VOLUME III.—LIFE (1776-1780)




Having left Ashbourne in the evening, we stopped to change horses at Derby, and availed ourselves of a moment to enjoy the conversation of my countryman, Dr. Butter, then physician there. He was in great indignation because Lord Mountstuart's bill for a Scotch militia[1] had been lost. Dr. Johnson was as violent against it. 'I am glad, (said he,) that Parliament has had the spirit to throw it out. You wanted to take advantage of the timidity of our scoundrels;' (meaning, I suppose, the ministry). It may be observed, that he used the epithet scoundrel very commonly not quite in the sense in which it is generally understood, but as a strong term of disapprobation; as when he abruptly answered Mrs. Thrale, who had asked him how he did, 'Ready to become a scoundrel, Madam; with a little more spoiling you will, I think, make me a complete rascal[2]:' he meant, easy to become a capricious and self-indulgent valetudinarian; a character for which I have heard him express great disgust.

Johnson had with him upon this jaunt, 'Il Palmerino d'Inghilterra,' a romance[3] praised by Cervantes; but did not like it much. He said, he read it for the language, by way of preparation for his Italian expedition.—We lay this night at Loughborough.

On Thursday, March 28, we pursued our journey. I mentioned that old Mr. Sheridan complained of the ingratitude of Mr. Wedderburne[4] and General Fraser, who had been much obliged to him when they were young Scotchmen entering upon life in England. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him. A man when he gets into a higher sphere, into other habits of life, cannot keep up all his former connections. Then, Sir, those who knew him formerly upon a level with themselves, may think that they ought still to be treated as on a level, which cannot be; and an acquaintance in a former situation may bring out things which it would be very disagreeable to have mentioned before higher company, though, perhaps, every body knows of them.' He placed this subject in a new light to me, and shewed that a man who has risen in the world, must not be condemned too harshly for being distant to former acquaintance, even though he may have been much obliged to them.' It is, no doubt, to be wished that a proper degree of attention should be shewn by great men to their early friends. But if either from obtuse insensibility to difference of situation, or presumptuous forwardness, which will not submit even to an exteriour observance of it, the dignity of high place cannot be preserved, when they are admitted into the company of those raised above the state in which they once were, encroachment must be repelled, and the kinder feelings sacrificed. To one of the very fortunate persons whom I have mentioned, namely, Mr. Wedderburne, now Lord Loughborough, I must do the justice to relate, that I have been assured by another early acquaintance of his, old Mr. Macklin[5], who assisted in improving his pronunciation, that he found him very grateful. Macklin, I suppose, had not pressed upon his elevation with so much eagerness as the gentleman who complained of him. Dr. Johnson's remark as to the jealousy 'entertained of our friends who rise far above us,' is certainly very just. By this was withered the early friendship between Charles Townshend and Akenside[6]; and many similar instances might be adduced.

He said, 'It is commonly a weak man who marries for love.' We then talked of marrying women of fortune; and I mentioned a common remark, that a man may be, upon the whole, richer by marrying a woman with a very small portion, because a woman of fortune will be proportionally expensive; whereas a woman who brings none will be very moderate in expenses. JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, this is not true. A woman of fortune being used to the handling of money, spends it judiciously: but a woman who gets the command of money for the first time upon her marriage, has such a gust in spending it, that she throws it away with great profusion.'

He praised the ladies of the present age, insisting that they were more faithful to their husbands, and more virtuous in every respect, than in former times, because their understandings were better cultivated[7]. It was an undoubted proof of his good sense and good disposition, that he was never querulous, never prone to inveigh against the present times, as is so common when superficial minds are on the fret. On the contrary, he was willing to speak favourably of his own age; and, indeed, maintained its superiority[8] in every respect, except in its reverence for government; the relaxation of which he imputed, as its grand cause, to the shock which our monarchy received at the Revolution, though necessary[9]; and secondly, to the timid concessions made to faction by successive administrations in the reign of his present Majesty. I am happy to think, that he lived to see the Crown at last recover its just influence[10].

At Leicester we read in the news-paper that Dr. James[11] was dead. I thought that the death of an old school-fellow, and one with whom he had lived a good deal in London, would have affected my fellow-traveller much: but he only said, 'Ah! poor Jamy.' Afterwards, however, when we were in the chaise, he said, with more tenderness, 'Since I set out on this jaunt, I have lost an old friend and a young one;—Dr. James, and poor Harry[12].' (Meaning Mr. Thrale's son.)

Having lain at St. Alban's, on Thursday, March 28, we breakfasted the next morning at Barnet. I expressed to him a weakness of mind which I could not help; an uneasy apprehension that my wife and children, who were at a great distance from me, might, perhaps, be ill. 'Sir, (said he,) consider how foolish you would think it in them to be apprehensive that you are ill[13].' This sudden turn relieved me for the moment; but I afterwards perceived it to be an ingenious fallacy. I might, to be sure, be satisfied that they had no reason to be apprehensive about me, because I knew that I myself was well: but we might have a mutual anxiety, without the charge of folly; because each was, in some degree, uncertain as to the condition of the other.

I enjoyed the luxury of our approach to London, that metropolis which we both loved so much, for the high and varied intellectual pleasure which it furnishes[14]. I experienced immediate happiness while whirled along with such a companion, and said to him, 'Sir, you observed one day at General Oglethorpe's[15], that a man is never happy for the present, but when he is drunk. Will you not add,—or when driving rapidly in a post-chaise[16]?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, you are driving rapidly from something, or to something.'

Talking of melancholy, he said, 'Some men, and very thinking men too, have not those vexing thoughts[17]. Sir Joshua Reynolds is the same all the year round[18]. Beauclerk, except when ill and in pain, is the same. But I believe most men have them in the degree in which they are capable of having them. If I were in the country, and were distressed by that malady, I would force myself to take a book; and every time I did it I should find it the easier. Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking[19].'

We stopped at Messieurs Dillys, booksellers in the Poultry; from whence he hurried away, in a hackney coach, to Mr. Thrale's, in the Borough. I called at his house in the evening, having promised to acquaint Mrs. Williams of his safe return; when, to my surprize, I found him sitting with her at tea, and, as I thought, not in a very good humour: for, it seems, when he had got to Mr. Thrale's, he found the coach was at the door waiting to carry Mrs. and Miss Thrale, and Signor Baretti, their Italian master, to Bath[20]. This was not shewing the attention which might have been expected to the 'Guide, Philosopher, and Friend[21],' the Imlac[22] who had hastened from the country to console a distressed mother, who he understood was very anxious for his return. They had, I found, without ceremony, proceeded on their intended journey. I was glad to understand from him that it was still resolved that his tour to Italy with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale should take place, of which he had entertained some doubt, on account of the loss which they had suffered; and his doubts afterwards proved to be well-founded. He observed, indeed very justly, that 'their loss was an additional reason for their going abroad; and if it had not been fixed that he should have been one of the party, he would force them out; but he would not advise them unless his advice was asked, lest they might suspect that he recommended what he wished on his own account.' I was not pleased that his intimacy with Mr. Thrale's family, though it no doubt contributed much to his comfort and enjoyment, was not without some degree of restraint: not, as has been grossly suggested, that it was required of him as a task to talk for the entertainment of them and their company; but that he was not quite at his ease; which, however, might partly be owing to his own honest pride—that dignity of mind which is always jealous of appearing too compliant.

On Sunday, March 31, I called on him, and shewed him as a curiosity which I had discovered, his Translation of Lobo's Account of Abyssinia, which Sir John Pringle had lent me, it being then little known as one of his works[23]. He said, 'Take no notice of it,' or 'don't talk of it.' He seemed to think it beneath him, though done at six-and-twenty. I said to him, 'Your style, Sir, is much improved since you translated this.' He answered with a sort of triumphant smile, 'Sir, I hope it is.'

On Wednesday, April 3, in the morning I found him very busy putting his books in order, and as they were generally very old ones, clouds of dust were flying around him. He had on a pair of large gloves such as hedgers use. His present appearance put me in mind of my uncle, Dr. Boswell's[24] description of him, 'A robust genius, born to grapple with whole libraries.'

I gave him an account of a conversation which had passed between me and Captain Cook, the day before, at dinner at Sir John Pringle's[25]; and he was much pleased with the conscientious accuracy of that celebrated circumnavigator, who set me right as to many of the exaggerated accounts given by Dr. Hawkesworth of his Voyages. I told him that while I was with the Captain, I catched the enthusiasm[26] of curiosity and adventure, and felt a strong inclination to go with him on his next voyage. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man does feel so, till he considers how very little he can learn from such voyages.' BOSWELL. 'But one is carried away with the general grand and indistinct notion of A VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, but a man is to guard himself against taking a thing in general.' I said I was certain that a great part of what we are told by the travellers to the South Sea must be conjecture, because they had not enough of the language of those countries to understand so much as they have related. Objects falling under the observation of the senses might be clearly known; but every thing intellectual, every thing abstract—politicks, morals, and religion, must be darkly guessed. Dr. Johnson was of the same opinion. He upon another occasion, when a friend mentioned to him several extraordinary facts, as communicated to him by the circumnavigators, slily observed, 'Sir, I never before knew how much I was respected by these gentlemen; they told me none of these things.'

He had been in company with Omai, a native of one of the South Sea Islands, after he had been some time in this country. He was struck with the elegance of his behaviour, and accounted for it thus: 'Sir, he had passed his time, while in England, only in the best company; so that all that he had acquired of our manners was genteel. As a proof of this, Sir, Lord Mulgrave and he dined one day at Streatham; they sat with their backs to the light fronting me, so that I could not see distinctly; and there was so little of the savage in Omai, that I was afraid to speak to either, lest I should mistake one for the other[27].'

We agreed to dine to-day at the Mitre-tavern, after the rising of the House of Lords, where a branch of the litigation concerning the Douglas Estate[28], in which I was one of the counsel, was to come on. I brought with me Mr. Murray, Solicitor-General of Scotland, now one of the Judges of the Court of Session, with the title of Lord Henderland. I mentioned Mr. Solicitor's relation, Lord Charles Hay[29], with whom I knew Dr. Johnson had been acquainted. JOHNSON. 'I wrote something[30] for Lord Charles; and I thought he had nothing to fear from a court-martial. I suffered a great loss when he died; he was a mighty pleasing man in conversation, and a reading man. The character of a soldier is high. They who stand forth the foremost in danger, for the community, have the respect of mankind. An officer is much more respected than any other man who has as little money. In a commercial country, money will always purchase respect. But you find, an officer, who has, properly speaking, no money, is every where well received and treated with attention. The character of a soldier always stands him in stead[31].' BOSWELL. 'Yet, Sir, I think that common soldiers are worse thought of than other men in the same rank of life; such as labourers.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a common soldier is usually a very gross man[32], and any quality which procures respect may be overwhelmed by grossness. A man of learning may be so vicious or so ridiculous that you cannot respect him. A common soldier too, generally eats more than he can pay for. But when a common soldier is civil in his quarters, his red coat procures him a degree of respect[33].' The peculiar respect paid to the military character in France was mentioned. BOSWELL. 'I should think that where military men are so numerous, they would be less valued as not being rare.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, wherever a particular character or profession is high in the estimation of a people, those who are of it will be valued above other men. We value an Englishman highly in this country, and yet Englishmen are not rare in it.'

Mr. Murray praised the ancient philosophers for the candour and good humour with which those of different sects disputed with each other. JOHNSON. 'Sir, they disputed with good humour, because they were not in earnest as to religion. Had the ancients been serious in their belief, we should not have had their Gods exhibited in the manner we find them represented in the Poets. The people would not have suffered it. They disputed with good humour upon their fanciful theories, because they were not interested in the truth of them: when a man has nothing to lose, he may be in good humour with his opponent. Accordingly you see in Lucian, the Epicurean, who argues only negatively, keeps his temper; the Stoick, who has something positive to preserve, grows angry[34]. Being angry with one who controverts an opinion which you value, is a necessary consequence of the uneasiness which you feel. Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy[35]. Those only who believed in revelation have been angry at having their faith called in question; because they only had something upon which they could rest as matter of fact.' MURRAY. 'It seems to me that we are not angry at a man for controverting an opinion which we believe and value; we rather pity him.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir; to be sure when you wish a man to have that belief which you think is of infinite advantage, you wish well to him; but your primary consideration is your own quiet. If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards. No, Sir; every man will dispute with great good humour upon a subject in which he is not interested. I will dispute very calmly upon the probability of another man's son being hanged; but if a man zealously enforces the probability that my own son will be hanged, I shall certainly not be in a very good humour with him.' I added this illustration, 'If a man endeavours to convince me that my wife, whom I love very much, and in whom I place great confidence, is a disagreeable woman, and is even unfaithful to me, I shall be very angry, for he is putting me in fear of being unhappy.' MURRAY. 'But, Sir, truth will always bear an examination.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, but it is painful to be forced to defend it. Consider, Sir, how should you like, though conscious of your innocence, to be tried before a jury for a capital crime, once a week.'

We talked of education at great schools; the advantages and disadvantages of which Johnson displayed in a luminous manner; but his arguments preponderated so much in favour of the benefit which a boy of good parts[36] might receive at one of them, that I have reason to believe Mr. Murray was very much influenced by what he had heard to-day, in his determination to send his own son to Westminster school[37].—I have acted in the same manner with regard to my own two sons; having placed the eldest at Eton, and the second at Westminster. I cannot say which is best.[38] But in justice to both those noble seminaries, I with high satisfaction declare, that my boys have derived from them a great deal of good, and no evil: and I trust they will, like Horace[39], be grateful to their father for giving them so valuable an education.

I introduced the topick, which is often ignorantly urged, that the Universities of England are too rich[40]; so that learning does not flourish in them as it would do, if those who teach had smaller salaries, and depended on their assiduity for a great part of their income. JOHNSON. 'Sir, the very reverse of this is the truth; the English Universities are not rich enough. Our fellowships are only sufficient to support a man during his studies to fit him for the world, and accordingly in general they are held no longer than till an opportunity offers of getting away. Now and then, perhaps, there is a fellow who grows old in his college; but this is against his will, unless he be a man very indolent indeed. A hundred a year is reckoned a good fellowship, and that is no more than is necessary to keep a man decently as a scholar. We do not allow our fellows to marry, because we consider academical institutions as preparatory to a settlement in the world. It is only by being employed as a tutor, that a fellow can obtain any thing more than a livelihood. To be sure a man, who has enough without teaching, will probably not teach; for we would all be idle if we could[41]. In the same manner, a man who is to get nothing by teaching, will not exert himself. Gresham-College was intended as a place of instruction for London; able professors were to read lectures gratis, they contrived to have no scholars; whereas, if they had been allowed to receive but sixpence a lecture from each scholar, they would have been emulous to have had many scholars. Every body will agree that it should be the interest of those who teach to have scholars; and this is the case in our Universities[42]. That they are too rich is certainly not true; for they have nothing good enough to keep a man of eminent learning with them for his life. In the foreign Universities a professorship is a high thing. It is as much almost as a man can make by his learning; and therefore we find the most learned men abroad are in the Universities[43]. It is not so with us. Our Universities are impoverished of learning, by the penury of their provisions. I wish there were many places of a thousand a-year at Oxford, to keep first-rate men of learning from quitting the University.' Undoubtedly if this were the case, Literature would have a still greater dignity and splendour at Oxford, and there would be grander living sources of instruction.

I mentioned Mr. Maclaurin's[44] uneasiness on account of a degree of ridicule carelessly thrown on his deceased father, in Goldsmith's History of Animated Nature, in which that celebrated mathematician is represented as being subject to fits of yawning so violent as to render him incapable of proceeding in his lecture; a story altogether unfounded, but for the publication of which the law would give no reparation[45]. This led us to agitate the question, whether legal redress could be obtained, even when a man's deceased relation was calumniated in a publication. Mr. Murray maintained there should be reparation, unless the author could justify himself by proving the fact. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is of so much more consequence that truth should be told, than that individuals should not be made uneasy, that it is much better that the law does not restrain writing freely concerning the characters of the dead. Damages will be given to a man who is calumniated in his life-time, because he may be hurt in his worldly interest, or at least hurt in his mind: but the law does not regard that uneasiness which a man feels on having his ancestor calumniated[46]. That is too nice. Let him deny what is said, and let the matter have a fair chance by discussion. But, if a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written; for a great deal is known of men of which proof cannot be brought. A minister may be notoriously known to take bribes, and yet you may not be able to prove it.' Mr. Murray suggested, that the authour should be obliged to shew some sort of evidence, though he would not require a strict legal proof: but Johnson firmly and resolutely opposed any restraint whatever, as adverse to a free investigation of the characters of mankind[47].

On Thursday, April 4, having called on Dr. Johnson, I said, it was a pity that truth was not so firm as to bid defiance to all attacks, so that it might be shot at as much as people chose to attempt, and yet remain unhurt. JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, it would not be shot at. Nobody[48] attempts to dispute that two and two make four: but with contests concerning moral truth, human passions are generally mixed, and therefore it must ever be liable to assault and misrepresentation.'

On Friday, April 5, being Good Friday, after having attended the morning service at St. Clement's Church[49], I walked home with Johnson. We talked of the Roman Catholick religion. JOHNSON. 'In the barbarous ages, Sir, priests and people were equally deceived; but afterwards there were gross corruptions introduced by the clergy, such as indulgences to priests to have concubines, and the worship of images, not, indeed, inculcated, but knowingly permitted.' He strongly censured the licensed stews at Rome. BOSWELL. 'So then, Sir, you would allow of no irregular intercourse whatever between the sexes?' JOHNSON. 'To be sure I would not, Sir. I would punish it much more than it is done, and so restrain it. In all countries there has been fornication, as in all countries there has been theft; but there may be more or less of the one, as well as of the other, in proportion to the force of law. All men will naturally commit fornication, as all men will naturally steal. And, Sir, it is very absurd to argue, as has been often done, that prostitutes are necessary to prevent the violent effects of appetite from violating the decent order of life; nay, should be permitted, in order to preserve the chastity of our wives and daughters. Depend upon it, Sir, severe laws, steadily enforced, would be sufficient against those evils, and would promote marriage.'

I stated to him this case:—'Suppose a man has a daughter, who he knows has been seduced, but her misfortune is concealed from the world? should he keep her in his house? Would he not, by doing so, be accessory to imposition? And, perhaps, a worthy, unsuspecting man might come and marry this woman, unless the father inform him of the truth.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, he is accessory to no imposition. His daughter is in his house; and if a man courts her, he takes his chance. If a friend, or, indeed, if any man asks his opinion whether he should marry her, he ought to advise him against it, without telling why, because his real opinion is then required. Or, if he has other daughters who know of her frailty, he ought not to keep her in his house. You are to consider the state of life is this; we are to judge of one another's characters as well as we can; and a man is not bound, in honesty or honour, to tell us the faults of his daughter or of himself. A man who has debauched his friend's daughter is not obliged to say to every body—"Take care of me; don't let me into your houses without suspicion. I once debauched a friend's daughter. I may debauch yours."'

Mr. Thrale called upon him, and appeared to bear the loss of his son with a manly composure. There was no affectation about him; and he talked, as usual, upon indifferent subjects.[50] He seemed to me to hesitate as to the intended Italian tour, on which, I flattered myself, he and Mrs. Thrale and Dr. Johnson were soon to set out; and, therefore, I pressed it as much as I could. I mentioned, that Mr. Beauclerk had said, that Baretti, whom they were to carry with them, would keep them so long in the little towns of his own district, that they would not have time to see Rome. I mentioned this, to put them on their guard. JOHNSON. 'Sir, we do not thank Mr. Beauclerk for supposing that we are to be directed by Baretti. No, Sir; Mr. Thrale is to go, by my advice, to Mr. Jackson[51], (the all-knowing) and get from him a plan for seeing the most that can be seen in the time that we have to travel. We must, to be sure, see Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and as much more as we can.' (Speaking with a tone of animation.)

When I expressed an earnest wish for his remarks on Italy, he said, 'I do not see that I could make a book upon Italy[52]; yet I should be glad to get two hundred pounds, or five hundred pounds, by such a work.' This shewed both that a journal of his Tour upon the Continent was not wholly out of his contemplation, and that he uniformly adhered to that strange opinion, which his indolent disposition made him utter: 'No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money[53].' Numerous instances to refute this will occur to all who are versed in the history of literature.[54]

He gave us one of the many sketches of character which were treasured in his mind, and which he was wont to produce quite unexpectedly in a very entertaining manner. 'I lately, (said he,) received a letter from the East Indies, from a gentleman whom I formerly knew very well; he had returned from that country with a handsome fortune, as it was reckoned, before means were found to acquire those immense sums which have been brought from thence of late; he was a scholar, and an agreeable man, and lived very prettily in London, till his wife died. After her death, he took to dissipation and gaming, and lost all he had. One evening he lost a thousand pounds to a gentleman whose name I am sorry I have forgotten. Next morning he sent the gentleman five hundred pounds, with an apology that it was all he had in the world. The gentleman sent the money back to him, declaring he would not accept of it; and adding, that if Mr. —— had occasion for five hundred pounds more, he would lend it to him. He resolved to go out again to the East Indies, and make his fortune anew. He got a considerable appointment, and I had some intention of accompanying him. Had I thought then as I do now, I should have gone: but, at that time, I had objections to quitting England.'

It was a very remarkable circumstance about Johnson, whom shallow observers have supposed to have been ignorant of the world, that very few men had seen greater variety of characters; and none could observe them better, as was evident from the strong, yet nice portraits which he often drew. I have frequently thought that if he had made out what the French call une catalogue raisonnée of all the people who had passed under his observation, it would have afforded a very rich fund of instruction and entertainment. The suddenness with which his accounts of some of them started out in conversation, was not less pleasing than surprising. I remember he once observed to me, 'It is wonderful, Sir, what is to be found in London. The most literary conversation that I ever enjoyed, was at the table of Jack Ellis, a money-scrivener behind the Royal Exchange, with whom I at one period used to dine generally once a week[55].'

Volumes would be required to contain a list of his numerous and various acquaintance[56], 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[57]. He was at once the companion of the brilliant Colonel Forrester[58] of the Guards, who wrote The Polite Philosopher, and of the aukward and uncouth Robert Levet; of Lord Thurlow, and Mr. Sastres, the Italian master; and has dined one day with the beautiful, gay, and fascinating Lady Craven,[59] and the next with good Mrs. Gardiner,[60] the tallow-chandler, on Snow-hill.

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,[61] a very able man. I learnt some, too, from Chambers;[62] 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.

'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.[63] I also learnt from Dr. Lawrence, but was then grown more stubborn.'

A curious incident happened to-day, while Mr. Thrale and I sat with him. Francis announced that a large packet 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.

I mentioned a new gaming-club,[64] 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 learnt to play at cards.'[65] 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.[66] 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.'[67] He appeared to have a pleasure in contradiction, especially when any opinion whatever was delivered with an air of confidence[68]; 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[69] 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.'[70]

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[71].

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[72].

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 us of Julia.[73]' JOHNSON. 'This lady of yours, Sir, I think, is very fit for a brothel.'

Mr. Macbean[74], 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. Levet, dined with us.

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 of 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.'

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.[75]

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 supposed 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.'[76]

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 anything else of Cheyne, but his book on Health, and his English Malady.'[77]

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.'[78]

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.[79] 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.'

At dinner, Mr. Murphy entertained us with the history of Mr. Joseph Simpson,[80] 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.

I said, I disliked the custom which some people had of bringing their children into company,[81] 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.'[82] MRS. THRALE. 'Nay, Sir, how can you talk so?' JOHNSON. 'At least, I never wished to have a child.'

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.[83] 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.

We talked of Flatman's Poems; and Mrs. Thrale observed, that Pope had partly borrowed from him The dying Christian to his Soul.[84] Johnson repeated Rochester's verses upon Flatman[85], 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.'

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

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 bookseller (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.'[86]

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[87].' Why he thought so I was at a loss to conceive. He now gave it as his opinion, that 'Akenside[88] was a superiour poet both to Gray and Mason.'

Talking of the Reviews, Johnson said, 'I think them very impartial: I do not know an instance of partiality.'[89] He mentioned what had passed upon the subject of the Monthly and Critical Reviews, in the conversation with which his Majesty had honoured him.[90] 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.[91] 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.'

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.'[92] Mr. Murphy said, he understood his history was kept back several years for fear of Smollet[93]. 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.' MRS. 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.'

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,[94] 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[95].' He would not allow that the paper[96] 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.'

Johnson mentioned Dr. Barry's[97] 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[98]. 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.'

On Thursday, April 11[99], 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[100] 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[101]: 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 said the same thing, probably, twenty times before.'

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[102]'.

A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts[103]. 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[104].'

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[105], 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.'

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.

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.'[106]

'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.'

We spent the evening at Mr. Hoole's. Mr. Mickle, the excellent translator of The Lusiad[107], was there. I have preserved little of the conversation of this evening.[108] 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[109], 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.'[110]

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[111], 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[112]. 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[113].' 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[114] 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.'

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[115]; a very pleasing gentleman, to whom my friend Dr. Farmer's very excellent Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare[116] is addressed; and Dr. Harwood, who has written and published various works; particularly a fantastical translation of the New Testament, in modern phrase[117], and with a Socinian twist.

I introduced Aristotle's doctrine in his Art of Poetry, of 'the [Greek: katharis ton pathaematon], the purging of the passions,' as the purpose of tragedy[118]. '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)[119]. 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[120]!'

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.[121] No, Sir, I think Othello has more moral than almost any play.'

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.'

He said, he wished to see John Dennis's Critical Works collected. Davies said they would not sell. Dr. Johnson seemed to think otherwise.[122]

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.'[123]

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.[124]

Johnson and I supt this evening at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in company with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Mr. Nairne,[125] now one of the Scotch Judges, with the title of Lord Dunsinan, and my very worthy friend, Sir William Forbes,[126] of Pitsligo.

We discussed the question whether drinking improved conversation and benevolence.[127] 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.[128]—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.'

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.[129] 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.'

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[130] 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.'[131]

He said, that for general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to; though, to 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.'[132] He told us, he read Fielding's Amelia through without stopping.[133] 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.'

Sir Joshua mentioned Mr. Cumberland's Odes,[134] 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 everything before it. Nay, Cumberland has made his Odes subsidiary to the fame of another man.[135] They might have run well enough by themselves; but he has not only loaded them with a name, but has made them carry double.'

We talked of the Reviews, and Dr. Johnson spoke of them as he did at Thrale's.[136] 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.'

Soon after this day, he went to Bath with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. I had never seen that beautiful city, and wished to take the opportunity of visiting it, while Johnson was there. Having written to him, I received the following answer.


'Why do you talk of neglect? When did I neglect you? If you will come to Bath, we shall all be glad to see you. Come, therefore, as soon as you can.

'But I have a little business for you at London. Bid Francis look in the paper-drawer of the chest of drawers in my bed-chamber, for two cases; one for the Attorney-General,[137] and one for the Solicitor-General.[138] They lie, I think, at the top of my papers; otherwise they are somewhere else, and will give me more trouble.

'Please to write to me immediately, if they can be found. Make my compliments to all our friends round the world, and to Mrs. Williams at home.

'I am, Sir, your, &c.

'Search for the papers as soon as you can, that, if it is necessary, I may write to you again before you come down.'

On the 26th of April, I went to Bath;[139] and on my arrival at the Pelican inn, found lying for me an obliging invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, by whom I was agreeably entertained almost constantly during my stay. They were gone to the rooms;[140] but there was a kind note from Dr. Johnson, that he should sit at home all the evening. I went to him directly, and before Mr. and Mrs. Thrale returned, we had by ourselves some hours of tea-drinking and talk.

I shall group together such of his sayings as I preserved during the few days that I was at Bath.

Of a person[141] who differed from him in politicks, he said, 'In private life he is a very honest gentleman; but I will not allow him to be so in publick life. People may be honest, though they are doing wrong: that is, between their Maker and them. But we, who are suffering by their pernicious conduct, are to destroy them. We are sure that —— acts from interest. We know what his genuine principles were. They who allow their passions to confound the distinctions between right and wrong, are criminal. They may be convinced; but they have not come honestly by their conviction.'[142]

It having been mentioned, I know not with what truth, that a certain female political writer,[143] whose doctrines he disliked, had of late become very fond of dress, sat hours together at her toilet, and even put on rouge:—JOHNSON. 'She is better employed at her toilet, than using her pen. It is better she should be reddening her own cheeks, than blackening other people's characters.'

He told us that 'Addison wrote Budgell's papers in the Spectator, at least mended them so much, that he made them almost his own; and that Draper, Tonson's partner, assured Mrs. Johnson, that the much admired Epilogue to The Distressed Mother, which came out in Budgell's name, was in reality written by Addison.'[144]

'The mode of government by one may be ill adapted to a small society, but is best for a great nation. The characteristick of our own government at present is imbecility.[145] The magistrate dare not call the guards for fear of being hanged. The guards will not come, for fear of being given up to the blind rage of popular juries.'[146]

Of the father of one of our friends, he observed, 'He never clarified his notions, by filtrating them through other minds. He had a canal upon his estate, where at one place the bank was too low.—I dug the canal deeper,' said he.[147]

He told me that 'so long ago as 1748[148] he had read "The Grave, a Poem[149]," but did not like it much.' I differed from him; for though it is not equal throughout, and is seldom elegantly correct, it abounds in solemn thought, and poetical imagery beyond the common reach. The world has differed from him; for the poem has passed through many editions, and is still much read by people of a serious cast of mind.

A literary lady of large fortune[150] was mentioned, as one who did good to many, but by no means 'by stealth,' and instead of 'blushing to find it fame,[151] acted evidently from vanity. JOHNSON. 'I have seen no beings who do as much good from benevolence, as she does, from whatever motive. If there are such under the earth, or in the clouds, I wish they would come up, or come down. What Soame Jenyns says upon this subject is not to be minded; he is a wit. No, Sir; to act from pure benevolence is not possible for finite beings. Human benevolence is mingled with vanity, interest, or some other motive.'[152]

He would not allow me to praise a lady then at Bath; observing 'She does not gain upon me, Sir; I think her empty-headed.' He was, indeed, a stern critick upon characters and manners. Even Mrs. Thrale did not escape his friendly animadversion at times. When he and I were one day endeavouring to ascertain, article by article, how one of our friends[153] could possibly spend as much money in his family as he told us he did, she interrupted us by a lively extravagant sally, on the expence of clothing his children, describing it in a very ludicrous and fanciful manner. Johnson looked a little angry, and said, 'Nay, Madam, when you are declaiming, declaim; and when you are calculating, calculate.' At another time, when she said, perhaps affectedly, 'I don't like to fly.' JOHNSON. 'With your wings, Madam, you must fly: but have a care, there are clippers abroad.' How very well was this said, and how fully has experience proved the truth of it! But have they not clipped rather rudely, and gone a great deal closer than was necessary?[154]

A gentleman[155] expressed a wish to go and live three years at Otaheité, or New-Zealand, in order to obtain a full acquaintance with people, so totally different from all that we have ever known, and be satisfied what pure nature can do for man. JOHNSON. 'What could you learn, Sir? What can savages tell, but what they themselves have seen? Of the past, or the invisible, they can tell nothing. The inhabitants of Otaheité and New-Zealand are not in a state of pure nature; for it is plain they broke off from some other people. Had they grown out of the ground, you might have judged of a state of pure nature. Fanciful people may talk of a mythology being amongst them; but it must be invention. They have once had religion, which has been gradually debased. And what account of their religion can you suppose to be learnt from savages? Only consider, Sir, our own state: our religion is in a book; we have an order of men whose duty it is to teach it; we have one day in the week set apart for it, and this is in general pretty well observed: yet ask the first ten gross men you meet, and hear what they can tell of their religion.'

On Monday, April 29, he and I made an excursion to Bristol, where I was entertained with seeing him enquire upon the spot, into the authenticity of 'Rowley's Poetry,'[156] as I had seen him enquire upon the spot into the authenticity of 'Ossian's Poetry.'[157] George Catcot, the pewterer, who was as zealous for Rowley, as Dr. Hugh Blair[158] was for Ossian, (I trust my Reverend friend will excuse the comparison,) attended us at our inn, and with a triumphant air of lively simplicity called out, 'I'll make Dr. Johnson a convert.' Dr. Johnson, at his desire, read aloud some of Chatterton's fabricated verses, while Catcot stood at the back of his chair, moving himself like a pendulum, and beating time with his feet, and now and then looking into Dr. Johnson's face, wondering that he was not yet convinced. We called on Mr. Barret, the surgeon, and saw some of the originals as they were called, which were executed very artificially;[159] but from a careful inspection of them, and a consideration of the circumstances with which they were attended, we were quite satisfied of the imposture, which, indeed, has been clearly demonstrated from internal evidence, by several able criticks.'[160]

Honest Catcot seemed to pay no attention whatever to any objections, but insisted, as an end of all controversy, that we should go with him to the tower of the church of St. Mary, Redcliff, and view with our own eyes the ancient chest in which the manuscripts were found. To this, Dr. Johnson good-naturedly agreed; and though troubled with a shortness of breathing, laboured up a long flight of steps, till we came to the place where the wonderous chest stood. 'There, (said Catcot, with a bouncing confident credulity,) there is the very chest itself.'[161] 'After this ocular demonstration, there was no more to be said. He brought to my recollection a Scotch Highlander, a man of learning too, and who had seen the world, attesting, and at the same time giving his reasons for the authenticity of Fingal:—'I have heard all that poem when I was young.'—'Have you, Sir? Pray what have you heard?'—'I have heard Ossian, Oscar, and every one of them.'

Johnson said of Chatterton, 'This is the most extraordinary young man that has encountered my knowledge. It is wonderful how the whelp has written such things.'[162]

We were by no means pleased with our inn at Bristol. 'Let us see now, (said I,) how we should describe it.' Johnson was ready with his raillery. 'Describe it, Sir?—Why, it was so bad that Boswell wished to be in Scotland!'

After Dr. Johnson's return to London,[163] I was several times with him at his house, where I occasionally slept, in the room that had been assigned to me.[164] I dined with him at Dr. Taylor's, at General Oglethorpe's, and at General Paoli's. To avoid a tedious minuteness, I shall group together what I have preserved of his conversation during this period also, without specifying each scene where it passed, except one, which will be found so remarkable as certainly to deserve a very particular relation. Where the place or the persons do not contribute to the zest of the conversation, it is unnecessary to encumber my page with mentioning them. To know of what vintage our wine is, enables us to judge of its value, and to drink it with more relish: but to have the produce of each vine of one vineyard, in the same year, kept separate, would serve no purpose. To know that our wine, (to use an advertising phrase,) is 'of the stock of an Ambassadour lately deceased,' heightens its flavour: but it signifies nothing to know the bin where each bottle was once deposited.

'Garrick (he observed,) does not play the part of Archer in The Beaux Stratagem well. The gentleman should break out through the footman, which is not the case as he does it.'[165]

'Where there is no education, as in savage countries, men will have the upper hand of women. Bodily strength, no doubt, contributes to this; but it would be so, exclusive of that; for it is mind that always governs. When it comes to dry understanding, man has the better.'

'The little volumes entitled Respublicæ,[166] which are very well done, were a bookseller's work.'

'There is much talk of the misery which we cause to the brute creation; but they are recompensed by existence[167]. If they were not useful to man, and therefore protected by him, they would not be nearly so numerous.' This argument is to be found in the able and benignant Hutchinson's Moral Philosophy. But the question is, whether the animals who endure such sufferings of various kinds, for the service and entertainment of man, would accept of existence upon the terms on which they have it. Madame Sévigné[168], who, though she had many enjoyments, felt with delicate sensibility the prevalence of misery, complains of the task of existence having been imposed upon her without her consent[169].

'That man is never happy for the present is so true, that all his relief from unhappiness is only forgetting himself for a little while. Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.'[170]

'Though many men are nominally entrusted with the administration of hospitals and other publick institutions, almost all the good is done by one man, by whom the rest are driven on; owing to confidence in him, and indolence in them.'[171]

'Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, I think, might be made a very pretty book. Take out the immorality, and it should be put into the hands of every young gentleman. An elegant manner and easiness of behaviour are acquired gradually and imperceptibly. No man can say "I'll be genteel." There are ten genteel women for one genteel man, because they are more restrained. A man without some degree of restraint is insufferable; but we are all less restrained than women. Were a woman sitting in company to put out her legs before her as most men do, we should be tempted to kick them in.'

No man was a more attentive and nice observer of behaviour in those in whose company he happened to be, than Johnson; or, however strange it may seem to many, had a higher estimation of its refinements[172]. Lord Eliot informs me, that one day when Johnson and he were at dinner at a gentleman's house in London, upon Lord Chesterfield's Letters being mentioned, Johnson surprized the company by this sentence: 'Every man of any education would rather be called a rascal, than accused of deficiency in the graces.' Mr. Gibbon, who was present, turned to a lady who knew Johnson well, and lived much with him, and in his quaint manner, tapping his box, addressed her thus: 'Don't you think, Madam, (looking towards Johnson,) that among all your acquaintance, you could find one exception?' The lady smiled, and seemed to acquiesce.[173]

'I read (said he,) Sharpe's letters on Italy over again, when I was at
Bath. There is a great deal of matter in them.'[174]

'Mrs. Williams was angry that Thrale's family did not send regularly to her every time they heard from me while I was in the Hebrides. Little people are apt to be jealous: but they should not be jealous; for they ought to consider, that superiour attention will necessarily be paid to superiour fortune or rank. Two persons may have equal merit, and on that account may have an equal claim to attention; but one of them may have also fortune and rank, and so may have a double claim.'

Talking of his notes on Shakspeare, he said, 'I despise those who do not see that I am right in the passage where as is repeated, and "asses of great charge" introduced. That on "To be, or not to be," is disputable.'[175]

A gentleman, whom I found sitting with him one morning, said, that in his opinion the character of an infidel was more detestable than that of a man notoriously guilty of an atrocious crime. I differed from him, because we are surer of the odiousness of the one, than of the errour of the other. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I agree with him; for the infidel would be guilty of any crime if he were inclined to it.'

'Many things which are false are transmitted from book to book, and gain credit in the world. One of these is the cry against the evil of luxury. Now the truth is, that luxury produces much good[176]. Take the luxury of buildings in London. Does it not produce real advantage in the conveniency and elegance of accommodation, and this all from the exertion of industry? People will tell you, with a melancholy face, how many builders are in gaol. It is plain they are in gaol, not for building; for rents are not fallen.—A man gives half a guinea for a dish of green peas. How much gardening does this occasion? how many labourers must the competition to have such things early in the market, keep in employment? You will hear it said, very gravely, Why was not the half-guinea, thus spent in luxury, given to the poor? To how many might it have afforded a good meal. Alas! has it not gone to the industrious poor, whom it is better to support than the idle poor? You are much surer that you are doing good when you pay money to those who work, as the recompence of their labour, than when you give money merely in charity. Suppose the ancient luxury of a dish of peacock's brains were to be revived, how many carcases would be left to the poor at a cheap rate: and as to the rout that is made about people who are ruined by extravagance, it is no matter to the nation that some individuals suffer. When so much general productive exertion is the consequence of luxury, the nation does not care though there are debtors in gaol; nay, they would not care though their creditors were there too.'[177]

The uncommon vivacity of General Oglethorpe's mind, and variety of knowledge, having sometimes made his conversation seem too desultory, Johnson observed, 'Oglethorpe, Sir, never completes what he has to say.'

He on the same account made a similar remark on Patrick Lord Elibank:
'Sir, there is nothing conclusive in his talk.'[178]

When I complained of having dined at a splendid table without hearing one sentence of conversation worthy of being remembered, he said, 'Sir, there seldom is any such conversation.' BOSWELL. 'Why then meet at table?' JOHNSON. 'Why to eat and drink together, and to promote kindness; and, Sir, this is better done when there is no solid conversation; for when there is, people differ in opinion, and get into bad humour, or some of the company who are not capable of such conversation, are left out, and feel themselves uneasy. It was for this reason, Sir Robert Walpole said, he always talked bawdy at his table, because in that all could join.'[179]

Being irritated by hearing a gentleman[180] ask Mr. Levett a variety of questions concerning him, when he was sitting by, he broke out, 'Sir, you have but two topicks, yourself and me. I am sick of both.' 'A man, (said he,) should not talk of himself, nor much of any particular person. He should take care not to be made a proverb; and, therefore, should avoid having any one topick of which people can say, "We shall hear him upon it."' There was a Dr. Oldfield, who was always talking of the Duke of Marlborough. He came into a coffee-house one day, and told that his Grace had spoken in the House of Lords for half an hour. 'Did he indeed speak for half an hour?' (said Belchier, the surgeon,)— 'Yes.'—'And what did he say of Dr. Oldfield?'—'Nothing.'—'Why then, Sir, he was very ungrateful; for Dr. Oldfield could not have spoken for a quarter of an hour, without saying something of him.'

'Every man is to take existence on the terms on which it is given to him[181]. To some men it is given on condition of not taking liberties, which other men may take without much harm. One may drink wine, and be nothing the worse for it; on another, wine may have effects so inflammatory as to injure him both in body and mind, and perhaps, make him commit something for which he may deserve to be hanged.'

'Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland[182] have not that painted form which is the taste of this age; but it is a book which will always sell, it has such a stability of dates, such a certainty of facts, and such a punctuality of citation. I never before read Scotch history with certainty.'

I asked him whether he would advise me to read the Bible with a commentary, and what commentaries he would recommend. JOHNSON. 'To be sure, Sir, I would have you read the Bible with a commentary; and I would recommend Lowth and Patrick on the Old Testament, and Hammond on the New.'

During my stay in London this spring, I solicited his attention to another law case, in which I was engaged. In the course of a contested election for the Borough of Dumfermline, which I attended as one of my friend Colonel (afterwards Sir Archibald) Campbell's counsel; one of his political agents, who was charged with having been unfaithful to his employer, and having deserted to the opposite party for a pecuniary reward—attacked very rudely in a news-paper the Reverend Mr. James Thomson, one of the ministers of that place, on account of a supposed allusion to him in one of his sermons. Upon this the minister, on a subsequent Sunday, arraigned him by name from the pulpit with some severity; and the agent, after the sermon was over, rose up and asked the minister aloud, 'What bribe he had received for telling so many lies from the chair of verity[183].' I was present at this very extraordinary scene. The person arraigned, and his father and brother, who had also had a share both of the reproof from the pulpit, and in the retaliation, brought an action against Mr. Thomson, in the Court of Session, for defamation and damages, and I was one of the counsel for the reverend defendant. The Liberty of the Pulpit was our great ground of defence; but we argued also on the provocation of the previous attack, and on the instant retaliation. The Court of Session, however—the fifteen Judges, who are at the same time the Jury, decided against the minister, contrary to my humble opinion; and several of them expressed themselves with indignation against him. He was an aged gentleman, formerly a military chaplain, and a man of high spirit and honour. Johnson was satisfied that the judgement was wrong, and dictated to me the following argument in confutation of it:

'Of the censure pronounced from the pulpit, our determination must be formed, as in other cases, by a consideration of the action itself, and the particular circumstances with which it is invested.

'The right of censure and rebuke seems necessarily appendant to the pastoral office. He, to whom the care of a congregation is entrusted, is considered as the shepherd of a flock, as the teacher of a school, as the father of a family. As a shepherd tending not his own sheep but those of his master, he is answerable for those that stray, and that lose themselves by straying. But no man can be answerable for losses which he has not power to prevent, or for vagrancy which he has not authority to restrain.

'As a teacher giving instruction for wages, and liable to reproach, if those whom he undertakes to inform make no proficiency, he must have the power of enforcing attendance, of awakening negligence, and repressing contradiction.

'As a father, he possesses the paternal authority of admonition, rebuke, and punishment. He cannot, without reducing his office to an empty name, be hindered from the exercise of any practice necessary to stimulate the idle, to reform the vicious, to check the petulant, and correct the stubborn.

'If we enquire into the practice of the primitive church, we shall, I believe, find the ministers of the word exercising the whole authority of this complicated character. We shall find them not only encouraging the good by exhortation, but terrifying the wicked by reproof and denunciation. In the earliest ages of the Church, while religion was yet pure from secular advantages, the punishment of sinners was publick censure, and open penance; penalties inflicted merely by ecclesiastical authority, at a time while the church had yet no help from the civil power; while the hand of the magistrate lifted only the rod of persecution; and when governours were ready to afford a refuge to all those who fled from clerical authority.

'That the Church, therefore, had once a power of publick censure is evident, because that power was frequently exercised. That it borrowed not its power from the civil authority, is likewise certain, because civil authority was at that time its enemy.

'The hour came at length, when after three hundred years of struggle and distress, Truth took possession of imperial power, and the civil laws lent their aid to the ecclesiastical constitutions. The magistrate from that time co-operated with the priest, and clerical sentences were made efficacious by secular force. But the State, when it came to the assistance of the church, had no intention to diminish its authority. Those rebukes and those censures which were lawful before, were lawful still. But they had hitherto operated only upon voluntary submission. The refractory and contemptuous were at first in no danger of temporal severities, except what they might suffer from the reproaches of conscience, or the detestation of their fellow Christians. When religion obtained the support of law, if admonitions and censures had no effect, they were seconded by the magistrates with coercion and punishment.

'It therefore appears from ecclesiastical history, that the right of inflicting shame by publick censure, has been always considered as inherent in the Church; and that this right was not conferred by the civil power; for it was exercised when the civil power operated against it. By the civil power it was never taken away; for the Christian magistrate interposed his office, not to rescue sinners from censure, but to supply more powerful means of reformation; to add pain where shame was insufficient; and when men were proclaimed unworthy of the society of the faithful, to restrain them by imprisonment, from spreading abroad the contagion of wickedness.

'It is not improbable that from this acknowledged power of publick censure, grew in time the practice of auricular confession. Those who dreaded the blast of publick reprehension, were willing to submit themselves to the priest, by a private accusation of themselves; and to obtain a reconciliation with the Church by a kind of clandestine absolution and invisible penance; conditions with which the priest would in times of ignorance and corruption, easily comply, as they increased his influence, by adding the knowledge of secret sins to that of notorious offences, and enlarged his authority, by making him the sole arbiter of the terms of reconcilement.

'From this bondage the Reformation set us free. The minister has no longer power to press into the retirements of conscience, to torture us by interrogatories, or put himself in possession of our secrets and our lives. But though we have thus controlled his usurpations, his just and original power remains unimpaired. He may still see, though he may not pry: he may yet hear, though he may not question. And that knowledge which his eyes and ears force upon him it is still his duty to use, for the benefit of his flock. A father who lives near a wicked neighbour, may forbid a son to frequent his company. A minister who has in his congregation a man of open and scandalous wickedness, may warn his parishioners to shun his conversation. To warn them is not only lawful, but not to warn them would be criminal. He may warn them one by one in friendly converse, or by a parochial visitation. But if he may warn each man singly, what shall forbid him to warn them altogether? Of that which is to be made known to all, how is there any difference whether it be communicated to each singly, or to all together? What is known to all, must necessarily be publick. Whether it shall be publick at once, or publick by degrees, is the only question. And of a sudden and solemn publication the impression is deeper, and the warning more effectual.

'It may easily be urged, if a minister be thus left at liberty to delate sinners from the pulpit, and to publish at will the crimes of a parishioner, he may often blast the innocent, and distress the timorous. He may be suspicious, and condemn without evidence; he may be rash, and judge without examination; he may be severe, and treat slight offences with too much harshness; he may be malignant and partial, and gratify his private interest or resentment under the shelter of his pastoral character.

'Of all this there is possibility, and of all this there is danger. But if possibility of evil be to exclude good, no good ever can be done. If nothing is to be attempted in which there is danger, we must all sink into hopeless inactivity. The evils that may be feared from this practice arise not from any defect in the institution, but from the infirmities of human nature. Power, in whatever hands it is placed, will be sometimes improperly exerted; yet courts of law must judge, though they will sometimes judge amiss. A father must instruct his children, though he himself may often want instruction. A minister must censure sinners, though his censure may be sometimes erroneous by want of judgement, and sometimes unjust by want of honesty.

'If we examine the circumstances of the present case, we shall find the sentence neither erroneous nor unjust; we shall find no breach of private confidence, no intrusion into secret transactions. The fact was notorious and indubitable; so easy to be proved, that no proof was desired. The act was base and treacherous, the perpetration insolent and open, and the example naturally mischievous. The minister, however, being retired and recluse, had not yet heard what was publickly known throughout the parish; and on occasion of a publick election, warned his people, according to his duty, against the crimes which publick elections frequently produce. His warning was felt by one of his parishioners, as pointed particularly at himself. But instead of producing, as might be wished, private compunction and immediate reformation, it kindled only rage and resentment. He charged his minister, in a publick paper, with scandal, defamation, and falsehood. The minister, thus reproached, had his own character to vindicate, upon which his pastoral authority must necessarily depend. To be charged with a defamatory lie is an injury which no man patiently endures in common life. To be charged with polluting the pastoral office with scandal and falsehood, was a violation of character still more atrocious, as it affected not only his personal but his clerical veracity. His indignation naturally rose in proportion to his honesty, and with all the fortitude of injured honesty, he dared this calumniator in the church, and at once exonerated himself from censure, and rescued his flock from deception and from danger. The man whom he accuses pretends not to be innocent; or at least only pretends; for he declines a trial. The crime of which he is accused has frequent opportunities and strong temptations. It has already spread far, with much depravation of private morals, and much injury to publick happiness. To warn the people, therefore, against it was not wanton and officious, but necessary and pastoral.

'What then is the fault with which this worthy minister is charged? He has usurped no dominion over conscience. He has exerted no authority in support of doubtful and controverted opinions. He has not dragged into light a bashful and corrigible sinner. His censure was directed against a breach of morality, against an act which no man justifies. The man who appropriated this censure to himself, is evidently and notoriously guilty. His consciousness of his own wickedness incited him to attack his faithful reprover with open insolence and printed accusations. Such an attack made defence necessary; and we hope it will be at last decided that the means of defence were just and lawful.'

When I read this to Mr. Burke, he was highly pleased, and exclaimed,
'Well; he does his work in a workman-like manner.'[184]

Mr. Thomson wished to bring the cause by appeal before the House of Lords, but was dissuaded by the advice of the noble person who lately presided so ably in that Most Honourable House, and who was then Attorney-General. As my readers will no doubt be glad also to read the opinion of this eminent man upon the same subject, I shall here insert it.

CASE. 'There is herewith laid before you, 1. Petition for the Reverend Mr. James Thomson, minister of Dumfermline. 2. Answers thereto. 3. Copy of the judgement of the Court of Session upon both. 4. Notes of the opinions of the Judges, being the reasons upon which their decree is grounded. 'These papers you will please to peruse, and give your opinion, Whether there is a probability of the above decree of the Court of Session's being reversed, if Mr. Thomson should appeal from the same?'

'I don't think the appeal adviseable: not only because the value of the judgement is in no degree adequate to the expence; but because there are many chances, that upon the general complexion of the case, the impression will be taken to the disadvantage of the appellant.

'It is impossible to approve the style of that sermon. But the complaint was not less ungracious from that man, who had behaved so ill by his original libel, and, at the time, when he received the reproach he complains of. In the last article, all the plaintiffs are equally concerned. It struck me also with some wonder, that the Judges should think so much fervour apposite to the occasion of reproving the defendant for a little excess.

'Upon the matter, however, I agree with them in condemning the behaviour of the minister; and in thinking it a subject fit for ecclesiastical censure; and even for an action, if any individual could qualify[185] a wrong, and a damage arising from it. But this I doubt. The circumstance of publishing the reproach in a pulpit, though extremely indecent, and culpable in another view, does not constitute a different sort of wrong, or any other rule of law, than would have obtained, if the same words had been pronounced elsewhere. I don't know whether there be any difference in the law of Scotland, in the definition of slander, before the Commissaries, or the Court of Session. The common law of England does not give way to actions for every reproachful word. An action cannot be brought for general damages, upon any words which import less than an offence cognisable by law; consequently no action could have been brought here for the words in question. Both laws admit the truth to be a justification in action for words; and the law of England does the same in actions for libels. The judgement, therefore, seems to me to have been wrong, in that the Court repelled that defence.


I am now to record a very curious incident in Dr. Johnson's Life, which fell under my own observation; of which pars magna fui,[186] and which I am persuaded will, with the liberal-minded, be much to his credit.

My desire of being acquainted with celebrated men of every description, had made me, much about the same time, obtain an introduction to Dr. Samuel Johnson and to John Wilkes, Esq. Two men more different could perhaps not be selected out of all mankind. They had even attacked one another with some asperity[187] in their writings; yet I lived in habits of friendship with both[188]. I could fully relish the excellence of each; for I have ever delighted in that intellectual chymistry, which can separate good qualities from evil in the same person.

Sir John Pringle, 'mine own friend and my Father's friend,' between whom and Dr. Johnson I in vain wished to establish an acquaintance[189], as I respected and lived in intimacy with both of them, observed to me once, very ingeniously, 'It is not in friendship as in mathematicks, where two things, each equal to a third, are equal between themselves. You agree with Johnson as a middle quality, and you agree with me as a middle quality; but Johnson and I should not agree.' Sir John was not sufficiently flexible; so I desisted; knowing, indeed, that the repulsion was equally strong on the part of Johnson; who, I know not from what cause, unless his being a Scotchman, had formed a very erroneous opinion of Sir John. But I conceived an irresistible wish, if possible, to bring Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilkes together. How to manage it, was a nice and difficult matter.

My worthy booksellers and friends, Messieurs Dilly in the Poultry[190], at whose hospitable and well-covered table I have seen a greater number of literary men, than at any other, except that of Sir Joshua Reynolds, had invited me to meet Mr. Wilkes and some more gentlemen on Wednesday, May 15. 'Pray (said I,) let us have Dr. Johnson.'—'What with Mr. Wilkes? not for the world, (said Mr. Edward Dilly:) Dr. Johnson would never forgive me.'—'Come, (said I,) if you'll let me negociate for you, I will be answerable that all shall go well.' DILLY. 'Nay, if you will take it upon you, I am sure I shall be very happy to see them both here.'

Notwithstanding the high veneration which I entertained for Dr. Johnson, I was sensible that he was sometimes a little actuated by the spirit of contradiction, and by means of that I hoped I should gain my point. I was persuaded that if I had come upon him with a direct proposal, 'Sir, will you dine in company with Jack Wilkes?' he would have flown into a passion, and would probably have answered, 'Dine with Jack Wilkes, Sir! I'd as soon dine with Jack Ketch[191].' I therefore, while we were sitting quietly, by ourselves at his house in an evening, took occasion to open my plan thus:—'Mr. Dilly, Sir, sends his respectful compliments to you, and would be happy if you would do him the honour to dine with him on Wednesday next along with me, as I must soon go to Scotland.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I am obliged to Mr. Dilly. I will wait upon him—'BOSWELL. 'Provided, Sir, I suppose, that the company which he is to have, is agreeable to you.' JOHNSON. 'What do you mean, Sir? What do you take me for? Do you think I am so ignorant of the world, as to imagine that I am to prescribe to a gentleman what company he is to have at his table?' BOSWELL. 'I beg your pardon, Sir, for wishing to prevent you from meeting people whom you might not like. Perhaps he may have some of what he calls his patriotick friends with him.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, and what then? What care I for his patriotick friends[192]? Poh!' BOSWELL. 'I should not be surprized to find Jack Wilkes there.' JOHNSON. 'And if Jack Wilkes should be there, what is that to me, Sir? My dear friend, let us have no more of this. I am sorry to be angry with you; but really it is treating me strangely to talk to me as if I could not meet any company whatever, occasionally.' BOSWELL. 'Pray forgive me, Sir: I meant well. But you shall meet whoever comes, for me.' Thus I secured him, and told Dilly that he would find him very well pleased to be one of his guests on the day appointed.

Upon the much-expected Wednesday, I called on him about half an hour before dinner, as I often did when we were to dine out together, to see that he was ready in time, and to accompany him. I found him buffeting his books, as upon a former occasion[193], covered with dust, and making no preparation for going abroad. 'How is this, Sir? (said I.) Don't you recollect that you are to dine at Mr. Dilly's?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I did not think of going to Dilly's: it went out of my head. I have ordered dinner at home with Mrs. Williams.' BOSWELL, 'But, my dear Sir, you know you were engaged to Mr. Dilly, and I told him so. He will expect you, and will be much disappointed if you don't come.' JOHNSON. 'You must talk to Mrs. Williams about this.'

Here was a sad dilemma. I feared that what I was so confident I had secured would yet be frustrated. He had accustomed himself to shew Mrs. Williams such a degree of humane attention, as frequently imposed some restraint upon him; and I knew that if she should be obstinate, he would not stir. I hastened down stairs to the blind lady's room, and told her I was in great uneasiness, for Dr. Johnson had engaged to me to dine this day at Mr. Dilly's, but that he had told me he had forgotten his engagement, and had ordered dinner at home. 'Yes, Sir, (said she, pretty peevishly,) Dr. Johnson is to dine at home,'—'Madam, (said I,) his respect for you is such, that I know he will not leave you unless you absolutely desire it. But as you have so much of his company, I hope you will be good enough to forego it for a day; as Mr. Dilly is a very worthy man, has frequently had agreeable parties at his house for Dr. Johnson, and will be vexed if the Doctor neglects him to-day. And then, Madam, be pleased to consider my situation; I carried the message, and I assured Mr. Dilly that Dr. Johnson was to come, and no doubt he has made a dinner, and invited a company, and boasted of the honour he expected to have. I shall be quite disgraced if the Doctor is not there.' She gradually softened to my solicitations, which were certainly as earnest as most entreaties to ladies upon any occasion, and was graciously pleased to empower me to tell Dr. Johnson, 'That all things considered she thought he should certainly go.' I flew back to him still in dust, and careless of what should be the event, 'indifferent in his choice to go or stay[194];' but as soon as I had announced to him Mrs. Williams' consent, he roared, 'Frank, a clean shirt,' and was very soon drest. When I had him fairly seated in a hackney-coach with me, I exulted as much as a fortune-hunter who has got an heiress into a post-chaise with him to set out for Gretna-Green.

When we entered Mr. Dilly's drawing room, he found himself in the midst of a company he did not know. I kept myself snug and silent, watching how he would conduct himself. I observed him whispering to Mr. Dilly, 'Who is that gentleman, Sir?'—'Mr. Arthur Lee.'—JOHNSON. 'Too, too, too,' (under his breath,) which was one of his habitual mutterings[195]. Mr. Arthur Lee could not but be very obnoxious to Johnson, for he was not only a patriot but an American[196]. He was afterwards minister from the United States at the court of Madrid. 'And who is the gentleman in lace?'—'Mr. Wilkes, Sir.' This information confounded him still more; he had some difficulty to restrain himself, and taking up a book, sat down upon a window-seat and read, or at least kept his eye upon it intently for some time, till he composed himself. His feelings, I dare say, were aukward enough. But he no doubt recollected his having rated me for supposing that he could be at all disconcerted by any company, and he, therefore, resolutely set himself to behave quite as an easy man of the world, who could adapt himself at once to the disposition and manners of those whom he might chance to meet.

The cheering sound of 'Dinner is upon the table,' dissolved his reverie, and we all sat down without any symptom of ill humour. There were present, beside Mr. Wilkes, and Mr. Arthur Lee, who was an old companion of mine when he studied physick at Edinburgh, Mr. (now Sir John) Miller, Dr. Lettsom, and Mr. Slater the druggist. Mr. Wilkes placed himself next to Dr. Johnson, and behaved to him with so much attention and politeness[197], that he gained upon him insensibly. No man eat more heartily than Johnson, or loved better what was nice and delicate. Mr. Wilkes was very assiduous in helping him to some fine veal. 'Pray give me leave, Sir:—It is better here—A little of the brown—Some fat, Sir—A little of the stuffing—Some gravy—Let me have the pleasure of giving you some butter—Allow me to recommend a squeeze of this orange;—or the lemon, perhaps, may have more zest.'—'Sir, Sir, I am obliged to you, Sir,' cried Johnson, bowing, and turning—his head to him with a look for some time of 'surly virtue,'[198] but, in a short while, of complacency.

Foote being mentioned, Johnson said. 'He is not a good mimick[199].' One of the company added, 'A merry Andrew, a buffoon.' JOHNSON. 'But he has wit too, and is not deficient in ideas, or in fertility and variety of imagery, and not empty of reading; he has knowledge enough to fill up his part. One species of wit he has in an eminent degree, that of escape. You drive him into a corner with both hands; but he's gone, Sir, when you think you have got him—like an animal that jumps over your head. Then he has a great range for wit; he never lets truth stand between him and a jest, and he is sometimes mighty coarse. Garrick is under many restraints from which Foote is free[200].' WILKES. 'Garrick's wit is more like Lord Chesterfield's.' JOHNSON. 'The first time I was in company with Foote was at Fitzherbert's. Having no good opinion of the fellow, I was resolved not to be pleased; and it is very difficult to please a man against his will[201]. I went on eating my dinner pretty sullenly, affecting not to mind him. But the dog was so very comical, that I was obliged to lay down my knife and fork, throw myself back upon my chair, and fairly laugh it out. No, Sir, he was irresistible[202]. He upon one occasion experienced, in an extraordinary degree, the efficacy of his powers of entertaining. Amongst the many and various modes which he tried of getting money, he became a partner with a small-beer brewer, and he was to have a share of the profits for procuring customers amongst his numerous acquaintance. Fitzherbert was one who took his small-beer; but it was so bad that the servants resolved not to drink it. They were at some loss how to notify their resolution, being afraid of offending their master, who they knew liked Foote much as a companion. At last they fixed upon a little black boy, who was rather a favourite, to be their deputy, and deliver their remonstrance; and having invested him with the whole authority of the kitchen, he was to inform Mr. Fitzherbert, in all their names, upon a certain day, that they would drink Foote's small-beer no longer. On that day Foote happened to dine at Fitzherbert's, and this boy served at table; he was so delighted with Foote's stories, and merriment, and grimace, that when he went down stairs, he told them, "This is the finest man I have ever seen. I will not deliver your message. I will drink his small-beer."'

Somebody observed that Garrick could not have done this. WILKES. 'Garrick would have made the small-beer still smaller. He is now leaving the stage; but he will play Scrub[203] all his life.' I knew that Johnson would let nobody attack Garrick but himself[204], as Garrick once said to me, and I had heard him praise his liberality; so to bring out his commendation of his celebrated pupil, I said, loudly, 'I have heard Garrick is liberal[205].' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, I know that Garrick has given away more money than any man in England that I am acquainted with, and that not from ostentatious views. Garrick was very poor when he began life; so when he came to have money, he probably was very unskilful in giving away, and saved when he should not. But Garrick began to be liberal as soon as he could; and I am of opinion, the reputation of avarice which he has had, has been very lucky for him, and prevented his having many enemies. You despise a man for avarice, but do not hate him. Garrick might have been much better attacked for living with more splendour than is suitable to a player:[206] if they had had the wit to have assaulted him in that quarter, they might have galled him more. But they have kept clamouring about his avarice, which has rescued him from much obloquy and envy.'

Talking of the great difficulty of obtaining authentick information for biography,[207] Johnson told us, 'When I was a young fellow I wanted to write the Life of Dryden, and in order to get materials, I applied to the only two persons then alive who had seen him;[208] these were old Swinney[209] and old Cibber. Swinney's information was no more than this, "That at Will's coffee-house Dryden had a particular chair for himself, which was set by the fire in winter, and was then called his winter-chair; and that it was carried out for him to the balcony in summer, and was then called his summer-chair." Cibber could tell no more but "That he remembered him a decent old man, arbiter of critical disputes at Will's[210]." You are to consider that Cibber was then at a great distance from Dryden, had perhaps one leg only in the room, and durst not draw in the other.' BOSWELL. 'Yet Cibber was a man of observation?' JOHNSON. 'I think not.'[211] BOSWELL. 'You will allow his Apology to be well done.' JOHNSON. 'Very well done, to be sure, Sir.[212] That book is a striking proof of the justice of Pope's remark:

"Each might his several province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand[213]."

BOSWELL. 'And his plays are good.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; but that was his trade; l'esprit du corps; he had been all his life among players and play-writers.[214] I wondered that he had so little to say in conversation, for he had kept the best company, and learnt all that can be got by the ear. He abused Pindar to me, and then shewed me an Ode of his own, with an absurd couplet, making a linnet soar on an eagle's wing[215]. I told him that when the ancients made a simile, they always made it like something real.'

Mr. Wilkes remarked, that 'among all the bold flights of Shakspeare's imagination, the boldest was making Birnamwood march to Dunsinane; creating a wood where there never was a shrub; a wood in Scotland! ha! ha! ha!' And he also observed, that 'the clannish slavery of the Highlands of Scotland was the single exception to Milton's remark of "The Mountain Nymph, sweet Liberty[216]," being worshipped in all hilly countries.'—'When I was at Inverary (said he,) on a visit to my old friend, Archibald, Duke of Argyle, his dependents congratulated me on being such a favourite of his Grace. I said, "It is then, gentlemen, truely lucky for me; for if I had displeased the Duke, and he had wished it, there is not a Campbell among you but would have been ready to bring John Wilkes's head to him in a charger. It would have been only

'"'Off with his head! So much for Aylesbury[217].'"

'I was then member for Aylesbury.'

Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilkes talked of the contested passage in Horace's Art of Poetry[218], 'Difficile est propriè communia dicere.' Mr. Wilkes according to my note, gave the interpretation thus; 'It is difficult to speak with propriety of common things; as, if a poet had to speak of Queen Caroline drinking tea, he must endeavour to avoid the vulgarity of cups and saucers.' But upon reading my note, he tells me that he meant to say, that 'the word communia, being a Roman law term, signifies here things communis juris, that is to say, what have never yet been treated by any body; and this appears clearly from what followed,

Rectiùs Iliacum carmen deducis in actus
Quàm si proferres ignota indictaque primus."

'You will easier make a tragedy out of the Iliad than on any subject not handled before[219].' JOHNSON. 'He means that it is difficult to appropriate to particular persons qualities which are common to all mankind, as Homer has done.'

WILKES. 'We have no City-Poet now: that is an office which has gone into disuse. The last was Elkanah Settle. There is something in names which one cannot help feeling. Now Elkanah Settle sounds so queer, who can expect much from that name? We should have no hesitation to give it for John Dryden, in preference to Elkanah Settle, from the names only, without knowing their different merits[220].' JOHNSON. 'I suppose, Sir, Settle did as well for Aldermen in his time, as John Home could do now. Where did Beckford and Trecothick learn English[221]?'

Mr. Arthur Lee mentioned some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they should choose it. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative. The Scotch would not know it to be barren.' BOSWELL. 'Come, come, he is flattering the English. You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and say if you did not see meat and drink enough there.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; meat and drink enough to give the inhabitants sufficient strength to run away from home.' All these quick and lively sallies were said sportively, quite in jest, and with a smile, which showed that he meant only wit. Upon this topick he and Mr. Wilkes could perfectly assimilate; here was a bond of union between them, and I was conscious that as both of them had visited Caledonia, both were fully satisfied of the strange narrow ignorance of those who imagine that it is a land of famine.[222] But they amused themselves with persevering in the old jokes. When I claimed a superiority for Scotland over England in one respect, that no man can be arrested there for a debt merely because another swears it against him; but there must first be the judgement of a court of law ascertaining its justice; and that a seizure of the person, before judgement is obtained, can take place only, if his creditor should swear that he is about to fly from the country, or, as it is technically expressed, is in meditatione fugae: WILKES. 'That, I should think, may be safely sworn of all the Scotch nation.' JOHNSON. (to Mr. Wilkes) 'You must know, Sir, I lately took my friend Boswell and shewed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose at Lichfield, my native city, that he might see for once real civility:[223] for you know he lives among savages in Scotland, and among rakes in London.' WILKES. 'Except when he is with grave, sober, decent people like you and me.' JOHNSON, (smiling) 'And we ashamed of him.'

They were quite frank and easy. Johnson told the story[224] of his asking Mrs. Macaulay to allow her footman to sit down with them, to prove the ridiculousness of the argument for the equality of mankind; and he said to me afterwards, with a nod of satisfaction, 'You saw Mr. Wilkes acquiesced.' Wilkes talked with all imaginable freedom of the ludicrous title given to the Attorney-General, Diabolus Regis; adding, 'I have reason to know something about that officer; for I was prosecuted for a libel.' Johnson, who many people would have supposed must have been furiously angry at hearing this talked of so lightly, said not a word. He was now, indeed, 'a good-humoured fellow.'[225]

After dinner we had an accession of Mrs. Knowles,[226] the Quaker lady, well known for her various talents, and of Mr. Alderman Lee. Amidst some patriotick groans, somebody (I think the Alderman) said, 'Poor old England is lost.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not so much to be lamented that Old England is lost, as that the Scotch have found it.'[227] WILKES. 'Had Lord Bute governed Scotland only, I should not have taken the trouble to write his eulogy, and dedicate Mortimer to him.'[228]

Mr. Wilkes held a candle to shew a fine print of a beautiful female figure which hung in the room, and pointed out the elegant contour of the bosom with the finger of an arch connoisseur. He afterwards, in a conversation with me, waggishly insisted, that all the time Johnson shewed visible signs of a fervent admiration of the corresponding charms of the fair Quaker.

This record, though by no means so perfect as I could wish, will serve to give a notion of a very curious interview, which was not only pleasing at the time, but had the agreeable and benignant effect of reconciling any animosity, and sweetening any acidity, which in the various bustle of political contest, had been produced in the minds of two men, who though widely different, had so many things in common—classical learning, modern literature, wit, and humour, and ready repartee—that it would have been much to be regretted if they had been for ever at a distance from each other.[229]

Mr. Burke gave me much credit for this successful negociation; and pleasantly said, that 'there was nothing to equal it in the whole history of the Corps Diplomatique'.

I attended Dr. Johnson home, and had the satisfaction to hear him tell Mrs. Williams how much he had been pleased with Mr. Wilkes's company, and what an agreeable day he had passed.[230]

I talked a good deal to him of the celebrated Margaret Caroline Rudd, whom I had visited, induced by the fame of her talents, address, and irresistible power of fascination[231]. To a lady who disapproved of my visiting her, he said on a former occasion[232], 'Nay, Madam, Boswell is in the right; I should have visited her myself, were it not that they have now a trick of putting every thing into the news-papers.' This evening he exclaimed, 'I envy him his acquaintance with Mrs. Rudd.'

I mentioned a scheme which I had of making a tour to the Isle of Man, and giving a full account of it; and that Mr. Burke had playfully suggested as a motto,

'The proper study of mankind is MAN.'[233]

JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will get more by the book than the jaunt will cost you; so you will have your diversion for nothing, and add to your reputation.'

On the evening of the next day I took leave of him, being to set out for Scotland[234]. I thanked him with great warmth for all his kindness. 'Sir, (said he,) you are very welcome. Nobody repays it with more.'

How very false is the notion which has gone round the world of the rough, and passionate, and harsh manners of this great and good man. That he had occasional sallies of heat of temper, and that he was sometimes, perhaps, too 'easily provoked[235]' by absurdity and folly, and sometimes too desirous of triumph in colloquial contest, must be allowed. The quickness both of his perception and sensibility disposed him to sudden explosions of satire; to which his extraordinary readiness of wit was a strong and almost irresistible incitement. To adopt one of the finest images in Mr. Home's Douglas[236],

'On each glance of thought
Decision followed, as the thunderbolt
Pursues the flash!'

I admit that the beadle within him was often so eager to apply the lash, that the Judge had not time to consider the case with sufficient deliberation.

That he was occasionally remarkable for violence of temper may be granted: but let us ascertain the degree, and not let it be supposed that he was in a perpetual rage, and never without a club in his hand, to knock down every one who approached him. On the contrary, the truth is, that by much the greatest part of his time he was civil, obliging, nay, polite in the true sense of the word; so much so, that many gentlemen, who were long acquainted with him, never received, or even heard a strong expression from him.[237]

The following letters concerning an Epitaph which he wrote for the monument of Dr. Goldsmith, in Westminster-Abbey, afford at once a proof of his unaffected modesty, his carelessness as to his own writings, and of the great respect which he entertained for the taste and judgement of the excellent and eminent person to whom they are addressed:


'I have been kept away from you, I know not well how, and of these vexatious hindrances I know not when there will be an end. I therefore send you the poor dear Doctor's epitaph. Read it first yourself; and if you then think it right, shew it to the Club. I am, you know, willing to be corrected. If you think any thing much amiss, keep it to yourself, till we come together. I have sent two copies, but prefer the card. The dates must be settled by Dr. Percy.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 16, 1776.'



'Miss Reynolds has a mind to send the Epitaph to Dr. Beattie; I am very willing, but having no copy, cannot immediately recollect it. She tells me you have lost it. Try to recollect and put down as much as you retain; you perhaps may have kept what I have dropped. The lines for which I am at a loss are something of rerum civilium sivè naturalium.'[238] It was a sorry trick to lose it; help me if you can. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'June 22, 1776.

'The gout grows better but slowly[239].'

It was, I think, after I had left London this year, that this Epitaph gave occasion to a Remonstrance to the MONARCH OF LITERATURE, for an account of which I am indebted to Sir William Forbes, of Pitsligo.

That my readers may have the subject more fully and clearly before them,
I shall first insert the Epitaph.

_Poetae, Physici, Historici,
Qui nullum ferè scribendi genus
Non tetigit,
Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit.[240]
Sive risus essent movendi,
Sive lacrymae,
Affectuum potens at lenis dominator:
Ingenio sublimis, vividus, versatilis,
Oratione grandis, nitidus, venustus:
Hoc monumento memoriam coluit
Sodalium amor,
Amicorum fides,
Lectorum veneratio.
Natus in Hiberniâ Forniae Longfordiensis,
In loco cui nomen Pallas,
Eblanae literis institutus;
Obiit Londini,

Sir William Forbes writes to me thus:—

'I enclose the Round Robin. This jeu d'esprit took its rise one day at dinner at our friend Sir Joshua Reynolds's.[242] All the company present, except myself, were friends and acquaintance of Dr. Goldsmith[243]. The Epitaph, written for him by Dr. Johnson, became the subject of conversation, and various emendations were suggested, which it was agreed should be submitted to the Doctor's consideration. But the question was, who should have the courage to propose them to him? At last it was hinted, that there could be no way so good as that of a Round Robin, as the sailors call it, which they make use of when they enter into a conspiracy, so as not to let it be known who puts his name first or last to the paper. This proposition was instantly assented to; and Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, now Bishop of Killaloe[244], drew up an address to Dr. Johnson on the occasion, replete with wit and humour, but which it was feared the Doctor might think treated the subject with too much levity. Mr. Burke then proposed the address as it stands in the paper in writing, to which I had the honour to officiate as clerk.

'Sir Joshua agreed to carry it to Dr. Johnson, who received it with much good humour[245], and desired Sir Joshua to tell the gentlemen, that he would alter the Epitaph in any manner they pleased, as to the sense of it; but he would never consent to disgrace the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English inscription.

'I consider this Round Robin as a species of literary curiosity worth preserving, as it marks, in a certain degree, Dr. Johnson's character.'

My readers are presented with a faithful transcript of a paper, which I doubt not of their being desirous to see.

Sir William Forbes's observation is very just. The anecdote now related proves, in the strongest manner, the reverence and awe with which Johnson was regarded, by some of the most eminent men of his time, in various departments, and even by such of them as lived most with him; while it also confirms what I have again and again inculcated, that he was by no means of that ferocious and irascible character which has been ignorantly imagined.

This hasty composition is also to be remarked as one of a thousand instances which evince the extraordinary promptitude of Mr. Burke; who while he is equal to the greatest things, can adorn the least; can, with equal facility, embrace the vast and complicated speculations of politicks, or the ingenious topicks of literary investigation.[246]



'You must not think me uncivil in omitting to answer the letter with which you favoured me some time ago. I imagined it to have been written without Mr. Boswell's knowledge, and therefore supposed the answer to require, what I could not find, a private conveyance.

'The difference with Lord Auchinleck is now over; and since young Alexander[247] has appeared, I hope no more difficulties will arise among you; for I sincerely wish you all happy. Do not teach the young ones to dislike me, as you dislike me yourself; but let me at least have Veronica's kindness, because she is my acquaintance.

'You will now have Mr. Boswell home; it is well that you have him; he has led a wild life. I have taken him to Lichfield, and he has followed Mr. Thrale to Bath. Pray take care of him, and tame him. The only thing in which I have the honour to agree with you is, in loving him; and while we are so much of a mind in a matter of so much importance, our other quarrels will, I hope, produce no great bitterness. I am, Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 16, 1776.'


'Edinburgh, June 25, 1776.

'You have formerly complained that my letters were too long. There is no danger of that complaint being made at present; for I find it difficult for me to write to you at all. [Here an account of having been afflicted with a return of melancholy or bad spirits.]

'The boxes of books[248] which you sent to me are arrived; but I have not yet examined the contents.

* * * * *

'I send you Mr. Maclaurin's paper for the negro, who claims his freedom in the Court of Session.[249]'


'Dear Sir,

'These black fits, of which you complain, perhaps hurt your memory as well as your imagination. When did I complain that your letters were too long[250]? Your last letter, after a very long delay, brought very bad news. [Here a series of reflections upon melancholy, and—what I could not help thinking strangely unreasonable in him who had suffered so much from it himself,—a good deal of severity and reproof, as if it were owing to my own fault, or that I was, perhaps, affecting it from a desire of distinction.]

'Read Cheyne's English Malady;[251] but do not let him teach you a foolish notion that melancholy is a proof of acuteness.

'To hear that you have not opened your boxes of books is very offensive. The examination and arrangement of so many volumes might have afforded you an amusement very seasonable at present, and useful for the whole of life. I am, I confess, very angry that you manage yourself so ill.[252]

'I do not now say any more, than that I am, with great kindness, and sincerity, dear Sir,

'Your humble servant,
'July 2, 1776.'

'It was last year[253] determined by Lord Mansfield, in the Court of King's Bench, that a negro cannot be taken out of the kingdom without his own consent.'



'I make haste to write again, lest my last letter should give you too much pain. If you are really oppressed with overpowering and involuntary melancholy, you are to be pitied rather than reproached.

* * * * *

'Now, my dear Bozzy, let us have done with quarrels and with censure. Let me know whether I have not sent you a pretty library. There are, perhaps, many books among them which you never need read through; but there are none which it is not proper for you to know, and sometimes to consult. Of these books, of which the use is only occasional, it is often sufficient to know the contents, that, when any question arises, you may know where to look for information.

'Since I wrote, I have looked over Mr. Maclaurin's plea, and think it excellent. How is the suit carried on? If by subscription, I commission you to contribute, in my name, what is proper. Let nothing be wanting in such a case. Dr. Drummond[254], I see, is superseded. His father would have grieved; but he lived to obtain the pleasure of his son's election, and died before that pleasure was abated.

'Langton's lady has brought him a girl, and both are well; I dined with him the other day.

'It vexes me to tell you, that on the evening of the 29th of May I was seized by the gout, and am not quite well. The pain has not been violent, but the weakness and tenderness were very troublesome, and what is said to be very uncommon, it has not alleviated my other disorders. Make use of youth and health while you have them; make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell. I am, my dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate


'July 6[255], 1776.'


'Edinburgh, July 18, 1776.


'Your letter of the second of this month was rather a harsh medicine; but I was delighted with that spontaneous tenderness, which, a few days afterwards, sent forth such balsam as your next brought me. I found myself for some time so ill that all I could do was to preserve a decent appearance, while all within was weakness and distress. Like a reduced garrison that has some spirit left, I hung out flags, and planted all the force I could muster, upon the walls. I am now much better, and I sincerely thank you for your kind attention and friendly counsel.

* * * * *

'Count Manucci[256] came here last week from travelling in Ireland. I have shewn him what civilities I could on his own account, on yours, and on that of Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. He has had a fall from his horse, and been much hurt. I regret this unlucky accident, for he seems to be a very amiable man.'

As the evidence of what I have mentioned at the beginning of this year,
I select from his private register the following passage:

'July 25, 1776. O GOD, who hast ordained that whatever is to be desired should be sought by labour, and who, by thy blessing, bringest honest labour to good effect, look with mercy upon my studies and endeavours. Grant me, O LORD, to design only what is lawful and right; and afford me calmness of mind, and steadiness of purpose, that I may so do thy will in this short life, as to obtain happiness in the world to come, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST our Lord. Amen.[257]

It appears from a note subjoined, that this was composed when he 'purposed to apply vigorously to study, particularly of the Greek and Italian tongues.'

Such a purpose, so expressed, at the age of sixty-seven, is admirable and encouraging; and it must impress all the thinking part of my readers with a consolatory confidence in habitual devotion, when they see a man of such enlarged intellectual powers as Johnson, thus in the genuine earnestness of secrecy, imploring the aid of that Supreme Being, 'from whom cometh down every good and every perfect gift[258].'



'A young man, whose name is Paterson, offers himself this evening to the Academy. He is the son of a man[259] for whom I have long had a kindness, and who is now abroad in distress. I shall be glad that you will be pleased to shew him any little countenance, or pay him any small distinction. How much it is in your power to favour or to forward a young man I do not know; nor do I know how much this candidate deserves favour by his personal merit, or what hopes his proficiency may now give of future eminence. I recommend him as the son of my friend. Your character and station enable you to give a young man great encouragement by very easy means. You have heard of a man who asked no other favour of Sir Robert Walpole, than that he would bow to him at his levee.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Aug. 3, 1776.'


'Edinburgh, August 30, 1776.

[After giving him an account of my having examined the chests of books which he had sent to me, and which contained what may be truely called a numerous and miscellaneous Stall Library, thrown together at random:—]

'Lord Hailes was against the decree in the case of my client, the minister;[260] not that he justified the minister, but because the parishioner both provoked and retorted. I sent his Lordship your able argument upon the case for his perusal. His observation upon it in a letter to me was, "Dr. Johnson's Suasorium is pleasantly[261] and artfully composed. I suspect, however, that he has not convinced himself; for, I believe that he is better read in ecclesiastical history, than to imagine that a Bishop or a Presbyter has a right to begin censure or discipline è cathedrá[262]."

* * * * *

'For the honour of Count Manucci, as well as to observe that exactness of truth which you have taught me, I must correct what I said in a former letter. He did not fall from his horse, which might have been an imputation on his skill as an officer of cavalry; his horse fell with him.

'I have, since I saw you, read every word of Granger's Biographical History. It has entertained me exceedingly, and I do not think him the Whig that you supposed.[263] Horace Walpole's being his patron[264] is, indeed, no good sign of his political principles. But he denied to Lord Mountstuart that he was a Whig, and said he had been accused by both parties of partiality. It seems he was like Pope,

"While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory[265]."

'I wish you would look more into his book; and as Lord Mountstuart wishes much to find a proper person to continue the work upon Granger's plan, and has desired I would mention it to you; if such a man occurs, please to let me know. His Lordship will give him generous encouragement.'



'Having spent about six weeks at this place, we have at length resolved upon returning. I expect to see you all in Fleet-street on the 30th of this month.

'I did not go into the sea till last Friday[266], but think to go most of this week, though I know not that it does me any good. My nights are very restless and tiresome, but I am otherwise well.

'I have written word of my coming to Mrs. Williams. Remember me kindly to Francis and Betsy. I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON[267].'

'Brighthelmstone[268], Oct. 21, 1776'

I again wrote to Dr. Johnson on the 21st of October, informing him, that my father had, in the most liberal manner, paid a large debt for me[269], and that I had now the happiness of being upon very good terms with him; to which he returned the following answer.



'I had great pleasure in hearing that you are at last on good terms with your father[270]. Cultivate his kindness by all honest and manly means. Life is but short; no time can be afforded but for the indulgence of real sorrow, or contests upon questions seriously momentous. Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity. It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled. May you and your father pass the remainder of your time in reciprocal benevolence!

* * * * *

'Do you ever hear from Mr. Langton? I visit him sometimes, but he does not talk. I do not like his scheme of life[271]; but as I am not permitted to understand it, I cannot set any thing right that is wrong. His children are sweet babies.

'I hope my irreconcileable enemy, Mrs. Boswell, is well. Desire her not to transmit her malevolence to the young people. Let me have Alexander, and Veronica, and Euphemia, for my friends.

'Mrs. Williams, whom you may reckon as one of your well-wishers, is in a feeble and languishing state, with little hope of growing better. She went for some part of the autumn into the country, but is little benefited; and Dr. Lawrence confesses that his art is at an end. Death is, however, at a distance; and what more than that can we say of ourselves? I am sorry for her pain, and more sorry for her decay. Mr. Levett is sound, wind and limb.

'I was some weeks this autumn at Brighthelmstone. The place was very dull, and I was not well; the expedition to the Hebrides was the most pleasant journey that I ever made[272]. Such an effort annually would give the world a little diversification.

'Every year, however, we cannot wander, and must therefore endeavour to spend our time at home as well as we can. I believe it is best to throw life into a method, that every hour may bring its employment, and every employment have its hour. Xenophon observes, in his Treatise of Oeconomy[273], that if every thing be kept in a certain place, when any thing is worn out or consumed, the vacuity which it leaves will shew what is wanting; so if every part of time has its duty, the hour will call into remembrance its proper engagement.

'I have not practised all this prudence myself, but I have suffered much for want of it; and I would have you, by timely recollection and steady resolution, escape from those evils which have lain heavy upon me[274]. I am, my dearest Boswell,

'Your most humble servant,


'Bolt-court, Nov. 16, 1776.'

On the 16th of November I informed him that Mr. Strahan had sent me twelve copies of the Journey to the Western Islands, handsomely bound, instead of the twenty copies which were stipulated[275]; but which, I supposed, were to be only in sheets; requested to know how they should be distributed: and mentioned that I had another son born to me, who was named David, and was a sickly infant.



'I have been for some time ill of a cold, which, perhaps, I made an excuse to myself for not writing, when in reality I knew not what to say.

'The books you must at last distribute as you think best, in my name, or your own, as you are inclined, or as you judge most proper. Every body cannot be obliged; but I wish that nobody may be offended. Do the best you can.

'I congratulate you on the increase of your family, and hope that little David is by this time well, and his mamma perfectly recovered. I am much pleased to hear of the re-establishment of kindness between you and your father. Cultivate his paternal tenderness as much as you can. To live at variance at all is uncomfortable; and variance with a father is still more uncomfortable. Besides that, in the whole dispute you have the wrong side; at least you gave the first provocations, and some of them very offensive[276]. Let it now be all over. As you have no reason to think that your new mother has shewn you any foul play, treat her with respect, and with some degree of confidence; this will secure your father. When once a discordant family has felt the pleasure of peace, they will not willingly lose it. If Mrs. Boswell would but be friends with me, we might now shut the temple of Janus.

'What came of Dr. Memis's cause[277]? Is the question about the negro determined[278]? Has Sir Allan any reasonable hopes[279]? What is become of poor Macquarry[280]? Let me know the event of all these litigations. I wish particularly well to the negro and Sir Allan.

'Mrs. Williams has been much out of order; and though she is something better, is likely, in her physician's opinion, to endure her malady for life, though she may, perhaps, die of some other. Mrs. Thrale is big, and fancies that she carries a boy; if it were very reasonable to wish much about it, I should wish her not to be disappointed. The desire of male heirs is not appendant only to feudal tenures. A son is almost necessary to the continuance of Thrale's fortune; for what can misses do with a brewhouse? Lands are fitter for daughters than trades[281].

'Baretti went away from Thrale's in some whimsical fit of disgust, or ill-nature, without taking any leave[282]. It is well if he finds in any other place as good an habitation, and as many conveniencies. He has got five-and-twenty guineas by translating Sir Joshua's Discourses into Italian, and Mr. Thrale gave him an hundred in the spring[283]; so that he is yet in no difficulties.

'Colman has bought Foote's patent, and is to allow Foote for life sixteen hundred pounds a year, as Reynolds told me, and to allow him to play so often on such terms that he may gain four hundred pounds more[284]. What Colman can get by this bargain, but trouble and hazard, I do not see. I am, dear Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'Dec. 21, 1776.'

The Reverend Dr. Hugh Blair, who had long been admired as a preacher at Edinburgh, thought now of diffusing his excellent sermons more extensively, and encreasing his reputation, by publishing a collection of them. He transmitted the manuscript to Mr. Strahan, the printer, who after keeping it for some time, wrote a letter to him, discouraging the publication[285]. Such at first was the unpropitious state of one of the most successful theological books that has ever appeared. Mr. Strahan, however, had sent one of the sermons to Dr. Johnson for his opinion; and after his unfavourable letter to Dr. Blair had been sent off, he received from Johnson on Christmas-eve, a note in which was the following paragraph:

'I have read over Dr. Blair's first sermon with more than approbation; to say it is good, is to say too little[286].'

I believe Mr. Strahan had very soon after this time a conversation with Dr. Johnson concerning them; and then he very candidly wrote again to Dr. Blair, enclosing Johnson's note, and agreeing to purchase the volume, for which he and Mr. Cadell gave one hundred pounds. The sale was so rapid and extensive, and the approbation of the publick so high, that to their honour be it recorded, the proprietors made Dr. Blair a present first of one sum, and afterwards of another, of fifty pounds, thus voluntarily doubling the stipulated price; and when he prepared another volume, they gave him at once three hundred pounds, being in all five hundred pounds, by an agreement to which I am a subscribing witness; and now for a third octavo volume he has received no less than six hundred pounds.

1777: ÆTAT. 68.—In 1777, it appears from his Prayers and Meditations, that Johnson suffered much from a state of mind 'unsettled and perplexed[287],' and from that constitutional gloom, which, together with his extreme humility and anxiety with regard to his religious state, made him contemplate himself through too dark and unfavourable a medium. It may be said of him, that he 'saw GOD in clouds[288].' Certain we may be of his injustice to himself in the following lamentable paragraph, which it is painful to think came from the contrite heart of this great man, to whose labours the world is so much indebted:

'When I survey my past life, I discover nothing but a barren waste of time, with some disorders of body, and disturbances of the mind, very near to madness,[289] which I hope He that made me will suffer to extenuate many faults, and excuse many deficiencies[290].'

But we find his devotions in this year eminently fervent; and we are comforted by observing intervals of quiet, composure, and gladness.

On Easter-day we find the following emphatick prayer:

'Almighty and most merciful Father, who seest all our miseries, and knowest all our necessities, look down upon me, and pity me. Defend me from the violent incursion [incursions] of evil thoughts, and enable me to form and keep such resolutions as may conduce to the discharge of the duties which thy providence shall appoint me; and so help me, by thy Holy Spirit, that my heart may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found, and that I may serve thee with pure affection and a cheerful mind. Have mercy upon me, O GOD, have mercy upon me; years and infirmities oppress me, terrour and anxiety beset me. Have mercy upon me, my Creator and my Judge. [In all dangers protect me.] In all perplexities relieve and free me; and so help me by thy Holy Spirit, that I may now so commemorate the death of thy Son our Saviour JESUS CHRIST, as that when this short and painful life shall have an end, I may, for his sake, be received to everlasting happiness. Amen[291].'

While he was at church, the agreeable impressions upon his mind are thus commemorated:

'I was for some time distressed, but at last obtained, I hope from the GOD of Peace, more quiet than I have enjoyed for a long time. I had made no resolution, but as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased; and I wrote with my pencil in my Common Prayer Book,

"Vita ordinanda.
Biblia legenda.
Theologiae opera danda.
Serviendum et lætandum[292]."'

Mr. Steevens whose generosity is well known, joined Dr. Johnson in kind assistance to a female relation of Dr. Goldsmith, and desired that on her return to Ireland she would procure authentick particulars of the life of her celebrated relation[293]. Concerning her there is the following letter:—



'You will be glad to hear that from Mrs. Goldsmith, whom we lamented as drowned, I have received a letter full of gratitude to us all, with promise to make the enquiries which we recommended to her.

