Imatges de pÓgina

humour: and upon some imaginary offence (1) from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and angry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so much hurt, and had my pride so much roused, that I kept away from him for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much longer, nay, gone to Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been reconciled. To such unhappy chances are human friendships liable.

On Friday, May 8., I dined with him at Mr. Langton's. I was reserved and silent, which I suppose he perceived, and might recollect the cause. After dinner, when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by ourselves, he drew his

(1) Lord Wellesley has been so obliging as to give me the following account of the cause of this quarrel: "Boswell, one day at Sir Joshua's table, chose to pronounce a high-flown panegyric on the wits of Queen Anne's reign, and exclaimed, How delightful it must have been to have lived in the society of Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Gay, and Bolingbroke! We have no such society in our days.' SIR JOSHUA. I think, Mr. Boswell, you might be satisfied with your great friend's conversation.' JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, Boswell is right; every man wishes for preferment, and if Boswell had lived in those days, he would have obtained promotion.' SIR JOSHUA. How so, Sir?' JOHNSON. Sir, he would have had a high place in the Dunciad.' This anecdote Lord Wellesley heard from Mr. Thomas Sydenham, who received it from Mr. Knight, on the authority of Sir Joshua Reynolds himself." I, however, suspect, that this is but another version of the repartee of the same kind, in reference to the Dunciad, made in Sir Joshua's presence, though not at his house, some years before (see antè, Vol. III. p. 85.). Johnson's playful retort seems so much less offensive than fifty others, that Boswell relates himself to have endured patiently, that it is improbable that he should have resented it so deeply. The anecdote, in passing through the hands of Mr. Knight and Mr. Sydenham, may have lost its true date, and acquired something beyond its true expression.-C.

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chair near to mine, and said, in a tone of conciliating courtesy, "Well, how have you done?” BOSWELL. "Sir, you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. You know, my dear Sir, no man has a greater respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the world to serve you. Now, to treat me so." He insisted that I had interrupted, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded "But why treat me so before people who neither love you nor me?" JOHN"Well, I am sorry for it. I'll make it up to you twenty different ways, as you please." BoSWELL. "I said to-day to Sir Joshua, when he observed that you tossed me sometimes, I don't care how often or how high he tosses me, when only friends are present, for then I fall upon soft ground; but I do not like falling on stones, which is the case when enemies are present. I think this a pretty good image, Sir." JOHNSON. "Sir, it is one of the happiest I have ever heard." (')


The truth is, there was no venom in the wounds which he inflicted at any time, unless they were irritated by some malignant infusion by other hands. We were instantly as cordial again as ever, and joined in hearty laugh at some ludicrous but innocent peculiarities of one of our friends. BosWELL. "Do you think, Sir, it is always culpable to laugh at a man to his face?" JOHNSON. " Why,

(1) The simplicity with which Boswell repeats this flattery, without seeing that it was only a peace-offering, is very charac teristic and amusing.- C.

Sir, that depends upon the man and the thing. If it is a slight man, and a slight thing, you may; for you take nothing valuable from him."

He said, "I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermon on devotion, from the text' Cornelius, a devout man.' His doctrine is the best limited, the best expressed: there is the most warmth without fanaticism, the most rational transport. There is one part of it which I disapprove, and I'd have him correct it; which is, that he who does not feel joy in religion is far from the kingdom of heaven!' there are many good men whose fear of God predominates ove their love. It may discourage. It was rashly said. (1) A noble sermon it is indeed. I wish Blair would come over to the church of England."

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When Mr. Langton returned to us, the "flow of talk went on." An eminent author (2) being mentioned: JOHNSON. "He is not a pleasant man. His conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant.

(1) The passage referred to is, "Of what nature must that man's religion be, who professes to worship God and to believe in Christ, and yet raises his thoughts towards God and his Saviour without any warmth of gratitude or love? This is not the man whom you would choose for your bosom friend, or whose heart you would expect to answer with reciprocal warmth to yours; such a person must as yet be far from the kingdom of heaven."- Blair's Sermons, vol. i. p. 261. Dr. Johnson's remark is certainly just; and it may be, moreover, observed that, from Blair's expressions, and his reference to human friendships and affections, he might be understood to mean, that unless we feel the same kind of "warmth" and affection towards God that we do towards the objects of human love, we are far from the kingdom of heaven an idea which seems to countenance fanaticism, and which every sober-minded Christian feels to be a mere play on words; for the love of God and the love of one's wife and friend are certainly not the same passion. — C.

(2) No doubt Dr. Robertson. — C.

He does not talk as if impelled by any fulness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His convers ation is like that of any other sensible man. He talks with no wish either to inform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not become

to sit in a company and say nothing."

Mr. Langton having repeated the anecdote of Addison having distinguished between his powers in conversation and in writing, by saying, "I have only ninepence in my pocket; but I can draw for a thousand pounds;" - JOHNSON. "He had not that retort ready, Sir; he had prepared it before-hand." LANGTON (turning to me). "A fine surmise. Set a thief to catch a thief."


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Johnson called the East Indians barbarians. BosWELL. "You will except the Chinese, Sir?" JOHN"No, Sir." BOSWELL. "Have they not arts?" JOHNSON. 66 They have pottery." Bos WELL. "What do you say to the written characters of their language?" JOHNSON. "Sir, they have not an alphabet. They have not been able to form what all other nations have formed." BOSWELL "There is more learning in their language than in any other, from the immense number of their characters." JOHNSON. "It is only more difficult from its rudeness; as there is more labour in hewing down a tree with a stone than with an axe."

He said, "I have been reading Lord Kames's Sketches of the History of Man.' In treating of severity of punishment, he mentions that of Madame Lapouchin, in Russia, but he does not give it fairly; for I have looked at Chappe D'Aute

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roche (1), from whom he has taken it. He stops where it is said that the spectators thought her innocent, and leaves out what follows, that she nevertheless was guilty. Now this is being as culpable as one can conceive, to misrepresent fact in a book; and for what motive? (2) It is like one of those lies which people tell, one cannot see why. The woman's life was spared; and no punishment was too great for the favourite of an empress, who had conspired to dethrone her mistress." Boswell. "He was only giving a picture of the lady in her sufferings." JOHNSON. " Nay, don't endeavour to palliate this. Guilt is a principal feature in the picture. Kames is puzzled with a question that puzzled me when I was a very young man. Why is it that the interest of money is lower, when money is plentiful; for five pounds has the same proportion of value to a hundred pounds when money is plentiful, as when it is scarce? A lady explained it to It is (said she) because when money is plentiful there are so many more who have money to lend, that they bid down one another. Many have then a hundred pounds; and one says- Take mine rather than another's, and you shall have it at four per cent." BOSWELL. "Does Lord Kames decide the question?" JOHNSON. "I think he leaves it as he found it." BOSWELL. "This must have been


(1) ["Journey into Siberia, made by order of the King of France; published in 1768."]

(2) The passage is to be found in b. i. sk. 5. The motive of Lord Kames for this certainly culpable suppression, was evidently to heighten our indignation at the barbarity of the punishment, of which he cites this as an unparalleled example.-C.

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