Boswell's Life of Johnson

Selections,
Edited by Jack Lynch

These selections from James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. are for use in my classes. The text comes from R. W. Chapman's 1904 Oxford edition; the page numbers correspond to those in the Oxford World's Classic edition. I have removed all footnotes, both those by Boswell and by other editors. Please send comments and corrections to Jack Lynch.
[Pages 732-48]

[1] Volumes would be required to contain a list of his numerous and various acquaintance, none of whom he ever forgot; and could describe and discriminate them all with precision and vivacity. He associated with persons the most widely different in manners, abilities, rank, and accomplishments. He was at once the companion of the brilliant Colonel Forrester of the Guards, who wrote “The Polite Philosopher,” and of the aukward and uncouth Robert Levett; of Lord Thurlow, and Mr. Sastres, the Italian master; and has dined one day with the beautiful, gay, and fascinating Lady Craven, and the next with good Mrs. Gardiner, the tallow-chandler, on Snowhill.

[2] On my expressing my wonder at his discovering so much of the knowledge peculiar to different professions, he told me, “I learnt what I know of law chiefly from Mr. Ballow, a very able man. I learnt some too from Chambers; but was not so teachable then. One is not willing to be taught by a young man.” When I expressed a wish to know more about Mr. Ballow, Johnson said, “Sir, I have seen him but once these twenty years. The tide of life has driven us different ways.” I was sorry at the time to hear this; but whoever quits the creeks of private connections, and fairly gets into the great ocean of London, will, by imperceptible degrees, unavoidably experience such cessations of acquaintance.

[3] “My knowledge of physick, (he added,) I learnt from Dr. James, whom I helped in writing the proposals for his Dictionary, and also a little in the Dictionary itself. I also learnt from Dr. Lawrence but was then grown more stubborn.”

[4] A curious incident happened to-day, while Mr. Thrale and I sat with him. Francis announced that a large package was brought to him from the post-office, said to have come from Lisbon, and it was charged seven pounds, ten shillings. He would not receive it, supposing it to be some trick, nor did he even look at it. But upon enquiry afterwards he found that it was a real packet for him, from that very friend in the East-Indies of whom he had been speaking; and the ship which carried it having come to Portugal, this packet, with others, had been put into the post-office at Lisbon.

[5] I mentioned a new gaming-club, of which Mr. Beauclerk had given me an account, where the members played to a desperate extent. Johnson. “Depend upon it, Sir, this is mere talk. Who is ruined by gaming? You will not find six instances in an age. There is a strange rout made about deep play: whereas you have many more people ruined by adventurous trade, and yet we do not hear such an outcry against it.” THRALE. “There may be few people absolutely ruined by deep play; but very many are much hurt in their circumstances by it.” Johnson. “Yes, Sir, and so are very many by other kinds of expence.” I had heard him talk once before in the same manner; and at Oxford he said, “he wished he had learned to play at cards.” The truth, however, is, that he loved to display his ingenuity in argument; and therefore would sometimes in conversation maintain opinions which he was sensible were wrong, but in supporting which, his reasoning and wit would be most conspicuous. He would begin thus: “Why, Sir, as to the good or evil of card-playing—”; “Now, (said Garrick,) he is thinking which side he shall take.” He appeared to have a pleasure in contradiction, especially when any opinion whatever was delivered with an air of confidence; so that there was hardly any topick, if not one of the great truths of Religion and Morality, that he might not have been incited to argue, either for or against. Lord Elibank had the highest admiration of his powers. He once observed to me, “Whatever opinion Johnson maintains, I will not say that he convinces me; but he never fails to shew me, that he has good reasons for it.” I have heard Johnson pay his Lordship this high compliment:

“I never was in Lord Elibank's company without learning something.”

[6] We sat together till it was too late for the afternoon service. Thrale said, he had come with intention to go to church with us. We went at seven to evening prayers at St. Clement's church, after having drank coffee; an indulgence, which I understood Johnson yielded to on this occasion, in compliment to Thrale.

[7] On Sunday, April 7, Easter-day, after having been at St. Paul's cathedral, I came to Dr. Johnson, according to my usual custom. It seemed to me that there was always something peculiarly mild and placid in his manner upon this holy festival, the commemoration of the most joyful event in the history of our world, the resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOUR, who, having triumphed over death and the grave, proclaimed immortality to mankind.

