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themselves in a plain and familiar manner, which is the only way to do good to the common people, and which clergymen of genius and learning ought to do from a principle of duty, when it is suited to their congregations; a practice, for which they will be praised by men of sense. To insist against drunkenness as a crime, because it debases reason, the noblest faculty of man, would be of no service to the common people, but to tell them that they may die in a fit of drunkenness and show them how dreadful that would be, cannot fail to make a deep impression. Sir, when your Scotch clergy give up their homely manner, religion will soon decay in that country.” Let this observation, as Johnson meant it, be ever remembered.
I was much pleased to find myself with JohnSon at Greenwich, which he celebrates in his “London” as a favourite scene. I had the poem in my pocket, and read the lines aloud with enthusiasm:
“On Thames's banks in silent thought we stood, Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood; Pleased with the seat which gave Eliza birth, We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth.”
He remarked that the structure of Greenwich hospital was too magnificent for a place of charity, and that its parts were too much detached, to make one great whole. Buchanan, he said, was a very fine poet; and observed, that he was the first who complimented a lady, by ascribing to her the different perfections of the heathen goddesses; but that Johnstone improved upon this, by making his lady, at the same time, free from their defects. He dwelt upon Buchanan's elegant verses to Mary Queen of Scots, Nympha Caledoniae, etc., and spoke with enthusiasm of the beauty of Latin verse. “All the modern languages,” said he, “cannot furnish so melodious a line as ‘Formosam resonare doces Amarillida silvas.” Afterwards he entered upon the business of the day, which was to give me, his advice as to a course of study. And here I am to mention with much regret, that my record of what he said is miserably scanty. I recollect with admiration an animating blaze of eloquence, which roused every intellectual power in me to the highest pitch, but must have dazzled me so much that my memory could not preserve the substance of his discourse; for the note which I find of it is no more than this: – “He ran over the grand scale of human knowledge;
advised me to select some particular branch to excel in, but to acquire a little of every kind.” The defect of my minutes will be fully supplied by a long letter upon the subject, which he favoured me with after I had been some time at Utrecht, and which my readers will have the pleasure to peruse in its proper place. We walked, in the evening, in Greenwich Park. He asked me, I suppose, by way of trying my disposition, “Is not this very fine?” — Having no exquisite relish of the beauties of nature, and being more delighted with “the busy hum of men,” I answered, “Yes, Sir, but not equal to Fleet-street.” Johnson: “You are right, Sir.” I am aware that many of my readers may censure my want of taste. Let me, however, shelter myself under the authority of a very fashionable baronet in the brilliant world, who, on his attention being called to the fragrance of a May evening in the country, observed, “This may be very well; but for my part, I prefer the smell of a flambeau at the playhouse.” We stayed so long at Greenwich, that our sail up the river, in our return to London, was by no means so pleasant as in the morning; for the night air was so cold that it made me shiver, I was the more sensible of it from having sat up all the night before recollecting and writing in my journal what I thought worthy of pres: ervation; an exertion which during the first part of my acquaintance with Johnson, I frequently made. I remember having sat up four nights in one week, without being much incommoded in the day-time. Johnson, whose robust frame was not in the least affected by the cold, scolded me, as if my shivering had been a paltry effeminacy, say. ing, “Why do you shiver?” Sir William Scott, of the Commons, told me that when he complained of a headache in the post-chaise, as they were travelling together to Scotland, Johnson treated him in the same manner: “At your age, Sir, I had no headache.” It is not easy to make allowance for sensations in others, which we ourselves have not at the time. We must all have experienced how very dif. ferently we are affected by the complaints of our neighbours, when we are well, and when we are ill. In full health, we can scarcely believe that they suffer much; so faint is the image of pain upon our imagination: when softened by sickness, we readily sympathise with the sufferings of others. We concluded the day at the Turk's Head coffee-house very socially. He was pleased to listen to a particular account which I gave him of my family, and of its hereditary estate, as to the extent and population of which he asked questions, and made calculations; recommending, at the same time, a liberal kindness to the tenantry, as people over whom the proprietor was placed by Providence. He took delight