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exist on the daily forage that they pick up by running about, and snatching what drops from their neighbours as ignorant as themselves, will never ferment into any knowledge valuable or durable; but like the light wines we drink in hot countries, please for the moment though incapable of keeping. In the study of mankind much will be found to swim as froth, and much must sink as feculence, before the wine can have its effect, and become that noblest liquor which rejoices the heart, and gives vigour to the imagination.'

I am well aware that I do not, and cannot give each expression of Dr. Johnson with all its force or all its neatness; but I have done my best to record such of his maxims, and repeat such of his sentiments, as may give to those who knew him not, a just idea of his character and manner of thinking. To endeavour at adorning, or adding, or softening, or meliorating such anecdotes, by any tricks my inexperienced pen could play, would be weakness indeed; worse than the Frenchman who presides over the porcelain manufactory at Seve3; to whom when some Greek vases were given him as models, he lamented la tristesse de telles formes; and endeavoured to assist them by clusters of flowers, while flying Cupids served for the handles of urns originally intended to contain the ashes of the dead. The misery is, that I can recollect so few anecdotes, and that I have recorded no more axioms of a man whose every word merited attention, and whose every sentiment did honour to human nature. Remote from affectation as from error or falsehood, the comfort a reader has in looking over these papers, is the certainty that those were really the opinions of Johnson, which are related as such.

Fear of what others may think, is the great cause of affectation; and he was not likely to disguise his notions out of

1 See Life, iii. 308, n. 3, for Tom Restless.

26 'I besought Boswell's tenderness for our virtuous and most revered departed friend, and begged he would mitigate some of his asperities. He

said roughly: "He would not cut off his claws, nor make a tiger a cat, to please anybody." H. More's Memoirs, i. 403.

3 The Thrales and Johnson visited Sèvres in 1775. Life, ii. 397.


cowardice. He hated disguise, and nobody penetrated it so readily. I shewed him a letter written to a common friend, who was at some loss for the explanation of it: Whoever wrote it (says our Doctor) could, if he chose it, make himself understood; but 'tis the letter of an embarrassed man, Sir;' and so the event proved it to be.

Mysteriousness in trifles offended him on every side: 'it commonly ended in guilt (he said); for those who begin by concealment of innocent things, will soon have something to hide which they dare not bring to light.' He therefore encouraged an openness of conduct, in women particularly, who (he observed) were often led away when children, by their delight and power of surprising.' He recommended, on something like the same principle, that when one person meant to serve another, he should not go about it slily, or as we say underhand, out of a false idea of delicacy, to surprise one's friend with an unexpected favour, which, ten to one (says he), fails to oblige your acquaintance, who had some reasons against such a mode of obligation, which you might have known but for that superfluous cunning which you think an elegance. Oh! never be seduced by such silly pretences (continued he); if a wench wants a good gown, do not give her a fine smelling-bottle, because that is more delicate: as I once knew a lady 3 lend the key of her library to a poor scribbling dependant, as if she took the woman for an ostrich that could digest iron.' He said indeed, 'that women were very difficult to be taught the proper

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manner of conferring pecuniary favours; that they always gave too much money or too little; for that they had an idea of delicacy accompanying their gifts, so that they generally rendered them either useless or ridiculous.'

He did indeed say very contemptuous things of our sex; but was exceedingly angry when I told Miss Reynolds that he said, 'It was well managed of some one to leave his affairs in the hands of his wife, because, in matters of business (said he), no woman stops at integrity. This was, I think, the only sentence I ever observed him solicitous to explain away after he had uttered it 2. He was not at all displeased at the recollection of a sarcasm thrown on a whole profession at once; when a gentleman leaving the company, somebody who sate next Dr. Johnson, asked him, who he was? 'I cannot exactly tell you Sir (replied he), and I would be loth to speak ill of any person who I do not know deserves it, but I am afraid he is an attorney 3. He did not however encourage general satire, and for the most part professed himself to feel directly contrary to Dr. Swift; 'who (says he) hates the world, though he loves John and Robert, and certain individuals.'