[8] I repeated to him an argument of a lady of my acquaintance who maintained, that her husband's having been guilty of numberless infidelities, released her from conjugal obligations, because they were reciprocal. Johnson. “This is miserable stuff, Sir. To the contract of marriage, besides the man and wife, there is a third party — Society; and if it be considered as a vow — God: and, therefore it cannot be dissolved by their consent alone. Laws are not made for particular cases, but for men in general. A woman may be unhappy with her husband; but she cannot be freed from him without the approbation of the civil and ecclesiastical power. A man may be unhappy, because he is not so rich as another; but he is not to seize upon another's property with his own hand.” Boswell. “But, Sir, this lady does not want that the contract should be dissolved; she only argues that she may indulge herself in gallantries with equal freedom as her husband does, provided she takes care not to introduce a spurious issue into his family. You know, Sir, what Macrobius has told of Julia.” Johnson. “This lady of yours, Sir, I think, is very fit for a brothel.”

[9] Mr. Macbean, authour of the “Dictionary of Ancient Geography,” came in. He mentioned that he had been forty years absent from Scotland. “Ah, Boswell! (said Johnson, smiling,) what would you give to be forty years from Scotland?” I said, “I should not like to be so long absent from the seat of my ancestors.” This gentleman, Mrs. Williams, and Mr. Levett dined with us.

[10] Dr. Johnson made a remark, which both Mr. Macbean and I thought new. It was this: that “the law against usury is for the protection of creditors as well as debtors; for if there were no such check, people would be apt, from the temptation of great interest, to lend to desperate persons, by whom they would lose their money. Accordingly there are instances of ladies being ruined, by having injudiciously sunk their fortunes for high annuities, which, after a few years, ceased to be paid, in consequence of the ruined circumstances of the borrower.”

[11] Mrs. Williams was very peevish; and I wondered at Johnson's patience with her now, as I had often done on similar occasions. The truth is, that his humane consideration of the forlorn and indigent state in which this lady was left by her father, induced him to treat her with the utmost tenderness, and even to be desirous of procuring her amusement, so as sometimes to incommode many of his friends, by carrying her with him to their houses, where, from her manner of eating, in consequence of her blindness, she could not but offend the delicacy of persons of nice sensations.

[12] After coffee, we went to afternoon service in St. Clement's church. Observing some beggars in the street as we walked along, I said to him, I suppose there was no civilised country in the world, where the misery of want in the lowest classes of the people was prevented. Johnson. “I believe, Sir, there is not; but it is better that some should be unhappy, than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.”

[13] When the service was ended, I went home with him, and we sat quietly by ourselves. He recommended Dr. Cheyne's books. I said, I thought Cheyne had been reckoned whimsical. — “So he was, (said he,) in some things; but there is no end of objections. There are few books to which some objection or other may not be made.” He added, “I would not have you read any thing else of Cheyne, but his book on Health, and his 'English Malady.'”

[14] Upon the question whether a man who had been guilty of vicious actions would do well to force himself into solitude and sadness? Johnson. “No, Sir, unless it prevent him from being vicious again. With some people, gloomy penitence is only madness turned upside down. A man may be gloomy, till, in order to be relieved from gloom, he has recourse again to criminal indulgencies.”

[15] On Wednesday, April 10, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, where were Mr. Murphy and some other company. Before dinner, Dr. Johnson and I passed some time by ourselves. I was sorry to find it was now resolved that the proposed journey to Italy should not take place this year. He said, “I am disappointed, to be sure; but it is not a great disappointment.” I wondered to see him bear, with a philosophical calmness, what would have made most people peevish and fretful. I perceived, however, that he had so warmly cherished the hope of enjoying classical scenes, that he could not easily part with the scheme; for he said, “I shall probably contrive to get to Italy some other way. But I won't mention it to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, as it might vex them.” I suggested, that going to Italy might have done Mr. and Mrs. Thrale good. Johnson. “I rather believe not, Sir. While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.”

