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and feeble, it “wings its distant way" far beyond himself, and views the world in unceasing activity of
It must be acknowledged, however, that Pope's plaintive reflection, that all things would be as gay as ever on the day of his death, is natural and
We are apt to transfer to all around us our own gloom, without considering that at any given point of time there is, perhaps, as much youth and gaiety in the world as at another. Before I came into this life, in which I have had so many pleasant scenes, have not thousands and ten thousands of deaths and funerals happened, and have not families been in grief for their nearest relations? But have those dismal circumstances at all affected me? Why then should the gloomy scenes which I experience, or which I know, affect others ? Let us guard against imagining that there is an end of felicity upon earth, when we ourselves grow old, or are unhappy.
Dr. Johnson told us at tea, that when some of Dr. Dodd's pious friends were trying to console him by saying that he was going to leave “a wretched world,” he had honesty enough not to join in the cant:“ No, no (said he), it has been a very agreeable world to me.” Johnson added, Dodd for thus speaking the truth ; for, to be sure, he had for several years enjoyed a life of great voluptuousness.
He told us, that Dodd's city friends stood by him so, that a thousand pounds were ready to be given to the gaoler, if he would let him escape. He added, that he knew a friend of Dodd's, who walked about Newgate for some time on the evening before the day of his execution, with five hundred pounds in his pocket, ready to be paid to any of the turnkeys who could get him out: but it was too late ; for he was vatched with much circumspection. He said, Dodd's friends had an image of him made of wax, which was
“ I respect
to have been left in his place; and he believed it was carried into the prison.
Johnson disapproved of Dr. Dodd's leaving the world persuaded that “ The Convict's Address to his unhappy Brethren," was of his own writing. “But, sir (said I), you contributed to the deception; for when Mr. Seward expressed a doubt to you
that it was not Dodd's own, because it had a great deal more force of mind in it than any thing known to be his, you answered - Why should you think so ? Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.'” Johnson. “ Sir, as Dodd got it from me to pass as his own, while that could do him any good, that was an implied promise that I should not own it. To own it, therefore, would have been telling a lie, with the addition of breach of promise, which was worse than simply telling a lie to make it be believed it was Dodd's. Besides, sir, I did not directly tell a lie: I left the matter uncertain. Perhaps I thought that Seward would not believe it the less to be mine for what I said ; but I would not put it in his power to say
I had owned it."
“ Yet," said he, (willing to let us see he was aware that fashionable fame, however deserved, is not always the most lasting), “perhaps, they may not be reprinted after seven years; at least not after Blair's death.”
He said, “ Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late. There appeared nothing remarkable about him when he was young; though when he had got high in fame, one of his friends began to recollect something of his being distinguished at College.' Goldsmith in
1 [He was distinguished in college, as appears from a circumstance mentioned by Dr. Kcarney. See vol. ii. p. 20. M.]
the same manner recollected more of that friend's early years, as he grew a greater man.”
I mentioned that Lord Monboddo told me, he awaked every morning at four, and then for his health got up and walked in his room naked, with the window open, which he called taking an air bath; after which he went to bed again, and slept two hours more.
Johnson, who was always ready to beat down any thing that seemed to be exhibited with disproportionate importance, thus observed : “I suppose, sir, there is no more in it than this; he wakes at four, and cannot sleep till he chills himself, and makes the warmth of the bed a grateful sensation.”
I talked of the difficulty of rising in the morning. Dr. Johnson told me, " that the learned Mrs. Carter, at that period when she was eager in study, did not awake as early as she wished, and she therefore had a contrivance, that, at a certain hour, her chamber-light should burn a string to which a heavy weight was suspended, which then fell with a strong sudden noise : this roused her from sleep, and then she had no difficulty in getting up.” But I said that was my difficulty; and wished there could be some medicine invented which would make one rise without pain, which I never did, unless after lying in bed a very long time. Perhaps there may be something in the stores of Nature which could do this. I have thought of a pulley to raise me gradually; but that would give me pain, as it would counteract my internal inclination. I would have something that can dissipate the vis inertiæ, and give elasticity to the muscles. As I imagine that the human body may be put, by the operation of other substances, into any state in which it has ever been; and as I have experienced a state in which rising from bed was not disagreeable, but easy, nay, sometimes agreeable ; I suppose that this state may be produced, if we knew by what. We
e can heat the body, we can cool it; we can give it tension or relaxation; and surely it is possible to bring it into a state in which rising from bed will not be a pain.
Johnson observed, that “a man should take a sufficient quantity of sleep, which Dr. Mead says is between seven and nine hours." I told him that Dr. Cullen said to me, that a man should not take more sleep than he can take at once. JOHNSON. “ This rule, sir, cannot hold in all cases; for many people have their sleep broken by sickness; and surely, Cullen would not have a man to get up, after having slept but an hour. Such a regimen would soon end in a long sleep.”' Dr. Taylor remarked, I think very justly, that as a man who does not feel an inclination to sleep at the ordinary times, instead of being stronger than other people, must not be well; for a man in health has all the natural inclinations to eat, drink, and sleep in a strong degree."
Johnson advised me to-night not to refine in the education of
children. « Life (said he) will not bear refinement: you must do as other people do.”
1 This regimen was, however, practised by Bishop Ken, of whom Hawkins (not Sir John ) in his life of that venerable Prelate, page 4, tells us, “And that neither his study might be the aggressor on his hours of instruction, or what he judged his duty, prevent his improvements ; or both, his closet addresses to his God; he strictly accustomed himself to but one sleep, which often obliged him to rise at one or two of the clock in the morning, and sometimes sooner; and grew so habitual, that it continued with him almost till his last illness. And so lively and cheerful was his temper, that he would be very facetious and entertaining to his friends in the evening, even when it was perceived that with difficulty he kept his eyes open ; and then seemed to go to rest with no other purpose than the refreshing and enabling him with more vigour and cheerfulness to sing his morning hymn, as he then used to do to his lute before he put on his clothes.”
As we drove back to Ashbourne, Dr. Johnson recommended to me, as he had often done, to drink water only: “For (said he) you are then sure not to get drunk ; whereas, if you drink wine, you are never sure.” I said, drinking wine was a pleasure which I was unwilling to give up. “Why, sir (said he), there is no doubt that not to drink wine is a great deduction from life ; but it may be necessary." He however owned, that in his opinion a free use of wine did not shorten life; and said, he would not give less for the life of a certain Scotch Lord (whom he named) celebrated for hard drinking, than for that of a sober man. “ But stay (said he, with his usual intelligence, and accuracy of inquiry), does it take much wine to make him drunk?” I answered, “a great deal either of wine or strong punch.”—“Then (said he) that is the worse." I presume to illustrate my friend's observation thus: “A fortress which soon surrenders has its walls less shattered, than when a long and obstinate resistance is made.”
I ventured to mention a person who was as violent a Scotchman as he was an Englishman; and literally had the same contempt for an Englishman compared with a Scotchman, that he had for a Scotchman compared with an Englishman ; and that he would say of Dr. Johnson, “ Damned rascal! to talk as he does of the Scotch.” This seemed, for a moment, “ to give him pause." It, perhaps, presented his extreme prejudice against the Scotch in a point of view somewhat new to him, by the effect of contrast.
By the time when we returned to Ashbourne, Dr. Taylor was gone to bed. Johnson and I sat up a long time by ourselves.
He was much diverted with an article which I shewed him in the “ Critical Review” of this year, giving an account of a curious publication, entitled, “A spiritual Diary and Soliloquies, by John Rutty,