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speak well of me, for this evening he delivered me a very polite card from Mr. Thrale and her, inviting me to Streatham.
On the 6th of October I complied with this obliging invitation, and found, at an elegant villa, six miles from town, every circumstance that can make society pleasing. Johnson, though quite at home, was yet looked up to with an awe, tempered by affection, and seemed to be equally the care of his host and hostess. I rejoiced at seeing him so happy.
He played off his wit against Scotland with a good humoured pleasantry, which gave me, though no bigot to national prejudices, an opportunity for a little contest with him. I having said that England was obliged to us for gardeners, almost all their good gardeners being Scotchmen-JOHNSON: “Why, Sir, that is because gardening is much more necessary amongst vou than with us, which makes so many of your people learn it. It is all gardening with you. Things which grow wild here, must be cultivated with great care in Scotland. Pray now,” throwing himself back in his chair, and laughing, are you ever able to bring the sloe to perfection ?”
I boasted that we had the honour of being the first to abolish the unhospitable, troublesome, and ungracious custom of giving veils to servants. Johnson: “Sir, you abolished veils because you were too poor to be able to give them.”
Mrs. Thrale disputed with him on the merit of Prior. He attacked him powerfully; said he wrote of love like a man who had never felt it: his love verses were college verses ; and he repeated the song
“ Alexis shunn'd his fellow swains,” &c., in so ludicrous a manner, as to make us all wonder how any one could have been pleased with such fantastical stuff. Mrs. Thrale stood to her gun with great courage in defence of amorous ditties, which Johnson despised, till he at last silenced her by saying, “My dear lady, talk no more of this. Nonsense can be defended but by nonsense.”
Mrs. Thrale then praised Garrick's talents for light gay poetry; and, as a specimen, repeated his song in “Florizel and Perdita,” and dwelt with peculiar pleasure on this line :
“I'd smile with the simple, and feed with the poor." JOHNSON : “Nay, my dear lady, this will never do. Poor David ! Smile with the simple. What folly is that? And who would feed with the poor that can help it? No, no ; let me smile with the wise, and feed with the rich." I repeated this sally to Garrick, and wondered to find his sensibility as a writer not a little irritated by it. To soothe him I observed that Johnson spared none of us ; and I quoted the passage in Horace, in which he compares one who attacks his friends for the sake of a laugh, to a pushing ox, that is marked by a bunch of hay put upon his horns : foenum habet in cornu." “Ay," said Garrick, vehemently," he has a whole mow of it.
Talking of history, Johnson said, “We may know historical facts to be true, as we may know facts in common life to be true. Motives are generally unknown. We cannot trust to the characters we find in history, unless when they are drawn by those who knew the persons ; as those, for instance, by Sallust and by Lord Clarendon.”
He would not allow much merit to Whitfield's oratory. popularity, Sir,” said he, “is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of his manner. He would be followed by crowds were he to wear a night-cap in the pulpit, or were he to preach from a tree."
I know not from what spirit of contradiction he burst out into a violent declamation against the Corsicans, of whose heroism I talked in high terms. Sir,” said he, “ what is all this rout about the Corsicans ? They have been at war with the Genoese for upwards of twenty years, and have never yet taken their fortified towns. They might have battered down their walls and reduced them to powder in twenty years. They might have pulled the walls in pieces, and cracked the stones with their teeth in twenty years. It was in vain to argue with him upon the want of artillery ; he was not to be resisted for the moment.
