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The General observed, that Martinelli was a Wig. Johnson, " 1 am sorry for it. It shews the spirit of the times: he is obliged to temporise." Boswell. " 1 rHther think, Sir, that Toryism prevails in this reign." Johnson. "I know not why you should think so, Sir. You see your friend Lord Lyttelton, a nobleman, is obliged in his History to write the most vulgar Whiggism."
An animated debate took place whether Martinelli should continne his History of England to the present day. Goldsmith. " To be sure he should." Johnson. " No, Sir; he would give great offence. He would have to tell of almost all the living great what they do not wish told." Goldsmith. "It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be cautious; but a foreigner who comes among us without prejndice, may be considered as holding the place of a Jndge, and may speak his mind freely." Johnson. "Sir, a foreigner, when he sends his work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the error and mistaken enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to he." GolDSMIth, "Sir, Iie wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest the other a landable motive." Johnson. "Sir, they are both landable motives. It is landable in a man to wish to live by his labours; but he should write so as he may live by them, not so as he may be knocked on the head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he publishes his history of the present age. A foreigner who attaches himself to a political party in this country, is in the worst state that can be imagined; he is looked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest." Boswelt.. "Or principle." Goldsmith. "There are people who tell a hundred political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely, therr, one may tell truth with safety." Johnson. "Why, Sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. But besides; a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him, than one truth which he does not wish should be told." Goldsmith. "For my part, I'd tell truth, and shame the devil." Johnson. "Yes, Sir; but the devil will be angry. 1 wish to shame the devil as well as you do, bat I should choose to he out of the reach of his claws." "GolDSMitH. "His claws can do you no harm, when you have the shield of troth."
It having been observed that there was little hospitality in London; Johnson. "Nay, Sir, any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing, will be very generally invited in London. The man, Sterne, 1 have been told, has hail engagements for three months." Goldsmith. •s And a very dull fellow." Johnson. "Why, no, Sir."
Martinelli told us, that for several years he lived much with Charles Townshend, and that he ventured to tell him be was a bad joker. JohnSon. "Why, Sir, thus much 1 can say upon the subject. One day he and a few more agreed to go and dine in the country, and each of them was to bring a friend in the carriage with him. Charles Towushend asked Fitzherbert to go with him, but told him, " You must find somebody to bring you back; I can only carry yon there." Fitzherbert d.d not much like this arrangement. He however, consented, observing sarcastically, 'It will do very well; for then the same jokes will serve you in returning a» in going."
An eminent public character being mentioned ;—Johnson. " I remember being present when ht* shewed himself to be so corrupted, or at least something to different from what 1 think right, as to maintain, that a member of parliament should go along with his party right or wrong. Now, Sir, this is so remote from native virtue, from scholastic virtue, that a good man must have undergone a great change before he can reconcile himself to such a dnctrine. It is maintained that you may lie to the public; for you lie when you call that right which you think wrong, or the reverse. A friend of ours, who is too much an echo of that gentleman, observed, that a man who does not stick uniformly to a party, is only waiting to be bought. Why then, said I, he is only waiting to be what that gentleman is already."
We talked of the King's coming to see Goldsmith's new play.—" 1 wish he would," said Goldsmith :' adding, however, with an affected indifference, "Mot that it would do me the least good." "Johnson. "Well then, Sir, let us say it would do him good, (laughing.) No, Sir, this affectation will not pass ;—it is mighty idle. In such a slate as ours, who would not wish to please the Chief Magistrate?" GOLDSMIth. "I do wish to please him. 1 remember a line in Dryden, 'And every poet is the monarch's friend.' It ought to be reversed." Johnson. " Nay, there are finer lines in Dryden on this subject:
'For colleges on bounteous Kings depend,
'And never rebel was to arts a friend." General Paoli observed, that successful rebels might. Martinelli. "Happy rebellions." GOLDSMITh. " We have no such phrase." Gen. Paoli. " But have you uot the thing f Goldsmith. " Yes; all our happy revolutions. They have hurt our constitution, and will hurt it,. till we mend it by another HAPPY EEVOLUTION."—I never before discovered that my friend Goldsmith had so much of the old prejudice in him.