in hearing my description of the romantic seat of my ancestors. “I must be there, Sir,” said he, “and we will live in the old castle; and if there is not a room in it remaining, we will build one.” I was highly flattered, but could scarcely indulge a hope that Auchinleck would indeed be honoured by his presence, and celebrated by a description, as it afterwards was, in his “Journey to the Western Islands.” After we had again talked of my setting out for Holland, he said, “I must see thee out of England; I will accompany you to Harwich.” I could not find words to express what I felt upon this unexpected and very great mark of his affectionate regard. Next day, Sunday, July 3, I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” On Tuesday, August 2, (the day of my departure from London having been fixed for the 5th,) Dr. Johnson did me the honour to pass a part of the morning with me at my chambers. He said, “that he always felt an inclination to do nothing.” I observed, that it was strange to think that the most indolent man in Britain had written the most laborious work, “The English Dictionary.” I mentioned an imprudent publication by a certain friend of his, at an early period of
life, and asked him if he thought it would hurt
him. Johnson: “No, Sir; not much. It may perhaps be mentioned at an election.” I had now made good my title to be a privileged man, and was carried by him in the evening to drink tea with Miss Williams, whom, though under the misfortune of having lost her sight, I found to be agreeable in conversation, for she had a variety of literature, and expressed herself well; but her peculiar value was the intimacy in which she had long lived with Johnson, by which she was well acquainted with his habits, and knew how to lead him on to talk. After tea he carried me to what he called his walk, which was a long narrow paved court in the neighbourhood, overshadowed by some
trees. There we sauntered a considerable time, and I complained to him that my love of London and of his company was such, that I shrunk almost from the thought of going away even to travel, which is generally so much desired by young men. He roused me by manly and spirited conversation. He advised me, when settled in any place abroad, to study with an eagerness after knowledge, and to apply to Greek an hour every day; and when I was moving about, to read diligently the great book of mankind.
On Wednesday, August 3, we had our last social evening at the Turk's Head coffee-house, before my setting out for foreign parts. I had the misfortune, before we parted to irritate him unintentionally. I mentioned to him how common it was in the world to tell absurd stories of him, and to ascribe to him very strange sayings. Johnson: “What do they make me say, Sir?” Boswell: “Why, Sir, as an instance very strange indeed,” laughing heartily as I spoke, “David Hume told me, you said that you would stand before a battery of cannon to restore the Convocation to its full powers.” Little did I apprehend that he had actually said this: but I was soon convinced of my error; for, with a determined look he thundered out, “And would I not, Sir? Shall the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland have its General Assembly, and the Church of England be denied its Convocation?” He was walking up and down the room while I told him the anecdote; but, when he uttered this explosion of high-church zeal he had come close to my chair, and his eyes flashed with indignation. I bowed to the storm, and diverted the force of it, by leading him to expatiate on the influence which religion derived from maintaining the church with great external respectability.
I must not omit to mention that he this year wrote “The Life of Ascham,” and the Dedication to the Earl of Shaftesbury, prefixed to the edition of that writer's English works, published by Mr. Bennet.
JUNIUS [? SIR PHILIP FRANCIS
May 30, 1760. My Lord, y 30, 1769
If the measures in which you have been most successful had been supported by any tolerable
appearance of argument, I should have thought my time not ill employed in continuing to examine your conduct as a minister, and stating it fairly to the public. But when I see questions, of the highest national importance, carried as they have been, and the first principles of the constitution openly violated without argument or decency, I confess I give up the cause in despair. The meanest of your predecessors had abilities sufficient to give a colour to their measures. If they invaded the rights of the people, they did not dare to offer a direct insult to their understanding; and, in former times, the most venal parliaments made it a condition, in their bargain with the minister, that he should furnish them with some plausible pretences for selling their country and themselves. You have had the merit of introducing a more compendious system of government and logic. You neither address yourself to the passions nor to the understanding, but simply to the touch. You apply yourself immediately to the feelings of your friends who, Contrary to the forms of parliament, never enter heartily into a debate until they have divided.
