Page images


"You must not expect I should tell you anything, if I had anything to tell." (Johnson to Boswell, July Very true; he never did tell him any

13th, 1779.)

thing for fear of misrepresentation.

On Windham's remark (May 16th, 1778) that we were more uneasy from thinking of our wants, than happy in thinking of our acquisitions: No need of Mr. Windham to tell us that.

"What need of books those truths to tell

Which folks perceive who cannot spell;
And must we spectacles apply

To see what hurts our naked eye?'"

"Thrale cared not about it." (Johnson's letter to Boswell, March 13th, 1779.) To be sure he did not. "Mrs. Thrale was in the coach." (Id.) Which he cared no more for than her husband cared about Boswell's anxiety.

On Johnson's remark that a father had no right to control the inclinations of his daughter in marriage: Some of his auditors were, however, of opinion that children might control their parents in marriage.

On Johnson's reference to a man with an inverted understanding: I have a notion it was the Rev. Mr. Mence, of whom I once heard Dr. Johnson say to old Burney: "Sir, Mence is a man who should be stuck upon a pole, and a large writing under him to say, 'Do nothing as Mence does it.'"

Parents expecting a return: They must be silly parents sure, of no experience at all-Scotch parents,




attentive to interest even whilst fondling their babies. What nonsense!

On the anecdote of Richardson mentioning that a gentleman had seen "Clarissa" lying on the king's brother's table: The present king of France, Louis Dixhuit, who likewise delighted in reading Fielding's "Tom Jones: " he asked Dr. B as they walked on the

[ocr errors]

Crescent at Bath, if Prior Park had belonged to the man who was believed the Allworthy of "Tom Jones; but Louis Dixhuit is a universal reader.

As to beggars asking more readily from men than from women: The man has more money in his pocket, and his money is his own. The woman is commonly responsible for her expenses to a father, a brother, or a husband. She must give in her account on Monday evening, and mention the shilling given to the beggar, for doing which she will receive a cheque and be told it was ill bestowed.

"Mrs. Thrale and I," says Boswell, "had a dispute whether Shakespeare or Milton had drawn the most admirable picture of a man." (Adam versus Hamlet's father.) Note: Milton kept closer to the man. Shakespeare was more excursive: he lacked in ornament after all; his is a more dramatic, Milton's a more epic description. Both were best, as the children say.

On Johnson's dining with bishops: Well! I do think it was out of rule for a bishop to make a dinner on Holy Thursday. It would shock a foreign Romanist to hear of it. Who was the bishop I wonder? But there were two it seems.

[blocks in formation]

On Mrs. Garrick calling Hannah More her chaplain : Odd enough if she did so, because their religious opinions were so widely different.

The author of "Night Thoughts" and his son: A parent that he, the young man, hated. Addison and Young knew too much of life to be favourites with their families.

On Palmer's return from transportation: When Margaret came home safe, and his old cat which he took out to exile with him, I know not who told me the cat recognised her original habitation.

To Chinese vaunting, a common sailor retorted: “And yet, though you have been pouring out tea ever since the Flood, you never had skill to make a spout to your teapot till we taught you how."

"He (Johnson) had projected a work to show how small a quantity of real fiction there is in the world." (Boswell.) That would have been pretty. Johnson used to say that he believed no combination could be found, and few sentiments, that might not be traced to Homer, Shakespeare, and Richardson.

Youth's Divine Pastime (one of "Burton's Books") w as the legitimate parent of Ferdinand, Count Fathom.

"In the meantime let us be kind to one another." (Johnson to Dr. Taylor.) To whom he perpetually turned not to his flatterers and admirers. Ever sighing for the toast, bread and butter of life, when satiated with the turtle and Burgundy of it.

Johnson's letter to Miss Jane Langton, May 10, 1784: Like his letters to Mr. Thrale's daughters, exactly.






On his fear of death: St. Paul himself was (in this sense) afraid, and Paschal died in terror if not of


As to giving cup to laity: Oh certainly, besides when our Saviour said, "drink ye all of this," He might mean merely the twelve apostles, who were all the people present.

Whiteford's suggestion of cross readings, "singu. larly happy." (Boswell.)

Not singularly happy, because the same trick was played in Queen Anne's time. I have it in an old edition of the "Tatler." The signature however (Papyrius Cursor) is new, and pretty, and original.

On Johnson's doing penance at Worcester, 1784: Very like a Romanist, but we must all go to the old shop for something.

He, Johnson, was one of the first conversers, and dazzled his hearers till they believed whatever he wished them to do.


"IN 1636 he (Cowley) was removed to Cambridge." (Vol. ix. p. 4.)—Nothing does so reconcile one to the laxity of all college discipline in our day, as the reflexion how sincerely it disgusted both Milton and Cowley in past times. Schools and colleges now neither instruct the young folk, nor offend them; but as Sir Joshua Reynolds said of his pupils, "They may learn if they like; I throw every advantage in their way, and no hindrance." So said he, and so may say the Dean of Christchurch.-1812.

"Of the verses on Oliver's death, of which Wood's narrative seems to imply something encomiastic, there has been no appearance. There is a discourse concerning his government, indeed, with verse intermixed.” (Vol. ix. p. 42.) It is a discourse of energetic satire, and Burke was busy with this performance when he racked his own invention raw to find abuse enough for Warren Hastings.

"He (Cowley) composed in Latin several books on

* The references are to Murphy's edition of Johnson's Works, in 12 volumes octavo, 1821. The Lives of the Poets fill the 9th, 10th, and 11th volumes.

« PreviousContinue »