On the evening of October 10, I presented Dr. Johnson to General Paoli.? I had greatly wished that two men, for whom I had the highest esteem, should meet. They met with a manly ease, mutually conscious of their own abilities, and of the abilities of each other. The General spoke Italian, and Dr. Johnson English, and understood one another very well, with a little aid of interpretation from me, in which I compared
1 Pascal Paoli was born at Stretta, in Corsica ; followed his father into exile, and was educated at the Jesuit's College at Naples. His countrymen having elected him their generalissimo, he returned to Corsica and acted vigorously and successfully against the encroachments of the Genoese; but on their transferring the island to the French monarchy, he was eventually overpowered by its army, and sought refuge in Englaud in 1769, where, having obtained a pension of £1200 a-year, he resided until 1789. The French Revolution having caused the island of Corsica to be recognised as a department of France, Pauli went to Paris in 1790, accompanied by deputies, and presented himself at the bar of the National Assembly, where he was received with enthu. siasm, and took the oath of allegiance to the French government. The progress of the Revolution, however, disappointed the hopes he had conceived of ameliorating the condition
of his country, and encouraged by assistance from Great Britain, he abandoned his allegiance to France. The result was short-lived annexation to the British territory, and the eventual return of Paoli to England in embarrassed circumstances. The Government restored to him his pension, and he resided in the metropolis until his death in 1807.-ED.
myself to an isthmus which joins two great continents. Upon Johnson's approach, the General said, “ From what I have read of your works, Sir, and from what Mr. Boswell has told me of you, I have long held you in great veneration.” The General talked of languages being formed on the particular notions and manners of a people, without knowing which, we cannot know the language. We may know the direct signification of single words ; but by these no beauty of expression, no sally of genius, no wit is conveyed to the mind. All this must be by allusion to other ideas. • Sir,” said Johnson, "you talk of language, as if you had never done anything else but study it, instead of governing a nation.' The General said, “Questo è un troppo gran complimento :" this is too great a compliment. Johnson answered, “I should have thought so, Sir, if I had not heard you talk.” The General asked him what he thought of the spirit of infidelity which was so prevalent. JOHNSON : “Sir, this gloom of infidelity, I hope, is only a transient cloud passing through the hemisphere, which will soon be dissipated, and the sun break forth with his usual splendour.” “You think then, said the General, “ that they will change their principles like their clothes. JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, if they bestow no more thought on principles than on dress, it must be so. The General said, that " great part of the fashionable infidelity was owing to a desire of showing courage. Men who have no opportunities of showing it as to things in this life, take death and futurity as objects on which to display it.” JOHNSON : “That is mighty foolish affectation. Fear is one of the passions of human nature, of which it is impossible to divest it. You remember that the Emperor Charles V. when he read upon
the tombstone of a Spanish nobleman, · Here lies one who never knew fear,' wittily said, “Then he never snuffed a candle with his fingers.'
He talked a few words of French to the General ; but finding he did not do it with facility, he asked for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote the following note:
“ J'ai lu dans la géographie de Lucas de Linda un Pater-noster écrit dans une langue tout-à-fait différente de l'Italienne, et de toutes autres lesquelles se derivent du Latin. L'auteur l'appelle linguam Corsice rusticam : elle a peut-être passé, peu à peu ; mais elle a certainement prévalu autrefois dans les montagnes et dans la campagne. Le même auteur dit la même chose en parlant de la Surdaigne ; qu'il y a deux langues dans l'Isle, une des villes, l'autre de la campagne."
The General immediately informed him that the lingua rustica was only in Sardinia.
Dr. Johnson went home with me, and drank tea till late in the night. He said, “ General Paoli had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen.” He denied that military men were always the best bred men. “Perfect good breeding," he observed, “consists in having no particular mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners ; whereas,
in a military man, you can commonly distinguish the brand of a soldier, l'homme d'épée.”
Dr. Johnson shunned to-night any discussion of the perplexed question of fate and free will, which I attempted to agitate : “Sir," said he, “we know our will is free, and there's an end on't.”
