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Cummons, to abolish the fast of the 30th of January. JOHNSON “Why, Sir, I could have wished that it had been a temporary act, perhaps to have expired with the century. I am against abolishing it; because that would be declaring it wrong to establish it; but I should have no objection to make an act, continuing it for another century, and then letting it expire.”
He disapproved of the Royal Marriage Bill; “because," said he “I would not have the people think that the validity of marriage depends on the will of man, or that the right of a king depends on the will of man. I should not have been against making the marriage of any of the royal family without the approbation of king and parliament, highly criminal."
In the morning we had talked of old families, and the respect due to them. Johnson. "Sir, you have a right to that kind of respect, and are arguing for yourself. I am for supporting the principle, and am disinterested in doing it, as I have no such right.” Boswell. “Why, Sir, it is one more incitement to a man to do well." John
Yes, Sir, and it is a matter of opinion, very necessary to keep society together. What is it but opinion, by which we have a respect for authority, that prevents us, who are the rabble, from rising up and pulling down you who are gentlemen from your places, and saying 'We will be gentlemen in our turn ? Now, Sir, that respect for authority is much more easily granted to a man whose father has had it, than to an upstart, and so society is more easily supported." BOSWELL. "Perhaps, Sir, it might be done by the respect belonging to office, as among the Romans, where the dress, the toga, inspired reverence.” Johnson. “Why, we know very little about the Romans. But, surely, it is much easier to respect a man who has always had respect, than to respect a man who we klow was last year no better than ourselves, and will be no better next year. In republics, there is no respect for authority, but a fea" of power." BOSWELL. “At present, Sir, I think riches seeni to gain. most respect.” Johnson. "No, Sir, riches do not gain hearty respect; they only procure external attention. A very rich man, from low beginnings, may buy his election in a borough ; but, cæteris paribus, a man of family will be preferred. People will prefer a man for whose father their fathers have voted, though they should get no more money, or even less. That shows that the respect for family is not merely fanciful, but has an actual operation. If gentlemen of family would allow the rich upstarts to spend their money profusely, which they are ready enough to do, and not vie with them in expense, the upstarts would soon be at an end, and the gentlemen would remain ; but if the gentlemen will vie in expense with the upstarts, which is very foolish, they must be ruined.” 1
I gave him an account of the excellent mimicry of a friend of mine in Scotland ; observing, at the same time, that, some people thought it a very mean thing. Johnson. “Why, Sir, it is making a very mean use of man's powers. But to be a good mimic requires great powers ; great acuteness of observation, great retention of what is observed, and great pliancy of organs, to represent what is observed. I remember a lady of quality in this town, Lady —, who was a wonderful mimic, and used to make me laugh immoderately. I have heard she is now gone
mad.” BOSWELL. “It is amazing how a mimic can not only give you the gestures and voice of a person whom he represents, but even what a person would say on any particular subject." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, you are to consider that the manner and some particular phrases of a person do much to impress you with an idea of him, and you are not sure that he would say what the mimic says in his character.” BOSWELL. “I don't think Foote a good mimic, Sir.” Johnson. "No, Sir ; his imitations are not like. He gives you something different from himself, but not the character which he means to assume. He goes out of himself, without going into other people. He cannot take off any person unless he is strongly marked, such as George Faulkner. He is like a painter who can draw the portrait of a man who has a wen upon his face, and who therefore is easily known. If a man hops upon one leg, Foote can hop-upon one leg. But he has not that nice discrimination which your friend seems to possess. Foote is, however, very entertaining with a kind of conversation between wit and buffoonery."
though a man of obscure birth himself, Dr. Johnson's partiality to people of family ww visible on every occasion; his zeal for subordination warm even to bigotry • his hatred to Innovation, and reverence for the old feudal times, apparent, whenever any pussible mannen of showing them occurred.--Prozzi.
On Monday, March 23, I found him busy, preparing a fourth edition of his folio Dictionary. Mr. Peyton, one of his original amanuenses, was writing for him. I put him in mind of a meaning of the word side, which he had omitted, viz. relationship; as father's side, mother's side. He inserted it. I asked him if humiliating was a good word ? He said, he had seen it frequently used, but he did not know it to be legitimate English. He would not admit civilization, but only civility. With great deference to him, I thought civilization, from to civilize, better, in the sense opposed to barbarity, than civility; as it is better to have a distinct word for each sense, than one word with two senses, which civility is, in his way of asing it.
He seemed also to be intent on some sort of chemical operation. I wis entertained by observing how he contrived to send Mr. Peyton on an errand, without seeming to degrade him : “Mr. Peyton, Mr. Peyton, will you be so good as to take a walk to Temple Bar ? You will there see a chemist's shop, at which you will be pleased to buy for me an ounce of oil of vitriol ; not spirit of vitriol, but oil of vitriol. It will cost three half-pence.” Peyton immediately went, and returned with it, and told him it cost but a penny.
