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not vie with them in expence, the upstarts would 1772. soon be at an end, and the gentlemen would remain ; Ætat. 63. but if the gentlemen will vie in expence with the upstarts, which is very foolish, they must be ruined.” I
gave him an account of the excellent mimickry of a friend of mine in Scotland ; observing, at the same time, that some people thought it a very mean thing. Johnson. Why, Sir, it is making a very mean use of man's powers. But to be a good mimick, requires great powers ; great acuteness of observation, great retention of what is observed, and great pliancy of organs, to represent what is observeda I remember a lady of quality in this town, Lady
--, who was a wonderful mimick, and used to make me laugh immoderately. I have heard she is now gone mad.” Boswell.
“ It is amazing how a mimick can not only give you the gestures and voice of a person whom he represents; but even what a person would say on any particular subject." JOHNSON. " Why, Sir, you are to consider that the manner and some particular phrases of a person do much to impress you with an idea of him, and you are not sure that he would say what the mimick says in his character.” Boswell. “ I don't think Foote a good mimick, Sir.” Johnson. “ No, Sir; his imitations are not like. He gives you something different from himself, but not the character which he means to assume. He goes out of himself, without going into other people. He cannot take off any person unless he is strongly marked, such as George Faulkner. He is like a painter who can draw the portrait of a man who has a wen upon his face, and who therefore is easily known. If a man hops upon one leg, Foote can hop upon one leg. But he has
1772. not that nice discrimination which your friend seems to possess.
Foote is, however, very entertaining Ætat. 63.
with a kind of conversation between wit and buffoonery."
On Monday, March 23, I found him busy, preparing a fourth edition of his folio Dictionary. Mr. Peyton, one of his original amanuenses, was writing for him. I put him in mind of a meaning of the word side, which he had omitted, viz. relationship; as father's side, mother's side. He inserted it. I asked him if humiliating was a good word. He said, he had seen it frequently used, but he did not know it to be legitimate English. He would not admit civilization, but only civility. With great deference to him I thought civilization, from to civilize, better in the sense opposed to barbarity, than civility; as it is better to have a distinct word for each sense, than one word with two senses, which civility is, in his way of using it.
He seeined also to be intent on some sort of chymical operation. I was entertained by observing how he contrived to send Mr. Peyton on an errand, without seeming to degrade hiin, “ Mr. Peyton,-Mr. Peyton, will you be so good as to take a walk to Temple-Bar ? You will there see a chymist's shop, at. which
you will be pleased to buy for me an ounce of oil of vitriol ; not spirit of vitriol, but oil of vitriol. It will cost three half-pence.” Peyton immediately went, and returned with it, and told him it cost but a penny.
I then reminded him of the schoolmaster's cause, and proposed to read to him the printed papers concerning it. “No, Sir, (said he,) I can read quicker than I can hear,” So he read them to himself.
After he had read for some time, we were inter- 1772. rupted by the entrance of Mr. Kristrom, a Swede,
weal, Ætat. 68. who was tutor to some young gentleman in the city. He told me, that there was a very good History of Sweden, by Daline. Having at that time an intention of writing the history of that country, I asked Dr. Johnson whether one might write a history of Sweden, without going thither. “ Yes, Sir, (said he,) one for common use."
We talked of languages. Johnson observed that Leibnitz had made some progress in a work, tracing all languages up to the Hebrew. "Why, Sir, (said. he,) you would not imagine that the French jour, day, is derived from the Latin dies, and yet nothing is more certain ; and the intermediate steps are very clear. From dies, comes diurnus. Diu is, by inaccurate ears, or inaccurate pronunciation, easily confounded with gui ; then the Italians form a substantive of the ablative of an adjective, and thence giurno, or, as they make it giorno : which is readily contracted into giour, or jour.” He observed, that the Bohemian language, was true Sclavonick. The Swede said, it had some similarity with the German. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, to be sure, such parts of Sclavonia as confine with Germany, will borrow German words; and such parts as confine with Tartary will borrow Tartar words."
He said, he never had it properly ascertained that the Scotch Highlanders and the Irish understood each other. I told him that my Cousin Colonel Graham, of the Royal Highlanders, whom I met at Logheda, told me they did. Johnson. “ Sir, if the Highlanders understood Irish, why translate the New Testament into Erse, as was lately done at Edinburgh,
1772. when there is an Irish translation ?" BOSWELL. " Alam
though the Erse and Irish are both dialects of the same language, there may be a good deal of diversity between them, as between the different dialects in Italy.”—The Swede went away, and Mr. Johnson continued his reading of the papers. I said “ I am afraid, Sir, it is troublesome." “ Why, Sir, (said he,) I do not take much delight in it; but I'll go through it.”
We went to the Mitre, and dined in the room where he and I first supped together. He gave me great hopes of my cause. “ Sir, (said he,) the government of a schoolmaster is somewhat of the nature of military government; that is to say, it must be arbitrary, it must be exercised by the will of one man, according to particular circumstances. You must shew some learning upon this occasion. You . must shew, that a schoolmaster has a prescriptive right to beat; and that an action of assault and battery cannot be admitted against him unless there is some great excess, some barbarity. This man has maimed none of his boys. They are all left with the full exercise of their corporeal faculties. In our schools in England, many boys have been maimed ; yet I never heard of an action against a schoolmaster on that account. Puffendorff, I think, maintains the right of a schoolmaster to beat his scholars.
On Saturday, March 27, I introduced to him Sir Alexander Macdonald, with whom he had expressed a wish to be acquainted. He received him very courteously.
Sir Alexander observed, that the Chancellors in England are chosen from views much inferiour to the office, being chosen from temporary political
· Why, Sir, in such a govern- 1772. ment as ours, no manis appointed to an office because
Ætat. 63. he is the fittest for it, nor hardly in any other
government; because there are so many connections and dependencies to be studied. A despotick prince may choose a man to an office, merely because he is the fittest for it. The King of Prussia may do it," Sir A. “ I think, Sir, almost all great lawyers, such at least as have written upon law, have known only law, and nothing else.” Johnson. “ Why no, Sir; Judge Hale was a great lawyer, and wrote upon law; and yet he knew a great many other things, and has written upon other things. Selden too." SIR A. " Very true, Sir ; and Lord Bacon. But was not Lord Coke a mere lawyer ?" JOHNSON.
“ Why, I am afraid he was ; but he would have taken it
very ill if you had told him so.
He would have prosecuted you for scandal." Boswell. « Lord Mansfield is not a mere lawyer.” JOHNSON.
“ No, Sir, I never was in Lord Mansfield's company; but Lord Mansfield, was distinguished at the University. Lord Mansfield, when he first came to town,' drank champagne with the wits,' as Prior says.
He was the friend of Pope.” Sir A. “Barristers, I believe, are not so abusive now as they were formerly. I fancy they had less law long ago, and so were obliged to take to abuse, to fill up the time. Now they have such a number of precedents, they have no occasion for abuse." JOHNSON “ Nay, Sir, they had more law long ago than they have now. cedents, to be sure they will increase in course of time; but the more precedents there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is to say, the less QCsasion is there for investigating principles.” Sir A.
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