'I would have had the honour of conveying this intelligence to Miss Caulfield, but that her letter is not at hand, and I know not the direction. You will tell the good news.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most, &c.


'February 25, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 14, 1777.

'My Dear Sir,

'My state of epistolary accounts with you at present is extraordinary. The balance, as to number, is on your side. I am indebted to you for two letters; one dated the 16th of November, upon which very day I wrote to you, so that our letters were exactly exchanged, and one dated the 21st of December last.

'My heart was warmed with gratitude by the truely kind contents of both of them; and it is amazing and vexing that I have allowed so much time to elapse without writing to you. But delay is inherent in me, by nature or by bad habit. I waited till I should have an opportunity of paying you my compliments on a new year. I have procrastinated till the year is no longer new.

* * * * *

'Dr. Memis's cause was determined against him, with £40 costs. The Lord President, and two other of the Judges, dissented from the majority, upon this ground;—that although there may have been no intention to injure him by calling him Doctor of Medicine, instead of Physician, yet, as he remonstrated against the designation before the charter was printed off, and represented that it was disagreeable, and even hurtful to him, it was ill-natured to refuse to alter it, and let him have the designation to which he was certainly entitled. My own opinion is, that our court has judged wrong. The defendants were in malâ fide, to persist in naming him in a way that he disliked. You remember poor Goldsmith, when he grew important, and wished to appear Doctor Major [294], could not bear your calling him Goldy[295]. Would it not have been wrong to have named him so in your Preface to Shakspeare, or in any serious permanent writing of any sort? The difficulty is, whether an action should be allowed on such petty wrongs. De minimis non curat lex.

'The Negro cause is not yet decided. A memorial is preparing on the side of slavery. I shall send you a copy as soon as it is printed. Maclaurin is made happy by your approbation of his memorial for the black.

'Macquarry was here in the winter, and we passed an evening together.
The sale of his estate cannot be prevented.

'Sir Allan Maclean's suit against the Duke of Argyle, for recovering the ancient inheritance of his family, is now fairly before all our judges. I spoke for him yesterday, and Maclaurin to-day; Crosbie spoke to-day against him. Three more counsel are to be heard, and next week the cause will be determined. I send you the Informations, or Cases, on each side, which I hope you will read. You said to me when we were under Sir Allan's hospitable roof, "I will help him with my pen." You said it with a generous glow; and though his Grace of Argyle did afterwards mount you upon an excellent horse, upon which "you looked like a Bishop[296]," you must not swerve from your purpose at Inchkenneth. I wish you may understand the points at issue, amidst our Scotch law principles and phrases.

[Here followed a full state of the case, in which I endeavoured to make it as clear as I could to an Englishman, who had no knowledge of the formularies and technical language of the law of Scotland.]

'I shall inform you how the cause is decided here. But as it may be brought under the review of our Judges, and is certainly to be carried by appeal to the House of Lords, the assistance of such a mind as yours will be of consequence. Your paper on Vicious Intromission[297] is a noble proof of what you can do even in Scotch law.

* * * * *

'I have not yet distributed all your books. Lord Hailes and Lord Monboddo have each received one, and return you thanks. Monboddo dined with me lately, and having drank tea, we were a good while by ourselves, and as I knew that he had read the Journey superficially, as he did not talk of it as I wished, I brought it to him, and read aloud several passages; and then he talked so, that I told him he was to have a copy from the authour. He begged that might be marked on it.

* * * * *

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most faithful,

'And affectionate humble servant,



'Prestonfield, Feb. 17, 1777.


'I had yesterday the honour of receiving your book of your Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, which you was so good as to send me, by the hands of our mutual friend[298], Mr. Boswell, of Auchinleck; for which I return you my most hearty thanks; and after carefully reading it over again, shall deposit in my little collection of choice books, next our worthy friend's Journey to Corsica. As there are many things to admire in both performances, I have often wished that no Travels or Journeys should be published but those undertaken by persons of integrity and capacity to judge well, and describe faithfully, and in good language, the situation, condition, and manners of the countries past through. Indeed our country of Scotland, in spite of the union of the crowns, is still in most places so devoid of clothing, or cover from hedges and plantations, that it was well you gave your readers a sound Monitoire with respect to that circumstance. The truths you have told, and the purity of the language in which they are expressed, as your Journey is universally read, may, and already appear to have a very good effect. For a man of my acquaintance, who has the largest nursery for trees and hedges in this country, tells me, that of late the demand upon him for these articles is doubled, and sometimes tripled. I have, therefore, listed Dr. Samuel Johnson in some of my memorandums of the principal planters and favourers of the enclosures, under a name which I took the liberty to invent from the Greek, Papadendrion[299]. Lord Auchinleck and some few more are of the list. I am told that one gentleman in the shire of Aberdeen, viz. Sir Archibald Grant, has planted above fifty millions of trees on a piece of very wild ground at Monimusk: I must enquire if he has fenced them well, before he enters my list; for, that is the soul of enclosing. I began myself to plant a little, our ground being too valuable for much, and that is now fifty years ago; and the trees, now in my seventy-fourth year, I look up to with reverence, and shew them to my eldest son now in his fifteenth year, and they are full the height of my country-house here, where I had the pleasure of receiving you, and hope again to have that satisfaction with our mutual friend, Mr. Boswell. I shall always continue, with the truest esteem, dear Doctor,

'Your much obliged,

'And obedient humble servant,




'It is so long since I heard any thing from you[301], that I am not easy about it; write something to me next post. When you sent your last letter, every thing seemed to be mending; I hope nothing has lately grown worse. I suppose young Alexander continues to thrive, and Veronica is now very pretty company. I do not suppose the lady is yet reconciled to me, yet let her know that I love her very well, and value her very much.

'Dr. Blair is printing some sermons. If they are all like the first, which I have read, they are sermones aurei, ac auro magis aurei. It is excellently written both as to doctrine and language. Mr. Watson's book[302] seems to be much esteemed.

* * * * *

'Poor Beauclerk still continues very ill[303]. Langton lives on as he used to do[304]. His children are very pretty, and, I think, his lady loses her Scotch. Paoli I never see.

'I have been so distressed by difficulty of breathing, that I lost, as was computed, six-and-thirty ounces of blood in a few days[305]. I am better, but not well.

'I wish you would be vigilant and get me Graham's Telemachus[306] that was printed at Glasgow, a very little book; and Johnstoni Poemata[307], another little book, printed at Middleburgh.

'Mrs. Williams sends her compliments, and promises that when you come hither, she will accommodate you as well as ever she can in the old room[308]. She wishes to know whether you sent her book[309] to Sir Alexander Gordon[310].

'My dear Boswell, do not neglect to write to me; for your kindness is one of the pleasures of my life, which I should be sorry to lose.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'February 18, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 24, 1777.


'Your letter dated the 18th instant, I had the pleasure to receive last post. Although my late long neglect, or rather delay, was truely culpable, I am tempted not to regret it, since it has produced me so valuable a proof of your regard. I did, indeed, during that inexcusable silence, sometimes divert the reproaches of my own mind, by fancying that I should hear again from you, inquiring with some anxiety about me, because, for aught you knew, I might have been ill.

'You are pleased to shew me, that my kindness is of some consequence to you. My heart is elated at the thought. Be assured, my dear Sir, that my affection and reverence for you are exalted and steady. I do not believe that a more perfect attachment ever existed in the history of mankind. And it is a noble attachment; for the attractions are Genius, Learning, and Piety.

'Your difficulty of breathing alarms me, and brings into my imagination an event, which although in the natural course of things, I must expect at some period, I cannot view with composure.

* * * * *

'My wife is much honoured by what you say of her. She begs you may accept of her best compliments. She is to send you some marmalade of oranges of her own making.

* * * * *

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most obliged

'And faithful humble servant,




'I have been much pleased with your late letter, and am glad that my old enemy Mrs. Boswell, begins to feel some remorse. As to Miss Veronica's Scotch, I think it cannot be helped. An English maid you might easily have; but she would still imitate the greater number, as they would be likewise those whom she must most respect. Her dialect will not be gross. Her Mamma has not much Scotch, and you have yourself very little. I hope she knows my name, and does not call me Johnston[311].

'The immediate cause of my writing is this:—One Shaw[312], who seems a modest and a decent man, has written an Erse Grammar, which a very learned Highlander, Macbean[313], has, at my request, examined and approved.

'The book is very little, but Mr. Shaw has been persuaded by his friends to set it at half a guinea, though I advised only a crown, and thought myself liberal. You, whom the authour considers as a great encourager of ingenious men, will receive a parcel of his proposals and receipts. I have undertaken to give you notice of them, and to solicit your countenance. You must ask no poor man, because the price is really too high. Yet such a work deserves patronage.

'It is proposed to augment our club from twenty to thirty, of which I am glad; for as we have several in it whom I do not much like to consort with[314], I am for reducing it to a mere miscellaneous collection of conspicuous men, without any determinate character.

* * * * *

'I am, dear Sir,

'Most affectionately your's,


'March 11, 1777.'

'My respects to Madam, to Veronica, to Alexander, to Euphemia, to


'Edinburgh, April 4, 1777.

[After informing him of the death of my little son David, and that I could not come to London this spring:—]

'I think it hard that I should be a whole year without seeing you. May I presume to petition for a meeting with you in the autumn? You have, I believe, seen all the cathedrals in England, except that of Carlisle. If you are to be with Dr. Taylor, at Ashbourne, it would not be a great journey to come thither. We may pass a few most agreeable days there by ourselves, and I will accompany you a good part of the way to the southward again. Pray think of this.

'You forget that Mr. Shaw's Erse Grammar was put into your hands by myself last year. Lord Eglintoune put it into mine. I am glad that Mr. Macbean approves of it. I have received Mr. Shaw's Proposals for its publication, which I can perceive are written by the hand of a MASTER.

* * * * *

'Pray get for me all the editions of Walton's Lives: I have a notion that the republication of them with Notes will fall upon me, between Dr. Home and Lord Hailes[315].'

Mr. Shaw's Proposals[dagger] for An Analysis of the Scotch Celtick
, were thus illuminated by the pen of Johnson:

'Though the Erse dialect of the Celtick language has, from the earliest times, been spoken in Britain, and still subsists in the northern parts and adjacent islands, yet, by the negligence of a people rather warlike than lettered, it has hitherto been left to the caprice and judgement of every speaker, and has floated in the living voice, without the steadiness of analogy, or direction of rules. An Erse Grammar is an addition to the stores of literature; and its authour hopes for the indulgence always shewn to those that attempt to do what was never done before. If his work shall be found defective, it is at least all his own: he is not like other grammarians, a compiler or transcriber; what he delivers, he has learned by attentive observation among his countrymen, who perhaps will be themselves surprized to see that speech reduced to principles, which they have used only by imitation.

'The use of this book will, however, not be confined to the mountains and islands; it will afford a pleasing and important subject of speculation, to those whose studies lead them to trace the affinity of languages, and the migrations of the ancient races, of mankind.'


'Glasgow, April 24, 1777.

'Our worthy friend Thrale's death having appeared in the newspapers, and been afterwards contradicted, I have been placed in a state of very uneasy uncertainty, from which I hoped to be relieved by you: but my hopes have as yet been vain. How could you omit to write to me on such an occasion? I shall wait with anxiety.

'I am going to Auchinleck to stay a fortnight with my father. It is better not to be there very long at one time. But frequent renewals of attention are agreeable to him.

'Pray tell me about this edition of "The English Poets, with a Preface, biographical and critical, to each Authour, by Samuel Johnson, LL.D." which I see advertised. I am delighted with the prospect of it. Indeed I am happy to feel that I am capable of being so much delighted with literature.[316] But is not the charm of this publication chiefly owing to the magnum nomen in the front of it?

'What do you say of Lord Chesterfield's Memoirs and last Letters?[317]

'My wife has made marmalade of oranges for you. I left her and my daughters and Alexander all well yesterday. I have taught Veronica to speak of you thus;—Dr. John_son_, not Jon_ston_.

'I remain, my dear Sir,
'Your most affectionate,
'And obliged humble servant,


'The story of Mr. Thrale's death, as he had neither been sick nor in any other danger, made so little impression upon me, that I never thought about obviating its effects on any body else. It is supposed to have been produced by the English custom of making April fools, that is, of sending one another on some foolish errand on the first of April.

'Tell Mrs. Boswell that I shall taste her marmalade cautiously at first. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.[318] Beware, says the Italian proverb, of a reconciled enemy. But when I find it does me no harm, I shall then receive it and be thankful for it, as a pledge of firm, and, I hope, of unalterable kindness. She is, after all, a dear, dear lady.

'Please to return Dr. Blair thanks for his sermons. The Scotch write
English wonderfully well.

'Your frequent visits to Auchinleck, and your short stay there, are very laudable and very judicious. Your present concord with your father gives me great pleasure; it was all that you seemed to want.

'My health is very bad, and my nights are very unquiet.[319] What can I do to mend them? I have for this summer nothing better in prospect than a journey into Staffordshire and Derbyshire, perhaps with Oxford and Birmingham in my way.

'Make my compliments to Miss Veronica; I must leave it to her philosophy to comfort you for the loss of little David. You must remember, that to keep three out of four is more than your share. Mrs. Thrale has but four out of eleven.[320]

'I am engaged to write little Lives, and little Prefaces, to a little edition of The English Poets. I think I have persuaded the book-sellers to insert something of Thomson; and if you could give me some information about him, for the life which we have is very scanty, I should be glad. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,
'May 3, 1777.'

To those who delight in tracing the progress of works of literature, it will be an entertainment to compare the limited design with the ample execution of that admirable performance, The Lives of the English Poets, which is the richest, most beautiful and indeed most perfect production of Johnson's pen. His notion of it at this time appears in the preceding letter. He has a memorandum in this year, '29 May[321], Easter Eve, I treated with booksellers on a bargain, but the time was not long[322].' The bargain was concerning that undertaking; but his tender conscience seems alarmed lest it should have intruded too much on his devout preparation for the solemnity of the ensuing day. But, indeed, very little time was necessary for Johnson's concluding a treaty with the booksellers; as he had, I believe, less attention to profit from his labours than any man to whom literature has been a profession.[323] I shall here insert from a letter to me from my late worthy friend Mr. Edward Dilly, though of a later date, an account of this plan so happily conceived; since it was the occasion of procuring for us an elegant collection of the best biography and criticism of which our language can boast.

'Southill, Sept. 26, 1777.


'You will find by this letter, that I am still in the same calm retreat, from the noise and bustle of London, as when I wrote to you last. I am happy to find you had such an agreeable meeting with your old friend Dr. Johnson; I have no doubt your stock is much increased by the interview; few men, nay I may say, scarcely any man, has got that fund of knowledge and entertainment as Dr. Johnson in conversation. When he opens freely, every one is attentive to what he says, and cannot fail of improvement as well as pleasure.

'The edition of The Poets, now printing, will do honour to the English press; and a concise account of the life of each authour, by Dr. Johnson, will be a very valuable addition, and stamp the reputation of this edition superiour to any thing that is gone before. The first cause that gave rise to this undertaking, I believe, was owing to the little trifling edition of The Poets, printing by the Martins, at Edinburgh, and to be sold by Bell, in London. Upon examining the volumes which were printed, the type was found so extremely small, that many persons could not read them; not only this inconvenience attended it, but the inaccuracy of the press was very conspicuous. These reasons, as well as the idea of an invasion of what we call our Literary Property[324], induced the London Booksellers to print an elegant and accurate edition of all the English Poets of reputation, from Chaucer to the present time.

'Accordingly a select number of the most respectable booksellers met on the occasion; and, on consulting together, agreed, that all the proprietors of copy-right in the various Poets should be summoned together; and when their opinions were given, to proceed immediately on the business. Accordingly a meeting was held, consisting of about forty of the most respectable booksellers of London, when it was agreed that an elegant and uniform edition of The English Poets should be immediately printed, with a concise account of the life of each authour, by Dr. Samuel Johnson; and that three persons should be deputed to wait upon Dr. Johnson, to solicit him to undertake the Lives, viz., T. Davies, Strahan, and Cadell. The Doctor very politely undertook it, and seemed exceedingly pleased with the proposal. As to the terms, it was left entirely to the Doctor to name his own: he mentioned two hundred guineas[325]: it was immediately agreed to; and a farther compliment, I believe, will be made him.[326] A committee was likewise appointed to engage the best engravers, viz., Bartolozzi, Sherwin, Hall, etc. Likewise another committee for giving directions about the paper, printing, etc., so that the whole will be conducted with spirit, and in the best manner, with respect to authourship, editorship, engravings, etc., etc. My brother will give you a list of the Poets we mean to give, many of which are within the time of the Act of Queen Anne[327], which Martin and Bell cannot give, as they have no property in them; the proprietors are almost all the booksellers in London, of consequence. I am, dear Sir,

'Ever your's,

I shall afterwards have occasion to consider the extensive and varied range which Johnson took, when he was once led upon ground which he trod with a peculiar delight, having long been intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of it that could interest and please.



'Having had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Campbell about your character and your literary undertaking, I am resolved to gratify myself by renewing a correspondence which began and ended a great while ago, and ended, I am afraid, by my fault; a fault which, if you have not forgotten it, you must now forgive.

'If I have ever disappointed you, give me leave to tell you, that you have likewise disappointed me. I expected great discoveries in Irish antiquity, and large publications in the Irish language; but the world still remains at it was, doubtful and ignorant. What the Irish language is in itself, and to what languages it has affinity, are very interesting questions, which every man wishes to see resolved that has any philological or historical curiosity. Dr. Leland begins his history too late: the ages which deserve an exact enquiry are those times (for[329] such there were) when Ireland was the school of the west, the quiet habitation of sanctity and literature. If you could give a history, though imperfect, of the Irish nation, from its conversion to Christianity to the invasion from England, you would amplify knowledge with new views and new objects. Set about it therefore, if you can: do what you can easily do without anxious exactness. Lay the foundation, and leave the superstructure to posterity. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,
'May 19, 1777.'

Early in this year came out, in two volumes quarto, the posthumous works of the learned Dr. Zachary Pearce, Bishop of Rochester; being A Commentary, with Notes, on the four Evangelists and the Acts of the Apostles, with other theological pieces. Johnson had now an opportunity of making a grateful return to that excellent prelate, who, we have seen[330], was the only person who gave him any assistance in the compilation of his Dictionary. The Bishop had left some account of his life and character, written by himself. To this Johnson made some valuable additions[331][dagger], and also furnished to the editor, the Reverend Mr. Derby, a Dedication[dagger], which I shall here insert, both because it will appear at this time with peculiar propriety; and because it will tend to propagate and increase that 'fervour of Loyalty[332],' which in me, who boast of the name of TORY, is not only a principle, but a passion.



'I presume to lay before your Majesty the last labours of a learned Bishop, who died in the toils and duties of his calling[333]. He is now beyond the reach of all earthly honours and rewards; and only the hope of inciting others to imitate him, makes it now fit to be remembered, that he enjoyed in his life the favour of your Majesty.

'The tumultuary life of Princes seldom permits them to survey the wide extent of national interest, without losing sight of private merit; to exhibit qualities which may be imitated by the highest and the humblest of mankind; and to be at once amiable and great.

'Such characters, if now and then they appear in history, are contemplated with admiration. May it be the ambition of all your subjects to make haste with their tribute of reverence: and as posterity may learn from your Majesty how Kings should live, may they learn, likewise, from your people, how they should be honoured. I am,

'May it please your Majesty,
With the most profound respect,
Your Majesty's
Most dutiful and devoted
Subject and Servant.'

In the summer he wrote a Prologue[*] which was spoken before A Word to the Wise, a comedy by Mr. Hugh Kelly[334], which had been brought upon the stage in 1770; but he being a writer for ministry, in one of the news-papers, it fell a sacrifice to popular fury, and in the playhouse phrase, was damned. By the generosity of Mr. Harris, the proprietor of Covent Garden theatre, it was now exhibited for one night, for the benefit of the authour's widow and children. To conciliate the favour of the audience was the intention of Johnson's Prologue, which, as it is not long, I shall here insert, as a proof that his poetical talents were in no degree impaired.

'This night presents a play, which publick rage,
Or right or wrong, once hooted from the stage:
From zeal or malice, now no more we dread,
For English vengeance wars not with the dead.
A generous foe regards with pitying eye
The man whom Fate has laid where all must lie.
To wit, reviving from its authour's dust,
Be kind, ye judges, or at least be just:
Let no renewed hostilities invade
Th' oblivious grave's inviolable shade.
Let one great payment every claim appease,
And him who cannot hurt, allow to please;
To please by scenes, unconscious of offence,
By harmless merriment, or useful sense.
Where aught of bright or fair the piece displays,
Approve it only;—'tis too late to praise.
If want of skill or want of care appear,
Forbear to hiss;—the poet cannot hear.
By all, like him, must praise and blame be found,
At last, a fleeting gleam, or empty sound;
Yet then shall calm reflection bless the night,
When liberal pity dignified delight;
When pleasure fir'd her torch at virtue's flame,
And mirth was bounty with an humbler name.'[335]

A circumstance which could not fail to be very pleasing to Johnson occurred this year. The Tragedy of Sir Thomas Overbury, written by his early companion in London, Richard Savage[336] was brought out with alterations at Drury-lane theatre[337]. The Prologue to it was written by Mr. Richard Brinsley Sheridan; in which, after describing very pathetically the wretchedness of

'Ill-fated Savage, at whose birth was giv'n
No parent but the Muse, no friend but Heav'n:'

he introduced an elegant compliment to Johnson on his Dictionary, that wonderful performance which cannot be too often or too highly praised; of which Mr. Harris, in his Philological Inquiries[338], justly and liberally observes: 'Such is its merit, that our language does not possess a more copious, learned, and valuable work.' The concluding, lines of this Prologue were these:—

'So pleads the tale that gives to future times
The son's misfortunes and the parent's crimes;
There shall his fame (if own'd to-night) survive,

Mr. Sheridan here at once did honour to his taste and to his liberality of sentiment, by shewing that he was not prejudiced from the unlucky difference which had taken place between his worthy father and Dr. Johnson. I have already mentioned, that Johnson was very desirous of reconciliation with old Mr. Sheridan.[340] It will, therefore, not seem at all surprizing that he was zealous in acknowledging the brilliant merit of his son. While it had as yet been displayed only in the drama, Johnson proposed him as a member of THE LITERARY CLUB, observing, that 'He who has written the two best comedies of his age, is surely a considerable man[341].' And he had, accordingly, the honour to be elected; for an honour it undoubtedly must be allowed to be, when it is considered of whom that society consists, and that a single black ball excludes a candidate.


'July 9, 1777.[342]


'For the health of my wife and children I have taken the little country-house at which you visited my uncle, Dr. Boswell[343], who, having lost his wife, is gone to live with his son. We took possession of our villa about a week ago; we have a garden of three quarters of an acre, well stocked with fruit-trees and flowers, and gooseberries and currants, and peas and beans, and cabbages, &c. &c., and my children are quite happy. I now write to you in a little study, from the window of which I see around me a verdant grove, and beyond it the lofty mountain called Arthur's Seat.

'Your last letter, in which you desire me to send you some additional information concerning Thomson, reached me very fortunately just as I was going to Lanark, to put my wife's two nephews, the young Campbells, to school there, under the care of Mr. Thomson, the master of it, whose wife is sister to the authour of The Seasons. She is an old woman; but her memory is very good; and she will with pleasure give me for you every particular that you wish to know, and she can tell. Pray then take the trouble to send me such questions as may lead to biographical materials. You say that the Life which we have of Thomson is scanty. Since I received your letter I have read his Life, published under the name of Cibber, but as you told me, really written by a Mr. Shiels[344]; that written by Dr. Murdoch; one prefixed to an edition of the Seasons, published at Edinburgh, which is compounded of both, with the addition of an anecdote of Quin's relieving Thomson from prison[345]; the abridgement of Murdoch's account of him, in the Biographia Britannica, and another abridgement of it in the Biographical Dictionary, enriched with Dr. Joseph Warton's critical panegyrick on the Seasons in his Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope: from all these it appears to me that we have a pretty full account of this poet. However, you will, I doubt not, shew me many blanks, and I shall do what can be done to have them filled up. As Thomson never returned to Scotland, (which you will think very wise,) his sister can speak from her own knowledge only as to the early part of his life. She has some letters from him, which may probably give light as to his more advanced progress, if she will let us see them, which I suppose she will[346]. I believe George Lewis Scott[347] and Dr. Armstrong[348] are now his only surviving companions, while he lived in and about London; and they, I dare say, can tell more of him than is yet known. My own notion is, that Thomson was a much coarser man than his friends are willing to acknowledge[349]. His Seasons are indeed full of elegant and pious sentiments: but a rank soil, nay a dunghill, will produce beautiful flowers[350].

'Your edition of The English Poets[351] will be very valuable, on account of the Prefaces and Lives. But I have seen a specimen of an edition of The Poets at the Apollo press, at Edinburgh, which, for excellence in printing and engraving, highly deserves a liberal encouragement.

'Most sincerely do I regret the bad health and bad rest with which you have been afflicted; and I hope you are better. I cannot believe that the Prologue which you generously gave to Mr. Kelly's widow and children the other day, is the effusion of one in sickness and in disquietude: but external circumstances are never sure indications of the state of man. I send you a letter which I wrote to you two years ago at Wilton[352]; and did not send it at the time, for fear of being reproved as indulging too much tenderness; and one written to you at the tomb of Melancthon[353], which I kept back, lest I should appear at once too superstitious and too enthusiastick. I now imagine that perhaps they may please you.

'You do not take the least notice of my proposal for our meeting at Carlisle[354]. Though I have meritoriously refrained from visiting London this year, I ask you if it would not be wrong that I should be two years without having the benefit of your conversation, when, if you come down as far as Derbyshire, we may meet at the expence of a few days' journeying, and not many pounds. I wish you to see Carlisle, which made me mention that place. But if you have not a desire to complete your tour of the English cathedrals, I will take a larger share of the road between this place and Ashbourne. So tell me where you will fix for our passing a few days by ourselves. Now don't cry "foolish fellow," or "idle dog." Chain your humour, and let your kindness play.

'You will rejoice to hear that Miss Macleod, of Rasay[355], is married to Colonel Mure Campbell, an excellent man, with a pretty good estate of his own, and the prospect of having the Earl of Loudoun's fortune and honours. Is not this a noble lot for our fair Hebridean? How happy am I that she is to be in Ayrshire. We shall have the Laird of Rasay, and old Malcolm, and I know not how many gallant Macleods, and bagpipes, &c. &c. at Auchinleck. Perhaps you may meet them all there.

'Without doubt you have read what is called The Life of David Hume[356], written by himself, with the letter from Dr. Adam Smith subjoined to it. Is not this an age of daring effrontery? My friend Mr. Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow, at whose house you and I supped[357], and to whose care Mr. Windham[358], of Norfolk, was entrusted at that University, paid me a visit lately; and after we had talked with indignation and contempt of the poisonous productions with which this age is infested, he said there was now an excellent opportunity for Dr. Johnson to step forth. I agreed with him that you might knock Hume's and Smith's heads together, and make vain and ostentatious infidelity exceedingly ridiculous. Would it not be worth your while to crush such noxious weeds in the moral garden?

'You have said nothing to me of Dr. Dodd[359]. I know not how you think on that subject; though the newspapers give us a saying of your's in favour of mercy to him. But I own I am very desirous that the royal prerogative of remission of punishment should be employed to exhibit an illustrious instance of the regard which GOD's VICEGERENT will ever shew to piety and virtue. If for ten righteous men the ALMIGHTY would have spared Sodom, shall not a thousand acts of goodness done by Dr. Dodd counterbalance one crime? Such an instance would do more to encourage goodness, than his execution would do to deter from vice. I am not afraid of any bad consequence to society; for who will persevere for a long course of years in a distinguished discharge of religious duties, with a view to commit a forgery with impunity?

'Pray make my best compliments acceptable to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, by assuring them of my hearty joy that the Master[360], as you call him, is alive. I hope I shall often taste his Champagne—soberly.

'I have not heard from Langton for a long time. I suppose he is as usual,

"Studious the busy moments to deceive[361]."

* * * * *

'I remain, my dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, and faithful humble servant,


On the 23rd of June, I again wrote to Dr. Johnson, enclosing a ship-master's receipt for a jar of orange-marmalade, and a large packet of Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland.



'I have just received your packet from Mr. Thrale's, but have not day-light enough to look much into it. I am glad that I have credit enough with Lord Hailes to be trusted with more copy[362]. I hope to take more care of it than of the last. I return Mrs. Boswell my affectionate thanks for her present, which I value as a token of reconciliation.

'Poor Dodd was put to death yesterday, in opposition to the recommendation of the jury[363]—the petition of the city of London[364]—and a subsequent petition signed by three-and-twenty thousand hands. Surely the voice of the publick, when it calls so loudly, and calls only for mercy, ought to be heard[365].

'The saying that was given me in the papers I never spoke; but I wrote many of his petitions, and some of his letters. He applied to me very often. He was, I am afraid, long flattered with hopes of life; but I had no part in the dreadful delusion; for, as soon as the King had signed his sentence[366], I obtained from Mr. Chamier[367] an account of the disposition of the court towards him, with a declaration that there was no hope even of a respite. This letter immediately was laid before Dodd; but he believed those whom he wished to be right, as it is thought, till within three days of his end. He died with pious composure and resolution. I have just seen the Ordinary that attended him. His address to his fellow-convicts offended the Methodists[368]; but he had a Moravian with him much of his time[369]. His moral character is very bad: I hope all is not true that is charged upon him. Of his behaviour in prison an account will be published.

'I give you joy of your country-house, and your pretty garden; and hope some time to see you in your felicity. I was much pleased with your two letters that had been kept so long in store[370]; and rejoice at Miss Rasay's advancement, and wish Sir Allan success.

'I hope to meet you somewhere towards the north, but am loath to come quite to Carlisle. Can we not meet at Manchester? But we will settle it in some other letters.

'Mr. Seward[371], a great favourite at Streatham, has been, I think, enkindled by our travels with a curiosity to see the Highlands. I have given him letters to you and Beattie. He desires that a lodging may be taken for him at Edinburgh, against his arrival. He is just setting out.

'Langton has been exercising the militia[372]. Mrs. Williams is, I fear, declining. Dr. Lawrence says he can do no more. She is gone to summer in the country, with as many conveniences about her as she can expect; but I have no great hope. We must all die: may we all be prepared!

'I suppose Miss Boswell reads her book, and young Alexander takes to his learning. Let me hear about them; for every thing that belongs to you, belongs in a more remote degree, and not, I hope, very remote, to, dear Sir,

'Yours affectionately,


'June, 28, 1777.'



'This gentleman is a great favourite at Streatham, and therefore you will easily believe that he has very valuable qualities. Our narrative has kindled him with a desire of visiting the Highlands, after having already seen a great part of Europe. You must receive him as a friend, and when you have directed him to the curiosities of Edinburgh, give him instructions and recommendations for the rest of his journey. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'June 24, 1777.'

Johnson's benevolence to the unfortunate was, I am confident, as steady and active as that of any of those who have been most eminently distinguished for that virtue. Innumerable proofs of it I have no doubt will be for ever concealed from mortal eyes. We may, however, form some judgement of it, from the many and very various instances which have been discovered. One, which happened in the course of this summer, is remarkable from the name and connection of the person who was the object of it. The circumstance to which I allude is ascertained by two letters, one to Mr. Langton, and another to the Reverend Dr. Vyse, rector of Lambeth, son of the respectable clergyman at Lichfield, who was contemporary with Johnson, and in whose father's family Johnson had the happiness of being kindly received in his early years.



'I have lately been much disordered by a difficulty of breathing, but am now better. I hope your house is well.

'You know we have been talking lately of St. Cross, at Winchester; I have an old acquaintance whose distress makes him very desirous of an hospital, and I am afraid I have not strength enough to get him into the Chartreux. He is a painter, who never rose higher than to get his immediate living, and from that, at eighty-three, he is disabled by a slight stroke of the palsy, such as does not make him at all helpless on common occasions, though his hand is not steady enough for his art.

'My request is, that you will try to obtain a promise of the next vacancy, from the Bishop of Chester. It is not a great thing to ask, and I hope we shall obtain it. Dr. Warton has promised to favour him with his notice, and I hope he may end his days in peace. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'June 29, 1777.'



'I doubt not but you will readily forgive me for taking the liberty of requesting your assistance in recommending an old friend to his Grace the Archbishop, as Governour of the Charter-house.

'His name is De Groot; he was born at Gloucester; I have known him many years. He has all the common claims to charity, being old, poor, and infirm, in a great degree. He has likewise another claim, to which no scholar can refuse attention; he is by several descents the nephew of Hugo Grotius; of him, from whom perhaps every man of learning has learnt something. Let it not be said that in any lettered country a nephew of Grotius asked a charity and was refused.[373]

'I am, reverend Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'July 9, 1777.'


'Lambeth, June 9, 1787.


'I have searched in vain for the letter which I spoke of, and which I wished, at your desire, to communicate to you. It was from Dr. Johnson, to return me thanks for my application to Archbishop Cornwallis in favour of poor De Groot. He rejoices at the success it met with, and is lavish in the praise he bestows upon his favourite, Hugo Grotius. I am really sorry that I cannot find this letter, as it is worthy of the writer. That which I send you enclosed[374] is at your service. It is very short, and will not perhaps be thought of any consequence, unless you should judge proper to consider it as a proof of the very humane part which Dr. Johnson took in behalf of a distressed and deserving person. I am, Sir,

'Your most obedient humble servant,

'W. VYSE.'



'To the collection of English Poets, I have recommended the volume of Dr. Watts to be added; his name has long been held by me in veneration[376], and I would not willingly be reduced to tell of him only that he was born and died. Yet of his life I know very little, and therefore must pass him in a manner very unworthy of his character, unless some of his friends will favour me with the necessary information; many of them must be known to you; and by your influence, perhaps I may obtain some instruction. My plan does not exact much; but I wish to distinguish Watts, a man who never wrote but for a good purpose. Be pleased to do for me what you can.

'I am, Sir, your humble servant,


'Bolt-Court, Fleet-street,
July 7, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, July 15, 1777.


'The fate of poor Dr. Dodd made a dismal impression upon my mind.

* * * * *

'I had sagacity enough to divine that you wrote his speech to the Recorder, before sentence was pronounced. I am glad you have written so much for him; and I hope to be favoured with an exact list of the several pieces when we meet.

'I received Mr. Seward as the friend of Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, and as a gentleman recommended by Dr. Johnson to my attention. I have introduced him to Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo, and Mr. Nairne. He is gone to the Highlands with Dr. Gregory; when he returns I shall do more for him.

'Sir Allan Maclean has[377] carried that branch of his cause, of which we had good hopes: the President and one other Judge only were against him. I wish the House of Lords may do as well as the Court of Session has done. But Sir Allan has not the lands of Brolos quite cleared by this judgement, till a long account is made up of debts and interests on the one side, and rents on the other. I am, however, not much afraid of the balance.

'Macquarry's estates[378], Staffa and all, were sold yesterday, and bought by a Campbell. I fear he will have little or nothing left out of the purchase money.

'I send you the case against the negro[379], by Mr. Cullen, son to Dr. Cullen, in opposition to Maclaurin's for liberty, of which you have approved. Pray read this, and tell me what you think as a Politician, as well as a Poet, upon the subject.

'Be so kind as to let me know how your time is to be distributed next autumn. I will meet you at Manchester, or where you please; but I wish you would complete your tour of the cathedrals, and come to Carlisle, and I will accompany you a part of the way homewards.

'I am ever,

'Most faithfully yours,




'Your notion of the necessity of an yearly interview is very pleasing to both my vanity and tenderness. I shall, perhaps, come to Carlisle another year; but my money has not held out so well as it used to do. I shall go to Ashbourne, and I purpose to make Dr. Taylor invite you. If you live awhile with me at his house, we shall have much time to ourselves, and our stay will be no expence to us or him. I shall leave London the 28th; and after some stay at Oxford and Lichfield, shall probably come to Ashbourne about the end of your Session, but of all this you shall have notice. Be satisfied we will meet somewhere.

'What passed between me and poor Dr. Dodd you shall know more fully when we meet.

'Of lawsuits there is no end; poor Sir Allan must have another trial, for which, however, his antagonist cannot be much blamed, having two Judges on his side. I am more afraid of the debts than of the House of Lords. It is scarcely to be imagined to what debts will swell, that are daily increasing by small additions, and how carelessly in a state of desperation debts are contracted. Poor Macquarry was far from thinking that when he sold his islands he should receive nothing. For what were they sold? And what was their yearly value? The admission of money into the Highlands will soon put an end to the feudal modes of life, by making those men landlords who were not chiefs. I do not know that the people will suffer by the change; but there was in the patriarchal authority something venerable and pleasing. Every eye must look with pain on a Campbell turning the Macquarries at will out of their sedes avitæ, their hereditary island.

'Sir Alexander Dick is the only Scotsman liberal enough not to be angry that I could not find trees, where trees were not. I was much delighted by his kind letter.

'I remember Rasay with too much pleasure not to partake of the happiness of any part of that amiable family. Our ramble in the islands hangs upon my imagination, I can hardly help imagining that we shall go again. Pennant seems to have seen a great deal which we did not see: when we travel again let us look better about us.

'You have done right in taking your uncle's house. Some change in the form of life, gives from time to time a new epocha[380] of existence. In a new place there is something new to be done, and a different system of thoughts rises in the mind. I wish I could gather currants in your garden. Now fit up a little study, and have your books ready at hand; do not spare a little money, to make your habitation pleasing to yourself.

'I have dined lately with poor dear ——[381]. I do not think he goes on well. His table is rather coarse, and he has his children too much about him[382]. But he is a very good man.

'Mrs. Williams is in the country to try if she can improve her health; she is very ill. Matters have come so about that she is in the country with very good accommodation; but age and sickness, and pride, have made her so peevish that I was forced to bribe the maid to stay with her, by a secret stipulation of half a crown a week over her wages.

'Our CLUB ended its session about six weeks ago[383]. We now only meet to dine once a fortnight. Mr. Dunning[384], the great lawyer, is one of our members. The Thrales are well.

'I long to know how the Negro's cause will be decided. What is the opinion of Lord Auchinleck, or Lord Hailes, or Lord Monboddo?

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, &c.


'July 22, 1777.'



'Though I am well enough pleased with the taste of sweetmeats, very little of the pleasure which I received at the arrival of your jar of marmalade arose from eating it[385]. I received it as a token of friendship, as a proof of reconciliation, things much sweeter than sweetmeats, and upon this consideration I return you, dear Madam, my sincerest thanks. By having your kindness I think I have a double security for the continuance of Mr. Boswell's, which it is not to be expected that any man can long keep, when the influence of a lady so highly and so justly valued operates against him. Mr. Boswell will tell you that I was always faithful to your interest, and always endeavoured to exalt you in his estimation. You must now do the same for me. We must all help one another, and you must now consider me, as, dear Madam,

'Your most obliged,

'And most humble servant,


'July 22, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, July 28, 1777.

'My Dear Sir,

'This is the day on which you were to leave London and I have been amusing myself in the intervals of my law-drudgery, with figuring you in the Oxford post-coach. I doubt, however, if you have had so merry a journey as you and I had in that vehicle last year, when you made so much sport with Gwyn[386], the architect. Incidents upon a journey are recollected with peculiar pleasure; they are preserved in brisk spirits, and come up again in our minds, tinctured with that gaiety, or at least that animation with which we first perceived them.'

* * * * *

[I added, that something had occurred, which I was afraid might prevent me from meeting him[387]; and that my wife had been affected with complaints which threatened a consumption, but was now better.]



'Do not disturb yourself about our interviews; I hope we shall have many; nor think it any thing hard or unusual, that your design of meeting me is interrupted. We have both endured greater evils, and have greater evils to expect.

'Mrs. Boswell's illness makes a more serious distress. Does the blood rise from her lungs or from her stomach? From little vessels broken in the stomach there is no danger. Blood from the lungs is, I believe, always frothy, as mixed with wind. Your physicians know very well what is to be done. The loss of such a lady would, indeed, be very afflictive, and I hope she is in no danger. Take care to keep her mind as easy as is possible.

'I have left Langton in London. He has been down with the militia, and is again quiet at home, talking to his little people, as, I suppose, you do sometimes. Make my compliments to Miss Veronica[388]. The rest are too young for ceremony.

'I cannot but hope that you have taken your country-house at a very seasonable time, and that it may conduce to restore, or establish Mrs. Boswell's health, as well as provide room and exercise for the young ones. That you and your lady may both be happy, and long enjoy your happiness, is the sincere and earnest wish of, dear Sir,

'Your most, &c.


'Oxford, Aug. 4, 1777.'


[Informing him that my wife had continued to grow better, so that my alarming apprehensions were relieved: and that I hoped to disengage myself from the other embarrassment which had occurred, and therefore requesting to know particularly when he intended to be at Ashbourne.]



'I am this day come to Ashbourne, and have only to tell you, that Dr. Taylor says you shall be welcome to him, and you know how welcome you will be to me. Make haste to let me know when you may be expected.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and tell her, I hope we shall be at variance no more. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'August 30, 1777.'



'On Saturday I wrote a very short letter, immediately upon my arrival hither, to shew you that I am not less desirous of the interview than yourself. Life admits not of delays; when pleasure can be had, it is fit to catch it. Every hour takes away part of the things that please us, and perhaps part of our disposition to be pleased. When I came to Lichfield, I found my old friend Harry Jackson dead[389]. It was a loss, and a loss not to be repaired, as he was one of the companions of my childhood. I hope we may long continue to gain friends, but the friends which merit or usefulness can procure us, are not able to supply the place of old acquaintance, with whom the days of youth may be retraced, and those images revived which gave the earliest delight. If you and I live to be much older, we shall take great delight in talking over the Hebridean Journey.

'In the mean time it may not be amiss to contrive some other little adventure, but what it can be I know not; leave it, as Sidney says,

"To virtue, fortune, wine, and woman's breast[390];"

for I believe Mrs. Boswell must have some part in the consultation.

'One thing you will like. The Doctor, so far as I can judge, is likely to leave us enough to ourselves. He was out to-day before I came down, and, I fancy, will stay out till dinner. I have brought the papers about poor Dodd, to show you, but you will soon have dispatched them.

'Before I came away I sent poor Mrs. Williams into the country, very ill of a pituitous defluxion, which wastes her gradually away, and which her physician declares himself unable to stop. I supplied her as far as could be desired, with all conveniences to make her excursion and abode pleasant and useful. But I am afraid she can only linger a short time in a morbid state of weakness and pain.

'The Thrales, little and great, are all well, and purpose to go to Brighthelmstone at Michaelmas. They will invite me to go with them, and perhaps I may go, but I hardly think I shall like to stay the whole time; but of futurity we know but little.

'Mrs. Porter is well; but Mrs. Aston, one of the ladies at Stowhill, has been struck with a palsy, from which she is not likely ever to recover. How soon may such a stroke fall upon us!

'Write to me, and let us know when we may expect you.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Ashbourne, Sept. 1, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Sept. 9, 1777.

[After informing him that I was to set out next day, in order to meet him at Ashbourne.]

'I have a present for you from Lord Hailes; the fifth book of Lactantius, which he has published with Latin notes. He is also to give you a few anecdotes for your Life of Thomson, who I find was private tutor to the present Earl of Hadington, Lord Hailes's cousin, a circumstance not mentioned by Dr. Murdoch. I have keen expectations of delight from your edition of The English Poets.

'I am sorry for poor Mrs. Williams's situation. You will, however, have the comfort of reflecting on your kindness to her. Mr. Jackson's death, and Mrs. Aston's palsy, are gloomy circumstances. Yet surely we should be habituated to the uncertainty of life and health. When my mind is unclouded by melancholy, I consider the temporary distresses of this state of being, as "light afflictions[391]," by stretching my mental view into that glorious after-existence, when they will appear to be as nothing. But present pleasures and present pains must be felt. I lately read Rasselas over again with great satisfaction[392].

'Since you are desirous to hear about Macquarry's sale I shall inform you particularly. The gentleman who purchased Ulva is Mr. Campbell, of Auchnaba: our friend Macquarry was proprietor of two-thirds of it, of which the rent was £156 5s 1-1/2d. This parcel was set up at £4,069 5s. 1d., but it sold for no less than £5,540. The other third of Ulva, with the island of Staffa, belonged to Macquarry of Ormaig. Its rent, including that of Staffa, £83 12s. 2-1/2d. set up at £2178 16s. 4d.—sold for no less than £3,540. The Laird of Col wished to purchase Ulva, but he thought the price too high. There may, indeed, be great improvements made there, both in fishing and agriculture; but the interest of the purchase-money exceeds the rent so very much, that I doubt if the bargain will be profitable. There is an island called Little Colonsay, of £10 yearly rent, which I am informed has belonged to the Macquarrys of Ulva for many ages, but which was lately claimed by the Presbyterian Synod of Argyll, in consequence of a grant made to them by Queen Anne. It is believed that their claim will be dismissed, and that Little Colonsay will also be sold for the advantage of Macquarry's creditors. What think you of purchasing this island, and endowing a school or college there, the master to be a clergyman of the Church of England? How venerable would such an institution make the name of DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON in the Hebrides! I have, like yourself, a wonderful pleasure in recollecting our travels in those islands. The pleasure is, I think, greater than it reasonably should be, considering that we had not much either of beauty or elegance to charm our imaginations, or of rude novelty to astonish. Let us, by all means, have another expedition. I shrink a little from our scheme of going up the Baltick[393]. I am sorry you have already been in Wales; for I wish to see it. Shall we go to Ireland, of which I have seen but little? We shall try to strike out a plan when we are at Ashbourne. I am ever,

'Your most faithful humble servant,




'I write to be left at Carlisle, as you direct me; but you cannot have it. Your letter, dated Sept. 6, was not at this place till this day, Thursday, Sept. 11; and I hope you will be here before this is at Carlisle[394]. However, what you have not going, you may have returning; and as I believe I shall not love you less after our interview, it will then be as true as it is now, that I set a very high value upon your friendship, and count your kindness as one of the chief felicities of my life. Do not fancy that an intermission of writing is a decay of kindness. No man is always in a disposition to write; nor has any man at all times something to say.

'That distrust which intrudes so often on your mind is a mode of melancholy, which, if it be the business of a wise man to be happy, it is foolish to indulge; and if it be a duty to preserve our faculties entire for their proper use, it is criminal. Suspicion is very often an useless pain. From that, and all other pains, I wish you free and safe; for I am, dear Sir,

'Most affectionately yours,


'Ashbourne, Sept. 11, 1777.'

On Sunday evening Sept. 14, I arrived at Ashbourne, and drove directly up to Dr. Taylor's door. Dr. Johnson and he appeared before I had got out of the post-chaise, and welcomed me cordially[395].

I told them that I had travelled all the preceding night, and gone to bed at Leek in Staffordshire; and that when I rose to go to church in the afternoon, I was informed there had been an earthquake[396], of which, it seems, the shock had been felt in some degree at Ashbourne. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it will be much exaggerated in popular talk: for, in the first place, the common people do not accurately adapt their thoughts to the objects; nor, secondly, do they accurately adapt their words to their thoughts: they do not mean to lie; but, taking no pains to be exact, they give you very false accounts. A great part of their language is proverbial. If anything rocks at all, they say it rocks like a cradle; and in this way they go on.'

The subject of grief for the loss of relations and friends being introduced, I observed that it was strange to consider how soon it in general wears away. Dr. Taylor mentioned a gentleman of the neighbourhood as the only instance he had ever known of a person who had endeavoured to retain grief. He told Dr. Taylor, that after his Lady's death, which affected him deeply, he resolved that the grief, which he cherished with a kind of sacred fondness, should be lasting; but that he found he could not keep it long. JOHNSON. 'All grief for what cannot in the course of nature be helped, soon wears away; in some sooner, indeed, in some later; but it never continues very long, unless where there is madness, such as will make a man have pride so fixed in his mind, as to imagine himself a King; or any other passion in an unreasonable way: for all unnecessary grief is unwise, and therefore will not be long retained by a sound mind[397]. If, indeed, the cause of our grief is occasioned by our own misconduct, if grief is mingled with remorse of conscience, it should be lasting.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, we do not approve of a man who very soon forgets the loss of a wife or a friend.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, we disapprove of him, not because he soon forgets his grief, for the sooner it is forgotten the better, but because we suppose, that if he forgets his wife or his friend soon, he has not had much affection for them[398].'

I was somewhat disappointed in finding that the edition of The English Poets, for which he was to write Prefaces and Lives, was not an undertaking directed by him: but that he was to furnish a Preface and Life to any poet the booksellers pleased. I asked him if he would do this to any dunce's works, if they should ask him. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; and say he was a dunce.' My friend seemed now not much to relish talking of this edition.

On Monday, September 15, Dr. Johnson observed, that every body commended such parts of his Journey to the Western Islands, as were in their own way. 'For instance, (said he,) Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing)[399] told me there was more good sense upon trade in it, than he should hear in the House of Commons in a year, except from Burke. Jones commended the part which treats of language; Burke that which describes the inhabitants of mountainous countries[400].'

After breakfast, Johnson carried me to see the garden belonging to the school of Ashbourne, which is very prettily formed upon a bank, rising gradually behind the house. The Reverend Mr. Langley[401], the head-master, accompanied us.

While we sat basking in the sun upon a seat here, I introduced a common subject of complaint, the very small salaries which many curates have, and I maintained, 'that no man should be invested with the character of a clergyman, unless he has a security for such an income as will enable him to appear respectable; that, therefore, a clergyman should not be allowed to have a curate, unless he gives him a hundred pounds a year; if he cannot do that, let him perform the duty himself.' JOHNSON. 'To be sure, Sir, it is wrong that any clergyman should be without a reasonable income; but as the church revenues were sadly diminished at the Reformation, the clergy who have livings cannot afford, in many instances, to give good salaries to curates, without leaving themselves too little; and, if no curate were to be permitted unless he had a hundred pounds a year, their number would be very small, which would be a disadvantage, as then there would not be such choice in the nursery for the church, curates being candidates for the higher ecclesiastical offices, according to their merit and good behaviour.' He explained the system of the English Hierarchy exceedingly well. 'It is not thought fit (said he) to trust a man with the care of a parish till he has given proof as a curate that he shall deserve such a trust.' This is an excellent theory; and if the practice were according to it, the Church of England would be admirable indeed. However, as I have heard Dr. Johnson observe as to the Universities, bad practice does not infer that the constitution is bad[402].

We had with us at dinner several of Dr. Taylor's neighbours, good civil gentlemen, who seemed to understand Dr. Johnson very well, and not to consider him in the light that a certain person did[403], who being struck, or rather stunned by his voice and manner, when he was afterwards asked what he thought of him, answered, 'He's a tremendous companion.'

Johnson told me, that 'Taylor was a very sensible acute man, and had a strong mind[404]; that he had great activity in some respects, and yet such a sort of indolence, that if you should put a pebble upon his chimney-piece, you would find it there, in the same state, a year afterwards.'

And here is the proper place to give an account of Johnson's humane and zealous interference in behalf of the Reverend Dr. William Dodd, formerly Prebendary of Brecon, and chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty[405]; celebrated as a very popular preacher[406], an encourager of charitable institutions, and authour of a variety of works, chiefly theological. Having unhappily contracted expensive habits of living, partly occasioned by licentiousness of manners, he in an evil hour, when pressed by want of money, and dreading an exposure of his circumstances, forged a bond of which he attempted to avail himself to support his credit, flattering himself with hopes that he might be able to repay its amount without being detected. The person, whose name he thus rashly and criminally presumed to falsify, was the Earl of Chesterfield[407], to whom he had been tutor, and who, he perhaps, in the warmth of his feelings, flattered himself would have generously paid the money in case of an alarm being taken, rather than suffer him to fall a victim to the dreadful consequences of violating the law against forgery, the most dangerous crime in a commercial country; but the unfortunate divine had the mortification to find that he was mistaken. His noble pupil appeared against him, and he was capitally convicted.

Johnson told me that Dr. Dodd was very little acquainted with him, having been but once in his company, many years previous to this period[408] (which was precisely the state of my own acquaintance with Dodd); but in his distress he bethought himself of Johnson's persuasive power of writing, if haply it might avail to obtain for him the Royal Mercy. He did not apply to him, directly, but, extraordinary as it may seem, through the late Countess of Harrington, who wrote a letter to Johnson, asking him to employ his pen in favour of Dodd. Mr. Allen, the printer, who was Johnson's landlord and next neighbour in Bolt-court, and for whom he had much kindness[409], was one of Dodd's friends, of whom to the credit of humanity be it recorded, that he had many who did not desert him, even after his infringement of the law had reduced him to the state of a man under sentence of death. Mr. Allen told me that he carried Lady Harrington's letter to Johnson, that Johnson read it walking up and down his chamber, and seemed much agitated, after which he said, 'I will do what I can;'—and certainly he did make extraordinary exertions.

He this evening, as he had obligingly promised in one of his letters, put into my hands the whole series of his writings upon this melancholy occasion, and I shall present my readers with the abstract which I made from the collection; in doing which I studied to avoid copying what had appeared in print, and now make part of the edition of Johnson's Works, published by the Booksellers of London, but taking care to mark Johnson's variations in some of the pieces there exhibited.

Dr. Johnson wrote in the first place, Dr. Dodd's Speech to the Recorder of London, at the Old-Bailey, when sentence of death was about to be pronounced upon him.

He wrote also The Convict's Address to his unhappy Brethren, a sermon delivered by Dr. Dodd, in the chapel of Newgate[410].

According to Johnson's manuscript it began thus after the text, What shall I do to be saved?[411]—

'These were the words with which the keeper, to whose custody Paul and Silas were committed by their prosecutors, addressed his prisoners, when he saw them freed from their bonds by the perceptible agency of divine favour, and was, therefore, irresistibly convinced that they were not offenders against the laws, but martyrs to the truth.'

Dr. Johnson was so good as to mark for me with his own hand, on a copy of this sermon which is now in my possession, such passages as were added by Dr. Dodd. They are not many: whoever will take the trouble to look at the printed copy, and attend to what I mention, will be satisfied of this.

There is a short introduction by Dr. Dodd, and he also inserted this sentence, 'You see with what confusion and dishonour I now stand before you;—no more in the pulpit of instruction, but on this humble seat with yourselves.' The notes are entirely Dodd's own, and Johnson's writing ends at the words, 'the thief whom he pardoned on the cross[412].' What follows was supplied by Dr. Dodd himself[413].

The other pieces mentioned by Johnson in the above-mentioned collection, are two letters, one to the Lord Chancellor Bathurst, (not Lord North, as is erroneously supposed,) and one to Lord Mansfield;—A Petition from Dr. Dodd to the King;—A Petition from Mrs. Dodd to the Queen;— Observations of some length inserted in the news-papers, on occasion of Earl Percy's having presented to his Majesty a petition for mercy to Dodd, signed by twenty thousand people, but all in vain. He told me that he had also written a petition from the city of London; 'but (said he, with a significant smile) they mended it[414].' The last of these articles which Johnson wrote is Dr. Dodd's last solemn Declaration, which he left with the sheriff at the place of execution. Here also my friend marked the variations on a copy of that piece now in my possession. Dodd inserted, 'I never knew or attended to the calls of frugality, or the needful minuteness of painful oeconomy;' and in the next sentence he introduced the words which I distinguish by Italicks; 'My life for some few unhappy years past has been dreadfully erroneous.' Johnson's expression was hypocritical; but his remark on the margin is 'With this he said he could not charge himself.'

Having thus authentically settled what part of the Occasional Papers, concerning Dr. Dodd's miserable situation, came from the pen of Johnson, I shall proceed to present my readers with my record of the unpublished writings relating to that extraordinary and interesting matter.

I found a letter to Dr. Johnson from Dr. Dodd, May 23, 1777, in which The Convict's Address seems clearly to be meant:—

'I am so penetrated, my ever dear Sir, with a sense of your extreme benevolence towards me, that I cannot find words equal to the sentiments of my heart.

* * * * *

'You are too conversant in the world to need the slightest hint from me, of what infinite utility the Speech[415] on the aweful day has been to me. I experience, every hour, some good effect from it. I am sure that effects still more salutary and important must follow from your kind and intended favour. I will labour—GOD being my helper,—to do justice to it from the pulpit. I am sure, had I your sentiments constantly to deliver from thence, in all their mighty force and power, not a soul could be left unconvinced and unpersuaded.'

* * * * *

He added:—

'May GOD ALMIGHTY bless and reward, with his choicest comforts, your philanthropick actions, and enable me at all times to express what I feel of the high and uncommon obligations which I owe to the first man in our times.'

On Sunday, June 22, he writes, begging Dr. Johnson's assistance in framing a supplicatory letter to his Majesty:—

'If his Majesty could be moved of his royal clemency to spare me and my family the horrours and ignominy of a publick death, which the publick itself is solicitous to wave, and to grant me in some silent distant corner of the globe, to pass the remainder of my days in penitence and prayer, I would bless his clemency and be humbled.'

This letter was brought to Dr. Johnson when in church. He stooped down and read it, and wrote, when he went home, the following letter for Dr. Dodd to the King:—


'May it not offend your Majesty, that the most miserable of men applies himself to your clemency, as his last hope and his last refuge; that your mercy is most earnestly and humbly implored by a clergyman, whom your Laws and Judges have condemned to the horrour and ignominy of a publick execution.

'I confess the crime, and own the enormity of its consequences, and the danger of its example. Nor have I the confidence to petition for impunity; but humbly hope, that publick security may be established, without the spectacle of a clergyman dragged through the streets, to a death of infamy, amidst the derision of the profligate and profane; and that justice may be satisfied with irrevocable exile, perpetual disgrace, and hopeless penury.

'My life, Sir, has not been useless to mankind. I have benefited many. But my offences against GOD are numberless, and I have had little time for repentance. Preserve me, Sir, by your prerogative of mercy, from the necessity of appearing unprepared at that tribunal, before which Kings and Subjects must stand at last together. Permit me to hide my guilt in some obscure corner of a foreign country, where, if I can ever attain confidence to hope that my prayers will be heard, they shall be poured with all the fervour of gratitude for the life and happiness of your Majesty. I am, Sir,

'Your Majesty's, &c.'

Subjoined to it was written as follows:



'I most seriously enjoin you not to let it be at all known that I have written this letter, and to return the copy to Mr. Allen in a cover to me. I hope I need not tell you, that I wish it success.—But do not indulge hope.—Tell nobody.'

It happened luckily that Mr. Allen was pitched on to assist in this melancholy office, for he was a great friend of Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate. Dr. Johnson never went to see Dr. Dodd. He said to me, 'it would have done him more harm, than good to Dodd, who once expressed a desire to see him, but not earnestly.'

Dr. Johnson, on the 20th of June, wrote the following letter:



'Since the conviction and condemnation of Dr. Dodd, I have had, by the intervention of a friend, some intercourse with him, and I am sure I shall lose nothing in your opinion by tenderness and commiseration. Whatever be the crime, it is not easy to have any knowledge of the delinquent, without a wish that his life may be spared; at least when no life has been taken away by him. I will, therefore, take the liberty of suggesting some reasons for which I wish this unhappy being to escape the utmost rigour of his sentence.

'He is, so far as I can recollect, the first clergyman of our church who has suffered publick execution for immorality; and I know not whether it would not be more for the interest of religion to bury such an offender in the obscurity of perpetual exile, than to expose him in a cart, and on the gallows, to all who for any reason are enemies to the clergy.

'The supreme power has, in all ages, paid some attention to the voice of the people; and that voice does not least deserve to be heard, when it calls out for mercy. There is now a very general desire that Dodd's life should be spared. More is not wished; and, perhaps, this is not too much to be granted.

'If you, Sir, have any opportunity of enforcing these reasons, you may, perhaps, think them worthy of consideration: but whatever you determine, I most respectfully intreat that you will be pleased to pardon for this intrusion, Sir,

'Your most obedient

'And most humble servant,


It has been confidently circulated, with invidious remarks, that to this letter no attention whatever was paid by Mr. Jenkinson (afterwards Earl of Liverpool[416]), and that he did not even deign to shew the common civility of owning the receipt of it. I could not but wonder at such conduct in the noble Lord, whose own character and just elevation in life, I thought, must have impressed him with all due regard for great abilities and attainments. As the story had been much talked of, and apparently from good authority, I could not but have animadverted upon it in this work, had it been as was alleged; but from my earnest love of truth, and having found reason to think that there might be a mistake, I presumed to write to his Lordship, requesting an explanation; and it is with the sincerest pleasure that I am enabled to assure the world, that there is no foundation for it, the fact being, that owing to some neglect, or accident, Johnson's letter never came to Lord Hawkesbury's hands. I should have thought it strange indeed, if that noble Lord had undervalued my illustrious friend; but instead of this being the case, his Lordship, in the very polite answer with which he was pleased immediately to honour me, thus expresses himself:—'I have always respected the memory of Dr. Johnson, and admire his writings; and I frequently read many parts of them with pleasure and great improvement.'

All applications for the Royal Mercy having failed, Dr. Dodd prepared himself for death; and, with a warmth of gratitude, wrote to Dr. Johnson as follows:

'June 25, Midnight.

'Accept, thou great and good heart, my earnest and fervent thanks and prayers for all thy benevolent and kind efforts in my behalf.—Oh! Dr. Johnson! as I sought your knowledge at an early hour in life, would to heaven I had cultivated the love and acquaintance of so excellent a man!—I pray GOD most sincerely to bless you with the highest transports—the infelt satisfaction of humane and benevolent exertions!—And admitted, as I trust I shall be, to the realms of bliss before you, I shall hail your arrival there with transports, and rejoice to acknowledge that you was my Comforter, my Advocate and my Friend! GOD be ever with you!'

Dr. Johnson lastly wrote to Dr. Dodd this solemn and soothing letter:



'That which is appointed to all men is now coming upon you. Outward circumstances, the eyes and the thoughts of men, are below the notice of an immortal being about to stand the trial for eternity, before the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth. Be comforted: your crime, morally or religiously considered, has no very deep dye of turpitude. It corrupted no man's principles; it attacked no man's life. It involved only a temporary and reparable injury. Of this, and of all other sins, you are earnestly to repent; and may GOD, who knoweth our frailty, and desireth not our death, accept your repentance, for the sake of his Son JESUS CHRIST our Lord.

'In requital of those well-intended offices which you are pleased so emphatically to acknowledge, let me beg that you make in your devotions one petition for my eternal welfare. I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate servant,


'June 26, 1777.'

Under the copy of this letter I found written, in Johnson's own hand,
'Next day, June 27, he was executed.'

To conclude this interesting episode with an useful application, let us now attend to the reflections of Johnson at the end of the Occasional Papers, concerning the unfortunate Dr. Dodd:

'Such were the last thoughts of a man whom we have seen exulting in popularity, and sunk in shame. For his reputation, which no man can give to himself, those who conferred it are to answer. Of his publick ministry the means of judging were sufficiently attainable. He must be allowed to preach well, whose sermons strike his audience with forcible conviction. Of his life, those who thought it consistent with his doctrine, did not originally form false notions. He was at first what he endeavoured to make others; but the world broke down his resolution, and he in time ceased to exemplify his own instructions.

'Let those who are tempted to his faults, tremble at his punishment; and those whom he impressed from the pulpit with religious sentiments, endeavour to confirm them, by considering the regret and self-abhorrence with which he reviewed in prison his deviations from rectitude.'

Johnson gave us this evening, in his happy discriminative manner, a portrait of the late Mr. Fitzherbert, of Derbyshire. 'There was (said he) no sparkle, no brilliancy in Fitzherbert; but I never knew a man who was so generally acceptable[417]. He made every body quite easy, overpowered nobody by the superiority of his talents, made no man think worse of himself by being his rival, seemed always to listen, did not oblige you to hear much from him, and did not oppose what you said. Every body liked him; but he had no friend, as I understand the word, nobody with whom he exchanged intimate thoughts[418]. People were willing to think well of every thing about him. A gentleman was making an affected rant, as many people do, of great feelings about "his dear son," who was at school near London; how anxious he was lest he might be ill, and what he would give to see him. "Can't you (said Fitzherbert,) take a post-chaise and go to him." This, to be sure, finished the affected man, but there was not much in it[419]. However, this was circulated as wit for a whole winter, and I believe part of a summer too; a proof that he was no very witty man. He was an instance of the truth of the observation, that a man will please more upon the whole by negative qualities than by positive; by never offending, than by giving a great deal of delight. In the first place, men hate more steadily than they love; and if I have said something to hurt a man once, I shall not get the better of this, by saying many things to please him[420].'

Tuesday, September 16, Dr. Johnson having mentioned to me the extraordinary size and price of some cattle reared by Dr. Taylor, I rode out with our host, surveyed his farm, and was shown one cow which he had sold for a hundred and twenty guineas, and another for which he had been offered a hundred and thirty[421]. Taylor thus described to me his old schoolfellow and friend, Johnson: 'He is a man of a very clear head, great power of words, and a very gay imagination; but there is no disputing with him. He will not hear you, and having a louder voice than you, must roar you down.'

In the afternoon I tried to get Dr. Johnson to like the Poems of Mr. Hamilton of Bangour[422], which I had brought with me: I had been much pleased with them at a very early age; the impression still remained on my mind; it was confirmed by the opinion of my friend the Honourable Andrew Erskine, himself both a good poet[423] and a good critick, who thought Hamilton as true a poet as ever wrote, and that his not having fame was unaccountable. Johnson, upon repeated occasions, while I was at Ashbourne, talked slightingly of Hamilton. He said there was no power of thinking in his verses, nothing that strikes one, nothing better than what you generally find in magazines; and that the highest praise they deserved was, that they were very well for a gentleman to hand about among his friends. He said the imitation of Ne sit ancillæ tibi amor[424], &c. was too solemn; he read part of it at the beginning. He read the beautiful pathetick song, Ah the poor shepherd's mournful fate, and did not seem to give attention to what I had been used to think tender elegant strains, but laughed at the rhyme, in Scotch pronunciation, wishes and blushes[425], reading wushes—and there he stopped. He owned that the epitaph on Lord Newhall was pretty well done. He read the Inscription in a Summer-house, and a little of the imitations of Horace's Epistles; but said he found nothing to make him desire to read on. When I urged that there were some good poetical passages in the book. 'Where (said he,) will you find so large a collection without some?' I thought the description of Winter might obtain his approbation:

'See[426] Winter, from the frozen north
Drives his iron chariot forth!
His grisly hand in icy chains
Fair Tweeda's silver flood constrains,' &c.

He asked why an 'iron chariot'? and said 'icy chains' was an old image[427]. I was struck with the uncertainty of taste, and somewhat sorry that a poet whom I had long read with fondness, was not approved by Dr. Johnson. I comforted myself with thinking that the beauties were too delicate for his robust perceptions. Garrick maintained that he had not a taste for the finest productions of genius: but I was sensible, that when he took the trouble to analyse critically, he generally convinced us that he was right.

In the evening, the Reverend Mr. Seward[428], of Lichfield, who was passing through Ashbourne in his way home, drank tea with us. Johnson described him thus:—'Sir, his ambition is to be a fine talker; so he goes to Buxton, and such places, where he may find companies to listen to him. And, Sir, he is valetudinarian, one of those who are always mending themselves. I do not know a more disagreeable character than a valetudinarian, who thinks he may do any thing that is for his ease, and indulges himself in the grossest freedoms: Sir, he brings himself to the state of a hog in a stye[429].'

Dr. Taylor's nose happening to bleed, he said, it was because he had omitted to have himself blooded four days after a quarter of a year's interval. Dr. Johnson, who was a great dabbler in physick[430], disapproved much of periodical bleeding[431]. 'For (said he) you accustom yourself to an evacuation which Nature cannot perform of herself, and therefore she cannot help you, should you, from forgetfulness or any other cause, omit it; so you may be suddenly suffocated. You may accustom yourself to other periodical evacuations, because should you omit them, Nature can supply the omission; but Nature cannot open a vein to blood you.'—'I do not like to take an emetick, (said Taylor,) for fear of breaking some small vessels.'—'Poh! (said Johnson,) if you have so many things that will break, you had better break your neck at once, and there's an end on't. You will break no small vessels' (blowing with high derision).

I mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that David Hume's persisting in his infidelity, when he was dying, shocked me much. JOHNSON. 'Why should it shock you, Sir? Hume owned he had never read the New Testament with attention. Here then was a man, who had been at no pains to inquire into the truth of religion, and had continually turned his mind the other way. It was not to be expected that the prospect of death would alter his way of thinking, unless GOD should send an angel to set him right.' I said, I had reason to believe that the thought of annihilation gave Hume no pain. JOHNSON. 'It was not so, Sir[432]. He had a vanity in being thought easy. It is more probable that he should assume an appearance of ease, than that so very improbable a thing should be, as a man not afraid of going (as, in spite of his delusive theory, he cannot be sure but he may go,) into an unknown state, and not being uneasy at leaving all he knew. And you are to consider, that upon his own principle of annihilation he had no motive to speak the truth.' The horrour of death which I had always observed in Dr. Johnson, appeared strong to-night. I ventured to tell him, that I had been, for moments in my life, not afraid of death; therefore I could suppose another man in that state of mind for a considerable space of time. He said, 'he never had a moment in which death was not terrible to him[433].' He added, that it had been observed, that scarce any man[434] dies in publick, but with apparent resolution; from that desire of praise which never quits us. I said, Dr. Dodd seemed to be willing to die, and full of hopes of happiness. 'Sir, (said he,) Dr. Dodd would have given both his hands and both his legs to have lived. The better a man is, the more afraid he is of death, having a clearer view of infinite purity.' He owned, that our being in an unhappy uncertainty as to our salvation, was mysterious; and said, 'Ah! we must wait till we are in another state of being, to have many things explained to us.' Even the powerful mind of Johnson seemed foiled by futurity. But I thought, that the gloom of uncertainty in solemn religious speculation, being mingled with hope, was yet more consolatory than the emptiness of infidelity. A man can live in thick air, but perishes in an exhausted receiver.

Dr. Johnson was much pleased with a remark which I told him was made to me by General Paoli:—'That it is impossible not to be afraid of death; and that those who at the time of dying are not afraid, are not thinking of death, but of applause, or something else, which keeps death out of their sight: so that all men are equally afraid of death when they see it; only some have a power of turning their sight away from it better than others[435].'

On Wednesday, September 17, Dr. Butter, physician at Derby, drank tea with us; and it was settled that Dr. Johnson and I should go on Friday and dine with him. Johnson said, 'I'm glad of this.' He seemed weary of the uniformity of life at Dr. Taylor's.

Talking of biography, I said, in writing a life, a man's peculiarities should be mentioned, because they mark his character. JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no doubt as to peculiarities: the question is, whether a man's vices should be mentioned; for instance, whether it should be mentioned that Addison and Parnell drank too freely: for people will probably more easily indulge in drinking from knowing this; so that more ill may be done by the example, than good by telling the whole truth[436].' Here was an instance of his varying from himself in talk; for when Lord Hailes and he sat one morning calmly conversing in my house at Edinburgh, I well remember that Dr. Johnson maintained, that 'If a man is to write A Panegyrick, he may keep vices out of sight; but if he professes to write A Life, he must represent it really as it was:' and when I objected to the danger of telling that Parnell drank to excess, he said, that 'it would produce an instructive caution to avoid drinking, when it was seen, that even the learning and genius of Parnell could be debased by it.' And in the Hebrides he maintained, as appears from my Journal[437], that a man's intimate friend should mention his faults, if he writes his life[438].

He had this evening, partly, I suppose, from the spirit of contradiction to his Whig friend, a violent argument with Dr. Taylor, as to the inclinations of the people of England at this time towards the Royal Family of Stuart. He grew so outrageous as to say, 'that, if England were fairly polled, the present King would be sent away to-night, and his adherents hanged to-morrow.' Taylor, who was as violent a Whig as Johnson was a Tory, was roused by this to a pitch of bellowing. He denied, loudly, what Johnson said; and maintained, that there was an abhorrence against the Stuart family, though he admitted that the people were not much attached to the present King[439]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, the state of the country is this: the people knowing it to be agreed on all hands that this King has not the hereditary right to the crown, and there being no hope that he who has it can be restored, have grown cold and indifferent upon the subject of loyalty, and have no warm attachment to any King. They would not, therefore, risk any thing to restore the exiled family. They would not give twenty shillings a piece to bring it about. But, if a mere vote could do it, there would be twenty to one; at least, there would be a very great majority of voices for it. For, Sir, you are to consider, that all those who think a King has a right to his crown, as a man has to his estate, which is the just opinion, would be for restoring the King who certainly has the hereditary right, could he be trusted with it; in which there would be no danger now, when laws and every thing else are so much advanced: and every King will govern by the laws. And you must also consider, Sir, that there is nothing on the other side to oppose to this; for it is not alleged by any one that the present family has any inherent right[440]: so that the Whigs could not have a contest between two rights.'

Dr. Taylor admitted, that if the question as to hereditary right were to be tried by a poll of the people of England, to be sure the abstract doctrine would be given in favour of the family of Stuart; but he said, the conduct of that family, which occasioned their expulsion, was so fresh in the minds of the people, that they would not vote for a restoration. Dr. Johnson, I think, was contented with the admission as to the hereditary right, leaving the original point in dispute, viz. what the people upon the whole would do, taking in right and affection; for he said, people were afraid of a change, even though they think it right. Dr. Taylor said something of the slight foundation of the hereditary right, of the house of Stuart. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) the house of Stuart succeeded to the full right of both the houses of York and Lancaster, whose common source had the undisputed right. A right to a throne is like a right to any thing else. Possession is sufficient, where no better right can be shown. This was the case with the Royal Family of England, as it is now with the King of France: for as to the first beginning of the right, we are in the dark[441].'

Thursday, September 18. Last night Dr. Johnson had proposed that the crystal lustre, or chandelier, in Dr. Taylor's large room, should be lighted up some time or other. Taylor said, it should be lighted up next night. 'That will do very well, (said I,) for it is Dr. Johnson's birth-day[442].' When we were in the Isle of Sky, Johnson had desired me not to mention his birth-day. He did not seem pleased at this time that I mentioned it, and said (somewhat sternly) 'he would not have the lustre lighted the next day.'

Some ladies, who had been present yesterday when I mentioned his birth-day, came to dinner to-day, and plagued him unintentionally, by wishing him joy. I know not why he disliked having his birth-day mentioned, unless it were that it reminded him of his approaching nearer to death, of which he had a constant dread[443].

I mentioned to him a friend of mine who was formerly gloomy from low spirits, and much distressed by the fear of death, but was now uniformly placid, and contemplated his dissolution without any perturbation. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) this is only a disordered imagination taking a different turn.'

We talked of a collection being made of all the English Poets who had published a volume of poems. Johnson told me 'that a Mr. Coxeter[444], whom he knew, had gone the greatest length towards this; having collected, I think, about five hundred volumes of poets whose works were little known; but that upon his death Tom Osborne[445] bought them, and they were dispersed, which he thought a pity, as it was curious to see any series complete; and in every volume of poems something good may be found.'

He observed, that a gentleman of eminence in literature had got into a bad style of poetry of late[446]. 'He puts (said he) a very common thing in a strange dress till he does not know it himself, and thinks other people do not know it.' BOSWELL. 'That is owing to his being so much versant in old English poetry[447].' JOHNSON. 'What is the purpose, Sir? If I say a man is drunk, and you tell me it is owing to his taking much drink, the matter is not mended. No, Sir, —— has taken to an odd mode. For example; he'd write thus:

"Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray[448]."

Gray evening is common enough; but evening gray he'd think fine[449].—Stay;—we'll make out the stanza:

"Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray;
Smite thy bosom, sage, and tell,
What is bliss? and which the way?"'

BOSWELL. 'But why smite his bosom, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why to shew he was in earnest,' (smiling).—He at an after period added the following stanza:

'Thus I spoke; and speaking sigh'd;
—Scarce repress'd the starting tear;—
When the smiling sage reply'd—
—Come, my lad, and drink some beer[450].'

I cannot help thinking the first stanza very good solemn poetry, as also the three first lines of the second. Its last line is an excellent burlesque surprise on gloomy sentimental enquirers. And, perhaps, the advice is as good as can be given to a low-spirited dissatisfied being:—'Don't trouble your head with sickly thinking: take a cup, and be merry.'

Friday, September 19, after breakfast Dr. Johnson and I set out in Dr. Taylor's chaise to go to Derby. The day was fine, and we resolved to go by Keddlestone, the seat of Lord Scarsdale, that I might see his Lordship's fine house. I was struck with the magnificence of the building; and the extensive park, with the finest verdure, covered with deer, and cattle, and sheep, delighted me. The number of old oaks, of an immense size, filled me with a sort of respectful admiration: for one of them sixty pounds was offered. The excellent smooth gravel roads; the large piece of water formed by his Lordship from some small brooks, with a handsome barge upon it; the venerable Gothick church, now the family chapel, just by the house; in short, the grand group of objects agitated and distended my mind in a most agreeable manner. 'One should think (said I) that the proprietor of all this must be happy.'—'Nay, Sir, (said Johnson,) all this excludes but one evil—poverty[451].'

Our names were sent up, and a well-drest elderly housekeeper, a most distinct articulator, shewed us the house; which I need not describe, as there is an account of it published in Adam's Works in Architecture. Dr. Johnson thought better of it to-day than when he saw it before[452]; for he had lately attacked it violently, saying, 'It would do excellently for a town-hall. The large room with the pillars (said he) would do for the Judges to sit in at the assizes; the circular room for a jury-chamber; and the room above for prisoners.' Still he thought the large room ill lighted, and of no use but for dancing in; and the bed-chambers but indifferent rooms; and that the immense sum which it cost was injudiciously laid out. Dr. Taylor had put him in mind of his appearing pleased with the house. 'But (said he) that was when Lord Scarsdale was present. Politeness obliges us to appear pleased with a man's works when he is present. No man will be so ill bred as to question you. You may therefore pay compliments without saying what is not true. I should say to Lord Scarsdale of his large room, "My Lord, this is the most costly room that I ever saw;" which is true.'

Dr. Manningham, physician in London, who was visiting at Lord Scarsdale's, accompanyed us through many of the rooms, and soon afterwards my Lord himself, to whom Dr. Johnson was known, appeared, and did the honours of the house. We talked of Mr. Langton. Johnson, with a warm vehemence of affectionate regard, exclaimed, 'The earth does not bear a worthier man than Bennet Langton.' We saw a good many fine pictures, which I think are described in one of Young's Tours[453]. There is a printed catalogue of them which the housekeeper put into my hand; I should like to view them at leisure. I was much struck with Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream by Rembrandt. We were shown a pretty large library. In his Lordship's dressing-room lay Johnson's small Dictionary: he shewed it to me, with some eagerness, saying, 'Look 'ye! Quæ terra nostri non plena laboris[454].' He observed, also, Goldsmith's Animated Nature; and said, 'Here's our friend! The poor Doctor would have been happy to hear of this.'

In our way, Johnson strongly expressed his love of driving fast in a post-chaise[455]. 'If (said he) I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation.' I observed, that we were this day to stop just where the Highland army did in 1745[456]. JOHNSON. 'It was a noble attempt.' BOSWELL. 'I wish we could have an authentick history of it.' JOHNSON. 'If you were not an idle dog you might write it, by collecting from every body what they can tell, and putting down your authorities.' BOSWELL. 'But I could not have the advantage of it in my life-time.' JOHNSON. 'You might have the satisfaction of its fame, by printing it in Holland; and as to profit, consider how long it was before writing came to be considered in a pecuniary view. Baretti says, he is the first man that ever received copy-money in Italy[457].' I said that I would endeavour to do what Dr. Johnson suggested; and I thought that I might write so as to venture to publish my History of the Civil War in Great-Britain in 1745 and 1746 without being obliged to go to a foreign press[458].

When we arrived at Derby, Dr. Butter accompanied us to see the manufactory of china there. I admired the ingenuity and delicate art with which a man fashioned clay into a cup, a saucer, or a tea-pot, while a boy turned round a wheel to give the mass rotundity. I thought this as excellent in its species of power, as making good verses in its species. Yet I had no respect for this potter. Neither, indeed, has a man of any extent of thinking for a mere verse-maker, in whose numbers, however perfect, there is no poetry, no mind. The china was beautiful, but Dr. Johnson justly observed it was too dear; for that he could have vessels of silver, of the same size, as cheap as what were here made of porcelain[459].

I felt a pleasure in walking about Derby such as I always have in walking about any town to which I am not accustomed. There is an immediate sensation of novelty; and one speculates on the way in which life is passed in it, which, although there is a sameness every where upon the whole, is yet minutely diversified. The minute diversities in every thing are wonderful. Talking of shaving the other night at Dr. Taylor's, Dr. Johnson said, 'Sir, of a thousand shavers, two do not shave so much alike as not to be distinguished.' I thought this not possible, till he specified so many of the varieties in shaving;—holding the razor more or less perpendicular;—drawing long or short strokes;—beginning at the upper part of the face, or the under;—at the right side or the left side. Indeed, when one considers what variety of sounds can be uttered by the windpipe, in the compass of a very small aperture, we may be convinced how many degrees of difference there may be in the application of a razor.

We dined with Dr. Butter, whose lady is daughter of my cousin Sir John Douglas, whose grandson is now presumptive heir of the noble family of Queensberry. Johnson and he had a good deal of medical conversation. Johnson said, he had somewhere or other given an account of Dr. Nichols's[460] discourse De Animá Medicâ. He told us 'that whatever a man's distemper was, Dr. Nichols would not attend him as a physician, if his mind was not at ease; for he believed that no medicines would have any influence. He once attended a man in trade, upon whom he found none of the medicines he prescribed had any effect: he asked the man's wife privately whether his affairs were not in a bad way? She said no. He continued his attendance some time, still without success. At length the man's wife told him, she had discovered that her husband's affairs were in a bad way. When Goldsmith was dying, Dr. Turton said to him, "Your pulse is in greater disorder than it should be, from the degree of fever which you have: is your mind at ease?" Goldsmith answered it was not.'

After dinner, Mrs. Butter went with me to see the silk-mill which Mr. John Lombe had[461] had a patent for, having brought away the contrivance from Italy. I am not very conversant with mechanicks; but the simplicity of this machine, and its multiplied operations, struck me with an agreeable surprize. I had learnt from Dr. Johnson, during this interview, not to think with a dejected indifference of the works of art, and the pleasures of life, because life is uncertain and short; but to consider such indifference as a failure of reason, a morbidness of mind; for happiness should be cultivated as much as we can, and the objects which are instrumental to it should be steadily considered as of importance[462], with a reference not only to ourselves, but to multitudes in successive ages. Though it is proper to value small parts, as

'Sands make the mountain, moments make the year[463];'

yet we must contemplate, collectively, to have a just estimation of objects. One moment's being uneasy or not, seems of no consequence; yet this may be thought of the next, and the next, and so on, till there is a large portion of misery. In the same way one must think of happiness, of learning, of friendship. We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over. We must not divide objects of our attention into minute parts, and think separately of each part. It is by contemplating a large mass of human existence, that a man, while he sets a just value on his own life, does not think of his death as annihilating all that is great and pleasing in the world, as if actually contained in his mind, according to Berkeley's reverie[464]. If his imagination be not sickly and feeble, it 'wings its distant way[465]' far beyond himself, and views the world in unceasing activity of every sort. 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 common[466]. 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[467]:—'No, no (said he,) it has been a very agreeable world to me.' Johnson added, 'I respect Dodd for thus speaking the truth; for, to be sure, he had for several years enjoyed a life of great voluptuousness[468].'

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 watched with much circumspection[469]. He said, Dodd's friends had an image of him made of wax, which was 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[470]. '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, there 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.'

He praised Blair's sermons: '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 re-printed after seven years; at least not after Blair's death[471].'

He said, 'Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late[472]. There appeared nothing remarkable about him when he was young; though when he had got high in fame, one of his friends[473] began to recollect something of his being distinguished at College. Goldsmith in 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[474]; 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 awakes 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 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[475].' Dr. Taylor remarked, I think very justly, that 'a man who does not feel an inclination to sleep at the ordinary time, 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 my children. 'Life (said he) will not bear refinement: you must do as other people do[476].'

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[477]; and said, he would not give less for the life of a certain Scotch Lord[478] (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 enquiry,) 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 Scotsman as he was an Englishman; and literally had the same contempt for an Englishman compared with a Scotsman, that he had for a Scotsman 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[479].' 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, M.D. Dr. Rutty was one of the people called Quakers, a physician of some eminence in Dublin, and authour of several works[480]. This Diary, which was kept from 1753 to 1775, the year in which he died, and was now published in two volumes octavo, exhibited, in the simplicity of his heart, a minute and honest register of the state of his mind; which, though frequently laughable enough, was not more so than the history of many men would be, if recorded with equal fairness.

The following specimens were extracted by the Reviewers:—

'Tenth month, 1753. 23. Indulgence in bed an hour too long. Twelfth month, 17. An hypochondriack obnubilation from wind and indigestion. Ninth month, 28. An over-dose of whisky. 29. A dull, cross, cholerick day. First month, 1757—22. A little swinish at dinner and repast. 31. Dogged on provocation. Second month, 5. Very dogged or snappish. 14. Snappish on fasting. 26. Cursed snappishness to those under me, on a bodily indisposition. Third month, 11. On a provocation, exercised a dumb resentment for two days, instead of scolding. 22. Scolded too vehemently. 23. Dogged again. Fourth month, 29. Mechanically and sinfully dogged.'

Johnson laughed heartily at this good Quietist's self-condemning minutes; particularly at his mentioning, with such a serious regret, occasional instances of 'swinishness in eating, and doggedness of temper[481].' He thought the observations of the Critical Reviewers upon the importance of a man to himself so ingenious and so well expressed, that I shall here introduce them.

After observing, that 'There are few writers who have gained any reputation by recording their own actions,' they say:—

'We may reduce the egotists to four classes. In the first we have Julius Caesar: he relates his own transactions; but he relates them with peculiar grace and dignity, and his narrative is supported by the greatness of his character and atchievements. In the second class we have Marcus Antoninus: this writer has given us a series of reflections on his own life; but his sentiments are so noble, his morality so sublime, that his meditations are universally admired. In the third class we have some others of tolerable credit, who have given importance to their own private history by an intermixture of literary anecdotes, and the occurrences of their own times: the celebrated Huetius has published an entertaining volume upon this plan, "De rebus ad eum pertinentibus[482]." In the fourth class we have the journalists, temporal and spiritual: Elias Ashmole, William Lilly, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and a thousand other old women and fanatick writers of memoirs and meditations.'

I mentioned to him that Dr. Hugh Blair, in his lectures on Rhetorick and Belles Lettres, which I heard him deliver at Edinburgh, had animadverted on the Johnsonian style as too pompous; and attempted to imitate it, by giving a sentence of Addison in The Spectator, No. 411, in the manner of Johnson. When treating of the utility of the pleasures of imagination in preserving us from vice, it is observed of those 'who know not how to be idle and innocent,' that 'their very first step out of business is into vice or folly;' which Dr. Blair supposed would have been expressed in The Rambler thus: 'Their very first step out of the regions of business is into the perturbation of vice, or the vacuity of folly[483].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, these are not the words I should have used. No, Sir; the imitators of my style have not hit it. Miss Aikin has done it the best; for she has imitated the sentiment as well as the diction[484].' I intend, before this work is concluded[485], to exhibit specimens of imitation of my friend's style in various modes; some caricaturing or mimicking it, and some formed upon it, whether intentionally or with a degree of similarity to it, of which, perhaps, the writers were not conscious.

In Baretti's Review, which he published in Italy, under the title of Frusta Letteraria[486], it is observed, that Dr. Robertson the historian had formed his style upon that of Il celebre Samuele Johnson. My friend himself was of that opinion; for he once said to me, in a pleasant humour, 'Sir, if Robertson's style be faulty, he owes it to me; that is, having too many words, and those too big ones[487].'

I read to him a letter which Lord Monboddo had written to me, containing some critical remarks upon the style of his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. His Lordship praised the very fine passage upon landing at Icolmkill[488]; but his own style being exceedingly dry and hard, he disapproved of the richness of Johnson's language, and of his frequent use of metaphorical expressions. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, this criticism would be just, if in my style, superfluous words, or words too big for the thoughts, could be pointed out[489]; but this I do not believe can be done. For instance; in the passage which Lord Monboddo admires, 'We were now treading that illustrious region[490],' the word illustrious, contributes nothing to the mere narration; for the fact might be told without it: but it is not, therefore, superfluous; for it wakes the mind to peculiar attention, where something of more than usual importance is to be presented. "Illustrious!"—for what? and then the sentence proceeds to expand the circumstances connected with Iona. And, Sir, as to metaphorical expression, that is a great excellence in style, when it is used with propriety, for it gives you two ideas for one;—conveys the meaning more luminously, and generally with a perception of delight.'

He told me, that he had been asked to undertake the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, but had declined it; which he afterwards said to me he regretted[491]. In this regret many will join, because it would have procured us more of Johnson's most delightful species of writing; and although my friend Dr. Kippis has hitherto discharged the task judiciously, distinctly, and with more impartiality than might have been expected from a Separatist, it were to have been wished that the superintendence of this literary Temple of Fame had been assigned to 'a friend to the constitution in Church and State.' We should not then have had it too much crowded with obscure dissenting teachers, doubtless men of merit and worth, but not quite to be numbered amongst 'the most eminent persons who have flourished in Great-Britain and Ireland[492].'

On Saturday, September 30, after breakfast, when Taylor was gone out to his farm, Dr. Johnson and I had a serious conversation by ourselves on melancholy and madness; which he was, I always thought, erroneously inclined to confound together[493]. Melancholy, like 'great wit,' may be 'near allied to madness[494];' but there is, in my opinion, a distinct separation between them. When he talked of madness, he was to be understood as speaking of those who were in any great degree disturbed, or as it is commonly expressed, 'troubled in mind.' Some of the ancient philosophers held, that all deviations from right reason were madness; and whoever wishes to see the opinions both of ancients and moderns upon this subject, collected and illustrated with a variety of curious facts, may read Dr. Arnold's very entertaining work[495].

Johnson said, 'A madman loves to be with people whom he fears; not as a dog fears the lash; but of whom he stands in awe.' I was struck with the justice of this observation. To be with those of whom a person, whose mind is wavering and dejected, stands in awe, represses and composes an uneasy tumult of spirits, and consoles him with the contemplation of something steady, and at least comparatively great.

He added, 'Madmen are all sensual in the lower stages of the distemper. They are eager for gratifications to sooth their minds, and divert their attention from the misery which they suffer: but when they grow very ill, pleasure is too weak for them, and they seek for pain[496]. Employment, Sir, and hardships, prevent melancholy. I suppose in all our army in America there was not one man who went mad[497].'

We entered seriously upon a question of much importance to me, which Johnson was pleased to consider with friendly attention. I had long complained to him that I felt myself discontented in Scotland, as too narrow a sphere, and that I wished to make my chief residence in London, the great scene of ambition, instruction, and amusement: a scene, which was to me, comparatively speaking, a heaven upon earth[498]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I never knew any one who had such a gust for London as you have: and I cannot blame you for your wish to live there: yet, Sir, were I in your father's place, I should not consent to your settling there; for I have the old feudal notions, and I should be afraid that Auchinleck would be deserted, as you would soon find it more desirable to have a country-seat in a better climate. I own, however, that to consider it as a duty to reside on a family estate is a prejudice; for we must consider, that working-people get employment equally, and the produce of land is sold equally, whether a great family resides at home or not; and if the rents of an estate be carried to London, they return again in the circulation of commerce; nay, Sir, we must perhaps allow, that carrying the rents to a distance is a good, because it contributes to that circulation. We must, however, allow, that a well-regulated great family may improve a neighbourhood in civility and elegance, and give an example of good order, virtue, and piety; and so its residence at home may be of much advantage. But if a great family be disorderly and vicious, its residence at home is very pernicious to a neighbourhood. There is not now the same inducement to live in the country as formerly; the pleasures of social life are much better enjoyed in town; and there is no longer in the country that power and influence in proprietors of land which they had in old times, and which made the country so agreeable to them. The Laird of Auchinleck now is not near so great a man as the Laird of Auchinleck was a hundred years ago[499].

