Sivut kuvina
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

a woman; for he is much less able to supply himself with domestick comforts. You will recollect my saying to some ladies the other day, that I had often wondered why young women should marry, as they have so much more freedom, and so much more attention paid to them while unmarried, than when married. I indeed did not mention the strong reason for their marrying — the mechanical reason.' BOSWELL. “Why that is a strong one. But does not imagination make it much more important than it is in reality? Is it not, to a certain degree, a delusion in us as well as in women?' JOHNSON. “Why yes, Sir; but it is a delusion that is always beginning again.' BOSWELL. “I don't know

. but there is upon the whole more misery than happiness produced by that passion.' JOHNSON. “I don't think so, Sir.'

• Never speak of a man in his own presence. It is always indelicate, and may be offensive.'

Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen'. It is assuming a superiority, and it is particularly wrong to question a man concerning himself. There may be parts of his former life which he may not wish to be made known to other persons, or even brought to his own recollection.'

'A man should be careful never to tell tales of himself to his own disadvantage. People may be amused and laugh at the time, but they will be remembered, and brought out against him upon some subsequent occasion.'

Much may be done if a man puts his whole mind to a particular object. By doing so, Nortonhas made himself the great lawyer that he is allowed to be.'

[ocr errors]


Mr. Hoole wrote of Johnson's last days :— Being asked unnecessary and frivolous questions, he said he often thought of Macbeth [act iii. sc. 4)—“ Question enrages him.” Croker's Boswell, p. 843. See post, iii. 66, 304.

• Sir Fletcher Norton, afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons, and in 1782 created Baron Grantley. MALONE. For Norton's ignorance, see ante, ii. 105. Walpole (Letters, iv. 124) described him as 'a tough enemy; I don't mean in parts or argument, but one that

I mentioned Aetat. 67.]

Crazy piety.


I mentioned an acquaintance of mine', a sectary, who was a very religious man, who not only attended regularly on publick worship with those of his communion, but made a particular study of the Scriptures, and even wrote a commentary on some parts of them, yet was known to be very licentious in indulging himself with women; maintaining that men are to be saved by faith alone, and that the Christian religion had not prescribed any fixed rule for the intercourse between the sexes. JOHNSON. “Sir, there is no trusting to that crazy piety.'

I observed that it was strange how well Scotchmen were known to one another in their own country, though born in very distant counties; for we do not find that the gentlemen of neighbouring counties in England are mutually known to each other. Johnson, with his usual acuteness, at once saw and explained the reason of this; * Why, Sir, you have Edinburgh, where the gentlemen




makes an excellent bull-dog. When in 1770 he was made Speaker, Walpole wrote :- :- Nothing can exceed the badness of his character, even in this bad age.' Ib. v. 217. In his Memoirs of the Reign of George III, i. 240, Walpole says :-“It was known that in private causes he took money from both parties.' Horne (afterwards Horne Tooke) charged Norton with this practice; Parl. Hist. xvii. 1010; and so did Junius in his Letter xxxix. Churchill, in The Duellist (Poems, ed. 1766, ii. 87), writing of him, says :

• How often
Hath he ta'en briefs on false pretence,
And undertaken the defence
Of trusting fools, whom in the end

He meant to ruin, not defend.' Lord Eldon said that he was much known by the name of Sir Bullface Double Fee.' He added that ‘he was not a lawyer.' Twiss's Eldon, iii. 98. 'Acting, it was supposed from resentment, having been refused a peerage,' he made on May 7, 1777, a bold speech to the King on presenting the Civil List Bill. «He told him that his faithful Commons, labouring under burthens almost too heavy to be borne, had granted him a very great additional revenue-great beyond example, great beyond his Majesty's highest wants.' Parl. Hist. xix. 213, and Walpole's Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 113. · Burns's Holy Willie, like Boswell, was an Ayrshire man.

from i. 325.


Dr. Taylor at Ashbourne.

(A.D. 1776.

from all your counties meet, and which is not so large but they are all known. There is no such common place of collection in England, except London, where from its great size and diffusion, many of those who reside in contiguous counties of England, may long remain unknown to each other.'

