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Title: Life of Johnson, Volume 2
 - 1765-1776
Author: Boswell, James
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Johnson, Volume 2
 - 1765-1776" ***

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VOLUME II.--LIFE (1765-1776)







In 1764 and 1765 it should seem that Dr. Johnson was so busily employed
with his edition of Shakspeare, as to have had little leisure for any
other literary exertion, or, indeed, even for private correspondence[1].
He did not favour me with a single letter for more than two years, for
which it will appear that he afterwards apologised.

He was, however, at all times ready to give assistance to his friends,
and others, in revising their works, and in writing for them, or greatly
improving their Dedications. In that courtly species of composition no
man excelled Dr. Johnson. Though the loftiness of his mind prevented him
from ever dedicating in his own person[2], he wrote a very great number
of Dedications for others. Some of these, the persons who were favoured
with them are unwilling should be mentioned, from a too anxious
apprehension, as I think, that they might be suspected of having
received larger assistance[3]; and some, after all the diligence I have
bestowed, have escaped my enquiries. He told me, a great many years ago,
'he believed he had dedicated to all the Royal Family round[4];' and it
was indifferent to him what was the subject of the work dedicated,
provided it were innocent. He once dedicated some Musick for the German
Flute to Edward, Duke of York. In writing Dedications for others, he
considered himself as by no means speaking his own sentiments.

Notwithstanding his long silence, I never omitted to write to him when I
had any thing worthy of communicating. I generally kept copies of my
letters to him, that I might have a full view of our correspondence, and
never be at a loss to understand any reference in his letters[5]. He
kept the greater part of mine very carefully; and a short time before
his death was attentive enough to seal them up in bundles, and order
them to be delivered to me, which was accordingly done. Amongst them I
found one, of which I had not made a copy, and which I own I read with
pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years. It is dated November,
1765, at the palace of Pascal Paoli, in Corte, the capital of Corsica,
and is full of generous enthusiasm[6]. After giving a sketch of what I
had seen and heard in that island, it proceeded thus: 'I dare to call
this a spirited tour. I dare, to challenge your approbation.'

This letter produced the following answer, which I found on my arrival
at Paris.

A Mr. Mr. BOSWELL, chez Mr. WATERS, Banquier, à Paris.


'Apologies are seldom of any use. We will delay till your arrival the
reasons, good or bad, which have made me such a sparing and ungrateful
correspondent. Be assured, for the present, that nothing has lessened
either the esteem or love with which I dismissed you at Harwich. Both
have been increased by all that I have been told of you by yourself or
others; and[7] when you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I
hope, unalterable friend.

'All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me.
No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his
favour; and the pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and
remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment
will be sufficient to afford it.

'Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to
hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come
home, and expect such a welcome as is due to him whom a wise and noble
curiosity has led, where perhaps no native of this country ever was

'I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would I
willingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your
return. I am afraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind
which has been so long feasted with variety. But let us try what esteem
and kindness can effect.

'As your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a ramble, I
doubt not but you will think his sickness, or even his desire to see
you, a sufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we live,
and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the
friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends. Parents we can have
but once; and he promises himself too much, who enters life with the
expectation of finding many friends. Upon some motive, I hope, that you
will be here soon; and am willing to think that it will be an inducement
to your return, that it is sincerely desired by, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,

'Johnson's Court, Fleet-street,
January 14, 1766.'

I returned to London in February, and found Dr. Johnson in a good house
in Johnson's Court, Fleet-street[9], in which he had accommodated Miss
Williams with an apartment on the ground floor, while Mr. Levett
occupied his post in the garret: his faithful Francis was still
attending upon him. He received me with much kindness. The fragments of
our first conversation, which I have preserved, are these: I told him
that Voltaire, in a conversation with me, had distinguished Pope and
Dryden thus:--'Pope drives a handsome chariot, with a couple of neat
trim nags; Dryden a coach, and six stately horses.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir,
the truth is, they both drive coaches and six; but Dryden's horses are
either galloping or stumbling: Pope's go at a steady even trot[10].' He
said of Goldsmith's _Traveller_, which had been published in my absence,
'There has not been so fine a poem since Pope's time.'

And here it is proper to settle, with authentick precision, what has
long floated in publick report, as to Johnson's being himself the
authour of a considerable part of that poem. Much, no doubt, both of the
sentiments and expression, were derived from conversation with him; and
it was certainly submitted to his friendly revision: but in the year
1783, he, at my request, marked with a pencil the lines which he had
furnished, which are only line 420th,

'To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;'

and the concluding ten lines, except the last couplet but one, which I
distinguish by the Italick character:

'How small of all that human hearts endure,
That part which kings or laws[11] can cause or cure.
Still to ourselves in every place consign'd,
Our own felicity we make or find[12];
With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
Glides the smooth current of domestick joy:
_The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel,
Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel_,
To men remote from power, but rarely known,
Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.'

He added, 'These are all of which I can be sure[13].' They bear a small
proportion to the whole, which consists of four hundred and thirty-eight
verses. Goldsmith, in the couplet which he inserted, mentions Luke as a
person well known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite
smoothly; while those of more attention have been as much perplexed by
_Luke_, as by _Lydiat_[14], in _The Vanity of Human Wishes_. The truth
is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. In the _Respublica
Hungarian_[15], there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year
1514, headed by two brothers, of the name of _Zeck_, George and Luke.
When it was quelled, _George_, not _Luke_, was punished by his head
being encircled with a red-hot iron crown: '_coronâ candescente ferreâ
coronatur_[16].' The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl
of Athol, one of the murderers of King James I. of Scotland.

Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which he
furnished to Goldsmith's _Deserted Village_, which are only the last

'That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away:
While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky.'

Talking of education, 'People have now a days, (said he,) got a strange
opinion that every thing should be taught by lectures. Now, I cannot see
that lectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the
lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by
lectures[17], except where experiments are to be shewn. You may teach
chymistry by lectures.--You might teach making of shoes by lectures[18]!'

At night I supped with him at the Mitre tavern, that we might renew our
social intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now a
considerable difference in his way of living. Having had an illness, in
which he was advised to leave off wine, he had, from that period,
continued to abstain from it, and drank only water, or lemonade[19].

I told him that a foreign friend of his[20], whom I had met with abroad,
was so wretchedly perverted to infidelity, that he treated the hopes of
immortality with brutal levity; and said, 'As man dies like a dog, let
him lie like a dog.' JOHNSON. '_If_ he dies like a dog, _let_ him lie
like a dog.' I added, that this man said to me, 'I hate mankind, for I
think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, he must be very singular in his opinion, if he thinks himself one
of the best of men; for none of his friends think him so.'--He said, 'no
honest man could be a Deist; for no man could be so after a fair
examination of the proofs of Christianity.' I named Hume[21]. JOHNSON.
'No, Sir; Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishoprick of Durham, that he
had never read the New Testament with attention.' I mentioned Hume's
notion[22], that all who are happy are equally happy; a little miss with
a new gown at a dancing school ball, a general at the head of a
victorious army, and an orator, after having made an eloquent speech in
a great assembly. JOHNSON. 'Sir, that all who are happy, are equally
happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally
_satisfied_, but not equally _happy_. Happiness consists in the
multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for
having equal happiness with a philosopher.' I remember this very
question very happily illustrated in opposition to Hume, by the Reverend
Mr. Robert Brown[23], at Utrecht. 'A small drinking-glass and a large
one, (said he,) may be equally full; but the large one holds more than
the small.'

Dr. Johnson was very kind this evening, and said to me, 'You have now
lived five-and-twenty years, and you have employed them well.' 'Alas,
Sir, (said I,) I fear not. Do I know history? Do I know mathematicks? Do
I know law?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, though you may know no science so well
as to be able to teach it, and no profession so well as to be able to
follow it, your general mass of knowledge of books and men renders you
very capable to make yourself master of any science, or fit yourself for
any profession.' I mentioned that a gay friend had advised me against
being a lawyer, because I should be excelled by plodding block-heads.
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, in the formulary and statutory part of law, a
plodding block-head may excel; but in the ingenious and rational part of
it a plodding block-head can never excel.'

I talked of the mode adopted by some to rise in the world, by courting
great men, and asked him whether he had ever submitted to it. JOHNSON.
'Why, Sir, I never was near enough to great men, to court them. You may
be prudently attached to great men and yet independent. You are not to
do what you think wrong; and, Sir, you are to calculate, and not pay too
dear for what you get. You must not give a shilling's worth of court for
six-pence worth of good. But if you can get a shilling's worth of good
for six-pence worth of court, you are a fool if you do not pay

He said, 'If convents should be allowed at all, they should only be
retreats for persons unable to serve the publick, or who have served it.
It is our first duty to serve society, and, after we have done that, we
may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion
for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged[25].'

I introduced the subject of second sight, and other mysterious
manifestations; the fulfilment of which, I suggested, might happen by
chance. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but they have happened so often, that
mankind have agreed to think them not fortuitous[26].'

I talked to him a great deal of what I had seen in Corsica, and of my
intention to publish an account of it. He encouraged me by saying, 'You
cannot go to the bottom of the subject; but all that you tell us will be
new to us. Give us as many anecdotes as you can[27].'

Our next meeting at the Mitre was on Saturday the 15th of February, when
I presented to him my old and most intimate friend, the Reverend Mr.
Temple[28], then of Cambridge. I having mentioned that I had passed some
time with Rousseau in his wild retreat[29], and having quoted some remark
made by Mr. Wilkes, with whom I had spent many pleasant hours in Italy,
Johnson said (sarcastically,) 'It seems, Sir, you have kept very good
company abroad, Rousseau and Wilkes!' Thinking it enough to defend one
at a time, I said nothing as to my gay friend, but answered with a
smile, 'My dear Sir, you don't call Rousseau bad company. Do you really
think him a bad man?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if you are talking jestingly of
this, I don't talk with you. If you mean to be serious, I think him one
of the worst of men; a rascal who ought to be hunted out of society, as
he has been. Three or four nations have expelled him; and it is a shame
that he is protected in this country[30].' BOSWELL. 'I don't deny, Sir,
but that his novel[31] may, perhaps, do harm; but I cannot think his
intention was bad.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that will not do. We cannot prove any
man's intention to be bad. You may shoot a man through the head, and say
you intended to miss him; but the Judge will order you to be hanged. An
alleged want of intention, when evil is committed, will not be allowed
in a court of justice. Rousseau, Sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner
sign a sentence for his transportation, than that of any felon who has
gone from the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to have
him work in the plantations[32].' BOSWELL. 'Sir, do you think him as bad
a man as Voltaire?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is difficult to settle the
proportion of iniquity between them[33].'

This violence seemed very strange to me, who had read many of Rousseau's
animated writings with great pleasure, and even edification, had been
much pleased with his society[34], and was just come from the Continent,
where he was very generally admired. Nor can I yet allow that he
deserves the very severe censure which Johnson pronounced upon him. His
absurd preference of savage to civilised life[35], and other
singularities, are proofs rather of a defect in his understanding, than
of any depravity in his heart. And notwithstanding the unfavourable
opinion which many worthy men have expressed of his '_Profession de Foi
du Vicaire Savoyard_', I cannot help admiring it as the performance of a
man full of sincere reverential submission to Divine Mystery, though
beset with perplexing doubts; a state of mind to be viewed with pity
rather than with anger.

On his favourite subject of subordination, Johnson said, 'So far is it
from being true that men are naturally equal[36], that no two people can
be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority
over the other.'

I mentioned the advice given us by philosophers, to console ourselves,
when distressed or embarrassed, by thinking of those who are in a worse
situation than ourselves. This, I observed, could not apply to all, for
there must be some who have nobody worse than they are. JOHNSON. 'Why,
to be sure, Sir, there are; but they don't know it. There is no being so
poor and so contemptible, who does not think there is somebody still
poorer, and still more contemptible.'

As my stay in London at this time was very short, I had not many
opportunities of being with Dr. Johnson; but I felt my veneration for
him in no degree lessened, by my having seen _mullorum hominum mores et
urbes_[37]. On the contrary, by having it in my power to compare him with
many of the most celebrated persons of other countries[38], my admiration
of his extraordinary mind was increased and confirmed.

The roughness, indeed, which sometimes appeared in his manners, was more
striking to me now, from my having been accustomed to the studied smooth
complying habits of the Continent; and I clearly recognised in him, not
without respect for his honest conscientious zeal, the same indignant
and sarcastical mode of treating every attempt to unhinge or weaken good

One evening when a young gentleman[39] teized him with an account of the
infidelity of his servant, who, he said, would not believe the
scriptures, because he could not read them in the original tongues, and
be sure that they were not invented. 'Why, foolish fellow, (said
Johnson,) has he any better authority for almost every thing that he
believes?' BOSWELL. 'Then the vulgar, Sir, never can know they are
right, but must submit themselves to the learned.' JOHNSON. 'To be sure,
Sir. The vulgar are the children of the State, and must be taught like
children[40].' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, a poor Turk must be a Mahometan, just
as a poor Englishman must be a Christian[41]?' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir;
and what then? This now is such stuff as I used to talk to my mother,
when I first began to think myself a clever fellow; and she ought to
have whipt me for it.'

Another evening Dr. Goldsmith and I called on him, with the hope of
prevailing on him to sup with us at the Mitre. We found him indisposed,
and resolved not to go abroad. 'Come then, (said Goldsmith,) we will not
go to the Mitre to-night, since we cannot have the big man[42] with us.'
Johnson then called for a bottle of port, of which Goldsmith and I
partook, while our friend, now a water-drinker, sat by us. GOLDSMITH. 'I
think, Mr. Johnson, you don't go near the theatres now. You give
yourself no more concern about a new play, than if you had never had any
thing to do with the stage.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, our tastes greatly
alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man
does not care for the young man's whore.' GOLDSMITH. 'Nay, Sir, but your
Muse was not a whore.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I do not think she was. But as we
advance in the journey of life, we drop some of the things which have
pleased us; whether it be that we are fatigued and don't choose to carry
so many things any farther, or that we find other things which we like
better.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, why don't you give us something in some
other way?' GOLDSMITH. 'Ay, Sir, we have a claim upon you[43].' JOHNSON.
'No, Sir, I am not obliged to do any more. No man is obliged to do as
much as he can do. A man is to have part of his life to himself. If a
soldier has fought a good many campaigns, he is not to be blamed if he
retires to ease and tranquillity. A physician, who has practised long in
a great city, may be excused if he retires to a small town, and takes
less practice. Now, Sir, the good I can do by my conversation bears the
same proportion to the good I can do by my writings, that the practice
of a physician, retired to a small town, does to his practice in a great
city[44].' BOSWELL. 'But I wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in
writing than in not writing.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you _may_ wonder.'

He talked of making verses, and observed, 'The great difficulty is to
know when you have made good ones. When composing, I have generally had
them in my mind, perhaps fifty at a time, walking up and down in my
room; and then I have written them down, and often, from laziness, have
written only half lines. I have written a hundred lines in a day. I
remember I wrote a hundred lines of _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ in a
day[45]. Doctor, (turning to Goldsmith,) I am not quite idle; I have one
line t'other day; but I made no more.'

GOLDSMITH. 'Let us hear it; we'll put a bad one to it..

JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I have forgot it.[46]'

Such specimens of the easy and playful conversation of the great Dr.
Samuel Johnson are, I think, to be prized; as exhibiting the little
varieties of a mind so enlarged and so powerful when objects of
consequence required its exertions, and as giving us a minute knowledge
of his character and modes of thinking.



'What your friends have done, that from your departure till now nothing
has been heard of you, none of us are able to inform the rest; but as we
are all neglected alike, no one thinks himself entitled to the privilege
of complaint.

'I should have known nothing of you or of Langton, from the time that
dear Miss Langton left us, had not I met Mr. Simpson, of Lincoln, one
day in the street, by whom I was informed that Mr. Langton, your Mamma,
and yourself, had been all ill, but that you were all recovered.

'That sickness should suspend your correspondence, I did not wonder; but
hoped that it would be renewed at your recovery.

'Since you will not inform us where you are, or how you live, I know not
whether you desire to know any thing of us. However, I will tell you
that THE CLUB subsists; but we have the loss of Burke's company since he
has been engaged in publick business[47], in which he has gained more
reputation than perhaps any man at his [first] appearance ever gained
before. He made two speeches in the House for repealing the Stamp-act,
which were publickly commended by Mr. Pitt, and have filled the town
with wonder[48].

'Burke is a great man by nature, and is expected soon to attain civil
greatness[49]. I am grown greater too, for I have maintained the
newspapers these many weeks[50]; and what is greater still, I have risen
every morning since New-year's day, at about eight; when I was up, I
have indeed done but little; yet it is no slight advancement to obtain
for so many hours more, the consciousness of being.

'I wish you were in my new study[51]; I am now writing the first letter
in it. I think it looks very pretty about me.

'Dyer[52] is constant at THE CLUB; Hawkins is remiss; I am not over
diligent. Dr. Nugent, Dr. Goldsmith, and Mr. Reynolds, are very
constant. Mr. Lye is printing his Saxon and Gothick Dictionary[53]; all
THE CLUB subscribes.

'You will pay my respects to all my Lincolnshire friends. I am, dear

'Most affectionately your's,


'March 9, 1766.
Johnson's-court, Fleet-street[54].'



'In supposing that I should be more than commonly affected by the death
of Peregrine Langton[55], you were not mistaken; he was one of those whom
I loved at once by instinct and by reason. I have seldom indulged more
hope of any thing than of being able to improve our acquaintance to
friendship. Many a time have I placed myself again at Langton, and
imagined the pleasure with which I should walk to Partney[56] in a summer
morning; but this is no longer possible. We must now endeavour to
preserve what is left us,--his example of piety and oeconomy. I hope you
make what enquiries you can, and write down what is told you. The little
things which distinguish domestick characters are soon forgotten: if you
delay to enquire, you will have no information; if you neglect to write,
information will be vain[57].

'His art of life certainly deserves to be known and studied. He lived in
plenty and elegance upon an income which, to many would appear indigent,
and to most, scanty. How he lived, therefore, every man has an interest
in knowing. His death, I hope, was peaceful; it was surely happy.

'I wish I had written sooner, lest, writing now, I should renew your
grief; but I would not forbear saying what I have now said.

'This loss is, I hope, the only misfortune of a family to whom no
misfortune at all should happen, if my wishes could avert it. Let me
know how you all go on. Has Mr. Langton got him the little horse that I
recommended? It would do him good to ride about his estate in fine

'Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Langton, and to dear Miss
Langton, and Miss Di, and Miss Juliet, and to every body else.

'The wonder, with most that hear an account of his oeconomy, will be,
how he was able, with such an income, to do so much, especially when it
is considered that he paid for everything he had; he had no land, except
the two or three small fields which I have said he rented; and, instead
of gaining any thing by their produce, I have reason to think he lost by
them; however, they furnished him with no further assistance towards his
housekeeping, than grass for his horses, (not hay, for that I know he
bought,) and for two cows. Every Monday morning he settled his family
accounts, and so kept up a constant attention to the confining his
expences within his income; and to do it more exactly, compared those
expences with a computation he had made, how much that income would
afford him every week and day of the year. One of his oeconomical
practices was, as soon as any repair was wanting in or about his house,
to have it immediately performed. When he had money to spare, he chose
to lay in a provision of linen or clothes, or any other necessaries; as
then, he said, he could afford it, which he might not be so well able to
do when the actual want came; in consequence of which method, he had a
considerable supply of necessary articles lying by him, beside what was
in use.

'But the main particular that seems to have enabled him to do so much
with his income, was, that he paid for every thing as soon as he had it,
except, alone, what were current accounts, such as rent for his house
and servants' wages; and these he paid at the stated times with the
utmost exactness. He gave notice to the tradesmen of the neighbouring
market-towns that they should no longer have his custom, if they let any
of his servants have anything without their paying for it. Thus he put
it out of his power to commit those imprudences to which those are
liable that defer their payments by using their money some other way
than where it ought to go. And whatever money he had by him, he knew
that it was not demanded elsewhere, but that he might safely employ it
as he pleased.

'His example was confined, by the sequestered place of his abode, to the
observation of few, though his prudence and virtue would have made it
valuable to all who could have known it.--These few particulars, which I
knew myself, or have obtained from those who lived with him, may afford
instruction, and be an incentive to that wise art of living, which he so
successfully practised.' BOSWELL.

'THE CLUB holds very well together. Monday is my night[58]. I continue to
rise tolerably well, and read more than I did. I hope something will yet
come on it[59]. I am, Sir,

'Your most affectionate servant,

'May 10, 1766,
Johnson's-court, Fleet-street.'

After I had been some time in Scotland, I mentioned to him in a letter
that 'On my first return to my native country, after some years of
absence, I was told of a vast number of my acquaintance who were all
gone to the land of forgetfulness, and I found myself like a man
stalking over a field of battle, who every moment perceives some one
lying dead.' I complained of irresolution, and mentioned my having made
a vow as a security for good conduct. I wrote to him again, without
being able to move his indolence; nor did I hear from him till he had
received a copy of my inaugural Exercise, or Thesis in Civil Law, which
I published at my admission as an Advocate, as is the custom in
Scotland. He then wrote to me as follows:



'The reception of your Thesis put me in mind of my debt to you Why did
you ----[60]. I will punish you for it, by telling you that your Latin
wants correction[61]. In the beginning, _Spei alterae_, not to urge that
it should be _prima_, is not grammatical: _alterae_ should be _alteri_.
In the next line you seem to use _genus_ absolutely, for what we call
_family_, that is, for _illustrious extraction_, I doubt without
authority. _Homines nullius originis_, for _Nullis orti majoribus_, or,
_Nullo loco nati_, is, I am afraid, barbarous.--Ruddiman is dead[62].

'I have now vexed you enough, and will try to please you. Your
resolution to obey your father I sincerely approve; but do not accustom
yourself to enchain your volatility by vows: they will sometime leave a
thorn in your mind, which you will, perhaps, never be able to extract or
eject. Take this warning, it is of great importance[63].

'The study of the law is what you very justly term it, copious and
generous[64]; and in adding your name to its professors, you have done
exactly what I always wished, when I wished you best. I hope that you
will continue to pursue it vigorously and constantly[65]. You gain, at
least, what is no small advantage, security from those troublesome and
wearisome discontents, which are always obtruding themselves upon a mind
vacant, unemployed, and undetermined.

'You ought to think it no small inducement to diligence and
perseverance, that they will please your father. We all live upon the
hope of pleasing somebody; and the pleasure of pleasing ought to be
greatest, and at last always will be greatest, when our endeavours are
exerted in consequence of our duty.

'Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation
how it shall be spent; deliberation, which those who begin it by
prudence, and continue it with subtilty, must, after long expence of
thought, conclude by chance[66]. To prefer one future mode of life to
another, upon just reasons, requires faculties which it has not pleased
our Creator to give us.

'If, therefore, the profession you have chosen has some unexpected
inconveniencies, console yourself by reflecting that no profession is
without them; and that all the importunities and perplexities of
business are softness and luxury, compared with the incessant cravings
of vacancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idleness.

"_Haec sunt quce nostra polui te voce monere[67];
Vade, age_."

'As to your _History of Corsica_, you have no materials which others
have not, or may not have. You have, somehow, or other, warmed your
imagination. I wish there were some cure, like the lover's leap, for all
heads of which some single idea has obtained an unreasonable and
irregular possession. Mind your own affairs, and leave the Corsicans to
theirs. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,
'London, Aug. 21, 1766.'


'Auchinleck, Nov. 6, 1766.

'I plead not guilty to[68]----

'Having thus, I hope, cleared myself of the charge brought against me, I
presume you will not be displeased if I escape the punishment which you
have decreed for me unheard. If you have discharged the arrows of
criticism against an innocent man, you must rejoice to find they have
missed him, or have not been pointed so as to wound him.

'To talk no longer in allegory, I am, with all deference, going to offer
a few observations in defence of my Latin, which you have found fault

'You think I should have used _spei primæ_, instead of _spei alteræ_.
_Spes_ is, indeed, often used to express something on which we have a
future dependence, as in Virg. Eclog. i. l. 14,

".... _modo namque gemellos_
Spem _gregis ah silice in nudá connixa reliquit_."

and in Georg. iii. l. 473,

"Spemque _gregemque simul_,"

for the lambs and the sheep. Yet it is also used to express any thing on
which we have a present dependence, and is well applied to a man of
distinguished influence, our support, our refuge, our _præsidium_, as
Horace calls Mæcenas. So, Æneid xii. l. 57, Queen Amata addresses her
son-in-law Turnus:--"Spes _tu nunc una_:" and he was then no future
hope, for she adds,

"... _decus imperiumque Latini
Te penes_;"

which might have been said of my Lord Bute some years ago. Now I
consider the present Earl of Bute to be '_Excelsæ familiæ de Bute_ spes
prima;' and my Lord Mountstuart, as his eldest son, to be '_spes
altera_.' So in Æneid xii. l. 168, after having mentioned Pater Æneas,
who was the _present_ spes, the _reigning_ spes, as my German friends
would say, the _spes prima_, the poet adds,

"_Et juxta Ascanius, magnae_ spes altera _Romæ_."

'You think _alteræ_ ungrammatical, and you tell me it should have been
_alteri_. You must recollect, that in old times _alter_ was declined
regularly; and when the ancient fragments preserved in the _Juris
Civilis Fontes_ were written, it was certainly declined in the way that
I use it. This, I should think, may protect a lawyer who writes _alteræ_
in a dissertation upon part of his own science. But as I could hardly
venture to quote fragments of old law to so classical a man as Mr.
Johnson, I have not made an accurate search into these remains, to find
examples of what I am able to produce in poetical composition. We find
in Plaut. Rudens, act iii. scene 4,

"_Nam Jiuic alters patria qua: sit profecto nescio_."

Plautus is, to be sure, an old comick writer: but in the days of Scipio
and Lelius, we find, Terent. Heautontim. act ii. scene 3,

".... hoc ipsa in itinere alteræ
Dum narrat, forte audivi."

'You doubt my having authority for using _genus_ absolutely, for what we
call _family_, that is, for _illustrious extraction_. Now I take _genus_
in Latin, to have much the same signification with _birth_ in English;
both in their primary meaning expressing simply descent, but both made
to stand [Greek: kat exochaen] noble descent. _Genus_ is thus used in
Hor. lib. ii. Sat. v. 1. 8,

"_Et genus et virtus, nisi cum re, vilior alga est_."

'And in lib. i. Epist. vi. 1. 37,

"_Et genus et forinam Regina pecunia donat_."

'And in the celebrated contest between Ajax and Ulysses, Ovid's
Metamorph. lib. xiii. 1. 140,

"_Nam genus et proavos, et quæ--non fecimus ipsi
Vix ea nostra voco_."

'_Homines nullius originis_, for _nullis orti majoribus_, or _nullo loco
nati_, is, you are "afraid, barbarous."

'_Origo_ is used to signify extraction, as in Virg. Æneid i. 1. 286,

"_Nascetur pulchrd Trojanus_ origine _Cæsar_."

And in Æneid x. 1. 618,

"_Ille tamen nostrâ deducit_ origine _nomen_"

And as _nullus_ is used for obscure, is it not in the genius of the
Latin language to write _nullius originis_, for obscure extraction?

'I have defended myself as well as I could.

'Might I venture to differ from you with regard to the utility of vows?
I am sensible that it would be very dangerous to make vows rashly, and
without a due consideration. But I cannot help thinking that they may
often be of great advantage to one of a variable judgement and irregular
inclinations. I always remember a passage in one of your letters to our
Italian friend Baretti; where talking of the monastick life, you say you
do not wonder that serious men should put themselves under the
protection of a religious order, when they have found how unable they
are to take care of themselves.[69] For my own part, without affecting to
be a Socrates, I am sure I have a more than ordinary struggle to
maintain with _the Evil Principle_; and all the methods I can devise are
little enough to keep me tolerably steady in the paths of rectitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am ever, with the highest veneration,
'Your affectionate humble servant,

It appears from Johnson's diary, that he was this year at Mr. Thrale's,
from before Midsummer till after Michaelmas, and that he afterwards
passed a month at Oxford. He had then contracted a great intimacy with
Mr. Chambers of that University, afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of
the Judges in India.[70]

He published nothing this year in his own name; but the noble
dedication[71][*] to the King, of Gwyn's _London and Westminster
Improved_, was written by him; and he furnished the Preface,[Dagger] and
several of the pieces, which compose a volume of _Miscellanies_ by Mrs.
Anna Williams, the blind lady who had an asylum in his house. Of these,
there are his 'Epitaph on Philips,'[72][*] 'Translation of a Latin
Epitaph on Sir Thomas Hanmer,'[73][Dagger] 'Friendship, an Ode,'[74][*]
and, 'The Ant,'[*] a paraphrase from the Proverbs, of which I have a
copy in his own hand-writing; and, from internal evidence, I ascribe to
him, 'To Miss ----, on her giving the Authour a gold and silk net-work
Purse of her own weaving'[75]; [Dagger] and, 'The happy Life.'[76][Dagger]

Most of the pieces in this volume have evidently received additions from
his superiour pen, particularly 'Verses to Mr. Richardson, on his Sir
Charles Grandison;' 'The Excursion;' 'Reflections on a Grave digging in
Westminster Abbey.'[77] There is in this collection a poem 'On the Death
of Stephen Grey, the Electrician;'[*] which, on reading it, appeared to
me to be undoubtedly Johnson's. I asked Mrs. Williams whether it was not
his. 'Sir, (said she, with some warmth,) I wrote that poem before I had
the honour of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance.' I, however, was so much
impressed with my first notion, that I mentioned it to Johnson,
repeating, at the same time, what Mrs. Williams had said. His answer
was, 'It is true, Sir, that she wrote it before she was acquainted with
me; but she has not told you that I wrote it all over again, except two
lines.'[78] 'The Fountains,'[dagger] a beautiful little Fairy tale in
prose, written with exquisite simplicity, is one of Johnson's
productions; and I cannot with-hold from Mrs. Thrale the praise of being
the authour of that admirable poem, 'The Three Warnings.'

He wrote this year a letter, not intended for publication, which has,
perhaps, as strong marks of his sentiment and style, as any of his
compositions. The original is in my possession. It is addressed to the
late Mr. William Drummond, bookseller in Edinburgh, a gentleman of good
family, but small estate, who took arms for the house of Stuart in 1745;
and during his concealment in London till the act of general pardon came
out obtained the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, who justly esteemed him as
a very worthy man. It seems, some of the members of the society in
Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge, had opposed the scheme of
translating the holy scriptures into the Erse or Gaelick language, from
political considerations of the disadvantage of keeping up the
distinction between the Highlanders and the other inhabitants of
North-Britain. Dr. Johnson being informed of this, I suppose by Mr.
Drummond, wrote with a generous indignation as follows:



'I did not expect to hear that it could be, in an assembly convened for
the propagation of Christian knowledge, a question whether any nation
uninstructed in religion should receive instruction; or whether that
instruction should be imparted to them by a translation of the holy
books into their own language. If obedience to the will of God be
necessary to happiness, and knowledge of his will be necessary to
obedience, I know not how he that with-holds this knowledge, or delays
it, can be said to love his neighbour as himself. He that voluntarily
continues ignorance, is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance
produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a light-house,
might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks. Christianity is
the highest perfection of humanity; and as no man is good but as he
wishes the good of others, no man can be good in the highest degree who
wishes not to others the largest measures of the greatest good. To omit
for a year, or for a day, the most efficacious method of advancing
Christianity, in compliance with any purposes that terminate on this
side of the grave, is a crime of which I know not that the world has yet
had an example, except in the practice of the planters of America,[79] a
race of mortals whom, I suppose, no other man wishes to resemble.[80]

'The Papists have, indeed, denied to the laity the use of the bible; but
this prohibition, in few places now very rigorously enforced, is
defended by arguments, which have for their foundation the care of
souls. To obscure, upon motives merely political, the light of
revelation, is a practice reserved for the reformed; and, surely, the
blackest midnight of popery is meridian sunshine to such a reformation.
I am not very willing that any language should be totally extinguished.
The similitude and derivation of languages afford the most indubitable
proof of the traduction of nations, and the genealogy of mankind.[81]
They add often physical certainty to historical evidence; and often
supply the only evidence of ancient migrations, and of the revolutions
of ages which left no written monuments behind them.

'Every man's opinions, at least his desires, are a little influenced by
his favourite studies. My zeal for languages may seem, perhaps, rather
over-heated, even to those by whom I desire to be well-esteemed. To
those who have nothing in their thoughts but trade or policy, present
power, or present money, I should not think it necessary to defend my
opinions; but with men of letters I would not unwillingly compound, by
wishing the continuance of every language, however narrow in its extent,
or however incommodious for common purposes, till it is reposited in
some version of a known book, that it may be always hereafter examined
and compared with other languages, and then permitting its disuse. For
this purpose, the translation of the bible is most to be desired. It is
not certain that the same method will not preserve the Highland
language, for the purposes of learning, and abolish it from daily use.
When the Highlanders read the Bible, they will naturally wish to have
its obscurities cleared, and to know the history, collateral or
appendant. Knowledge always desires increase: it is like fire, which
must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards
propagate itself. When they once desire to learn, they will naturally
have recourse to the nearest language by which that desire can be
gratified; and one will tell another that if he would attain knowledge,
he must learn English.

'This speculation may, perhaps, be thought more subtle than the
grossness of real life will easily admit. Let it, however, be
remembered, that the efficacy of ignorance has been long tried, and has
not produced the consequence expected. Let knowledge, therefore, take
its turn; and let the patrons of privation stand awhile aside, and admit
the operation of positive principles.

'You will be pleased, Sir, to assure the worthy man who is employed in
the new translation,[82] that he has my wishes for his success; and if
here or at Oxford I can be of any use, that I shall think it more than
honour to promote his undertaking.

'I am sorry that I delayed so long to write.
'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
Aug. 13, 1766.'

The opponents of this pious scheme being made ashamed of their conduct,
the benevolent undertaking was allowed to go on[83].

The following letters, though not written till the year after, being
chiefly upon the same subject, are here inserted.



'That my letter should have had such effects as you mention, gives me
great pleasure. I hope you do not flatter me by imputing to me more good
than I have really done. Those whom my arguments have persuaded to
change their opinion, shew such modesty and candour as deserve great

'I hope the worthy translator goes diligently forward. He has a higher
reward in prospect than any honours which this world can bestow. I wish
I could be useful to him.

'The publication of my letter, if it could be of use in a cause to which
all other causes are nothing, I should not prohibit. But first, I would
have you consider whether the publication will really do any good; next,
whether by printing and distributing a very small number, you may not
attain all that you propose; and, what perhaps I should have said first,
whether the letter, which I do not now perfectly remember, be fit to be

'If you can consult Dr. Robertson, to whom I am a little known, I shall
be satisfied about the propriety of whatever he shall direct. If he
thinks that it should be printed, I entreat him to revise it; there may,
perhaps, be some negligent lines written, and whatever is amiss, he
knows very well how to rectify[84].

'Be pleased to let me know, from time to time, how this excellent design
goes forward.

'Make my compliments to young Mr. Drummond, whom I hope you will live to
see such as you desire him.

'I have not lately seen Mr. Elphinston[85], but believe him to be
prosperous. I shall be glad to hear the same of you, for I am, Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,

'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
April 21, 1767.'



'I returned this week from the country, after an absence of near six
months, and found your letter with many others, which I should have
answered sooner, if I had sooner seen them.

'Dr. Robertson's opinion was surely right. Men should not be told of the
faults which they have mended. I am glad the old language is taught, and
honour the translator as a man whom GOD has distinguished by the high
office of propagating his word.

'I must take the liberty of engaging you in an office of charity. Mrs.
Heely, the wife of Mr. Heely, who had lately some office in your
theatre, is my near relation, and now in great distress. They wrote me
word of their situation some time ago, to which I returned them an
answer which raised hopes of more than it is proper for me to give them.
Their representation of their affairs I have discovered to be such as
cannot be trusted; and at this distance, though their case requires
haste, I know not how to act. She, or her daughters, may be heard of at
Canongate Head. I must beg, Sir, that you will enquire after them, and
let me know what is to be done. I am willing to go to ten pounds, and
will transmit you such a sum, if upon examination you find it likely to
be of use. If they are in immediate want, advance them what you think
proper. What I could do, I would do for the women, having no great
reason to pay much regard to Heely himself[86].

'I believe you may receive some intelligence from Mrs. Baker, of the
theatre, whose letter I received at the same time with yours; and to
whom, if you see her, you will make my excuse for the seeming neglect of
answering her.

'Whatever you advance within ten pounds shall be immediately returned to
you, or paid as you shall order. I trust wholly to your judgement.

'I am, Sir, &c.
'London, Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
Oct. 24, 1767.'

Mr. Cuthbert Shaw[87], alike distinguished by his genius, misfortunes,
and misconduct, published this year a poem, called _The Race_, by
'Mercurius Spur, Esq.[88],' in which he whimsically made the living poets
of England contend for pre-eminence of fame by running:

'Prove by their heels the prowess of the head.'

In this poem there was the following portrait of Johnson:

'Here Johnson comes,--unblest with outward grace,
His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face.
While strong conceptions struggle in his brain;
(For even wit is brought to bed with pain:)
To view him, porters with their loads would rest,
And babes cling frighted to the nurse's breast.
With looks convuls'd he roars in pompous strain,
And, like an angry lion, shakes his mane.
The Nine, with terrour struck, who ne'er had seen,
Aught human with so horrible a mien,
Debating whether they should stay or run,
Virtue steps forth, and claims him for her son:
With gentle speech she warns him now to yield,
Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field;
But wrapt in conscious worth, content sit down,
Since Fame, resolv'd his various pleas to crown,
Though forc'd his present claim to disavow,
Had long reserv'd a chaplet for his brow.
He bows, obeys; for time shall first expire,
Ere Johnson stay, when Virtue bids retire.'

The Honourable Thomas Hervey[89] and his lady having unhappily disagreed,
and being about to separate, Johnson interfered as their friend, and
wrote him a letter of expostulation, which I have not been able to find;
but the substance of it is ascertained by a letter to Johnson in answer
to it, which Mr. Hervey printed. The occasion of this correspondence
between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Hervey, was thus related to me by Mr.
Beauclerk[90]. 'Tom Hervey had a great liking for Johnson, and in his
will had left him a legacy of fifty pounds. One day he said to me,
"Johnson may want this money now, more than afterwards. I have a mind to
give it him directly. Will you be so good as to carry a fifty pound note
from me to him?" This I positively refused to do, as he might, perhaps,
have knocked me down for insulting him, and have afterwards put the note
in his pocket. But I said, if Hervey would write him a letter, and
enclose a fifty pound note, I should take care to deliver it. He
accordingly did write him a letter, mentioning that he was only paying a
legacy a little sooner. To his letter he added, "_P.S. I am going to
part with my wife_." Johnson then wrote to him, saying nothing of the
note, but remonstrating with him against parting with his wife.'

When I mentioned to Johnson this story, in as delicate terms as I could,
he told me that the fifty pound note was given to him by Mr. Hervey in
consideration of his having written for him a pamphlet against Sir
Charles Hanbury Williams, who, Mr. Hervey imagined, was the authour of
an attack upon him; but that it was afterwards discovered to be the work
of a garreteer who wrote _The Fool_[91]: the pamphlet therefore against
Sir Charles was not printed.[92]

In February, 1767, there happened one of the most remarkable incidents
of Johnson's life, which gratified his monarchical enthusiasm, and which
he loved to relate with all its circumstances, when requested by his
friends. This was his being honoured by a private conversation with his
Majesty, in the library at the Queen's house[93]. He had frequently
visited those splendid rooms and noble collection of books[94], which he
used to say was more numerous and curious than he supposed any person
could have made in the time which the King had employed. Mr. Barnard,
the librarian, took care that he should have every accommodation that
could contribute to his ease and convenience, while indulging his
literary taste in that place; so that he had here a very agreeable
resource at leisure hours.

His Majesty having been informed of his occasional visits, was pleased
to signify a desire that he should be told when Dr. Johnson came next to
the library. Accordingly, the next time that Johnson did come, as soon
as he was fairly engaged with a book, on which, while he sat by the
fire, he seemed quite intent, Mr. Barnard stole round to the apartment
where the King was, and, in obedience to his Majesty's commands,
mentioned that Dr. Johnson was then in the library. His Majesty said he
was at leisure, and would go to him; upon which Mr. Barnard took one of
the candles that stood on the King's table, and lighted his Majesty
through a suite of rooms, till they came to a private door into the
library, of which his Majesty had the key. Being entered, Mr. Barnard
stepped forward hastily to Dr. Johnson, who was still in a profound
study, and whispered him, 'Sir, here is the King.' Johnson started up,
and stood still. His Majesty approached him, and at once was courteously

His Majesty began by observing, that he understood he came sometimes to
the library; and then mentioning his having heard that the Doctor had
been lately at Oxford[96], asked him if he was not fond of going thither.
To which Johnson answered, that he was indeed fond of going to Oxford
sometimes, but was likewise glad to come back again. The King then asked
him what they were doing at Oxford. Johnson answered, he could not much
commend their diligence, but that in some respects they were mended, for
they had put their press under better regulations, and were at that time
printing Polybius. He was then asked whether there were better libraries
at Oxford or Cambridge. He answered, he believed the Bodleian was larger
than any they had at Cambridge; at the same time adding, 'I hope,
whether we have more books or not than they have at Cambridge, we shall
make as good use of them as they do.' Being asked whether All-Souls or
Christ-Church library[97] was the largest, he answered, 'All-Souls
library is the largest we have, except the Bodleian.' 'Aye, (said the
King,) that is the publick library.'

