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county of Stirling, and asked him what mode he would advise me to follow in addressing such an audience. JOHNSON. “Why, sir, you must provide yourself with a good deal of extraneous matter, which you are to produce occasionally, so as to fill up the time; for you must consider, that they do not listen much. If you begin with the strength of your cause, it may be lost before they begin to listen. When you catch a moment of attention, press the merits of the question upon them.” He said, as to one point of the merits, that he thought " it would be a wrong thing to deprive the small landholders of the privilege of assessing themselves for making and repairing the high roads; it was destroying a certain portion of liberty without a good reason, which was always a bad thing.” When I mentioned this observation next day to Mr. Wilkes, he pleasantly said, “ What! does he talk of liberty ? Liberty is as ridiculous in his mouth as religion in mine." Mr. Wilkes's advice as to the best mode of speaking at the bar of the house of commons was not more respectful towards the senate than that of Dr. Johnson. “Be as impudent as you can, as merry as you can, and say whatever comes uppermost. Jack Lee' is the best heard there of any counsel; and he is the most impudent dog, and always abusing us."
In my interview with Dr. Johnson this evening, I was quite easy, quite as his companion; upon which I find in my journal the following reflection : “ So ready is my mind to suggest matter for dissatisfaction, that I felt a sort of regret that I was so easy.
[Mr. Lee, afterwards solicitor-general in the Rockingham administration. “He was a man of strong parts, though of coarse manners, and who never hesitated to express in the coarsest language whatever he thought.”_Wrarall's Mem. vol. ii. p. 237. He was particularly distinguished by the violence of his invective against the person and administration of Lord Shelburne in 1782.ED.)
I missed that awful reverence with which I used to contemplate MR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in the complex magnitude of his literary, moral, and religious character. I have a wonderful superstitious love of mystery; when, perhaps, the truth is, that it is owing to the cloudy darkness of my own mind. I should be glad that I am more advanced in my progress of being, so that I can view Dr. Johnson with a steadier and clearer eye. My dissatisfaction tonight was foolish. Would it not be foolish to regret that we shall have less mystery in a future state ? That we now see in a glass darkly,' but shallóthen see face to face '?'” This reflection, which I thus freely communicate, will be valued by the thinking part of my readers, who may have themselves experienced a similar state of mind.
He returned next day to Streatham, to Mr. Thrale’s; where, as Mr. Strahan once complained to me,“ he was in a great measure absorbed from the society of his old friends." I was kept in London by business, and wrote to him on the 27th, that “a separation from him for a week, when we were so near, was equal to a separation for a year, when we were at four hundred miles distance.” I went to Streatham on Monday, March 30. Before he appeared, Mrs. Thrale made a very characteristical remark: “ I do not know for certain what will please Dr. Johnson : but I know for certain that it will displease him to praise any thing, even what he likes, extravagantly."
At dinner he laughed at querulous declamations against the age, on account of luxury,—increase of London,-scarcity of provisions,—and other such topicks. “Houses,” said he, “ will be built till rents
1 [1 Cor. c. xiii, v. 12.-ED.]
fall; and corn is more plentiful now than ever it was.”
I had before dinner repeated a ridiculous story told me by an old man, who had been a passenger with me in the stage-coach to-day. Mrs. Thrale, having taken occasion to allude to it in talking to me, called it “ The story told you by the old woman.” “Now, madam,” said I, “give me leave to catch you in the fact: it was not an old woman, but an old man, whom I mentioned as having told me this.” I presumed to take an opportunity, in the presence of Johnson, of showing this lively lady' how ready she was, unintentionally, to deviate from exact authenticity of narration.
Thomas à Kempis (he observed) must be a good book, as the world has opened its arms to receive it. It is said to have been printed, in one language or other, as many times as there have been months since it first came out. I always was struck with this sentence in it: “ Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be 3."
He said, “I was angry with Hurd about Cowley for having published a selection of his works : but, upon better consideration, I think there is no impropriety in a man's publishing as much as he chooses of any authour, if he does not put the rest out of the way. A man, for instance, may print the Odes of Horace alone.” He seemed to be in a more indulgent humour than when this subject was discussed between him and Mr. Murphy..
