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concerning the well-known writer of that celebrated work : but if people will live long enough in this capricious world, such instances of partiality will shock them less and less, by frequent repetition. Mr. Johnson knew mankind, and wished to mend them : he therefore, to the piety and pure religion, the untainted integrity, and scrupulous morals of my earliest and most disinterested friend, judiciously contrived to join a cautious attention to the capacity of his hearers, and a prudent resolution not to lessen the influence of his learning and virtue, by casual freaks of humour, and irregular starts of ill-managed merriment. He did not wish to confound, but to inform his auditors; and though he did not appear to solicit benevolence, he always wished to retain authority, and leave his company impressed with the idea, that it was his to teach in this world, and theirs to learn. What wonder then that all should receive with docility from Johnson those doctrines, which propagated by Collier they drove away from them with shouts! Dr. Johnson was not grave however because he knew not how to be merry. No man loved laughing better, and his vein of humour was rich, and apparently inexhaustible ; though Dr. Goldsmith said once to him, We should change companions oftener, we exhaust one another, and shall soon be both of us worn out. Poor Goldsmith was to him indeed like the earthen pot to the iron one in Fontaine's fables ; it had been better for him perhaps, that they had changed companions oftener; yet no experience of his antagonist's strength hindered him from continuing the contest. He used to remind me always of that verse in Berni,

Il pover uomo che non sen' èra accorto,
Andava combattendo-ed era morto.


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Mr. Johnson made him a comical answer one day, when seeming to repine at the success of Beattie's Essay on Truth“ Here's such a stir (said he) about a fellow that has written one book, and I have written many." “Ah, Doctor (says his friend), there go two-and-forty sixpences you know to one guinea.”

They had spent an evening with Eaton Graham too, I remember hearing it was at some tavern; his heart was open, and he began inviting away ; told what he could do to make his college agreeable, and begged the visit might not be delayed. Goldsmith thanked him, and proposed setting out with Mr. Johnson for.


Buckinghamshire in a fortnight; “Nay hold, Dr. Minor (says the other), I did not invite you."

Many such mortifications arose in the course of their intimacy to be sure, but few more laughable than when the newspapers had tacked them together as the pedant and his flatterer in “ Love's Labour lost.”. Dr. Goldsmith came to his friend, fretting and foaming, and vowing vengeance against the printer, &c. till Mr. Johnson, tired of the bustle, and desirous to think of something else, cried out at last, “Why, what would'st thou have, dear Doctor! who the plague is hurt with all this nonsense? and how is a man the worse I wonder in his health, purse, or character, for being called Holofernes ?” “I do not know (replies the other) how you may relish being called Holofernes, but I do not like at least to play Goodman Dull.

Dr. Johnson was indeed famous for disregarding public abuse. When the people criticised and answered his pamphlets, papers, &c. “Why now, these fellows are only advertising my book (he would say); it is surely better a man should be abused than forgotten.” When Churchill nettled him however, it is certain he felt the sting, or that poet's works would hardly have been left out of the edition. Of that however I have no right to decide ; the booksellers perhaps did not put Churchill on their list. I know Mr. Johnson was exceedingly zealous to declare how very little he had to do with the selection. Churchill's works too might possibly be rejected by him upon a higher principle; the highest indeed, if he was inspired by the same laudable motive which made him reject every authority for a word in his dictionary that could only be gleaned from writers dangerous to religion or morality—“I would not (said he) send people to look for words in a book, that by such a casual seizure of the mind might chance to mislead it for ever.” In consequence of this delicacy, Mrs. Montague once observed, That were an angel to give the imprimatur, Dr. Johnson's works were among those very few which would not be lessened by a line. That such praise from such a lady should delight him, is not strange; insensibility in a case like that, must have been the result alone of arrogance acting on stupidity. Mr. Johnson had indeed no dislike to the commendations which he knew he deserved : “ What signifies protesting so against flattery (would he cry)! when a person speaks well of one, it must be either true or false, you know; if true, let us rejoice in his good opinion; if he lies, it is a proof at


least that he loves more to please me, than to sit silent when he need say nothing."

That natural roughness of his manner, so often mentioned, would, notwithstanding the regularity of his notions, burst through them all from time to time; and he once bade a very celebrated lady, who praised him with too much zeal perhaps, or perhaps too strong an emphasis (which always offended him), “ consider what her flattery was worth before she choaked him with it.” 1 A few more winters passed in the talking world showed him the value of that friend's commendations however; and he was very sorry for the disgusting speech he made her.

I used to think Mr. Johnson's determined preference of a cold monotonous talker over an emphatical and violent one, would make him quite a favourite among the men of ton, whose insensibility, or affectation of perpetual calmness, certainly did not give to him the offence it does to many. He loved “conversation without effort (he said) ;” and the encomiums I have heard him so often pronounce on the manners of Topham Beauclerc in society, constantly ended in that peculiar praise, that “it was without effort."

