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“But let us view him in some instances of more familiar life.
“ His general mode of life, during my acquaintance, seemed to be pretty uniform. About twelve o'clock I commonly visited hiin, and frequently found him in bed, or declaiming over his tea, which he drank very plentifully. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men of letters; Hawkesworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens, Beauclerk, &c., &c., and sometimes lirned ladies; particularly I remember a French lady of wit and fashion doing him the honour of a visit. He seemed to me to be considered as a kind of public oracle, whom every body thought they had a right to visit and consult ; and doubtless they were well rewarded. I never could discover how he found time for his compositions. He declaimed all the morning, then went to dinner at a tavern, where he commonly stayed late, and then drank his tea at some friend's house, over which he loitered a great while, but seldom took supper. I fancy he must have read and wrote chiefly in the night, for I can scarcely recollect
that he ever refused going with me to a tavern, and he often went to Ranelaghi which be deemed a place of ini.oc ut recreation.
“ He frequently gave all the silver in his pocket to the poor, who watched him, between his house and the tavern where he dined. He walked the streets at all
Ranelagh, a celebrated place of fashionable resort, somewhat similar to Vauxhallgardens, was situate between Pimlico and Chelsea. It was so named from its occupying the site of Viscount Ranelagh's villa. At the present day not a vestige remains of it, although its memory is preserved by naming after it the streets, roads, and places which have been built upon its grounds.-Ed.
hours, and said he was never robbed, for the rogues knew he had little money, nor had the appearance of having much.
“Though the most accessible and communicative man alive, yet when he suspected he was invited to be exhibited, he constantly spurned the invitation.
“Two young women from Staffor:Ishire visited him when I was present, to consult him on the subject of Methodism, to which they were inclined. Come,' said he, ‘you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will talk over that subject ;' which they did, and after dinner he took one of them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an hour together.
“Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenham, he asked what sort of society I had there. I told him, but indifferent ; as they chiefly consisted of opulent traders, retired from business. He said he never much liked that elass of people; ‘For, Sir,' said he, they have lost the civility of tradesmen, without acquiring the minners of gentlemen.'
“Johnson was much attached to London;' he obser ved, that a man stored his mind better there, than any where else; and that in remote situations a man's body might be feastel, but his mind was starved, and his faculties apt to degenerate, from want of exercise and competition. No place, he said, cured a man's vanity or arrogance, so well as London ; for as no man was either great or good per se, but as compared with others not so good or great, he was sure to find in the metropolis many his equals, and some his superiors. He observed, that a man in London was in less danger of falling in love indiscreetly, than any where else ; for there the difficulty of deciiling between the conflicting pretensions of a vast variety of objects, kept him safe. He told me that he had frequently been offered country preferment, if he would consent to take orders; but he could not leave the improved society of the capital, or consent to exchange the exhilarating joys and splenólid decorations of public life, for the obscurity, insipidity, and uniformity of remote situations.
"Speaking of Mr. Harte, Canon of Windsor, and writer of The History of Gustavus Adolphus,' he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of the most companionable talents he had ever known. He said, the defects in his history proceeded not from imbecility, but from foppery.
“Ile loved, he said, the old black-letter books; they were rich in matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully so, considering how conversant the writers were with the best molels of antiquity.
“Burton's • Anatomy of Melancholy,' he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.
“ He frequently exhorted me to set about writing a llistory of Ireland, and archly remarked, there had been some good Irish writers, and that one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great compassion for the miseries and distresses of the Irish nation, particularly the Papists; anıl severely reprobated the barbarous debilitating policy of the British government, which, he said, was the most detestable mode of persecution. To a gentleman, who hinted such policy might be necessary to support the authority of the English government, he replied by saying, 'Let the authority of the English government perish, rather than be maintained by iniquity. Better would it be to restrain the turbulence of the natives by the authority of the sword, and to make them amenable to law and justice by an effectual and vigorous police, than to grind them to powder by all manner of disabilities and incapacities. Better,' said he, “to hang or drown people at once, than by an unrelenting persecution to beggar and starve them.' The moderation and humanity of the present times have, in some measure, justified the wisdom of his observations.
