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Etat. 54.

habitations which are crouded together, that the wonderful immensity of 1763. London confifts."-I have often amufed myself with thinking how different a place London is to different people. They, whofe narrow minds are contracted to the confideration of fome one particular purfuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the feat of government in its different departments; a grazier, as a vast market for cattle; a mercantile man, as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatick enthusiast, as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an affemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue. But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhauftible.

On Wednesday, July 6, he was engaged to fup with me at my lodgings in Downing-street, Westminster. But on the preceding night my landlord having behaved very rudely to me and fome company who were with me, I had refolved not to remain another night in his houfe. I was exceedingly uneafy at the aukward appearance I fuppofed I fhould make to Johnson and the other gentlemen whom I had invited, not being able to receive them at home, and being obliged to order fupper at the Mitre. I went to Johnson in the morning, and talked of it as of a serious diftrefs. He laughed, and said, "Confider, Sir, how infignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence."Were this confideration to be applied to moft of the little vexatious incidents of life, by which our quiet is too often difturbed, it would prevent many painful fenfations. I have tried it frequently, with good effect. "There is nothing (continued he) in this mighty misfortune; nay, we shall be better at the Mitre." I told him that I had been at Sir John Fielding's office, complaining of my landlord, and had been informed, that though I had taken my lodgings for a year, I might, upon proof of his bad behaviour, quit them when I pleased, without being under an obligation to pay rent for any longer time than while I poffeffed them. The fertility of Johnson's mind could shew itself even upon fo small a matter as this. "Why, Sir, (faid he,) I fuppofe this must be the law, fince you have been told fo in Bow-street. But, if your landlord could hold you to your bargain, and the lodgings should be yours for a year, you may certainly use them as you think fit. So, Sir, you may quarter two life-guardmen upon him; or you may fend the greateft fcoundrel you can find into your apartments; or you may say that you want to make fome experiments in natural philofophy, and may burn a large quantity of affafoetida in his houfe."

I cannot.

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I cannot allow any fragment whatever that floats in my memory concerning the great fubject of this work to be loft. Though a small particular may appear trifling to fome, it will be relifhed by others, while every little spark adds fomething to the general blaze. And to please the true, candid, warm admirers of Johnfon, and in any degree increase the fplendour of his reputation, I bid defiance to the fhafts of ridicule, or even of malignity; thousands of them have been discharged at my "Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," yet it ftill fails unhurt " along the stream of time," and as an attendant upon Johnfon,-" Purfues the triumph, and partakes the gale."

I had as my guests this evening at the Mitre tavern, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Goldfinith, Mr. Thomas Davies, Mr. Eccles, an Irish gentleman, for whose agreeable company I was obliged to Mr. Davies, and the Reverend Mr. Ogilvie, a Scotch clergyman, authour of feveral poems, who was very defirous of being in company with my illuftrious friend, while I, in my turn, was proud to have the honour of fhewing one of my countrymen upon what easy terms Johnson permitted me to live with him.

Goldsmith, as ufual, endeavoured, with too much eagerness, to fhine, and difputed very warmly with Johnfon against the well-known maxim of the British conftitution, "the King can do no wrong;" affirming, that "what was morally falfe could not be politically true; and as the King right, in the exercise of his regal power, command and cause the doing of what was wrong, it certainly might be faid, in sense and in reason, that he could do wrong.' JOHNSON. "Sir, you are to confider, that in our conftitution, according to its true principles, the King is the head; he is fupreme; he is above every thing, and there is no power by which he can be tried. Therefore it is, Sir, that we hold the King can do no wrong, that whatever may happen to be wrong in government may not be above our reach, by being ascribed to Majesty. Redress is always to be had against oppreffion, by punishing the immediate agents. The King, though he should command, cannot force a Judge to condemn a man unjustly; therefore it is the Judge whom we profecute and punish. Political inftitutions are formed upon the confideration of what will most frequently tend to the good of the whole, although now and then exceptions may occur. Thus it is better in general that a nation should have a fupreme legislative power, although it may at times be abufed. And then, Sir, there is this confideration, that if the abufe be enormous, Nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political fyftem." I mark this animated fentence with peculiar pleasure, as a noble inftance of that truly dignified fpirit of freedom which ever glowed in his heart, though he was



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charged with flavish tenets by fuperficial obfervers, because he was at all times indignant against that false patriotifm, that pretended love of freedom, that unruly restleffness, which is inconfiftent with the ftable authority of any good government.

This generous fentiment, which he uttered with great fervour, ftruck me exceedingly, and stirred my blood to that pitch of fancied resistance, the poffibility of which I am glad to keep in mind, but to which I trust I never shall be forced.

"Great abilities (faid he) are not requifite for an Hiftorian; for in historical compofition, all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiefcent. He has facts ready to his hand; fo there is no exercife of invention. Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is ufed in the lower kinds of poetry. Some penetration, accuracy, and colouring will fit a man for the task, if he can give the application which is neceffary."


Bayle's Dictionary is a very useful work for thofe to confult who love the biographical part of literature, which is what I love moft."

Talking of the eminent writers in Queen Anne's reign, he obferved, "I think Dr. Arbuthnot the first man among them. He was the most universal genius, being an excellent physician, a man of deep learning, and a man of much humour. Mr. Addifon was, to be fure, a great man; his learning was. not profound; but his morality, his humour, and his elegance of writing, fet him very high."

