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ÆTAT. 67.

SAVAGE LIFE.

169

money in his family as he told us he did, she inter: rupted us by a lively extravagant sally, on the expense of clothing his children, describing it in a very ludicrous and fanciful manner. Johnson looked a little angry, and said, “ Nay, Madam, when you are declaiming, declaim; and when you are calculating, calculate.” At another time, when she said, perhaps affectedly, “I don't like to fly.” Johnson. “ With your wings, Madam, you must fly: but have a care, there are clippers abroad.” (1) How very well was this said, and how fully has experience proved the truth of it! But have they not clipped rather rudely, and gone a great deal closer than was necessary ? (?)

A gentleman expressed a wish to go and live three

(1) But though Dr. Johnson would, as Mrs. Piozzi has candidly confessed, treat her with occasional rudeness, he had a most sincere and tender regard for her, and no wonder; for she would, with great consideration and kindness, overlook his foibles and his asperities. One day, at her own table, he spoke so very roughly to her, that every one present was surprised that she could bear it so placidly; and on the ladies withdrawing, I expressed great astonishment that Dr. Johnson should speak so harshly to her, but to this she said no more than “ 0, dear good man!This simple reply appeared so strong a proof of her generous and affectionate friendship, that I took the first opportunity of communicating it to Dr. Johnson, repeating her own animadversions which had produced it. He was much delighted with the information; and some time after, as he was lying back in his chair, seeming to be half asleep, but really, as it turned out, musing on this pleasing incident, he repeated, in a loud whisper, “ O, dear good man!” This kind of soliloquy was a common habit of his, when any thing very flattering or very extraordinary engrossed his thoughts. Miss REYNOLDS, Recol.

(2) This alludes to the many sarcastic observations published against Mrs. Piozzi, on her lamentable marriage, and particularly to Baretti's brutal strictures in the European Magazine for '1788; so brutal, that even Mr. Boswell, with all his enmity

rds her, could approve of them.-C.

to

years at Otaheité, or New Zealand, in order to obtain a full acquaintance with people so totally different from all that we have ever known, and be satisfied what pure nature can do for man. Johnson. “ What could you learn, Sir ? What can savages tell, but what they themselves have seen? Of the past or the invisible they can tell nothing. The inhabitants of Otaheité and New Zealand are not in a state of pure nature ; for it is plain they broke off from some other people. Had they grown out of the ground, you might have judged of a state of pure nature. Fanciful people may talk of a mythology being amongst them; but it must be invention. They have once had religion, which has been gradually debased. And what account of their religion can you suppose to be learnt from savages ? Only consider, Sir, our own state: our religion is in a book; we have an order of men whose duty it is to teach it; we have one day in the week set apart for it, and this is in general pretty well observed : yet ask the first ten gross men you meet, and hear what they can tell of their religion."

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CHAPTER VI.

1776.

Excursion to Bristol.-- Rowley's Poems.-Chatterton.-

Garrick's Archer.”—Brute Creation.— Chesterfield's " Letters." “To be, or not to be.- Luxury.Oglethorpe. - Lord Elibank. Conversation.- Egotism.– Dr. Oldfield. Commentators on the Bible.Lord Thurlow. Sir John Pringle. - Dinner at Mr. Dilly's. John Wilkes. Foote's Mimicry. Garrick's Wit. Biography. Cibber's Plays Difficile est propriè,” &c.

City Poets. bolus Regis.- Lord Bute. Mrs. Knowles.-- Mrs. Rudd.

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On Monday, April 29., he and I made an excursion to Bristol, where I was entertained with seeing him inquire upon the spot into the authenticity of

Rowley's poetry,” as I had seen him enquire upon the spot into the authenticity of “Ossian's poetry." George Catcot, the pewterer, who was as zealous for Rowley as Dr. Hugh Blair was for Ossian (I trust my reverend friend will excuse the comparison), attended us at our inn, and with a triumphant air of lively simplicity, called out, "I'll make Dr. Johnson a convert.” Dr. Johnson, at his desire, read aloud some of Chatterton's fabricated verses; while Catcot stood at the back of his chair, moving himself like a pendulum, and beating time with his feet, and now and then looking into Dr. Johnson's face, wondering that he was not yet convinced. We called on Mr. Barret, the surgeon, and saw some of the originals, as they were called, which were executed very artificially; but from a careful inspection of them, and a consideration of the circumstances with which they were attended, we were quite satisfied of the imposture, which, indeed, has been clearly demonstrated from internal evidence, by several able critics. (1)

Honest Catcot seemed to pay no attention whatever to any objections, but insisted, as an end of all controversy, that we should go with him to the tower of the church of St. Mary, Redcliff, and view with our own eyes the ancient chest in which the manuscripts were found. (2) To this Dr. Johnson goodnaturedly agreed ; and, though troubled with a shortness of breathing, laboured up a long flight of steps, till we came to the place where the wondrous chest stood. “ There,” said Catcot, with a bouncing confident credulity, there is the very chest itself.” After this ocular demonstration, there was no more to be said. He brought to my recollection a Scotch Highlander, a man of learning too, and who had seen the world, attesting, and at the same time giving his reasons for, the authenticity of Fingal: “ I have heard all that poem when I was young.” “ Have you, Sir? Pray what have you heard ?”

(1) Mr. Tyrwhitt, Mr. Warton, Mr. Malone.

(2) This naïveté resembles the style of evidence which Johnson so pleasantly ridicules in the Idler, No. 10. “Jack Sneaker is a hearty adherent to the protestant establishment; he has known those who saw the bed into which the Pretender was conveyed in a warming pan.”— C.

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" I have heard Ossian, Oscar, and every one of them."

Johnson said of Chatterton, “ This is the most extraordinary young man that has encountered my knowledge. It is wonderful how the whelp has written such things." (1)

We were by no means pleased with our inn at Bristol. “Let us see now,” said I, “how we should describe it.” Johnson was ready with his raillery. “ Describe it, Sir ? Why, it was so bad, that Boswell wished to be in Scotland !"

After Dr. Johnson returned to London [May 4th], I was several times with him at his house, where I occasionally slept, in the room that had been assigned for me. I dined with him at Dr. Taylor's, at General Oglethorpe's, and at General Paoli's. To avoid a tedious minuteness, I shall group together what I have preserved of his conversation during this period also, without specifying each scene where it passed, except one, which will be found so remarkable as certainly to deserve a very particular relation. Where the place or the persons do not contribute to the zest of the conversation, it is unnecessary to encumber my page with mentioning them. To know of what vintage our wine is, enables us to judge of its value, and to drink it with more relish: but to have

(1) Of the merit of the poems admitted on both sides of the controversy, he said, “ It is a sword that cuts both ways. It is as wonderful that a boy of sixteen years old should have stored his mind with such a strain of ideas and images, as to suppose that such ease of versification and elegance of language were produced by Rowley in the time of Edward the Fourth." HAWKINS.

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