« ПредишнаНапред »
mentioned. Johnson said, this book was in imitation 1772. of Sterne,' and not of Coriat, whose name Paterson had chosen as a whimsical one. “ Tom Coriat, (said 63. he,) was a humourist about the Court of James the First. He had a mixture of learning, of wit, and of buffoonery. He first travelled through Europe, and published his travels. He afterwards travelled on foot through Asia, and had made many remarks ; but he died at Mandoa and his remarks were lost.”
We talked of gaming, and animadverted on it with severity. Johnson. “ Nay, gentlemen, let us not aggravate the matter.
the matter. It is not roguery to play with a man who is ignorant of the game, while you are master of it, and so win his money; for he thinks he can play better than you, as you think you can play better than he; and the superiour skill carries it.” ERSKINE. “He is a fool, but you are not a rogue.” Johnson. “That's inuch about the truth, Sir. It must be considered, that a man who only does what every one of the society to which he belongs would do, is not a dishonest man. In the republick of Sparta, it was agreed, that stealing was not dishonourable, if not discovered. I do not commend a society where there is an agreement that what would not otherwise be fair, shall be fair ; 1 but I maintain, that an individual of any society, who practices what is allowed, is not a dishonest man." Boswell. “ So then, Sir, you do not think ill of a man who wins perhaps forty thousand pounds in a winter?” Johnson.“ Sir, I do not call a gamester a dishonest man ; but I call him an unsocial man, an unprofitable man. Gaming is a mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate good. Trade gives employment to numbers, and so produces intermediate good.”
Mr. Erskine told us, that when he was in the island of Minorca, he not only read prayers, but preached two sermons to the regiment. He seemed to object to the passage in scripture, where we are told that the angel of the Lord smote in one night forty thousand Assyri
· Mr. Paterson, in a pamphlet, produced some evidence to shew that his work was written before Sterne’s Sentimental Journey' appeared.
1772. ans. 8 Sir, (said Johnson,) you should recollect that Ætat.
there was a supernatural interposition ; they were de63. stroyed by pestilence. You are not to suppose that
the angel of the LORD went about and stabbed each of them with a dagger, or knocked them on the head, man by man.”
After Mr. Erskine was gone, a discussion took place, whether the present Earl of Buchan, when Lord Cardross, did right to refuse to go Secretary of the Embassy to Spain, when Sir James Gray, a man of inferiour rank, went Ambassadour. Dr. Johnson said, that perhaps in point of interest he did wrong ; but in point of dignity he did well. Sir Alexander insisted that he was wrong; and said that Mr. Pitt intended it as an advantageous thing for him. Why, Sir, (said Johpson,) Mr. Pitt might think it an advantageous thing for him to make him a vintner, and get him all the Portugal trade ; but he would have demeaned himself strangely had he accepted of such a situation. Sir, had he gone Secretary while his inferiour was Ambassadour, he would have been a traitor to his rank and family.
I talked of the little attachment which subsisted between near relations in London. “ Sir, (said Johnson,) in a country so commercial as ours, where every man can do for himself, there is not so much occasion for that attachment. No man is thought the worse of here, whose brother was hanged. In uncommercial countries, many of the branches of a family must depend on the stock ; so, in order to make the head of the family take care of them, they are represented as connected with his reputation, that, self-love being interested, he may exert himself to promote their interest. You have first large circles, or clans ; as commerce increases, the connection is confined to families ; by degrees, that too goes off, as having become unnecessary, and there being few opportunities of intercourse. One brother is a merchant in the city, and another is an officer in the guards; how little intercourse can these two have !"
8 [One hundred and eighty-five thousand. See Isaiah, xxxvii. 36, and 2 Kings, KiX. 35. M.)
I argued warmly for the old feudal system. Sir Al- 1772. exander opposed it, and talked of the pleasure of seeing all men free and independent. Johnson. “ I agree 63. with Mr. Boswell, that there must be high satisfaction in being a feudal Lord; but we are to consider, that we ought not to wish to have a number of men unhappy for the satisfaction of one.”I maintained that numbers, namely, the vassals or followers, were not unhappy ; for that there was a reciprocal satisfaction between the Lord and them : he being kind in his authority over them; they being respectful and faithful to him.
On Thursday, April 9, I called on him to beg he would go and dine with me at the Mitre tavern. He had resolved not to dine at all this day, I know not for what reason ; and I was so unwilling to be deprived of his company, that I was content to submit to suffer a want, which was at first somewhat painful, but he soon made me forget it; and a man is always pleased with himself, when he finds his intellectual inclinations predominate.