His Majesty enquired if he was then writing any thing. He answered, he
was not, for he had pretty well told the world what he knew, and must
now read to acquire more knowledge[98]. The King, as it should seem with
a view to urge him to rely on his own stores as an original writer, and
to continue his labours[99], then said 'I do not think you borrow much
from any body.' Johnson said, he thought he had already done his part as
a writer. 'I should have thought so too, (said the King,) if you had not
written so well.'--Johnson observed to me, upon this, that 'No man could
have paid a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a King to pay. It
was decisive.' When asked by another friend, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's,
whether he made any reply to this high compliment, he answered, 'No,
Sir. When the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to
bandy civilities with my Sovereign[100].' Perhaps no man who had spent his
whole life in courts could have shewn a more nice and dignified sense of
true politeness, than Johnson did in this instance.

His Majesty having observed to him that he supposed he must have read a
great deal; Johnson answered, that he thought more than he read[101]; that
he had read a great deal in the early part of his life, but having
fallen into ill health, he had not been able to read much, compared with
others: for instance, he said he had not read much, compared with Dr.
Warburton[102]. Upon which the King said, that he heard Dr. Warburton was
a man of such general knowledge, that you could scarce talk with him on
any subject on which he was not qualified to speak; and that his
learning resembled Garrick's acting, in its universality[103]. His Majesty
then talked of the controversy between Warburton and Lowth, which he
seemed to have read, and asked Johnson what he thought of it. Johnson
answered, 'Warburton has most general, most scholastick learning; Lowth
is the more correct scholar. I do not know which of them calls names
best.' The King was pleased to say he was of the same opinion; adding,
'You do not think, then, Dr. Johnson, that there was much argument in
the case.' Johnson said, he did not think there was[104]. 'Why truly,
(said the King,) when once it comes to calling names, argument is pretty
well at an end.'

His Majesty then asked him what he thought of Lord Lyttelton's
_History_, which was then just published[105]. Johnson said, he thought
his style pretty good, but that he had blamed Henry the Second rather
too much. 'Why, (said the King), they seldom do these things by halves.'
'No, Sir, (answered Johnson), not to Kings.' But fearing to be
misunderstood, he proceeded to explain himself; and immediately
subjoined, 'That for those who spoke worse of Kings than they deserved,
he could find no excuse; but that he could more easily conceive how some
might speak better of them than they deserved, without any ill
intention; for, as Kings had much in their power to give, those who were
favoured by them would frequently, from gratitude, exaggerate their
praises; and as this proceeded from a good motive, it was certainly
excusable, as far as errour could be excusable.'

The King then asked him what he thought of Dr. Hill[106]. Johnson
answered, that he was an ingenious man, but had no veracity; and
immediately mentioned, as an instance of it, an assertion of that
writer, that he had seen objects magnified to a much greater degree by
using three or four microscopes at a time, than by using one. 'Now,
(added Johnson,) every one acquainted with microscopes knows, that the
more of them he looks through, the less the object will appear.' 'Why,
(replied the King,) this is not only telling an untruth, but telling it
clumsily; for, if that be the case, every one who can look through a
microscope will be able to detect him[107].'

'I now, (said Johnson to his friends, when relating what had passed)
began to consider that I was depreciating this man in the estimation of
his Sovereign, and thought it was time for me to say something that
might be more favourable.' He added, therefore, that Dr. Hill was,
notwithstanding, a very curious observer; and if he would have been
contented to tell the world no more than he knew, he might have been a
very considerable man, and needed not to have recourse to such mean
expedients to raise his reputation[108].

The King then talked of literary journals, mentioned particularly the
_Journal des Savans_, and asked Johnson if it was well done. Johnson
said, it was formerly very well done, and gave some account of the
persons who began it, and carried it on for some years; enlarging, at
the same time, on the nature and use of such works. The King asked him
if it was well done now. Johnson answered, he had no reason to think
that it was[109]. The King then asked him if there were any other literary
journals published in this kingdom, except the _Monthly_ and _Critical
Reviews_[110]; and on being answered there were no other, his Majesty
asked which of them was the best: Johnson answered, that the _Monthly
Review_ was done with most care, the _Critical_ upon the best
principles; adding that the authours of the _Monthly Review_ were
enemies to the Church[111]. This the King said he was sorry to hear.

The conversation next turned on the Philosophical Transactions, when
Johnson observed, that they had now a better method of arranging their
materials than formerly. 'Aye, (said the King,) they are obliged to Dr.
Johnson for that;' for his Majesty had heard and remembered the
circumstance, which Johnson himself had forgot[112].

His Majesty expressed a desire to have the literary biography of this
country ably executed, and proposed to Dr. Johnson to undertake it.
Johnson signified his readiness to comply with his Majesty's wishes.

During the whole of this interview, Johnson talked to his Majesty with
profound respect, but still in his firm manly manner, with a sonorous
voice, and never in that subdued tone which is commonly used at the
levee and in the drawing-room[113]. After the King withdrew, Johnson
shewed himself highly pleased with his Majesty's conversation, and
gracious behaviour. He said to Mr. Barnard, 'Sir, they may talk of the
King as they will; but he is the finest gentleman I have ever seen[114].'
And he afterwards observed to Mr. Langton, 'Sir, his manners are those
of as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Lewis the Fourteenth or Charles
the Second.'

At Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where a circle of Johnson's friends was
collected round him to hear his account of this memorable conversation,
Dr. Joseph Warton, in his frank and lively manner[115], was very active in
pressing him to mention the particulars. 'Come now, Sir, this is an
interesting matter; do favour us with it.' Johnson, with great good
humour, complied.

He told them, 'I found his Majesty wished I should talk, and I made it
my business to talk. I find it does a man good to be talked to by his
Sovereign. In the first place, a man cannot be in a passion--.' Here
some question interrupted him, which is to be regretted, as he certainly
would have pointed out and illustrated many circumstances of advantage,
from being in a situation, where the powers of the mind are at once
excited to vigorous exertion, and tempered by reverential awe.

During all the time in which Dr. Johnson was employed in relating to the
circle at Sir Joshua Reynolds's the particulars of what passed between
the King and him, Dr. Goldsmith remained unmoved upon a sopha at some
distance, affecting not to join in the least in the eager curiosity of
the company. He assigned as a reason for his gloom and seeming
inattention, that he apprehended Johnson had relinquished his purpose of
furnishing him with a Prologue to his play[116], with the hopes of which
he had been flattered; but it was strongly suspected that he was
fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. Johnson had
lately enjoyed. At length, the frankness and simplicity of his natural
character prevailed. He sprung from the sopha, advanced to Johnson, and
in a kind of flutter, from imagining himself in the situation which he
had just been hearing described, exclaimed, 'Well, you acquitted
yourself in this conversation better than I should have done; for I
should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it[117].'

I received no letter from Johnson this year; nor have I discovered any
of the correspondence[118] he had, except the two letters to Mr. Drummond,
which have been inserted, for the sake of connection with that to the
same gentleman in 1766. His diary affords no light as to his employment
at this time. He passed three months at Lichfield[119]; and I cannot omit
an affecting and solemn scene there, as related by himself[120]:

'Sunday, Oct. 18, 1767. Yesterday, Oct. 17, at about ten in the morning,
I took my leave for ever of my dear old friend, Catharine Chambers, who
came to live with my mother about 1724, and has been but little parted
from us since. She buried my father, my brother, and my mother. She is
now fifty-eight years old.

'I desired all to withdraw, then told her that we were to part for ever;
that as Christians, we should part with prayer; and that I would, if she
was willing, say a short prayer beside her. She expressed great desire
to hear me; and held up her poor hands, as she lay in bed, with great
fervour, while I prayed, kneeling by her, nearly in the following words:

'Almighty and most merciful Father, whose loving kindness is over all
thy works, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant, who is grieved
with sickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness may add strength to
her faith, and seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help
of thy Holy Spirit, after the pains and labours of this short life, we
may all obtain everlasting happiness, through JESUS CHRIST our Lord; for
whose sake hear our prayers. Amen. Our Father, &c.

'I then kissed her. She told me, that to part was the greatest pain that
she had ever felt, and that she hoped we should meet again in a better
place. I expressed, with swelled eyes, and great emotion of tenderness,
the same hopes. We kissed, and parted. I humbly hope to meet again, and
to part no more[121].'

By those who have been taught to look upon Johnson as a man of a harsh
and stern character, let this tender and affectionate scene be candidly
read; and let them then judge whether more warmth of heart, and grateful
kindness, is often found in human nature.

We have the following notice in his devotional record:

'August 2, 1767. I have been disturbed and unsettled for a long time,
and have been without resolution to apply to study or to business, being
hindered by sudden snatches[122].'

He, however, furnished Mr. Adams with a Dedication[*] to the King of
that ingenious gentleman's _Treatise on the Globes_, conceived and
expressed in such a manner as could not fail to be very grateful to a
Monarch, distinguished for his love of the sciences.

This year was published a ridicule of his style, under the title of
_Lexiphanes_. Sir John Hawkins ascribes it to Dr. Kenrick[123]; but its
authour was one Campbell, a Scotch purser in the navy. The ridicule
consisted in applying Johnson's 'words of large meaning[124]' to
insignificant matters, as if one should put the armour of Goliath upon a
dwarf. The contrast might be laughable; but the dignity of the armour
must remain the same in all considerate minds. This malicious drollery,
therefore, it may easily be supposed, could do no harm to its
illustrious object[125].



'That you have been all summer in London, is one more reason for which I
regret my long stay in the country. I hope that you will not leave the
town before my return. We have here only the chance of vacancies in the
passing carriages, and I have bespoken one that may, if it happens,
bring me to town on the fourteenth of this month; but this is not

'It will be a favour if you communicate this to Mrs. Williams: I long to
see all my friends.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'Lichfield, Oct. 10, 1767.'

1768: AETAT. 59.--It appears from his notes of the state of his mind[126],
that he suffered great perturbation and distraction in 1768. Nothing of
his writing was given to the publick this year, except the Prologue[*]
to his friend Goldsmith's comedy of _The Good-natured Man_[127]. The first
lines of this Prologue are strongly characteristical of the dismal gloom
of his mind; which in his case, as in the case of all who are distressed
with the same malady of imagination, transfers to others its own
feelings. Who could suppose it was to introduce a comedy, when Mr.
Bensley solemnly began,

'Press'd with[128] the load of life, the weary mind
 Surveys the general toil of human kind.'

But this dark ground might make Goldsmith's humour shine the more.

In the spring of this year, having published my _Account of Corsica_,
with the _Journal of a Tour to that Island_[129], I returned to London
[130], very desirous to see Dr. Johnson, and hear him upon the subject.
I found he was at Oxford, with his friend Mr. Chambers[131], who was now
Vinerian Professor, and lived in New Inn Hall. Having had no letter from
him since that in which he criticised the Latinity of my Thesis, and
having been told by somebody that he was offended at my having put into
my Book an extract of his letter to me at Paris[132], I was impatient to
be with him, and therefore followed him to Oxford, where I was
entertained by Mr. Chambers, with a civility which I shall ever
gratefully remember. I found that Dr. Johnson had sent a letter to me to
Scotland, and that I had nothing to complain of but his being more
indifferent to my anxiety than I wished him to be. Instead of giving,
with the circumstances of time and place, such fragments of his
conversation as I preserved during this visit to Oxford, I shall throw
them together in continuation[133].

I asked him whether, as a moralist, he did not think that the practice
of the law, in some degree, hurt the nice feeling of honesty. JOHNSON.
'Why no, Sir, if you act properly. You are not to deceive your clients
with false representations of your opinion: you are not to tell lies to
a judge.' BOSWELL. 'But what do you think of supporting a cause which
you know to be bad?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you do not know it to be good or bad
till the Judge determines it. I have said that you are to state facts
fairly; so that your thinking, or what you call knowing, a cause to be
bad, must be from reasoning, must be from your supposing your arguments
to be weak and inconclusive. But, Sir, that is not enough. An argument
which does not convince yourself, may convince the Judge to whom you
urge it: and if it does convince him, why, then, Sir, you are wrong, and
he is right. It is his business to judge; and you are not to be
confident in your own opinion that a cause is bad, but to say all you
can for your client, and then hear the Judge's opinion.' BOSWELL. 'But,
Sir, does not affecting a warmth when you have no warmth, and appearing
to be clearly of one opinion when you are in reality of another opinion,
does not such dissimulation impair one's honesty? Is there not some
danger that a lawyer may put on the same mask in common life, in the
intercourse with his friends?' JOHNSON. 'Why no, Sir. Everybody knows
you are paid for affecting warmth for your client; and it is, therefore,
properly no dissimulation: the moment you come from the bar you resume
your usual behaviour. Sir, a man will no more carry the artifice of the
bar into the common intercourse of society, than a man who is paid for
tumbling upon his hands will continue to tumble upon his hands when he
should walk on his feet[134].'

Talking of some of the modern plays, he said _False Delicacy_ was
totally void of character[135]. He praised Goldsmith's _Good-natured Man_;
said, it was the best comedy that had appeared since _The Provoked
Husband_[136], and that there had not been of late any such character
exhibited on the stage as that of Croaker. I observed it was the
Suspirius of his Rambler. He said, Goldsmith had owned he had borrowed
it from thence[137]. 'Sir, (continued he,) there is all the difference in
the world between characters of nature and characters of manners; and
_there_ is the difference between the characters of Fielding and those
of Richardson. Characters of manners are very entertaining; but they are
to be understood, by a more superficial observer, than characters of
nature, where a man must dive into the recesses of the human heart.'

It always appeared to me that he estimated the compositions of
Richardson too highly, and that he had an unreasonable prejudice against
Fielding[138]. In comparing those two writers, he used this expression:
'that there was as great a difference between them as between a man who
knew how a watch was made, and a man who could tell the hour by looking
on the dial-plate[139].' This was a short and figurative state of his
distinction between drawing characters of nature and characters only of
manners. But I cannot help being of opinion, that the neat watches of
Fielding are as well constructed as the large clocks of Richardson, and
that his dial-plates are brighter. Fielding's characters, though they do
not expand themselves so widely in dissertation, are as just pictures of
human nature, and I will venture to say, have more striking features,
and nicer touches of the pencil; and though Johnson used to quote with
approbation a saying of Richardson's, 'that the virtues of Fielding's
heroes were the vices of a truly good man,' I will venture to add, that
the moral tendency of Fielding's writings, though it does not encourage
a strained and rarely possible virtue, is ever favourable to honour and
honesty, and cherishes the benevolent and generous affections. He who is
as good as Fielding would make him, is an amiable member of society, and
may be led on by more regulated instructors, to a higher state of
ethical perfection.

Johnson proceeded: 'Even Sir Francis Wronghead is a character of
manners, though drawn with great humour.' He then repeated, very
happily, all Sir Francis's credulous account to Manly of his being with
'the great man,' and securing a place[140]. I asked him, if _The
Suspicious Husband_[141] did not furnish a well-drawn character, that of
Ranger. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; Ranger is just a rake, a mere rake[142], and a
lively young fellow, but no _character_'.

The great Douglas Cause[143] was at this time a very general subject of
discussion. I found he had not studied it with much attention, but had
only heard parts of it occasionally. He, however, talked of it, and
said, 'I am of opinion that positive proof of fraud should not be
required of the plaintiff, but that the Judges should decide according
as probability shall appear to preponderate, granting to the defendant
the presumption of filiation to be strong in his favour. And I think
too, that a good deal of weight should be allowed to the dying
declarations, because they were spontaneous. There is a great difference
between what is said without our being urged to it, and what is said
from a kind of compulsion. If I praise a man's book without being asked
my opinion of it, that is honest praise, to which one may trust. But if
an authour asks me if I like his book, and I give him something like
praise, it must not be taken as my real opinion.'

'I have not been troubled for a long time with authours desiring my
opinion of their works[144]. I used once to be sadly plagued with a man
who wrote verses, but who literally had no other notion of a verse, but
that it consisted of ten syllables. _Lay your knife and your fork,
across your plate_, was to him a verse:

'Lay your knife and your fork, across your plate.

'As he wrote a great number of verses, he sometimes by chance made good
ones, though he did not know it.'

He renewed his promise of coming to Scotland, and going with me to the
Hebrides, but said he would now content himself with seeing one or two
of the most curious of them. He said, 'Macaulay[145], who writes the
account of St. Kilda, set out with a prejudice against prejudices, and
wanted to be a smart modern thinker; and yet he affirms for a truth,
that when a ship arrives there, all the inhabitants are seized with a

Dr. John Campbell[147], the celebrated writer, took a great deal of pains
to ascertain this fact, and attempted to account for it on physical
principles, from the effect of effluvia from human bodies. Johnson, at
another time[148], praised Macaulay for his '_magnanimity_' in asserting
this wonderful story, because it was well attested. A Lady of Norfolk,
by a letter to my friend Dr. Burney, has favoured me with the following
solution: 'Now for the explication of this seeming mystery, which is so
very obvious as, for that reason, to have escaped the penetration of Dr.
Johnson and his friend, as well as that of the authour. Reading the book
with my ingenious friend, the late Reverend Mr. Christian, of Docking--
after ruminating a little, "The cause, (says he,) is a natural one. The
situation of St. Kilda renders a North-East Wind indispensably necessary
before a stranger can land[149]. The wind, not the stranger, occasions an
epidemic cold." If I am not mistaken, Mr. Macaulay is dead; if living,
this solution might please him, as I hope it will Mr. Boswell, in return
for the many agreeable hours his works have afforded us.'

Johnson expatiated on the advantages of Oxford for learning[150]. 'There
is here, Sir, (said he,) such a progressive emulation. The students are
anxious to appear well to their tutors; the tutors are anxious to have
their pupils appear well in the college; the colleges are anxious to
have their students appear well in the University; and there are
excellent rules of discipline in every college. That the rules are
sometimes ill observed, may be true; but is nothing against the system.
The members of an University may, for a season, be unmindful of their
duty. I am arguing for the excellency of the institution[151].'

Of Guthrie[152], he said, 'Sir, he is a man of parts. He has no great
regular fund of knowledge; but by reading so long, and writing so long,
he no doubt has picked up a good deal.'

He said he had lately been a long while at Lichfield, but had grown very
weary before he left it. BOSWELL. 'I wonder at that, Sir; it is your
native place.' JOHNSON. 'Why, so is Scotland _your_ native place.'

His prejudice against Scotland appeared remarkably strong at this time.
When I talked of our advancement in literature[153], 'Sir, (said he,) you
have learnt a little from us, and you think yourselves very great men.
Hume would never have written History, had not Voltaire written it
before him[154]. He is an echo of Voltaire.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, we have
Lord Kames[155].'

JOHNSON. 'You _have_ Lord Kames. Keep him; ha, ha, ha! We don't envy you
him. Do you ever see Dr. Robertson?'

BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Does the dog talk of me?'

BOSWELL. 'Indeed, Sir, he does, and loves you.' Thinking that I now had
him in a corner, and being solicitous for the literary fame of my
country, I pressed him for his opinion on the merit of Dr. Robertson's
_History of Scotland_. But, to my surprize, he escaped.--'Sir, I love
Robertson, and I won't talk of his book[156].'

It is but justice both to him and Dr. Robertson to add, that though he
indulged himself in this sally of wit, he had too good taste not to be
fully sensible of the merits of that admirable work.

An essay, written by Mr. Deane, a divine of the Church of England,
maintaining the future life of brutes, by an explication of certain
parts of the scriptures[157], was mentioned, and the doctrine insisted on
by a gentleman who seemed fond of curious speculation. Johnson, who did
not like to hear of any thing concerning a future state which was not
authorised by the regular canons of orthodoxy, discouraged this talk;
and being offended at its continuation, he watched an opportunity to
give the gentleman a blow of reprehension. So, when the poor
speculatist, with a serious metaphysical pensive face, addressed him,
'But really, Sir, when we see a very sensible dog, we don't know what to
think of him;' Johnson, rolling with joy at the thought which beamed in
his eye, turned quickly round, and replied, 'True, Sir: and when we see
a very foolish _fellow_, we don't know what to think of _him_.' He then
rose up, strided to the fire, and stood for some time laughing and

I told him that I had several times, when in Italy, seen the experiment
of placing a scorpion within a circle of burning coals; that it ran
round and round in extreme pain; and finding no way to escape, retired
to the centre, and like a true Stoick philosopher, darted its sting into
its head, and thus at once freed itself from its woes. 'This must end
'em[158].' I said, this was a curious fact, as it shewed deliberate
suicide in a reptile. Johnson would not admit the fact. He said,
Maupertuis[159] was of opinion that it does not kill itself, but dies of
the heat; that it gets to the centre of the circle, as the coolest
place; that its turning its tail in upon its head is merely a
convulsion, and that it does not sting itself. He said he would be
satisfied if the great anatomist Morgagni, after dissecting a scorpion
on which the experiment had been tried, should certify that its sting
had penetrated into its head.

He seemed pleased to talk of natural philosophy. 'That woodcocks, (said
he,) fly over to the northern countries is proved, because they have
been observed at sea. Swallows certainly sleep all the winter. A number
of them conglobulate together[160], by flying round and round, and then
all in a heap throw themselves under water, and lye in the bed of a
river[161].' He told us, one of his first essays was a Latin poem upon the
glow-worm. I am sorry I did not ask where it was to be found.

Talking of the Russians and the Chinese, he advised me to read Bell's
travels[162]. I asked him whether I should read Du Halde's account of
China[163]. 'Why yes, (said he) as one reads such a book; that is to say,
consult it.'

He talked of the heinousness of the crime of adultery, by which the
peace of families was destroyed. He said, 'Confusion of progeny
constitutes the essence of the crime; and therefore a woman who breaks
her marriage vows is much more criminal than a man who does it.[164] A
man, to be sure, is criminal in the sight of God: but he does not do his
wife a very material injury, if he does not insult her; if, for
instance, from mere wantonness of appetite, he steals privately to her
chambermaid. Sir, a wife ought not greatly to resent this. I would not
receive home a daughter who had run away from her husband on that
account. A wife should study to reclaim her husband by more attention to
please him. Sir, a man will not, once in a hundred instances, leave his
wife and go to a harlot, if his wife has not been negligent of

Here he discovered that acute discrimination, that solid judgement, and
that knowledge of human nature, for which he was upon all occasions
remarkable. Taking care to keep in view then moral and religious duty,
as understood in our nation, he shewed clearly from reason and good
sense, the greater degree of culpability in the one sex deviating from
it than the other; and, at the same time, inculcated a very useful
lesson as to _the way to keep him_.

I asked him if it was not hard that one deviation from chastity should
so absolutely ruin a young woman. JOHNSON. 'Why, no, Sir; it is the
great principle which she is taught. When she has given up that
principle, she has given up every notion of female honour and virtue,
which are all included in chastity.'

A gentleman[165] talked to him of a lady whom he greatly admired and
wished to marry, but was afraid of her superiority of talents. 'Sir,
(said he) you need not be afraid; marry her. Before a year goes about,
you'll find that reason much weaker, and that wit not so bright.' Yet
the gentleman may be justified in his apprehension by one of Dr.
Johnson's admirable sentences in his life of Waller: 'He doubtless
praised many[166] whom he would have been afraid to marry; and, perhaps,
married one whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities
contribute to domestic happiness, upon which poetry has no colours to
bestow; and many airs and sallies may delight imagination, which he who
flatters them never can approve.'

He praised Signor Baretti. 'His account of Italy is a very entertaining
book[167]; and, Sir, I know no man who carries his head higher in
conversation than Baretti[168]. There are strong powers in his mind. He
has not, indeed, many hooks; but with what hooks he has, he grapples
very forcibly.'

At this time I observed upon the dial-plate of his watch[169] a short
Greek inscription, taken from the New Testament, _Nux gar erchetai_[170],
being the first words of our SAVIOUR'S solemn admonition to the
improvement of that time which is allowed us to prepare for eternity:
'the night cometh, when no man can work.' He sometime afterwards laid
aside this dial-plate; and when I asked him the reason, he said, 'It
might do very well upon a clock which a man keeps in his closet; but to
have it upon his watch which he carries about with him, and which is
often looked at by others, might be censured as ostentatious.' Mr.
Steevens is now possessed of the dial-plate inscribed as above.

He remained at Oxford a considerable time[171]; I was obliged to go to
London, where I received his letter, which had been returned from



'I have omitted a long time to write to you, without knowing very well
why. I could now tell why I should not write; for who would write to men
who publish the letters of their friends, without their leave[172]? Yet I
write to you in spite of my caution, to tell you that I shall be glad to
see you, and that I wish you would empty your head of Corsica, which I
think has filled it rather too long. But, at all events, I shall be
glad, very glad to see you.

'I am, Sir,
'Yours affectionately,
'Oxford, March 23, 1768.'

I answered thus:


'London, 26th April, 1768[173].


'I have received your last letter, which, though very short, and by no
means complimentary, yet gave me real pleasure, because it contains
these words, "I shall be glad, very glad to see you." Surely you have no
reason to complain of my publishing a single paragraph of one of your
letters; the temptation to it was so strong. An irrevocable grant of
your friendship, and your dignifying my desire of visiting Corsica with
the epithet of "a wise and noble curiosity," are to me more valuable
than many of the grants of kings.

'But how can you bid me "empty my head of Corsica[174]?" My noble-minded
friend, do you not feel for an oppressed nation bravely struggling to be
free? Consider fairly what is the case. The Corsicans never received any
kindness from the Genoese[175]. They never agreed to be subject to them.
They owe them nothing; and when reduced to an abject state of slavery,
by force, shall they not rise in the great cause of liberty, and break
the galling yoke? And shall not every liberal soul be warm for them?
Empty my head of Corsica! Empty it of honour, empty it of humanity,
empty it of friendship, empty it of piety. No! while I live, Corsica and
the cause of the brave islanders shall ever employ much of my attention,
shall ever interest me in the sincerest manner.

'I am, &c.


Upon his arrival in London in May, he surprized me one morning with a
visit at my lodgings in Half-Moon-street[176], was quite satisfied with my
explanation, and was in the kindest and most agreeable frame of mind. As
he had objected to a part of one of his letters being published, I
thought it right to take this opportunity of asking him explicitly
whether it would be improper to publish his letters after his death. His
answer was, 'Nay, Sir, when I am dead, you may do as you will[177].'

He talked in his usual style with a rough contempt of popular
liberty[178]. 'They make a rout about _universal_ liberty, without
considering that all that is to be valued, or indeed can be enjoyed by
individuals, is _private_ liberty. Political liberty is good only so far
as it produces private liberty. Now, Sir, there is the liberty of the
press, which you know is a constant topick[179]. Suppose you and I and two
hundred more were restrained from printing our thoughts: what then? What
proportion would that restraint upon us bear to the private happiness of
the nation[180]?'

This mode of representing the inconveniences of restraint as light and
insignificant, was a kind of sophistry in which he delighted to indulge
himself, in opposition to the extreme laxity for which it has been
fashionable for too many to argue, when it is evident, upon reflection,
that the very essence of government is restraint; and certain it is,
that as government produces rational happiness, too much restraint is
better than too little. But when restraint is unnecessary, and so close
as to gall those who are subject to it, the people may and ought to
remonstrate; and, if relief is not granted, to resist. Of this manly and
spirited principle, no man was more convinced than Johnson himself[181].

About this time Dr. Kenrick[182] attacked him, through my sides, in a
pamphlet, entitled _An Epistle to James Boswell, Esq., occasioned by his
having transmitted the moral Writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson to Pascal
Paoli, General of the Corsicans_[183]. I was at first inclined to answer
this pamphlet; but Johnson, who knew that my doing so would only gratify
Kenrick, by keeping alive what would soon die away of itself, would not
suffer me to take any notice of it[184].

His sincere regard for Francis Barber, his faithful negro servant, made
him so desirous of his further improvement, that he now placed him at a
school at Bishop Stortford, in Hertfordshire. This humane attention does
Johnson's heart much honour. Out of many letters which Mr. Barber
received from his master, he has preserved three, which he kindly gave
me, and which I shall insert according to their dates.



'I have been very much out of order. I am glad to hear that you are
well, and design to come soon to see you. I would have you stay at Mrs.
Clapp's for the present, till I can determine what we shall do. Be a
good boy[185].

  'My compliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Fowler. I am,
                                 'Your's affectionately,
                                                'SAM. JOHNSON'.
  'May 28, 1768.'

Soon afterwards, he supped at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in the
Strand, with a company whom I collected to meet him. They were Dr.
Percy, now Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury, Mr.
Langton, Dr. Robertson the Historian[186], Dr. Hugh Blair, and Mr. Thomas
Davies, who wished much to be introduced to these eminent Scotch
_literati_; but on the present occasion he had very little opportunity
of hearing them talk, for with an excess of prudence, for which Johnson
afterwards found fault with them, they hardly opened their lips, and
that only to say something which they were certain would not expose them
to the sword of Goliath; such was their anxiety for their fame when in
the presence of Johnson[187]. He was this evening in remarkable vigour of
mind, and eager to exert himself in conversation, which he did with
great readiness and fluency; but I am sorry to find that I have
preserved but a small part of what passed.

He allowed high praise to Thomson as a poet[188]; but when one of the
company said he was also a very good man, our moralist contested this
with great warmth, accusing him of gross sensuality and licentiousness
of manners. I was very much afraid that in writing Thomson's _Life_, Dr.
Johnson would have treated his private character with a stern severity,
but I was agreeably disappointed; and I may claim a little merit in it,
from my having been at pains to send him authentick accounts of the
affectionate and generous conduct of that poet to his sisters, one of
whom, the wife of Mr. Thomson, schoolmaster at Lanark, I knew, and was
presented by her with three of his letters, one of which Dr. Johnson has
inserted in his _Life_[189].

He was vehement against old Dr. Mounsey, of Chelsea College[190], as 'a
fellow who swore and talked bawdy.' 'I have been often in his company,
(said Dr. Percy,) and never heard him swear or talk bawdy.' Mr. Davies,
who sat next to Dr. Percy, having after this had some conversation aside
with him, made a discovery which, in his zeal to pay court to Dr.
Johnson, he eagerly proclaimed aloud from the foot of the table: 'O,
Sir, I have found out a very good reason why Dr. Percy never heard
Mounsey swear or talk bawdy; for he tells me, he never saw him but at
the Duke of Northumberland's table.' 'And so, Sir, (said Johnson loudly,
to Dr. Percy,) you would shield this man from the charge of swearing and
talking bawdy, because he did not do so at the Duke of Northumberland's
table. Sir, you might as well tell us that you had seen him hold up his
hand at the Old Bailey, and he neither swore nor talked bawdy; or that
you had seen him in the cart at Tyburn, and he neither swore nor talked
bawdy. And is it thus, Sir, that you presume to controvert what I have
related?' Dr. Johnson's animadversion was uttered in such a manner, that
Dr. Percy seemed to be displeased, and soon afterwards left the company,
of which Johnson did not at that time take any notice.

Swift having been mentioned, Johnson, as usual, treated him with little
respect as an authour[191]. Some of us endeavoured to support the Dean of
St. Patrick's by various arguments. One in particular praised his
_Conduct of the Allies_. JOHNSON. 'Sir, his _Conduct of the Allies_ is a
performance of very little ability.' 'Surely, Sir, (said Dr. Douglas,)
you must allow it has strong facts[192].' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; but what
is that to the merit of the composition? In the Sessions-paper of the
Old Bailey there are strong facts. Housebreaking is a strong fact;
robbery is a strong fact; and murder is a _mighty_ strong fact; but is
great praise due to the historian of those strong facts? No, Sir. Swift
has told what he had to tell distinctly enough, but that is all. He had
to count ten, and he has counted it right[193].' Then recollecting that
Mr. Davies, by acting as an _informer_, had been the occasion of his
talking somewhat too harshly to his friend[194] Dr. Percy, for which,
probably, when the first ebullition was over, he felt some compunction,
he took an opportunity to give him a hit; so added, with a preparatory
laugh, 'Why, Sir, Tom Davies might have written _The Conduct of the
Allies_.' Poor Tom being thus suddenly dragged into ludicrous notice in
presence of the Scottish Doctors, to whom he was ambitious of appearing
to advantage, was grievously mortified. Nor did his punishment rest
here; for upon subsequent occasions, whenever he, 'statesman all
over[195],' assumed a strutting importance, I used to hail him--'the
Authour of _The Conduct of the Allies_.'

When I called upon Dr. Johnson next morning, I found him highly
satisfied with his colloquial prowess the preceding evening. 'Well,
(said he,) we had good talk[196].' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir; you tossed and
gored several persons[197].'

The late Alexander, Earl of Eglintoune[198], who loved wit more than wine,
and men of genius more than sycophants, had a great admiration of
Johnson; but from the remarkable elegance of his own manners, was,
perhaps, too delicately sensible of the roughness which sometimes
appeared in Johnson's behaviour. One evening about this time, when his
Lordship did me the honour to sup at my lodgings with Dr. Robertson and
several other men of literary distinction, he regretted that Johnson had
not been educated with more refinement, and lived more in polished
society. 'No, no, my Lord, (said Signor Baretti,) do with him what you
would, he would always have been a bear.' 'True, (answered the Earl,
with a smile,) but he would have been a _dancing_ bear.'

To obviate all the reflections which have gone round the world to
Johnson's prejudice, by applying to him the epithet of a _bear_[199], let
me impress upon my readers a just and happy saying of my friend
Goldsmith, who knew him well: 'Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in
his manner; but no man alive has a more tender heart. _He has nothing of
the bear but his skin_.'

1769: AETAT. 60.--In 1769, so far as I can discover, the publick was
favoured with nothing of Johnson's composition, either for himself or
any of his friends[200]. His _Meditations_[201] too strongly prove that
he suffered much both in body and mind; yet was he perpetually striving
against _evil_, and nobly endeavouring to advance his intellectual and
devotional improvement. Every generous and grateful heart must feel for
the distresses of so eminent a benefactor to mankind; and now that his
unhappiness is certainly known, must respect that dignity of character
which prevented him from complaining.

His Majesty having the preceding year instituted the Royal Academy of
Arts in London, Johnson had now the honour of being appointed Professor
in Ancient Literature[202]. In the course of the year he wrote some
letters to Mrs. Thrale, passed some part of the summer at Oxford and at
Lichfield, and when at Oxford wrote the following letter:



'Many years ago, when I used to read in the library of your College, I
promised to recompence the College for that permission, by adding to
their books a Baskerville's _Virgil_. I have now sent it, and desire you
to reposit it on the shelves in my name[203].

'If you will be pleased to let me know when you have an hour of leisure,
I will drink tea with you. I am engaged for the afternoon, to-morrow and
on Friday: all my mornings are my own[204].

'I am, &c.,


'May 31, 1769.'

I came to London in the autumn, and having informed him that I was going
to be married in a few months, I wished to have as much of his
conversation as I could before engaging in a state of life which would
probably keep me more in Scotland, and prevent me seeing him so often as
when I was a single man; but I found he was at Brighthelmstone with Mr.
and Mrs. Thrale. I was very sorry that I had not his company with me at
the Jubilee, in honour of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, the great
poet's native town[205]. Johnson's connection both with Shakspeare and
Garrick founded a double claim to his presence; and it would have been
highly gratifying to Mr. Garrick. Upon this occasion I particularly
lamented that he had not that warmth of friendship for his brilliant
pupil, which we may suppose would have had a benignant effect on
both[206]. When almost every man of eminence in the literary world was
happy to partake in this festival of genius, the absence of Johnson
could not but be wondered at and regretted. The only trace of him there,
was in the whimsical advertisement of a haberdasher, who sold
_Shakspearian ribbands_ of various dyes; and, by way of illustrating
their appropriation to the bard, introduced a line from the celebrated
Prologue[207] at the opening of Drury-lane theatre:

'Each change of many-colour'd life he drew.'

From Brighthelmstone Dr. Johnson wrote me the following letter, which
they who may think that I ought to have suppressed, must have less
ardent feelings than I have always avowed[208].



'Why do you charge me with unkindness? I have omitted nothing that could
do you good, or give you pleasure, unless it be that I have forborne to
tell you my opinion of your _Account of Corsica_. I believe my opinion,
if you think well of my judgement, might have given you pleasure; but
when it is considered how much vanity is excited by praise, I am not
sure that it would have done you good. Your History is like other
histories, but your Journal is in a very high degree curious and
delightful. There is between the History and the Journal that difference
which there will always be found between notions borrowed from without,
and notions generated within. Your History was copied from books; your
Journal rose out of your own experience and observation. You express
images which operated strongly upon yourself, and you have impressed
them with great force upon your readers. I know not whether I could name
any narrative by which curiosity is better excited, or better gratified.

'I am glad that you are going to be married; and as I wish you well in
things of less importance, wish you well with proportionate ardour in
this crisis of your life. What I can contribute to your happiness, I
should be very unwilling to with-hold; for I have always loved and
valued you, and shall love you and value you still more, as you become
more regular and useful: effects which a happy marriage will hardly fail
to produce.

'I do not find that I am likely to come back very soon from this place.
I shall, perhaps, stay a fortnight longer; and a fortnight is a long
time to a lover absent from his mistress. Would a fortnight ever have an

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most affectionate humble servant,

Sept. 9, 1769.'

After his return to town, we met frequently, and I continued the
practice of making notes of his conversation, though not with so much
assiduity as I wish I had done. At this time, indeed, I had a sufficient
excuse for not being able to appropriate so much time to my Journal; for
General Paoli[209], after Corsica had been overpowered by the monarchy of
France, was now no longer at the head of his brave countrymen, but
having with difficulty escaped from his native island, had sought an
asylum in Great Britain; and it was my duty, as well as my pleasure, to
attend much upon him[210]. Such particulars of Johnson's conversation at
this period as I have committed to writing, I shall here introduce,
without any strict attention to methodical arrangement. Sometimes short
notes of different days shall be blended together, and sometimes a day
may seem important enough to be separately distinguished.

He said, he would not have Sunday kept with rigid severity and gloom,
but with a gravity and simplicity of behaviour[211].

I told him that David Hume had made a short collection of
Scotticisms[212]. 'I wonder, (said Johnson,) that _he_ should find them.'

He would not admit the importance of the question concerning the
legality of general warrants[213]. 'Such a power' (he observed,) 'must be
vested in every government, to answer particular cases of necessity; and
there can be no just complaint but when it is abused, for which those
who administer government must be answerable. It is a matter of such
indifference, a matter about which the people care so very little, that
were a man to be sent over Britain to offer them an exemption from it at
a halfpenny a piece, very few would purchase it.' This was a specimen of
that laxity of talking, which I have heard him fairly acknowledge[214];
for, surely, while the power of granting general warrants was supposed
to be legal, and the apprehension of them hung over our heads, we did
not possess that security of freedom, congenial to our happy
constitution, and which, by the intrepid exertions of Mr. Wilkes, has
been happily established.

He said, 'The duration of Parliament, whether for seven years or the
life of the King, appears to me so immaterial, that I would not give
half a crown to turn the scale one way or the other[215]. The _habeas
corpus_ is the single advantage which our government has over that of
other countries.'

On the 30th of September we dined together at the Mitre. I attempted to
argue for the superior happiness of the savage life, upon the usual
fanciful topicks. JOHNSON. 'Sir, there can be nothing more false. The
savages have no bodily advantages beyond those of civilised men. They
have not better health; and as to care or mental uneasiness, they are
not above it, but below it, like bears. No, Sir; you are not to talk
such paradox[216]: let me have no more on't. It cannot entertain, far less
can it instruct. Lord Monboddo[217], one of your Scotch Judges, talked a
great deal of such nonsense. I suffered _him_; but I will not suffer
_you_.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, does not Rousseau talk such nonsense?'
JOHNSON. 'True, Sir, but Rousseau _knows_ he is talking nonsense, and
laughs at the world for staring at him.' BOSWELL. 'How so, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man who talks nonsense so well, must know that he
is talking nonsense. But I am _afraid_, (chuckling and laughing,)
Monboddo does _not_ know that he is talking nonsense[218].' BOSWELL. 'Is
it wrong then, Sir, to affect singularity, in order to make people
stare?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, if you do it by propagating errour: and, indeed,
it is wrong in any way. There is in human nature a general inclination
to make people stare; and every wise man has himself to cure of it, and
does cure himself[219]. If you wish to make people stare by doing better
than others, why, make them stare till they stare their eyes out. But
consider how easy it is to make people stare by being absurd. I may do
it by going into a drawing-room without my shoes. You remember the
gentleman in _The Spectator_, who had a commission of lunacy taken out
against him for his extreme singularity, such as never wearing a wig,
but a night-cap. Now, Sir, abstractedly, the night-cap was best; but,
relatively, the advantage was overbalanced by his making the boys run
after him[220].'

