The law against usury.

[A.D. 1776.

would you give to be forty years from Scotland ?' I said, 'I should not like to be so long absent from the seat of my ancestors. This gentleman, Mrs. Williams, and Mr. Levet, dined with us.

Dr. Johnson made a remark, which both Mr. Macbean and I thought new. It was this: that 'the law against usury is for the protection of creditors as well as of debtors; for if there were no such check, people would be apt, from the temptation of great interest, to lend to desperate persons, by whom they would lose their money. Accordingly there are instances of ladies being ruined, by having injudiciously sunk their fortunes for high annuities, which, after a few years, ceased to be paid, in consequence of the ruined circumstances of the borrower.'

Mrs. Williams was very peevish; and I wondered at Johnson's patience with her now, as I had often done on similar occasions. The truth is, that his humane consideration of the forlorn and indigent state in which this lady was left by her father, induced him to treat her with the utmost tenderness, and even to be desirous of procuring her amusement, so as sometimes to incommode many of his friends, by carrying her with him to their houses, where, from her manner of eating, in consequence of her blindness, she could not but offend the delicacy of persons of nice sensations.

After coffee, we went to afternoon service in St. Clement's church. Observing some beggars in the street as we walked along, I said to him I supposed there was no civilised country in the world, where the misery of want in the lowest classes of the people was prevented. JOHNSON. I believe, Sir, there is not; but it is better that some should be unhappy, than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality?'

When the service was ended, I went home with him, and we sat quietly by ourselves. He recommended Dr. Cheyne's books. I said, I thought Cheyne had been reckoned whimsical. So he was, (said he,) in some things; but there is no end of objections. There are few books to which some objection or other may not be made.' He added, 'I would not have you read

· See ante, i. 232.

2 See ante, ii. 219.


Aetat. 87.)

Gloomy penitence.


[ocr errors]

anything else of Cheyne, but his book on Health, and his English Malady:

Upon the question whether a man who had been guilty of vicious actions would do well to force himself into solitude and sadness; JOHNSON. “No, Sir, unless it prevent him from being vicious again. With some people, gloomy penitence is only madness turned upside down. A man may be gloomy, till, in order to be relieved from gloom, he has recourse again to criminal indulgencies??

On Wednesday, April 10, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, where were Mr. Murphy and some other company. Before dinner, Dr. Johnson and I passed some time by ourselves. I was sorry to find it was now resolved that the proposed journey to Italy should not take place this years. He said, I am

Cheyne's English Malady, or a drinking." Wesley's Journal, i. 347. Treatise of Nervous Diseases of All Young, in his Epistles to Pope, No. Kinds, 1733.

He recommended a ii. says :milk, seed, and vegetable diet ; by three ells round huge Cheyne seed he apparently meant any kind rails at meat.' of grain. He did not take meat. Dr. J. H. Burton (Life of Hume, i. He drank green tea. At one time 45) shews reason for believing that a he weighed thirty-two stones. His very curious letter by Hume was work shews the great change in the written to Cheyne. use of fermented liquors since his 2 «“Solitude,” he said one day, “is time. Thus he says : For nearly dangerous to reason, without being twenty years I continued sober, mod favourable to virtue ; pleasures of erate, and plain in my diet, and in some sort are necessary to the inmy greatest health drank not above tellectual as to the corporeal health ; a quart, or three pints at most of and those who resist gaiety will wine any day' (p. 235). “For near be likely for the most part to one-half of the time from thirty to fall a sacrifice to appetite ; for the sixty | scarce drank any strong solicitations of sense are always at liquor at all. It will be found that hand, and a dram to a vacant and upon the whole I drank very little solitary person is a speedy and seabove a pint of wine, or at most not a ducing relief. Remember (continued quart one day with another, since I he) that the solitary mortal is cerwas near thirty' (p. 243). Johnson a tainly luxurious, probably supersecond time recommended Boswell stitious, and possibly mad.”' Piozzi's to read this book, post, July 2, 1776. Anec. p. 106. See ante, i. 65. Boswell was not 3 The day before he wrote to Mrs. the man to follow Cheyne's advice. Thrale :- Mr. Thrale's alteration of Of one of his works Wesley says : purpose is not weakness of resolu'It is one of the most ingenious tion ; it is a wise man's compliance books which I ever saw. But what with the change of things, and with epicure will ever regard it? for "the the new duties which the change man talks against good eating and produces. Whoever expects me to



Mr. Simpson's tragedies.

[A.D. 1776.

not, Sir.

disappointed, to be sure ; but it is not a great disappointment.' I wondered to see him bear, with a philosophical calmness, what would have made most people peevish and fretful. I perceived, however, that he had so warmly cherished the hope of enjoying classical scenes, that he could not easily part with the scheme; for he said, 'I shall probably contrive to get to Italy some other way. But I won't mention it to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, as it might vex them. I suggested, that going to Italy might have done Mr. and Mrs. Thrale good. JOHNSON. “I rather believe

While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.'

At dinner, Mr. Murphy entertained us with the history of Mr. Joseph Simpson', a schoolfellow of Dr. Johnson's, a barrister at law, of good parts, but who fell into a dissipated course of life, incompatible with that success in his profession which he once had, and would otherwise have deservedly maintained ; yet he still preserved a dignity in his deportment. He wrote a tragedy on the story of Leonidas, entitled The Patriot. He read it to a company of lawyers, who found so many faults, that he wrote it over again : so then there were two tragedies on the same subject and with the same title. Dr. Johnson told us, that one of them was still in his possession. This very piece was, after his death, published by some person who had been about him, and, for the sake of a little hasty profit, was fallaciously advertised, so as to make it be believed to have been written by Johnson himself.