(If mistakes like this were all that Mr. Boswell could impute to Mrs. Thrale, he had better have spared his censures. The inaccuracy was evidently trifiing; probably had no effect on the story, and might be involuntary, as Mrs. Thrale might not have distinctly heard whether Boswell had said old man or old woman. The editor notices these trifles to show the animus, the spirit in which Mr. Boswell is prone to distort Mrs. Thrale's character.-ED.)
• The first edition was in 1492. Between that period and 1792, according to this account, there were three thousand six hundred editions. But this is very improbable.—MALONE.
i The original passage is : Si non potes te talem facere, qualem vis, quomodo poteris alium ad tuum habere beneplacitum ? De Imit. Christ. lib. i. cap. xvi. -J. BoswELL.
When we were at tea and coffee, there came in Lord Trimlestown, in whose family was an ancient Irish peerage, but it suffered by taking the generous side in the troubles of the last century. He was a man of pleasing conversation, and was accompanied by a young gentleman, his son.
I mentioned that I had in my possession the Life of Sir Robert Sibbald, the celebrated Scottish antiquary, and founder of the royal college of physicians at Edinburgh, in the original manuscript in his own hand writing; and that it was, I believed, the most natural and candid account of himself that ever was given by any man. As an instance, he tells that the Duke of Perth, then chancellor of Scotland, pressed him very much to come over to the Roman Catholick faith : that he resisted all his grace's arguments for a considerable time, till one day he felt himself, as it were, instantaneously convinced, and with tears in his eyes ran into the duke's arms, and embraced the ancient religion; that he continued very steady in it for some time, and accompanied his grace to London one winter, and lived in his household ; that there he found the rigid fasting prescribed by the church very severe upon him; that this disposed him to reconsider the controversy; and having then seen that
· [See ante, vol. iii. p. 395.- Ep.)
? Since this was written, the attainder has been reversed ; and Nicholas Barnewall is now a peer of Ireland with this title. The person mentioned in the text had studied physick, and prescribed gratis to the poor. Hence arose the subsequent conversation.-MALONE. (We find in one of the magazines of the day, with the ironical title of “Remarkable Instance of Filial Affection," an advertisement dated 19th July, 1768, and signed “ Thomas Barnewell,” warning the public not to buy any timber trees which his father, Lord Trimlestown, is about to sell, as he is advised that his father is tenant for life, and has no right to sell such trees, and that the advertiser is resolved to put the law in force against any one who shall make a bargain contrary to his interest. - Repertory, vol. i. p. 118. Johnson's visitor must have been the dutiful son.-ED.]
he was in the wrong, he returned to Protestantism. I talked of some time or other publishing this curious life. Mrs. THRALE. “I think you had as well let alone that publication. To discover such weakness exposes a man when he is gone." JOHNSON. “ Nay, it is an honest picture of human nature. How often are the primary motives of our greatest actions as small as Sibbald's for his reconversion!" MRS. THRALE. “But may they not as well be forgotten?” JOHNSON. “ No, madam; a man loves to review his own mind. That is the use of a diary or journal.” LORD TRIMLESTOWN. " True, sir. As the ladies love to see themselves in a glass, so a man likes to see himself in his journal.” BOSWELL. “A very pretty allusion.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, indeed.” BOSWELL. “ And as a lady adjusts? her dress before a mirrour, a man adjusts his character by looking at his journal.” I next year found the very same thought in Atterbury's “ Funeral Sermon on Lady Cutts ;" where, having mentioned her Diary, he says, “ In this glass she every day dressed her mind.” This is a proof of coincidence, and not of plagiarism; for I had never read that sermon before.
Next morning, while we were at breakfast, Johnson gave a very earnest recommendation of what he himself practised with the utmost conscientiousness : I mean a strict attention to truth”, even in the most minute particulars. “ Accustom your children,” said
" (Boswell seems much pleased with his own ingenuity, and the coincidence of thoughts between Bishop Atterbury and himself; but I don't quite understand his expression “a man adjusting his character.” If he means that a man, by re. ferring to his journal, as a lady to her looking-glass, improves his mind and conduct daily, I suspect there is more of fancy than truth in it. Men may consult their diaries and read their conduct in the day that is gone by; but, generally, to as little advantage as the person figured by St. James in a similar strain :-“He beholds his natural face in a glass ; he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."Chap. i. v. 23.-HALL.) [See ante, v. ii. p. 321.-Ep.]