On Tuesday, March 26, there came for us an equipage properly suited to a wealthy well-beneficed clergyman ;Dr. Taylor's large roomy post-chaise, drawn by four stout plump horses, and driven by two steady jolly postillions, which conveyed us to Ashbourne; where I found my friend's schoolfellow living upon an establishment perfectly corres ding with his substantial creditable equipage : his house, garden, pleasure-grounds, table, in short every thing good, and no scantiness appearing. Every man should form such a plan of living as he can execute completely. Let him not draw an outline wider than he can fill up. I have seen many skeletons of shew and magnificence which excite at once ridicule and pity. Dr. Taylor had a good estate of his own, and good preferment in the church', being a prebendary of Westminster, and rector of Bosworth. He was a diligent justice of the peace, and presided over the town of Ashbourne, to the inhabitants of which I was told he was very liberal; and as a proof of this it was mentioned to me, he had the preceding winter distributed two hundred pounds among such of them as stood in need of his assistance. He had consequently a considerable political interest in the county of Derby, which he employed to support the Devonshire family; for though the schoolfellow and friend of Johnson, he was a Whig. I could not perceive in his character much congeniality of any sort with that of Johnson, who, however, said to me, “Sir, he has a


· Johnson, on May 16, wrote of him to Mrs. Thrale :- He has his head as full as yours at an election. Livings and preferments, as if he were in want with twenty children, run in his head. But a man must have his head on something, small or great.' Piozzi Letters,

Aetat. 67.) Old men putting themselves to nurse.


very strong understanding'.' His size, and figure, and countenance, and manner, were that of a hearty English 'Squire, with the parson super-induced: and I took particular notice of his upper servant, Mr. Peters, a decent grave man, in purple clothes, and a large white wig, like the butler or major domo of a Bishop.

Dr. Johnson and Dr. Taylor met with great cordiality; and Johnson soon gave him the same sad account of their schoolfellow, Congreve, that he had given to Mr. Hector?; adding a remark of such moment to the rational conduct of a man in the decline of life, that it deserves to be imprinted upon every mind: There is nothing against which an old man should be so much upon his guard as putting himself to nurse”. Innumerable have been the melancholy instances of men once distinguished for firmness, resolution, and spirit, who in their latter days have been governed like children, by interested female artifice.

Dr. Taylor commended a physician who was known to him and Dr. Johnson, and said, 'I fight many battles for him, as many people in the country dislike him.' JOHNSON. “But you should consider, Sir, that by every one of your victories he is a loser; for, every man of whom you get the better, will be very angry, and resolve not to employ him; whereas if people get the better of you in



Johnson wrote on May 25, 1780 (Piozzi Letters, ii. 136): is come to town, brisk and vigorous, fierce and fell, to drive on his lawsuit. Nothing in all life now can be more profligater than what he is; and if, in case, that so be, that they persist for to resist him, he is resolved not to spare no money, nor no time.' Taylor, no doubt, is meant, and Baretti, in a marginal note, says :- This was the elegant phraseology of that Doctor.' See post, iii. 205.

? See ante,

ii. 527.

[ocr errors]

* He did not hold with Steele, who in The Spectator, No. 153, writes:

It was prettily said, “ He that would be long an old man must begin early to be one." ' Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 275) says that 'saying of the old philosopher, that he who wants least is most like the gods who want nothing, was a favourite sentence with Dr. Johnson, who required less attendance, sick or well, than ever I saw any human creature.'



The lustre from dress.

(A.D. 1776.

argument about him, they'll think, “We'll send for Dr. ******" nevertheless. This was an observation deep and sure in human nature. Next day we talked of a book’ in which an eminent judge

a was arraigned before the bar of the publick, as having pronounced an unjust decision in a great cause. Dr. Johnson maintained that this publication would not give any uneasiness to the judge. “For, (said he,) either he acted honestly, or he meant to do injustice. If he acted honestly, his own consciousness will protect him; if he meant to do injustice, he will be glad to see the man who attacks him, so much vexed.'

Next day, as Dr. Johnson had acquainted Dr. Taylor of the reason for his returning speedily to London, it was resolved that we should set out after dinner. A few of Dr. Taylor's neighbours were his guests that day.

Dr. Johnson talked with approbation of one who had attained to the state of the philosophical wise man, that is, to have no want of any thing. “Then, Sir, (said I,) the savage is a wise man.' 'Sir, (said he,) I do not mean simply being without, - but not having a want.' I maintained, against this proposition, that it was better to have fine clothes, for instance, than not to feel the want of them. JOHNSON. “No, Sir; fine clothes are good only as they supply the want of other means of procuring respect. Was Charles the Twelfth, think you, less respected for his coarse blue coat and black stock"? And you find the King of Prussia dresses plain, because the dignity of his character is sufficient.' I here brought myself into a scrape, for I heedlessly said, "Would not you, Sir, be the better for


[ocr errors]

· Dr. Butter, of Derby, is mentioned post, iii. 185, and under May 8, 1781.

Andrew Stuart's Letters to Lord Mansfield (ante, ii. 263).

Johnson was thinking of Charles's meeting with the King of Poland. Charles XII. était en grosses bottes, ayant pour cravate un taffetas noir qui lui serrait le cou; son habit était, comme à l'ordinaire, d'un gros drap bleu, avec des boutons de cuivre doré.' Voltaire's Works, ed. 1819, xx. 123.

« EdellinenJatka »