Talking of a London life, he said, 'The happiness of London is not to be
conceived but by those who have been in it. I will venture to say, there
is more learning and science within the circumference of ten miles from
where we now sit, than in all the rest of the kingdom.' BOSWELL. 'The
only disadvantage is the great distance at which people live from one
another.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but that is occasioned by the largeness of
it, which is the cause of all the other advantages.' BOSWELL. 'Sometimes
I have been in the humour of wishing to retire to a desart.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, you have desart enough in Scotland.'

Although I had promised myself a great deal of instructive conversation
with him on the conduct of the married state, of which I had then a near
prospect, he did not say much upon that topick. Mr. Seward[221] heard him
once say, that 'a man has a very bad chance for happiness in that state,
unless he marries a woman of very strong and fixed principles of
religion.' He maintained to me, contrary to the common notion, that a
woman would not be the worse wife for being learned[222]; in which, from
all that I have observed of Artemisias[223], I humbly differed from him.
That a woman should be sensible and well informed, I allow to be a great
advantage; and think that Sir Thomas Overbury[224], in his rude
versification, has very judiciously pointed out that degree of
intelligence which is to be desired in a female companion:

'Give me, next _good_, an _understanding wife_,
By Nature _wise_, not _learned_ by much art;
Some _knowledge_ on her side will all my life
More scope of conversation impart;
Besides, her inborne virtue fortifie;
They are most firmly good, who[225] best know why.'

When I censured a gentleman of my acquaintance for marrying a second
time, as it shewed a disregard of his first wife, he said, 'Not at all,
Sir. On the contrary, were he not to marry again, it might be concluded
that his first wife had given him a disgust to marriage; but by taking a
second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by shewing that
she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second

So ingenious a turn did he give to this delicate question. And yet, on
another occasion, he owned that he once had almost asked a promise of
Mrs. Johnson that she would not marry again, but had checked himself.
Indeed, I cannot help thinking, that in his case the request would have
been unreasonable; for if Mrs. Johnson forgot, or thought it no injury
to the memory of her first love,--the husband of her youth and the
father of her children,--to make a second marriage, why should she be
precluded from a third, should she be so inclined? In Johnson's
persevering fond appropriation of his _Tetty_, even after her decease,
he seems totally to have overlooked the prior claim of the honest
Birmingham trader. I presume that her having been married before had, at
times, given him some uneasiness; for I remember his observing upon the
marriage of one of our common friends, 'He has done a very foolish
thing, Sir; he has married a widow, when he might have had a maid[227].'

We drank tea with Mrs. Williams. I had last year the pleasure of seeing
Mrs. Thrale at Dr. Johnson's one morning, and had conversation enough
with her to admire her talents, and to shew her that I was as Johnsonian
as herself. Dr. Johnson had probably been kind enough to speak well of
me, for this evening he delivered me a very polite card from Mr. Thrale
and her, inviting me to Streatham.

On the 6th of October I complied with this obliging invitation, and
found, at an elegant villa, six miles from town, every circumstance that
can make society pleasing. Johnson, though quite at home, was yet looked
up to with an awe, tempered by affection, and seemed to be equally the
care of his host and hostess. I rejoiced at seeing him so happy.

He played off his wit against Scotland with a good humoured pleasantry,
which gave me, though no bigot to national prejudices, an opportunity
for a little contest with him. I having said that England was obliged to
us for gardeners, almost all their good gardeners being Scotchmen.
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that is because gardening is much more necessary
amongst you than with us, which makes so many of your people learn it.
It is _all_ gardening with you. Things which grow wild here, must be
cultivated with great care in Scotland. Pray now (throwing himself back
in his chair, and laughing,) are you ever able to bring the _sloe_ to

I boasted that we had the honour of being the first to abolish the
unhospitable, troublesome, and ungracious custom of giving vails to
servants[228]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you abolished vails, because you were too
poor to be able to give them.'

Mrs. Thrale disputed with him on the merit of Prior. He attacked him
powerfully; said he wrote of love like a man who had never felt it: his
love verses were college verses; and he repeated the song 'Alexis
shunn'd his fellow swains[229],' &c., in so ludicrous a manner, as to make
us all wonder how any one could have been pleased with such fantastical
stuff. Mrs. Thrale stood to her gun with great courage, in defence of
amorous ditties, which Johnson despised, till he at last silenced her by
saying, 'My dear Lady, talk no more of this. Nonsense can be defended
but by nonsense[230].'

Mrs. Thrale then praised Garrick's talent for light gay poetry; and, as
a specimen, repeated his song in _Florizel and Perdita_, and dwelt with
peculiar pleasure on this line:

'I'd smile with the simple, and feed with the poor[231].'

JOHNSON. 'Nay, my dear Lady, this will never do. Poor David! Smile with
the simple;--What folly is that? And who would feed with the poor that
can help it? No, no; let me smile with the wise, and feed with the
rich.' I repeated this sally to Garrick, and wondered to find his
sensibility as a writer not a little irritated by it. To sooth him, I
observed, that Johnson spared none of us; and I quoted the passage in
Horace[232], in which he compares one who attacks his friends for the sake
of a laugh, to a pushing ox[233], that is marked by a bunch of hay put
upon his horns: '_fænum habet in cornu_.' 'Ay, (said Garrick
vehemently,) he has a whole _mow_ of it.'

Talking of history, Johnson said, 'We may know historical facts to be
true, as we may know facts in common life to be true. Motives are
generally unknown. We cannot trust to the characters we find in history,
unless when they are drawn by those who knew the persons; as those, for
instance, by Sallust and by Lord Clarendon[234].'

He would not allow much merit to Whitefield's oratory. 'His popularity,
Sir (said he,) is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of his manner. He
would be followed by crowds were he to wear a night-cap in the pulpit,
or were he to preach from a tree[235].' I know not from what spirit of
contradiction he burst out into a violent declamation against the
Corsicans, of whose heroism I talked in high terms. 'Sir (said he,) what
is all this rout about the Corsicans? They have been at war with the
Genoese for upwards of twenty years, and have never yet taken their
fortified towns. They might have battered down their walls, and reduced
them to powder in twenty years. They might have pulled the walls in
pieces, and cracked the stones with their teeth in twenty years.' It was
in vain to argue with him upon the want of artillery: he was not to be
resisted for the moment.

On the evening of October 10, I presented Dr. Johnson to General Paoli.
I had greatly wished that two men, for whom I had the highest esteem,
should meet[236]. They met with a manly ease, mutually conscious of their
own abilities, and of the abilities of each other. The General spoke
Italian, and Dr. Johnson English, and understood one another very well,
with a little aid of interpretation from me, in which I compared myself
to an isthmus which joins two great continents. Upon Johnson's approach,
the General said, 'From what I have read of your works, Sir, and from
what Mr. Boswell has told me of you, I have long held you in great
veneration.' The General talked of languages being formed on the
particular notions and manners of a people, without knowing which, we
cannot know the language. We may know the direct signification of single
words; but by these no beauty of expression, no sally of genius, no wit
is conveyed to the mind. All this must be by allusion to other ideas.
'Sir, (said Johnson,) you talk of language, as if you had never done any
thing else but study it, instead of governing a nation.' The General
said, '_Questo e un troppo gran complimento_;' this is too great a
compliment. Johnson answered. 'I should have thought so, Sir, if I had
not heard you talk.' The General asked him, what he thought of the
spirit of infidelity which was so prevalent[237]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, this
gloom of infidelity, I hope, is only a transient cloud passing through
the hemisphere[238], which will soon be dissipated, and the sun break
forth with his usual splendour.' 'You think then, (said the General,)
that they will change their principles like their clothes.'

JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, if they bestow no more thought on principles than on
dress, it must be so.' The General said, that 'a great part of the
fashionable infidelity was owing to a desire of shewing courage. Men who
have no opportunities of shewing it as to things in this life, take
death and futurity as objects on which to display it.' JOHNSON. 'That is
mighty foolish affectation. Fear is one of the passions of human nature,
of which it is impossible to divest it. You remember that the Emperour
Charles V, when he read upon the tomb-stone of a Spanish nobleman, "Here
lies one who never knew fear," wittily said, "Then he never snuffed a
candle with his fingers."'

He talked a few words of French[239] to the General; but finding he did
not do it with facility, he asked for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote the
following note:--

'J'ai lu dans la geographie de Lucas de Linda un Pater-noster écrit dans
une langue tout à-fait differente de l'Italienne, et de toutes autres
lesquelles se derivent du Latin. L'auteur l'appelle _linguam Corsicae
rusticam_; elle a peut-etre passé peu à peu; mais elle a certainement
prevalue autrefois dans les montagnes et dans la campagne. Le méme
auteur dit la méme chose en parlant de Sardaigne; qu'il y a deux langues
dans l'Isle, une des villes, l'autre de la campagne.'

The General immediately informed him that the _lingua rustica_ was only
in Sardinia.

Dr. Johnson went home with me, and drank tea till late in the night. He
said, 'General Paoli had the loftiest port of any man he had ever
seen[240].' He denied that military men were always the best bred men.
'Perfect good breeding, he observed, consists in having no particular
mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners; whereas, in a
military man, you can commonly distinguish the _brand_ of a soldier,
_l'homme d'épée_.'

Dr. Johnson shunned to-night any discussion of the perplexed question of
fate and free will, which I attempted to agitate. 'Sir, (said he,) we
_know_ our will is free, and _there's_ an end on't[241].'

He honoured me with his company at dinner on the 16th of October, at my
lodgings in Old Bond-street, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Garrick, Dr.
Goldsmith, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Bickerstaff[242], and Mr. Thomas Davies.
Garrick played round him with a fond vivacity, taking hold of the
breasts of his coat, and, looking up in his face with a lively archness,
complimented him on the good health which he seemed then to enjoy; while
the sage, shaking his head, beheld him with a gentle complacency. One of
the company not being come at the appointed hour, I proposed, as usual
upon such occasions, to order dinner to be served; adding, 'Ought six
people to be kept waiting for one?' 'Why, yes, (answered Johnson, with a
delicate humanity,) if the one will suffer more by your sitting down,
than the six will do by waiting.' Goldsmith, to divert the tedious
minutes, strutted about, bragging of his dress, and I believe was
seriously vain of it, for his mind was wonderfully prone to such
impressions[243]. 'Come, come, (said Garrick,) talk no more of that. You
are, perhaps, the worst--eh, eh!'--Goldsmith was eagerly attempting to
interrupt him, when Garrick went on, laughing ironically, 'Nay, you will
always _look_ like a gentleman[244]; but I am talking of being well or
_ill drest_.' 'Well, let me tell you, (said Goldsmith,) when my tailor
brought home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, 'Sir, I have a favour to
beg of you. When any body asks you who made your clothes, be pleased to
mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Water-lane.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir,
that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze
at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how well he could make a
coat even of so absurd a colour[245].'

After dinner our conversation first turned upon Pope. Johnson said, his
characters of men were admirably drawn, those of women not so well[246].
He repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, the concluding
lines of the _Dunciad_[247]. While he was talking loudly in praise of
those lines, one of the company[248] ventured to say, 'Too fine for such a
poem:--a poem on what?' JOHNSON, (with a disdainful look,) 'Why, on
_dunces_. It was worth while being a dunce then. Ah, Sir, hadst _thou_
lived in those days! It is not worth while being a dunce now, when there
are no wits[249].' Bickerstaff observed, as a peculiar circumstance, that
Pope's fame was higher when he was alive than it was then[250]. Johnson
said, his Pastorals were poor things, though the versification was
fine[251]. He told us, with high satisfaction, the anecdote of Pope's
inquiring who was the authour of his _London_, and saying, he will be
soon _déterré_[252]. He observed, that in Dryden's poetry there were
passages drawn from a profundity which Pope could never reach[253]. He
repeated some fine lines on love, by the former, (which I have now
forgotten[254],) and gave great applause to the character of Zimri[255].
Goldsmith said, that Pope's character of Addison[256] shewed a deep
knowledge of the human heart. Johnson said, that the description of the
temple, in the _Mourning Bride_[257], was the finest poetical passage he
had ever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it. 'But,
(said Garrick, all alarmed for the "God of his idolatry[258],") we know
not the extent and variety of his powers.'

'We are to suppose there are such passages in his works. Shakspeare must
not suffer from the badness of our memories.' Johnson, diverted by this
enthusiastick jealousy, went on with greater ardour: 'No, Sir; Congreve
has _nature_;' (smiling on the tragick eagerness of Garrick;) but
composing himself, he added, 'Sir, this is not comparing Congreve on the
whole, with Shakspeare on the whole; but only maintaining that Congreve
has one finer passage than any that can be found in Shakspeare. Sir, a
man may have no more than ten guineas in the world, but he may have
those ten guineas in one piece; and so may have a finer piece than a man
who has ten thousand pounds: but then he has only one ten-guinea piece.
What I mean is, that you can shew me no passage where there is simply a
description of material objects, without any intermixture of moral
notions, which produces such an effect[259].' Mr. Murphy mentioned
Shakspeare's description of the night before the battle of Agincourt[260];
but it was observed, it had _men_ in it. Mr. Davies suggested the speech
of Juliet, in which she figures herself awaking in the tomb of her
ancestors[261]. Some one mentioned the description of Dover Cliff[262].
JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; it should be all precipice,--all vacuum. The crows
impede your fall. The diminished appearance of the boats, and other
circumstances, are all very good description; but do not impress the
mind at once with the horrible idea of immense height. The impression is
divided; you pass on by computation, from one stage of the tremendous
space to another. Had the girl in _The Mourning Bride_ said, she could
not cast her shoe to the top of one of the pillars in the temple, it
would not have aided the idea, but weakened it.'

Talking of a Barrister who had a bad utterance, some one, (to rouse
Johnson,) wickedly said, that he was unfortunate in not having been
taught oratory by Sheridan[263]. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, if he had been taught
by Sheridan, he would have cleared the room.' GARRICK. 'Sheridan has too
much vanity to be a good man.' We shall now see Johnson's mode of
_defending_ a man; taking him into his own hands, and discriminating.
JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. There is, to be sure, in Sheridan, something to
reprehend, and every thing to laugh at; but, Sir, he is not a bad man.
No, Sir; were mankind to be divided into good and bad, he would stand
considerably within the ranks of good. And, Sir, it must be allowed that
Sheridan excels in plain declamation, though he can exhibit no

I should, perhaps, have suppressed this disquisition concerning a person
of whose merit and worth I think with respect, had he not attacked
Johnson so outrageously in his _Life of Swift_, and, at the same time,
treated us, his admirers, as a set of pigmies[264]. He who has provoked
the lash of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it.

Mrs. Montagu, a lady distinguished for having written an Essay on
Shakspeare, being mentioned. REYNOLDS. 'I think that essay does her
honour.' JOHNSON, 'Yes, Sir; it does _her_ honour, but it would do
nobody else honour. I have, indeed, not read it all. But when I take up
the end of a web, and find it packthread, I do not expect, by looking
further, to find embroidery. Sir, I will venture to say, there is not
one sentence of true criticism in her book.' GARRICK. 'But, Sir, surely
it shews how much Voltaire has mistaken Shakspeare, which nobody else
has done[265].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, nobody else has thought it worth while. And
what merit is there in that? You may as well praise a schoolmaster for
whipping a boy who has construed ill. No, Sir, there is no real
criticism in it: none shewing the beauty of thought, as formed on the
workings of the human heart.'

The admirers of this Essay[266] may be offended at the slighting manner in
which Johnson spoke of it; but let it be remembered, that he gave his
honest opinion unbiased by any prejudice, or any proud jealousy of a
woman intruding herself into the chair of criticism; for Sir Joshua
Reynolds has told me, that when the Essay first came out, and it was not
known who had written it, Johnson wondered how Sir Joshua could like
it[267]. At this time Sir Joshua himself had received no information
concerning the authour, except being assured by one of our most eminent
literati, that it was clear its authour did not know the Greek tragedies
in the original. One day at Sir Joshua's table, when it was related that
Mrs. Montagu, in an excess of compliment to the authour of a modern
tragedy, had exclaimed, 'I tremble for Shakspeare;' Johnson said, 'When
Shakspeare has got ---- for his rival, and Mrs. Montagu for his
defender, he is in a poor state indeed.'

Johnson proceeded: 'The Scotchman[268] has taken the right method in his
_Elements of Criticism_. I do not mean that he has taught us any thing;
but he has told us old things in a new way.' MURPHY. 'He seems to have
read a great deal of French criticism, and wants to make it his own; as
if he had been for years anatomising the heart of man, and peeping into
every cranny of it.' GOLDSMITH. 'It is easier to write that book, than
to read it[269].' JOHNSON. 'We have an example of true criticism in
Burke's _Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful_; and, if I recollect, there
is also Du Bos[270]; and Bouhours[271], who shews all beauty to depend on
truth. There is no great merit in telling how many plays have ghosts in
them, and how this Ghost is better than that. You must shew how terrour
is impressed on the human heart. In the description of night in
_Macbeth_[272], the beetle and the bat detract from the general idea of
darkness,--inspissated gloom.'

Politicks being mentioned, he said, 'This petitioning is a new mode of
distressing government, and a mighty easy one. I will undertake to get
petitions either against quarter-guineas or half-guineas, with the help
of a little hot wine. There must be no yielding to encourage this. The
object is not important enough. We are not to blow up half a dozen
palaces, because one cottage is burning[273].'

The conversation then took another turn. JOHNSON. 'It is amazing what
ignorance of certain points one sometimes finds in men of eminence. A
wit about town, who wrote Latin bawdy verses, asked me, how it happened
that England and Scotland, which were once two kingdoms, were now
one:--and Sir Fletcher Norton[274] did not seem to know that there were
such publications as the Reviews.'

'The ballad of Hardyknute[275] has no great merit, if it be really
ancient. People talk of nature. But mere obvious nature may be exhibited
with very little power of mind.'

On Thursday, October 19, I passed the evening with him at his house. He
advised me to complete a Dictionary of words peculiar to Scotland, of
which I shewed him a specimen. 'Sir, (said he,) Ray has made a
collection of north-country words[276]. By collecting those of your
country, you will do a useful thing towards the history of the
language.' He bade me also go on with collections which I was making
upon the antiquities of Scotland. 'Make a large book; a folio.' BOSWELL.
'But of what use will it be, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Never mind the use; do it.'

I complained that he had not mentioned Garrick in his Preface to
Shakspeare[277]; and asked him if he did not admire him. JOHNSON. 'Yes, as
"a poor player, who frets and struts his hour upon the stage;"--as a
shadow[278].' BOSWELL, 'But has he not brought Shakspeare into notice?'
[279] JOHNSON. 'Sir, to allow that, would be to lampoon the age. Many of
Shakspeare's plays are the worse for being acted: _Macbeth_, for
instance[280].' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir, is nothing gained by decoration and
action? Indeed, I do wish that you had mentioned Garrick.' JOHNSON. 'My
dear Sir, had I mentioned him, I must have mentioned many more: Mrs.
Pritchard, Mrs. Cibber,--nay, and Mr. Cibber too; he too altered
Shakspeare.' BOSWELL. 'You have read his apology, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Yes,
it is very entertaining. But as for Cibber himself, taking from his
conversation all that he ought not to have said[281], he was a poor
creature. I remember when he brought me one of his Odes to have my
opinion of it[282]; I could not bear such nonsense, and would not let him
read it to the end; so little respect had I for _that great man_!
(laughing.) Yet I remember Richardson wondering that I could treat him
with familiarity[283].'

I mentioned to him that I had seen the execution of several convicts at
Tyburn[284], two days before, and that none of them seemed to be under any
concern. JOHNSON. 'Most of them, Sir, have never thought at all.'
BOSWELL. 'But is not the fear of death natural to man?' JOHNSON. 'So
much so, Sir, that the whole of life is but keeping away the thoughts of
it[285].' He then, in a low and earnest tone, talked of his meditating
upon the aweful hour of his own dissolution, and in what manner he
should conduct himself upon that occasion: 'I know not (said he,)
whether I should wish to have a friend by me, or have it all between GOD
and myself.'

Talking of our feeling for the distresses of others;--JOHNSON. 'Why,
Sir, there is much noise made about it, but it is greatly exaggerated.
No, Sir, we have a certain degree of feeling to prompt us to do good:
more than that, Providence does not intend. It would be misery to no
purpose[286].' BOSWELL. 'But suppose now, Sir, that one of your intimate
friends were apprehended for an offence for which he might be hanged.'
JOHNSON. 'I should do what I could to bail him, and give him any other
assistance; but if he were once fairly hanged, I should not suffer.'
BOSWELL. 'Would you eat your dinner that day, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir;
and eat it as if he were eating it with me. Why, there's Baretti, who is
to be tried for his life to-morrow, friends have risen up for him on
every side; yet if he should be hanged, none of them will eat a slice of
plumb-pudding the less. Sir, that sympathetic feeling goes a very little
way in depressing the mind[287].'

I told him that I had dined lately at Foote's, who shewed me a letter
which he had received from Tom Davies, telling him that he had not been
able to sleep from the concern which he felt on account of '_This sad
affair of Baretti_[288],' begging of him to try if he could suggest any
thing that might be of service; and, at the same time, recommending to
him an industrious young man who kept a pickle-shop. JOHNSON. 'Ay, Sir,
here you have a specimen of human sympathy; a friend hanged, and a
cucumber pickled. We know not whether Baretti or the pickle-man has kept
Davies from sleep; nor does he know himself. And as to his not sleeping,
Sir; Tom Davies is a very great man; Tom has been upon the stage, and
knows how to do those things. I have not been upon the stage, and cannot
do those things.' BOSWELL. 'I have often blamed myself, Sir, for not
feeling for others as sensibly as many say they do.' JOHNSON. 'Sir,
don't be duped by them any more. You will find these very feeling people
are not very ready to do you good. They _pay_ you by _feeling_.'

BOSWELL. 'Foote has a great deal of humour?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir.'
BOSWELL. 'He has a singular talent of exhibiting character.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, it is not a talent; it is a vice; it is what others abstain from.
It is not comedy, which exhibits the character of a species, as that of
a miser gathered from many misers: it is farce, which exhibits
individuals.' BOSWELL. 'Did not he think of exhibiting you, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, fear restrained him; he knew I would have broken his
bones. I would have saved him the trouble of cutting off a leg; I would
not have left him a leg to cut off[289].' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, is not
Foote an infidel?' JOHNSON. 'I do not know, Sir, that the fellow is an
infidel; but if he be an infidel, he is an infidel as a dog is an
infidel; that is to say, he has never thought upon the subject[290].'
BOSWELL. 'I suppose, Sir, he has thought superficially, and seized the
first notions which occurred to his mind.' JOHNSON. 'Why then, Sir,
still he is like a dog, that snatches the piece next him. Did you never
observe that dogs have not the power of comparing? A dog will take a
small bit of meat as readily as a large, when both are before him.'

'Buchanan (he observed,) has fewer _centos_[291] than any modern Latin
poet. He not only had great knowledge of the Latin language, but was a
great poetical genius. Both the Scaligers praise him.'

He again talked of the passage in _Congreve_ with high commendation, and
said, 'Shakspeare never has six lines together without a fault. Perhaps
you may find seven, but this does not refute my general assertion. If I
come to an orchard, and say there's no fruit here, and then comes a
poring man, who finds two apples and three pears, and tells me, "Sir,
you are mistaken, I have found both apples and pears," I should laugh at
him: what would that be to the purpose?'

BOSWELL. 'What do you think of Dr. Young's _Night Thoughts_, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, there are very fine things in them[292].' BOSWELL. 'Is
there not less religion in the nation now, Sir, than there was
formerly?' JOHNSON. 'I don't know, Sir, that there is.' BOSWELL. 'For
instance, there used to be a chaplain in every great family[293], which we
do not find now.' JOHNSON. 'Neither do you find any of the state
servants which great families used formerly to have. There is a change
of modes in the whole department of life.'

Next day, October 20, he appeared, for the only time I suppose in his
life, as a witness in a Court of Justice, being called to give evidence
to the character of Mr. Baretti, who having stabbed a man in the street,
was arraigned at the Old Bailey for murder[294]. Never did such a
constellation of genius enlighten the aweful Sessions-House,
emphatically called JUSTICE HALL; Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, Mr. Beauclerk,
and Dr. Johnson; and undoubtedly their favourable testimony had due
weight with the Court and Jury. Johnson gave his evidence in a slow,
deliberate, and distinct manner, which was uncommonly impressive. It is
well known that Mr. Baretti was acquitted.

On the 26th of October, we dined together at the Mitre tavern. I found
fault with Foote for indulging his talent of ridicule at the expence of
his visitors, which I colloquially termed making fools of his company.
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, when you go to see Foote, you do not go to see a
saint: you go to see a man who will be entertained at your house, and
then bring you on a publick stage; who will entertain you at his house,
for the very purpose of bringing you on a publick stage. Sir, he does
not make fools of his company; they whom he exposes are fools already:
he only brings them into action.'

Talking of trade, he observed, 'It is a mistaken notion that a vast deal
of money is brought into a nation by trade. It is not so. Commodities
come from commodities; but trade produces no capital accession of
wealth. However, though there should be little profit in money, there is
a considerable profit in pleasure, as it gives to one nation the
productions of another; as we have wines and fruits, and many other
foreign articles, brought to us.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir, and there is a
profit in pleasure, by its furnishing occupation to such numbers of
mankind.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you cannot call that pleasure to which all
are averse, and which none begin but with the hope of leaving off; a
thing which men dislike before they have tried it, and when they have
tried it.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, the mind must be employed, and we grow
weary when idle.' JOHNSON. 'That is, Sir, because, others being busy, we
want company; but if we were all idle, there would be no growing weary;
we should all entertain one another. There is, indeed, this in
trade:--it gives men an opportunity of improving their situation. If
there were no trade, many who are poor would always remain poor. But no
man loves labour for itself.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir, I know a person who
does. He is a very laborious Judge, and he loves the labour[295].'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is because he loves respect and distinction. Could
he have them without labour, he would like it less.' BOSWELL. 'He tells
me he likes it for itself.'--'Why, Sir, he fancies so, because he is not
accustomed to abstract.'

We went home to his house to tea. Mrs. Williams made it with sufficient
dexterity, notwithstanding her blindness, though her manner of
satisfying herself that the cups were full enough appeared to me a
little aukward; for I fancied she put her finger down a certain way,
till she felt the tea touch it[296]. In my first elation at being allowed
the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson at his late visits to this lady,
which was like being _è secretioribus consiliis_[297], I willingly drank
cup after cup, as if it had been the Heliconian spring. But as the charm
of novelty went off, I grew more fastidious; and besides, I discovered
that she was of a peevish temper[298].

There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very
good humour, lively, and ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Fergusson,
the self-taught philosopher, told him of a new-invented machine which
went without horses: a man who sat in it turned a handle, which worked a
spring that drove it forward. 'Then, Sir, (said Johnson,) what is gained
is, the man has his choice whether he will move himself alone, or
himself and the machine too.' Dominicetti[299] being mentioned, he would
not allow him any merit. 'There is nothing in all this boasted system.
No, Sir; medicated baths can be no better than warm water: their only
effect can be that of tepid moisture.' One of the company took the other
side, maintaining that medicines of various sorts, and some too of most
powerful effect, are introduced into the human frame by the medium of
the pores; and, therefore, when warm water is impregnated with
salutiferous substances, it may produce great effects as a bath. This
appeared to me very satisfactory. Johnson did not answer it; but talking
for victory, and determined to be master of the field, he had recourse
to the device which Goldsmith imputed to him in the witty words of one
of Cibber's comedies: 'There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his
pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it[300].' He
turned to the gentleman, 'Well, Sir, go to Dominicetti, and get thyself
fumigated; but be sure that the steam be directed to thy _head_, for
_that_ is the _peccant part_'. This produced a triumphant roar of
laughter from the motley assembly of philosophers, printers, and
dependents, male and female.

I know not how so whimsical a thought came into my mind, but I asked,
'If, Sir, you were shut up in a castle, and a newborn child with you,
what would you do?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I should not much like my
company.' BOSWELL. 'But would you take the trouble of rearing it?' He
seemed, as may well be supposed, unwilling to pursue the subject: but
upon my persevering in my question, replied, 'Why yes, Sir, I would; but
I must have all conveniencies. If I had no garden, I would make a shed
on the roof, and take it there for fresh air. I should feed it, and wash
it much, and with warm water to please it, not with cold water to give
it pain.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, does not heat relax?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you
are not to imagine the water is to be very hot. I would not _coddle_ the
child. No, Sir, the hardy method of treating children does no good. I'll
take you five children from London, who shall cuff five Highland
children. Sir, a man bred in London will carry a burthen, or run, or
wrestle, as well as a man brought up in the hardiest manner in the
country.' BOSWELL. 'Good living, I suppose, makes the Londoners strong.'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I don't know that it does. Our Chairmen from
Ireland, who are as strong men as any, have been brought up upon
potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality.' BOSWELL. 'Would you teach this
child that I have furnished you with, any thing?' JOHNSON. 'No, I should
not be apt to teach it.' BOSWELL. 'Would not you have a pleasure in
teaching it?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I should _not_ have a pleasure in
teaching it.' BOSWELL. 'Have you not a pleasure in teaching
men?--_There_ I have you. You have the same pleasure in teaching men,
that I should have in teaching children.' JOHNSON. 'Why, something about
that.' BOSWELL. 'Do you think, Sir, that what is called natural
affection is born with us? It seems to me to be the effect of habit, or
of gratitude for kindness. No child has it for a parent whom it has not
seen.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I think there is an instinctive natural
affection in parents towards their children.'

Russia being mentioned as likely to become a great empire, by the rapid
increase of population:--JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I see no prospect of their
propagating more. They can have no more children than they can get. I
know of no way to make them breed more than they do. It is not from
reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination. A man is
poor; he thinks, "I cannot be worse, and so I'll e'en take Peggy."'
BOSWELL. 'But have not nations been more populous at one period than
another?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but that has been owing to the people
being less thinned at one period than another, whether by emigrations,
war, or pestilence, not by their being more or less prolifick. Births at
all times bear the same proportion to the same number of people.'
BOSWELL. 'But, to consider the state of our own country;--does not
throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population?' JOHNSON. 'Why
no, Sir; the same quantity of food being produced, will be consumed by
the same number of mouths, though the people may be disposed of in
different ways. We see, if corn be dear, and butchers' meat cheap, the
farmers all apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes
plentiful and cheap, and then butchers' meat becomes dear; so that an
equality is always preserved. No, Sir, let fanciful men do as they will,
depend upon it, it is difficult to disturb the system of life.' BOSWELL.
'But, Sir, is it not a very bad thing for landlords to oppress their
tenants, by raising their rents?' JOHNSON. 'Very bad. But, Sir, it never
can have any general influence; it may distress some individuals. For,
consider this: landlords cannot do without tenants. Now tenants will not
give more for land, than land is worth. If they can make more of their
money by keeping a shop, or any other way, they'll do it, and so oblige
landlords to let land come back to a reasonable rent, in order that they
may get tenants. Land, in England, is an article of commerce. A tenant
who pays his landlord his rent, thinks himself no more obliged to him
than you think yourself obliged to a man in whose shop you buy a piece
of goods. He knows the landlord does not let him have his land for less
than he can get from others, in the same manner as the shopkeeper sells
his goods. No shopkeeper sells a yard of ribband for sixpence when
seven-pence is the current price.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, is it not better
that tenants should be dependant on landlords?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, as
there are many more tenants than landlords, perhaps, strictly speaking,
we should wish not. But if you please you may let your lands cheap, and
so get the value, part in money and part in homage. I should agree with
you in that.' BOSWELL. 'So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political
improvement.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement
are very laughable things.'

He observed, 'Providence has wisely ordered that the more numerous men
are, the more difficult it is for them to agree in any thing, and so
they are governed. There is no doubt, that if the poor should reason,
"We'll be the poor no longer, we'll make the rich take their turn," they
could easily do it, were it not that they can't agree. So the common
soldiers, though so much more numerous than their officers, are governed
by them for the same reason.'

He said, 'Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which
they have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with
one consent quit it, and go to some part of America, where there is a
mild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with
the tenth part of the labour. No, Sir; their affection for their old
dwellings, and the terrour of a general change, keep them at home. Thus,
we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many
rugged spots well inhabited.'

_The London Chronicle_[301], which was the only news-paper he constantly
took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was assigned to
me. I was diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts
of it, that my task was very easy. He would not suffer one of the
petitions to the King about the Middlesex election to be read[302].

I had hired a Bohemian as my servant[303] while I remained in London, and
being much pleased with him, I asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a
Roman Catholick should prevent my taking him with me to Scotland.
JOHNSON. 'Why no, Sir, if _he_ has no objection, you can have none.'
BOSWELL. 'So, Sir, you are no great enemy to the Roman Catholick
religion.' JOHNSON. 'No more, Sir, than to the Presbyterian religion.'
BOSWELL. 'You are joking.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I really think so. Nay,
Sir, of the two, I prefer the Popish[304].' BOSWELL. 'How so, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the Presbyterians have no church, no apostolical
ordination.' BOSWELL. 'And do you think that absolutely essential, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is
dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Presbyterians have no public
worship: they have no form of prayer in which they know they are to
join. They go to hear a man pray, and are to judge whether they will
join with him.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, their doctrine is the same with that
of the Church of England. Their confession of faith, and the thirty-nine
articles, contain the same points, even the doctrine of predestination.'
JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir, predestination was a part of the clamour of the
times, so it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little
positiveness as could be.' BOSWELL. 'Is it necessary, Sir, to believe
all the thirty-nine articles?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that is a question
which has been much agitated. Some have thought it necessary that they
should all be believed; others have considered them to be only articles
of peace, that is to say, you are not to preach against them[305].'
BOSWELL. 'It appears to me, Sir, that predestination, or what is
equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an universal prescience
in the Deity.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, does not GOD every day see things
going on without preventing them?' BOSWELL. 'True, Sir; but if a thing
be _certainly_ foreseen, it must be fixed, and cannot happen otherwise;
and if we apply this consideration to the human mind, there is no free
will, nor do I see how prayer can be of any avail.' He mentioned Dr.
Clarke, and Bishop Bramhall on _Liberty and Necessity_, and bid me read
South's _Sermons on Prayer_; but avoided the question which has
excruciated philosophers and divines, beyond any other. I did not press
it further, when I perceived that he was displeased[306], and shrunk from
any abridgement of an attribute usually ascribed to the Divinity,
however irreconcilable in its full extent with the grand system of
moral government. His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous
powers of his understanding. He was confined by a chain which early
imagination and long habit made him think massy and strong, but which,
had he ventured to try, he could at once have snapt asunder.

I proceeded: 'What do you think, Sir, of Purgatory[307], as believed by
the Roman Catholicks?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is a very harmless
doctrine. They are of opinion that the generality of mankind are neither
so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good
as to merit being admitted into the society of blessed spirits; and
therefore that God is graciously pleased to allow of a middle state,
where they may be purified by certain degrees of suffering. You see,
Sir, there is nothing unreasonable in this.' BOSWELL. 'But then, Sir,
their masses for the dead?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, if it be once
established that there are souls in purgatory, it is as proper to pray
for _them_, as for our brethren of mankind who are yet in this life.'
BOSWELL. 'The idolatry of the Mass?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no idolatry
in the Mass. They believe GOD to be there, and they adore him.' BOSWELL.
'The worship of Saints?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they do not worship saints; they
invoke them; they only ask their prayers[308]. I am talking all this time
of the _doctrines_ of the Church of Rome. I grant you that in
_practice_, Purgatory is made a lucrative imposition, and that the
people do become idolatrous as they recommend themselves to the tutelary
protection of particular saints. I think their giving the sacrament only
in one kind is criminal, because it is contrary to the express
institution of CHRIST, and I wonder how the Council of Trent admitted
it.' BOSWELL. 'Confession?' JOHNSON. 'Why, I don't know but that is a
good thing. The scripture says, "Confess your faults one to another[309],"
and the priests confess as well as the laity. Then it must be considered
that their absolution is only upon repentance, and often upon penance
also. You think your sins may be forgiven without penance, upon
repentance alone.'

I thus ventured to mention all the common objections against the Roman
Catholick Church, that I might hear so great a man upon them. What he
said is here accurately recorded. But it is not improbable that if one
had taken the other side, he might have reasoned differently.

I must however mention, that he had a respect for '_the old religion_,'
as the mild Melancthon[310] called that of the Roman Catholick Church,
even while he was exerting himself for its reformation in some
particulars. Sir William Scott informs me, that he heard Johnson say, 'A
man who is converted from Protestantism to Popery may be sincere: he
parts with nothing: he is only superadding to what he already had. But a
convert from Popery to Protestantism gives up so much of what he has
held as sacred as any thing that he retains; there is so much
_laceration of mind_[311] in such a conversion, that it can hardly be
sincere and lasting[312].' The truth of this reflection may be confirmed
by many and eminent instances, some of which will occur to most of my

When we were alone, I introduced the subject of death, and endeavoured
to maintain that the fear of it might be got over. I told him that David
Hume said to me, he was no more uneasy to think he should _not be_ after
this life, than that he _had not been_ before he began to exist.
JOHNSON: 'Sir, if he really thinks so, his perceptions are disturbed; he
is mad: if he does not think so, he lies. He may tell you, he holds his
finger in the flame of a candle, without feeling pain; would you believe
him? When he dies, he at least gives up all he has.' BOSWELL: 'Foote,
Sir, told me, that when he was very ill he was not afraid to die.'
JOHNSON: 'It is not true, Sir[313]. Hold a pistol to Foote's breast, or to
Hume's breast, and threaten to kill them, and you'll see how they
behave.' BOSWELL: 'But may we not fortify our minds for the approach of
death?' Here I am sensible I was in the wrong, to bring before his view
what he ever looked upon with horrour; for although when in a celestial
frame, in his _Vanity of human wishes_, he has supposed death to be
'kind Nature's signal for retreat,' from this state of being to 'a
happier seat[314],' his thoughts upon this aweful change were in general
full of dismal apprehensions. His mind resembled the vast amphitheatre,
the Colisaeum at Rome. In the centre stood his judgement, which, like a
mighty gladiator, combated those apprehensions that, like the wild
beasts of the _Arena_, were all around in cells, ready to be let out
upon him. After a conflict, he drives them back into their dens; but not
killing them, they were still assailing him. To my question, whether we
might not fortify our minds for the approach of death, he answered, in a
passion, 'No, Sir, let it alone. It matters not how a man dies, but how
he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a
time[315].' He added, (with an earnest look,) 'A man knows it must be so,
and submits. It will do him no good to whine.'

I attempted to continue the conversation. He was so provoked, that he
said, 'Give us no more of this;' and was thrown into such a state of
agitation, that he expressed himself in a way that alarmed and
distressed me; shewed an impatience that I should leave him, and when I
was going away, called to me sternly, 'Don't let us meet to-morrow.'

I went home exceedingly uneasy. All the harsh observations which I had
ever heard made upon his character, crowded into my mind; and I seemed
to myself like the man who had put his head into the lion's mouth a
great many times with perfect safety, but at last had it bit off.

Next morning I sent him a note, stating, that I might have been in the
wrong, but it was not intentionally; he was therefore, I could not help
thinking, too severe upon me. That notwithstanding our agreement not to
meet that day, I would call on him in my way to the city, and stay five
minutes by my watch. 'You are, (said I,) in my mind, since last night,
surrounded with cloud and storm. Let me have a glimpse of sunshine, and
go about my affairs in serenity and chearfulness.'

Upon entering his study, I was glad that he was not alone, which would
have made our meeting more awkward. There were with him, Mr. Steevens[316]
and Mr. Tyers[317], both of whom I now saw for the first time. My note
had, on[318] his own reflection, softened him, for he received me very
complacently; so that I unexpectedly found myself at ease, and joined in
the conversation.

He said, the criticks had done too much honour to Sir Richard Blackmore,
by writing so much against him[319]. That in his _Creation_ he had been
helped by various wits, a line by Phillips and a line by Tickell; so
that by their aid, and that of others, the poem had been made out[320].

I defended Blackmore's supposed lines, which have been ridiculed as
absolute nonsense:--

'A painted vest Prince Voltiger had on,
Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won[321].'

I maintained it to be a poetical conceit. A Pict being painted, if he is
slain in battle, and a vest is made of his skin, it is a painted vest
won from him, though he was naked[322].

Johnson spoke unfavourably of a certain pretty voluminous authour,
saying, 'He used to write anonymous books, and then other books
commending those books, in which there was something of rascality.'

I whispered him, 'Well, Sir, you are now in good humour.' JOHNSON. 'Yes,
Sir.' I was going to leave him, and had got as far as the staircase. He
stopped me, and smiling, said, 'Get you gone _in_;' a curious mode of
inviting me to stay, which I accordingly did for some time longer.

This little incidental quarrel and reconciliation, which, perhaps, I may
be thought to have detailed too minutely, must be esteemed as one of
many proofs which his friends had, that though he might be charged with
_bad humour_ at times, he was always a _good-natured_ man; and I have
heard Sir Joshua Reynolds[323], a nice and delicate observer of manners,
particularly remark, that when upon any occasion Johnson had been rough
to any person in company, he took the first opportunity of
reconciliation, by drinking to him, or addressing his discourse to
him[324]; but if he found his dignified indirect overtures sullenly
neglected, he was quite indifferent, and considered himself as having
done all that he ought to do, and the other as now in the wrong.

