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" Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
A.“ No, Sir; but Dodsley, his publisher, was. Whitehead was a man who hung loose upon society, but Dodsley being a man who kept a shop, and being more readily found, was called before the house of Lords and after all, I think the poem but a poor performance.”
1. EXTRACTS FROM VARIOUS AUTHORITIES.
• UPON the publication of Lord Bolingbroke's philosophical works, by David Mallet, Dr. Johnson was asked his opinion of the author.- "Sir," says he, “I look upon him to be both a scoundrel and a coward--a scoundrel for loading his blunderbuss up to the muzzle, against the peace and happiness of society, and a cow. ard for leaving David Mallett to draw the trigger.”
A gentleman observing to Dr. Johnson, that there were less vagrant poor in Scotland than in England, and as a proof of it, said there was no instance of a boggar dying in the streets there " I believe you're very right, Sir, says Johnson, “ but that does not arise from the want of vagrants, but the impossibility of starving a Scotchman."
Pray, Dr. Johnson, says a female smatterer in poetry,
Madam (says the Doctor) there can be no great difference between a louse and a flea.”
Dr. Johnson being at dinner at Mrs. Macauley's, the conversation turned on the equality of mankind, which the lady of the house contended for with all the energy of a republican. Johnson made a few short answers, in hopes to change the subject, but finding she would, go on, he finished his dinner with as much haste as possible, then giving his plate to the footman, begged he'd take his place: “ Good God! what are you about, Doctor is said the lady.--" Oh! nothing, Madam, but to preserve the equality of mankind.”
The emigration of the Scotch to London, being a. conversation betwcen the Doctor and Foote, the latter said he believed the number of Scotch in London were as great in the former as the present reign:-“ No, Sir, you are certainly wrong in your beliefs --but I see how you're deceived, you can't distinguish them now as formerly, for the fellows all come here breeched of late years.”
Pray, Doctor, said a gentleman to him, is Mr. Thrale a man of conversation, or is he only wise and silent.?-" Why, Sir, his conversation does not show the minutehand-but he generally strikes the hour very correctly."
« Pray,” says Garrick's mother to Johnson, “what's. your opinion of my son David?"-" Why, Madam,”. replied the Doctor, “ David will either be hanged, or: bocome a great man.".
Upon the publication of the Poems of Ossian, being asked by the commentator on that work, whether, he thought any one man living could write such an epic poeni?--Johnson replied! very gravely-"O) yes, Sir! many men, many, women, and many chililren !"
" You: knew Mr. Capel, the editor of: Shakspear, Dr. Johnson ?"-" Yes, Sir, I have seen him at Garrick’s !"--" And what think you of his; abilities?" " Great application, Sir! Were he and I to.count the grains in a bushel of wheat for a wager, he would. cer- ! tainly prove the winner.””.
On Dr. Johnson's return from Scotlandi a particular friend of his was saying, that now he had at view of the
country, he was in hopes it would cure him of many prejudices against that nation, particularly in respect to the fruits." Why yes, Sir, I have found out that. gooseberries will grow there against a south' wall, but the skins are so tough that it is death to the man who swallows one of them.”
I remember, says the Doctor, to have given a shilling to a peasant in the Isle of Skey; for half a day's attendance on me, and he was so struck with the liberality of the reward that he asked, with some surprise, whether I meant it all for him ?--This raising the laugh against Mr. Boswell, who was the only Scotchman in company, the Doctor went on " I mention this circumstance to show the humility of the man's mind; but had it happened to a peasant of your country (turning round to an Irish gentleman, who sat next him) the probability is, that he would not know what a shilling was.”
When Dr. Johnson had an audience of the King, . by appointment, in the Queen's library, in the course of conversation, his Majesty asked him, " why he did not continue writing ? -" Why, Sire," says Johnson, “ I thought I had done enough !” “. So should I too, Doctor;” replied the King, '“ if you had not written so well*."
Forgetting an appointment he had to sup with Garrick, till near one o'clock in the morning, he sallied out at that hour, and knocked at his door in Southampton-street.-Garrick putting his head out of the window, told him all the company were gone, and that he and Mrs. Garrick were going to bed.-". Open the door, David, says the Doctor, I have something to tell you will give you satisfaction."--This brought down Garrick, who, after letting him in, impatiently asked him what was the news he had that was to give him so much satisfaction ?-" Why sit you down there, says the Doctor, and I'll fatter you.* .
* A short time before the Doctor's death, Mr. Kearstey, in con versation with him, enquired if that observation of his Majesty's was true ; he said it was nearly 60, but his memory was become very defective.
. An eminent carcase butcher, as meagrè in his person as he was in his understanding, being one day in a bookseller's shop, took up a volume of Churchill's Poems, and by way of showing his taste, repeated with great affectation the following line :
« Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free." Then turning to the Doctor-" What think you of that, Sir ?” said he. “ Rank nonsense !” replied the other-“ it is an assertion without a proof-and youli might, with as much propriety, say,
“ Who slays fat oxen should himself be fat.” When Lord Chesterfield's Letters to bis son first came out, a gentleman was asking the Doctor whether they did not contain great knowledge of the world'? -" O! yes, Sir,” says Johnson, “ very much of modern know: ledge. They inculcate the morals of a w , and the. manners of a dancing master."--Being asked his opinion of the writings of a certain successful dramatic author, he replied, " They were such as a wise man should be ashamed to remember.”
Previous to a convivial meeting on the night before the publication of his first edition of Shakspeare, Tonson, the publisher, desired a gentleman to ask Johnson for a list of the subscribers.-" Why, Sir,” says the Doctor, “ I have two, material reasons against it :-in. the first place, I have lost all their names ; and in the second, I have spent all the money.”.
• Perhaps," said a gentleman, talking to Dr. Johson on church preferments, « after all, a Congé d'Elire las not the force of a positive command, but implies only it strong recommendation."-". Very true, "Sir," says. Johnson, “ but such a strong recommendation, as if I should throw you out of a three pair of stairs window and recommend you to fall to the ground.”
Being asked his opinion of hunting, he said, “ it was the labour of the savages of North America, but the amusement of the gentlemen, of England.”
When he was told of his friend, Mfrs. Thrale's 'mar: riage with Piozzi, the Italian singer, he was dumb with
surprize for some moments; at last recovering himselfhe exclaimed with great emotion,
Varium et mutabile semper fæmina. The author of the life of Socrates *, who was as thick as he was long, once called our author “ a literary savage;" when Johnson heard of it, he replied." Why I expected some such ridiculous observations from a literary punchinello."
When Dr. Percy first published his collection of ancient English ballads, perhaps he was too lavish in commendation of the beautiful simplicity and poetic merit he supposed himself to discover in them. This circumstance provoked Johnson to observe one evening, at Miss Reynold's tea-table, that he could rhyme as well and as elegantly in common narrative and conversation. For instance, says he,
As with my hat upon my head
I walk'd along the Strand, 1 there did meet another man
With his hat in his hand. Or to render such poetry subservient to my own immediate use,
I therefore pray thee, Renny dear,
That thou wilt give to me,
Another dish of tea.
Shall long detain the cup,
Have drank the liquor up.
Nor hear it with a frown :-
As I can gulp it down. And thus he proeeeded through several more stanzas, till the Reverend Critie eried out for quarter.
In a conversation in the infancy of the American war
a gentleman present giving some remarkable instances of the ill-timed lenity and procrastination of hostilities on. our side; the Doctor observed, “ that a prince who. * Mr. Cooper.