I told him, that one of my ancestors never went from home without being attended by thirty men on horseback. Johnson's shrewdness and spirit of enquiry were exerted upon every occasion. 'Pray (said he,) how did your ancestor support his thirty men and thirty horses, when he went at a distance from home, in an age when there was hardly any money in circulation?' I suggested the same difficulty to a friend, who mentioned Douglas's going to the Holy Land with a numerous train of followers. Douglas could, no doubt, maintain followers enough while living upon his own lands, the produce of which supplied them with food; but he could not carry that food to the Holy Land; and as there was no commerce by which he could be supplied with money, how could he maintain them in foreign countries?

I suggested a doubt, that if I were to reside in London, the exquisite zest with which I relished it in occasional visits might go off, and I might grow tired of it. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford[500].'

To obviate his apprehension, that by settling in London I might desert the seat of my ancestors, I assured him, that I had old feudal principles to a degree of enthusiasm; and that I felt all the dulcedo of the natale solum[501]. I reminded him, that the Laird of Auchinleck had an elegant house, in front of which he could ride ten miles forward upon his own territories, upon which he had upwards of six hundred people attached to him; that the family seat was rich in natural romantick beauties of rock, wood, and water; and that in my 'morn of life[502],' I had appropriated the finest descriptions in the ancient Classicks to certain scenes there, which were thus associated in my mind. That when all this was considered, I should certainly pass a part of the year at home, and enjoy it the more from variety, and from bringing with me a share of the intellectual stores of the metropolis. He listened to all this, and kindly 'hoped it might be as I now supposed.'

He said, 'A country gentleman should bring his lady to visit London as soon as he can, that they may have agreeable topicks for conversation when they are by themselves.'

As I meditated trying my fortune in Westminster Hall, our conversation turned upon the profession of the law in England. JOHNSON. 'You must not indulge too sanguine hopes, should you be called to our bar. I was told, by a very sensible lawyer, that there are a great many chances against any man's success in the profession of the law; the candidates are so numerous, and those who get large practice so few. He said, it was by no means true that a man of good parts and application is sure of having business, though he, indeed, allowed that if such a man could but appear in a few causes, his merit would be known, and he would get forward; but that the great risk was, that a man might pass half a life-time in the Courts, and never have an opportunity of shewing his abilities[503].'

We talked of employment being absolutely necessary to preserve the mind from wearying and growing fretful, especially in those who have a tendency to melancholy; and I mentioned to him a saying which somebody had related of an American savage, who, when an European was expatiating on all the advantages of money, put this question: 'Will it purchase occupation?' JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, this saying is too refined for a savage. And, Sir, money will purchase occupation; it will purchase all the conveniences of life; it will purchase variety of company; it will purchase all sorts of entertainment.'

I talked to him of Forster's Voyage to the South Seas, which pleased me; but I found he did not like it. 'Sir, (said he,) there is a great affectation of fine writing in it.' BOSWELL. 'But he carries you along with him.' JOHNSON, 'No, Sir; he does not carry me along with him: he leaves me behind him: or rather, indeed, he sets me before him; for he makes me turn over many leaves at a time.'

On Sunday, September 12[504], we went to the church of Ashbourne, which is one of the largest and most luminous that I have seen in any town of the same size. I felt great satisfaction in considering that I was supported in my fondness for solemn publick worship by the general concurrence and munificence of mankind.

Johnson and Taylor were so different from each other, that I wondered at their preserving an intimacy[505]. Their having been at school and college together, might, in some degree, account for this[506]; but Sir Joshua Reynolds has furnished me with a stronger reason; for Johnson mentioned to him, that he had been told by Taylor he was to be his heir. I shall not take upon me to animadvert upon this; but certain it is, that Johnson paid great attention to Taylor. He now, however, said to me, 'Sir, I love him; but I do not love him more; my regard for him does not increase. As it is said in the Apocrypha, "his talk is of bullocks[507]:" I do not suppose he is very fond of my company.[508] His habits are by no means sufficiently clerical: this he knows that I see; and no man likes to live under the eye of perpetual disapprobation.'

I have no doubt that a good many sermons were composed for Taylor by Johnson. At this time I found, upon his table, a part of one which he had newly begun to write: and Concio pro Tayloro appears in one of his diaries. When to these circumstances we add the internal evidence from the power of thinking and style, in the collection which the Reverend Mr. Hayes has published, with the significant title of Sermons left for publication by the Reverend John Taylor, LL.D., our conviction will be complete[509].

I, however, would not have it thought, that Dr. Taylor, though he could not write like Johnson, (as, indeed, who could?) did not sometimes compose sermons as good as those which we generally have from very respectable divines. He showed me one with notes on the margin in Johnson's hand-writing; and I was present when he read another to Johnson, that he might have his opinion of it, and Johnson said it was 'very well.' These, we may be sure, were not Johnson's; for he was above little arts, or tricks of deception.

Johnson was by no means of opinion, that every man of a learned profession should consider it as incumbent upon him, or as necessary to his credit, to appear as an authour. When in the ardour of ambition for literary fame, I regretted to him one day that an eminent Judge had nothing of it, and therefore would leave no perpetual monument of himself to posterity[510]. 'Alas, Sir, (said Johnson) what a mass of confusion should we have, if every Bishop, and every Judge, every Lawyer, Physician, and Divine, were to write books.'

I mentioned to Johnson a respectable person of a very strong mind, who had little of that tenderness which is common to human nature; as an instance of which, when I suggested to him that he should invite his son, who had been settled ten years in foreign parts[511], to come home and pay him a visit, his answer was, 'No, no, let him mind his business.' JOHNSON. 'I do not agree with him, Sir, in this. Getting money is not all a man's business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.'

In the evening, Johnson, being in very good spirits, entertained us with several characteristical portraits. I regret that any of them escaped my retention and diligence. I found, from experience, that to collect my friend's conversation so as to exhibit it with any degree of its original flavour, it was necessary to write it down without delay. To record his sayings, after some distance of time, was like preserving or pickling long-kept and faded fruits, or other vegetables, which, when in that state, have little or nothing of their taste when fresh.

I shall present my readers with a series of what I gathered this evening from the Johnsonian garden.

'My friend, the late Earl of Corke, had a great desire to maintain the literary character of his family[512]: he was a genteel man, but did not keep up the dignity of his rank. He was so generally civil, that nobody thanked him for it.'

'Did we not hear so much said of Jack Wilkes, we should think more highly of his conversation. Jack has great variety of talk, Jack is a scholar, and Jack has the manners of a gentleman[513]. But after hearing his name sounded from pole to pole, as the phoenix of convivial felicity, we are disappointed in his company. He has always been at me: but I would do Jack a kindness, rather than not. The contest is now over[514].'

'Garrick's gaiety of conversation has delicacy and elegance: Foote makes you laugh more; but Foote has the air of a buffoon paid for entertaining the company. He, indeed, well deserves his hire[515].'

'Colley Cibber once consulted me as to one of his birth-day Odes,[516] a long time before it was wanted. I objected very freely to several passages. Cibber lost patience, and would not read his Ode to an end. When we had done with criticism, we walked over to Richardson's, the authour of Clarissa, and I wondered to find Richardson displeased that I "did not treat Gibber with more respect." Now, Sir, to talk of respect for a player!' (smiling disdainfully). BOSWELL. 'There, Sir, you are always heretical: you never will allow merit to a player[517].' JOHNSON. 'Merit, Sir! what merit? Do you respect a rope-dancer, or a ballad-singer?' BOSWELL. 'No, Sir: but we respect a great player, as a man who can conceive lofty sentiments, and can express them gracefully.' JOHNSON. 'What, Sir, a fellow who claps a hump on his back, and a lump on his leg, and cries "I am Richard the Third[518]"? Nay, Sir, a ballad-singer is a higher man, for he does two things; he repeats and he sings: there is both recitation and musick in his performance: the player only recites.' BOSWELL. 'My dear Sir! you may turn anything into ridicule. I allow, that a player of farce is not entitled to respect; he does a little thing: but he who can represent exalted characters, and touch the noblest passions, has very respectable powers; and mankind have agreed in admiring great talents for the stage. We must consider, too, that a great player does what very few are capable to do: his art is a very rare faculty. Who can repeat Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be, or not to be," as Garrick does it?' JOHNSON. 'Any body may. Jemmy, there (a boy about eight years old, who was in the room), will do it as well in a week[519].' BOSWELL. 'No, no, Sir: and as a proof of the merit of great acting, and of the value which mankind set upon it, Garrick has got a hundred thousand pounds.' JOHNSON. 'Is getting a hundred thousand pounds a proof of excellence? That has been done by a scoundrel commissary[520].'

This was most fallacious reasoning. I was sure, for once, that I had the best side of the argument. I boldly maintained the just distinction between a tragedian and a mere theatrical droll; between those who rouse our terrour and pity, and those who only make us laugh. 'If (said I) Betterton and Foote were to walk into this room, you would respect Betterton much more than Foote.' JOHNSON. 'If Betterton were to walk into this room with Foote, Foote would soon drive him out of it. Foote, Sir, quatenùs Foote, has powers superiour to them all[521].'

On Monday, September 22, when at breakfast, I unguardedly said to Dr. Johnson, 'I wish I saw you and Mrs. Macaulay[522] together.' He grew very angry; and, after a pause, while a cloud gathered on his brow, he burst out, 'No, Sir; you would not see us quarrel, to make you sport. Don't you know that it is very uncivil to pit[523] two people against one another?' Then, checking himself, and wishing to be more gentle, he added, 'I do not say you should be hanged or drowned for this; but it is very uncivil.' Dr. Taylor thought him in the wrong, and spoke to him privately of it; but I afterwards acknowledged to Johnson that I was to blame, for I candidly owned, that I meant to express a desire to see a contest between Mrs. Macaulay and him; but then I knew how the contest would end; so that I was to see him triumph. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you cannot be sure how a contest will end; and no man has a right to engage two people in a dispute by which their passions may be inflamed, and they may part with bitter resentment against each other. I would sooner keep company with a man from whom I must guard my pockets, than with a man who contrives to bring me into a dispute with somebody that he may hear it. This is the great fault of ——[524], (naming one of our friends) endeavouring to introduce a subject upon which he knows two people in the company differ.' BOSWELL. 'But he told me, Sir, he does it for instruction.' JOHNSON. 'Whatever the motive be, Sir, the man who does so, does very wrong. He has no more right to instruct himself at such risk, than he has to make two people fight a duel, that he may learn how to defend himself.'

He found great fault with a gentleman of our acquaintance for keeping a bad table[525]. 'Sir, (said he,) when a man is invited to dinner, he is disappointed if he does not get something good. I advised Mrs. Thrale, who has no card-parties at her house, to give sweet-meats, and such good things, in an evening, as are not commonly given, and she would find company enough come to her; for every body loves to have things which please the palate put in their way, without trouble or preparation[526].' Such was his attention to the minutiae of life and manners.

He thus characterised the Duke of Devonshire[527], grandfather of the present representative of that very respectable family: 'He was not a man of superiour abilities, but he was a man strictly faithful to his word. If, for instance, he had promised you an acorn, and none had grown that year in his woods, he would not have contented himself with that excuse; he would have sent to Denmark for it. So unconditional was he in keeping his word; so high as to the point of honour.' This was a liberal testimony from the Tory Johnson to the virtue of a great Whig nobleman.

Mr. Burke's Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, on the affairs of America, being mentioned, Johnson censured the composition much[528], and he ridiculed the definition of a free government, viz. 'For any practical purpose, it is what the people think so[529].'—'I will let the King of France govern me on those conditions, (said he,) for it is to be governed just as I please.' And when Dr. Taylor talked of a girl being sent to a parish workhouse, and asked how much she could be obliged to work, 'Why, (said Johnson,) as much as is reasonable: and what is that? as much as she thinks reasonable.'

Dr. Johnson obligingly proposed to carry me to see Islam, a romantick scene, now belonging to a family of the name of Port, but formerly the seat of the Congreves[530]. I suppose it is well described in some of the Tours. Johnson described it distinctly and vividly, at which I could not but express to him my wonder; because, though my eyes, as he observed, were better than his, I could not by any means equal him in representing visible objects. I said, the difference between us in this respect was as that between a man who has a bad instrument, but plays well on it, and a man who has a good instrument, on which he can play very imperfectly[531].

I recollect a very fine amphitheatre, surrounded with hills covered with woods, and walks neatly formed along the side of a rocky steep, on the quarter next the house, with recesses under projections of rock, overshadowed with trees; in one of which recesses, we were told, Congreve wrote his Old Bachelor[532]. We viewed a remarkable natural curiosity at Islam; two rivers bursting near each other from the rock, not from immediate springs, but after having run for many miles under ground. Plott, in his History of Staffordshire[533], gives an account of this curiosity; but Johnson would not believe it, though we had the attestation of the gardener, who said, he had put in corks, where the river Manyfold sinks into the ground, and had catched them in a net, placed before one of the openings where the water bursts out. Indeed, such subterraneous courses of water are found in various parts of our globe[534].

Talking of Dr. Johnson's unwillingness to believe extraordinary things[535], I ventured to say, 'Sir, you come near Hume's argument against miracles, "That it is more probable witnesses should lie, or be mistaken, than that they should happen[536]."' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, Hume, taking the proposition simply, is right. But the Christian revelation is not proved by the miracles alone, but as connected with prophecies, and with the doctrines in confirmation of which the miracles were wrought.'

He repeated his observation, that the differences among Christians are really of no consequence[537]. 'For instance, (said he,) if a Protestant objects to a Papist, "You worship images;" the Papist can answer, "I do not insist on your doing it; you may be a very good Papist without it: I do it only as a help to my devotion."' I said, the great article of Christianity is the revelation of immortality. Johnson admitted it was.

In the evening, a gentleman-farmer, who was on a visit at Dr. Taylor's, attempted to dispute with Johnson in favour of Mungo Campbell, who shot Alexander, Earl of Eglintoune[538] upon his having fallen, when retreating from his Lordship, who he believed was about to seize his gun, as he had threatened to do. He said, he should have done just as Campbell did. JOHNSON. 'Whoever would do as Campbell did, deserves to be hanged; not that I could, as a juryman, have found him legally guilty of murder; but I am glad they found means to convict him.' The gentleman-farmer said, 'A poor man has as much honour as a rich man; and Campbell had that to defend.' Johnson exclaimed, 'A poor man has no honour.' The English yeoman, not dismayed, proceeded: 'Lord Eglintoune was a damned fool to run on upon Campbell, after being warned that Campbell would shoot him if he did.' Johnson, who could not bear any thing like swearing[539], angrily replied, 'He was not a damned fool: he only thought too well of Campbell. He did not believe Campbell would be such a damned scoundrel, as to do so damned a thing.' His emphasis on damned, accompanied with frowning looks, reproved his opponent's want of decorum in his presence.

Talking of the danger of being mortified by rejection, when making approaches to the acquaintance of the great, I observed: 'I am, however, generally for trying, "Nothing venture, nothing have."'[540] JOHNSON. 'Very true, Sir; but I have always been more afraid of failing, than hopeful of success.' And, indeed, though he had all just respect for rank, no man ever less courted the favour of the great.

During this interview at Ashbourne, Johnson seemed to be more uniformly social, cheerful, and alert, than I had almost ever seen him. He was prompt on great occasions and on small. Taylor, who praised every thing of his own to excess; in short, 'whose geese were all swans,' as the proverb says, expatiated on the excellence of his bull-dog, which, he told us, was 'perfectly well shaped.' Johnson, after examining the animal attentively, thus repressed the vain-glory of our host:—'No, Sir, he is not well shaped; for there is not the quick transition from the thickness of the fore-part, to the tenuity—the thin part— behind,—which a bull-dog ought to have.' This tenuity was the only hard word that I heard him use during this interview, and it will be observed, he instantly put another expression in its place. Taylor said, a small bull-dog was as good as a large one. JOHNSON, 'No, Sir; for, in proportion to his size, he has strength: and your argument would prove, that a good bull-dog may be as small as a mouse.' It was amazing how he entered with perspicuity and keenness upon every thing that occurred in conversation. Most men, whom I know, would no more think of discussing a question about a bull-dog, than of attacking a bull.

I cannot allow any fragment whatever that floats in my memory concerning the great subject of this work to be lost. Though a small particular may appear trifling to some, it will be relished by others; while every little spark adds something to the general blaze: and to please the true, candid, warm admirers of Johnson, and in any degree increase the splendour of his reputation, I bid defiance to the shafts of ridicule, or even of malignity. Showers of them have been discharged at my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides; yet it still sails unhurt along the stream of time, and, as an attendant upon Johnson,

'Pursues the triumph, and partakes the gale[541].'

One morning after breakfast, when the sun shone bright, we walked out together, and 'pored[542]' for some time with placid indolence upon an artificial water-fall, which Dr. Taylor had made by building a strong dyke of stone across the river behind the garden[543]. It was now somewhat obstructed by branches of trees and other rubbish, which had come down the river, and settled close to it. Johnson, partly from a desire to see it play more freely, and partly from that inclination to activity which will animate, at times, the most inert and sluggish mortal, took a long pole which was lying on a bank, and pushed down several parcels of this wreck with painful assiduity, while I stood quietly by, wondering to behold the sage thus curiously employed, and smiling with an humorous satisfaction each time when he carried his point. He worked till he was quite out of breath; and having found a large dead cat so heavy that he could not move it after several efforts, 'Come,' said he, (throwing down the pole,) 'you shall take it now;' which I accordingly did, and being a fresh man, soon made the cat tumble over the cascade. This may be laughed at as too trifling to record; but it is a small characteristick trait in the Flemish picture which I give of my friend, and in which, therefore, I mark the most minute particulars. And let it be remembered, that Æsop at play is one of the instructive apologues of antiquity.

I mentioned an old gentleman of our acquaintance whose memory was beginning to fail. JOHNSON. 'There must be a diseased mind, where there is a failure of memory at seventy. A man's head, Sir, must be morbid, if he fails so soon.'[544] My friend, being now himself sixty-eight, might think thus: but I imagine, that threescore and ten, the Psalmist's period of sound human life in later ages, may have a failure, though there be no disease in the constitution.

Talking of Rochester's Poems, he said, he had given them to Mr. Steevens to castrate for the edition of the poets, to which he was to write Prefaces. Dr. Taylor (the only time I ever heard him say any thing witty)[545] observed, that 'if Rochester had been castrated himself, his exceptionable poems would not have been written.'[546] I asked if Burnet had not given a good Life of Rochester. JOHNSON. 'We have a good Death: there is not much Life[547].'

I asked whether Prior's Poems were to be printed entire: Johnson said they were. I mentioned Lord Hailes's censure of Prior, in his Preface to a collection of Sacred Poems, by various hands, published by him at Edinburgh a great many years ago, where he mentions, 'those impure tales which will be the eternal opprobrium of their ingenious authour.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, Lord Hailes has forgot. There is nothing in Prior that will excite to lewdness. If Lord Hailes thinks there is, he must be more combustible than other people[548].'

I instanced the tale of Paulo Purganti and his Wife. JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is nothing there, but that his wife wanted to be kissed when poor Paulo was out of pocket. No, Sir, Prior is a lady's book. No lady is ashamed to have it standing in her library.'

The hypochondriack disorder being mentioned, Dr. Johnson did not think it so common as I supposed. 'Dr. Taylor (said he) is the same one day as another. Burke and Reynolds are the same; Beauclerk, except when in pain, is the same. I am not so myself; but this I do not mention commonly[549].'

I complained of a wretched changefulness, so that I could not preserve, for any long continuance, the same views of any thing. It was most comfortable to me to experience, in Dr. Johnson's company, a relief from this uneasiness. His steady vigorous mind held firm before me those objects which my own feeble and tremulous imagination frequently presented, in such a wavering state, that my reason could not judge well of them.

Dr. Johnson advised me to-day, to have as many books about me as I could; that I might read upon any subject upon which I had a desire for instruction at the time. 'What you read then (said he) you will remember; but if you have not a book immediately ready, and the subject moulds in your mind, it is a chance if you again have a desire to study it.' He added, 'If a man never has an eager desire for instruction, he should prescribe a task for himself. But it is better when a man reads from immediate inclination[550].'

He repeated a good many lines of Horace's Odes, while we were in the chaise. I remember particularly the Ode Eheu fugaces[551].

He said, the dispute as to the comparative excellence of Homer or Virgil[552] was inaccurate. 'We must consider (said he) whether Homer was not the greatest poet, though Virgil may have produced the finest poem. Virgil was indebted to Homer for the whole invention of the structure of an epick poem, and for many of his beauties.'

He told me that Bacon was a favourite authour with him[553]; but he had never read his works till he was compiling the English Dictionary, in which, he said, I might see Bacon very often quoted. Mr. Seward recollects his having mentioned, that a Dictionary of the English Language might be compiled from Bacon's writings alone[554], and that he had once an intention of giving an edition of Bacon, at least of his English works, and writing the Life of that great man. Had he executed this intention, there can be no doubt that he would have done it in a most masterly manner. Mallet's Life of Bacon has no inconsiderable merit as an acute and elegant dissertation relative to its subject; but Mallet's mind was not comprehensive enough to embrace the vast extent of Lord Verulam's genius and research. Dr. Warburton therefore observed, with witty justness, 'that Mallet, in his Life of Bacon, had forgotten that he was a philosopher; and if he should write the Life of the Duke of Marlborough, which he had undertaken to do, he would probably forget that he was a general[555].'

Wishing to be satisfied what degree of truth there was in a story which a friend of Johnson's and mine had told me to his disadvantage, I mentioned it to him in direct terms; and it was to this effect: that a gentleman[556] who had lived in great intimacy with him, shewn him much kindness, and even relieved him from a spunging-house, having afterwards fallen into bad circumstances, was one day, when Johnson was at dinner with him, seized for debt, and carried to prison; that Johnson sat still undisturbed, and went on eating and drinking; upon which the gentleman's sister, who was present, could not suppress her indignation: 'What, Sir, (said she,) are you so unfeeling, as not even to offer to go to my brother in his distress; you who have been so much obliged to him?' And that Johnson answered, 'Madam, I owe him no obligation; what he did for me he would have done for a dog.'

Johnson assured me, that the story was absolutely false: but like a man conscious of being in the right, and desirous of completely vindicating himself from such a charge, he did not arrogantly rest on a mere denial, and on his general character, but proceeded thus:—'Sir, I was very intimate with that gentleman, and was once relieved by him from an arrest; but I never was present when he was arrested, never knew that he was arrested, and I believe he never was in difficulties after the time when he relieved me. I loved him much; yet, in talking of his general character, I may have said, though I do not remember that I ever did say so, that as his generosity proceeded from no principle, but was a part of his profusion, he would do for a dog what he would do for a friend: but I never applied this remark to any particular instance, and certainly not to his kindness to me. If a profuse man, who does not value his money, and gives a large sum to a whore, gives half as much, or an equally large sum to relieve a friend, it cannot be esteemed as virtue. This was all that I could say of that gentleman; and, if said at all, it must have been said after his death. Sir, I would have gone to the world's end to relieve him. The remark about the dog, if made by me, was such a sally as might escape one when painting a man highly.'

On Tuesday, September 23, Johnson was remarkably cordial to me. It being necessary for me to return to Scotland soon, I had fixed on the next day for my setting out, and I felt a tender concern at the thought of parting with him. He had, at this time, frankly communicated to me many particulars, which are inserted in this work in their proper places; and once, when I happened to mention that the expence of my jaunt would come to much more than I had computed, he said, 'Why, Sir, if the expence were to be an inconvenience, you would have reason to regret it: but, if you have had the money to spend, I know not that you could have purchased as much pleasure with it in any other way.'

During this interview at Ashbourne, Johnson and I frequently talked with wonderful pleasure of mere trifles which had occurred in our tour to the Hebrides; for it had left a most agreeable and lasting impression upon his mind.

He found fault with me for using the phrase to make money. 'Don't you see (said he) the impropriety of it? To make money is to coin it: you should say get money.' The phrase, however, is, I think, pretty current[557]. But Johnson was at all times jealous of infractions upon the genuine English language, and prompt to repress colloquial barbarisms; such as, pledging myself, for undertaking; line, for department, or branch, as, the civil line, the banking line. He was particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word idea in the sense of notion or opinion, when it is clear that idea can only signify something of which an image can be formed in the mind[558]. We may have an idea or image of a mountain, a tree, a building; but we cannot surely have an idea or image of an argument or proposition. Yet we hear the sages of the law 'delivering their ideas upon the question under consideration;' and the first speakers in parliament 'entirely coinciding in the idea which has been ably stated by an honourable member;'—or 'reprobating an idea unconstitutional, and fraught with the most dangerous consequences to a great and free country.' Johnson called this 'modern cant[559].'

I perceived that he pronounced the word heard, as if spelt with a double e, heerd, instead of sounding it herd, as is most usually done. He said, his reason was, that if it was pronounced herd, there would be a single exception from the English pronunciation of the syllable ear, and he thought it better not to have that exception.

He praised Grainger's Ode on Solitude, in Dodsley's Collection, and repeated, with great energy, the exordium:—

'O Solitude, romantick maid,
Whether by nodding towers you tread;
Or haunt the desart's trackless gloom,
Or hover o'er the yawning tomb;
Or climb the Andes' clifted side,
Or by the Nile's coy source abide;
Or, starting from your half-year's sleep,
From Hecla view the thawing deep;
Or, at the purple dawn of day,
Tadnor's marble waste survey[560]';

observing, 'This, Sir, is very noble.'

In the evening our gentleman-farmer, and two others, entertained themselves and the company with a great number of tunes on the fiddle. Johnson desired to have 'Let ambition fire thy mind[561],' played over again, and appeared to give a patient attention to it; though he owned to me that he was very insensible to the power of musick[562]. I told him, that it affected me to such a degree, as often to agitate my nerves painfully, producing in my mind alternate sensations of pathetick dejection, so that I was ready to shed tears; and of daring resolution, so that I was inclined to rush into the thickest part of the battle. 'Sir, (said he,) I should never hear it, if it made me such a fool.'

Much of the effect of musick, I am satisfied, is owing to the association of ideas. That air, which instantly and irresistibly excites in the Swiss, when in a foreign land, the maladie du pais, has, I am told, no intrinsick power of sound. And I know from my own experience, that Scotch reels, though brisk, make me melancholy, because I used to hear them in my early years, at a time when Mr. Pitt called for soldiers 'from the mountains of the north,' and numbers of brave Highlanders were going abroad, never to return[563]. Whereas the airs in The Beggar's Opera, many of which are very soft, never fail to render me gay, because they are associated with the warm sensations and high spirits of London. This evening, while some of the tunes of ordinary composition were played with no great skill, my frame was agitated, and I was conscious of a generous attachment to Dr. Johnson, as my preceptor and friend, mixed with an affectionate regret that he was an old man, whom I should probably lose in a short time. I thought I could defend him at the point of my sword. My reverence and affection for him were in full glow. I said to him, 'My dear Sir, we must meet every year, if you don't quarrel with me.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, you are more likely to quarrel with me, than I with you. My regard for you is greater almost than I have words to express; but I do not choose to be always repeating it; write it down in the first leaf of your pocket-book, and never doubt of it again.'

I talked to him of misery being 'the doom of man' in this life, as displayed in his Vanity of Human Wishes[564]'. Yet I observed that things were done upon the supposition of happiness; grand houses were built, fine gardens were made, splendid places of publick amusement were contrived, and crowded with company. JOHNSON. 'Alas, Sir, these are all only struggles for happiness. When I first entered Ranelagh[565], it gave an expansion and gay sensation to my mind, such as I never experienced any where else. But, as Xerxes wept when he viewed his immense army, and considered that not one of that great multitude would be alive a hundred years afterwards, so it went to my heart to consider that there was not one in all that brilliant circle, that was not afraid to go home and think; but that the thoughts of each individual there, would be distressing when alone.' This reflection was experimentally just. The feeling of languor[566], which succeeds the animation of gaiety, is itself a very severe pain; and when the mind is then vacant, a thousand disappointments and vexations rush in and excruciate. Will not many even of my fairest readers allow this to be true?

I suggested, that being in love, and flattered with hopes of success; or having some favourite scheme in view for the next day, might prevent that wretchedness of which we had been talking. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it may sometimes be so as you suppose; but my conclusion is in general but too true.'

While Johnson and I stood in calm conference by ourselves in Dr. Taylor's garden, at a pretty late hour in a serene autumn night, looking up to the heavens, I directed the discourse to the subject of a future state. My friend was in a placid and most benignant frame. 'Sir, (said he,) I do not imagine that all things will be made clear to us immediately after death, but that the ways of Providence will be explained to us very gradually.' I ventured to ask him whether, although the words of some texts of Scripture seemed strong in support of the dreadful doctrine of an eternity of punishment, we might not hope that the denunciation was figurative, and would not literally be executed. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are to consider the intention of punishment in a future state. We have no reason to be sure that we shall then be no longer liable to offend against GOD. We do not know that even the angels are quite in a state of security; nay we know that some of them have fallen. It may, therefore, perhaps be necessary, in order to preserve both men and angels in a state of rectitude, that they should have continually before them the punishment of those who have deviated from it; but we may hope that by some other means a fall from rectitude may be prevented. Some of the texts of Scripture upon this subject are, as you observe, indeed strong; but they may admit of a mitigated interpretation.' He talked to me upon this awful and delicate question in a gentle tone, and as if afraid to be decisive[567].

After supper I accompanied him to his apartment, and at my request he dictated to me an argument in favour of the negro who was then claiming his liberty, in an action in the Court of Session in Scotland[568]. He had always been very zealous against slavery in every form, in which I, with all deference, thought that he discovered 'a zeal without knowledge[569].' Upon one occasion, when in company with some very grave men at Oxford, his toast was, 'Here's to the next insurrection of the negroes in the West Indies[570].' His violent prejudice against our West Indian and American settlers appeared whenever there was an opportunity[571]. Towards the conclusion of his Taxation no Tyranny, he says, 'how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes[572]?' and in his conversation with Mr. Wilkes, he asked, 'Where did Beckford and Trecothick learn English[573]?' That Trecothick could both speak and write good English is well known. I myself was favoured with his correspondence concerning the brave Corsicans. And that Beckford could speak it with a spirit of honest resolution even to his Majesty, as his 'faithful Lord-Mayor of London,' is commemorated by the noble monument erected to him in Guildhall[574].'

The argument dictated by Dr. Johnson was as follows:—

'It must be agreed that in most ages many countries have had part of their inhabitants in a state of slavery[575]; yet it may be doubted whether slavery can ever be supposed the natural condition of man. It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original state were equal[576]; and very difficult to imagine how one would be subjected to another but by violent compulsion. An individual may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children[577]. What is true of a criminal seems true likewise of a captive. A man may accept life from a conquering enemy on condition of perpetual servitude; but it is very doubtful whether he can entail that servitude on his descendants; for no man can stipulate without commission for another. The condition which he himself accepts, his son or grandson perhaps would have rejected. If we should admit, what perhaps may with more reason be denied, that there are certain relations between man and man which may make slavery necessary and just, yet it can never be proved that he who is now suing for his freedom ever stood in any of those relations. He is certainly subject by no law, but that of violence, to his present master; who pretends no claim to his obedience, but that he bought him from a merchant of slaves, whose right to sell him never was examined. It is said that, according to the constitutions of Jamaica, he was legally enslaved; these constitutions are merely positive; and apparently injurious to the rights of mankind, because whoever is exposed to sale is condemned to slavery without appeal; by whatever fraud or violence he might have been originally brought into the merchant's power. In our own time Princes have been sold, by wretches to whose care they were entrusted, that they might have an European education; but when once they were brought to a market in the plantations, little would avail either their dignity or their wrongs. The laws of Jamaica afford a Negro no redress. His colour is considered as a sufficient testimony against him. It is to be lamented that moral right should ever give way to political convenience. But if temptations of interest are sometimes too strong for human virtue, let us at least retain a virtue where there is no temptation to quit it. In the present case there is apparent right on one side, and no convenience on the other. Inhabitants of this island can neither gain riches nor power by taking away the liberty of any part of the human species. The sum of the argument is this:—No man is by nature the property of another: The defendant is, therefore, by nature free: The rights of nature must be some way forfeited before they can be justly taken away: That the defendant has by any act forfeited the rights of nature we require to be proved; and if no proof of such forfeiture can be given, we doubt not but the justice of the court will declare him free.'

I record Dr. Johnson's argument fairly upon this particular case; where, perhaps, he was in the right. But I beg leave to enter my most solemn protest against his general doctrine with respect to the Slave Trade. For I will resolutely say—that his unfavourable notion of it was owing to prejudice, and imperfect or false information. The wild and dangerous attempt which has for some time been persisted in to obtain an act of our Legislature, to abolish so very important and necessary a branch of commercial interest[578], must have been crushed at once, had not the insignificance of the zealots who vainly took the lead in it, made the vast body of Planters, Merchants, and others, whose immense properties are involved in that trade, reasonably enough suppose that there could be no danger. The encouragement which the attempt has received excites my wonder and indignation: and though some men of superiour abilities have supported it; whether from a love of temporary popularity, when prosperous; or a love of general mischief, when desperate, my opinion is unshaken. To abolish a status, which in all ages GOD has sanctioned, and man has continued, would not only be robbery to an innumerable class of our fellow-subjects; but it would be extreme cruelty to the African Savages, a portion of whom it saves from massacre, or intolerable bondage in their own country, and introduces into a much happier state of life; especially now when their passage to the West-Indies and their treatment there is humanely regulated. To abolish that trade would be to

'—shut the gates of mercy on mankind[579]'.

Whatever may have passed elsewhere concerning it, the HOUSE OF LORDS is wise and independent:

Intaminatis fulget honoribus; Nec sumit aut ponit secures Arbitrio popularis auræ[580].

I have read, conversed, and thought much upon the subject, and would recommend to all who are capable of conviction, an excellent Tract by my learned and ingenious friend John Ranby, Esq., entitled Doubts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade. To Mr. Ranby's Doubts I will apply Lord Chancellor Hardwicke's expression in praise of a Scotch Law Book, called Dirletons Doubts; HIS Doubts, (said his Lordship,) are better than most people's Certainties[581].

When I said now to Johnson, that I was afraid I kept him too late up.
'No, Sir, (said he,) I don't care though I sit all night with you[582].'
This was an animated speech from a man in his sixty-ninth year.

Had I been as attentive not to displease him as I ought to have been, I know not but this vigil might have been fulfilled; but I unluckily entered upon the controversy concerning the right of Great-Britain to tax America, and attempted to argue in favour of our fellow-subjects on the other side of the Atlantick[583]. I insisted that America might be very well governed, and made to yield sufficient revenue by the means of influence[584], as exemplified in Ireland, while the people might be pleased with the imagination of their participating of the British constitution, by having a body of representatives, without whose consent money could not be exacted from them. Johnson could not bear my thus opposing his avowed opinion, which he had exerted himself with an extreme degree of heat to enforce; and the violent agitation into which he was thrown, while answering, or rather reprimanding me, alarmed me so, that I heartily repented of my having unthinkingly introduced the subject. I myself, however, grew warm, and the change was great, from the calm state of philosophical discussion in which we had a little before been pleasingly employed.

I talked of the corruption of the British Parliament, in which I alleged that any question, however unreasonable or unjust, might be carried by a venal majority; and I spoke with high admiration of the Roman Senate, as if composed of men sincerely desirous to resolve what they should think best for their country[585]. My friend would allow no such character to the Roman Senate; and he maintained that the British Parliament was not corrupt, and that there was no occasion to corrupt its members; asserting, that there was hardly ever any question of great importance before Parliament, any question in which a man might not very well vote either upon one side or the other. He said there had been none in his time except that respecting America.

We were fatigued by the contest, which was produced by my want of caution; and he was not then in the humour to slide into easy and cheerful talk. It therefore so happened, that we were after an hour or two very willing to separate and go to bed[586].

On Wednesday, September 24, I went into Dr. Johnson's room before he got up, and finding that the storm of the preceding night was quite laid, I sat down upon his bed-side, and he talked with as much readiness and good-humour as ever. He recommended to me to plant a considerable part of a large moorish farm which I had purchased[587], and he made several calculations of the expence and profit: for he delighted in exercising his mind on the science of numbers[588]. He pressed upon me the importance of planting at the first in a very sufficient manner, quoting the saying 'In bello non licet bis errare:' and adding, 'this is equally true in planting.'

I spoke with gratitude of Dr. Taylor's hospitality; and, as evidence that it was not on account of his good table alone that Johnson visited him often, I mentioned a little anecdote which had escaped my friend's recollection, and at hearing which repeated, he smiled. One evening, when I was sitting with him, Frank delivered this message: 'Sir, Dr. Taylor sends his compliments to you, and begs you will dine with him to-morrow. He has got a hare.'—'My compliments (said Johnson) and I'll dine with him—hare or rabbit.'

After breakfast I departed, and pursued my journey northwards[589]. I took my post-chaise from the Green Man, a very good inn at Ashbourne, the mistress of which, a mighty civil gentlewoman, courtseying very low, presented me with an engraving of the sign of her house; to which she had subjoined, in her own hand-writing, an address in such singular simplicity of style, that I have preserved it pasted upon one of the boards of my original Journal at this time, and shall here insert it for the amusement of my readers:—

'M. KILLINGLEY's duty waits upon Mr. Boswell, is exceedingly obliged to him for this favour; whenever he comes this way, hopes for a continuance of the same. Would Mr. Boswell _name the house to his extensive acquaintance, it would be a singular favour conferr'd on one who has it not in her power to make any other return but her most grateful thanks, and sincerest prayers for his happiness in time, and in a blessed eternity.

'Tuesday morn_.'

From this meeting at Ashbourne I derived a considerable accession to my Johnsonian store. I communicated my original Journal to Sir William Forbes, in whom I have always placed deserved confidence; and what he wrote to me concerning it is so much to my credit as the biographer of Johnson, that my readers will, I hope, grant me their indulgence for here inserting it[590]: 'It is not once or twice going over it (says Sir William,) that will satisfy me; for I find in it a high degree of instruction as well as entertainment; and I derive more benefit from Dr. Johnson's admirable discussions than I should be able to draw from his personal conversation; for, I suppose there is not a man in the world to whom he discloses his sentiments so freely as to yourself.'

I cannot omit a curious circumstance which occurred at Edensor-inn, close by Chatsworth, to survey the magnificence of which I had gone a considerable way out of my road to Scotland. The inn was then kept by a very jolly landlord, whose name, I think, was Malton. He happened to mention that 'the celebrated Dr. Johnson had been in his house.' I inquired who this Dr. Johnson was, that I might hear mine host's notion of him. 'Sir, (said he,) Johnson, the great writer; Oddity, as they call him. He's the greatest writer in England; he writes for the ministry; he has a correspondence abroad, and lets them know what's going on[591].'

My friend, who had a thorough dependance upon the authenticity of my relation without any embellishment[592], as falsehood or fiction is too gently called, laughed a good deal at this representation of himself.


'Edinburgh, Sept. 29, 1777.


'By the first post I inform you of my safe arrival at my own house, and that I had the comfort of finding my wife and children all in good health.

'When I look back upon our late interview, it appears to me to have answered expectation better than almost any scheme of happiness that I ever put in execution. My Journal is stored with wisdom and wit[593]; and my memory is filled with the recollection of lively and affectionate feelings, which now, I think, yield me more satisfaction than at the time when they were first excited. I have experienced this upon other occasions. I shall be obliged to you if you will explain it to me; for it seems wonderful that pleasure should be more vivid at a distance than when near. I wish you may find yourself in a humour to do me this favour; but I flatter myself with no strong hope of it; for I have observed, that unless upon very serious occasions, your letters to me are not answers to those which I write[594].'

[I then expressed much uneasiness that I had mentioned to him the name of the gentleman[595] who had told me the story so much to his disadvantage, the truth of which he had completely refuted; for that my having done so might be interpreted as a breach of confidence, and offend one whose society I valued:—therefore earnestly requesting that no notice might be taken of it to anybody, till I should be in London, and have an opportunity to talk it over with the gentleman.]



'You will wonder, or you have wondered, why no letter has come from me. What you wrote at your return, had in it such a strain of cowardly caution as gave me no pleasure. I could not well do what you wished; I had no need to vex you with a refusal. I have seen Mr. ——[596], and as to him have set all right, without any inconvenience, so far as I know, to you. Mrs. Thrale had forgot the story. You may now be at ease.

'And at ease I certainly wish you, for the kindness that you showed in coming so long a journey to see me. It was pity to keep you so long in pain, but, upon reviewing the matter, I do not see what I could have done better than as I did.

'I hope you found at your return my dear enemy[597] and all her little people quite well, and had no reason to repent of your journey. I think on it with great gratitude.

'I was not well when you left me at the Doctor's, and I grew worse; yet I staid on, and at Lichfield was very ill. Travelling, however, did not make me worse; and when I came to London, I complied with a summons to go to Brighthelmston, where I saw Beauclerk, and staid three days.

'Our CLUB has recommenced last Friday, but I was not there. Langton has another wench[598]. Mrs. Thrale is in hopes of a young brewer[599]. They got by their trade last year a very large sum[600], and their expenses are proportionate.

'Mrs. Williams's health is very bad. And I have had for some time a very difficult and laborious respiration; but I am better by purges, abstinence, and other methods. I am yet, however, much behind hand in my health and rest.

'Dr. Blair's Sermons are now universally commended; but let him think that I had the honour of first finding and first praising his excellencies. I did not stay to add my voice to that of the publick[601].

'My dear friend, let me thank you once more for your visit; you did me great honour, and I hope met with nothing that displeased you. I staid long at Ashbourne, not much pleased, yet aukward at departing. I then went to Lichfield, where I found my friend at Stow-hill[602] very dangerously diseased. Such is life. Let us try to pass it well, whatever it be, for there is surely something beyond it.

'Well, now I hope all is well, write as soon as you can to, dear Sir,
'Your affectionate servant,
'London, Nov. 25, 1777.'

'Edinburgh, Nov. 29, 1777.


'This day's post has at length relieved me from much uneasiness, by bringing me a letter from you. I was, indeed, doubly uneasy;—on my own account and yours. I was very anxious to be secured against any bad consequences from my imprudence in mentioning the gentleman's name who had told me a story to your disadvantage; and as I could hardly suppose it possible, that you would delay so long to make me easy, unless you were ill, I was not a little apprehensive about you. You must not be offended when I venture to tell you that you appear to me to have been too rigid upon this occasion. The "cowardly caution which gave you no pleasure," was suggested to me by a friend here, to whom I mentioned the strange story and the detection of its falsity, as an instance how one may be deceived by what is apparently very good authority. But, as I am still persuaded, that as I might have obtained the truth, without mentioning the gentleman's name, it was wrong in me to do it, I cannot see that you are just in blaming my caution. But if you were ever so just in your disapprobation, might you not have dealt more tenderly with me?

'I went to Auchinleck about the middle of October, and passed some time with my father very comfortably.

* * * * *

'I am engaged in a criminal prosecution against a country schoolmaster, for indecent behaviour to his female scholars. There is no statute against such abominable conduct; but it is punishable at common law. I shall be obliged to you for your assistance in this extraordinary trial. I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your faithful humble servant,


About this time I wrote to Johnson, giving him an account of the decision of the Negro cause, by the court of Session, which by those who hold even the mildest and best regulated slavery in abomination, (of which number I do not hesitate to declare that I am none,) should be remembered with high respect, and to the credit of Scotland; for it went upon a much broader ground than the case of Somerset, which was decided in England[603]; being truly the general question, whether a perpetual obligation of service to one master in any mode should be sanctified by the law of a free country. A negro, then called Joseph Knight, a native of Africa, who having been brought to Jamaica in the usual course of the slave trade, and purchased by a Scotch gentleman in that island, had attended his master to Scotland, where it was officiously suggested to him that he would be found entitled to his liberty without any limitation. He accordingly brought his action, in the course of which the advocates on both sides did themselves great honour. Mr. Maclaurin has had the praise of Johnson, for his argument[604] in favour of the negro, and Mr. Macconochie distinguished himself on the same side, by his ingenuity and extraordinary research. Mr. Cullen, on the part of the master, discovered good information and sound reasoning; in which he was well supported by Mr. James Ferguson, remarkable for a manly understanding, and a knowledge both of books and of the world. But I cannot too highly praise the speech which Mr. Henry Dundas generously contributed to the cause of the sooty stranger. Mr. Dundas's Scottish accent[605], which has been so often in vain obtruded as an objection to his powerful abilities in parliament, was no disadvantage to him in his own country. And I do declare, that upon this memorable question he impressed me, and I believe all his audience, with such feelings as were produced by some of the most eminent orations of antiquity. This testimony I liberally give to the excellence of an old friend, with whom it has been my lot to differ very widely upon many political topicks; yet I persuade myself without malice. A great majority of the Lords of Session decided for the negro. But four of their number, the Lord President, Lord Elliock, Lord Monboddo, and Lord Covington, resolutely maintained the lawfulness of a status, which has been acknowledged in all ages and countries, and that when freedom flourished, as in old Greece and Rome[606].



'This is the time of the year in which all express their good wishes to their friends, and I send mine to you and your family. May your lives be long, happy, and good. I have been much out of order, but, I hope, do not grow worse.

'The crime of the schoolmaster whom you are engaged to prosecute is very great, and may be suspected to be too common. In our law it would be a breach of the peace, and a misdemeanour: that is, a kind of indefinite crime, not capital, but punishable at the discretion of the Court. You cannot want matter: all that needs to be said will easily occur.

'Mr. Shaw[607], the author of the Gaelick Grammar, desires me to make a request for him to Lord Eglintoune, that he may be appointed Chaplain to one of the new-raised regiments.

'All our friends are as they were; little has happened to them of either good or bad. Mrs. Thrale ran a great black hair-dressing pin into her eye; but by great evacuation she kept it from inflaming, and it is almost well. Miss Reynolds has been out of order, but is better. Mrs. Williams is in a very poor state of health.

'If I should write on, I should, perhaps, write only complaints, and therefore I will content myself with telling you, that I love to think on you, and to hear from you; and that I am, dear Sir,

'Yours faithfully,


'December 27, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Jan. 8, 1778.


'Your congratulations upon a new year are mixed with complaint: mine must be so too. My wife has for some time been very ill, having been confined to the house these three months by a severe cold, attended with alarming symptoms.

[Here I gave a particular account of the distress which the person, upon every account most dear to me, suffered; and of the dismal state of apprehension in which I now was: adding that I never stood more in need of his consoling philosophy.]

'Did you ever look at a book written by Wilson, a Scotchman, under the Latin name of Volusenus, according to the custom of literary men at a certain period. It is entitled De Animi Tranquillitate[608]. I earnestly desire tranquillity. Bona res quies: but I fear I shall never attain it: for, when unoccupied, I grow gloomy, and occupation agitates me to feverishness.

* * * * *

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,




'To a letter so interesting as your last, it is proper to return some answer, however little I may be disposed to write.

'Your alarm at your lady's illness was reasonable, and not disproportionate to the appearance of the disorder. I hope your physical friend's conjecture is now verified, and all fear of a consumption at an end: a little care and exercise will then restore her. London is a good air for ladies; and if you bring her hither, I will do for her what she did for me—I will retire from my apartments, for her accommodation[609]. Behave kindly to her, and keep her cheerful.

'You always seem to call for tenderness. Know then, that in the first month of the present year I very highly esteem and very cordially love you. I hope to tell you this at the beginning of every year as long as we live; and why should we trouble ourselves to tell or hear it oftener?

'Tell Veronica, Euphemia, and Alexander, that I wish them, as well as their parents, many happy years.

'You have ended the negro's cause much to my mind. Lord Auchinleck and dear Lord Hailes were on the side of liberty. Lord Hailes's name reproaches me; but if he saw my languid neglect of my own affairs, he would rather pity than resent my neglect of his. I hope to mend, ut et mihi vivam et amicis.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your's affectionately,


'January 24, 1778.'

'My service to my fellow-traveller, Joseph[610].'

Johnson maintained a long and intimate friendship with Mr. Welch[611], who succeeded the celebrated Henry Fielding as one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for Westminster; kept a regular office for the police[612] of that great district; and discharged his important trust, for many years, faithfully and ably. Johnson, who had an eager and unceasing curiosity to know human life in all its variety, told me, that he attended Mr. Welch in his office for a whole winter, to hear the examinations of the culprits; but that he found an almost uniform tenor of misfortune, wretchedness and profligacy. Mr. Welch's health being impaired, he was advised to try the effect of a warm climate; and Johnson, by his interest with Mr. Chamier[613], procured him leave of absence to go to Italy, and a promise that the pension or salary of two hundred pounds a year, which Government allowed him[614], should not be discontinued. Mr. Welch accordingly went abroad, accompanied by his daughter Anne, a young lady of uncommon talents and literature.



'To have suffered one of my best and dearest friends to pass almost two years in foreign countries without a letter, has a very shameful appearance of inattention. But the truth is, that there was no particular time in which I had any thing particular to say; and general expressions of good will, I hope, our long friendship is grown too solid to want.

'Of publick affairs you have information from the news-papers wherever you go, for the English keep no secret; and of other things, Mrs. Nollekens informs you. My intelligence could therefore be of no use; and Miss Nancy's letters made it unnecessary to write to you for information: I was likewise for some time out of humour, to find that motion, and nearer approaches to the sun, did not restore your health so fast as I expected. Of your health, the accounts have lately been more pleasing; and I have the gratification of imaging to myself a length of years which I hope you have gained, and of which the enjoyment will be improved by a vast accession of images and observations which your journeys and various residence have enabled you to make and accumulate. You have travelled with this felicity, almost peculiar to yourself, that your companion is not to part from you at your journey's end; but you are to live on together, to help each other's recollection, and to supply each other's omissions. The world has few greater pleasures than that which two friends enjoy, in tracing back, at some distant time, those transactions and events through which they have passed together. One of the old man's miseries is, that he cannot easily find a companion able to partake with him of the past. You and your fellow-traveller have this comfort in store, that your conversation will be not easily exhausted; one will always be glad to say what the other will always be willing to hear.

'That you may enjoy this pleasure long, your health must have your constant attention. I suppose you purpose to return this year. There is no need of haste: do not come hither before the height of summer, that you may fall gradually into the inconveniences of your native clime. July seems to be the proper month. August and September will prepare you for the winter. After having travelled so far to find health, you must take care not to lose it at home; and I hope a little care will effectually preserve it.

'Miss Nancy has doubtless kept a constant and copious journal. She must not expect to be welcome when she returns, without a great mass of information. Let her review her journal often, and set down what she finds herself to have omitted, that she may trust to memory as little as possible, for memory is soon confused by a quick succession of things; and she will grow every day less confident of the truth of her own narratives, unless she can recur to some written memorials. If she has satisfied herself with hints, instead of full representations, let her supply the deficiencies now while her memory is yet fresh, and while her father's memory may help her. If she observes this direction, she will not have travelled in vain; for she will bring home a book with which she may entertain herself to the end of life. If it were not now too late, I would advise her to note the impression which the first sight of any thing new and wonderful made upon her mind. Let her now set her thoughts down as she can recollect them; for faint as they may already be, they will grow every day fainter.

'Perhaps I do not flatter myself unreasonably when I imagine that you may wish to know something of me. I can gratify your benevolence with no account of health. The hand of time, or of disease, is very heavy upon me. I pass restless and uneasy nights, harassed with convulsions of my breast, and flatulencies at my stomach; and restless nights make heavy days. But nothing will be mended by complaints, and therefore I will make an end. When we meet, we will try to forget our cares and our maladies, and contribute, as we can, to the chearfulness of each other. If I had gone with you, I believe I should have been better; but I do not know that it was in my power.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 3, 1778.'

This letter, while it gives admirable advice how to travel to the best advantage, and will therefore be of very general use, is another eminent proof of Johnson's warm and affectionate heart[615].


'Edinburgh, Feb. 26, 1778.


'Why I have delayed, for near a month, to thank you for your last affectionate letter, I cannot say; for my mind has been in better health these three weeks than for some years past. I believe I have evaded till I could send you a copy of Lord Hailes's opinion on the negro's cause, which he wishes you to read, and correct any errours that there may be in the language; for, says he, "we live in a critical, though not a learned age; and I seek to screen myself under the shield of Ajax." I communicated to him your apology for keeping the sheets of his Annals so long. He says, "I am sorry to see that Dr. Johnson is in a state of languor. Why should a sober Christian, neither an enthusiast nor a fanatick, be very merry or very sad?" I envy his Lordship's comfortable constitution: but well do I know that languor and dejection will afflict the best, however excellent their principles. I am in possession of Lord Hailes's opinion in his own hand-writing, and have had it for some time. My excuse then for procrastination must be, that I wanted to have it copied; and I have now put that off so long, that it will be better to bring it with me than send it, as I shall probably get you to look at it sooner, when I solicit you in person.

'My wife, who is, I thank GOD, a good deal better, is much obliged to you for your very polite and courteous offer of your apartment: but, if she goes to London, it will be best for her to have lodgings in the more airy vicinity of Hyde-Park. I, however, doubt much if I shall be able to prevail with her to accompany me to the metropolis; for she is so different from you and me, that she dislikes travelling; and she is so anxious about her children, that she thinks she should be unhappy if at a distance from them. She therefore wishes rather to go to some country place in Scotland, where she can have them with her.

'I purpose being in London about the 20th of next month, as I think it creditable to appear in the House of Lords as one of Douglas's Counsel, in the great and last competition between Duke Hamilton and him[616].

* * * * *

'I am sorry poor Mrs. Williams is so ill: though her temper is unpleasant, she has always been polite and obliging to me. I wish many happy years to good Mr. Levett, who I suppose holds his usual place at your breakfast table[617].

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,



'Edinburgh, Feb. 28, 1778.


'You are at present busy amongst the English poets, preparing, for the publick instruction and entertainment, Prefaces, biographical and critical. It will not, therefore, be out of season to appeal to you for the decision of a controversy which has arisen between a lady and me concerning a passage in Parnell. That poet tells us, that his Hermit quitted his cell

"… to know the world by sight,
To find if books or swains report it right;
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew.)"

I maintain, that there is an inconsistency here; for as the Hermit's notions of the world were formed from the reports both of books and swains, he could not justly be said to know by swains alone. Be pleased to judge between us, and let us have your reasons[618].

'What do you say to Taxation no Tyranny, now, after Lord North's declaration, or confession, or whatever else his conciliatory speech should be called[619]? I never differed from you in politicks but upon two points,—the Middlesex Election[620], and the Taxation of the Americans by the British Houses of Representatives[621]. There is a _charm _in the word Parliament, so I avoid it. As I am a steady and a warm Tory, I regret that the King does not see it to be better for him to receive constitutional supplies from his American subjects by the voice of their own assemblies, where his Royal Person is represented, than through the medium of his British subjects. I am persuaded that the power of the Crown, which I wish to increase, would be greater when in contact with all its dominions, than if "the rays of regal bounty[622]" were to "shine" upon America through that dense and troubled body, a modern British Parliament. But, enough of this subject; for your angry voice at Ashbourne[623] upon it, still sounds aweful "in my mind's ears[624]."

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,



'Edinburgh, March 12, 1778.


'The alarm of your late illness distressed me but a few hours; for on the evening of the day that it reached me, I found it contradicted in The London Chronicle, which I could depend upon as authentick concerning you, Mr. Strahan being the printer of it. I did not see the paper in which "the approaching extinction of a bright luminary" was announced. Sir William Forbes told me of it; and he says, he saw me so uneasy, that he did not give me the report in such strong terms as he read it. He afterwards sent me a letter from Mr. Langton to him, which relieved me much. I am, however, not quite easy, as I have not heard from you; and now I shall not have that comfort before I see you, for I set out for London to-morrow before the post comes in. I hope to be with you on Wednesday morning; and I ever am, with the highest veneration, my dear Sir, your much obliged, faithful, and affectionate,

'Humble servant,


On Wednesday, March 18, I arrived in London, and was informed by good Mr. Francis that his master was better, and was gone to Mr. Thrale's at Streatham, to which place I wrote to him, begging to know when he would be in town. He was not expected for some time; but next day having called on Dr. Taylor, in Dean's-yard, Westminster, I found him there, and was told he had come to town for a few hours. He met me with his usual kindness, but instantly returned to the writing of something on which he was employed when I came in, and on which he seemed much intent. Finding him thus engaged, I made my visit very short, and had no more of his conversation, except his expressing a serious regret that a friend of ours[625] was living at too much expence, considering how poor an appearance he made: 'If (said he) a man has splendour from his expence, if he spends his money in pride or in pleasure, he has value: but if he lets others spend it for him, which is most commonly the case, he has no advantage from it.'

On Friday, March 20, I found him at his own house, sitting with Mrs. Williams, and was informed that the room formerly allotted to me[626] was now appropriated to a charitable purpose; Mrs. Desmoulins[627], and I think her daughter, and a Miss Carmichael, being all lodged in it. Such was his humanity, and such his generosity, that Mrs. Desmoulins herself told me, he allowed her half-a-guinea a week. Let it be remembered, that this was above a twelfth part of his pension.

His liberality, indeed, was at all periods of his life very remarkable. Mr. Howard, of Lichfield, at whose father's house Johnson had in his early years been kindly received, told me, that when he was a boy at the Charter-House, his father wrote to him to go and pay a visit to Mr. Samuel Johnson, which he accordingly did, and found him in an upper room, of poor appearance. Johnson received him with much courteousness, and talked a great deal to him, as to a school-boy, of the course of his education, and other particulars. When he afterwards came to know and understand the high character of this great man, he recollected his condescension with wonder. He added, that when he was going away, Mr. Johnson presented him with half-a-guinea; and this, said Mr. Howard, was at a time when he probably had not another.

We retired from Mrs. Williams to another room. Tom Davies soon after joined us. He had now unfortunately failed in his circumstances, and was much indebted to Dr. Johnson's kindness for obtaining for him many alleviations of his distress[628]. After he went away, Johnson blamed his folly in quitting the stage, by which he and his wife got five hundred pounds a year. I said, I believed it was owing to Churchill's attack upon him,

'He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone[629].'

JOHNSON. 'I believe so too, Sir. But what a man is he, who is to be driven from the stage by a line? Another line would have driven him from his shop.'

I told him, that I was engaged as Counsel at the bar of the House of Commons to oppose a road-bill in the county of Stirling, and asked him what mode he would advise me to follow in addressing such an audience. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you must provide yourself with a good deal of extraneous matter, which you are to produce occasionally, so as to fill up the time; for you must consider, that they do not listen much. If you begin with the strength of your cause, it may be lost before they begin to listen. When you catch a moment of attention, press the merits of the question upon them.' He said, as to one point of the merits, that he thought 'it would be a wrong thing to deprive the small landholders of the privilege of assessing themselves for making and repairing the high roads; it was destroying a certain portion of liberty, without a good reason, which was always a bad thing! When I mentioned this observation next day to Mr. Wilkes, he pleasantly said, 'What! does he talk of liberty? Liberty is as ridiculous in his mouth as Religion in mine!' Mr. Wilkes's advice, as to the best mode of speaking at the bar of the House of Commons, was not more respectful towards the senate, than that of Dr. Johnson. 'Be as impudent as you can, as merry as you can, and say whatever comes uppermost. Jack Lee[630] is the best heard there of any Counsel; and he is the most impudent dog, and always abusing us.'

In my interview with Dr. Johnson this evening, I was quite easy, quite as his companion; upon which I find in my Journal the following reflection: 'So ready is my mind to suggest matter for dissatisfaction, that I felt a sort of regret that I was so easy. I missed that aweful reverence with which I used to contemplate MR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in the complex magnitude of his literary, moral, and religious character. I have a wonderful superstitious love of mystery; when, perhaps, the truth is, that it is owing to the cloudy darkness of my own mind. I should be glad that I am more advanced in my progress of being, so that I can view Dr. Johnson with a steadier and clearer eye. My dissatisfaction to-night was foolish. Would it not be foolish to regret that we shall have less mystery in a future state? That we "now see in[631] a glass darkly," but shall "then see face to face?"' This reflection, which I thus freely communicate, will be valued by the thinking part of my readers, who may have themselves experienced a similar state of mind.

He returned next day to Streatham, to Mr. Thrale's; where, as Mr. Strahan once complained to me, 'he was in a great measure absorbed from the society of his old friends[632].' I was kept in London by business, and wrote to him on the 27th, that a separation from him for a week, when we were so near, was equal to a separation for a year, when we were at four hundred miles distance. I went to Streatham on Monday, March 30. Before he appeared, Mrs. Thrale made a very characteristical remark:—'I do not know for certain what will please Dr. Johnson: but I know for certain that it will displease him to praise any thing, even what he likes, extravagantly[633].'

At dinner he laughed at querulous declamations against the age, on account of luxury[634],—increase of London,—scarcity of provisions,—and other such topicks. 'Houses (said he) will be built till rents fall: and corn is more plentiful now than ever it was[635].'

I had before dinner repeated a ridiculous story told me by an old man who had been a passenger with me in the stage-coach to-day. Mrs. Thrale, having taken occasion to allude to it in talking to me, called it 'The story told you by the old woman.'—'Now, Madam, (said I,) give me leave to catch you in the fact; it was not an old woman, but an old man, whom I mentioned as having told me this.' I presumed to take an opportunity, in presence of Johnson, of shewing this lively lady how ready she was, unintentionally, to deviate from exact authenticity of narration[636].

Thomas à Kempis (he observed) must be a good book, as the world has opened its arms to receive it. It is said to have been printed, in one language or other, as many times as there have been months since it first came out[637]. I always was struck with this sentence in it: 'Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be[638].'

He said, 'I was angry with Hurd about Cowley, for having published a selection of his works: but, upon better consideration, I think there is no impropriety in a man's publishing as much as he chooses of any authour, if he does not put the rest out of the way. A man, for instance, may print the Odes of Horace alone.' He seemed to be in a more indulgent humour, than when this subject was discussed between him and Mr. Murphy[639].

When we were at tea and coffee, there came in Lord Trimlestown, in whose family was an ancient Irish peerage, but it suffered by taking the generous side in the troubles of the last century[640]. He was a man of pleasing conversation, and was accompanied by a young gentleman, his son.

I mentioned that I had in my possession the Life of Sir Robert Sibbald, the celebrated Scottish antiquary, and founder of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh, in the original manuscript in his own handwriting; and that it was I believed the most natural and candid account of himself that ever was given by any man. As an instance, he tells that the Duke of Perth, then Chancellor of Scotland, pressed him very much to come over to the Roman Catholick faith: that he resisted all his Grace's arguments for a considerable time, till one day he felt himself, as it were, instantaneously convinced, and with tears in his eyes ran into the Duke's arms, and embraced the ancient religion; that he continued very steady in it for some time, and accompanied his Grace to London one winter, and lived in his household; that there he found the rigid fasting prescribed by the church very severe upon him; that this disposed him to reconsider the controversy, and having then seen that he was in the wrong, he returned to Protestantism. I talked of some time or other publishing this curious life. MRS. THRALE. 'I think you had as well let alone that publication. To discover such weakness, exposes a man when he is gone.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, it is an honest picture of human nature. How often are the primary motives of our greatest actions as small as Sibbald's, for his re-conversion[641].' MRS. THRALE. 'But may they not as well be forgotten?' JOHNSON. 'No, Madam, a man loves to review his own mind. That is the use of a diary, or journal[642].' LORD TRIMLESTOWN. 'True, Sir. As the ladies love to see themselves in a glass; so a man likes to see himself in his journal.' BOSWELL. 'A very pretty allusion.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, indeed.' BOSWELL. 'And as a lady adjusts her dress before a mirror, a man adjusts his character by looking at his journal.' I next year found the very same thought in Atterbury's Funeral Sermon on Lady Cutts; where, having mentioned her Diary, he says, 'In this glass she every day dressed her mind.' This is a proof of coincidence, and not of plagiarism; for I had never read that sermon before.

Next morning, while we were at breakfast, Johnson gave a very earnest recommendation of what he himself practised with the utmost conscientiousness: I mean a strict attention to truth, even in the most minute particulars. 'Accustom your children (said he) constantly to this; if a thing happened at one window, and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end.' BOSWELL. 'It may come to the door: and when once an account is at all varied in one circumstance, it may by degrees be varied so as to be totally different from what really happened.' Our lively hostess, whose fancy was impatient of the rein, fidgeted at this, and ventured to say, 'Nay, this is too much. If Mr. Johnson should forbid me to drink tea, I would comply, as I should feel the restraint only twice a day; but little variations in narrative must happen a thousand times a day, if one is not perpetually watching.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Madam, and you ought to be perpetually watching. It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world[643].'

In his review of Dr. Warton's Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope, Johnson has given the following salutary caution upon this subject:—

'Nothing but experience could evince the frequency of false information, or enable any man to conceive that so many groundless reports should be propagated, as every man of eminence may hear of himself. Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men of confused memories and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man what belongs to another; and some talk on, without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters[644].'

Had he lived to read what Sir John Hawkins and Mrs. Piozzi have related concerning himself, how much would he have found his observation illustrated. He was indeed so much impressed with the prevalence of falsehood, voluntary or unintentional, that I never knew any person who upon hearing an extraordinary circumstance told, discovered more of the incredulus odi[645]. He would say, with a significant look and decisive tone, 'It is not so. Do not tell this again[646].' He inculcated upon all his friends the importance of perpetual vigilance against the slightest degrees of falsehood; the effect of which, as Sir Joshua Reynolds observed to me, has been, that all who were of his school are distinguished for a love of truth and accuracy, which they would not have possessed in the same degree, if they had not been acquainted with Johnson[647].

Talking of ghosts, he said, 'It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it[648].'

He said, 'John Wesley's conversation is good[649], but he is never at leisure. He is always obliged to go at a certain hour[650]. This is very disagreeable to a man who loves to fold his legs and have out his talk, as I do.'

On Friday, April 3, I dined with him in London, in a company[651] where were present several eminent men, whom I shall not name, but distinguish their parts in the conversation by different letters.

F. 'I have been looking at this famous antique marble dog of Mr. Jennings, valued at a thousand guineas, said to be Alcibiades's dog.' JOHNSON. 'His tail then must be docked. That was the mark of Alcibiades's dog[652].' E. 'A thousand guineas! The representation of no animal whatever is worth so much, at this rate a dead dog would indeed be better than a living lion.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not the worth of the thing, but of the skill in forming it which is so highly estimated. Every thing that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shews man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable. The first man who balanced a straw upon his nose[653]; Johnson, who rode upon three horses at a time[654]; in short, all such men deserved the applause of mankind, not on account of the use of what they did, but of the dexterity which they exhibited.' BOSWELL. 'Yet a misapplication of time and assiduity is not to be encouraged. Addison, in one of his Spectators, commends the judgement of a King, who, as a suitable reward to a man that by long perseverance had attained to the art of throwing a barleycorn through the eye of a needle, gave him a bushel of barley.' JOHNSON. 'He must have been a King of Scotland, where barley is scarce.' F. 'One of the most remarkable antique figures of an animal is the boar at Florence.' JOHNSON. 'The first boar that is well made in marble, should be preserved as a wonder. When men arrive at a facility of making boars well, then the workmanship is not of such value, but they should however be preserved as examples, and as a greater security for the restoration of the art, should it be lost.'

E. 'We hear prodigious[655] complaints at present of emigration[656]. I am convinced that emigration makes a country more populous.' J. 'That sounds very much like a paradox.' E. 'Exportation of men, like exportation of all other commodities, makes more be produced.' JOHNSON. 'But there would be more people were there not emigration, provided there were food for more.' E. 'No; leave a few breeders, and you'll have more people than if there were no emigration.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, it is plain there will be more people, if there are more breeders. Thirty cows in good pasture will produce more calves than ten cows, provided they have good bulls.' E. 'There are bulls enough in Ireland.' JOHNSON. (smiling,) 'So, Sir, I should think from your argument.' BOSWELL. 'You said, exportation of men, like exportation of other commodities, makes more be produced. But a bounty is given to encourage the exportation of corn[657], and no bounty is given for the exportation of men; though, indeed, those who go, gain by it.' R. 'But the bounty on the exportation of corn is paid at home.' E. 'That's the same thing.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' R. 'A man who stays at home, gains nothing by his neighbours emigrating.' BOSWELL. 'I can understand that emigration may be the cause that more people may be produced in a country; but the country will not therefore be the more populous; for the people issue from it. It can only be said that there is a flow of people. It is an encouragement to have children, to know that they can get a living by emigration.' R. 'Yes, if there were an emigration of children under six years of age. But they don't emigrate till they could earn their livelihood in some way at home.' C. 'It is remarkable that the most unhealthy countries, where there are the most destructive diseases, such as Egypt and Bengal, are the most populous.' JOHNSON. 'Countries which are the most populous have the most destructive diseases. That is the true state of the proposition.' C. 'Holland is very unhealthy, yet it is exceedingly populous.' JOHNSON. 'I know not that Holland is unhealthy. But its populousness is owing to an influx of people from all other countries. Disease cannot be the cause of populousness, for it not only carries off a great proportion of the people, but those who are left are weakened and unfit for the purposes of increase.'

R. 'Mr. E., I don't mean to flatter, but when posterity reads one of your speeches in Parliament, it will be difficult to believe that you took so much pains, knowing with certainty that it could produce no effect, that not one vote would be gained by it[658].' E. 'Waiving your compliment to me, I shall say in general, that it is very well worth while for a man to take pains to speak well in Parliament. A man, who has vanity, speaks to display his talents; and if a man speaks well, he gradually establishes a certain reputation and consequence in the general opinion, which sooner or later will have its political reward. Besides, though not one vote is gained, a good speech has its effect. Though an act which has been ably opposed passes into a law, yet in its progress it is modelled, it is softened in such a manner, that we see plainly the Minister has been told, that the Members attached to him are so sensible of its injustice or absurdity from what they have heard, that it must be altered[659].' JOHNSON. 'And, Sir, there is a gratification of pride. Though we cannot out-vote them we will out-argue them. They shall not do wrong without its being shown both to themselves and to the world.' E. 'The House of Commons is a mixed body. (I except the Minority, which I hold to be pure, [smiling] but I take the whole House.) It is a mass by no means pure; but neither is it wholly corrupt, though there is a large proportion of corruption in it. There are many members who generally go with the Minister, who will not go all lengths. There are many honest well-meaning country gentleman who are in parliament only to keep up the consequence of their families. Upon most of these a good speech will have influence.' JOHNSON. 'We are all more or less governed by interest. But interest will not make us do every thing. In a case which admits of doubt, we try to think on the side which is for our interest, and generally bring ourselves to act accordingly. But the subject must admit of diversity of colouring; it must receive a colour on that side. In the House of Commons there are members enough who will not vote what is grossly unjust or absurd. No, Sir, there must always be right enough, or appearance of right, to keep wrong in countenance.' BOSWELL. 'There is surely always a majority in parliament who have places, or who want to have them, and who therefore will be generally ready to support government without requiring any pretext.' E. 'True, Sir; that majority will always follow

"Quo clamor vocat et turba, faventium[660]."'

BOSWELL. 'Well now, let us take the common phrase, Place-hunters. I thought they had hunted without regard to any thing, just as their huntsmen, the Minister, leads, looking only to the prey[661].' J. 'But taking your metaphor, you know that in hunting there are few so desperately keen as to follow without reserve. Some do not choose to leap ditches and hedges and risk their necks, or gallop over steeps, or even to dirty themselves in bogs and mire.' BOSWELL. 'I am glad there are some good, quiet, moderate political hunters.' E. 'I believe, in any body of men in England, I should have been in the Minority; I have always been in the Minority.' P. 'The House of Commons resembles a private company. How seldom is any man convinced by another's argument; passion and pride rise against it.' R. 'What would be the consequence, if a Minister, sure of a majority in the House of Commons, should resolve that there should be no speaking at all upon his side.' E. 'He must soon go out. That has been tried; but it was found it would not do.'

E. 'The Irish language is not primitive; it is Teutonick, a mixture of the northern tongues: it has much English in it.' JOHNSON. 'It may have been radically Teutonick; but English and High Dutch have no similarity to the eye, though radically the same. Once, when looking into Low Dutch, I found, in a whole page, only one word similar to English; stroem, like stream, and it signified tide'. E. 'I remember having seen a Dutch Sonnet, in which I found this word, roesnopies. Nobody would at first think that this could be English; but, when we enquire, we find roes, rose, and nopie, knob; so we have rosebuds'.

JOHNSON. 'I have been reading Thicknesse's Travels, which I think are entertaining.' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir, a good book?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, to read once; I do not say you are to make a study of it, and digest it; and I believe it to be a true book in his intention. All travellers generally mean to tell truth; though Thicknesse observes, upon Smollet's account of his alarming a whole town in France by firing a blunderbuss[662], and frightening a French nobleman till he made him tie on his portmanteau[663], that he would be loth to say Smollet had told two lies in one page; but he had found the only town in France where these things could have happened[664]. Travellers must often be mistaken. In every thing, except where mensuration can be applied, they may honestly differ. There has been, of late, a strange turn in travellers to be displeased[665].'

E. 'From the experience which I have had,—and I have had a great deal,—I have learnt to think better of mankind[666].' JOHNSON. 'From my experience I have found them worse in commercial dealings, more disposed to cheat, than I had any notion of; but more disposed to do one another good than I had conceived[667].' J. 'Less just and more beneficent.' JOHNSON. 'And really it is wonderful, considering how much attention is necessary for men to take care of themselves, and ward off immediate evils which press upon them, it is wonderful how much they do for others. As it is said of the greatest liar, that he tells more truth than falsehood; so it may be said of the worst man, that he does more good than evil[668].' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps from experience men may be found happier than we suppose.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; the more we enquire, we shall find men the less happy.' P. 'As to thinking better or worse of mankind from experience, some cunning people will not be satisfied unless they have put men to the test, as they think. There is a very good story told of Sir Godfrey Kneller, in his character of a Justice of the peace. A gentleman brought his servant before him, upon an accusation of having stolen some money from him; but it having come out that he had laid it purposely in the servant's way, in order to try his honesty, Sir Godfrey sent the master to prison[669].' JOHNSON. 'To resist temptation once, is not a sufficient proof of honesty. If a servant, indeed, were to resist the continued temptation of silver lying in a window, as some people let it lye, when he is sure his master does not know how much there is of it, he would give a strong proof of honesty. But this is a proof to which you have no right to put a man. You know, humanly speaking, there is a certain degree of temptation, which will overcome any virtue. Now, in so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury; and, if he is overcome, you share his guilt.' P. 'And, when once overcome, it is easier for him to be got the better of again.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, you are his seducer; you have debauched him. I have known a man[670] resolved to put friendship to the test, by asking a friend to lend him money merely with that view, when he did not want it.' JOHNSON. 'That is very wrong, Sir. Your friend may be a narrow man, and yet have many good qualities: narrowness may be his only fault. Now you are trying his general character as a friend, by one particular singly, in which he happens to be defective, when, in truth, his character is composed of many particulars.'

E. 'I understand the hogshead of claret, which this society was favoured with by our friend the Dean[671], is nearly out; I think he should be written to, to send another of the same kind. Let the request be made with a happy ambiguity of expression, so that we may have the chance of his sending it also as a present.' JOHNSON. 'I am willing to offer my services as secretary on this occasion.' P. 'As many as are for Dr. Johnson being secretary hold up your hands.—Carried unanimously.' BOSWELL. 'He will be our Dictator.' JOHNSON. 'No, the company is to dictate to me. I am only to write for wine; and I am quite disinterested, as I drink none; I shall not be suspected of having forged the application. I am no more than humble scribe.' E. 'Then you shall _pre_scribe.' BOSWELL. 'Very well. The first play of words to-day.' J. 'No, no; the bulls in Ireland.' JOHNSON. 'Were I your Dictator you should have no wine. It would be my business cavere ne quid detrimenti Respublica caperet, and wine is dangerous. Rome was ruined by luxury,' (smiling.) E. 'If you allow no wine as Dictator, you shall not have me for your master of horse.'

On Saturday, April 4, I drank tea with Johnson at Dr. Taylor's, where he had dined. He entertained us with an account of a tragedy written by a Dr. Kennedy, (not the Lisbon physician.) 'The catastrophe of it (said he) was, that a King, who was jealous of his Queen with his prime-minister, castrated himself[672]. This tragedy was actually shewn about in manuscript to several people, and, amongst others, to Mr. Fitzherbert, who repeated to me two lines of the Prologue:

"Our hero's fate we have but gently touch'd;
The fair might blame us, if it were less couch'd."

It is hardly to be believed what absurd and indecent images men will introduce into their writings, without being sensible of the absurdity and indecency. I remember Lord Orrery told me, that there was a pamphlet written against Sir Robert Walpole, the whole of which was an allegory on the PHALLICK OBSCENITY. The Duchess of Buckingham asked Lord Orrery who this person was? He answered he did not know. She said, she would send to Mr. Pulteney, who, she supposed, could inform her. So then, to prevent her from making herself ridiculous, Lord Orrery sent her Grace a note, in which he gave her to understand what was meant.'

He was very silent this evening; and read in a variety of books: suddenly throwing down one, and taking up another.

He talked of going to Streatham that night. TAYLOR. 'You'll be robbed if you do: or you must shoot a highwayman[673]. Now I would rather be robbed than do that; I would not shoot a highwayman.' JOHNSON. 'But I would rather shoot him in the instant when he is attempting to rob me, than afterwards swear against him at the Old-Bailey, to take away his life, after he has robbed me[674]. I am surer I am right in the one case than in the other. I may be mistaken as to the man, when I swear: I cannot be mistaken, if I shoot him in the act. Besides, we feel less reluctance reluctance to take away a man's life, when we are heated by the injury, than to do it at a distance of time by an oath, after we have cooled.' BOSWELL. 'So, Sir, you would rather act from the motive of private passion, than that of publick advantage.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, when I shoot the highwayman I act from both.' BOSWELL. 'Very well, very well.—There is no catching him.' JOHNSON. 'At the same time one does not know what to say. For perhaps one may, a year after, hang himself from uneasiness for having shot a man[675]. Few minds are fit to be trusted with so great a thing.' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, you would not shoot him?' JOHNSON. 'But I might be vexed afterwards for that too[676].'

Thrale's carriage not having come for him, as he expected, I accompanied him some part of the way home to his own house. I told him, that I had talked of him to Mr. Dunning[677] a few days before, and had said, that in his company we did not so much interchange conversation, as listen to him; and that Dunning observed, upon this, 'One is always willing to listen to Dr. Johnson:' to which I answered, 'That is a great deal from you, Sir.'—'Yes, Sir, (said Johnson,) a great deal indeed. Here is a man willing to listen, to whom the world is listening all the rest of the year.' BOSWELL. 'I think, Sir, it is right to tell one man of such a handsome thing, which has been said of him by another. It tends to increase benevolence.' JOHNSON. 'Undoubtedly it is right, Sir[678].'

On Tuesday, April 7, I breakfasted with him at his house. He said, 'nobody was content.' I mentioned to him a respectable person[679] in Scotland whom he knew; and I asserted, that I really believed he was always content. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, he is not content with the present; he has always some new scheme, some new plantation, something which is future. You know he was not content as a widower; for he married again.' BOSWELL. 'But he is not restless.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, he is only locally at rest. A chymist is locally at rest; but his mind is hard at work. This gentleman has done with external exertions. It is too late for him to engage in distant projects.' BOSWELL. 'He seems to amuse himself quite well; to have his attention fixed, and his tranquillity preserved by very small matters. I have tried this; but it would not do with me.' JOHNSON, (laughing) 'No, Sir; it must be born with a man to be contented to take up with little things. Women have a great advantage that they may take up with little things, without disgracing themselves: a man cannot, except with fiddling. Had I learnt to fiddle, I should have done nothing else[680].' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, did you ever play on any musical instrument?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. I once bought me a flagelet; but I never made out a tune.' BOSWELL. 'A flagelet, Sir!—so small an instrument[681]? I should have liked to hear you play on the violoncello. That should have been your instrument.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I might as well have played on the violoncello as another; but I should have done nothing else. No, Sir; a man would never undertake great things, could he be amused with small. I once tried knotting. Dempster's sister undertook to teach me; but I could not learn it[682].' BOSWELL. 'So, Sir; it will be related in pompous narrative, "Once for his amusement he tried knotting; nor did this Hercules disdain the distaff."' JOHNSON. 'Knitting of stockings is a good amusement. As a freeman of Aberdeen[683] I should be a knitter of stockings.' He asked me to go down with him and dine at Mr. Thrale's at Streatham, to which I agreed. I had lent him An Account of Scotland, in 1702, written by a man of various enquiry, an English chaplain to a regiment stationed there. JOHNSON. 'It is sad stuff, Sir, miserably written, as books in general then were. There is now an elegance of style universally diffused.[684] No man now writes so ill as Martin's Account of the Hebrides is written. A man could not write so ill, if he should try. Set a merchant's clerk now to write, and he'll do better[685].'

He talked to me with serious concern of a certain female friend's 'laxity of narration, and inattention to truth.'—'I am as much vexed (said he) at the ease with which she hears it mentioned to her, as at the thing itself. I told her, "Madam, you are contented to hear every day said to you, what the highest of mankind have died for, rather than bear."—You know, Sir, the highest of mankind have died rather than bear to be told they had uttered a falsehood. Do talk to her of it[686]: I am weary.'

BOSWELL. 'Was not Dr. John Campbell a very inaccurate man in his narrative, Sir? He once told me, that he drank thirteen bottles of port at a sitting.'[687] JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I do not know that Campbell ever lied with pen and ink; but you could not entirely depend on any thing he told you in conversation: if there was fact mixed with it. However, I loved Campbell: he was a solid orthodox man: he had a reverence for religion. Though defective in practice, he was religious in principle; and he did nothing grossly wrong that I have heard[688].'

I told him, that I had been present the day before, when Mrs. Montagu, the literary lady[689], sat to Miss Reynolds for her picture; and that she said, 'she had bound up Mr. Gibbon's History without the last two offensive chapters[690]; for that she thought the book so far good, as it gave, in an elegant manner, the substance of the bad writers medii aevi, which the late Lord Lyttelton advised her to read.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, she has not read them: she shews none of this impetuosity to me: she does not know Greek, and, I fancy, knows little Latin. She is willing you should think she knows them; but she does not say she does[691].' BOSWELL. 'Mr. Harris, who was present, agreed with her.' JOHNSON. 'Harris was laughing at her, Sir. Harris is a sound sullen scholar; he does not like interlopers. Harris, however, is a prig, and a bad prig[692]. I looked into his book[693], and thought he did not understand his own system.' BOSWELL. 'He says plain things in a formal and abstract way, to be sure: but his method is good: for to have clear notions upon any subject, we must have recourse to analytick arrangement.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is what every body does, whether they will or no. But sometimes things may be made darker by definition. I see a cow, I define her, Animal quadrupes ruminans cornutum. But a goat ruminates, and a cow may have no horns. Cow is plainer.' BOSWELL. 'I think Dr. Franklin's definition of Man a good one—"A tool-making animal."' JOHNSON. 'But many a man never made a tool; and suppose a man without arms, he could not make a tool.'

Talking of drinking wine, he said, 'I did not leave off wine, because I could not bear it; I have drunk three bottles of port without being the worse for it. University College has witnessed this[694].' BOSWELL. 'Why then, Sir, did you leave it off?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, because it is so much better for a man to be sure that he is never to be intoxicated, never to lose the power over himself[695]. I shall not begin to drink wine again, till I grow old, and want it.' BOSWELL. 'I think, Sir, you once said to me, that not to drink wine was a great deduction from life.' JOHNSON. 'It is a diminution of pleasure, to be sure; but I do not say a diminution of happiness. There is more happiness in being rational.' BOSWELL. 'But if we could have pleasure always, should not we be happy? The greatest part of men would compound for pleasure.' JOHNSON. 'Supposing we could have pleasure always, an intellectual man would not compound for it. The greatest part of men would compound, because the greatest part of men are gross.' BOSWELL. 'I allow there may be greater pleasure than from wine. I have had more pleasure from your conversation, I have indeed; I assure you I have.' JOHNSON. 'When we talk of pleasure, we mean sensual pleasure. When a man says, he had pleasure with a woman, he does not mean conversation, but something of a very different nature. Philosophers tell you, that pleasure is contrary to happiness. Gross men prefer animal pleasure. So there are men who have preferred living among savages. Now what a wretch must he be, who is content with such conversation as can be had among savages! You may remember an officer at Fort Augustus[696], who had served in America, told us of a woman whom they were obliged to bind, in order to get her back from savage life.' BOSWELL. 'She must have been an animal, a beast.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, she was a speaking cat.'

I mentioned to him that I had become very weary in a company where I heard not a single intellectual sentence, except that 'a man who had been settled ten years in Minorca was become a much inferiour man to what he was in London, because a man's mind grows narrow in a narrow place.' JOHNSON. 'A man's mind grows narrow in a narrow place, whose mind is enlarged only because he has lived in a large place: but what is got by books and thinking is preserved in a narrow place as well as in a large place. A man cannot know modes of life as well in Minorca as in London; but he may study mathematicks as well in Minorca.' BOSWELL. 'I don't know, Sir: if you had remained ten years in the Isle of Col, you would not have been the man that you now are.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, if I had been there from fifteen to twenty-five; but not if from twenty-five to thirty-five.' BOSWELL. 'I own, Sir, the spirits which I have in London make me do every thing with more readiness and vigour. I can talk twice as much in London as any where else[697].'

Of Goldsmith he said, 'He was not an agreeable companion, for he talked always for fame[698]. A man who does so never can be pleasing. The man who talks to unburthen his mind is the man to delight you. An eminent friend[699] of ours is not so agreeable as the variety of his knowledge would otherwise make him, because he talks partly from ostentation.'

Soon after our arrival at Thrale's, I heard one of the maids calling eagerly on another, to go to Dr. Johnson. I wondered what this could mean. I afterwards learnt, that it was to give her a Bible, which he had brought from London as a present to her.

He was for a considerable time occupied in reading Mémoires de Fontenelle, leaning and swinging upon the low gate into the court, without his hat.

I looked into Lord Kames's Sketches of the History of Man; and mentioned to Dr. Johnson his censure of Charles the Fifth, for celebrating his funeral obsequies in his life-time, which, I told him, I had been used to think a solemn and affecting act[700]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man may dispose his mind to think so of that act of Charles; but it is so liable to ridicule, that if one man out of ten thousand laughs at it, he'll make the other nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine laugh too.' I could not agree with him in this.

Sir John Pringle had expressed a wish that I would ask Dr. Johnson's opinion what were the best English sermons for style. I took an opportunity to-day of mentioning several to him.—Atterbury? JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, one of the best.' BOSWELL. Tillotson? JOHNSON. 'Why, not now. I should not advise a preacher at this day to imitate Tillotson's style: though I don't know; I should be cautious of objecting to what has been applauded by so many suffrages.—South is one of the best, if you except his peculiarities, and his violence, and sometimes coarseness of language.—Seed has a very fine style; but he is not very theological.—Jortin's sermons are very elegant.—Sherlock's style too is very elegant, though he has not made it his principal study.—And you may add Smallridge. All the latter preachers have a good style. Indeed, nobody now talks much of style: every body composes pretty well.[701] There are no such unharmonious periods as there were a hundred years ago. I should recommend Dr. Clarke's sermons, were he orthodox.[702] However, it is very well known where he was not orthodox, which was upon the doctrine of the Trinity, as to which he is a condemned heretick; so one is aware of it.' BOSWELL. 'I like Ogden's Sermons on Prayer very much, both for neatness of style and subtilty of reasoning.' JOHNSON. 'I should like to read all that Ogden has written.'[703] BOSWELL. 'What I wish to know is, what sermons afford the best specimen of English pulpit eloquence.' JOHNSON. 'We have no sermons addressed to the passions that are good for any thing; if you mean that kind of eloquence.' A CLERGYMAN: (whose name I do not recollect.) 'Were not Dodd's sermons addressed to the passions?' JOHNSON. 'They were nothing, Sir, be they addressed to what they may.'

At dinner, Mrs. Thrale expressed a wish to go and see Scotland. JOHNSON. 'Seeing Scotland, Madam, is only seeing a worse England. It is seeing the flower gradually fade away to the naked stalk. Seeing the Hebrides, indeed, is seeing quite a different scene.'

Our poor friend, Mr. Thomas Davies[704], was soon to have a benefit at Drury-lane theatre, as some relief to his unfortunate circumstances. We were all warmly interested for his success, and had contributed to it. However, we thought there was no harm in having our joke, when he could not be hurt by it. I proposed that he should be brought on to speak a Prologue upon the occasion; and I began to mutter fragments of what it might be: as, that when now grown old, he was obliged to cry, 'Poor Tom's a-cold[705];'—that he owned he had been driven from the stage by a Churchill, but that this was no disgrace, for a Churchill[706] had beat the French;—that he had been satyrised as 'mouthing a sentence as curs mouth a bone,' but he was now glad of a bone to pick.—'Nay, (said Johnson,) I would have him to say,

"Mad Tom is come to see the world again[707]."'

He and I returned to town in the evening. Upon the road, I endeavoured to maintain, in argument, that a landed gentleman is not under any obligation to reside upon his estate; and that by living in London he does no injury to his country. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, he does no injury to his country in general, because the money which he draws from it gets back again in circulation; but to his particular district, his particular parish, he does an injury. All that he has to give away is not given to those who have the first claim to it. And though I have said that the money circulates back, it is a long time before that happens. Then, Sir, a man of family and estate ought to consider himself as having the charge of a district, over which he is to diffuse civility and happiness[708].'

Next day I found him at home in the morning. He praised Delany's Observations on Swift; said that his book and Lord Orrery's might both be true, though one viewed Swift more, and the other less favourably; and that, between both, we might have a complete notion of Swift[709].

Talking of a man's resolving to deny himself the use of wine, from moral and religious considerations, he said, 'He must not doubt about it. When one doubts as to pleasure, we know what will be the conclusion. I now no more think of drinking wine, than a horse does. The wine upon the table is no more for me, than for the dog that is under the table.'[710]

On Thursday, April 9, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the Bishop of St. Asaph,[711] (Dr. Shipley,) Mr. Allan Ramsay[712], Mr. Gibbon, Mr. Cambridge, and Mr. Langton. Mr. Ramsay had lately returned from Italy, and entertained us with his observations upon Horace's villa, which he had examined with great care. I relished this much, as it brought fresh into my mind what I had viewed with great pleasure thirteen years before. The Bishop, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Cambridge, joined with Mr. Ramsay, in recollecting the various lines in Horace relating to the subject.

Horace's journey to Brundusium being mentioned, Johnson observed, that the brook which he describes is to be seen now, exactly as at that time,[713] and that he had often wondered how it happened, that small brooks, such as this, kept the same situation for ages, notwithstanding earthquakes, by which even mountains have been changed, and agriculture, which produces such a variation upon the surface of the earth. CAMBRIDGE. 'A Spanish writer has this thought in a poetical conceit. After observing that most of the solid structures of Rome are totally perished, while the Tiber remains the same, he adds,

'Lo que èra Firme huió solamente, Lo Fugitivo permanece y dura[714].'

JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is taken from Janus Vitalis:[715]

'… immota labescunt; Et quae perpetuò sunt agitata manent[716].'