Being to set out for Scotland on the 10th of November, I wrote to him at
Streatham, begging that he would meet me in town on the 9th; but if this
should be very inconvenient to him, I would go thither. His answer was
as follows:--



'Upon balancing the inconveniences of both parties, I find it will less
incommode you to spend your night here, than me to come to town. I wish
to see you, and am ordered by the lady of this house to invite you
hither. Whether you can come or not, I shall not have any occasion of
writing to you again before your marriage, and therefore tell you now,
that with great sincerity I wish you happiness.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most affectionate humble servant,

'Nov. 9, 1769.'

I was detained in town till it was too late on the ninth, so went to him
early on the morning of the tenth of November. 'Now (said he,) that you
are going to marry, do not expect more from life, than life will afford.
You may often find yourself out of humour, and you may often think your
wife not studious enough to please you; and yet you may have reason to
consider yourself as upon the whole very happily married.'

Talking of marriage in general, he observed, 'Our marriage service is
too refined. It is calculated only for the best kind of marriages;
whereas, we should have a form for matches of convenience, of which
there are many.' He agreed with me that there was no absolute necessity
for having the marriage ceremony performed by a regular clergyman, for
this was not commanded in scripture.

I was volatile enough to repeat to him a little epigrammatick song of
mine, on matrimony, which Mr. Garrick had a few days before procured to
be set to musick by the very ingenious Mr. Dibden.


'In the blithe days of honey-moon,
With Kate's allurements smitten,
I lov'd her late, I lov'd her soon,
And call'd her dearest kitten.
But now my kitten's grown a cat,
And cross like other wives,
O! by my soul, my honest Mat,
I fear she has nine lives.'

My illustrious friend said, 'It is very well, Sir; but you should not
swear.' Upon which I altered 'O! by my soul,' to 'alas, alas!'

He was so good as to accompany me to London, and see me into the
post-chaise which was to carry me on my road to Scotland. And sure I am,
that, however inconsiderable many of the particulars recorded at this
time may appear to some, they will be esteemed by the best part of my
readers as genuine traits of his character, contributing together to
give a full, fair, and distinct view of it.

1770: ÆTAT. 61.--In 1770 he published a political pamphlet, entitled
_The False Alarm_[325], intended to justify the conduct of ministry and
their majority in the House of Commons, for having virtually assumed it
as an axiom, that the expulsion of a Member of Parliament was equivalent
to exclusion, and thus having declared Colonel Lutterel to be duly
elected for the county of Middlesex, notwithstanding Mr. Wilkes had a
great majority of votes[326]. This being justly considered as a gross
violation of the right of election, an alarm for the constitution
extended itself all over the kingdom. To prove this alarm to be false,
was the purpose of Johnson's pamphlet; but even his vast powers were
inadequate to cope with constitutional truth and reason, and his
argument failed of effect; and the House of Commons have since expunged
the offensive resolution from their Journals[327]. That the House of
Commons might have expelled Mr. Wilkes repeatedly, and as often as he
should be re-chosen, was not denied; but incapacitation cannot be but by
an act of the whole legislature. It was wonderful to see how a prejudice
in favour of government in general, and an aversion to popular clamour,
could blind and contract such an understanding as Johnson's, in this
particular case; yet the wit, the sarcasm, the eloquent vivacity which
this pamphlet displayed, made it be read with great avidity at the time,
and it will ever be read with pleasure, for the sake of its composition.
That it endeavoured to infuse a narcotick indifference, as to publick
concerns, into the minds of the people, and that it broke out sometimes
into an extreme coarseness of contemptuous abuse, is but too evident.

It must not, however, be omitted, that when the storm of his violence
subsides, he takes a fair opportunity to pay a grateful compliment to
the King, who had rewarded his merit: 'These low-born rulers[328] have
endeavoured, surely without effect, to alienate the affections of the
people from the only King who for almost a century has much appeared to
desire, or much endeavoured to deserve them.' And, 'Every honest man
must lament, that the faction has been regarded with frigid neutrality
by the Tories, who being long accustomed to signalise their principles
by opposition to the Court, do not yet consider, that they have at last
a King who knows not the name of party, and who wishes to be the common
father of all his people.'

To this pamphlet, which was at once discovered to be Johnson's, several
answers came out, in which, care was taken to remind the publick of his
former attacks upon government, and of his now being a pensioner,
without allowing for the honourable terms upon which Johnson's pension
was granted and accepted, or the change of system which the British
court had undergone upon the accession of his present Majesty[329]. He
was, however, soothed[330] in the highest strain of panegyrick, in a poem
called _The Remonstrance_, by the Rev. Mr. Stockdale[331], to whom he was,
upon many occasions, a kind protector.

The following admirable minute made by him describes so well his own
state, and that of numbers to whom self-examination is habitual, that I
cannot omit it:--

'June 1, 1770. Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep
his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of
time and frequency of experiment[332]. This opinion of our own constancy
is so prevalent, that we always despise him who suffers his general and
settled purpose to be overpowered by an occasional desire. They,
therefore, whom frequent failures have made desperate, cease to form
resolutions; and they who are become cunning, do not tell them. Those
who do not make them are very few, but of their effect little is
perceived; for scarcely any man persists in a course of life planned by
choice, but as he is restrained from deviation by some external power.
He who may live as he will, seldom lives long in the observation of his
own rules[333].'

Of this year I have obtained the following letters:--



'As no man ought to keep wholly to himself any possession that may be
useful to the publick, I hope you will not think me unreasonably
intrusive, if I have recourse to you for such information as you are
more able to give me than any other man.

'In support of an opinion which you have already placed above the need
of any more support, Mr. Steevens, a very ingenious gentleman, lately of
King's College, has collected an account of all the translations which
Shakspeare might have seen and used. He wishes his catalogue to be
perfect, and therefore intreats that you will favour him by the
insertion of such additions as the accuracy of your inquiries has
enabled you to make. To this request, I take the liberty of adding my
own solicitation.

'We have no immediate use for this catalogue, and therefore do not
desire that it should interrupt or hinder your more important
employments. But it will be kind to let us know that you receive it.

'I am, Sir, &c.

'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
March 21, 1770.'



'The readiness with which you were pleased to promise me some notes on
Shakspeare, was a new instance of your friendship. I shall not hurry
you; but am desired by Mr. Steevens, who helps me in this edition, to
let you know, that we shall print the tragedies first, and shall
therefore want first the notes which belong to them. We think not to
incommode the readers with a supplement; and therefore, what we cannot
put into its proper place, will do us no good. We shall not begin to
print before the end of six weeks, perhaps not so soon.

'I am, &c.
'London, June 23, 1770.'



'I am revising my edition of _Shakspeare_, and remember that I formerly
misrepresented your opinion of Lear. Be pleased to write the paragraph
as you would have it, and send it[335]. If you have any remarks of your
own upon that or any other play, I shall gladly receive them.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Warton. I sometimes think of wandering for
a few days to Winchester, but am apt to delay. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Sept. 27, 1770.'



'I am at last sat down to write to you, and should very much blame
myself for having neglected you so long, if I did not impute that and
many other failings to want of health[336]. I hope not to be so long
silent again. I am very well satisfied with your progress, if you can
really perform the exercises which you are set; and I hope Mr. Ellis
does not suffer you to impose on him, or on yourself.

'Make my compliments to Mr. Ellis, and to Mrs. Clapp, and Mr. Smith.

'Let me know what English books you read for your entertainment. You can
never be wise unless you love reading.

'Do not imagine that I shall forget or forsake you; for if, when I
examine you, I find that you have not lost your time, you shall want no
encouragement from

'Yours affectionately,


'London, Sept. 25, 1770.'



'I hope you mind your business. I design you shall stay with Mrs. Clapp
these holidays. If you are invited out you may go, if Mr. Ellis gives
leave. I have ordered you some clothes, which you will receive, I
believe, next week. My compliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Ellis, and
Mr. Smith, &c.

'I am

'Your affectionate,


'December 7, 1770.'

During this year there was a total cessation of all correspondence
between Dr. Johnson and me, without any coldness on either side, but
merely from procrastination, continued from day to day; and as I was not
in London, I had no opportunity of enjoying his company and recording
his conversation. To supply this blank, I shall present my readers with
some _Collectanea_, obligingly furnished to me by the Rev. Dr. Maxwell,
of Falkland, in Ireland, some time assistant preacher at the Temple, and
for many years the social friend of Johnson, who spoke of him with a
very kind regard.

'My acquaintance with that great and venerable character commenced in
the year 1754. I was introduced to him by Mr. Grierson[337], his Majesty's
printer at Dublin, a gentleman of uncommon learning, and great wit and
vivacity. Mr. Grierson died in Germany, at the age of twenty-seven. Dr.
Johnson highly respected his abilities, and often observed, that he
possessed more extensive knowledge than any man of his years he had ever
known. His industry was equal to his talents; and he particularly
excelled in every species of philological learning, and was, perhaps,
the best critick of the age he lived in.

'I must always remember with gratitude my obligation to Mr. Grierson,
for the honour and happiness of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance and
friendship, which continued uninterrupted and undiminished to his death:
a connection, that was at once the pride and happiness of my life.

'What pity it is, that so much wit and good sense as he continually
exhibited in conversation, should perish unrecorded! Few persons quitted
his company without perceiving themselves wiser and better than they
were before. On serious subjects he flashed the most interesting
conviction upon his auditors; and upon lighter topicks, you might have
supposed--_Albano musas de monte locutas_[338].

'Though I can hope to add but little to the celebrity of so exalted a
character, by any communications I can furnish, yet out of pure respect
to his memory, I will venture to transmit to you some anecdotes
concerning him, which fell under my own observation. The very
_minutiae_. of such a character must be interesting, and may be compared
to the filings of diamonds.

'In politicks he was deemed a Tory, but certainly was not so in the
obnoxious or party sense of the term; for while he asserted the legal
and salutary prerogatives of the crown, he no less respected the
constitutional liberties of the people. Whiggism, at the time of the
Revolution, he said, was accompanied with certain principles; but
latterly, as a mere party distinction under Walpole[339] and the Pelhams
was no better than the politicks of stock-jobbers, and the religion of

'He detested the idea of governing by parliamentary corruption, and
asserted most strenuously, that a prince steadily and conspicuously
pursuing the interests of his people, could not fail of parliamentary
concurrence. A prince of ability, he contended, might and should be the
directing soul and spirit of his own administration; in short, his own
minister, and not the mere head of a party: and then, and not till then,
would the royal dignity be sincerely respected.

'Johnson seemed to think, that a certain degree of crown influence over
the Houses of Parliament, (not meaning a corrupt and shameful
dependence,) was very salutary, nay, even necessary, in our mixed
government[340]. "For, (said he,) if the members were under no crown
influence, and disqualified from receiving any gratification from Court,
and resembled, as they possibly might, Pym and Haslerig, and other
stubborn and sturdy members of the long Parliament, the wheels of
government would be totally obstructed. Such men would oppose, merely to
shew their power, from envy, jealousy, and perversity of disposition;
and not gaining themselves, would hate and oppose all who did: not
loving the person of the prince, and conceiving they owed him little
gratitude, from the mere spirit of insolence and contradiction, they
would oppose and thwart him upon all occasions."

'The inseparable imperfection annexed to all human governments
consisted, he said, in not being able to create a sufficient fund of
virtue and principle to carry the laws into due and effectual execution.
Wisdom might plan, but virtue alone could execute. And where could
sufficient virtue be found? A variety of delegated, and often
discretionary, powers must be entrusted somewhere; which, if not
governed by integrity and conscience, would necessarily be abused, till
at last the constable would sell his for a shilling.

'This excellent person was sometimes charged with abetting slavish and
arbitrary principles of government. Nothing in my opinion could be a
grosser calumny and misrepresentation; for how can it be rationally
supposed, that he should adopt such pernicious and absurd opinions, who
supported his philosophical character with so much dignity, was
extremely jealous of his personal liberty and independence, and could
not brook the smallest appearance of neglect or insult, even from the
highest personages?

'But let us view him in some instances of more familiar life.

'His general mode of life, during my acquaintance, seemed to be pretty
uniform. About twelve o'clock I commonly visited him, and frequently
found him in bed, or declaiming over his tea, which he drank very
plentifully. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men
of letters[341]; Hawkesworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens,
Beauclerk, &c. &c., and sometimes learned ladies, particularly I
remember a French lady[342] of wit and fashion doing him the honour of a
visit. He seemed to me to be considered as a kind of publick oracle,
whom every body thought they had a right to visit and consult[343]; and
doubtless they were well rewarded. I never could discover how he found
time for his compositions[344]. He declaimed all the morning, then went to
dinner at a tavern, where he commonly staid late, and then drank his tea
at some friend's house, over which he loitered a great while, but seldom
took supper. I fancy he must have read and wrote chiefly in the night,
for I can scarcely recollect that he ever refused going with me to a
tavern, and he often went to Ranelagh[345], which he deemed a place of
innocent recreation.

'He frequently gave all the silver in his pocket to the poor, who
watched him, between his house and the tavern where he dined[346]. He
walked the streets at all hours, and said he was never robbed[347], for
the rogues knew he had little money, nor had the appearance of having

'Though the most accessible and communicative man alive; yet when he
suspected he was invited to be exhibited, he constantly spurned the

'Two young women from Staffordshire visited him when I was present, to
consult him on the subject of Methodism, to which they were inclined.
"Come, (said he,) you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the
Mitre, and we will talk over that subject;" which they did, and after
dinner he took one of them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an
hour together.

'Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenham, he asked what
sort of society I had there. I told him, but indifferent; as they
chiefly consisted of opulent traders, retired from business. He said, he
never much liked that class of people; "For, Sir (said he,) they have
lost the civility of tradesmen, without acquiring the manners of

'Johnson was much attached to London: he observed, that a man stored his
mind better there, than any where else; and that in remote situations a
man's body might be feasted, but his mind was starved, and his faculties
apt to degenerate, from want of exercise and competition. No place, (he
said,) cured a man's vanity or arrogance so well as London; for as no
man was either great or good _per se_, but as compared with others not
so good or great, he was sure to find in the metropolis many his equals,
and some his superiours. He observed, that a man in London was in less
danger of falling in love indiscreetly, than any where else; for there
the difficulty of deciding between the conflicting pretensions of a vast
variety of objects, kept him safe. He told me, that he had frequently
been offered country preferment, if he would consent to take orders[349];
but he could not leave the improved society of the capital, or consent
to exchange the exhilarating joys and splendid decorations of publick
life, for the obscurity, insipidity, and uniformity of remote

'Speaking of Mr. Harte[350], Canon of Windsor, and writer of _The History
of Gustavus Adolphus_, he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of
the most companionable talents he had ever known. He said, the defects
in his history proceeded not from imbecility, but from foppery.

'He loved, he said, the old black letter books; they were rich in
matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully so, considering
how conversant the writers were with the best models of antiquity.

'Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_, he said, was the only book that ever
took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.

'He frequently exhorted me to set about writing a History of Ireland,
and archly remarked, there had been some good Irish writers, and that
one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great
compassion for the miseries and distresses of the Irish nation,
particularly the Papists; and severely reprobated the barbarous
debilitating policy of the British government, which, he said, was the
most detestable mode of persecution. To a gentleman, who hinted such
policy might be necessary to support the authority of the English
government, he replied by saying, "Let the authority of the English
government perish, rather than be maintained by iniquity. Better would
it be to restrain the turbulence of the natives by the authority of the
sword, and to make them amenable to law and justice by an effectual and
vigorous police, than to grind them to powder by all manner of
disabilities and incapacities. Better (said he,) to hang or drown people
at once, than by an unrelenting persecution to beggar and starve
them.[351]" The moderation and humanity of the present times have, in some
measure, justified the wisdom of his observations.

'Dr. Johnson was often accused of prejudices, nay, antipathy, with
regard to the natives of Scotland. Surely, so illiberal a prejudice
never entered his mind: and it is well known, many natives of that
respectable country possessed a large share in his esteem; nor were any
of them ever excluded from his good offices, as far as opportunity
permitted. True it is, he considered the Scotch, nationally, as a
crafty, designing people, eagerly attentive to their own interest, and
too apt to overlook the claims and pretentions of other people. "While
they confine their benevolence, in a manner, exclusively to those of
their own country, they expect to share in the good offices of other
people. Now (said Johnson,) this principle is either right or wrong; if
right, we should do well to imitate such conduct; if wrong, we cannot
too much detest it."[352]

'Being solicited to compose a funeral sermon for the daughter of a
tradesman, he naturally enquired into the character of the deceased; and
being told she was remarkable for her humility and condescension to
inferiours, he observed, that those were very laudable qualities, but it
might not be so easy to discover who the lady's inferiours were.

'Of a certain player[353] he remarked, that his conversation usually
threatened and announced more than it performed; that he fed you with a
continual renovation of hope, to end in a constant succession of

'When exasperated by contradiction, he was apt to treat his opponents
with too much acrimony: as, "Sir, you don't see your way through that
question:"--"Sir, you talk the language of ignorance." On my observing
to him that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole evening,
in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, "Sir, (said he,)
the conversation overflowed, and drowned him."

'His philosophy, though austere and solemn, was by no means morose and
cynical, and never blunted the laudable sensibilities of his character,
or exempted him from the influence of the tender passions. Want of
tenderness, he always alledged, was want of parts, and was no less a
proof of stupidity than depravity.

'Speaking of Mr. Hanway, who published _An Eight Days' Journey from
London to Portsmouth_, "Jonas, (said he,) acquired some reputation by
travelling abroad[354], but lost it all by travelling at home.[355]"

'Of the passion of love he remarked, that its violence and ill effects
were much exaggerated; for who knows any real sufferings on that head,
more than from the exorbitancy of any other passion?

'He much commended _Law's Serious Call_, which he said was the finest
piece of hortatory theology in any language[356]. "Law, (said he,) fell
latterly into the reveries of Jacob Behmen[357], whom Law alledged to have
been somewhat in the same state with St. Paul, and to have seen
_unutterable things[358]--he would have resembled St. Paul still more, by
not attempting to utter them."

'He observed, that the established clergy in general did not preach
plain enough; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew
over the heads of the common people, without any impression upon their
hearts. Something might be necessary, he observed, to excite the
affections of the common people, who were sunk in languor and lethargy,
and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodism might
probably produce so desirable an effect.[359] The mind, like the body, he
observed, delighted in change and novelty, and even in religion itself,
courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of
some methodist teachers, he said, he could scarcely doubt the sincerity
of that man, who travelled nine hundred miles in a month, and preached
twelve times a week; for no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be
given for such indefatigable labour.[360]

'Of Dr. Priestley's theological works, he remarked, that they tended to
unsettle every thing, and yet settled nothing.

'He was much affected by the death of his mother, and wrote to me to
come and assist him to compose his mind, which indeed I found extremely
agitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was
banished from the society of men, and yet great advantages might be
derived from it. All acknowledged, he said, what hardly any body
practised, the obligation we were under of making the concerns of
eternity the governing principles of our lives. Every man, he observed,
at last wishes for retreat: he sees his expectations frustrated in the
world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for
everlasting separation.

'He observed, that the influence of London now extended every where, and
that from all manner of communication being opened, there shortly would
be no remains of the ancient simplicity, or places of cheap retreat to
be found.

'He was no admirer of blank-verse, and said it always failed, unless
sustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank-verse, he said, the
language suffered more distortion, to keep it out of prose, than any
inconvenience or limitation to be apprehended from the shackles and
circumspection of rhyme[361].

'He reproved me once for saying grace without mention of the name of our
LORD JESUS CHRIST, and hoped in future I would be more mindful of the
apostolical injunction[362].

'He refused to go out of a room before me at Mr. Langton's house,
saying, he hoped he knew his rank better than to presume to take place
of a Doctor in Divinity. I mention such little anecdotes, merely to shew
the peculiar turn and habit of his mind.

'He used frequently to observe, that there was more to be endured than
enjoyed, in the general condition of human life; and frequently quoted
those lines of Dryden:

"Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure from what still remain[363]."

For his part, he said, he never passed that week in his life which he
would wish to repeat, were an angel to make the proposal to him.

'He was of opinion, that the English nation cultivated both their soil
and their reason better than any other people: but admitted that the
French, though not the highest, perhaps, in any department of
literature, yet in every department were very high[364]. Intellectual
pre-eminence, he observed, was the highest superiority; and that every
nation derived their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity
of their writers[365]. Voltaire, he said, was a good narrator, and that
his principal merit consisted in a happy selection and arrangement of

'Speaking of the French novels, compared with Richardson's, he said,
they might be pretty baubles, but a wren was not an eagle.

'In a Latin conversation with the Père Boscovitch, at the house of Mrs.
Cholmondeley, I heard him maintain the superiority of Sir Isaac Newton
over all foreign philosophers[366], with a dignity and eloquence that
surprized that learned foreigner[367]. It being observed to him, that a
rage for every thing English prevailed much in France after Lord
Chatham's glorious war, he said, he did not wonder at it, for that we
had drubbed those fellows into a proper reverence for us, and that their
national petulance required periodical chastisement.

'Lord Lyttelton's Dialogues, he deemed a nugatory performance. "That
man, (said he,) sat down to write a book, to tell the world what the
world had all his life been telling him[368]."

'Somebody observing that the Scotch Highlanders, in the year 1745, had
made surprising efforts, considering their numerous wants and
disadvantages: "Yes, Sir, (said he,) their wants were numerous; but you
have not mentioned the greatest of them all,--the want of law."

'Speaking of the _inward light_, to which some methodists pretended, he
said, it was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil
security. "If a man (said he,) pretends to a principle of action of
which I can know nothing, nay, not so much as that he has it, but only
that he pretends to it; how can I tell what that person may be prompted
to do? When a person professes to be governed by a written ascertained
law, I can then know where to find him."

'The poem of _Fingal_[369], he said, was a mere unconnected rhapsody, a
tiresome repetition of the same images. "In vain shall we look for the
_lucidus ordo_'[370], where there is neither end or object, design or
moral, _nec certa recurrit imago_."

'Being asked by a young nobleman, what was become of the gallantry and
military spirit of the old English nobility, he replied, "Why, my Lord,
I'll tell you what is become of it; it is gone into the city to look for
a fortune."

'Speaking of a dull tiresome fellow, whom he chanced to meet, he said,
"That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong

'Much enquiry having been made concerning a gentleman, who had quitted a
company where Johnson was, and no information being obtained; at last
Johnson observed, that "he did not care to speak ill of any man behind
his back, but he believed the gentleman was an _attorney_[371]."

'He spoke with much contempt of the notice taken of Woodhouse, the
poetical shoemaker[372]. He said, it was all vanity and childishness: and
that such objects were, to those who patronised them, mere mirrours of
their own superiority. "They had better (said he,) furnish the man with
good implements for his trade, than raise subscriptions for his poems.
He may make an excellent shoemaker, but can never make a good poet. A
school-boy's exercise may be a pretty thing for a school-boy; but it is
no treat for a man."

'Speaking of Boetius, who was the favourite writer of the middle
ages[373], he said it was very surprizing, that upon such a subject, and
in such a situation, he should be _magis philosophius quàm Christianus_.

'Speaking of Arthur Murphy, whom he very much loved, "I don't know (said
he,) that Arthur can be classed with the very first dramatick writers;
yet at present I doubt much whether we have any thing superiour to

'Speaking of the national debt, he said, it was an idle dream to suppose
that the country could sink under it. Let the public creditors be ever
so clamorous, the interest of millions must ever prevail over that of

'Of Dr. Kennicott's Collations, he observed, that though the text should
not be much mended thereby, yet it was no small advantage to know, that
we had as good a text as the most consummate industry and diligence
could procure[376].

'Johnson observed, that so many objections might be made to every thing,
that nothing could overcome them but the necessity of doing something.
No man would be of any profession, as simply opposed to not being of it:
but every one must do something.

'He remarked, that a London parish was a very comfortless thing; for the
clergyman seldom knew the face of one out of ten of his parishioners.

'Of the late Mr. Mallet he spoke with no great respect: said, he was
ready for any dirty job: that he had wrote against Byng at the
instigation of the ministry[377], and was equally ready to write for him,
provided he found his account in it.

'A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage, married immediately
after his wife died: Johnson said, it was the triumph of hope over

'He observed, that a man of sense and education should meet a suitable
companion in a wife[378]. It was a miserable thing when the conversation
could only be such as, whether the mutton should be boiled or roasted,
and probably a dispute about that.

'He did not approve of late marriages, observing that more was lost in
point of time, than compensated for by any possible advantages[379]. Even
ill assorted marriages were preferable to cheerless celibacy.

'Of old Sheridan he remarked, that he neither wanted parts nor
literature; but that his vanity and Quixotism obscured his merits.

'He said, foppery was never cured; it was the bad stamina of the mind,
which, like those of the body, were never rectified: once a coxcomb, and
always a coxcomb.

'Being told that Gilbert Cowper called him the Caliban of literature;
"Well, (said he,) I must dub him the Punchinello[380]."

'Speaking of the old Earl of Corke and Orrery, he said, "that man spent
his life in catching at an object, [literary eminence,] which he had not
power to grasp[381]."

'To find a substitution for violated morality, he said, was the leading
feature in all perversions of religion.'

'He often used to quote, with great pathos, those fine lines of Virgil:

'Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi
Prima fugit[382]; subeunt morbi, tristisque senectus,
Et labor, et durae rapit inclementia mortis[383].'

'Speaking of Homer, whom he venerated as the prince of poets, Johnson
remarked that the advice given to Diomed[384] by his father, when he sent
him to the Trojan war, was the noblest exhortation that could be
instanced in any heathen writer, and comprised in a single line:

[Greek: Aien aristeuein, kai hupeirochon emmenai allon ]

which, if I recollect well, is translated by Dr. Clarke thus: _semper
appetere praestantissima, et omnibus aliis antecellere_.

'He observed, "it was a most mortifying reflexion for any man to
consider, _what he had done_, compared with what _he might have done_."

'He said few people had intellectual resources sufficient to forego the
pleasures of wine. They could not otherwise contrive how to fill the
interval between dinner and supper.

'He went with me, one Sunday, to hear my old Master, Gregory Sharpe[385],
preach at the Temple. In the prefatory prayer, Sharpe ranted about
_Liberty_, as a blessing most fervently to be implored, and its
continuance prayed for. Johnson observed, that our _liberty_ was in no
sort of danger:--he would have done much better, to pray against our

'One evening at Mrs. Montagu's, where a splendid company was assembled,
consisting of the most eminent literary characters, I thought he seemed
highly pleased with the respect and attention that were shewn him, and
asked him on our return home if he was not highly _gratified_ by his
visit: "No, Sir, (said he) not highly _gratified_; yet I do not
recollect to have passed many evenings _with fewer objections_."

'Though of no high extraction himself, he had much respect for birth and
family, especially among ladies. He said, "adventitious accomplishments
may be possessed by all ranks; but one may easily distinguish the _born

'He said, "the poor in England[386] were better provided for, than in any
other country of the same extent: he did not mean little Cantons, or
petty Republicks. Where a great proportion of the people (said he,) are
suffered to languish in helpless misery, that country must be ill
policed, and wretchedly governed: a decent provision for the poor, is
the true test of civilization.--Gentlemen of education, he observed,
were pretty much the same in all countries; the condition of the lower
orders, the poor especially, was the true mark of national

'When the corn laws were in agitation in Ireland, by which that country
has been enabled not only to feed itself, but to export corn to a large
amount[387]; Sir Thomas Robinson[388] observed, that those laws might be
prejudicial to the corn-trade of England. "Sir Thomas, (said he,) you
talk the language of a savage: what, Sir? would you prevent any people
from feeding themselves, if by any honest means they can do it[389]."

'It being mentioned, that Garrick assisted Dr. Brown, the authour of the
_Estimate_[390], in some dramatick composition, "No, Sir, (said Johnson,)
he would no more suffer Garrick to write a line in his play, than he
would suffer him to mount his pulpit."

'Speaking of Burke, he said, "It was commonly observed, he spoke too
often in parliament; but nobody could say he did not speak well, though
too frequently and too familiarly[391]."

'Speaking of economy, he remarked, it was hardly worth while to save
anxiously twenty pounds a year. If a man could save to that degree, so
as to enable him to assume a different rank in society, then indeed, it
might answer some purpose.

'He observed, a principal source of erroneous judgement was, viewing
things partially and only on _one side_: as for instance,
_fortune-hunters_, when they contemplated the fortunes _singly_ and
_separately_, it was a dazzling and tempting object; but when they came
to possess the wives and their fortunes _together_, they began to
suspect that they had not made quite so good a bargain.

'Speaking of the late Duke of Northumberland living very magnificently
when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, somebody remarked it would be difficult
to find a suitable successor to him: then exclaimed Johnson, _he is only
fit to succeed himself_[392].

'He advised me, if possible, to have a good orchard. He knew, he said, a
clergyman of small income, who brought up a family very reputably which
he chiefly fed with apple dumplings.

'He said, he had known several good scholars among the Irish gentlemen;
but scarcely any of them correct in _quantity_. He extended the same
observation to Scotland.

'Speaking of a certain Prelate, who exerted himself very laudably in
building churches and parsonage-houses; "however, said he, I do not find
that he is esteemed a man of much professional learning, or a liberal
patron of it;--yet, it is well, where a man possesses any strong
positive excellence.--Few have all kinds of merit belonging to their
character. We must not examine matters too deeply--No, Sir, a _fallible
being will fail somewhere_."

'Talking of the Irish clergy, he said, Swift was a man of great parts,
and the instrument of much good to his country[393].--Berkeley was a
profound scholar, as well as a man of fine imagination; but Usher, he
said, was the great luminary of the Irish church; and a greater, he
added, no church could boast of; at least in modern times.

'We dined _tête à tête_ at the Mitre, as I was preparing to return to
Ireland, after an absence of many years. I regretted much leaving
London, where I had formed many agreeable connexions: "Sir, (said he,) I
don't wonder at it; no man, fond of letters, leaves London without
regret. But remember, Sir, you have seen and enjoyed a great deal;--you
have seen life in its highest decorations, and the world has nothing new
to exhibit. No man is so well qualifyed to leave publick life as he who
has long tried it and known it well. We are always hankering after
untried situations, and imagining greater felicity from them than they
can afford. No, Sir, knowledge and virtue may be acquired in all
countries, and your local consequence will make you some amends for the
intellectual gratifications you relinquish." Then he quoted the
following lines with great pathos:--

"He who has early known the pomps of state,
(For things unknown, 'tis ignorance to condemn;)
And after having viewed the gaudy bait,
Can boldly say, the trifle I contemn;
With such a one contented could I live,
Contented could I die[394];"--

'He then took a most affecting leave of me; said, he knew, it was a
point of _duty_ that called me away. "We shall all be sorry to lose
you," said he: "_laudo tamen_[395]."'

1771: AETAT. 62.--In 1771 he published another political pamphlet,
entitled _Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting Falkland's
Islands_[396], in which, upon materials furnished to him by ministry, and
upon general topicks expanded in his richest style, he successfully
endeavoured to persuade the nation that it was wise and laudable to
suffer the question of right to remain undecided, rather than involve
our country in another war. It has been suggested by some, with what
truth I shall not take upon me to decide, that he rated the consequence
of those islands to Great-Britain too low[397]. But however this may be,
every humane mind must surely applaud the earnestness with which he
averted the calamity of war; a calamity so dreadful, that it is
astonishing how civilised, nay, Christian nations, can deliberately
continue to renew it. His description of its miseries in this pamphlet,
is one of the finest pieces of eloquence in the English language[398].
Upon this occasion, too, we find Johnson lashing the party in opposition
with unbounded severity, and making the fullest use of what he ever
reckoned a most effectual argumentative instrument,--contempt[399]. His
character of their very able mysterious champion, JUNIUS, is executed
with all the force of his genius, and finished with the highest care. He
seems to have exulted in sallying forth to single combat against the
boasted and formidable hero, who bade defiance to 'principalities and
powers, and the rulers of this world.'[400]

This pamphlet, it is observable, was softened in one particular, after
the first edition[401]; for the conclusion of Mr. George Grenville's
character stood thus: 'Let him not, however, be depreciated in his
grave. He had powers not universally possessed: could he have enforced
payment of the Manilla ransom, _he could have counted it_[402].' Which,
instead of retaining its sly sharp point, was reduced to a mere flat
unmeaning expression, or, if I may use the word,--_truism_: 'He had
powers not universally possessed: and if he sometimes erred, he was
likewise sometimes right.'



'After much lingering of my own, and much of the ministry, I have at
length got out my paper[403]. But delay is not yet at an end: Not many had
been dispersed, before Lord North ordered the sale to stop. His reasons
I do not distinctly know. You may try to find them in the perusal[404].
Before his order, a sufficient number were dispersed to do all the
mischief, though, perhaps, not to make all the sport that might be
expected from it.

'Soon after your departure, I had the pleasure of finding all the danger
past with which your navigation[405] was threatened. I hope nothing
happens at home to abate your satisfaction; but that Lady Rothes[406], and
Mrs. Langton, and the young ladies, are all well.

'I was last night at THE CLUB. Dr. Percy has written a long ballad[407] in
many _fits_; it is pretty enough. He has printed, and will soon publish
it. Goldsmith is at Bath, with Lord Clare[408]. At Mr. Thrale's, where I
am now writing, all are well. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'March 20, 1771.'

Mr. Strahan[409], the printer, who had been long in intimacy with Johnson,
in the course of his literary labours, who was at once his friendly
agent in receiving his pension for him[410], and his banker in supplying
him with money when he wanted it; who was himself now a Member of
Parliament, and who loved much to be employed in political
negociation[411]; thought he should do eminent service both to government
and Johnson, if he could be the means of his getting a seat in the House
of Commons[412]. With this view, he wrote a letter to one of the
Secretaries of the Treasury, of which he gave me a copy in his own
hand-writing, which is as follows:--


'You will easily recollect, when I had the honour of waiting upon you
some time ago, I took the liberty to observe to you, that Dr. Johnson
would make an excellent figure in the House of Commons, and heartily
wished he had a seat there. My reasons are briefly these:

'I know his perfect good affection to his Majesty, and his government,
which I am certain he wishes to support by every means in his power.

'He possesses a great share of manly, nervous, and ready eloquence; is
quick in discerning the strength and weakness of an argument; can
express himself with clearness and precision, and fears the face of no
man alive.

'His known character, as a man of extraordinary sense and unimpeached
virtue, would secure him the attention of the House, and could not fail
to give him a proper weight there.

'He is capable of the greatest application, and can undergo any degree
of labour, where he sees it necessary, and where his heart and
affections are strongly engaged. His Majesty's ministers might therefore
securely depend on his doing, upon every proper occasion, the utmost
that could be expected from him. They would find him ready to vindicate
such measures as tended to promote the stability of government, and
resolute and steady in carrying them into execution. Nor is any thing to
be apprehended from the supposed impetuosity of his temper. To the
friends of the King you will find him a lamb, to his enemies a lion.

'For these reasons, I humbly apprehend that he would be a very able and
useful member. And I will venture to say, the employment would not be
disagreeable to him; and knowing, as I do, his strong affection to the
King, his ability to serve him in that capacity, and the extreme ardour
with which I am convinced he would engage in that service, I must
repeat, that I wish most heartily to see him in the House.

'If you think this worthy of attention, you will be pleased to take a
convenient opportunity of mentioning it to Lord North. If his Lordship
should happily approve of it, I shall have the satisfaction of having
been, in some degree, the humble instrument of doing my country, in my
opinion, a very essential service. I know your good-nature, and your
zeal for the publick welfare, will plead my excuse for giving you this
trouble. I am, with the greatest respect, Sir,

'Your most obedient and humble servant,


March 30, 1771.'

This recommendation, we know, was not effectual; but how, or for what
reason, can only be conjectured. It is not to be believed that Mr.
Strahan would have applied, unless Johnson had approved of it. I never
heard him mention the subject; but at a later period of his life, when
Sir Joshua Reynolds told him that Mr. Edmund Burke had said, that if he
had come early into parliament, he certainly would have been the
greatest speaker that ever was there, Johnson exclaimed, 'I should like
to try my hand now.'

It has been much agitated among his friends and others, whether he would
have been a powerful speaker in Parliament, had he been brought in when
advanced in life. I am inclined to think that his extensive knowledge,
his quickness and force of mind, his vivacity and richness of
expression, his wit and humour, and above all his poignancy of sarcasm,
would have had great effect in a popular assembly; and that the
magnitude of his figure, and striking peculiarity of his manner, would
have aided the effect. But I remember it was observed by Mr. Flood, that
Johnson, having been long used to sententious brevity and the short
flights of conversation, might have failed in that continued and
expanded kind of argument, which is requisite in stating complicated
matters in publick speaking; and as a proof of this he mentioned the
supposed speeches in Parliament written by him for the magazine, none of
which, in his opinion, were at all like real debates. The opinion of one
who was himself so eminent an orator, must be allowed to have great
weight. It was confirmed by Sir William Scott, who mentioned that
Johnson had told him that he had several times tried to speak in the
Society of Arts and Sciences, but 'had found he could not get on.' From
Mr. William Gerrard Hamilton I have heard that Johnson, when observing
to him that it was prudent for a man who had not been accustomed to
speak in publick, to begin his speech in as simple a manner as possible,
acknowledged that he rose in that society to deliver a speech which he
had prepared; 'but (said he), all my flowers of oratory forsook me.' I
however cannot help wishing, that he _had_ 'tried his hand' in
Parliament; and I wonder that ministry did not make the experiment.

I at length renewed a correspondence which had been too long


'Edinburgh, April 18, 1771.


'I can now fully understand those intervals of silence in your
correspondence with me, which have often given me anxiety and
uneasiness; for although I am conscious that my veneration and love for
Mr. Johnson have never in the least abated, yet I have deferred for
almost a year and a half to write to him.'

In the subsequent part of this letter, I gave him an account of my
comfortable life as a married man[413], and a lawyer in practice at the
Scotch bar; invited him to Scotland, and promised to attend him to the
Highlands, and Hebrides.



'If you are now able to comprehend that I might neglect to write without
diminution of affection, you have taught me, likewise, how that neglect
may be uneasily felt without resentment. I wished for your letter a long
time, and when it came, it amply recompensed the delay. I never was so
much pleased as now with your account of yourself; and sincerely hope,
that between publick business, improving studies, and domestick
pleasures, neither melancholy nor caprice will find any place for
entrance. Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is
certainly true of intellectual nature, that it _abhors a vacuum_: our
minds cannot be empty; and evil will break in upon them, if they are not
pre-occupied by good. My dear Sir, mind your studies, mind your
business, make your lady happy, and be a good Christian. After this,

'tristitiam et metus
 Trades protervis in mare Creticum
 Portare ventis[414].'

'If we perform our duty, we shall be safe and steady, "_Sive per_[415],"
&c., whether we climb the Highlands, or are tost among the Hebrides; and
I hope the time will come when we may try our powers both with cliffs
and water. I see but little of Lord Elibank[416], I know not why; perhaps
by my own fault. I am this day going into Staffordshire and Derbyshire
for six weeks[417].

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most affectionate,
'And most humble servant,
'London, June 20, 1771.'



'When I came to Lichfield, I found that my portrait[418] had been much
visited, and much admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear
considerable in his native place; and I was pleased with the dignity
conferred by such a testimony of your regard.

'Be pleased, therefore, to accept the thanks of, Sir, your most obliged

'And most humble servant,

'Ashbourn in Derbyshire,
     July 17, 1771.
'Compliments to Miss Reynolds,'

'Edinburgh, July 27, 1771.


'The bearer of this, Mr. Beattie[419], Professor of Moral Philosophy at
Aberdeen, is desirous of being introduced to your acquaintance.

'His genius and learning, and labours in the service of virtue and
religion, render him very worthy of it; and as he has a high esteem of
your character, I hope you will give him a favourable reception. I ever
am, &c.




'I am lately returned from Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The last letter
mentions two others which you have written to me since you received my
pamphlet. Of these two I never had but one, in which you mentioned a
design of visiting Scotland, and, by consequence, put my journey to
Langton out of my thoughts. My summer wanderings are now over, and I am
engaging in a very great work, the revision of my Dictionary[420]; from
which I know not, at present, how to get loose.

'If you have observed, or been told, any errours or omissions, you will
do me a great favour by letting me know them.

'Lady Rothes, I find, has disappointed you and herself. Ladies will have
these tricks. The Queen and Mrs. Thrale, both ladies of experience, yet
both missed their reckoning this summer. I hope, a few months will
recompence your uneasiness.

'Please to tell Lady Rothes how highly I value the honour of her
invitation, which it is my purpose to obey as soon as I have disengaged
myself. In the mean time I shall hope to hear often of her Ladyship, and
every day better news and better, till I hear that you have both the
happiness, which to both is very sincerely wished, by, Sir,

'Your most affectionate, and
'Most humble servant,

'August 29, 1771.'

In October I again wrote to him, thanking him for his last letter, and
his obliging reception of Mr. Beattie; informing him that I had been at
Alnwick lately, and had good accounts of him from Dr. Percy.

