« PrejšnjaNaprej »
The influence of Peers.
island on quitting it.' I happened luckily, in allusion to the beautiful Queen Mary, whose name is upon the fort, to think of what Virgil makes Æneas say, on having left the country of his charming Dido.
'Invitus, regina, tuo de littore cessi1.'
Very well hit off!' said he.
We dined at Kinghorn, and then got into a post-chaise3. Mr. Nairne and his servant, and Joseph, rode by us. stopped at Cupar, and drank tea. We talked of parliament; and I said, I supposed very few of the members knew much of what was going on, as indeed very few gentlemen know much of their own private affairs. JOHNSON. Why, Sir, if a man is not of a sluggish mind, he may be his own steward. If he will look into his affairs, he will soon learn3. So it is as to publick affairs. There must always be a certain number of men of business in parliament.' BOSWELL. But consider, Sir; what is the House of Commons? Is not a great part of it chosen by peers? Do you think, Sir, they ought to have such an influence?' JOHNSON. Yes, Sir. Influence must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should'.' BOSWELL. But is there not reason to fear that the common people may be oppressed?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Our great fear is from want of power in government. Such a storm of vulgar force has broke in.' BosWELL. 'It has only roared.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it has roared, till the Judges in Westminster - Hall have been afraid to
Unwilling I forsook your friendly state.'
Dryden. [Eneid, vi. 460.] BOSWELL.
2 Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 331) says of his journey to London in 1758-It is to be noted that we could get no four-wheeled chaise till we came to Durham, those conveyances being then only in their infancy. Turnpike roads were only in their commencement in the north.' 'It affords a southern stranger,' wrote Johnson (Works, ix. 2), 'a new kind of pleasure to travel so commodiously without the interruption of toll-gates.'
See ante, iii. 300, for Lord Shelburne's statement on this subject.
* See ante, ii. 389, and iii. 233, note 4.
Decline of learning in Scotland. [August 18.
pronounce sentence in opposition to the popular cry'. You are frightened by what is no longer dangerous, like Presbyterians by Popery.' He then repeated a passage, I think, in Butler's Remains, which ends, and would cry, Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood'.'
We had a dreary drive, in a dusky night, to St. Andrews, where we arrived late. We found a good supper at Glass's inn, and Dr. Johnson revived agreeably. He said, 'the collection called The Muses' Welcome to King James, (first of England, and sixth of Scotland,) on his return to his native kingdom, shewed that there was then abundance of learning in Scotland; and that the conceits in that collection, with which people find fault, were mere mode.' He added, 'we could not now entertain a sovereign so; that Buchanan had spread the spirit of learning amongst us, but we had lost it during the civil wars'.' He did not allow the Latin Poetry
1 See ante, iii. 54.
The passage quoted by Dr. Johnson is in the Character of the Assembly-man; Butler's Remains, p. 232, edit. 1754-He preaches, indeed, both in season and out of season; for he rails at Popery, when the land is almost lost in Presbytery; and would cry Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood.'
There is reason to believe that this piece was not written by Butler, but by Sir John Birkenhead; for Wood, in his Athena Oxonienses, vol. ii. p. 640, enumerates it among that gentleman's works, and gives the following account of it:
The Assembly-man (or the character of an assembly-man) written 1647, Lond. 1662-3, in three sheets in qu. The copy of it was taken from the author by those who said they could not rob, because all was theirs; so excised what they liked not; and so mangled and reformed it, that it was no character of an Assembly, but of themselves. At length, after it had slept several years, the author published it to avoid false copies. It is also reprinted in a book entit. Wit and Loyalty revived, in a collection of some smart satyrs in verse and prose on the late times. Lond. 1682, qu. said to be written by Abr. Cowley, Sir John Birkenhead, and Hudibras, alias Sam. Butler.'-For this information I am indebted to Mr. Reed, of Staple Inn. BOSWELL. This tract is in the Harleian Misc., ed. 1810, vi. 57. Mr. Reed's quotation differs somewhat from it.
When a Scotchman was talking against Warburton, Johnson said of
Saint Leonard's College.
of Pitcairne so much merit as has been usually attributed to it; though he owned that one of his pieces, which he mentioned, but which I am sorry is not specified in my notes, was, ' very well.' It is not improbable that it was the poem which Prior has so elegantly translated'.
After supper, we made a procession to Saint Leonard's College, the landlord walking before us with a candle, and the waiter with a lantern. That college had some time before been dissolved; and Dr. Watson, a professor here, (the historian of Philip II.) had purchased the ground, and what buildings remained. When we entered this court, it seemed quite academical; and we found in his house very comfortable and genteel accommodation'.
he had more literature than had been imported from Scotland since the days of Buchanan. Upon the other's mentioning other eminent writers of the Scotch; "These will not do," said Johnson, “Let us have some more of your northern lights; these are mere farthing candles." Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 208. Dr. T. Campbell records (Diary, p. 61) that at the dinner at Mr. Dilly's, described ante, ii. 387, 'Dr. Johnson compared England and Scotland to two lions, the one saturated with his belly full, and the other prowling for prey. He defied any one to produce a classical book written in Scotland since Buchanan. Robertson, he said, used pretty words, but he liked Hume better; and neither of them would he allow to be more to Clarendon than a rat to a cat. "A Scotch surgeon may have more learning than an English one, and all Scotland could not muster learning enough for Lowth's Prelections." See ante, ii. 416, and March 30, 1783.
