Aetat. 67.)

Johnson's various acquaintance.


his observation, it would have afforded a very rich fund of instruction and entertainment. The suddenness with which his accounts of some of them started out in conversation, was not less pleasing than surprising. I remember he once observed to me, 'It is wonderful, Sir, what is to be found in London. The most literary conversation that I ever enjoyed, was at the table of Jack Ellis, a money-scrivener behind the Royal Exchange, with whom I at one period used to dine generally once week?'

Volumes would be required to contain a list of his numerous and various acquaintance?, none of whom he ever forgot; and could describe and discriminate them all with precision and vivacity. He associated with persons the most widely different in manners, abilities, rank, and accomplishments? He was at


• This Mr. Ellis was, I believe, lest old age. He in the summer of the last of that profession called that year walked to Rotherhithe, Scriveners, which is one of the Lon where he dined, and walked home in don companies, but of which the the evening. He died on the 31st of business is no longer carried on December, 1791. BOSWELL. The separately, but is transacted by at version of Maphæus's 'bombastic' tornies and others, He was a man additional Canto is advertised in of literature and talents.

He was

the Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 233. The the authour of a Hudibrastick ver engraver of Mr. Ellis's portrait in sion of Maphæus's Canto, in addition the first two editions is called Peffer. to the neid; of some poems in 2 Admiral Walsingham boasted Dodsley's Collections; and various that he had entertained more misother small pieces ; but being a very cellaneous parties than any other modest man, never put his name to man in London. At one time he anything. He shewed me a trans had received the Duke of Cumberlation which he had made of Ovid's land, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Nairne the Epistles, very prettily done. There optician, and Leoni the singer. It is a good engraved portrait of him was at his table that Dr. Johnson by Pether, from a picture by Fry, made that excellent reply to a pert which hangs in the hall of the coxcomb who baited him during Scriveners' company. I visited him dinner. “Pray now," said he to the October 4, 1790, in his ninety-third Doctor, “what would you give, old year, and found his judgment dis gentleman, to be as young and tinct and clear, and his memory,

sprightly as I am ?” “Why, Sir, I though faded so as to fail him oc think,” replied Johnson, “I would casionally, yet, as he assured me, almost be content to be as foolish.”, and I indeed perceived, able to serve

Cradock's Memoirs, i. 172. him very well, after a little recollec 3 • Dr. Johnson almost always pretion. It was agreeable to observe, fers the company of an intelligent that he was free from the discontent man of the world to that of a scholar.' and fretfulness which too often mo Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 241.



Johnson's extensive knowledge.

(A.D. 1776.

once the companion of the brilliant Colonel Forrester? of the Guards, who wrote The Polite Philosopher, and of the aukward and uncouth Robert Levet ; of Lord Thurlow, and Mr. Sastres, the Italian master; and has dined one day with the beautiful, gay, and fascinating Lady Craven’, and the next with good Mrs. Gardiner3, the tallow-chandler, on Snow-hill.

On my expressing my wonder at his discovering so much of the knowledge peculiar to different professions, he told me, 'I learnt what I know of law, chiefly from Mr. Ballow“, a very able man.

I learnt some, too, from Chambers5 ; but was not so teachable then. One is not willing to be taught by a young man. When I expressed a wish to know more about Mr. Ballow, Johnson said, 'Sir, I have seen him but once these twenty years. The tide of life has driven us different ways.' I was sorry at the time to hear this ; but whoever quits the creeks of private connections, and fairly gets into the great ocean of London, will, by imperceptible degrees, unavoidably experience such cessations of acquaintance.

My knowledge of physick, (he added) I learnt from Dr. James, whom I helped in writing the proposals for his Dictionary and also a little in the Dictionary itself“. I also learnt from Dr. Lawrence, but was then grown more stubborn.'

A curious incident happened to-day, while Mr. Thrale and I sat with him. Francis announced that a large packet was brought to him from the post-office, said to have come from

* See J. H. Burton's Hume, i. 174, for an account of him.

