« PrejšnjaNaprej »
Importance of the chastity of women. (Sept. 14.
great difference between the licentiousness of a single woman, and that of a married woman.' JOHNSON. “Yes, Sir; there is a great difference between stealing a shilling, and stealing a thousand pounds; between simply taking a man's purse, and murdering him first, and then taking it. But when one begins to be vicious, it is easy to go on. Where single women are licentious, you rarely find faithful married women.' BOSWELL. “And yet we are told that in some nations in India, the distinction is strictly observed.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, don't give us India. That puts me in mind of Montesquieu, who is really a fellow of genius too in many respects; whenever he wants to support a strange opinion, he quotes you the practice of Japan or of some other distant country of which he knows nothing. To support polygamy, he tells
. you of the island of Formosa, where there are ten women born for one man'. He had but to suppose another island, where there are ten men born for one woman, and so make a marriage between them”.'
At supper, Lady M‘Leod mentioned Dr. Cadogan's book on the gout'. JOHNSON. “It is a good book in general, but a foolish one in particulars. It is good in general, as recommending temperance and exercise, and cheerfulness. In that respect it is only Dr. Cheyne's book told in a new way;
Johnson refers, I think, to a passage in L'Esprit des Lois, Book xvi. chap. 4, where Montesquieu says : J'avoue que si ce que les relations nous disent était vrai, qu'à Bantam il y a dix femmes pour un homme, ce serait un cas bien particulier de la polygamie. Dans tout ceci je ne justifie pas les usages, mais j'en rends les raisons.'
; What my friend treated as so wild a supposition, has actually happened in the Western islands of Scotland, if we may believe Martin, who tells it of the islands of Col and Tyr-yi, and says that it is proved by the parish registers. Boswell. “The Isle of Coll produces more boys than girls, and the Isle of Tire-iy more girls than boys; as if nature intended both these isles for mutual alliances, without being at the trouble of going to the adjacent isles or continent to be matched. The parish-book in which the number of the baptised is to be seen, confirms this observation. Martin's Western Islands, p. 271.
: A Dissertation on the Gout, by W. Cadogan, M.D., 1771. It went through nine editions in its first year,
Sept. 14.] The doctrine and practice of authours.
and there should come out such a book every thirty years,
is like a fever when gone.' Lady M'Leod objected that the author does not practise what he teaches'. JOHNSON. “I cannot help that, madam. That does not make his book the worse. People are influenced more by what a man says, if his practice is suitable to it,-because they are blockheads. The more intellectual people are, the readier will they attend to what a man tells them. If it is just, they will follow it, be his practice what it will. No man practises so well as he writes. I have, all
I have, all my life long, been lying till noon”; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good. Only consider! You read a book; you are convinced by it; you do not know the authour. Suppose you
afterwards know him, and find that he does not practise what he teaches; are you to give up your former conviction? At this rate you would be kept in a state of equilibrium, when reading every book, till you knew how the authour practised”. But,' said Lady MʻLeod, ‘you would think better of Dr. Cadogan, if he acted according to his
' This was a general reflection against Dr. Cadogan, when his very popular book was first published. It was said, that whatever precepts he might give to others, he himself indulged freely in the bottle. But I have since had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him, and if his own testimony may be believed, (and I have never heard it impeached), his course of life has been conformable to his doctrine. Boswell.
* *April 7, 1765. I purpose to rise at eight, because, though I shall not yet rise early, it will be much earlier than I now rise, for I often lie till two.' Pr. and Med. p. 62. •Sept. 18, 1771. My nocturnal complaints grow less troublesome towards morning; and I am tempted to repair the deficiencies of the night. I think, however, to try to rise every day by eight, and to combat indolence as I shall obtain strength. Ib. p. 105. April 14, 1775. As my life has from my earliest years been wasted in a morning bed, my purpose is from Easter day to rise early, not later than eight.' Ib. p. 139. * See post, Oct. 25.
Good humour acquirable.
principles.' JOHNSON. “Why, Madam, to be sure, a man who acts in the face of light, is worse than a man who does not know so much; yet I think no man should be the worse thought of for publishing good principles. There is something noble in publishing truth, though it condemns one's self'.' I expressed some surprize at Cadogan’s recommending good humour, as if it were quite in our own power to attain it. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, a man grows better humoured as he grows older. He improves by experience. When young, he thinks himself of great consequence, and every thing of importance. As he advances in life, he learns to think himself of no consequence, and little things of little importance; and so he becomes more patient, and better pleased. All good-humour and complaisance are acquired. Naturally a child seizes directly what it sees, and thinks of pleasing itself only. By degrees, it is taught to please others, and to prefer others; and that this will ultimately produce the greatest happiness. If a man is not convinced of that, he never will practise it. Common language speaks the truth as to this: we say, a person is well bred. As it is said, that all material motion is primarily in a right line, and is never per circuitum, never in another form, unless by some particular cause; so it may be said intellectual motion is.' Lady M‘Leod asked, if no man was naturally good ? JOHNSON. “No, Madam, no more than a wolf.' BOSWELL. Nor no woman, Sir ?' JOHNSON. “No, Sir?.' Lady MʻLeod started at this, saying, in a low voice, 'This is worse than Swift.' M‘Leod of Ulinish had come in the afternoon. We were
. a jovial company at supper. The Laird, surrounded by so many of his clan, was to me a pleasing sight. They listened
See ante, iv. under Dec. 2, 1784. · Miss Mulso (Mrs. Chapone) wrote in 1753:— I had the assurance to dispute with Mr. Johnson on the subject of human malignity, and wondered to hear a man, who by his actions shews so much benevolence, maintain that the human heart is naturally malevolent, and that all the benevolence we see in the few who are good is acquired by reason and religion.' Life of lrs. Chapone, p. 73. See post, p. 244.