1 The poem is entitled Gualterus Danistonus ad Amicos. It begins: 'Dum studeo fungi fallentis munere vitæ.' Which Prior imitates:
'Studious the busy moments to deceive.'
Sir Walter Scott thought that the poem praised by Johnson was 'more likely the fine epitaph on John, Viscount of Dundee, translated by Dryden, and beginning Ultime Scotorum! Archibald Pitcairne, M.D., was born in 1652, and died in 1713.
* My Journal, from this day inclusive, was read by Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL. It was read by Johnson up to the second paragraph of Oct. 26. Boswell, it should seem, once at least shewed Johnson a part of the Journal from which he formed his Life. See ante, iii. 295, where he says:-'It delighted him on a review to find that his conversation tecmed with point and imagery.'
Literature and patronage.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19.
We rose much refreshed. I had with me a map of Scotland, a bible which was given me by Lord Mountstuart when we were together in Italy', and Ogden's Sermons on Prayer; Mr. Nairne introduced us to Dr. Watson, whom we found a well-informed man, of very amiable manners. Dr. Johnson, after they were acquainted, said, 'I take great delight in him.' His daughter, a very pleasing young lady, made breakfast. Dr. Watson observed, that Glasgow University had fewer home-students, since trade increased, as learning was rather incompatible with it. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, as trade is now carried on by subordinate hands, men in trade have as much leisure as others; and now learning itself is a trade. A man goes to a bookseller, and gets what he can. We have done with patronage". In the infancy of learning, we find some great man praised for it. This diffused it among others. When it becomes general, an authour leaves the great, and applies to the multitude.' BOSWELL. It is a shame that authours are not now better patronized.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. If learning cannot support a man, if he must sit with his hands across till somebody feeds him, it is as to him a bad thing, and it is better as it is. With patronage, what flattery! what falsehood! While a man is in equilibrio, he throws truth among the multitude, and lets them take it as they please; in patronage, he must say what pleases his patron, and it is an equal chance whether that be
1 See ante, ii. 23, note 2.
2 Goldsmith, in his Present State of Polite Learning, published in 1759, says (ch. x):- When the great Somers was at the helm, patronage was fashionable among our nobility . . . Since the days of a certain prime minister of inglorious memory [Sir Robert Walpole] the learned have been kept pretty much at a distance. . . . The author, when unpatronised by the Great, has naturally recourse to the bookseller. There cannot be perhaps imagined a combination more prejudicial to taste than this. It is the interest of the one to allow as little for writing, and of the other to write as much as possible; accordingly tedious compilations and periodical magazines are the result of their joint endeavours.'
Change of manners.
truth or falsehood.' WATSON. But is not the case now, that, instead of flattering one person, we flatter the age?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. The world always lets a man tell what he thinks, his own way. I wonder, however, that so many people have written, who might have let it alone. That people should endeavour to excel in conversation, I do not wonder; because in conversation praise is instantly reverberated'.'
We talked of change of manners. Dr. Johnson observed, that our drinking less than our ancestors was owing to the change from ale to wine. I remember, (said he,) when all the decent people in Lichfield got drunk every night, and were not the worse thought of. Ale was cheap, so you pressed strongly. When a man must bring a bottle of wine, he is not in such haste. Smoking has gone out. To be sure, it is a shocking thing, blowing smoke out of our mouths into other people's mouths, eyes, and noses, and having the same thing done to us. Yet I cannot account, why a thing which requires so little exertion, and yet preserves the mind from total vacuity, should have gone out. Every man has something by which he calms himself: beating with his feet, or so. I remember when people in England changed a shirt only once a week": a Pandour, when he gets a shirt,
1 In the first number of The Rambler, Johnson shews how attractive to an author is the form of publication which he was himself then adopting It heightens his alacrity to think in how many places he shall have what he is now writing read with ecstacies to-morrow.'
2 Yet he said 'the inhabitants of Lichfield were the most sober, decent people in England.' Ante, ii. 531.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, says Goldsmith, 'smoking in the rooms [at Bath] was permitted.' When Nash became King of Bath he put it down. Goldsmith's Works, ed. 1854, iv. 51. 'Johnson,' says Boswell (ante, i. 367), 'had a high opinion of the sedative influence of smoking.'
• Dr. Johnson used to practise this himself very much. BOSWELL. In The Tatler, for May 24, 1709, we are told that 'rural esquires wear shirts half a week, and are drunk twice a day.' In the year 1720, Fenton urged Gay 'to sell as much South Sea stock as would purchase a hundred a year for life, "which will make you sure of a clean