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1783. said to me, “Sir, when you get silver in change for Ætat. 74.
a guinea, look carefully at it; you may find some curious piece of coin."
Though a stern true-lorn Englishman, and fully prejudiced against all other nations, he had discernment enongh to see, and candour enough to censure, the cold reserve too cominon among Englishmen towards strangers : “ Sir, (said he,) two men of any other nation who are shewn into a room together, at a house where they are both visitors, will immediately find some conversation.
But two Englishmen will probably go each to a different window, and remain in obstinate silence. Sir, we as yet do not enough understand the common rights of humanity.”
Johnson was at a certain period of his life a good deal with the Earl of Shelburne, now Marquis of Lansdown, as he doubtless could not but have a due value for that nobleman's activity of mind, and uncommon acquisitions of important knowledge, however much he might disapprove of other parts of his Lordship's character, which were widely different from his own.
Morice Morgann, Esq. authour of the very ingenious “Essay on the character of Falstaff,"3 being a particular friend of his Lordship, had once an opportunity of entertaining Johnson for a day or two at Wycombe, when its Lord was absent, and by him I have been favoured with two anecdotes.
* Johnson being asked his opinion of this Essay, answered,
Why, Sir, we shall have the man come forth again ; and as he has proved Falstaff to be no coward, he may prove Iago to be a very good character,"
One is not a little to the credit of Johnson's can- 1783. dour. Mr. Mořgann and he had a dispute pretty Ætat. 74. late at night, in which Johnson would not give up, though he had the wrong side, and in short, both kept the field. Next morning, when they met in the breakfasting-room, Dr. Johnson accosted Mr. Morgann thus: “Sir, I have been thinking on out dispute last night-You were in the right.”
The other was as follows: Johnson, for sport perhaps, or from the spirit of contradiction, eagerly maintained that Derrick had merit as a writer. Mr. Morgann argued with him directly, in vain. At length he had recourse to this device.
“ Pray, Sir, (said he,) whether do you reckon Derrick or Smart the best poet ?” Johnson at once felt himself roused; and answered, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea."
Once, when checking my boasting too frequently of myself in company, he said to me, “ Boswell, you often vaunt so much as to provoke ridicule. You put me in mind of a man who was standing in the kitchen of an inn with his back to the fire, and thus accosted the person next him, 'Do you know, Sir, who I am ?'. No, Sir, (said the other,) I have not that advantage.' Sir, (said he,) I am the great TWALMLEY, who invented the New Floodgate
The Bishop of Killaloe, on my repeating the story to him, defended TWAAMLEY, by observing that he was entitled to the epithet of great; for Virgil in his groupe of worthies in the Elysian fields
4 What the great TWALMLEY was so proud of having invented, was neitber more or less than a kind of box-iron for smoothing linen.
1783. Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi ; &c. Ætat. 74. mentions
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.
He was pleased to say to me one morning when we were left alone in his study, “ Boswell, I think, I am easier with you than with almost any body."
He would not allow Mr. David Hume any credit for his political principles, though similiar to his own; saying of him, “Sir, he was a Tory by chance.”
His acute observation of human life made him remark, “Sir, there is nothing by which a man exasperates most people more, than by.displaying a superior ability of brilliancy in conversation. They seem pleased at the time; but their envy makes them curse him at their hearts.
My readers will probably be surprised to hear that the great Dr. Johnson could amuse himself with so slight and playful a species of composition as a Charade. I have recovered one which he made on Dr. Barnard, now Lord Bishop of Killaloe ;5 who has been pleased for many years to treat me with so much intimacy and social ease, that I may presume to call him not only my Right Reverend, but my very dear Friend. I therefore with peculiar pleasure give to the world a just and elegant compliment thus paid to his Lordship by Johnson.
[Afterwards translated to the see of Limerick. M.]
“ My whole® is a man in whose converse is shar'd, 1783. “ The strength of a Bar and the sweetness of Nard."
Ætat. 74. Johnson asked Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq. if he had read the Spanish translation of Sallust, said to be written by a Prince of Spain, with the assistance of his tutor, who is professedly the authour of a treatise annexed, on the Phænician language.
Mr. Cambridge commended the work, particularly as he thought the Translator understood his authour better than is commonly the case with Translators ; but said, he was disappointed in the purpose for which he borrowed the book; to see whether a Spaniard could be better furnished with inscriptions from monuments, coins, or other antiquities, which he might more probably find on a coast, so immediately opposite to Carthage, than the Antiquaries of any other countries. JOHNSON.
“ I am very sorry you were not gratified in yourexpectations.” CAMBRIDGE. “ The language would have been of little use, as there is no history existing in that tongue to balance the partial accounts which the Roman writers have left us." JOHNSON. No, Sir. They have not been partial, they have told their own story, without shame or regard to equitable treatment of their injured enemy; they had no compunction, no feeling for a Carthaginian. Why, Sir, they would never have borne Virgil's description of Æneas's treatment of Dido, if she had not been a Carthaginian.”
I gratefully acknowledge this and other communications from Mr. Cambridge, whom, if a beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames, a few miles distant from London, a numerous and excellent library,
1783. which he accurately knows and reads, a choice col.
lection of pictures, which heunderstands and relishes, Ætat. 74.
an easy fortune, an amiable family, an extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, distinguished by rank, fashion and genius, a literary fame, various elegant and still increasing, colloquial talents rarely to be found, and with all these means of happiness, enjoying, when well advanced in years, health and vigour of body, serenity and animation of mind, do not entitle to be addressed fortunate senex! I know not to whom, in any age, that expression could with propriety have been used. Long may he live to hear and to feel it !!
Johnson's love of little children, which he discovered upon all occasions, calling them, “ pretty dears," and giving them sweetmeats, was an undoubted proof of the real humanity and gentleness of his disposition.
His uncommon kindness to his servants, and serious concern, not only for their comfort in this worid, but their happiness in the next, was another unquestionable evidence of what all, who were intimately acquainted with him, knew to be true.
Nor would it be just under this head, to omit the fondness which he shewed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy
(Mr. Cambridge erjoyed all the blessings here enumerated for many years after this passage was written. He died at his seat near Twickenham, Sept. 17, 1802, in his eighty-sixth year. M.]