He observed, that to reason philosophically on the nature of prayer, was very unprofitable.
Talking of ghosts, he said, he knew one friend, who was an honest man and a sensible man, who told him he had seen a ghost; old Mr. Edward Cave, the printer at St. John's Gate. He said, Mr. Cave did not like to talk of it, and seemed to be in great horrour whenever it was mentioned. Boswell." Pray, Sir, what did he say was the appearance ?” JOHNSON. " Why, Sir, something of a shadowy being."
I mentioned witches, and asked him what they properly meant. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, they properly mean those who make use of the aid of evil spirits." Boswell.“ There is no doubt, Sir, a general report and belief of their having existed.” Johnson. “ You have not only the general report and belief, but you have many voluntary solemn confessions.” He did not affirm any thing positively upon a subject which it is the fashion of the times to laugh at as a matter of absurd credulity. He only seemed willing, as a candid en
1772. quirer after truth, however strange and inexplicable, to Etat,
shew that he understood what might be urged for it..
On Friday, April 10, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, where we found Dr. Goldsmith.
Armorial bearings having been mentioned, Johnson said they were as ancient as the siege of Thebes, which he proved by a passage in one of the tragedies of Euripides.
I started the question, whether duelling was consistent with moral duty. The brave old General fired at this, and said, with a lofty air, “ Undoubtedly a man has a right to defend his honour.” GOLDSMITH, (turning to me,)“ I ask you first, Sir, what would you do if you
ere affronted ?" I answered, I should think it necessary to fight. Why then, (replied Goldsmith,) that solves the question.” Johnson. “ No, Sir, it does not solve the question. It does not follow, that what a man would do is therefore right.” I said, I wished to have it settled, whether duelling was contrary to the laws of Christianity. Johnson immediately entered on the subject, and treated it in a masterly manner; and so far as I have been able to recollect, his thoughts were these : “ Sir, as men become in a high degree refined, various causes of offence arise ; which are considered to be of such importance, that life must be staked to atone for them, though in reality they are not so. А body that has received a very fine polish may be easily hurt. Before men arrive at this artificial refinement, if one tells his neighbour-he lies, his neighbour tells him-he lies ; if one gives his neighbour a blow, his neighbour gives him a blow: but in a state of highly polished society, an affront is held to be a serious injury. It must, therefore, be resented, or rather a duel must be fought upon it; as men have agreed to banish from their society one who puts up with an affront with
See this curious question treated by him with most acute ability,“ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” 3d edit. p. 33.
[The passage to which Johnson alluded, is to be found (as I conjecture) in the PHẦNISSÆ. I. 1120.
Και πρώτα μεν προσήγς κ. τ. λ.
ο της κυναγου Παρθ-νοπαίος εκγονος,
out fighting a duel. Now, Sir, it is never unlawful to 1772. fight in self-defence. He, then, who fights a duel, does
Ætat. not fight from passion against his antagonist, but out of 63. self-defence; to avert the stigma of the world, and to prevent himself from being driven out of society. I could wish there was not that superfluity of refinement; but while such notions prevail, no doubt a man may lawfully fight a duel.”
Let it be remembered, that this justification is applicable only to the person who receives an affront. All mankind must condemn the aggressor.
The General told us, that when he was a very young man, I think only fifteen, serving under Prince Eugene of Savoy, he was sitting in a company at table with a Prince of Wirtemberg. The Prince took up a glass of wine, and, by a fillip, made some of it fly in Oglethorpe's face. Here was a nice dilemma. To have challenged him instantly, might have fixed a quarrelsome character upon the young soldier : to have taken no notice of it, might have been considered as cowardice. Oglethorpe, therefore, keeping his eye upon the Prince, and smil. ing all the time, as if he took what his Highness had done in jest, said “ Mon Prince,~" (I forget the French words he used, the purport however was,) 6. That's a good joke ; but we do it much better in England ;” and threw a whole glass of wine in the Prince's face. An old General who sat by, said, “ Il a bien fait, mon Prince, vous l'avez commencé ;” and thus all ended in good humour.
Dr. Johnson said, “ Pray, General, give us an account of the siege of Belgrade.” Upon which the General, pouring a little wine upon the table, described every thing with a wet finger : “ Here we were, here were the Turks,” &c. &c. Johnson listened with the closest attention.
A question was started, how far people who disagree in a capital point can live in friendship together. Johnson said they might. Goldsmith said they could not, as they had not the idem velle atque idem nolle—the same likings and the same aversions. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, you must shun the subject as to which