Sir George Mackenzie's Works.
with wonder and pleasure, while Dr. Johnson harangued. I am vexed that I cannot take down his full strain of eloquence.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. The gentlemen of the clan went away early in the morning to the harbour of Lochbradale, to take leave of some of their friends who were going to America. It was a very wet day. We looked at Rorie More's horn, which is a large cow's horn, with the mouth of it ornamented with silver curiously carved. It holds rather more than a bottle and a half. Every Laird of M.Leod, it is said, must, as a proof of his manhood, drink it off full of claret, without laying it down. From Rorie More many of the branches of the family are descended; in particular, the Talisker branch; so that his name is much talked of. We also saw his bow, which hardly any man now can bend, and his Glaymore, which was wielded with both hands, and is of a prodigious size. We saw here some old pieces of iron armour, immensely heavy. The broadsword now used, though called the Glaymore, (i.e. the great sword,) is much smaller than that used in Rorie More's time. There is hardly a target now to be found in the Highlands. After the disarming act', they made them serve as covers to their butter-milk barrels; a kind of change, like beating spears into pruning-hooks'.
Sir George Mackenzie's Works (the folio edition) happened to lie in a window in the dining room. I asked Dr. Johnson to look at the Characteres Advocatorum. He allowed him power of mind, and that he understood very well what he tells'; but said, that there was too much declamation,
· This act was passed in 1746. ? Isaiah, ii. 4.
: Sir Walter Scott, after mentioning Lord Orford's (Horace Walpole) History of His Own Time, continues :—The Memoirs of our
Scots by Sir George Mackenzie are of the same class—both immersed in little political detail, and the struggling skirmish of party, seem to have lost sight of the great progressive movements of human affairs.' Lockhart's Scott, vii. 12. V.-16
Burke's joking and eloquence.
and that the Latin was not correct. He found fault with appropinquabant', in the character of Gilmour. I tried him with the opposition between gloria and palma, in the comparison between Gilmour and Nisbet, which Lord Hailes, in his Catalogue of the Lords of Session, thinks difficult to be understood. The words are, 'penes illum gloria, penes hunc palma'.' In a short Account of the Kirk of Scotland, which I published some years ago, I applied these words to the two contending parties, and explained them thus : 'The popular party has most eloquence: Dr. Robertson's party most influence.' I was very desirous to hear Dr. Johnson's explication. JOHNSON. “I see no difficulty. Gilmour was admired for his parts; Nisbet carried his cause by his skill in law. Palma is victory.' I observed, that the character of Nicholson, in this book resembled that of Burke: for it is said, in one place, ' in omnes lusos & jocos se sæpe resolvebat* ;' and, in another, sed accipitris more e conspectu aliquando astantium sublimi se protrahens volatu, in prædam miro ima petu descendebat*.' JOHNSON. “No, Sir; I never heard
. Burke make a good joke in my life”. BOSWELL. “But, Sir, you will allow he is a hawk.' Dr. Johnson, thinking that I meant this of his joking, said, 'No, Sir, he is not the hawk
''Illum jura potius ponere quam de jure respondere dixisses; eique appropinquabant clientes tanquam judici potius quam advocato.' Mackenzie's Works, ed. 1716, vol. i. part 2, p. 7.
* Opposuit ei providentia Nisbetum : qui summâ doctrinâ consummatâque eloquentiâ causas agebat, ut justitiæ scalæ in æquilibrio essent; nimiâ tamen arte semper utens artem suam suspectam reddebat. Quoties ergo conflixerunt, penes Gilmorum gloria, penes Nisbetum palma fuit; quoniam in hoc plus artis et cultus, in illo naturæ et virium.' 16.
• He often indulged himself in every species of pleasantry and wit. BOSWELL.
• But like the hawk, having soared with a lofty flight to a height which the eye could not reach, he was wont to swoop upon his quarry with wonderful rapidity. BOSWELL. These two quotations are part of the same paragraph, and are not even separated by a word. Ib. p. 6.
. s See ante, i. 525; iii. 367; iv. 319; and v. 35.