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was at first in a very silent frame. Before dinner he said nothing but “ Pretty
« CHAP. LXXII. Concerning snakes.
At dinner we talked of another mode in the news-papers of giving modern characters in sentences from the classicks, and of the passage
« Parcus Deorum cultor, et infrequens,
Confultus erro, nunc retrorsùm
Cogor relictos :" being well applied to Soame Jennyns; who, after having wandered in the wilds of infidelity, had returned to the Christian faith. Mr. Langton alked Johnson as to the propriety of fapientiæ confultus. Johnson. “ Though consultus was primarily an adjective, like amicus it came to be used as a substantive. So we have Juris-confultus, a consult in law.”
We talked of the styles of different painters, and how certainly a connoisseur could distinguish them. I asked if there was as clear a difference of styles in language as in painting, or even as in hand-writing, so that the composition of every individual may be distinguished ? Johnson. “ Yes. Those who have a style of eminent excellence, such as Dryden and Milton, can always be distinguished.” I had no doubt of this; but what I wanted to know was, whether there was really a peculiar style to every man whatever, as there is certainly a peculiar hand-writing, a peculiar countenance, not widely different in many, yet always enough to be distinctive:
Facies non omnibus una “ Nec diversa tamen.” The Bishop thought not; and said, he supposed that many pieces in Dodsley's collection of poems, though all very pretty, had nothing appropriated in their
, style, and in that particular could not be at all diftinguished. Johnson. Why, Sir, I think every man whatever has a peculiar style, which may be 3
discovered 6 See Note, p. 108 of this Volume,
discovered by nice examination and comparison with others : but a man must 1778. write a great deal to make his style obviously discernable. As logicians say, Ætat. 69. this appropriation of style is infinite in poteftate, limited in actu.”
Mr. Topham Beauclerk came in the evening, and he and Dr. Johnson and I staid to supper. It was mentioned that Dr. Dodd had once wished to be a member of The LITERARY CLUB. Johnson. “I should be sorry if
of our club were hanged. I will not say but some of them deserve it." BEAUCLERK. (supposing this to be aimed at persons for whom he had at that time a wonderful fancy, which, however, did not last long,) was irritated, and eagerly said, “ You, Sir, have a friend (naming him) who deserves to be hanged; for he speaks behind their backs against those with whom he lives on the best terms, and attacks them in the news papers. He certainly ought to be kicked.”
Johnson. “Sir, we all do this in some degree,
Boswell. “ The gentleman, Mr. Beauclerk, against
Dr. Johnson, who as I have observed before, delighted in discrimination of character, and having a masterly knowledge of human nature, was willing to take men as they are, imperfect and with a mixture of good and bad qualities, I suppose thought he had said enough in defence of his friend; of whose merits, notwithstanding his exceptionable points, he had a just value, and added no more on the subject.
On Tuesday, April 14, I dined with hiin at General Oglethorpe's, with General Paoli and Mr. Langton. General Oglethorpe declaimed against luxury. JOHNSON. Depend upon it, Sir, every state of society is as luxurious as it can be. Men always take the best they can get.” OCLETHORPE. “But the best depends much upon ourselves; and if we can be as well satisfied with plain things, we are in the wrong to accustom our palates to what is high-seasoned and expensive What says Addison in his “Cato," speaking of the Numidian:
· Coarse are his meals, the fortune of the chace,
Amid the running stream he Nakes his thirst,
· Blesses his stars! and thinks it luxury!'
Talking of different governments. Johnson. “ The more contracted that power is, the more easily it is destroyed. A country governed by a despot is an inverted cone. Government there cannot be so firm as when it rests upon a broad basis gradually contracted, as the government of Great-Britain, which is founded on the parliament, then is in the privy-council, then in the King." Boswell. “ Power when contracted into the person of a despot may be easily destroyed, as the prince may be cut off. So Caligula wished that the people of Rome had but one neck, that he might cut them off at a blow," OGLETHORPE. “ It was of the Senate he wished that. The Senate by its usurpation controuled both the Emperour and the people. And don't you
think that we see too much of that in our own parliament?” Dr. Johnson endeavoured to trace the etymology of Maccaronick verses, which he thought were of Italian invention from Maccaroni ; but on being informed that this would infer that they were the most common and easy verses, maccaroni being the most ordinary and simple food, he was at a loss; for he said, “ He rather should have supposed it to import in its primitive signification, a composițion of several things; for Maccaronick verses are verses made out of a mixture of different languages, that is, of one language with the termination of another,” I suppose there is almost no language in any country where there is any learning, in which that motley ludicrous specious of 6
composition composition may not be found. It is particularly droll in Low Dutch. The 1778. “ Polemomiddinia” of Drummond of Hawthornden, in which there is a Arat. 69. jumble of many languages moulded, as if it were, all in Latin, is well known. Mr. Langton made us laugh heartily at one in the Grecian mould, by Joshua Barnes, in which are to be found such comical Anglo-Ellenisms as KA@60101 Exubev. They were banged with clubs.