? Lord Macartney, who with his other distinguished qualities, is remarkable also for an elegant pleasantry, told me, that he met Johnson at Lady Craven's, and that he seemed jealous of any interference:

So, (said his Lordship, smiling,) I kept back' BOSWELL. 3 See ante, i. 242.

There is an account of him in Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson. BOSWELL. Hawkins (Life, p. 246) records the following sarcasm of Ballow. In a coffee-house he attacked the profession of physic, which

Akenside, who was a physician as well as poet, defended. “Doctor,' said Ballow, “after all you have said, my opinion of the profession of physic is this. The ancients endeavoured to make it a science, and failed ; and the moderns to make it a trade, and have succeeded.'

5 See ante, i. 274.

6 I have in vain endeavoured to find out what parts Johnson wrote for Dr. James.

Perhaps medical men may. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 159. Johnson, needing medicine at Montrose, ‘wrote the prescription in technical characters. Boswell's Heó. rides, Aug. 21, 1773.



Aetat. 67.]

A new gaming-club.


Lisbon, and it was charged seven pounds ten shillings. He would not receive it, supposing it to be some trick, nor did he even look at it. But upon enquiry afterwards he found that it was a real packet for him, from that very friend in the East Indies of whom he had been speaking ; and the ship which carried it having come to Portugal, this packet, with others, had been put into the post-office at Lisbon.

I mentioned a new gaming-club', of which Mr. Beauclerk had given me an account, where the members played to a desperate extent. JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, this is mere talk. Who is ruined by gaming? You will not find six instances in an age. There is a strange rout made about deep play: whereas you have many more people ruined by adventurous trade, and yet we do not hear such an outcry against it.' THRALE. 'There may be few people absolutely ruined by deep play; but very many are much hurt in their circumstances by it.' JOHNSON. Yes, Sir, and so are very many by other kinds of expence. I had heard him talk once before in the same manner; and at Oxford he said, “he wished he had learnt to play at cards? The truth, however, is, that he loved to display his ingenuity in argument; and therefore would sometimes in conversation maintain opinions which he was sensible were wrong, but in supporting which, his reasoning and wit would be most conspicuous? He would begin thus : 'Why, Sir, as to

· Horace Walpole, writing of May hour in honest conversation, without in this year, says that General Smith, being able, when we rise from it, to an adventurer from the East Indies, please ourselves with having given who was taken off by Foote in The or received some advantages ; but Nabob, being excluded from the a man may shuffle cards, or rattle fashionable club of young men of dice, from noon to midnight, without quality at Almack's, had, with a set of tracing any new idea in his mind, or sharpers, formed a plan for a new being able to recollect the day by club, which, by the excess of play, any other token than his gain or loss, should draw all the young extrava and a confused remembrance of agigants thither. They built a mag tated passions, and clamorous alternificent house in St. James's-street, cations. and furnished it gorgeously.' Jour 3 ‘Few reflect,' says Warburton, sal of the Reign of George III, ii. 39. 'on what a great wit has so ingenu

? He said the same when in Scot ously owned, That wit is generally land. Boswell's' Hebrides, under false reasoning.' The wit was WychNov, 22, 1773. On the other hand, erley. See his letter xvi. to Pope in in The Rambler, No. 80, he wrote : Pope's Works. Warburton's Divine "It is scarcely possible to pass an Legation, i. xii.



Johnson's pleasure in contradiction. [A.D. 1776.

his powers.

the good or evil of card-playing—'Now, (said Garrick,) he is thinking which side he shall take?' He appeared to have a pleasure in contradiction, especially when any opinion whatever was delivered with an air of confidence? ; so that there was hardly any topick, if not one of the great truths of Religion and Morality, that he might not have been incited to argue, either for or against. Lord Elibank3 had the highest admiration of

He once observed to me, “Whatever opinion Johnson maintains, I will not say that he convinces me; but he never fails to shew me, that he has good reasons for it. I have heard Johnson pay his Lordship this high compliment: 'I never was in Lord Elibank's company without learning something?

