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He told us of Cooke, who translated Hesiod, and lived twenty years on a translation of Plautus, for which he was always taking subscriptions ; and that he presented Foote to a club in the following singular manner : “This is the nephew of the gentleman who was lately hung in chains for murdering his brother.”
In the evening I introduced to Mr. Johnson' two good friends of mine, Mr. William Nairne, advocate, and Mr. Hamilton of Sundrum, my neighbour in the country, both of whom supped with us. I have preserved nothing of what passed, except that Dr. Johnsor displayed another of his heterodox opinions—a contempt of tragic acting. He said, “ The action of all players in tragedy is bad. It should be a man's study to repress those signs of emotion and passion, as they are called.” He was of a directly contrary opinion to that of Fielding, in his “ Tom Jones ;" who makes Partridge say of Garrick, “Why, I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I bad seen a ghost, I should have looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did.” For, when I asked him, “ Would not you, Sir, start as Mr. Garrick does, if you saw a ghost ?” he answered, “I hope not. If I did, 'I should frighten the ghost.” ”
have held it to be "wicked rebellion " in the British subjects established in America, to resist the abject condition of holding all their property at the mercy of British subjects remaining at home, while their allegiance to our common lord the king was to be preserved inviolate, is a striking proof, to me, either that "he who sitteth in heaven "scorns the loftiness of human pride, or that the evil spirit, whose personal existence I strongly believe, and even in this age am confirmed in that belief by a Fell, nay, by a Hurd, has more power than some choose to allow.
1 Thomas Cooke was born in 1702, and died in 1756.
* Mr. Foote's mother was the sister of Sir J. Dinely Goodere, Bart., and of Captain Goodere, who commanded H. M. S. Ruby, on board which, when lying in King's Road, Bristol, in January, 1741, the latter caused his brother to be forcibly carried, and there barbarously mur. dered. Captain Goodere was, with two of his accomplices, executed for this offence in the April following. The circumstances of the case, and some other facts connected with this family, led to an opinion that Captain Goodere was insane; and some unhappy circumstances in Foote's life render it probable that he had not wholly escaped this hereditary irregularity of mind.-O. Foote's first publication was a pamphlet in defence of his uncle's memory.-WALTER SCOTT.
3 It may be observed, that I sometimes call my great friend Mr. Johnson, sometimes Dr. Johnson ; though he had at this time a Doctor's degree from Trinity College, Dublin. The University of Oxford afterwards couferred it upon him by a diploma, in very honourable terms. It was some time before I could bring myself to call him Doctor; but, as he has beep ong known by that title, I shall Rive it to bim in the rest of this Journal.-B.
NOTE-on Dr. Johnson's assertion that Mr. Burke " never made a good joko."
This was one of the points upon which Dr. Johnson was strangely heterodox. For surely Mr. Burke, with his other remarkable qualities, is also distinguished for his wit, and for wit of all kinds too; not merely that power of language which Pope chooses to denominate wit :-
“True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd ;"
but surprising allusions, brilliant sallies of vivacity, and pleasant conceits. His speeches in parliament are strewed with them. Take, for instance, the variety which he has given in his wide range, yet exact detail, when exhibiting his Reform Bill. And his conversation abounds in wit. Let me put down a specimen. I told him I had seen, at a blue-stocking assembly, a number of ladies sitting round a worthy and tall friend of ours (Mr. Langton), listening to his literature. “Ay," said he, “like maids round a May-pole.” I told him, I had found out a perfect definition of human nature, as distinguished from the animal. An ancient philosopher said, man was a two-legged animal without feathers;” upon which his rival sage had a cock plucked bare, and set him down in the school before all the disciples, as a philosophic man." Dr. Franklin said, man was “a tool-making animal,” which is very well; for no animal but man makes a thing, by means of which he can make another thing. But this applies to very few of the species. My definition of man is, “a cooking animal.” The beasts have memory, judgment, and all the faculties and passions of our mind, in a certain degree; but no beast is a cook. The trick of the monkey using the cat’s paw to roast a chestnut is only a piece of shrewd malice in that turpissima bestia, which humbles us so sadly by its similarity to us. Man alone can dress a good dish; and every man whatever is more or less a cook, in seasoning what he himself eats. “Your definition is good,” said Mr. Burke, “and I now see the full force of the common proverb, There is reason in roasting of eggs.' When Mr. Wilkes, in his days of tumultuous opposition, was borne upon the shoulders of the mob, Mr. Burke (as Mr. Wilkes told me himself, with classical admiration) applied to hirr what Horace says of Pindar,
numerisque fertur LEGE sohitis."
Sir Joshua Reynolds, who agrees with me entirely as to Mr. Burke's fertility of wit, said, that this was “ dignifying a pun." He also observed, that he has often heard Burke say, it the course of an evening, ten good things, each of which would have served a noted wit (whom he named) to live upon for a twelvemonth.