In his religious record of this year, we observe that he was better than
usual, both in body and mind, and better satisfied with the regularity
of his conduct[421]. But he is still 'trying his ways'[422] too rigorously.
He charges himself with not rising early enough; yet he mentions what
was surely a sufficient excuse for this, supposing it to be a duty
seriously required, as he all his life appears to have thought it. 'One
great hindrance is want of rest; my nocturnal complaints grow less
troublesome towards morning; and I am tempted to repair the deficiencies
of the night[423].' Alas! how hard would it be if this indulgence were to
be imputed to a sick man as a crime. In his retrospect on the following
Easter-Eve, he says, 'When I review the last year, I am able to
recollect so little done, that shame and sorrow, though perhaps too
weakly, come upon me.' Had he been judging of any one else in the same
circumstances, how clear would he have been on the favourable side. How
very difficult, and in my opinion almost constitutionally impossible it
was for him to be raised early, even by the strongest resolutions,
appears from a note in one of his little paper-books, (containing words
arranged for his _Dictionary_,) written, I suppose, about 1753: 'I do
not remember that since I left Oxford I ever rose early by mere choice,
but once or twice at Edial, and two or three times for the _Rambler_.' I
think he had fair ground enough to have quieted his mind on this
subject, by concluding that he was physically incapable of what is at
best but a commodious regulation.

In 1772 he was altogether quiescent as an authour[424]; but it will be
found from the various evidences which I shall bring together that his
mind was acute, lively, and vigorous.



'Be pleased to send to Mr. Banks, whose place of residence I do not
know, this note, which I have sent open, that, if you please, you may
read it.

'When you send it, do not use your own seal.
'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Feb. 27, 1772.'


'Perpetua ambitâ his terrá præmia lactis
Hac habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis[425].'


'I return thanks to you and to Dr. Solander for the pleasure which I
received in yesterday's conversation. I could not recollect a motto for
your Goat, but have given her one. You, Sir, may perhaps have an epick
poem from some happier pen than, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
February 27, 1772.'



'It is hard that I cannot prevail on you to write to me oftener. But I
am convinced that it is in vain to expect from you a private
correspondence with any regularity. I must, therefore, look upon you as
a fountain of wisdom, from whence few rills are communicated to a
distance, and which must be approached at its source, to partake fully
of its virtues.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am coming to London soon, and am to appear in an appeal from the
Court of Session in the House of Lords. A schoolmaster in Scotland was,
by a court of inferiour jurisdiction, deprived of his office, for being
somewhat severe in the chastisement of his scholars[426]. The Court of
Session, considering it to be dangerous to the interest of learning and
education, to lessen the dignity of teachers, and make them afraid of
too indulgent parents, instigated by the complaints of their children,
restored him. His enemies have appealed to the House of Lords, though
the salary is only twenty pounds a year. I was Counsel for him here. I
hope there will be little fear of a reversal; but I must beg to have
your aid in my plan of supporting the decree. It is a general question,
and not a point of particular law.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am, &c.,


'That you are coming so soon to town I am very glad; and still more glad
that you are coming as an advocate. I think nothing more likely to make
your life pass happily away, than that consciousness of your own value,
which eminence in your profession will certainly confer. If I can give
you any collateral help, I hope you do not suspect that it will be
wanting. My kindness for you has neither the merit of singular virtue,
nor the reproach of singular prejudice. Whether to love you be right or
wrong, I have many on my side: Mrs. Thrale loves you, and Mrs. Williams
loves you, and what would have inclined me to love you, if I had been
neutral before, you are a great favourite of Dr. Beattie.

'Of Dr. Beattie I should have thought much, but that his lady puts him
out of my head; she is a very lovely woman.

'The ejection which you come hither to oppose, appears very cruel,
unreasonable, and oppressive. I should think there could not be much
doubt of your success.

'My health grows better, yet I am not fully recovered. I believe it is
held, that men do not recover very fast after threescore. I hope yet to
see Beattie's College: and have not given up the western voyage. But
however all this may be or not, let us try to make each other happy when
we meet, and not refer our pleasure to distant times or distant places.

'How comes it that you tell me nothing of your lady? I hope to see her
some time, and till then shall be glad to hear of her.

'I am, dear Sir, &c.


'March 15, 1772.'



'I congratulate you and Lady Rothes[427] on your little man, and hope you
will all be many years happy together.

'Poor Miss Langton can have little part in the joy of her family. She
this day called her aunt Langton to receive the sacrament with her; and
made me talk yesterday on such subjects as suit her condition. It will
probably be her _viaticum_. I surely need not mention again that she
wishes to see her mother. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'March 14, 1772.'

On the 21st of March, I was happy to find myself again in my friend's
study, and was glad to see my old acquaintance, Mr. Francis Barber, who
was now returned home[428]. Dr. Johnson received me with a hearty welcome;
saying, 'I am glad you are come, and glad you are come upon such an
errand:' (alluding to the cause of the schoolmaster.) BOSWELL. 'I hope,
Sir, he will be in no danger. It is a very delicate matter to interfere
between a master and his scholars: nor do I see how you can fix the
degree of severity that a master may use.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, till you
can fix the degree of obstinacy and negligence of the scholars, you
cannot fix the degree of severity of the master. Severity must be
continued until obstinacy be subdued, and negligence be cured.' He
mentioned the severity of Hunter, his own Master[429]. 'Sir, (said I,)
Hunter is a Scotch name: so it should seem this schoolmaster who beat
you so severely was a Scotchman. I can now account for your prejudice
against the Scotch.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, he was not Scotch; and abating his
brutality, he was a very good master[430].'

We talked of his two political pamphlets, _The False Alarm_, and
_Thoughts concerning Falkland's Islands_. JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, which of
them did you think the best?' BOSWELL. 'I liked the second best.'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I liked the first best; and Beattie liked the first
best. Sir, there is a subtlety of disquisition in the first, that is
worth all the fire of the second.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, is it true that
Lord North paid you a visit, and that you got two hundred a year in
addition to your pension?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Except what I had from the
bookseller, I did not get a farthing by them[431]. And, between you and
me, I believe Lord North is no friend to me.' BOSWELL. 'How so, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you cannot account for the fancies of men. Well, how
does Lord Elibank? and how does Lord Monboddo?' BOSWELL. 'Very well,
Sir. Lord Monboddo still maintains the superiority of the savage
life[432].' JOHNSON. 'What strange narrowness of mind now is that, to
think the things we have not known, are better than the things which we
have known.' BOSWELL. 'Why, Sir, that is a common prejudice.' JOHNSON.
'Yes, Sir, but a common prejudice should not be found in one whose trade
it is to rectify errour.'

A gentleman having come in who was to go as a mate in the ship along
with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, Dr. Johnson asked what were the names
of the ships destined for the expedition. The gentleman answered, they
were once to be called the Drake and the Ralegh, but now they were to be
called the Resolution and the Adventure[433]. JOHNSON. 'Much better; for
had the Ralegh[434] returned without going round the world, it would have
been ridiculous. To give them the names of the Drake and the Ralegh was
laying a trap for satire.' BOSWELL. 'Had not you some desire to go upon
this expedition, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, but I soon laid it aside. Sir,
there is very little of intellectual, in the course. Besides, I see but
at a small distance. So it was not worth my while to go to see birds
fly, which I should not have seen fly; and fishes swim, which I should
not have seen swim.'

The gentleman being gone, and Dr. Johnson having left the room for some
time, a debate arose between the Reverend Mr. Stockdale and Mrs.
Desmoulins, whether Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were entitled to any
share of glory from their expedition. When Dr. Johnson returned to us, I
told him the subject of their dispute. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it was
properly for botany that they went out: I believe they thought only of
culling of simples[435].'

I thanked him for showing civilities to Beattie. 'Sir, (said he,) I
should thank _you_. We all love Beattie. Mrs. Thrale says, if ever she
has another husband, she'll have Beattie. He sunk upon us[436] that he was
married; else we should have shewn his lady more civilities. She is a
very fine woman. But how can you shew civilities to a non-entity? I did
not think he had been married. Nay, I did not think about it one way or
other; but he did not tell us of his lady till late.'

He then spoke of St. Kilda[437], the most remote of the Hebrides. I told
him, I thought of buying it. JOHNSON. 'Pray do, Sir. We will go and pass
a winter amid the blasts there. We shall have fine fish, and we will
take some dried tongues with us, and some books. We will have a strong
built vessel, and some Orkney men to navigate her. We must build a
tolerable house: but we may carry with us a wooden house ready made, and
requiring nothing but to be put up. Consider, Sir, by buying St. Kilda,
you may keep the people from falling into worse hands. We must give them
a clergyman, and he shall be one of Beattie's choosing. He shall be
educated at Marischal College. I'll be your Lord Chancellor, or what you
please.' BOSWELL. 'Are you serious, Sir, in advising me to buy St.
Kilda? for if you should advise me to go to Japan, I believe I should do
it.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir, I am serious.' BOSWELL. 'Why then, I'll see
what can be done.'

I gave him an account of the two parties in the Church of Scotland,
those for supporting the rights of patrons, independent of the people,
and those against it. JOHNSON. 'It should be settled one way or other. I
cannot wish well to a popular election of the clergy, when I consider
that it occasions such animosities, such unworthy courting of the
people, such slanders between the contending parties, and other
disadvantages. It is enough to allow the people to remonstrate against
the nomination of a minister for solid reasons.' (I suppose he meant
heresy or immorality.)

He was engaged to dine abroad, and asked me to return to him in the
evening, at nine, which I accordingly did.

We drank tea with Mrs. Williams, who told us a story of second sight[438],
which happened in Wales where she was born. He listened to it very
attentively, and said he should be glad to have some instances of that
faculty well authenticated. His elevated wish for more and more evidence
for spirit[439], in opposition to the groveling belief of materialism, led
him to a love of such mysterious disquisitions. He again[440] justly
observed, that we could have no certainty of the truth of supernatural
appearances, unless something was told us which we could not know by
ordinary means, or something done which could not be done but by
supernatural power; that Pharaoh in reason and justice required such
evidence from Moses; nay, that our Saviour said, 'If I had not done
among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin[441].'
He had said in the morning, that Macaulay's _History of St. Kilda_, was
very well written, except some foppery about liberty and slavery. I
mentioned to him that Macaulay told me, he was advised to leave out of
his book the wonderful story that upon the approach of a stranger all
the inhabitants catch cold[442]; but that it had been so well
authenticated, he determined to retain it. JOHNSON. 'Sir, to leave
things out of a book, merely because people tell you they will not be
believed, is meanness. Macaulay acted with more magnanimity.'

We talked of the Roman Catholick religion, and how little difference
there was in essential matters between ours and it. JOHNSON. 'True, Sir;
all denominations of Christians have really little difference in point
of doctrine, though they may differ widely in external forms. There is a
prodigious difference between the external form of one of your
Presbyterian churches in Scotland, and a church in Italy; yet the
doctrine taught is essentially the same[443].'

I mentioned the petition to Parliament for removing the subscription to
the Thirty-nine Articles[444]. JOHNSON. 'It was soon thrown out. Sir, they
talk of not making boys at the University subscribe to what they do not
understand[445]; but they ought to consider, that our Universities were
founded to bring up members for the Church of England, and we must not
supply our enemies with arms from our arsenal. No, Sir, the meaning of
subscribing is, not that they fully understand all the articles, but
that they will adhere to the Church of England[446]. Now take it in this
way, and suppose that they should only subscribe their adherence to the
Church of England, there would be still the same difficulty; for still
the young men would be subscribing to what they do not understand. For
if you should ask them, what do you mean by the Church of England? Do
you know in what it differs from the Presbyterian Church? from the
Romish Church? from the Greek Church? from the Coptick Church? they
could not tell you. So, Sir, it comes to the same thing.' BOSWELL. 'But,
would it not be sufficient to subscribe the Bible[447]?' JOHNSON. 'Why no,
Sir; for all sects will subscribe the Bible; nay, the Mahometans will
subscribe the Bible; for the Mahometans acknowledge JESUS CHRIST, as
well as Moses, but maintain that GOD sent Mahomet as a still greater
prophet than either.'

I mentioned the motion which had been made in the House of Commons, to
abolish the fast of the 30th of January[448]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I could
have wished that it had been a temporary act, perhaps, to have expired
with the century. I am against abolishing it; because that would be
declaring it wrong to establish it; but I should have no objection to
make an act, continuing it for another century, and then letting it

He disapproved of the Royal Marriage Bill; 'Because (said he) I would
not have the people think that the validity of marriage depends on the
will of man, or that the right of a King depends on the will of man. I
should not have been against making the marriage of any of the royal
family without the approbation of King and Parliament, highly

In the morning we had talked of old families, and the respect due to
them. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have a right to that kind of respect, and are
arguing for yourself. I am for supporting the principle, and am
disinterested in doing it, as I have no such right[450].' BOSWELL. 'Why,
Sir, it is one more incitement to a man to do well.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir,
and it is a matter of opinion, very necessary to keep society together.
What is it but opinion, by which we have a respect for authority, that
prevents us, who are the rabble, from rising up and pulling down you who
are gentlemen from your places, and saying "We will be gentlemen in our
turn"? Now, Sir, that respect for authority is much more easily granted
to a man whose father has had it, than to an upstart[451], and so Society
is more easily supported.' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps, Sir, it might be done by
the respect belonging to office, as among the Romans, where the dress,
the toga, inspired reverence.' JOHNSON. 'Why, we know very little about
the Romans. But, surely, it is much easier to respect a man who has
always had respect, than to respect a man who we know was last year no
better than ourselves, and will be no better next year. In republicks
there is not a respect for authority, but a fear of power.' BOSWELL. 'At
present, Sir, I think riches seem to gain most respect.' JOHNSON. 'No,
Sir, riches do not gain hearty respect; they only procure external
attention. A very rich man, from low beginnings, may buy his election in
a borough; but, _caeteris paribus_, a man of family will be preferred.
People will prefer a man for whose father their fathers have voted,
though they should get no more money, or even less. That shows that the
respect for family is not merely fanciful, but has an actual operation.
If gentlemen of family would allow the rich upstarts to spend their
money profusely, which they are ready enough to do, and not vie with
them in expence, the upstarts would soon be at an end, and the gentlemen
would remain: but if the gentlemen will vie in expence with the
upstarts, which is very foolish, they must be ruined.'

I gave him an account of the excellent mimickry of a friend of mine in
Scotland[452]; observing, at the same time, that some people thought it a
very mean thing. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is making a very mean use of a
man's powers. But to be a good mimick, requires great powers; great
acuteness of observation, great retention of what is observed, and great
pliancy of organs, to represent what is observed. I remember a lady of
quality in this town, Lady ---- ----, who was a wonderful mimick, and
used to make me laugh immoderately. I have heard she is now gone mad.'
BOSWELL. 'It is amazing how a mimick can not only give you the gestures
and voice of a person whom he represents; but even what a person would
say on any particular subject.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider
that the manner and some particular phrases of a person do much to
impress you with an idea of him, and you are not sure that he would say
what the mimick says in his character.' BOSWELL. 'I don't think Foote[453]
a good mimick, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; his imitations are not like. He
gives you something different from himself, but not the character which
he means to assume. He goes out of himself, without going into other
people. He cannot take off any person unless he is strongly marked, such
as George Faulkner[454]. He is like a painter, who can draw the portrait
of a man who has a wen upon his face, and who, therefore, is easily
known. If a man hops upon one leg, Foote can hop upon one leg[455]. But he
has not that nice discrimination which your friend seems to possess.
Foote is, however, very entertaining, with a kind of conversation
between wit and buffoonery[456].'

On Monday, March 23, I found him busy, preparing a fourth edition of his
folio Dictionary. Mr. Peyton, one of his original amanuenses, was
writing for him. I put him in mind of a meaning of the word _side_,
which he had omitted, viz. relationship; as father's side, mother's
side. He inserted it. I asked him if _humiliating_ was a good word. He
said, he had seen it frequently used, but he did not know it to be
legitimate English. He would not admit _civilization_, but only
_civility_[457]. With great deference to him, I thought _civilization_,
from _to civilize_ better in the sense opposed to _barbarity_, than
_civility_; as it is better to have a distinct word for each sense, than
one word with two senses, which _civility_ is, in his way of using it.

He seemed also to be intent on some sort of chymical operation. I was
entertained by observing how he contrived to send Mr. Peyton on an
errand, without seeming to degrade him. 'Mr. Peyton,--Mr. Peyton, will
you be so good as to take a walk to Temple-Bar? You will there see a
chymist's shop; at which you will be pleased to buy for me an ounce of
oil of vitriol; not spirit of vitriol, but oil of vitriol. It will cost
three half-pence.' Peyton immediately went, and returned with it, and
told him it cost but a penny.

I then reminded him of the schoolmaster's cause, and proposed to read to
him the printed papers concerning it. 'No, Sir, (said he,) I can read
quicker than I can hear.' So he read them to himself.

After he had read for some time, we were interrupted by the entrance of
Mr. Kristrom, a Swede, who was tutor to some young gentlemen in the
city. He told me, that there was a very good History of Sweden, by
Daline. Having at that time an intention of writing the history of that
country[458], I asked Dr. Johnson whether one might write a history of
Sweden, without going thither. 'Yes, Sir, (said he,) one for common

We talked of languages. Johnson observed, that Leibnitz had made some
progress in a work, tracing all languages up to the Hebrew. 'Why, Sir,
(said he,) you would not imagine that the French _jour_, day, is derived
from the Latin _dies_, and yet nothing is more certain; and the
intermediate steps are very clear. From _dies_, comes _diurnus_. _Diu_
is, by inaccurate ears, or inaccurate pronunciation, easily confounded
with _giu_; then the Italians form a substantive of the ablative of an
adjective, and thence _giurno_, or, as they make it, _giorno_; which is
readily contracted into _giour_, or _jour_' He observed, that the
Bohemian language was true Sclavonick. The Swede said, it had some
similarity with the German. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, to be sure, such parts
of Sclavonia as confine with Germany, will borrow German words; and such
parts as confine with Tartary will borrow Tartar words.'

He said, he never had it properly ascertained that the Scotch
Highlanders and the Irish understood each other[459]. I told him that my
cousin Colonel Graham, of the Royal Highlanders, whom I met at
Drogheda[460], told me they did. JOHNSON. 'Sir, if the Highlanders
understood Irish, why translate the New Testament into Erse, as was done
lately at Edinburgh, when there is an Irish translation?' BOSWELL.
'Although the Erse and Irish are both dialects of the same language,
there may be a good deal of diversity between them, as between the
different dialects in Italy.'--The Swede went away, and Mr. Johnson
continued his reading of the papers. I said, 'I am afraid, Sir, it is
troublesome.' 'Why, Sir, (said he,) I do not take much delight in it;
but I'll go through it.'

We went to the Mitre, and dined in the room where he and I first supped
together. He gave me great hopes of my cause. 'Sir, (said he,) the
government of a schoolmaster is somewhat of the nature of military
government; that is to say, it must be arbitrary, it must be exercised
by the will of one man, according to particular circumstances. You must
shew some learning upon this occasion. You must shew, that a
schoolmaster has a prescriptive right to beat; and that an action of
assault and battery cannot be admitted against him, unless there is some
great excess, some barbarity. This man has maimed none of his boys. They
are all left with the full exercise of their corporeal faculties. In our
schools in England, many boys have been maimed; yet I never heard of an
action against a schoolmaster on that account. Puffendorf, I think,
maintains the right of a schoolmaster to beat his scholars[461].'

On Saturday, March 27, I introduced to him Sir Alexander Macdonald[462],
with whom he had expressed a wish to be acquainted. He received him very

Sir Alexander observed, that the Chancellors in England are chosen from
views much inferiour to the office, being chosen from temporary
political views. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, in such a government as ours, no
man is appointed to an office because he is the fittest for it, nor
hardly in any other government; because there are so many connections
and dependencies to be studied[463]. A despotick prince may choose a man
to an office, merely because he is the fittest for it. The King of
Prussia may do it.' SIR A. 'I think, Sir, almost all great lawyers, such
at least as have written upon law, have known only law, and nothing
else.' JOHNSON. 'Why no, Sir; Judge Hale was a great lawyer, and wrote
upon law; and yet he knew a great many other things, and has written
upon other things. Selden too.' SIR A. 'Very true, Sir; and Lord Bacon.
But was not Lord Coke a mere lawyer?' JOHNSON. 'Why, I am afraid he was;
but he would have taken it very ill if you had told him so. He would
have prosecuted you for scandal.' BOSWELL. 'Lord Mansfield is not a mere
lawyer.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. I never was in Lord Mansfield's company; but
Lord Mansfield was distinguished at the University. Lord Mansfield, when
he first came to town, "drank champagne with the wits," as Prior
says[464]. He was the friend of Pope[465].' SIR A. 'Barristers, I believe,
are not so abusive now as they were formerly. I fancy they had less law
long ago, and so were obliged to take to abuse, to fill up the time. Now
they have such a number of precedents, they have no occasion for abuse.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, they had more law long ago than they have now. As to
precedents, to be sure they will increase in course of time; but the
more precedents there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is
to say, the less occasion is there for investigating principles.' SIR A.
'I have been correcting several Scotch accents[466] in my friend Boswell.
I doubt, Sir, if any Scotchman ever attains to a perfect English
pronunciation.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, few of them do, because they do not
persevere after acquiring a certain degree of it. But, Sir, there can be
no doubt that they may attain to a perfect English pronunciation, if
they will. We find how near they come to it; and certainly, a man who
conquers nineteen parts of the Scottish accent, may conquer the
twentieth. But, Sir, when a man has got the better of nine tenths he
grows weary, he relaxes his diligence, he finds he has corrected his
accent so far as not to be disagreeable, and he no longer desires his
friends to tell him when he is wrong; nor does he choose to be told.
Sir, when people watch me narrowly, and I do not watch myself, they will
find me out to be of a particular county[467]. In the same manner,
Dunning[468] may be found out to be a Devonshire man. So most Scotchmen
may be found out. But, Sir, little aberrations are of no disadvantage. I
never catched Mallet in a Scotch accent[469]; and yet Mallet, I suppose,
was past five-and-twenty before he came to London.'

Upon another occasion I talked to him on this subject, having myself
taken some pains to improve my pronunciation, by the aid of the late Mr.
Love[470], of Drury-lane theatre, when he was a player at Edinburgh, and
also of old Mr. Sheridan. Johnson said to me, 'Sir, your pronunciation
is not offensive.' With this concession I was pretty well satisfied; and
let me give my countrymen of North-Britain an advice not to aim at
absolute perfection in this respect; not to speak _High English_, as we
are apt to call what is far removed from the _Scotch_, but which is by
no means _good English_, and makes, 'the fools who use it[471],' truly
ridiculous[472]. Good English is plain, easy, and smooth in the mouth of
an unaffected English Gentleman. A studied and factitious pronunciation,
which requires perpetual attention and imposes perpetual constraint, is
exceedingly disgusting. A small intermixture of provincial peculiarities
may, perhaps, have an agreeable effect, as the notes of different birds
concur in the harmony of the grove, and please more than if they were
all exactly alike. I could name some gentlemen of Ireland, to whom a
slight proportion of the accent and recitative of that country is an
advantage. The same observation will apply to the gentlemen of Scotland.
I do not mean that we should speak as broad as a certain prosperous
member of Parliament from that country[473]; though it has been well
observed, that 'it has been of no small use to him; as it rouses the
attention of the House by its uncommonness; and is equal to tropes and
figures in a good English speaker.' I would give as an instance of what
I mean to recommend to my countrymen, the pronunciation of the late Sir
Gilbert Elliot[474]; and may I presume to add that of the present Earl of
Marchmont[475], who told me, with great good humour, that the master of a
shop in London, where he was not known, said to him, 'I suppose, Sir,
you are an American.' 'Why so, Sir?' (said his Lordship.) 'Because, Sir,
(replied the shopkeeper,) you speak neither English nor Scotch, but
something different from both, which I conclude is the language of

BOSWELL. 'It may be of use, Sir, to have a Dictionary to ascertain the
pronunciation.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, my Dictionary shows you the accents
of words, if you can but remember them.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, we want
marks to ascertain the pronunciation of the vowels. Sheridan, I believe,
has finished such a work.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, consider how much easier
it is to learn a language by the ear, than by any marks. Sheridan's
Dictionary may do very well; but you cannot always carry it about with
you: and, when you want the word, you have not the Dictionary. It is
like a man who has a sword that will not draw. It is an admirable sword,
to be sure: but while your enemy is cutting your throat, you are unable
to use it. Besides, Sir, what entitles Sheridan to fix the pronunciation
of English? He has, in the first place, the disadvantage of being an
Irishman: and if he says he will fix it after the example of the best
company, why they differ among themselves. I remember an instance: when
I published the Plan for my Dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me that
the word _great_ should be pronounced so as to rhyme to _state_; and Sir
William Yonge sent me word that it should be pronounced so as to rhyme
to _seat_, and that none but an Irishman would pronounce it _grait_[476].
Now here were two men of the highest rank, the one, the best speaker in
the House of Lords, the other, the best speaker in the House of Commons,
differing entirely.'

I again visited him at night. Finding him in a very good humour, I
ventured to lead him to the subject of our situation in a future state,
having much curiosity to know his notions on that point. JOHNSON. 'Why,
Sir, the happiness of an unembodied spirit will consist in a
consciousness of the favour of GOD, in the contemplation of truth, and
in the possession of felicitating ideas.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, is there
any harm in our forming to ourselves conjectures as to the particulars
of our happiness, though the scripture has said but very little on the
subject? "We know not what we shall be."' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no
harm. What philosophy suggests to us on this topick is probable: what
scripture tells us is certain. Dr. Henry More[477] has carried it as far
as philosophy can. You may buy both his theological and philosophical
works in two volumes folio, for about eight shillings.' BOSWELL. 'One of
the most pleasing thoughts is, that we shall see our friends again.'
JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but you must consider, that when we are become
purely rational, many of our friendships will be cut off. Many
friendships are formed by a community of sensual pleasures: all these
will be cut off. We form many friendships with bad men, because they
have agreeable qualities, and they can be useful to us; but, after
death, they can no longer be of use to us. We form many friendships by
mistake, imagining people to be different from what they really are.
After death, we shall see every one in a true light. Then, Sir, they
talk of our meeting our relations: but then all relationship is
dissolved; and we shall have no regard for one person more than another,
but for their real value. However, we shall either have the satisfaction
of meeting our friends, or be satisfied without meeting them[478].'
BOSWELL. 'Yet, Sir, we see in scripture, that Dives still retained an
anxious concern about his brethren.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, we must either
suppose that passage to be metaphorical, or hold with many divines, and
all the Purgatorians that departed souls do not all at once arrive at
the utmost perfection of which they are capable.' BOSWELL. 'I think,
Sir, that is a very rational supposition.' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir; but
we do not know it is a true one. There is no harm in believing it: but
you must not compel others to make it an article of faith; for it is not
revealed.' BOSWELL. 'Do you think, Sir, it is wrong in a man who holds
the doctrine of purgatory, to pray for the souls of his deceased
friends?' JOHNSON. 'Why, no, Sir[479].' BOSWELL. 'I have been told, that
in the Liturgy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, there was a form of
prayer for the dead.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not in the liturgy which Laud
framed for the Episcopal Church of Scotland: if there is a liturgy older
than that, I should be glad to see it.' BOSWELL. 'As to our employment
in a future state, the sacred writings say little. The Revelation,
however, of St. John gives us many ideas, and particularly mentions
musick[480].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, ideas must be given you by means of
something which you know[481]: and as to musick there are some
philosophers and divines who have maintained that we shall not be
spiritualized to such a degree, but that something of matter, very much
refined, will remain. In that case, musick may make a part of our future

BOSWELL. 'I do not know whether there are any well-attested stories of
the appearance of ghosts. You know there is a famous story of the
appearance of Mrs. Veal, prefixed to _Drelincourt on Death_.' JOHNSON.
'I believe, Sir, that is given up. I believe the woman declared upon her
death-bed that it was a lie[482].' BOSWELL. 'This objection is made
against the truth of ghosts appearing: that if they are in a state of
happiness, it would be a punishment to them to return to this world; and
if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite.'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, as the happiness or misery of embodied spirits does
not depend upon place, but is intellectual, we cannot say that they are
less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth.'

We went down between twelve and one to Mrs. Williams's room, and drank
tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. Gray, in prose
and verse, published by Mr. Mason[483]. JOHNSON. 'I think we have had
enough of Gray. I see they have published a splendid edition of
Akenside's works. One bad ode may be suffered; but a number of them
together makes one sick[484].' BOSWELL. 'Akenside's distinguished poem is
his _Pleasures of Imagination_: but for my part, I never could admire it
so much as most people do.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I could not read it through.'
BOSWELL. 'I have read it through; but I did not find any great power in

I mentioned Elwal, the heretick, whose trial Sir John Pringle[485] had
given me to read. JOHNSON. 'Sir, Mr. Elwal was, I think, an ironmonger
at Wolverhampton; and he had a mind to make himself famous, by being the
founder of a new sect, which he wished much should be called
_Elwallians_. He held, that every thing in the Old Testament that was
not typical, was to be of perpetual observance; and so he wore a ribband
in the plaits of his coat, and he also wore a beard. I remember I had
the honour of dining in company with Mr. Elwal. There was one Barter, a
miller, who wrote against him; and you had the controversy between Mr.
ELWAL and Mr. BARTER. To try to make himself distinguished, he wrote a
letter to King George the Second, challenging him to dispute with him,
in which he said, "George, if you be afraid to come by yourself, to
dispute with a poor old man, you may bring a thousand of your
_black_-guards with you; and if you should still be afraid, you may
bring a thousand of your _red_-guards." The letter had something of the
impudence of Junius to our present King. But the men of Wolverhampton
were not so inflammable as the Common-Council of London[486]; so Mr. Elwal
failed in his scheme of making himself a man of great consequence[487].'

On Tuesday, March 31, he and I dined at General Paoli's. A question was
started, whether the state of marriage was natural to man. JOHNSON.
'Sir, it is so far from being natural for a man and woman to live in a
state of marriage, that we find all the motives which they have for
remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilized society
imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to keep them
together.' The General said, that in a state of nature a man and woman
uniting together, would form a strong and constant affection, by the
mutual pleasure each would receive; and that the same causes of
dissention would not arise between them, as occur between husband and
wife in a civilized state. JOHNSON. 'Sir, they would have dissentions
enough, though of another kind. One would choose to go a hunting in this
wood, the other in that; one would choose to go a fishing in this lake,
the other in that; or, perhaps, one would choose to go a hunting, when
the other would choose to go a fishing; and so they would part. Besides,
Sir, a savage man and a savage woman meet by chance; and when the man
sees another woman that pleases him better, he will leave the first.'

We then fell into a disquisition whether there is any beauty independent
of utility. The General maintained there was not. Dr. Johnson maintained
that there was; and he instanced a coffee-cup which he held in his hand,
the painting of which was of no real use, as the cup would hold the
coffee equally well if plain; yet the painting was beautiful.

We talked of the strange custom of swearing in conversation[488]. The
General said, that all barbarous nations swore from a certain violence
of temper, that could not be confined to earth, but was always reaching
at the powers above. He said, too, that there was greater variety of
swearing, in proportion as there was a greater variety of religious

Dr. Johnson went home with me to my lodgings in Conduit-street and drank
tea, previous to our going to the Pantheon, which neither of us had seen

He said, 'Goldsmith's _Life of Parnell_[489] is poor; not that it is
poorly written, but that he had poor materials; for nobody can write the
life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social
intercourse with him.'

I said, that if it was not troublesome and presuming too much, I would
request him to tell me all the little circumstances of his life; what
schools he attended, when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, &c.
&c. He did not disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars; but
said, 'They'll come out by degrees as we talk together[490].'

He censured Ruffhead's _Life of Pope_[491]; and said, 'he knew nothing of
Pope, and nothing of poetry.' He praised Dr. Joseph Warton's Essay on
Pope[492]; but said, he supposed we should have no more of it, as the
authour had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he
did. BOSWELL. 'Why, Sir, should that prevent him from continuing his
work? He is an ingenious Counsel, who has made the most of his cause: he
is not obliged to gain it.' JOHNSON. 'But, Sir, there is a difference
when the cause is of a man's own making.'

We talked of the proper use of riches. JOHNSON. 'If I were a man of a
great estate, I would drive all the rascals whom I did not like out of
the county at an election[493].'

I asked him how far he thought wealth should be employed in hospitality.
JOHNSON. 'You are to consider that ancient hospitality, of which we hear
so much, was in an uncommercial country, when men being idle, were glad
to be entertained at rich men's tables. But in a commercial country, a
busy country, time becomes precious, and therefore hospitality is not so
much valued. No doubt there is still room for a certain degree of it;
and a man has a satisfaction in seeing his friends eating and drinking
around him. But promiscuous hospitality is not the way to gain real
influence. You must help some people at table before others; you must
ask some people how they like their wine oftener than others. You
therefore offend more people than you please. You are like the French
statesman, who said, when he granted a favour, '_J' ai fait dix
mecontents et un ingrat_[494].' Besides, Sir, being entertained ever so
well at a man's table, impresses no lasting regard or esteem. No, Sir,
the way to make sure of power and influence is, by lending money
confidentially to your neighbours at a small interest, or, perhaps, at
no interest at all, and having their bonds in your possession[495].'
BOSWELL. 'May not a man, Sir, employ his riches to advantage in
educating young men of merit?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, if they fall in your
way; but if it be understood that you patronize young men of merit, you
will be harassed with solicitations. You will have numbers forced upon
you who have no merit; some will force them upon you from mistaken
partiality; and some from downright interested motives, without scruple;
and you will be disgraced.'

'Were I a rich man, I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow
in the open air. A greenhouse is childish. I would introduce foreign
animals into the country; for instance the reindeer[496].'

The conversation now turned on critical subjects. JOHNSON. 'Bayes, in
_The Rehearsal_, is a mighty silly character. If it was intended to be
like a particular man, it could only be diverting while that man was
remembered. But I question whether it was meant for Dryden, as has been
reported; for we know some of the passages said to be ridiculed, were
written since _The Rehearsal_; at least a passage mentioned in the
Preface[497] is of a later date.' I maintained that it had merit as a
general satire on the self-importance of dramatick authours. But even in
this light he held it very cheap.

We then walked to the Pantheon. The first view of it did not strike us
so much as Ranelagh, of which he said, the '_coup d'oeil_ was the finest
thing he had ever seen.' The truth is, Ranelagh is of a more beautiful
form; more of it, or rather indeed the whole _rotunda_, appears at once,
and it is better lighted. However, as Johnson observed, we saw the
Pantheon in time of mourning, when there was a dull uniformity; whereas
we had seen Ranelagh when the view was enlivened with a gay profusion of
colours[498]. Mrs. Bosville[499], of Gunthwait, in Yorkshire, joined us,
and entered into conversation with us. Johnson said to me afterwards,
'Sir, this is a mighty intelligent lady.'

I said there was not half a guinea's worth of pleasure in seeing this
place. JOHNSON. 'But, Sir, there is half a guinea's worth of inferiority
to other people in not having seen it.' BOSWELL. 'I doubt, Sir, whether
there are many happy people here.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, there are many
happy people here. There are many people here who are watching hundreds,
and who think hundreds are watching them[500].'

Happening to meet Sir Adam Fergusson[501], I presented him to Dr. Johnson.
Sir Adam expressed some apprehension that the Pantheon would encourage
luxury. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) I am a great friend to publick amusements;
for they keep people from vice. You now (addressing himself to me,)
would have been with a wench, had you not been here.--O! I forgot you
were married.'

Sir Adam suggested, that luxury corrupts a people, and destroys the
spirit of liberty. JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is all visionary. I would not
give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than
another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual[502]. Sir,
the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private man. What
Frenchman is prevented from passing his life as he pleases?' SIR ADAM.
'But, Sir, in the British constitution it is surely of importance to
keep up a spirit in the people, so as to preserve a balance against the
crown.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I perceive you are a vile Whig. Why all this
childish jealousy of the power of the crown? The crown has not power
enough. When I say that all governments are alike, I consider that in no
government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a
sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut
off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that
will keep us safe under every form of government[503]. Had not the people
of France thought themselves honoured as sharing in the brilliant
actions of Lewis XIV, they would not have endured him; and we may say
the same of the King of Prussia's people.' Sir Adam introduced the
ancient Greeks and Romans. JOHNSON. 'Sir, the mass of both of them were
barbarians. The mass of every people must be barbarous where there is no
printing, and consequently knowledge is not generally diffused.
Knowledge is diffused among our people by the news-papers[504].' Sir Adam
mentioned the orators, poets, and artists of Greece. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I am
talking of the mass of the people. We see even what the boasted
Athenians were. The little effect which Demosthenes's orations had upon
them, shews that they were barbarians[505].'

Sir Adam was unlucky in his topicks; for he suggested a doubt of the
propriety of Bishops having seats in the House of Lords. JOHNSON. 'How
so, Sir? Who is more proper for having the dignity of a peer, than a
Bishop, provided a Bishop be what he ought to be; and if improper
Bishops be made, that is not the fault of the Bishops, but of those who
make them.'

On Sunday, April 5, after attending divine service at St. Paul's church,
I found him alone. Of a schoolmaster[506] of his acquaintance, a native of
Scotland, he said, 'He has a great deal of good about him; but he is
also very defective in some respects. His inner part is good, but his
outer part is mighty aukward. You in Scotland do not attain that nice
critical skill in languages, which we get in our schools in England. I
would not put a boy to him, whom I intended for a man of learning. But
for the sons of citizens, who are to learn a little, get good morals,
and then go to trade, he may do very well.'

I mentioned a cause in which I had appeared as counsel at the bar of the
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, where a _Probationer_[507],
(as one licensed to preach, but not yet ordained, is called,) was
opposed in his application to be inducted, because it was alledged that
he had been guilty of fornication five years before. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir,
if he has repented, it is not a sufficient objection. A man who is good
enough to go to heaven, is good enough to be a clergyman.' This was a
humane and liberal sentiment. But the character of a clergyman is more
sacred than that of an ordinary Christian. As he is to instruct with
authority, he should be regarded with reverence, as one upon whom divine
truth has had the effect to set him above such transgressions, as men
less exalted by spiritual habits, and yet upon the whole not to be
excluded from heaven, have been betrayed into by the predominance of
passion. That clergymen may be considered as sinners in general, as all
men are, cannot be denied; but this reflection will not counteract their
good precepts so much, as the absolute knowledge of their having been
guilty of certain specifick immoral acts. I told him, that by the rules
of the Church of Scotland, in their _Book of Discipline_, if a
_scandal_, as it is called, is not prosecuted for five years, it cannot
afterwards be proceeded upon, 'unless it be of a _heinous nature_, or
again become flagrant;' and that hence a question arose, whether
fornication was a sin of a heinous nature; and that I had maintained,
that it did not deserve that epithet, in as much as it was not one of
those sins which argue very great depravity of heart: in short, was not,
in the general acceptation of mankind, a heinous sin. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir,
it is not a heinous sin. A heinous sin is that for which a man is
punished with death or banishment[508].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, after I had
argued that it was not an heinous sin, an old clergyman rose up, and
repeating the text of scripture denouncing judgement against
whoremongers[509], asked, whether, considering this, there could be any
doubt of fornication being a heinous sin.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, observe
the word _whoremonger_. Every sin, if persisted in, will become heinous.
Whoremonger is a dealer in whores[510], as ironmonger is a dealer in iron.
But as you don't call a man an ironmonger for buying and selling a
pen-knife; so you don't call a man a whoremonger for getting one wench
with child[511].'

I spoke of the inequality of the livings of the clergy in England, and
the scanty provisions of some of the Curates. JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir;
but it cannot be helped. You must consider, that the revenues of the
clergy are not at the disposal of the state, like the pay of the army.
Different men have founded different churches; and some are better
endowed, some worse. The State cannot interfere and make an equal
division of what has been particularly appropriated. Now when a
clergyman has but a small living, or even two small livings, he can
afford very little to a curate.'

He said, he went more frequently to church when there were prayers only,
than when there was also a sermon, as the people required more an
example for the one than the other; it being much easier for them to
hear a sermon, than to fix their minds on prayer.

On Monday, April 6, I dined with him at Sir Alexander Macdonald's, where
was a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots Royal, who talked
with a vivacity, fluency, and precision so uncommon, that he attracted
particular attention. He proved to be the Honourable Thomas Erskine,
youngest brother to the Earl of Buchan, who has since risen into such
brilliant reputation at the bar in Westminster-hall[512].

Fielding being mentioned, Johnson exclaimed, 'he was a blockhead[513];'
and upon my expressing my astonishment at so strange an assertion, he
said, 'What I mean by his being a blockhead is that he was a barren
rascal.' BOSWELL. 'Will you not allow, Sir, that he draws very natural
pictures of human life?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is of very low life.
Richardson used to say, that had he not known who Fielding was, he
should have believed he was an ostler[514]. Sir, there is more knowledge
of the heart in one letter of Richardson's, than in all _Tom Jones_[515].
I, indeed, never read _Joseph Andrews_[516].' ERSKINE, 'Surely, Sir,
Richardson is very tedious.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, if you were to read
Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that
you would hang yourself[517]. But you must read him for the sentiment, and
consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment.'--I have
already given my opinion of Fielding; but I cannot refrain from
repeating here my wonder at Johnson's excessive and unaccountable
depreciation of one of the best writers that England has produced. _Tom
Jones_ has stood the test of publick opinion with such success, as to
have established its great merit, both for the story, the sentiments,
and the manners, and also the varieties of diction, so as to leave no
doubt of its having an animated truth of execution throughout[518].