The Bishop said, it appeared from Horace's writings that he was a cheerful contented man. JOHNSON. 'We have no reason to believe that, my Lord. Are we to think Pope was happy, because he says so in his writings? We see in his writings what he wished the state of his mind to appear. Dr. Young, who pined for preferment, talks with contempt of it in his writings, and affects to despise every thing that he did not despise.'[717] BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH. 'He was like other chaplains, looking for vacancies: but that is not peculiar to the clergy. I remember when I was with the army,[718] after the battle of Lafeldt, the officers seriously grumbled that no general was killed.' CAMBRIDGE. 'We may believe Horace more when he says,

"Romae Tibur amem, ventosus Tibure Romam[719];"

than when he boasts of his consistency:

"Me constare mihi scis, et decedere tristem, Quandocunque trahunt invisa negotia Romam[720]."'

BOSWELL. 'How hard is it that man can never be at rest.' RAMSAY. 'It is not in his nature to be at rest. When he is at rest, he is in the worst state that he can be in; for he has nothing to agitate him. He is then like the man in the Irish song,

"There liv'd a young man in Ballinacrazy.
Who wanted a wife for to make him un_ai_sy."'

Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson observed, that it was long before his merit came to be acknowledged. That he once complained to him, in ludicrous terms of distress, 'Whenever I write any thing, the publick make a point to know nothing about it:' but that his Traveller brought him into high reputation.[721] LANGTON. 'There is not one bad line in that poem; not one of Dryden's careless verses.' SIR JOSHUA. 'I was glad to hear Charles Fox say, it was one of the finest poems in the English language.' LANGTON. 'Why was you glad? You surely had no doubt of this before.' JOHNSON. 'No; the merit of The Traveller is so well established, that Mr. Fox's praise cannot augment it, nor his censure diminish it.'[722] SIR JOSHUA. 'But his friends may suspect they had too great a partiality for him.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, the partiality of his friends was always against him. It was with difficulty we could give him a hearing. Goldsmith had no settled notions upon any subject; so he talked always at random[723]. It seemed to be his intention to blurt out whatever was in his mind, and see what would become of it. He was angry too, when catched in an absurdity; but it did not prevent him from falling into another the next minute. I remember Chamier[724], after talking with him for some time, said, "Well, I do believe he wrote this poem himself: and, let me tell you, that is believing a great deal." Chamier once asked him, what he meant by slow, the last word in the first line of The Traveller,

'"Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow."

'Did he mean tardiness of locomotion? Goldsmith, who would say something without consideration, answered, "Yes." I was sitting by, and said, "No, Sir; you do not mean tardiness of locomotion; you mean, that sluggishness of mind which comes upon a man in solitude[725]." Chamier believed then that I had written the line as much as if he had seen me write it.[726] Goldsmith, however, was a man, who, whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do. He deserved a place in Westminster-Abbey, and every year he lived, would have deserved it better. He had, indeed, been at no pains to fill his mind with knowledge. He transplanted it from one place to another; and it did not settle in his mind; so he could not tell what was in his own books.'

We talked of living in the country. JOHNSON. 'No wise man will go to live in the country, unless he has something to do which can be better done in the country. For instance: if he is to shut himself up for a year to study a science, it is better to look out to the fields, than to an opposite wall. Then, if a man walks out in the country, there is nobody to keep him from walking in again: but if a man walks out in London, he is not sure when he shall walk in again. A great city is, to be sure, the school for studying life; and "The proper study of mankind is man," as Pope observes.'[727] BOSWELL. 'I fancy London is the best place for society; though I have heard that the very first society of Paris is still beyond any thing that we have here.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I question if in Paris such a company as is sitting round this table could be got together in less than half a year. They talk in France of the felicity of men and women living together: the truth is, that there the men are not higher than the women, they know no more than the women do, and they are not held down in their conversation by the presence of women[728].' RAMSAY. 'Literature is upon the growth, it is in its spring in France. Here it is rather passée.' JOHNSON. 'Literature was in France long before we had it. Paris was the second city for the revival of letters: Italy had it first, to be sure. What have we done for literature, equal to what was done by the Stephani and others in France? Our literature came to us through France. Caxton printed only two books, Chaucer and Gower, that were not translations from the French; and Chaucer, we know, took much from the Italians. No, Sir, if literature be in its spring in France, it is a second spring; it is after a winter. We are now before the French in literature[729]; but we had it long after them. In England, any man who wears a sword and a powdered wig is ashamed to be illiterate[730]. I believe it is not so in France. Yet there is, probably, a great deal of learning in France, because they have such a number of religious establishments; so many men who have nothing else to do but to study. I do not know this; but I take it upon the common principles of chance. Where there are many shooters, some will hit.'

We talked of old age[731]. Johnson (now in his seventieth year,) said, 'It is a man's own fault, it is from want of use, if his mind grows torpid in old age.' The Bishop asked, if an old man does not lose faster than he gets. JOHNSON. 'I think not, my Lord, if he exerts himself.' One of the company rashly observed, that he thought it was happy for an old man that insensibility comes upon him. JOHNSON: (with a noble elevation and disdain,) 'No, Sir, I should never be happy by being less rational.' BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH. 'Your wish then, Sir, is [Greek: gaeraskein didaskomenos][732].' JOHNSON. 'Yes, my Lord.'

His Lordship mentioned a charitable establishment in Wales, where people were maintained, and supplied with every thing, upon the condition of their contributing the weekly produce of their labour; and he said, they grew quite torpid for want of property. JOHNSON. 'They have no object for hope. Their condition cannot be better. It is rowing without a port.'

One of the company asked him the meaning of the expression in Juvenal, unius lacertæ. JOHNSON. 'I think it clear enough; as much ground as one may have a chance to find a lizard upon.'

Commentators have differed as to the exact meaning of the expression by which the Poet intended to enforce the sentiment contained in the passage where these words occur. It is enough that they mean to denote even a very small possession, provided it be a man's own:

'Est aliquid quocunque loco quocunque recessu, Unius sese dominum fecisse lacertæ[733].'

This season there was a whimsical fashion in the newspapers of applying Shakspeare's words to describe living persons well known in the world; which was done under the title of Modern Characters from Shakspeare; many of which were admirably adapted. The fancy took so much, that they were afterwards collected into a pamphlet[734]. Somebody said to Johnson, across the table, that he had not been in those characters. 'Yes (said he) I have. I should have been sorry to be left out.' He then repeated what had been applied to him,

'I must borrow GARAGANTUA'S mouth[735].'

Miss Reynolds not perceiving at once the meaning of this, he was obliged to explain it to her, which had something of an aukward and ludicrous effect. 'Why, Madam, it has a reference to me, as using big words, which require the mouth of a giant to pronounce them. Garagantua is the name of a giant in Rabelais.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, there is another amongst them for you:

"He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for his power to thunder[736]."'

JOHNSON. 'There is nothing marked in that. No, Sir, Garagantua is the best.' Notwithstanding this ease and good humour, when I, a little while afterwards, repeated his sarcasm on Kenrick[737], which was received with applause, he asked, 'Who said that?' and on my suddenly answering, Garagantua, he looked serious, which was a sufficient indication that he did not wish it to be kept up.

When we went to the drawing-room there was a rich assemblage. Besides the company who had been at dinner, there were Mr. Garrick, Mr. Harris of Salisbury, Dr. Percy, Dr. Burney, Honourable Mrs. Cholmondeley, Miss Hannah More, &c. &c.

After wandering about in a kind of pleasing distraction for some time, I got into a corner, with Johnson, Garrick, and Harris. GARRICK: (to Harris.) 'Pray, Sir, have you read Potter's Aeschylus?' HARRIS. 'Yes; and think it pretty.' GARRICK. (to Johnson.) 'And what think you, Sir, of it?' JOHNSON. 'I thought what I read of it verbiage[738]: but upon Mr. Harris's recommendation, I will read a play. (To Mr. Harris.) Don't prescribe two.' Mr. Harris suggested one, I do not remember which. JOHNSON. 'We must try its effect as an English poem; that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation. Translations are, in general, for people who cannot read the original.' I mentioned the vulgar saying[739], that Pope's Homer was not a good representation of the original. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is the greatest work of the kind that has ever been produced[740].' BOSWELL. 'The truth is, it is impossible perfectly to translate poetry[741]. In a different language it may be the same tune, but it has not the same tone. Homer plays it on a bassoon; Pope on a flagelet.' HARRIS. 'I think Heroick poetry is best in blank verse; yet it appears that rhyme is essential to English poetry, from our deficiency in metrical quantities. In my opinion, the chief excellence of our language is numerous prose.' JOHNSON. 'Sir William Temple was the first writer who gave cadence to English prose[742]. Before his time they were careless of arrangement, and did not mind whether a sentence ended with an important word or an insignificant word, or with what part of speech it was concluded.' Mr. Langton, who now had joined us, commended Clarendon. JOHNSON. 'He is objected to for his parentheses, his involved clauses, and his want of harmony. But he is supported by his matter. It is, indeed, owing to a plethory of matter that his style is so faulty[743]. Every substance, (smiling to Mr. Harris[744],) has so many accidents.—To be distinct, we must talk analytically. If we analyse language, we must speak of it grammatically; if we analyse argument, we must speak of it logically.' GARRICK. 'Of all the translations that ever were attempted, I think Elphinston's Martial the most extraordinary[745]. He consulted me upon it, who am a little of an epigrammatist myself, you know. I told him freely, "You don't seem to have that turn." I asked him if he was serious; and finding he was, I advised him against publishing. Why, his translation is more difficult to understand than the original. I thought him a man of some talents; but he seems crazy in this.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have done what I had not courage to do. But he did not ask my advice, and I did not force it upon him, to make him angry with me.' GARRICK. 'But as a friend, Sir—' JOHNSON. 'Why, such a friend as I am with him—no.' GARRICK. 'But if you see a friend going to tumble over a precipice?' JOHNSON. 'That is an extravagant case, Sir. You are sure a friend will thank you for hindering him from tumbling over a precipice; but, in the other case, I should hurt his vanity, and do him no good. He would not take my advice. His brother-in-law, Strahan, sent him a subscription of fifty pounds, and said he would send him fifty more, if he would not publish.' GARRICK. 'What! Is Strahan a good judge of an Epigram? Is not he rather an obtuse man, eh?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, he may not be a judge of an Epigram: but you see he is a judge of what is not an Epigram.' BOSWELL. 'It is easy for you, Mr. Garrick, to talk to an authour as you talked to Elphinston; you, who have been so long the manager of a theatre, rejecting the plays of poor authours. You are an old Judge, who have often pronounced sentence of death. You are a practiced surgeon, who have often amputated limbs; and though this may have been for the good of your patients, they cannot like you. Those who have undergone a dreadful operation, are not very fond of seeing the operator again.' GARRICK. 'Yes, I know enough of that. There was a reverend gentleman, (Mr. Hawkins,) who wrote a tragedy, the SIEGE of something[746], which I refused.' HARRIS. 'So, the siege was raised.' JOHNSON. 'Ay, he came to me and complained; and told me, that Garrick said his play was wrong in the concoction. Now, what is the concoction of a play?' (Here Garrick started, and twisted himself, and seemed sorely vexed; for Johnson told me, he believed the story was true.) GARRICK. 'I—I—I—said first concoction[747].' JOHNSON: (smiling.) 'Well, he left out first. And Rich[748], he said, refused him in false English: he could shew it under his hand.' GARRICK. 'He wrote to me in violent wrath, for having refused his play: "Sir, this is growing a very serious and terrible affair. I am resolved to publish my play. I will appeal to the world; and how will your judgement appear?" I answered, "Sir, notwithstanding all the seriousness, and all the terrours, I have no objection to your publishing your play; and as you live at a great distance, (Devonshire, I believe,) if you will send it to me, I will convey it to the press[749]." I never heard more of it, ha! ha! ha!'

On Friday, April 10, I found Johnson at home in the morning. We resumed the conversation of yesterday. He put me in mind of some of it which had escaped my memory, and enabled me to record it more perfectly than I otherwise could have done. He was much pleased with my paying so great attention to his recommendation in 1763, the period when our acquaintance began, that I should keep a journal[750]; and I could perceive he was secretly pleased to find so much of the fruit of his mind preserved; and as he had been used to imagine and say that he always laboured when he said a good thing[751]—it delighted him, on a review, to find that his conversation teemed with point and imagery[752].

I said to him, 'You were yesterday, Sir, in remarkably good humour[753]: but there was nothing to offend you, nothing to produce irritation or violence. There was no bold offender. There was not one capital conviction. It was a maiden assize. You had on your white gloves.'

He found fault with our friend Langton for having been too silent. 'Sir, (said I,) you will recollect, that he very properly took up Sir Joshua for being glad that Charles Fox had praised Goldsmith's Traveller, and you joined him.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, I knocked Fox on the head, without ceremony. Reynolds is too much under Fox and Burke at present. He is under the Fox star and the Irish constellation. He is always under some planet[754].' BOSWELL. 'There is no Fox star.' JOHNSON. 'But there is a dog star.' BOSWELL. 'They say, indeed, a fox and a dog are the same animal.'

I reminded him of a gentleman, who, Mrs. Cholmondeley said, was first talkative from affectation, and then silent from the same cause; that he first thought, 'I shall be celebrated as the liveliest man in every company;' and then, all at once, 'O! it is much more respectable to be grave and look wise.' 'He has reversed the Pythagorean discipline, by being first talkative, and then silent. He reverses the course of Nature too: he was first the gay butterfly, and then the creeping worm.' Johnson laughed loud and long at this expansion and illustration of what he himself had told me.

We dined together with Mr. Scott (now Sir William Scott[755], his Majesty's Advocate General,) at his chambers in the Temple, nobody else there. The company being small, Johnson was not in such spirits as he had been the preceding day, and for a considerable time little was said. At last he burst forth, 'Subordination is sadly broken down in this age. No man, now, has the same authority which his father had,—except a gaoler. No master has it over his servants: it is diminished in our colleges; nay, in our grammar-schools.' BOSWELL. 'What is the cause of this, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why the coming in of the Scotch,' (laughing sarcastically). BOSWELL. 'That is to say, things have been turned topsy turvey.—But your serious cause.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, there are many causes, the chief of which is, I think, the great increase of money. No man now depends upon the Lord of a Manour, when he can send to another country, and fetch provisions. The shoe-black at the entry of my court does not depend on me. I can deprive him but of a penny a day, which he hopes somebody else will bring him; and that penny I must carry to another shoe-black[756], so the trade suffers nothing. I have explained, in my Journey to the Hebrides, how gold and silver destroy feudal subordination[757]. But, besides, there is a general relaxation of reverence. No son now depends upon his father as in former times. Paternity used to be considered as of itself a great thing, which had a right to many claims. That is, in general, reduced to very small bounds. My hope is, that as anarchy produces tyranny, this extreme relaxation will produce freni strictio[758].'

Talking of fame, for which there is so great a desire, I observed how little there is of it in reality, compared with the other objects of human attention. 'Let every man recollect, and he will be sensible how small a part of his time is employed in talking or thinking of Shakspeare, Voltaire, or any of the most celebrated men that have ever lived, or are now supposed to occupy the attention and admiration of the world. Let this be extracted and compressed; into what a narrow space will it go[759]!' I then slily introduced Mr. Garrick's fame, and his assuming the airs of a great man[760]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is wonderful how little Garrick assumes. No, Sir, Garrick fortunam reverenter habet[761]. Consider, Sir: celebrated men, such as you have mentioned, have had their applause at a distance; but Garrick had it dashed in his face, sounded in his ears, and went home every night with the plaudits of a thousand in his cranium. Then, Sir, Garrick did not find, but made his way to the tables, the levees, and almost the bed-chambers of the great. Then, Sir, Garrick had under him a numerous body of people; who, from fear of his power, and hopes of his favour, and admiration of his talents, were constantly submissive to him. And here is a man who has advanced the dignity of his profession. Garrick has made a player a higher character.' SCOTT. 'And he is a very sprightly writer too.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; and all this supported by great wealth of his own acquisition. If all this had happened to me, I should have had a couple of fellows with long poles walking before me, to knock down every body that stood in the way. Consider, if all this had happened to Cibber or Quin[762] they'd have jumped over the moon.—Yet Garrick speaks to us[763].' (smiling.) BOSWELL. 'And Garrick is a very good man, a charitable man.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, a liberal man. He has given away more money than any man in England[764]. There may be a little vanity mixed; but he has shewn, that money is not his first object.' BOSWELL. 'Yet Foote used to say of him, that he walked out with an intention to do a generous action; but, turning the corner of a street, he met with the ghost of a halfpenny, which frightened him.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that is very true, too; for I never knew a man of whom it could be said with less certainty to-day, what he will do to-morrow, than Garrick; it depends so much on his humour at the time.' SCOTT. 'I am glad to hear of his liberality. He has been represented as very saving.' JOHNSON. 'With his domestick saving we have nothing to do. I remember drinking tea with him long ago, when Peg Woffington made it, and he grumbled at her for making it too strong[765]. He had then begun to feel money in his purse, and did not know when he should have enough of it[766].'

On the subject of wealth, the proper use of it, and the effects of that art which is called oeconomy, he observed: 'It is wonderful to think how men of very large estates not only spend their yearly incomes, but are often actually in want of money. It is clear, they have not value for what they spend. Lord Shelburne[767] told me, that a man of high rank, who looks into his own affairs, may have all that he ought to have, all that can be of any use, or appear with any advantage, for five thousand pounds a year. Therefore, a great proportion must go in waste; and, indeed, this is the case with most people, whatever their fortune is.' BOSWELL. 'I have no doubt, Sir, of this. But how is it? What is waste?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, breaking bottles, and a thousand other things. Waste cannot be accurately told, though we are sensible how destructive it is. OEconomy on the one hand, by which a certain income is made to maintain a man genteely, and waste on the other, by which, on the same income, another man lives shabbily, cannot be defined. It is a very nice thing: as one man wears his coat out much sooner than another, we cannot tell how.'

We talked of war. JOHNSON. 'Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.' BOSWELL. 'Lord Mansfield does not.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if Lord Mansfield were in a company of General Officers and Admirals who have been in service, he would shrink; he'd wish to creep under the table.' BOSWELL. 'No; he'd think he could try them all.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, if he could catch them: but they'd try him much sooner. No, Sir; were Socrates and Charles the Twelfth of Sweden both present in any company, and Socrates to say, "Follow me, and hear a lecture on philosophy;" and Charles, laying his hand on his sword, to say, "Follow me, and dethrone the Czar;" a man would be ashamed to follow Socrates. Sir, the impression is universal[768]; yet it is strange. As to the sailor, when you look down from the quarter deck to the space below, you see the utmost extremity of human misery; such crouding, such filth, such stench[769]!' BOSWELL. 'Yet sailors are happy.' JOHNSON. 'They are happy as brutes are happy, with a piece of fresh meat,—with the grossest sensuality. But, Sir, the profession of soldiers and sailors has the dignity of danger. Mankind reverence those who have got over fear[770], which is so general a weakness.' SCOTT. 'But is not courage mechanical, and to be acquired?' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir, in a collective sense. Soldiers consider themselves only as parts of a great machine[771].' SCOTT. 'We find people fond of being sailors.' JOHNSON. 'I cannot account for that, any more than I can account for other strange perversions of imagination.'

His abhorrence of the profession of a sailor was uniformly violent[772]; but in conversation he always exalted the profession of a soldier. And yet I have, in my large and various collection of his writings, a letter to an eminent friend, in which he expresses himself thus: 'My god-son called on me lately. He is weary, and rationally weary, of a military life. If you can place him in some other state, I think you may increase his happiness, and secure his virtue. A soldier's time is passed in distress and danger, or in idleness and corruption.' Such was his cool reflection in his study[773]; but whenever he was warmed and animated by the presence of company, he, like other philosophers, whose minds are impregnated with poetical fancy, caught the common enthusiasm for splendid renown[774].

He talked of Mr. Charles Fox, of whose abilities he thought highly, but observed, that he did not talk much at our CLUB. I have heard Mr. Gibbon remark, 'that Mr. Fox could not be afraid of Dr. Johnson; yet he certainly was very shy of saying any thing in Dr. Johnson's presence[775].' Mr. Scott now quoted what was said of Alcibiades by a Greek poet[776], to which Johnson assented.

He told us, that he had given Mrs. Montagu a catalogue of all Daniel Defoe's works of imagination; most, if not all of which, as well as of his other works, he now enumerated, allowing a considerable share of merit to a man, who, bred a tradesman, had written so variously and so well. Indeed, his Robinson Crusoe is enough of itself to establish his reputation[777].

He expressed great indignation at the imposture of the Cocklane Ghost, and related, with much satisfaction, how he had assisted in detecting the cheat, and had published an account of it in the news-papers[778]. Upon this subject I incautiously offended him, by pressing him with too many questions, and he shewed his displeasure. I apologised, saying that 'I asked questions in order to be instructed and entertained; I repaired eagerly to the fountain; but that the moment he gave me a hint, the moment he put a lock upon the well, I desisted.'—'But, Sir, (said he,) that is forcing one to do a disagreeable thing:' and he continued to rate me. 'Nay, Sir, (said I,) when you have put a lock upon the well, so that I can no longer drink, do not make the fountain of your wit play upon me and wet me.'

He sometimes could not bear being teazed with questions[779]. I was once present when a gentleman asked so many as, 'What did you do, Sir?' 'What did you say, Sir?' that he at last grew enraged, and said, 'I will not be put to the question. Don't you consider, Sir, that these are not the manners of a gentleman? I will not be baited with what, and why; what is this? what is that? why is a cow's tail long? why is a fox's tail bushy?' The gentleman, who was a good deal out of countenance, said, 'Why, Sir, you are so good, that I venture to trouble you.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, my being so good is no reason why you should be so ill.'

Talking of the Justitia hulk at Woolwich, in which criminals were punished, by being confined to labour, he said, 'I do not see that they are punished by this: they must have worked equally had they never been guilty of stealing[780]. They now only work; so, after all, they have gained; what they stole is clear gain to them; the confinement is nothing. Every man who works is confined: the smith to his shop, the tailor to his garret.' BOSWELL. 'And Lord Mansfield to his Court.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, you know the notion of confinement may be extended, as in the song, "Every island is a prison[781]." There is, in Dodsley's Collection, a copy of verses to the authour of that song[782].'

Smith's Latin verses on Pococke, the great traveller,[783] were mentioned.
He repeated some of them, and said they were Smith's best verses.

He talked with an uncommon animation of travelling into distant countries; that the mind was enlarged by it, and that an acquisition of dignity of character was derived from it. He expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall of China. I catched it for the moment[784], and said I really believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of whom it was my duty to take care. 'Sir, (said he,) by doing so, you would do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, Sir.'

When we had left Mr. Scott's, he said, 'Will you go home with me?' 'Sir, (said I,) it is late; but I'll go with you for three minutes.' JOHNSON. 'Or four.' We went to Mrs. Williams's room, where we found Mr. Allen the printer, who was the landlord of his house in Bolt-court, a worthy obliging man, and his very old acquaintance; and what was exceedingly amusing, though he was of a very diminutive size, he used, even in Johnson's presence, to imitate the stately periods and slow and solemn utterance of the great man[785].—I this evening boasted, that although I did not write what is called stenography, or short-hand, in appropriated characters devised for the purpose, I had a method of my own of writing half words, and leaving out some altogether so as yet to keep the substance and language of any discourse which I had heard so much in view, that I could give it very completely soon after I had taken it down. He defied me, as he had once defied an actual short-hand writer[786], and he made the experiment by reading slowly and distinctly a part of Robertson's History of America, while I endeavoured to write it in my way of taking notes. It was found that I had it very imperfectly; the conclusion from which was, that its excellence was principally owing to a studied arrangement of words, which could not be varied or abridged without an essential injury.

On Sunday, April 12, I found him at home before dinner; Dr. Dodd's poem entitled Thoughts in Prison was lying upon his table. This appearing to me an extraordinary effort by a man who was in Newgate for a capital crime, I was desirous to hear Johnson's opinion of it: to my surprize, he told me he had not read a line of it. I took up the book and read a passage to him. JOHNSON. 'Pretty well, if you are previously disposed to like them.' I read another passage, with which he was better pleased. He then took the book into his own hands, and having looked at the prayer at the end of it, he said, 'What evidence is there that this was composed the night before he suffered? I do not believe it.' He then read aloud where he prays for the King, &c. and observed, 'Sir, do you think that a man the night before he is to be hanged cares for the succession of a royal family[787]?—Though, he may have composed this prayer, then. A man who has been canting all his life, may cant to the last[788].—And yet a man who has been refused a pardon after so much petitioning, would hardly be praying thus fervently for the King.'

He and I, and Mrs. Williams, went to dine with the Reverend Dr. Percy. Talking of Goldsmith, Johnson said, he was very envious[789]. I defended him, by observing that he owned it frankly upon all occasions. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are enforcing the charge. He had so much envy, that he could not conceal it. He was so full of it that he overflowed. He talked of it to be sure often enough. Now, Sir, what a man avows, he is not ashamed to think; though many a man thinks, what he is ashamed to avow. We are all envious naturally[790]; but by checking envy, we get the better of it. So we are all thieves naturally; a child always tries to get at what it wants, the nearest way; by good instruction and good habits this is cured, till a man has not even an inclination to seize what is another's; has no struggle with himself about it.'

And here I shall record a scene of too much heat between Dr. Johnson and Dr. Percy, which I should have suppressed, were it not that it gave occasion to display the truely tender and benevolent heart of Johnson, who, as soon as he found a friend was at all hurt by any thing which he had 'said in his wrath,' was not only prompt and desirous to be reconciled, but exerted himself to make ample reparation[791].

Books of Travels having been mentioned, Johnson praised Pennant very highly, as he did at Dunvegan, in the Isle of Sky[792]. Dr. Percy, knowing himself to be the heir male of the ancient Percies,[793] and having the warmest and most dutiful attachment to the noble House of Northumberland, could not sit quietly and hear a man praised, who had spoken disrespectfully of Alnwick-Castle and the Duke's pleasure grounds, especially as he thought meanly of his travels. He therefore opposed Johnson eagerly. JOHNSON. 'Pennant in what he has said of Alnwick, has done what he intended; he has made you very angry.' PERCY. 'He has said the garden is trim[794], which is representing it like a citizen's parterre, when the truth is, there is a very large extent of fine turf and gravel walks.' JOHNSON. 'According to your own account, Sir, Pennant is right. It is trim. Here is grass cut close, and gravel rolled smooth. Is not that trim? The extent is nothing against that; a mile may be as trim as a square yard. Your extent puts me in mind of the citizen's enlarged dinner, two pieces of roast-beef, and two puddings[795]. There is no variety, no mind exerted in laying out the ground, no trees[796].' PERCY. 'He pretends to give the natural history of Northumberland, and yet takes no notice of the immense number of trees planted there of late.' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir, has nothing to do with the natural history; that is civil history. A man who gives the natural history of the oak, is not to tell how many oaks have been planted in this place or that. A man who gives the natural history of the cow, is not to tell how many cows are milked at Islington. The animal is the same, whether milked in the Park or at Islington.' PERCY. 'Pennant does not describe well; a carrier who goes along the side of Lochlomond would describe it better.' JOHNSON. 'I think he describes very well.' PERCY. 'I travelled after him.' JOHNSON. 'And I travelled after him.' PERCY. 'But, my good friend, you are short-sighted, and do not see so well as I do.' I wondered at Dr. Percy's venturing thus. Dr. Johnson said nothing at the time; but inflammable particles were collecting for a cloud to burst. In a little while Dr. Percy said something more in disparagement of Pennant. JOHNSON. (pointedly) 'This is the resentment of a narrow mind, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland.' PERCY. (feeling the stroke) 'Sir, you may be as rude as you please.' JOHNSON. 'Hold, Sir! Don't talk of rudeness; remember, Sir, you told me (puffing hard with passion struggling for a vent) I was short-sighted[797]. We have done with civility. We are to be as rude as we please.' PERCY. 'Upon my honour, Sir, I did not mean to be uncivil.' JOHNSON. 'I cannot say so, Sir; for I did mean to be uncivil, thinking you had been uncivil.' Dr. Percy rose, ran up to him, and taking him by the hand, assured him affectionately that his meaning had been misunderstood; upon which a reconciliation instantly took place. JOHNSON. 'My dear Sir, I am willing you shall hang Pennant.' PERCY. (resuming the former subject) 'Pennant complains that the helmet is not hung out to invite to the hall of hospitality[798]. Now I never heard that it was a custom to hang out a helmet[799].' JOHNSON. 'Hang him up, hang him up.' BOSWELL. (humouring the joke) 'Hang out his skull instead of a helmet, and you may drink ale out of it in your hall of Odin, as he is your enemy; that will be truly ancient. There will be Northern Antiquities[800].' JOHNSON. 'He's a Whig, Sir; a sad dog. (smiling at his own violent expressions, merely for political difference of opinion.) But he's the best traveller I ever read; he observes more things than any one else does.'

I could not help thinking that this was too high praise of a writer who had traversed a wide extent of country in such haste, that he could put together only curt frittered fragments of his own, and afterwards procured supplemental intelligence from parochial ministers, and others not the best qualified or most impartial narrators, whose ungenerous prejudice against the house of Stuart glares in misrepresentation; a writer, who at best treats merely of superficial objects, and shews no philosophical investigation of character and manners, such as Johnson has exhibited in his masterly Journey, over part of the same ground; and who it should seem from a desire of ingratiating himself with the Scotch, has flattered the people of North-Britain so inordinately and with so little discrimination, that the judicious and candid amongst them must be disgusted, while they value more the plain, just, yet kindly report of Johnson.

Having impartially censured Mr. Pennant, as a Traveller in Scotland, let me allow him, from authorities much better than mine, his deserved praise as an able Zoologist; and let me also from my own understanding and feelings, acknowledge the merit of his London, which, though said to be not quite accurate in some particulars, is one of the most pleasing topographical performances that ever appeared in any language. Mr. Pennant, like his countrymen in general[801], has the true spirit of a Gentleman. As a proof of it, I shall quote from his London the passage, in which he speaks of my illustrious friend. 'I must by no means omit Bolt-court, the long residence of Doctor SAMUEL JOHNSON, a man of the strongest natural abilities, great learning, a most retentive memory, of the deepest and most unaffected piety and morality, mingled with those numerous weaknesses and prejudices which his friends have kindly taken care to draw from their dread abode[802]. I brought on myself his transient anger, by observing that in his tour in Scotland, he once had "long and woeful experience of oats being the food of men in Scotland as they were of horses in England."' It was a national reflection unworthy of him, and I shot my bolt. In return he gave me a tender hug[803]. Con amore he also said of me 'The dog is a Whig[804];' I admired the virtues of Lord Russell, and pitied his fall. I should have been a Whig at the Revolution. There have been periods since, in which I should have been, what I now am, a moderate Tory, a supporter, as far as my little influence extends, of a well-poised balance between the crown and people: but should the scale preponderate against the Salus populi, that moment may it be said 'The dog's a Whig!'

We had a calm after the storm, staid the evening and supped, and were pleasant and gay. But Dr. Percy told me he was very uneasy at what had passed; for there was a gentleman there who was acquainted with the Northumberland family, to whom he hoped to have appeared more respectable, by shewing how intimate he was with Dr. Johnson, and who might now, on the contrary, go away with an opinion to his disadvantage. He begged I would mention this to Dr. Johnson, which I afterwards did. His observation upon it was, 'This comes of stratagem; had he told me that he wished to appear to advantage before that gentleman, he should have been at the top of the house, all the time.' He spoke of Dr. Percy in the handsomest terms. 'Then, Sir, (said I,) may I be allowed to suggest a mode by which you may effectually counteract any unfavourable report of what passed. I will write a letter to you upon the subject of the unlucky contest of that day, and you will be kind enough to put in writing as an answer to that letter, what you have now said, and as Lord Percy is to dine with us at General Paoli's soon, I will take an opportunity to read the correspondence in his Lordship's presence.' This friendly scheme was accordingly carried into execution without Dr. Percy's knowledge. Johnson's letter placed Dr. Percy's unquestionable merit in the fairest point of view; and I contrived that Lord Percy should hear the correspondence, by introducing it at General Paoli's, as an instance of Dr. Johnson's kind disposition towards one in whom his Lordship was interested. Thus every unfavourable impression was obviated that could possibly have been made on those by whom he wished most to be regarded. I breakfasted the day after with him, and informed him of my scheme, and its happy completion, for which he thanked me in the warmest terms, and was highly delighted with Dr. Johnson's letter in his praise, of which I gave him a copy. He said, 'I would rather have this than degrees from all the Universities in Europe. It will be for me, and my children and grand-children.' Dr. Johnson having afterwards asked me if I had given him a copy of it, and being told I had, was offended, and insisted that I should get it back, which I did. As, however, he did not desire me to destroy either the original or the copy, or forbid me to let it be seen, I think myself at liberty to apply to it his general declaration to me concerning his other letters, 'That he did not choose they should be published in his lifetime; but had no objection to their appearing after his death[805].' I shall therefore insert this kindly correspondence, having faithfully narrated the circumstances accompanying it[806].



'I beg leave to address you in behalf of our friend Dr. Percy, who was much hurt by what you said to him that day we dined at his house[807]; when, in the course of the dispute as to Pennant's merit as a traveller, you told Percy that "he had the resentment of a narrow mind against Pennant, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland." Percy is sensible that you did not mean to injure him; but he is vexed to think that your behaviour to him upon that occasion may be interpreted as a proof that he is despised by you, which I know is not the case. I have told him, that the charge of being narrow-minded was only as to the particular point in question; and that he had the merit of being a martyr to his noble family.

'Earl Percy is to dine with General Paoli next Friday; and I should be sincerely glad to have it in my power to satisfy his Lordship how well you think of Dr. Percy, who, I find, apprehends that your good opinion of him may be of very essential consequence; and who assures me, that he has the highest respect and the warmest affection for you.

'I have only to add, that my suggesting this occasion for the exercise of your candour and generosity, is altogether unknown to Dr. Percy, and proceeds from my good-will towards him, and my persuasion that you will be happy to do him an essential kindness. I am, more and more, my dear Sir,

'Your most faithful

'And affectionate humble servant,


* * * * *



'The debate between Dr. Percy and me is one of those foolish controversies, which begin upon a question of which neither party cares how it is decided, and which is, nevertheless, continued to acrimony, by the vanity with which every man resists confutation[808]. Dr. Percy's warmth proceeded from a cause which, perhaps, does him more honour than he could have derived from juster criticism. His abhorrence of Pennant proceeded from his opinion that Pennant had wantonly and indecently censured his patron. His anger made him resolve, that, for having been once wrong, he never should be right. Pennant has much in his notions that I do not like; but still I think him a very intelligent traveller. If Percy is really offended, I am sorry; for he is a man whom I never knew to offend any one. He is a man very willing to learn, and very able to teach; a man, out of whose company I never go without having learned something. It is sure that he vexes me sometimes, but I am afraid it is by making me feel my own ignorance. So much extension of mind, and so much minute accuracy of enquiry, if you survey your whole circle of acquaintance, you will find so scarce, if you find it at all, that you will value Percy by comparison. Lord Hailes is somewhat like him: but Lord Hailes does not, perhaps, go beyond him in research; and I do not know that he equals him in elegance. Percy's attention to poetry has given grace and splendour to his studies of antiquity. A mere antiquarian is a rugged being.

'Upon the whole, you see that what I might say in sport or petulance to him, is very consistent with full conviction of his merit.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most, &c.,


'April 23, 1778.'



'I wrote to Dr. Johnson on the subject of the Pennantian controversy; and have received from him an answer which will delight you. I read it yesterday to Dr. Robertson, at the Exhibition; and at dinner to Lord Percy, General Oglethorpe, &c. who dined with us at General Paoli's; who was also a witness to the high testimony to your honour.

'General Paoli desires the favour of your company next Tuesday to dinner, to meet Dr. Johnson. If I can, I will call on you to-day. I am, with sincere regard,

'Your most obedient humble servant,


'South Audley-street, April 25.'

On Monday, April 13, I dined with Johnson at Mr. Langton's, where were Dr. Porteus, then Bishop of Chester, now of London, and Dr. Stinton[810]. He was at first in a very silent mood. Before dinner he said nothing but 'Pretty baby,' to one of the children. Langton said very well to me afterwards, that he could repeat Johnson's conversation before dinner, as Johnson had said that he could repeat a complete chapter of The Natural History of Iceland, from the Danish of Horrebow, the whole of which was exactly thus:—

'CHAP. LXXII. Concerning snakes.

'There are no snakes to be met with throughout the whole island[811].'

At dinner we talked of another mode in the newspapers[812] of giving modern characters in sentences from the classicks, and of the passage

'Pareus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiæ
Consultus erro, nunc retrorsùm
Vela dare, atque iterare cursus
Cogor relictos[813]:'

being well applied to Soame Jenyns; who, after having wandered in the wilds of infidelity, had returned to the Christian faith[814]. Mr. Langton asked Johnson as to the propriety of sapientiæ consultus. JOHNSON. 'Though consultus was primarily an adjective, like amicus it came to be used as a substantive. So we have Juris consultus, a consult in law.'

We talked of the styles of different painters, and how certainly a connoisseur could distinguish them; I asked, if there was as clear a difference of styles in language as in painting, or even as in hand-writing, so that the composition of every individual may be distinguished? JOHNSON. 'Yes. Those who have a style of eminent excellence, such as Dryden and Milton, can always be distinguished.' I had no doubt of this, but what I wanted to know was, whether there was really a peculiar style to every man whatever, as there is certainly a peculiar handwriting, a peculiar countenance, not widely different in many, yet always enough to be distinctive:—

'… facies non omnibus una, Nec diversa tamen[815].'

The Bishop thought not; and said, he supposed that many pieces in Dodsley's collection of poems, though all very pretty, had nothing appropriated in their style, and in that particular could not be at all distinguished. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I think every man whatever has a peculiar style[816], which may be discovered by nice examination and comparison with others: but a man must write a great deal to make his style obviously discernible. As logicians say, this appropriation of style is infinite in potestate, limited in actu.'

Mr. Topham Beauclerk came in the evening, and he and Dr. Johnson and I staid to supper. It was mentioned that Dr. Dodd had once wished to be a member of THE LITERARY CLUB[817]. JOHNSON. 'I should be sorry if any of our Club were hanged. I will not say but some of them deserve it[818].' BEAUCLERK; (supposing this to be aimed at persons for whom he had at that time a wonderful fancy, which, however, did not last long,) was irritated, and eagerly said, 'You, Sir, have a friend[819], (naming him) who deserves to be hanged; for he speaks behind their backs against those with whom he lives on the best terms, and attacks them in the newspapers. He certainly ought to be kicked.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, we all do this in some degree, "Veniam petimus damusque vicissim[820]." To be sure it may be done so much, that a man may deserve to be kicked.' BEAUCLERK. 'He is very malignant.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; he is not malignant. He is mischievous, if you will. He would do no man an essential injury; he may, indeed, love to make sport of people by vexing their vanity. I, however, once knew an old gentleman who was absolutely malignant. He really wished evil to others, and rejoiced at it.' BOSWELL. 'The gentleman, Mr. Beauclerk, against whom you are so violent, is, I know, a man of good principles.' BEAUCLERK. 'Then he does not wear them out in practice[821].'

Dr. Johnson, who, as I have observed before, delighted in discrimination of character, and having a masterly knowledge of human nature, was willing to take men as they are, imperfect and with a mixture of good and bad qualities[822], I suppose thought he had said enough in defence of his friend, of whose merits, notwithstanding his exceptional points, he had a just value; and added no more on the subject.

On Tuesday, April 14, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, with General Paoli and Mr. Langton. General Oglethorpe declaimed against luxury[823]. JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, every state of society is as luxurious as it can be. Men always take the best they can get.' OGLETHORPE. 'But the best depends much upon ourselves; and if we can be as well satisfied with plain things, we are in the wrong to accustom our palates to what is high-seasoned and expensive. What says Addison in his Cato, speaking of the Numidian?

"Coarse are his meals, the fortune of the chace,
Amid the running stream he slakes his thirst,
Toils all the day, and at the approach of night,
On the first friendly bank he throws him down,
Or rests his head upon a rock till morn[824];
And if the following day he chance to find
A new repast, or an untasted spring,
Blesses his stars, and thinks it's luxury."

Let us have that kind of luxury, Sir, if you will.' JOHNSON. 'But hold, Sir; to be merely satisfied is not enough. It is in refinement and elegance that the civilized man differs from the savage. A great part of our industry, and all our ingenuity is exercised in procuring pleasure; and, Sir, a hungry man has not the same pleasure in eating a plain dinner, that a hungry man has in eating a luxurious dinner. You see I put the case fairly. A hungry man may have as much, nay, more pleasure in eating a plain dinner, than a man grown fastidious has in eating a luxurious dinner. But I suppose the man who decides between the two dinners, to be equally a hungry man.'

Talking of different governments,—JOHNSON. 'The more contracted that power is, the more easily it is destroyed. A country governed by a despot is an inverted cone. Government there cannot be so firm, as when it rests upon a broad basis gradually contracted, as the government of Great Britain, which is founded on the parliament, then is in the privy council, then in the King.' BOSWELL. 'Power, when contracted into the person of a despot, may be easily destroyed, as the prince may be cut off. So Caligula wished that the people of Rome had but one neck, that he might cut them off at a blow.' OGLETHORPE. 'It was of the Senate he wished that[825]. The Senate by its usurpation controlled both the Emperour and the people. And don't you think that we see too much of that in our own Parliament?'

Dr. Johnson endeavoured to trace the etymology of Maccaronick verses, which he thought were of Italian invention from Maccaroni; but on being informed that this would infer that they were the most common and easy verses, maccaroni being the most ordinary and simple food, he was at a loss; for he said, 'He rather should have supposed it to import in its primitive signification, a composition of several things; for Maccaronick verses are verses made out of a mixture of different languages, that is, of one language with the termination of another[826].' I suppose we scarcely know of a language in any country where there is any learning, in which that motley ludicrous species of composition may not be found. It is particularly droll in Low Dutch. The Polemomiddinia[827] of Drummond of Hawthornden, in which there is a jumble of many languages moulded, as if it were all in Latin, is well known. Mr. Langton made us laugh heartily at one in the Grecian mould, by Joshua Barnes, in which are to be found such comical Anglo-Ellenisms as [Greek: Klubboisin ebanchthen]: they were banged with clubs[828].

On Wednesday, April 15, I dined with Dr. Johnson at Mr. Dilly's, and was in high spirits, for I had been a good part of the morning with Mr. Orme, the able and eloquent historian of Hindostan, who expressed a great admiration of Johnson. 'I do not care (said he,) on what subject Johnson talks; but I love better to hear him talk than any body. He either gives you new thoughts, or a new colouring. It is a shame to the nation that he has not been more liberally rewarded. Had I been George the Third, and thought as he did about America, I would have given Johnson three hundred a year for his Taxation no Tyranny alone.' I repeated this, and Johnson was much pleased with such praise from such a man as Orme.

At Mr. Dilly's to-day were Mrs. Knowles[829], the ingenious Quaker lady[830], Miss Seward, the poetess of Lichfield, the Reverend Dr. Mayo[831], and the Rev. Mr. Beresford, Tutor to the Duke of Bedford. Before dinner Dr. Johnson seized upon Mr. Charles Sheridan's Account of the late Revolution in Sweden[832], and seemed to read it ravenously, as if he devoured it, which was to all appearance his method of studying. 'He knows how to read better than any one (said Mrs. Knowles;) he gets at the substance of a book directly; he tears out the heart of it.' He kept it wrapt up in the tablecloth in his lap during the time of dinner, from an avidity to have one entertainment in readiness when he should have finished another; resembling (if I may use so coarse a simile) a dog who holds a bone in his paws in reserve, while he eats something else which has been thrown to him.

The subject of cookery having been very naturally introduced at a table where Johnson, who boasted of the niceness of his palate[833], owned that 'he always found a good dinner,' he said, 'I could write a better book of cookery than has ever yet been written; it should be a book upon philosophical principles. Pharmacy is now made much more simple. Cookery may be made so too. A prescription which is now compounded of five ingredients, had formerly fifty in it. So in cookery, if the nature of the ingredients be well known, much fewer will do. Then as you cannot make bad meat good, I would tell what is the best butcher's meat, the best beef, the best pieces; how to choose young fowls; the proper seasons of different vegetables; and then how to roast and boil, and compound.' DILLY. 'Mrs. Glasse's Cookery, which is the best, was written by Dr. Hill. Half the trade[834] know this.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir. This shews how much better the subject of cookery may be treated by a philosopher. I doubt if the book be written by Dr. Hill; for, in Mrs. Glasse's Cookery, which I have looked into, salt-petre and sal-prunella are spoken of as different substances, whereas sal-prunella is only salt-petre burnt on charcoal; and Hill could not be ignorant of this. However, as the greatest part of such a book is made by transcription, this mistake may have been carelessly adopted. But you shall see what a Book of Cookery I shall make! I shall agree with Mr. Dilly for the copy-right.' Miss SEWARD. 'That would be Hercules with the distaff indeed.' JOHNSON. 'No, Madam. Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of Cookery.'

JOHNSON. 'O! Mr. Dilly—you must know that an English Benedictine Monk at Paris has translated The Duke of Berwick's Memoirs, from the original French, and has sent them to me to sell. I offered them to Strahan, who sent them back with this answer:—"That the first book he had published was the Duke of Berwick's Life, by which he had lost: and he hated the name."—Now I honestly tell you, that Strahan has refused them; but I also honestly tell you, that he did it upon no principle, for he never looked into them.' DILLY. 'Are they well translated, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, very well—in a style very current and very clear. I have written to the Benedictine to give me an answer upon two points—What evidence is there that the letters are authentick? (for if they are not authentick they are nothing;)—And how long will it be before the original French is published? For if the French edition is not to appear for a considerable time, the translation will be almost as valuable as an original book. They will make two volumes in octavo; and I have undertaken to correct every sheet as it comes from the press.' Mr. Dilly desired to see them, and said he would send for them. He asked Dr. Johnson if he would write a Preface to them. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. The Benedictines were very kind to me[835], and I'll do what I undertook to do; but I will not mingle my name with them. I am to gain nothing by them. I'll turn them loose upon the world, and let them take their chance.' DR. MAYO. 'Pray, Sir, are Ganganelli's letters authentick?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Voltaire put the same question to the editor of them, that I did to Macpherson—Where are the originals[836]?'

Mrs. Knowles affected to complain that men had much more liberty allowed them than women. JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, women have all the liberty they should wish to have. We have all the labour and the danger, and the women all the advantage. We go to sea, we build houses, we do everything, in short, to pay our court to the women.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'The Doctor reasons very wittily, but not convincingly. Now, take the instance of building; the mason's wife, if she is ever seen in liquor, is ruined; the mason may get himself drunk as often as he pleases, with little loss of character; nay, may let his wife and children starve.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, you must consider, if the mason does get himself drunk, and let his wife and children starve, the parish will oblige him to find security for their maintenance. We have different modes of restraining evil. Stocks for the men, a ducking-stool for women[837], and a pound for beasts. If we require more perfection from women than from ourselves, it is doing them honour. And women have not the same temptations that we have: they may always live in virtuous company; men must mix in the world indiscriminately. If a woman has no inclination to do what is wrong being secured from it is no restraint to her. I am at liberty to walk into the Thames; but if I were to try it, my friends would restrain me in Bedlam, and I should be obliged to them.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'Still, Doctor, I cannot help thinking it a hardship that more indulgence is allowed to men than to women. It gives a superiority to men, to which I do not see how they are entitled.' JOHNSON. 'It is plain, Madam, one or other must have the superiority. As Shakspeare says, "If two men ride on a horse, one must ride behind[838]."' DILLY. 'I suppose, Sir, Mrs. Knowles would have them to ride in panniers, one on each side.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, the horse would throw them both.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'Well, I hope that in another world the sexes will be equal.' BOSWELL. 'That is being too ambitious, Madam. We might as well desire to be equal with the angels. We shall all, I hope, be happy in a future state, but we must not expect to be all happy in the same degree. It is enough if we be happy according to our several capacities. A worthy carman will get to heaven as well as Sir Isaac Newton. Yet, though equally good, they will not have the same degrees of happiness.' JOHNSON. 'Probably not.'

Upon this subject I had once before sounded him, by mentioning the late Reverend Mr. Brown, of Utrecht's, image; that a great and small glass, though equally full, did not hold an equal quantity; which he threw out to refute David Hume's saying[839], that a little miss, going to dance at a ball, in a fine new dress, was as happy as a great oratour, after having made an eloquent and applauded speech. After some thought, Johnson said, 'I come over to the parson.' As an instance of coincidence of thinking, Mr. Dilly told me, that Dr. King, a late dissenting minister in London, said to him, upon the happiness in a future state of good men of different capacities, 'A pail does not hold so much as a tub; but, if it be equally full, it has no reason to complain. Every Saint in heaven will have as much happiness as he can hold.' Mr. Dilly thought this a clear, though a familiar illustration of the phrase, 'One star differeth from another in brightness[840].'

Dr. Mayo having asked Johnson's opinion of Soame Jenyns's View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion[841];—JOHNSON. 'I think it a pretty book; not very theological indeed; and there seems to be an affectation of ease and carelessness, as if it were not suitable to his character to be very serious about the matter.' BOSWELL. 'He may have intended this to introduce his book the better among genteel people, who might be unwilling to read too grave a treatise. There is a general levity in the age. We have physicians now with bag-wigs[842]; may we not have airy divines, at least somewhat less solemn in their appearance than they used to be?' JOHNSON. 'Jenyns might mean as you say[843].' BOSWELL. 'You should like his book, Mrs. Knowles, as it maintains, as you friends do, that courage is not a Christian virtue.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'Yes, indeed, I like him there; but I cannot agree with him, that friendship is not a Christian virtue[844].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, strictly speaking, he is right. All friendship is preferring the interest of a friend, to the neglect, or, perhaps, against the interest of others; so that an old Greek said, "He that has friends has no friend." Now Christianity recommends universal benevolence, to consider all men as our brethren[845], which is contrary to the virtue of friendship, as described by the ancient philosophers. Surely, Madam, your sect must approve of this; for, you call all men friends.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'We are commanded to do good to all men, "but especially to them who are of the household of Faith[846]."' JOHNSON. 'Well, Madam. The household of Faith is wide enough.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'But, Doctor, our Saviour had twelve Apostles, yet there was one whom he loved. John was called "the disciple whom JESUS loved[847]."' JOHNSON (with eyes sparkling benignantly). 'Very well, indeed, Madam. You have said very well.' BOSWELL. 'A fine application. Pray, Sir, had you ever thought of it?' JOHNSON. 'I had not, Sir.'

From this pleasing subject[848], he, I know not how or why, made a sudden transition to one upon which he was a violent aggressor; for he said, 'I am willing to love all mankind, except an American:' and his inflammable corruption bursting into horrid fire, he 'breathed out threatenings and slaughter[849];' calling them, 'Rascals—Robbers— Pirates;' and exclaiming, he'd 'burn and destroy them.' Miss Seward, looking to him with mild but steady astonishment, said, 'Sir, this is an instance that we are always most violent against those whom we have injured.'—He was irritated still more by this delicate and keen reproach; and roared out another tremendous volley, which one might fancy could be heard across the Atlantick. During this tempest I sat in great uneasiness, lamenting his heat of temper; till, by degrees, I diverted his attention to other topicks.

DR. MAYO (to Dr. Johnson). 'Pray, Sir, have you read Edwards, of New England, on Grace?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'It puzzled me so much as to the freedom of the human will, by stating, with wonderful acute ingenuity, our being actuated by a series of motives which we cannot resist, that the only relief I had was to forget it.' MAYO. 'But he makes the proper distinction between moral and physical necessity.' BOSWELL. 'Alas, Sir, they come both to the same thing. You may be bound as hard by chains when covered by leather, as when the iron appears. The argument for the moral necessity of human actions is always, I observe, fortified by supposing universal prescience to be one of the attributes of the Deity.' JOHNSON. 'You are surer that you are free, than you are of prescience; you are surer that you can lift up your finger or not as you please, than you are of any conclusion from a deduction of reasoning. But let us consider a little the objection from prescience. It is certain I am either to go home to-night or not; that does not prevent my freedom.' BOSWELL. 'That it is certain you are either to go home or not, does not prevent your freedom; because the liberty of choice between the two is compatible with that certainty. But if one of these events be certain now, you have no future power of volition. If it be certain you are to go home to-night, you must go home.' JOHNSON. 'If I am well acquainted with a man, I can judge with great probability how he will act in any case, without his being restrained by my judging. GOD may have this probability increased to certainty.' BOSWELL. 'When it is increased to certainty, freedom ceases, because that cannot be certainly foreknown, which is not certain at the time; but if it be certain at the time, it is a contradiction in terms to maintain that there can be afterwards any contingency dependent upon the exercise of will or any thing else.' JOHNSON. 'All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it[850].'—I did not push the subject any farther. I was glad to find him so mild in discussing a question of the most abstract nature, involved with theological tenets, which he generally would not suffer to be in any degree opposed[851].

He as usual defended luxury[852]; 'You cannot spend money in luxury without doing good to the poor. Nay, you do more good to them by spending it in luxury, than by giving it: for by spending it in luxury, you make them exert industry, whereas by giving it, you keep them idle. I own, indeed, there may be more virtue in giving it immediately in charity, than in spending it in luxury; though there may be a pride in that too.' Miss Seward asked, if this was not Mandeville's doctrine of 'private vices publick benefits.' JOHNSON. 'The fallacy of that book is, that Mandeville defines neither vices nor benefits. He reckons among vices everything that gives pleasure[853]. He takes the narrowest system of morality, monastick morality, which holds pleasure itself to be a vice, such as eating salt with our fish, because it makes it eat better; and he reckons wealth as a publick benefit, which is by no means always true. Pleasure of itself is not a vice. Having a garden, which we all know to be perfectly innocent, is a great pleasure. At the same time, in this state of being there are many pleasures vices, which however are so immediately agreeable that we can hardly abstain from them. The happiness of Heaven will be, that pleasure and virtue will be perfectly consistent. Mandeville puts the case of a man who gets drunk in an alehouse; and says it is a publick benefit, because so much money is got by it to the publick. But it must be considered, that all the good gained by this, through the gradation of alehouse-keeper, brewer, maltster, and farmer, is overbalanced by the evil caused to the man and his family by his getting drunk[854]. This is the way to try what is vicious, by ascertaining whether more evil than good is produced by it upon the whole, which is the case in all vice. It may happen that good is produced by vice; but not as vice; for instance, a robber may take money from its owner, and give it to one who will make a better use of it. Here is good produced; but not by the robbery as robbery, but as translation of property[855]. I read Mandeville forty, or, I believe, fifty years ago. He did not puzzle me; he opened my views into real life very much[856]. No, it is clear that the happiness of society depends on virtue. In Sparta, theft was allowed by general consent[857]: theft, therefore, was there not a crime, but then there was no security; and what a life must they have had, when there was no security. Without truth there must be a dissolution of society. As it is, there is so little truth, that we are almost afraid to trust our ears; but how should we be, if falsehood were multiplied ten times? Society is held together by communication and information; and I remember this remark of Sir Thomas Brown's, "Do the devils lie? No; for then Hell could not subsist[858]."'

Talking of Miss ——[859], a literary lady, he said, 'I was obliged to speak to Miss Reynolds, to let her know that I desired she would not flatter me so much.' Somebody now observed, 'She flatters Garrick.' JOHNSON. 'She is in the right to flatter Garrick. She is in the right for two reasons; first, because she has the world with her, who have been praising Garrick these thirty years; and secondly, because she is rewarded for it by Garrick[860]. Why should she flatter me? I can do nothing for her. Let her carry her praise to a better market[861]. (Then turning to Mrs. Knowles). You, Madam, have been flattering me all the evening; I wish you would give Boswell a little now. If you knew his merit as well as I do, you would say a great deal; he is the best travelling companion in the world[862].'

Somebody mentioned the Reverend Mr. Mason's prosecution of Mr. Murray[863], the bookseller, for having inserted in a collection of Gray's Poems, only fifty lines, of which Mr. Mason had still the exclusive property, under the statute of Queen Anne; and that Mr. Mason had persevered, notwithstanding his being requested to name his own terms of compensation[864]. Johnson signified his displeasure at Mr. Mason's conduct very strongly; but added, by way of shewing that he was not surprized at it, 'Mason's a Whig.' MRS. KNOWLES, (not hearing distinctly:) 'What! a Prig, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Worse, Madam; a Whig! But he is both.'

I expressed a horrour at the thought of death. MRS. KNOWLES. 'Nay, thou should'st not have a horrour for what is the gate of life.' JOHNSON, (standing upon the hearth rolling about, with a serious, solemn, and somewhat gloomy air:) 'No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'The Scriptures tell us, "The righteous shall have hope in his death[865]."' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Madam; that is, he shall not have despair[866]. But, consider, his hope of salvation must be founded on the terms on which it is promised that the mediation of our SAVIOUR shall be applied to us,—namely, obedience; and where obedience has failed, then, as suppletory to it, repentance. But what man can say that his obedience has been such, as he would approve of in another, or even in himself upon close examination, or that his repentance has not been such as to require being repented of? No man can be sure that his obedience and repentance will obtain salvation.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'But divine intimation of acceptance may be made to the soul.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, it may; but I should not think the better of a man who should tell me on his death-bed he was sure of salvation. A man cannot be sure himself that he has divine intimation of acceptance; much less can he make others sure that he has it[867].' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, we must be contented to acknowledge that death is a terrible thing.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. I have made no approaches to a state which can look on it as not terrible[868].' MRS. KNOWLES, (seeming to enjoy a pleasing serenity in the persuasion of benignant divine light:) 'Does not St. Paul say, "I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished my course; henceforth is laid up for me a crown of life[869]?"' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Madam; but here was a man inspired, a man who had been converted by supernatural interposition.' BOSWELL. 'In prospect death is dreadful; but in fact we find that people die easy.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, most people have not thought much of the matter, so cannot say much, and it is supposed they die easy. Few believe it certain they are then to die; and those who do, set themselves to behave with resolution, as a man does who is going to be hanged. He is not the less unwilling to be hanged[870].' MISS SEWARD. 'There is one mode of the fear of death, which is certainly absurd; and that is the dread of annihilation, which is only a pleasing sleep without a dream.' JOHNSON. 'It is neither pleasing, nor sleep; it is nothing. Now mere existence is so much better than nothing, that one would rather exist even in pain, than not exist[871].' BOSWELL. 'If annihilation be nothing, then existing in pain is not a comparative state, but is a positive evil, which I cannot think we should choose. I must be allowed to differ here; and it would lessen the hope of a future state founded on the argument, that the Supreme Being, who is good as he is great, will hereafter compensate for our present sufferings in this life. For if existence, such as we have it here, be comparatively a good, we have no reason to complain, though no more of it should be given to us. But if our only state of existence were in this world, then we might with some reason complain that we are so dissatisfied with our enjoyments compared with our desires.' JOHNSON. 'The lady confounds annihilation, which is nothing, with the apprehension of it, which is dreadful. It is in the apprehension of it that the horrour of annihilation consists[872].'

Of John Wesley, he said, 'He can talk well on any subject[873].' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, what has he made of his story of a ghost?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, he believes it; but not on sufficient authority. He did not take time enough to examine the girl. It was at Newcastle, where the ghost was said to have appeared to a young woman several times, mentioning something about the right to an old house, advising application to be made to an attorney, which was done; and, at the same time, saying the attorney would do nothing, which proved to be the fact. "This (says John) is a proof that a ghost knows our thoughts[874]." Now (laughing) it is not necessary to know our thoughts, to tell that an attorney will sometimes do nothing. Charles Wesley, who is a more stationary man, does not believe the story. I am sorry that John did not take more pains to inquire into the evidence for it.' MISS SEWARD, (with an incredulous smile:) 'What, Sir! about a ghost?' JOHNSON, (with solemn vehemence:) 'Yes, Madam: this is a question which, after five thousand years, is yet undecided; a question, whether in theology or philosophy, one of the most important that can come before the human understanding[875].'

Mrs. Knowles mentioned, as a proselyte to Quakerism, Miss ——[876], a young lady well known to Dr. Johnson, for whom he had shewn much affection; while she ever had, and still retained, a great respect for him. Mrs. Knowles at the same time took an opportunity of letting him know 'that the amiable young creature was sorry at finding that he was offended at her leaving the Church of England and embracing a simpler faith;' and, in the gentlest and most persuasive manner, solicited his kind indulgence for what was sincerely a matter of conscience. JOHNSON, (frowning very angrily,) 'Madam, she is an odious wench. She could not have any proper conviction that it was her duty to change her religion, which is the most important of all subjects, and should be studied with all care, and with all the helps we can get. She knew no more of the Church which she left, and that which she embraced, than she did of the difference between the Copernican and Ptolemaick systems.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'She had the New Testament before her.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, she could not understand the New Testament, the most difficult book in the world, for which the study of a life is required.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'It is clear as to essentials.' JOHNSON. 'But not as to controversial points. The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up; but we ought not, without very strong conviction indeed, to desert the religion in which we have been educated. That is the religion given you, the religion in which it may be said Providence has placed you. If you live conscientiously in that religion, you may be safe. But errour is dangerous indeed, if you err when you choose a religion for yourself[877].' MRS. KNOWLES. 'Must we then go by implicit faith?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, the greatest part of our knowledge is implicit faith; and as to religion, have we heard all that a disciple of Confucius, all that a Mahometan, can say for himself?' He then rose again into passion, and attacked the young proselyte in the severest terms of reproach, so that both the ladies seemed to be much shocked[878].

We remained together till it was pretty late. Notwithstanding occasional explosions of violence, we were all delighted upon the whole with Johnson. I compared him at this time to a warm West-Indian climate, where you have a bright sun, quick vegetation, luxuriant foliage, luscious fruits; but where the same heat sometimes produces thunder, lightning, earthquakes, in a terrible degree.

April 17, being Good Friday[879], I waited on Johnson, as usual. I observed at breakfast that although it was a part of his abstemious discipline on this most solemn fast, to take no milk in his tea, yet when Mrs. Desmoulins inadvertently poured it in, he did not reject it. I talked of the strange indecision of mind, and imbecility in the common occurrences of life, which we may observe in some people. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I am in the habit of getting others to do things for me.' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir! have you that weakness?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. But I always think afterwards I should have done better for myself.' I told him that at a gentleman's house[880] where there was thought to be such extravagance or bad management, that he was living much beyond his income, his lady had objected to the cutting of a pickled mango, and that I had taken an opportunity to ask the price of it, and found it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor saving. JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is the blundering oeconomy of a narrow understanding. It is stopping one hole in a sieve.'

I expressed some inclination to publish an account of my Travels upon the continent of Europe, for which I had a variety of materials collected. JOHNSON. 'I do not say, Sir, you may not publish your travels; but I give you my opinion, that you would lessen yourself by it. What can you tell of countries so well known as those upon the continent of Europe, which you have visited?' BOSWELL. 'But I can give an entertaining narrative, with many incidents, anecdotes, jeux d'esprit, and remarks, so as to make very pleasant reading.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, most modern travellers in Europe who have published their travels, have been laughed at: I would not have you added to the number[881]. The world is now not contented to be merely entertained by a traveller's narrative; they want to learn something[882]. Now some of my friends asked me, why I did not give some account of my travels in France. The reason is plain; intelligent readers had seen more of France than I had. You might have liked my travels in France, and THE CLUB might have liked them; but, upon the whole, there would have been more ridicule than good produced by them.' BOSWELL. 'I cannot agree with you, Sir. People would like to read what you say of any thing. Suppose a face has been painted by fifty painters before; still we love to see it done by Sir Joshua.' JOHNSON. 'True, Sir, but Sir Joshua cannot paint a face when he has not time to look on it.' BOSWELL. 'Sir, a sketch of any sort by him is valuable. And, Sir, to talk to you in your own style (raising my voice, and shaking my head,) you should have given us your travels in France. I am sure I am right, and there's an end on't.'

I said to him that it was certainly true, as my friend Dempster had observed in his letter to me upon the subject, that a great part of what was in his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland had been in his mind before he left London. JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir, the topicks were; and books of travels[883] will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind; his knowing what to observe; his power of contrasting one mode of life with another. As the Spanish proverb says, "He, who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him." So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.' BOSWELL. 'The proverb, I suppose, Sir, means, he must carry a large stock with him to trade with.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir.'

It was a delightful day: as we walked to St. Clement's church[884], I again remarked that Fleet-street was the most cheerful scene in the world[885]. 'Fleet-street (said I,) is in my mind more delightful than Tempé.' JOHNSON. 'Ay, Sir; but let it be compared with Mull.'

There was a very numerous congregation to-day at St. Clement's church, which Dr. Johnson said he observed with pleasure.

And now I am to give a pretty full account of one of the most curious incidents in Johnson's life, of which he himself has made the following minute on this day: 'In my return from church, I was accosted by Edwards[886], an old fellow-collegian, who had not seen me since 1729. He knew me, and asked if I remembered one Edwards; I did not at first recollect the name, but gradually as we walked along, recovered it, and told him a conversation that had passed at an alehouse between us. My purpose is to continue our acquaintance[887].'

It was in Butcher-row that this meeting happened. Mr. Edwards, who was a decent-looking elderly man in grey clothes, and a wig of many curls, accosted Johnson with familiar confidence, knowing who he was, while Johnson returned his salutation with a courteous formality, as to a stranger. But as soon as Edwards had brought to his recollection their having been at Pembroke-College together nine-and-forty years ago, he seemed much pleased, asked where he lived, and said he should be glad to see him in Bolt-court. EDWARDS. 'Ah, Sir! we are old men now[888].' JOHNSON, (who never liked to think of being old[889]:) 'Don't let us discourage one another.' EDWARDS. 'Why, Doctor, you look stout and hearty, I am happy to see you so; for the newspapers told us you were very ill[890].' JOHNSON, 'Ay, Sir, they are always telling lies of us old fellows.'

Wishing to be present at more of so singular a conversation as that between two fellow-collegians, who had lived forty years in London without ever having chanced to meet, I whispered to Mr. Edwards that Dr. Johnson was going home, and that he had better accompany him now. So Edwards walked along with us, I eagerly assisting to keep up the conversation. Mr. Edwards informed Dr. Johnson that he had practised long as a solicitor in Chancery, but that he now lived in the country upon a little farm, about sixty acres, just by Stevenage in Hertfordshire, and that he came to London (to Barnard's Inn, No. 6), generally twice a week. Johnson appearing to me in a reverie, Mr. Edwards addressed himself to me, and expatiated on the pleasure of living in the country. BOSWELL. 'I have no notion of this, Sir. What you have to entertain you, is, I think, exhausted in half an hour.' EDWARDS. 'What? don't you love to have hope realized? I see my grass, and my corn, and my trees growing. Now, for instance, I am curious to see if this frost has not nipped my fruit-trees.' JOHNSON, (who we did not imagine was attending:) 'You find, Sir, you have fears as well as hopes.'—So well did he see the whole, when another saw but the half of a subject.

When we got to Dr. Johnson's house, and were seated in his library, the dialogue went on admirably. EDWARDS. 'Sir, I remember you would not let us say prodigious at College[891]. For even then, Sir, (turning to me,) he was delicate in language, and we all feared him[892].' JOHNSON, (to Edwards:) 'From your having practised the law long, Sir, I presume you must be rich.' EDWARDS. 'No, Sir; I got a good deal of money; but I had a number of poor relations to whom I gave a great part of it.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have been rich in the most valuable sense of the word.' EDWARDS. 'But I shall not die rich.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, sure, Sir, it is better to live rich than to die rich.' EDWARDS. 'I wish I had continued at College.' JOHNSON. 'Why do you wish that, Sir?' EDWARDS. 'Because I think I should have had a much easier life than mine has been. I should have been a parson, and had a good living, like Bloxam and several others, and lived comfortably.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the life of a parson, of a conscientious clergyman, is not easy. I have always considered a clergyman as the father of a larger family than he is able to maintain. I would rather have Chancery suits upon my hands than the cure of souls. No, Sir, I do not envy a clergyman's life as an easy life[893], nor do I envy the clergyman who makes it an easy life.' Here taking himself up all of a sudden, he exclaimed, 'O! Mr. Edwards! I'll convince you that I recollect you. Do you remember our drinking together at an alehouse near Pembroke gate[894]. At that time, you told me of the Eton boy, who, when verses on our Saviour's turning water into wine were prescribed as an exercise, brought up a single line, which was highly admired,—

"Vidit et erubuit lympha pudica Deum[895],"

and I told you of another fine line in Camden's Remains, an eulogy upon one of our Kings, who was succeeded by his son, a prince of equal merit:—

"Mira cano, Sol occubuit, nox nulla secuta est[896]."'

EDWARDS. 'You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in[897].' Mr. Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Malone, and, indeed, all the eminent men to whom I have mentioned this, have thought it an exquisite trait of character. The truth is, that philosophy, like religion, is too generally supposed to be hard and severe, at least so grave as to exclude all gaiety.

EDWARDS. 'I have been twice married, Doctor. You, I suppose, have never known what it was to have a wife.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I have known what it was to have a wife, and (in a solemn tender faultering tone) I have known what it was to lose a wife.—It had almost broke my heart.'

EDWARDS. 'How do you live, Sir? For my part, I must have my regular meals, and a glass of good wine. I find I require it.' JOHNSON. 'I now drink no wine, Sir. Early in life I drank wine: for many years I drank none. I then for some years drank a great deal.' EDWARDS. 'Some hogsheads, I warrant you.' JOHNSON. 'I then had a severe illness, and left it off[898], and I have never begun it again. I never felt any difference upon myself from eating one thing rather than another, nor from one kind of weather rather than another[899]. There are people. I believe, who feel a difference; but I am not one of them. And as to regular meals, I have fasted from the Sunday's dinner to the Tuesday's dinner, without any inconvenience[900]. I believe it is best to eat just as one is hungry: but a man who is in business, or a man who has a family, must have stated meals. I am a straggler. I may leave this town and go to Grand Cairo, without being missed here or observed there.' EDWARDS. 'Don't you eat supper, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' EDWARDS. 'For my part, now, I consider supper as a turnpike through which one must pass, in order to get to bed[901].'

JOHNSON. 'You are a lawyer, Mr. Edwards. Lawyers know life practically. A bookish man should always have them to converse with. They have what he wants.' EDWARDS. 'I am grown old: I am sixty-five.' JOHNSON. 'I shall be sixty-eight[902] next birth-day. Come, Sir, drink water, and put in for a hundred.'

Mr. Edwards mentioned a gentleman who had left his whole fortune to Pembroke College. JOHNSON. 'Whether to leave one's whole fortune to a College be right, must depend upon circumstances. I would leave the interest of the fortune I bequeathed to a College to my relations or my friends, for their lives[903]. It is the same thing to a College, which is a permanent society, whether it gets the money now or twenty years hence; and I would wish to make my relations or friends feel the benefit of it.'

This interview confirmed my opinion of Johnson's most humane and benevolent heart. His cordial and placid behaviour to an old fellow-collegian, a man so different from himself; and his telling him that he would go down to his farm and visit him, showed a kindness of disposition very rare at an advanced age. He observed, 'how wonderful it was that they had both been in London forty years, without having ever once met, and both walkers in the street too!' Mr. Edwards, when going away, again recurred to his consciousness of senility, and looking full in Johnson's face, said to him, 'You'll find in Dr. Young,

"O my coevals! remnants of yourselves[904]!"'

Johnson did not relish this at all; but shook his head with impatience. Edwards walked off, seemingly highly pleased with the honour of having been thus noticed by Dr. Johnson. When he was gone, I said to Johnson, I thought him but a weak man. JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir. Here is a man who has passed through life without experience: yet I would rather have him with me than a more sensible man who will not talk readily. This man is always willing to say what he has to say.' Yet Dr. Johnson had himself by no means that willingness which he praised so much, and I think so justly; for who has not felt the painful effect of the dreary void, when there is a total silence in a company, for any length of time; or, which is as bad, or perhaps worse, when the conversation is with difficulty kept up by a perpetual effort?

Johnson once observed to me, 'Tom Tyers described me the best: "Sir (said he), you are like a ghost: you never speak till you are spoken to[905]."'

The gentleman whom he thus familiarly mentioned was Mr. Thomas Tyers, son of Mr. Jonathan Tyers, the founder of that excellent place of publick amusement, Vauxhall Gardens, which must ever be an estate to its proprietor, as it is peculiarly adapted to the taste of the English nation; there being a mixture of curious show,—gay exhibition,—musick, vocal and instrumental, not too refined for the general ear;—for all which only a shilling is paid[906]; and, though last, not least, good eating and drinking for those who choose to purchase that regale[907]. Mr. Thomas Tyers was bred to the law; but having a handsome fortune, vivacity of temper, and eccentricity of mind, he could not confine himself to the regularity of practice. He therefore ran about the world with a pleasant carelessness, amusing everybody by his desultory conversation[908]. He abounded in anecdote, but was not sufficiently attentive to accuracy. I therefore cannot venture to avail myself much of a biographical sketch of Johnson which he published, being one among the various persons ambitious of appending their names to that of my illustrious friend. That sketch is, however, an entertaining little collection of fragments. Those which he published of Pope and Addison are of higher merit; but his fame must chiefly rest upon his Political Conferences, in which he introduces several eminent persons delivering their sentiments in the way of dialogue, and discovers a considerable share of learning, various knowledge, and discernment of character. This much may I be allowed to say of a man who was exceedingly obliging to me, and who lived with Dr. Johnson in as easy a manner as almost any of his very numerous acquaintance.

Mr. Edwards had said to me aside, that Dr. Johnson should have been of a profession[909]. I repeated the remark to Johnson that I might have his own thoughts on the subject. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it would have been better that I had been of a profession. I ought to have been a lawyer.' BOSWELL. 'I do not think, Sir, it would have been better, for we should not have had the English Dictionary.' JOHNSON. 'But you would have had Reports.' BOSWELL. 'Ay; but there would not have been another, who could have written the Dictionary. There have been many very good Judges. Suppose you had been Lord Chancellor; you would have delivered opinions with more extent of mind, and in a more ornamented manner, than perhaps any Chancellor ever did, or ever will do. But, I believe, causes have been as judiciously decided as you could have done.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. Property has been as well settled.'

Johnson, however, had a noble ambition floating in his mind, and had, undoubtedly, often speculated on the possibility of his supereminent powers being rewarded in this great and liberal country by the highest honours of the state. Sir William Scott informs me, that upon the death of the late Lord Lichfield, who was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he said to Johnson, 'What a pity it is, Sir, that you did not follow the profession of the law[910]. You might have been Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, and attained to the dignity of the peerage; and now that the title of Lichfield, your native city, is extinct, you might have had it[911].' Johnson, upon this, seemed much agitated; and, in an angry tone, exclaimed, 'Why will you vex me by suggesting this, when it is too late[912]?'

But he did not repine at the prosperity of others. The late Dr. Thomas Leland told Mr. Courtenay, that when Mr. Edmund Burke shewed Johnson his fine house and lands near Beaconsfield, Johnson coolly said, 'Non equidem invideo; miror magis[913].'

Yet no man had a higher notion of the dignity of literature than Johnson, or was more determined in maintaining the respect which he justly considered as due to it. Of this, besides the general tenor of his conduct in society, some characteristical instances may be mentioned.

He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, that once when he dined in a numerous company of booksellers, where the room being small, the head of the table, at which he sat, was almost close to the fire, he persevered in suffering a great deal of inconvenience from the heat, rather than quit his place, and let one of them sit above him.

Goldsmith, in his diverting simplicity, complained one day, in a mixed company, of Lord Camden. 'I met him (said he) at Lord Clare's house[914] in the country, and he took no more notice of me than if I had been an ordinary man.' The company having laughed heartily, Johnson stood forth in defence of his friend. 'Nay, Gentleman, (said he,) Dr. Goldsmith is in the right. A nobleman ought to have made up to such a man as Goldsmith; and I think it is much against Lord Camden that he neglected him[915].'

Nor could he patiently endure to hear that such respect as he thought due only to higher intellectual qualities, should be bestowed on men of slighter, though perhaps more amusing talents. I told him, that one morning, when I went to breakfast with Garrick, who was very vain of his intimacy with Lord Camden,[916] he accosted me thus:—'Pray now, did you—did you meet a little lawyer turning the corner, eh?'—'No, Sir, (said I.) Pray what do you mean by the question?'—'Why, (replied Garrick, with an affected indifference, yet as if standing on tip-toe,) Lord Camden has this moment left me. We have had a long walk together.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, Garrick talked very properly. Lord Camden was a little lawyer to be associating so familiarly with a player.' Sir Joshua Reynolds observed, with great truth, that Johnson considered Garrick to be as it were his property. He would allow no man either to blame or to praise Garrick in his presence, without contradicting him[917].

Having fallen into a very serious frame of mind, in which mutual expressions of kindness passed between us, such as would be thought too vain in me to repeat, I talked with regret of the sad inevitable certainty that one of us must survive the other. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, that is an affecting consideration. I remember Swift, in one of his letters to Pope, says, "I intend to come over, that we may meet once more; and when we must part, it is what happens to all human beings[918]."' BOSWELL. 'The hope that we shall see our departed friends[919] again must support the mind.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'There is a strange unwillingness to part with life, independent of serious fears as to futurity. A reverend friend of ours (naming him) tells me, that he feels an uneasiness at the thoughts of leaving his house, his study, his books.' JOHNSON. 'This is foolish in ——[920]. A man need not be uneasy on these grounds; for, as he will retain his consciousness, he may say with the philosopher, Omnia mea mecum porto[921].' BOSWELL. 'True, Sir: we may carry our books in our heads; but still there is something painful in the thought of leaving for ever what has given us pleasure. I remember, many years ago, when my imagination was warm, and I happened to be in a melancholy mood, it distressed me to think of going into a state of being in which Shakspeare's poetry did not exist. A lady whom I then much admired, a very amiable woman, humoured my fancy, and relieved me by saying, "The first thing you will meet in the other world, will be an elegant copy of Shakspeare's works presented to you."' Dr. Johnson smiled benignantly at this, and did not appear to disapprove of the notion.

We went to St. Clement's church again in the afternoon[922], and then returned and drank tea and coffee in Mrs. Williams's room; Mrs. Desmoulins doing the honours of the tea-table. I observed that he would not even look at a proof-sheet of his Life of Waller on Good-Friday.

Mr. Allen, the printer, brought a book on agriculture, which was printed, and was soon to be published[923]. It was a very strange performance, the authour having mixed in it his own thoughts upon various topicks, along with his remarks on ploughing, sowing, and other farming operations. He seemed to be an absurd profane fellow, and had introduced in his book many sneers at religion, with equal ignorance and conceit. Dr. Johnson permitted me to read some passages aloud. One was, that he resolved to work on Sunday, and did work, but he owned he felt some weak compunction; and he had this very curious reflection:—'I was born in the wilds of Christianity, and the briars and thorns still hang about me.' Dr. Johnson could not help laughing at this ridiculous image, yet was very angry at the fellow's impiety. 'However, (said he,) the Reviewers will make him hang himself.' He, however, observed, 'that formerly there might have been a dispensation obtained for working on Sunday in the time of harvest[924].' Indeed in ritual observances, were all the ministers of religion what they should be, and what many of them are, such a power might be wisely and safely lodged with the Church.

On Saturday, April 14[925], I drank tea with him. He praised the late Mr. Buncombe[926], of Canterbury, as a pleasing man. 'He used to come to me: I did not seek much after him. Indeed I never sought much after any body.' BOSWELL. 'Lord Orrery[927], I suppose.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; I never went to him but when he sent for me.' BOSWELL. 'Richardson[928]?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. But I sought after George Psalmanazar the most. I used to go and sit with him at an alehouse in the city[929].'

I am happy to mention another instance which I discovered of his seeking after a man of merit. Soon after the Honourable Daines Barrington had published his excellent Observations on the Statutes, Johnson waited on that worthy and learned gentleman; and, having told him his name, courteously said, 'I have read your book, Sir, with great pleasure, and wish to be better known to you.' Thus began an acquaintance, which was continued with mutual regard as long as Johnson lived.

Talking of a recent seditious delinquent[930], he said, 'They should set him in the pillory, that he may be punished in a way that would disgrace him.' I observed, that the pillory does not always disgrace. And I mentioned an instance of a gentleman[931] who I thought was not dishonoured by it. JOHNSON. 'Ay, but he was, Sir. He could not mouth and strut as he used to do, after having been there. People are not willing to ask a man to their tables who has stood in the pillory.'

The Gentleman who had dined with us at Dr. Percy's[932] came in. Johnson attacked the Americans with intemperate vehemence of abuse. I said something in their favour; and added, that I was always sorry when he talked on that subject. This, it seems, exasperated him; though he said nothing at the time. The cloud was charged with sulphureous vapour, which was afterwards to burst in thunder.—We talked of a gentleman[933] who was running out his fortune in London; and I said, 'We must get him out of it. All his friends must quarrel with him, and that will soon drive him away.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir; we'll send you to him. If your company does not drive a man out of his house, nothing will.' This was a horrible shock, for which there was no visible cause. I afterwards asked him why he had said so harsh a thing. JOHNSON. 'Because, Sir, you made me angry about the Americans.' BOSWELL. 'But why did you not take your revenge directly?' JOHNSON. (smiling) 'Because, Sir, I had nothing ready. A man cannot strike till he has his weapons.' This was a candid and pleasant confession.

He shewed me to-night his drawing-room, very genteelly fitted up; and said, 'Mrs. Thrale sneered when I talked of my having asked you and your lady to live at my house[934]. I was obliged to tell her, that you would be in as respectable a situation in my house as in hers. Sir, the insolence of wealth will creep out.' BOSWELL. 'She has a little both of the insolence of wealth, and the conceit of parts.' JOHNSON. 'The insolence of wealth is a wretched thing; but the conceit of parts has some foundation[935]. To be sure it should not be. But who is without it?' BOSWELL. 'Yourself, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Why I play no tricks: I lay no traps.' BOSWELL. 'No, Sir. You are six feet high, and you only do not stoop.'

We talked of the numbers of people that sometimes have composed the household of great families. I mentioned that there were a hundred in the family of the present Earl of Eglintoune's father. Dr. Johnson seeming to doubt it, I began to enumerate. 'Let us see: my Lord and my Lady two.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, if you are to count by twos, you may be long enough.' BOSWELL. 'Well, but now I add two sons and seven daughters, and a servant for each, that will make twenty; so we have the fifth part already.' JOHNSON. 'Very true. You get at twenty pretty readily; but you will not so easily get further on. We grow to five feet pretty readily; but it is not so easy to grow to seven.'

On Sunday, April 19, being Easter-day, after the solemnities of the festival in St. Paul's Church, I visited him, but could not stay to dinner. I expressed a wish to have the arguments for Christianity always in readiness, that my religious faith might be as firm and clear as any proposition whatever, so that I need not be under the least uneasiness, when it should be attacked. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you cannot answer all objections. You have demonstration for a First Cause: you see he must be good as well as powerful, because there is nothing to make him otherwise, and goodness of itself is preferable. Yet you have against this, what is very certain, the unhappiness of human life. This, however, gives us reason to hope for a future state of compensation, that there may be a perfect system. But of that we were not sure, till we had a positive revelation.' I told him, that his Rasselas had often made me unhappy; for it represented the misery of human life so well, and so convincingly to a thinking mind, that if at any time the impression wore off, and I felt myself easy, I began to suspect some delusion.

On Monday, April 20[936], I found him at home in the morning. We talked of a gentleman[937] who we apprehended was gradually involving his circumstances by bad management. JOHNSON. 'Wasting a fortune is evaporation by a thousand imperceptible means. If it were a stream, they'd stop it. You must speak to him. It is really miserable. Were he a gamester, it could be said he had hopes of winning. Were he a bankrupt in trade, he might have grown rich; but he has neither spirit to spend nor resolution to spare. He does not spend fast enough to have pleasure from it. He has the crime of prodigality, and the wretchedness of parsimony. If a man is killed in a duel, he is killed as many a one has been killed; but it is a sad thing for a man to lie down and die; to bleed to death, because he has not fortitude enough to sear the wound, or even to stitch it up.' I cannot but pause a moment to admire the fecundity of fancy, and choice of language, which in this instance, and, indeed, on almost all occasions, he displayed. It was well observed by Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore, 'The conversation of Johnson is strong and clear, and may be compared to an antique statue, where every vein and muscle is distinct and bold. Ordinary conversation resembles an inferiour cast.'

On Saturday, April 25, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the learned Dr. Musgrave[938], Counsellor Leland of Ireland, son to the historian, Mrs. Cholmondeley, and some more ladies. The Project[939], a new poem, was read to the company by Dr. Musgrave. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it has no power. Were it not for the well-known names with which it is filled, it would be nothing: the names carry the poet, not the poet the names.' MUSGRAVE. 'A temporary poem always entertains us.' JOHNSON. 'So does an account of the criminals hanged yesterday entertain us.'

He proceeded:—'Demosthenes Taylor, as he was called, (that is, the Editor of Demosthenes) was the most silent man, the merest statue of a man that I have ever seen. I once dined in company with him, and all he said during the whole time was no more than Richard. How a man should say only Richard, it is not easy to imagine. But it was thus: Dr. Douglas was talking of Dr. Zachary Grey, and ascribing to him something that was written by Dr. Richard Grey. So, to correct him, Taylor said, (imitating his affected sententious emphasis and nod,) "Richard."'

Mrs. Cholmondeley, in a high flow of spirits, exhibited some lively sallies of hyperbolical compliment to Johnson, with whom she had been long acquainted, and was very easy[940]. He was quick in catching the manner of the moment, and answered her somewhat in the style of the hero of a romance, 'Madam, you crown me with unfading laurels.'

I happened, I know not how, to say that a pamphlet meant a prose piece. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. A few sheets of poetry unbound are a pamphlet[941], as much as a few sheets of prose.' MUSGRAVE. 'A pamphlet may be understood to mean a poetical piece in Westminster-Hall, that is, in formal language; but in common language it is understood to mean prose.' JOHNSON. (and here was one of the many instances of his knowing clearly and telling exactly how a thing is) 'A pamphlet is understood in common language to mean prose, only from this, that there is so much more prose written than poetry; as when we say a book, prose is understood for the same reason, though a book may as well be in poetry as in prose. We understand what is most general, and we name what is less frequent.'

We talked of a lady's verses on Ireland. MISS REYNOLDS. 'Have you seen them, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Madam. I have seen a translation from Horace, by one of her daughters. She shewed it me.' MISS REYNOLDS. 'And how was it, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, very well for a young Miss's verses;—that is to say, compared with excellence, nothing; but, very well, for the person who wrote them. I am vexed at being shewn verses in that manner.' MISS REYNOLDS. 'But if they should be good, why not give them hearty praise?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, because I have not then got the better of my bad humour from having been shewn them. You must consider, Madam; beforehand they may be bad, as well as good. Nobody has a right to put another under such a difficulty, that he must either hurt the person by telling the truth, or hurt himself by telling what is not true.'[942] BOSWELL. 'A man often shews his writings to people of eminence, to obtain from them, either from their good-nature, or from their not being able to tell the truth firmly, a commendation, of which he may afterwards avail himself.' JOHNSON. 'Very true, Sir. Therefore the man, who is asked by an authour, what he thinks of his work, is put to the torture, and is not obliged to speak the truth; so that what he says is not considered as his opinion; yet he has said it, and cannot retract it; and this authour, when mankind are hunting him with a cannister at his tail, can say, "I would not have published, had not Johnson, or Reynolds, or Musgrave, or some other good judge commended the work." Yet I consider it as a very difficult question in conscience, whether one should advise a man not to publish a work, if profit be his object; for the man may say, "Had it not been for you, I should have had the money." Now you cannot be sure; for you have only your own opinion, and the publick may think very differently.' SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'You must upon such an occasion have two judgments; one as to the real value of the work, the other as to what may please the general taste at the time.' JOHNSON. 'But you can be sure of neither; and therefore I should scruple much to give a suppressive vote. Both Goldsmith's comedies were once refused; his first by Garrick,[943] his second by Colman, who was prevailed on at last by much solicitation, nay, a kind of force, to bring it on.[944] His Vicar of Wakefield I myself did not think would have had much success. It was written and sold to a bookseller before his Traveller; but published after; so little expectation had the bookseller from it. Had it been sold after the Traveller, he might have had twice as much money for it, though sixty guineas was no mean price. The bookseller had the advantage of Goldsmith's reputation from The Traveller in the sale, though Goldsmith had it not in selling the copy.'[945] SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'The Beggar's Opera affords a proof how strangely people will differ in opinion about a literary performance. Burke thinks it has no merit.' JOHNSON. 'It was refused by one of the houses[946]; but I should have thought it would succeed, not from any great excellence in the writing, but from the novelty, and the general spirit and gaiety of the piece, which keeps the audience always attentive, and dismisses them in good humour.'

We went to the drawing-room, where was a considerable increase of company. Several of us got round Dr. Johnson, and complained that he would not give us an exact catalogue of his works, that there might be a complete edition. He smiled, and evaded our entreaties. That he intended to do it, I have no doubt, because I have heard him say so; and I have in my possession an imperfect list, fairly written out, which he entitles Historia Studiorum. I once got from one of his friends a list, which there was pretty good reason to suppose was accurate, for it was written down in his presence by this friend, who enumerated each article aloud, and had some of them mentioned to him by Mr. Levett, in concert with whom it was made out; and Johnson, who heard all this, did not contradict it. But when I shewed a copy of this list to him, and mentioned the evidence for its exactness, he laughed, and said, 'I was willing to let them go on as they pleased, and never interfered.' Upon which I read it to him, article by article, and got him positively to own or refuse; and then, having obtained certainty so far, I got some other articles confirmed by him directly; and afterwards, from time to time, made additions under his sanction[947].

His friend Edward Cave having been mentioned, he told us, 'Cave used to sell ten thousand of The Gentleman's Magazine; yet such was then his minute attention and anxiety that the sale should not suffer the smallest decrease, that he would name a particular person who he heard had talked of leaving off the Magazine, and would say, 'Let us have something good next month.'

It was observed, that avarice was inherent in some dispositions. JOHNSON. 'No man was born a miser, because no man was born to possession. Every man is born cupidus—desirous of getting; but not avarus,—desirous of keeping.' BOSWELL. 'I have heard old Mr. Sheridan maintain, with much ingenuity, that a complete miser is a happy man; a miser who gives himself wholly to the one passion of saving.' JOHNSON. 'That is flying in the face of all the world, who have called an avaricious man a miser, because he is miserable[948]. No, Sir; a man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.'

The conversation having turned on Bon-Mots, he quoted, from one of the Ana, an exquisite instance of flattery in a maid of honour in France, who being asked by the Queen what o'clock it was, answered, 'What your Majesty pleases[949].' He admitted that Mr. Burke's classical pun upon Mr. Wilkes's being carried on the shoulders of the mob,—

'… Numerisque fertur
Lege solutus[950],'

was admirable; and though he was strangely unwilling to allow to that extraordinary man the talent of wit[951], he also laughed with approbation at another of his playful conceits; which was, that 'Horace has in one line given a description of a good desirable manour:—

"Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines[952];"

that is to say, a modus[953] as to the tithes and certain fines[954].'

He observed, 'A man cannot with propriety speak of himself, except he relates simple facts; as, "I was at Richmond:" or what depends on mensuration; as, "I am six feet high." He is sure he has been at Richmond; he is sure he is six feet high: but he cannot be sure he is wise, or that he has any other excellence. Then, all censure of a man's self is oblique praise. It is in order to shew how much he can spare. It has all the invidiousness of self-praise, and all the reproach of falsehood.' BOSWELL. 'Sometimes it may proceed from a man's strong consciousness of his faults being observed. He knows that others would throw him down, and therefore he had better lye down softly of his own accord.'

