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While we were left by ourselves, after the Dutchman had gone to bed, Dr. Johnson talked of that studied behaviour which many have recommended and practised. He disapproved of it; and said, “I never considered whether I should be a grave man, or a merry man, but just let inclination, for the time, have its course.”
He flattered me with some hopes that he would, in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.
I teased him with fanciful apprehensions of unhappiness. A moth having fluttered round the candle, and burnt itself, he laid hold of this little incident to admonish me; saying, with a sly look, and in a solemn but a quiet tone, “That creature Was its own tor:nentor, and I believe its name was Boswell.”
once in his life, and that was when we were all together at Ombersley, the seat of my Lord Sandys; and yet, when his Irish friend Grierson, hearing him enumerate the qualities necessary to the formation of a poet, began a comical parody upon his ornamented harangue in praise of a cook, concluding with this observation, that he who dressed a good dinner was a more excellent and a more useful member of soc.ety than he who wrote a good poem. “ And in this opinion,” said Mr. Johnson, in reply, “all the dogs in the town will join you.”He loved his dinner exceedingly, and has often said in my hearing, perhaps for my edification, “that wherever the dinner is ill got up there is poverty, or there is avarice, or there is stupidity; in short, the family is somehow grossly wrong: for," continued he, “a man seldom thinks with more earnestness of any thing than he does of his dinner; and if he cannot get that well dressed, he should be suspected of inaccuracy in other things.” One day, when he was speaking upon the subject, 1. asked him, if he ever huffed his wife about his dinner ? « So often,” replied he, “that at last she called to me, when about to say grace, and said, “Nay, hold, Mr. Johnson, and do not make a farce of thanking God for a dinner which, in a few minutes, you will pronounce not eatable.'” – Piozzi.
Next day we got to Harwich to dinner; and my passage in the packet-boat to Helvoetsluys being secured, and my baggage put on board, we dined at our inn by ourselves. I happened to say, it would be terrible if he should not find a speedy opportunity of returning to London, and be confined in so dull a place. JOHNSON. “Don't, Sir, accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.(') It would not be terrible, though I were to be detained some time here." The practice of using words of disproportionate magnitude is, no doubt, too frequent every where; but, I think, most remarkable among the French, of which, all who have travelled in France must have been struck with innumerable instances.
We went and looked at the church, and having gone into it and walked up to the altar, Johnson, whose piety was constant and fervent, sent me to my knees, saying, “ Now that you are going to leave your native country, recommend yourself to the protection of your Creator and RedeemER.”
After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's
(1) This advice comes drolly from the writer, who makes a young lady talk of “ the cosmetic discipline," "a regular lustration with bean-flower water, and the use of a pommade to discuss pimples and clear discoloration” (Rambler, No. 130.); while a young gentleman tells us of “the flaccid sides of a foot ball having swelled out into stiffness and extension.” (No. 117.) And it is equally amusing to find Mr. Boswell, after his various defences of Johnson's grandiloquence, attacking the little inflations of French conversation; straining at a gnat, after having swallowed a camel. C.
ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “ I refute it thus.” (1) This was a stout exemplification of the first truths of Père Bouffier, or the original principles of Reid and of Beattie; without admitting which, we can no more argue in metaphysics, than we can argue in mathematics without axioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by pure reasoning; but I know that the nice and difficult task was to have been undertaken by one of the most luminous minds (2) of the present age, had not politics “ turned him from calm philosophy aside.” What an admirable display of subtlety, united with brilliance, might his contending with Berkeley have afforded us! How must we, when we reflect on the loss of such an intellectual feast, regret that he should be characterised as the man,
(1) Dr. Johnson seems to have been imperfectly acquainted with Berkeley's doctrine; as his experiment only proves that we have the sensation of solidity, which Berkeley did not deny. He admitted that we had sensations or ideas that are usually called sensible qualities, one of which is solidity: he only denied the existence of matter, i. e. an inert senseless substance, in which they are supposed to subsist. Johnson's exemplification concurs with the
vulgar notion, that solidity is matter. - KEAR- [When Zeno argued, that there was no such thing as motion, Diogenes walked across the room. Johnson's argu ment is in the same style, but not so satisfactory.- FONNEREAU.? (2) Mr. Burke. C.
« Who, born for the universe, narrow'd his mind,
And to party gave up what was meant for mankind?” (1) My revered friend walked down with me to the beach, where we embraced and parted with tenderness, and engaged to correspond by letters. I said, “I hope, Sir, you will not forget me in my
absence.” Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, it is more likely you should forget me, than that I should forget you.” As the vessel put out to sea, I kept my eyes upon him for a considerable time, while he remained rolling his majestic frame in his usual manner; and at last I perceived him walk back into the town, and he disappeared.
(1) In the latter years of his life, Mr. Burke reversed the conduct which Goldsmith so elegantly reprehends, and gave up party for what he conceived to be the good of mankind. -C.
Boswell at Utrecht. Letter from Johnson. The
Frisick Language. – Johnson's Visit to Langton. Institution of " The Club." Reynolds. Garrick, - Dr. Nugent. Granger's
Sugar Cane." Hypochondriac Attack. Days of Abstraction. Odd Habits. — Visit to Dr. Percy. - Letter to Reynolds. Visit to Cambridge. Self-examination. Letter to, and from, Garrick. Johnson created LL.D. by Dublin University. — Letter to Dr. Leland. Prayer on Engaging in Politics." William Gerard Hamilton.
UTRECHT seeming at first very dull to me, after the animated scenes of London, my spirits were grievously affected ; and I wrote to Johnson a plaintive and desponding letter, to which he paid no regard. Afterwards, when I had acquired a firmer tone of mind, I wrote him a second letter, expressing much anxiety to hear from him. At length I received the following epistle, which was of important service to me, and, I trust, will be so to many others.
LETTER 87. À M. M. BOSWELL,
“ London, Dec. 8. 1763. · DEAR SIR, - You are not to think yourself forgotton, or criminally neglected, that you have had yet no