I find, since the former edition, that some persons have objected to the instances which I hare given of Mr. Burke's wit, as not doing justice to my very ingenious friend; the specimens produced having, it is alleged, more of conceit than real wit, and being merely sportive sallies of the moment, not justifying the encomium which they think, with me, he undoubtedly merits. I was well aware, how hazardous it was to exhibit particular instances of wit, which is of so airy and spiritual a nature as often to elude the hand that attempts to grasp it. The excellence and efficacy of a bon-mot depend frequently so much on the occasion on which it is spoken, on the particular manner of the speaker, on the person to whom it is applied, the previous introduction, and a thousand minute particulars which cannot be easily enumerated, that it is always dangerous to detach a witty saying from the group to which it belongs, and to set it before the eye of the spectator, divested of those concomitant circumstances which gave it animation, mellowness, and relief. I ventured, however, at all hazards, to put down the first instances that occurred to me, as proofs of Mr. Burke's Uvely und brilliant fancy; but am very sensible that his numerous friends could have suggested many of a superior quality. Indeed, the being in company with him, for a single day, is suf Artryt to show that what I have asserted is well founded; and it was only necessary to have
appealed to all who know him intimately, for a complete refutation of the heterodox opinion entertained by Dr. Johnson on this subject. He allowed Mr. Burke, as the reader will find hereafter, to be a man of consummate and unrivalled abilities in every light except that now under consideration; and the variety of his allusions, and splendour of his imagery, have made such an impression on all the rest of the world, that superficial observers are apt to overlook his other merits, and to suppose that wit is his chief and most prominent excellence. when in fact it is only one of the nany talents thau ho possesses, which are so various and extraordinary, that it is very difficult to estimate correctly the rank and value of each.
Edinburgh--Ogden on Prayer-Lord Hailes-Parliament-House–The Advocates' Library
Writing doggedly-The Union-Queen Mary-St. Giles's—The Cowgate-The College. Holy-rood House-Swift-Witchcraft-Lord Monboddo and the Ourang-Outang-ActorsPoetry and Lexicography-Scepticism-Vane and Sedley-Maclaurin-Literary Property - Boswell's Character of Himself—They leave Edinburgh.
Monday, August 16th.—Dr. William Robertson came to breakfast. We talked of Ogden on Prayer. Dr. Johnson said, “The same arguments wbich are used against God's hearing prayer, will serve against his rewarding good and punishing evil. He has resolved, he has declared, in the former case as in the latter.” He had last night looked into Lord Haile's “ Remarks on the History of Scotland.” Dr. Robertson and I said, it was a pity Lord Hailes did not write greater things. His lordship bad not then published his “ Annals of Scotland.” Johnson. " I remember I was once on a visit to the house of a lady for whom I had a high respect. There was a good deal of company in the room, When they were gone, I said to this lady, 'What foolish talking have we had !— Yes,' said she, “but while they talked, you said nothing. I was struck with the reproof. How much better is the man who does anything that is innocent, than he who does nothing ! Besides, I love anecdotes. I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except in narrative ; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and illustration, and all those arts by which a big book is made. If a man is to wait till he weaves anecdotes into a system, we may be long in getting them, and get but few, in comparison of what we might get."
Dr. Robertson said, the notions of Eupham Macallan, a fanatic woman, of whom Lord Hailes gives a sketch, were still prevalent among some of the Presbyterians ; and, therefore, it was right in Lord Hailes, a man of known piety, to undeceive them.
We walked out, that Dr Johnson might see some of the things which we have to show at Edinburgh. We went to the Parliament
THE SCOTCH UNION.
house,' where the Parliament of Scotland sat, and where the ordinary lords of session hold their courts, and to the new session-house adjoining to it, where our court of fifteen (the fourteen ordinaries, with the lord president at their head) sit as a court of review. We went to the advocates' library, of which Dr. Johnson took a cursory view ; and then to what is called the Laigh (or under) Parliament-house, where the records of Scotland, which has an universal security by register, are deposited, till the great register office be finished." I was pleased to behold Dr. Samuel Johnson rolling about in this old magazine of antiquities. There was, by this time, a pretty numerous circle of us attending upon him. Somebody talked of happy moments for composition, and how a man can write at one time, and not at another. Nay,” said Dr. Johnson, man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.” :
I here began to indulge old Scottish sentiments, and to express a warm regret, that, by our union with England, we were no more ; our independent kingdom was lost. Johnson. Sir, never talk of your independency, who could let your queen remain twenty years in captivity, and then be put to death, without even a pretence of justice, without your ever attempting to rescue her ; and such a queen, too, as every man of any gallantry of spirit would have sacrificed his life for.” Worthy MR. JAMES KERR, keeper of the records, “ Half our nation was bribed by English money." Johnson.
Sir, that is no defence : that makes you worse." Good MR. Brown, keeper of the advocates' library.
“ We had better say nothing about it.” BOSWELL. “ You would have been glad, however, to have had us last war, Sir, to fight your battles !” JOHN
“We should have had you for the same price, though there had been no union, as we might have had Swiss, or other troops No, no, I shall agree to a separation. You have only to go home.” Just as he had said this, I, to divert the subject, showed him the
1 It was on this visit to the parliament-house, that Mr. Henry Erskine (brother of Lord Buchan and Lord Erskine), after being presented to Dr. Johnson by Mr. Boswell, and having made his bow, slipped a shilling into Boswell's hand, whispering that it was for the sight of his bear.-WALTER SCOTT.
This great Register Office is now one of the architectural beauties of Edinburgh.-C. 3 This word 18 commonly used to signify sullenly, gloomily ; and in that sense alone appears in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. I suppose he meant by it, “ with an obstinate resolu tion similar to that of a sullen man."