1 Montaigne had the same affection for Paris which Johnson had for London. l'aime tendrement," says he in his Essay on Vanity, “jusque à ses verrues et à ses tâches. Je ne suis Francois, que par cette grande cité, grande en penples, grande en felicité de son assiette, mais sur tout grande et incomparable en varieié et diversite des commoditez: la gloire de la France, et lun des plus nobles oruamens du monde." Vol. iii. p. 321, edit. Amsterdam, 1781.-BLAKEWAY.
“Dr. Johnson was often accused of pr-judices, nay, antipathy, with regard to the natives of Scotland. Surely, so illiberal a prejudice never entered his mind : and it is well known, many natives of that respectable country possessed a large share in his esteem ; nor were any of them ever exclurled from his good offices as far as opportunity permitted. True it is, he considered the Scotch, nationally, as a crafty, designing people, eagerly attentive to their own interest, and too apt to overlook the claims and pretensions of other people. While they confine their benevolence, in a manner, exclusively to those of their own country, they expect to share in the good offices of other people. Now,' said Johnson, 'this principle is either right or wrong; if right, we should do well to imitate such conduct; if wrong, we cannot too much detest it.'
“Being solicited to compose a funeral sermon for the daughter of a tradesman, he naturally inquired into the character of the deceased ; and being told she was r«markable for her humility and condescension to inferiors, he observed, that those were very laudable qualities, but it might not be so easy to discover who the lady's inferiors were.
“Of a certain player he remarked, that his conversation usually threatened and announced more than it performed; that he fed you with a continual renovation of hope, to end in a constant succession of disappointment.
“When exasperated by contradiction, he was apt to treat his opponents with too much acrimony: as, “Sir, you don't see your way through that question. Sir, you talk the language of ignorance.' On my observing to him that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole eveniny, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, “Sir,' said he, 'the conversation overflowed, and drowned him.'
“ His philosophy, though austere and solemn, was by no means morose and cynical, and never blunted the laudable sensibilities of his character, or exempted him from the influence of the tender passions. Want of tenderness, he always alleged, was want of parts, and was no less a proof stupidity than d-pravity.
Speaking of Mr. Hanway, who published ‘An Eight Days' Journey from London to Portsmouth ;' 'Jonas,' said he, 'acquired some reputation by travelling abroad, but lost it all by travelling at home.'
Of the passion of love he remarked, that its violence and ill effects were
1 Jonas Hanway, a wealthy Russian merchant and eminent philanthropist, born at Portsmouth, 1712, was the chief founder of the Marine Society and the Magdalen Hospital. He wrote several religious works, the principal of which is entitled “ Domestic Happiness Promoted." He died in 1786, and a monument was erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.- ED.
much exaggerated; for who knows any real sufferings on that head, more thin from the exorbitancy of any other passion ?
"He much commended · Law's Serious Call,' which he said was the finest piece of hortatory theology in any language. 'Law,' said he, "fell latterly into the reveries of Jacob Behmen, whom Law alleged to have been somewhat in the same state with St. Paul, and to have seen unutterable things. Were it even so,' said Johnson, 'Jacob would have resembled St. Paul still more, by not attempting to utter them.'
“He observed, that the established clergy in general did not preach plain enough; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew over the heads of the common people, without any impression upon their hearts. Something might be necessary, he observed, to excite the affections of the common people, who were sunk in languor and lethargy, and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodism might probably produce so desirable an effect. The mind, like the body, he observed, delighted in change and novelty, and even in religion itself, courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of some metho list teachers, he said, he could scarcely doubt the sincerity of that man, who travelled nine hundred miles in a month, and preached twelve times a week; for no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be given for such indefatigable labour.
“Of Dr. Priestley's theological works, he remarked, that they tended to un. settle everything, and yet settled nothing.