General Paoli, talking of Goldsmith's new play, said, « II a fait un compliment Ires gracienx a une certaine grande dame;" meaning a Duchess of the first rank.
I expressrd a doubt whether Goldsmith intended it, in order that I might her the truth from himself. It, perhaps, was not quite fair to bring him to a coi testion, as he might not wi«b to avow positively bis taking part against the Court. He smiled and hesitated. The General at ouce rrlievnl him, by this beautiful image: "Monsienr Goldsmith est comme la mer quijette desperles tt beaucovp d'autre* belles ehoses, sar.s *'«» appercevotr." Goldsmith. " Tris bien dit, et Iris elegamment."
A person was mentioned, who it was said could take down in shorthand the speeches in parliament with perfect exactness. "Sir, (said Johnson,) it is impossible. I remember one Angel, who came to me to write for him a Preface or Dedication to a book upon short hand, and he professed to write as fast as a mau could speak. In order to try him, I took down a book, and read while he wrote; and I favoured him, for I read mure deliberately than usual. I had proceeded but a very little way, when he begged I would desist, for he could not follow me." Hearing now for the first time of this Preface or Dedication, I said, "What au expence, Sir, do you put us to in buying books, to which you have written Prefaces or Dedications." John. " Why I have dedicated to the Hoyal Family all round; that is to say, to the last generation of ihe Royal Family." Gold. "And perhaps, Sir, not one sentence of wit in a whole Dedication." John. " Perhaps not, Sir." Bos. "What, then is the reason for applying to a particular person to do that which any "he may do as well?" John. "Why, Sir, one man has greater readiness of doing it than another."
I spoke of Mr. Harris, of Salisbury, as being a very learned man, in particular au eminent Grecian. Johnson. " 1 am not sure of that. His friends give him out as such, but I know not who of his friends are able to judge of it." Goldsmith. "He is what is much better: he is a worthy humane man." Johnson. "Nay, Sir, that is not to the purpose of our argument: that will as much prove that he can play upon the fiddle as well as Giardini, as that he is an eminent Grecian." Goldsmith. " The greatest musical performers have but small emoluments. Giardini, I am told, does not get above seven hundred a year. Johnson. "That is indeed but little for a man to get, who does best that which sn many endeavour to do. There is nothing, 1 think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if ytni give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing."
On Monday, April 10, he called on me with Mrs. Williams, in Mr. Strahan's coach, and carried me out to dine with Mr. Elphinston, at his Academy at Kensington. A printer having acquired a fortune sufficient to keep his coach, was a good topick for the credit of literature. Mr. Williams said, that another printer, Mr. Hamilton, had not waited so long as Mr. Strahan, but had kept his coach several years sooner. JohnSon. "He was in the right. Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth, the better.
Mr. Elphinston talked of a new book that was much admired, and asked Dr. Johnson if he had read it. Johnson. " I have looked into it. ,r What (said Elphinston,) have you not read it through; Johnson, offended at being thus pressed, and so obliged to own his cursory mode of reading, answered tartly, "No, Sir; do you read books through *"
He this day again defended duelling, and put his argument upon what I have ever thought the most solid basis; that if publick war be allowed to be consistent with morality, private war must be equally so, Indeed we may observe what strained arguments are used to reconcile war with the Christian religion. But, in my opinion, it is exceedingly clear that duelling, having better reasons for its barbarous violence, ia more justifiable than war in which thousands go forth without any cause of personal quarrel, and massacre each other.
OnWeduesday, April 21, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's. A gentleman attacked Garrick for being vain. Johnson. " No wonder, Sir, that he is vain; a man who is perpetually flattered in every mode that can be conceived. So many bellows have blown the fire, that one wonders he is not by this time become a cinder." Boswell. " And such bellows too. Lord Mansfield with his cheeks like to burst: Lord Chatham like an jEolus. I have read such notes from them to him, as were enough to turn his head." Johnson. "True. When he whom every body else Haters, flatters me, 1 then am truly happy." Mas. Thrale. "The sentiment is in Congreve, I think." Johnson. " Yes, Madam, in 'The Way of the World:
"If there's delight in love, 'tis when I see
"That heart which others bleed for, bleed for me."