He honoured me with his company at dinner on the 16th of October, at my lodgings in Old Bond-street, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Bickerstaff, and Mr. Thomas Davies. Garrick played round him with a fond vivacity, taking hold of the breasts of his coat, and, looking up in his face with a lively archness, complimented him on the good health which he seemed then to enjoy ; while the sage, shaking his head, beheld him with a gentle complacency. One of the company not being come at the appointed hour, I proposed, as usual upon such occasions, to order dinner to be served ; adding, “Ought six people to be kept waiting for one ?” “Why, yes,” answered Johnson, with a delicate humanity, “if the one will suffer more by your sitting down, than the six will do by waiting.” Goldsmith, to divert the
tedious minutes, strutted about, bragging of his dress, and I believe was seriously vain of it, for his mind was wonderfully prone to such impressions, “ Come, come,” said Garrick, “ talk no more of that. You are perhaps the worst-eh, eh!" Goldsmith was eagerly attempting to interrupt him, when Garrick went on, laughing ironically, “ Nay, you will always look like a gentleman ; but I am talking of being well or ill drest." Well, let me tell you,” said Goldsmith, “ when my tailor brought home my
bloom-coloured coat, he said, Sir, I have a favour to beg of you.
When any body asks you who made your clothes, be pleased to mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Waterlane.' JOHNSON :
Why, Sir, that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how well he could make coat even of so absurd a colour."
After dinner our conversation first turned upon Pope. Johnson said, his characters of men were admirably drawn, those of women not so well. He repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, the concluding lines of the Dunciad. While he was talking loudly in praise of
1 Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on the authority of Spence) that Pope himself admired those lines so much, that when he repeated them, his voice faltered ; " and well it might, Sir," said Johnson, " for they are noble lines."J. Boswell, Jun.
those lines, one of the company ventured to say, “ Too fine for such a poem :--- a poem on what?" JOHNSON (with a disdainful look) : “Why, on dunces. It was worth while being a dunce then. Ah, Sir, hadst thou lived in those days! It is not worth while being a dunce now, when there are no wits.” Bickerstaff observed, as a peculiar circumstance, that Pope's fame was higher when he was alive than it was then. Johnson said, his Pastorals were poor things, though the versification was fine. He told us, with high satisfaction, the anecdote of Pope's inquiring who was the author of his “ London,” and saying, he will be soon déterré. He observed, that in Dryden's poetry there were passages drawn from a profundity which Pope could never reach. He repeated some fine lines on love, by the former (which I have now forgotten), and gave great applause to the character of Zimri. Goldsmith said, that Pope's character of Addison showed a deep knowledge of the human heart. Johnson said, that the description of the temple, in “ The Mourning Bride,' was the finest poetical passage he had ever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it. — “But,” said Garrick, all alarmed for “the God of his idolatry, know not the extent and variety of his powers. We are to suppose there are such passages in his works. Shakspeare must not suffer from the badness of our memories.” Johnson, diverted by this enthusiastic jealousy, went on with great ardour : “No, Sir; Congreve has nature ;” (smiling on the tragic eagerness of Garrick); but composing himself, he added, “Sir, this is not comparing Congreve on the whole with Shakspeare on the whole ; but only maintaining that Congreve has
than any that can be found in Shakspeare. Sir, a man may have no more than ten guineas in the world, but he may have those ten guineas in one piece ; and so may have a finer piece than a man who has ten thousand pounds : but then he has only one ten-guinea piece.—What I mean is, that you can show me no passage, where there is simply a description of material objects, without any intermixture of moral notions, which produces such an effect.” Mr. Murphy mentioned Shakspeare's description of the night before the battle of Agincourt; but it was observed it had men in it. Mr. Davies suggested the speech of Juliet, in which she figures herself awaking in the tomb of her ancestors. Some one mentioned the description of Dover Cliff. JOHNSON : “No, Sir; it should
1 Act ii, sc. 3.-MALONE.
“ How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
And terror on my aching sight." 2 In Congreve's description there seems to be an intermixture of moral notions ; as the affecting power of the passage arises from the vivid impression of the described objects on the mind of the speaker : “And shoots a chillness," &c.—KEARNEY.