Relinquishing, therefore, all idle views of amendment to your Grace, or of benefit to the public, let me be permitted to consider your character and conduct merely as a subject of Curious speculation. There is something in both, which distinguishes you not only from all other ministers, but all other men. It is not that you do wrong by design, but that you should never do right by mistake. It is not that your indolence and your activity have been equally misapplied, but that the first uniform principle, or, if I may so call it, the genius of your life, should have carried you through every possible change and contradiction of conduct without the momentary imputation or colour of a virtue, and that the wildest spirit of inconsistency should never once have betrayed you into a wise or honourable action. This, Iown, gives an air of singularity to your fortune, as well as to your disposition. Let us look back together to a scene in which a mind like yours will find nothing to repent of. Let us try, my Lord, how well you have supported the various relations in which you stood, to your sovereign, your country, your friends, and yourself. Give us, if it be possible, some excuse to posterity, and to ourselves, for submitting to your administration. If not the abilities of a great minister, if not the integrity of a patriot, or the fidelity of a friend, show us, at least, the firmness of a man. For the sake of your mistress, the lover
shall be spared. I will not lead her into public as you have done, nor will I insult the memory of departed beauty. Her sex, which alone made her amiable in your eyes, makes her respectable in mine. The character of the reputed ancestors of some men has made it possible for their descendants to be vicious in the extreme without being degenerate. Those of your Grace, for instance, left no distressing examples of virtue even to their legitimate posterity, and you may look back with pleasure to an illustrious pedi. gree in which heraldry has not left a single good quality upon record to insult or upbraid you. You have better proofs of your descent, my Lord, than the register of a marriage, or any troublesome inheritance of reputation. There are some hereditary strokes of character by which a family may be as clearly distinguished as by the blackest features of the human face. Charles the First lived and died a hypocrite. Charles the Second was a hypocrite of another sort, and should have died upon the same scaffold. At the distance of a century we see their different characters happily revived and blended in your Grace. Sullen and severe without religion, profligate without gaiety, you live like Charles II. without being an amiable companion, and, for aught I know, may die as his father did without the reputation of a martyr. You had already taken your degrees with credit in those schools in which the English nobility are formed to virtue when you were introduced to Lord Chatham's protection. From Newmarket, White's, and the Opposition, he gave you to the world with an air of popularity which young men usually set out with and seldom preserve — grave and plausible enough to be thought fit for business, too young for treachery, and, in short, a patriot of no unpromising expectations. Lord Chatham was the earliest object of your political wonder and attachment. Yet you deserted him upon the first hopes that offered of an equal share of power with Lord Rockingham. When the Duke of Cumberland's first negotiation failed, and when the favourite was pushed to the last extremity, you saved him, by joining with an administration in which Lord Chatham had refused to engage. Still, however, he was your friend, and you are yet to explain to the world, why you consented to act without him, or why, after uniting with Lord Rockingham, you deserted and betrayed him. You com: plained that no measures were taken to satisfy your patron, and that your friend, Mr. Wilkes, who had suffered so much for the party, had been abandoned to his fate. They have since contributed not a little to your present plenitude of power; yet I think Lord Chatham has less reason than ever to be satisfied; and as for Mr. Wilkes, it is, perhaps, the greatest misfortune of his life, that you should have so many compensations to make in the closet for your former friendship with him. Your gracious master understands your character, and makes you a persecutor, because you have been a friend. Lord Chatham formed his last administration upon principles which you certainly concurred in, or you could never have been placed at the head of the treasury. By deserting those principles, and by acting in direct contradiction to them, in which he found you were secretly supported in the closet, you soon forced him to leave you to yourself, and to withdraw his name from an administration which had been formed on the credit of it. You had then a prospect of friendships better suited to your genius and more likely to fix your disposition. Marriage is the point on which every rake is stationary at last; and truly, my Lord, you may well be weary of the circuit you have taken, for you have now fairly travelled through every sign in the political zodiac, from the Scorpion, in which you stung Lord Chatham, to the hopes of a Virgin in the house of Bloomsbury. One would think that you had had sufficient experience of the frailty of nuptial engagements, or, at least, that such a friendship as the Duke of Bedford's might have been secured to you by the auspicious marriage of your late Duchess with his nephew. But ties of this tender nature cannot be drawn too close; and it may, possibly, be a part of the Duke of Bedford's ambition, after making her an honest woman, to work a miracle of the same sort upon your Grace. This worthy nobleman has long dealt in virtue. There has been a large consumption of it in his own family; and, in the way of traffic, I dare say he has bought and sold more than half the representative integrity of the nation. In a political view this union is not imprudent. The favour of princes is a perishable commodity. You have now a strength sufficient to command the closet; and, if it be necessary to betray one friendship more, you may set even Lord Bute at defiance. Mr. Stuart Mackenzie may possibly remember what use the Duke of Bedford usually makes of his
power; and our gracious sovereign, I doubt not, rejoices at this first appearance of union among his servants. His late majesty, under the happy influence of a family connection between his ministers, was relieved from the cares of government. A more active prince may perhaps observe with suspicion by what degrees an artful servant grows upon his master, from the first unlimited professions of duty and attachment to the painful representation of the necessity of the royal service, and soon, in regular progression, to the humble insolence of dictating in all the obsequious forms of peremptory submission. The interval is carefully employed in forming connections, creating interests, collecting a party, and laying the foundation of double marriages; until the deluded prince who thought he had found a creature prostituted to his service, and insignificant enough to be always dependent upon his pleasure, finds him at last too strong to be commanded and too formidable to be removed. Your Grace's public conduct as a minister is but the counterpart of your private history; — the same inconsistency, the same contradictions. In America we trace you from the first opposition to the Stamp Act on principles of convenience, to Mr. Pitt's surrender of the right; then forward to Lord Rockingham's surrender of the fact; then back again to Lord Rockingham's declaration of the right; then forward to taxation with Mr. Townshend; and, in the last instance, from the gentle Conway's undetermined discretion to blood and compulsion with the Duke of Bedford. Yet, if we may believe the simplicity of Lord North's eloquence, at the opening of next session you are once more to be the patron of America. Is this the wisdom of a great minister? or is it the ominous vibration of a pendulum? Had you no opinion of your own, my Lord? or was it the gratification of betraying every party with which you have been united, and of deserting every political principle in which you had concurred? Your enemies may turn their eyes without regret from this admirable system of provincial government. They will find gratification enough in the survey of your domestic foreign policy. If, instead of disowning Lord Shelburne, the British court had interposed with dignity and firmness, you know, my Lord, that Corsica would never have been invaded. The French saw the weakness of a distracted ministry, and were justified in treating you with contempt.