Mr. Ogilvie was unlucky enough to choose for the topick of his conversation the praises of his native country. He began with faying, that there was very rich land round Edinburgh. Goldfmith, who had studied physick there, contradicted this, very untruly, with a fneering laugh. Difconcerted a little by this, Mr. Ogilvie then took new ground, where, I fuppofe, he thought himfelf perfectly fafe; for he obferved, that Scotland had a great many noble wild profpects. JOHNSON. "I believe, Sir, you have a great many. Norway, too, has noble wild profpects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious noble wild prospects. But, Sir, let me tell you, the nobleft profpect which a Scotchman ever fees, is the high road that leads him to England!" This unexpected and pointed fally produced a roar of applaufe. After all, however, those, who admire the rude grandeur of Nature, cannot deny it to Caledonia.

On Saturday, July 9, I found Johnfon furrounded with a numerous levee, but have not preferved any part of his converfation. On the 14th we had another evening by ourselves at the Mitre. It happening to be a very rainy



Etat. 54.

night, I made fome common-place observations on the relaxation of nerves and depreffion of fpirits which fuch weather occafioned; adding, however, that it was good for the vegetable creation. Johnfon, who, as we have already feen, denied that the temperature of the air had any influence on the human frame, anfwered, with a fimile of ridicule, "Why yes, Sir, it is good for vegetables, and for the animals who eat those vegetables, and for the animals who eat those animals." This obfervation of his aptly enough introduced a good fupper; and I foon forgot, in Johnfon's company, the influence of a moist atmosphere.

Feeling myself now quite at ease as his companion, though I had all possible reverence for him, I expreffed a regret that I could not be fo eafy with my father, though he was not much older than him, and certainly had not more learning and greater abilities to deprefs me. I asked him the reafon of this. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I am a man of the world. I live in the world, and I take, in fome degree, the colour of the world as it moves along. Your father is a Judge in a remote part of the island, and all his notions are taken from the old world. Befides, Sir, there must always be a struggle between a father and fon, while one aims at power and the other at independence." I said, I was afraid my father would force me to be a lawyer. JOHNSON. "Sir, you need not be afraid of his forcing you to be a laborious practising lawyer; that is not in his power. For as the proverb says, 'One man may lead a horse to the water, but twenty cannot make him drink.' He may be displeased that you are not what he wishes you to be; but that displeasure will not go far. If he infifts only on your having as much law as is neceffary for a man of property, and then endeavours to get you into Parliament, he is quite in the right."

He enlarged very convincingly upon the excellence of rhyme over blank verse in English poetry. I mentioned to him that Dr. Adam Smith, in his lectures upon compofition, when I ftudied under him in the College of Glasgow, had maintained the fame opinion ftrenuously, and I repeated fome of his arguments. JOHNSON, "Sir, I was once in company with Smith, and we did not take to each other; but had I known that he loved rhyme as much as you tell me he does, I fhould have HUGGED him."

Talking of those who denied the truth of Chriftianity, he faid, "It is always eafy to be on the negative fide. If a man were now to deny that there is falt upon the table, you could not reduce him to an abfurdity. Come, let us try this a little further. I deny that Canada is taken, and I can fupport my denial by pretty good arguments. The French are a much more numerous



people than we; and it is not likely that they would allow us to take it. But the ministry have affured us, in all the formality of the Gazette, that it is Etat. 54 taken.'-Very true. But the ministry have put us to an enormous expence by the war in America, and it is their interest to perfuade us that we have got fomething for our money. But the fact is confirmed by thousands of men who were at the taking of it.'-Ay, but thefe men have ftill more interest in deceiving us. They don't want you should think the French have beat them, but that they have beat the French. Now fuppofe you fhould go over and find that it is really taken, that would only fatisfy yourfelf; for when you come home we will not believe you. We will fay you have been bribed.-Yet, Sir, notwithstanding all these plaufible objections, we have no doubt that Canada is really ours. Such is the weight of common teftimony. How much stronger are the evidences of the Chriftian religion?"

"Idleness is a difeafe which must be combated; but I would not advise a rigid adherence to a particular plan of ftudy. I myself have never perfifted in any plan for two days together. A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good. A young man should read five hours in a day, and fo may acquire a great deal of knowledge."

> To a man of vigourous intellect and ardent curiofity like his own, reading without a regular plan may be beneficial; though even fuch a man must fubmit to it, if he would attain a full understanding of any of the sciences.

To fuch a degree of unreftrained franknefs had he now accustomed me, that in the courfe of this evening I talked of the numerous reflections which had been thrown out against him on account of his having accepted a pension from his present Majesty. Why, Sir, (faid he, with a hearty laugh,) it is a mighty foolish noise that they make. I have accepted of a penfion as a reward which has been thought due to my literary merit; and now that I have this penfion, I am the fame man in every respect that I have ever been; I retain the fame principles. It is true, that I cannot now curfe (fmiling) the houfe of Hanover; nor would it be decent for me to drink King James's health in the wine that King George gives me money to pay for. But, Sir, I think that the pleasure of curfing the house of Hanover, and drinking King James's health, are amply overbalanced by three hundred pounds a year.”

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2 When I mentioned the fame idle clamour to him feveral years afterwards, he faid, with a fmile, "I wish my penfion were twice as large, that they might make twice as much noife."



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