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şudden burst of tenderness towards a person he could know nothing at all of; and thus put a sudden finish to all his own and Mr. Thrale's entertainment, from the company of the Abbé Roffette.
When at Versailles the people shewed us the theatre. stood on the stage looking at some machinery for playhouse purposes : Now we are here what shall we act, Mr. Johnson,-The Englishman at Paris ? No, no (replied he), we will try to act Harry the Fifth." His dislike of the French was well known to both nations, I believe; but he applauded the number of their books, and the graces of their style. “They have few sentiments (said he), but they express them neatly; they have little meat too, but they dress it well.” Johnson's own notions about eating however were nothing less than delicate: a leg of pork boiled till it dropped from the bone, a veal pie with plums and sugar, or the outside cut of a salt buttock of beef, were his favourite dainties: with regard to drink, his liking was for the strongest, as it was not the flavour, but the effect he sought for, and professed to desire ; and when I first knew him, he used to pour capillaire into his Port wine. For the last twelve years however, he left off all fermented liquors. To make himself some amends indeed, he took his chocolate liberally, pouring in large quantities of cream, or even melted butter; and was so fond of fruit, that though he usually eat seven or eight large peaches of a morning before breakfast began, and treated them with proportionate attention after dinner again, yet I have heard him protest that he never had quite as much as he wished of wall-fruit, except once in his life, and that was when we were all together at Ombersley, the seat of my Lord Sandys. I was saying to a friend one day, that I did not like goose; one smells it so while it is roasting, said I : “But you, madam (replies the Doctor), have been at all times a fortunate woman, having always had your hunger so forestalled by indulgence, that you never experienced the delight of smelling your dinner beforehand.” “Which pleasure," answered I pertly, “is to be enjoyed in perfection by such as have the happiness to pass through Porridge-Island of a morning.” “Come, come, (says he, gravely), let's have no sneering at what is serious to so many: hundreds of
? Purridge-Island is a mean street in London, filled with cooks' shops for the convenience of the poorer inhabitants; the real name of it I know
your fellow-creatures, dear Lady, turn another way, that they may not be tempted by the luxuries of Porridge-Island to wish for gratifications they are not able to obtain : you are certainly not better than all of them; give God thanks that you are happier.”
I received on another occasion as just a rebuke from Mr. Johnson for an offence of the same nature, and I hope I took care never to provoke a third ; for after a very long summer particularly hot and dry, I was wishing naturally but thoughtlessly for some rain to lay the dust as we drove along the Surry roads. “I cannot bear (replied he, with much asperity and an altered look), when I know how many poor families will perish next winter for the want of that bread which the present drought will deny them, to hear ladies sighing for rain, only that their complexions may not suffer from the heat, or their clothes be incommoded by the dust;--for shame! leave off such foppish lamentations, and study to relieve those whose distresses are real.”
With advising others to be charitable however, Dr. Johnson did not content himself. He gave away all he had, and all he ever had gotten, except the two thousand pounds he left behind; and the very small portion of his income which he spent on himself, with all our calculation, we never could make more than seventy, or at most fourscore pounds a year, and he pretended to allow himself a hundred. He had numberless dependents out of doors as well as in,“ who," as he expressed it, “ did not care to see him latterly unless he brought 'em money." For those people he used frequently to raise contributions on his richer friends; " and this (says he) is one of the thousand reasons which ought to restrain a man from drony solitude and useless retirement. Solitude (added he one day) is dangerous to reason, without being favourable to virtue : pleasures of some sort are necessary to the intellectual as to the corporeal health ; and those who resist gaiety, will be likely for the most part to fall a sacrifice to appetite; for the solicitations of sense are always at hand, and a drain to a vacant and solitary person is a speedy and seducing relief.' Remember (continued he) that the solitary mortal is not, but suspect that it is generally known by, to have been originally a. term of derision.
This was a paved alley near the church of St. Martin in the Fields.Editor.
certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and possibly mad: the mind stagnates for want of employment, grows morbid, and is extinguished like a candle in foul air.” It was on this principle that Johnson encouraged parents to carry their daughters early and much into company; for what harm can be done before so many witnesses ? Solitude is the surest nurse of all prurient passions, and a girl in the hurry of preparation, or tumult of gaiety, has neither inclination nor leisure to let tender expressions soften or sink into her heart. The ball, the show, are not the dangerous places : no, 'tis the private friend, the kind consoler, the companion of the easy vacant hour, whose compliance with her opinions can flatter her vanity, and whose conversation can just sooth, without ever stretching her mind, that is the lover to be feared : he who buzzes in her ear at court, or at the opera, must be contented to buzz in vain.” These notions Dr. Johnson carried so very far that I have heard hiin say, “If you would shut up any man with any woman, so as to make them derive their whole pleasure from each other, they would inevit. ably fall in love, as it is called, with each other; but at six months end if you would throw them both into public life where they might change partners at pleasure, each would soon forget that fondness which mutual dependance, and the paucity of general amusement alone, had caused, and each would separately feel delighted by their release.”