I then reminded him of the Schoolmaster's cause, and proposed to read to him the printed papers concerning it. “No, Sir," said he, * I can read quicker than I can hear." So he read them to himself.
After he had read - for some time, we were interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Kristrom, a Swede, who was tutor to some young gentlemen in the city. He told me, that there was a very good History of Sweden by Daline. Having at that time an intention of writing the history of that country, I asked Dr. Johnson whether une might write a history of Sweden without going thither. “Yes, Sir," said he, one for ca amon use.”
We talked of languages. Johnson observed that Leibnitz bad made some progress in a work tracing all languages up to the Hebrew. “Why, Sir," said he, "you would not imagine that the French jour, day, is derived from the Latin dies, and yet nothing is more certain ; and the intermediate steps are very clear. From dies, comes diurnus. Diu is, by inaccurate ears, or inaccurate pronuncia
tion, easily confounded with giu; then th. Italians form a substantive of the ablative of an adjective, and thence giurno, or, as they make it, giorno : which is readily contracted into giour, or jour.” He observed, that the Bohemian language was true Sclavonic. The Swede said it had some similarity with the German. Johnson.
Why, Sir, to be sure, such parts of Sclavonia as confine with Germany will borrow German words; and such parts as confine with Tartary will borrow Tartar words."
He said, he never had it properly ascertained that the Scotch Highlanders and the Irish understood each other.' I told him that my cousin, Colonel Graham, of the Royal Highlanders, whom I met at Drogheda, told me they did. Johnson. “Sir, if the Highlanders understood Irish, why translate the New Testament into Erse, as was lately done at Edinburgh, when there is an Irish translation ? BOSWELL." Although the Erse and Irish are both dialects of the same language, there may be a good deal of diversity between them, as between the different dialects in Italy."
The Swede went away, and Mr. Johnson continued his reading of the papers. I said, “ ] am afraid, Sir, it is troublesome.” 'Why, Sir,” said he, “ I do not take much delight in it ; but I'll go through it."
We went to the Mitre, and dined in the room where he and I first supped together. He gave me great hopes of my cause.
Sir," said he," the government of a schoolmaster, is somewhat of che nature of military government ; that is to say, it must be arbitrary,—it must be exercised by the will of one man, according to particular circumstances. You must show some learning upon this occasion. You must show, that a schoolmaster has a prescriptive right to beat ; and that an action of assault and battery cappot be admitted against him unless there is some great excess, some barbarity. This man has maimed none of his boys. They are all left with the full exercise of their corporeal faculties. In our schools in England, many boys have been maimed ; yet I never heard of an action against a schoolmaster on that account. Puffendorff, I think, maintains the right of a schoolmaster to beat his scholars."
· There is no doubt the languages are the same, and the difference in pronunciation and construction not very considerable. The Erse or Earish is the Irish; and the race called Biots came originally from Ulster.-SIR WALTA: SCOTT.
Mr. A. Macdonald-Choice of Chancellors-Lord Coke--Lord Mansfield-Scotch
Accent-Pronunciation-Etymology-Disembodied Spirits --- Ghost Stories - Mrs. Veal-Gray, Mason, and Akenside-Swearing-Warton's Essay on Pope-- Ranelagh -Luxury-Inequality of Livings-Hon. Thomas Erskine-Fielding and Richardson-Coriat’s Crudities-Gaming-Earl of Buchan-Attachment in FamiliesFeudal System -Cave's Ghost Story--Witches.
On Saturday, March 27, I introduced to him Sir Alexander Macdonald,' with whom he had expressed a wish to be acquainted. He received him very courteously.
Sir Alexander observed, that the Chancellors in England are chosen from views much inferior to the office, being chosen from temporary political views. Johnson. “Why, Sir, in such a government as ours, no man is appointed to an office because he is the fittest for it, nor hardly in any other government; because there are so many connections and dependencies to be studied. A despotic prince may choose a man to an office, merely because he is the fittest for it. The king of Prussia may do it.” Sir A. “I think, Sir, almost all great lawyers, such at least as have written upon law, have known only law, and nothing else.” JOHNSON. “Why, no, Sir; Judge Hale was a great lawyer, and wrote upon law; and yet he knew a great many other things, and has written upon other things. Selden, too.” Sir A. “Very true, Sir; and Lord Bacon. But was pot Lord Coke a mere lawyer?” JOHNSON. “Why, I am afraid he was; but he would have taken it very ill if you had told him so. He would have prosecuted you for scandal.” BOSWELL. “Lord Mansfield is not a mere lawyer.” JOHNSON. “No, Sir, I never was in Loril Mansfield's company; but Lord Mansfield was distinguished at the University. Lord Mansfield, when he first came to towu, ‘ drank champagne with the wits,' as Prior says. He was the friend of Pope.” Sir A. “Barristers, I believe, are not so abusive now as they were for
i Next brother of Sir James Macdonald, whom Mr. Boswell calls the Marcellus of Scotland, and whom the concurrent testimony of his contemporaries proves to have been a very extraordinary young man. He died in Rome in 17 j6.