Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

He took the time when Richard was deposed,
And bigh and low with happy Harry closed.
This prince, though great in arms, the priest withstood;
Near though he was, yet not the next in blood.
Had Richard unconstrain'd resign'd the throne,
A king can give no more than is his own:
The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a son.

Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside, Where all submitted, none the battle tried. The senseless plea of right by providence Was, by a flattering priest invented since ; And lasts no longer than the present sway; But justifies the next who comes in play.

The people's right remains ; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.

He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue : Much to himself he thought; but little spoke ; And, undeprived, his benefice forsook. Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch'd : And like a primitive apostle preach'd. Still cheerful ; ever constant to his call ; By many follow'd ; loved by most, admired by all, With what he begg'd, his brethren he relieved, And gave

the charities himself received. Gave, while he taught; and edified the more, Because he show'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor.

He went not with the crowd to see a shrine ; But fed us by the way with food divine.

In deference to his virtues, I forbear To show you what the rest in orders were : This brilliant is so spotless and so bright, He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light,

al

* Many

353.—DR. JOHNSON'S DINNER TALK.

BoswELL. (MR. MACAULEY, in his Review of · Boswell's Life of Johnson,' says a “ Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakspere is not more decidedly the tirst of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers. * of the greatest men that ever lived have writen biography. Boswell was one of the smallest men that ever lived, and he has beaten them all." Undoubtedly Boswell was a vain man, a bore, a ridiculous man-without moral dig. nity, without any logical or poetical capacity—but he was not “one of the smallest men that ever lived." That he accurately reported what he heard and saw of the eminent persons to whose society he was admitted, there can be no doubt. But the very interest of the record shows that he could discriminate. He did not put down all that he heard—the conversation of six hours occupies only six pages;—he knew what was good in the talk of Jolinson, and Goldsmith, and Reynolds, and Burke; and, what is better, he felt what was characteristic of the men; and these things make the charm of the book. This was talent, and an uncommon talent; and Jemmy Boswell, to whom we all owe so many hours of delight, must not be despised. Boswell was the son of Alexander Boswell, a Lord of Session; he was born in 1740; died 1795.)

On Tuesday, April 13, he and Dr. Goldsmith and I dined at General Oglethorpe's. Goldsmith expatiated on the common topic, that the race of our people was degenerated, and that this was owing to luxury.—Johnson. Sir, in the first place I doubt the fact. I believe that there are as many tall men in England now as ever there were. But, secondly, supposing the stature of our people to be diminished, that is not owing to luxury ; for, sir, consider how very small a proportion of our people luxury can reach. Our soldiery, surely, are not luxurious, who live on sixpence a day; and the same remark will apply to almost all the other classes. Luxury, so far it reaches the poor, will do good to the race of people ; it will strengthen and multiply them. Sir, no nation was ever hurt by luxury ; for, as I said before, it can reach but to a very few. I admit that the great increase of commerce and manufactures hurts the military spirit of a people; because it produces a competition for something else than martial bonors—a competition for riches. It also hurts the bodies of the

people; for you will observe there is no man who works at any par. ticular trade but you may know him from his appearance to do so. One part or other of his body being more used than the rest, he is in some degree deformed; but, sir, that is not luxury. A tailor sits cross-legged, but that is not luxury.”—GOLDSMITH. • Come, you 're just going to the same place by another road.”—Jonsson. “ Nay, sir, I say that is not luxury. Let us take a walk from Charing Cross to Whitechapel, through, I suppose, the greatest series of shops in the world; what is there in any of these shops (if you except gin-shops) that can do any human being any harm ?" - GOLDSMITH. “Well, sir, I 'll accept your challenge. The very next shop to Northumberland House is a pickle-shop."-Jonsson. “Well, sir ; do we not know that a maid can, in one afternoon, make pickles sufficient to serve a whole family for a year ? Nay, that five pickle-shops can serve a whole kingdom? Besides, sir, there is no harm done to any body by the making of pickles, or the eating of pickles."

