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1770. want of parts, and was no less a proof of stupidity
than depravity Ætat. 61.
“ Speaking of Mr. Hanway, who published · An Eight Days' Journey from London to Portsmouth,
Jonas, (said he,) acquired some · reputation by travelling abroad, but lost it all by travelling at hoine.'
“ Of the passion of love he remarked, that its violence and ill effects were much exaggerated ; for who knows any real sufferings on that head, more than from the exorbitancy of any other passion?
“ He much commended · Law's Serious Call,' which he said was the finest piece of hortatory theology in any language. Law, (said he,) fell latterly into the reveries of Jacob Behmen, whom Law alledged to have been somewhat in the same state with St. Paul, and to have seen unutterable things. Were it even so, (said Johnson, Jacob would have resembled St. Paul still more, by not attempting to utter them."
“ He observed, that the established clergy in general did not preach plain enough ; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew over the heads of the common people, without any impression upon their hearts. Something might be necessary, he observed, to excite the affections of the common people, who were sunk in languor and lethargy, and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodism might probably produce so desirable an effect. The mind, like the body, he observed, delighted in change and novelty, and even in religion itself, courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of some metho list teachers, he said, he could scarcely doubt the sins
cerity of that man, who travelled nine hundred miles 1770. in a month, and preached twelve times a week ; for
Ætat. 61. no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be given for such indefatigable labour.
Of Dr. Priestley's theological works, he remarked, that they tended to unsettle every thing, and yet settled nothing.
He was much affected by the death of his mother, and wrote to me to come and assist him to compose his mind, which indeed I found extremely agitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was banished from the society of men, and yet great advantages might be derived from it. All acknowledged, he said, what hardly any body practised, the obligations we were under of making the concerns of eternity the governing principles of our lives. Every man, he observed, at last wishes for retreat: he sees his expectations frustrated in the world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for everlasting separation.
He observed, that the influence of London now extended every where, and that from all manner of communication being opened, there shortly would be no remains of the ancient simplicity, or places of cheap retreat to be found.
" He was no admirer of blank verse, and said it always failed, unless sustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank-verse, he said, the language saffered more distortion, to keep it out of any inconvenience or limitation to be apprehended from the shackles and circumspection of rhyme.
“ He reproved me once for saying grace without mention of the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST,
1770. and hoped in future I would be more mindful of the Ætat. 61. apostolical injunction.
“ He refused to go out of a room before me at Mr. Langton's house, saying, he hoped he knew his rank better than to presume to take place of a Doctor in Divinity. I mention such little anecdotes, merely to shew the peculiar turn and habit of his mind.
“ He used frequently to observe, that there was more to be endured than enjoyed, in the general condition of human life; and frequently quoted those lines of Dryden :
* Strange cozenage! none would live past years
For his part, he said, he never passed that week in his life which he would wish to repeat, were an angel to make the proposal to him.
“ He was of opinion, that the English nation cultivated both their soil and their reason better than any other people; but admitted that the French, though not the highest, perhaps, in any department of literature, yet in every department were very high. Intellectual pre-eminence, he observed, was the highest superiority; and that every nation derived their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity of their writers. Voltaire, he said, was a good narrator, and that his principal merit consisted in a happy selection and arrangement of circum
Speaking of the French novels, compared with
Richardson's, he said, they might be pretty baubles, 1770. but a wren was not an eagle.
Ætat. 61. " In a Latin conversation with the Pere Boscovitch, at the house of Mrs. Cholmondeley, I heard him maintain the superiority of Sir Isaac Newton over all foreign philosophers, with a dignity and eloquence that surprised that learned foreigner. It being observed to him, that a rage for every thing English prevailed much in France after Lord Chatham's glorious war, he said, he did not wonder at it, for that we had drubbed those fellows into a proper reverence for us, and that their national petulance required periodical chastisement.
“ Lord Lyttelton's Dialogues, he deemed a nugatory performance. '' That man, (said he,) sat down to write a book, to tell the world what the world had all his life been telling him.'
« Somebody observing that the Scotch Highlanders in the year 1745, had made surprising efforts, considering their numerous wants and disadvantages : 'Yes, Sir, (said he,) their wants were numerous : but you have not mentioned the greatest of them all,--the want of law.'
Speaking of the inward light, to which some methodists pretended, he said, it was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil security. If a man (said he,) pretends to a principle of action of which I can know nothing, nay, not so much as that
7 [In a Discourse by Sir William Jones, addressed to the Asiatick Society, Feb. 24, 1785, is the following passage : “ One of the most sagacious men in this age
who continues, I hope, to improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson, remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had Aourished in ancient Greece, he would have been worshipped as a Divinity." M.]
1770. he has it, but only that he pretends to it; how can
I tell what that person may be prompted to do? Ætat. 61.
When a person professes to be governed by a written ascertained law, I can then know where to find him.'
“ The poem of Fingal, he said, was a inere unconnected rhapsody, a tiresome repetition of the same images. In vain shall we look for the lucidus ordo, where there is neither end or object, design or moral, nec certa recurrit imago.'
“ Being asked by a young nobleman, what was become of the gallantry and military spirit of the old English nobility, he replied, Why, my Lord, I'll tell you what is become of it: it is gone into the city to look for a fortune.'
“ Speaking of a dull tiresome fellow, whom he chanced to meet, he said, “That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is
a wrong one.' " Much enquiry having been made concerning a gentleman, who had quitted a company where Johnson was, and no information being obtained; at last Johnson observed, that he did not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but he believed the gentleman was an attorney.'
“ He spoke with much contempt of the notice taken of Woodhouse, the poetical shoemaker. He said, it was all vanity and childishness: and that such objects were, to those who patronized them, mere mirrours of their own superiority. “They had better (said he,) furnish the man with good impleinents for his trade, than raise subscriptions for his poems. He may make an excellent shoemaker, but can never make a good poet. A school-boy's