Slike strani



[August 21.

a very long stalk of corn, as a specimen of his crop, and said, 'You see here the latas segetes';' he added, that Virgil seemed to be as enthusiastick a farmer as he', and was certainly a practical one. JOHNSON. 'It does not always follow, my lord, that a man who has written a good poem on an art, has practised it. Philip Miller told me, that in Philips's Cyder, a poem, all the precepts were just, and indeed better than in books written for the purpose of instructing; yet Philips had never made cyder3.'

I started the subject of emigration'. JOHNSON. 'To a man of mere animal life, you can urge no argument against going to America, but that it will be some time before he will get the earth to produce. But a man of any intellectual enjoyment will not easily go and immerse himself and his posterity for ages in barbarism.'

He and my lord spoke highly of Homer. JOHNSON. 'He had all the learning of his age. The shield of Achilles shews a nation in war, a nation in peace; harvest sport, nay, stealing.' MONBODDO. 'Ay, and what we (looking to me)

1 Georgics, i. 1.

2 Walter Scott used to tell an instance of Lord Monboddo's agricultural enthusiasm, that returning home one night after an absence (I think) on circuit, he went out with a candle to look at a field of turnips, then a novelty in Scotland. CROKER.

'Johnson says the same in his Life of John Philips, and adds:'This I was told by Miller, the great gardener and botanist, whose experience was, that "there were many books written on the same subject in prose, which do not contain so much truth as that poem.' Works, vii. 234. Miller is mentioned in Walpole's Letters, ii. 352:'There is extreme taste in the park [Hagley]: the seats are not the best, but there is not one absurdity. There is a ruined castle built by Miller, that would get him his freedom, even of Strawberry: it has the true rust of the Barons' Wars.'

• See ante, p. 29.

'My note of this is much too short. Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio. [I strive to be concise, I prove obscure.' FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet. 1. 25.] Yet as I have resolved that the very Journal which Dr. Johnson read, shall be presented to the publick, I will not expand the text in any considerable degree, though I may occasionally supply a word to complete the sense, as I fill up the blanks of abbreviation,


August 21.] Biography and history compared.


would call a parliament-house scene'; a cause pleaded." JOHNSON. That is part of the life of a nation in peace. And there are in Homer such characters of heroes, and combinations of qualities of heroes, that the united powers of mankind ever since have not produced any but what are to be found there.' MONBODDO. Yet no character is described.' JOHNSON. 'No; they all develope themselves. Agamemnon is always a gentleman-like character; he has always Βασιλικον τι. That the ancients held so, is plain from this; that Euripides, in his Hecuba, makes him the person to interpose'.' MONBODDO. 'The history of manners is the most valuable. I never set a high value on any other history.' JOHNSON. 'Nor I; and therefore I esteem biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn to use".' BosWELL. But in the course of general history,

in the writing; neither of which can be said to change the genuine Journal. One of the best criticks of our age conjectures that the imperfect passage above was probably as follows: In his book we have an accurate display of a nation in war, and a nation in peace; the peasant is delineated as truly as the general; nay, even harvest-sport, and the modes of ancient theft are described.' BOSWELL. One of the best criticks' is, I believe, Malone, who had 'perused the original manuscript.' See ante, p. 1; and post, Oct. 26, and under Nov. II.

1 It was in the Parliament-house that 'the ordinary Lords of Session,' the Scotch Judges, that is to say, held their courts. Ante, p. 44.

* Dr. Johnson modestly said, he had not read Homer so much as he wished he had done. But this conversation shews how well he was acquainted with the Mæonian bard; and he has shewn it still more in his criticism upon Pope's Homer, in his Life of that Poet. My excellent friend, Mr. Langton, told me, he was once present at a dispute between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke, on the comparative merits of Homer and Virgil, which was carried on with extraordinary abilities on both sides. Dr. Johnson maintained the superiority of Homer. BOSWELL. Johnson told Windham that he had never read through the Odyssey in the original. Windham's Diary, p. 17. See ante, iii. 220, and May 1, 1783.

' Johnson ten years earlier told Boswell that he loved most 'the biographical part of literature.' Ante, i. 492. Goldsmith said of biography: It furnishes us with an opportunity of giving advice freely



Promotion of Bishops.

[August 21. we find manners. In wars, we see the dispositions of people, their degrees of humanity, and other particulars.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; but then you must take all the facts to get this; and it is but a little you get.' MONBODDO. 'And it is that little which makes history valuable.' Bravo! thought I; they agree like two brothers. MONBODDO. 'I am sorry, Dr. Johnson, you were not longer at Edinburgh to receive the homage of our men of learning.' JOHNSON. 'My lord, I received great respect and great kindness.' BOSWELL." 'He goes back to Edinburgh after our tour.' We talked of the decrease of learning in Scotland, and of the Muses' Welcome1. JOHNSON. 'Learning is much decreased in England, in my remembrance'.' MONBODDO. 'You, Sir, have lived to see its decrease in England, I its extinction in Scotland.' However, I brought him to confess that the High School of Edinburgh did well. JOHNSON. 'Learning has decreased in England, because learning will not do so much for a man as formerly. There are other ways of getting preferment. Few bishops are now made for their learning. To be a bishop, a man must be learned in a learned age,-factious in a factious age; but always of eminence. Warburton is an exception; though his learning alone did not raise him. He was first an antagonist to Pope, and helped Theobald to publish his Shakspeare; but, seeing Pope the rising man, when Crousaz attacked his Essay on Man, for some faults

and without offence. . . . Counsels as well as compliments are best conveyed in an indirect and oblique manner, and this renders biography as well as fable a most convenient vehicle for instruction. An ingenious gentleman was asked what was the best lesson for youth; he answered, "The life of a good man." Being again asked what was the next best, he replied, "The life of a bad one." Prior's Goldsmith, i. 395.