[16] At dinner, Mr. Murphy entertained us with the history of Mr. Joseph Simpson, a schoolfellow of Dr. Johnson's, a barrister at law, of good parts, but who fell into a dissipated course of life, incompatible with that success in his profession which he once had, and would otherwise have deservedly maintained; yet he still preserved a dignity in his deportment. He wrote a tragedy on the story of Leonidas, entitled “The Patriot.” He read it to a company of lawyers, who found so many faults that he wrote it over again: so then there were two tragedies on the same subject and with the same title. Dr. Johnson told us, that one of them was still in his possession. This very piece was, after his death, published by some person who had been about him, and, for the sake of a little hasty profit, was fallaciously advertised, so as to make it be believed to have been written by Johnson himself.

[17] I said, I disliked the custom which some people had of bringing their children into company, because it in a manner forced us to pay foolish compliments to please their parents. Johnson. “You are right, Sir. We may be excused for not caring much about other people's children, for there are many who care very little about their own children. It may be observed, that men, who from being engaged in business, or from their course of life in whatever way, seldom see their children, do not care much about them. I myself should not have had much fondness for a child of my own.” MR. THRALE. “Nay, Sir, how can you talk so?” Johnson. “At least, I never wished to have a child.”

[18] Mr. Murphy mentioned Dr. Johnson's having a design to publish an edition of Cowley. Johnson said, he did not know but he should; and he expressed his disapprobation of Dr. Hurd, for having published a mutilated edition under the title of “Select Works of Abraham Cowley.” Mr. Murphy thought it a bad precedent; observing, that any authour might be used in the same manner; and that it was pleasing to see the variety of an authour's compositions, at different periods.

[19] We talked of Flatman's Poems; and Mrs. Thrale observed, that Pope had partly borrowed from him, “The dying Christian to his Soul.” Johnson repeated Rochester's verses upon Flatman, which, I think, by much too severe:

“Nor that slow drudge in swift Pindarick strains,
Flatman, who Cowley imitates with pains,
And rides a jaded Muse, whipt with loose reins.”

[20] I like to recollect all the passages that I heard Johnson repeat: it stamps a value on them.

[21] He told us, that the book entitled “The Lives of the Poets, by Mr. Cibber,” was entirely compiled by Mr. Shiels, a Scotchman, one of his amanuenses. “The booksellers, (said he,) gave Theophilus Cibber, who was then in prison, ten guineas to allow Mr. Cibber to be put upon the title-page as the authour; by this, a double imposition was intended: in the first place, that it was the work of a Cibber at all: and, in the second place, that it was the work of old Cibber.”

[22] Mr. Murphy said, that “The Memoirs of Gray's Life set him much higher in his estimation than his poems did; for you there saw a man constantly at work in literature.” Johnson acquiesced in this; but depreciated the book, I thought very unreasonably. For he said, “I forced myself to read it, only because it was a common Topick of conversation. I found it mighty dull; and, as to the style, it is fit for the second table.” Why he thought so I was at a loss to conceive. He now gave it as his opinion, that “Akenside was a superiour poet both to Gray and Mason.”

[23] Talking of the Reviews, Johnson said, “I think them very impartial: I do not know an instance of partiality.” He mentioned what had passed upon the subject of the Monthly and Critical Reviews, in the conversation with which his Majesty had honoured him. He expatiated a little more on them this evening. “The Monthly Reviewers (said he) are not Deists; but they are Christians with as little christianity as may be; and are for pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers are for supporting the constitution both in Church and state. The Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books through; but lay hold of a topick, and write chiefly from their own minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men, and are glad to read the books through.”

[24] He talked of Lord Lyttelton's extreme anxiety as an authour; observing, that “he was thirty years in preparing his History, and that he employed a man to point it for him; as if (laughing) another man could point his sense better than himself.” Mr. Murphy said, he understood his history was kept back several years for fear of Smollett. Johnson. “This seems strange to Murphy and me, who never felt that anxiety, but sent what we wrote to the press, and let it take its chance.” MR. THRALE. “The time has been, Sir, when you felt it.” Johnson. “Why really, Madam, I do not recollect a time when that was the case.”

