Imágenes de páginas

in summer. For this work it is apparent that materials were furnished by direction of the minister. w

At the approach of the general election in 1774, he wrote a short discourse, called THE PATRIOT, not with any visible application to Mr. Wilkes; but to teach the people to reject the leaders of opposition, who called themselves patriots. In 1775 he undertook a pamphlet of more importance, namely, Taa’ation no Tyranny, in answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress. The scope of the argument was, that distant colonies, which had in their assemblies a legislature of their own, were, notwithstanding, liable to be taxed in a British Parliament, where they had neither peers in one house, nor representatives in the other. He was of opinion, that this country was strong enough to enforce obedience. “When an Englishman,” he says, “is told “ that the Americans shoot up like the hy“dra, he naturally considers how the hydra “was destroyed.” The event has shown how much he and the minister of that day were The Account of the Tour to the Western Islands of Scotland, which was undertaken in the autumn of 1773, in company with Mr. Boswell, was not published till some time in the year 1775. This book has been variously received; by some extolled for the elegance of the narrative, and the depth of observation on life and manners; by others, as much condemněd, as a work of avowed hostility to the Scotch nation. The praise WaS, beyond all question, fairly deserved ; and the censure, on due examination, will appear hasty and ill-founded. That Johnson entertained some prejudices against the Scotch, must not be dissembled. It is true, as Mr. Boswell says, that he thought their “success in England eaceeded their proportion of real merit, and he could not but see in them that nationality which no liberal-minded “Scotsman will deny.” The author of these memoirs well remembers, that Johnson one day asked him, “Have you observed the dis“ference between your own country im“pudence and Scottish impudence?” The answer being in the negative : “Then I will “tell you,” said Johnson. “The impu“dence “dence of an Irishman is the impudence of “a fly, that buzzes about you, and you put “it away, but it returns again, and flutters “ and teazes you. The impudence of a * Scotsman is the impudence of a leech, that “fixes and sucks your blood.” Upon another occasion, this writer went with him into the shop of Davis the bookseller, in Russell-street, Covent-garden. Davis came running to him almost out of breath with joy: “The Scots gentleman is come, Sir ; his “principal wish is to see you ; he is now in “ the back-parlour.” “Well, well, I’ll see “ the gentleman,” said Johnson. He walked towards the room. Mr. Boswell was the person. This writer followed with no small curiosity. “I find,” said Mr. Boswell, “that “I am come to London at a bad time, when “great popular prejudice has gone forth “ against us North Britons; but when I am “talking to you, I am talking to a large and “liberal mind, and you know that I cannot “help coming from Scotland.” “Sir,” said ‘Johnson, “ no more can the rest of your

mistaken. The

- He
* Mr. Boswell's account of this introduction is very
different from the above. See his life of Johnson, Vol. i.
p. 360, 8vo, edit. 1804.

[ocr errors]

He had other reasons that helped to alienate him from the natives of Scotland. Being a cordial well-wisher to the constitution in Church and State, he did not think that Calvin and John Knox were proper founders of a national religion. He made, however, a wide distinction between the Dissenters of Scotland and the Separatists of England. To the former he imputed no disaffection, no want of loyalty. Their soldiers and their officers had shed their blood with zeal and courage in the service of Great Britain; and the people, he used to say, were content with their own established modes of worship, without wishing, in the present age, to give any disturbance to the Church of England. This he was at all times ready to admit; and therefore declared, that whenever he found a Scotchman to whom an Englishman was as a , Scotchman, that Scotchman should be as an Englishman to him. In this, surely there was no rancour, no malevolence. The Dissenters on this side the Tweed appeared to him in a different light. Their religion, he frequently said, was too worldly, too political, too restless and ambitious. The doctrine of cashiering kings, and erecting on the ruins of the constitution a new form of government, which lately issued from their pulpits, he always thought was, under a calm disguise, the principle that lay lurking in their hearts. He knew that a wild democracy had overturned Kings, Lords, and Commons; and that a set of Republican Fanatics, who would not bow at the name of Jesus, had taken possession of all the livings and all the parishes in the kingdom. That those scenes of horror might never be renewed, was the ardent wish of Dr. Johnson; and though he apprehended no danger from Scotland, it is probable that his dislike of Calvinism mingled sometimes with his reflections on the natives of that country. The association of ideas could not be easily broken ; but it is well known that he loved and respected many gentlemen from that part of the island. Dr. Robertson's History of Scotland, and Dr. Beattie's Essays, were subjects of his constant praise. Mr. Boswell, Dr. Rose of Chiswick, Andrew Millar, Mr. Hamilton the printer, and the late Mr. Strahan, were among his most intimate friends. Many others might be added - s t{}


« AnteriorContinuar »