They would probably have yielded in the first instance, rather than hazard a rupture with this country; but, being once engaged, they cannot retreat without dishonour. Common sense foresees consequences which have escaped your Grace's penetration. Either we suffer the French to make an acquisition, the importance of which you have probably no conception of, or we oppose them by an underhand management, which only disgraces us in the eyes of Europe, without answering any purpose of policy or prudence. From secret, indirect assistance, a transition to some more open decisive measures becomes unavoidable; till at last we find ourselves principals in the war, and are obliged to hazard everything for an object which might have originally been obtained without expense or danger. I am not versed in the politics of the north; but this, I believe, is certain, that half the money you have distributed to carry the expulsion of Mr. Wilkes, or even your secretary's share in the last subscription, would have kept the Turks at your devotion. Was it economy, my Lord? or did the coy resistance you have constantly met with in the British senate, make you deSpair of corrupting the Divan P Your friends, indeed, have the first claim upon your bounty, but if five hundred pounds a year can be spared in pension to Sir John Moore, it would not have disgraced you to have allowed something to the secret service of the public. You will say perhaps that the situation of affairs at home demanded and engrossed the whole of your attention. Here, I confess, you have been active. An amiable, accomplished Prince ascends the throne under the happiest of all auspices — the acclamations and united affections of his subjects. The first measures of his reign, and even the odium of a favourite, Were not able to shake their attachment. Your services, my Lord, have been more successful. Since you were permitted to take the lead we have seen the natural effects of a system of government at once both odious and contemptible. We have seen the laws sometimes scandalously relaxed, sometimes violently stretched beyond their tone. We have seen the sacred person of the sovereign insulted; and, in profound peace, and with an undisputed title, the fidelity of his subjects brought by his own Servants into public question. Without abilities, resolution, or interest, you have done more than Lord Bute could accomplish with all Scotland at his heels. Your Grace, little anxious perhaps either for
present or future reputation, will not desire to be handed down in these colours to posterity. You have reason to flatter yourself that the memory of your administration will survive even the forms of a constitution which our ancestors vainly hoped would be immortal; and as for your personal character I will not, for the honour of human nature, suppose that you can wish to have it remembered. The condition of the present times is desperate indeed; but there is a debt due to those who come after us, and it is the historian's office to punish though he cannot correct. I do not give you to posterity as a pattern to imitate, but as an example to deter; and, as your conduct comprehendseverything that a wise or honest minister should avoid, I mean to make you a negative instruction to your successors forever. Junius.
LETTER XV TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF GRAFTON
July 8, 1769. My Lord,
If nature had given you an understanding qualified to keep pace with the wishes and principles of your heart, she would have made you, perhaps, the most formidable minister that ever was employed under a limited monarch to accomplish the ruin of a free people. When neither the feelings of shame, the reproaches of conscience, nor the dread of punishment, form any bar to the designs of a minister, the people would have too much reason to lament their condition, if they did not find some resource in the weakness of his understanding. We owe it to the bounty of Providence, that the completest depravity of the heart is sometimes strangely united with a confusion of the mind which counteracts the most favourite principles, and makes the same man treacherous without art, and a hypocrite without deceiving. The measures, for instance, in which your Grace's activity has been chiefly exerted, as they were adopted without skili, should have been conducted with more than common dexterity. But truly, my Lord, the execution has been as gross as the design. By one decisive step you have defeated all the arts of writing. You have fairly confounded the intrigues of opposition, and silenced the clamours of faction. A dark, ambiguous system might require and furnish the materials of ingenious illustration; and, in doubtful