On Tuesday, April 28, he was engaged to dine at General Paoli's, where, as I have already observed[955], I was still entertained in elegant hospitality, and with all the ease and comfort of a home. I called on him, and accompanied him in a hackney-coach. We stopped first at the bottom of Hedge-lane, into which he went to leave a letter, 'with good news for a poor man in distress,' as he told me[956]. I did not question him particularly as to this. He himself often resembled Lady Bolingbroke's lively description of Pope; that 'he was un politique aux choux et aux raves.'[957].' He would say, 'I dine to-day in Grosvenor-square;' this might be with a Duke[958]: or, perhaps, 'I dine to-day at the other end of the town:' or, 'A gentleman of great eminence called on me yesterday.' He loved thus to keep things floating in conjecture: Omne ignotum pro magnifico est.[959]. I believe I ventured to dissipate the cloud, to unveil the mystery, more freely and frequently than any of his friends. We stopped again at Wirgman's, the well-known toy-shop[960], in St. James's-street, at the corner of St. James's-place, to which he had been directed, but not clearly, for he searched about some time, and could not find it at first; and said, 'To direct one only to a corner shop is toying with one.' I suppose he meant this as a play upon the word toy: it was the first time that I knew him stoop to such sport[961]. After he had been some time in the shop, he sent for me to come out of the coach, and help him to choose a pair of silver buckles, as those he had were too small. Probably this alteration in dress had been suggested by Mrs. Thrale, by associating with whom, his external appearance was much improved. He got better cloaths; and the dark colour, from which he never deviated, was enlivened by metal buttons. His wigs, too, were much better; and during their travels in France, he was furnished with a Paris-made wig, of handsome construction[962]. This choosing of silver buckles was a negociation: 'Sir (said he), I will not have the ridiculous large ones now in fashion; and I will give no more than a guinea for a pair.' Such were the principles of the business; and, after some examination, he was fitted. As we drove along, I found him in a talking humour, of which I availed myself. BOSWELL. 'I was this morning in Ridley's shop, Sir; and was told, that the collection called Johnsoniana[963] has sold very much.' JOHNSON. 'Yet the Journey to the Hebrides has not had a great sale[964].' BOSWELL. 'That is strange.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; for in that book I have told the world a great deal that they did not know before.'

BOSWELL. 'I drank chocolate, Sir, this morning with Mr. Eld; and, to my no small surprize, found him to be a Staffordshire Whig[965], a being which I did not believe had existed.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there are rascals in all countries.' BOSWELL. 'Eld said, a Tory was a creature generated between a non-juring parson and one's grandmother.' JOHNSON. 'And I have always said, the first Whig was the Devil[966].' BOSWELL. 'He certainly was, Sir. The Devil was impatient of subordination; he was the first who resisted power:—

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven[967]."'

At General Paoli's were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Marchese Gherardi of Lombardy, and Mr. John Spottiswoode the younger, of Spottiswoode[968], the solicitor. At this time fears of an invasion were circulated; to obviate which, Mr. Spottiswoode observed, that Mr. Fraser the engineer, who had lately come from Dunkirk, said, that the French had the same fears of us. JOHNSON. 'It is thus that mutual cowardice keeps us in peace. Were one half of mankind brave, and one half cowards, the brave would be always beating the cowards. Were all brave, they would lead a very uneasy life; all would be continually fighting: but being all cowards, we go on very well[969].'

We talked of drinking wine. JOHNSON. 'I require wine, only when I am alone. I have then often wished for it, and often taken it[970].' SPOTTISWOODE. 'What, by way of a companion, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'To get rid of myself, to send myself away. Wine gives great pleasure; and every pleasure is of itself a good. It is a good, unless counterbalanced by evil. A man may have a strong reason not to drink wine; and that may be greater than the pleasure. Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others. Sometimes it does. But the danger is, that while a man grows better pleased with himself, he may be growing less pleasing to others[971]. Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what has been locked up in frost. But this may be good, or it may be bad[972].' SPOTTISWOODE. 'So, Sir, wine is a key which opens a box; but this box may be either full or empty.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, conversation is the key: wine is a pick-lock, which forces open the box and injures it. A man should cultivate his mind so as to have that confidence and readiness without wine, which wine gives.' BOSWELL. 'The great difficulty of resisting wine is from benevolence. For instance, a good worthy man asks you to taste his wine, which he has had twenty years in his cellar.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, all this notion about benevolence arises from a man's imagining himself to be of more importance to others, than he really is. They don't care a farthing whether he drinks wine or not.' SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'Yes, they do for the time.' JOHNSON. 'For the time!—If they care this minute, they forget it the next. And as for the good worthy man; how do you know he is good and worthy? No good and worthy man will insist upon another man's drinking wine. As to the wine twenty years in the cellar,—of ten men, three say this, merely because they must say something;—three are telling a lie, when they say they have had the wine twenty years;—three would rather save the wine;—one, perhaps, cares. I allow it is something to please one's company: and people are always pleased with those who partake pleasure with them. But after a man has brought himself to relinquish the great personal pleasure which arises from drinking wine, any other consideration is a trifle. To please others by drinking wine, is something only, if there be nothing against it. I should, however, be sorry to offend worthy men:—

"Curst be the verse, how well so e'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe[973]."'

BOSWELL. 'Curst be the spring, the water.' JOHNSON. 'But let us consider what a sad thing it would be, if we were obliged to drink or do any thing else that may happen to be agreeable to the company where we are.' LANGTON. 'By the same rule you must join with a gang of cut-purses.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir: but yet we must do justice to wine; we must allow it the power it possesses. To make a man pleased with himself, let me tell you, is doing a very great thing[974];

"Si patriæ volumus, si Nobis vivere cari[975].'"

I was at this time myself a water-drinker, upon trial, by Johnson's recommendation[976]. JOHNSON. 'Boswell is a bolder combatant than Sir Joshua: he argues for wine without the help of wine; but Sir Joshua with it.' SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'But to please one's company is a strong motive.' JOHNSON. (who, from drinking only water, supposed every body who drank wine to be elevated,) 'I won't argue any more with you, Sir. You are too far gone[977].' SIR JOSHUA. 'I should have thought so indeed, Sir, had I made such a speech as you have now done.' JOHNSON (drawing himself in, and, I really thought blushing,) 'Nay, don't be angry. I did not mean to offend you.' SIR JOSHUA. 'At first the taste of wine was disagreeable to me; but I brought myself to drink it, that I might be like other people. The pleasure of drinking wine is so connected with pleasing your company, that altogether there is something of social goodness in it.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, this is only saying the same thing over again.' SIR JOSHUA. 'No, this is new.' JOHNSON. 'You put it in new words, but it is an old thought. This is one of the disadvantages of wine. It makes a man mistake words for thoughts.' BOSWELL. 'I think it is a new thought; at least, it is in a new attitude.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, it is only in a new coat; or an old coat with a new facing. (Then laughing heartily) It is the old dog in a new doublet.—An extraordinary instance however may occur where a man's patron will do nothing for him, unless he will drink: there may be a good reason for drinking.'

I mentioned a nobleman[978], who I believed was really uneasy if his company would not drink hard. JOHNSON. 'That is from having had people about him whom he has been accustomed to command.' BOSWELL. 'Supposing I should be tête-à-tête with him at table.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no more reason for your drinking with him, than his being sober with you.' BOSWELL. 'Why that is true; for it would do him less hurt to be sober, than it would do me to get drunk.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; and from what I have heard of him, one would not wish to sacrifice himself to such a man. If he must always have somebody to drink with him, he should buy a slave, and then he would be sure to have it. They who submit to drink as another pleases, make themselves his slaves.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, you will surely make allowance for the duty of hospitality. A gentleman who loves drinking, comes to visit me.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, a man knows whom he visits; he comes to the table of a sober man.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, you and I should not have been so well received in the Highlands and Hebrides, if I had not drunk with our worthy friends. Had I drunk water only as you did, they would not have been so cordial.' JOHNSON. 'Sir William Temple mentions that in his travels through the Netherlands he had two or three gentlemen with him; and when a bumper was necessary, he put it on them[979]. Were I to travel again through the islands, I would have Sir Joshua with me to take the bumpers.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, let me put a case. Suppose Sir Joshua should take a jaunt into Scotland; he does me the honour to pay me a visit at my house in the country; I am overjoyed at seeing him; we are quite by ourselves, shall I unsociably and churlishly let him sit drinking by himself? No, no, my dear Sir Joshua, you shall not be treated so, I will take a bottle with you.'

The celebrated Mrs. Rudd being mentioned. JOHNSON. 'Fifteen years ago I should have gone to see her.' SPOTTISWOODE. 'Because she was fifteen years younger?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; but now they have a trick of putting every thing into the newspapers[980].'

He begged of General Paoli to repeat one of the introductory stanzas of the first book of Tasso's Jerusalem, which he did, and then Johnson found fault with the simile of sweetening the edges of a cup for a child, being transferred from Lucretius into an epick poem[981]. The General said he did not imagine Homer's poetry was so ancient as is supposed, because he ascribes to a Greek colony circumstances of refinement not found in Greece itself at a later period, when Thucydides wrote. JOHNSON. 'I recollect but one passage quoted by Thucydides from Homer, which is not to be found in our copies of Homer's works; I am for the antiquity of Homer, and think that a Grecian colony, by being nearer Persia, might be more refined than the mother country.'

On Wednesday, April 29, I dined with him at Mr. Allan Ramsay's, where were Lord Binning, Dr. Robertson the historian, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the Honourable Mrs. Boscawen, widow of the Admiral, and mother of the present Viscount Falmouth; of whom, if it be not presumptuous in me to praise her, I would say, that her manners are the most agreeable, and her conversation the best, of any lady with whom I ever had the happiness to be acquainted. Before Johnson came we talked a good deal of him; Ramsay said he had always found him a very polite man, and that he treated him with great respect, which he did very sincerely. I said I worshipped him. ROBERTSON. 'But some of you spoil him; you should not worship him; you should worship no man.' BOSWELL. 'I cannot help worshipping him, he is so much superiour to other men.' ROBERTSON. 'In criticism, and in wit in conversation, he is no doubt very excellent; but in other respects he is not above other men; he will believe any thing[982], and will strenuously defend the most minute circumstance connected with the Church of England.' BOSWELL. 'Believe me, Doctor, you are much mistaken as to this; for when you talk with him calmly in private[983], he is very liberal in his way of thinking.' ROBERTSON. 'He and I have been always very gracious[984]; the first time I met him was one evening at Strahan's, when he had just had an unlucky altercation with Adam Smith[985], to whom he had been so rough, that Strahan, after Smith was gone, had remonstrated with him, and told him that I was coming soon, and that he was uneasy to think that he might behave in the same manner to me. "No, no, Sir, (said Johnson) I warrant you Robertson and I shall do very well." Accordingly he was gentle and good-humoured, and courteous with me the whole evening; and he has been so upon every occasion that we have met since. I have often said (laughing) that I have been in a great measure indebted to Smith for my good reception.' BOSWELL. 'His power of reasoning is very strong, and he has a peculiar art of drawing characters, which is as rare as good portrait painting.' SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'He is undoubtedly admirable in this; but, in order to mark the characters which he draws, he overcharges them, and gives people more than they really have, whether of good or bad.'

No sooner did he, of whom we had been thus talking so easily, arrive, than we were all as quiet as a school upon the entrance of the head-master[986]; and were very soon set down to a table covered with such variety of good things, as contributed not a little to dispose him to be pleased.

RAMSAY. 'I am old enough to have been a contemporary of Pope. His poetry was highly admired in his life-time, more a great deal than after his death[987].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it has not been less admired since his death; no authours ever had so much fame in their own life-time as Pope and Voltaire; and Pope's poetry has been as much admired since his death as during his life; it has only not been as much talked of, but that is owing to its being now more distant, and people having other writings to talk of. Virgil is less talked of than Pope, and Homer is less talked of than Virgil; but they are not less admired. We must read what the world reads at the moment. It has been maintained that this superfoetation, this teeming of the press in modern times, is prejudicial to good literature, because it obliges us to read so much of what is of inferiour value, in order to be in the fashion; so that better works are neglected for want of time, because a man will have more gratification of his vanity in conversation, from having read modern books, than from having read the best works of antiquity. But it must be considered, that we have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read now, which is a great extension[988]. Modern writers are the moons of literature; they shine with reflected light, with light borrowed from the ancients. Greece appears to me to be the fountain of knowledge; Rome of elegance.' RAMSAY. 'I suppose Homer's Iliad to be a collection of pieces which had been written before his time. I should like to see a translation of it in poetical prose like the book of Ruth or Job.' ROBERTSON. 'Would you, Dr. Johnson, who are master of the English language, but try your hand upon a part of it.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you could not read it without the pleasure of verse[989].'

We talked of antiquarian researches. JOHNSON. 'All that is really known of the ancient state of Britain is contained in a few pages. We can know no more than what the old writers have told us; yet what large books have we upon it, the whole of which, excepting such parts as are taken from those old writers, is all a dream, such as Whitaker's Manchester[990]. I have heard Henry's History of Britain well spoken of: I am told it is carried on in separate divisions, as the civil, the military, the religious history: I wish much to have one branch well done, and that is the history of manners, of common life.' ROBERTSON. 'Henry should have applied his attention to that alone, which is enough for any man; and he might have found a great deal scattered in various books, had he read solely with that view. Henry erred in not selling his first volume at a moderate price to the booksellers, that they might have pushed him on till he had got reputation[991]. I sold my History of Scotland at a moderate price[992], as a work by which the booksellers might either gain or not; and Cadell has told me that Millar and he have got six thousand pounds by it. I afterwards received a much higher price for my writings. An authour should sell his first work for what the booksellers will give, till it shall appear whether he is an authour of merit, or, which is the same thing as to purchase-money, an authour who pleases the publick.'

Dr. Robertson expatiated on the character of a certain nobleman[993]; that he was one of the strongest-minded men that ever lived; that he would sit in company quite sluggish, while there was nothing to call forth his intellectual vigour; but the moment that any important subject was started, for instance, how this country is to be defended against a French invasion, he would rouse himself, and shew his extraordinary talents with the most powerful ability and animation. JOHNSON. 'Yet this man cut his own throat. The true strong and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small. Now I am told the King of Prussia will say to a servant, "Bring me a bottle of such a wine, which came in such a year; it lies in such a corner of the cellars." I would have a man great in great things, and elegant in little things.' He said to me afterwards, when we were by ourselves, 'Robertson was in a mighty romantick humour[994], he talked of one whom he did not know; but I downed[995] him with the King of Prussia.' 'Yes, Sir, (said I,) you threw a bottle at his head.'

An ingenious gentleman was mentioned, concerning whom both Robertson and Ramsay agreed that he had a constant firmness of mind; for after a laborious day, and amidst a multiplicity of cares and anxieties, he would sit down with his sisters and be quite cheerful and good-humoured. Such a disposition, it was observed, was a happy gift of nature. JOHNSON. 'I do not think so; a man has from nature a certain portion of mind; the use he makes of it depends upon his own free will. That a man has always the same firmness of mind I do not say; because every man feels his mind less firm at one time than another; but I think a man's being in a good or bad humour depends upon his will.' I, however, could not help thinking that a man's humour is often uncontroulable by his will.

Johnson harangued against drinking wine[996]. 'A man (said he) may choose whether he will have abstemiousness and knowledge, or claret and ignorance.' Dr. Robertson, (who is very companionable,) was beginning to dissent as to the proscription of claret[997]. JOHNSON: (with a placid smile.) 'Nay, Sir, you shall not differ with me; as I have said that the man is most perfect who takes in the most things, I am for knowledge and claret.' ROBERTSON: (holding a glass of generous claret in his hand.) 'Sir, I can only drink your health.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I should be sorry if you should be ever in such a state as to be able to do nothing more.' ROBERTSON. 'Dr. Johnson, allow me to say, that in one respect I have the advantage of you; when you were in Scotland you would not come to hear any of our preachers[998], whereas, when I am here, I attend your publick worship without scruple, and indeed, with great satisfaction.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that is not so extraordinary: the King of Siam sent ambassadors to Louis the Fourteenth; but Louis the Fourteenth sent none to the King of Siam[999].'

Here my friend for once discovered a want of knowledge or forgetfulness; for Louis the Fourteenth did send an embassy to the King of Siam, and the Abbé Choisi, who was employed in it, published an account of it in two volumes[1000].

Next day, Thursday, April 30, I found him at home by himself. JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, Ramsay gave us a splendid dinner. I love Ramsay. You will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.' BOSWELL. 'What I admire in Ramsay, is his continuing to be so young.' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, it is to be admired. I value myself upon this, that there is nothing of the old man in my conversation. I am now sixty-eight, and I have no more of it than at twenty-eight[1001].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, would not you wish to know old age? He who is never an old man, does not know the whole of human life; for old age is one of the divisions of it.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, what talk is this?' BOSWELL. 'I mean, Sir, the Sphinx's description of it;—morning, noon, and night. I would know night, as well as morning and noon.' JOHNSON. 'What, Sir, would you know what it is to feel the evils of old age? Would you have the gout? Would you have decrepitude?'—Seeing him heated, I would not argue any farther; but I was confident that I was in the right. I would, in due time, be a Nestor, an elder of the people; and there should be some difference between the conversation of twenty-eight and sixty-eight. A grave picture should not be gay. There is a serene, solemn, placid old age. JOHNSON. 'Mrs. Thrale's mother said of me what flattered me much. A clergyman was complaining of want of society in the country where he lived; and said, "They talk of runts;" (that is, young cows). "Sir, (said Mrs. Salusbury,) Mr. Johnson would learn to talk of runts:" meaning that I was a man who would make the most of my situation, whatever it was.' He added, 'I think myself a very polite man[1002].'

On Saturday, May 2, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where there was a very large company, and a great deal of conversation; but owing to some circumstance which I cannot now recollect, I have no record of any part of it, except that there were several people there by no means of the Johnsonian school; so that less attention was paid to him than usual, which put him out of humour; and upon some imaginary offence from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and angry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so much hurt, and had my pride so much roused, that I kept away from him for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much longer, nay, gone to Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been reconciled. To such unhappy chances are human friendships liable[1003].

On Friday, May 8, I dined with him at Mr. Langton's. I was reserved and silent, which I suppose he perceived, and might recollect the cause. After dinner when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by ourselves, he drew his chair near to mine, and said, in a tone of conciliating courtesy[1004], 'Well, how have you done?' BOSWELL. 'Sir, you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. You know, my dear Sir, no man has a greater respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the world to serve you. Now to treat me so—.' He insisted that I had interrupted him, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded— 'But why treat me so before people who neither love you nor me?' JOHNSON. 'Well, I am sorry for it. I'll make it up to you twenty different ways, as you please.' BOSWELL. 'I said to-day to Sir Joshua, when he observed that you tossed[1005] me sometimes—I don't care how often, or how high he tosses me, when only friends are present, for then I fall upon soft ground: but I do not like falling on stones, which is the case when enemies are present.—I think this a pretty good image, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is one of the happiest I have ever heard.'

The truth is, there was no venom in the wounds which he inflicted at any time, unless they were irritated by some malignant infusion by other hands. We were instantly as cordial again as ever, and joined in hearty laugh at some ludicrous but innocent peculiarities of one of our friends[1006]. BOSWELL. 'Do you think, Sir, it is always culpable to laugh at a man to his face?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that depends upon the man and the thing. If it is a slight man, and a slight thing, you may; for you take nothing valuable from him.'

He said, 'I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermon[1007] on Devotion, from the text "Cornelius, a devout man[1008]." His doctrine is the best limited, the best expressed: there is the most warmth without fanaticism, the most rational transport. There is one part of it which I disapprove, and I'd have him correct it; which is, that "he who does not feel joy in religion is far from the kingdom of heaven!" There are many good men whose fear of GOD predominates over their love. It may discourage. It was rashly said. A noble sermon it is indeed. I wish Blair would come over to the Church of England.'

When Mr. Langton returned to us, the 'flow of talk' went on. An eminent author[1009] being mentioned;—JOHNSON. 'He is not a pleasant man. His conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant. He does not talk as if impelled by any fulness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His conversation is like that of any other sensible man. He talks with no wish either to inform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not become —— to sit in a company and say nothing.'

Mr. Langton having repeated the anecdote of Addison having distinguished between his powers in conversation and in writing, by saying 'I have only nine-pence in my pocket; but I can draw for a thousand pounds[1010];'—JOHNSON. 'He had not that retort ready, Sir; he had prepared it before-hand.' LANGTON: (turning to me.) 'A fine surmise. Set a thief to catch a thief.'

Johnson called the East-Indians barbarians. BOSWELL. 'You will except the Chinese, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'Have they not arts?' JOHNSON. 'They have pottery.' BOSWELL. 'What do you say to the written characters of their language? 'JOHNSON. 'Sir, they have not an alphabet. They have not been able to form what all other nations have formed.' BOSWELL. 'There is more learning in their language than in any other, from the immense number of their characters.' JOHNSON. 'It is only more difficult from its rudeness; as there is more labour in hewing down a tree with a stone than with an axe.'

He said, 'I have been reading Lord Kames's Sketches of the History of Man. In treating of severity of punishment, he mentions that of Madame Lapouchin, in Russia, but he does not give it fairly; for I have looked at Chappe D'Auteroche[1011], from whom he has taken it. He stops where it is said that the spectators thought her innocent, and leaves out what follows; that she nevertheless was guilty. Now this is being as culpable as one can conceive, to misrepresent fact in a book, and for what motive? It is like one of those lies which people tell, one cannot see why. The woman's life was spared; and no punishment was too great for the favourite of an Empress who had conspired to dethrone her mistress.' BOSWELL. 'He was only giving a picture of the lady in her sufferings.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, don't endeavour to palliate this. Guilt is a principal feature in the picture. Kames is puzzled with a question that puzzled me when I was a very young man. Why is it that the interest of money is lower, when money is plentiful; for five pounds has the same proportion of value to a hundred pounds when money is plentiful, as when it is scarce? A lady explained it to me. "It is (said she) because when money is plentiful there are so many more who have money to lend, that they bid down one another. Many have then a hundred pounds; and one says,—Take mine rather than another's, and you shall have it at four per cent."' BOSWELL. 'Does Lord Kames decide the question?' JOHNSON. 'I think he leaves it as he found it[1012].' BOSWELL. 'This must have been an extraordinary lady who instructed you, Sir. May I ask who she was?' JOHNSON. 'Molly Aston[1013], Sir, the sister of those ladies with whom you dined at Lichfield[1014]. I shall be at home to-morrow.' BOSWELL. 'Then let us dine by ourselves at the Mitre, to keep up the old custom, "the custom of the manor," the custom of the mitre.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, so it shall be.'

On Saturday, May 9, we fulfilled our purpose of dining by ourselves at the Mitre, according to old custom. There was, on these occasions, a little circumstance of kind attention to Mrs. Williams, which must not be omitted. Before coming out, and leaving her to dine alone, he gave her choice of a chicken, a sweetbread, or any other little nice thing, which was carefully sent to her from the tavern, ready-drest.

Our conversation to-day, I know not how, turned, (I think for the only time at any length, during our long acquaintance,) upon the sensual intercourse between the sexes, the delight of which he ascribed chiefly to imagination. 'Were it not for imagination, Sir, (said he,) a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a Duchess. But such is the adventitious charm of fancy, that we find men who have violated the best principles of society, and ruined their fame and their fortune, that they might possess a woman of rank.' It would not be proper to record the particulars of such a conversation in moments of unreserved frankness, when nobody was present on whom it could have any hurtful effect. That subject, when philosophically treated, may surely employ the mind in as curious discussion, and as innocently, as anatomy; provided that those who do treat it keep clear of inflammatory incentives.

'From grave to gay, from lively to severe[1015],'—we were soon engaged in very different speculation; humbly and reverently considering and wondering at the universal mystery of all things, as our imperfect faculties can now judge of them. 'There are (said he) innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was to be created, why was it not created sooner?'

On Sunday, May 10, I supped with him at Mr. Hoole's, with Sir Joshua Reynolds. I have neglected the memorial of this evening, so as to remember no more of it than two particulars; one, that he strenuously opposed an argument by Sir Joshua, that virtue was preferable to vice, considering this life only; and that a man would be virtuous were it only to preserve his character: and that he expressed much wonder at the curious formation of the bat, a mouse with wings; saying, that 'it was almost as strange a thing in physiology, as if the fabulous dragon could be seen.'

On Tuesday, May 12, I waited on the Earl of Marchmont, to know if his Lordship would favour Dr. Johnson with information concerning Pope, whose Life he was about to write. Johnson had not flattered himself with the hopes of receiving any civility from this nobleman; for he said to me, when I mentioned Lord Marchmont as one who could tell him a great deal about Pope,—'Sir, he will tell me nothing.' I had the honour of being known to his Lordship, and applied to him of myself, without being commissioned by Johnson. His Lordship behaved in the most polite and obliging manner, promised to tell all he recollected about Pope, and was so very courteous as to say, 'Tell Dr. Johnson I have a great respect for him, and am ready to shew it in any way I can. I am to be in the city to-morrow, and will call at his house as I return.' His Lordship however asked, 'Will he write the Lives of the Poets impartially? He was the first that brought Whig and Tory into a Dictionary[1016]. And what do you think of his definition of Excise? Do you know the history of his aversion to the word transpire[1017]?' Then taking down the folio Dictionary, he shewed it with this censure on its secondary sense: 'To escape from secrecy to notice; a sense lately innovated from France, without necessity[1018].' The truth was Lord Bolingbroke, who left the Jacobites, first used it; therefore, it was to be condemned. 'He should have shewn what word would do for it, if it was unnecessary.' I afterwards put the question to Johnson: 'Why, Sir, (said he,) get abroad.' BOSWELL. 'That, Sir, is using two words[1019].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no end of this. You may as well insist to have a word for old age.' BOSWELL. 'Well, Sir, Senectus.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, to insist always that there should be one word to express a thing in English, because there is one in another language, is to change the language.'

I availed myself of this opportunity to hear from his Lordship many particulars both of Pope and Lord Bolingbroke, which I have in writing[1020].

I proposed to Lord Marchmont that he should revise Johnson's Life of Pope: 'So (said his Lordship) you would put me in a dangerous situation. You know he knocked down Osborne the bookseller[1021].'

Elated with the success of my spontaneous exertion to procure material and respectable aid to Johnson for his very favourite work, The Lives of the Poets, I hastened down to Mr. Thrale's at Streatham, where he now was, that I might insure his being at home next day; and after dinner, when I thought he would receive the good news in the best humour, I announced it eagerly: 'I have been at work for you to-day, Sir. I have been with Lord Marchmont. He bade me tell you he has a great respect for you, and will call on you to-morrow at one o'clock, and communicate all he knows about Pope.'—Here I paused, in full expectation that he would be pleased with this intelligence, would praise my active merit, and would be alert to embrace such an offer from a nobleman. But whether I had shewn an over-exultation, which provoked his spleen; or whether he was seized with a suspicion that I had obtruded him on Lord Marchmont, and humbled him too much; or whether there was any thing more than an unlucky fit of ill-humour, I know not; but, to my surprize, the result was,—JOHNSON. 'I shall not be in town to-morrow. I don't care to know about Pope.' MRS. THRALE: (surprized as I was, and a little angry.) 'I suppose, Sir, Mr. Boswell thought, that as you are to write Pope's Life, you would wish to know about him.' JOHNSON. 'Wish! why yes. If it rained knowledge I'd hold out my hand; but I would not give myself the trouble to go in quest of it.' There was no arguing with him at the moment. Some time afterwards he said, 'Lord Marchmont will call on me, and then I shall call on Lord Marchmont.' Mr. Thrale was uneasy at his unaccountable caprice[1022]; and told me, that if I did not take care to bring about a meeting between Lord Marchmont and him, it would never take place, which would be a great pity. I sent a card to his Lordship, to be left at Johnson's house, acquainting him, that Dr. Johnson could not be in town next day, but would do himself the honour of waiting on him at another time. I give this account fairly, as a specimen of that unhappy temper with which this great and good man had occasionally to struggle, from something morbid in his constitution. Let the most censorious of my readers suppose himself to have a violent fit of the tooth-ach, or to have received a severe stroke on the shin-bone, and when in such a state to be asked a question; and if he has any candour, he will not be surprized at the answers which Johnson sometimes gave in moments of irritation, which, let me assure them, is exquisitely painful. But it must not be erroneously supposed that he was, in the smallest degree, careless concerning any work which he undertook, or that he was generally thus peevish. It will be seen, that in the following year he had a very agreeable interview with Lord Marchmont, at his Lordship's house[1023]; and this very afternoon he soon forgot any fretfulness, and fell into conversation as usual.

I mentioned a reflection having been thrown out against four Peers for having presumed to rise in opposition to the opinion of the twelve Judges, in a cause in the House of Lords[1024], as if that were indecent. JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no ground for censure. The Peers are Judges themselves; and supposing them really to be of a different opinion, they might from duty be in opposition to the Judges, who were there only to be consulted.'

In this observation I fully concurred with him; for, unquestionably, all the Peers are vested with the highest judicial powers; and when they are confident that they understand a cause, are not obliged, nay ought not to acquiesce in the opinion of the ordinary Law Judges, or even in that of those who from their studies and experience are called the Law Lords. I consider the Peers in general as I do a Jury, who ought to listen with respectful attention to the sages of the law; but, if after hearing them, they have a firm opinion of their own, are bound, as honest men, to decide accordingly. Nor is it so difficult for them to understand even law questions, as is generally thought; provided they will bestow sufficient attention upon them. This observation was made by my honoured relation the late Lord Cathcart, who had spent his life in camps and courts; yet assured me, that he could form a clear opinion upon most of the causes that came before the House of Lords, 'as they were so well enucleated[1025] in the Cases.'

Mrs. Thrale told us, that a curious clergyman of our acquaintance had discovered a licentious stanza, which Pope had originally in his Universal Prayer, before the stanza,

'What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns us[1026] not to do,' &c.

It was thus:—

'Can sins of moment claim the rod
Of everlasting fires?
And that offend great Nature's GOD,
Which Nature's self inspires[1027]?'

and that Dr. Johnson observed, 'it had been borrowed from Guarini.' There are, indeed, in Pastor Fido, many such flimsy superficial reasonings, as that in the last two lines of this stanza. BOSWELL. 'In that stanza of Pope's, "rod of fires" is certainly a bad metaphor.' MRS. THRALE. 'And "sins of moment" is a faulty expression; for its true import is momentous, which cannot be intended.' JOHNSON. 'It must have been written "of moments." Of moment, is momentous; of moments, momentary. I warrant you, however, Pope wrote this stanza, and some friend struck it out. Boileau wrote some such thing, and Arnaud[1028] struck it out, saying, "Vous gagnerez deux ou trois impies, et perdrez je ne scais combien des honnettes gens." These fellows want to say a daring thing, and don't know how to go about it. Mere poets know no more of fundamental principles than—.' Here he was interrupted somehow. Mrs. Thrale mentioned Dryden. JOHNSON. 'He puzzled himself about predestination.—How foolish was it in Pope to give all his friendship to Lords, who thought they honoured him by being with him; and to choose such Lords as Burlington, and Cobham, and Bolingbroke! Bathurst was negative, a pleasing man; and I have heard no ill of Marchmont; and then always saying, "I do not value you for being a Lord;" which was a sure proof that he did[1029]. I never say, I do not value Boswell more for being born to an estate, because I do not care.' BOSWELL. 'Nor for being a Scotchman?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I do value you more for being a Scotchman. You are a Scotchman without the faults of a Scotchman. You would not have been so valuable as you are, had you not been a Scotchman.'

Talking of divorces, I asked if Othello's doctrine was not plausible?

'He that is robb'd, not wanting what is stolen,
Let him not know't, and he's not robb'd at all[1030].'

Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale joined against this. JOHNSON. 'Ask any man if he'd wish not to know of such an injury.' BOSWELL. 'Would you tell your friend to make him unhappy?' JOHNSON. 'Perhaps, Sir, I should not; but that would be from prudence on my own account. A man would tell his father.' BOSWELL. 'Yes; because he would not have spurious children to get any share of the family inheritance.' MRS. THRALE. 'Or he would tell his brother.' BOSWELL. 'Certainly his elder brother.' JOHNSON. 'You would tell your friend of a woman's infamy, to prevent his marrying a whore: there is the same reason to tell him of his wife's infidelity, when he is married, to prevent the consequences of imposition. It is a breach of confidence not to tell a friend.' BOSWELL. 'Would you tell Mr.——[1031]?' (naming a gentleman who assuredly was not in the least danger of such a miserable disgrace, though married to a fine woman.) JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; because it would do no good: he is so sluggish, he'd never go to parliament and get through a divorce.'

He said of one of our friends[1032], 'He is ruining himself without pleasure. A man who loses at play, or who runs out his fortune at court, makes his estate less, in hopes of making it bigger: (I am sure of this word, which was often used by him:) but it is a sad thing to pass through the quagmire of parsimony, to the gulph of ruin. To pass over the flowery path of extravagance is very well.'

Amongst the numerous prints pasted[1033] on the walls of the dining-room at Streatham, was Hogarth's 'Modern Midnight Conversation.' I asked him what he knew of Parson Ford[1034], who makes a conspicuous figure in the riotous group. JOHNSON. 'Sir, he was my acquaintance and relation, my mother's nephew. He had purchased a living in the country, but not simoniacally. I never saw him but in the country. I have been told he was a man of great parts; very profligate, but I never heard he was impious.' BOSWELL. 'Was there not a story of his ghost having appeared?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it was believed. A waiter at the Hummums[1035], in which house Ford died, had been absent for some time, and returned, not knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, according to the story, he met him; going down again he met him a second time. When he came up, he asked some of the people of the house what Ford could be doing there. They told him Ford was dead. The waiter took a fever, in which he lay for some time. When he recovered, he said he had a message to deliver to some women from Ford; but he was not to tell what, or to whom. He walked out; he was followed; but somewhere about St. Paul's they lost him. He came back, and said he had delivered the message, and the women exclaimed, "Then we are all undone!" Dr. Pellet, who was not a credulous man, inquired into the truth of this story, and he said, the evidence was irresistible. My wife went to the Hummums; (it is a place where people get themselves cupped.) I believe she went with intention to hear about this story of Ford. At first they were unwilling to tell her; but, after they had talked to her, she came away satisfied that it was true. To be sure the man had a fever; and this vision may have been the beginning of it. But if the message to the women, and their behaviour upon it, were true as related, there was something supernatural. That rests upon his word; and there it remains.'

After Mrs. Thrale was gone to bed, Johnson and I sat up late. We resumed Sir Joshua Reynolds's argument on the preceding Sunday, that a man would be virtuous though he had no other motive than to preserve his character. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not true: for as to this world vice does not hurt a man's character.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir, debauching a friend's wife will.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Who thinks the worse of ——[1036] for it?' BOSWELL. 'Lord ——[1037] was not his friend.' JOHNSON. 'That is only a circumstance, Sir; a slight distinction. He could not get into the house but by Lord ——. A man is chosen Knight of the shire, not the less for having debauched ladies.' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir, if he debauched the ladies of gentlemen in the county, will not there be a general resentment against him?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. He will lose those particular gentlemen; but the rest will not trouble their heads about it.' (warmly.) BOSWELL. 'Well, Sir, I cannot think so.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, there is no talking with a man who will dispute what every body knows, (angrily.) Don't you know this?' BOSWELL. 'No, Sir; and I wish to think better of your country than you represent it. I knew in Scotland a gentleman obliged to leave it for debauching a lady; and in one of our counties an Earl's brother lost his election, because he had debauched the lady of another Earl in that county, and destroyed the peace of a noble family.'

Still he would not yield. He proceeded: 'Will you not allow, Sir, that vice does not hurt a man's character so as to obstruct his prosperity in life, when you know that ——[1038] was loaded with wealth and honours; a man who had acquired his fortune by such crimes, that his consciousness of them impelled him to cut his own throat.' BOSWELL. 'You will recollect, Sir, that Dr. Robertson said, he cut his throat because he was weary of still life; little things not being sufficient to move his great mind.' JOHNSON, (very angry.) 'Nay, Sir, what stuff is this! You had no more this opinion after Robertson said it, than before. I know nothing more offensive than repeating what one knows to be foolish things, by way of continuing a dispute, to see what a man will answer,—to make him your butt!' (angrier still.) BOSWELL. 'My dear Sir, I had no such intentions as you seem to suspect; I had not indeed. Might not this nobleman have felt every thing "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable[1039]," as Hamlet says?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, if you are to bring in gabble, I'll talk no more. I will not, upon my honour.'—My readers will decide upon this dispute.

Next morning I stated to Mrs. Thrale at breakfast, before he came down, the dispute of last night as to the influence of character upon success in life. She said he was certainly wrong; and told me, that a Baronet lost an election in Wales, because he had debauched the sister of a gentleman in the county, whom he made one of his daughters invite as her companion at his seat in the country, when his lady and his other children were in London. But she would not encounter Johnson upon the subject.

I staid all this day with him at Streatham. He talked a great deal, in very good humour.

Looking at Messrs. Dilly's splendid edition of Lord Chesterfield's miscellaneous works, he laughed, and said, 'Here now are two speeches ascribed to him, both of which were written by me: and the best of it is, they have found out that one is like Demosthenes, and the other like Cicero[1040].'

He censured Lord Kames's Sketches of the History of Man[1041], for misrepresenting Clarendon's account of the appearance of Sir George Villiers's ghost, as if Clarendon were weakly credulous; when the truth is, that Clarendon only says, that the story was upon a better foundation of credit, than usually such discourses are founded upon[1042]; nay, speaks thus of the person who was reported to have seen the vision, 'the poor man, if he had been at all waking;' which Lord Kames has omitted. He added, 'in this book it is maintained that virtue is natural to man, and that if we would but consult our own hearts we should be virtuous.[1043] Now after consulting our own hearts all we can, and with all the helps we have, we find how few of us are virtuous. This is saying a thing which all mankind know not to be true.' BOSWELL. 'Is not modesty natural?' JOHNSON. 'I cannot say, Sir, as we find no people quite in a state of nature; but I think the more they are taught, the more modest they are. The French are a gross, ill-bred, untaught people; a lady there will spit on the floor and rub it with her foot.[1044] What I gained by being in France was, learning to be better satisfied with my own country. Time may be employed to more advantage from nineteen to twenty-four almost in any way than in travelling; when you set travelling against mere negation, against doing nothing, it is better to be sure; but how much more would a young man improve were he to study during those years. Indeed, if a young man is wild, and must run after women and bad company, it is better this should be done abroad, as, on his return, he can break off such connections, and begin at home a new man, with a character to form, and acquaintances to make[1045]. How little does travelling supply to the conversation of any man who has travelled; how little to Beauclerk!' BOSWELL. 'What say you to Lord ——?' JOHNSON. 'I never but once heard him talk of what he had seen, and that was of a large serpent in one of the Pyramids of Egypt.' BOSWELL. 'Well, I happened to hear him tell the same thing, which made me mention him[1046].'

I talked of a country life. JOHNSON. 'Were I to live in the country, I would not devote myself to the acquisition of popularity; I would live in a much better way, much more happily; I would have my time at my own command[1047].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, is it not a sad thing to be at a distance from all our literary friends?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will by and by have enough of this conversation, which now delights you so much.' [1048]

As he was a zealous friend of subordination, he was at all times watchful to repress the vulgar cant against the manners of the great; [1049] High people, Sir, (said he,) are the best; take a hundred ladies of quality, you'll find them better wives, better mothers, more willing to sacrifice their own pleasure to their children than a hundred other women. Tradeswomen (I mean the wives of tradesmen) in the city, who are worth from ten to fifteen thousand pounds, are the worst creatures upon the earth, grossly ignorant, and thinking viciousness fashionable. Farmers, I think, are often worthless fellows[1050]. Few lords will cheat; and, if they do, they'll be ashamed of it: farmers cheat and are not ashamed of it: they have all the sensual vices too of the nobility, with cheating into the bargain. There is as much fornication and adultery among farmers as amongst noblemen.' BOSWELL. 'The notion of the world, Sir, however is, that the morals of women of quality are worse than those in lower stations.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, the licentiousness of one woman of quality makes more noise than that of a number of women in lower stations; then, Sir, you are to consider the malignity of women in the city against women of quality, which will make them believe any thing of them, such as that they call their coachmen to bed. No, Sir, so far as I have observed, the higher in rank, the richer ladies are, they are the better instructed and the more virtuous.'

This year the Reverend Mr. Horne published his Letter to Mr. Dunning on the English Particle; Johnson read it, and though not treated in it with sufficient respect[1051], he had candour enough to say to Mr. Seward, 'Were I to make a new edition of my Dictionary, I would adopt several[1052] of Mr. Horne's etymologies; I hope they did not put the dog in the pillory for his libel; he has too much literature for that[1053].'

On Saturday, May 16, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's with Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Higgins, and some others. I regret very feelingly every instance of my remissness in recording his memorabilia; I am afraid it is the condition of humanity (as Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, once observed to me, after having made an admirable speech in the House of Commons, which was highly applauded, but which he afterwards perceived might have been better:) 'that we are more uneasy from thinking of our wants, than happy in thinking of our acquisitions.' This is an unreasonable mode of disturbing our tranquillity, and should be corrected; let me then comfort myself with the large treasure of Johnson's conversation which I have preserved for my own enjoyment and that of the world, and let me exhibit what I have upon each occasion, whether more or less, whether a bulse[1054], or only a few sparks of a diamond.

He said, 'Dr. Mead lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man[1055].' The disaster of General Burgoyne's army was then the common topic of conversation. It was asked why piling their arms was insisted upon as a matter of such consequence, when it seemed to be a circumstance so inconsiderable in itself[1056]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a French authour says, "Il y a beaucoup de puerilités dans la guerre." All distinctions are trifles, because great things can seldom occur, and those distinctions are settled by custom. A savage would as willingly have his meat sent to him in the kitchen, as eat it at the table here; as men become civilized, various modes of denoting honourable preference are invented.'

He this day made the observations upon the similarity between Rasselas and Candide, which I have inserted in its proper place[1057], when considering his admirable philosophical Romance. He said Candide he thought had more power in it than any thing that Voltaire had written.

He said, 'the lyrical part of Horace never can be perfectly translated; so much of the excellence is in the numbers and the expression. Francis has done it the best; I'll take his, five out of six, against them all.'

On Sunday, May 17, I presented to him Mr. Fullarton, of Fullarton, who has since distinguished himself so much in India[1058], to whom he naturally talked of travels, as Mr. Brydone accompanied him in his tour to Sicily and Malta. He said, 'The information which we have from modern travellers is much more authentick than what we had from ancient travellers; ancient travellers guessed; modern travellers measure[1059]. The Swiss admit that there is but one errour in Stanyan[1060]. If Brydone were more attentive to his Bible, he would be a good traveller[1061].'

He said, 'Lord Chatham was a Dictator; he possessed the power of putting the State in motion; now there is no power, all order is relaxed.' BOSWELL. 'Is there no hope of a change to the better?' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, when we are weary of this relaxation. So the City of London will appoint its Mayors again by seniority[1062].' BOSWELL. 'But is not that taking a mere chance for having a good or a bad Mayor?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but the evil of competition is greater than that of the worst Mayor that can come; besides, there is no more reason to suppose that the choice of a rabble will be right, than that chance will be right.'

On Tuesday, May 19, I was to set out for Scotland in the evening. He was engaged to dine with me at Mr. Dilly's, I waited upon him to remind him of his appointment and attend him thither; he gave me some salutary counsel, and recommended vigorous resolution against any deviation from moral duty. BOSWELL. 'But you would not have me to bind myself by a solemn obligation?' JOHNSON, (much agitated) 'What! a vow—O, no, Sir, a vow is a horrible thing, it is a snare for sin[1063]. The man who cannot go to Heaven without a vow—may go—.' Here, standing erect, in the middle of his library, and rolling grand, his pause was truly a curious compound of the solemn and the ludicrous; he half-whistled in his usual way, when pleasant, and he paused, as if checked by religious awe. Methought he would have added—to Hell—but was restrained. I humoured the dilemma. 'What! Sir, (said I,) In cælum jusseris ibit[1064]?' alluding to his imitation of it,—

'And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.'

I had mentioned to him a slight fault in his noble Imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, a too near recurrence of the verb spread, in his description of the young Enthusiast at College:—

'Through all his veins the fever of renown,
Spreads from the strong contagion of the gown;
O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head[1065].'

He had desired me to change spreads to burns, but for perfect authenticity, I now had it done with his own hand[1066]. I thought this alteration not only cured the fault, but was more poetical, as it might carry an allusion to the shirt by which Hercules was inflamed.

We had a quiet comfortable meeting at Mr. Dilly's; nobody there but ourselves. Mr. Dilly mentioned somebody having wished that Milton's Tractate on Education should be printed along with his Poems in the edition of The English Poets then going on. JOHNSON. 'It would be breaking in upon the plan; but would be of no great consequence. So far as it would be any thing, it would be wrong. Education in England has been in danger of being hurt by two of its greatest men, Milton and Locke. Milton's plan is impracticable, and I suppose has never been tried. Locke's, I fancy, has been tried often enough, but is very imperfect; it gives too much to one side, and too little to the other; it gives too little to literature[1067].—I shall do what I can for Dr. Watts; but my materials are very scanty. His poems are by no means his best works; I cannot praise his poetry itself highly; but I can praise its design[1068].'

My illustrious friend and I parted with assurances of affectionate regard.

I wrote to him on the 25th of May, from Thorpe in Yorkshire, one of the seats of Mr. Bosville[1069], and gave him an account of my having passed a day at Lincoln, unexpectedly, and therefore without having any letters of introduction, but that I had been honoured with civilities from the Reverend Mr. Simpson, an acquaintance of his, and Captain Broadley, of the Lincolnshire Militia; but more particularly from the Reverend Dr. Gordon, the Chancellor, who first received me with great politeness as a stranger, and when I informed him who I was, entertained me at his house with the most flattering attention; I also expressed the pleasure with which I had found that our worthy friend Langton was highly esteemed in his own county town.


'Edinburgh, June 18, 1778.


* * * * *

'Since my return to Scotland, I have been again at Lanark, and have had more conversation with Thomson's sister. It is strange that Murdoch, who was his intimate friend, should have mistaken his mother's maiden name, which he says was Hume, whereas Hume was the name of his grandmother by the mother's side. His mother's name was Beatrix Trotter[1070], a daughter of Mr. Trotter, of Fogo, a small proprietor of land. Thomson had one brother, whom he had with him in England as his amanuensis; but he was seized with a consumption, and having returned to Scotland, to try what his native air would do for him, died young. He had three sisters, one married to Mr. Bell, minister of the parish of Strathaven; one to Mr. Craig, father of the ingenious architect, who gave the plan of the New Town of Edinburgh; and one to Mr. Thomson, master of the grammar-school at Lanark. He was of a humane and benevolent disposition; not only sent valuable presents to his sisters, but a yearly allowance in money, and was always wishing to have it in his power to do them more good. Lord Lyttelton's observation, that "he loathed much to write," was very true. His letters to his sister, Mrs. Thomson, were not frequent, and in one of them he says, "All my friends who know me, know how backward I am to write letters; and never impute the negligence of my hand to the coldness of my heart." I send you a copy of the last letter which she had from him[1071]; she never heard that he had any intention of going into holy orders. From this late interview with his sister, I think much more favourably of him, as I hope you will. I am eager to see more of your Prefaces to the Poets; I solace myself with the few proof-sheets which I have.

'I send another parcel of Lord Hailes's Annals[1072], which you will please to return to me as soon as you conveniently can. He says, "he wishes you would cut a little deeper;" but he may be proud that there is so little occasion to use the critical knife. I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your faithful and affectionate,

'humble servant,


Mr. Langton has been pleased, at my request, to favour me with some particulars of Dr. Johnson's visit to Warley-camp, where this gentleman was at the time stationed as a Captain in the Lincolnshire militia[1073]. I shall give them in his own words in a letter to me.

'It was in the summer of the year 1778[1074], that he complied with my invitation to come down to the Camp at Warley, and he staid with me about a week; the scene appeared, notwithstanding a great degree of ill health that he seemed to labour under, to interest and amuse him, as agreeing with the disposition that I believe you know he constantly manifested towards enquiring into subjects of the military kind. He sate, with a patient degree of attention, to observe the proceedings of a regimental court-martial, that happened to be called, in the time of his stay with us; and one night, as late as at eleven o'clock, he accompanied the Major of the regiment in going what are styled the Rounds, where he might observe the forms of visiting the guards, for the seeing that they and their sentries are ready in their duty on their several posts. He took occasion to converse at times on military topicks, one in particular, that I see the mention of, in your Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, which lies open before me[1075], as to gun-powder; which he spoke of to the same effect, in part, that you relate.

'On one occasion, when the regiment were going through their exercise, he went quite close to the men at one of the extremities of it, and watched all their practices attentively; and, when he came away, his remark was, "The men indeed do load their muskets and fire with wonderful celerity." He was likewise particular in requiring to know what was the weight of the musquet balls in use, and within what distance they might be expected to take effect when fired off.

'In walking among the tents, and observing the difference between those of the officers and private men, he said that the superiority of accommodation of the better conditions of life, to that of the inferiour ones, was never exhibited to him in so distinct a view. The civilities paid to him in the camp were, from the gentlemen of the Lincolnshire regiment, one of the officers of which accommodated him with a tent in which he slept; and from General Hall, who very courteously invited him to dine with him, where he appeared to be very well pleased with his entertainment, and the civilities he received on the part of the General[1076]; the attention likewise, of the General's aid-de-camp, Captain Smith, seemed to be very welcome to him, as appeared by their engaging in a great deal of discourse together. The gentlemen of the East York regiment likewise on being informed of his coming, solicited his company at dinner, but by that time he had fixed his departure, so that he could not comply with the invitation.'



'I have received two letters from you, of which the second complains of the neglect shewn to the first. You must not tye your friends to such punctual correspondence. You have all possible assurances of my affection and esteem; and there ought to be no need of reiterated professions. When it may happen that I can give you either counsel or comfort, I hope it will never happen to me that I should neglect you; but you must not think me criminal or cold if I say nothing when I have nothing to say.

'You are now happy enough. Mrs. Boswell is recovered; and I congratulate you upon the probability of her long life. If general approbation will add anything to your enjoyment, I can tell you that I have heard you mentioned as a man whom everybody likes[1077]. I think life has little more to give.

'——[1078] has gone to his regiment. He has laid down his coach, and talks of making more contractions of his expence: how he will succeed I know not. It is difficult to reform a household gradually; it may be better done by a system totally new. I am afraid he has always something to hide. When we pressed him to go to ——[1079], he objected the necessity of attending his navigation[1080]; yet he could talk of going to Aberdeen, a place not much nearer his navigation. I believe he cannot bear the thought of living at ——[1081] in a state of diminution; and of appearing among the gentlemen of the neighbourhood shorn of his beams.[1082] This is natural, but it is cowardly. What I told him of the encreasing expence of a growing family seems to have struck him. He certainly had gone on with very confused views, and we have, I think, shewn him that he is wrong; though, with the common deficiency of advisers, we have not shewn him how to do right.[1083]

'I wish you would a little correct or restrain your imagination, and imagine that happiness, such as life admits, may be had at other places as well as London. Without asserting Stoicism, it may be said, that it is our business to exempt ourselves as much as we can from the power of external things. There is but one solid basis of happiness; and that is, the reasonable hope of a happy futurity.[1084] This may be had every where.

'I do not blame your preference of London to other places, for it is really to be preferred, if the choice is free; but few have the choice of their place, or their manner of life; and mere pleasure ought not to be the prime motive of action.

'Mrs. Thrale, poor thing, has a daughter.[1085] Mr. Thrale dislikes the times,[1086] like the rest of us. Mrs. Williams is sick; Mrs. Desmoulins is poor. I have miserable nights. Nobody is well but Mr. Levett.

'I am, dear Sir, Your most, &c.


'London, July 3, 1778.'

In the course of this year there was a difference between him and his friend Mr. Strahan;[1087] the particulars of which it is unnecessary to relate. Their reconciliation was communicated to me in a letter from Mr. Strahan, in the following words:—

'The notes I shewed you that passed between him and me were dated in March last. The matter lay dormant till July 27,[1088] when he wrote to me as follows:

"To William Strahan, Esq.


"It would be very foolish for us to continue strangers any longer. You can never by persistency make wrong right. If I resented too acrimoniously, I resented only to yourself. Nobody ever saw or heard what I wrote. You saw that my anger was over, for in a day or two I came to your house. I have given you longer time; and I hope you have made so good use of it, as to be no longer on evil terms with, Sir,

"Your, &c.

"Sam. Johnson."

'On this I called upon him; and he has since dined with me.'

After this time, the same friendship as formerly continued between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Strahan. My friend mentioned to me a little circumstance of his attention, which, though we may smile at it, must be allowed to have its foundation in a nice and true knowledge of human life. 'When I write to Scotland, (said he,) I employ Strahan to frank my letters, that he may have the consequence of appearing a Parliament-man among his countrymen.'



'When I recollect how long ago I was received with so much kindness at Warley Common, I am ashamed that I have not made some enquiries after my friends.

'Pray how many sheep-stealers did you convict? and how did you punish them? When are you to be cantoned in better habitations? The air grows cold, and the ground damp. Longer stay in the camp cannot be without much danger to the health of the common men, if even the officers can escape.

'You see that Dr. Percy is now Dean of Carlisle; about five hundred a year, with a power of presenting himself to some good living. He is provided for.

'The session of the CLUB is to commence with that of the Parliament. Mr. Banks[1090] desires to be admitted; he will be a very honourable accession.

'Did the King please you[1091]? The Coxheath men, I think, have some reason to complain[1092]: Reynolds says your camp is better than theirs.

'I hope you find yourself able to encounter this weather. Take care of your own health; and, as you can, of your men. Be pleased to make my compliments to all the gentlemen whose notice I have had, and whose kindness I have experienced.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Sam. Johnson.'

'October 31, 1778.'

I wrote to him on the 18th of August, the 18th of September, and the 6th of November; informing him of my having had another son born, whom I had called James[1093]; that I had passed some time at Auchinleck; that the Countess of Loudoun, now in her ninety-ninth year, was as fresh as when he saw her[1094], and remembered him with respect; and that his mother by adoption, the Countess of Eglintoune[1095], had said to me, 'Tell Mr. Johnson I love him exceedingly;' that I had again suffered much from bad spirits; and that as it was very long since I heard from him, I was not a little uneasy.

The continuance of his regard for his friend Dr. Burney, appears from the following letters:—



'Dr. Burney, who brings this paper, is engaged in a History of Musick; and having been told by Dr. Markham of some MSS. relating to his subject, which are in the library of your College, is desirous to examine them. He is my friend; and therefore I take the liberty of intreating your favour and assistance in his enquiry: and can assure you, with great confidence, that if you knew him he would not want any intervenient solicitation to obtain the kindness of one who loves learning and virtue as you love them.

'I have been flattering myself all the summer with the hope of paying my annual visit to my friends; but something has obstructed me: I still hope not to be long without seeing you. I should be glad of a little literary talk; and glad to shew you, by the frequency of my visits, how eagerly I love it, when you talk it.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, November 2, 1778.'



'The bearer, DR. BURNEY, has had some account of a Welsh Manuscript in the Bodleian library, from which he hopes to gain some materials for his History of Musick; but being ignorant of the language, is at a loss where to find assistance. I make no doubt but you, Sir, can help him through his difficulties, and therefore take the liberty of recommending him to your favour, as I am sure you will find him a man worthy of every civility that can be shewn, and every benefit that can be conferred.

'But we must not let Welsh drive us from Greek. What comes of Xenophon[1098]? If you do not like the trouble of publishing the book, do not let your commentaries be lost; contrive that they may be published somewhere.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'London, November 2, 1778.

These letters procured Dr. Burney great kindness and friendly offices from both of these gentleman, not only on that occasion, but in future visits to the university[1099]. The same year Dr. Johnson not only wrote to Dr. Joseph Warton in favour of Dr. Burney's youngest son, who was to be placed in the college of Winchester, but accompanied him when he went thither[1100].

We surely cannot but admire the benevolent exertions of this great and good man, especially when we consider how grievously he was afflicted with bad health, and how uncomfortable his home was made by the perpetual jarring of those whom he charitably accommodated under his roof. He has sometimes suffered me to talk jocularly of his group of females, and call them his Seraglio. He thus mentions them, together with honest Levett, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale[1101]: 'Williams hates every body; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does not love Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll[1102] loves none of them.' [1103]



'It is indeed a long time since I wrote, and I think you have some reason to complain; however, you must not let small things disturb you, when you have such a fine addition to your happiness as a new boy, and I hope your lady's health restored by bringing him. It seems very probable that a little care will now restore her, if any remains of her complaints are left.

'You seem, if I understand your letter, to be gaining ground at
Auchinleck[1104], an incident that would give me great delight.

* * * * *

'When any fit of anxiety, or gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints, but exert your whole care to hide it; by endeavouring to hide it, you will drive it away. Be always busy[1105].

'The CLUB is to meet with the Parliament; we talk of electing Banks, the traveller; he will be a reputable member.

'Langton has been encamped with his company of militia on Warley-common; I spent five days amongst them; he signalized himself as a diligent officer, and has very high respect in the regiment. He presided when I was there at a court-martial; he is now quartered in Hertfordshire; his lady and little ones are in Scotland. Paoli came to the camp and commended the soldiers.

'Of myself I have no great matter to say, my health is not restored, my nights are restless and tedious. The best night that I have had these twenty years was at Fort-Augustus[1106].

'I hope soon to send you a few lines to read.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,


'November 21, 1778.'

About this time the Rev. Mr. John Hussey, who had been some time in trade, and was then a clergyman of the Church of England, being about to undertake a journey to Aleppo, and other parts of the East, which he accomplished, Dr. Johnson, (who had long been in habits of intimacy with him,) honoured him with the following letter:—



'I have sent you the Grammar, and have left you two books more, by which I hope to be remembered; write my name in them; we may perhaps see each other no more, you part with my good wishes, nor do I despair of seeing you return. Let no opportunities of vice corrupt you; let no bad example seduce you; let the blindness of Mahometans confirm you in Christianity. GOD bless you.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,


'December 29, 1778.'

Johnson this year expressed great satisfaction at the publication of the first volume of Discourses to the Royal Academy[1107], by Sir Joshua Reynolds, whom he always considered as one of his literary school[1108]. Much praise indeed is due to those excellent Discourses, which are so universally admired, and for which the authour received from the Empress of Russia a gold snuff-box, adorned with her profile in bas relief, set in diamonds; and containing what is infinitely more valuable, a slip of paper, on which are written with her Imperial Majesty's own hand, the following words: 'Pour le Chevalier Reynolds en témoignage du contentement que j'ai ressentie[1109] à la lecture de ses excellens discours sur la peinture.'

In 1779, Johnson gave the world a luminous proof that the vigour of his mind in all its faculties, whether memory, judgement, or imagination, was not in the least abated; for this year came out the first four volumes of his Prefaces, biographical and critical, to the most eminent of the English Poets,[*] published by the booksellers of London. The remaining volumes came out in the year 1780[1110]. The Poets were selected by the several booksellers who had the honorary copy right, which is still preserved among them by mutual compact, notwithstanding the decision of the House of Lords against the perpetuity of Literary Property[1111]. We have his own authority[1112], that by his recommendation the poems of Blackmore[1113], Watts[1114], Pomfret[1115], and Yalden[1116], were added to the collection. Of this work I shall speak more particularly hereafter.

On the 22nd of January, I wrote to him on several topicks, and mentioned that as he had been so good as to permit me to have the proof sheets of his Lives of the Poets, I had written to his servant, Francis, to take care of them for me.


'Edinburgh, Feb. 2, 1779.


'Garrick's death is a striking event; not that we should be surprised with the death of any man, who has lived sixty-two years; but because there was a vivacity in our late celebrated friend, which drove away the thoughts of death from any association with him. I am sure you will be tenderly affected with his departure[1117]; and I would wish to hear from you upon the subject. I was obliged to him in my days of effervescence in London, when poor Derrick was my governour[1118]; and since that time I received many civilities from him. Do you remember how pleasing it was, when I received a letter from him at Inverary[1119], upon our first return to civilized living after our Hebridean journey? I shall always remember him with affection as well as admiration.

'On Saturday last, being the 30th of January[1120], I drank coffee and old port, and had solemn conversation with the Reverend Mr. Falconer, a nonjuring bishop, a very learned and worthy man. He gave two toasts, which you will believe I drank with cordiality, Dr. Samuel Johnson, and Flora Macdonald. I sat about four hours with him, and it was really as if I had been living in the last century. The Episcopal Church of Scotland, though faithful to the royal house of Stuart, has never accepted of any congé d'liré, since the Revolution; it is the only true Episcopal Church in Scotland, as it has its own succession of bishops. For as to the episcopal clergy who take the oaths to the present government, they indeed follow the rites of the Church of England, but, as Bishop Falconer observed, "they are not Episcopals; for they are under no bishop, as a bishop cannot have authority beyond his diocese." This venerable gentleman did me the honour to dine with me yesterday, and he laid his hands upon the heads of my little ones. We had a good deal of curious literary conversation, particularly about Mr. Thomas Ruddiman[1121], with whom he lived in great friendship.

'Any fresh instance of the uncertainty of life makes one embrace more closely a valuable friend. My dear and much respected Sir, may GOD preserve you long in this world while I am in it.

'I am ever,

'Your much obliged,

'And affectionate humble servant,


On the 23rd of February I wrote to him again, complaining of his silence, as I had heard he was ill, and had written to Mr. Thrale, for information concerning him; and I announced my intention of soon being again in London.



'Why should you take such delight to make a bustle, to write to Mr. Thrale that I am negligent, and to Francis to do what is so very unnecessary. Thrale, you may be sure, cared not about it; and I shall spare Francis the trouble, by ordering a set both of the Lives and Poets to dear Mrs. Boswell[1122], in acknowledgement of her marmalade. Persuade her to accept them, and accept them kindly. If I thought she would receive them scornfully, I would send them to Miss Boswell, who, I hope, has yet none of her mamma's ill-will to me.

'I would send sets of Lives, four volumes, to some other friends, to Lord Hailes first. His second volume lies by my bed-side; a book surely of great labour, and to every just thinker of great delight. Write me word to whom I shall send besides[1123]; would it please Lord Auchinleck? Mrs. Thrale waits in the coach.

'I am, dear Sir, &c.,


'March 13, 1779.'

This letter crossed me on the road to London, where I arrived on Monday, March 15, and next morning at a late hour, found Dr. Johnson sitting over his tea, attended by Mrs. Desmoulins, Mr. Levett, and a clergyman, who had come to submit some poetical pieces to his revision. It is wonderful what a number and variety of writers, some of them even unknown to him, prevailed on his good-nature to look over their works, and suggest corrections and improvements[1124]. My arrival interrupted for a little while the important business of this true representative of Bayes[1125]; upon its being resumed, I found that the subject under immediate consideration was a translation, yet in manuscript, of the Carmen Seculare of Horace, which had this year been set to musick, and performed as a publick entertainment in London, for the joint benefit of Monsieur Philidor and Signer Baretti[1126]. When Johnson had done reading, the authour asked him bluntly, 'If upon the whole it was a good translation?' Johnson, whose regard for truth was uncommonly strict, seemed to be puzzled for a moment, what answer to make; as he certainly could not honestly commend the performance: with exquisite address he evaded the question thus, 'Sir, I do not say that it may not be made a very good translation[1127].' Here nothing whatever in favour of the performance was affirmed, and yet the writer was not shocked. A printed Ode to the Warlike Genius of Britain, came next in review; the bard [1128] was a lank bony figure, with short black hair; he was writhing himself in agitation, while Johnson read, and shewing his teeth in a grin of earnestness, exclaimed in broken sentences, and in a keen sharp tone, 'Is that poetry, Sir?—Is it Pindar?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, there is here a great deal of what is called poetry.' Then, turning to me, the poet cried, 'My muse has not been long upon the town, and (pointing to the Ode) it trembles under the hand of the great critick[1129].' Johnson, in a tone of displeasure, asked him, 'Why do you praise Anson [1130]?' I did not trouble him by asking his reason for this question. He proceeded, 'Here is an errour, Sir; you have made Genius feminine.' [1131] 'Palpable, Sir; (cried the enthusiast) I know it. But (in a lower tone) it was to pay a compliment to the Duchess of Devonshire, with which her Grace was pleased. She is walking across Coxheath, in the military uniform, and I suppose her to be the Genius of Britain[1132].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right. You may have a reason why two and two should make five; but they will still make but four.'

Although I was several times with him in the course of the following days, such it seems were my occupations, or such my negligence, that I have preserved no memorial of his conversation till Friday, March 26, when I visited him. He said he expected to be attacked on account of his Lives of the Poets. 'However (said he) I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an authour is to be silent as to his works.[1133]. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse; an assault may be unsuccessful; you may have more men killed than you kill; but if you starve the town, you are sure of victory.'

Talking of a friend of ours associating with persons of very discordant principles and characters; I said he was a very universal man, quite a man of the world[1134]. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but one may be so much a man of the world as to be nothing in the world. I remember a passage in Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, which he was afterwards fool enough to expunge: "I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing."' BOSWELL. 'That was a fine passage.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir: there was another fine passage too, which he struck out: "When I was a young man, being anxious to distinguish myself, I was perpetually starting new propositions. But I soon gave this over; for, I found that generally what was new was false[1135]."' I said I did not like to sit with people of whom I had not a good opinion. JOHNSON. 'But you must not indulge your delicacy too much; or you will be a tête-à-tête man all your life.'

During my stay in London this spring, I find I was unaccountably[1136] negligent in preserving Johnson's sayings, more so than at any time when I was happy enough to have an opportunity of hearing his wisdom and wit. There is no help for it now. I must content myself with presenting such scraps as I have. But I am nevertheless ashamed and vexed to think how much has been lost. It is not that there was a bad crop this year; but that I was not sufficiently careful in gathering it in. I, therefore, in some instances can only exhibit a few detached fragments.

Talking of the wonderful concealment of the authour of the celebrated letters signed Junius[1137]; he said, 'I should have believed Burke to be Junius, because I know no man but Burke who is capable of writing these letters[1138]; but Burke spontaneously denied it to me. The case would have been different had I asked him if he was the authour; a man so questioned, as to an anonymous publication, may think he has a right to deny it.'[1139].

He observed that his old friend, Mr. Sheridan, had been honoured with extraordinary attention in his own country, by having had an exception made in his favour in an Irish Act of Parliament concerning insolvent debtors[1140]. 'Thus to be singled out (said he) by a legislature, as an object of publick consideration and kindness, is a proof of no common merit.'

At Streatham, on Monday, March 29, at breakfast he maintained that a father had no right to control the inclinations of his daughters in marriage[1141].

On Wednesday, March 31, when I visited him, and confessed an excess of which I had very seldom been guilty; that I had spent a whole night in playing at cards, and that I could not look back on it with satisfaction; instead of a harsh animadversion, he mildly said, 'Alas, Sir, on how few things can we look back with satisfaction.'

On Thursday, April 1, he commended one of the Dukes of Devonshire for 'a dogged veracity[1142].' He said too, 'London is nothing to some people; but to a man whose pleasure is intellectual, London is the place. And there is no place where oeconomy can be so well practised as in London. More can be had here for the money, even by ladies, than any where else. You cannot play tricks with your fortune in a small place; you must make an uniform appearance. Here a lady may have well-furnished apartments, and elegant dress, without any meat in her kitchen.'

I was amused by considering with how much ease and coolness he could write or talk to a friend, exhorting him not to suppose that happiness was not to be found as well in other places as in London[1143]; when he himself was at all times sensible of its being, comparatively speaking, a heaven upon earth[1144]. The truth is, that by those who from sagacity, attention, and experience, have learnt the full advantage of London, its preeminence over every other place, not only for variety of enjoyment, but for comfort, will be felt with a philosophical exultation[1145]. The freedom from remark and petty censure, with which life may be passed there, is a circumstance which a man who knows the teazing restraint of a narrow circle must relish highly. Mr. Burke, whose orderly and amiable domestic habits might make the eye of observation less irksome to him than to most men, said once very pleasantly, in my hearing, 'Though I have the honour to represent Bristol, I should not like to live there; I should be obliged to be so much upon my good behaviour.' In London, a man may live in splendid society at one time, and in frugal retirement at another, without animadversion. There, and there alone, a man's own house is truly his castle, in which he can be in perfect safety from intrusion whenever he pleases. I never shall forget how well this was expressed to me one day by Mr. Meynell[1146]: 'The chief advantage of London (said he) is, that a man is always so near his burrow[1147].'

He said of one of his old acquaintances, 'He is very fit for a travelling governour. He knows French very well. He is a man of good principles; and there would be no danger that a young gentleman should catch his manner; for it is so very bad, that it must be avoided. In that respect he would be like the drunken Helot[1148].'

A gentleman has informed me, that Johnson said of the same person, 'Sir, he has the most inverted understanding of any man whom I have ever known.'

On Friday, April 2, being Good-Friday, I visited him in the morning as usual; and finding that we insensibly fell into a train of ridicule upon the foibles of one of our friends, a very worthy man[1149], I, by way of a check, quoted some good admonition from The Government of the Tongue[1150], that very pious book. It happened also remarkably enough, that the subject of the sermon preached to us to-day by Dr. Burrows, the rector of St. Clement Danes, was the certainty that at the last day we must give an account of 'the deeds done in the body[1151];' and, amongst various acts of culpability he mentioned evil-speaking. As we were moving slowly along in the crowd from church, Johnson jogged my elbow, and said, 'Did you attend to the sermon?' 'Yes, Sir, (said I,) it was very applicable to us.' He, however, stood upon the defensive. 'Why, Sir, the sense of ridicule is given us, and may be lawfully used[1152]. The authour of The Government of the Tongue would have us treat all men alike.'

In the interval between morning and evening service, he endeavoured to employ himself earnestly in devotional exercises; and as he has mentioned in his Prayers and Meditations[1153], gave me 'Les Pensées de Paschal', that I might not interrupt him. I preserve the book with reverence. His presenting it to me is marked upon it with his own hand, and I have found in it a truly divine unction. We went to church again in the afternoon[1154].

On Saturday, April 3, I visited him at night, and found him sitting in Mrs. Williams's room, with her, and one who he afterwards told me was a natural son[1155] of the second Lord Southwell. The table had a singular appearance, being covered with a heterogeneous assemblage of oysters and porter for his company, and tea for himself. I mentioned my having heard an eminent physician, who was himself a Christian, argue in favour of universal toleration, and maintain, that no man could be hurt by another man's differing from him in opinion. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are to a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe[1156].'

On Easter-day, after solemn service at St. Paul's, I dined with him: Mr. Allen the printer was also his guest. He was uncommonly silent; and I have not written down any thing, except a single curious fact, which, having the sanction of his inflexible veracity, may be received as a striking instance of human insensibility and inconsideration. As he was passing by a fishmonger who was skinning an eel alive, he heard him 'curse it, because it would not lye still[1157].'

On Wednesday, April 7, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. I have not marked what company was there. Johnson harangued upon the qualities of different liquors; and spoke with great contempt of claret, as so weak, that 'a man would be drowned by it before it made him drunk[1158].' He was persuaded to drink one glass of it, that he might judge, not from recollection, which might be dim, but from immediate sensation. He shook his head, and said, 'Poor stuff! No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy. In the first place, the flavour of brandy is most grateful to the palate; and then brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking can do for him[1159]. There are, indeed, few who are able to drink brandy. That is a power rather to be wished for than attained. And yet, (proceeded he) as in all pleasure hope is a considerable part, I know not but fruition comes too quick by brandy. Florence wine I think the worst; it is wine only to the eye; it is wine neither while you are drinking it, nor after you have drunk it; it neither pleases the taste, nor exhilarates the spirits.' I reminded him how heartily he and I used to drink wine together, when we were first acquainted; and how I used to have a head-ache after sitting up with him[1160]. He did not like to have this recalled, or, perhaps, thinking that I boasted improperly, resolved to have a witty stroke at me: 'Nay, Sir, it was not the wine that made your head ache, but the sense that I put into it.' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir! will sense make the head ache?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, (with a smile) when it is not used to it.'—No man who has a true relish of pleasantry could be offended at this; especially if Johnson in a long intimacy had given him repeated proofs of his regard and good estimation. I used to say, that as he had given me a thousand pounds in praise, he had a good right now and then to take a guinea from me.

On Thursday, April 8, I dined with him at Mr. Allan Ramsay's, with Lord Graham[1161] and some other company. We talked of Shakspeare's witches. JOHNSON. 'They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of malignity and meanness, without any abilities; and are quite different from the Italian magician. King James says in his Daemonology, 'Magicians command the devils: witches are their servants. The Italian magicians are elegant beings.' RAMSAY. 'Opera witches, not Drury-lane witches.' Johnson observed, that abilities might be employed in a narrow sphere, as in getting money, which he said he believed no man could do, without vigorous parts, though concentrated to a point[1162]. RAMSAY. 'Yes, like a strong horse in a mill; he pulls better.'

Lord Graham, while he praised the beauty of Lochlomond, on the banks of which is his family seat, complained of the climate, and said he could not bear it. JOHNSON. 'Nay, my Lord, don't talk so: you may bear it well enough. Your ancestors have borne it more years than I can tell.' This was a handsome compliment to the antiquity of the House of Montrose. His Lordship told me afterwards, that he had only affected to complain of the climate; lest, if he had spoken as favourably of his country as he really thought, Dr. Johnson might have attacked it. Johnson was very courteous to Lady Margaret Macdonald. 'Madam, (said he,) when I was in the Isle of Sky, I heard of the people running to take the stones off the road, lest Lady Margaret's horse should stumble[1163].'

Lord Graham commended Dr. Drummond[1164] at Naples, as a man of extraordinary talents; and added, that he had a great love of liberty. JOHNSON. 'He is young, my Lord; (looking to his Lordship with an arch smile) all boys love liberty, till experience convinces them they are not so fit to govern themselves as they imagined. We are all agreed as to our own liberty; we would have as much of it as we can get; but we are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should have liberty to govern us. When that was the case some time ago, no man was at liberty not to have candles in his windows.' RAMSAY. 'The result is, that order is better than confusion.' JOHNSON. 'The result is, that order cannot be had but by subordination.'

On Friday, April 16, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the favourite of a nobleman.[1165] Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what passed, and particularly with his prayer for the mercy of heaven.[1166] He said, in a solemn fervid tone, 'I hope he shall find mercy.'

This day[1167] a violent altercation arose between Johnson and Beauclerk,[1168] which having made much noise at the time, I think it proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a minute account of it.

In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as Judge Blackstone had done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, 'No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself, took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once. Lord ——'s cook shot himself with one pistol, and lived ten days in great agony. Mr. ——, who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself; and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast, before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion:[1169] he had two charged pistols; one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the other.' 'Well, (said Johnson, with an air of triumph,) you see here one pistol was sufficient.' Beauclerk replied smartly, 'Because it happened to kill him.' And either then or a very little afterwards, being piqued at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, 'This is what you don't know, and I do.' There was then a cessation of the dispute; and some minutes intervened, during which, dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed, 'Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to talk so petulantly to me, as "This is what you don't know, but what I know"? One thing I know, which you don't seem to know, that you are very uncivil.' BEAUCLERK. 'Because you began by being uncivil, (which you always are.)' The words in parenthesis were, I believe, not heard by Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me, that the reason why he waited at first some time without taking any notice of what Mr. Beauclerk said, was because he was thinking whether he should resent it. But when he considered that there were present a young Lord and an eminent traveller, two men of the world with whom he had never dined before, he was apprehensive that they might think they had a right to take such liberties with him as Beauclerk did, and therefore resolved he would not let it pass; adding, that 'he would not appear a coward.' A little while after this, the conversation turned on the violence of Hackman's temper. Johnson then said, 'It was his business to command his temper, as my friend, Mr. Beauclerk, should have done some time ago.' BEAUCLERK. 'I should learn of you, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have given me opportunities enough of learning, when I have been in your company. No man loves to be treated with contempt.' BEAUCLERK. (with a polite inclination towards Johnson) 'Sir, you have known me twenty years, and however I may have treated others, you may be sure I could never treat you with contempt' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have said more than was necessary.' Thus it ended; and Beauclerk's coach not having come for him till very late, Dr. Johnson and another gentleman sat with him a long time after the rest of the company were gone; and he and I dined at Beauclerk's on the Saturday se'nnight following.

After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars of his conversation:—

'I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He'll get better books afterwards[1170].'

'Mallet, I believe, never wrote a single line of his projected life of the Duke of Marlborough.[1171] He groped for materials; and thought of it, till he had exhausted his mind. Thus it sometimes happens that men entangle themselves in their own schemes.'

'To be contradicted, in order to force you to talk, is mighty unpleasing. You shine, indeed; but it is by being ground.'

Of a gentleman who made some figure among the Literati of his time, (Mr. Fitzherbert,)[1172] he said, 'What eminence he had was by a felicity of manner; he had no more learning than what he could not help.'

On Saturday, April 24, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Jones, (afterwards Sir William,) Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise, and Dr. Higgins. I mentioned that Mr. Wilkes had attacked Garrick to me, as a man who had no friend. 'I believe he is right, Sir. [Greek: Oi philoi, ou philos]—He had friends, but no friend.[1173] Garrick was so diffused, he had no man to whom he wished to unbosom himself. He found people always ready to applaud him, and that always for the same thing: so he saw life with great uniformity.' I took upon me, for once, to fight with Goliath's weapons, and play the sophist.—'Garrick did not need a friend, as he got from every body all he wanted. What is a friend? One who supports you and comforts you, while others do not. Friendship, you know, Sir, is the cordial drop, "to make the nauseous draught of life go down[1174]:" but if the draught be not nauseous, if it be all sweet, there is no occasion for that drop.' JOHNSON. 'Many men would not be content to live so. I hope I should not. They would wish to have an intimate friend, with whom they might compare minds, and cherish private virtues.' One of the company mentioned Lord Chesterfield, as a man who had no friend. JOHNSON. 'There were more materials to make friendship in Garrick, had he not been so diffused.' BOSWELL. 'Garrick was pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf. Lord Chesterfield was tinsel.' JOHNSON. 'Garrick was a very good man, the cheerfullest man of his age;[1175] a decent liver in a profession which is supposed to give indulgence to licentiousness; and a man who gave away, freely, money acquired by himself. He began the world with a great hunger for money; the son of a half-pay officer, bred in a family, whose study was to make four-pence do as much as others made four-pence halfpenny do. But, when he had got money, he was very liberal.'[1176] I presumed to animadvert on his eulogy on Garrick, in his Lives of the Poets.[1177] 'You say, Sir, his death eclipsed the gaiety of nations.' [1178] JOHNSON. 'I could not have said more nor less. It is the truth; eclipsed, not extinguished; and his death did eclipse; it was like a storm.' BOSWELL. 'But why nations? Did his gaiety extend farther than his own nation?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, some exaggeration must be allowed.[1179] Besides, nations may be said—if we allow the Scotch to be a nation, and to have gaiety,—which they have not. You are an exception, though. Come, gentlemen, let us candidly admit that there is one Scotchman who is cheerful.' BEAUCLERK. 'But he is a very unnatural Scotchman.' I, however, continued to think the compliment to Garrick hyperbolically untrue. His acting had ceased some time before his death; at any rate he had acted in Ireland but a short time, at an early period of his life[1180], and never in Scotland. I objected also to what appears an anticlimax of praise, when contrasted with the preceding panegyrick,—'and diminished[1181] the public stock of harmless pleasure!'—'Is not harmless pleasure very tame?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, harmless pleasure is the highest praise. Pleasure is a word of dubious import; pleasure is in general dangerous, and pernicious to virtue; to be able therefore to furnish pleasure that is harmless, pleasure pure and unalloyed, is as great a power as man can possess.' This was, perhaps, as ingenious a defence as could be made; still, however, I was not satisfied.

A celebrated wit[1182] being mentioned, he said, 'One may say of him as was said of a French wit, Il n'a de l'esprit que contre Dieu. I have been several times in company with him, but never perceived any strong power of wit. He produces a general effect by various means; he has a cheerful countenance and a gay voice. Besides his trade is wit. It would be as wild in him to come into company without merriment, as for a highwayman to take the road without his pistols.'

Talking of the effects of drinking, he said, 'Drinking may be practised with great prudence; a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk; a sober man who happens occasionally to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing; he is without skill in inebriation. I used to slink home, when I had drunk too much[1183]. A man accustomed to self-examination will be conscious when he is drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be conscious of it. I knew a physician who for twenty years was not sober; yet in a pamphlet, which he wrote upon fevers, he appealed to Garrick and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness[1184]. A bookseller (naming him) who got a large fortune by trade[1185], was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more sober at one time than another.'

Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physick; he said, 'Taylor[1186] was the most ignorant man I ever knew; but sprightly. Ward[1187] the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him; (laughing). I quoted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of my own speech. He said a few words well enough.' BEAUCLERK. 'I remember, Sir, you said that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry ignorance.' Mr. Beauclerk was very entertaining this day, and told us a number of short stories in a lively elegant manner, and with that air of the world which has I know not what impressive effect, as if there were something more than is expressed, or than perhaps we could perfectly understand[1188]. As Johnson and I accompanied Sir Joshua Reynolds in his coach, Johnson said, 'There is in Beauclerk a predominance over his company, that one does not like. But he is a man who has lived so much in the world, that he has a short story on every occasion; he is always ready to talk, and is never exhausted.'

Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, Sir Joshua's sister. I mentioned that an eminent friend of ours[1189], talking of the common remark, that affection descends, said, that 'this was wisely contrived for the preservation of mankind; for which it was not so necessary that there should be affection from children to parents, as from parents to children; nay, there would be no harm in that view though children should at a certain age eat their parents.' JOHNSON. 'But, Sir, if this were known generally to be the case, parents would not have affection for children.' BOSWELL. 'True, Sir; for it is in expectation of a return that parents are so attentive to their children; and I know a very pretty instance of a little girl of whom her father was very fond, who once when he was in a melancholy fit, and had gone to bed, persuaded him to rise in good humour by saying, "My dear papa, please to get up, and let me help you on with your clothes, that I may learn to do it when you are an old man."'

Soon after this time a little incident occurred, which I will not suppress, because I am desirous that my work should be, as much as is consistent with the strictest truth, an antidote to the false and injurious notions of his character, which have been given by others, and therefore I infuse every drop of genuine sweetness into my biographical cup.


'I am in great pain with an inflamed foot, and obliged to keep my bed, so am prevented from having the pleasure to dine at Mr. Ramsay's to-day, which is very hard; and my spirits are sadly sunk. Will you be so friendly as to come and sit an hour with me in the evening.

'I am ever

'Your most faithful,

'And affectionate humble servant,


'South Audley-street[1190],
Monday, April 26.'


'Mr. Johnson laments the absence of Mr. Boswell, and will come to him.'


He came to me in the evening, and brought Sir Joshua Reynolds. I need scarcely say, that their conversation, while they sat by my bedside, was the most pleasing opiate to pain that could have been administered[1192].

Johnson being now better disposed to obtain information concerning Pope than he was last year[1193], sent by me to my Lord Marchmont a present of those volumes of his Lives of the Poets which were at this time published, with a request to have permission to wait on him; and his Lordship, who had called on him twice, obligingly appointed Saturday, the first of May, for receiving us.

On that morning Johnson came to me from Streatham, and after drinking chocolate, at General Paoli's, in South-Audley-street, we proceeded to Lord Marchmont's in Curzon-street. His Lordship met us at the door of his library, and with great politeness said to Johnson, 'I am not going to make an encomium upon myself, by telling you the high respect I have for you, Sir.' Johnson was exceedingly courteous; and the interview, which lasted about two hours, during which the Earl communicated his anecdotes of Pope, was as agreeable as I could have wished[1194]. When we came out, I said to Johnson, that considering his Lordship's civility, I should have been vexed if he had again failed to come. 'Sir, (said he,) I would rather have given twenty pounds than not have come.' I accompanied him to Streatham, where we dined, and returned to town in the evening.

On Monday, May 3, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's[1195]; I pressed him this day for his opinion on the passage in Parnell, concerning which I had in vain questioned him in several letters, and at length obtained it in due form of law.

CASE for Dr. JOHNSON'S Opinion; 3rd of May, 1779.

'PARNELL, in his Hermit, has the following passage:

"To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books and[1196] swains report it right:
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew.)"

'Is there not a contradiction in its being first supposed that the Hermit knew both what books and swains reported of the world; yet afterwards said, that he knew it by swains alone?' 'I think it an inaccuracy.—He mentions two instructors in the first line, and says he had only one in the next.[1197].'

This evening I set out for Scotland.



'Mr. Green has informed me that you are much better; I hope I need not tell you that I am glad of it. I cannot boast of being much better; my old nocturnal complaint still pursues me, and my respiration is difficult, though much easier than when I left you the summer before last. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale are well; Miss has been a little indisposed; but she is got well again. They have since the loss of their boy had two daughters; but they seem likely to want a son.

'I hope you had some books which I sent you. I was sorry for poor Mrs. Adey's death, and am afraid you will be sometimes solitary; but endeavour, whether alone or in company, to keep yourself cheerful. My friends likewise die very fast; but such is the state of man.

'I am, dear love,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 4, 1779.'

He had, before I left London, resumed the conversation concerning the appearance of a ghost at Newcastle upon Tyne, which Mr. John Wesley believed, but to which Johnson did not give credit[1198]. I was, however, desirous to examine the question closely, and at the same time wished to be made acquainted with Mr. John Wesley; for though I differed from him in some points, I admired his various talents, and loved his pious zeal. At my request, therefore, Dr. Johnson gave me a letter of introduction to him.



Mr. Boswell, a gentleman who has been long known to me, is desirous of being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him with great willingness, because I think it very much to be wished that worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant,
May 3, 1779.'

Mr. Wesley being in the course of his ministry at Edinburgh, I presented this letter to him, and was very politely received. I begged to have it returned to me, which was accordingly done. His state[1199] of the evidence as to the ghost did not satisfy me. I did not write to Johnson, as usual, upon my return to my family, but tried how he would be affected by my silence. Mr. Dilly sent me a copy of a note which he received from him on the 13th of July, in these words:—


Since Mr. Boswell's departure I have never heard from him; please to send word what you know of him, and whether you have sent my books to his lady. I am, &c.,


My readers will not doubt that his solicitude about me was very flattering.



'What can possibly have happened, that keeps us two such strangers to each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home; I expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned[1200]; and yet there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill I hope has happened; and if ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves you? Is it a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold out longest without writing? If it be, you have the victory. But I am afraid of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.

'My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your silence: you must not expect that I should tell you any thing, if I had any thing to tell. Write, pray write to me, and let me know what is, or what has been the cause of this long interruption.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,


'July 13, 1779.'


'Edinburgh, July 17, 1779.


'What may be justly denominated a supine indolence of mind has been my state of existence since I last returned to Scotland. In a livelier state I had often suffered severely from long intervals of silence on your part; and I had even been chided by you for expressing my uneasiness. I was willing to take advantage of my insensibility, and while I could bear the experiment, to try whether your affection for me would, after an unusual silence on my part, make you write first. This afternoon I have had very high satisfaction by receiving your kind letter of inquiry, for which I most gratefully thank you. I am doubtful if it was right to make the experiment; though I have gained by it. I was beginning to grow tender, and to upbraid myself, especially after having dreamt two nights ago that I was with you. I and my wife, and my four children, are all well. I would not delay one post to answer your letter; but as it is late, I have not time to do more. You shall soon hear from me, upon many and various particulars; and I shall never again put you to any test[1201].

I am, with veneration, my dear Sir,

'Your much obliged,

'And faithful humble servant,


On the 22nd of July, I wrote to him again; and gave him an account of my last interview with my worthy friend, Mr. Edward Dilly, at his brother's house at Southill, in Bedfordshire, where he died soon after I parted from him[1202], leaving me a very kind remembrance of his regard.

I informed him that Lord Hailes, who had promised to furnish him with some anecdotes for his Lives of the Poets, had sent me three instances of Prior's borrowing from Gombauld, in Recueil des Poetes, tome 3. Epigram To John I owed 'great obligation,' p. 25. To the Duke of Noailles, p. 32. Sauntering Jack and Idle Joan, p. 25.

My letter was a pretty long one, and contained a variety of particulars; but he, it should seem, had not attended to it; for his next to me was as follows:—



'Are you playing the same trick again, and trying who can keep silence longest? Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish; and that it is as foolish to make experiments upon the constancy of a friend, as upon the chastity of a wife.

'What can be the cause of this second fit of silence, I cannot conjecture; but after one trick, I will not be cheated by another, nor will harass my thoughts with conjectures about the motives of a man who, probably, acts only by caprice. I therefore suppose you are well, and that Mrs. Boswell is well too; and that the fine summer has restored Lord Auchinleck. I am much better than you left me; I think I am better than when I was in Scotland[1203].

'I forgot whether I informed you that poor Thrale has been in great danger[1204]. Mrs. Thrale likewise has miscarried, and been much indisposed. Every body else is well; Langton is in camp. I intend to put Lord Hailes's description of Dryden[1205] into another edition, and as I know his accuracy, wish he would consider the dates, which I could not always settle to my own mind.

'Mr. Thrale goes to Brighthelmston, about Michaelmas, to be jolly and ride a hunting. I shall go to town, or perhaps to Oxford. Exercise and gaiety, or rather carelessness, will, I hope, dissipate all remains of his malady; and I likewise hope by the change of place, to find some opportunities of growing yet better myself. I am, dear Sir,

'Your humble servant,

'Streatham, Sept. 9[1206], 1779.'

My readers will not be displeased at being told every slight circumstance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his solitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometimes in watering and pruning a vine[1207], sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile, should recollect that there are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifles[1208].

On the 20th of September I defended myself against his suspicion of me, which I did not deserve; and added, 'Pray let us write frequently. A whim strikes me, that we should send off a sheet once a week, like a stage-coach, whether it be full or not; nay, though it should be empty. The very sight of your handwriting would comfort me; and were a sheet to be thus sent regularly, we should much oftener convey something, were it only a few kind words.'

My friend Colonel James Stuart[1209], second son of the Earl of Bute, who had distinguished himself as a good officer of the Bedfordshire militia[1210], had taken a publick-spirited resolution to serve his country in its difficulties, by raising a regular regiment, and taking the command of it himself. This, in the heir of the immense property of Wortley, was highly honourable[1211]. Having been in Scotland recruiting, he obligingly asked me to accompany him to Leeds, then the head-quarters of his corps; from thence to London for a short time, and afterwards to other places to which the regiment might be ordered. Such an offer, at a time of the year when I had full leisure, was very pleasing; especially as I was to accompany a man of sterling good sense, information, discernment, and conviviality; and was to have a second crop in one year of London and Johnson. Of this I informed my illustrious friend, in characteristical warm terms, in a letter dated the 30th of September, from Leeds.

On Monday, October 4, I called at his house before he was up. He sent for me to his bedside, and expressed his satisfaction at this incidental meeting, with as much vivacity as if he had been in the gaiety of youth. He called briskly, 'Frank, go and get coffee, and let us breakfast in splendour.'

During this visit to London I had several interviews with him, which it is unnecessary to distinguish particularly. I consulted him as to the appointment of guardians to my children, in case of my death. 'Sir, (said he,) do not appoint a number of guardians. When there are many, they trust one to another, and the business is neglected. I would advise you to choose only one; let him be a man of respectable character, who, for his own credit, will do what is right; let him be a rich man, so that he may be under no temptation to take advantage; and let him be a man of business, who is used to conduct affairs with ability and expertness, to whom, therefore, the execution of the trust will not be burdensome[1212].'