[25] Talking of “The Spectator,” he said, “It is wonderful that there is such a proportion of bad papers, in the half of the work which was not written by Addison; for there was all the world to write that half, yet not a half of that half is good. One of the finest pieces in the English language is the paper on Novelty, yet we do not hear it talked of. It was written by Grove, a dissenting teacher.” He would not, I perceived, call him a clergyman, though he was candid enough to allow very great merit to his composition. Mr. Murphy said, he remembered when there were several people alive in London, who enjoyed a considerable reputation merely from having written a paper in “The Spectator.” He mentioned particularly Mr. Ince, who used to frequent Tom's coffee-house. “But (said Johnson,) you must consider how highly Steele speaks of Mr. Ince.” He would not allow that the paper on carrying a boy to travel, signed Philip Homebred, which was reported to be written by the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, had merit. He said, “it was quite vulgar, and had nothing luminous.”

[26] Johnson mentioned Dr. Barry's System of Physick. “He was a man (said he,) who had acquired a high reputation in Dublin, came over to England, and brought his reputation with him, but had not great success. His notion was, that pulsation occasions death by attrition; and that, therefore, the way to preserve life is to retard pulsation. But we know that pulsation is strongest in infants, and that we increase in growth while it operates in its regular course; so it cannot be the cause of destruction.” Soon after this, he said something very flattering to Mrs. Thrale, which I do not recollect; but it concluded with wishing her long life. “Sir, (said I,) if Dr. Barry's system be true, you have now shortened Mrs. Thrale's life, perhaps, some minutes, by accelerating her pulsation.”

[27] On Thursday, April 11, I dined with him at General Paoli's, in whose house I now resided, and where I had ever afterwards the honour of being entertained with the kindest attention as his constant guest, while I was in London, till I had a house of my own there. I mentioned my having that morning introduced to Mr. Garrick, Count Neni, a Flemish Nobleman of great rank and fortune, to whom Garrick talked of Abel Drugger as a small part; and related, with pleasant vanity, that a Frenchman, who had seen him in one of his low characters, exclaimed, "Comment! je ne le crois pas. Ce n'est pas Monsieur Garrick, ce Grand Homme!” Garrick added, with an appearance of grave recollection, “If I were to begin life again, I think I should not play those low characters.” Upon which I observed, “Sir, you would be in the wrong; for your great excellence is your variety of playing, your representing so well, characters so very different.” Johnson. “Garrick, Sir, was not in earnest in what he said; for, to be sure, his peculiar excellence is his variety; and, perhaps, there is not any one character which has not been as well acted by somebody else, as he could do it.” Boswell. “Why then, Sir, did he talk so?” Johnson. “Why, Sir, to make you answer as you did.” Boswell. “I don't know, Sir; he seemed to dip deep into his mind for the reflection.” Johnson. “He had not far to dip, Sir; he had said the same thing, probably, twenty times before.”

[28] Of a nobleman raised at a very early period to high office, he said, “His parts, Sir, are pretty well for a Lord; but would not be distinguished in a man who had nothing else but his parts.”

[29] A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts. He said, “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great Empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. — All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediterranean.” The General observed, that “THE MEDITERRANEAN would be a noble subject for a poem.”

[30] We talked of translation. I said, I could not define it, nor could I think of a similitude to illustrate it; but that it appeared to me the translation of poetry could be only imitation. Johnson. “You may translate books of science exactly. You may also translate history, in so far as it is not embellished with oratory, which is poetical. Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language, if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language.”

[31] A gentleman maintained that the art of printing had hurt real learning, by disseminating idle writings. — Johnson. “Sir, if it had not been for the art of printing, we should now have no learning at all; for books would have perished faster than they could have been transcribed.” This observation seems not just, considering for how many ages books were preserved by writing alone.

[32] The same gentleman maintained, that a general diffusion of knowledge among a people was a disadvantage; for it made the vulgar rise above their humble sphere. Johnson. “Sir, while knowledge is a distinction, those who are possessed of it will naturally rise above those who are not. Merely to read and write was a distinction at first; but we see when reading and writing have become general, the common people keep their stations. And so, were higher attainments to become general, the effect would be the same.”

[33] “Goldsmith (he said), referred every thing to vanity; his virtues, and his vices too were from that motive. He was not a social man. He never exchanged mind with you.”

