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Etat. 75:


I find only these three small particulars :-One, when a person was mentioned
who said, “ I have lived fifty-one years in this world without having had ten
minutes of uneasiness;" he exclaimed, “ The man who fays so lies. He
attempts to impose on human credulity.” The Bishop of Exeter in vain
observed, that men were very different. His Lordship’s manner was not
impreslive, and I learnt afterwards that Johnson did not find out that the person
who talked to him was a Prelate; if he had, I doubt not that he would have
treated him with more respect; for once talking of George Pfalmanazar,
whom he reverenced for his piety, he said, “I should as soon think of con-
tradicting a bishop.” One of the company provoked him greatly by doing
what he could least of all bear, which was quoting something of his own
writing, against what he then maintained. “ What, Sir, (cried the gentleman,)
do you say to

« The busy day, the peaceful night,

· Unfelt, uncounted, glided by ?”
Johnson having thus had himself presented as giving an instance of a
man who had lived without uneasiness was much offended, for he looked
upon such quotation as unfair. His anger burst out in an unjustifiable
retort, insinuating that the gentleman's remark was a sally of ebriety;
“ Sir, there is one passion I would advise you to command. When

When you have
drunk out that glass, don't drink another.” Here was exemplified what
Goldsmith said of him, with the aid of a very witty image from one of Cibber's
Comedies, “ There is no arguing with Johnson; for if his pistol milles fire,
he knocks you down with the butt end of it.”—Another, when a gentleman
of eminence in the literary world was violently censured for attacking people
by anonymous paragraphs in news-papers; he, from the spririt of contradiction
as I thought, took up his defence, and said, “ Come, come, this is not so
terrible a crime; he means only to vex them a little. I do not say that I
should do it; but there is a great difference between him and me; what is
fit for Hephæstion is not fit for Alexander.”-Another, when I told him that a
young and handsome Countess had said to me, “ I should think that to be praised

by Dr. Johnson would make one a fool all one's life;" and that I answered,
“ Madam, I shall make him a fool to-day, by repeating this to him," he
said, “ I am too old to be made a fool; but if you say I am, I shall not deny
it. I am much pleased with a compliment, especially from a pretty woman.”

On the evening of Saturday, May 15, he was in fine fpirits, at our Essex-
Head-Club. He told us, “I dined yesterday at Mrs. Garrick's, with Mrs.


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Carter, Miss Hannah More, and Miss Fanny Burney. Three such women are not

to be found. I know not where I could find a fourth, except Mrs. Lennox, Ætat. 75.
who is superiour to them all.” BoswELL. “ What! had you them all to
yourself, Sir?” Johnson. “I had them all as much as they were had;
but it might have been better had there been more company there.”
Boswell. “ Might not Mrs. Montagu have been a fourth?” Johnson.
“ Sir, Mrs. Montagu does not make a trade of her wit. But Mrs. Montagu
is a very extraordinary woman; she has a constant stream of conversation, and
it is always impregnated; it has always meaning.” Boswell. “ Mr. Burke
has a constant streain of conversation.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir; if a man
were to go by chance at the same time with Burke under a shed, to shun a
shower, he would say this is an extraordinary man. If Burke should go into
a stable to see his horse drest, the oftler would say we have had an extra-
ordinary man here.” BOSWELL. “ Foote was a man who never failed in
conversation. If he had gone into a stable--" Johnson. “Sir, if he had

gone into a stable, the oftler would have said here has been a comical fellow;
but he would not have respected him.” Boswell. “ And, Sir, the oftler
would have answered him, would have given him as good as he brought,
as the common saying is.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir; and Foote would have
answered the oftler. When Burke does not defcend to be merry, his con-
versation is very superiour indeed. There is no proportion between the
powers which he shews in serious talk and in jocularity. When he lets himself
down to that, he is in the kennel.” I have in another place' opposed, and
I hope with success, Dr. Johnson's very singular and erroneous notion as to
Mr. Burke's pleasantry. Mr. Windham now said low to me, that he differed
from our great friend in this observation; for that Mr. Burke was often very
happy in his merriment. It would not have been right for either of us to
have contradicted Johnson at this time, in a Society all of whom did not know
and value Mr. Burke as much as we did. It might have occasioned fome-
thing more rough, and at any rate would probably have checked the flow of
Johnson's good-humour. He called to us with a sudden air of exultation,
as the thought started into his mind, “O! Gentlemen, I must tell you a very
great thing. The Empress of Russia has ordered the “Rambler' to be
tranNated into the Russian language ?. So I shall be read on the banks of

' “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” edit. 3, p. 20.

. I have since heard that the report was not well-founded ; but the elation discovered by
Johnson in the belief that it was true, shewed a noble ardour for literary fame,
Rrr 2




Ætat. 75.

the Wolga. Horace boasts that his fame would extend as far as the banks of the Rhone; now the Wolga is farther from me than the Rhone was. from Horace." Boswell. “ You must certainly be pleased with this, Sir.” Johnson. “ I am pleased, Sir, to be sure. A man is pleased to find he has succeeded in that which he has endeavoured to do.”

One of the company mentioned his having seen a noble person driving in his carriage, and looking exceedingly well, notwithstanding his great age. Johnson. “ Ah, Sir; that is nothing. Bacon observes, that a stout healthy old man is like a tower undermined.”

On Sunday, May 16, I found him alone; he talked of Mrs. Thrale with much concern, saying, “Sir, she has done every thing wrong, since Thrale’s bridle was off her neck;” and was proceeding to mention fome circumstances which have since been the subject of publick discussion, when he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Carlife.