We were talking of Richardson who wrote Clarissa : “ You think I love flattery (says Dr. Johnson), and so I do; but a little too much always disgusts me: that fellow Richardson, on the contrary, could not be contented to sail quietly down the stream of reputation, without longing to taste the froth from every stroke of the oar."

With regard to slight insults from newspaper abuse, I have already declared his notions: “ They sting one (says he) but as a fly stings a horse ; and the eagle will not catch flies.” He once told me however, that Cummyns the famous Quaker, whose friendship he valued very highly, fell a sacrifice to their insults, having declared on his death-bed to Dr. Johnson, that the pain of an anonymous letter, written in some of the common prints of the day, fastened on his heart, and threw him into the slow fever of which he died.

Nor was Cummyns the only valuable member so lost to society; Hawkesworth, the pious, the virtuous, and the wise, for want of that fortitude which casts a shield before the merits of his friend, fell a lamented sacrifice to wanton malice and cruelty, I know not


? See vol. iv. (June 30, 1784), for Malone's version of this story.

how provoked; but all in turn feel the lash of censure in a country where, as every baby is allowed to carry a whip, no person can escape except by chance. The unpublished crimes, unknown distresses, and even death itself, however, daily occurring in less liberal governments and less free nations, soon teach one to content one's self with such petty grievances, and make one acknowledge that the undistinguishing severity of newspaper abuse may in some measure diminish the diffusion of vice and folly in Great Britain, and while they fright delicate minds into forced refinements and affected insipidity, they are useful to the great causes of virtue in the soul, and liberty in the state ; and though sensibility often sinks under the roughness of their prescriptions, it would be no good policy to take away their licence.

Knowing the state of Mr. Johnson's nerves, and how easily they were affected, I forbore reading in a new Magazinė one day, the death of a Samuel Johnson who expired that month ; but my companion snatching up the book, saw it himself, and contrary to my expectation—“Oh (said he)! I hope Death will now be glutted with Sam. Johnsons, and let me alone for some time to come: I read of another namesake's departure last week.” Though Mr. Johnson was commonly affected even to agony at the thoughts of a friend's dying, he troubled himself


little with the complaints they might make to him about ill health. “Dear Doctor (said he one day to a common acquaintance, who lamented the tender state of his inside), do not be like the spider, man; and spin conversation thus incessantly out of thy own bowels.”—I told him of another friend who suffered grievously with the gout—" He will live a vast many years for all that (replied he), and then what signifies how much he suffers ! but he will die at last, poor fellow, there's the misery; gout seldom takes the fort by a coup-de-main, but turning the siege into a blockade, obliges it to surrender at discretion.”

A lady he thought well of, was disordered in her health " What help has she called in (enquired Johnson) ? Dr. James, Sir; was the reply. “What is her disease ? Oh, nothing positive, rather a gradual and gentle decline.

“ She will die then, pretty dear (answered he)! When Death's pale horse runs away with persons on full speed, an active physician may possibly give them a turn; but if he carries them on an even slow pace, down bill too ! no care nor skill can save them !"

When Garrick was on his last sick-bed, no arguments, or re


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citals of such facts as I had heard, would persuade Mr Johnson of his danger : he had prepossessed himself with a notion, that to say a man was sick, was very near wishing him so; and few things offended bim more, than prognosticating even the death of an ordinary acquaintance. Ay, ay (said he), Swift knew the world pretty well, when he said, that

“ Some dire misfortune to portend,

No enemy can match a friend.” The danger then of Mr. Garrick, or of Mr. Thrale, whom he loved better, was an image which no one durst present before his view; he always persisted in the possibility and hope of their recovering disorders from which no human creatures by human means alone ever did recover. His distress for their loss was for that very reason poignant to excess; but his fears of his own salvation were excessive: his truly tolerant spirit, and Christian charity, which hopeth all things, and believeth all things, made him rely securely on the safety of his friends, while his earnest aspiration after a blessed immortality made him cautious of his

own steps, and timorous concerning their quences. He knew how much had been given, and filled his mind with fancies of how much would be required, till his impressed imagination was often disturbed by them, and his health suffered from the sensibility of his too tender conscience: a real Christian is so apt to find his task above his power of performance!

Mr. Johnson did not however give in to ridiculous refinements either of speculation or practice, or suffer himself to be deluded by specious appearances. “I have had dust thrown in my eyes too often (would he say), to be blinded so. Let us never confound matters of belief with matters of opinion."-Some one urged in his presence the preference of hope to possession ; and as I remember, produced an Italian sonnet on the subject. “Let us not (cries Johnson) amuse ourselves with subtleties and sonnets, when speaking about hope, which is the follower of faith and the precursor of eternity; but if you only mean those air-built hopes which to-day excites and to-morrow will destroy, let us talk away, and remember that we only talk of the pleasures of hope; we feel those of possession, and no man in his senses would change the last for the first; such hope is a mere bubble, that by a gentle breath may be blown to what size you will

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