“ He was much affected by the death of his mother, and wrote to me to come and assist him to compose his mind, which indeed I found extremely agitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was banished from the society of men, and yet great advantages might be derived from it. All acknowledgerl, he said, what hardly any body practised, the obligations we were under of making the concerns of eternity the governing principles of our lives. Every man, he observed, at last wi-hes for retreat: he sees his expectations frustrated in the world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for everlasting separation.
“ He observed, that the influence of London now extended every where, and that from all manner of communication being opened, there shortly would be no remains of the ancient simplicity, or places of cheap retreat to be found.
“He was no admirer of blank verse, and said it always failed, unless sustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank verse, he said, the language suffered more distortion, to keep it out of prose, than any inconvenience or limitation to be apprehendeal from the shackles and circumspection of rhyme.
“He reproved me once for saying yrace without mentioning the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and hoped in future I would be more mindful of the apostolical injunction.
“He refused to go out of a room before me at Mr. Langton's house, saying, he hoped he knew his rank better than to presume to take place of a Doctor in Divinity. I mention such little anecdotes, merely to show the peculiar turn and habit of his mind.
“He used frequently to observe, that there was more to be endured than enjoyed, in the general condition of human life; and frequently quoted those lines of Dryden :
1 Jacob Behmen, or Böhmen, a German shoemaker and theological writer. the founder of u sect, sometimes called Behmenites, and sometimes Aurci crucians.-Ed.
“Strange cozenage ! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure from what still remain." For his part, he said, he never passed that week in his life which he would wish to repeat, were an angel to make the proposal to him.
“He was of opinion, that the English nation cultivated both their soil and their reason better than any other people; but admitted that the French, though not the highest, perhaps, in any department of literature, yet in every department were very high. Intellectual pre-eminence, he observed, was the highest superiority; and that every nation derived their highest reputation from the sp'endour and dignity of their writers. Voltaire, he said, was a good narrator, and that his principal merit consisted in a happy selection and arrangement of circumstances.
“Speaking of the French novels, compared with Richardson's, he said, they might be pretty baubles, but a wren was not an eagle.
“In a Latin conversation with the Père Boscovitch,1 at the house of Mrs. Cholmondely, I heard him maintain the superiority of Sir Isaac Newton over all foreign philosophers, 2 with a dignity and eloquence that surprised that learned foreigner. It being observed to him, that a rage for every thing English prevailed much in France after Lord Chatham’s glorious war he said, he did not wonder at it, for that we had drubbed those fellows into a proper reverence for us, and that their national petulance required periodical chastisement.
“Lord Lyttelton's Dialogues, he deemed a nugatory performance. “That man,' said he, 'sat down to write a book, to tell the world what the world had all his life been telling him.'
“Somebody observing that the Scotch Highlanders, in the year 1745, had made surprising efforts, considering their numerous wants and disadvantages : “Yes, Sir,' said he, “their wants were numerous ; but you have not mentioned the greatest of them all—the want of law.'
Speaking of the inward light, to which some methodists pretended, he said, it was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil security. “If a man,' said he, 'pretends to a principle of action of which I can know nothing, nay, not so much as that he has it, but only that he pretends to it; how can I tell what that person may be prompted to do? When a person professes to be governed by a written ascertained law, I can then know where to find him.'
“ The poem of Fingal, he said, was a mere unconnected rhapsoily, a tiresome repetition of the same images. In vain shall we look for the lucidus ordo, where there is neither end nor object, design or moral, nec certa recurrit imago.'
“Being asked by a young nobleman, what was become of the gallantry and military spirit of the old English nobility, he replied, “Why, my Lord, I'll tell you what is become of it: it is gone into the city to look for a fortune.'
1 Roger Joseph Boscovitch, a professor of mathematics in the Jesuit's College at Rome, was author of a Latin poem on Eclipses, &c. He died in 1787.—ED.
2 In a Discourse by Sir William Jones, addressed to the Asiatic Society, Feb. 24, 1785, is tbe following passage:
“One of the most sagacious men of this age who continues, I hope, to improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson, remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had flourished in ancient Greece, he would bave bet n worshipped as a Divinity."—Malone.