On Sunday, October 10, we dined together at Mr. Strahan's. The conversation having turned on the prevailing practice of going to the East-Indies in quest of wealth;—JOHNSON. 'A man had better have ten thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in England, than twenty thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in India, because you must compute what you give for money; and a man who has lived ten years in India, has given up ten years of social comfort and all those advantages which arise from living in England. The ingenious Mr. Brown, distinguished by the name of Capability Brown[1213], told me, that he was once at the seat of Lord Clive, who had returned from India with great wealth; and that he shewed him at the door of his bed-chamber a large chest, which he said he had once had full of gold; upon which Brown observed, "I am glad you can bear it so near your bed-chamber.'" [1214]

We talked of the state of the poor in London.—JOHNSON. 'Saunders Welch[1215], the Justice, who was once High-Constable of Holborn, and had the best opportunities of knowing the state of the poor, told me, that I under-rated the number, when I computed that twenty a week, that is, above a thousand a year, died of hunger; not absolutely of immediate hunger; but of the wasting and other diseases which are the consequences of hunger[1216]. This happens only in so large a place as London, where people are not known. What we are told about the great sums got by begging is not true: the trade is overstocked. And, you may depend upon it, there are many who cannot get work. A particular kind of manufacture fails: those who have been used to work at it, can, for some time, work at nothing else. You meet a man begging; you charge him with idleness: he says, "I am willing to labour. Will you give me work?"—"I cannot."—"Why, then you have no right to charge me with idleness."' [1217]

We left Mr. Strahan's at seven, as Johnson had said he intended to go to evening prayers. As we walked along, he complained of a little gout in his toe, and said, 'I shan't go to prayers to-night; I shall go to-morrow: Whenever I miss church on a Sunday, I resolve to go another day. But I do not always do it[1218].' This was a fair exhibition of that vibration between pious resolutions and indolence, which many of us have too often experienced.

I went home with him, and we had a long quiet conversation.

I read him a letter from Dr. Hugh Blair concerning Pope, (in writing whose life he was now employed,) which I shall insert as a literary curiosity[1219].


'In the year 1763, being at London, I was carried by Dr. John Blair, Prebendary of Westminster, to dine at old Lord Bathurst's; where we found the late Mr. Mallet, Sir James Porter, who had been Ambassadour at Constantinople, the late Dr. Macaulay, and two or three more. The conversation turning on Mr. Pope, Lord Bathurst told us, that The Essay on Man was originally composed by Lord Bolingbroke in prose, and that Mr. Pope did no more than put it into verse: that he had read Lord Bolingbroke's manuscript in his own hand-writing; and remembered well, that he was at a loss whether most to admire the elegance of Lord Bolingbroke's prose, or the beauty of Mr. Pope's verse. When Lord Bathurst told this, Mr. Mallet bade me attend, and remember this remarkable piece of information; as, by the course of Nature, I might survive his Lordship, and be a witness of his having said so. The conversation was indeed too remarkable to be forgotten. A few days after, meeting with you, who were then also in London, you will remember that I mentioned to you what had passed on this subject, as I was much struck with this anecdote. But what ascertains[1220] my recollection of it beyond doubt, is that being accustomed to keep a journal of what passed when I was in London, which I wrote out every evening, I find the particulars of the above information, just as I have now given them, distinctly marked; and am thence enabled to fix this conversation to have passed on Friday, the 22d of April, 1763.

'I remember also distinctly, (though I have not for this the authority of my journal,) that the conversation going on concerning Mr. Pope, I took notice of a report which had been sometimes propagated that he did not understand Greek[1221]. Lord Bathurst said to me, that he knew that to be false; for that part of the Iliad was translated by Mr. Pope in his house in the country; and that in the mornings when they assembled at breakfast, Mr. Pope used frequently to repeat, with great rapture, the Greek lines which he had been translating, and then to give them his version of them, and to compare them together.

'If these circumstances can be of any use to Dr. Johnson, you have my full liberty to give them to him. I beg you will, at the same time, present to him my most respectful compliments, with best wishes for his success and fame in all his literary undertakings. I am, with great respect, my dearest Sir,

'Your most affectionate,

'And obliged humble servant,


'Broughton Park,

'Sept. 21, 1779.'

JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, this is too strongly stated. Pope may have had from Bolingbroke the philosophick stamina of his Essay; and admitting this to be true, Lord Bathurst did not intentionally falsify. But the thing is not true in the latitude that Blair seems to imagine; we are sure that the poetical imagery, which makes a great part of the poem, was Pope's own[1222]. It is amazing, Sir, what deviations there are from precise truth, in the account which is given of almost every thing[1223]. I told Mrs. Thrale, "You have so little anxiety about truth, that you never tax your memory with the exact thing[1224]." Now what is the use of the memory to truth, if one is careless of exactness? Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland are very exact; but they contain mere dry particulars[1225]. They are to be considered as a Dictionary. You know such things are there; and may be looked at when you please. Robertson paints; but the misfortune is, you are sure he does not know the people whom he paints; so you cannot suppose a likeness[1226]. Characters should never be given by an historian, unless he knew the people whom he describes, or copies from those who knew them[1227].'

BOSWELL. 'Why, Sir, do people play this trick which I observe now, when I look at your grate, putting the shovel against it to make the fire burn?' JOHNSON. 'They play the trick, but it does not make the fire burn. There is a better; (setting the poker perpendicularly up at right angles with the grate.) In days of superstition they thought, as it made a cross with the bars, it would drive away the witch.'

BOSWELL. 'By associating with you, Sir, I am always getting an accession of wisdom. But perhaps a man, after knowing his own character—the limited strength of his own mind, should not be desirous of having too much wisdom, considering, quid valeant humeri[1228], how little he can carry[1229].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, be as wise as you can; let a man be aliis laetus, sapiens sibi:

"Though pleas'd to see the dolphins play,
I mind my compass and my way[1230]."

You may be wise in your study in the morning, and gay in company at a tavern in the evening. Every man is to take care of his own wisdom and his own virtue, without minding too much what others think.'

He said, 'Dodsley first mentioned to me the scheme of an English Dictionary[1231]; but I had long thought of it.' BOSWELL. 'You did not know what you were undertaking.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, I knew very well what I was undertaking,—and very well how to do it,—and have done it very well[1232].' BOSWELL. 'An excellent climax! and it has availed you. In your Preface you say, "What would it avail me in this gloom of solitude[1233]?" You have been agreeably mistaken.'

In his Life of Milton[1234] he observes, 'I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his biographers: every house in which he resided is historically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by his presence.' I had, before I read this observation, been desirous of shewing that respect to Johnson, by various inquiries. Finding him this evening in a very good humour, I prevailed on him to give me an exact list of his places of residence, since he entered the metropolis as an authour, which I subjoin in a note[1235].

I mentioned to him a dispute between a friend of mine and his lady, concerning conjugal infidelity, which my friend had maintained was by no means so bad in the husband, as in the wife. JOHNSON. 'Your friend was in the right, Sir. Between a man and his Maker it is a different question: but between a man and his wife, a husband's infidelity is nothing. They are connected by children, by fortune, by serious considerations of community. Wise married women don't trouble themselves about the infidelity in their husbands.' BOSWELL. 'To be sure there is a great difference between the offence of infidelity in a man and that of his wife.' JOHNSON. 'The difference is boundless. The man imposes no bastards upon his wife[1236].'

Here it may be questioned whether Johnson was entirely in the right. I suppose it will not be controverted that the difference in the degree of criminality is very great, on account of consequences: but still it may be maintained, that, independent of moral obligation, infidelity is by no means a light offence in a husband; because it must hurt a delicate attachment, in which a mutual constancy is implied, with such refined sentiments as Massinger has exhibited in his play of The Picture.—Johnson probably at another time would have admitted this opinion. And let it be kept in remembrance, that he was very careful not to give any encouragement to irregular conduct. A gentleman[1237], not adverting to the distinction made by him upon this subject, supposed a case of singular perverseness in a wife, and heedlessly said, 'That then he thought a husband might do as he pleased with a safe conscience.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is wild indeed (smiling) you must consider that fornication is a crime[1238] in a single man; and you cannot have more liberty by being married.'

He this evening expressed himself strongly against the Roman Catholics; observing, 'In every thing in which they differ from us they are wrong.' He was even against the invocation of saints[1239]; in short, he was in the humour of opposition.

Having regretted to him that I had learnt little Greek, as is too generally the case in Scotland; that I had for a long time hardly applied at all to the study of that noble language, and that I was desirous of being told by him what method to follow; he recommended to me as easy helps, Sylvanus's First Book of the Iliad; Dawson's Lexicon to the Greek New Testament; and Hesiod, with Pasoris Lexicon at the end of it.

On Tuesday, October 13, I dined with him at Mr. Ramsay's, with Lord Newhaven[1240], and some other company, none of whom I recollect, but a beautiful Miss Graham[1241], a relation of his Lordship's, who asked Dr. Johnson to hob or nob with her. He was flattered by such pleasing attention, and politely told her, he never drank wine; but if she would drink a glass of water, he was much at her service. She accepted. 'Oho, Sir! (said Lord Newhaven) you are caught.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, I do not see how I am caught; but if I am caught, I don't want to get free again. If I am caught, I hope to be kept.' Then when the two glasses of water were brought, smiling placidly to the young lady, he said, 'Madam, let us reciprocate.'

Lord Newhaven and Johnson carried on an argument for some time, concerning the Middlesex election[1242]. Johnson said, 'Parliament may be considered as bound by law as a man is bound where there is nobody to tie the knot. As it is clear that the House of Commons may expel, and expel again and again, why not allow of the power to incapacitate for that parliament, rather than have a perpetual contest kept up between parliament and the people.' Lord Newhaven took the opposite side; but respectfully said, 'I speak with great deference to you, Dr. Johnson; I speak to be instructed.' This had its full effect on my friend. He bowed his head almost as low as the table, to a complimenting nobleman; and called out, 'My Lord, my Lord, I do not desire all this ceremony; let us tell our minds to one another quietly.' After the debate was over, he said, 'I have got lights on the subject to-day, which I had not before.' This was a great deal from him, especially as he had written a pamphlet upon it[1243].

He observed, 'The House of Commons was originally not a privilege of the people, but a check for the Crown on the House of Lords. I remember Henry the Eighth wanted them to do something; they hesitated in the morning, but did it in the afternoon. He told them, "It is well you did; or half your heads should have been upon Temple-bar[1244]." But the House of Commons is now no longer under the power of the crown, and therefore must be bribed.' He added, 'I have no delight in talking of publick affairs[1245].'

Of his fellow-collegian,[1246] the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield, he said, 'Whitefield never drew as much attention as a mountebank does; he did not draw attention by doing better than others, but by doing what was strange.[1247] Were Astley[1248] to preach a sermon standing upon his head on a horse's back, he would collect a multitude to hear him; but no wise man would say he had made a better sermon for that. I never treated Whitefield's ministry with contempt; I believe he did good. He had devoted himself to the lower classes of mankind, and among them he was of use.[1249] But when familiarity and noise claim the praise due to knowledge, art, and elegance, we must beat down such pretensions.'

What I have preserved of his conversation during the remainder of my stay in London at this time, is only what follows: I told him that when I objected to keeping company with a notorious infidel,[1250] a celebrated friend[1251] of ours said to me, 'I do not think that men who live laxly in the world, as you and I do, can with propriety assume such an authority. Dr. Johnson may, who is uniformly exemplary in his conduct. But it is not very consistent to shun an infidel to-day, and get drunk to-morrow.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is sad reasoning. Because a man cannot be right in all things, is he to be right in nothing? Because a man sometimes gets drunk, is he therefore to steal? This doctrine would very soon bring a man to the gallows.'

After all, however, it is a difficult question how far sincere Christians should associate with the avowed enemies of religion; for in the first place, almost every man's mind may be more or less 'corrupted by evil communications;'[1252] secondly, the world may very naturally suppose that they are not really in earnest in religion, who can easily bear its opponents; and thirdly, if the profane find themselves quite well received by the pious, one of the checks upon an open declaration of their infidelity, and one of the probable chances of obliging them seriously to reflect, which their being shunned would do, is removed.

He, I know not why, shewed upon all occasions an aversion to go to Ireland, where I proposed to him that we should make a tour. JOHNSON. 'It is the last place where I should wish to travel.' BOSWELL. 'Should you not like to see Dublin, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir? Dublin is only a worse capital.' BOSWELL. 'Is not the Giant's-Causeway worth seeing?' JOHNSON. 'Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see.'

Yet he had a kindness for the Irish nation, and thus generously expressed himself to a gentleman from that country, on the subject of an UNION which artful Politicians have often had in view—'Do not make an union with us, Sir. We should unite with you, only to rob you. We should have robbed the Scotch, if they had had any thing of which we could have robbed them[1253].'

Of an acquaintance of ours, whose manners and every thing about him, though expensive, were coarse, he said, 'Sir, you see in him vulgar prosperity.'

A foreign minister of no very high talents, who had been in his company for a considerable time quite overlooked, happened luckily to mention that he had read some of his Rambler in Italian, and admired it much. This pleased him greatly; he observed that the title had been translated, Il Genio errante, though I have been told it was rendered more ludicrously, Il Vagabondo;[1254] and finding that this minister gave such a proof of his taste, he was all attention to him, and on the first remark which he made, however simple, exclaimed, 'The Ambassadour says well—His Excellency observes—.' And then he expanded and enriched the little that had been said, in so strong a manner, that it appeared something of consequence.[1255] This was exceedingly entertaining to the company who were present, and many a time afterwards it furnished a pleasant topick of merriment: 'The Ambassadeur says well,' became a laughable term of applause, when no mighty matter had been expressed.

I left London on Monday, October 18, and accompanied Colonel Stuart to
Chester, where his regiment was to lye for some time.

'Mr. Boswell to Dr. Johnson.
'Chester, October 22, 1779.

'My Dear Sir,

'It was not till one o'clock on Monday morning, that Colonel Stuart and I left London; for we chose to bid a cordial adieu to Lord Mountstuart, who was to set out on that day on his embassy to Turin. We drove on excellently, and reached Lichfield in good time enough that night. The Colonel had heard so preferable a character of the George, that he would not put up at the Three Crowns, so that I did not see our host Wilkins.[1256] We found at the George as good accommodation as we could wish to have, and I fully enjoyed the comfortable thought that I was in Lichfield again. Next morning it rained very hard; and as I had much to do in a little time, I ordered a post-chaise, and between eight and nine sallied forth to make a round of visits. I first went to Mr. Green, hoping to have had him to accompany me to all my other friends, but he was engaged to attend the Bishop of Sodor and Man, who was then lying at Lichfield very ill of the gout. Having taken a hasty glance at the additions to Green's museum,[1257] from which it was not easy to break away, I next went to the Friery,[1258] where I at first occasioned some tumult in the ladies, who were not prepared to receive company so early: but my name, which has by wonderful felicity come to be closely associated with yours, soon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb and Miss Adye re-assumed their seats at the breakfast-table, which they had quitted with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of an old acquaintance; and after we had joined in a cordial chorus to your praise, Mrs. Cobb gave me the high satisfaction of hearing that you said, "Boswell is a man who I believe never left a house without leaving a wish for his return." And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell me, that if ever I came to Lichfield, she hoped I would take a bed at the Friery. From thence I drove to Peter Garrick's, where I also found a very flattering welcome. He appeared to me to enjoy his usual chearfulness; and he very kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass a week with him. From Mr. Garrick's, I went to the Palace to wait on Mr. Seward.[1259] I was first entertained by his lady and daughter, he himself being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he desired to see me; and I found him drest in his black gown, with a white flannel night-gown above it; so that he looked like a Dominican friar. He was good-humoured and polite; and under his roof too my reception was very pleasing. I then proceeded to Stow-hill, and first paid my respects to Mrs. Gastrell,[1260] whose conversation I was not willing to quit. But my sand-glass was now beginning to run low, as I could not trespass too long on the Colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me; so I hastened to Mrs. Aston's,[1261] whom I found much better than I feared I should; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, with sincere satisfaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her again; and, as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see me again; for she expressed herself so, that I could not doubt of her being in earnest. What a great key-stone of kindness, my dear Sir, were you that morning! for we were all held together by our common attachment to you. I cannot say that I ever passed two hours with more self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield. Let me not entertain any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will not you confirm me in my persuasion, that he who finds himself so regarded has just reason to be happy?

'We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment. Colonel Stuart and his officers treat me with all the civility I could wish; and I play my part admirably. Laetus aliis, sapiens sibi,[1262] the classical sentence which you, I imagine, invented the other day, is exemplified in my present existence. The Bishop[1263], to whom I had the honour to be known several years ago, shews me much attention; and I am edified by his conversation. I must not omit to tell you, that his Lordship admires, very highly, your Prefaces to the Poets. I am daily obtaining an extension of agreeable acquaintance, so that I am kept in animated variety; and the study of the place itself, by the assistance of books, and of the Bishop, is sufficient occupation. Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I ever saw. But I will not enter upon it at all in this letter.

'How long I shall stay here I cannot yet say. I told a very pleasing young lady[1264], niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw her, "I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it." Do not think me too juvenile. I beg it of you, my dear Sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here, and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with affectionate veneration,

'Most sincerely yours,
'James Boswell.'[1265]

'If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright.'

'To James Boswell, Esq.
'Dear Sir,

'Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If to the delight of such universal kindness of reception, any thing can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.

'I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success: the oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.

'In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog[1266] that worries you at home? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, enquire into the old tenures and old charters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages.[1267] The feudal system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of great anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of publick record; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to image the oeconomy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.[1268]

'We have, I think, once talked of another project, a History of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents.[1269] Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, has told what he[1270] could not find to be true. [1271]

'You may make collections for either of these projects, or for both, as opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The great direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you, is this, Be not solitary; be not idle[1272]: which I would thus modify;—If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.

'There is a letter for you, from
'Your humble servant,
'Sam. Johnson[1273].'

'London, October 27, 1779.'
'To Dr. Samuel Johnson.
'Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779.

'My dear Sir,

'That I should importune you to write to me at Chester, is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nummi[1274], increases in proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter, so full of polite kindness and masterly counsel, came like a large treasure upon me, while already glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circé; for so far was there from being any thing sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only; for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not?—If you please I will send you a copy, or an abridgement of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of felicity.

'The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering. I told him, that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester.[1275] His Lordship bade me tell you, that he should be glad to shew you more of it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known in so many places.

'I arrived here late last night. Our friend the Dean[1276] has been gone from hence some months; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popular). However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to the Bishop[1277], and with him I have breakfasted and dined very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the assizes here, about a year and a half ago; he is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and I believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the Cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month; and was at prayers there in the evening. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a Cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to GOD for granting me.

'The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet, I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines from you.

'Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to shew me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted[1278]. In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the Post-Office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more, my dear Sir,

'Your affectionate
'And obliged humble servant,


'Your last letter was not only kind but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures, nor aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state[1279].

'Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit usquam[1280]. Please yourself with your wife and children, and studies, and practice.

'I have sent a petition[1281] from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to any thing that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.

'If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal, or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.

'How near is the Cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off[1282]. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well.

'Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.

'Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmston, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved; he has not bathed, but hunted[1283].

'At Bolt-court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility[1284]. I have had a cold, but it is gone.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,

'London, Nov. 13, 1779.'


On November 22, and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover;—that after a good deal of enquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart[1285], one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary;—that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's which he had retained; and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence[1286].—That I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter to Lord Chesterfield, and that this memento, like Delenda est Carthago, must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object[1287].

1780: AETAT. 71.—In 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the completion of his Lives of the Poets, upon which he was employed so far as his indolence allowed him to labour[1288].

I wrote to him on January 1, and March 13, sending him my notes of Lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope;—complaining that I had not heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my debt;—that I had suffered again from melancholy;—hoping that he had been in so much better company, (the Poets,) that he had not time to think of his distant friends; for if that were the case, I should have some recompence for my uneasiness;—that the state of my affairs did not admit of my coming to London this year; and begging he would return me Goldsmith's two poems, with his lines marked[1289].

His friend Dr. Lawrence having now suffered the greatest affliction to which a man is liable, and which Johnson himself had felt in the most severe manner; Johnson wrote to him in an admirable strain of sympathy and pious consolation.



'At a time when all your friends ought to shew their kindness, and with a character which ought to make all that know you your friends, you may wonder that you have yet heard nothing from me.

'I have been hindered by a vexatious and incessant cough, for which within these ten days I have been bled once, fasted four or five times, taken physick five times, and opiates, I think, six. This day it seems to remit.

'The loss, dear Sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated[1290]; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.

'Our first recourse in this distressed solitude, is, perhaps for want of habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal beings, one must lose the other; but surely there is a higher and better comfort to be drawn from the consideration of that Providence which watches over all, and a belief that the living and the dead are equally in the hands of GOD, who will reunite those whom he has separated; or who sees that it is best not to reunite.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,

'And most humble servant,


'January 20, 1780.'



'Well, I had resolved to send you the Chesterfield letter; but I will write once again without it. Never impose tasks upon mortals. To require two things is the way to have them both undone.

'For the difficulties which you mention in your affairs I am sorry; but difficulty is now very general: it is not therefore less grievous, for there is less hope of help. I pretend not to give you advice, not knowing the state of your affairs; and general counsels about prudence and frugality would do you little good. You are, however, in the right not to increase your own perplexity by a journey hither; and I hope that by staying at home you will please your father.

'Poor dear Beauclerk[1291]—nec, ut soles, dabis joca[1292]. His wit and his folly, his acuteness and maliciousness, his merriment and reasoning, are now over. Such another will not often be found among mankind. He directed himself to be buried by the side of his mother, an instance of tenderness which I hardly expected[1293]. He has left his children to the care of Lady Di, and if she dies, of Mr. Langton, and of Mr. Leicester his relation, and a man of good character. His library has been offered to sale to the Russian ambassador[1294].

'Dr. Percy, notwithstanding all the noise of the newspapers, has had no literary loss[1295]. Clothes and moveables were burnt to the value of about one hundred pounds; but his papers, and I think his books, were all preserved.

'Poor Mr. Thrale has been in extreme danger from an apoplectical disorder, and recovered, beyond the expectation of his physicians; he is now at Bath, that his mind may be quiet, and Mrs. Thrale and Miss are with him.

'Having told you what has happened to your friends, let me say something to you of yourself. You are always complaining of melancholy, and I conclude from those complaints that you are fond of it. No man talks of that which he is desirous to conceal, and every man desires to conceal that of which he is ashamed.[1296] Do not pretend to deny it; manifestum habemus furem; make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself, never to mention your own mental diseases; if you are never to speak of them, you will think on them but little, and if you think little of them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity; for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think no more, about them[1297].

'Your transaction with Mrs. Stewart gave me great satisfaction; I am much obliged to you for your attention. Do not lose sight of her; your countenance may be of great credit, and of consequence of great advantage to her. The memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind; he was an ingenious and worthy man.

'Please to make my compliments to your lady, and to the young ladies. I should like to see them, pretty loves.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours affectionately,


'April 8, 1780.'

Mrs. Thrale being now at Bath with her husband, the correspondence between Johnson and her was carried on briskly. I shall present my readers with one of her original letters to him at this time, which will amuse them probably more than those well-written but studied epistles which she has inserted in her collection, because it exhibits the easy vivacity of their literary intercourse. It is also of value as a key to Johnson's answer, which she has printed by itself, and of which I shall subjoin extracts.


'I had a very kind letter from you yesterday, dear Sir, with a most circumstantial date[1298]. You took trouble with my circulating letter, [1299] Mr. Evans writes me word, and I thank you sincerely for so doing: one might do mischief else not being on the spot.

'Yesterday's evening was passed at Mrs. Montagu's: there was Mr. Melmoth;[1300] I do not like him though, nor he me; it was expected we should have pleased each other; he is, however, just Tory enough to hate the Bishop of Peterborough[1301] for Whiggism, and Whig enough to abhor you for Toryism.

'Mrs. Montagu flattered him finely; so he had a good afternoon on't. This evening we spend at a concert. Poor Queeney's[1302] sore eyes have just released her; she had a long confinement, and could neither read nor write, so my master[1303] treated her very good-naturedly with the visits of a young woman in this town, a taylor's daughter, who professes musick, and teaches so as to give six lessons a day to ladies, at five and threepence a lesson. Miss Burney says she is a great performer; and I respect the wench for getting her living so prettily; she is very modest and pretty-mannered, and not seventeen years old.

'You live in a fine whirl indeed; if I did not write regularly you would half forget me, and that would be very wrong, for I felt my regard for you in my face last night, when the criticisms were going on.

'This morning it was all connoisseurship; we went to see some pictures painted by a gentleman-artist, Mr. Taylor, of this place; my master makes one, every where, and has got a good dawling[1304] companion to ride with him now. He looks well enough, but I have no notion of health for a man whose mouth cannot be sewed up.[1305] Burney[1306] and I and Queeney teize him every meal he eats, and Mrs. Montagu is quite serious with him; but what can one do? He will eat, I think, and if he does eat I know he will not live; it makes me very unhappy, but I must bear it. Let me always have your friendship. I am, most sincerely, dear Sir,

'Your faithful servant,

'H. L. T.'

'Bath, Friday, April 28.'



'Mr. Thrale never will live abstinently, till he can persuade himself to live by rule[1307].

* * * * *

Encourage, as you can, the musical girl.

'Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected. There is often on both sides a vigilance not over-benevolent; and as attention is strongly excited, so that nothing drops unheeded, any difference in taste or opinion, and some difference where there is no restraint will commonly appear, immediately generates dislike.

'Never let criticisms operate upon your face or your mind; it is very rarely that an authour is hurt by his criticks. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket[1308]; a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed. From the authour of Fitzosborne's Letters I cannot think myself in much danger. I met him only once about thirty years ago, and in some small dispute reduced him to whistle; having not seen him since, that is the last impression. Poor Moore, the fabulist[1309], was one of the company.

'Mrs. Montagu's long stay, against her own inclination, is very convenient. You would, by your own confession, want a companion; and she is par pluribus; conversing with her you may find variety in one[1310].'

'London, May 1, 1780.'

On the and of May I wrote to him, and requested that we might have another meeting somewhere in the North of England, in the autumn of this year.

From Mr. Langton I received soon after this time a letter, of which I extract a passage, relative both to Mr. Beauclerk and Dr. Johnson.

'The melancholy information you have received concerning Mr. Beauclerk's death is true. Had his talents been directed in any sufficient degree as they ought, I have always been strongly of opinion that they were calculated to make an illustrious figure; and that opinion, as it had been in part formed upon Dr. Johnson's judgment, receives more and more confirmation by hearing what, since his death, Dr. Johnson has said concerning them; a few evenings ago, he was at Mr. Vesey's[1311], where Lord Althorpe[1312], who was one of a numerous company there, addressed Dr. Johnson on the subject of Mr. Beauclerk's death, saying, "Our CLUB has had a great loss since we met last." He replied, "A loss, that perhaps the whole nation could not repair!" The Doctor then went on to speak of his endowments, and particularly extolled the wonderful ease with which he uttered what was highly excellent. He said, that "no man ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a look that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look that expressed that it had come." At Mr. Thrale's, some days before when we were talking on the same subject, he said, referring to the same idea of his wonderful facility, "That Beauclerk's talents were those which he had felt himself more disposed to envy, than those of any whom he had known[1313]."

'On the evening I have spoken of above, at Mr. Vesey's, you would have been much gratified, as it exhibited an instance of the high importance in which Dr. Johnson's character is held, I think even beyond any I ever before was witness to. The company consisted chiefly of ladies, among whom were the Duchess Dowager of Portland[1314], the Duchess of Beaufort, whom I suppose from her rank I must name before her mother Mrs. Boscawen, and her elder sister Mrs. Lewson, who was likewise there; Lady Lucan[1315], Lady Clermont, and others of note both for their station and understandings. Among the gentlemen were Lord Althorpe, whom I have before named, Lord Macartney, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Lucan, Mr. Wraxal[1316], whose book you have probably seen, The Tour to the Northern Parts of Europe; a very agreeable ingenious man; Dr. Warren, Mr. Pepys, the Master in Chancery, whom I believe you know, and Dr. Barnard, the Provost of Eton[1317]. As soon as Dr. Johnson was come in and had taken a chair[1318], the company began to collect round him, till they became not less than four, if not five, deep; those behind standing, and listening over the heads of those that were sitting near him[1319]. The conversation for some time was chiefly between Dr. Johnson and the Provost of Eton, while the others contributed occasionally their remarks. Without attempting to detail the particulars of the conversation, which perhaps if I did, I should spin my account out to a tedious length, I thought, my dear Sir, this general account of the respect with which our valued friend was attended to, might be acceptable[1320].'


'May 25, 1780.


'I know your disposition to second any literary attempt, and therefore venture upon the liberty of entreating you to procure from College or University registers, all the dates, or other informations which they can supply, relating to Ambrose Philips, Broome, and Gray, who were all of Cambridge, and of whose lives I am to give such accounts as I can gather. Be pleased to forgive this trouble from, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


While Johnson was thus engaged in preparing a delightful literary entertainment for the world, the tranquillity of the metropolis of Great-Britain was unexpectedly disturbed, by the most horrid series of outrage that ever disgraced a civilised country. A relaxation of some of the severe penal provisions against our fellow-subjects of the Catholic communion had been granted by the legislature, with an opposition so inconsiderable that the genuine mildness of Christianity, united with liberal policy, seemed to have become general in this island[1321]. But a dark and malignant spirit of persecution soon shewed itself, in an unworthy petition for the repeal of the wise and humane statute. That petition was brought forward by a mob, with the evident purpose of intimidation, and was justly rejected. But the attempt was accompanied and followed by such daring violence as is unexampled in history. Of this extraordinary tumult, Dr. Johnson has given the following concise, lively, and just account in his _Letters to Mrs. Thrale[1322]:—

'On Friday[1323], the good Protestants met in Saint George's-Fields, at the summons of Lord George Gordon, and marching to Westminster, insulted the Lords and Commons, who all bore it with great tameness. At night the outrages began by the demolition of the mass-house by Lincoln's-Inn.'

'An exact journal of a week's defiance of government I cannot give you. On Monday, Mr. Strahan[1324], who had been insulted, spoke to Lord Mansfield, who had I think been insulted too, of the licentiousness of the populace; and his Lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity. On Tuesday night[1325] they pulled down Fielding's house, and burnt his goods in the street. They had gutted on Monday Sir George Savile's house, but the building was saved. On Tuesday evening, leaving Fielding's ruins, they went to Newgate to demand their companions who had been seized demolishing the chapel. The keeper could not release them but by the Mayor's permission, which he went to ask; at his return he found all the prisoners released, and Newgate in a blaze. They then went to Bloomsbury, and fastened upon Lord Mansfield's house, which they pulled down; and as for his goods, they totally burnt them[1326]. They have since gone to Caen-wood, but a guard was there before them. They plundered some Papists, I think, and burnt a mass-house[1327] in Moorfields the same night.'

'On Wednesday I walked with Dr. Scott to look at Newgate, and found it in ruins, with the fire yet glowing. As I went by, the Protestants were plundering the Sessions-house at the Old-Bailey. There were not, I believe, a hundred; but they did their work at leisure, in full security, without sentinels, without trepidation, as men lawfully employed, in full day. Such is the cowardice of a commercial place. On Wednesday they broke open the Fleet, and the King's-Bench, and the Marshalsea, and Wood-street Compter, and Clerkenwell Bridewell, and released all the prisoners[1328].'

'At night they set fire to the Fleet, and to the King's-Bench, and I know not how many other places; and one might see the glare of conflagration fill the sky from many parts. The sight was dreadful. Some people were threatened: Mr. Strahan advised me to take care of myself. Such a time of terrour you have been happy in not seeing.'

'The King said in Council, "That the magistrates had not done their duty, but that he would do his own;" and a proclamation was published, directing us to keep our servants within doors, as the peace was now to be preserved by force. The soldiers were sent out to different parts, and the town is now [June 9] at quiet.'

'The soldiers[1329] are stationed so as to be every where within call: there is no longer any body of rioters, and the individuals are hunted to their holes, and led to prison; Lord George was last night sent to the Tower. Mr. John Wilkes was this day[1330] in my neighbourhood, to seize the publisher of a seditious paper.'

'Several chapels have been destroyed, and several inoffensive Papists have been plundered; but the high sport was to burn the gaols. This was a good rabble trick. The debtors and the criminals were all set at liberty; but of the criminals, as has always happened, many are already retaken; and two pirates have surrendered themselves, and it is expected that they will be pardoned.'

'Government now acts again with its proper force; and we are all[1331] under the protection of the King and the law. I thought that it would be agreeable to you and my master to have my testimony to the publick security; and that you would sleep more quietly when I told you that you are safe.'

'There has, indeed, been an universal panick from which the King was the first that recovered. Without the concurrence of his ministers, or the assistance of the civil magistrate, he put the soldiers in motion, and saved the town from calamities, such as a rabble's government must naturally produce.'

'The publick[1332] has escaped a very heavy calamity. The rioters attempted the Bank on Wednesday night, but in no great number; and like other thieves, with no great resolution. Jack Wilkes headed the party that drove them away. It is agreed, that if they had seized the Bank on Tuesday, at the height of the panick, when no resistance had been prepared, they might have carried irrecoverably away whatever they had found. Jack, who was always zealous for order and decency,[1333] declares that if he be trusted with power, he will not leave a rioter alive. There is, however, now no longer any need of heroism or bloodshed; no blue ribband[1334] is any longer worn[1335].'

Such was the end of this miserable sedition, from which London was delivered by the magnanimity of the Sovereign himself. Whatever some may maintain, I am satisfied that there was no combination or plan, either domestic or foreign; but that the mischief spread by a gradual contagion of frenzy, augmented by the quantities of fermented liquors, of which the deluded populace possessed themselves in the course of their depredations.

I should think myself very much to blame, did I here neglect to do justice to my esteemed friend Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, who long discharged a very important trust with an uniform intrepid firmness, and at the same time a tenderness and a liberal charity, which entitle him to be recorded with distinguished honour[1336].

Upon this occasion, from the timidity and negligence of magistracy on the one hand, and the almost incredible exertions of the mob on the other, the first prison of this great country was laid open, and the prisoners set free; but that Mr. Akerman, whose house was burnt, would have prevented all this, had proper aid been sent to him in due time, there can be no doubt.

Many years ago, a fire broke out in the brick part which was built as an addition to the old gaol of Newgate. The prisoners were in consternation and tumult, calling out, 'We shall be burnt—we shall be burnt! Down with the gate—down with the gate!' Mr. Akerman hastened to them, shewed himself at the gate, and having, after some confused vociferation of 'Hear him—hear him!' obtained a silent attention, he then calmly told them, that the gate must not go down; that they were under his care, and that they should not be permitted to escape: but that he could assure them, they need not be afraid of being burnt, for that the fire was not in the prison, properly so called, which was strongly built with stone; and that if they would engage to be quiet, he himself would come in to them, and conduct them to the further end of the building, and would not go out till they gave him leave. To this proposal they agreed; upon which Mr. Akerman, having first made them fall back from the gate, went in, and with a determined resolution, ordered the outer turnkey upon no account to open the gate, even though the prisoners (though he trusted they would not) should break their word, and by force bring himself to order it. 'Never mind me, (said he,) should that happen.' The prisoners peaceably followed him, while he conducted them through passages of which he had the keys, to the extremity of the gaol which was most distant from the fire. Having, by this very judicious conduct, fully satisfied them that there was no immediate risk, if any at all, he then addressed them thus: 'Gentlemen, you are now convinced that I told you true. I have no doubt that the engines will soon extinguish this fire; if they should not, a sufficient guard will come, and you shall all be taken out and lodged in the Compters[1337]. I assure you, upon my word and honour, that I have not a farthing insured. I have left my house, that I might take care of you. I will keep my promise, and stay with you if you insist upon it; but if you will allow me to go out and look after my family and property, I shall[1338] be obliged to you.' Struck with his behaviour, they called out, 'Master Akerman, you have done bravely; it was very kind in you: by all means go and take care of your own concerns.' He did so accordingly, while they remained, and were all preserved.

Johnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend, speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this eulogy upon his character:—'He who has long had constantly in his view the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his disposition, must have had it originally in a great degree, and continued to cultivate it very carefully[1339].'

In the course of this month my brother David waited upon Dr. Johnson, with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should be lying ready on his arrival in London.


'Edinburgh, April 29, 1780.


'This will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to "stand by the old castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword;" that romantick family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with complacency upon the spot. I trust that twelve years of absence have not lessened his feudal attachment; and that you will find him worthy of being introduced to your acquaintance.

'I have the honour to be,

'With affectionate veneration,

'My dear Sir,

'Your most faithful humble servant,


Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a letter to Mrs. Thrale[1340]: 'I have had with me a brother of Boswell's, a Spanish merchant,[1341] whom the war has driven from his residence at Valentia; he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch.'



'More years[1342] than I have any delight to reckon, have past since you and I saw one another; of this, however, there is no reason for making any reprehensory complaint—Sic fata ferunt[1343]. But methinks there might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say, that I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees Southwards: a softer climate may do you both good; winter is coming on; and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of amusement than Aberdeen.

'My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is I doubt now but weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much better, and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well; and Mr. Davies has got great success as an authour,[1344] generated by the corruption of a bookseller.[1345] More news I have not to tell you, and therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know not whether you much wish to hear[1346], that I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,
August 21, 1780.'



'I find you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have resolved not to write till you are written to; it is but a peevish humour, but you shall have your way.

'I have sat at home in Bolt-court, all the summer, thinking to write the Lives, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them, however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.

'Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmston; but I have been at neither place. I would have gone to Lichfield, if I could have had time, and I might have had time if I had been active; but I have missed much, and done little.

'In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great danger; the mob was pacified at their first invasion, with about fifty pounds in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the soldiers[1347]. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained them a fortnight; he was so frighted that he removed part of his goods. Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country.

'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn[1348]; it is now about the time when we were travelling. I have, however, better health than I had then, and hope you and I may yet shew ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa[1349]. In the mean time let us play no trick, but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.

'The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar, of Aberdeen, who has written and published a very ingenious book[1350], and who I think has a kindness for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.

'I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son is become a learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I never shall persuade to love me. When the Lives are done, I shall send them to complete her collection, but must send them in paper, as for want of a pattern, I cannot bind them to fit the rest.

'I am, Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'London, Aug. 21, 1780.'

This year he wrote to a young clergyman[1351] in the country, the following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to Divines in general:—

'Dear Sir,

'Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence shewed me a letter, in which you make mention of me: I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your letter suggested to me.

'You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without some peculiarity of manner: but that manner may be good or bad, and a little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.

'Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than yours will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authours from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible to forget.

'My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burthen your mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise, in the first words that occur; and, when you have matter, you will easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary; for by habit, your thoughts and diction will flow together[1352].

'The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgement of the writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its proper place.

'What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your parish; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the parson. The Dean of Carlisle[1353], who was then a little rector in Northamptonshire[1354], told me, that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in a parish by the civil or savage manner of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was civilised by a decayed gentlewoman, who came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr. Wheeler[1355] of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and, when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved[1356]. Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I pray GOD to bless you.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780.'

My next letters to him were dated August 24, September 6, and October 1, and from them I extract the following passages:—

'My brother David and I find the long indulged fancy of our comfortable meeting again at Auchinleck, so well realised, that it in some degree confirms the pleasing hope of O! preclarum diem![1357] in a future state.'

'I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a peevish humour, or playing tricks; you will recollect that when I confessed to you, that I had once been intentionally silent to try your regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again[1358].'

'I rejoice to hear of your good state of health; I pray GOD to continue it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added to my life, to have ten taken from yours; I mean, that I would be ten years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being, trusting always, that in another state, we shall meet never to be separated. Of this we can form no notion; but the thought, though indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear[1359].'

'The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you give me no account of your own situation, during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it by DR. JOHNSON would be a great painting[1360]; you might write another London, a Poem.'

'I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, "let us keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power;" my revered Friend! how elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson! All that you have said in grateful praise of Mr. Walmsley,[1361] I have long thought of you; but we are both Tories,[1362] which has a very general influence upon our sentiments. I hope that you will agree to meet me at York, about the end of this month; or if you will come to Carlisle, that would be better still, in case the Dean be there. Please to consider, that to keep each other's kindness, we should every year have that free and intimate communication of mind which can be had only when we are together. We should have both our solemn and our pleasant talk.'

'I write now for the third time, to tell you that my desire for our meeting this autumn, is much increased. I wrote to Squire Godfrey Bosville[1363], my Yorkshire chief, that I should, perhaps, pay him a visit, as I was to hold a conference with Dr. Johnson at York. I give you my word and honour that I said not a word of his inviting you; but he wrote to me as follows:—

'"I need not tell you I shall be happy to see you here the latter end of this month, as you propose; and I shall likewise be in hopes that you will persuade Dr. Johnson to finish the conference here. It will add to the favour of your own company, if you prevail upon such an associate, to assist your observations. I have often been entertained with his writings, and I once belonged to a club of which he was a member, and I never spent an evening there, but I heard something from him well worth remembering."

'We have thus, my dear Sir, good comfortable quarters in the neighbourhood of York, where you may be assured we shall be heartily welcome. I pray you then resolve to set out; and let not the year 1780 be a blank in our social calendar, and in that record of wisdom and wit, which I keep with so much diligence, to your honour, and the instruction and delight of others.'

Mr. Thrale had now another contest for the representation in parliament of the borough of Southwark, and Johnson kindly lent him his assistance, by writing advertisements and letters for him. I shall insert one as a specimen:



'A new Parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of independent constituents; superiour to fear, hope, and expectation, who has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the Hall, and hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.

'I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough.

'I am, Gentlemen,

'Your most faithful

'And obedient servant,


'Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.'

On his birth-day, Johnson has this note:—

'I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with more strength of body, and greater vigour of mind, than I think is common at that age[1364].'

But still he complains of sleepless nights and idle days, and forgetfulness, or neglect of resolutions. He thus pathetically expresses himself,—

'Surely I shall not spend my whole life with my own total disapprobation[1365].'

Mr. Macbean, whom I have mentioned more than once, as one of Johnson's humble friends, a deserving but unfortunate man, being now oppressed by age and poverty, Johnson solicited the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, to have him admitted into the Charterhouse. I take the liberty to insert his Lordship's answer[1366], as I am eager to embrace every occasion of augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my illustrious friend:—


'London, October 24, 1780.


'I have this moment received your letter, dated the 19th, and returned from Bath.

'In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux[1367], without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to the establishment of the House, the opportunity of making the charity so good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if you'll favour me with notice of it, I will try to recommend him to the place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate.

'I am, Sir, with great regard,

'Your most faithful

'And obedient servant,




'I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.

'Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election;[1369] he is now going to Brighthelmston, and expects me to go with him; and how long I shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall go, and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness, and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.

'I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.

'I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father received him kindly, but not fondly; however, you seem to have lived well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as you can.

'You lately told me of your health: I can tell you in return, that my health has been for more than a year past, better than it has been for many years before. Perhaps it may please GOD to give us some time together before we are parted.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'October 17, 1780.'


(Page 314.)

The alehouse in the city where Johnson used to go and sit with George Psalmanazar was, no doubt, the club in Old Street, where he met also 'the metaphysical tailor,' the uncle of Hoole the poet (post, under March 30, 1783). Psalmanazar is mentioned a third time by Boswell (post, May 15, 1784) in a passage borrowed from Hawkins's edition of Johnson's Works, xi. 206, where it is stated that 'Johnson said: "He had never seen the close of the life of any one that he wished so much his own to resemble as that of him, for its purity and devotion." He was asked whether he ever contradicted him. "I should as soon," said he, "have thought of contradicting a bishop." When he was asked whether he had ever mentioned Formosa before him, he said, "he was afraid to mention even China."' We learn from Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 547, that 'Psalmanazar lived in Ironmonger Row, Old Street; in the neighbourhood whereof he was so well known and esteemed, that, as Dr. Hawkesworth once told me, scarce any person, even children, passed him without shewing him the usual signs of respect.' In the list of the writers of the Universal History that Johnson drew up a few days before his death his name is given as the historian of the Jews, Gauls, and Spaniards (post, November, 1784). According to Mrs. Piozzi (Anecdotes, p. 175):—'His pious and patient endurance of a tedious illness, ending in an exemplary death, confirmed the strong impression his merit had made upon the mind of Mr. Johnson. "It is so very difficult," said he always, "for a sick man not to be a scoundrel."' Johnson, in Prayers and Meditations, p. 102, mentions him as a man 'whose life was, I think, uniform.' Smollett, in Humphry Clinker (in Melford's Letter of June 10), describes him as one 'who, after having drudged half a century in the literary mill, in all the simplicity and abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few booksellers, just sufficient to keep him from the parish.' A writer in the Annual Register for 1764 (ii. 71), speaking of the latter part of his life, says:—'He was concerned in compiling and writing works of credit, and lived exemplarily for many years.' He died a few days before that memorable sixteenth day of May 1763, when Boswell first met Johnson. It is a pity that no record has been kept of the club meetings in Ironmonger Row, for then we should have seen Johnson in a new light. Johnson in an alehouse club, with a metaphysical tailor on one side of him, and an aged writer on the other side of him, 'who spoke English with the city accent and coarsely enough,'[1370] and whom he would never venture to contradict, is a Johnson that we cannot easily imagine.

Of the greater part of Psalmanazar's life we know next to nothing—little, I believe, beyond the few facts that I have here gathered together. His early years he has described in his Memoirs. That he started as one of the most shameless impostors, and that he remained a hypocrite and a cheat till he was fully forty, if not indeed longer, his own narrative shows. That for many years he lived laboriously, frugally, and honestly seems to be no less certain. How far his Memoirs are truthful is somewhat doubtful. In them he certainly confesses the impudent trick which he had played in his youth, when he passed himself off as a Formosan convert. He wished, he writes, 'to undeceive the world by unravelling that whole mystery of iniquity' (p. 5). He lays bare roguery enough, and in a spirit, it seems, of real sorrow. Nevertheless there are passages which are not free from the leaven of hypocrisy, and there are, I suspect, statements which are at least partly false. Johnson, indeed, looked upon him as little less than a saint; but then, as Sir Joshua Reynolds tells us, though 'Johnson was not easily imposed upon by professions to honesty and candour, he appeared to have little suspicion of hypocrisy in religion.'[1371] It was in the year 1704 that Psalmanazar published his Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa. So gross is the forgery that it almost passes belief that it was widely accepted as a true narrative. He gave himself out as a native of that island and a convert to Christianity. He lied so foolishly as to maintain that in the Academies of Formosa Greek was studied (p. 290). He asserted also that in an island that is only about half as large as Ireland 18,000 boys were sacrificed every year (p. 176). But his readers were for the most part only too willing to be deceived; for in Protestant England his abuse of the Jesuits covered a multitude of lies. Ere he had been three months in London, he was, he writes (Memoirs, p. 179), 'cried up for a prodigy, and not only the domestic, but even the foreign papers had helped to blaze forth many things in his praise.' He was aided in his fraud by the Rev. Dr. Innes, or Innys, a clergyman of the English Church, who by means of his interesting convert pushed himself into the notice of Compton, Bishop of London, and before long was made chaplain-general to the English forces in Portugal (Memoirs, p. 191). The same man, as Boswell tells us (ante, i. 359), by another impudent cheat, a second time obtained 'considerable promotion.' Psalmanazar's book soon reached a second edition, 'besides the several versions it had abroad' (p. 5). Yet it is very dull reading—just such a piece of work as might be looked for from a young man of little fancy, but gifted with a strong memory. Nevertheless, the author's credit lasted so long, that for many years he lived on a subscription 'which was founded on a belief of his being a Formosan and a real convert to the Church of England' (p. 208). He was even sent to Oxford to study, and had rooms in one of the colleges—Christ Church, if I mistake not (p. 186). It was not only as a student that he was sent by his dupes to that ancient seat of learning; the Bishop of London hoped that he would 'teach the Formosan language to a set of gentlemen who were afterwards to go with him to convert those people to Christianity' (p. 161).

While he was living the life of a lying scoundrel, he was, he says (p. 192), 'happily restrained by Divine Grace,' so that 'all sense of remorse was not extinguished,' and there was no fall into 'downright infidelity.' At length he picked up Law's Serious Call, which moved him, as later on it moved better men (ante, i. 68). Step by step he got into a way of steady work, and lived henceforth a laborious and honest life. It was in the year 1728, thirty-five years before his death, that he began, he says, to write the narrative of his imposture (p. 59). A dangerous illness and the dread of death had deeply moved him, and filled him with the desire of leaving behind 'a faithful narrative' which would 'undeceive the world.' Nineteen years later, though he did not publish his narrative, he made a public confession of his guilt. In the unsigned article on Formosa, which he wrote in 1747 for Bowen's Complete System of Geography (ii. 251), he says, 'Psalmanaazaar [so he had at one time written his name] hath long since ingenuously owned the contrary [of the truthfulness of his narrative] though not in so public a manner, as he might perhaps have done, had not such an avowment been likely to have affected some few persons who for private ends took advantage of his youthful vanity to encourage him in an imposture, which he might otherwise never had the thought, much less the confidence, to have carried on. These persons being now dead, and out of all danger of being hurt by it, he now gives us leave to assure the world that the greatest part of that account was fabulous … and that he designs to leave behind him a faithful account of that unhappy step, and other particulars of his life leading to it, to be published after his death.'

In his Memoirs he will not, he writes (p. 59), give any account 'of his real country or family.' Yet it is quite clear from his own narrative that he was born in the south of France. 'His pronunciation of French had,' it was said, 'a spice of the Gascoin accent, and in that provincial dialect he was so masterly that none but those born in the country could excel him' (Preface, p. 1). If a town can be found that answers to all that he tells of his birth-place, his whole account may be true; but the circumstances that he mentions seem inconsistent. The city in which he was born was twenty-four miles from an archiepiscopal city in which there was a college of Jesuits (p. 67), and about sixty miles from 'a noble great city full of gentry and nobility, of coaches, and all kinds of grandeur,' the seat of a great university (pp. 76, 83). When he left the great city for Avignon he speaks of himself as 'going down to Avignon' (p. 87). Thence he started on a pilgrimage to Rome, and in order to avoid his native place, after he had gone no great way, 'he wheeled about to the left, to leave the place at some twenty or thirty miles distance' (p. 101). He changed his mind, however, and returned home. Thence he set off to join his father, who was 'near 500 miles off' in Germany (p. 60). 'The direct route was through the great university city' and Lyons (p. 104). His birth-place then, if his account is true, was on the road from Avignon to Rome, sixty miles from a great university city and southwards of it, for through this university city passed the direct road from his home to Lyons. It was, moreover, sixty miles from an archiepiscopal city. I do not think that such a place can be found. He says (p. 59) that he thought himself 'obliged out of respect to his country and family to conceal both, it being but too common, though unjust, to censure them for the crimes of private persons.' The excuse seems unsatisfactory, for he tells enough to shew that he came from the South of France, while for his family there was no need of care. It was, he writes, 'ancient but decayed,' and he was the only surviving child. Of his father and mother he had heard nothing since he started on the career of a pious rogue. They must have been dead very many years by the time his Memoirs were given to the world. His story shews that at all events for the first part of his life he had been one of the vainest of men, and vanity is commonly found joined with a love of mystery. He is not consistent, moreover, in his dates. On April 23, 1752, he was in the 73rd year of his age (p. 7); so that he was born in either 1679 or 1680. When he joined his father he was 'hardly full sixteen years old' (p. 112); yet it was a few years after the Peace of Ryswick, which was signed on September 22, 1697. He was, he says, 'but near twenty' when he wrote his History of Formosa (p. 184). This was in the year 1704.

With his father he stayed but a short time, and then set out rambling northwards. At Avignon, by shameless lying, he had obtained a pass 'as a young student in theology, of Irish extract [sic] who had left his country for the sake of religion' (p. 98). It was wonderful that his fraud had escaped detection there, for he had kept his own name, 'because it had something of quality in it' (p. 99). He now resolved on a more impudent pretence; for 'passing as an Irishman and a sufferer for religion, did not only,' he writes, 'expose me to the danger of being discovered, but came short of the merit and admiration I had expected from it' (p. 112). He thereupon gave himself out as a Japanese convert, and forged a fresh pass, 'clapping to it the old seal' (p. 116). He went through different adventures, and at last enlisted in the army of the Elector of Cologne—an 'unhappy herd, destitute of all sense of religion and shamefacedness.' He got his discharge, but enlisted a second time, 'passing himself off for a Japanese and a heathen, under the name of Salmanazar' (pp. 133-141). Later on he altered it, he says, 'by the addition of a letter or two to make it somewhat different from that mentioned in the Book of Kings' (Shalmaneser, II Kings, xvii. 3). In his Description of Formosa he wrote it Psalmanaazaar, and in later life Psalmanazar. In his vanity he invented 'an awkward show of worship, turning his face to the rising or setting sun, and pleased to be taken notice of for so doing' (p. 144). He had moreover 'the ambition of passing for a moral heathen' (p. 147). By way of singularity he next took to living altogether upon raw flesh, roots, and herbs (p. 163).

It was when he was on garrison duty at Sluys that he became acquainted with Innes, who was chaplain to a Scotch regiment that was in the pay of the Dutch (p. 148). This man found in him a tool ready made to his hand. He had at once seen through his roguery, but he used his knowledge only to plunge him deeper in his guilt. By working on his fears and his vanity and by small bribes he induced him to profess himself a convert to the Church of England and to submit to baptism (p. 158). He brought him over to London, and introduced him to the Bishop of London, and to Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury (pp. 164, 179). Psalmanazar spoke Latin fluently, but 'his Grace had either forgotten his, or being unused to the foreign pronunciation was forced to have it interpreted to him by Dr. Innes in English' (p. 178). The young impostor everywhere gave himself out as a Formosan who had been entrapped by a Jesuit priest, and brought to Avignon. 'There I could expect,' he wrote, 'no mercy from the Inquisitors, if I had not in hypocrisy professed their religion' (History of Formosa, p. 25). He was kept, he says, in a kind of custody, 'but I trusted under God to my heels' (p. 24). It was Innes who made him write this History.

In the confession of his fraud Psalmanazar seems to keep back nothing. His repentance appears to be sincere, and his later life, there can be little question, was regular. Yet, as I have said, even his confessions apparently are not free from the old leaven of hypocrisy. It is indeed very hard, if not altogether impossible, for a man who has passed forty years and more as a lying hypocrite altogether to 'clear his mind of cant.' In writing of the time when he was still living the life of a lying scoundrel, he says:—'I have great reason to acknowledge it the greatest mercy that could befall me, that I was so well grounded in the principles and evidence of the Christian religion, that neither the conversation of the then freethinkers, as they loved to stile themselves, and by many of whom I was severely attacked, nor the writings of Hobbes, Spinosa, &c. against the truth of Divine revelation could appear to me in any other light than as the vain efforts of a dangerous set of men to overturn a religion, the best founded and most judiciously calculated to promote the peace and happiness of mankind, both temporal and eternal' (Memoirs, p. 192). Two pages further on he writes, a little boastfully it seems, of having had 'some sort of gallantry with the fair sex; with many of whom, even persons of fortune and character, of sense, wit, and learning, I was become,' he continues, 'a great favourite, and might, if I could have overcome my natural sheepishness and fear of a repulse, have been more successful either by way of matrimony or intrigue.' He goes on:—'I may truly say, that hardly any man who might have enjoyed so great a variety ever indulged himself in so few instances of the unlawful kind as I have done.' He concludes this passage in his writings by 'thankfully acknowledging that there must have been some secret providence that kept me from giving such way to unlawful amours as I might otherwise have done, to the ruin of my health, circumstances,' &c.

When he came to wish for an honest way of life he was beset with difficulties. 'What a deadly wound,' he writes, 'must such an unexpected confession have given to my natural vanity, and what a mortification would it have been to such sincere honest people [as my friends] to hear it from my mouth!' (p. 213.) This was natural enough. That he long hesitated, like a coward, on the brink is not to be cast in his teeth, seeing that at last he took the plunge. But then in speaking of the time when he weakly repeated, and to use his own words, 'as it were confirmed anew,' his old falsehoods, he should not have written that 'as the assurance of God's mercy gave me good grounds to hope, so that hope inspired me with a design to use all proper means to obtain it, and leave the issue of it to his Divine Providence' (p. 214). The only proper means to obtain God's mercy was at once to own to all the world that he had lied. It is only the Tartuffes and the Holy Willies who, whilst they persist in their guilt, talk of leaving the issue to the Divine Providence of God.

Since this Appendix was in type I have learnt, through the kindness of Mr. C.E. Doble, the editor of Hearne's Remarks and Collections, ed. 1885, that a passage in that book (i. 271), confirms my conjecture that Psalmanazar was lodged in Christ Church when at Oxford. Hearne says (July 9, 1706):—'Mr. Topping of Christ Church … also tells me that Salmanezzer, the famous Formosan, when he left Christ Church (where he resided while in Oxon) left behind him a Book in MSt., wherein a distinct acct was given of the Consular and Imperial coyns by himself.' Mr. Doble has also pointed out to me in the first edition of the Spectator the following passage at the end of No. 14:—


'On the first of April will be performed at the Play-house in the Hay-market an opera call'd The Cruelty of Atreus. N.B. The Scene wherein Thyestes eats his own children is to be performed by the famous Mr. Psalmanazar lately arrived from Formosa: The whole Supper being set to Kettle-drums.'

* * * * *



(Page 352).

On the passage in the text Macaulay in his Review of Croker's Edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson partly founds the following criticism:—

'Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced him to a state of society completely new to him; and a salutary suspicion of his own deficiencies seems on that occasion to have crossed his mind for the first time. He confessed, in the last paragraph of his Journey, that his thoughts on national manners were the thoughts of one who had seen but little, of one who had passed his time almost wholly in cities. This feeling, however, soon passed away. It is remarkable that to the last he entertained a fixed contempt for all those modes of life and those studies which tend to emancipate the mind from the prejudices of a particular age or a particular nation. Of foreign travel and of history he spoke with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance. "What does a man learn by travelling? Is Beauclerk the better for travelling? What did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there was a snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?"' Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843, i. 403.

In another passage (p. 400) Macaulay says:—

'Johnson was no master of the great science of human nature. He had studied, not the genus man, but the species Londoner. Nobody was ever so thoroughly conversant with all the forms of life and all the shades of moral and intellectual character which were to be seen from Islington to the Thames, and from Hyde-Park corner to Mile-end green. But his philosophy stopped at the first turnpike-gate. Of the rural life of England he knew nothing, and he took it for granted that everybody who lived in the country was either stupid or miserable.'

Of the two assertions that Macaulay makes in these two passages, while one is for the most part true, the other is utterly and grossly false. Johnson had no contempt for foreign travel. That curiosity which animated his eager mind in so many parts of learning did not fail him, when his thoughts turned to the great world outside our narrow seas. It was his poverty that confined him so long to the neighbourhood of Temple Bar. He must in these early days have sometimes felt with Arviragus when he says:—

'What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December, how
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing.'

With his pension his wanderings at once began. His friendship with the Thrales gave them a still wider range. His curiosity, which in itself was always eager, was checked in his more prosperous circumstances by his years, his natural unwillingness at any one moment to make an effort, and by the want of travelling companions who were animated by a spirit of inquiry and of enterprise equal to his own. He did indeed travel much more than is commonly thought, and was far less frequently to be seen rolling along Fleet-street or stemming the full tide of human existence at Charing Cross than his biographers would have us believe.

The following table, imperfect though it must necessarily be, shows how large a part of his life he passed outside 'the first turnpike-gate,' and beyond the smoke of London:—

1709-1736. The first twenty-seven years of his life he spent in small country towns or villages—Lichfield, Stourbridge, Oxford, Market-Bosworth, Birmingham. So late as 1781 Lichfield did not contain 4,000 inhabitants (Harwood's History of Lichfield, p. 380); eight years later it was reckoned that a little over 8,000 people dwelt in Oxford (Parker's Early History of Oxford, ed. 1885, p. 229). In 1732 or 1733 Birmingham, when Johnson first went to live there, had not, I suppose, a population of 10,000. Its growth was wonderfully rapid. Between 1770 and 1797 its inhabitants increased from 30,000 to nearly 80,000 (Birmingham Directory for 1780, p. xx, and A Brief History of Birmingham, p. 8).

1736-7. The first eighteen months of his married life he lived quite in the country at Edial, two miles from Lichfield. Ante, i. 97.

1737. He was twenty-eight years old when he removed to London. Ante, i. 110.

1739. He paid a visit to Appleby in Leicestershire and to Ashbourn. Ante, i. 82, 133 note 1.

1754. Oxford. July and August, about five weeks. Ante, i. 270, note 5.

1759. Oxford. July, length of visit not mentioned. Ante, i. 347.

1761-2. Lichfield. Winter, a visit of five days. Ante, i. 370.

1762. In the summer of this year his pension was granted, and he henceforth had the means of travelling. Ante, i. 372.

A trip to Devonshire, from Aug. 16 to Sept. 26; six weeks. Ante, i. 377.

Oxford. December. 'I am going for a few days or weeks to Oxford.' Letter of Dec. 21, 1762. Croker's Boswell, p. 129.

1763. Harwich. August, a few days. Ante, i. 464.

Oxford. October, length of visit not mentioned. A letter dated Oxford,
Oct. 27 [1763]. Croker's Boswell, p. 161.

1764. Langton in Lincolnshire, part of January and February. Ante, i. 476.

Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire, part of June, July, and August.
Croker's Boswell, p. 166, note, and ante, i. 486.

Oxford, October. Letter to Mr. Strahan dated Oxford, Oct. 24, 1764. Post, Addenda to vol. v.

Either this year or the next Johnson made the acquaintance of the Thrales. For the next seventeen years he had 'an apartment appropriated to him in the Thrales' villa at Streatham' (ante, i. 493), a handsome house that stood in a small park. Streatham was a quiet country-village, separated by wide commons from London, on one of which a highwayman had been hanged who had there robbed Mr. Thrale (ante, iii. 239, note 2). According to Mrs. Piozzi Johnson commonly spent the middle of the week at their house, coming on the Monday night and returning to his own home on the Saturday (post, iv. 169, note 3). Miss Burney, in 1778, describes him 'as living almost wholly at Streatham' (ante, i. 493, note 3). No doubt she was speaking chiefly of the summer half of the year, for in the winter time the Thrales would be often in their town house, where he also had his apartment. Mr. Strahan complained of his being at Streatham 'in a great measure absorbed from the society of his old friends' (ante, iii. 225). He used to call it 'my home' (ante, i. 493, note 3).

1765. Cambridge, early in the year; a short visit. Ante, i. 487.

Brighton, autumn; a short visit. Piozzi's Anec. p. 126, and Piozzi
, i. 1.

1766. Streatham, summer and autumn; more than three months. Ante, ii. 25, and Pr. and Med. p. 71.

Oxford, autumn; a month. Ante, ii. 25.

1767. Lichfield, summer and autumn; 'near six months.' Ante, ii. 30, and Piozzi Letters, i. 4, 5.

1768. Oxford, spring; several weeks. Piozzi Letters, i. 6-15.

Townmalling in Kent, September; apparently a short visit. Pr. and Med. p. 81.

1769. Oxford, from at least May 18 to July 7. Piozzi Letters, i. 19-23, and ante, ii. 67.

Lichfield and Ashbourn, August; a short visit. Piozzi Letters, i. 24, and ante, ii. 67.

Brighton, part of August and September; some weeks. Ante, ii. 68, 70, and Croker's Boswell, p. 198, letter dated 'Brighthelmstone. August 26, 1769.'

1770. Lichfield and Ashbourn, apparently whole of July. Piozzi Letters, i. 26-32.

1771. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from June 20 to after Aug. 5. Ante, ii. 141, 142, and Piozzi Letters, i. 36-54.

1772. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from about Oct. 15 to early in December. Piozzi Letters, i. 55-69.

1773. Oxford, April; a hurried visit. Ante, ii. 235, note 2.

Tour to Scotland from Aug. 6 to Nov. 26. Ante, ii. 265, 268.

Oxford, part of November and December. Ante, ii. 268.

1774. Tour to North Wales (Derbyshire, Chester, Conway, Anglesey, Snowdon, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Birmingham, Oxford, Beaconsfield) from July 5 to Sept. 30. Ante, ii. 285, and post, v. 427.

1775. Oxford, March; a short visit. Piozzi Letters, i. 212.

Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from end of May till some time in August. Ante, ii. 381, and Piozzi Letters, i. 223-301.

Brighton; apparently a brief visit in September. Croker's Boswell, p. 459.

A tour to Paris (going by Calais and Rouen and returning by Compiegne, St. Quintin, and Calais), from Sept. 15 to Nov. 12. Ante, ii. 384, 401.

1776. Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, March 19-29. (The trip was cut short by young Thrale's death.) Ante, ii. 438, and iii. 4.

Bath, from the middle of April to the beginning of May. Ante, iii. 44, 51.

Brighton, part of September and October; full seven weeks. Ante, iii. 92.

1777. Oxford, Lichfield, and Ashbourn, from about July 28 to about Nov. 6. Ante, iii. 129, 210, and Piozzi Letters, i. 348-396 and ii. 1-16 (the letter of Oct. 3, i. 396, is wrongly dated, as is shown by the mention of Foote's death).

Brighton, November; a visit of three days. Ante, iii. 210.

1778. Warley Camp, in Essex, September; about a week. Ante, iii. 360.

1779. Lichfield, Ashbourn, from May 20 to end of June. Ante, iii. 395, and Piozzi Letters, ii. 44-55.

Epsom, September; a few days. Pr. and Med. pp. 181, 225.

1780. Brighton. October. MS. letter dated Oct. 26, 1780 to Mr. Nichols in the British Museum.

1781. Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 11. Post, iv. 135, and Croker's Boswell, p. 699, note 5.

1782. Oxford, June; about ten days. Post, iv. 151, and Piozzi Letters, ii. 243-249.

Brighton, part of October and November. Post, iv. 159.

1783. Rochester, July; about a fortnight. Post, iv. 233.

Heale near Salisbury, part of August and September; three weeks. Post, iv. 233, 239.

1784. Oxford, June; a fortnight. Post, iv. 283, 311.

Lichfield, Ashbourn, Oxford, from July 13 to Nov. 16. Post, iv. 353, 377.

That he was always eager to see the world is shown by many a passage in his writings and by the testimony of his biographers. How Macaulay, who knew his Boswell so well, could have accused him of 'speaking of foreign travel with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance' would be a puzzle indeed, did we not know how often this great rhetorician was by the stream of his own mighty rhetoric swept far away from the unadorned strand of naked truth. To his unjust and insulting attack I shall content myself with opposing the following extracts which with some trouble I have collected:—

1728 or 1729. Johnson in his undergraduate days was one day overheard saying:—

'I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I'll go and visit the Universities abroad. I'll go to France and Italy. I'll go to Padua.' Ante, i. 73.

1734. 'A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity, nor is that curiosity ever more agreeably or usefully employed than in examining the laws and customs of foreign nations.' Ante, i. 89.

1751. 'Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristicks of a vigorous intellect.' Rambler, No. 103. 'Curiosity is in great and generous minds the first passion and the last; and perhaps always predominates in proportion to the strength of the contemplative faculties.' Ib. No. 150.

1752. Francis Barber, describing Johnson's friends in 1752, says:—

'There was a talk of his going to Iceland with Mr. Diamond, which would probably have happened had he lived.' Ante, i. 242. Johnson, in a letter to the wife of the poet Smart, says, 'we have often talked of a voyage to Iceland.' Post, iv. 359 note. Mrs. Thrale wrote to him when he was in the Hebrides in 1773:—'Well! 'tis better talk of Iceland. Gregory challenges you for an Iceland expedition; but I trust there is no need; I suppose good eyes might reach it from some of the places you have been in.' Piozzi Letters, i. 188.

1761. Johnson wrote to Baretti:—

'I wish you had staid longer in Spain, for no country is less known to the rest of Europe.' Ante, i. 365. He twice recommended Boswell to perambulate Spain. Ante, i. 410, 455.

1763. 'Dr. Johnson flattered me (Boswell) with some hopes that he would, in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.' Ante, i. 470.

1772. He said that he had had some desire, though he soon laid it aside, to go on an expedition round the world with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander. Ante, ii. 147.

1773. 'Dr. Johnson and I talked of going to Sweden.' Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 215.

On Sept. 9, 1777, Boswell wrote to Johnson:—

'I shrink a little from our scheme of going up the Baltick: I am sorry you have already been in Wales; for I wish to see it.' Ante, iii. 134. Four days later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Boswell shrinks from the Baltick expedition, which, I think, is the best scheme in our power: what we shall substitute I know not. He wants to see Wales; but except the woods of Bachycraigh (post, v. 436), what is there in Wales, that can fill the hunger of ignorance, or quench the thirst of curiosity? We may, perhaps, form some scheme or other; but in the phrase of Hockley in the Hole, it is a pity he has not a better bottom.' Ib. note 1.

Boswell writes:—

'Martin's account of the Hebrides had impressed us with a notion that we might there contemplate a system of life almost totally different from what we had been accustomed to see…. Dr. Johnson told me that his father put Martin's account into his hands when he was very young, and that he was much pleased with it.' Post, v. 13.

From the Hebrides Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—

'I have a desire to instruct myself in the whole system of pastoral life; but I know not whether I shall be able to perfect the idea. However, I have many pictures in my mind, which I could not have had without this journey; and should have passed it with great pleasure had you, and Master, and Queeney been in the party. We should have excited the attention and enlarged the observation of each other, and obtained many pleasing topicks of future conversation.' Piozzi Letters, i. 159. 'We travelled with very little light in a storm of wind and rain; we passed about fifty-five streams that crossed our way, and fell into a river that, for a very great part of our road, foamed and roared beside us; all the rougher powers of nature except thunder were in motion, but there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed any of the inconveniencies, to have had more light or less rain, for their co-operation crowded the scene and filled the mind.' Ib. p. 177.

See post, v. 334 for the splendid passage in which, describing the emotions raised in his mind by the sight of Iona, he says:—

'Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings…. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.'

Macaulay seems to have had the echo of these lines still in his ear, when he described imagination as 'that noble faculty whereby man is able to live in the past and in the future, in the distant and in the unreal.' Essays, ed. 1853, iii. 167.

1774. When he saw some copper and iron works in Wales he wrote:—

'I have enlarged my notions.' Post, v. 442. See also ante, iii. 164.

His letter to Warren Hastings shows his curiosity about India. Ante, iv. 68.

1775. The Thrales had just received a sum of £14,000. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—

'If I had money enough, what would I do? Perhaps, if you and master did not hold me, I might go to Cairo, and down the Red Sea to Bengal, and take a ramble to India. Would this be better than building and planting? It would surely give more variety to the eye, and more amplitude to the mind. Half fourteen thousand would send me out to see other forms of existence, and bring me back to describe them.' Piozzi Letters, i. 266.

'Regions mountainous and wild, thinly inhabited and little cultivated, make a great part of the earth, and he that has never seen them must live unacquainted with much of the face of nature, and with one of the great scenes of human existence.' Johnson's Works, ix. 36. 'All travel has its advantages. If the traveller visits better countries he may learn to improve his own; and if fortune carries him to worse he may learn to enjoy it.' Ib. p. 136.

To Dr. Taylor he wrote:—

'I came back last Tuesday from France. Is not mine a kind of life turned upside down? Fixed to a spot when I was young, and roving the world when others are contriving to sit still, I am wholly unsettled. I am a kind of ship with a wide sail, and without an anchor.' Ante, ii. 387, note 2.

1776. In the spring of this year everything was settled for his journey to Italy with the Thrales. Hannah More wrote (Memoirs, i. 74):—

'Johnson and Mr. Boswell have this day set out for Oxford, Lichfield, &c., that the Doctor may take leave of all his old friends previous to his great expedition across the Alps. I lament his undertaking such a journey at his time of life, with beginning infirmities. I hope he will not leave his bones on classic grounds.'

Boswell tells how—

'Speaking with a tone of animation Johnson said, "We must, to be sure, see Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and as much more as we can."' Ante, iii. 19.

When the journey was put off by the sudden death of Mr. Thrale's son,
Boswell wrote:—

'I perceived 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."' Ib. p. 28.

A day later Boswell wrote:—

'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."' Ib. p. 36. 'Johnson's desire to go abroad, particularly to see Italy, was very great; and he had a longing wish, too, to leave some Latin verses at the Grand Chartreux. He loved indeed the very act of travelling…. He was in some respects an admirable companion on the road, as he piqued himself upon feeling no inconvenience, and on despising no accommodations.' Piozzi's Anec. p. 168.

Johnson, this same year, speaking of a friend who had gone to the East
Indies, said:—

'I had some intention of accompanying him. Had I thought then as I do now, I should have gone.' Ante, iii. 20. According to Mr. Tyers he once offered to attend another friend to India. Moreover 'he talked much of travelling into Poland to observe the life of the Palatines, the account of which struck his curiosity very much.' Johnsoniana, ed. 1836, p. 157.

1777. Boswell wrote to Johnson this year (ante, iii. 107):—

'You have, I believe, seen all the cathedrals in England except that of

This was not the case, yet most of them he had already seen or lived to see. With Lichfield, Oxford, and London he was familiar. Winchester and Exeter he had seen in 1762 on his tour to Devonshire (ante, i. 377), Peterborough, Ely, Lincoln, York, and Durham he no doubt saw in 1773 on his way to Scotland. The first three he might also have seen in 1764 on his visit to Langton (ante, i. 476). Chester, St. Asaph, Bangor, and Worcester he visited in 1774 in his journey to Wales (post, v. 435, 436, 448, 456). Through Canterbury he almost certainly passed in 1775 on his way to France (ante, ii. 384). Bristol he saw in 1776 (ante, iii. 51). To Chichester he drove from Brighton in 1782 (post, iv. 160). Rochester and Salisbury he visited in the summer of 1783 (post, iv. 233). Wells he might easily have seen when he was at Bath in 1776 (ante, iii. 44), and possibly Gloucester. Through Norwich he perhaps came on his return from Lincolnshire in 1764 (ante, i. 476). Hereford, I think, he could not have visited.

When in the September of this year Johnson and Boswell were driving in Dr. Taylor's chaise to Derby, 'Johnson strongly expressed his love of driving fast in a post-chaise. "If," said he, "I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation"' (ante, iii. 162). He had previously said (ante, ii. 453), as he was driven rapidly along in a post-chaise, 'Life has not many things better than this.'

1778. Boswell wrote to Johnson:—

'My wife is so different from you and me that she dislikes travelling.' Ante, iii. 219.

Later on in the year Boswell records:—

'Dr. Johnson expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall of China. I catched it for the moment, and said I really believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of whom it was my duty to take care. "Sir, (said he,) by doing so you would do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, Sir."' Ante, iii. 269.

1780. In August he wrote to Boswell:—

'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this summer…. I hope you and I may yet shew ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa.' Ante, iii. 435.

In the same year Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—

'I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy, but seventy-one.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

On Oct. 17 he wrote:—

'The summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.' Ante, iii. 441.

1784. Johnson's wish to go to Italy in the last year of his life was caused by the hope that it might be good for his health. 'I do not,' he wrote, 'travel for pleasure or curiosity; yet if I should recover,' he added, 'curiosity would revive.' Post, iv. 348.

Mrs. Piozzi, without however giving the year, records:—

'Dr. Johnson was very angry with a gentleman at our house for not being better company, and urged that he had travelled into Bohemia and seen Prague. "Surely," added he, "the man who has seen Prague might tell us something new and something strange, and not sit silent for want of matter to put his lips in motion."' Piozzi's Journey, ii. 317.

All these passages shew, what indeed is evident enough from the text, that it was not travelling in general but travelling between the ages of nineteen and twenty-four, with a character unformed, a memory unstored, and a judgment untrained, that Johnson attacked. It was a common habit in his day to send young men of fortune to make the tour of Europe, as it was called, at an age when they would now be sent to either Oxford or Cambridge. Lord Charlemont was but eighteen when he left England. Locke, at the end of his work on Education, said in 1692 much the same as Johnson said in 1778.

'The ordinary time of travel,' he wrote, 'is from sixteen to one and twenty.' He would send any one either at a younger age than sixteen under a tutor, or at an older age than twenty-one without a tutor; 'when he is of age to govern himself, and make observations of what he finds in other countries worthy his notice … and when, too, being thoroughly acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages and defects of his own country, he has something to exchange with those abroad, from whose conversation he hoped to reap any knowledge.'

Goldsmith, in his Present State of Polite Learning, ch. xiii, wrote in 1759:—

'We see more of the world by travel, but more of human nature by remaining at home…. A youth just landed at the Brille resembles a clown at a puppet-show; carries his amazement from one miracle to another; from this cabinet of curiosities to that collection of pictures; but wondering is not the way to grow wise…. The greatest advantages which result to youth from travel are an easy address, the shaking off national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridiculous in national peculiarities. The time spent in these acquisitions could have been more usefully employed at home.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, i. 197) says that 'the previous and indispensable requisites of foreign travel are age, judgment, a competent knowledge of men and books, and a freedom from domestic prejudices.'

When he was only eighteen years old he saw the evils of early travelling:—

'I never liked young travellers; they go too raw to make any great remarks, and they lose a time which is (in my opinion) the most precious part of a man's life.' Ib. p. 98.

Cowper, in his Progress of Error (ed. 1782, i. 60), describes how—

'His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn and nothing to impart,
The youth obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands.

* * * * *

Returning he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.'



(Page 356.)

In the years 1751-2-3, the Lord Mayor was not appointed by rotation; Sir G. Champion, the senior Alderman, being accused of a leaning towards Spain. From 1754 to 1765 (inclusive) if there was in any year a contest, yet in each case the senior Alderman nominated was chosen. From 1766 to 1775 (inclusive) there was in every year a departure from the order of seniority. In 1776-8 the order of seniority was again observed; so that two years before Johnson made his remark the irregularity had come to an end. This information I owe to the kindness of Mr. Scott, the excellent Chamberlain of the City. Sir George Champion had been passed over in the year 1739 also. In an address to the Liverymen he says that 'the disorders and great disturbance to the peace of the city, which in former times had been occasioned by the over-eagerness of some, too ambitious and impatient to obtain this great honour, had been quieted' by the adoption of the order of seniority. Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 595. Among the Lord Mayors from 1769-1775 (inclusive) we find Beckford, Trecothick, Crosby, Townshend, Bull, Wilkes, and Sawbridge. 'Where did Beckford and Trecothick learn English?' asked Johnson (ante, iii. 76). Crosby, in the year of his mayoralty (1770-1), was committed to the Tower by the House of Commons, for having himself committed to prison a messenger of the House when attempting to arrest the printer of the London Evening Debates, who was accused of a breach of privilege in reporting the Debates (Parl. Hist. xvii. 155). Townshend in the same year refused to pay the land-tax, on the plea that his county (Middlesex) was no longer represented, as Wilkes's election had been annulled (Walpole's Letters, v. 348). Bull in the House of Commons violently attacked Lord North's ministry (Parl. Hist. xix. 980). Sawbridge, year after year, brought into Parliament a bill for shortening the duration of parliaments. During his Mayoralty he would not suffer the pressgangs to enter the city. (Walpole's Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 84.)

Among the Aldermen the Court-party had a majority. In April 1769 Wilkes's eligibility for election as an Alderman was not allowed by a majority of ten to six (Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III, iii. 360, and Ann. Reg. xii. 92). On his release from prison in April 1770 he was, however, admitted without a division (ib. xiii. 99). When, in March 1770, the City presented an outspoken remonstrance to the King, sixteen Aldermen protested against it (Walpole's Letters, v. 229). About this time there arose a great division in the popular party in the City. According to Lord Albemarle, in his Memoirs of Rockingham, ii. 209, from the period of this struggle 'the Whigs and what are now called Radicals became two distinct sections of the Liberal party.' Townshend, who in this followed the lead of Lord Shelburne, headed the more moderate men against Wilkes. The result was that in 1771 each section running a candidate for the Mayoralty, a third man, Nash, who was opposed to both, was returned (Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III, iv. 345, and Ann. Reg. xiv. 146).

The Livery, for a time at least, was Wilkite. Wilkes's name was sent up as Lord Mayor at the top of the list in 1772 and 1773, but he was in each case passed over by the Court of Aldermen. It was not till 1774 that he was elected by a kind of 'Hobson's choice.' The Aldermen had to choose between him and the retiring Lord Mayor, Bull. Walpole, writing of Nov. 1776, says the new Lord Mayor 'invited the Ministers to his feast, to which they had not been asked for seven years' (Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 84). See Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 339.


(Page 368.)

In September of this year (1778) Miss Burney records the following conversation at Streatham:—'MRS. THRALE. "Pray, Sir, how does Mrs. Williams like all this tribe?" DR. J. "Madam, she does not like them at all; but their fondness for her is not greater. She and Desmoulins quarrel incessantly; but as they can both be occasionally of service to each other, and as neither of them have any other place to go to, their animosity does not force them to separate." … MR. T. "And pray who is clerk of your kitchen, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, Sir, I am afraid there is none; a general anarchy prevails in my kitchen, as I am told by Mr. Levett, who says it is not now what it used to be." MRS. T. "Mr. Levett, I suppose, Sir, has the office of keeping the hospital in health, for he is an apothecary." DR. J. "Levett, Madam, is a brutal fellow, but I have a good regard for him; for his brutality is in his manners, not his mind." MR. T. "But how do you get your dinners drest?" DR. J. "Why, Desmoulins has the chief management of the kitchen; but our roasting is not magnificent, for we have no jack." MR. T. "No jack! Why, how do they manage without?" DR. J. "Small joints, I believe, they manage with a string, and larger are done at the tavern. I have some thoughts (with a profound gravity) of buying a jack, because I think a jack is some credit to a house." MR. T. "Well, but you'll have a spit too." DR. J. "No, Sir, no; that would be superfluous; for we shall never use it; and if a jack is seen, a spit will be presumed." MRS. T. "But pray, Sir, who is the Poll you talk of? She that you used to abet in her quarrels with Mrs. Williams, and call out, At her again, Poll! Never flinch, Poll!" DR. J. "Why, I took to Poll very well at first, but she won't do upon a nearer examination." MRS. T. "How came she among you, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, I don't rightly remember, but we could spare her very well from us. Poll is a stupid slut. I had some hopes of her at first; but when I talked to her tightly and closely, I could make nothing of her; she was wiggle waggle, and I could never persuade her to be categorical."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 114.

More than a year later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Discord keeps her residence in this habitation, but she has for some time been silent. We have much malice, but no mischief. Levett is rather a friend to Williams, because he hates Desmoulins more. A thing that he should hate more than Desmoulins is not to be found.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 80. Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 213) says:—'He really was oftentimes afraid of going home, because he was so sure to be met at the door with numberless complaints; and he used to lament pathetically to me that they made his life miserable from the impossibility he found of making theirs happy, when every favour he bestowed on one was wormwood to the rest. If, however, I ventured to blame their ingratitude, and condemn their conduct, he would instantly set about softening the one and justifying the other; and finished commonly by telling me, that I knew not how to make allowances for situations I never experienced.' Hawkins (Life, p. 404) says:—'Almost throughout Johnson's life poverty and distressed circumstances seemed to be the strongest of all recommendations to his favour. When asked by one of his most intimate friends, how he could bear to be surrounded by such necessitous and undeserving people as he had about him, his answer was, "If I did not assist them, no one else would, and they must be lost for want."' 'His humanity and generosity, in proportion to his slender income, were,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 146), 'unbounded. It has been truly said that the lame, the blind, and the sorrowful found in his house a sure retreat.' See also ante, iii. 222. At the same time it must be remembered that while Mrs. Desmoulins and Miss Carmichael only brought trouble into the house, in the society of Mrs. Williams and Levett he had real pleasure. See ante, i. 232, note 1, and 243, note 3.

* * * * *



(Page 370, note i.)


'Agli Illustrissimi Signori Il Presidente e Consiglieri dell' Academia
Reale delle arti in Londra.

'Avreste forse illustrissimi Signori potuto scegliere molte persone piu degne dell' ufficcio di Segretario per la corrispondenza straniera; ma non sarebbe, son certo, stato possibile di trovar alcuno dal quale questa distinzione sarebbe stata piu stimata. Sento con un animo molto riconoscente la parzialitá che l'Academia a ben voluto mostrar per me; e mi conto felicissimo che la mia elezione sia stata graziosamente confirmata dalla sua Maestá lo stesso Sovrano che a fondato l'Academia, e che si é sempre mostrato il suo beneficente Protettore.

'Vi prego, Signori, di credere que porro ogni mio studio a contribuire tanto che potro alia prosperita della nostra instituzione ch' é gia arrivata ad un punto si rispettevole.

'Ho l'onore d'essere, 'Illustrissimi Signori, 'Vostro umilissimo, 'e divotissimo servo, 'Giacomo Boswell.' 'Londra, '31 d'Ottobre, 1791.'


'A Messieurs Le President et les autres Membres du Conseil de l'Academie
Royale des Arts à Londres.


'C'est avec la plus vive reconnoissance que J'accepte la charge de
Secretaire pour la Correspondence etrangêre de votre Academie á laquelle
J'ai eu l'honneur d'etre choisi par vos suffrages unanimes gracieusement
confirmés par sa Majesté.

'Ce choix spontané Messieurs me flatte beaucoup; et m'inspire des desirs les plus ardens de m'en montrer digne, au moins par la promptitude avec laquelle Je saisirai toute occasion de faire ce que Je pourrai pour contribuer á l'avantage des Arts et la celebrité de l'Academie.

'J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec toute la consideration possible,


'Votre serviteur tres obligé tres humble et tres fidel,
'A Londres,
'ce 31 d'Octobre, 1791'

[In this letter I have made no attempt to correct Boswell's errors.]


'To the President and Council of The Royal Academy of Arts in London.


'Your unsolicited and unanimous election of me to be Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to your Academy, and the gracious confirmation of my election by his Majesty, I acknowledge with the warmest sentiments of gratitude and respect.

'I have always loved the Arts, and during my travels on the Continent I did not neglect the opportunities which I had of cultivating a taste for them.[1372] That taste I trust will now be much improved, when I shall be so happy as to share in the advantages which the Royal Academy affords; and I fondly embrace this very pleasing distinction as giving me the means of providing additional solace for the future years of my life.

'Be assured, Gentlemen, that as I am proud to be a member of an Academy which has the peculiar felicity of not being at all dependant on a Minister[1373], but under the immediate patronage and superintendence of the Sovereign himself, I shall be zealous to do every thing in my power that can be of any service to our excellent Institution.

'I have the honour to be,


'Your much obliged

'And faithful humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.'



'I am much obliged to you for the very polite terms in which you have been pleased to communicate to me my election to be Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and I request that you will lay before the President and Council the enclosed letters signifying my acceptance of that office.

'I am with great regard,


'Your most obedient humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.

'To John Richards, Esq., R.A. &c.'

Bennet Langton's letter of acceptance of the Professorship of Ancient
Literature in the place of Johnson is dated April 2, 1788.

I must express my acknowledgments to the President and Council of the Royal Academy for their kindness in allowing me to copy the above letters from the originals that are in their possession.


[1] See ante, March 15, 1776.

[2] Anecdotes of Johnson, p. 176. BOSWELL. 'It is,' he said, 'so very difficult for a sick man not to be a scoundrel.' Ib. p. 175. He called Fludyer a scoundrel (ante, March 20, 1776), apparently because he became a Whig. 'He used to say a man was a scoundrel that was afraid of anything. "Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is," he said, "a scoundrel."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 199, 211. Mr. Croker points out that 'Johnson in his Dictionary defined knave, a scoundrel; sneakup, a scoundrel; rascal, a scoundrel; loon, a scoundrel; lout, a scoundrel; poltroon, a scoundrel; and that he coined the word scoundrelism' (Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773). Churchill, in The Ghost, Book ii. (Poems, i. 1. 217), describes Johnson as one

'Who makes each sentence current pass,
With puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass.'

Swift liked the word. 'God forbid,' he wrote, 'that ever such a scoundrel as Want should dare to approach you.' Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xviii. 39.

[3] See ante, i. 49, for Johnson's fondness for the old romances.

[4] Boswell, ante, i. 386, implies that Sheridan's pension was partly due to Wedderburne's influence.

[5] See ante, i. 386.

[6] Akenside, in his Ode to Townshend (Book ii. 4), says:—

'For not imprudent of my loss to come,
I saw from Contemplation's quiet cell
His feet ascending to another home,
Where public praise and envied greatness dwell.'

He had, however, no misgivings, for he thus ends:—

'Then for the guerdon of my lay,
This man with faithful friendship, will I say,
From youth to honoured age my arts and me hath viewed.'

[7] We have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read now 'which is a great extension.' Post, April 29, 1778.

[8] See post, April, 28, 1783.

[9] See post, March 22, 1783.

[10] See post, March 18, 1784.

[11] Newbery, the publisher, was the vendor of Dr. James's famous powder. It was known that on the doctor's death a chemist whom he had employed meant to try to steal the business, under the pretence that he alone knew the secret of the preparation. A supply of powders enough to last for many years was laid in by Newbery in anticipation, while James left an affidavit that the chemist was never employed in the manufacture. He, however, asserted that James was deprived of his mental faculties when the affidavit was made. Evidence against this was collected and published; the conclusion to the Preface being written by Johnson. A Bookseller of the Last Century, p. 138. See ante, i. 159.

[12] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on the birth of a second son who died early:—'I congratulate you upon your boy; but you must not think that I shall love him all at once as well as I love Harry, for Harry you know is so rational. I shall love him by degrees.' Piozzi Letters, i. 206. A week after Harry's death he wrote:—'I loved him as I never expect to love any other little boy; but I could not love him as a parent.' Ib. p. 310.

[13] Johnson had known this anxiety. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Ashbourne on July 7, 1775:—'I cannot think why I hear nothing from you. I hope and fear about my dear friends at Streatham. But I may have a letter this afternoon—Sure it will bring me no bad news.' Ib. i. 263. See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 21, 1773.

[14] See ante, ii. 75.

[15] ante, April 10, 1775.

[16] See ante, March 21, 1776, and post, Sept. 19, 1777.

[17] The phrase 'vexing thoughts,' is I think, very expressive. It has been familiar to me from my childhood; for it is to be found in the Psalms in Metre, used in the churches (I believe I should say kirks) of Scotland, Psal. xliii. v. 5;

'Why art thou then cast down, my soul?
What should discourage thee?
And why with vexing thoughts art thou
Disquieted in me?'

Some allowance must no doubt be made for early prepossession. But at a maturer period of life, after looking at various metrical versions of the Psalms, I am well satisfied that the version used in Scotland is, upon the whole, the best; and that it has in general a simplicity and unction of sacred Poesy; and in many parts its transfusion is admirable. BOSWELL.

[18] 'Burke and Reynolds are the same one day as another,' Johnson said, post, under Sept. 22, 1777. Boswell celebrates Reynolds's 'equal and placid temper,' ante, i. I. On Aug. 12, 1775, he wrote to Temple:—'It is absurd to hope for continual happiness in this life; few men, if any, enjoy it. I have a kind of belief that Edmund Burke does; he has so much knowledge, so much animation, and the consciousness of so much fame.' Letters of Boswell, p. 212.

[19] ante, i. 446.

[20] Baretti says, that 'Mrs. Thrale abruptly proposed to start for Bath, as wishing to avoid the sight of the funeral. She had no man-friend to go with her,' and so he offered his services. Johnson at that moment arrived. 'I expected that he would spare me the jaunt, and go himself to Bath with her; but he made no motion to that effect.' European Mag. xiii. 315. It was on the evening of the 29th that Boswell found Johnson, as he thought, not in very good humour. Yet on the 30th he wrote to Mrs. Thrale, and called on Mr. Thrale. On April 1 and April 4 he again wrote to Mrs. Thrale. He would have gone a second time, he says, to see Mr. Thrale, had he not been made to understand that when he was wanted he would be sent for. Piozzi Letters, i. 309-314.

[21] Pope, Essay on Man, iv. 390. Boswell twice more applies the same line to Johnson, post, June 3, 1781, and under Dec. 13, 1784.