We drank tea with the ladies; and Goldsmith sung Tony Lumpkin's song in bis comedy, 'She Stoops to Conquer,' and a very pretty one, to an Irish tune, which he had designed for Miss Hardcastle ; but as Mrs. Bulkeley, who played the part, could not sing, it was left out. He afterwards wrote it down for me, by which means it was preserved, and now appears amongst his poems. Dr. Johnson, in his way home, stopped at my lodgings in Piccadilly, and sat with me, drinking tea a second time, till a late hour.

I told him that Mrs. Macauley said, she wondered how he could reconcile his political principles with his moral: his notions of inequality and subordination with wishing well to the happiness of all mankind, who might live so agreeably had they all their portions of land, and none to domineer over another._Johxsox.

Why, sir, I reconcile my principles very well, because mankind are happier in a state of inequality and subordination. Were they to be in this pretty state of equality, they would soon degenerate into brutes ; they would become Monboddo's nation ; their tails would grow. Sir, all would be losers, were all to work for all : they would have no intellectual improvement. All intellectual improvement arises from leisure; all leisure ariscs from one working for another."

On Thursday, April 15, I dined with him and Dr. Goldsmith at General Paoli's. We found here Signor Martinelli of Florence, author of a History of England, in Italian, printed at London.

I spoke of Allan Ramsay's 'Gentle Shepherd,' in the Scottish dialect, as the best pastoral that had ever been written; not only abounding with beautiful rural imagery, and just and pleasing sentiments, but being a real picture of manners; and I offered to teach Dr. Johnson to understand it. “No, sir,” said he, “ I won't learn it. You shall retain your superiority by my not know

ing it."

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

An animated debate took place whether Martinelli should continue his History of England to the present day.-GOLDSMITII. To be sure he should.”—Johnson. No, sir, he would give great offence.

He would have to tell of almost all the living great what they do not wish told."--GOLDSMITH. “It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be more cautious; but a foreigner, who comes among us without prejudice, may be considered as hoiding the place of a judge, and may speak his mind freely."--Jounson. “Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the error and mistaken enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to be.”—GOLDSMITH. Sir, he wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest, the other a laudable motive.”-Johnson. “Sir, they are both laudable motives. It is laudable in a man to wish to live by bis labors; but he must write so as he may live by them, not so as he may be knocked on the head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he publishes his history of the present age. A foreigner who attaches himself to any political party in this country is in the worst state that can be imagined; he is looked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest."-Boswell. Or principle." GOLDSMITH. “There are people who tell a hundred political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely, then, one may tell truth with safety.”—Johnson. “Why, sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. Bu, besides, a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him than one truth which he does not wish should be told."--GOLDSMITH. “For my part, I'd tell the truth, and shame the devil.”—Joussos. Yes, sir; but the devil will be angry. I wish to shame the devil as much as you do, but I should choose to be out of the reach of his claws.”—GOLDSMITH.“ His claws can do you no harm when you have the shield of truth.”

It having been observed that there was little hospitality in London :-Johnson. “ Nay, sir, any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing, will be very generally invited to London. The man Sterne, I have been told, has had engagements for three months."-GOLDSMITH. " And a very dull fellow.”. Johnson. " Why, no, sir."

Martinelli told us, that for several years he lived much with Charles Townshend, and that he ventured to tell him he was a bad joker. --Jonsson. “Why, sir, thus much I can say upon the subject. One day he and a few more agreed to go and dine in the country, and each of them was to bring a friend in his carriage with him. Charles Townshend asked Fitzherbert to go with him, but told him, you must find somebody to bring you back: I can only carry you there.' Fitzherbert did not much like tbis arrangement. He, however, consented, observing sarcastically, • It will do very well; for then the same jokes will serve you in returning as in going !""

An eminent public character being mentioned :-Johnson. "I remember being present when he showed himself to be so corrupted, or at least something so different from what I think right, as to maintain, that a member of parliament should go along with his party, right or wrong. Now, sir, this is so remote from native virtue, from scholastic virtue, that a good man must have undergone a great change before he can reconcile himself to such a doctrine. It is maintaining that you may lie to the public; for you lie when you call that right which you think wrong, or the reverse. A friend of ours, who is too much an echo of that gentleman, observed, that a man who does not stick uniformly to a party, is only waiting to be bought. Why, then, said I, he is only waiting to be what that gentleman is already."

« PředchozíPokračovat »