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pains, knowing with certainty that it could produce no effect, that not one vote would be gained by it.” E. “Waving your compliment to me, I shall say, in general, that it is very well worth while for a man to take pains to speak well in parliament. A man, who has vanity, speaks to display his talents; and if a man speaks well, he gradually establishes a certain reputation and consequence in the general opinion, which sooner or later will have its political reward. Besides, though not one vote is gained, a good speech has its effect. Though an act which has been ably opposed passes into a law, yet in its progress it is modelled, it is softened in such a manner, that we see plainly the minister has been told, that the members attached to him are so sensible of its injustice or absurdity from what they have heard, that it must be altered.” JOHNSON. “And, sir, there is a gratification of pride. Though we cannot out-vote them, we will out-argue them. They shall not do wrong without its being shown both to themselves and to the world.” E. “ The house of commons is a mixed body. (I except the minority, which I hold to be pure (smiling), but I take the whole house.) It is a mass by no means pure; but neither is it wholly corrupt, though there is a large proportion of corruption in it. There are many members who generally go with the minister, who will not go all lengths. There are many honest well-meaning country gentlemen who are in parliament only to keep up the consequence of their families. Upon most of these a good speech will have influence.” JOHNSON. “We are all more or less governed by interest. But interest will not make us do every thing. In a case which admits of doubt, we try to think on the side which is for our interest, and generally bring ourselves to act accordingly. But the subject must admit of diversity of colouring; it must receive a colour on that side. In the house of commons there are members enough who will not vote what is grossly unjust or absurd. No, sir; there must always be right enough, or appearance of right, to keep wrong in countenance.” BOSWELL. “There is surely always a majority in parliament who have places, or who want to have them, and who therefore will be generally ready to support government without requiring any pretext.” E. " True, sir ; that majority will always follow
Quo clamor vocat et turba faventium.''
BOSWELL. “ Well now, let us take the common phrase, Place-hunters. I thought they had hunted without regard to any thing, just as their huntsman, the minister, leads, looking only to the prey !.” J. “But taking your metaphor, you know that in hunting there are few so desperately keen as to follow without
Some do not choose to leap ditches and hedges and risk their necks, or gallop over steeps, or even to dirty themselves in bogs and mire.” BosWELL. “I am glad there are some good, quiet, moderate, political hunters.” E. “ I believe in any body of men in England I should have been in the minority! I have always been in the niinority.” P. 66. The house of commons resembles a private company. How seldom is any man convinced by another's argument; passion and pride rise against it." R. “What would be the consequence, if a minister, sure of a majority in the house of commons, should resolve that there should be no speaking at all upon his side?” E. “ He must soon go out. That has been tried ; but it was found it would not do."
· Lord Bolingbroke, who, however detestable as a metaphysician, must be allowed to have had admirable talents as a political writer, thus describes the house of commons in his “Letter to Sir William Wyndham ;"_“You know the nature of that assembly : they grow, like hounds, fond of the man who shows them game, and by whose halloo they are used to be encouraged.”_Bos
E. “ The Irish language is not primitive; it is Teutonick, a mixture of the northern tongues ; it has much English in it.” JOHNSON. “ It may have been radically Teutonick; but English and High Dutch have no similarity to the eye, though radically the same.
Once, when looking into Low Dutch, I found, in a whole page, only one word similar to English ; stroem, like stream, and it signified tide'." E. “I remember having seen a Dutch sonnet, in which I found this word, roesnopies. Nobody would at first think that this could be English ; but, when we inquire, we find roes, rose, and nopie, knob; so we have rosebuds."
JOHNSON. “I have been reading Thicknesse's Travels, which I think are entertaining.” BOSWELL. . “ What, sir, a good book ?” Johnson. “ Yes, sir, to read once. I do not say you are to make a study of it, and digest it; and I believe it to be a true book in his intention. All travellers generally mean to tell truth; though Thicknesse observes, upon Smollett's account of his alarming a whole town in France by firing a blunderbuss, and frightening a French nobleman till he made him tie on his portmanteau, that he would be loth to say Smollett had told two lies in one page; but he had found the only
* [Dr. Johnson seems to have been in error in this point. Stroem signifies just what stream does in English-current, flowing water, and thence tide : and the languages have undoubtedly a general similarity. Let us take as examples the explanations given in Marin's Dutch Dictionary, of the very two words to which Johnson alluded, with the English subjoined:
water-tide-stream-ebb and flow of the sea. And under the word current is quoted a Dutch phrase which is almost English;
Dat bock word tien cronen
town in France where these things could have happened. Travellers must often be mistaken. In every thing, except where mensuration can be applied, they may honestly differ. There has been, of late, a strange turn in travellers to be displeased.”
E. “From the experience which I have had,-and I have had a great deal,-—I have learnt to think better of mankind.” JOHNSON. “From my experience I have found them worse in commercial dealings, more disposed to cheat than I had any notion of; but more disposed to do one another good than I had conceived.” J. “Less just and more beneficent.” Johnson. “And really it is wonderful, considering how much attention is necessary for men to take care of themselves, and ward off immediate evils which press upon them, it is wonderful how much they do for others. As it is said of the greatest liar, that he tells more truth than falsehood; so it may be said of the worst man, that he does more good than evil.” BOSWELL. “Perhaps from experience men may be found happier than we suppose.". JOHNSON. “No, sir; the more we inquire we shall find men the less happy.” P. “As to thinking better or worse of mankind from experience, some cunning people will not be satisfied unless they have put men to the test, as they think. There is a very good story told of Sir Godfrey Kneller, in his character of a justice of the
peace. A gentleman brought his servant before him, upon an accusation of having stolen some money from him; but it having come out that he had laid it purposely in the servant's way, in order to try his honesty, Sir Godfrey sent the master to prison !.” · Pope thus introduces this story :
“ Faith, in such case if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
Imitations of Horuce, book II. epist. ii.- Bos WELL.
JOHNSON. “To resist temptation once is not a sufficient proof of honesty. If a servant, indeed, were to resist the continued temptation of silver lying in à window, as some people let it lie, when he is sure his master does not know how much there is of it, he would give a strong proof of honesty. But this is a proof to which you have no right to put a man. You know, humanly speaking, there is a certain degree of temptation which will overcome any virtue. Now, in so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury; and, if he is overcome, you share his guilt.” P. “And, when once overcome, it is easier for him to be got the better of again.” BOSWELL. “Yes, you are his seducer ; you have debauched him. I have known a man resolved to put friendship to the test, by asking a friend to lend him money, merely with that view, when he did not want it.” JOHNSON. “That is very wrong, sir. Your friend may be a narrow man, and yet have many good qualities : narrowness may be his only fault. Now you are trying his general character as a friend by one particular singly, in which he happens to be defective, when, in truth, his character is composed of many particulars.”
E. “I understand the hogshead of claret, which this society was favoured with by our friend the dean', is nearly out; I think he should be written to, to send another of the same kind. Let the request be made with a happy ambiguity of expression, so that we may have the chance of his sending it also as a present.” JOHNSON. “I am willing to offer my services as secretary on this occasion.” P. “ As many as are for Dr. Johnson being secretary
? [Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, afterwards Bishop of Killaloe and Limerick. -Ed.]