I said, I disliked the custom which some people had of bringing their children into company?, because it in a manner

forced us to pay foolish compliments to please their parents. X JOHNSON. “You are right, Sir. We may be excused for not

be angry will be disappointed. I do
not even grieve at the effect, I grieve
only at the cause.' Piozzi Letters, i.
314. Mrs. Thrale on May 3 wrote:
• Baretti said you would be very
angry, because this dreadful event
made us put off our Italian journey,
but I knew you better. Who knows
even now that 'tis deferred for ever?

Mr. Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome, and I am sure he will go no-where that he can help without you.' Ib. p. 317.

* See ante, i. 346.

2 See post, July 22, 1777, note, where Boswell complains of children being 'suffered to poison the moments of festivity.

Aetat. 67.)



caring much about other people's children, for there are many who care very little about their own children. It may be observed, that men, who from being engaged in business, or from their course of life in whatever way, seldom see their children, do not care much about them. I myself should not have had much fondness for a child of my own?' MRS. THRALE. 'Nay, Sir, how can you talk so?' JOHNSON. ‘At least, I never wished to have a child.'

Mr. Murphy mentioned Dr. Johnson's having a design to publish an edition of Cowley. Johnson said, he did not know but he should ; and he expressed his disapprobation of Dr. Hurd, for having published a mutilated edition under the title of Select Works of Abraham Cowley?. Mr. Murphy thought it a bad precedent; observing that any authour might be used in the same manner; and that it was pleasing to see the variety of an authour's compositions, at different periods.

We talked of Flatman's Poems; and Mrs. Thrale observed, that Pope had partly borrowed from him The dying Christian to his Souls' Johnson repeated Rochester's verses upon Flatman“, which I think by much too severe :

'Nor that slow drudge in swift Pindarick strains,
Flatman, who Cowley imitates with pains,

And rides a jaded Muse, whipt with loose reins.' ) I like to recollect all the passages that I heard Johnson repeat: it stamps a value on them.

He told us, that the book entitled The Lives of the Poets, by Mr. Cibber, was entirely compiled by Mr. Shiels, a Scotchman, one of his amanuenses. “The bookseller (said he,) gave Theophilus Cibber, who was then in prison, ten guineas, to allow Mr. Cibber to be put upon the title-page, as the authour; by this, a double imposition was intended : in the first place,

Boswell, post, under March 30, Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying, 1783, says, “Johnson discovered a Panting, groaning, speechless, dylove of little children upon all occa ingsions.

Methinks I hear some gentle spirit * Johnson at a later period thought say, otherwise. Post, March 30, 1778.

Be not fearful, come away.' Pope borrowed from the follow Campbell's Brit. Poets, p. 301.

In Rochester's Allusion to the 'When on my sick bed I languish, Tenth Satire of the First Book of Full of sorrow, full of anguish; Horace.


ing lines :



[A.D. 1776.

that it was the work of a Cibber at all; and, in the second place, that it was the work of old Cibber?.'

* In the Monthly Review for May, litical principles which prevailed in 1792, there is such a correction of the Reign of George the Second) the above passage, as I should think for so unmercifully mutilating his myself very culpable not to subjoin. copy, and scouting his politicks, * This account is very inaccurate. that he wrote Cibber a challenge : The following statement of facts we but was prevented from sending it, know to be true, in every material by the publisher, who fairly laughed circumstance :-Shiels was the prin him out of his fury. The propriecipal collector and digester of the tors, too, were discontented, in the materials for the work : but as he end, on account of Mr. Cibber's was very raw in authourship, an in unexpected industry ; for his cordifferent writer in prose, and his rections and alterations in the language full of Scotticisms, Cibber, proof-sheets were so numerous and who was a clever, lively fellow, and considerable, that the printer made then soliciting employment among for them a grievous addition to his the booksellers, was engaged to cor bill; and, in fine, all parties were rect the style and diction of the dissatisfied. On the whole, the work whole work, then intended to make was productive of no profit to the only four volumes, with power to undertakers, who had agreed, in case alter, expunge, or add, as he liked. of success, to make Cibber a present He was also to supply notes, occa of some addition to the twenty sionally, especially concerning those guineas which he had received, and dramatick poets with whom he had for which his receipt is now in the been chiefly conversant. He also booksellers' hands. We are farther engaged to write several of the assured, that he actually obtained an Lives ; which, (as we are told,) he, additional sum ; when he, soon after, accordingly, performed.

(in the year 1758,) unfortunately emfarther useful in striking out the barked for Dublin, on an engagement Jacobitical and Tory sentiments, for one of the theatres there : but which Shiels had industriously in the ship was cast away, and every terspersed wherever he could bring person on board perished. There them in :-and, as the success of were about sixty passengers, among the work appeared, after all, very whom was the Earl of Drogheda, doubtful, he was content with twenty with many other persons of conseone pounds for his labour beside

quence and property. (Gent. Mag. a few sets of the books, to disperse 1758, p. 555.) among his friends. — Shiels had *As to the alledged design of nearly seventy pounds, beside the making the compilement pass for advantage of many of the best Lives the work of old Mr. Cibber, the in the work being communicated by charges seem to have been founded friends to the undertaking ; and for a somewhat uncharitable conwhich Mr. Shiels had the same con struction. We are assured that the sideration as for the rest, being paid thought was not harboured by some by the sheet, for the whole. He was, of the proprietors, who are still however, so angry with his Whiggish living; and we hope that it did supervisor, (THE., like his father, not occur to the first designer of being a violent stickler for the po. the work, who was also the printer

Mr. Murphy

He was


« ElőzőTovább »