A book of travels, lately published under the title of _Coriat Junior_,
and written by Mr. Paterson[519], was mentioned. Johnson said, this book
was an imitation of Sterne[520], and not of Coriat, whose name Paterson
had chosen as a whimsical one. 'Tom Coriat, (said he,) was a humourist
about the court of James the First. He had a mixture of learning, of
wit, and of buffoonery. He first travelled through Europe, and published
his travels[521]. He afterwards travelled on foot through Asia, and had
made many remarks; but he died at Mandoa, and his remarks were lost.'

We talked of gaming, and animadverted on it with severity. JOHNSON.
'Nay, gentlemen, let us not aggravate the matter. It is not roguery to
play with a man who is ignorant of the game, while you are master of it,
and so win his money; for he thinks he can play better than you, as you
think you can play better than he; and the superiour skill carries it.'
ERSKINE. 'He is a fool, but you are not a rogue.' JOHNSON. 'That's much
about the truth, Sir. It must be considered, that a man who only does
what every one of the society to which he belongs would do, is not a
dishonest man. In the republick of Sparta, it was agreed, that stealing
was not dishonourable, if not discovered. I do not commend a society
where there is an agreement that what would not otherwise be fair, shall
be fair; but I maintain, that an individual of any society, who
practises what is allowed, is not a dishonest man.' BOSWELL. 'So then,
Sir, you do not think ill of a man who wins perhaps forty thousand
pounds in a winter?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I do not call a gamester a dishonest
man; but I call him an unsocial man, an unprofitable man. Gaming is a
mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate good.
Trade gives employment to numbers, and so produces intermediate good.'

Mr. Erskine told us, that when he was in the island of Minorca, he not
only read prayers, but preached two sermons to the regiment[522]. He
seemed to object to the passage in scripture where we are told that the
angel of the Lord smote in one night forty thousand Assyrians[523]. 'Sir,
(said Johnson,) you should recollect that there was a supernatural
interposition; they were destroyed by pestilence. You are not to suppose
that the angel of the LORD went about and stabbed each of them with a
dagger, or knocked them on the head, man by man.'

After Mr. Erskine was gone, a discussion took place, whether the present
Earl of Buchan, when Lord Cardross, did right to refuse to go Secretary
of the Embassy to Spain, when Sir James Gray, a man of inferiour rank,
went Ambassadour[524]. Dr. Johnson said, that perhaps in point of interest
he did wrong; but in point of dignity he did well. Sir Alexander
insisted that he was wrong; and said that Mr. Pitt intended it as an
advantageous thing for him. 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson,) Mr. Pitt might
think it an advantageous thing for him to make him a vintner, and get
him all the Portugal trade; but he would have demeaned himself strangely
had he accepted of such a situation. Sir, had he gone Secretary while
his inferiour was Ambassadour, he would have been a traitor to his rank
and family.'

I talked of the little attachment which subsisted between near relations
in London. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) in a country so commercial as ours,
where every man can do for himself, there is not so much occasion for
that attachment. No man is thought the worse of here, whose brother was
hanged. In uncommercial countries, many of the branches of a family must
depend on the stock; so, in order to make the head of the family take
care of them, they are represented as connected with his reputation,
that, self-love being interested, he may exert himself to promote their
interest. You have first large circles, or clans; as commerce increases,
the connection is confined to families. By degrees, that too goes off,
as having become unnecessary, and there being few opportunities of
intercourse. One brother is a merchant in the city, and another is an
officer in the guards. How little intercourse can these two have!'

I argued warmly for the old feudal system[525]. Sir Alexander opposed it,
and talked of the pleasure of seeing all men free and independent.
JOHNSON. 'I agree with Mr. Boswell that there must be a high
satisfaction in being a feudal Lord; but we are to consider, that we
ought not to wish to have a number of men unhappy for the satisfaction
of one[526].'--I maintained that numbers, namely, the vassals or
followers, were not unhappy; for that there was a reciprocal
satisfaction between the Lord and them: he being kind in his authority
over them; they being respectful and faithful to him.

On Thursday, April 9, I called on him to beg he would go and dine with
me at the Mitre tavern. He had resolved not to dine at all this day, I
know not for what reason; and I was so unwilling to be deprived of his
company, that I was content to submit to suffer a want, which was at
first somewhat painful, but he soon made me forget it; and a man is
always pleased with himself when he finds his intellectual inclinations

He observed, that to reason philosophically on the nature of prayer, was
very unprofitable.

Talking of ghosts[527], he said, he knew one friend, who was an honest man
and a sensible man, who told him he had seen a ghost, old Mr. Edward
Cave, the printer at St. John's Gate. He said, Mr. Cave did not like to
talk of it, and seemed to be in great horrour whenever it was mentioned.
BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, what did he say was the appearance?' JOHNSON. 'Why,
Sir, something of a shadowy being.'

I mentioned witches, and asked him what they properly meant. JOHNSON.
'Why, Sir, they properly mean those who make use of the aid of evil
spirits.' BOSWELL. 'There is no doubt, Sir, a general report and belief
of their having existed[528].' JOHNSON. 'You have not only the general
report and belief, but you have many voluntary solemn confessions.' He
did not affirm anything positively upon a subject which it is the
fashion of the times to laugh at as a matter of absurd credulity. He
only seemed willing, as a candid enquirer after truth, however strange
and inexplicable, to shew that he understood what might be urged for

On Friday, April 10, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, where we
found Dr. Goldsmith.

Armorial bearings having been mentioned, Johnson said they were as
ancient as the siege of Thebes, which he proved by a passage in one of
the tragedies of Euripides[530].

I started the question whether duelling was consistent with moral duty.
The brave old General fired at this, and said, with a lofty air,
'Undoubtedly a man has a right to defend his honour.' GOLDSMITH,
(turning to me.) 'I ask you first, Sir, what would you do if you were
affronted?' I answered I should think it necessary to fight[531]. 'Why
then, (replied Goldsmith,) that solves the question.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir,
it does not solve the question. It does not follow that what a man would
do is therefore right.' I said, I wished to have it settled, whether
duelling was contrary to the laws of Christianity. Johnson immediately
entered on the subject, and treated it in a masterly manner; and so far
as I have been able to recollect, his thoughts were these: 'Sir, as men
become in a high degree refined, various causes of offence arise; which
are considered to be of such importance, that life must be staked to
atone for them, though in reality they are not so. A body that has
received a very fine polish may be easily hurt. Before men arrive at
this artificial refinement, if one tells his neighbour he lies, his
neighbour tells him he lies; if one gives his neighbour a blow, his
neighbour gives him a blow: but in a state of highly polished society,
an affront is held to be a serious injury. It must therefore be
resented, or rather a duel must be fought upon it; as men have agreed to
banish from their society one who puts up with an affront without
fighting a duel. Now, Sir, it is never unlawful to fight in
self-defence. He, then, who fights a duel, does not fight from passion
against his antagonist, but out of self-defence; to avert the stigma of
the world, and to prevent himself from being driven out of society. I
could wish there was not that superfluity of refinement; but while such
notions prevail, no doubt a man may lawfully fight a duel[532].'

Let it be remembered, that this justification is applicable only to the
person who _receives_ an affront. All mankind must condemn the

The General told us, that when he was a very young man, I think only
fifteen[533], serving under Prince Eugene of Savoy, he was sitting in a
company at table with a Prince of Wirtemberg, The Prince took up a glass
of wine, and, by a fillip, made some of it fly in Oglethorpe's face.
Here was a nice dilemma. To have challenged him instantly, might have
fixed a quarrelsome character upon the young soldier: to have taken no
notice of it might have been considered as cowardice. Oglethorpe,
therefore, keeping his eye upon the Prince, and smiling all the time, as
if he took what his Highness had done in jest, said 'Man Prince,--'(I
forget the French words he used, the purport however was.) 'That's a
good joke; but we do it much better in England;' and threw a whole glass
of wine in the Prince's face. An old General who sat by, said, '_Il a
bien fait, mon Prince, vous l'avez commencé_:' and thus all ended in
good humour.'

Dr. Johnson said, 'Pray, General, give us an account of the siege of
Belgrade[534].' Upon which the General, pouring a little wine upon the
table, described every thing with a wet finger: 'Here we were, here were
the Turks,' &c. &c. Johnson listened with the closest attention.

A question was started, how far people who disagree in a capital point
can live in friendship together. Johnson said they might. Goldsmith said
they could not, as they had not the _idem velle atque idem nolle_[535]--
the same likings and the same aversions. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you must
shun the subject as to which you disagree. For instance, I can live very
well with Burke: I love his knowledge, his genius, his diffusion, and
affluence of conversation; but I would not talk to him of the Rockingham
party.' GOLDSMITH. 'But, Sir, when people live together who have
something as to which they disagree, and which they want to shun, they
will be in the situation mentioned in the story of Bluebeard: "You may
look into all the chambers but one." But we should have the greatest
inclination to look into that chamber, to talk of that subject.'
JOHNSON, (with a loud voice.) 'Sir, I am not saying that _you_ could
live in friendship with a man from whom you differ as to some point: I
am only saying that _I_ could do it. You put me in mind of Sappho in

Goldsmith told us, that he was now busy in writing a natural history[537],
and, that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken lodgings, at a
farmer's house, near to the six mile-stone, on the Edgeware road, and
had carried down his books in two returned post-chaises. He said, he
believed the farmer's family thought him an odd character, similar to
that in which the _Spectator_ appeared to his landlady and her children:
he was _The Gentleman_[538]. Mr. Mickle, the translator of _The
Lusiad_[539], and I went to visit him at this place a few days afterwards.
He was not at home; but having a curiosity to see his apartment, we went
in and found curious scraps of descriptions of animals, scrawled upon
the wall with a black lead pencil[540].

The subject of ghosts being introduced, Johnson repeated what he had
told me of a friend of his, an honest man, and a man of sense, having
asserted to him, that he had seen an apparition[541]. Goldsmith told us,
he was assured by his brother, the Reverend Mr. Goldsmith, that he also
had seen one. General Oglethorpe told us, that Prendergast, an officer
in the Duke of Marlborough's army, had mentioned to many of his friends,
that he should die on a particular day. That upon that day a battle took
place with the French; that after it was over, and Prendergast was still
alive, his brother officers, while they were yet in the field, jestingly
asked him, where was his prophecy now. Prendergast gravely answered. 'I
shall die, notwithstanding what you see.' Soon afterwards, there came a
shot from a French battery, to which the orders for a cessation of arms
had not yet reached, and he was killed upon the spot. Colonel Cecil, who
took possession of his effects, found in his pocket-book the following
solemn entry:

[Here the date.] 'Dreamt--or ----.[542] Sir John Friend meets me:' (here
the very day on which he was killed, was mentioned.) Prendergast had
been connected with Sir John Friend, who was executed for high treason.
General Oglethorpe said, he was with Colonel Cecil when Pope came and
enquired into the truth of this story, which made a great noise at the
time, and was then confirmed by the Colonel.

On Saturday, April 11, he appointed me to come to him in the evening,
when he should be at leisure to give me some assistance for the defence
of Hastie, the schoolmaster of Campbelltown, for whom I was to appear in
the House of Lords. When I came, I found him unwilling to exert himself.
I pressed him to write down his thoughts upon the subject. He said,
'There's no occasion for my writing. I'll talk to you.' He was, however,
at last prevailed on to dictate to me, while I wrote as follows:--

'The charge is, that he has used immoderate and cruel correction.
Correction, in itself, is not cruel; children, being not reasonable, can
be governed only by fear. To impress this fear, is therefore one of the
first duties of those who have the care of children. It is the duty of a
parent; and has never been thought inconsistent with parental
tenderness. It is the duty of a master, who is in his highest exaltation
when he is _loco parentis_. Yet, as good things become evil by excess,
correction, by being immoderate, may become cruel. But when is
correction immoderate? When it is more frequent or more severe than is
required _ad monendum et docendum_, for reformation and instruction. No
severity is cruel which obstinacy makes necessary; for the greatest
cruelty would be to desist, and leave the scholar too careless for
instruction, and too much hardened for reproof. Locke, in his treatise
of Education, mentions a mother, with applause, who whipped an infant
eight times before she had subdued it; for had she stopped at the
seventh act of correction, her daughter, says he, would have been
ruined[543]. The degrees of obstinacy in young minds, are very different;
as different must be the degrees of persevering severity. A stubborn
scholar must be corrected till he is subdued. The discipline of a school
is military. There must be either unbounded licence or absolute
authority. The master, who punishes, not only consults the future
happiness of him who is the immediate subject of correction; but he
propagates obedience through the whole school; and establishes
regularity by exemplary justice. The victorious obstinacy of a single
boy would make his future endeavours of reformation or instruction
totally ineffectual. Obstinacy, therefore, must never be victorious.
Yet, it is well known, that there sometimes occurs a sullen and hardy
resolution, that laughs at all common punishment, and bids defiance to
all common degrees of pain. Correction must be proportioned to
occasions. The flexible will be reformed by gentle discipline, and the
refractory must be subdued by harsher methods. The degrees of
scholastick, as of military punishment, no stated rules can ascertain.
It must be enforced till it overpowers temptation; till stubbornness
becomes flexible, and perverseness regular. Custom and reason have,
indeed, set some bounds to scholastick penalties. The schoolmaster
inflicts no capital punishments; nor enforces his edicts by either death
or mutilation. The civil law has wisely determined, that a master who
strikes at a scholar's eye shall be considered as criminal. But
punishments, however severe, that produce no lasting evil, may be just
and reasonable, because they may be necessary. Such have been the
punishments used by the respondent. No scholar has gone from him either
blind or lame, or with any of his limbs or powers injured or impaired.
They were irregular, and he punished them: they were obstinate, and he
enforced his punishment. But, however provoked, he never exceeded the
limits of moderation, for he inflicted nothing beyond present pain; and
how much of that was required, no man is so little able to determine as
those who have determined against him;--the parents of the offenders. It
has been said, that he used unprecedented and improper instruments of
correction. Of this accusation the meaning is not very easy to be found.
No instrument of correction is more proper than another, but as it is
better adapted to produce present pain without lasting mischief.
Whatever were his instruments, no lasting mischief has ensued; and
therefore, however unusual, in hands so cautious they were proper. It
has been objected, that the respondent admits the charge of cruelty, by
producing no evidence to confute it. Let it be considered, that his
scholars are either dispersed at large in the world, or continue to
inhabit the place in which they were bred. Those who are dispersed
cannot be found; those who remain are the sons of his persecutors, and
are not likely to support a man to whom their fathers are enemies. If it
be supposed that the enmity of their fathers proves the justice of the
charge, it must be considered how often experience shews us, that men
who are angry on one ground will accuse on another; with how little
kindness, in a town of low trade, a man who lives by learning is
regarded; and how implicitly, where the inhabitants are not very rich, a
rich man is hearkened to and followed. In a place like Campbelltown, it
is easy for one of the principal inhabitants to make a party. It is easy
for that party to heat themselves with imaginary grievances. It is easy
for them to oppress a man poorer than themselves; and natural to assert
the dignity of riches, by persisting in oppression. The argument which
attempts to prove the impropriety of restoring him to the school, by
alledging that he has lost the confidence of the people, is not the
subject of juridical consideration; for he is to suffer, if he must
suffer, not for their judgement, but for his own actions. It may be
convenient for them to have another master; but it is a convenience of
their own making. It would be likewise convenient for him to find
another school; but this convenience he cannot obtain. The question is
not what is now convenient, but what is generally right. If the people
of Campbelltown be distressed by the restoration of the respondent, they
are distressed only by their own fault; by turbulent passions and
unreasonable desires; by tyranny, which law has defeated, and by malice,
which virtue has surmounted.'

'This, Sir, (said he,) you are to turn in your mind, and make the best
use of it you can in your speech.'

Of our friend, Goldsmith, he said, 'Sir, he is so much afraid of being
unnoticed, that he often talks merely lest you should forget that he is
in the company.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, he stands forward.' JOHNSON. 'True, Sir;
but if a man is to stand forward, he should wish to do it not in an
aukward posture, not in rags, not so as that he shall only be exposed to
ridicule.' BOSWELL. 'For my part, I like very well to hear honest
Goldsmith talk away carelessly.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; but he should
not like to hear himself.'

On Tuesday, April 14, the decree of the Court of Session in the
schoolmaster's cause was reversed in the House of Lords, after a very
eloquent speech by Lord Mansfield, who shewed himself an adept in school
discipline, but I thought was too rigorous towards my client[544]. On the
evening of the next day I supped with Dr. Johnson, at the Crown and
Anchor tavern, in the Strand, in company with Mr. Langton and his
brother-in-law, Lord Binning. I repeated a sentence of Lord Mansfield's
speech, of which, by the aid of Mr. Longlands, the solicitor on the
other side, who obligingly allowed me to compare his note with my own, I
have a full copy: 'My Lords, severity is not the way to govern either
boys or men.' 'Nay, (said Johnson,) it is the way to _govern_ them. I
know not whether it be the way to _mend_ them.'

I talked of the recent expulsion of six students from the University of
Oxford, who were methodists and would not desist from publickly praying
and exhorting[545]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, that expulsion was extremely just and
proper[546]. What have they to do at an University who are not willing to
be taught, but will presume to teach? Where is religion to be learnt but
at an University? Sir, they were examined, and found to be mighty
ignorant fellows.' BOSWELL. 'But, was it not hard, Sir, to expel them,
for I am told they were good beings?' JOHNSON. 'I believe they might be
good beings; but they were not fit to be in the University of Oxford[547].
A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a
garden.' Lord Elibank used to repeat this as an illustration uncommonly

Desirous of calling Johnson forth to talk, and exercise his wit, though
I should myself be the object of it, I resolutely ventured to undertake
the defence of convivial indulgence in wine, though he was not to-night
in the most genial humour[548]. After urging the common plausible topicks,
I at last had recourse to the maxim, _in vino veritas_, a man who is
well warmed with wine will speak truth[549]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that may
be an argument for drinking, if you suppose men in general to be liars.
But, Sir, I would not keep company with a fellow, who lyes as long as he
is sober, and whom you must make drunk before you can get a word of
truth out of him[550].'

Mr. Langton told us he was about to establish a school upon his estate,
but it had been suggested to him, that it might have a tendency to make
the people less industrious. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. While learning to read
and write is a distinction, the few who have that distinction may be the
less inclined to work; but when every body learns to read and write, it
is no longer a distinction[551]. A man who has a laced waistcoat is too
fine a man to work; but if every body had laced waistcoats, we should
have people working in laced waistcoats. There are no people whatever
more industrious, none who work more, than our manufacturers[552]; yet
they have all learnt to read and write. Sir, you must not neglect doing
a thing immediately good, from fear of remote evil;--from fear of its
being abused[553]. A man who has candles may sit up too late, which he
would not do if he had not candles; but nobody will deny that the art of
making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time that
the sun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved.'
BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, would it not be better to follow Nature; and go to
bed and rise just as nature gives us light or with-holds it?' JOHNSON.
'No, Sir; for then we should have no kind of equality in the partition
of our time between sleeping and waking. It would be very different in
different seasons and in different places. In some of the northern parts
of Scotland how little light is there in the depth of winter!'

We talked of Tacitus[554], and I hazarded an opinion, that with all his
merit for penetration, shrewdness of judgement, and terseness of
expression, he was too compact, too much broken into hints, as it were,
and therefore too difficult to be understood. To my great satisfaction,
Dr. Johnson sanctioned this opinion. 'Tacitus, Sir, seems to me rather
to have made notes for an historical work, than to have written a

At this time it appears from his _Prayers and Meditations_, that he had
been more than commonly diligent in religious duties, particularly in
reading the Holy Scriptures. It was Passion Week, that solemn season
which the Christian world has appropriated to the commemoration of the
mysteries of our redemption, and during which, whatever embers of
religion are in our breasts, will be kindled into pious warmth.

I paid him short visits both on Friday and Saturday, and seeing his
large folio Greek Testament before him, beheld him with a reverential
awe, and would not intrude upon his time[556]. While he was thus employed
to such good purpose, and while his friends in their intercourse with
him constantly found a vigorous intellect and a lively imagination, it
is melancholy to read in his private register, 'My mind is unsettled and
my memory confused. I have of late turned my thoughts with a very
useless earnestness upon past incidents. I have yet got no command over
my thoughts; an unpleasing incident is almost certain to hinder my
rest[557].' What philosophick heroism was it in him to appear with such
manly fortitude to the world, while he was inwardly so distressed! We
may surely believe that the mysterious principle of being 'made perfect
through suffering[558]' was to be strongly exemplified in him.

On Sunday, April 19, being Easter-day, General Paoli and I paid him a
visit before dinner. We talked of the notion that blind persons can
distinguish colours by the touch. Johnson said, that Professor
Sanderson[559] mentions his having attempted to do it, but that he found
he was aiming at an impossibility; that to be sure a difference in the
surface makes the difference of colours; but that difference is so fine,
that it is not sensible to the touch. The General mentioned jugglers and
fraudulent gamesters, who could know cards by the touch. Dr. Johnson
said, 'the cards used by such persons must be less polished than ours
commonly are.'

We talked of sounds. The General said, there was no beauty in a simple
sound, but only in an harmonious composition of sounds. I presumed to
differ from this opinion, and mentioned the soft and sweet sound of a
fine woman's voice. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, if a serpent or a toad uttered
it, you would think it ugly.' BOSWELL. 'So you would think, Sir, were a
beautiful tune to be uttered by one of those animals.' JOHNSON. 'No,
Sir, it would be admired. We have seen fine fiddlers whom we liked as
little as toads.' (laughing.)

Talking on the subject of taste in the arts, he said, that difference of
taste was, in truth, difference of skill[560]. BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, is
there not a quality called taste[561], which consists merely in perception
or in liking? For instance, we find people differ much as to what is the
best style of English composition. Some think Swift's the best; others
prefer a fuller and grander way of writing.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you must
first define what you mean by style, before you can judge who has a good
taste in style, and who has a bad. The two classes of persons whom you
have mentioned don't differ as to good and bad. They both agree that
Swift has a good neat style[562]; but one loves a neat style, another
loves a style of more splendour. In like manner, one loves a plain coat,
another loves a laced coat; but neither will deny that each is good in
its kind.'

While I remained in London this spring, I was with him at several other
times, both by himself and in company. I dined with him one day at the
Crown and Anchor tavern, in the Strand, with Lord Elibank, Mr. Langton,
and Dr. Vansittart of Oxford. Without specifying each particular day, I
have preserved the following memorable things.

I regretted the reflection in his Preface to Shakspeare against Garrick,
to whom we cannot but apply the following passage: 'I collated such
copies as I could procure, and wished for more, but have not found the
collectors of these rarities very communicative[563].' I told him, that
Garrick had complained to me of it, and had vindicated himself by
assuring me, that Johnson was made welcome to the full use of his
collection, and that he left the key of it with a servant, with orders
to have a fire and every convenience for him. I found Johnson's notion
was, that Garrick wanted to be courted for them, and that, on the
contrary, Garrick should have courted him, and sent him the plays of his
own accord. But, indeed, considering the slovenly and careless manner in
which books were treated by Johnson, it could not be expected that
scarce and valuable editions should have been lent to him[564].

A gentleman[565] having to some of the usual arguments for drinking added
this: 'You know, Sir, drinking drives away care, and makes us forget
whatever is disagreeable. Would not you allow a man to drink for that
reason?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, if he sat next _you_.'

I expressed a liking for Mr. Francis Osborne's works, and asked him what
he thought of that writer. He answered, 'A conceited fellow. Were a man
to write so now, the boys would throw stones at him.' He, however, did
not alter my opinion of a favourite authour, to whom I was first
directed by his being quoted in The Spectator[566], and in whom I have
found much shrewd and lively sense, expressed indeed in a style somewhat
quaint, which, however, I do not dislike. His book has an air of
originality. We figure to ourselves an ancient gentleman talking to us.

When one of his friends endeavoured to maintain that a country gentleman
might contrive to pass his life very agreeably, 'Sir (said he,) you
cannot give me an instance of any man who is permitted to lay out his
own time, contriving not to have tedious hours[567].' This observation,
however, is equally applicable to gentlemen who live in cities, and are
of no profession.

He said, 'there is no permanent national character; it varies according
to circumstances. Alexander the Great swept India: now the Turks sweep

A learned gentleman who in the course of conversation wished to inform
us of this simple fact, that the Counsel upon the circuit at Shrewsbury
were much bitten by fleas, took, I suppose, seven or eight minutes in
relating it circumstantially. He in a plenitude of phrase told us, that
large bales of woollen cloth were lodged in the town-hall;--that by
reason of this, fleas nestled there in prodigious numbers; that the
lodgings of the counsel were near to the town-hall;--and that those
little animals moved from place to place with wonderful agility. Johnson
sat in great impatience till the gentleman had finished his tedious
narrative, and then burst out (playfully however,) 'It is a pity, Sir,
that you have not seen a lion; for a flea has taken you such a time,
that a lion must have served you a twelve-month[568].'

He would not allow Scotland to derive any credit from Lord Mansfield;
for he was educated in England. 'Much (said he,) may be made of a
Scotchman, if he be _caught_ young[569].'

Talking of a modern historian and a modern moralist, he said, 'There is
more thought in the moralist than in the historian. There is but a
shallow stream of thought in history.' BOSWELL. 'But surely, Sir, an
historian has reflection.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; and so has a cat when
she catches a mouse for her kitten. But she cannot write like ****;
neither can ****.'[570]

He said, 'I am very unwilling to read the manuscripts of authours, and
give them my opinion[571]. If the authours who apply to me have money, I
bid them boldly print without a name; if they have written in order to
get money, I tell them to go to the booksellers, and make the best
bargain they can.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, if a bookseller should bring you
a manuscript to look at?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I would desire the
bookseller to take it away.'

I mentioned a friend of mine who had resided long in Spain, and was
unwilling to return to Britain. JOHNSON. 'Sir, he is attached to some
woman.' BOSWELL. 'I rather believe, Sir, it is the fine climate which
keeps him there.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, how can you talk so? What is
climate to happiness[572]? Place me in the heart of Asia, should I not be
exiled? What proportion does climate bear to the complex system of human
life? You may advise me to go to live at Bologna to eat sausages. The
sausages there are the best in the world; they lose much by being

On Saturday, May 9, Mr. Dempster[573] and I had agreed to dine by
ourselves at the British Coffee-house. Johnson, on whom I happened to
call in the morning, said he would join us, which he did, and we spent a
very agreeable day, though I recollect but little of what passed.

He said, 'Walpole was a minister given by the King to the people: Pitt
was a minister given by the people to the King,--as an adjunct.'

'The misfortune of Goldsmith in conversation is this: he goes on without
knowing how he is to get off. His genius is great, but his knowledge is
small. As they say of a generous man, it is a pity he is not rich, we
may say of Goldsmith, it is a pity he is not knowing. He would not keep
his knowledge to himself.'

Before leaving London this year, I consulted him upon a question purely
of Scotch law. It was held of old, and continued for a long period, to
be an established principle in that law, that whoever intermeddled with
the effects of a person deceased, without the interposition of legal
authority to guard against embezzlement, should be subjected to pay all
the debts of the deceased, as having been guilty of what was technically
called _vicious intromission_. The Court of Session had gradually
relaxed the strictness of this principle, where the interference proved
had been inconsiderable. In a case[574] which came before that Court the
preceding winter, I had laboured to persuade the Judges to return to the
ancient law. It was my own sincere opinion, that they ought to adhere to
it; but I had exhausted all my powers of reasoning in vain. Johnson
thought as I did; and in order to assist me in my application to the
Court for a revision and alteration of the judgement, he dictated to me
the following argument:--

'This, we are told, is a law which has its force only from the long
practice of the Court: and may, therefore, be suspended or modified as
the Court shall think proper.

'Concerning the power of the Court to make or to suspend a law, we have
no intention to inquire. It is sufficient for our purpose that every
just law is dictated by reason; and that the practice of every legal
Court is regulated by equity. It is the quality of reason to be
invariable and constant; and of equity, to give to one man what, in the
same case, is given to another. The advantage which humanity derives
from law is this: that the law gives every man a rule of action, and
prescribes a mode of conduct which shall entitle him to the support and
protection of society. That the law may be a rule of action, it is
necessary that it be known; it is necessary that it be permanent and
stable. The law is the measure of civil right; but if the measure be
changeable, the extent of the thing measured never can be settled.

'To permit a law to be modified at discretion, is to leave the community
without law. It is to withdraw the direction of that publick wisdom, by
which the deficiencies of private understanding are to be supplied. It
is to suffer the rash and ignorant to act at discretion, and then to
depend for the legality of that action on the sentence of the Judge. He
that is thus governed, lives not by law, but by opinion: not by a
certain rule to which he can apply his intention before he acts, but by
an uncertain and variable opinion, which he can never know but after he
has committed the act on which that opinion shall be passed. He lives by
a law, (if a law it be,) which he can never know before he has offended
it. To this case may be justly applied that important principle, _misera
est servitus ubi jus est aut incognitum aut vagum_. If Intromission be
not criminal till it exceeds a certain point, and that point be
unsettled, and consequently different in different minds, the right of
Intromission, and the right of the Creditor arising from it, are all
_jura vaga_, and, by consequence, are _jura incognita_; and the result
can be no other than a _misera servitus_, an uncertainty concerning the
event of action, a servile dependence on private opinion.

'It may be urged, and with great plausibility, that there may be
Intromission without fraud; which, however true, will by no means
justify an occasional and arbitrary relaxation of the law. The end of
law is protection as well as vengeance. Indeed, vengeance is never used
but to strengthen protection. That society only is well governed, where
life is freed from danger and from suspicion; where possession is so
sheltered by salutary prohibitions, that violation is prevented more
frequently than punished. Such a prohibition was this, while it operated
with its original force. The creditor of the deceased was not only
without loss, but without fear. He was not to seek a remedy for an
injury suffered; for, injury was warded off.

'As the law has been sometimes administered, it lays us open to wounds,
because it is imagined to have the power of healing. To punish fraud
when it is detected, is the proper act of vindictive justice; but to
prevent frauds, and make punishment unnecessary, is the great employment
of legislative wisdom. To permit Intromission, and to punish fraud, is
to make law no better than a pitfall. To tread upon the brink is safe;
but to come a step further is destruction. But, surely, it is better to
enclose the gulf, and hinder all access, than by encouraging us to
advance a little, to entice us afterwards a little further, and let us
perceive our folly only by our destruction.

'As law supplies the weak with adventitious strength, it likewise
enlightens the ignorant with extrinsick understanding. Law teaches us to
know when we commit injury, and when we suffer it. It fixes certain
marks upon actions, by which we are admonished to do or to forbear them.
_Qui sibi bene temperat in licitis_, says one of the fathers, _nunquam
cadet in illicita_. He who never intromits at all, will never intromit
with fraudulent intentions.

'The relaxation of the law against vicious intromission has been very
favourably represented by a great master of jurisprudence[575], whose
words have been exhibited with unnecessary pomp, and seem to be
considered as irresistibly decisive. The great moment of his authority
makes it necessary to examine his position. "Some ages ago, (says he,)
before the ferocity of the inhabitants of this part of the island was
subdued, the utmost severity of the civil law was necessary, to restrain
individuals from plundering each other. Thus, the man who intermeddled
irregularly with the moveables of a person deceased, was subjected to
all the debts of the deceased without limitation. This makes a branch of
the law of Scotland, known by the name of _vicious intromission_; and so
rigidly was this regulation applied in our Courts of Law, that the most
trifling moveable abstracted _mala fide_, subjected the intermeddler to
the foregoing consequences, which proved in many instances a most
rigorous punishment. But this severity was necessary, in order to subdue
the undisciplined nature of our people. It is extremely remarkable, that
in proportion to our improvement in manners, this regulation has been
gradually softened, and applied by our sovereign Court with a sparing

'I find myself under a necessity of observing, that this learned and
judicious writer has not accurately distinguished the deficiencies and
demands of the different conditions of human life, which, from a degree
of savageness and independence, in which all laws are vain, passes or
may pass, by innumerable gradations, to a state of reciprocal benignity,
in which laws shall be no longer necessary. Men are first wild and
unsocial, living each man to himself, taking from the weak, and losing
to the strong. In their first coalitions of society, much of this
original savageness is retained. Of general happiness, the product of
general confidence, there is yet no thought. Men continue to prosecute
their own advantages by the nearest way; and the utmost severity of the
civil law is necessary to restrain individuals from plundering each
other. The restraints then necessary, are restraints from plunder, from
acts of publick violence, and undisguised oppression. The ferocity of
our ancestors, as of all other nations, produced not fraud, but rapine.
They had not yet learned to cheat, and attempted only to rob. As manners
grow more polished, with the knowledge of good, men attain likewise
dexterity in evil. Open rapine becomes less frequent, and violence gives
way to cunning. Those who before invaded pastures and stormed houses,
now begin to enrich themselves by unequal contracts and fraudulent
intromissions. It is not against the violence of ferocity, but the
circumventions of deceit, that this law was framed; and I am afraid the
increase of commerce, and the incessant struggle for riches which
commerce excites, give us no prospect of an end speedily to be expected
of artifice and fraud. It therefore seems to be no very conclusive
reasoning, which connects those two propositions;--"the nation is become
less ferocious, and therefore the laws against fraud and _covin_[576]
shall be relaxed."

'Whatever reason may have influenced the Judges to a relaxation of the
law, it was not that the nation was grown less fierce; and, I am afraid,
it cannot be affirmed, that it is grown less fraudulent.

'Since this law has been represented as rigorously and unreasonably
penal, it seems not improper to consider what are the conditions and
qualities that make the justice or propriety of a penal law.

'To make a penal law reasonable and just, two conditions are necessary,
and two proper. It is necessary that the law should be adequate to its
end; that, if it be observed, it shall prevent the evil against which it
is directed. It is, secondly, necessary that the end of the law be of
such importance, as to deserve the security of a penal sanction. The
other conditions of a penal law, which though not absolutely necessary,
are to a very high degree fit, are, that to the moral violation of the
law there are many temptations, and that of the physical observance
there is great facility.

'All these conditions apparently concur to justify the law which we are
now considering. Its end is the security of property; and property very
often of great value. The method by which it effects the security is
efficacious, because it admits, in its original rigour, no gradations of
injury; but keeps guilt and innocence apart, by a distinct and definite
limitation. He that intromits, is criminal; he that intromits not, is
innocent. Of the two secondary considerations it cannot be denied that
both are in our favour. The temptation to intromit is frequent and
strong; so strong and so frequent, as to require the utmost activity of
justice, and vigilance of caution, to withstand its prevalence; and the
method by which a man may entitle himself to legal intromission, is so
open and so facile, that to neglect it is a proof of fraudulent
intention: for why should a man omit to do (but for reasons which he
will not confess,) that which he can do so easily, and that which he
knows to be required by the law? If temptation were rare, a penal law
might be deemed unnecessary. If the duty enjoined by the law were of
difficult performance, omission, though it could not be justified, might
be pitied. But in the present case, neither equity nor compassion
operate against it. A useful, a necessary law is broken, not only
without a reasonable motive, but with all the inducements to obedience
that can be derived from safety and facility.

'I therefore return to my original position, that a law, to have its
effect, must be permanent and stable. It may be said, in the language of
the schools, _Lex non recipit majus et minus_,--we may have a law, or we
may have no law, but we cannot have half a law. We must either have a
rule of action, or be permitted to act by discretion and by chance.
Deviations from the law must be uniformly punished, or no man can be
certain when he shall be safe.

'That from the rigour of the original institution this Court has
sometimes departed, cannot be denied. But, as it is evident that such
deviations, as they make law uncertain, make life unsafe, I hope, that
of departing from it there will now be an end; that the wisdom of our
ancestors will be treated with due reverence; and that consistent and
steady decisions will furnish the people with a rule of action, and
leave fraud and fraudulent intromission no future hope of impunity or

With such comprehension of mind, and such clearness of penetration, did
he thus treat a subject altogether new to him, without any other
preparation than my having stated to him the arguments which had been
used on each side of the question. His intellectual powers appeared with
peculiar lustre, when tried against those of a writer of so much fame as
Lord Kames, and that too in his Lordship's own department[577].

This masterly argument, after being prefaced and concluded with some
sentences of my own, and garnished with the usual formularies, was
actually printed and laid before the Lords of Session[578], but without
success. My respected friend Lord Hailes, however, one of that
honourable body, had critical sagacity enough to discover a more than
ordinary hand in the _Petition_. I told him Dr. Johnson had favoured me
with his pen. His Lordship, with wonderful _acumen_, pointed out exactly
where his composition began, and where it ended[579]. But that I may do
impartial justice, and conform to the great rule of Courts, _Suum cuique
tribuito_, I must add, that their Lordships in general, though they were
pleased to call this 'a well-drawn paper,' preferred the former very
inferiour petition which I had written; thus confirming the truth of an
observation made to me by one of their number, in a merry mood: 'My dear
Sir, give yourself no trouble in the composition of the papers you
present to us; for, indeed, it is casting pearls before swine.'

I renewed my solicitations that Dr. Johnson would this year accomplish
his long-intended visit to Scotland.



'The regret has not been little with which I have missed a journey so
pregnant with pleasing expectations, as that in which I could promise
myself not only the gratification of curiosity, both rational and
fanciful, but the delight of seeing those whom I love and esteem. But
such has been the course of things, that I could not come; and such has
been, I am afraid, the state of my body, that it would not well have
seconded my inclination. My body, I think, grows better, and I refer my
hopes to another year; for I am very sincere in my design to pay the
visit, and take the ramble. In the mean time, do not omit any
opportunity of keeping up a favourable opinion of me in the minds of any
of my friends. Beattie's book[580] is, I believe, every day more liked; at
least, I like it more, as I look more upon it.

'I am glad if you got credit by your cause, and am yet of opinion, that
our cause was good, and that the determination ought to have been in
your favour. Poor Hastie[581], I think, had but his deserts.

'You promised to get me a little _Pindar_, you may add to it a little

'The leisure which I cannot enjoy, it will be a pleasure to hear that
you employ upon the antiquities of the feudal establishment. The whole
system of ancient tenures is gradually passing away; and I wish to have
the knowledge of it preserved adequate and complete. For such an
institution makes a very important part of the history of mankind. Do
not forget a design so worthy of a scholar who studies the laws of his
country, and of a gentleman who may naturally be curious to know the
condition of his own ancestors.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours with great affection,


'August 31, 1772[582].'



'Edinburgh, Dec. 25, 1772.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I was much disappointed that you did not come to Scotland last autumn.
However, I must own that your letter prevents me from complaining; not
only because I am sensible that the state of your health was but too
good an excuse, but because you write in a strain which shews that you
have agreeable views of the scheme which we have so long proposed.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I communicated to Beattie what you said of his book in your last letter
to me. He writes to me thus:--"You judge very rightly in supposing that
Dr. Johnson's favourable opinion of any book must give me great delight.
Indeed it is impossible for me to say how much I am gratified by it; for
there is not a man upon earth whose good opinion I would be more
ambitious to cultivate. His talents and his virtues I reverence more
than any words can express. The extraordinary civilities[583] (the
paternal attentions I should rather say,) and the many instructions I
have had the honour to receive from him, will to me be a perpetual
source of pleasure in the recollection,

'"_Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus has reget artus_[584].

'"I had still some thoughts, while the summer lasted, of being obliged
to go to London on some little business; otherwise I should certainly
have troubled him with a letter several months ago, and given some vent
to my gratitude and admiration. This I intend to do, as soon as I am
left a little at leisure. Mean time, if you have occasion to write to
him, I beg you will offer him my most respectful compliments, and assure
him of the sincerity of my attachment and the warmth of my gratitude."

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am, &c.

1773: AETAT. 64.--In 1773 his only publication was an edition of his
folio _Dictionary_, with additions and corrections[585]; nor did he, so
far as is known, furnish any productions of his fertile pen to any of
his numerous friends or dependants, except the Preface[586] to his old
amanuensis Macbean's _Dictionary of Ancient Geography_.[587] His
_Shakspeare_, indeed, which had been received with high approbation by
the publick, and gone through several editions, was this year
re-published by George Steevens, Esq., a gentleman not only deeply
skilled in ancient learning, and of very extensive reading in English
literature, especially the early writers, but at the same time of acute
discernment and elegant taste.[588] It is almost unnecessary to say, that
by his great and valuable additions to Dr. Johnson's work, he justly
obtained considerable reputation:

'_Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet_.'[589]



'I have read your kind letter much more than the elegant _Pindar_ which
it accompanied. I am always glad to find myself not forgotten; and to be
forgotten by you would give me great uneasiness. My northern friends
have never been unkind to me: I have from you, dear Sir, testimonies of
affection, which I have not often been able to excite; and Dr. Beattie
rates the testimony which I was desirous of paying to his merit, much
higher than I should have thought it reasonable to expect.

