett succeeded, by the assistance of Mr Wilkes. Johnson said, “No man will be a sailor who has con. “ trivance enough to get himself into jail; for be. “ing in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance 6 of being drowned.”

Of the remarks uttered by him in conversation, which are illustrative of his own character and sentiments, the following are examples: He remarked, on one occasion, that “ Idleness is a dis

ease which must be combated; but I would

not advise a rigid adherence to a particular plan “ of study. I myself have never persisted in any

plan for two days together. A man ought to “ read just as inclination leads him; for what he “ reads as a task will do him little good. A

young man should read five hours in a day, and “ so may acquire a great deal of knowledge."

Talking of those who denied the truth of Christianity, he said, “ It is always easy to be on “ the negative side. If a man were now to deny “ that there is salt upon the table, you could not “ reduce him to an absudity. Come, let us try “ this a little farther. I can deny that Canada is “ taken, and I can support my denial by pretty good arguments. The French are a much “ more numerous people than we ; and it is not “ likely that they would allow us to take it. But “ the ministry have assured us, in all the formality “ of the Gazette, that it is taken. Very true : But “ the ministry have put us to an enormous expence " by the war in America, and it is their interest to “persuade us that we have got something for our

money. But the fact is confirmed by thousands of men who were at the taking of it.--Ay; “ but these men have still more interest in de

ceiving us : They don't want that we should 6 think the French have beat them, but that they

« have beat the French. Now, suppose your “ should go over and find that it really is taken, " that would only satisfy yourself; for when you come home, we will not believe


We will say, you have been bribed. Yet, Sir, notwith“ standing all these plausible objections, we have

no doubt that Canada is really ours. Such is " the weight of common testimony. How much

stronger are the evidences of the Christian re“ ligion ?"

He said, “ few people had intellectual resources “ sufficient to forgo the pleasures of wine. They 6 could not otherwise contrive how to fill the in. “ terval between dinner and supper.”

Of Popery, he said to Mr Boswell and Dr Adams, “A good man may be glad to be of a • Church where there are so many helps to get to “ heaven. I would be a Papist if I could. I “ have fear enough; but an obstinate rationality

prevents me. I shall never be a Papist, unless on the near approach of death, of which I have a very great terror.

I wonder that women are “ not all Papists.' BOSWELL..“ They are not o afraid of death more than men are.JOHNSON. “ Because they are less wicked.” Dr ADAMS. “ They are more pious.” JOHNSON, " hang 'em, they are not more pious. A wicked " fellow is the most pious when he takes to it:

all at piety.” Of Charles Fox, he said, 6. He is a most ex« traordinary man. He is a man who has divided “the kingdom with Cæsar; and brought it into “ doubt whether the nation should be ruled by the “ sceptre of George the Third, or the tongue of « Fox."

- No,

- he'll beat you



When the enmity was mentioned between Whigs and Tories, he denied its existence, unless in cases of competition. “ There is none,'

said he, “ when they are only common acquaintance, none “ when they are of different sexes. A Tory will

marry into a Whig family, and a Whig into a - Tory family, without any reluctance. But in“ deed, in a matter of much more concern than “ political tenets, and that is religion, men and

women do not concern themselves much about “ difference of opinion ; and ladies set no value

upon the moral characters of men who pay their “ addresses to them: the greatest profligate will “ be as well received as the man of the greatest av virtue ; and this by a very good woman, by a who her


three times a day.' “ Our ladies endeavoured to defend their sex from “ this charge; but he roared them down: No,

no; a lady will take Jonathan Wild as readily 6 as St Austin, if he has threepence more ; and, “ what is worse, her parents will give her to him.

Women have a perpetual envy of our vices :

they are less vicious than we, not from choice, “ but because we restrict them: they are the " slaves of order and fashion ; their virtue is of

more consequence to us than our own, so far as concerns this world."

Mr Harris of Salisbury being mentioned as a very learned, and particularly as an eminent Grecian, Johnson said, “ I am not sure of that. His “ friends give him out as such; but I know not For who of his friends are able to judge of it." GOLDSMITH. “ He is what is much better, he is

a worthy humane man.” JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir,

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