[22] Imlac consoles the Princess for the loss of Pekuah. 'When the clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can imagine how they will be dispelled; yet a new day succeeded to the night, and sorrow is never long without a dawn of ease. But they who restrain themselves from receiving comfort do as the savages would have done, had they put out their eyes when it was dark.' Rasselas, ch. 35. 'Keep yourself busy,' wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'and you will in time grow cheerful. New prospects may open, and new enjoyments may come within your reach.' Piozzi Letters.

[23] See ante, i. 86. It was reprinted in 1789.

[24] See Boswell's Hebrides under Nov. 11, 1773.

[25] See post, under April 29, 1776.

[26] In like manner he writes, 'I catched for the moment an enthusiasm with respect to visiting the Wall of China.' post April 10, 1778. Johnson had had some desire to go upon Cook's expedition in 1772. ante, March 21, 1772.

[27] Mme. D'Arblay (Memoirs of Dr. Burney, i. 284) describes 'the perfect case with which Omai managed a sword which he had received from the King, and which he had that day put on for the first time in order to go to the House of Lords.' He is the 'gentle savage' in Cowpers Task, i. 632.

[28] See ante, ii. 50.

[29] Voltaire (Siècle de Louis XV, ch. xv.), in his account of the battle of Fontenoy, thus mentions him:—'On était à cinquante pas de distance…. Les officiers anglais saluèrent les Français en ôtant leurs chapeaux…. Les officiers des gardes françaises leur rendirent le salut, Mylord Charles Hay, capitaine aux gardes anglaises, cria:—Messieurs des gardes françaises, tirez. Le comte d'Auteroche leur dit a voix haute:—Messieurs, nous ne tirons jamais les premiers; tirez vous-mêmes.'

[30] See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection. Hay was third in command in the expedition to North America in 1757. It was reported that he said that 'the nation's wealth was expended in making sham-fights and planting cabbages.' He was put under arrest and sent home to be tried. Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 170. Mr. Croker says that 'the real state of the case was that he had gone mad, and was in that state sent home.' He died before the sentence of the court-martial was promulgated. Croker's Boswell, p. 497.

[31] In Thoughts on the Coronation of George III (Works, v. 458) he expressed himself differently, if indeed the passage is of his writing (see ante, i. 361). He says: 'It cannot but offend every Englishman to see troops of soldiers placed between him and his sovereign, as if they were the most honourable of the people, or the King required guards to secure his person from his subjects. As their station makes them think themselves important, their insolence is always such as may be expected from servile authority.' In his Journey to the Hebrides (ib. ix. 30) he speaks of 'that courtesy which is so closely connected with the military character.' See post, April 10, 1778.

[32] 'It is not in the power even of God to make a polite soldier.' Meander; quoted by Hume, Essays, Part i. 20, note.

[33] In Johnson's Debates for 1741 (Works, x. 387) is on the quartering of soldiers. By the Mutiny Act the innkeeper was required to find each foot-soldier lodging, diet, and small beer for fourpence a day. By the Act as amended that year if he furnished salt, vinegar, small-beer, candles, fire, and utensils to dress their victuals, without payment, he had not to supply diet except on a march. Ib. pp. 416, 420. The allowance of small-beer was fixed at five pints a day, though it was maintained that it should be six. Lord Baltimore, according to Johnson, said that 'as every gentleman's servants each consumed daily six pints, it surely is not to be required that a soldier should live in a perpetual state of warfare with his constitution.' Ib. p. 418. Burke, writing in 1794, says:—'In quarters the innkeepers are obliged to find for the soldiers lodging, fire, candle-light, small-beer, salt and vinegar gratis.' Burke's Corres. iv. 258. Johnson wrote in 1758 (Works, vi. 150):—'The manner in which the soldiers are dispersed in quarters over the country during times of peace naturally produces laxity of discipline; they are very little in sight of their officers; and when they are not engaged in the slight duty of the guard are suffered to live every man his own way.' Fielding, in Tom Jones, bk. ix. ch. 6, humourously describes an innkeeper's grievances.

[34] This alludes to the pleadings of a Stoic and an Epicurean for and against the existence of the Divinity in Lucian's Jupiter the Tragic. CROKER.

[35] 'There is a time when every man is weary of raising difficulties only to ask himself with the solution and desires to enjoy truth without the labour or hazard of contest.' Johnson's Works, vi. 497. See ante May 7, 1773, and post, April 3, 1779, where he says, 'Sir, you are to a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe.' Hume, in his Essay Of Parties in General, had written:—'Such is the nature of the human mind, that it always takes hold of every mind that approaches it; and as it is wonderfully fortified and corroborated by an unanimity of sentiments, so is it, shocked and disturbed by any contrariety.' 'Carlyle was fond of quoting a sentence of Novalis:—"My conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in it."' Saturday Review, No. 1538, p. 521. 'The introducing of new doctrines,' said Bacon, 'is an affectation of tyranny over the understandings and beliefs of men.' Bacon's Nat. Hist., Experiment 1000.

[36] 'We must own,' said Johnson, 'that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 22, 1773. See ante, under Dec. 5, 1775. On June 16, 1784, he said of a very timid boy:—'Placing him at a public school is forcing an owl upon day.' Lord Shelburne says that the first Pitt told him 'that his reason for preferring private to public education was, that he scarce observed a boy who was not cowed for life at Eton; that a public school might suit a boy of a turbulent forward disposition, but would not do where there was any gentleness.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 72.

[37] 'There are,' wrote Hume in 1767, 'several advantages of a Scots education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English.' He decides it does. He continues:—'The only inconvenience is, that few Scotsmen that have had an English education have ever settled cordially in their own country; and they have been commonly lost ever after to their friends.' J.H. Burton's Hume, ii. 403.

[38] He wrote to Temple on Nov. 28, 1789:—'My eldest son has been at Eton since the 15th of October. You cannot imagine how miserable he has been; he wrote to me for some time as if from the galleys, and intreated me to come to him.' Letters of Boswell, p. 314. On July 21, 1790, he wrote of his second son who was at home ill:—'I am in great concern what should be done with him, for he is so oppressed at Westminster School by the big boys that I am almost afraid to send him thither.' Ib. p. 327. On April 6, 1791, he wrote:—'Your little friend James is quite reconciled to Westminster.' Ib. p. 337. Southey, who was at Westminster with young Boswell, describes 'the capricious and dangerous tyranny' under which he himself had suffered. Southey's Life, i. 138.

[39] Horace, Satires, i. 6. 65-88.

[40] Dr. Adam Smith, who was for some time a Professor in the University of Glasgow, has uttered, in his Wealth of Nations [v. I, iii. 2], some reflections upon this subject which are certainly not well founded, and seem to be invidious. BOSWELL.

[41] See ante, ii. 98.

[42] Gibbon denied this. 'The diligence of the tutors is voluntary, and will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change,' Misc. Works, i. 54. Of one of his tutors he wrote:—'He well remembered that he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to perform.' Ib. p. 58. Boswell, post, end of Nov. 1784, blames Dr. Knox for 'ungraciously attacking his venerable Alma Mater.' Knox, who was a Fellow of St. John's, left Oxford in 1778. In his Liberal Education, published in 1781, he wrote:—'I saw immorality, habitual drunkenness, idleness and ignorance, boastingly obtruding themselves on public view.' Knox's Works, iv. 138. 'The general tendency of the universities is favourable to the diffusion of ignorance, idleness, vice, and infidelity among young men.' Ib. p. 147. 'In no part of the kingdom will you meet with more licentious practices and sentiments, and with less learning than in some colleges.' Ib. p. 179. 'The tutors give what are called lectures. The boys construe a classic, the jolly young tutor lolls in his elbow-chair, and seldom gives himself the trouble of interrupting the greatest dunce.' Ib. p. 199. 'Some societies would have been glad to shut themselves up by themselves, and enjoy the good things of the cook and manciple, without the intrusion of commoners who come for education.' Ib. p. 200. 'The principal thing required is external respect from the juniors. However ignorant or unworthy a senior fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty.' Ib. p. 201. The Proctors gave far 'more frequent reprimands to the want of a band, or to the hair tied in queue, than to important irregularities. A man might be a drunkard, a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's animadversion; but no virtue could protect you if you walked on Christ-church meadow or the High Street with a band tied too low, or with no band at all; with a pig-tail, or with a green or scarlet coat.' Ib. p. 159. Only thirteen weeks' residence a year was required. Ib. p. 172. The degree was conferred without examination. Ib. p. 189. After taking it 'a man offers himself as a candidate for orders. He is examined by the Bishop's chaplain. He construes a few verses in the Greek testament, and translates one of the articles from Latin into English. His testimonial being received he comes from his jolly companions to the care of a large parish.' Ib. p. 197. Bishop Law gave in 1781 a different account of Cambridge. There, he complains, such was the devotion to mathematics, that 'young men often sacrifice their whole stock of strength and spirits, and so entirely devote most of their first few years to what is called taking a good degree, as to be hardly good for anything else.' Preface to Archbishop King's Essay on the Origin of Evil, p. xx.

[43] According to Adam Smith this is true only of the Protestant countries. In Roman Catholic countries and England where benefices are rich, the church is continually draining the universities of all their ablest members. In Scotland and Protestant countries abroad, where a chair in a university is generally a better establishment than a benefice, by far the greater part of the most eminent men of letters have been professors. Wealth of Nations, v. i. iii. 3.

[44] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 17, 1773.

[45] Dr. Goldsmith was dead before Mr. Maclaurin discovered the ludicrous errour. But Mr. Nourse, the bookseller, who was the proprietor of the work, upon being applied to by Sir John Pringle, agreed very handsomely to have the leaf on which it was contained cancelled, and re-printed without it, at his own expence. BOSWELL. In the second edition, published five years after Goldsmith's death, the story remains. In a foot-note the editor says, that 'he has been credibly informed that the professor had not the defect here mentioned.' The story is not quite as Boswell tells it. 'Maclaurin,' writes Goldsmith (ii. 91), 'was very subject to have his jaw dislocated; so that when he opened his mouth wider than ordinary, or when he yawned, he could not shut it again. In the midst of his harangues, therefore, if any of his pupils began to be tired of his lecture, he had only to gape or yawn, and the professor instantly caught the sympathetic affection; so that he thus continued to stand speechless, with his mouth wide open, till his servant, from the next room, was called in to set his jaw again.'

[46] Dr. Shebbeare (post, April 18, 1778) was tried for writing a libellous pamphlet. Horace Walpole says:—'The bitterest parts of the work were a satire on William III and George I. The most remarkable part of this trial was the Chief Justice Mansfield laying down for law that satires even on dead Kings were punishable. Adieu! veracity and history, if the King's bench is to appreciate your expressions!' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 153.

[47] What Dr. Johnson has here said, is undoubtedly good sense; yet I am afraid that law, though defined by Lord Coke 'the perfection of reason,' is not altogether with him; for it is held in the books, that an attack on the reputation even of a dead man, may be punished as a libel, because tending to a breach of the peace. There is, however, I believe, no modern decided case to that effect. In the King's Bench, Trinity Term, 1790, the question occurred on occasion of an indictment, The King v. Topham, who, as a proprietor of a news-paper entitled The World, was found guilty of a libel against Earl Cowper, deceased, because certain injurious charges against his Lordship were published in that paper. An arrest of Judgment having been moved for, the case was afterwards solemnly argued. My friend Mr. Const, whom I delight in having an opportunity to praise, not only for his abilities but his manners; a gentleman whose ancient German blood has been mellowed in England, and who may be truely said to unite the Baron and the Barrister, was one of the Counsel for Mr. Topham. He displayed much learning and ingenuity upon the general question; which, however, was not decided, as the Court granted an arrest chiefly on the informality of the indictment. No man has a higher reverence for the law of England than I have; but, with all deference I cannot help thinking, that prosecution by indictment, if a defendant is never to be allowed to justify, must often be very oppressive, unless Juries, whom I am more and more confirmed in holding to be judges of law as well as of fact, resolutely interpose. Of late an act of Parliament has passed declaratory of their full right to one as well as the other, in matter of libel; and the bill having been brought in by a popular gentleman, many of his party have in most extravagant terms declaimed on the wonderful acquisition to the liberty of the press. For my own part I ever was clearly of opinion that this right was inherent in the very constitution of a Jury, and indeed in sense and reason inseparable from their important function. To establish it, therefore, by Statute, is, I think, narrowing its foundation, which is the broad and deep basis of Common Law. Would it not rather weaken the right of primo-geniture, or any other old and universally-acknowledged right, should the legislature pass an act in favour of it? In my Letter to the People of Scotland, against diminishing the number of the Lords of Session, published in 1785, there is the following passage, which, as a concise, and I hope a fair and rational state of the matter, I presume to quote: 'The Juries of England are Judges of law as well as of fact, in many civil, and in all criminals trials. That my principles of resistance may not be misapprehended and more than my principles of submission, I protest that I should be the last man in the world to encourage Juries to contradict rashly, wantonly, or perversely, the opinion of the Judges. On the contrary, I would have them listen respectfully to the advise they receive from the Bench, by which they may be often well directed in forming their own opinion; which, "and not anothers," is the opinion they are to return upon their oaths. But where, after due attention to all that the judge has said, they are decidedly of a different opinion from him, they have not only a power and a right, but they are bound in conscience to bring in a verdict accordingly.' BOWELL. The World is described by Gifford in his Baviad and Marviad, as a paper set up by 'a knot of fantastic coxcombs to direct the taste of the town.' Lowndes (Bibl. Man. ed. 1871, p. 2994) confounds it with The World mentioned ante, i. 257. The 'popular gentleman' was Fox, whose Libel Bill passed the House of Lords in June 1792. Parl. Hist. xxix. 1537.

[48] Nobody, that is to say, but Johnson. Post, p. 24, note 2.

[49] Of this service Johnson recorded:—'In the morning I had at church some radiations of comfort.' Pr. and Med. p. 146.

[50] Baretti, in a marginal note on Piozzi Letters, i. 311, says:— 'Mr. Thrale, who was a worldly man, and followed the direction of his own feelings with no philosophical or Christian distinctions, having now lost the strong hope of being one day succeeded in the profitable Brewery by the only son he had left, gave himself silently up to his grief, and fell in a few years a victim to it.' In a second note (ii. 22) he says:—'The poor man could never subdue his grief on account of his son's death.'

[51] A gentleman, who from his extraordinary stores of knowledge, has been stiled omniscient. Johnson, I think very properly, altered it to all-knowing, as it is a verbum solenne, appropriated to the Supreme Being. BOSWELL.

[52] Mrs. Thrale wrote to him on May 3:—'Should you write about Streatham and Croydon, the book would be as good to me as a journey to Rome, exactly; for 'tis Johnson, not Falkland's Islands that interest us, and your style is invariably the same. The sight of Rome might have excited more reflections indeed than the sight of the Hebrides, and so the book might be bigger, but it would not be better a jot.' Piozzi Letters, i 318.

[53] Hawkins says (Life, p. 84) that 'Johnson was never greedy of money, but without money could not be stimulated to write. I have been told by a clergyman with whom he had been long acquainted, that, being (sic) to preach on a particular occasion, he applied to him for help. "I will write a sermon for thee," said Johnson, "but thou must pay me for it."' See post, May 1, 1783. Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 150) records an anecdote that he had from Hawkins:—'When Dr. Johnson was at his work on his Shakespeare, Sir John said to him, "Well! Doctor, now you have finished your Dictionary, I suppose you will labour your present work con amore for your reputation." "No Sir," said Johnson, "nothing excites a man to write but necessity."' Walpole then relates the anecdote of the clergyman, and speaks of Johnson as 'the mercenary.' Walpole's sinecure offices thirty-nine years before this time brought him in 'near, £2000 a year.' In 1782 he wrote that his office of Usher of the Exchequer was worth £1800 a year. Letters, i. lxxix, lxxxii.

[54] Swift wrote in 1735, when he was sixty-seven:—'I never got a farthing by anything I writ, except one about eight years ago, and that was by Mr. Pope's prudent management for me.' Works, xix. 171. It was, I conjecture, Gulliver's Travels. Hume, in 1757, wrote:—'I am writing the History of England from the accession of Henry VII. I undertook this work because I was tired of idleness, and found reading alone, after I had often perused all good books (which I think is soon done), somewhat a languid occupation.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 33.

[55] This Mr. Ellis was, I believe, the last of that profession called Scriveners, which is one of the London companies, but of which the business is no longer carried on separately, but is transacted by attornies and others. He was a man of literature and talents. He was the authour of a Hudibrastick version of Maphæsus's Canto, in addition to the Æneid; of some poems in Dodsley's Collections; and various other small pieces; but being a very modest man, never put his name to anything. He shewed me a translation which he had made of Ovid's Epistles, very prettily done. There is a good engraved portrait of him by Pether, from a picture by Fry, which hangs in the hall of the Scriveners' company. I visited him October 4, 1790, in his ninety-third year, and found his judgment distinct and clear, and his memory, though faded so as to fail him occasionally, yet, as he assured me, and I indeed perceived, able to serve him very well, after a little recollection. It was agreeable to observe, that he was free from the discontent and fretfulness which too often molest old age. He in the summer of that year walked to Rotherhithe, where he dined, and walked home in the evening. He died on the 31st of December, 1791. BOSWELL. The version of Maphæsus's 'bombastic' additional Canto is advertised in the Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 233. The engraver of Mr. Ellis's portrait in the first two editions is called Peffer.

[56] 'Admiral Walsingham boasted that he had entertained more miscellaneous parties than any other man in London. At one time he had received the Duke of Cumberland, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Nairne the optician, and Leoni the singer. It was at his table that Dr. Johnson made that excellent reply to a pert coxcomb who baited him during dinner. "Pray now," said he to the Doctor, "what would you give, old gentleman, to be as young and sprightly as I am?" "Why, Sir, I think," replied Johnson, "I would almost be content to be as foolish."' Cradock's Memoirs, i. 172.

[57] 'Dr. Johnson almost always prefers the company of an intelligent man of the world to that of a scholar.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 241.

[58] See J.H. Burton's Hume, i. 174, for an account of him.

[59] Lord Macartney, who with his other distinguished qualities, is remarkable also for an elegant pleasantry, told me, that he met Johnson at Lady Craven's, and that he seemed jealous of any interference: 'So, (said his Lordship, smiling,) I kept back.' BOSWELL.

[60] See ante, i. 242.

[61] There is an account of him in Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson. BOSWELL. Hawkins (Life, p. 246) records the following sarcasm of Ballow. In a coffee-house he attacked the profession of physic, which Akenside, who was a physician as well as poet, defended. 'Doctor,' said Ballow, 'after all you have said, my opinion of the profession of physic is this. The ancients endeavoured to make it a science, and failed; and the moderns to make it a trade, and have succeeded.'

[62] See ante, i. 274.

[63] I have in vain endeavoured to find out what parts Johnson wrote for Dr. James. Perhaps medical men may. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 159. Johnson, needing medicine at Montrose, 'wrote the prescription in technical characters.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 21, 1773.

[64] Horace Walpole, writing of May in this year, says that General Smith, an adventurer from the East Indies, who was taken off by Foote in The Nabob, 'being excluded from the fashionable club of young men of quality at Almack's, had, with a set of sharpers, formed a plan for a new club, which, by the excess of play, should draw all the young extravagants thither. They built a magnificent house in St. James's-street, and furnished it gorgeously.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 39.

[65] He said the same when in Scotland. Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 22, 1773. On the other hand, in The Rambler, No. 80, he wrote:—'It is scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being able, when we rise from it, to please ourselves with having given or received some advantages; but a man may shuffle cards, or rattle dice, from noon to midnight, without tracing any new idea in his mind, or being able to recollect the day by any other token than his gain or loss, and a confused remembrance of agitated passions, and clamorous altercations.'

[66] 'Few reflect,' says Warburton, 'on what a great wit has so ingenuously owned. That wit is generally false reasoning.' The wit was Wycherley. See his letter xvi. to Pope in Pope's Works. Warburton's Divine Legation, i. xii.

[67] 'Perhaps no man was ever more happy than Dr. Johnson in the extempore and masterly defence of any cause which, at the given moment, he chose to defend.' Stockdale's Memoirs, i. 261.

[68] Burke, in a letter that he wrote in 1771 (Corres. i. 330), must have had in mind his talks with Johnson. 'Nay,' he said, 'it is not uncommon, when men are got into debates, to take now one side, now another, of a question, as the momentary humour of the man and the occasion called for, with all the latitude that the antiquated freedom and ease of English conversation among friends did, in former days, encourage and excuse.' H.C. Robinson (Diary, iii. 485) says that Dr. Burney 'spoke with great warmth of affection of Dr. Johnson, and said he was the kindest creature in the world when he thought he was loved and respected by others. He would play the fool among friends, but he required deference. It was necessary to ask questions and make no assertion. If you said two and two make four, he would say, 'How will you prove that, Sir?' Dr. Burney seemed amiably sensitive to every unfavourable remark on his old friend.

[69] Patrick Lord Elibank, who died in 1778. BOSWELL. See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 12, 1773.

[70] Yet he said of him:—'Sir, there is nothing conclusive in his talk.' See post, p. 57.

[71] Johnson records of this Good Friday:—'My design was to pass part of the day in exercises of piety, but Mr. Boswell interrupted me; of him, however, I could have rid myself; but poor Thrale, orbus et exspes, came for comfort, and sat till seven, when we all went to church.' Pr. and Med. p. 146.

[72] Johnson's entries at Easter shew this year, and some of the following years, more peace of mind than hitherto. Thus this Easter he records, 'I had at church some radiations of comfort…. When I received, some tender images struck me. I was so mollified by the concluding address to our Saviour that I could not utter it.' Pr. and Med. pp. 146, 149. 'Easter-day, 1777, I was for some time much distressed, but at last obtained, I hope from the God of peace, more quiet than I have enjoyed for a long time. I had made no resolution, but as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased.' Ib. p. 158. 'Good Friday, 1778. I went with some confidence and calmness through the prayers.' Ib. p. 164.

[73] 'Nunquam enim nisi navi plenâ tollo vectorem.' Lib. ii. c. vi. BOSWELL.

[74] See ante, i. 187.

[75] See ante, i. 232.

[76] See ante, ii, 219.

[77] Cheyne's English Malady, or a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of All Kinds, 1733. He recommended a milk, seed, and vegetable diet; by seed he apparently meant any kind of grain. He did not take meat. He drank green tea. At one time he weighed thirty-two stones. His work shews the great change in the use of fermented liquors since his time. Thus he says:—'For nearly twenty years I continued sober, moderate, and plain in my diet, and in my greatest health drank not above a quart, or three pints at most of wine any day' (p. 235). 'For near one-half of the time from thirty to sixty I scarce drank any strong liquor at all. It will be found that upon the whole I drank very little above a pint of wine, or at most not a quart one day with another, since I was near thirty' (p. 243). Johnson a second time recommended Boswell to read this book, post, July 2, 1776. See ante, i. 65. Boswell was not the man to follow Cheyne's advice. Of one of his works Wesley says:—'It is one of the most ingenious books which I ever saw. But what epicure will ever regard it? for "the man talks against good eating and drinking."' Wesley's Journal, i. 347. Young, in his Epistles to Pope, No. ii. says:—

'—three ells round huge Cheyne rails at meat.'

Dr. J. H. Burton (Life of Hume, i. 45) shews reason for believing that a very curious letter by Hume was written to Cheyne.

[78] '"Solitude," he said one day, "is dangerous to reason, without being favourable to virtue; pleasures of some sort are necessary to the intellectual as to the corporeal health; and those who resist gaiety will be likely for the most part to fall a sacrifice to appetite; for the solicitations of sense are always at hand, and a dram to a vacant and solitary person is a speedy and seducing relief. Remember (continued he) that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and possibly mad."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 106.

[79] The day before he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Mr. Thrale's alteration of purpose is not weakness of resolution; it is a wise man's compliance with the change of things, and with the new duties which the change produces. Whoever expects me to be angry will be disappointed. I do not even grieve at the effect, I grieve only at the cause.' Piozzi Letters, i. 314. Mrs. Thrale on May 3 wrote:—'Baretti said you would be very angry, because this dreadful event made us put off our Italian journey, but I knew you better. Who knows even now that 'tis deferred for ever? Mr. Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome, and I am sure he will go no-where that he can help without you.' Ib. p. 317.

[80] See ante, i. 346.

[81] See post, July 22, 1777, note, where Boswell complains of children being 'suffered to poison the moments of festivity.'

[82] Boswell, post, under March 30, 1783, says, 'Johnson discovered a love of little children upon all occasions.'

[83] Johnson at a later period thought otherwise. Post, March 30, 1778.

[84] Pope borrowed from the following lines:—

'When on my sick bed I languish,
Full of sorrow, full of anguish;
Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying,
Panting, groaning, speechless, dying—
Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say,
Be not fearful, come away.'

Campbell's Brit. Poets, p. 301.

[85] In Rochester's Allusion to the Tenth Satire of the First Book of Horace.

[86] In the Monthly Review for May, 1792, there is such a correction of the above passage, as I should think myself very culpable not to subjoin. 'This account is very inaccurate. The following statement of facts we know to be true, in every material circumstance:—Shiels was the principal collector and digester of the materials for the work: but as he was very raw in authourship, an indifferent writer in prose, and his language full of Scotticisms, Cibber, who was a clever, lively fellow, and then soliciting employment among the booksellers, was engaged to correct the style and diction of the whole work, then intended to make only four volumes, with power to alter, expunge, or add, as he liked. He was also to supply notes, occasionally, especially concerning those dramatick poets with whom he had been chiefly conversant. He also engaged to write several of the Lives; which, (as we are told,) he, accordingly, performed. He was farther useful in striking out the Jacobitical and Tory sentiments, which Shiels had industriously interspersed wherever he could bring them in:—and, as the success of the work appeared, after all, very doubtful, he was content with twenty-one pounds for his labour beside a few sets of the books, to disperse among his friends.—Shiels had nearly seventy pounds, beside the advantage of many of the best Lives in the work being communicated by friends to the undertaking; and for which Mr. Shiels had the same consideration as for the rest, being paid by the sheet, for the whole. He was, however, so angry with his Whiggish supervisor, (He, like his father, being a violent stickler for the political principles which prevailed in the Reign of George the Second,) for so unmercifully mutilating his copy, and scouting his politicks, that he wrote Cibber a challenge: but was prevented from sending it, by the publisher, who fairly laughed him out of his fury. The proprietors, too, were discontented, in the end, on account of Mr. Cibber's unexpected industry; for his corrections and alterations in the proof-sheets were so numerous and considerable, that the printer made for them a grievous addition to his bill; and, in fine, all parties were dissatisfied. On the whole, the work was productive of no profit to the undertakers, who had agreed, in case of success, to make Cibber a present of some addition to the twenty guineas which he had received, and for which his receipt is now in the booksellers' hands. We are farther assured, that he actually obtained an additional sum; when he, soon after, (in the year 1758,) unfortunately embarked for Dublin, on an engagement for one of the theatres there: but the ship was cast away, and every person on board perished. There were about sixty passengers, among whom was the Earl of Drogheda, with many other persons of consequence and property. [Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 555.]

'As to the alledged design of making the compilement pass for the work of old Mr. Cibber, the charges seem to have been founded on a somewhat uncharitable construction. We are assured that the thought was not harboured by some of the proprietors, who are still living; and we hope that it did not occur to the first designer of the work, who was also the printer of it, and who bore a respectable character.

'We have been induced to enter thus circumstantially into the foregoing detail of facts relating to The Lives of the Poets, compiled by Messrs. Cibber and Shiels, from a sincere regard to that sacred principle of Truth, to which Dr. Johnson so rigidly adhered, according to the best of his knowledge; and which we believe, no consideration would have prevailed on him to violate. In regard to the matter, which we now dismiss, he had, no doubt, been misled by partial and wrong information: Shiels was the Doctor's amanuensis; he had quarrelled with Cibber; it is natural to suppose that he told his story in his own way; and it is certain that he was not "a very sturdy moralist." [The quotation is from Johnson's Works, ix. 116.] This explanation appears to me very satisfactory. It is, however, to be observed, that the story told by Johnson does not rest solely upon my record of his conversation; for he himself has published it in his Life of Hammond [ib. viii. 90], where he says, "the manuscript of Shiels is now in my possession." Very probably he had trusted to Shiels's word, and never looked at it so as to compare it with The Lives of the Poets, as published under Mr. Cibber's name. What became of that manuscript I know not. I should have liked much to examine it. I suppose it was thrown into the fire in that impetuous combustion of papers, which Johnson I think rashly executed, when moribundus.' BOSWELL. Mr. Croker, quoting a letter by Griffiths the publisher, says:—'The question is now decided by this letter in opposition to Dr. Johnson's assertion.' Croker's Boswell, p. 818. The evidence of such an infamous fellow as Griffiths is worthless. (For his character see Forster's Goldsmith, i. 161.) As the Monthly Review was his property, the passage quoted by Boswell was, no doubt, written by his direction. D'Israeli (Curiosities of Literature, ed. 1834, vi. 375) says that Oldys (ante, i. 175) made annotations on a copy of Langbaine's Dramatic Poets. 'This Langbaine, with additions by Coxeter, was bought by Theophilus Cibber; on the strength of these notes he prefixed his name to the first collection of the Lives of Our Poets, written chiefly by Shiels.'

[87] Mason's Memoirs of Gray's Life was published in 1775. Johnson, in his Life of Gray (Works, viii. 476), praises Gray's portion of the book:—'They [Gray and Horace Walpole] wandered through France into Italy; and Gray's Letters contain a very pleasing account of many parts of their journey.' 'The style of Madame de Sévigné,' wrote Mackintosh (Life, ii. 221), 'is evidently copied, not only by her worshipper Walpole, but even by Gray; notwithstanding the extraordinary merits of his matter, he has the double stiffness of an imitator and of a college recluse.'

[88] See ante, ii. 164.

[89] This impartiality is very unlikely. In 1757 Griffiths, the owner of the Monthly, aiming a blow at Smollett, the editor of the Critical, said that The Monthly Review was not written by 'physicians without practice, authors without learning, men without decency, gentlemen without manners, and critics without judgement.' Smollett retorted:— 'The Critical Review is not written by a parcel of obscure hirelings, under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who presume to revise, alter, and amend the articles occasionally. The principal writers in the Critical Review are unconnected with booksellers, un-awed by old women, and independent of each other.' Forster's Goldsmith, i. 100. 'A fourth share in The Monthly Review was sold in 1761 for £755.' A Bookseller of the Last Century, p. 19.

[90] See ante, ii. 39.

[91] Horace Walpole writes:—'The scope of the Critical Review was to decry any work that appeared favourable to the principles of the Revolution.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 260.

[92] 'The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole book was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expense of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him at least a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in 1764, and the conclusion in 1771. Andrew Reid undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was employed, I know not at what price, to point the pages of Henry the Second. When time brought the History to a third edition, Reid was either dead or discarded; and the superintendence of typography and punctuation was committed to a man originally a comb-maker, but then known by the style of Doctor. Something uncommon was probably expected, and something uncommon was at last done; for to the Doctor's edition is appended, what the world had hardly seen before, a list of errors in nineteen pages.' Johnson's Works, viii. 492. In the first edition of The Lives of the Poets 'the Doctor' is called Dr. Saunders. So ambitious was Lord Lyttelton's accuracy that in the second edition he gave a list of 'false stops which hurt the sense.' For instance, the punctuation of the following paragraph:—'The words of Abbot Suger, in his life of Lewis le Gros, concerning this prince are very remarkable,' he thus corrects, 'after prince a comma is wanting.' See ante, ii. 37.

[93] According to Horace Walpole, Lyttelton had angered Smollett by declining 'to recommend to the stage' a comedy of his. 'He promised,' Walpole continues, 'if it should be acted, to do all the service in his power for the author. Smollett's return was drawing an abusive portrait of Lord Lyttelton in Roderick Random.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 259.

[94] Spectator, No. 626. See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection, near the end.

[95] When Steele brought The Spectator to the close of its first period, he acknowledged in the final number (No. 555) his obligation to his assistants. In a postscript to the later editions he says:—'It had not come to my knowledge, when I left off The Spectator, that I owe several excellent sentiments and agreeable pieces in this work to Mr. Ince, of Gray's Inn.' Mr. Ince died in 1758. Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 504.

[96] Spectator, No. 364.

[97] Sir Edward Barry, Baronet. BOSWELL.

[98] 'We form our words with the breath of our nostrils, we have the less to live upon for every word we speak.' Jeremy Taylor's Holy Dying, ch. i. sec. 1.

[99] On this day Johnson sent the following application for rooms in Hampton Court to the Lord Chamberlain:—

'My Lord, Being wholly unknown to your lordship, I have only this apology to make for presuming to trouble you with a request, that a stranger's petition, if it cannot be easily granted, can be easily refused. Some of the apartments are now vacant in which I am encouraged to hope that by application to your lordship I may obtain a residence. Such a grant would be considered by me as a great favour; and I hope that to a man who has had the honour of vindicating his Majesty's Government, a retreat in one of his houses may not be improperly or unworthily allowed. I therefore request that your lordship will be pleased to grant such rooms in Hampton Court as shall seem proper to

'My Lord,

'Your lordship's most obedient and most faithful humble servant,


'April 11, 1776.'

'Mr. Saml. Johnson to the Earl of Hertford, requesting apartments at Hampton Court, 11th May, 1776.' And within, a memorandum of the answer:—'Lord C. presents his compliments to Mr. Johnson, and is sorry he cannot obey his commands, having already on his hands many engagements unsatisfied.' Prior's Malone, p. 337. The endorsement does not, it will be seen, agree in date with the letter. Lord C. stands for the Lord Chamberlain.

[100] Hogarth saw Garrick in Richard III, and on the following night in Abel Drugger; he was so struck, that he said to him, 'You are in your element when you are begrimed with dirt, or up to your elbows in blood.' Murphy's Garrick, p. 21. Cooke, in his Memoirs of Macklin, p. 110, says that a Lichfield grocer, who came to London with a letter of introduction to Garrick from Peter Garrick, saw him act Abel Drugger, and returned without calling on him. He said to Peter Garrick: 'I saw enough of him on the stage. He may be rich, as I dare say any man who lives like him must be; but by G-d, though he is your brother, Mr. Garrick, he is one of the shabbiest, meanest, most pitiful hounds I ever saw in the whole course of my life.' Abel Drugger is a character in Ben Jonson's Alchemist.

[101] See post, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[102] Lord Shelburne in 1766, at the age of twenty-nine, was appointed Secretary of State in Lord Chatham's ministry. Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, ii. 1. Jeremy Bentham said of him:—'His head was not clear. He felt the want of clearness. He had had a most wretched education.' Ib. p. 175.

[103] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:—'I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy, but seventy-one…. But what if I am seventy-two; I remember Sulpitius says of Saint Martin (now that's above your reading), Est animus victor annorum et senectuti cedere nescius. Match me that among your young folks.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

[104] Lady Hesketh, taking up apparently a thought which Paoli, as reported by Boswell, had thrown out in conversation, proposed to Cowper the Mediterranean for a topic. 'He replied, "Unless I were a better historian than I am, there would be no proportion between the theme and my ability. It seems, indeed, not to be so properly a subject for one poem, as for a dozen."' Southey's Cowper, iii. 15, and vii. 44.

[105] Burke said:—'I do not know how it has happened, that orators have hitherto fared worse in the hands of the translators than even the poets; I never could bear to read a translation of Cicero.' Life of Sir W. Jones, p. 196.

[106] See ante, ii. 188.

[107] See ante, ii. 182.

[108] See post, under date of Dec. 24, 1783, where mention seems to be made of this evening.

[109] See ante, note, p. 30. BOSWELL

[110] 'Thomson's diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts "both their lustre and their shade;" such as invest them with splendour, through which, perhaps, they are not always easily discerned.' Johnson's Works, viii. 378. See ante, i. 453, and ii. 63.

[111] A Collection of Poems in six volumes by several hands, 1758.

[112] Ib. i. 116.

[113] Mr. Nicholls says, 'The Spleen was a great favourite with Gray for its wit and originality.' Gray's Works, v. 36. See post, Oct. 10, 1779, where Johnson quotes two lines from it. 'Fling but a stone, the giant dies,' is another line that is not unknown.

[114] A noted highwayman, who after having been several times tried and acquitted, was at last hanged. He was remarkable for foppery in his dress, and particularly for wearing a bunch of sixteen strings at the knees of his breeches. BOSWELL.

[115] Goldsmith wrote a prologue for it. Horace Walpole wrote on Dec. 14, 1771 (Letters, v. 356):—'There is a new tragedy at Covent Garden called Zobeide, which I am told is very indifferent, though written by a country gentleman.' Cradock in his old age published his own Memoirs.

[116] '"Dr. Farmer," said Johnson {speaking of this essay}, "you have done that which never was done before; that is, you have completely finished a controversy beyond all further doubt." "There are some critics," answered Farmer, "who will adhere to their old opinions." "Ah!" said Johnson, "that may be true; for the limbs will quiver and move when the soul is gone."' Northcote's Reynolds, i. 152. Farmer was Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge (ante, i. 368). In a letter dated Oct. 3, 1786, published in Romilly's Life (i. 332), it is said:—'Shakespeare and black letter muster strong at Emanuel.'

[117] 'When Johnson once glanced at this Liberal Translation of the New Testament, and saw how Dr. Harwood had turned Jesus wept into Jesus, the Saviour of the world, burst into a flood of tears, he contemptuously threw the book aside, exclaiming, "Puppy!" The author, Dr. Edward Harwood, is not to be confounded with Dr. Thomas Harwood, the historian of Lichfield.' Croker's Boswell, p. 836.

[118] See an ingenious Essay on this subject by the late Dr. Moor, Greek Professor at Glasgow. BOSWELL.

[119] See ante, i. 6, note 2.

[120] 'Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!' Job xix. 23.

[121] 'The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be said of him as he says of himself, that he is "a man not easily jealous," yet we cannot but pity him, when at last we find him "perplexed in the extreme."' Johnson's Works, v. 178.

[122] Of Dennis's criticism of Addison's Cato, he says:—'He found and shewed many faults; he shewed them indeed with anger, but he found them with acuteness, such as ought to rescue his criticism from oblivion.' Ib. vii. 457. In a note on 'thunder rumbling from the mustard-bowl' (The Dunciad, ii. 226) it is said:—'Whether Mr. Dennis was the inventor of that improvement, I know not; but is certain that, being once at a tragedy of a new author, he fell into a great passion at hearing some, and cried, "S'death! that is my thunder."' See D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, i. 135, for an amplification of this story.

[123] Sir James Mackintosh thought Cumberland was meant. I am now satisfied that it was Arthur Murphy. CROKER. The fact that Murphy's name is found close to the story renders it more likely that Mr. Croker is right.

[124] 'Obscenity and impiety,' Johnson boasted in the last year of his life, 'have always been repressed in my company.' Post, June 11, 1784. See also post, Sept. 22, 1777.

[125] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 18.

[126] See ib. Aug. 15.

[127] See post, April 28, 29, 1778.

[128] See ante, Jan. 21, 1775, note.

[129] See post, April 28, 1778. That he did not always scorn to drink when in company is shewn by what he said on April 7, 1778:—'I have drunk three bottles of port without being the worse for it. University College has witnessed this.'

[130] Copy is manuscript for printing.

[131] In The Rambler, No. 134, he describes how he had sat deliberating on the subject for that day's paper, 'till at last I was awakened from this dream of study by a summons from the press; the time was now come for which I had been thus negligently purposing to provide, and, however dubious or sluggish, I was now necessitated to write. To a writer whose design is so comprehensive and miscellaneous that he may accommodate himself with a topick from every scene of life, or view of nature, it is no great aggravation of his task to be obliged to a sudden composition.' See ante, i. 203.

[132] See ante, i. 428.

[133] We have here an involuntary testimony to the excellence of this admirable writer, to whom we have seen that Dr. Johnson directly allowed so little merit. BOSWELL. 'Fielding's Amelia was the most pleasing heroine of all the romances,' he said; 'but that vile broken nose never cured [Amelia, bk. ii. ch. 1] ruined the sale of perhaps the only book, which being printed off betimes one morning, a new edition was called for before night.' Piozzi's Anec. p. 221. Mrs. Carter, soon after the publication of Amelia, wrote (Corres. ii. 71):—'Methinks I long to engage you on the side of this poor unfortunate book, which I am told the fine folks are unanimous in pronouncing to be very sad stuff.' See ante, ii. 49.

[134] Horace Walpole wrote, on Dec, 21, 1775 (Letters, vi. 298):— 'Mr. Cumberland has written an Ode, as he modestly calls it, in praise of Gray's Odes; charitably no doubt to make the latter taken notice of. Garrick read it the other night at Mr. Beauclerk's, who comprehended so little what it was about, that he desired Garrick to read it backwards, and try if it would not be equally good; he did, and it was.' It was to this reading backwards that Dean Barnard alludes in his verses—

'The art of pleasing, teach me, Garrick;
Thou who reversest odes Pindaric,
A second time read o'er.'

See post, under May 8, 1781.

[135] Mr. Romney, the painter, who has now deservedly established a high reputation. BOSWELL. Cumberland (Memoirs, i. 384) dedicated his Odes to him, shortly after 'he had returned from pursuing his studies at Rome.' 'A curious work might be written,' says Mr. Croker, 'on the reputation of painters. Hayley dedicated his lyre (such as it was) to Romney. What is a picture of Romney now worth?' The wheel is come full circle, and Mr. Croker's note is as curious as the work that he suggests.

[136] Page 32 of this vol. BOSWELL.

[137] Thurlow.

[138] Wedderburne. Boswell wrote to Temple on May 1:—'Luckily Dr. Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in some interesting business, and Johnson loves much to be so consulted and so comes up.' Letters of Boswell, p. 234. On the 14th Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Mr. Wedderburne has given his opinion today directly against us. He thinks of the claim much as I think.' Piozzi Letters, i. 323. In Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 423, in a letter from Johnson to Taylor, this business is mentioned.

[139] Goldsmith wrote in 1762:—'Upon a stranger's arrival at Bath he is welcomed by a peal of the Abbey bells, and in the next place by the voice and music of the city waits.' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 57. In Humphry Clinker (published in 1771), in the Letter of April 24, we read that there was 'a peal of the Abbey bells for the honour of Mr. Bullock, an eminent cow-keeper of Tottenham, who had just arrived at Bath to drink the waters for indigestion.' The town waits are also mentioned. The season was not far from its close when Boswell arrived. Melford, in Humphry Clinker, wrote from Bath on May 17:—'The music and entertainments of Bath are over for this season; and all our gay birds of passage have taken their flight to Bristol-well [Clifton], Tunbridge, Brighthelmstone, Scarborough, Harrowgate, &c. Not a soul is seen in this place, but a few broken-winded parsons, waddling like so many crows along the North Parade.' Boswell had soon to return to London 'to eat commons in the Inner Temple.' Delighted with Bath, and apparently pleasing himself with the thought of a brilliant career at the Bar, he wrote to Temple, 'Quin said, "Bath was the cradle of age, and a fine slope to the grave." Were I a Baron of the Exchequer and you a Dean, how well could we pass some time there!' Letters of Boswell, pp. 231, 234.

[140] To the rooms! and their only son dead three days over one month!

'That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two.'

Hamlet, act i. sc. 2.

[141] No doubt Mr. Burke. See ante, April 15, 1773, and under Oct. 1, 1774, note, and Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 15.

[142] Mr. E.J. Payne, criticising this passage, says:—'It is certain that Burke never thought he was deserting any principle of his own in joining the Rockinghams.' Payne's Burke, i. xvii.

[143] No doubt Mrs. Macaulay. See ante, i. 447. 'Being asked whether he had read Mrs. Macaulay's second volume of the History of England, "No, Sir," says he, "nor her first neither."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 205.

[144] 'Of this distinguished Epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate "the man who calls me cousin" [Spence's Anecdotes, ed. 1820, p. 161]; and when he was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, "The Epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first." [Ib. p. 257.] It was known in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.' Johnson's Works, viii. 389. See ante, i. 181.

[145] See post, Jan. 20, 1782.

[146] On May 10, 1768, on which day the new parliament met, a great body of people gathered round the King's Bench prison in St. George's Fields in expectation that Wilkes would go thence to the House of Commons. Some kind of a riot arose, a proclamation was made in the terms of the Riot-Act, and the soldiers firing by order of Justice Gillam, killed five or six on the spot. The justice and one of the soldiers were on the coroner's inquest brought in guilty of wilful murder, and two other soldiers of aiding and abetting therein. With great difficulty the prisoners were saved from the rage of the populace. They were all acquitted however. At Gillam's trial the judge ruled in his favour, so that the case did not go to the jury. Of the trial of one of the soldiers 'no account was allowed to be published by authority.' Ann. Reg. 1768, pp. 108-9, 112, 136-8, 233. Professor Dicey (Law of the Constitution, p. 308) points out that 'the position of a soldier may be both in theory and practice, a difficult one. He may, as it has been well said, be liable to be shot by a court-martial if he disobeys an order, and to be hanged by a judge and jury if he obeys it.' The remembrance of these cases was perhaps the cause of the feebleness shewn in the Gordon Riots in June 1780. Dr. Franklin wrote from London on May 14, 1768 (Memoirs, iii. 315):—'Even this capital is now a daily scene of lawless riot. Mobs patrolling the streets at noon-day, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal-merchants that refuse to give them more wages; sawyers destroying saw-mills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats, and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women, and children.' 'While I am writing,' he adds (ib. p. 316), 'a great mob of coal-porters fill the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles to be ducked for working at the old wages.' See also ib. p. 402. Hume agreed with Johnson about the 'imbecility' of the government; but he drew from it different conclusions. He wrote on Oct. 27, 1775, about the addresses to the King:—'I wish they would advise him first to punish those insolent rascals in London and Middlesex, who daily insult him and the whole legislature, before he thinks of America. Ask him, how he can expect that a form of government will maintain an authority at 3000 miles' distance, when it cannot make itself be respected, or even be treated with common decency, at home.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 479. On the 30th of this month of April—four days after the conversation in the text—John Home recorded:—'Mr. Hume cannot give any reason for the incapacity and want of genius, civil and military, which marks this period.' Ib. p. 503.

[147] See Dr. Johnson, His Friends, &c., p. 252.

[148] It was published in 1743.

[149] I am sorry that there are no memoirs of the Reverend Robert Blair, the author of this poem. He was the representative of the ancient family of Blair, of Blair, in Ayrshire, but the estate had descended to a female, and afterwards passed to the son of her husband by another marriage. He was minister of the parish of Athelstanford, where Mr. John Home was his successor; so that it may truely be called classick ground. His son, who is of the same name, and a man eminent for talents and learning, is now, with universal approbation, Solicitor-General of Scotland. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 94) describes Blair 'as so austere and void of urbanity as to make him quite disagreeable to young people.'

[150] In 1775 Mrs. Montagu gave Mrs. Williams a small annuity. Croker's Boswell, pp. 458, 739. Miss Burney wrote of her:—'Allowing a little for parade and ostentation, which her power in wealth and rank in literature offer some excuse for, her conversation is very agreeable.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 325. See post, April 7, 1778, note.


'Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.'

Pope, Sat. Ep. i. 135.

[152] Johnson refers to Jenyns's View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion, published this spring. See post, April 15, 1778. Jenyns had changed his view, for in his Origin of Evil he said, in a passage quoted with applause by Johnson (Works, vi. 69), that 'it is observable that he who best knows our formation has trusted no one thing of importance to our reason or virtue; he trusts to our vanity or compassion for our bounty to others.'

[153] Mr. Langton is certainly meant. It is strange how often his mode of living was discussed by Johnson and Boswell. See post, Nov. 16, 1776, July 22, and Sept. 22, 1777, March 18, April 17, 18, and 20, May 12, and July 3, 1778.

[154] Baretti made a brutal attack on Mrs. Piozzi in the European Mag. for 1788, xiii. 313, 393, and xiv. 89. He calls her 'the frontless female, who goes now by the mean appellation of Piozzi; La Piozzi, as my fiddling countrymen term her; who has dwindled down into the contemptible wife of her daughter's singing-master.' His excuse was the attacks made on him by her in the correspondence just published between herself and Johnson (see Piozzi Letters, i. 277, 319). He suspected her, and perhaps with reason, of altering some of these letters. Other writers beside Baretti attacked her. To use Lord Macaulay's words, grossly exaggerated though they are, 'She fled from the laughter and hisses of her countrymen and countrywomen to a land where she was unknown.' Macaulay's Writings and Speeches, ed. 1871, p. 393. According to Dr. T. Campbell (Diary, p. 33) Baretti flattered Mrs. Thrale to her face. 'Talking as we were at tea of the magnitude of the beer vessels, Baretti said there was one thing in Mr. Thrale's house still more extraordinary; meaning his wife. She gulped the pill very prettily—so much for Baretti.' See post, Dec. 21, 1776.

[155] Likely enough Boswell himself. On three other occasions he mentions Otaheité; ante, May 7, 1773, post, June 15, 1784 and in his Hebrides, Sept. 23, 1773. He was fond of praising savage life. See ante, ii. 73.

[156] Chatterton said that he had found in a chest in St. Mary Redcliffe Church manuscript poems by Canynge, a merchant of Bristol in the fifteenth century, and a friend of his, Thomas Rowley. He gave some of these manuscripts to George Catcot, a pewterer of Bristol, who communicated them to Mr. Barret, who was writing a History of Bristol. Rose's Biog. Dict. vi. 256.

[157] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22.

[158] See ante, i. 396.

[159] 'Artificially. Artfully; with skill.' Johnson's dictionary.

[160] Mr. Tyrwhitt, Mr. Warton, Mr. Malone. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote on May 16:—'Steevens seems to be connected with Tyrwhitt in publishing Chatterton's poems; he came very anxiously to know the result of our inquiries, and though he says he always thought them forged, is not well pleased to find us so fully convinced.' Piozzi Letters, i. 326.

[161] Catcot had been anticipated by Smith the weaver (2 Henry VI. iv. 2)—'Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it; therefore deny it not.'

[162] Horace Walpole says (Works, iv. 224) that when he was 'dining at the Royal Academy, Dr. Goldsmith drew the attention of the company with an account of a marvellous treasure of ancient poems lately discovered at Bristol, and expressed enthusiastic belief in them; for which he was laughed at by Dr. Johnson, who was present…. You may imagine we did not at all agree in the measure of our faith; but though his credulity diverted me, my mirth was soon dashed; for, on asking about Chatterton, he told me he had been in London, and had destroyed himself.'

[163] Boswell returned a few days earlier. On May 1 he wrote to Temple: —'Luckily Dr. Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in some interesting business; and Johnson loves much to be so consulted, and so comes up. I am now at General Paoli's, quite easy and gay, after my journey; not wearied in body or dissipated in mind. I have lodgings in Gerrard Street, where cards are left to me; but I lie at the General's, whose attention to me is beautiful.' Letters of Boswell, p. 234. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on May 6:—'Tomorrow I am to dine, as I did yesterday, with Dr. Taylor. On Wednesday I am to dine with Oglethorpe; and on Thursday with Paoli. He that sees before him to his third dinner has a long prospect.' Piozzi Letters, i. 320.

[164] See ante, May 12, 1775.

[165] In the Dramatis Personæ of the play are 'Aimwell and Archer, two gentlemen of broken fortunes, the first as master, and the second as servant.' See ante, March 23, 1776, for Garrick's opinion of Johnson's 'taste in theatrical merit.'

[166] Johnson is speaking of the Respublicæ Elzevirianæ, either 36 or 62 volumes. 'It depends on every collector what and how much he will admit.' Ebert's Bibl. Dict. iii. 1571. See ante, ii. 7.

[167] See post, under Oct. 20, 1784, for 'the learned pig.'

[168] In the first edition Mme. de Sévigné's name is printed Sevigné, in the second Sevigé, in the third Sevigne. Authors and compositors last century troubled themselves little about French words.

[169] Milton had put the same complaint into Adam's mouth:—

'Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? …
… As my will
Concurred not to my being,' &c.

Paradise Lost, x. 743.

[170] See ante, April 10, 1775.

[171] Fielding in the Covent Garden Journal for June 2, 1752 (Works, x. 80), says of the difficulty of admission at the hospitals:—'The properest objects (those I mean who are most wretched and friendless) may as well aspire at a place at Court as at a place in the Hospital.'

[172] 'We were talking of Dr. Barnard, the Provost of Eton. "He was the only man," says Mr. Johnson quite seriously, "that did justice to my good breeding; and you may observe that I am well-bred to a degree of needless scrupulosity. No man," continued he, not observing the amazement of his hearers, "no man is so cautious not to interrupt another; no man thinks it so necessary to appear attentive when others are speaking; no man so steadily refuses preference on himself, or so willingly bestows it on another, as I do; no man holds so strongly as I do the necessity of ceremony, and the ill effects which follow the breach of it; yet people think me rude; but Barnard did me justice."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 36. On p. 258, Mrs. Piozzi writes:—'No one was indeed 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.' See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 27, 1773, where Johnson said:—'Sir, I look upon myself as a very polite man.'

[173] The younger Colman in his boyhood met Johnson and Gibbon. 'Johnson was in his rusty brown and his black worsteds, and Gibbon in a suit of flowered velvet, with a bag and sword. He condescended, once or twice in the course of the evening, to talk with me;—the great historian was light and playful, suiting his matter to the capacity of the boy; but it was done more sua [sic]; still his mannerism prevailed; still he tapped his snuff-box; still he smirked, and smiled, and rounded his periods with the same air of good-breeding, as if he were conversing with men. His mouth, mellifluous as Plato's, was a round hole, nearly in the centre of his visage.' Random Records, i. 121.

[174] Samuel Sharp's Letters from Italy were published in 1766. See ante, ii. 57, note 2, for Baretti's reply to them.

[175] It may be observed, that Mr. Malone, in his very valuable edition of Shakspeare, has fully vindicated Dr. Johnson from the idle censures which the first of these notes has given rise to. The interpretation of the other passage, which Dr. Johnson allows to be disputable, he has clearly shown to be erroneous. BOSWELL. The first note is on the line in Hamlet, act v. sc. 2—

'And many such like as's of great charge.'

Johnson says:—'A quibble is intended between as the conditional particle, and ass the beast of burthen.' On this note Steevens remarked:—'Shakespeare has so many quibbles of his own to answer for, that there are those who think it hard he should be charged with others which perhaps he never thought of.' The second note is on the opening of Hamlet's soliloquy in act iii. sc. i. The line—

'To be, or not to be, that is the question,'

is thus paraphrased by Johnson:—'Before I can form any rational scheme of action under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to decide whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be.'

[176] See post, March 30, April 14 and 15, 1778, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25.

[177] Wesley wrote on Jan. 21, 1767 (Journal, iii. 263):—'I had a conversation with an ingenious man who proved to a demonstration that it was the duty of every man that could to be "clothed in purple and fine linen," and to "fare sumptuously every day;" and that he would do abundantly more good hereby than he could do by "feeding the hungry and clothing the naked." O the depth of human understanding! What may not a man believe if he will?' Much the same argument Johnson, thirty-three years earlier, had introduced in one of his Debates (Works, xi. 349). He makes one of the speakers say:—'Our expenses are not all equally destructive; some, though the method of raising them be vexatious and oppressive, do not much impoverish the nation, because they are refunded by the extravagance and luxury of those who are retained in the pay of the court.' See post, March 23, 1783. The whole argument is nothing but Mandeville's doctrine of 'private vices, public benefits.' See post, April 15, 1778.

[178] See ante, iii. 24.

[179] Johnson no doubt refers to Walpole in the following passage (Works, viii. l37):—'Of one particular person, who has been at one time so popular as to be generally esteemed, and at another so formidable as to be universally detested, Mr. Savage observed that his acquisitions had been small, or that his capacity was narrow, and that the whole range of his mind was from obscenity to politicks, and from politicks to obscenity.' This passage is a curious comment on Pope's lines on Sir Robert—

'Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
Of social pleasure, ill-exchanged for power.'

Epilogue to the Satires, i. 29.

[180] Most likely Boswell himself. See ante, March 25, 1776, and post, April 10, 1778, for Johnson's dislike of questioning. See also ante, ii. 84, note 3.

[181] See ante, April 14, 1775.

[182] See ante, May 12, 1774.

[183] A Gallicism, which has it appears, with so many others, become vernacular in Scotland. The French call a pulpit, la chaire de vérité. CROKER.

[184] As a proof of Dr. Johnson's extraordinary powers of composition, it appears from the original manuscript of this excellent dissertation, of which he dictated the first eight paragraphs on the 10th of May, and the remainder on the 13th, that there are in the whole only seven corrections, or rather variations, and those not considerable. Such were at once the vigorous and accurate emanations of his mind. BOSWELL.

[185] It is curious to observe that Lord Thurlow has here, perhaps in compliment to North Britain, made use of a term of the Scotch Law, which to an English reader may require explanation. To qualify a wrong, is to point out and establish it. BOSWELL.


'Quaeque ipse miserrima vidi,
Et quorum pars magna fui.'

'Which thing myself unhappy did behold,
Yea, and was no small part thereof.'

Morris, Aeneids, ii. 5.

[187] In the year 1770, in The False Alarm, Johnson attacked Wilkes with more than 'some asperity.' 'The character of the man,' he wrote, 'I have no purpose to delineate. Lampoon itself would disdain to speak ill of him, of whom no man speaks well.' He called him 'a retailer of sedition and obscenity;' and he said:—'We are now disputing … whether Middlesex shall be represented, or not, by a criminal from a gaol.' Works, vi. 156, 169, 177. In The North Briton, No. xii, Wilkes, quoting Johnson's definition of a pensioner, asks:—'Is the said Mr. Johnson a dependant? or is he a slave of state, hired by a stipend to obey his master? There is, according to him, no alternative.—As Mr. Johnson has, I think, failed in this account, may I, after so great an authority, venture at a short definition of so intricate a word? A pension then I would call a gratuity during the pleasure of the Prince for services performed, or expected to be performed, to himself, or to the state. Let us consider the celebrated Mr. Johnson, and a few other late pensioners in this light.'

[188] Boswell, in his Letter to the People of Scotland (p. 70), mentions 'my old classical companion, Wilkes;' and adds, 'with whom I pray you to excuse my keeping company, he is so pleasant.'

[189] When Johnson was going to Auchinleck, Boswell begged him, in talking with his father, 'to avoid three topicks as to which they differed very widely; whiggism, presbyterianism, and—Sir John Pringle.' Boswell's Hebrides, Nov 2, 1773. See also ib. Aug 24. 'Pringle was President of the Royal Society—"who sat in Newton's chair, And wonder'd how the devil he got there."' J. H. Burton's Hume, i. 165. He was one of Franklin's friends (Franklin's Memoirs iii. III), and so was likely to be uncongenial to Johnson.

[190] No 22. CROKER. At this house 'Johnson owned that he always found a good dinner.' Post, April 15, 1778.

[191] This has been circulated as if actually said by Johnson; when the truth is, it was only supposed by me. BOSWELL.

[192] 'Don't let them be patriots,' he said to Mr. Hoole, when he asked him to collect a city Club. Post, April 6, 1781.

[193] See p. 7 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[194] 'Indifferent in his choice to sleep or die.' Addison's Cato, act v. sc. 1.

[195] See ante, i. 485.

[196] He was at this time 'employed by Congress as a private and confidential agent in England.' Dr. Franklin had arranged for letters to be sent to him, not by post but by private hand, under cover to his brother, Mr. Alderman Lee. Franklin's Memoirs, ii. 42, and iii. 415.

[197] When Wilkes the year before, during his mayoralty, had presented An Address, 'the King himself owned he had never seen so well-bred a Lord Mayor.' Walpole's Journal of the Reign of George III, i. 484.

[198] Johnson's London, a Poem, v. 145. BOSWELL—

'How when competitors like these contend,
Can surly virtue hope to fix a friend.'

[199] See ante, ii. 154.

[200] Johnson had said much the same at a dinner in Edinburgh. See Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 10, 1773. See ante, March 15, 1776, and post, Sept. 21, 1777.

[201] 'To convince any man against his will is hard, but to please him against his will is justly pronounced by Dryden to be above the reach of human abilities.' The Rambler, No. 93.

[202] Foote told me that Johnson said of him, 'For loud obstreperous broadfaced mirth, I know not his equal.' BOSWELL.

[203] In Farquhar's Beaux-Stratagem, Scrub thus describes his duties: —'Of a Monday I drive the coach, of a Tuesday I drive the plough, on Wednesday I follow the hounds, a Thursday I dun the tenants, on Friday I go to market, on Saturday I draw warrants, and a Sunday I draw beer.' Act iii. sc. 3.

[204] See ante, i. 393, note 1.

[205] See post, April 10, 1778, and April 24, 1779.

[206] See ante, i. 216, note 2.

[207] See ante, March 20, 1776, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22.

[208] Dryden had been dead but thirty-six years when Johnson came to London.

[209] 'Owen MacSwinny, a buffoon; formerly director of the play-house.' Horace Walpole, Letters, i. 118. Walpole records one of his puns. 'Old Horace' had left the House of Commons to fight a duel, and at once 'returned, and was so little moved as to speak immediately upon the Cambrick Bill, which made Swinny say, "That it was a sign he was not ruffled."' Ib. p. 233. See also, ib. vi. 373 for one of his stories.

[210] A more amusing version of the story, is in Johnsoniana (ed. 1836, p. 413) on the authority of Mr. Fowke. '"So Sir," said Johnson to Cibber, "I find you know [knew?] Mr. Dryden?" "Know him? O Lord! I was as well acquainted with him as if he had been my own brother." "Then you can tell me some anecdotes of him?" "O yes, a thousand! Why we used to meet him continually at a club at Button's. I remember as well as if it were but yesterday, that when he came into the room in winter time, he used to go and sit by the fire in one corner; and in summer time he would always go and sit in the window." "Thus, Sir," said Johnson, "what with the corner of the fire in winter and the window in summer, you see that I got much information from Cibber of the manners and habits of Dryden.'" Johnson gives, in his Life of Dryden (Works, vii. 300), the information that he got from Swinney and Cibber. Dr. Warton, who had written on Pope, found in one of the poet's female-cousins a still more ignorant survivor. 'He had been taught to believe that she could furnish him with valuable information. Incited by all that eagerness which characterised him, he sat close to her, and enquired her consanguinity to Pope. "Pray, Sir," said she, "did not you write a book about my cousin Pope?" "Yes, madam." "They tell me t'was vastly clever. He wrote a great many plays, did not he?" "I have heard of only one attempt, Madam." "Oh no, I beg your pardon; that was Mr. Shakespeare; I always confound them."' Wooll's Warton, p. 394.

[211] Johnson told Malone that 'Cibber was much more ignorant even of matters relating to his own profession than he could well have conceived any man to be who had lived nearly sixty years with players, authors, and the most celebrated characters of the age.' Prior's Malone, p. 95. See ante, ii. 92.

[212] 'There are few,' wrote Goldsmith, 'who do not prefer a page of Montaigne or Colley Cibber, who candidly tell us what they thought of the world, and the world thought of them, to the more stately memoirs and transactions of Europe.' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 43.

[213] Essay on Criticism, i. 66.

[214] 'Cibber wrote as bad Odes (as Garrick), but then Gibber wrote The Careless Husband, and his own Life, which both deserve immortality.' Walpole's Letters, v. 197. Pope (Imitations of Horace, II. i. 90), says:—

'All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
And yet deny The Careless Husband praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.'

See ante, April 6, 1775.

[215] See page 402 of vol. i. BOSWELL.

[216] Milton's L'Allegro, 1. 36.

[217] 'CATESBY. My Liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken. RICHARD. Off with his head. So much for Buckingham.' Colley Gibber's Richard III, iv. I.

[218] _Ars Poetica, i. 128.

[219] My very pleasant friend himself, as well as others who remember old stories, will no doubt be surprised, when I observe that John Wilkes here shews himself to be of the WARBURTONIAN SCHOOL. It is nevertheless true, as appears from Dr. Hurd the Bishop of Worcester's very elegant commentary and notes on the 'Epistola ad Pisones.'

It is necessary to a fair consideration of the question, that the whole passage in which the words occur should be kept in view:

'Si quid inexpertum scenae committis, et audes
Personam formare novam, servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.
Difficile est propriè communia dicere: tuque
Rectiùs Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
Quàm si proferres ignota indictaque primus,
Publica materies privati juris erit, si
Non circa vilem patulumque moraberis orbem,
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus
Interpres; nee desilies imitator in artum
Unde pedem proferre pudor vetat aut operis lex.'

The 'Commentary' thus illustrates it: 'But the formation of quite new characters is a work of great difficulty and hazard. For here there is no generally received and fixed archetype to work after, but every one judges of common right, according to the extent and comprehension of his own idea; therefore he advises to labour and refit old characters and subjects, particularly those made known and authorised by the practice of Homer and the Epick writers.'

The 'Note' is,

'Difficile EST PROPRIE COMMUNIA DICERE.' Lambin's Comment is, 'Communia hoc loco appellat Horatius argumenta fabularum à nullo adhuc tractata: et ita, quae cuivis exposita sunt et in medio quodammodo posita, quasi vacua et à nemine occupata.' And that this is the true meaning of communia is evidently fixed by the words ignota indictaque, which are explanatory of it; so that the sense given it in the commentary is unquestionably the right one. Yet, notwithstanding the clearness of the case, a late critick has this strange passage: 'Difficile quidem esse propriè communia dicere, hoc est, materiam vulgarem, notam et è medio petitam, ita immutare atque exornare, ut nova et scriptori propria videatur, ultra concedimus; et maximi procul dubio ponderis ista est observatio. Sed omnibus utrinque collatis, et tum difficilis, tum venusti, tam judicii quam ingenii ratione habitá, major videtur esse gloria fabulam formare penitùs novam, quàm veterem, utcunque mutatam, de novo exhibere. (Poet. Prael. v. ii. p. 164.) Where, having first put a wrong construction on the word comnmnia, he employs it to introduce an impertinent criticism. For where does the poet prefer the glory of refitting old subjects to that of inventing new ones? The contrary is implied in what he urges about the superiour difficulty of the latter, from which he dissuades his countrymen, only in respect of their abilities and inexperience in these matters; and in order to cultivate in them, which is the main view of the Epistle, a spirit of correctness, by sending them to the old subjects, treated by the Greek writers.'

For my own part (with all deference for Dr. Hurd, who thinks the case clear,) I consider the passage, 'Difficile est propriè communia dicere,' to be a crux for the criticks on Horace.

The explication which My Lord of Worcester treats with so much contempt, is nevertheless countenanced by authority which I find quoted by the learned Baxter in his edition of Horace: 'Difficile est propriè communia dicere, h.e. res vulgares disertis verbis enarrare, vel humile thema cum dignitate tractare. Difficile est communes res propriis explicare verbis. Vet. Schol.' I was much disappointed to find that the great critick, Dr. Bentley, has no note upon this very difficult passage, as from his vigorous and illuminated mind I should have expected to receive more satisfaction than I have yet had.

Sanadon thus treats of it: 'Propriè communia dicere; c'est à dire, qu'il n'est pas aisé de former à ces personnages d'imagination, des caractêres particuliers et cependant vraisemblables. Comme l'on a eté le maitre de les former tels qu'on a voulu, les fautes que l'on fait en cela sont moins pardonnables. C'est pourquoi Horace conseille de prendre toujours des sujets connus tels que sont par exemple ceux que l'on peut tirer des poèmes d'Homere.'

And Dacier observes upon it, 'Apres avoir marqué les deux qualités qu'il faut donner aux personnages qu'on invente, il conseille aux Poêtes tragiques, de n'user pas trop facilement de cette liberté quils ont d'en inventer, car il est três difficile de reussir dans ces nouveaux caractêres. Il est mal aisé, dit Horace, de traiter proprement, c'st à dire convenablement, des sujets communs; c'est à dire, des sujets inventés, et qui n'ont aucun fondement ni dans l'Histoire ni dans la Fable; et il les appelle communs, parce qu'ils sont en disposition à tout le monde, et que tout le monde a le droit de les inventer, et qu'ils sont, comme on dit, au premier occupant.' See his observations at large on this expression and the following.

After all, I cannot help entertaining some doubt whether the words, Difficile est propriè communia dicere, may not have been thrown in by Horace to form a separate article in a 'choice of difficulties' which a poet has to encounter, who chooses a new subject; in which case it must be uncertain which of the various explanations is the true one, and every reader has a right to decide as it may strike his own fancy. And even should the words be understood as they generally are, to be connected both with what goes before and what comes after, the exact sense cannot be absolutely ascertained; for instance, whether propriè is meant to signify in an appropriated manner, as Dr. Johnson here understands it, or, as it is often used by Cicero, with propriety, or elegantly. In short, it is a rare instance of a defect in perspicuity in an admirable writer, who with almost every species of excellence, is peculiarly remarkable for that quality. The length of this note perhaps requires an apology. Many of my readers, I doubt not, will admit that a critical discussion of a passage in a favourite classick is very engaging. BOSWELL. Boswell's French in this tedious note is left as he printed it.

[220] Johnson, after describing Settle's attack on Dryden, continues (Works, vii. 277):—'Such are the revolutions of fame, or such is the prevalence of fashion, that the man whose works have not yet been thought to deserve the care of collecting them, who died forgotten in an hospital, and whose latter years were spent in contriving shows for fairs … might with truth have had inscribed upon his stone:—

"Here lies the Rival and Antagonist of Dryden."'

Pope introduces him in The Dunciad, i. 87, in the description of the
Lord Mayor's Show:—

'Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces,
Glad chains, warm furs, broad banners and broad faces.
Now night descending the proud scene was o'er,
But lived in Settle's numbers one day more.'

In the third book the ghost of Settle acts the part of guide in the
Elysian shade.

[221] Johnson implies, no doubt, that they were both Americans by birth. Trecothick was in the American trade, but he was not an American. Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III, iii. 184, note. Of Beckford Walpole says:—'Under a jovial style of good humour he was tyrannic in Jamaica, his native country.' Ib. iv. 156. He came over to England when young and was educated in Westminster School. Stephens's Horne Tooke, ii. 278. Cowper describes 'a jocular altercation that passed when I was once in the gallery [of the House], between Mr. Rigby and the late Alderman Beckford. The latter was a very incorrect speaker, and the former, I imagine, not a very accurate scholar. He ventured, however, upon a quotation from Terence, and delivered it thus, Sine Scelere et Baccho friget venus. The Alderman interrupted him, was very severe upon his mistake, and restored Ceres to her place in the sentence. Mr. Rigby replied, that he was obliged to his worthy friend for teaching him Latin, and would take the first opportunity to return the favour by teaching him English.' Southey's Cowper, iii. 317. Lord Chatham, in the House of Lords, said of Trecothick:—'I do not know in office a more upright magistrate, nor in private life a worthier man.' Parl. Hist. xvi. 1101. See post, Sept. 23, 1777.


'Oft have I heard thee mourn the wretched lot
Of the poor, mean, despised, insulted Scot,
Who, might calm reason credit idle tales,
By rancour forged where prejudice prevails,
Or starves at home, or practises through fear
Of starving arts which damn all conscience here.'

Churchill's Prophecy of Famine, Poems, i. 105.

[223] For Johnson's praise of Lichfield see ante, March 23, 1776. For the use of the word civility, see ante ii. 155.

[224] See ante, i. 447.

[225] See ante, April 18, 1775.

[226] See post, April 15, 1778.

[227] It would not become me to expatiate on this strong and pointed remark, in which a very great deal of meaning is condensed. BOSWELL.

[228] 'Mr. Wilkes's second political essay was an ironical dedication to the Earl of Bute of Ben Jonson's play, The Fall of Mortimer. "Let me entreat your Lordship," he wrote, "to assist your friend [Mr. Murphy] in perfecting the weak scenes of this tragedy, and from the crude labours of Ben Jonson and others to give us a complete play. It is the warmest wish of my heart that the Earl of Bute may speedily complete the story of Roger Mortimer."' Almon's Wilkes, i. 70, 86.

[229] Yet Wilkes within less than a year violently attacked Johnson in parliament. He said, 'The two famous doctors, Shebbeare and Johnson, are in this reign the state hirelings called pensioners.' Their names, he continued, 'disgraced the Civil List. They are the known pensioned advocates of despotism.' Parl. Hist. xix. 118. It is curious that Boswell does not mention this attack, and that Johnson a few months after it was made, speaking of himself and Wilkes, said:—'The contest is now over.' Post, Sept 21, 1777.

[230] The next day he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'For my part, I begin to settle and keep company with grave aldermen. I dined yesterday in the Poultry with Mr. Alderman Wilkes, and Mr. Alderman Lee, and Counsellor Lee, his brother. There sat you the while, so sober, with your W——'s and your H——'s, and my aunt and her turnspit; and when they are gone, you think by chance on Johnson, what is he doing? What should he be doing? He is breaking jokes with Jack Wilkes upon the Scots. Such, Madam, are the vicissitudes of things.' Piozzi Letters, i. 325.

[231] See ante, March 20, 1776.

[232] If he had said this on a former occasion to a lady, he said it also on a latter occasion to a gentleman—Mr. Spottiswoode. Post, April 28, 1778. Moreover, Miss Burney records in 1778, that when Johnson was telling about Bet Flint (post, May 8, 1781) and other strange characters whom he had known, 'Mrs. Thrale said, "I wonder, Sir, you never went to see Mrs. Rudd among the rest." "Why, Madam, I believe I should," said he, "if it was not for the newspapers; but I am prevented many frolics that I should like very well, since I am become such a theme for the papers."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 90.

[233] Pope, Essay on Man, ii. 2.

[234] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on May 14 (Tuesday):—'——goes away on Thursday, very well satisfied with his journey. Some great men have promised to obtain him a place, and then a fig for my father and his new wife.' Piozzi Letters, i. 324. He is writing no doubt of Boswell; yet, as Lord Auchinleck had been married more than six years, it is odd his wife should be called new. Boswell, a year earlier, wrote to Temple of his hopes from Lord Pembroke:—'How happy should I be to get an independency by my own influence while my father is alive!' Letters of Boswell, p. 182. Johnson, in a second letter to Mrs. Thrale, written two days after Boswell left, says:—'B—— went away on Thursday night, with no great inclination to travel northward; but who can contend with destiny? … He carries with him two or three good resolutions; I hope they will not mould upon the road.' Piozzi Letters, i. 333.

[235] 1 Corinthians, xiii. 5.

[236] This passage, which is found in Act iii, is not in the acting copy of Douglas.

[237] Malone was one of these gentlemen. See post, under June 30, 1784. Reynolds, after saying that eagerness for victory often led Johnson into acts of rudeness, while 'he was not thus strenuous for victory with his intimates in tête-à-tête conversations when there were no witnesses,' adds:—'Were I to write the Life of Dr. Johnson I would labour this point, to separate his conduct that proceeded from his passions, and what proceeded from his reason, from his natural disposition seen in his quiet hours.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 462.

[238] These words must have been in the other copy. They are not in that which was preferred. BOSWELL.

[239] On June 3 he wrote that he was suffering from 'a very serious and troublesome fit of the gout. I enjoy all the dignity of lameness. I receive ladies and dismiss them sitting. Painful pre-eminence.' Piozzi Letters, i. 337. 'Painful pre-eminence' comes from Addison's Cato, act iii. sc. 5. Pope, in his Essay on Man, iv. 267, borrows the phrase:—

'Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view,
Above life's weakness and its comforts too.'

It is humorously introduced into the Rolliad in the description of the

'There Cornewall sits, and oh! unhappy fate!
Must sit for ever through the long debate.
Painful pre-eminence! he hears, 'tis true,
Fox, North, and Burke, but hears Sir Joseph too.'

[240] Dean Stanley (Memorials of Westminster Abbey, p. 297) says:— 'One expression at least has passed from the inscription into the proverbial Latin of mankind—

"Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit."'

In a note he adds:—'Professor Conington calls my attention to the fact that, if this were a genuine classical expression, it would be ornaret. The slight mistake proves that it is Johnson's own.' The mistake, of course, is the Dean's and the Professor's, who did not take the trouble to ascertain what Johnson had really written. If we may trust Cradock, Johnson here gave in a Latin form what he had already said in English. 'When a bookseller ventured to say something rather slightingly of Dr. Goldsmith, Johnson retorted:—"Sir, Goldsmith never touches any subject but he adorns it." Once when I found the Doctor very low at his chambers I related this circumstance to him, and it instantly proved a cordial.' Cradock's Memoirs, i. 231.

[241] According to Mr. Forster (Life of Goldsmith, i. 1), he was born on Nov. 10, 1728. There is a passage in Goldsmith's Bee, No. 2, which leads me to think that he himself held Nov. 12 as his birth-day. He says; 'I shall be sixty-two the twelfth of next November.' Now, as The Bee was published in October 1759, he would be, not sixty-two, but just half that number—thirty-one on his next birth-day. It is scarcely likely that he selected the number and the date at random.

[242] Reynolds chose the spot in Westminster Abbey where the monument should stand. Northcote's Reynolds, i. 326.

[243] For A. Chamier, see ante, i. 478, note 1; and post, April 9, 1778: for P. Metcalfe, post, under Dec. 20, 1782. W. Vachell seems only known to fame as having signed this Round Robin, and attended Sir Joshua's funeral. Who Tho. Franklin was I cannot learn. He certainly was not Thomas Francklin, D.D., the Professor of Greek at Cambridge and translator of Sophocles and Lucian, mentioned post, end of 1780. The Rev. Dr. Luard, the Registrar of that University, has kindly compared for me six of his signatures ranging from 1739 to 1770. In each of these the c is very distinct, while the writing is unlike the signature in the Round Robin.

[244] Horace Walpole wrote in Dec. of this year:—'The conversation of many courtiers was openly in favour of arbitrary power. Lord Huntingdon and Dr. Barnard, who was promised an Irish Bishopric, held such discourse publicly.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 91.

[245] He however upon seeing Dr. Warton's name to the suggestion, that the Epitaph should be in English, observed to Sir Joshua, 'I wonder that Joe Warton, a scholar by profession, should be such a fool.' He said too, 'I should have thought Mund Burke would have had more sense.' Mr. Langton, who was one of the company at Sir Joshua's, like a sturdy scholar, resolutely refused to sign the Round Robin. The Epitaph is engraved upon Dr. Goldsmith's monument without any alteration. At another time, when somebody endeavoured to argue in favour of its being in English, Johnson said, 'The language of the country of which a learned man was a native, is not the language fit for his epitaph, which should be in ancient and permanent language. Consider, Sir; how you should feel, were you to find at Rotterdam an epitaph upon Erasmus in Dutch!' For my own part I think it would be best to have Epitaphs written both in a learned language, and in the language of the country; so that they might have the advantage of being more universally understood, and at the same time be secured of classical stability. I cannot, however, but be of opinion, that it is not sufficiently discriminative. Applying to Goldsmith equally the epithets of 'Poetae, Historici, Physici,' is surely not right; for as to his claim to the last of those epithets, I have heard Johnson himself say, 'Goldsmith, Sir, will give us a very fine book upon the subject; but if he can distinguish a cow from a horse, that, I believe, may be the extent of his knowledge of natural history.' His book is indeed an excellent performance, though in some instances he appears to have trusted too much to Buffon, who, with all his theoretical ingenuity and extraordinary eloquence, I suspect had little actual information in the science on which he wrote so admirably. For instance, he tells us that the cow sheds her horns every two years; a most palpable errour, which Goldsmith has faithfully transferred into his book. It is wonderful that Buffon, who lived so much in the country, at his noble seat, should have fallen into such a blunder. I suppose he has confounded the cow with the deer. BOSWELL. Goldsmith says:—'At three years old the cow sheds its horns and new ones arise in their place, which continue as long as it lives.' Animated Nature, iii. 12. This statement remains in the second edition. Johnson said that the epitaph on Sir J. Macdonald 'should have been in Latin, as everything intended to be universal and permanent should be.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 5, 1773. He treated the notion of an English inscription to Smollett 'with great contempt, saying, "an English inscription would be a disgrace to Dr. Smollett."' Ib. Oct. 28, 1773.

[246] Beside this Latin Epitaph, Johnson honoured the memory of his friend Goldsmith with a short one in Greek. See ante, July 5, 1774. BOSWELL.

[247] See ante, Oct. 24, 1775.

[248] Upon a settlement of our account of expences on a Tour to the Hebrides, there was a balance due to me, which Dr. Johnson chose to discharge by sending books. BOSWELL.

[249] See post, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[250] Baretti told me that Johnson complained of my writing very long letters to him when I was upon the continent; which was most certainly true; but it seems my friend did not remember it. BOSWELL.

[251] See ante, iii. 27.

[252] See ante, i. 446, for Johnson's remedies against melancholy.

[253] It was not 'last year' but on June 22, 1772, that the negro, James Somerset—who had been brought to England by his master, had escaped from him, had been seized, and confined in irons on board a ship in The Thames that was bound for Jamaica, and had been brought on a writ of Habeas Corpus before the Court of King's Bench was discharged by Lord Mansfield. Howell's State Trials, xx. 79, and Lofft's Reports, 1772, p. 1. 'Lord Mansfield,' writes Lord Campbell (Lives of the Chief Justices, ii. 418), 'first established the grand doctrine that the air of England is too pure to be breathed by a slave.' According to Lord Campbell, Mansfield's judgment thus ended:—'The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it. Every man who comes into England is entitled to the protection of English law, whatever oppression he may heretofore have suffered, and whatever may be the colour of his skin:

'"Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses."

'Let the negro be discharged.'

Where Lord Campbell found this speech, that is to say if he did not put it together himself, I cannot guess. Mansfield's judgment was very brief. He says in the conclusion:—'The only question before us is, whether the cause on the return [to the writ of habeas corpus] is sufficient. If it is, the negro must be remanded; if it is not, he must be discharged. Accordingly the return states that the slave departed, and refused to serve; whereupon he was kept to be sold abroad. So high an act of dominion must be recognised by the law of the country where it is used. The power of a master over his slave has been extremely different in different countries. The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political…. It is so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law. Whatever inconveniences therefore may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.' Lofft's Reports, 1772, p. 19. 'The judgment of the court,' says Broom (Constitutional Law, 1885, p. 99), 'was delivered by Lord Mansfield, C.J., after some delay, and with evident reluctance.' The passage about the air of England that Campbell puts into Mansfield's mouth is found in Mr. Hargrave's argument on May 14, 1772, where he speaks of England as 'a soil whose air is deemed too pure for slaves to breathe in.' Lofft's Reports, p. 2. Mr. Dunning replied:—'Let me take notice, neither the air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe in, nor the laws of England have rejected servitude.' Ib. p. 12. Serjeant Davy rejoined:—'It has been asserted, and is now repeated by me, this air is too pure for a slave to breathe in. I trust I shall not quit this court without certain conviction of the truth of that assertion.' Ib. p. 17. Lord Mansfield said nothing about the air. The line from Virgil, with which Lord Campbell makes Mansfield's speech end, was 'the happily chosen motto' to Maclaurin's published argument for the negro; Joseph Knight, post, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[254] The son of Johnson's old friend, Mr. William Drummond. (See vol. ii. pp. 26-29.) He was a young man of such distinguished merit, that he was nominated to one of the medical professorships in the College of Edinburgh without solicitation, while he was at Naples. Having other views, he did not accept of the honour, and soon afterwards died. BOSWELL.

[255] In the third and subsequent editions the date is wrongly given as the 16th.

[256] A Florentine nobleman, mentioned by Johnson in his Notes of his Tour in France [ante, Oct. 18, 1775]. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him in London, in the spring of this year. BOSWELL. Mrs. Thrale wrote to Johnson from Bath on May 16:—'Count Manucci would wait seven years to come with you; so do not disappoint the man, but bring him along with you. His delight in your company is like Boniface's exultation when the squire speaks Latin; for understand you he certainly cannot.' Piozzi Letters, i. 328. It was not the squire, but the priest, Foigard, who by his Latin did Boniface good. The Beaux Strategem, act iii. sc. 2.

[257] Pr. and Med. p. 151.

[258] St. James, i. 17.

[259] See ante, ii. 175. Seven and even eight years later Paterson was still a student in need of Johnson's recommendation. Post, June 2, 1783, and April 5, 1784.

[260] See ante, p. 58.

[261] Why his Lordship uses the epithet pleasantly, when speaking of a grave piece of reasoning, I cannot conceive. But different men have different notions of pleasantry. I happened to sit by a gentleman one evening at the Opera-house in London, who, at the moment when Medea appeared to be in great agony at the thought of killing her children, turned to me with a smile, and said, 'funny enough.' BOSWELL.

[262] Dr. Johnson afterwards told me, that he was of opinion that a clergyman had this right. BOSWELL.

[263] Johnson, nearly three years earlier, had said of Granger:—'The dog is a Whig. I do not like much to see a Whig in any dress; but I hate to see a Whig in a parson's gown.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 24, 1773.

[264] 'I did my utmost,' wrote Horace Walpole (Letters, v. 168), 'to dissuade Mr. Granger from the dedication, and took especial pains to get my virtues left out of the question.'


'In moderation placing all my glory,
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.'

Pope, Imitations of Horace, Bk. ii Sat. I. 1. 67.

[266] 'One of the dippers at Brighthelmstone, seeing Mr. Johnson swim in the year 1766, said:—"Why, Sir, you must have been a stout-hearted gentleman forty years ago."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 113. Johnson, in his verses entitled, In Rivum a Mola Stoana Lichfeldiæ diffluentem (Works, i. 163), writes:—

'Errat adhuc vitreus per prata virentia rivus,
Quo toties lavi membra tenella puer;
Hic delusa rudi frustrabar brachia motu,
Dum docuit blanda voce natare pater.'

[267] For this and Dr. Johnson's other letters to Mr. Levett, I am indebted to my old acquaintance Mr. Nathaniel Thomas, whose worth and ingenuity have been long known to a respectable, though not a wide circle; and whose collection of medals would do credit to persons of greater opulence. BOSWELL.

[268] Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale shew the difference between modern Brighton and the Brighthelmstone of his days. Thus he writes:— 'Ashbourne, Sept. 27, 1777. I know not when I shall write again, now you are going to the world's end [i.e. Brighton]. Extra anni solisque vias, where the post will be a long time in reaching you. I shall, notwithstanding all distance, continue to think on you.' Piozzi Letters, i. 387. 'Oct. 6, 1777. Methinks you are now a great way off; and if I come, I have a great way to come to you; and then the sea is so cold, and the rooms are so dull; yet I do love to hear the sea roar and my mistress talk—For when she talks, ye gods! how she will talk. I wish I were with you, but we are now near half the length of England asunder. It is frightful to think how much time must pass between writing this letter and receiving an answer, if any answer were necessary.' Ib. ii. 2.

[269] Boswell wrote to Temple on Nov. 3, 1780:—'I could not help smiling at the expostulation which you suggest to me to try with my father. It would do admirably with some fathers; but it would make mine much worse, for he cannot bear that his son should talk with him as a man. I can only lament his unmelting coldness to my wife and children, for I fear it is hopeless to think of his ever being more affectionate towards them. Yet it must be acknowledged that his paying £1000 of my debt some years ago was a large bounty. He allows me £300 a year.' Letters of Boswell, p. 255.

[270] See ante, Aug. 27, 1775, note.

[271] See ante, p. 48, note 4.

[272] 'He said to me often that the time he spent in this Tour was the pleasantest part of his life, and asked me if I would lose the recollection of it for five hundred pounds.' Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 22, 1773.

[273] Chap. viii. 10. A translation of this work is in Bibliotheca Pastorum, ed. J. Ruskin, vol. i.

[274] 'The chief cause of my deficiency has been a life immethodical and unsettled, which breaks all purposes, confounds and suppresses memory, and perhaps leaves too much leisure to imagination.' Pr. and Med. p. 136.

[275] Johnson wrote to Boswell (ante, June 12, 1774):—'I have stipulated twenty-five for you to give in your own name.' The book was published early in 1775. On Feb. 25, 1775, he wrote:—'I am sorry that I could get no books for my friends in Scotland. Mr. Strahan has at last promised to send two dozen to you.' It is strange that not far short of two years passed before the books were sent.

[276] Boswell had 'expressed his extreme aversion to his father's second marriage.' Letters of Boswell, p. 255—On Sept. 2, 1775, he thus described his step-mother:—'His wife, whom in my conscience I cannot condemn for any capital bad quality, is so narrow-minded, and, I don't know how, so set upon keeping him under her own management, and so suspicious and so sourishly tempered that it requires the utmost exertion of practical philosophy to keep myself quiet.' Ib. p. 216.

[277] See ante, Jan. 19 and May 6, 1775.

[278] See ante, p. 86.

[279] See ante, May 27, 1775.

[280] Macquarry was the chief of Ulva's Isle. 'He told us,' writes Boswell, 'his family had possessed Ulva for nine hundred years; but I was distressed to hear that it was soon to be sold for payment of his debts.' Boswell's Hebrides, Oct 16, 1773.

[281] See ante, March 24, 1776.

[282] Mrs. Thrale gives a long but scarcely credible account of her quarrel with Baretti. It is very unlikely that he used to say to her eldest daughter 'that, if her mother died in a lying-in which happened while he lived here, he hoped Mr. Thrale would marry Miss Whitbred, who would be a pretty companion for her, and not tyrannical and overbearing like me.' Hayward's Piozzi, ii. 336. No doubt in 1788 he attacked her brutally (see ante, p. 49). 'I could not have suspected him,' wrote Miss Burney, 'of a bitterness of invective so cruel, so ferocious.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, iv. 185. The attack was provoked. Mrs. Piozzi, in January, 1788, published one of Johnson's letters, in which he wrote—at all events she says he wrote:—'Poor B——i! do not quarrel with him; to neglect him a little will be sufficient. He means only to be frank, and manly, and independent, and perhaps, as you say, a little wise. To be frank he thinks is to be cynical, and to be independent is to be rude. Forgive him, dearest lady, the rather because of his misbehaviour I am afraid he learnt part of me. I hope to set him hereafter a better example.' Piozzi Letters, i. 277. Malone, in 1789, speaks of 'the roughness for which Baretti was formerly distinguished.' Prior's Malone, p. 391. Mrs. Thrale thus describes his departure: 'My daughter kept on telling me that Mr. Baretti was grown very old and very cross, would not look at her exercises, but said he would leave this house soon, for it was no better than Pandæmonium. The next day he packed up his cloke-bag, which he had not done for three years, and sent it to town; and while we were wondering what he would say about it at breakfast, he was walking to London himself, without taking leave of any one person, except it may be the girl, who owns they had much talk, in the course of which he expressed great aversion to me and even to her, who, [sic] he said, he once thought well of.' Hayward's Piozzi, ii. 339. Baretti, in the Eur. Mag. xiii. 398, told his story. He said:—'Madam took it into her head to give herself airs, and treat me with some coldness and superciliousness. I did not hesitate to set down at breakfast my dish of tea not half drank, go for my hat and stick that lay in the corner of the room, turn my back to the house insalutato hospite, and walk away to London without uttering a syllable.' In a marginal note on Piozzi Letters, i. 338, he says he left Streatham on June 4, 1776. 'I had,' he writes, 'by that time been in a manner one of the family during six years and a-half. Johnson had made me hope that Thrale would at last give me an annuity for my pains, but, never receiving a shilling from him or from her, I grew tired at last, and on some provocation from her left them abruptly.' It should seem that he afterwards made it up with them, for in a note on vol. ii. p. 191, he says of the day of Mr. Thrale's death, 'Johnson and I, and many other friends, were to dine with him that day.' The rest of the note, at all events, is inaccurate, for he says that 'Mrs. Thrale imparted to Johnson the news [of her husband's death],' whereas Johnson saw him die.

[283] Mrs. Piozzi says that this money was given to Baretti as a consolation for the loss of the Italian tour (ante, iii. 6). Hayward's Piozzi, ii. 337.

[284] The Duke of York was present when Foote had the accident by which he lost his leg (ante, ii. 95). Moved by compassion, he obtained for him from the King a royal patent for performances at the Haymarket from May 14 to Sept. 14 in every year. He played but thrice after his retirement. Forster's Essays, ii. 400, 435.

