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the printer was also his guest. He was uncommonly silent; and I have not written down any thing, except a single curious fact, which, having the sanction of his inflexible veracity, may be received as a striking instance of human insensibility and inconsideration. As he was passing by a fishmonger who was skinning an eel alive, he heard him “curse it, because it would not lie still.”
On Wednesday, 7th April, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. I have not marked what company was there. Johnson harangued upon the qualities of different liquors; and spoke with great contempt of claret, as so weak, that “a man would be drowned by it before it made him drunk.” He was persuaded to drink one glass of it, that he might judge, not from recollection, which might be dim, but from immediate sensation. He shook his head, and said, “ Poor stuff! No, sir, claret is the liquor for boys; port for men ; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy. In the first place, the flavour of brandy is most grateful to the palate; and then brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking can do for him. There are, indeed, few who are able to drink brandy. That is a power rather to be wished for than attained. And yet,” proceeded he, “as in all pleasure hope is a considerable part, I know not but fruition comes too quick by brandy. Florence wine I think the worst; it is wine only to the eye; it is wine neither while you are drinking it, nor after you have drunk it; it neither pleases the taste, nor exhilarates the spirits.” I reminded him how heartily he and I used to drink wine together, when we were first acquainted; and how I used to have a headache after sitting up with him. He did not like to have this recalled, or, perhaps, thinking that I boasted improperly, resolved to have a witty stroke at me; “Nay, sir, it was not the wine that made your head ache, but the sense that I put into it.” BOSWELL. “ What, sir! will sense make the head ache?” Johnson. “ Yes, sir (with a smile), when it is not used to it." No man who has a true relish of pleasantry could be offended at this; especially if Johnson in a long intiinacy had given him repeated proofs of his regard and good estimation. I used to say that as he had given me a thousand pounds in praise, he had a good right now and then to take a guinea from me.
On Thursday, 8th April, I dined with him at Mr. Allan Ramsay's, with Lord Graham' and some other company. We talked of Shakspeare's witches. JohnSON. “They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of malignity and meanness, without any abilities; and are quite different from the Italian magician. King James says in his Dæmonology,
Magicians command the devils : witches are their servants.' The Italian magicians are elegant beings.” RAMSAY. “ Opera witches, not Drury-lane witches.” Johnson observed, that abilities might be employed in a narrow sphere, as in getting money, which he said he believed no man could do without vigorous parts, though concentrated to a point. RAMSAY. “ Yes, like a strong horse in a mill; he pulls better.”
Lord Graham, while he praised the beauty of Lochlomond, on the banks of which is his family seat, complained of the climate, and said he could not bear it. Johnson. “Nay, my lord, don't talk so: you may bear it well enough. Your ancestors have borne it more years than I can tell.” This was a handsome compliment to the antiquity of the house of Montrose. His lordship told me afterwards that he had only affected to complain of the climate, lest, if
[The present (third ] Duke of Montrose, born in 1755. He succeeded to the dukedom in 1790.-ED.)
he had spoken as favourably of his country as he really thought, Dr. Johnson might have attacked it. Johnson was very courteous to Lady Margaret Macdonald. “Madam,” said he, “when I was in the Isle of Sky', I heard of the people running to take the stones off the road lest Lady Margaret's horse should stumble."
Lord Graham commended Dr. Drummond at Naples as a man of extraordinary talents; and added, that he had a great love of liberty. JOHNSON. “He is young”, my lord (looking to his lordship with an arch smile); all boys love liberty, till experience convinces them they are not so fit to govern themselves as they imagined. We are all agreed as to our own liberty; we would have as much of it as we can get ; but we are not agreed as to the liberty of others : for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern us. When that was the case some time ago, no man was at liberty not to have candles in his windows." RAMSAY. “ The result is, that order is better than confusion." JOHNSON. “The result is, that order cannot be had but by subordination.”
On Friday, 16th April, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the fa. vourite of a nobleman'. Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what passed, and particularly with his prayer for the mercy of Heaven. He said, in a solemn fervid tone, “I hope he shall find mercy
This day a violent altercation arose between John
1 (See ante, vol. ii. p. 486.-Ed.] . (His lordship was twenty-four.-ED.) 3 [John, sixth Earl of Sandwich.-ED.) *[See ante, vol. i. p. 60.-ED.)
son and Beauclerk, which having made much noise at the time, I think it proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a minute account of it.
In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as Judge Blackstone had done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, “ No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once. Lord
's cook shot himself with one pistol, and lived ten days in great agony. Mr. —', who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself; and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast, before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion; he had two charged pistols ; one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the other.” “Well,” said Johnson, with an air of triumph, "you see here one pistol was sufficient.” Beauclerk replied sinartly, “ Because it happened to kill him.” And either then or a very little afterwards, being piqued at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, " This is what you don't know, and I do." There was then a cessation of the dispute; and some minutes intervened, during which, dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed, “ Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to talk so petulantly to me, as .This is what you don't know, but what I know?' One thing I know, which you don't seem to know, that you are very uncivil.” BEAUCLERK. “Be
["The Honourable (John Damer), son to the Lord (Milton, afterwards Earl of Dorchester], shot himself at three o'clock this morning, at the Bedford Arms, in Covent Garden. He was heir to 30,0001. a year, but of a tum rather too eccentric to be confined within the limits of any fortune. Coroner's verdict, Lunacy."- Gent. Mag. 15th Aug. 1776.-ED.)
cause you began by being uncivil (which you always are).” The words in parentheses were, I believe, not heard by Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me, that the reason why he waited at first some time without taking any notice of what Mr. Beauclerk said, was because he was thinking whether he should resent it.
But when he considered that there were present a young lord and an eminent traveller, two men of the world, with whom he had never dined before, he was apprehensive that they might think they had a right to take such liberties with him as Beauclerk did, and therefore resolved he would not let it pass ; adding, “ that he would not appear a coward.” A little while after this, the conversation turned on the violence of Hackman's temper. Johnson then said, “ It was his business to command his temper, as my friend, Mr. Beauclerk, should have done some time ago." BEAUCLERK. “ I should learn of you, sir.” JOHNSON. “Sir, you have given me opportunities enough of learning, when I have been in your company. No man loves to be treated with contempt.” BEAUCLERK (with a polite inclination towards Johnson). “Sir, you have known me twenty years, and however I may have treated others, you may be sure I could never treat you with contempt.” Johnson. “Sir, you have said more than was necessary.” Thus it ended; and Beauclerk's coach not having come for him till very late, Dr. Johnson and another gentleman sat with him a long time after the rest of the company were gone; and he and I dined at Beauclerk's on the Saturday se'nnight following.
After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars of his conversation :
“ I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage