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436

Johnson's library.

(A.D. 1763.

and in great confusion'. The floor was strewed with manuscript leaves, in Johnson's own hand-writing, which I beheld with a degree of veneration, supposing they perhaps might contain portions of The Rambler or of Rasselas. I observed an apparatus for chymical experiments, of which Johnson was all his life very fond”. The place seemed to be very favourable for retirement and meditation. Johnson told me, that he went up thither without mentioning it to his servant, when he wanted to study, secure from interruption; for he would not allow his servant to say he was not at home when he really was. “A servant's strict regard for truth, (said he) must be weakened by such a practice. A philosopher may know that it is merely a form of denial; but few servants are such nice distinguishers. If I accustom a servant to tell a lie for me, have I not reason to apprehend that he will tell many lies for himself. I am, however, satisfied that every servant, of any degree of intelligence, understands saying his master is not at home, not at all as the affirmation of a fact, but as customary words, intimating that his master wishes not to be seen; so that there can be no bad effect from it.

Mr. Temple, now vicar of St. Gluvias, Cornwall}, who had

1

Gent. Mag. vi. 110. The son is mentioned in Johnson's Works, viii. 282.

July 19, 1763. I was with Mr. Johnson to-day. I was in his garret up four pair of stairs ; it is very airy, commands a view of St. Paul's and many a brick roof. He has many good books, but they are all lying in confusion and dust.' Letters of Boswell, p. 30. On Good Friday, 1764, Johnson made the following entry :- I hope to put my rooms in order : Disorder I have found one great cause of idleness.' On his birth-day in the same year he wrote :

-To-morrow I purpose to regulate my room. Pr. and Med. pp. 50, 6o.

• See ante, p. 140, and post, under Sept. 9, 1779.

3 Afterwards Rector of Mamhead,

Devonshire. He is the grandfather of the present Bishop of London. He and Boswell had been fellowstudents at the University of Edinburgh, and seemed in youth to have had an equal amount of conceit.

Recollect,' wrote Boswell, 'how you and I flattered ourselves that we were to be the greatest men of our age.' Letters of Boswell, p. 159. They began to correspond at least as early as 1758. The last letter was one from Boswell on his deathbed. Johnson thus mentions Teinple (Works, viii. 480) :-'Gray's character I am willing to adopt, as Mr. Mason has done, from letter written to my friend Mr. Boswell by the Revd. Mr. Temple, Rector of St. Gluvias in Cornwall; and am as willing as his warmest well-wisher to believe it true.'

been

a

Aetat. 54.)

Copyright in books.

437

SO

been my intimate friend for many years, had at this time chambers in Farrar's-buildings, at the bottom of Inner Temple-lane, which he kindly lent me upon my quitting my lodgings, he being to return to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I found them particularly convenient for me, as they were

near Dr. Johnson's.

On Wednesday, July 20, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Dempster, and my uncle Dr. Boswell, who happened to be now in London, supped with me at these Chambers. JOHNSON. ‘Pity is not natural to man. Children are always cruel. Savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; for we have not pity unless we wish to relieve them. When I am on my way to dine with a friend, and finding it late, have bid the coachman make haste, if I happen to attend when he whips his horses, I may feel unpleasantly that the animals are put to pain, but I do not wish him to desist. No, Sir, I wish him to drive on.'

Mr. Alexander Donaldson, bookseller of Edinburgh, had for some time opened a shop in London, and sold his cheap editions of the most popular English books, in defiance of the supposed common-law right of Literary Property'. Johnson, though he concurred in the opinion which was afterwards sanctioned by a judgement of the House of Lords”, that there was no such right,

• Johnson (Works, vii. 240) quotes of them !! See post, May 8, 1773, the following by Edmund Smith, and Feb. 7, 1774; and Boswell's written some time after 1708:— It Hebrides, Aug. 17 and 20, 1773. will sound oddly to posterity, that, in 2 'The question arose, after the a polite nation, in an enlightened passing of the first statute respecting age, under the direction of the most literary property in 1710, whether by wise, most learned, and most gener certain of its provisions this perous encouragers of knowledge in the petual copyright at common law was world, the property of a mechanick extinguished for the future. The should be better secured than that of question was solemnly argued before a scholar! that the poorest manual the Court of King's Bench, when operations should be more valued Lord Mansfield presided, in 1769. than the noblest products of the The result was a decision in favour brain ! that it should be felony to of the common-law right as unaltered rob a cobbler of a pair of shoes, and by the statute, with the disapproval no crime to deprive the best authour however of Mr. Justice Yates. In of his whole subsistence! that no 1774 the same point was brought thing should make a man a sure title before the House of Lords, and the to his own writings but the stupidity decision of the court below reversed

was

438

Copyright in books.

(A.D. 1763

was at this time very angry that the Booksellers of London, for whom he uniformly professed much regard, should suffer from an invasion of what they had ever considered to be secure: and he was loud and violent against Mr. Donaldson. He is a fellow who takes advantage of the law to injure his brethren; for, notwithstanding that the statute secures only fourteen years of exclusive right, it has always been understood by the trade”, that he, who buys the copyright of a book from the authour, obtains a perpetual property; and upon that belief, numberless bargains are made to transfer that property after the expiration of the statutory term. Now Donaldson, I say, takes advantage here, of people who have really an equitable title from usage; and if we consider how few of the books, of which they buy the property, succeed so well as to bring profit, we should be of opinion that the term of fourteen years is too short; it should be sixty years.' DEMPSTER. 'Donaldson, Sir, is anxious for the encouragement of literature. He reduces the price of books, so that poor students may buy them?' JOHNSON, (laughing) 'Well, Sir, allowing that to be his motive, he is no better than Robin Hood, who robbed the rich in order to give to the poor.' by a majority of six judges in eleven, the judges behind him, full of rage as Lord Mansfield, who adhered to at being drawn into so absurd an the opinion of the minority, declined opinion, and abandoned in it by their to interfere ; it being very unusual, chief; the Bishops waking, as your from motives of delicacy, for a peer Lordship knows they do, just beto support his own judgment on ap fore they vote, and staring on findpeal to the House of Lords.' Penny ing something the matter; while Cyclo. viii. 1. See post, Feb. 7, 1774. Lord Townshend was close to the Lord Shelburne, on Feb 27, 1774, bar, getting Mr. Dunning to put humourously describes the scene in up his glass to look at the head of the Lords to the Earl of Chatham : criminal justice.' Chatham Corres. "Lord Mansfield showed himself the merest Captain Bobadil that, I sup " See post, April 15, 1778, note. pose, ever existed in real life. You ? Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, iii. 178), can, perhaps, imagine to yourself complaining of the high prices of Eng. the Bishop of Carlyle, an old meta lish books, describes the excessive physical head of a college, reading a artifices made use of to puff up a paper paper, not a speech, out of an old of verses into a pamphlet, a pamphsermon book, with very bad sight, let into an octavo, and an octavo leaning on the table, Lord Mansfield into a quarto with white-lines, exsitting at it, with eyes of fixed melan orbitant margins, &c., to such a choly looking at him, knowing that degree that the selling of paper seems the bishop's were the only eyes in now the object, and printing on it the House who could not meet his ; only the pretence.'

iv. 327

Aetat. 54.]

Hume's style.

439

It is remarkable, that when the great question concerning Literary Property came to be ultimately tried before the supreme tribunal of this country, in consequence of the very spirited exertions of Mr. Donaldson', Dr. Johnson was zealous against a perpetuity; but he thought that the term of the exclusive right of authours should be considerably enlarged. He was then for granting a hundred years.

The conversation now turned upon Mr. David Hume's style. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, his style is not English; the structure of his sentences is French?. Now the French structure and the English structure may, in the nature of things, be equally good. But if you allow that the English language is established, he is wrong. My name might originally have been Nicholson, as well as Johnson; but were you to call me Nicholson now, you would call me very absurdly.'

Rousseau's treatise on the inequality of mankind was at this time a fashionable topick. It gave rise to an observation by

like

a

* Boswell was on friendly terms 426) :-'Mr. Hume is the only thing with him. He wrote to Erskine on in the world that they (the French] Dec. 2, 1761 :-'I am just now re believe implicitly; which they must turned from eating a most excellent do, for I defy them to understand pig with the most magnificent any language that he speaks.' Gibbon Donaldson. Boswell and Erskine (Misc. Works, i. 122) says of Hume's Correspondence, p. 20.

writings :-* Their careless inimitable ? Dr. Carlyle (Auto. p. 516) says beauties often forced me to close the that Lord Mansfield this year (1769) volume with a mixed sensation of ‘talking of Hume and Robertson's delight and despair. Dr. Beattie Histories, said that though he could (Life, p. 243) wrote on Jan. 5, point out few or no faults in them, 1778:-'We who live in Scotland yet, when he was reading their books, are obliged to study English from he did not think he was reading books,

dead language, English.' See post, ii. 72, for Hume's which we understand, but cannot Scotticisms. Hume went to France speak. He adds :-'I have spent in 1734 when he was 23 years some years in labouring to acquire old and stayed there three years. the art of giving a vernacular cast Hume's Autobiography, p. vii. He to the English we write.' Dr. A. never mastered French colloquially. Carlyle (Auto, p. 222) says : -Since Lord Charlemont, who met him in we began to affect speaking a Turin in 1748, says :-'His speech foreign language, which the English in English was rendered ridiculous dialect is to us, humour, it must be by the broadest Scotch accent, and confessed, is less ap ent in converhis French was, if possible, still more sation.' laughable.' Hardy's Charlemont, i. 3 Discours sur l'origine et les 15. Horace Walpole, who met him fondemens de l'inégalité parmi les in Paris in 1765, writes (Letters, iv. hommes, 1754.

Mr. Dempster

440

Merit set against fortune.

(A.D. 1763

Mr. Dempster, that the advantages of fortune and rank were nothing to a wise man, who ought to value only merit. JOHNSON. “If man were a savage, living in the woods by himself, this might be true; but in civilized society we all depend upon each other, and our happiness is very much owing to the good opinion of mankind. Now, Sir, in civilized society, external advantages make us more respected. A man with a good coat upon his back meets with a better reception than he who has a bad one'. Sir, you may analyse this, and say what is there in it? But that will avail you nothing, for it is a part of a general system. Pound St. Paul's Church into atoms, and consider any single atom; it is, to be sure, good for nothing: but, put all these atoms together, and you have St. Paul's Church. So it is with human felicity, which is made up of many ingredients, each of which may be shewn to be very insignificant. In civilized society, personal merit will not serve you so much as money will. Sir, you may make the experiment. Go into the street, and give one man a lecture on morality, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most. If you wish only to support nature, Sir William Petty fixes your allowance at three pounds a year? ; but as times are much altered, let us call it six pounds. This sum will fill your belly, shelter you from the weather, and even get you a strong lasting coat, supposing it to be made of good bull's hide. Now, Sir, all · beyond this is artificial, and is desired in order to obtain a greater degree of respect from our fellow-creatures. And, Sir, if six hundred pounds a year procure a man more consequence, and, of course, more happiness than six pounds a year, the same proportion will hold as to six thousand, and so on as far as opulence can be carried. Perhaps he who has a large fortune may not be so happy as he who has a small one; but that must proceed from other causes than from his having the large fortune : for, cæteris paribus, he who is rich in a civilized society, must be happier than he who is poor; as riches, if properly used, (and it is a man's own fault if they

''I have indeed myself observed * Mr. Croker, quoting Mr. Wright, that my banker ever bows lowest to says :—'See his Quantulumanque me when I wear my full-bottomed (sic) concerning Money.' I have read wig, and writes me Mr. or Esq., ac Petty's Quantulumcunque, but do not cordingly as he sees me dressed.' find the passage in it. Spectator, No. 150.

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