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being seen. Poverty is hic et ubique," says he; "and if you do shut the jade out of the door, she will always contrive, in some manner, to poke her pale lean face in at the window."
122. Old Age.-Dogs.
I have mentioned before, that old age had very little of Mr. Johnson's reverence: "A man commonly grew wickeder as he grew older," he said, "at least he but changed the vices of youth; headstrong passion and wild temerity, for treacherous caution and desire to circumvent. I am always," said he, "on the young people's side, when there is a dispute between them and the old ones: for you have at least a chance for virtue till age has withered its very root."
While we were talking, my mother's spaniel, whom he never loved, stole our toast and butter; "Fie, Belle!" said I, 66 you used to be upon honour." "Yes, Madam," replies Johnson, "but Belle grows old." His reason for hating the dog was, "because she was a professed favourite," he said, "and because her lady ordered her from time to time to be washed and combed: a foolish trick," said he, "and an assumption of superiority that every one's nature revolts at; so because one must not wish ill to the lady in such cases," continued he, “one curses the cur." The truth is, Belle was not well behaved, and being a large spaniel, was troublesome enough at dinner with frequent solicitations to be fed. "This animal," said Dr. Johnson one day, "would have been of extraordinary merit and value in the state of Lycurgus; for she condemns one to the exertion of perpetual vigilance."
123. Cats.-Hodge's Oysters.
He had that strong aversion felt by all the lower ranks of people towards four-footed companions very completely, notwithstanding he had, for many years, a cat which he called Hodge, that kept always in his room at Fleet Street; but so exact was he not to offend the human species by superfluous attention to brutes, that when the
creature was grown sick and old, and could eat nothing but oysters, Mr. Johnson always went out himself to buy Hodge's dinner, that Francis the black's delicacy might not be hurt, at seeing himself employed for the convenience of a quadruped.
124. Mr. Cholmondeley.
No one was so attentive not to offend in all such sort of things as Dr. Johnson; nor so careful to maintain the ceremonies of life: and though he told Mr. Thrale once, that he had never sought to please till past thirty years old, considering the matter as hopeless, he had been always studious not to make enemies, by apparent preference of himself. It happened very comically, that the moment this curious conversation past, of which I was a silent auditress, was in the coach, in some distant province, either Shropshire or Derbyshire I believe; and as soon as it was over, Mr. Johnson took out of his pocket a little book and read, while a gentleman of no small distinction for his birth and elegance suddenly rode up to the carriage, and paying us all his proper compliments, was desirous not to neglect Dr. Johnson; but observing that he did not see him, tapped him gently on the shoulder. ""T is Mr. Cholmondeley," says my husband. "Well, Sir! and what if it is Mr. Cholmondeley?" says the other sternly, just lifting his eyes a moment from his book, and returning to it again with renewed avidity.'
[For Boswell's strictures on this passage, see Life, Vol. VIII. p. 347. I subjoin Mr. Cholmondeley's own account of the circumstance, which however only confirms Mrs. Piozzi's statement : "In the year 1774 I was making a tour of Derbyshire in a gig with Windham. Just as we came to the point of the hill going down into Matlock, we saw Mr. Thrale's carriage and four, in which were Dr. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Thrale: the horses were breathing after ascending the hill: we had heard they were in those parts; of course this rencontre excited some interest. I, with all the conceit of a young man, saying, 'I know Dr. Johnson very well, I'll manage it all;' tripped very pertly from the gig to the carriage, shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, who were very glad to see me as people are glad in a commonplace way. Dr. Johnson took not the smallest notice; on which Mr. Thrale said, Dr. Johnson, here is Mr. Cholmondeley.' Dr. Johnson neither spoke nor moved. He repeated, Dr. Johnson, here is Mr. Cholmondeley.' Dr. Johnson was equally silent. Mr. Thrale repeated it a third time; when Dr. Johnson answered, Well, Sir! and what if there is Mr. Cholmondeley?' I, of course, tripped back again, much entertained at the humorous way in which my conceit had been put down. I imagine Mrs.
125. "In Vino Veritas."
It was unlucky for those who delighted to echo Johnson's sentiments, that he would not endure from them to-day, what perhaps he had yesterday, by his own manner of treating the subject, made them fond of repeating; and I fancy Mr. Boswell has not forgotten, that though his friend one evening in a gay humour talked in praise of wine, as one of the blessings permitted by Heaven when used with moderation, to lighten the load of life, and give men strength to endure it; yet, when in consequence of such talk he thought fit to make a Bacchanalian discourse in its favour, Mr. Johnson contradicted him somewhat roughly, as I remember; and when, to assure himself of conquest, he added these words, You must allow me, Sir, at least, that it produces truth; in vino veritas, you know, Sir." "That," replied Mr. Johnson, "would be useless to a man who knew he was not a liar when he was sober."
When one talks of giving and taking the lie familiarly, it is impossible to forbear recollecting the transactions between the editor of Ossian and the author of the Journey to the Hebrides. It was most observable to me, however, that Mr. Johnson never bore his antagonist the slightest
Thrale must, in some dispute, have reproached him with this, as an instance of unprovoked brutality towards an unoffending person. Four years afterwards, I went to dine at Mr. Thrale's, at Brighton. The house was small; the passage running close by the room into the street. I arrived before Dr. Johnson was dressed. When he entered the room, he said, George, I want to speak to you.' He led me from the passage into the street; then said, George, I owe you reparation for an injury which I do not recollect. I am told that, some years ago, I met you on the point of Matlock Hill, and spoke to you with unjustifiable insolence: whether I was thinking of something else, or whether I had been quarrelling with Thrale, I know not; but I ought not so to have insulted an innocent unoffending young man; and I beg your pardon.' I told this to Mrs. Thrale, with all the animation such a beautiful trait was calculated to inspire; and after she published her garbled account of it, I called upon her, reminded her of this circumstance, pointed out to her how characteristic an anecdote it was, of a man whose temper was harsh, but whose principles were charitable in the extreme, and who was, consequently, always in a state of repentance for imaginary injuries: I enjoined her, by the love of truth and justice, to publish another edition of it, which she never did."— C.]