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agency of preternatural powers. You must take Tour to
Hebrid. evidence; you must consider that wise and great men have condemned witches to die.” CROSBIE. “But an act of parliament put an end to witchcraft.” JOHNSON. “ No, sir, witchcraft had ceased; and, therefore, an act of parliament was passed to prevent persecution for what was not witchcraft. Why it ceased we cannot tell, as we cannot tell the reason of many other things.” Dr. Cullen, to keep up the gratification of mysterious disquisition, with the grave address for which he is remarkable in his companionable as in his professional hours, talked, in a very entertaining manner, of people walking and conversing in their sleep. I am very sorry I have no note of this 1. We talked of the ouran-outang, and of Lord Monboddo's thinking that he might be taught to speak. Dr. Johnson treated this with ridicule. Mr. Crosbie said that Lord Monboddo believed the existence of every thing possible; in short, that all which is in posse might be found in esse. Johnson. “But, sir, it is as possible that the ouranoutang does not speak, as that he speaks. However, I shall not contest the point. I should have thought it not possible to find a Monboddo; yet he exists." I again mentioned the stage. Johnson. “ The appearance of a player, with whom I have drunk tea, counteracts the imagination that he is the character he represents. Nay, you know, nobody imagines that he is the character he represents. They say, *See Garrick! how he looks to-night! See how he 'll clutch the dagger!' That is the buzz of the theatre.”
Tuesday, 17th August.—Sir William Forbes came
[See in the Life of Blacklock, in Anderson's Brit. Poets, an anecdote of Dr. Blacklock's somnambulism, which may very probably have been one of the topics on this occasion.-Ed.)
Tour to to breakfast, and brought with him Dr. Blacklock ', Hebrid.
whom he introduced to Dr. Johnson, who received him with a most humane complacency; “ Dear Dr. Blacklock, I am glad to see you !" Blacklock seemed to be much surprised when Dr. Johnson said “it was easier to him to write poetry than to compose his Dictionary. His mind was less on the stretch in doing the one than the other. Besides, composing a dictionary requires books and a desk: you can make a poem walking in the fields, or lying in bed.” Dr. Blacklock spoke of scepticism in morals and religion with apparent uneasiness, as if he wished for more certainty 3. Dr. Johnson, who had thought it all over, and whose vigorous understanding was fortified by much experience, thus encouraged the blind bard to apply to higher speculations what we all willingly submit to in common life : in short, he gave him more familiarly the able and fair reasoning of Butler's Analogy: “Why, sir, the greatest concern we have in this world, the choice of our profession, must be determined without demonstrative reasoning. Human life is not yet so well known, as that we can have it: and take the case of a man who is ill. I call two physicians; they differ in opinion. I am not to lie down, and die between them: I must do something." The conversation then turned on atheism; on that horrible book, Systême de la Nature; and on the supposition of an eternal necessity without design, without a governing mind. JOHNSON. “ If it were so, why has it ceased? Why don't we see men thus produced around us now? Why,
(See ante, vol. i. p. 478.--Ed.] ? | There is hardly any operation of the intellect which requires nicer and deeper consideration than definition. A thousand men may write verses, for one who has the power of defining and discriminating the exact meaning of words and the principles of grammatical arrangement.- Ep.)
3 Sec his letter on this subject in the Appendix. -BOSWELL.
at least, does it not keep pace, in some measure, with Tour to the progress of time? If it stops because there is now no need of it, then it is plain there is, and ever has been, an all-powerful intelligence. But stay! (said he, with one of his satyrick laughs). Ha! ha! ha! I shall suppose Scotchmen made necessarily, and Englishmen by choice.” .
At dinner this day we had Sir Alexander Dick, whose amiable character and ingenious and cultivated mind are so generally known; (he was then on the verge of seventy, and is now (1785) eighty-one, with his faculties entire, his heart warm, and his temper gay); Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes; Mr. Maclaurin', advocate; Dr. Gregory, who now worthily fills his father's medical chair; and my uncle, Dr. Boswell. This was one of Dr. Johnson's best days. He was quite in his element. All was literature and taste, without any interruption. Lord Hailes, who is one of the best philologists in Great Britain, who has written papers in the World, and a variety of other works in prose and in verse, both Latin and English, pleased him highly. He told him he had discovered the Life of Cheynel, in the Student, to be his. Johnson. “No one else knows it.” Dr. Johnson had before this dictated to me a law-paper upon a question purely in the law of Scotland, concerning vicious intromission, that is to say, intermeddling with the effects of a deceased person, without a regular title; which formerly was understood to subject the intermeddler to payment of all the defunct's debts. The principle has of late been relaxed. Dr. Johnson's argument was for a renewal of its strictness. The paper was printed, with additions by me, and given into the court of session. Lord Hailes
Tour to knew Dr. Johnson's part not to be mine, and pointed Hebrid.
out exactly where it began and where it ended. Dr. Johnson said " It is much now that his lordship can distinguish so.”