[285] Strahan showed greater sagacity about Gibbon's Decline and Fall, which had been declined by Elmsly. 'So moderate were our hopes,' writes Gibbon (Misc. Works, i. 223), 'that the original impression had been stinted to five hundred, till the number was doubled by the prophetic taste of Mr. Strahan.' Carrick called Strahan 'rather an obtuse man.' Post, April 9 1778.

[286] See post, Sept. 19, 1777, and April 20, 1781.

[287] Johnson, I believe, at this time suffered less than usual from despondency. See ante, iii. 25, note 1. The passage in which these words are found applies to one day only. It is as follows:—'March 28. This day is Good Friday. It is likewise the day on which my poor Tetty was taken from me. My thoughts were disturbed in bed. I remembered that it was my wife's dying day, and begged pardon for all our sins, and commended her; but resolved to mix little of my own sorrows or cares with the great solemnity. Having taken only tea without milk I went to church; had time before service to commend my wife, and wished to join quietly in the service, but I did not hear well, and my mind grew unsettled and perplexed. Having rested ill in the night I slumbered at the sermon, which, I think, I could not as I sat perfectly hear…. At night I had some ease. L.D. [Laus Deo] I had prayed for pardon and peace.' Pr. and Med. p. 153. Hawkins, however (Life, p. 532), says, perhaps with considerable exaggeration, that at this time, 'he sunk into indolence, till his faculties seemed to be impaired; deafness grew upon him; long intervals of mental absence interrupted his conversation, and it was difficult to engage his attention to any subject. His friends concluded that his lamp was emitting its last rays, but the lapse of a short period gave them ample proofs to the contrary.' The proofs were The Lives of the Poets. Johnson himself says of this time:—'Days and months pass in a dream; and I am afraid that my memory grows less tenacious, and my observation less attentive.' Pr. and Med. 160.


'Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind.'

Pope's Essay on Man, i. 99.

[289] '"I inherited," said Johnson, "a vile melancholy from my father, which has made me mad all my life, at least not sober."' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 16, 1773. See ante, i. 65, and post, Sept. 20, 1777.

[290] Pr. and Med. p. 155. BOSWELL.

[291] Pr. and Med. p. 158. BOSWELL.

[292] He continues:—'I passed the afternoon with such calm gladness of mind as it is very long since I felt before. I passed the night in such sweet uninterrupted sleep as I have not known since I slept at Fort Augustus.' See post, Nov. 21, 1778, where in a letter to Boswell he says:—'The best night that I have had these twenty years was at Fort Augustus.' In 1767 he mentions (Pr. and Med. p. 73) 'a sudden relief he once had by a good night's rest in Fetter Lane,' where he had lived many years before. His good nights must have been rare indeed.

[293] Bishop Percy says that he handed over to Johnson various memoranda which he had received from 'Goldsmith's brother and others of his family, to afford materials for a Life of Goldsmith, which Johnson was to write and publish for their benefit. But he utterly forgot them and the subject.' Prior successfully defends Johnson against the charge that he did not include Goldsmith's Life among the Lives of the Poets. 'The copy-right of She Stoops to Conquer was the property of Carnan the bookseller (surviving partner of F. Newbery); and Carnan being "a most impracticable man and at variance with all his brethren," in the words of Malone to the Bishop, he refused his assent, and the project for the time fell to the ground.' But Percy clearly implies that it was a separate work and not one of the Lives that Johnson had undertaken. See Prior's Goldsmith, Preface, p. x. Malone, in a note on Boswell's letter of July 9, 1777, says:—'I collected some materials for a Life of Goldsmith, by Johnson's desire.' He goes on to mention the quarrel with Carnan. It should seem then that Johnson was gathering materials for Goldsmith's Life before the Lives of the Poets were projected; that later on he intended to include it in that series, but being thwarted by Carnan that he did nothing.

[294] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773.

[295] 'I have often desired him not to call me Goldy.' Ib. Oct. 14.

[296] 'The Duke of Argyle was obliging enough to mount Dr. Johnson on a stately steed from his grace's stable. My friend was highly pleased, and Joseph [Boswell's Bohemian servant] said, "He now looks like a bishop."' Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 26.

[297] See ante, ii. 196.

[298] Even Burke falls into the vulgarism of 'mutual friend.' See his Correspondence, i. 196, ii. 251. Goldsmith also writes of 'mutual acquaintance.' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 48.

[299] He means to imply, I suppose, that Johnson was the father of plantations. See ante, under Feb. 7, 1775. note.

[300] For a character of this very amiable man, see Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 36. [Aug. 17.] BOSWELL.

[301] By the then course of the post, my long letter of the 14th had not yet reached him. BOSWELL.

[302] History of Philip the Second. BOSWELL.

[303] See ante, Jan. 21, 1775.

[304] See ante, iii. 48.

[305] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Jan. 15, 1777, that he had had about twelve ounces of blood taken, and then about ten more, and that another bleeding was to follow. 'Yet I do not make it a matter of much form. I was to-day at Mrs. Gardiner's. When I have bled to-morrow, I will not give up Langton nor Paradise. But I beg that you will fetch me away on Friday. I do not know but clearer air may do me good; but whether the air be clear or dark, let me come to you.' Piozzi Letters, i. 344. See post, Sept. 16, 1777, note.

[306] See ante, i. 411, and Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773.

[307] Johnson tried in vain to buy this book at Aberdeen. Ib. Aug. 23.

[308] See ante, May 12, 1775.

[309] No doubt her Miscellanies. Ante, ii. 25.

[310] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 22.

[311] John_son_ is the most common English formation of the Sirname from John; John_ston_ the Scotch. My illustrious friend observed that many North Britons pronounced his name in their own way. BOSWELL. Boswell (Hebrides, Oct. 21, 1773) tells of one Lochbuy who, 'being told that Dr. Johnson did not hear well, bawled out to him, "Are you of the Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan?"'

[312] See post, under Dec. 24, 1783.

[313] Johnson's old amanuensis. Ante, i. 187. Johnson described him as 'a man of great learning.' Croker's Boswell, p. 654.

[314] On account of their differing from him as to religion and politicks. BOSWELL. See post, April 13, 1778. Mr. Croker says that 'the Club had, as its records show, for many of his latter years very little of his company.'

[315] See ante, i. 225 note 2, July 4, 1774, and March 20, 1776.

[316] Boswell was no reader. 'I don't believe,' Johnson once said to him, 'you have borrowed from Waller. I wish you would enable yourself to borrow more.' Ante, April 16, 1775. Boswell wrote to Temple on March 18, 1775:—'I have a kind of impotency of study.' Two months later he wrote:—'I have promised to Dr. Johnson to read when I get to Scotland, and to keep an account of what I read. I shall let you know how I go on. My mind must be nourished.' Letters of Boswell, pp. 181, 195.

[317] Chesterfield's Letters to his Son were published in 1774, and his Miscellaneous Works, together with Memoirs and Letters to his Friends, early in 1777.

[318] 'Whatso it is, the Danaan folk, yea gift-bearing I fear.' Morris, Æneids, ii. 49.

[319] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on March 19, 1777:—'You are all young, and gay, and easy; but I have miserable nights, and know not how to make them better; but I shift pretty well a-days, and so have at you all at Dr. Burney's to-morrow.' Piozzi Letters, i. 345.

[320] A twelfth was born next year. See post, July 3, 1778.

[321] It was March 29.

[322] Pr. and Med. p. 155. BOSWELL

[323] See ante, i. 341, note 3.

[324] See ante, i. 439.

[325] Johnson's moderation in demanding so small a sum is extraordinary. Had he asked one thousand, or even fifteen hundred guineas, the booksellers, who knew the value of his name, would doubtless have readily given it. They have probably got five thousand guineas by this work in the course of twenty-five years. MALONE.

[326] See post, beginning of 1781.

[327] See ante, ii. 272, note 2.

[328] Mr. Joseph Cooper Walker, of the Treasury, Dublin, who obligingly communicated to me this and a former letter from Dr. Johnson to the same gentleman (for which see vol. i. p. 321), writes to me as follows: —'Perhaps it would gratify you to have some account of Mr. O'Connor. He is an amiable, learned, venerable old gentleman, of an independent fortune, who lives at Belanagar, in the county of Roscommon; he is an admired writer, and Member of the Irish Academy.—The above Letter is alluded to in the Preface to the 2nd edit, of his Dissert, p. 3.'—Mr. O'Connor afterwards died at the age of eighty-two. See a well-drawn character of him in the Gent. Mag. for August 1791. BOSWELL.

[329] Mr. Croker shows good reason for believing that in the original letter this parenthesis stood:—'if such there were.'

[330] See ante, i. 292.

[331] 'Johnson had not heard of Pearce's Sermons, which I wondered at, considering that he wrote all the Life published by the Chaplain Derby, except what his Lordship wrote himself.' Letters of Boswell, p. 242. See ante, March 20, 1776.

[332] Boswell, it seems, is here quoting himself. See his Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 201 (Sept. 13, 1773), where, however, he lays the emphasis differently, writing 'fervour of loyalty.'

[333] 'An old acquaintance' of the Bishop says that 'he struggled hard ten years ago to resign his Bishopric and the Deanery of Westminster, in which our gracious King was willing to gratify him; but upon a consultation of the Bishops they thought it could not be done with propriety; yet he was permitted to resign the Deanery.' Gent. Mag. 1775, p. 421.

[334] 'This person, it is said, was a stay-maker, but being a man of wit and parts he betook himself to study, and at a time when the discipline of the inns of court was scandalously lax, got himself called to the Bar, and practised at the quarter-sessions under me, but with little success. He became the conductor of a paper called The Public Ledger and a writer for the stage, in which he met with some encouragement, till it was insinuated that he was a pensioner of the minister, and therefore a fit object of patriotic vengeance.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 518. See ante, ii. 48 note, and post, 1784, in Mr. Nichols's account of Johnson's last days.

[335] 'This address had the desired effect. The play was well received.' Murphy's Garrick, p. 302. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Lichfield, 'Lucy [his step-daughter] thinks nothing of my prologue for Kelly, and says she has always disowned it.' Piozzi Letters, i. 352.

[336] It was composed at a time when Savage was generally without lodging, and often without meat. Much of it was written with pen and ink that were borrowed, on paper that had been picked up in the streets. The unhappy poet 'was obliged to submit himself wholly to the players, and admit with whatever reluctance the emendations of Mr. Cibber, which he always considered as the disgrace of his performance.' When it was brought out, he himself took the part of Overbury. 'He was so much ashamed of having been reduced to appear as a player, that he always blotted out his name from the list when a copy of his tragedy was to be shown to his friends.' Johnson's Works, viii. 110-112.

[337] It was not at Drury-lane, but at Covent Garden theatre, that it was acted. MALONE.

[338] Part First, Chap 4. BOSWELL. See ante ii. 225.

[339] Life of Richard Savage, by Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL.

[340] See ante, i. 387, and post, May 17, 1783.

[341] Sheridan joined the Literary Club in March, 1777. The Rivals and The Duenna were brought out in 1775; The Trip to Scarborough on Feb. 24, 1777, and The School for Scandal in the following May. Moore (Life of Sheridan, i. 168), speaking of The Duenna, says, 'The run of this opera has, I believe, no parallel in the annals of the drama. Sixty-three nights was the career of The Beggar's Opera; but The Duenna was acted no less than seventy-five times during the season.' The Trip to Scarborough was a failure. Johnson, therefore, doubtless referred to The Rivals and The Duenna.

[342] The date is wrongly given. Boswell says that he wrote again on June 23 (post, p. 120), and Johnson's letter of June 28 is in answer to both letters. The right date is perhaps June 9.

[343] See Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 11, 1773.

[344] See pp. 29, 30, of this volume. BOSWELL.

[345] Johnson, describing 'the fond intimacy' of Quin and Thomson, says (Works, viii. 374):—'The commencement of this benevolence is very honourable to Quin, who is reported to have delivered Thomson, then known to him only for his genius, from an arrest by a very considerable present; and its continuance is honourable to both, for friendship is not always the sequel of obligation.'

[346] See ante, ii. 63, and post, June 18, 1778.

[347] Formerly Sub-preceptor to his present Majesty, and afterwards a Commissioner of Excise. MALONE.

[348] The physician and poet. He died in 1779.

[349] Boswell nine years earlier (ante, ii. 63) had heard Johnson accuse Thomson of gross sensuality.

[350] 'Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me he heard a lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of his character, that he was a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously abstinent; but, said Savage, he knows not any love but that of the sex; he was perhaps never in cold water in his life; and he indulges himself in all the luxury that comes within his reach.' Johnson's Works, viii. 377.

[351] Dr. Johnson was not the editor of this Collection of The English Poets; he merely furnished the biographical prefaces. MALONE. See post, Sept. 14, 1777.

[352] See ante, under April 18, 1775.

[353] One letter he seems to have sent to him from this spot. See ante, ii. 3, note 1.

[354] Dr. Johnson had himself talked of our seeing Carlisle together. High was a favourite word of his to denote a person of rank. He said to me, 'Sir, I believe we may at the house of a Roman Catholick lady in Cumberland; a high lady, Sir.' I afterwards discovered he meant Mrs. Strickland, sister of Charles Townley, Esq., whose very noble collection of pictures is not more to be admired, than his extraordinary and polite readiness in shewing it, which I and several of my friends have agreeably experienced. They who are possessed of valuable stores of gratification to persons of taste, should exercise their benevolence in imparting the pleasure. Grateful acknowledgments are due to Welbore Ellis Agar, Esq., for the liberal access which he is pleased to allow to his exquisite collection of pictures. BOSWELL.

[355] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 11, 1773.

[356] It is no doubt, on account of its brevity that Boswell in speaking of it writes:—'What is called The Life.'

[357] See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct, 29, 1773.

[358] See ante, under Feb. 7, 1775.

[359] See post, p. 139.

[360] See ante, i. 494.

[361] From Prior's imitation of Gualterus Danistonus ad Amicos; the poem mentioned by Boswell in his Hebrides, Aug. 18, 1773.

[362] Copy is manuscript for printing.

[363] Hawkins (Life, p. 521) says that the jury did not at the trial recommend Dodd to mercy. To one of the petitions 'Mrs. Dodd first got the hands of the jury that found the bill against her husband, and after that, as it is supposed, of the jury that tried him.' Ib. p. 527. He says that the public were at first very little interested in his fate, 'but by various artifices, and particularly the insertion of his name in public papers, with such palliatives as he and his friends could invent, never with the epithet of unfortunate, they were betrayed into such an enthusiastic commiseration of his case as would have led a stranger to believe that himself had been no accessory to his distresses, but that they were the inflictions of Providence.' Ib. p. 520. Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor on May 19:—'Poor Dodd was sentenced last week…. I am afraid he will suffer. The clergy seem not to be his friends. The populace, that was extremely clamorous against him, begins to pity him. Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 423.

[364] Horace Walpole says 'the criminal was raised to the dignity of a confessor in the eyes of the people—but an inexorable judge had already pronounced his doom. Lord Mansfield, who never felt pity, and never relented unless terrified, had indecently declared for execution even before the judges had given their opinion. An incident that seemed favourable weighed down the vigorous [qu. rigorous] scale. The Common Council had presented a petition for mercy to the king. Lord Mansfield, who hated the popular party as much as he loved severity, was not likely to be moved by such intercessors. At Court it grew the language that the king must discountenance such interposition.' Walpole adds that 'as an attempt to rescue Dodd might be apprehended, two thousand men were ordered to be reviewed in Hyde Park during the execution.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 125.

[365] Johnson, in the 'Observations inserted in the newspapers' (post, p. 142), said 'that though the people cannot judge of the administration of justice so well as their governors, yet their voice has always been regarded. That if the people now commit an error, their error is on the part of mercy; and that perhaps history cannot shew a time in which the life of a criminal, guilty of nothing above fraud, was refused to the cry of nations, to the joint supplication of three and twenty thousand petitioners.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 528. Johnson's earnestness as a petitioner contrasts with the scornful way in which he had spoken of petitions. 'There must be no yielding to encourage this,' the minister might have answered in his own words. Ante, ii. 90.

[366] The king signs no sentences or death warrants; but out of respect to the Royal perogative of mercy, expressed by the old adage, 'The King's face gives grace,' the cases of criminals convicted in London, where the king is supposed to be resident, were reported to him by the recorder, that his Majesty might have an option of pardoning. Hence it was seriously doubted whether a recorder's report need or, indeed, could be made at Windsor. All his Majesty did on these occasions was, to express verbally his assent or dissent to or from the execution of the sentence; and, though the King was on such occasions attended by his Ministers and the great legal Privy Councillors, the business was not technically a council business, but the individual act of the King. On the accession of Queen Victoria, the nature of some cases that it might be necessary to report to her Majesty occasioned the abrogation of a practice which was certainly so far unreasonable that it made a difference between London and all the rest of the kingdom. CROKER. 'I was exceedingly shocked,' said Lord Eldon, 'the first time I attended to hear the Recorder's report, at the careless manner in which, as it appeared to me, it was conducted. We were called upon to decide on sentences affecting no less than the lives of men, and yet there was nothing laid before us to enable us to judge whether there had or had not been any extenuating circumstances; it was merely a recapitulation of the judge's opinion and the sentence. I resolved that I never would attend another report, without having read and duly considered the whole of the evidence of each case, and I never did.' Twiss's Eldon, i. 398.

[367] Under-Secretary of State and a member of the Literary Club. Ante, i. 478.

[368] Johnson does not here let Boswell know that he had written this address (post, p. 141). Wesley, two days before Dodd's execution, records (Journal, iv. 99):—'I saw Dr. Dodd for the last time. He was in exactly such a temper as I wished. He never at any time expressed the least murmuring or resentment at any one; but entirely and calmly gave himself up to the will of God. Such a prisoner I scarce ever saw before; much less such a condemned malefactor. I should think none could converse with him without acknowledging that God is with him.' In earlier years Wesley was more than once refused admittance to a man under sentence of death who was 'earnestly desirous' to speak with him. Wesley's Journal, ed. 1827, i. 255, 292, 378.

[369] Between the Methodists and the Moravians there was no good-will. In 1749 the Moravians published a declaration that 'whosoever reckons that those persons in England who are usually called Moravians, and those who are called Methodists, are the same, he is mistaken.' Thereupon Wesley recorded in his Journal, ii. l20:—'The Methodists, so called, heartily thank Brother Louis for his Declaration; as they count it no honour to be in any connexion either with him or his Brethren.'

[370] Since they have been so much honoured by Dr. Johnson I shall here insert them:


'You know my solemn enthusiasm of mind. You love me for it, and I respect myself for it, because in so far I resemble Mr. Johnson. You will be agreeably surprized when you learn the reason of my writing this letter. I am at Wittemberg in Saxony. I am in the old church where the Reformation was first preached, and where some of the reformers lie interred. I cannot resist the serious pleasure of writing to Mr. Johnson from the Tomb of Melancthon. My paper rests upon the gravestone of that great and good man, who was undoubtedly the worthiest of all the reformers. He wished to reform abuses which had been introduced into the Church; but had no private resentment to gratify. So mild was he, that when his aged mother consulted him with anxiety on the perplexing disputes of the times, he advised her "to keep to the old religion." At this tomb, then, my ever dear and respected friend! I vow to thee an eternal attachment. It shall be my study to do what I can to render your life happy: and, if you die before me, I shall endeavour to do honour to your memory; and, elevated by the remembrance of you, persist in noble piety. May GOD, the Father of all beings, ever bless you! and may you continue to love,

'Your most affectionate friend, and devoted servant,
'Sunday, Sept. 30, 1764.'

'Wilton-house, April 22, 1775.

'Every scene of my life confirms the truth of what you have told me, "there is no certain happiness in this state of being."—I am here, amidst all that you know is at Lord Pembroke's; and yet I am weary and gloomy. I am just setting out for the house of an old friend in Devonshire, and shall not get back to London for a week yet. You said to me last Good-Friday, with a cordiality that warmed my heart, that if I came to settle in London, we should have a day fixed every week, to meet by ourselves and talk freely. To be thought worthy of such a privilege cannot but exalt me. During my present absence from you, while, notwithstanding the gaiety which you allow me to possess, I am darkened by temporary clouds, I beg to have a few lines from you; a few lines merely of kindness, as—a viaticum till I see you again. In your Vanity of Human Wishes, and in Parnell's Contentment, I find the only sure means of enjoying happiness; or, at least, the hopes of happiness. I ever am, with reverence and affection,

'Most faithfully yours,


[371] William Seward, Esq., F.R.S., editor of Anecdotes of some distinguished persons, etc., in four volumes, 8vo., well known to a numerous and valuable acquaintance for his literature, love of the fine arts, and social virtues. I am indebted to him for several communications concerning Johnson. BOSWELL. Miss Burney frequently mentions him as visiting the Thrales. 'Few people do him justice,' said Mrs. Thrale to her, 'because as Dr. Johnson calls him, he is an abrupt young man; but he has excellent qualities, and an excellent understanding.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 141. Miss Burney, in one of her letters, says:—'Mr. Seward, who seems to be quite at home among them, appears to be a penetrating, polite, and agreeable young man. Mrs. Thrale says of him, that he does good to everybody, but speaks well of nobody.' Memoirs of Dr. Burney, ii. 89. He must not be confounded with the Rev. Mr. Seward of Lichfield.

[372] See post, under date of June 18, 1778.

[373] In the list of deaths in the Gent. Mag. for 1779, p. 103, we find, 'Feb. 8. Isaac de Groot, great-grandson to the learned Grotius. He had long been supported by private donations, and at length was provided for in the Charterhouse, where he died.'

[374] The preceding letter. BOSWELL.

[375] This letter was addressed not to a Mr. Dilly, but to Mr. W. Sharp, Junior. See Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 99. CROKER.

[376] See ante, i. 312.

[377] See ante, p. 101.

[378] See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 16.

[379] See ante, p. 86, and post, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[380] Johnson gives both epocha and epoch in his Dictionary.

[381] Langton. See ante, p. 48, and post, Sept. 22, 1777.

[382] This very just remark I hope will be constantly held in remembrance by parents, who are in general too apt to indulge their own fond feelings for their children at the expence of their friends. The common custom of introducing them after dinner is highly injudicious. It is agreeable enough that they should appear at any other time; but they should not be suffered to poison the moments of festivity by attracting the attention of the company, and in a manner compelling them from politeness to say what they do not think. BOSWELL. See ante, p. 28.

[383] Gibbon wrote to Garrick from Paris on Aug. 14:—'At this time of year the society of the Turk's-head can no longer be addressed as a corporate body, and most of the individual members are probably dispersed: Adam Smith in Scotland; Burke in the shades of Beaconsfield; Fox, the Lord or the devil knows where, etc. Be so good as to salute in my name those friends who may fall in your way. Assure Sir Joshua, in particular, that I have not lost my relish for manly conversation and the society of the brown table.' Garrick Corres. ii. 256. I believe that in Gibbon's published letters no mention is found of Johnson.

[384] See ante, ii. 159, and post, April 4, 1778. Of his greatness at the Bar Lord Eldon has left the following anecdote;—'Mr. Dunning, being in very great business, was asked how he contrived to get through it all. He said, "I do one third of it, another third does itself, and the remaining third continues undone."' Twiss's Eldon, i. 327.

[385] It is not easy to detect Johnson in anything that comes even near an inaccuracy. Let me quote, therefore, a passage from one of his letters which shews that when he wrote to Mrs. Boswell he had not, as he seems to imply, eaten any of the marmalade:—'Aug. 4, 1777. I believe it was after I left your house that I received a pot of orange marmalade from Mrs. Boswell. We have now, I hope, made it up. I have not opened my pot.' Piozzi Letters, i. 350.

[386] See ante, March 19, 1776.

[387] What it was that had occured is shewn by Johnson's letter to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 4:—'Boswell's project is disconcerted by a visit from a relation of Yorkshire, whom he mentions as the head of his clan [see ante, ii. 169, note 2]. Boszy, you know, make a huge bustle about all his own motions and all mine. I have inclosed a letter to pacify him, and reconcile him to the uncertainties of human life.' Piozzi Letters, i. 350.

[388] When she was about four months old, Boswell declared that she should have five hundred pounds of additional fortune, on account of her fondness for Dr. Johnson. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 15, 1773. She died, says Malone, of a consumption, four months after her father.

[389] See ante, March 23, 1776.

[390] By an odd mistake, in the first three editions we find a reading in this line to which Dr. Johnson would by no means have subscribed, wine having been substituted for time. That error probably was a mistake in the transcript of Johnson's original letter. The other deviation in the beginning of the line (virtue instead of nature) must be attributed to his memory having deceived him. The verse quoted is the concluding line of a sonnet of Sidney's:—

'Who doth desire that chast his wife should bee,
First be he true, for truth doth truth deserve;
Then be he such, as she his worth may see,
And, alwaies one, credit with her preserve:
Not toying kynd nor causelessly unkynd,
Nor stirring thoughts, nor yet denying right,
Nor spying faults, nor in plaine errors blind,
Never hard hand, nor ever rayns (reins) too light;
As far from want, as far from vaine expence,
Th' one doth enforce, the t'other doth entice:
Allow good companie, but drive from thence
All filthie mouths that glorie in their vice:
This done, thou hast no more but leave the rest
To nature, fortune, time, and woman's breast.'


[391] 2 Corinthians, iv. 17.

[392] Boswell says (ante, i. 342):—'I am not satisfied if a year passes without my having read Rasselas through.'

[393] It appears that Johnson, now in his sixty-eighth year, was seriously inclined to realise the project of our going up the Baltick, which I had started when we were in the Isle of Sky [Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 16]; for he thus writes to Mrs. Thrale; Letters, vol. i. p. 366:—

'Ashbourne, Sept. 13, 1777.

'BOSWELL, I believe, is coming. He talks of being here to day: I shall be glad to see him: but he shrinks from the Baltick expedition, which, I think, is the best scheme in our power: what we shall substitute I know not. He wants to see Wales; but, except the woods of Bachycraigh, what is there in Wales, that can fill the hunger of ignorance, or quench the thirst of curiosity? We may, perhaps, form some scheme or other; but, in the phrase of Hockley in the Hole, it is a pity he has not a better bottom.'

Such an ardour of mind, and vigour of enterprise, is admirable at any age: but more particularly so at the advanced period at which Johnson was then arrived. I am sorry now that I did not insist on our executing that scheme. Besides the other objects of curiosity and observation, to have seen my illustrious friend received, as he probably would have been, by a Prince so eminently distinguished for his variety of talents and acquisitions as the late King of Sweden; and by the Empress of Russia, whose extraordinary abilities, information, and magnanimity, astonish the world, would have afforded a noble subject for contemplation and record. This reflection may possibly be thought too visionary by the more sedate and cold-blooded part of my readers; yet I own, I frequently indulge it with an earnest, unavailing regret. BOSWELL. In The Spectator, No. 436, Hockley in the Hole is described as 'a place of no small renown for the gallantry of the lower order of Britons.' Fielding mentions it in Jonathan Wild, bk. i. ch. 2:— 'Jonathan married Elizabeth, daughter of Scragg Hollow, of Hockley in the Hole, Esq., and by her had Jonathan, who is the illustrious subject of these memoirs.' In The Beggar's Opera, act i. Mrs. Peachum says to Filch: 'You should go to Hockley in the Hole, and to Marylebone, child, to learn valour. These are the schools that have bred so many brave men.' Hockley in the Hole was in Clerkenwell. That Johnson had this valour was shewn two years earlier, when he wrote to Mrs. Thrale about a sum of £14,000 that the Thrales had received: 'If I had money enough, what would I do? Perhaps, if you and master did not hold me, I might go to Cairo, and down the Red Sea to Bengal, and take a ramble in India. Would this be better than building and planting? It would surely give more variety to the eye, and more amplitude to the mind. Half fourteen thousand would send me out to see other forms of existence, and bring me back to describe them.' Piozzi Letters, i. 266. To the 'King of Sweden' late was added in the second edition; Gustavus III having been assassinated in March 1792. The story is somewhere told that George III, on hearing the news, cried out, 'What, what, what! Shot, shot, shot!' The Empress of Russia was Catherine II.

[394] It so happened. The letter was forwarded to my house at Edinburgh. BOSWELL. Arthur Young (Tour through the North of England, iv. 431-5) describes, in 1768, some of the roads along which Boswell was to travel nine years later. 'I would advise all travellers to consider the country between Newcastle-under-Line and Preston as sea, and as soon think of driving into the ocean as venturing into such detestable roads. I am told the Derby way to Manchester is good, but further is not penetrable.' The road from Wigan to Preston he calls 'infernal,' and 'cautions all travellers, who may accidentally purpose to travel this terrible country, to avoid it as they would the devil; for a thousand to one they break their necks or their limbs. They will here meet with ruts which I actually measured four feet deep, and floating with mud only from a wet summer; what therefore must it be after a winter?'

[395] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Sept. 15, 1777:—'Last night came Boswell. I am glad that he is come. He seems to be very brisk and lively, and laughs a little at —— [no doubt Taylor].' Piozzi Letters, i. 368. On the 18th he wrote:—'Boswell is with us in good humour, and plays his part with his usual vivacity.' On this Baretti noted in his copy:—'That is, he makes more noise than anybody in company, talking and laughing loud.' On p. 216 in vol. i. he noted:—'Boswell is not quite right-headed in my humble opinion.'

[396] In the Gent. Mag. for 1777, p. 458, it is described as a 'violent shock.'

[397] 'Grief has its time' he once said (post, June 2, 1781). 'Grief is a species of idleness,' he wrote to Mrs. Thrale (Piozzi Letters, i. 77). He constantly taught that it is a duty not to allow the mind to prey on itself. 'Gaiety is a duty when health requires it' (Croker's Boswell, p. 529). 'Encourage yourself in bustle, and variety, and cheerfulness,' he wrote to Mrs. Thrale ten weeks after the death of her only surviving son (Piozzi Letters, i. 341). 'Even to think in the most reasonable manner,' he said at another time, 'is for the present not useful as not to think.' Ib i. 202. When Mr. Thrale died, he wrote to his widow:—'I think business the best remedy for grief, as soon as it can be admitted.' Ib. ii 197. To Dr. Taylor Johnson wrote:—'Sadness only multiplies self.' Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 461.

[398] 'There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow; but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved, nor will by me at least be thought worthy of esteem.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 198. Against this Baretti has written in the margin:— 'Johnson never grieved much for anything. His trade was wisdom.' See ante, ii. 94.

[399] See ante, iii 19. Mr. Croker gives a reference to p. 136 of his edition. Turning to it we find an account of Johnson, who rode upon three horses. It would seem from this that, because John=Jack, therefore Johnson=Jackson.

[400] Mr. Croker remarks on this:—'Johnson evidently thought, either that Ireland is generally mountainous, or that Mr. Burke came from a part which was: but he was mistaken.' The allusion may well be, not to Burke as a native of Ireland, but to him as a student of national politics and economy, to whom any general reflections on the character of mountaineers would be welcome. In Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 201, it is stated that 'it was the philosophy of the book that Burke thought well of.'

[401] Mr. Langley, I have little doubt, is the Mr. L—— of the following passage in Johnson's letter, written from Ashbourne on July 12, 1775:—'Mr. L—— and the Doctor still continue at variance; and the Doctor is afraid and Mr. L—— not desirous of a reconciliation. I therefore step over at by-times, and of by-times I have enough.' Piozzi Letters, i. 267.

[402] See ante, ii. 52.

[403] George Garrick. See Murphy's Johnson, p. 141.

[404] See ante, March 26, 1776, and post, Sept. 21, 1777.

[405] 'While Lord Bathurst held the Great Seal, an attempt was in vain made to corrupt him by a secret offer to Lady Bathurst of three thousand guineas for the living of St. George's, Hanover Square. The offer was traced to the famous Dr. Dodd, then a King's Chaplain, and he was immediately dismissed.' Campbell's Chancellors, v. 464. See Walpole's Journal of the Reign of George III, i. 298.

[406] Horace Walpole, who accompanied Prince Edward to a service at the Magdalen House in 1760, thus describes the service (Letters, iii. 282): —'As soon as we entered the chapel the organ played, and the Magdalens sung a hymn in parts. You cannot imagine how well. The chapel was dressed with orange and myrtle, and there wanted nothing but a little incense to drive away the devil,—or to invite him. Prayers then began, psalms and a sermon; the latter by a young clergyman, one Dodd, who contributed to the Popish idea one had imbibed, by haranguing entirely in the French style, and very eloquently and touchingly. He apostrophised the lost sheep, who sobbed and cried from their souls: so did my Lady Hertford and Fanny Pelham, till, I believe, the city dames took them both for Jane Shores. The confessor then turned to the audience, and addressed himself to his Royal Highness, whom he called most illustrious prince, beseeching his protection. In short, it was a very pleasing performance, and I got the most illustrious to desire it might be printed.' Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 503) heard Dodd preach in 1769. 'We had,' he says, 'difficulty to get tolerable seats, the crowd of genteel people was so great. The unfortunate young women were in a latticed gallery, where you could only see those who chose to be seen. The preacher's text was, "If a man look on a woman to lust after her," &c. The text itself was shocking, and the sermon was composed with the least possible delicacy, and was a shocking insult on a sincere penitent, and fuel for the warm passions of the hypocrites. The fellow was handsome, and delivered his discourse remarkably well for a reader. When he had finished, there were unceasing whispers of applause, which I could not help contradicting aloud, and condemning the whole institution, as well as the exhibition of the preacher, as contra bonos mores, and a disgrace to a Christian city.' Goldsmith in 1774 exposed Dodd as a 'quacking divine' in his Retaliation. He describes Dr. Douglas as a 'The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks,' and he continues,—

'But now he is gone, and we want a detector,
Our Dodds shall be pious, our Kenricks shall lecture.'

See post, April 7, 1778.

[407] The fifth earl, the successor of the celebrated earl. On Feb. 22, 1777, Dodd was convicted of forging a bond for £4,200 in his name; Ann. Reg. xx. 168. The earl was unfortunate in his tutors, for he had been also under Cuthbert Shaw (ante, ii 31 note 2).

[408] Mr. Croker quotes the following letter of Dodd, dated 1750:—'I spent yesterday afternoon with Johnson, the celebrated author of The Rambler, who is of all others the oddest and most peculiar fellow I ever saw. He is six feet high, has a violent convulsion in his head, and his eyes are distorted. He speaks roughly and loud, listens to no man's opinions, thoroughly pertinacious of his own. Good sense flows from him in all he utters, and he seems possessed of a prodigious fund of knowledge, which he is not at all reserved in communicating; but in a manner so obstinate, ungenteel, and boorish, as renders it disagreeable and dissatisfactory. In short it is impossible for words to describe him. He seems often inattentive to what passes in company, and then looks like a person possessed by some superior spirit. I have been reflecting on him ever since I saw him. He is a man of most universal and surprising genius, but in himself particular beyond expression.' Dodd was born in 1729.

[409] 'One of my best and tenderest friends,' Johnson called him, post, July 31, 1784. See post, April 10, 1778.

[410] The Convict's Address to his Unhappy Brethren: Being a Sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Dodd, Friday, June 6, 1777, in the Chapel of Newgate, while under sentence of death, for forging the name of the Earl of Chesterfield on a bond for £4,200. Sold by the booksellers and news-carriers. Price Two-pence. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Lichfield on Aug. 9:—'Lucy said, "When I read Dr. Dodd's sermon to the prisoners, I said Dr. Johnson could not make a better."'

Piozzi Letters, i. 352. See post, p. 167.

[411] 'What must I do to be saved?' Acts xvi. 30.

[412] 'And finally we must commend and entrust our souls to Him who died for the sins of men; with earnest wishes and humble hopes that He will admit us with the labourers who entered the vineyard at the last hour, and associate us with the thief whom he pardoned on the cross.' p. 14.

[413] The Gent. Mag. for 1777 (p. 450) says of this address:—'As none but a convict could have written this, all convicts ought to read it; and we therefore recommend its being framed, and hung up in all prisons.' Mr. Croker, italicising could and suppressing the latter part of the sentence, describes it as a criticism that must have been offensive to Johnson. The writer's meaning is simple enough. The address, he knew, was delivered in the Chapel of Newgate by a prisoner under sentence of death. If, instead of 'written' he had said 'delivered,' his meaning would have been quite clear.

[414] Having unexpectedly, by the favour of Mr. Stone, of London Field, Hackney, seen the original in Johnson's hand-writing, of 'The Petition of the City of London to his Majesty, in favour of Dr. Dodd,' I now present it to my readers, with such passages as were omitted in-closed in crotchets, and the additions or variations marked in Italicks.

'That William Dodd, Doctor of Laws, now lying under sentence of death in your Majesty's gaol of Newgate, for the crime of forgery, has for a great part of his life set a useful and laudable example of diligence in his calling, [and as we have reason to believe, has exercised his ministry with great fidelity and efficacy,] which, in many instances, has produced the most happy effect.

'That he has been the first institutor, [or] and a very earnest and active promoter of several modes of useful charity, and [that] therefore [he] may be considered as having been on many occasions a benefactor to the publick.

'[That when they consider his past life, they are willing to suppose his late crime to have been not the consequence of habitual depravity, but the suggestion of some sudden and violent temptation.]

'[That] Your Petitioners therefore considering his case, as in some of its circumstances unprecedented and peculiar, and encouraged by your Majesty's known clemency, [they] most humbly recommend the said William Dodd to [his] your Majesty's most gracious consideration, in hopes that he will be found not altogether [unfit] unworthy to stand an example of Royal Mercy.' BOSWELL.

[415] His Speech at the Old Bailey, when found guilty. BOSWELL.

[416] In the second edition he is described as 'now Lord Hawkesbury.' He had entered public life as Lord Bute's private secretary, and, according to Horace Walpole, continued in it as his tool.' Memoirs of the Reign of George III, iv. 70, 115. Walpole speaks of him as one of 'the Jesuits of the Treasury' (Ib. p. 110), and 'the director or agent of all the King's secret counsels. His appearance was abject, his countenance betrayed a consciousness of secret guilt; and, though his ambition and rapacity were insatiate, his demeanour exhibited such a want of spirit, that had he stood forth as Prime Minister, which he really was, his very look would have encouraged opposition.' Ib. p. 135. The third Earl of Liverpool wrote to Mr. Croker on Dec. 7, 1845: —'Very shortly before George III's accession my father became confidential secretary of Lord Bute, if you can call secretary a man who all through his life was so bad a penman that he always dictated everything, and of whom, although I have a house full of papers, I have scarcely any in his own hand.' Croker Corres. iii. 178. The editor is in error in saying that the Earl of Liverpool who wrote this was son of the Prime Minister. He was his half-brother.

[417] Burke wrote to Garrick of Fitzherbert:—'You know and love him; but I assure you, until we can talk some late matters over, you, even you, can have no adequate idea of the worth of that man.' Garrick Corres. i. 190. See ante, i. 82.

[418] 'I remember a man,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (Synonomy, i. 2l7), 'much delighted in by the upper ranks of society, who upon a trifling embarrassment in his affairs hanged himself behind the stable door, to the astonishment of all who knew him as the liveliest companion and most agreeable converser breathing. "What upon earth," said one at our house, "could have made—[Fitzherbert] hang himself?" "Why, just his having a multitude of acquaintance," replied Dr. Johnson, "and ne'er a friend."' See ante, ii. 228.

[419] Dr. Gisborne, Physician to his Majesty's Household, has obligingly communicated to me a fuller account of this story than had reached Dr. Johnson. The affected Gentleman was the late John Gilbert Cooper, Esq., author of a Life of Socrates, and of some poems in Dodsley's Collection. Mr. Fitzherbert found him one morning, apparently, in such violent agitation, on account of the indisposition of his son, as to seem beyond the power of comfort. At length, however, he exclaimed, 'I'll write an Elegy.' Mr. Fitzherbert being satisfied, by this, of the sincerity of his emotions, slyly said, 'Had not you better take a postchaise and go and see him?' It was the shrewdness of the insinuation which made the story be circulated. BOSWELL. Malone writes:—'Mr. Cooper was the last of the benevolists or sentimentalists, who were much in vogue between 1750 and 1760, and dealt in general admiration of virtue. They were all tenderness in words; their finer feeling evaporated in the moment of expression, for they had no connection with their practice.' Prior's Malone, p. 427. See ante, ii. 129. This fashion seems to have reached Paris a few years later. Mme. Riccoboni wrote to Garrick on May 3, 1769:—'Dans notre brillante capitale, où dominent les airs et la mode, s'attendrir, s'émouvoir, s'affliger, c'est le bon ton du moment. La bonté, la sensibilité, la tendre humanité sont devenues la fantaisie universelle. On ferait volontiers des malheureux pour goûter la douceur de les plaindre.' Garrick Corres. ii. 561.

[420] Johnson had felt the truth of this in the case of 'old Mr. Sheridan.' Ante, i. 387.

[421] Johnson, in his letters from Ashbourne, used to joke about Taylor's cattle:—'July 23, 1770. I have seen the great bull, and very great he is. I have seen likewise his heir apparent, who promises to enherit all the bulk and all the virtues of his sire, I have seen the man who offered an hundred guineas for the young bull, while he was yet little better than a calf.' Piozzi Letters, i. 33. 'July 3, 1771. The great bull has no disease but age. I hope in time to be like the great bull; and hope you will be like him too a hundred years hence.' Ib. p. 39. 'July 10, 1771. There has been a man here to-day to take a farm. After some talk he went to see the bull, and said that he had seen a bigger. Do you think he is likely to get the farm?' Ib. p. 43. 'Oct. 31, 1772. Our bulls and cows are all well; but we yet hate the man that had seen a bigger bull.' Ib. p. 61.

[422] Quoted by Boswell in his Hebrides, Aug. 16, 1773.

[423] In the letters that Boswell and Erskine published (ante, 384, note) are some verses by Erskine, of very slight merit.

[424] Horace, Odes, ii. 4.


'The tender glance, the red'ning cheek,
O'erspread with rising blushes,
A thousand various ways they speak
A thousand various wishes.'

Hamilton's Poems, ed. 1760, p. 59.

[426] In the original, Now. Ib. p. 39.

[427] Thomson, in The Seasons, Winter, 1. 915, describes how the ocean

'by the boundless frost Is many a fathom to the bottom chain'd.'

In 1. 992, speaking of a thaw, he says,

'The rivers swell of bonds impatient.'

[428] See ante March 24, 1776.

[429] Johnson wrote of Pope (Works, viii. 309):—'The indulgence and accommodation which his sickness required had taught him all the unpleasing and unsocial qualities of a valetudinary man.'

[430] When he was ill of a fever he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'The doctor was with me again to-day, and we both think the fever quite gone. I believe it was not an intermittent, for I took of my own head physick yesterday; and Celsus says, it seems, that if a cathartick be taken the fit will return certo certius. I would bear something rather than Celsus should be detected in an error. But I say it was a febris continua, and had a regular crisis.' Piozzi Letters, i. 89.

[431] Johnson must have shortened his life by the bleedings that he underwent. How many they were cannot be known, for no doubt he was often bled when he has left no record of it. The following, however, I have noted. I do not know that he was bled more than most people of his time. Dr. Taylor, it should seem, underwent the operation every quarter.

Dec. 1755. Thrice. 54 ounces. Croker's Boswell, p. 100.

Jan. 1761. Once. Ib. p. 122.

April 1770. Cupped. Pemb. Coll. MSS.

Winter of 1772-3. Three times. Ante, ii. 206, and Pemb. Coll. MSS.

May 1773. Two copious bleedings. Pr. and Med. 130.

1774. Times not mentioned. 36 ounces. Piozzi Letters, i. 209.

Jan. 1777. Three bleedings. 22 ounces in first two. Ib. i. 343.

Jan. 1780. Once. Post, Jan. 20, 1780.

June 1780. Times not mentioned. Croker's Boswell, p. 649.

Jan. and Feb. 1782. Thrice. 50 ounces. Post, Feb. 4 and March 20, 1782.

May 1782. At least once. Post, under March 19, 1782, and Piozzi
, ii. 240.

Yet he wrote to Mrs. Thrale, 'I am of the chymical sect, which holds phlebotomy in abhorrence.' Ib. ii. 240. 'O why,' asks Wesley, who was as strongly opposed to bleeding as he was fond of poulticing, 'will physicians play with the lives of their patients? Do not others (as well as old Dr. Cockburn) know that "no end is answered by bleeding in a pleurisy, which may not be much better answered without it?"' Wesley's Journal, ii. 310. 'Dr. Cheyne,' writes Pope, 'was of Mr. Cheselden's opinion, that bleeding might be frequently repeated with safety, for he advised me to take four or five ounces every full moon.' Elwin and Courthope's Pope's Works, ix. 162.

[432] 'It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him he is at the end of his nature.' _Sir Thomas Browne _quoted in Johnson's Works, vi. 485. See post, April 15, 1778, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 12, 1773.

[433] In the last number of The Idler Johnson says:—'There are few things not purely evil of which we can say without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last…. The secret horrour of the last is inseparable from a thinking being whose life is limited, and to whom death is dreadful.'

[434] In the first edition for scarce any man we find almost no man. See ante, March 20, 1776, note.

[435] Bacon, in his Essay on Death, says:—'It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak but it mates and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him.' In the De Aug. Sci. vi. 3. 12, he says:—'Non invenias inter humanos affetum tam pusillum, qui si intendatur paullo vehementius, non mortis metum superet.'

[436] Johnson, in his Lives of Addison and Parnell (Works, vii. 399, 449), mentions that they drank too freely. See post, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[437] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. 3d edit. p. 240 [Sept. 22]. BOSWELL.

[438] In the Life of Addison (Works, vii. 444) he says:—'The necessity of complying with times, and of sparing persons, is the great impediment of biography. History may be formed from permanent monuments and records; but Lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost for ever. What is known can seldom be immediately told; and when it might be told, it is no longer known. The delicate features of the mind, the nice discriminations of character, and the minute peculiarities of conduct, are soon obliterated; and it is surely better that caprice, obstinacy, frolick and folly, however they might delight in the description, should be silently forgotten, than that, by wanton merriment and unseasonable detection, a pang should be given to a widow, a daughter, a brother, or a friend. As the process of these narratives is now bringing me among my contemporaries, I begin to feel myself "walking upon ashes under which the fire is not extinguished," and coming to the time of which it will be proper rather to say "nothing that is false, than all that is true."' See ante, i. 9, and 30.

[439] Dr. Taylor was very ready to make this admission, because the party with which he was connected was not in power. There was then some truth in it, owing to the pertinacity of factious clamour. Had he lived till now, it would have been impossible for him to deny that his Majesty possesses the warmest affection of his people. BOSWELL. See post, March 21, 1783.

[440] The Duke of York in 1788, speaking in the House of Lords on the King's illness, said:—'He was confident that his Royal Highness [the Prince of Wales] understood too well the sacred principles which seated the House of Brunswick on the throne of Great Britain ever to assume or exercise any power, be his claim what it might, not derived from the will of the people, expressed by their representatives, and their lordships in parliament assembled.' Parl. Hist. xxvii. 678.

[441] See ante, i. 430.

[442] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 18, 1773, and post, under date of Sept. 9, 1779, note.

[443] 'The return of my birth-day,' he wrote in 1773, 'if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.' Piozzi Letters, i. 134. In 1781 he viewed the day with calmness, if not with cheerfulness. He writes:—'I rose, breakfasted, and gave thanks at church for my creation, preservation and redemption. As I came home, I thought I had never begun any period of life so placidly. I have always been accustomed to let this day pass unnoticed, but it came this time into my mind that some little festivity was not improper. I had a dinner; and invited Allen and Levet.' Pr. and Med. p. 198. In 1783 he again had 'a little dinner,' and invited four friends to keep the day. Croker's Boswell, p. 739. At Streatham the day, it would seem, was always kept. Mrs. Piozzi writes (Anec. p. 211):—'On the birthday of our eldest daughter, and that of our friend, Dr. Johnson, the 17th and 18th of September, we every year made up a little dance and supper to divert our servants and their friends.'

[444] The son of a Mr. Coxeter, 'a gentleman,' says Johnson, 'who was once my friend,' enlisted in the service of the East India Company. Johnson asked Mr. Thrale to use his influence to get his discharge. Piozzi Letters, i. 33.

[445] The bookseller whom Johnson beat, ante, i. 154.

[446] 'When a well-known author published his poems in the year 1777, "Such a one's verses are come out," said I: "Yes," replied Johnson, "and this frost has struck them in again. Here are some lines I have written to ridicule them; but remember that I love the fellow dearly now—for all I laugh at him.

'Wheresoe'er I turn my view,
All is strange, yet nothing new;
Endless labour all along,
Endless labour to be wrong;
Phrase that time has flung away;
Uncouth words in disarray,
Trick'd in antique ruff and bonnet,
Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.'"'

Piozzi's Anec. p. 64.

Thomas Warton in 1777 published a volume of his poems. He, no doubt, is meant.

[447] In The Rambler, No. 121. Johnson, twenty-six years earlier, attacked 'the imitation of Spenser, which, by the influence of some men of learning and genius, seems likely to gain upon the age…. They seem to conclude that, when they have disfigured their lines with a few obsolete syllables, they have accomplished their design, without considering that they ought, not only to admit old words, but to avoid new. The laws of imitation are broken by every word introduced since the time of Spenser.'

[448] Warton's Ode on the First of April is found a line which may have suggested these two lines:—'The morning hoar, and evening chill.'

[449] 'Collins affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, seeming to think, with some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry.' Johnson's Works, viii. 404. Goldsmith, eleven years earlier, said in his Life of Parnell (Misc. Works, iv. 22):—'These misguided innovators have not been content with restoring antiquated words and phrases, but have indulged themselves in the most licentious transpositions and the harshest constructions, vainly imagining that the more their writings are unlike prose, the more they resemble poetry.' Collins and Warton might have quoted by way of defence the couplet in Milton's L'Allegro.—

'While the cock with lively din
Scatters the rear of darkness thin.'

[450] As some of my readers may be gratified by reading the progress of this little composition, I shall insert it from my notes. 'When Dr. Johnson and I were sitting tête-à-tête at the Mitre tavern, May 9, 1778, he said "Where is bliss," would be better. He then added a ludicrous stanza, but would not repeat it, lest I should take it down. It was somewhat as follows; the last line I am sure I remember:

"While I thus cried,
The hoary seer reply'd,
Come, my lad, and drink some beer."

In spring, 1779, when in better humour, he made the second stanza, as in the text. There was only one variation afterwards made on my suggestion, which was changing hoary in the third line to smiling, both to avoid a sameness with the epithet in the first line, and to describe the hermit in his pleasantry. He was then very well pleased that I should preserve it.' BOSWELL.

[451] When I mentioned Dr. Johnson's remark to a lady of admirable good sense and quickness of understanding, she observed, 'It is true, all this excludes only one evil; but how much good does it let in?'—To this observation much praise has been justly given. Let me then now do myself the honour to mention that the lady who made it was the late Margaret Montgomerie, my very valuable wife, and the very affectionate mother of my children, who, if they inherit her good qualities, will have no reason to complain of their lot. Dos magna parentum virtus. BOSWELL. The latter part of this note was first given in the second edition. The quotation if from Horace:—

'Cos est magna parentium Virtus.'
'The lovers there for dowry claim
The father's virtue and the mother's fame.'

FRANCIS, Horace, Odes, iii. 24. 21.

[452] He saw it in 1774 on his way to Wales; but he must, I think, have seen it since, for it does not appear from his Journal of a Tour into Wales that he then saw Lord Scarsdale. He met him also at Dr. Taylor's in July 1775. Piozzi Letters, i. 267.

[453] I do not find the description in Young's Six Months' Tour through the North of England, but in Pilkington's Present State of Derbyshire, ii. 120.


'Quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris?'
'What place, what land in all the earth but with our grief is stored?'

Morris, Æneids, i. 460.

[455] See ante, March 21 and 28, 1776.

[456] At Derby.

[457] Baretti in his Italy, i. 236, says:—'It is the general custom for our authors to make a present of their works to booksellers, who in return scarcely give a few copies when printed.' The Venetian bookseller to whom Metastasio gave his cleared, Baretti says, more than £10,000. Goldoni scarcely got for each of his plays ten pounds from the manager of the Venetian theatre, and much less from the booksellers. 'Our learned stare when they are told that in England there are numerous writers who get their bread by their productions only.'

[458] I am now happy to understand, that Mr. John Home, who was himself gallantly in the field for the reigning family, in that interesting warfare, but is generous enough to do justice to the other side, is preparing an account of it for the press. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle, who knew Home well, says (Auto. p. 295):—'All his opinions of men and things were prejudices, which, though it did not disqualify him for writing admirable poetry, yet made him unfit for writing history.' See ante, i. 225, for Boswell's projected works.

[459] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale the next day:—'The finer pieces [of the Derby china] are so dear that perhaps silver vessels of the same capacity may be sometimes bought at the same price; and I am not yet so infected with the contagion of china-fancy as to like anything at that rate which can so easily be broken.' Piozzi Letters, i. 380.

[460] See ante, April 14, 1775.

[461] See Hutton's History of Derby, a book which is deservedly esteemed for its information, accuracy, and good narrative. Indeed the age in which we live is eminently distinguished by topographical excellence. BOSWELL. According to Hutton the Italians at the beginning of the eighteenth century had 'the exclusive art of silk-throwing.' Lombe went to Italy, and by bribery got admittance into the works. Having mastered the secret he returned to England with two of the workmen. About the year 1717 he founded a great silk-mill at Derby. He died early, being poisoned, it was asserted, by an Italian woman who had been sent over to destroy him. In this mill, Hutton, as a child, 'had suffered intolerable severity.' Hutton's Derby, pp. 193-205.

[462] 'I have enlarged my notions,' recorded Johnson in his Journal of a Tour into Wales (Aug. 3, 1774), after he had seen some iron-works.

[463] Young. BOSWELL.

'Think nought a trifle, though it small appear.'
Small sands the mountain, moments make the year,
And trifles life.'

Love of Fame, Satire vi.

[464] 'Pray, Sir, don't leave us;' said Johnson to an upholder of Berkeley's philosophy, 'for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and then you will cease to exist.' Post, 1780, in Langton's Collection. See also ante, i. 471.

[465] Perhaps Boswell is thinking of Gray's lines at the close of the Progress of Poesy:—

'Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate.'

[466] Goldsmith wrote:—'In all Pope's letters, as well as in those of Swift, there runs a strain of pride, as if the world talked of nothing but themselves. "Alas," says he in one of them, "the day after I am dead the sun will shine as bright as the day before, and the world will be as merry as usual." Very strange, that neither an eclipse nor an earthquake should follow the loss of a poet!' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 85. Goldsmith refers, I suppose, to Pope's letter to Steele of July 15, 1712, where he writes:—'The morning after my exit the sun will rise as bright as ever, the flowers smell as sweet, the plants spring as green, the world will proceed in its old course, people will laugh as heartily, and marry as fast as they were used to do.' Elwin's Pope's Works, vi. 392. Gray's friend, Richard West, in some lines suggested by this letter, gives a pretty turn to Pope's thoughts where he says:—

'For me, whene'er all-conquering Death shall spread
His wings around my unrepining head,
I care not; tho' this face be seen no more,
The world will pass as cheerful as before;
Bright as before the day-star will appear,
The fields as verdant, and the skies as clear.'

Mason's Gray, ed. 1807, i. 152.

[467] See post, April 12, 1778.

[468] A brother of Dodd's wife told Hawkins that 'Dodd's manner of living was ever such as his visible income would no way account for. He said that he was the most importunate suitor for preferment ever known; and that himself had been the bearer of letters to great men, soliciting promotion to livings, and had hardly escaped kicking down stairs.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 435.

[469] Hawkins (Life, p. 523) says that a Mr. Selwin, who just missed being elected Chamberlain of the City, went by request to see a man under sentence of death in Newgate, 'who informed him that he was in daily expectation of the arrival of the warrant for his execution; "but," said he, "I have £200, and you are a man of character, and had the court-interest when you stood for Chamberlain; I should therefore hope it is in your power to get me off." Mr. Selwin was struck with so strange a notion, and asked, if there were any alleviating circumstances in his case. The man peevishly answered "No;" but that he had enquired into the history of the place where he was, and could not find that any one who had £200 was ever hanged. Mr. Selwin told him it was out of his power to help him, and bade him farewell—"which," added he, "he did; for he found means to escape punishment."'

[470] Dodd, in his Dedication of this Sermon to Mr. Villette, the Ordinary of Newgate, says:—'The following address owes its present public appearance to you. You heard it delivered, and are pleased to think that its publication will be useful. To a poor and abject worm like myself this is a sufficient inducement to that publication.'

[471] See ante, p. 97. 'They have,' says Lowndes (Bibl. Man.), 'passed through innumerable editions.' To how many the book-stalls testify, where they are offered second-hand for a few pence.

[472] Goldsmith was thirty when he published An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe; thirty-six when he published The Traveller; thirty-seven when he published The Vicar of Wakefield, and thirty-nine when he brought out The Good-Natured Man. In flowering late he was like Swift. 'Swift was not one of those minds which amaze the world with early pregnancy; his first work, except his few poetical Essays, was the Dissentions in Athens and Rome, published in his thirty-fourth year.' Johnson's Works, viii. 197. See post, April 9, 1778.

[473] Burke, I think, is meant.

[474] This walking about his room naked was, perhaps, part of Lord Monboddo's system that was founded 'on the superiority of the savage life.' Ante, ii. 147.

[475] This regimen was, however, practised by Bishop Ken, of whom Hawkins (not Sir John) in his life of that venerable Prelate, p. 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 chearful 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 chearfulness to sing his morning hymn, as he then used to do to his lute before he put on his cloaths.' BOSWELL.

[476] See ante, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[477] Boswell shortened his life by drinking, if, indeed, he did not die of it. Less than a year before his death he wrote to Temple:—'I thank you sincerely for your friendly admonition on my frailty in indulging so much in wine. I do resolve anew to be upon my guard, as I am sensible how very pernicious as well as disreputable such a habit is! How miserably have I yielded to it in various years!' Letters of Boswell, p. 353. In 1776 Paoli had taken his word of honour that he would not taste fermented liquor for a year, that he might recover sobriety. Ib. p. 233. For a short time also in 1778 Boswell was a water-drinker, Post, April 28, 1778.

[478] Sir James Mackintosh told Mr. Croker that he believed Lord Errol was meant here as well as post, April 28, 1778. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773.

[479] 'Must give us pause.' Hamlet, act iii. sc. 1.

[480] 'He was the first,' writes Dr. T. Campbell (Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 373), 'who gave histories of the weather, seasons, and diseases of Dublin.' Wesley records (Journal, iv. 40):—'April 6, 1775. I visited that venerable man, Dr. Rutty, just tottering over the grave; but still clear in his understanding, full of faith and love, and patiently waiting till his change should come.'

[481] Cowper wrote of Johnson's Diary:—'It is certain that the publisher of it is neither much a friend to the cause of religion nor to the author's memory; for, by the specimen of it that has reached us, it seems to contain only such stuff as has a direct tendency to expose both to ridicule.' Southey's Cowper, v. 152.

[482] Huet, Bishop of Avranches, born 1630, died 1721, published in 1718 Commentarius de rebus ad eum pertinentibus. Nouv. Biog. Gene. xxv. 380.

[483] When Dr. Blair published his Lectures, he was invidiously attacked for having omitted his censure on Johnson's style, and, on the contrary, praising it highly. But before that time Johnson's Lives of the Poets had appeared, in which his style was considerably easier than when he wrote The Rambler. It would, therefore, have been uncandid in Blair, even supposing his criticism to have been just, to have preserved it. BOSWELL.

[484] Johnson refers no doubt to the essay On Romances, An Imitation, by A. L. Aikin (Mrs. Barbauld); in Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose, by J. and A. L. Aikin (1773), p. 39. He would be an acute critic who could distinguish this Imitation from a number of The Rambler.

[485] See post, under Dec. 6, 1784.

[486] Id est, The Literary Scourge.

[487] See ante, ii. 236, where Johnson attacks 'the verbiage of Robertson.'

[488] 'We were now treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such rigid philosophy, as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery or virtue. The [That] man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.' Had our Tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. Sir Joseph Banks, the present respectable President of the Royal Society, told me, he was so much struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in an attitude of silent admiration. BOSWELL. See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 19, 1773, and Johnson's Works, ix. 145.

[489] 'He that thinks with more extent than another will want words of larger meaning.' Ante, i. 218.

[490] In the original island.

[491] See ante, ii. 203, note 3.

[492] In this censure which has been carelessly uttered, I carelessly joined. But in justice to Dr. Kippis, who with that manly candid good temper which marks his character, set me right, I now with pleasure retract it; and I desire it may be particularly observed, as pointed out by him to me, that 'The new lives of dissenting Divines in the first four volumes of the second edition of the Biographia Brittanica, are those of John Abernethy, Thomas Amory, George Benson, Hugh Broughton the learned Puritan, Simon Browne, Joseph Boyse of Dublin, Thomas Cartwright the learned Puritan, and Samuel Chandler. The only doubt I have ever heard suggested is, whether there should have been an article of Dr. Amory. But I was convinced, and am still convinced, that he was entitled to one, from the reality of his learning, and the excellent and candid nature of his practical writings.

'The new lives of clergymen of the Church of England, in the same four volumes, are as follows: John Balguy, Edward Bentham, George Berkley Bishop of Cloyne, William Berriman, Thomas Birch, William Borlase, Thomas Bott, James Bradley, Thomas Broughton, John Brown, John Burton, Joseph Butler Bishop of Durham, Thomas Carte, Edmund Castell, Edmund Chishull, Charles Churchill, William Clarke, Robert Clayton Bishop of Clogher, John Conybeare Bishop of Bristol, George Costard, and Samuel Croxall.—"I am not conscious (says Dr. Kippis) of any partiality in conducting the work. I would not willingly insert a Dissenting Minister that does not justly deserve to be noticed, or omit an established Clergyman that does. At the same time, I shall not be deterred from introducing Dissenters into the Biographia, when I am satisfied that they are entitled to that distinction, from their writings, learning, and merit."'

Let me add that the expression 'A friend to the Constitution in Church and State,' was not meant by me, as any reflection upon this reverend gentleman, as if he were an enemy to the political constitution of his country, as established at the revolution, but, from my steady and avowed predilection for a Tory, was quoted from Johnson's Dictionary, where that distinction is so defined. BOSWELL. In his Dictionary a Tory is defined as 'one who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of England.' It was on the Biographia Britannica that Cowper wrote the lines that end:—

'So when a child, as playful children use,
Has burnt to tinder a stale last year's news,
The flame extinct he views the roving fire,
There goes my lady, and there goes the squire,
There goes the parson, oh! illustrious spark,
And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.'

Cowper's Works, viii. 320.

Horace Walpole said that the 'Biographia Britannica ought rather to be called Vindicatio Britannica, for that it was a general panegyric upon everybody.' Prior's Malone, p. 115.

[493] See ante, p. 99.


'Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.'

Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, 1, 163.

[495] Observations on Insanity, by Thomas Arnold, M.D., London, 1782. BOSWELL.

[496] We read in the Gospels, that those unfortunate persons who were possessed with evil spirits (which, after all, I think is the most probable cause of madness, as was first suggested to me by my respectable friend Sir John Pringle), had recourse to pain, tearing themselves, and jumping sometimes into the fire, sometimes into the water. Mr. Seward has furnished me with a remarkable anecdote in confirmation of Dr. Johnson's observation. A tradesman, who had acquired a large fortune in London, retired from business, and went to live at Worcester. His mind, being without its usual occupation, and having nothing else to supply its place, preyed upon itself, so that existence was a torment to him. At last he was seized with the stone; and a friend who found him in one of its severest fits, having expressed his concern, 'No, no, Sir, (said he) don't pity me: what I now feel is ease compared with that torture of mind from which it relieves me.' BOSWELL.

[497] See ante, i. 446. 'Johnson was a great enemy to the present fashionable way of supposing worthless and infamous persons mad.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 203.

[498] See post, April 1, 1779.

[499] See post, April 7, 1778.

[500] 'Reynolds,' writes Malone, 'was as fond of London as Dr. Johnson; always maintaining that it was the only place in England where a pleasant society might be found.' Prior's Malone p. 433. Gibbon wrote to Holroyd Misc. Works, ii 126:—'Never pretend to allure me by painting in odious colours the dust of London. I love the dust, and whenever I move into the Weald it is to visit you and my Lady, and not your trees.' Burke, on the other hand, wrote (Corres. iii 422):—'What is London? clean, commodious, neat; but, a very few things indeed excepted, and endless addition of littleness to littleness, extending itself over a great tract of land.' 'For a young man,' he says, 'for a man of easy fortune, London is the best place one can imagine. But for the old, the infirm, the straightened in fortune, the grave in character or in disposition, I do not believe a much worse place can be found.' Ib. iv. 250.


'Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine captos
Ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui.'
Ovid, Ep. ex Ponto, i. 3. 35.

[502] 'In the morn and liquid dew of youth.' Hamlet, act i. sc. 3.

[503] Now, at the distance of fifteen years since this conversation passed, the observation which I have had an opportunity of making in Westminster Hall has convinced me, that, however true the opinion of Dr. Johnson's legal friend may have been some time ago, the same certainty of success cannot now be promised to the same display of merit. The reasons, however, of the rapid rise of some, and the disappointment of others equally respectable, are such as it might seem invidious to mention, and would require a longer detail than would be proper for this work. BOSWELL. Boswell began to eat his dinners in the Inner Temple in 1775. Ante, p. 45 note 1, and Letters of Boswell, p. 196. In writing to Temple he thus mentions his career as a barrister. 'Jan. 10, 1789. In truth I am sadly discouraged by having no practice, nor probable prospect of it; and to confess fairly to you, my friend, I am afraid that, were I to be tried, I should be found so deficient in the forms, the quirks and the quiddities, which early habit acquires, that I should expose myself. Yet the delusion of Westminster Hall, of brilliant reputation and splendid fortune as a barrister, still weighs upon my imagination.' Ib. p. 267. 'Aug. 23, 1789. The Law life in Scotland amongst vulgar familiarity would now quite destroy me. I am not able to acquire the Law of England.' Ib. p. 304. 'Nov. 28, 1789. I have given up my house and taken good chambers in the Inner Temple, to have the appearance of a lawyer. O Temple! Temple! is this realising any of the towering hopes which have so often been the subject of our conversations and letters? … I do not see the smallest opening in Westminster Hall but I like the scene, though I have attended only one day this last term, being eager to get my Life of Johnson finished.' Ib. p. 314. 'April 6, 1791. When my book is launched, I shall, if I am alone and in tolerable health and spirits, have some furniture put into my chambers in the Temple, and force myself to sit there some hours a-day, and to attend regularly in Westminster Hall. The chambers cost me £20 yearly, and I may reckon furniture and a lad to attend there occasionally £20 more. I doubt whether I shall get fees equal to the expense.' Ib. p. 335. 'Nov. 22, 1791. I keep chambers open in the Temple, I attend in Westminster Hall, but there is not the least prospect of my having business.' Ib. p. 344. His chambers, as he wrote to Malone, were 'in the very staircase where Johnson lived.' Croker's Boswell, p. 830.

[504] Sunday was the 21st.

[505] See ante, March 26, 1776, and post, under Nov. 17, 1784.

[506] In Notes and Queries for April, May, and June 1882, is a series of Johnson's letters to Taylor, between June 10, 1742 and April 12, 1784. In the first Johnson signs himself:—'Your very affectionate,' (p. 304). On Nov. 18, 1756, he writes:—'Neither of us now can find many whom he has known so long as we have known each other…. We both stand almost single in the world,' (p. 324). On July 15, 1765, he reproaches Taylor with not writing:—'With all your building and feasting you might have found an hour in some wet day for the remembrance of your old friend. I should have thought that since you have led a life so festive and gay, you would have [invited] me to partake of your hospitality,' (p. 383). On Oct. 19, 1779, he says:—'Write to me soon. We are both old. How few of those whom we have known in our youth are left alive!' (p. 461). On April 12, 1784, he writes:—'Let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now living but you and Mr. Hector that was the friend of my youth,' (p. 482, and post, April 12, 1784). See ante, p. 131, for his regret on the death of his school-fellow, Henry Jackson, who seemed to Boswell (ante, under March 22, 1776) to be a low man, dull and untaught. 'One of the old man's miseries,' he wrote, (post, Feb. 3, 1778), 'is that he cannot easily find a companion able to partake with him of the past.' 'I have none to call me Charley now,' wrote Charles Lamb on the death of a friend of his boyhood (Talfourd's Lamb, ed. 1865, p. 145). Such a companion Johnson found in Taylor. That, on the death of his wife, he at once sent for him, not even waiting for the light of morning to come, is a proof that he had a strong affection for the man.

[507] Ecclesiasticus, ch. xxxviii. verse 25. The whole chapter may be read as an admirable illustration of the superiority of cultivated minds over the gross and illiterate. BOSWELL.

[508] Passages in Johnson's Letters to Mrs. Thrale are to the same effect. 'Aug. 3, 1771. Having stayed my month with Taylor I came away on Wednesday, leaving him, I think, in a disposition of mind not very uncommon, at once weary of my stay, and grieved at my departure.' Piozzi Letters, i. 52. 'July 13, 1775. Dr. Taylor and I spend little time together, yet he will not yet be persuaded to hear of parting.' Ib. p. 276. 'July 26, 1775. Having stayed long enough at Ashbourne, I was not sorry to leave it. I hindered some of Taylor's diversions, and he supplied me with very little.' Ib p. 287.

[509] The second volume of these Sermons, which was published in 1789, a year after the first, contains the following addition to the title:—'To which is added a Sermon written by Samuel Johnson, L.L.D., for the Funeral of his Wife.' 'Dr. Taylor had,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 171), 'The LARGEST BULL in England, and some of the best Sermons.'

[510] If the eminent judge was Lord Mansfield, we may compare with Boswell's regret the lines in which Pope laments the influence of Westminster Hall and Parliament:—

'There truant Windham every muse gave o'er,
There Talbot sunk, and was a wit no more.
How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast!
How many Martials were in Pulteney lost!'

The Dunciad, iv. 167.

[511] Boswell's brother David had been settled in Spain since 1768. (Boswelliana, p. 5.) He therefore is no doubt the son, and Lord Auchinleck the father.

[512] See ante, ii. 129, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22, 1773.

[513] 'Jack' had not shown all his manners to Johnson. Gibbon thus describes him in 1762 (Misc. Works, i. 142):—'Colonel Wilkes, of the Buckinghamshire militia, dined with us. I scarcely ever met with a better companion; he has inexhaustible spirits, infinite wit and humour, and a great deal of knowledge; but a thorough profligate in principle as in practice, his life stained with every vice, and his conversation full of blasphemy and indecency. These morals he glories in—for shame is a weakness he has long since surmounted.' The following anecdote in Boswelliana (p. 274) is not given in the Life of Johnson:—'Johnson had a sovereign contempt for Wilkes and his party, whom he looked upon as a mere rabble. "Sir," said he, "had Wilkes's mob prevailed against government, this nation had died of phthiriasis. Mr. Langton told me this. The expression, morbus pediculosus, as being better known would strike more."'

[514] See ante, p. 79, note 1.

[515] See ante, p. 69.

[516] See ante, i. 402.

[517] See ante, i. 167.

[518] See post, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[519] See post, ib., where Johnson told Mrs. Siddons that 'Garrick was no declaimer.'

[520] Hannah More (Memoirs, ii. 16) says that she once asked Garrick 'why Johnson was so often harsh and unkind in his speeches both of him and to him:—"Why," he replied, "it is very natural; is it not to be expected he should be angry that I, who have so much less merit than he, should have had so much greater success?"'

[521] Foote died a month after this conversation. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Did you see Foote at Brighthelmstone? Did you think he would so soon be gone? Life, says Falstaff, is a shuttle [Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 1]. He was a fine fellow in his way; and the world is really impoverished by his sinking glories. Murphy ought to write his life, at least to give the world a Footeana. Now will any of his contemporaries bewail him? Will genius change his sex to weep? I would really have his life written with diligence.' This letter is wrongly dated Oct. 3, 1777. It was written early in November. Piozzi Letters, i. 396. Baretti, in a marginal note on Footeana, says:—'One half of it had been a string of obscenities.' See post, April 24, 1779, note.

[522] See ante, i. 447.

[523] To pit is not in Johnson's Dictionary.

[524] Very likely Mr. Langton. See ante, ii. 254.

[525] Two months earlier Johnson had complained that Langton's table was rather coarse. Ante, p. 128.

[526] See post, April 13, 1781, where he again mentions this advice. 'He said of a certain lady's entertainments, "What signifies going thither? There is neither meat, drink, nor talk."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 207.

[527] William, third Duke of Devonshire, who died in 1755. Johnson (post, April 1, 1779) 'commended him for a dogged veracity.' Horace Walpole records of him a fact that 'showed a conscientious idea of honesty in him. Sometime before his death he had given up to two of his younger sons £600 a-year in land, that they might not perjure themselves, if called upon to swear to their qualifications as Knights of the Shire.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, ii. 86.

[528] Philip Francis wrote to Burke in 1790:—'Once for all, I wish you would let me teach you to write English. To me who am to read everything you write, it would be a great comfort, and to you no sort of disparagement. Why will you not allow yourself to be persuaded that polish is material to preservation?' Burke's Corres, iii. 164.

[529] Edit. 2, p. 53. BOSWELL.

[530] This is a mistake. The Ports had been seated at Islam time out of mind. Congreve had visited there, and his seat, that is the bench on which he sometimes sat, used to be shown. CROKER. On the way to Islam, Johnson told Boswell about the dedication of his Plan to Lord Chesterfield. Ante, i. 183, note 4.

[531] See ante, i. 41.

[532] 'I believe more places than one are still shown in groves and gardens where he is related to have written his Old Bachelor.' Johnson's Works, viii. 23.

[533] Page 89. BOSWELL.

[534] See Plott's History of Staffordshire, p. 88, and the authorities referred to by him. BOSWELL.

[535] See ante, ii. 247, and post, March 31, 1778.

[536] See ante, i. 444.

[537] Mrs. Piozzi records (Anec. p. 109):—'In answer to the arguments urged by Puritans, Quakers, etc. against showy decorations of the human figure, I once heard him exclaim:—"Oh, let us not be found, when our Master calls us, ripping the lace off our waistcoats, but the spirit of contention from our souls and tongues! … Alas! Sir, a man who cannot get to heaven in a green coat will not find his way thither the sooner in a grey one."' See ante, i, 405.

[538] Campbell, who was an exciseman, had in July, 1769, caught a favourite servant of Lord Eglintoune in smuggling 80 gallons of rum in one of his master's carts. This, he maintains, led to an ill-feeling. He had a right to carry a gun by virtue of his office, and from many of the gentry he had licences to shoot over their grounds. His lordship, however, had forbidden him to enter his. On Oct. 24, 1769, he passed into his grounds, and walked along the shore within the sea-mark, looking for a plover. Lord Eglintoune came up with him on the sea-sands and demanded his gun, advancing as if to seize it. Campbell warned him that he would fire if he did not keep off, and kept retiring backwards or sideways. He stumbled and fell. Lord Eglintoune stopped a little, and then made as if he would advance. Campbell thereupon fired, and hit him in the side. He was found guilty of murder. On the day after the trial he hanged himself in prison. Ann. Reg. xiii. 219. See ante, ii. 66, and Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 1.

[539] See ante, p. 40.

[540] See ante, ii. 10.

[541] Boswell here alludes to the motto of his Journal:—

'Oh! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?'

Pope's Essay on Man, iv. 383.


'His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.'

Gray's Elegy.

[543] Johnson, a fortnight or so later, mentions this waterfall in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, after speaking of a pool that Mr. Thrale was having dug. 'He will have no waterfall to roar like the Doctor's. I sat by it yesterday, and read Erasmus's Militis Christiani Enchiridion.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 3.

[544] See post, April 9 and 30, 1778. At the following Easter he recorded: 'My memory is less faithful in retaining names, and, I am afraid, in retaining occurrences.' Pr. and Med. p. 170.

[545] I am told that Horace, Earl of Orford, has a collection of Bon-Mots by persons who never said but one. BOSWELL. Horace Walpole had succeeded to his title after the publication of the first edition of this book.

[546] See Macaulay's Essays, i. 370.

[547] Johnson (Works, vii. 158) tells how 'Rochester lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness; till, at the age of one and thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.' He describes how Burnet 'produced a total change both of his manners and opinions,' and says of the book in which this conversion is recounted that it is one 'which the critick ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.' In Johnson's answer to Boswell we have a play on the title of this work, which is, Some passages of the Life and Death of John Earl of Rochester.

[548] In the passages from Johnson's Life of Prior, quoted ante, ii. 78, note 3, may be found an explanation of what he here says. A poet who 'tries to be amorous by dint of study,' and who 'in his amorous pedantry exhibits the college,' may be gross and yet not excite to lewdness. Goldsmith, in 1766, in a book entitled Beauties of English Poetry Selected, had inserted two of Prior's tales, 'which for once interdicted from general reading a book with his name upon its title-page.' Mr. Forster hereupon remarks 'on the changes in the public taste. Nothing is more frequent than these, and few things so sudden.' Of these changes he gives some curious instances. Forster's Goldsmith, ii. 4.

[549] See ante, iii. 5.

[550] See ante, i. 428.

[551] Horace, Odes, ii. 14.

[552] I am informed by Mr. Langton, that a great many years ago he was present when this question was agitated between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke; and, to use Johnson's phrase, they 'talked their best;' Johnson for Homer, Burke for Virgil. It may well be supposed to have been one of the ablest and most brilliant contests that ever was exhibited. How much must we regret that it has not been preserved. BOSWELL. Johnson (Works, vii. 332), after saying that Dryden 'undertook perhaps the most arduous work of its kind, a translation of Virgil,' continues:—'In the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the discriminative excellence of Homer is elevation and comprehension of thought, and that of Virgil is grace and splendour of diction. The beauties of Homer are therefore difficult to be lost, and those of Virgil difficult to be retained.' Mr. E.J. Payne, in his edition of Burke's Select Works, i. xxxviii, says:— 'Most writers have constantly beside them some favourite classical author from whom they endeavour to take their prevailing tone. Burke, according to Butler, always had a "ragged Delphin Virgil" not far from his elbow.' See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 21, note.

[553] According to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Mr. Burke, speaking of Bacon's Essays, said he thought them the best of his works. Dr. Johnson was of opinion that their excellence and their value consisted in being the observations of a strong mind operating upon life; and in consequence you find there what you seldom find in other books.' Northcote's Reynolds, ii. 281.

[554] Mr. Seward perhaps imperfectly remembered the following passage in the Preface to the Dictionary (Works, v. 40):—'From the authors which rose in the time of Elizabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of use and elegance. If the language of theology were extracted from Hooker and the translation of the Bible; the terms of natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakespeare, few ideas would be lost to mankind for want of English words in which they might be expressed.'

[555] Of Mallet's Life of Bacon, Johnson says (Works, viii. 465) that it is 'written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation; but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that when he afterwards undertook the Life of Marlborough, Warburton remarked, that he might perhaps forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.'

[556] It appears from part of the original journal in Mr. Anderdon's papers that the friend who told the story was Mr. Beauclerk and the gentleman and lady alluded to were Mr. (probably Henry) and Miss Harvey. CROKER. Not Harvey but Hervey. See ante, i. 106, and ii. 32, for another story told by Beauclerk against Johnson of Mr. Thomas Hervey.

[557] Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives as the 17th meaning of make, to raise as profit from anything. He quotes the speech of Pompey in Measure for Measure, act iv. sc. 3:—'He made five marks, ready money.' But Pompey, he might reply, was a servant, and his English therefore is not to be taken as a standard.

[558] Idea he defines as mental imagination.

[559] See post, May 15, 1783, note.

[560] In the first three editions of Boswell we find Tadnor for Tadmor. In Dodsley's Collection, iv. 229, the last couplet is as follows:—

'Or Tadmor's marble wastes survey,
Or in yon roofless cloister stray.'

[561] This is the tune that William Crotch (Dr. Crotch) was heard playing before he was two years and a half old, on a little organ that his father, a carpenter, had made. Ann. Reg. xxii 79.

[562] See ante, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[563] In 1757 two battalions of Highlanders were raised and sent to North America. Gent. Mag. xxvii. 42, 333. Boswell (Hebrides, Sept. 3, 1773) mentions 'the regiments which the late Lord Chatham prided himself in having brought from "the mountains of the north."' Chatham said in the House of Lords on Dec. 2, 1777:—'I remember that I employed the very rebels in the service and defence of their country. They were reclaimed by this means; they fought our battles; they cheerfully bled in defence of those liberties which they attempted to overthrow but a few years before.' Parl. Hist. xix. 477.


'Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee.'

Line 154.

[565] See ante, ii. 168. Boswell, when a widower, wrote to Temple of a lady whom he seemed not unwilling to marry:—'She is about seven-and-twenty, and he [Sir William Scott] tells me lively and gay— a Ranelagh girl—but of excellent principles, insomuch that she reads prayers to the servants in her father's family every Sunday evening.' Letters of Boswell, p. 336.

[566] Pope mentions [Dunciad, iv. 342],

'Stretch'd on the rack of a too easy chair.'

But I recollect a couplet quite apposite to my subject in Virtue an Ethick Epistle, a beautiful and instructive poem, by an anonymous writer, in 1758; who, treating of pleasure in excess, says:—

'Till languor, suffering on the rack of bliss,
Confess that man was never made for this.' BOSWELL.

[567] See post, June 12, 1784.

[568] See ante, p. 86.

[569] 'For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.' Romans, x. 2.

[570] Horace Walpole wrote:—'Feb. 17, 1773. Caribs, black Caribs, have no representatives in Parliament; they have no agent but God, and he is seldom called to the bar of the House to defend their cause.' Walpole's Letters, v. 438. 'Feb. 14, 1774. 'If all the black slaves were in rebellion, I should have no doubt in choosing my side, but I scarce wish perfect freedom to merchants who are the bloodiest of all tyrants. I should think the souls of the Africans would sit heavy on the swords of the Americans.' Ib. vi. 60.

[571] See ante, ii. 27, 312.

[572] 'We are told that the subjection of Americans may tend to the diminution of our own liberties; an event which none but very perspicacious politicians are able to foresee. If slavery be thus fatally contagious, how is it that we hear,' etc. Works, vi. 262. In his Life of Milton (ib. vii. 116) he says:—'It has been observed that they who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it.'

[573] See page 76 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[574] The address was delivered on May 23, 1770. The editor of Rogers's Table Talk quotes, on p. 129, Mr. Maltby, the friend of Rogers, who says:—'Dr. C. Burney assured me that Beckford did not utter one syllable of the speech—that it was wholly the invention of Horne Tooke. Being very intimate with Tooke, I questioned him on the subject. "What Burney states," he said, "is true. I saw Beckford just after he came from St. James's. I asked him what he had said to the King; and he replied, that he had been so confused, he scarcely knew what he had said. But, cried I, your speech must be sent to the papers; I'll write it for you. I did so immediately, and it was printed forthwith."' Tooke gave the same account to Isaac Reed. Walpole's Letters, v. 238, note. Stephens (Life of Horne Tooke, i. 155-8) says, that the King's answer had been anticipated and that Horne had suggested the idea of a reply. Stephens continues:—'The speech in reply, as Mr. Horne lately acknowledged to me, was his composition.' Stephens does not seem to have heard the story that Beckford did not deliver the reply. He says that Horne inserted the account in the newspapers. 'No one,' he continues, 'was better calculated to give copies of those harangues than the person who had furnished the originals; and as to the occurrences at St. James's, he was enabled to detail the particulars from the lips of the members of the deputation.' Alderman Townshend assured Lord Chatham that Beckford did deliver the speech. Chatham Corres. iii. 460. Horne Tooke's word is not worth much. He did not resign his living till more than seven years after he wrote to Wilkes:—'It is true I have suffered the infectious hand of a bishop to be waved over me; whose imposition, like the sop given to Judas, is only a signal for the devil to enter.' Stephens's Horne Tooke, i. 76. Beckford, dying in his Mayoralty, is oddly connected with Chatterton. 'Chatterton had written a political essay for The North Briton, which, though accepted, was not printed on account of Lord Mayor Beckford's death. The patriot thus calculated the death of his great patron:—

£ s. d.
Lost by his death in
this Essay 1 11 6
Gained in Elegies £2.2
in Essays £3.3
5 5 0
Am glad he is dead by £3 13 6

D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, i. 54.

[575] At the time that Johnson wrote this there were serfs in Scotland. An Act passed in 1775 (15 Geo. III. c. 22) contains the following preamble:—'Whereas by the law of Scotland, as explained by the judges of the courts of law there, many colliers and salters are in a state of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries or saltworks where they work for life, transferable with the coalwork and salteries,' etc. The Act was ineffectual in giving relief, and in 1779 by 39 Geo. III. c. 56 all colliers were 'declared to be free from their servitude.' The last of these emancipated slaves died in the year 1844. Tranent and its Surroundings, by P. M'Neill, p. 26. See also Parl. Hist. xxix. 1109, where Dundas states that it was only 'after several years' struggle that the bill was carried through both Houses.'

[576] See ante, ii. 13.

[577] 'The Utopians do not make slaves of the sons of their slaves; the slaves among them are such as are condemned to that state of life for the commission of some crime.' Sir T. More's Utopia—Ideal Commonwealths, p. 129.

[578] The Rev. John Newton (Cowper's friend) in 1763 wrote of the slave-trade, in which he had been engaged, 'It is indeed accounted a genteel employment, and is usually very profitable, though to me it did not prove so, the Lord seeing that a large increase of wealth could not be good for me.' Newton's Life, p. 148. A ruffian of a London Alderman, a few weeks before The Life of Johnson was published, said in parliament:—'The abolition of the trade would destroy our Newfoundland fishery, which the slaves in the West Indies supported by consuming that part of the fish which was fit for no other consumption, and consequently, by cutting off the great source of seamen, annihilate our marine.' Parl. Hist. xxix. 343.

[579] Gray's Elegy. Mrs. Piozzi maintained that 'mercy was totally abolished by French maxims; for, if all men are equal, mercy is no more.' Piozzi's Synonymy, i. 370. Johnson, in 1740, described slavery as 'the most calamitous estate in human life,' a state 'which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word.' Works, v. 265-6. Nineteen years later he wrote of the discoveries of the Portuguese:—'Much knowledge has been acquired, and much cruelty been committed; the belief of religion has been very little propagated, and its laws have been outrageously and enormously violated.' Ib. p. 219. Horace Walpole wrote, on July 9, 1754, (Letters, ii. 394), 'I was reading t'other day the Life of Colonel Codrington. He left a large estate for the propagation of the Gospel, and ordered that three hundred negroes should constantly be employed upon it. Did one ever hear a more truly Christian charity than keeping up a perpetuity of three hundred slaves to look after the Gospel's estate?' Churchill, in Gotham, published in 1764 (Poems, ii. 101), says of Europe's treatment of the savage race:—

'Faith too she plants, for her own ends imprest,
To make them bear the worst, and hope the best.'


'With stainless lustre virtue shines,
A base repulse nor knows nor fears;

Nor claims her honours, nor declines,
As the light air of crowds uncertain veers.'
FRANCIS. Horace Odes, iii. 2.

[581] Sir Walter Scott, in a note to Redgauntlet, Letter 1, says:— 'Sir John Nisbett of Dirleton's Doubts and Questions upon the Law especially of Scotland, and Sir James Stewart's Dirleton's Doubts and Questions resolved and answered, are works of authority in Scottish jurisprudence. As is generally the case, the Doubts are held more in respect than the solution.'

[582] When Boswell first made Johnson's acquaintance it was he who suffered from the late hours. Ante, i. 434.

[583] See ante, ii. 312.

[584] Burke, in Present Discontents, says:—'The power of the Crown, almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has grown up anew, with much more strength and far less odium, under the name of Influence.' Influence he explains as 'the method of governing by men of great natural interest or great acquired consideration.' Payne's Burke, i. 10, 11. 'Influence,' said Johnson,' must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 18. To political life might be applied what Johnson wrote of domestic life:—'It is a maxim that no man ever was enslaved by influence while he was fit to be free.' Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 343.

[585] Boswell falls into what he calls 'the cant transmitted from age to age in praise of the ancient Romans.' Ante, i. 311. To do so with Johnson was at once to provoke an attack, for he looked upon the Roman commonwealth as one 'which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind.' Ib. Moreover he disliked appeals to history. 'General history,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 138), 'had little of his regard. Biography was his delight. Sooner than hear of the Punic War he would be rude to the person that introduced the subject.' Mrs. Piozzi says (Anec. p. 80) that 'no kind of conversation pleased him less, I think, than when the subject was historical fact or general polity. 'What shall we learn from that stuff?' said he. 'He never,' as he expressed it, 'desired to hear of the Punic War while he lived.' The Punic War, it is clear, was a kind of humorous catch word with him. She wrote to him in 1773:—'So here's modern politics in a letter from me; yes and a touch of the Punic War too.' Piozzi Letters, i. 187. He wrote to her in 1775, just after she had been at the first regatta held in England:—'You will now find the advantage of having made one at the regatta…. It is the good of public life that it supplies agreeable topics and general conversation. Therefore wherever you are, and whatever you see, talk not of the Punic War; nor of the depravity of human nature; nor of the slender motives of human actions; nor of the difficulty of finding employment or pleasure; but talk, and talk, and talk of the regatta.' Ib. p. 260. He was no doubt sick of the constant reference made by writers and public speakers to Rome. For instance, in Bolingbroke's Dissertation upon Parties, we find in three consecutive Letters (xi-xiii) five illustrations drawn from Rome.

[586] It is strange that Boswell does not mention that on this day they met the Duke and Duchess of Argyle in the street. That they did so we learn from Piozzi Letters, i. 386. Perhaps the Duchess shewed him 'the same marked coldness' as at Inverary. Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25.

[587] At Auchinleck he had 'exhorted Boswell to plant assiduously.' Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 4.

[588] See ante, i. 72. In Scotland it was Cocker's Arithmetic that he took with him. Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 31. He was not always correct in his calculations. For instance, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Ashbourne less than a fortnight after Boswell's departure: 'Mr. Langdon bought at Nottingham fair fifteen tun of cheese; which, at an ounce a-piece, will suffice after dinner for four-hundred-and-eighty thousand men.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 2. To arrive at this number he must have taken a hundredweight as equal to, not 112, but 100, pounds.

[589] Johnson wrote the next day:—'Boswell is gone, and is, I hope, pleased that he has been here; though to look on anything with pleasure is not very common. He has been gay and good-humoured in his usual way, but we have not agreed upon any other expedition.' Piozzi Letters, i. 384.

[590] He lent him also the original journal of his Hebrides, and received in return a complimentary letter, which he in like manner published. Boswell's Hebrides, near the end.

[591] 'The landlord at Ellon said that he heard he was the greatest man in England, next to Lord Mansfield.' Ante, ii. 336.

[592] See ante, under March 15, 1776, where Johnson says that 'truth is essential to a story.'

[593] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Boswell kept his journal very diligently; but then what was there to journalize? I should be glad to see what he says of *********.' Piozzi Letters, i. 390. The number of stars renders it likely that Beauclerk is meant. See ante, p. 195, note 1.

[594] See ante, ii. 279.

[595] Mr. Beauclerk. See ante, p. 195.

[596] Beauclerk.

[597] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Boswell says his wife does not love me quite well yet, though we have made a formal peace.' Piozzi Letters, i. 390.

[598] A daughter born to him. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker says that this daughter was Miss Jane Langton, mentioned post, May 10, 1784.

[599] She had already had eleven children, of whom seven were by this time dead. Ante, p. 109. This time a daughter was born, and not a young brewer. Post, July 3, 1778.

[600] Three months earlier Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'We are not far from the great year of a hundred thousand barrels, which, if three shillings be gained upon