'I have heard of your masquerade[590]. What says your synod to such
innovations? I am not studiously scrupulous, nor do I think a masquerade
either evil in itself, or very likely to be the occasion of evil; yet as
the world thinks it a very licentious relaxation of manners, I would not
have been one of the _first_ masquers in a country where no masquerade
had ever been before[591].

'A new edition of my great _Dictionary_ is printed, from a copy which I
was persuaded to revise; but having made no preparation, I was able to
do very little. Some superfluities I have expunged, and some faults I
have corrected, and here and there have scattered a remark; but the main
fabrick of the work remains as it was. I had looked very little into it
since I wrote it, and, I think, I found it full as often better, as
worse, than I expected.

'Baretti and Davies have had a furious quarrel[592]; a quarrel, I think,
irreconcileable. Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which is expected in
the spring. No name is yet given it[593]. The chief diversion arises from
a stratagem by which a lover is made to mistake his future
father-in-law's house for an inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. The
dialogue is quick and gay, and the incidents are so prepared as not to
seem improbable.

'I am sorry that you lost your cause of Intromission, because I yet
think the arguments on your side unanswerable. But you seem, I think, to
say that you gained reputation even by your defeat; and reputation you
will daily gain, if you keep Lord Auchinleck's precept in your mind, and
endeavour to consolidate in your mind a firm and regular system of law,
instead of picking up occasional fragments.

'My health seems in general to improve; but I have been troubled for
many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently
distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and
physick; and am afraid, that I must expect help from brighter days and
softer air.

'Write to me now and then; and whenever any good befalls you, make haste
to let me know it, for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,
'London, Feb. 24, 1773.'

'You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale.'

While a former edition of my work was passing through the press, I was
unexpectedly favoured with a packet from Philadelphia, from Mr. James
Abercrombie, a gentleman of that country, who is pleased to honour me
with very high praise of my _Life of Dr. Johnson_. To have the fame of
my illustrious friend, and his faithful biographer, echoed from the New
World is extremely flattering; and my grateful acknowledgements shall be
wafted across the Atlantick. Mr. Abercrombie has politely conferred on
me a considerable additional obligation, by transmitting to me copies of
two letters from Dr. Johnson to American gentlemen. 'Gladly, Sir, (says
he,) would I have sent you the originals; but being the only relicks of
the kind in America, they are considered by the possessors of such
inestimable value, that no possible consideration would induce them to
part with them. In some future publication of yours relative to that
great and good man, they may perhaps be thought worthy of insertion.'

'To MR. B---D[594].


'That in the hurry of a sudden departure you should yet find leisure to
consult my convenience, is a degree of kindness, and an instance of
regard, not only beyond my claims, but above my expectation. You are not
mistaken in supposing that I set a high value on my American friends,
and that you should confer a very valuable favour upon me by giving me
an opportunity of keeping myself in their memory.

'I have taken the liberty of troubling you with a packet, to which I
wish a safe and speedy conveyance, because I wish a safe and speedy
voyage to him that conveys it. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, Johnson's-court,
Fleet street, March 4, 1773.'



'Your kindness for your friends accompanies you across the Atlantick. It
was long since observed by Horace[596], that no ship could leave care
behind; you have been attended in your voyage by other powers,--by
benevolence and constancy; and I hope care did not often shew her face
in their company.

'I received the copy of _Rasselas_. The impression is not magnificent,
but it flatters an authour, because the printer seems to have expected
that it would be scattered among the people. The little book has been
well received, and is translated into Italian[597], French[598], German,
and Dutch[599]. It has now one honour more by an American edition.

'I know not that much has happened since your departure that can engage
your curiosity. Of all publick transactions the whole world is now
informed by the newspapers. Opposition seems to despond; and the
dissenters, though they have taken advantage of unsettled times, and a
government much enfeebled, seem not likely to gain any immunities[600].

'Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent-Garden, to which
the manager predicts ill success[601]. I hope he will be mistaken. I think
it deserves a very kind reception.

'I shall soon publish a new edition of my large _Dictionary_; I have
been persuaded to revise it, and have mended some faults, but added
little to its usefulness.

'No book has been published since your departure, of which much notice
is taken. Faction only fills the town with pamphlets, and greater
subjects are forgotten in the noise of discord.

'Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of
myself I can only add, that having been afflicted many weeks with a very
troublesome cough, I am now recovered.

'I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of
which you will please to fill up the direction. I am, Sir,

                         'Your most humble servant,
                                                 'SAM JOHNSON.'

  'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
    London, March 4, 1773.'

On Saturday, April 3, the day after my arrival in London this year, I
went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs. Williams till
he came home. I found in the _London Chronicle_, Dr. Goldsmith's
apology[602] to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of
a paragraph in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought
impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance[603]. The apology was
written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I
supposed it to be his; but when he came home, he soon undeceived us.
When he said to Mrs. Williams, 'Well, Dr. Goldsmith's _manifesto_ has
got into your paper[604];' I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it,
with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed
by Goldsmith. JOHNSON. 'Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me
to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to
feed him with a spoon, or to do anything else that denoted his
imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do
it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been
allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a
foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the
success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that
concerned him must be of importance to the publick.' BOSWELL. 'I fancy,
Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an
adventure.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has
_beat_; he may have _been beaten_ before[605]. This, Sir, is a new plume
to him.'

I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's _Memoirs of Great-Britain and Ireland_,
and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney.
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government
thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to
be rascals.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true
without their being rascals?' JOHNSON. 'Consider, Sir; would any of them
have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France?
Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has
something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest
fellow[606]; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But
nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing, it is the mere bouncing
of a school-boy. Great He! but greater She! and such stuff[607].'

I could not agree with him in this criticism; for though Sir John
Dalrymple's style is not regularly formed in any respect, and one cannot
help smiling sometimes at his affected _grandiloquence_, there is in his
writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.

At Mr. Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical
declamation against action in publick speaking[608]. 'Action can have no
effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but it never can
enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action; you hold up
your hand thus, because he is a brute; and in proportion as men are
removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them.'
MRS. THRALE. 'What then, Sir, becomes of Demosthenes's saying? "Action,
action, action!"' JOHNSON. 'Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of
brutes; to a barbarous people[609].'

I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical
action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all
stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They
have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.

Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of
that celebrated nobleman's witty sayings were puns[610]. He, however,
allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship's saying of Lord
Tyrawley[611] and himself, when both very old and infirm: 'Tyrawley and I
have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.'

He talked with approbation of an intended edition of _The_ Spectator,
with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared by a gentleman
eminent in the literary world, and the materials which he had collected
for the remainder had been transferred to another hand[612]. He observed,
that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy
years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could
throw light upon _The Spectator_. He said, 'Addison had made his Sir
Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars,
and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments; but that he had
thought better, and made amends by making him found an hospital for
decayed farmers[613].' He called for the volume of _The Spectator_, in
which that account is contained, and read it aloud to us. He read so
well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his

The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads,
and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that
ridicule which he always displayed when that subject was mentioned[615].

He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse.
This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression
may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous
strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet
I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to
ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore
it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.

On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he
was very silent. He said, 'Burnet's _History of his own times_ is very
entertaining[616]. The style, indeed, is mere chitchat[617]. I do not
believe that Burnet intentionally lyed; but he was so much prejudiced,
that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who
resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch; but will not inquire
whether the watch is right or not[618].'

Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave
him; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock,
he cried, 'What's that to you and me?' and ordered Frank to tell Mrs.
Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. It was
settled that we should go to church together next day.

On the 9th of April, being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea
and cross-buns[619]; _Doctor_ Levet, as Frank called him, making the tea.
He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had
his seat; and his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly
devout[620]. I never shall forget the tremulous earnestness with which he
pronounced the awful petition in the Litany: 'In the hour of death, and
at[621] the day of judgement, good LORD deliver us.'

We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval
between the two services we did not dine; but he read in the Greek New
Testament, and I turned over several of his books.

In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read
to Dr. Johnson:--

'1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince
Charles[622], at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally
of many things with his attendants. Among other things, he said, that if
he were necessitated to take any particular profession of life, he could
not be a lawyer, adding his reasons: "I cannot (saith he,) defend a bad,
nor yield in a good cause."'

JOHNSON. 'Sir, this is false reasoning; because every cause has a bad
side[623]; and a lawyer is not overcome, though the cause which he has
endeavoured to support be determined against him.'

I told him that Goldsmith had said to me a few days before, 'As I take
my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the taylor, so I take my
religion from the priest.' I regretted this loose way of talking.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about

To my great surprize he asked me to dine with him on Easter-day. I never
supposed that he had a dinner at his house; for I had not then heard of
any one of his friends having been entertained at his table. He told me,
'I generally have a meat pye on Sunday: it is baked at a publick oven,
which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus
the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress

April 11, being Easter-Sunday, after having attended Divine Service at
St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity
much in dining with JEAN JAQUES ROUSSEAU[626], while he lived in the wilds
of Neufchatel: I had as great a curiosity to dine with DR. SAMUEL
JOHNSON, in the dusky recess of a court in Fleet-street. I supposed we
should scarcely have knives and forks, and only some strange, uncouth,
ill-drest dish: but I found every thing in very good order. We had no
other company but Mrs. Williams and a young woman whom I did not know.
As a dinner here was considered as a singular phenomenon, and as I was
frequently interrogated on the subject, my readers may perhaps be
desirous to know our bill of fare. Foote, I remember, in allusion to
Francis, the _negro_, was willing to suppose that our repast was _black
broth_. But the fact was, that we had a very good soup, a boiled leg of
lamb and spinach, a veal pye, and a rice pudding[627].

Of Dr. John Campbell, the authour, he said, 'He is a very inquisitive
and a very able man, and a man of good religious principles, though I am
afraid he has been deficient in practice. Campbell is radically right;
and we may hope, that in time there will be good practice[628].'

He owned that he thought Hawkesworth was one of his imitators[629], but he
did not think Goldsmith was. Goldsmith, he said, had great merit.
BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, he is much indebted to you for his getting so high
in the publick estimation.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, he has perhaps got
_sooner_ to it by his intimacy with me.'

Goldsmith, though his vanity often excited him to occasional
competition, had a very high regard for Johnson, which he at this time
expressed in the strongest manner in the Dedication of his comedy,
entitled, _She Stoops to Conquer_.[630]

Johnson observed, that there were very few books printed in Scotland
before the Union. He had seen a complete collection of them in the
possession of the Hon. Archibald Campbell, a non-juring Bishop[631]. I
wish this collection had been kept entire. Many of them are in the
library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh. I told Dr. Johnson
that I had some intention to write the life of the learned and worthy
Thomas Ruddiman[632]. He said, 'I should take pleasure in helping you to
do honour to him. But his farewell letter to the Faculty of Advocates,
when he resigned the office of their Librarian, should have been in

I put a question to him upon a fact in common life, which he could not
answer, nor have I found any one else who could. What is the reason that
women servants, though obliged to be at the expense of purchasing their
own clothes, have much lower wages than men servants, to whom a great
proportion of that article is furnished, and when in fact our female
house servants work much harder than the male[633]?

He told me that he had twelve or fourteen times attempted to keep a
journal of his life, but never could persevere[634]. He advised me to do
it. 'The great thing to be recorded, (said he), is the state of your own
mind[635]; and you should write down every thing that you remember, for
you cannot judge at first what is good or bad; and write immediately
while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same a week

I again solicited him to communicate to me the particulars of his early
life. He said, 'You shall have them all for twopence. I hope you shall
know a great deal more of me before you write my Life.' He mentioned to
me this day many circumstances, which I wrote down when I went home, and
have interwoven in the former part of this narrative.

On Tuesday, April 13, he and Dr. Goldsmith and I dined at General
Oglethorpe's. Goldsmith expatiated on the common topick, that the race
of our people was degenerated, and that this was owing to luxury.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, in the first place, I doubt the fact[637]. I believe there
are as many tall men in England now, as ever there were. But, secondly,
supposing the stature of our people to be diminished, that is not owing
to luxury; for, Sir, consider to how very small a proportion of our
people luxury can reach. Our soldiery, surely, are not luxurious, who
live on six-pence a day[638]; and the same remark will apply to almost all
the other classes. Luxury, so far as it reaches the poor, will do good
to the race of people; it will strengthen and multiply them. Sir, no
nation was ever hurt by luxury; for, as I said before, it can reach but
to a very few. I admit that the great increase of commerce and
manufactures hurts the military spirit of a people; because it produces
a competition for something else than martial honours,--a competition
for riches. It also hurts the bodies of the people; for you will
observe, there is no man who works at any particular trade, but you may
know him from his appearance to do so. One part or other of his body
being more used than the rest, he is in some degree deformed: but, Sir,
that is not luxury. A tailor sits cross-legged; but that is not luxury.'
GOLDSMITH. 'Come, you're just going to the same place by another road.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I say that is not _luxury_. Let us take a walk from
Charing-cross to White-chapel, through, I suppose, the greatest series
of shops in the world; what is there in any of these shops (if you
except gin-shops,) that can do any human being any harm?' GOLDSMITH.
'Well, Sir, I'll accept your challenge. The very next shop to
Northumberland-house is a pickle-shop.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir: do we not
know that a maid can in one afternoon make pickles sufficient to serve a
whole family for a year? nay, that five pickle-shops can serve all the
kingdom? Besides, Sir, there is no harm done to any body by the making
of pickles, or the eating of pickles.'

We drank tea with the ladies; and Goldsmith sung Tony Lumpkin's song in
his comedy, _She Stoops to Conquer_, and a very pretty one, to an Irish
tune[639], which he had designed for Miss Hardcastle; but as Mrs.
Bulkeley, who played the part, could not sing, it was left out. He
afterwards wrote it down for me, by which means it was preserved, and
now appears amongst his poems[640]. Dr. Johnson, in his way home, stopped
at my lodgings in Piccadilly, and sat with me, drinking tea a second
time, till a late hour.

I told him that Mrs. Macaulay said, she wondered how he could reconcile
his political principles with his moral; his notions of inequality and
subordination with wishing well to the happiness of all mankind, who
might live so agreeably, had they all their portions of land, and none
to domineer over another. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I reconcile my principles
very well, because mankind are happier in a state of inequality and
subordination[641]. Were they to be in this pretty state of equality, they
would soon degenerate into brutes;--they would become Monboddo's
nation[642];--their tails would grow. Sir, all would be losers were all to
work for all:--they would have no intellectual improvement. All
intellectual improvement arises from leisure; all leisure arises from
one working for another.'

Talking of the family of Stuart[643], he said, 'It should seem that the
family at present on the throne has now established as good a right as
the former family, by the long consent of the people; and that to
disturb this right might be considered as culpable. At the same time I
own, that it is a very difficult question, when considered with respect
to the house of Stuart. To oblige people to take oaths as to the
disputed right, is wrong. I know not whether I could take them: but I do
not blame those who do.' So conscientious and so delicate was he upon
this subject, which has occasioned so much clamour against him.

Talking of law cases, he said, 'The English reports, in general, are
very poor: only the half of what has been said is taken down; and of
that half, much is mistaken. Whereas, in Scotland, the arguments on each
side are deliberately put in writing, to be considered by the Court. I
think a collection of your cases upon subjects of importance, with the
opinions of the Judges upon them, would be valuable.'

On Thursday, April 15, I dined with him and Dr. Goldsmith at General
Paoli's. We found here Signor Martinelli, of Florence, authour of a
_History of England_, in Italian, printed at London.

I spoke of Allan Ramsay's _Gentle Shepherd_, in the Scottish dialect, as
the best pastoral that had ever been written; not only abounding with
beautiful rural imagery, and just and pleasing sentiments, but being a
real picture of manners; and I offered to teach Dr. Johnson to
understand it. 'No, Sir (said he,) I won't learn it. You shall retain
your superiority by my not knowing it.'

This brought on a question whether one man is lessened by another's
acquiring an equal degree of knowledge with him[644]. Johnson asserted the
affirmative. I maintained that the position might be true in those kinds
of knowledge which produce wisdom, power, and force, so as to enable one
man to have the government of others; but that a man is not in any
degree lessened by others knowing as well as he what ends in mere
pleasure:--eating fine fruits, drinking delicious wines, reading
exquisite poetry.

The General observed, that Martinelli was a Whig. JOHNSON. 'I am sorry
for it. It shows the spirit of the times: he is obliged to temporise.'
BOSWELL. 'I rather think, Sir, that Toryism prevails in this reign.'
JOHNSON. 'I know not why you should think so, Sir. You see your friend
Lord Lyttelton[645], a nobleman, is obliged in his _History_ to write the
most vulgar Whiggism.'

An animated debate took place whether Martinelli should continue his
_History of England_ to the present day. GOLDSMITH. 'To be sure he
should.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; he would give great offence. He would have
to tell of almost all the living great what they do not wish told.'
GOLDSMITH. 'It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be more
cautious; but a foreigner who comes among us without prejudice, may be
considered as holding the place of a Judge, and may speak his mind
freely.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the
press, ought to be on his guard against catching the errour and mistaken
enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to be.' GOLDSMITH. 'Sir,
he wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest, the
other a laudable motive.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they are both laudable motives.
It is laudable in a man to wish to live by his labours; but he should
write so as he may _live_ by them, not so as he may be knocked on the
head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he publishes his history
of the present age. A foreigner who attaches himself to a political
party in this country, is in the worst state that can be imagined: he is
looked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest.'
BOSWELL. 'Or principle.' GOLDSMITH. 'There are people who tell a hundred
political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely, then, one may
tell truth with safety.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, in the first place, he who
tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies[646]. But besides;
a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him, than one truth which
he does not wish should be told.' GOLDSMITH. 'For my part, I'd tell
truth, and shame the devil.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but the devil will be
angry. I wish to shame the devil as much you do, but I should choose to
be out of the reach of his claws.' GOLDSMITH. 'His claws can do you no
harm, when you have the shield of truth.'

It having been observed that there was little hospitality in
London;--JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, any man who has a name, or who has the
power of pleasing, will be very generally invited in London. The man,
Sterne, I have been told, has had engagements for three months[647].'
GOLDSMITH. 'And a very dull fellow.' JOHNSON. 'Why, no, Sir[648].'

Martinelli told us, that for several years he lived much with Charles
Townshend, and that he ventured to tell him he was a bad joker. JOHNSON.
'Why, Sir, thus much I can say upon the subject. One day he and a few
more agreed to go and dine in the country, and each of them was to bring
a friend in his carriage with him. Charles Townshend asked Fitzherbert
to go with him, but told him, 'You must find somebody to bring you back:
I can only carry you there.' Fitzherbert did not much like this
arrangement. He however consented, observing sarcastically, 'It will do
very well; for then the same jokes will serve you in returning as in

An eminent publick character[650] being mentioned;--JOHNSON. 'I remember
being present when he shewed himself to be so corrupted, or at least
something so different from what I think right, as to maintain, that a
member of parliament should go along with his party right or wrong. Now,
Sir, this is so remote from native virtue, from scholastick virtue, that
a good man must have undergone a great change before he can reconcile
himself to such a doctrine. It is maintaining that you may lie to the
publick; for you lie when you call that right which you think wrong, or
the reverse[651]. A friend of ours, who is too much an echo of that
gentleman, observed, that a man who does not stick uniformly to a party,
is only waiting to be bought. Why then, said I, he is only waiting to be
what that gentleman is already.'

We talked of the King's coming to see Goldsmith's new play.--'I wish he
would[652],' said Goldsmith; adding, however, with an affected
indifference, 'Not that it would do me the least good.' JOHNSON. 'Well
then, Sir, let us say it would do _him_ good, (laughing). No, Sir, this
affectation will not pass;--it is mighty idle. In such a state as ours,
who would not wish to please the Chief Magistrate?' GOLDSMITH. 'I _do_
wish to please him. I remember a line in Dryden,--

"And every poet is the monarch's friend."

It ought to be reversed.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, there are finer lines in Dryden
on this subject:--

"For colleges on bounteous Kings depend,
And never rebel was to arts a friend[653]."'

General Paoli observed, that 'successful rebels might[654].' MARTINELLI.
'Happy rebellions.' GOLDSMITH. 'We have no such phrase.' GENERAL PAOLI.
'But have you not the _thing_?' GOLDSMITH. 'Yes; all our _happy_
revolutions. They have hurt our constitution, and will hurt it, till we
mend it by another HAPPY REVOLUTION.' I never before discovered that my
friend Goldsmith had so much of the old prejudice in him.

General Paoli, talking of Goldsmith's new play, said, 'Il a fait un
compliment très gracieux à une certaine grande dame;' meaning a Duchess
of the first rank[655].

I expressed a doubt whether Goldsmith intended it, in order that I might
hear the truth from himself. It, perhaps, was not quite fair to
endeavour to bring him to a confession, as he might not wish to avow
positively his taking part against the Court. He smiled and hesitated.
The General at once relieved him, by this beautiful image: '_Monsieur
Goldsmith est comme la mer, qui jette des perles et beau-coup d'autres
belle choses, sans s'en appercevoir_.' GOLDSMITH. '_Très bien dit et
très elegamment_.'

A person was mentioned, who it was said could take down in short hand
the speeches in parliament with perfect exactness. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is
impossible. I remember one, Angel, who came to me to write for him a
Preface or Dedication to a book upon short hand[656], and he professed to
write as fast as a man could speak. In order to try him, I took down a
book, and read while he wrote; and I favoured him, for I read more
deliberately than usual. I had proceeded but a very little way, when he
begged I would desist, for he could not follow me[657].' Hearing now for
the first time of this Preface or Dedication, I said, 'What an expense,
Sir, do you put us to in buying books, to which you have written
Prefaces or Dedications.' JOHNSON. 'Why I have dedicated to the Royal
family all round; that is to say, to the last generation of the Royal
family[658].' GOLDSMITH. 'And perhaps, Sir, not one sentence of wit in a
whole Dedication.' JOHNSON. 'Perhaps not, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'What then is
the reason for applying to a particular person to do that which any one
may do as well?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, one man has greater readiness at
doing it than another.'

I spoke of Mr. Harris[659], of Salisbury, as being a very learned man, and
in particular an eminent Grecian. JOHNSON. 'I am not sure of that. His
friends give him out as such, but I know not who of his friends are able
to judge of it.' GOLDSMITH. 'He is what is much better: he is a worthy
humane man.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, that is not to the purpose of our
argument[660]: that will as much prove that he can play upon the fiddle as
well as Giardini, as that he is an eminent Grecian.' GOLDSMITH. 'The
greatest musical performers have but small emoluments. Giardini, I am
told, does not get above seven hundred a year.' JOHNSON. 'That is indeed
but little for a man to get, who does best that which so many endeavour
to do. There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so
much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do
something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a
hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of
wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a
fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing.'

On Monday, April 19, he called on me with Mrs. Williams, in Mr.
Strahan's coach, and carried me out to dine with Mr. Elphinston[661], at
his academy at Kensington. A printer having acquired a fortune
sufficient to keep his coach, was a good topick for the credit of
literature[662]. Mrs. Williams said, that another printer, Mr. Hamilton,
had not waited so long as Mr. Strahan, but had kept his coach several
years sooner[663]. JOHNSON. 'He was in the right. Life is short. The
sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better.'

Mr. Elphinston talked of a new book that was much admired, and asked Dr.
Johnson if he had read it. JOHNSON. 'I have looked into it.' 'What (said
Elphinston,) have you not read it through?' Johnson, offended at being
thus pressed, and so obliged to own his cursory mode of reading,
answered tartly, 'No, Sir, do _you_ read books _through_[664]?'

He this day again defended duelling[665], and put his argument upon what I
have ever thought the most solid basis; that if publick war be allowed
to be consistent with morality, private war must be equally so. Indeed
we may observe what strained arguments are used, to reconcile war with
the Christian religion. But, in my opinion, it is exceedingly clear that
duelling, having better reasons for its barbarous violence, is more
justifiable than war, in which thousands go forth without any cause of
personal quarrel, and massacre each other.

On Wednesday, April 21, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's. A gentleman[666]
attacked Garrick for being vain. JOHNSON. 'No wonder, Sir, that he is
vain; a man who is perpetually flattered in every mode that can be
conceived. So many bellows have blown the fire, that one wonders he is
not by this time become a cinder.' BOSWELL. 'And such bellows too. Lord
Mansfield with his cheeks like to burst: Lord Chatham like an Æolus. I
have read such notes from them to him, as were enough to turn his
head[667].' JOHNSON. 'True. When he whom every body else flatters,
flatters me, I then am truely happy.' MRS. THRALE. 'The sentiment is in
Congreve, I think.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Madam, in _The Way of the World_:

"If there's delight in love, 'tis when I see
 That heart which others bleed for, bleed for me[668]."

'No, Sir, I should not be surprised though Garrick chained the ocean,
and lashed the winds.' BOSWELL. 'Should it not be, Sir, lashed the ocean
and chained the winds?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, recollect the original:

"In Corum atque Eurum solitus saevire flagellis Barbarus, Æolio nunquam
hoc in carcere passos, Ipsum compedibus qui viscxerat Ennosigoeum[669]."

'This does very well, when both the winds and the sea are personified,
and mentioned by their mythological names, as in Juvenal; but when they
are mentioned in plain language, the application of the epithets
suggested by me, is the most obvious; and accordingly my friend himself,
in his imitation of the passage which describes Xerxes, has

"The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind."'

The modes of living in different countries, and the various views with
which men travel in quest of new scenes, having been talked of, a
learned gentleman[670] who holds a considerable office in the law,
expatiated on the happiness of a savage life[671]; and mentioned an
instance of an officer who had actually lived for some time in the wilds
of America, of whom, when in that state, he quoted this reflection with
an air of admiration, as if it had been deeply philosophical: 'Here am
I, free and unrestrained, amidst the rude magnificence of Nature, with
this Indian woman by my side, and this gun with which I can procure food
when I want it: what more can be desired for human happiness?' It did
not require much sagacity to foresee that such a sentiment would not be
permitted to pass without due animadversion. JOHNSON. 'Do not allow
yourself, Sir, to be imposed upon by such gross absurdity. It is sad
stuff; it is brutish. If a bull could speak, he might as well
exclaim,--Here am I with this cow and this grass; what being can enjoy
greater felicity?'

We talked of the melancholy end of a gentleman[672] who had destroyed
himself. JOHNSON. 'It was owing to imaginary difficulties in his
affairs, which, had he talked with any friend, would soon have
vanished.' BOSWELL. 'Do you think, Sir, that all who commit suicide are
mad?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they are often not universally disordered in their
intellects, but one passion presses so upon them, that they yield to it,
and commit suicide, as a passionate man will stab another.' He added, 'I
have often thought, that after a man has taken the resolution to kill
himself, it is not courage in him to do any thing, however desperate,
because he has nothing to fear.' GOLDSMITH. 'I don't see that.' JOHNSON.
'Nay, but my dear Sir, why should not you see what every one else sees?'
GOLDSMITH. 'It is for fear of something that he has resolved to kill
himself; and will not that timid disposition restrain him?' JOHNSON. 'It
does not signify that the fear of something made him resolve; it is upon
the state of his mind, after the resolution is taken, that I argue.
Suppose a man, either from fear, or pride, or conscience, or whatever
motive, has resolved to kill himself; when once the resolution is taken,
he has nothing to fear. He may then go and take the King of Prussia by
the nose, at the head of his army. He cannot fear the rack, who is
resolved to kill himself. When Eustace Budgel[673] was walking down to the
Thames, determined to drown himself, he might, if he pleased, without
any apprehension of danger, have turned aside, and first set fire to St.
James's palace.'

On Tuesday, April 27, Mr. Beauclerk and I called on him in the morning.
As we walked up Johnson's-court, I said, 'I have a veneration for this
court;' and was glad to find that Beauclerk had the same reverential
enthusiasm[674]. We found him alone. We talked of Mr. Andrew Stuart's
elegant and plausible Letters to Lord Mansfield[675]: a copy of which had
been sent by the authour to Dr. Johnson. JOHNSON. 'They have not
answered the end. They have not been talked of; I have never heard of
them. This is owing to their not being sold. People seldom read a book
which is given to them; and few are given. The way to spread a work is
to sell it at a low price. No man will send to buy a thing that costs
even sixpence, without an intention to read it.' BOSWELL. 'May it not be
doubted, Sir, whether it be proper to publish letters, arraigning the
ultimate decision of an important cause by the supreme judicature of the
nation?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I do not think it was wrong to publish these
letters. If they are thought to do harm, why not answer them? But they
will do no harm; if Mr. Douglas be indeed the son of Lady Jane, he
cannot be hurt: if he be not her son, and yet has the great estate of
the family of Douglas, he may well submit to have a pamphlet against him
by Andrew Stuart. Sir, I think such a publication does good, as it does
good to show us the possibilities of human life. And Sir, you will not
say that the Douglas cause was a cause of easy decision, when it divided
your Court as much as it could do, to be determined at all. When your
Judges were seven and seven, the casting vote of the President must be
given on one side or other: no matter, for my argument, on which; one or
the other _must_ be taken: as when I am to move, there is no matter
which leg I move first. And then, Sir, it was otherwise determined here.
No, Sir, a more dubious determination of any question cannot be

He said, 'Goldsmith should not be for ever attempting to shine in
conversation: he has not temper for it, he is so much mortified when he
fails. Sir, a game of jokes is composed partly of skill, partly of
chance, a man may be beat at times by one who has not the tenth part of
his wit. Now Goldsmith's putting himself against another, is like a man
laying a hundred to one who cannot spare the hundred. It is not worth a
man's while. A man should not lay a hundred to one, unless he can easily
spare it, though he has a hundred chances for him: he can get but a
guinea, and he may lose a hundred. Goldsmith is in this state. When he
contends, if he gets the better, it is a very little addition to a man
of his literary reputation: if he does not get the better, he is
miserably vexed.'

Johnson's own superlative powers of wit set him above any risk of such
uneasiness. Garrick had remarked to me of him, a few days before,
'Rabelais and all other wits are nothing compared with him. You may be
diverted by them; but Johnson gives you a forcible hug, and shakes
laughter out of you, whether you will or no.'

Goldsmith, however, was often very fortunate in his witty contests, even
when he entered the lists with Johnson himself. Sir Joshua Reynolds was
in company with them one day, when Goldsmith said, that he thought he
could write a good fable, mentioned the simplicity which that kind of
composition requires, and observed, that in most fables the animals
introduced seldom talk in character. 'For instance, (said he,) the fable
of the little fishes, who saw birds fly over their heads, and envying
them, petitioned Jupiter to be changed into birds. The skill (continued
he,) consists in making them talk like little fishes.' While he indulged
himself in this fanciful reverie, he observed Johnson shaking his sides,
and laughing. Upon which he smartly proceeded, 'Why, Dr. Johnson, this
is not so easy as you seem to think; for if you were to make little
fishes talk, they would talk like WHALES.'

Johnson, though remarkable for his great variety of composition, never
exercised his talents in fable, except we allow his beautiful tale[677]
published in Mrs. Williams's _Miscellanies_[678] to be of that species. I
have, however, found among his manuscript collections the following
sketch of one:

'Glow-worm[679] lying in the garden saw a candle in a neighbouring
palace,--and complained of the littleness of his own light;--another
observed--wait a little;--soon dark,--have outlasted [Greek: poll]
[_many_] of these glaring lights which are only brighter as they haste
to nothing.'

On Thursday, April 29, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, where
were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, and Mr. Thrale. I
was very desirous to get Dr. Johnson absolutely fixed in his resolution
to go with me to the Hebrides this year; and I told him that I had
received a letter from Dr. Robertson the historian, upon the subject,
with which he was much pleased; and now talked in such a manner of his
long-intended tour, that I was satisfied he meant to fulfil his

The custom of eating dogs at Otaheite being mentioned, Goldsmith
observed, that this was also a custom in China; that a dog-butcher is as
common there as any other butcher; and that when he walks abroad all the
dogs fall on him. JOHNSON. 'That is not owing to his killing dogs, Sir.
I remember a butcher at Lichfield, whom a dog that was in the house
where I lived, always attacked. It is the smell of carnage which
provokes this, let the animals he has killed be what they may.'
GOLDSMITH. 'Yes, there is a general abhorrence in animals at the signs
of massacre. If you put a tub full of blood into a stable, the horses
are like to go mad.' JOHNSON. 'I doubt that.' GOLDSMITH. 'Nay, Sir, it
is a fact well authenticated.' THRALE. 'You had better prove it before
you put it into your book on natural history. You may do it in my stable
if you will.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I would not have him prove it. If he
is content to take his information from others, he may get through his
book with little trouble, and without much endangering his reputation.
But if he makes experiments for so comprehensive a book as his, there
would be no end to them: his erroneous assertions would then fall upon
himself, and he might be blamed for not having made experiments as to
every particular.'

The character of Mallet having been introduced, and spoken of
slightingly by Goldsmith; JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, Mallet had talents enough
to keep his literary reputation alive as long as he himself lived[680];
and that, let me tell you, is a good deal.' GOLDSMITH. 'But I cannot
agree that it was so. His literary reputation was dead long before his
natural death. I consider an authour's literary reputation to be alive
only while his name will ensure a good price for his copy from the
booksellers. I will get you (to Johnson,) a hundred guineas for any
thing whatever that you shall write, if you put your name to it[681].'

Dr. Goldmith's new play, _She Stoops to Conquer_, being mentioned;
JOHNSON. 'I know of no comedy for many years that has so much
exhilarated an audience, that has answered so much the great end of
comedy--making an audience merry[682].'

Goldsmith having said, that Garrick's compliment to the Queen, which he
introduced into the play of _The Chances_[683], which he had altered and
revised this year, was mean and gross flattery;--JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I
would not _write_, I would not give solemnly under my hand, a character
beyond what I thought really true; but a speech on the stage, let it
flatter ever so extravagantly, is formular[684]. It has always been
formular to flatter Kings and Queens; so much so, that even in our
church-service we have "our most religious King," used indiscriminately,
whoever is King. Nay, they even flatter themselves;--"we have been
graciously pleased to grant." No modern flattery, however, is so gross
as that of the Augustan age, where the Emperour was deified. "_Praesens
Divus habebitur Augustus_[685]." And as to meanness, (rising into warmth,)
how is it mean in a player,--a showman,--a fellow who exhibits himself
for a shilling, to flatter his Queen[686]? The attempt, indeed, was
dangerous; for if it had missed, what became of Garrick, and what became
of the Queen? As Sir William Temple says of a great General, it is
necessary not only that his designs be formed in a masterly manner, but
that they should be attended with success[687]. Sir, it is right, at a
time when the Royal Family is not generally liked[688], to let it be seen
that the people like at least one of them.' SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'I do
not perceive why the profession of a player should be despised[689]; for
the great and ultimate end of all the employments of mankind is to
produce amusement. Garrick produces more amusement than any body.'
BOSWELL. 'You say, Dr. Johnson, that Garrick exhibits himself for a
shilling. In this respect he is only on a footing with a lawyer who
exhibits himself for his fee, and even will maintain any nonsense or
absurdity, if the case requires it. Garrick refuses a play or a part
which he does not like; a lawyer never refuses.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir,
what does this prove? only that a lawyer is worse. Boswell is now like
Jack in _The Tale of a Tub_[690], who, when he is puzzled by an argument,
hangs himself. He thinks I shall cut him down, but I'll let him hang'
(laughing vociferously). SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'Mr. Boswell thinks that
the profession of a lawyer being unquestionably honourable, if he can
show the profession of a player to be more honourable, he proves his

On Friday, April 30, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, where were
Lord Charlemont, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and some more members of the
LITERARY CLUB, whom he had obligingly invited to meet me, as I was this
evening to be balloted for as candidate for admission into that
distinguished society. Johnson had done me the honour to propose me[691],
and Beauclerk was very zealous for me.

Goldsmith being mentioned; JOHNSON. 'It is amazing how little Goldsmith
knows. He seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than any one else.'
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 'Yet there is no man whose company is more liked.'
JOHNSON. 'To be sure, Sir. When people find a man of the most
distinguished abilities as a writer, their inferiour while he is with
them, it must be highly gratifying to them. What Goldsmith comically
says of himself is very true,--he always gets the better when he argues
alone; meaning, that he is master of a subject in his study, and can
write well upon it; but when he comes into company, grows confused, and
unable to talk[692]. Take him as a poet, his _Traveller_ is a very fine
performance; ay, and so is his _Deserted Village_, were it not sometimes
too much the echo of his _Traveller_. Whether, indeed, we take him as a
poet,--as a comick writer,--or as an historian, he stands in the first
class.' BOSWELL. 'An historian! My dear Sir, you surely will not rank
his compilation of the Roman History with the works of other historians
of this age?' JOHNSON. 'Why, who are before him[693]?' BOSWELL. 'Hume,--
Robertson[694],--Lord Lyttelton.' JOHNSON (his antipathy to the Scotch
beginning to rise). 'I have not read Hume; but, doubtless, Goldsmith's
_History_ is better than the _verbiage_ of Robertson[695], or the foppery
of Dalrymple[696].' BOSWELL. 'Will you not admit the superiority of
Robertson, in whose _History_ we find such penetration--such painting?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, you must consider how that penetration and that painting
are employed. It is not history, it is imagination. He who describes
what he never saw, draws from fancy. Robertson paints minds as Sir
Joshua paints faces in a history-piece: he imagines an heroic
countenance. You must look upon Robertson's work as romance, and try it
by that standard[697].History it is not. Besides, Sir, it is the great
excellence of a writer to put into his book as much as his book will
hold. Goldsmith has done this in his _History_. Now Robertson might have
put twice as much into his book. Robertson is like a man who has packed
gold in wool: the wool takes up more room than the gold. No, Sir; I
always thought Robertson would be crushed by his own weight,--would be
buried under his own ornaments. Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want
to know: Robertson detains you a great deal too long. No man will read
Robertson's cumbrous detail a second time; but Goldsmith's plain
narrative will please again and again. I would say to Robertson what an
old tutor of a college said to one of his pupils: "Read over your
compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is
particularly fine, strike it out." Goldsmith's abridgement is better
than that of Lucius Florus or Eutropius; and I will venture to say, that
if you compare him with Vertot[698], in the same places of the Roman
History, you will find that he excels Vertot. Sir, he has the art of
compiling, and of saying every thing he has to say in a pleasing
manner[699]. He is now writing a Natural History and will make it as
entertaining as a Persian Tale.'

I cannot dismiss the present topick without observing, that it is
probable that Dr. Johnson, who owned that he often 'talked for victory,'
rather urged plausible objections to Dr. Robertson's excellent
historical works, in the ardour of contest, than expressed his real and
decided opinion; for it is not easy to suppose, that he should so widely
differ from the rest of the literary world[700].

JOHNSON. 'I remember once being with Goldsmith in Westminster-abbey.
While we surveyed the Poets' Corner, I said to him,

"_Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis_[701]."

When we got to Temple-bar he stopped me, pointed to the heads upon
it[702], and slily whispered me,

"_Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur_ ISTIS[703]."'.

Johnson praised John Bunyan highly. 'His _Pilgrim's Progress_ has great
merit, both for invention, imagination, and the conduct of the story;
and it has had the best evidence of its merit, the general and continued
approbation of mankind. Few books, I believe, have had a more extensive
sale. It is remarkable, that it begins very much like the poem of Dante;
yet there was no translation of Dante when Bunyan wrote. There is reason
to think that he had read Spenser[704].'

A proposition which had been agitated, that monuments to eminent persons
should, for the time to come, be erected in St. Paul's church as well as
in Westminster-abbey, was mentioned; and it was asked, who should be
honoured by having his monument first erected there[705]. Somebody
suggested Pope. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, as Pope was a Roman Catholick, I
would not have his to be first. I think Milton's rather should have the
precedence[706]. I think more highly of him now than I did at twenty[707].
There is more thinking in him and in Butler, than in any of our poets.'

Some of the company expressed a wonder why the authour of so excellent a
book as _The Whole Duty of Man_[708] should conceal himself. JOHNSON.
'There may be different reasons assigned for this, any one of which
would be very sufficient. He may have been a clergyman, and may have
thought that his religious counsels would have less weight when known to
come from a man whose profession was Theology. He may have been a man
whose practice was not suitable to his principles, so that his character
might injure the effect of his book, which he had written in a season of
penitence. Or he may have been a man of rigid self-denial, so that he
would have no reward for his pious labours while in this world, but
refer it all to a future state.'

The gentlemen went away to their club, and I was left at Beauclerk's
till the fate of my election should be announced to me. I sat in a state
of anxiety which even the charming conversation of Lady Di Beauclerk
could not entirely dissipate. In a short time I received the agreeable
intelligence that I was chosen[709]. I hastened to the place of meeting,
and was introduced to such a society as can seldom be found. Mr. Edmund
Burke, whom I then saw for the first time, and whose splendid talents
had long made me ardently wish for his acquaintance; Dr. Nugent, Mr.
Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Jones[710], and the
company with whom I had dined. Upon my entrance, Johnson placed himself
behind a chair, on which he leaned as on a desk or pulpit, and with
humorous formality gave me a _Charge_, pointing out the conduct expected
from me as a good member of this club.

Goldsmith produced some very absurd verses which had been publickly
recited to an audience for money[711]. JOHNSON. 'I can match this
nonsense. There was a poem called _Eugenio_, which came out some years
ago, and concludes thus:

"And now, ye trifling, self-assuming elves,
 Brimful of pride, of nothing, of yourselves,
 Survey Eugenio, view him o'er and o'er,
 Then sink into yourselves, and be no more[712]."