Dr. Douglas, upon this occasion, refuted a mistaken notion which is very common in Scotland, that the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church of England, though duly enforced, is insufficient to preserve the morals of the clergy, inasmuch as all delinquents may be screened by appealing to the Convocation, which being never authorized by the King to fit for the dispatch of business, the appeal never can be heard. Dr. Douglas observed, that this was founded upon ignorance; for that the Bishops have sufficient power to maintain discipline, and that the sitting of the Convocation was wholly immaterial in this respect, it being not a Court of judicature, but like a parliament, to make Canons and regulations as times may require.

Johnson, talking of the fear of death, faid, “ Some people are not afraid, because they look upon salvation as the effect of an abfolute decree, and think they feel in themselves the marks of sanctification. Others, and those the most rational in my opinion, look upon salvation as conditional ; and as they never can be sure that they have complied with the conditions, they are afraid.”

In one of his little manuscript diaries, about this time, I find a short notice, which marks his amiable disposition more certainly than a thousand studied declarations." Afternoon spent cheerfully and elegantly, I hope without offence to God or man; though in no holy duty, yet in the general exercise and cultivation of benevolence."

On Monday, May 17, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were Colonel Vallancy, Reverend Dr. Gibbons, and Mr. Capel Lofft, who, though a most zealous Whig, has a mind so full of learning and knowledge, and so


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much in exercise in various exertions, and withal so much liberality, that

1784. the stupendous powers of the literary Goliath, though they did not frighten Ætat. 75. this little David of popular spirit, could not but excite his admiration, There was also Mr. Braithwaite of the Poft-office, that amiable and friendly man, who, with modest and unaffuming manners, has associated with many of the wits of the age. Johnson was very quiescent to-day. Perhaps too I was indolent. I find nothing more of him in my notes, but that when I mentioned that I had seen in the King's library sixty-three editions of my favourite Thomas à Kempis, amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabick, and Armenian, he said, he thought it unnecessary to collect many editions of a book, which were all the fame, except as to the paper and print; he would have the original, and all the translations, and all the editions which had any variations in the text.

He approved of the famous collection of editions of Horace by Douglas, mentioned by Pope, who is said to have had a closet filled with them; and he said, every man should try to collect one book in that manner; and present it to a publick library.

On Tuesday, May 17, I saw him for a short time in the morning. I told him that the mob had called out, as the King passed, “No Fox No Fox,”' which I did not like. He said, “They were right, Sir.” I said, I thought not, for it seemed to be making Mr. Fox the King's competitor. There being no audience, so that there could be no triumph in a victory, he fairly agreed with me. I said it might do very well, if explained thus :-“ Let us have no Fox;” understanding it as a prayer to his Majesty not to appoint that gentleman minister,

On Wednesday, May 19, I sat a part of the evening with him, by ourselves.
I observed, that the death of our friends might be a consolation against the
fear of our own diffolution, because we might have more friends in the other
world than in this. He perhaps felt this as a reflection upon his apprehension
as to death; and said, with heat, “ How can a man know where his departed
friends are, or whether they will be his friends in the other world. How many
friendships have you known formed upon principles of virtue? Most friend-

Tips are formed by caprice or by chance, mere confederacies in vice or leagues


in folly.”

We talked of our worthy friend Mr. Langton. He said, “I know not who will

go to Heaven if Langton does not. Sir, I could almost say, Sit anima mea cum Langtono.I mentioned a very eminent friend as a virtuous man. Johnson. “ Yes, Sir; but has not the evangelical virtue of Langton. I am afraid, would not scruple to pick up a wench.”


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1784. He however charged Mr. Langton with what he thought want of judgeAtat. 75. ment upon an interesting occasion. “ When I was ill (said he) I desired he

would tell me sincerely in what he thought my life was faulty. Sir, he brought me a sheet of paper, on which he had written down several texts of Scripture, recommending christian charity. And when I questioned him what occasion I had given for such an animadversion, all that he could fay amounted to this—that I sometimes contradicted people in conversation. Now what harm does it do to any man to be contradicted?” Boswell. “ I suppose he meant the manner of doing it; roughly—and harshly.” Johnson. “And who is the worse for that?” Boswell. “ It hurts people of weak nerves.” Johnson. “I know no such weak-nerved people.” Mr. Burke, to whom I related this conference, said, “ It is well, if when a man comes to die, he has nothing heavier upon his conscience than having been a little rough in conversation.”

Johnson, at the time when the paper was presented to him, though at first pleased with the attention of his friend, whom he thanked in an earnest manner, soon exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone, “ What is your drift, Sir?" Sir Joshua Reynolds pleasantly observed, that it was a scene for a comedy, to see a penitent get into a violent passion and belabour his confeffor 3.

I have preserved no more of his conversation at the times when I saw him during the rest of this month, till Sunday, the 30th of May, when I met him in the evening at Mr. Hoole's, where there was a large company both of ladies and gentlemen; Sir James Johnston happened to say, that he paid no regard to the arguments of counsel at the bar of the House of Commons, because they were paid for speaking. Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, argument is argument. You cannot help paying regard to their arguments if they are good. If it were testimony you might disregard it, if you knew that it were purchased. There is a beautiful image in Bacon upon this subject; testimony


3 After all, I cannot but be of opinion, that as Mr. Langton was seriously requested by Dr. Johnson to mention what appeared to him erroneous in the character of his friend, he was bound, as an honest man, to intimate what he really thought, which he certainly did in the most delicate manner; so that Johnson himself, when in a quiet frame, was pleased with it. The texts suggested are now before me, and I shall quote a few of them. • Blessed are the meek, for they fall inherit the earth.” Mar. v. 5.-" I therefore, the prisoner of the LORD, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love." Ephef. v. 1, 2,-" And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfe&tness.” Col. iii. 14.-" Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up : doth not behave itself enfeemly, is not easily provoked." I Cor. xix. 4,5.


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