In these opinions Rousseau apparently concurs with him exactly; and Mr. Whitehead's poem, called “ · Variety," is written solely to elucidate this simple proposition. Prior likewise advises the husband to send his wife abroad, and let her see the world as it really stands
“ Powder, and pocket-glass, and beau.” Mr. Johnson was indeed unjustly supposed to be a lover of singularity. Few people had a more settled reverence for the world than he, or was less captivated by new modes of behaviour introduced, or innovations on the long-received customs of common life.
He hated the way of leaving a company without taking notice to the lady of the house that he was going; and did not much like any of the contrivances by which ease has been lately introduced into society instead of ceremony, which had more of his approbation. Cards, dress, and dancing, however, all found their advocates in Dr. Johnson who inculcated,
upon principle, the cultivation of those arts, which many a moralist thinks himself bound to reject, and many a Christian holds unfit to be practised. “No person (said he one day) goes undressed till he thinks himself of consequence enough to forbear carrying the badge of his rank upon his back.” And in answer to the arguments urged by Puritans, Quakers, &c. against showy decorations of the human figure, I once heard him exclaim, “Oh, let us not be found when our Master calls us, ripping the lace off our waistcoats, but the spirit of contention from our souls and tongues ! Let us all conform in outward customs, which are of no consequence, to the manners of those whom we live among, and despise such paltry distinctions. Alas, Sir (continued he), a man who cannot get to heaven in a green coat, will not find his way thither the sooner in a grey one." On an occasion of less consequence, when he turned his back on Lord Bolingbroke in the rooms at Brighthelinstone, he made this excuse: “I am not obliged, Sir (said he to Mr. Thrale, who stood fretting), to find reasons for respecting the rank of him who will not condescend to declare it by his dress or some other visible mark : what are stars and other signs of superiority made for ?"
The next evening however he made us comical amends, by sitting by the same nobleman, and haranguing very loudly about the nature and use and abuse of divorces. Many people gathered around them to hear what was said, and when my husband called him away, and told him to whom he had been talking-received an answer which I will not write down.
Though no man perhaps made such rough replies as Dr. Johnson, yet nobody had a more just aversion to general satire ; he always hated and censured Swift for his unprovoked bitterness against the professors of medicine; and used to challenge his friends, when they lamented the exorbitancy of physicians' fees, to produce him one instance of an estate raised by physic in England. When an acquaintance too was one day exclaiming against the tediousness of the law and its partiality; “Let us hear, Sir (said Johnson), no general abuse; the law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.”
As the mind of Dr. Johnson was greatly expanded, so his first care was for general, not particular or petty morality; and those teachers had more of his blame than praise, I think, who
seek to oppress life with unnecessary scruples : Scruples would (as he observed) certainly make men miserable, and seldom make them good. Let us ever (he said) studiously fly from those instructors against whom our Saviour denounces heavy judgments, for having bound up burdens grievous to be borne, and laid them on the shoulders of mortal men." No one had however higher notions of the hard task of true Christianity than Johnson, whose daily terror lest he had not done enough, originated in piety, but ended in little less than disease. Reasonable with regard to others, he had formed vain hopes of performing impossibilities himself; and finding bis good works ever below his desires and intent, filled his imagination with fears that he should never obtain forgiveness for omissions of duty and criminal waste of time. These ideas kept him in constant anxiety concerning his salvation; and the vehement petitions he perpetually made for a longer continuance on earth, were doubtless the cause of his so prolonged existence; for when I carried Dr. Pepys to him in the year 1782, it appeared wholly impossible for
impossible for any skill of the physician or any strength of the patient to save him. He was saved at that time however by Sir Lucas's prescriptions ; and less skill on one side, or less strength on the other, I am morally certain, would not have been enough. He had however possessed an athletic constitution, as he said the man who dipped people in the sea at Brighthelmstone acknowledged; for seeing Mr. Johnson swim in the year 1766, “ Why Sir (says the dipper), you must have been a stout - hearted gentleman forty years ago.”
Mr. Thrale and he used to laugh about that story very often : but Garrick told a better, for he said that in their young days, when some strolling players came to Litchfield, our friend had fixed his place upon the stage and got himself a chair accordingly; which leaving for a few minutes, he found a man in it at his return, who refused to give it back at the first entreaty : Mr. Johnson however, who did not think it worth his while to make a second, took chair and man and all together, and threw them all at once into the pit. I asked the Doctor if this was a fact ? Garrick has not spoiled it in the telling (said he), it is near true to be sure.”
Mr. Beauclerc too related one day, how on some occasion he ordered two large mastiffs into his parlour, to shew a friend who was conversant in canine beauty and excellence, how the dogs