[34] “We spent the evening at Mr. Hoole's. Mr. Mickle, the excellent translator of “The Lusiad,” was there. I have preserved little of the conversation of this evening. Dr. Johnson said, “Thomson had a true poetical genius, the power of viewing every thing in a poetical light. His fault is such a cloud of words sometimes, that the sense can hardly peep through. Shiels, who compiled 'Cibber's Lives of the Poets,' was one day sitting with me. I took down Thomson, and read aloud a large portion of him, and then asked, — Is not this fine? Shiels having expressed the highest admiration, Well, Sir, (said I,) I have omitted every other line.”

[35] I related a dispute between Goldsmith and Mr. Robert Dodsley, one day when they and I were dining at Tom Davies's, in 1762. Goldsmith asserted, that there was no poetry produced in this age. Dodsley appealed to his own Collection, and maintained, that though you could not find a palace like Dryden's “Ode on St. Cecilia's Day,” you had villages composed of very pretty houses; and he mentioned particularly “The Spleen.” Johnson. “I think Dodsley gave up the question. He and Goldsmith said the same thing; only he said it in a softer manner than Goldsmith did; for he acknowledged that there was no poetry, nothing that towered above the common mark. You may find wit and humour in verse, and yet no poetry. 'Hudibras' has a profusion of these; yet it is not to be reckoned a poem. 'The Spleen,' in Dodsley's collection, on which you say he chiefly rested, is not poetry.” Boswell. “Does not Gray's poetry, Sir, tower above the common mark?” Johnson. “Yes, Sir; but we must attend to the difference between what men in general cannot do if they would, and what every man may do if he would. Sixteen-string Jack towered above the common mark.” Boswell. “Then, Sir, what is poetry?” Johnson. “Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is.”

[36] On Friday, April 12, I dined with him at our friend Tom Davies's, where we met Mr. Cradock, of Leicestershire, authour of “Zobeide,” a tragedy; a very pleasing gentleman, to whom my friend Dr. Farmer's very excellent Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare is addressed; and Dr. Harwood, who has written and published various works; particularly a fantastical translation of the New Testament, in modern phrase, and with a Socinian twist.

[37] I introduced Aristotle's doctrine in his “Art of Poetry,” of “the katharsis ton pathematon, the purging of the passions,” as the purpose of tragedy. “But how are the passions to be purged by terrour and pity?” (said I, with an assumed air of ignorance, to incite him to talk, for which it was often necessary to employ some address.) Johnson. “Why, Sir, you are to consider what is the meaning of purging in the original sense. It is to expel impurities from the human body. The mind is subject to the same imperfection. The passions are the great movers of human actions; but they are mixed with such impurities, that it is necessary they should be purged or refined by means of terrour and pity. For instance, ambition is a noble passion; but by seeing upon the stage, that a man who is so excessively ambitious as to raise himself by injustice, is punished, we are terrified at the fatal consequences of such a passion. In the same manner a certain degree of resentment is necessary; but if we see that a man carries it too far, we pity the object of it, and are taught to moderate that passion.” My record upon this occasion does great injustice to Johnson's expression, which was so forcible and brilliant, that Mr. Cradock whispered me, “O that his words were written in a book!”

[38] I observed the great defect of the tragedy of “Othello” was, that it had not a moral; for that no man could resist the circumstances of suspicion which were artfully suggested to Othello's mind. Johnson. “In the first place, Sir, we learn from 'Othello' this very useful moral, not to make an unequal match; in the second place, we learn not to yield too readily to suspicion. The handkerchief is merely a trick, though a very pretty trick; but there are no other circumstances of reasonable suspicion, except what is related by Iago of Cassio's warm expressions concerning Desdemona in his sleep; and that depended entirely upon the assertion of one man. No, Sir, I think 'Othello' has more moral than almost any play.”

[39] Talking of a penurious gentleman of our acquaintance, Johnson said, “Sir, he is narrow, not so much from avarice, as from impotence to spend his money. He cannot find in his heart to pour out a bottle of wine; but he would not much care if it should sour.”

[40] He said, he wished to see “John Dennis's Critical Works” collected. Davies said, they would not sell. Dr. Johnson seemed to think otherwise.