We sat together till it was too late for the afternoon service. Thrale said he had come with intention to go to church with us. We went at seven to evening prayers at St. Clement's church, after having drank coffee ; an indulgence, which I understood Johnson yielded to on this occasion, in compliment to Thrale 5.

On Sunday, April 7, Easter-day, after having been at St. Paul's Cathedral, I came to Dr. Johnson, according to my usual



"Perhaps no man was ever more would play the fool among friends, happy than Dr. Johnson in the ex but he required deference. It was tempore and masterly defence of any necessary to ask questions and make cause which, at the given moment, no assertion. If you said two and he chose to defend.' Stockdale's two make four, he would say, “How Memoirs, i. 261.

will you prove that, Sir?' Dr. BurBurke, in a letter that he wrote ney seemed amiably sensitive to in 1771 (Corres, i. 330), must have every unfavourable remark on his had in mind his talks with Johnson. old friend.' * Nay,' he said, “it is not uncommon, 3 Patrick Lord Elibank, who died when men are got into debates, to in 1778. BOSWELL. See Boswell's take now one side, now another, of a Hebrides, Sept. 12, 1773. question, as the momentary humour 4 Yet he said of him :-'Sir, there of the man and the occasion called is nothing conclusive in his talk.' for, with all the latitude that the an See post, p. 57 tiquated freedom and ease of English Johnson records of this Good conversation among friends did, in Friday :- My design was to pass former days, encourage and excuse.' part of the day in exercises of piety, H. C. Robinson (Diary, iii. 485) says but Mr. Boswell interrupted me ; of that Dr. Burney 'spoke with great him, however, I could have rid mywarmth of affection of Dr. Johnson, self; but poor Thrale, orbus et exspes, and said he was the kindest creature came for comfort, and sat till seven, in the world when he thought he was when we all went to church. Pri loved and respected by others. He and Med. p. 146.



Aetat. 87.]

The contract of marriage.


It seemed to me, that there was always something peculiarly mild and placid in his manner upon this holy festival, the commemoration of the most joyful event in the history of our world, the resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOUR, who, having triumphed over death and the grave, proclaimed immortality to mankind'.

I repeated to him an argument of a lady of my acquaintance, who maintained, that her husband's having been guilty of numberless infidelities, released her from conjugal obligations, because they were reciprocal. JOHNSON. 'This is miserable stuff, Sir. To the contract of marriage, besides the man and wife, there is a third party—Society; and if it be considered as a vow-GOD: and, therefore, it cannot be dissolved by their consent alone. Laws are not made for particular cases, but for men in general. A woman may be unhappy with her husband; but she cannot be freed from him without the approbation of the civil and ecclesiastical power. A man may be unhappy, because he is not so rich as another ; but he is not to seize upon another's property with his own hand.' BOSWELL. "But, Sir, this lady does not want that the contract should be dissolved ; she only argues that she may indulge herself in gallantries with equal freedom as her husband does, provided she takes care not to introduce a spurious issue into his family. You know, Sir, what Macrobius has told us of Julia?' JOHNSON. 'This lady of yours, Sir, I think, is very fit for a brothel.'

Mr. Macbean, authour of the Dictionary of ancient Geography, came in. He mentioned that he had been forty years absent from Scotland. 'Ah, Boswell! (said Johnson, smiling,) what



Johnson's entries at Easter shew of peace, more quiet than I have enthis year, and some of the following joyed for a long time. I had made years, more peace of mind than no resolution, but as my heart grew hitherto. Thus this Easter he re lighter, my hopes revived, and my cords, “I had at church some radia

courage increased.'

Ib. p. 158. tions of comfort. ... When I received, 'Good Friday, 1778. I went with some tender images struck me. I

confidence and calmness was so mollified by the concluding through the prayers.' 16. p. 164. address to our Saviour that I could Nunquam enim nisi navi plend not utter it.' Pr, and Med. pp. 146,

tollo vectorem.' Lib. ii. c. vi. Bos. 149. 'Easter-day, 1777, I was for WELL. some time much distressed, but at 3 See ante, i. 187. last obtained, I hope from the God


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