1 See ante, p. 64.

'Ten years later he said :-'There is now a great deal more learning in the world than there was formerly; for it is universally diffused.' Ante, April 29, 1783. Windham (Diary, p. 17) records 'Johnson's opinion that I could not name above five of my college acquaintances who read Latin with sufficient ease to make it pleasurable.'

3 See ante, ii. 404.

August 21.]

Promotion of Bishops.


which it has, and some which it has not, Warburton defended it in the Review of that time'. This brought him acquainted with Pope, and he gained his friendship. Pope introduced him to Allen, Allen married him to his niece: so, by Allen's interest and his own, he was made a bishop'. But then his learning was the sine qua non: he knew how to make the most of it; but I do not find by any dishonest means.' MONBODDO. 'He is a great man.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; he has great knowledge, great power of mind. Hardly any man brings greater variety of learning to bear upon his point'.' MONBODDO. He is one of the greatest lights of your church.' JOHNSON. Why, we are not so sure of his being very friendly to us*. He blazes, if you will,

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Warburton, whatever was his motive, undertook without solicitation to rescue Pope from the talons of Crousaz, by freeing him from the imputation of favouring fatality, or rejecting revelation; and from month to month continued a vindication of the Essay on Man in the literary journal of that time, called the Republick of Letters.' Johnson's Works, viii. 289. Pope wrote to Warburton of the Essay on Man-You understand my work better than I do myself.' Pope's Works, ed. 1886, ix. 211.

2 See ante, ii. 41, note 3, and Pope's Works, ed. 1886, ix. 220. Allen was Ralph Allen of Prior Park near Bath, to whom Fielding dedicated Amelia, and who is said to have been the original of Allworthy in Tom Jones. It was he of whom Pope wrote:

'Let low-born Allen, with an awkward shame,

Do good by stealth and blush to find it fame.'

Epilogue to the Satires, i. 135. Low-born in later editions was changed to humble. Warburton not only married his niece, but, on his death, became in her right owner of Prior Park.

'Mr. Mark Pattison (Satires of Pope, p. 158) points out Warburton's 'want of penetration in that subject [metaphysics] which he considered more peculiarly his own.' He said of 'the late Mr. Baxter' (Andrew Baxter, not Richard Baxter), that a few pages of his reasoning have not only more sense and substance than all the elegant discourses of Dr. Berkeley, but infinitely better entitle him to the character of a great genius.'

It is of Warburton that Churchill wrote in The Duellist (Poems, ed. 1766, ii. 82):—



The Savage and the Shopkeeper. [August 21.

but that is not always the steadiest light. Lowth is another bishop who has risen by his learning.'

Dr. Johnson examined young Arthur, Lord Monboddo's son, in Latin. He answered very well; upon which he said, with complacency, 'Get you gone! When King James comes back', you shall be in the Muses' Welcome!' My lord and Dr. Johnson disputed a little, whether the Savage or the London Shopkeeper had the best existence; his lordship, as usual, preferring the Savage. My lord was extremely hospitable, and I saw both Dr. Johnson and him liking each other better every hour.

Dr. Johnson having retired for a short time, his lordship spoke of his conversation as I could have wished. Dr. Johnson had said, 'I have done greater feats with my knife than this:' though he had eaten a very hearty dinner. My lord, who affects or believes he follows an abstemious system, seemed struck with Dr. Johnson's manner of living. I had a particular satisfaction in being under the roof of Monboddo, my lord being my father's old friend, and having been always very good to me. We were cordial together. He asked Dr. Johnson and me to stay all night. When I said we must be at Aberdeen, he replied, 'Well, I am like the Romans: I shall say to you, "Happy to come;-happy to depart!" He thanked Dr. Johnson for his visit. JOHNSON. I little thought, when I had the honour to meet your Lordship in London, that I should see you at Monboddo.' After dinner, as the ladies' were going away, Dr. Johnson

To prove his faith which all admit
Is at least equal to his wit,
And make himself a man of note,
He in defence of Scripture wrote;

So long he wrote, and long about it,

That e'en believers 'gan to doubt it.'

'I find some doubt has been entertained concerning Dr. Johnson's meaning here. It is to be supposed that he meant, when a king shall again be entertained in Scotland.' BOSWELL.

'Perhaps among these ladies was the Miss Burnet of Monboddo, on whom Burns wrote an elegy.


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