No, Sir, 1 should not be surprised though Garrick chained the ocean and lashed the winds." Boswell. "Should it not be, Sir, lashed the ocean and chained the winds?" Johnson. "No, Sir; recollect the original;"
'In Corum atque Eurum solitus steoire flagellis
This does very well, when both the winds and the sea are personified, and mentioned by their mythological names, as in Juvenal; but when they are mentioned in plain language, the application of the epithets suggested by me is the most obvious; and accordingly my friend himself, in his imitation of the passage which describes Xerxes, has "The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind."
The modes of living in different countries, and the various views with which men travel in quest of new scenes, having been talked of, a learned gentleman who holds a considerable office in the law, expatiated on the happiness of a savage life; and mentioned an instance of an officer who had actually lived for some time in the wilds of America, of whom when in that state, he quoted this reflection with uu air of admiration, as if it had been deeply philosphical: "Here am I, free and unrestrianed, amidst the rude magnificence of Nature, with this Indian woman by my side, and this gun, with which 1 can procure food when 1 want it; what more can be desired for human happiness?" It did not require much sagacity to foresee that such a sentiment would not be permitted to pass without due animadversion. Johnson. " Do not allow yourself, Sir, to be imposed upon by such gross absurdity. It is sad stuff: it is brutish. If a bull could speak, he might as well exclaim,—Here am I with this cow aod this grass; what being can enjoy greater felicity?"
We talked of the melancholy end of a gentleman who had destroyed himself. Johnson. "It was owing to imaginary difficulties in his affairs, which, had he talked of with any friend, would soon have vanished." Boswell. "Do you think, Sir, that all who commit suicide are mad?" Johnson. " Sir, they are often not universally disordered in their intellects, but one passion presses so upon them, that they yield to it, and commit suicide, as a passionate man will stab another." He added, " I have often thought, that after a man has taken the resolution to kill himself, it is not courage in him to do any thing, however desperate, because he has nothing to fear." Goldsmith. " I don't see that." Johnson. "Nay, but my dear Sir, why should not you see what every one else sees/" Goldsmith. "It is for fear of something that he has resolved to kill himself; and will not that timid disposition restrain him; JohnSon. " It does not signify that the fear of something made him resolve; it is upon the state of his mind, after the resolution is taken, that I argue. Suppose a man either from fear, or pride, or conscience, or whatever motive, has resolved to kill himself; when once the resoluton is taken, he has nothing to fear. He may then go and take the King of Prussia by the nose, at the head of his army. He cannot fear the rack, who is resolved to kill kimself. When Eustace Budget was walking down to the Thames, determined to drown himself, he might, if he pleased, without any apprehension of danger, have turned aside, and first set fire to St. James's palace."
On Tuesday, April 27, Mr. Beauclerk and I called on him in the morning. As we walked up Johnson's-court, I said, " 1 have a veneration for this court;" and was glad to find that Beauclerk had*the same reverential enthusiasm. We found him alone. -We talked of Mr. Andrew Stuart's elegant and plausible Letters to Lord Mansfield: a copy of which had been sent by the authour to Dr. Johnson. Johnson. "They have not answered the end. They have not been talked of; I have never heard of them. This is owing to their not being sold. People seldom read a book which is given to them; and few are given. The way to spread a work is to sell it at a low price. No man will send to buy a thing that costs even sixpence, without an intentinn to read it." BosVvei.l. " May it not be doubted, Sir, whether it be proper to publish letters, arraigning the ultimate decision of an important cause by the supreme judicature of the nation? Johnson. "No, Sir, 1 do not think it was wrong to publish these letters. If they are thought to do harm why not answer them? But they will do no harm, if Mr. Douglas be indeed the son of Lady Jane he cannot be hurt: if he be not her son, and yet has the great estate of the family of Douglas, he may well submit to. have a pamphlet against linn by Andrew Stuart. Sir, I think auch a publication does good, as it does good to shew us the possibilities of human life. And, Sir, you will not say that the Douglas cause was a cause of easy decision, when it divided your Court as much as it could do, to be determined at all. When your Judges are seven and seven, tbe casting vote of the President must be given on one side or other; no