On Wednesday, April 15, I dined with Dr. Johnson at Mr. Dilly's, and was in high spirits, for I had been a good part of the morning with Mr. Orme, the able and eloquent historian of Hindoftan, who expressed a hig' admiration of Johnson. “I do not care (said he,) on what subject Johnson talks ; but I love better to hear him talk than any body. He either gives you new thoughts, or a new colouring. It is a shame to the nation that he has not been more liberally rewarded. Had I been George the Third, and thought as he did about America, I would have given Johnson three hundred a year for his · Taxation no Tyranny' alone." I repeated this, and Johnson was much pleased with such praile from such a man as Orme..
At Mr. Dilly's to-day were Mrs. Knowles, the ingenious Quaker lady 7, Miss Seward, the poetess of Lichfield, the Rev. Dr. Mayo, and the Rev. Mr. Beresford, Tutor to the Duke of Bedford. Before dinner Dr. Johnson
' seized upon Mr. Charles Sheridan's “ Account of the late. Revolution in Sweden,” and seemed to read it ravenously as if he devoured it, which was to all appearance his method of studying. “He knows how to read better than any one (said Mrs. Knowles); he gets at the substance of a book directly; he tears out the heart of it.” He kept it wrapt up in the tablecloth in his lap during the time of dinner, from an avidity to have one entertainment in readiness when he should have finished another, resembling (if I
may use so coarse a simile) a dog who holds a bone in his paws in reserve, while he eats something else which has been thrown to him.
The subject of cookery having been very naturally introduced at a table where Johnson, who boasted of the niceness of his palate, owned that “he always found a good dinner,” he said, “I could write a better book of
, cookery than has ever yet been written; it should be a book upon philosophical principles. Pharmacy is now made much more funple. Cookery may be made fo too. A prescription which is now compounded of five ingredients, had formerly fifty in it. So in cookery, if the nature of the
* Dr. Johnson, describing her needle-work in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, Vol. I. F- 326, uses the learned word futile; which Mrs. Thrale has mistaken, and made the phrase injurious by writing “ futile pictures,”
1778. ingredients be well known, much fewer will do. Then as you cannot make Atat. 69.
bad meat good, I would tell what is the best butcher's meat, the best beef, the best pieces; how to choose young fowls; the proper season of different vegetables; and then how to roast and boil, and compound.” Dilly. “Mrs. Glasse's · Cookery,' which is the best, was written by Dr. Hill. Half the trade know this.” Johnson. “Well, Sir.
. Johnson. “Well, Sir. This shews how much better the subject of Cookery may be treated by a philosopher. I doubt if the book be written by Dr. Hill; for, in Mrs. Glasse’s · Cookery,' which I have looked into, falt-petre and fal-prunella are spoken of as different substances, whereas fal-prunella is only falt-petre burnt on charcoal, and Hill could not be ignorant of this. However, as the greatest part of such a book is made by transcription, this mistake may have been carelessly adopted. But you shall see what a Book of Cookery I shall make! I fall agree with Mr. Dilly for the copy-right.” Miss Seward. “ That would be Hercules with the distaff indeed.” Johnson. “ No, Madam.
No, Madam. Women can spin
Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of Cookery.”
Johnson. “O! Mr. Dilly-you must know that an English Benedictine Monk at Paris has transated - The Duke of Berwick's Memoirs,' from the original French, and has sent them to me to sell. I offered them to Strahan, who sent them back with this answer :- That the first book he had published
was the Duke of Berwick’s Life, by which he had lost; and he hated the name.'-Now I honestly tell you, that Strahan has refused them; but I also honestly tell
you, that he did it upon no principle, for he never looked into them.” Dilly. “ Are they well translated, Sir?” Johnson. “Why, Sir,
.. very well—in a style very current and very clear. I have written to the Benedictine to give me an answer upon two points—What 'evidence is there that the letters are authentick? For if they are not authentick they are nothing.– And how long will it be before the original French is published ? For if the French edition is not to appear for a considerable time, the translation will be almost as valuable as an original book. They will make two volumes in octavo; and I have undertaken to correct every sheet as it comes from the press.” Mr. Dilly desired to see them, and said he would send for them. He asked Dr. Johnson if he would write a Preface to them. Johnson. “No, Sir. The Benedictines were very kind to me, and I'll do what I undertook to do; but I will not mingle my name with them. I am to gain nothing by them. I'll turn them loose upon the world, and let them take their chance.” Dr. Mayo. “ Pray, Sir, are Ganganelli's letters authentick?” Johnson. “ No, Sir. Voltaire put the same question to the editor of them, that I did to Macpherson-Where are the originals ?”