[41] Davies said of a well known dramatick authour, that “he lived upon potted stories, and that he made his way as Hannibal did, by vinegar; having begun by attacking people, particularly the players.”

[42] He reminded Dr. Johnson of Mr. Murphy's having paid him the highest compliment that ever was paid to a layman, by asking his pardon for repeating some oaths in the course of telling a story.

[43] Johnson and I supped this evening at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in company with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Mr. Nairne, now one of the Scotch Judges, with the title of Lord Dunsinan, and my very worthy friend, Sir William Forbes, of Pitsligo.

[44] We discussed the question, whether drinking improved conversation and benevolence. Sir Joshua maintained it did. Johnson. “No. Sir: before dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who are conscious of their inferiority, have the modesty not to talk. When they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous: but he is not improved: he is only not sensible of his defects.” Sir Joshua said the Doctor was talking of the effects of excess in wine; but that a moderate glass enlivened the mind, by giving a proper circulation to the blood. “I am, (said he,) in very good spirits, when I get up in the morning. By dinner-time I am exhausted; wine puts me in the same state as when I got up: and I am sure that moderate drinking makes people talk better.” Johnson. “No, Sir; wine gives not light, gay, ideal hilarity; but tumultuous, noisy, clamorous merriment. I have heard none of those drunken, — nay, drunken is a coarse word, — none of those vinous flights.” SIR JOSHUA. “Because you have sat by, quite sober, and felt an envy of the happiness of those who were drinking.” Johnson. “Perhaps, contempt. — And, Sir, it is not necessary to be drunk one's self, to relish the wit of drunkenness. Do we not judge of the drunken wit of the dialogue between Iago and Cassio, the most excellent in its kind, when we are quite sober? Wit is wit, by whatever means it is produced; and, if good, will appear so at all times. I admit that the spirits are raised by drinking, as by the common participation of any pleasure: cock-fighting, or bear-baiting, will raise the spirits of a company, as drinking does, though surely they will not improve conversation. I also admit, that there are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits which are not good till they are rotten. There are such men, but they are medlars. I indeed allow that there have been a very few men of talents who were improved by drinking; but I maintain that I am right as to the effects of drinking in general: and let it be considered, that there is no position, however false in its universality, which is not true of some particular man.” Sir William Forbes said, “Might not a man warmed with wine be like a bottle of beer, which is made brisker by being set before the fire?” — “Nay, (said Johnson, laughing,) I cannot answer that: that is too much for me.”

[45] I observed, that wine did some people harm, by inflaming, confusing, and irritating their minds; but that the experience of mankind had declared in favour of moderate drinking. Johnson. “Sir, I do not say it is wrong to produce self-complacency by drinking; I only deny that it improves the mind. When I drank wine, I scorned to drink it when in company. I have drunk many a bottle by myself; in the first place, because I had need of it to raise my spirits: in the second place, because I would have nobody to witness its effects upon me.”

[46] He told us, “almost all his Ramblers were written just as they were wanted for the press; that he sent a certain portion of the copy of an essay, and wrote the remainder, while the former part of it was printing. When it was wanted, and he had fairly sat down to it, he was sure it would be done.”

[47] He said, that for general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to; though be sure, if a man has a science to learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance. He added, “what we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.” He told us, he read Fielding's “Amelia” through, without stopping. He said, “if a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclination to go on, let him not quit it, to go to the beginning. He may perhaps not feel again the inclination.”

[48] Sir Joshua mentioned Mr. Cumberland's Odes, which were just published. Johnson. “Why, Sir, they would have been thought as good as Odes commonly are, if Cumberland had not put his name to them; but a name immediately draws censure, unless it be a name that bears down every thing before it. Nay, Cumberland has made his Odes subsidiary to the fame of another man. They might have run well enough by themselves; but he has not only loaded them with a name, but has made them carry double.”

[49] We talked of the Reviews, and Dr. Johnson spoke of them as he did at Thrale's. Sir Joshua said, what I have often thought, that he wondered to find so much good writing employed in them, when the authours were to remain unknown, and so could not have the motive of fame. Johnson. “Nay, Sir, those who write in them, write well in order to be paid well.”