In Dr. Johnson's l'anity of Human Wishes there is the following passage:
“ The teeming mother, anxious for her race,
Begs, for each birth, the fortune of a face :
And Sedley cursed the charms which pleased a king.”
“ The lines in the tenth Satire of Juvenal, according to my alteration, should have run thus:
Yet Shore I could tell — ;
And Valière ? cursed — .' “ The first was a penitent by compulsion, the second by sentiment; though the truth is, Mademoiselle de la Valiere threw herself (but still from sentiment) in the king's way.
“Our friend chose Vane , who was far from being well-looked ; and Sedley', who was so ugly that Charles II. said his brother had her by way of penance 5."
1 Mistress of Edward IV.-BoswELL.
Mistress of Louis XIV.-BoswELL. 3 [See ante, vol. i. p. 170.-Ed.]
4 1“ Catherine Sedley, created Countess of Dorchester for life. Her father, Sir Charles, resenting the seduction of his daughter, joined in the Whig mea, sures of the Revolution, and excused his revolt from James under an ironical profession of gratitude. “His majesty," said he, “having done me the un. looked-for honour of making my daughter a countess, I cannot do less in te. turn than endeavour to make his daughter a queen."- En.)
s(Lord Hailes was hypercritical. Vane was handsome, or, what is more to our purpose, appeared so to her royal lover ; and Sedley, whatever others may have thought of her, had “ the charms which pleased a king.” So that Johnson's illustrations are morally just. His lordship's proposed substitution of a
Mr. Maclaurin's' learning and talents enabled Tour to him to do his part very well in Dr. Johnson's company. He produced two epitaphs upon his father, the celebrated mathematician. One was in English, of which Dr. Johnson did not change one word. In the other, which was in Latin, he made several alterations. In place of the very words of Virgil, “ Ubi luctus et pavor et plurima mortis imago,” he wrote “Ubi luctus regnant et pavor.” He introduced the word prorsus into the line “ Mortalibus prorsus non absit solatium,” and after “ Ilujus enim scripta evolve,” he added, “ Mentemque tantarum rerum capacem corpori caduco superstitem crede;" which is quite applicable to Dr. Johnson himself.
fabulous (or at least apocryphal) beauty like Jane Shore, whose story, even if true, was obsolete; or that of a foreigner, like Mlle. De La Vallière, little known and less cared for amongst us, is not only tasteless but inaccurate ; for Mlle. De La Vallière's beauty was quite as much questioned by her cotemporaries as Miss Sedley's. Bussy Rabutin was exiled for sneering at Louis's admiration of her mouth, which he calls
“-un bec amoureux,
Qui d'une oreille à l'autre ra." And Madame Du Plessis-Belièvre writes to louquet, “ Mlle. De La Vallière a fait la capable envers moi. Je l'ay encensée par sa beauté, qui n'est pourtant pas grande." And, finally, after Lord Hailes had clipped down the name of De La Vallière into Vallière, his ear might have told him that it did not even yet fit the metre.-ED.)
(Mr. Maclaurin, advocate, son of the great mathematician, and afterwards a judge of session by the title of Lord Dreghorn. He wrote some indifferent English poems; but was a good Latin scholar, and a man of wit and accom. plishment. His quotations from the classics were particularly apposite. In the famous case of Knight, which determined the right of a slave to freedom if he landed in Scotland, Maclaurin pleaded the cause of the negro. The counsel opposite was the celebrated Wight, an excellent lawyer, but of a very homely appearance, with heavy features, a blind eye, which projected from the socket, a swag belly, and a limp. To him Maclaurin applied the lines of Virgil,
“ Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses.
O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori." Mr. Maclaurin wrote an essay against the Homerick tale of Troy divine," I believe, for the sole purpose of introducing a happy motto,
“ Non anni domuere decem, non mille carinæ."-WALTER Scott.)
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