Johnson said always, 'that the world was well constructed, but that the particular people disgraced the elegance and beauty of the general fabric.' In the same manner I was relating once

His anger at this being told to Miss Reynolds was probably due to his high opinion of her virtue. See ante, p. 207.

2 6

'JOHNSON (who, from drinking only water, supposed every body who drank wine to be elevated,) "I won't argue any more with you, Sir. You are too far gone." SIR JOSHUA. "I should have thought so indeed, Sir, had I made such a speech as you have now done." "JOHNSON (drawing himself in, and, I really thought, blushing,) "Nay, don't be angry. I did not mean to offend you."' Life, iii. 329.

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3 Much enquiry having been made concerning a gentleman, who had quitted a company where Johnson was, and no information being obtained; at last Johnson observed, that "he did not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but he believed the gentleman was an attorney." Life, ii. 126. When we see how this sarcasm has been spoilt in the telling by Mrs. Piozzi, we may quote Mr. Fitzherbert's saying, 'It is not every man that can carry a bonmot.' Ib. ii. 350.

* See ante, p. 223 for his 'aversion to general satire.'

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to him, how Dr. Collier observed, that the love one bore to children was from the anticipation one's mind made while one contemplated them: 'We hope (says he) that they will some time make wise men, or amiable women; and we suffer 'em to take up our affection beforehand. One cannot love lumps of flesh, and little infants are nothing more. On the contrary (says Johnson), one can scarcely help wishing, while one fondles a baby, that it may never live to become a man; for it is so probable that when he becomes a man, he should be sure to end in a scoundrel 2.' Girls were less displeasing to him; 'for as their temptations were fewer (he said), their virtue in this life, and happiness in the next, were less improbable3; and he loved (he said) to see a knot of little misses dearly.'

Needle-work had a strenuous approver in Dr. Johnson, who said, 'that one of the great felicities of female life, was the general consent of the world, that they might amuse themselves with petty occupations, which contributed to the lengthening their lives, and preserving their minds in a state of sanity.' A man cannot hem a pocket-handkerchief (said a lady of quality to him one day), and so he runs mad, and torments his family and friends. The expression struck him exceedingly, and when one acquaintance grew troublesome, and another unhealthy, he used to quote Lady Frances's observation, 'That a man cannot hem a pocket-handkerchief".'

The nice people found no mercy from Mr. Johnson; such I mean as can dine only at four o'clock, who cannot bear to be waked at an unusual hour, or miss a stated meal without incon

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venience. He had no such prejudices himself', and with difficulty forgave them in another. 'Delicacy does not surely consist (says he) in impossibility to be pleased, and that is false dignity indeed which is content to depend upon others.'

The saying of the old philosopher, who observes, That he who wants least is most like the gods, who want nothing; was a favourite sentence with Dr. Johnson, who on his own part required less attendance, sick or well, than ever I saw any human creature 3. Conversation was all he required to make him happy; and when he would have tea made at two o'clock in the morning, it was only that there might be a certainty of detaining his companions round him*. On that principle it was that he preferred winter to summer, when the heat of the weather gave people an excuse to stroll about, and walk for pleasure in the shade, while he wished to sit still on a chair, and chat day after day, till somebody proposed a drive in the coach; and that was the most delicious moment of his life. But the carriage must stop people would come home at

sometime (as he said), and the

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last; so his pleasure was of short duration.

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I asked him why he doated on a coach so? and received for answer, That in the first place, the company was shut in with him there; and could not escape, as out of a room: in the next place, he heard all that was said in a carriage, where it was my turn to be deaf:' and very impatient was he at my occasional


'JOHNSON. I never felt any difference upon myself from eating one thing rather than another... There are people, I believe, who feel a difference; but I am not one of them. And as to regular meals, I have fasted from the Sunday's dinner to the Tuesday's dinner without any inconvenience. I believe it is best to eat just as one is hungry; but a man who is in business, or a man who has a family, must have stated meals.' Life, iii. 305.

2 Socrates. Ἐγὼ δὲ νομίζω τὸ

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