'Nay, Dryden in his poem on the Royal Society[713], has these lines:

"Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
 And see the ocean leaning on the sky;
 From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
 And on the lunar world securely pry."'

Talking of puns, Johnson, who had a great contempt for that species of
wit[714], deigned to allow that there was one good pun in _Menagiana_, I
think on the word _corps_[715].

Much pleasant conversation passed, which Johnson relished with great
good humour. But his conversation alone, or what led to it, or was
interwoven with it, is the business of this work[716].

On Saturday, May 1, we dined by ourselves at our old rendezvous, the
Mitre tavern. He was placid, but not much disposed to talk. He observed
that 'The Irish mix better with the English than the Scotch do; their
language is nearer to English; as a proof of which, they succeed very
well as players, which Scotchmen do not. Then, Sir, they have not that
extreme nationality which we find in the Scotch. I will do you, Boswell,
the justice to say, that you are the most _unscottified_ of your
countrymen. You are almost the only instance of a Scotchman that I have
known, who did not at every other sentence bring in some other

We drank tea with Mrs. Williams. I introduced a question which has been
much agitated in the Church of Scotland, whether the claim of
lay-patrons to present ministers to parishes be well founded; and
supposing it to be well founded, whether it ought to be exercised
without the concurrence of the people? That Church is composed of a
series of judicatures: a Presbytery, a Synod, and finally, a General
Assembly; before all of which, this matter may be contended: and in some
cases the Presbytery having refused to induct or _settle_, as they call
it, the person presented by the patron, it has been found necessary to
appeal to the General Assembly. He said, I might see the subject well
treated in the _Defence of Pluralities_[718]; and although he thought that
a patron should exercise his right with tenderness to the inclinations
of the people of a parish, he was very clear as to his right. Then
supposing the question to be pleaded before the General Assembly, he
dictated to me what follows:

'Against the right of patrons is commonly opposed, by the inferiour
judicatures, the plea of conscience. Their conscience tells them, that
the people ought to choose their pastor; their conscience tells them
that they ought not to impose upon a congregation a minister ungrateful
and unacceptable to his auditors. Conscience is nothing more than a
conviction felt by ourselves of something to be done, or something to be
avoided; and in questions of simple unperplexed morality, conscience is
very often a guide that may be trusted. But before conscience can
determine, the state of the question is supposed to be completely known.
In questions of law, or of fact, conscience is very often confounded
with opinion. No man's conscience can tell him the right of another
man[719]; they must be known by rational investigation or historical
enquiry. Opinion, which he that holds it may call his conscience, may
teach some men that religion would be promoted, and quiet preserved, by
granting to the people universally the choice of their ministers. But it
is a conscience very ill informed that violates the rights of one man,
for the convenience of another. Religion cannot be promoted by
injustice: and it was never yet found that a popular election was very
quietly transacted.

'That justice would be violated by transferring to the people the right
of patronage, is apparent to all who know whence that right had its
original. The right of patronage was not at first a privilege torn by
power from unresisting poverty. It is not an authority at first usurped
in times of ignorance, and established only by succession and by
precedents. It is not a grant capriciously made from a higher tyrant to
a lower. It is a right dearly purchased by the first possessors, and
justly inherited by those that succeeded them. When Christianity was
established in this island, a regular mode of publick worship was
prescribed. Publick worship requires a publick place; and the
proprietors of lands, as they were converted, built churches for their
families and their vassals. For the maintenance of ministers, they
settled a certain portion of their lands; and a district, through which
each minister was required to extend his care, was, by that
circumscription, constituted a parish. This is a position so generally
received in England, that the extent of a manor and of a parish are
regularly received for each other. The churches which the proprietors of
lands had thus built and thus endowed, they justly thought themselves
entitled to provide with ministers; and where the episcopal government
prevails, the Bishop has no power to reject a man nominated by the
patron, but for some crime that might exclude him from the priesthood.
For the endowment of the church being the gift of the landlord, he was
consequently at liberty to give it according to his choice, to any man
capable of performing the holy offices. The people did not choose him,
because the people did not pay him.

'We hear it sometimes urged, that this original right is passed out of
memory, and is obliterated and obscured by many translations of property
and changes of government; that scarce any church is now in the hands of
the heirs of the builders; and that the present persons have entered
subsequently upon the pretended rights by a thousand accidental and
unknown causes. Much of this, perhaps, is true. But how is the right of
patronage extinguished? If the right followed the lands, it is possessed
by the same equity by which the lands are possessed. It is, in effect,
part of the manor, and protected by the same laws with every other
privilege. Let us suppose an estate forfeited by treason, and granted by
the Crown to a new family. With the lands were forfeited all the rights
appendant to those lands; by the same power that grants the lands, the
rights also are granted. The right lost to the patron falls not to the
people, but is either retained by the Crown, or what to the people is
the same thing, is by the Crown given away. Let it change hands ever so
often, it is possessed by him that receives it with the same right as it
was conveyed. It may, indeed, like all our possessions, be forcibly
seized or fraudulently obtained. But no injury is still done to the
people; for what they never had, they have never lost. Caius may usurp
the right of Titius; but neither Caius nor Titius injure the people; and
no man's conscience, however tender or however active, can prompt him to
restore what may be proved to have been never taken away. Supposing,
what I think cannot be proved, that a popular election of ministers were
to be desired, our desires are not the measure of equity. It were to be
desired that power should be only in the hands of the merciful, and
riches in the possession of the generous; but the law must leave both
riches and power where it finds them: and must often leave riches with
the covetous, and power with the cruel. Convenience may be a rule in
little things, where no other rule has been established. But as the
great end of government is to give every man his own, no inconvenience
is greater than that of making right uncertain. Nor is any man more an
enemy to publick peace, than he who fills weak heads with imaginary
claims, and breaks the series of civil subordination, by inciting the
lower classes of mankind to encroach upon the higher.

'Having thus shown that the right of patronage, being originally
purchased, may be legally transferred, and that it is now in the hands
of lawful possessors, at least as certainly as any other right;--we have
left to the advocates of the people no other plea than that of
convenience. Let us, therefore, now consider what the people would
really gain by a general abolition of the right of patronage. What is
most to be desired by such a change is, that the country should be
supplied with better ministers. But why should we suppose that the
parish will make a wiser choice than the patron? If we suppose mankind
actuated by interest, the patron is more likely to choose with caution,
because he will suffer more by choosing wrong. By the deficiencies of
his minister, or by his vices, he is equally offended with the rest of
the congregation; but he will have this reason more to lament them, that
they will be imputed to his absurdity or corruption. The qualifications
of a minister are well known to be learning and piety. Of his learning
the patron is probably the only judge in the parish; and of his piety
not less a judge than others; and is more likely to enquire minutely and
diligently before he gives a presentation, than one of the parochial
rabble, who can give nothing but a vote. It may be urged, that though
the parish might not choose better ministers, they would at least choose
ministers whom they like better, and who would therefore officiate with
greater efficacy. That ignorance and perverseness should always obtain
what they like, was never considered as the end of government; of which
it is the great and standing benefit, that the wise see for the simple,
and the regular act for the capricious. But that this argument supposes
the people capable of judging, and resolute to act according to their
best judgments, though this be sufficiently absurd, it is not all its
absurdity. It supposes not only wisdom, but unanimity in those, who upon
no other occasions are unanimous or wise. If by some strange concurrence
all the voices of a parish should unite in the choice of any single man,
though I could not charge the patron with injustice for presenting a
minister, I should censure him as unkind and injudicious. But, it is
evident, that as in all other popular elections there will be
contrariety of judgment and acrimony of passion, a parish upon every
vacancy would break into factions, and the contest for the choice of a
minister would set neighbours at variance, and bring discord into
families. The minister would be taught all the arts of a candidate,
would flatter some, and bribe others; and the electors, as in all other
cases, would call for holidays and ale, and break the heads of each
other during the jollity of the canvas. The time must, however, come at
last, when one of the factions must prevail, and one of the ministers
get possession of the church. On what terms does he enter upon his
ministry but those of enmity with half his parish? By what prudence or
what diligence can he hope to conciliate the affections of that party by
whose defeat he has obtained his living? Every man who voted against him
will enter the church with hanging head and downcast eyes, afraid to
encounter that neighbour by whose vote and influence he has been
overpowered. He will hate his neighbour for opposing him, and his
minister for having prospered by the opposition; and as he will never
see him but with pain, he will never see him but with hatred. Of a
minister presented by the patron, the parish has seldom any thing worse
to say than that they do not know him. Of a minister chosen by a popular
contest, all those who do not favour him, have nursed up in their bosoms
principles of hatred and reasons of rejection. Anger is excited
principally by pride. The pride of a common man is very little
exasperated by the supposed usurpation of an acknowledged superiour. He
bears only his little share of a general evil, and suffers in common
with the whole parish; but when the contest is between equals, the
defeat has many aggravations; and he that is defeated by his next
neighbour, is seldom satisfied without some revenge; and it is hard to
say what bitterness of malignity would prevail in a parish where these
elections should happen to be frequent, and the enmity of opposition
should be re-kindled before it had cooled.'

Though I present to my readers Dr. Johnson's masterly thoughts on the
subject, I think it proper to declare, that notwithstanding I am myself
a lay patron, I do not entirely subscribe to his opinion.

On Friday, May 7, I breakfasted with him at Mr. Thrale's in the Borough.
While we were alone, I endeavoured as well as I could to apologise for a
lady[720] who had been divorced from her husband by act of Parliament. I
said, that he had used her very ill, had behaved brutally to her, and
that she could not continue to live with him without having her delicacy
contaminated; that all affection for him was thus destroyed; that the
essence of conjugal union being gone, there remained only a cold form, a
mere civil obligation; that she was in the prime of life, with qualities
to produce happiness; that these ought not to be lost; and, that the
gentleman on whose account she was divorced had gained her heart while
thus unhappily situated. Seduced, perhaps, by the charms of the lady in
question, I thus attempted to palliate what I was sensible could not be
justified; for when I had finished my harangue, my venerable friend gave
me a proper check: 'My dear Sir, never accustom your mind to mingle
virtue and vice. The woman's a whore, and there's an end on't.'

He described the father[721] of one of his friends thus: 'Sir, he was so
exuberant a talker at publick meeting, that the gentlemen of his county
were afraid of him. No business could be done for his declamation.'

He did not give me full credit when I mentioned that I had carried on a
short conversation by signs with some Esquimaux who were then in London,
particularly with one of them who was a priest. He thought I could not
make them understand me. No man was more incredulous as to particular
facts, which were at all extraordinary[722]; and therefore no man was more
scrupulously inquisitive, in order to discover the truth.

I dined with him this day at the house of my friends, Messieurs Edward
and Charles Dilly[723], booksellers in the Poultry: there were present,
their elder brother Mr. Dilly of Bedfordshire, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr.
Langton, Mr. Claxton, Reverend Dr. Mayo a dissenting minister, the
Reverend Mr. Toplady[724], and my friend the Reverend Mr. Temple.

Hawkesworth's compilation of the voyages to the South Sea being
mentioned;--JOHNSON. 'Sir, if you talk of it as a subject of commerce,
it will be gainful[725]; if as a book that is to increase human knowledge,
I believe there will not be much of that. Hawkesworth can tell only what
the voyagers have told him; and they have found very little, only one
new animal, I think.' BOSWELL. 'But many insects, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Why,
Sir, as to insects, Ray reckons of British insects twenty thousand
species. They might have staid at home and discovered enough in that

Talking of birds, I mentioned Mr. Daines Barrington's ingenious Essay
against the received notion of their migration. JOHNSON. 'I think we
have as good evidence for the migration of woodcocks as can be desired.
We find they disappear at a certain time of the year, and appear again
at a certain time of the year; and some of them, when weary in their
flight, have been known to alight on the rigging of ships far out at
sea.' One of the company observed, that there had been instances of some
of them found in summer in Essex. JOHNSON. 'Sir, that strengthens our
argument. _Exceptio probat regulam_. Some being found shews, that, if
all remained, many would be found. A few sick or lame ones may be
found.' GOLDSMITH. 'There is a partial migration of the swallows; the
stronger ones migrate, the others do not[726].'

BOSWELL. 'I am well assured that the people of Otaheite who have the
bread tree, the fruit of which serves them for bread, laughed heartily
when they were informed of the tedious process necessary with us to have
bread;--plowing, sowing, harrowing, reaping, threshing, grinding,
baking.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, all ignorant savages will laugh when they
are told of the advantages of civilized life. Were you to tell men who
live without houses, how we pile brick upon brick, and rafter upon
rafter, and that after a house is raised to a certain height, a man
tumbles off a scaffold, and breaks his neck; he would laugh heartily at
our folly in building; but it does not follow that men are better
without houses. No, Sir, (holding up a slice of a good loaf,) this is
better than the bread tree[727].'

He repeated an argument, which is to be found in his _Rambler_[728],
against the notion that the brute creation is endowed with the faculty
of reason: 'birds build by instinct; they never improve; they build
their first nest as well as any one they ever build.' GOLDSMITH. 'Yet we
see if you take away a bird's nest with the eggs in it, she will make a
slighter nest and lay again.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is because at first
she has full time and makes her nest deliberately. In the case you
mention she is pressed to lay, and must therefore make her nest quickly,
and consequently it will be slight.' GOLDSMITH. 'The identification of
birds is what is least known in natural history, though one of the most
curious things in it.'

I introduced the subject of toleration[729]. JOHNSON. 'Every society has a
right to preserve publick peace and order, and therefore has a good
right to prohibit the propagation of opinions which have a dangerous
tendency. To say the _magistrate_ has this right, is using an inadequate
word: it is the _society_ for which the magistrate is agent. He may be
morally or theologically wrong in restraining the propagation of
opinions which he thinks dangerous, but he is politically right.' MAYO.
'I am of opinion, Sir, that every man is entitled to liberty of
conscience in religion; and that the magistrate cannot restrain that
right.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I agree with you. Every man has a right to
liberty of conscience, and with that the magistrate cannot interfere.
People confound liberty of thinking with liberty of talking; nay, with
liberty of preaching. Every man has a physical right to think as he
pleases; for it cannot be discovered how he thinks. He has not a moral
right, for he ought to inform himself, and think justly. But, Sir, no
member of a society has a right to _teach_ any doctrine contrary to what
the society holds to be true. The magistrate, I say, may be wrong in
what he thinks: but while he thinks himself right, he may and ought to
enforce what he thinks[730].' MAYO. 'Then, Sir, we are to remain always in
errour, and truth never can prevail; and the magistrate was right in
persecuting the first Christians.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the only method by
which religious truth can be established is by martyrdom. The magistrate
has a right to enforce what he thinks; and he who is conscious of the
truth has a right to suffer. I am afraid there is no other way of
ascertaining the truth, but by persecution on the one hand and enduring
it on the other[731].' GOLDSMITH. 'But how is a man to act, Sir? Though
firmly convinced of the truth of his doctrine, may he not think it wrong
to expose himself to persecution? Has he a right to do so? Is it not, as
it were, committing voluntary suicide?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, as to voluntary
suicide, as you call it, there are twenty thousand men in an army who
will go without scruple to be shot at, and mount a breach for five-pence
a day.' GOLDSMITH. 'But have they a moral right to do this?' JOHNSON.
'Nay, Sir, if you will not take the universal opinion of mankind, I have
nothing to say. If mankind cannot defend their own way of thinking, I
cannot defend it. Sir, if a man is in doubt whether it would be better
for him to expose himself to martyrdom or not, he should not do it. He
must be convinced that he has a delegation from heaven.' GOLDSMITH. 'I
would consider whether there is the greater chance of good or evil upon
the whole. If I see a man who had fallen into a well, I would wish to
help him out; but if there is a greater probability that he shall pull
me in, than that I shall pull him out, I would not attempt it. So were I
to go to Turkey, I might wish to convert the Grand Signor to the
Christian faith; but when I considered that I should probably be put to
death without effectuating my purpose in any degree, I should keep
myself quiet.' JOHNSON. 'Sir you must consider that we have perfect and
imperfect obligations. Perfect obligations, which are generally not to
do something, are clear and positive; as, 'thou shalt not kill.' But
charity, for instance, is not definable by limits. It is a duty to give
to the poor; but no man can say how much another should give to the
poor, or when a man has given too little to save his soul. In the same
manner it is a duty to instruct the ignorant, and of consequence to
convert infidels to Christianity; but no man in the common course of
things is obliged to carry this to such a degree as to incur the danger
of martyrdom, as no man is obliged to strip himself to the shirt in
order to give charity. I have said, that a man must be persuaded that he
has a particular delegation from heaven.' GOLDSMITH. 'How is this to be
known? Our first reformers, who were burnt for not believing bread and
wine to be CHRIST'--JOHNSON, (interrupting him,) 'Sir, they were not
burnt for not believing bread and wine to be CHRIST, but for insulting
those who did believe it. And, Sir, when the first reformers began, they
did not intend to be martyred: as many of them ran away as could.'
BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, there was your countryman, Elwal[732], who you told me
challenged King George with his black-guards, and his red-guards.'
JOHNSON. 'My countryman, Elwal, Sir, should have been put in the stocks;
a proper pulpit for him; and he'd have had a numerous audience. A man
who preaches in the stocks will always have hearers enough.' BOSWELL.
'But Elwal thought himself in the right.' JOHNSON. 'We are not providing
for mad people; there are places for them in the neighbourhood' (meaning
Moorfields). MAYO. 'But, Sir, is it not very hard that I should not be
allowed to teach my children what I really believe to be the truth?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you might contrive to teach your children _extrà
scandalum_; but, Sir, the magistrate, if he knows it, has a right to
restrain you. Suppose you teach your children to be thieves?' MAYO.
'This is making a joke of the subject.' JOHNSON.' 'Nay, Sir, take it
thus:--that you teach them the community of goods; for which there are
as many plausible arguments as for most erroneous doctrines. You teach
them that all things at first were in common, and that no man had a
right to any thing but as he laid his hands upon it; and that this still
is, or ought to be, the rule amongst mankind. Here, Sir, you sap a great
principle in society,--property. And don't you think the magistrate
would have a right to prevent you? Or, suppose you should teach your
children the notion of the Adamites, and they should run naked into the
streets, would not the magistrate have a right to flog 'em into their
doublets?' MAYO. 'I think the magistrate has no right to interfere till
there is some overt act.' BOSWELL. 'So, Sir, though he sees an enemy to
the state charging a blunderbuss, he is not to interfere till it is
fired off?' MAYO. 'He must be sure of its direction against the state.'
JOHNSON. 'The magistrate is to judge of that.--He has no right to
restrain your thinking, because the evil centers in yourself. If a man
were sitting at this table, and chopping off his fingers, the
magistrate, as guardian of the community, has no authority to restrain
him, however he might do it from kindness as a parent.--Though, indeed,
upon more consideration, I think he may; as it is probable, that he who
is chopping off his own fingers, may soon proceed to chop off those of
other people. If I think it right to steal Mr. Dilly's plate, I am a bad
man; but he can say nothing to me. If I make an open declaration that I
think so, he will keep me out of his house. If I put forth my hand, I
shall be sent to Newgate. This is the gradation of thinking, preaching,
and acting: if a man thinks erroneously, he may keep his thoughts to
himself, and nobody will trouble him; if he preaches erroneous doctrine,
society may expel him; if he acts in consequence of it, the law takes
place, and he is hanged[733].' MAYO. 'But, Sir, ought not Christians to
have liberty of conscience?' JOHNSON. 'I have already told you so, Sir.
You are coming back to where you were,' BOSWELL. 'Dr. Mayo is always
taking a return post-chaise, and going the stage over again. He has it
at half price.' JOHNSON. 'Dr. Mayo, like other champions for unlimited
toleration, has got a set of words[734]. Sir, it is no matter,
politically, whether the magistrate be right or wrong. Suppose a club
were to be formed, to drink confusion to King George the Third, and a
happy restoration to Charles the Third[735], this would be very bad with
respect to the State; but every member of that club must either conform
to its rules, or be turned out of it. Old Baxter, I remember, maintains,
that the magistrate should "tolerate all things that are tolerable."
This is no good definition of toleration upon any principle; but it
shews that he thought some things were not tolerable.' TOPLADY. 'Sir,
you have untwisted this difficult subject with great dexterity[736].'

During this argument, Goldsmith sat in restless agitation, from a wish
to get in and _shine_[737]. Finding himself excluded, he had taken his hat
to go away[738], but remained for some time with it in his hand, like a
gamester, who at the close of a long night, lingers for a little while,
to see if he can have a favourable opening to finish with success. Once
when he was beginning to speak, he found himself overpowered by the loud
voice of Johnson, who was at the opposite end of the table, and did not
perceive Goldsmith's attempt. Thus disappointed of his wish to obtain
the attention of the company, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat,
looking angrily at Johnson, and exclaiming in a bitter tone, '_Take
it_.' When Toplady was going to speak, Johnson uttered some sound, which
led Goldsmith to think that he was beginning again, and taking the words
from Toplady. Upon which, he seized this opportunity of venting his own
envy and spleen, under the pretext of supporting another person: 'Sir,
(said he to Johnson,) the gentleman has heard you patiently for an hour;
pray allow us now to hear him[739].' JOHNSON. (sternly,) 'Sir, I was not
interrupting the gentleman. I was only giving him a signal of my
attention. Sir, you are impertinent.' Goldsmith made no reply, but
continued in the company for some time.

A gentleman present[740] ventured to ask Dr. Johnson if there was not a
material difference as to toleration of opinions which lead to action,
and opinions merely speculative; for instance, would it be wrong in the
magistrate to tolerate those who preach against the doctrine of the
TRINITY? Johnson was highly offended, and said, 'I wonder, Sir, how a
gentleman of your piety can introduce this subject in a mixed company.'
He told me afterwards, that the impropriety was, that perhaps some of
the company might have talked on the subject in such terms as might have
shocked him[741]; or he might have been forced to appear in their eyes a
narrow-minded man. The gentleman, with submissive deference, said, he
had only hinted at the question from a desire to hear Dr. Johnson's
opinion upon it. JOHNSON. 'Why then, Sir, I think that permitting men to
preach any opinion contrary to the doctrine of the established church
tends, in a certain degree, to lessen the authority of the church, and
consequently, to lessen the influence of religion.' 'It may be
considered, (said the gentleman,) whether it would not be politick to
tolerate in such a case.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, we have been talking of
_right_: this is another question. I think it is _not_ politick to
tolerate in such a case.'

Though he did not think it fit that so aweful a subject should be
introduced in a mixed company, and therefore at this time waved the
theological question; yet his own orthodox belief in the sacred mystery
of the TRINITY is evinced beyond doubt, by the following passage in his
private devotions:

'O LORD, hear my prayer [prayers], for JESUS CHRIST'S sake; to whom with
thee and the HOLY GHOST, _three persons and one_ GOD, be all honour and
glory, world without end, Amen[742].'

BOSWELL. 'Pray, Mr. Dilly, how does Dr. Leland's[743] _History of Ireland_
sell?' JOHNSON, (bursting forth with a generous indignation,) 'The Irish
are in a most unnatural state; for we see there the minority prevailing
over the majority[744]. There is no instance, even in the ten
persecutions[745], of such severity as that which the protestants of
Ireland have exercised against the Catholicks. Did we tell them we have
conquered them, it would be above board: to punish them by confiscation
and other penalties, as rebels, was monstrous injustice[746]. King William
was not their lawful sovereign: he had not been acknowledged by the
Parliament of Ireland, when they appeared in arms against him.'

I here suggested something favourable of the Roman Catholicks. TOPLADY.
'Does not their invocation of saints suppose omnipresence in the
saints?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; it supposes only pluri-presence, and when
spirits are divested of matter, it seems probable that they should see
with more extent than when in an embodied state. There is, therefore, no
approach to an invasion of any of the divine attributes, in the
invocation of saints. But I think it is will-worship, and presumption. I
see no command for it, and therefore think it is safer not to practise

He and Mr. Langton and I went together to THE CLUB, where we found Mr.
Burke, Mr. Garrick, and some other members, and amongst them our friend
Goldsmith, who sat silently brooding over Johnson's reprimand to him
after dinner. Johnson perceived this, and said aside to some of us,
'I'll make Goldsmith forgive me;' and then called to him in a loud
voice, 'Dr. Goldsmith,--something passed to-day where you and I dined; I
ask your pardon[748].' Goldsmith answered placidly, 'It must be much from
you, Sir, that I take ill.' And so at once the difference was over, and
they were on as easy terms as ever, and Goldsmith rattled away as

In our way to the club to-night, when I regretted that Goldsmith would,
upon every occasion, endeavour to shine, by which he often exposed
himself, Mr. Langton observed, that he was not like Addison, who was
content with the fame of his writings, and did not aim also at
excellency in conversation, for which he found himself unfit; and that
he said to a lady who complained of his having talked little in company,
'Madam, I have but nine-pence in ready money, but I can draw for a
thousand pound[750].' I observed, that Goldsmith had a great deal of gold
in his cabinet, but, not content with that, was always taking out his
purse. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, and that so often an empty purse!'

Goldsmith's incessant desire of being conspicuous in company, was the
occasion of his sometimes appearing to such disadvantage as one should
hardly have supposed possible in a man of his genius[751]. When his
literary reputation had risen deservedly high, and his society was much
courted, he became very jealous of the extraordinary attention which was
every where paid to Johnson. One evening, in a circle of wits, he found
fault with me for talking of Johnson as entitled to the honour of
unquestionable superiority. 'Sir, (said he,) you are for making a
monarchy of what should be a republick.'

He was still more mortified, when talking in a company with fluent
vivacity, and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all who
were present; a German who sat next him, and perceived Johnson rolling
himself, as if about to speak, suddenly stopped him, saying, 'Stay,
stay,--Toctor Shonson is going to say something.' This was, no doubt,
very provoking, especially to one so irritable as Goldsmith, who
frequently mentioned it with strong expressions of indignation[752].

It may also be observed, that Goldsmith was sometimes content to be
treated with an easy familiarity, but, upon occasions, would be
consequential and important. An instance of this occurred in a small
particular. Johnson had a way of contracting the names of his friends;
as Beauclerk, Beau; Boswell, Bozzy; Langton, Lanky; Murphy, Mur;
Sheridan, Sherry[753]. I remember one day, when Tom Davies was telling
that Dr. Johnson said, 'We are all in labour for a name to _Goldy's_
play,' Goldsmith seemed displeased that such a liberty should be taken
with his name, and said, 'I have often desired him not to call me
_Goldy_[754].' Tom was remarkably attentive to the most minute
circumstance about Johnson. I recollect his telling me once, on my
arrival in London, 'Sir, our great friend has made an improvement on his
appellation of old Mr. Sheridan. He calls him now _Sherry derry_.'



'I return you my sincere thanks for your additions to my _Dictionary_;
but the new edition has been published some time, and therefore I cannot
now make use of them. Whether I shall ever revise it more, I know not.
If many readers had been as judicious, as diligent, and as communicative
as yourself, my work had been better. The world must at present take it
as it is. I am, Sir,

'Your most obliged

'And most humble servant,


'May 8, 1773.'

On Sunday, May 8[756], I dined with Johnson at Mr. Langton's[757] with Dr.
Beattie and some other company. He descanted on the subject of Literary
Property. 'There seems (said he,) to be in authours a stronger right of
property than that by occupancy; a metaphysical[758] right, a right, as it
were, of creation, which should from its nature be perpetual; but the
consent of nations is against it, and indeed reason and the interests of
learning are against it; for were it to be perpetual, no book, however
useful, could be universally diffused amongst mankind, should the
proprietor take it into his head to restrain its circulation. No book
could have the advantage of being edited with notes, however necessary
to its elucidation, should the proprietor perversely oppose it. For the
general good of the world, therefore, whatever valuable work has once
been created by an authour, and issued out by him, should be understood
as no longer in his power, but as belonging to the publick; at the same
time the authour is entitled to an adequate reward. This he should have
by an exclusive right to his work for a considerable number of

He attacked Lord Monboddo's strange speculation on the primitive state
of human nature[760]; observing, 'Sir, it is all conjecture about a thing
useless, even were it known to be true. Knowledge of all kinds is good.
Conjecture, as to things useful, is good; but conjecture as to what it
would be useless to know, such as whether men went upon all four, is
very idle.'

On Monday, May 9[761], as I was to set out on my return to Scotland next
morning, I was desirous to see as much of Dr. Johnson as I could. But I
first called on Goldsmith to take leave of him. The jealousy and envy
which, though possessed of many most amiable qualities, he frankly
avowed, broke out violently at this interview. Upon another occasion,
when Goldsmith confessed himself to be of an envious disposition, I
contended with Johnson that we ought not to be angry with him, he was so
candid in owning it. 'Nay, Sir, (said Johnson,) we must be angry that a
man has such a superabundance of an odious quality, that he cannot keep
it within his own breast, but it boils over.' In my opinion, however,
Goldsmith had not more of it than other people have, but only talked of
it freely[762].

He now seemed very angry that Johnson was going to be a traveller; said
'he would be a dead weight for me to carry, and that I should never be
able to lug him along through the Highlands and Hebrides.' Nor would he
patiently allow me to enlarge upon Johnson's wonderful abilities; but
exclaimed, 'Is he like Burke, who winds into a subject like a serpent?'
'But, (said I,) Johnson is the Hercules who strangled serpents in his

I dined with Dr. Johnson at General Paoli's. He was obliged, by
indisposition, to leave the company early; he appointed me, however, to
meet him in the evening at Mr. (now Sir Robert) Chambers's in the
Temple, where he accordingly came, though he continued to be very ill.
Chambers, as is common on such occasions, prescribed various remedies to
him. JOHNSON. (fretted by pain,) 'Pr'ythee don't tease me. Stay till I
am well, and then you shall tell me how to cure myself.' He grew better,
and talked with a noble enthusiasm of keeping up the representation of
respectable families. His zeal on this subject was a circumstance in his
character exceedingly remarkable, when it is considered that he himself
had no pretensions to blood. I heard him once say, 'I have great merit
in being zealous for subordination and the honours of birth; for I can
hardly tell who was my grandfather[763].' He maintained the dignity and
propriety of male succession, in opposition to the opinion of one of our
friends[764], who had that day employed Mr. Chambers to draw his will,
devising his estate to his three sisters, in preference to a remote heir
male. Johnson called them 'three _dowdies_,' and said, with as high a
spirit as the boldest Baron in the most perfect days of the feudal
system, 'An ancient estate should always go to males. It is mighty
foolish to let a stranger have it because he marries your daughter, and
takes your name. As for an estate newly acquired by trade, you may give
it, if you will, to the dog _Towser_, and let him keep his _own_ name.'

I have known him at times exceedingly diverted at what seemed to others
a very small sport[765]. He now laughed immoderately, without any reason
that we could perceive, at our friend's making his will; called him the
_testator_, and added, 'I dare say, he thinks he has done a mighty
thing. He won't stay till he gets home to his seat in the country, to
produce this wonderful deed: he'll call up the landlord of the first inn
on the road; and, after a suitable preface upon mortality and the
uncertainty of life, will tell him that he should not delay making his
will; and here, Sir, will he say, is my will, which I have just made,
with the assistance of one of the ablest lawyers in the kingdom; and he
will read it to him (laughing all the time). He believes he has made
this will; but he did not make it: you, Chambers, made it for him. I
trust you have had more conscience than to make him say, "being of sound
understanding;" ha, ha, ha! I hope he has left me a legacy. I'd have his
will turned into verse, like a ballad.'

In this playful manner did he run on, exulting in his own pleasantry,
which certainly was not such as might be expected from the authour of
_The Rambler_, but which is here preserved, that my readers may be
acquainted even with the slightest occasional characteristicks of so
eminent a man.

Mr. Chambers did not by any means relish this jocularity upon a matter
of which _pars magna fuit_[766], and seemed impatient till he got rid of
us. Johnson could not stop his merriment, but continued it all the way
till we got without the Temple-gate. He then burst into such a fit of
laughter, that he appeared to be almost in a convulsion; and, in order
to support himself, laid hold of one of the posts at the side of the
foot pavement, and sent forth peals so loud, that in the silence of the
night his voice seemed to resound from Temple-bar to Fleet-ditch.

This most ludicrous exhibition of the aweful, melancholy, and venerable
Johnson[767], happened well to counteract the feelings of sadness which I
used to experience when parting with him for a considerable time. I
accompanied him to his door, where he gave me his blessing.

He records of himself this year, 'Between Easter and Whitsuntide, having
always considered that time as propitious to study, I attempted to learn
the Low Dutch language[768].' It is to be observed, that he here admits an
opinion of the human mind being influenced by seasons, which he
ridicules in his writings[769]. His progress, he says, was interrupted by
a fever, 'which, by the imprudent use of a small print, left an
inflammation in his useful eye[770].' We cannot but admire his spirit when
we know, that amidst a complication of bodily and mental distress, he
was still animated with the desire of intellectual improvement[771].
Various notes of his studies appear on different days, in his manuscript
diary of this year, such as,

'Inchoavi lectionem Pentateuchi--Finivi lectionem Conf. Fab.
Burdonum[772].--Legi primum actum Troadum.--Legi Dissertationem Clerici
postremam de Pent.--2 of Clark's Sermons.--L. Appolonii pugnam
Betriciam.--L. centum versus Homeri.'

Let this serve as a specimen of what accessions of literature he was
perpetually infusing into his mind, while he charged himself with

This year died Mrs. Salusbury, (mother of Mrs. Thrale,) a lady whom he
appears to have esteemed much, and whose memory he honoured with an

In a letter from Edinburgh, dated the 29th of May, I pressed him to
persevere in his resolution to make this year the projected visit to the
Hebrides, of which he and I had talked for many years, and which I was
confident would afford us much entertainment.



'When your letter came to me, I was so darkened by an inflammation in my
eye, that I could not for some time read it. I can now write without
trouble, and can read large prints. My eye is gradually growing
stronger; and I hope will be able to take some delight in the survey of
a Caledonian loch.

'Chambers is going a Judge, with six thousand a year, to Bengal[774]. He
and I shall come down together as far as Newcastle, and thence I shall
easily get to Edinburgh. Let me know the exact time when your Courts
intermit. I must conform a little to Chambers's occasions, and he must
conform a little to mine. The time which you shall fix, must be the
common point to which we will come as near as we can. Except this eye, I
am very well.

'Beattie is so caressed, and invited, and treated, and liked, and
flattered, by the great, that I can see nothing of him. I am in great
hope that he will be well provided for, and then we will live upon him
at the Marischal College, without pity or modesty[775].

'----[776] left the town without taking leave of me, and is gone in deep
dudgeon to ----[777]. Is not this very childish? Where is now my

'I hope your dear lady and her dear baby are both well. I shall see them
too when I come; and I have that opinion of your choice, as to suspect
that when I have seen Mrs. Boswell, I shall be less willing to go away.
I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,

'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,

July 5, 1773.'

'Write to me as soon as you can. Chambers is now at Oxford.'

I again wrote to him, informing him that the Court of Session rose on
the twelfth of August, hoping to see him before that time, and
expressing perhaps in too extravagant terms, my admiration of him, and
my expectation of pleasure from our intended tour.



'I shall set out from London on Friday the sixth [779] of this month, and
purpose not to loiter much by the way. Which day I shall be at
Edinburgh, I cannot exactly tell. I suppose I must drive to an inn, and
send a porter to find you.

'I am afraid Beattie will not be at his College soon enough for us, and
I shall be sorry to miss him; but there is no staying for the
concurrence of all conveniences. We will do as well as we can.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'August 3, 1773.'



'Not being at Mr. Thrale's when your letter came, I had written the
enclosed paper and sealed it; bringing it hither for a frank, I found
yours. If any thing could repress my ardour, it would be such a letter
as yours. To disappoint a friend is unpleasing; and he that forms
expectations like yours, must be disappointed. Think only when you see
me, that you see a man who loves you, and is proud and glad that you
love him.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most affectionate

'August 3, 1773.'

'Newcastle, Aug. 11, 1771.


'I came hither last night, and hope, but do not absolutely promise, to
be in Edinburgh on Saturday. Beattie will not come so soon.

I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'My compliments to your lady.'


'Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. Boswell, being just arrived at

'Saturday night.'

His stay in Scotland was from the 18th of August[780], on which day he
arrived, till the 22nd of November, when he set out on his return to
London; and I believe ninety-four days[781] were never passed by any man
in a more vigorous exertion.

He came by the way of Berwick upon Tweed to Edinburgh, where he remained
a few days, and then went by St. Andrew's, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort
Augustus, to the Hebrides, to visit which was the principal object he
had in view. He visited the isles of Sky, Rasay, Col, Mull, Inchkenneth,
and Icolmkill. He travelled through Argyleshire by Inverary, and from
thence by Lochlomond and Dumbarton to Glasgow, then by Loudon to
Auchinleck in Ayrshire, the seat of my family, and then by Hamilton,
back to Edinburgh, where he again spent some time. He thus saw the four
Universities of Scotland[782], its three principal cities, and as much of
the Highland and insular life as was sufficient for his philosophical
contemplation. I had the pleasure of accompanying him during the whole
of this journey. He was respectfully entertained by the great, the
learned, and the elegant, wherever he went; nor was he less delighted
with the hospitality which he experienced in humbler life[783].

His various adventures, and the force and vivacity of his mind, as
exercised during this peregrination, upon innumerable topicks, have been
faithfully, and to the best of my abilities, displayed in my _Journal of
a Tour to the Hebrides_, to which, as the publick has been pleased to
honour it by a very extensive circulation[784], I beg leave to refer, as
to a separate and remarkable portion of his life[785], which may be there
seen in detail, and which exhibits as striking a view of his powers in
conversation, as his works do of his excellence in writing. Nor can I
deny to myself the very flattering gratification of inserting here the
character which my friend Mr. Courtenay has been pleased to give of that

'With Reynolds' pencil, vivid, bold, and true,
So fervent Boswell gives him to our view:
In every trait we see his mind expand;
The master rises by the pupil's hand;
We love the writer, praise his happy vein,
Grac'd with the naiveté of the sage Montaigne.
Hence not alone are brighter parts display'd,
But e'en the specks of character pourtray'd:
We _see_ the Rambler with fastidious smile
Mark the lone tree, and note the heath-clad isle;
But when th' heroick tale of Flora's[786] charms,
Deck'd in a kilt, he wields a chieftain's arms:
The tuneful piper sounds a martial strain,
And Samuel sings, "The King shall have his _ain_."'

During his stay at Edinburgh, after his return from the Hebrides, he was
at great pains to obtain information concerning Scotland; and it will
appear from his subsequent letters, that he was not less solicitous for
intelligence on this subject after his return to London.



'I came home last night, without any incommodity, danger, or weariness,
and am ready to begin a new journey. I shall go to Oxford on Monday[787].
I know Mrs. Boswell wished me well to go[788]; her wishes have not been
disappointed. Mrs. Williams has received Sir A's[789] letter.

'Make my compliments to all those to whom my compliments may be welcome.

'Let the box[790] be sent as soon as it can, and let me know when to
expect it.

'Enquire, if you can, the order of the Clans: Macdonald is first,
Maclean second; further I cannot go. Quicken Dr. Webster[791].

'I am, Sir,
'Yours affectionately,

'Nov. 27, 1773.'


'Edinburgh, Dec. 2, 1773.

'You shall have what information I can procure as to the order of the
Clans. A gentleman of the name of Grant tells me, that there is no
settled order among them; and he says, that the Macdonalds were not
placed upon the right of the army at Culloden[792]; the Stuarts were. I
shall, however, examine witnesses of every name that I can find here.
Dr. Webster shall be quickened too. I like your little memorandums; they
are symptoms of your being in earnest with your book of northern

'Your box shall be sent next week by sea. You will find in it some
pieces of the broom bush, which you saw growing on the old castle of
Auchinleck. The wood has a curious appearance when sawn across. You may
either have a little writing-stand made of it, or get it formed into
boards for a treatise on witchcraft, by way of a suitable binding.'

       *       *       *      *      *

'Edinburgh, Dec. 18, 1773.

       *       *       *       *       *

'You promised me an inscription for a print to be taken from an
historical picture of Mary Queen of Scots being forced to resign her
crown, which Mr. Hamilton at Rome has painted for me. The two following
have been sent to me:

"_Maria Scotorum Regina meliori seculo digna, jus regiitm civibus
seditiosis invita resignat_."

"_Cives seditiosi Mariam Scotorum Reginam sese muneri abdicare invitam

'Be so good as to read the passage in Robertson, and see if you cannot
give me a better inscription. I must have it both in Latin and English;
so if you should not give me another Latin one, you will at least choose
the best of these two, and send a translation of it.'

       *       *       *       *       *

His humane forgiving disposition was put to a pretty strong test on his
return to London, by a liberty which Mr. Thomas Davies had taken with
him in his absence, which was, to publish two volumes, entitled,
_Miscellaneous and fugitive Pieces_, which he advertised in the
news-papers, 'By the Authour of the Rambler.' In this collection,
several of Dr. Johnson's acknowledged writings, several of his anonymous
performances, and some which he had written for others, were inserted;
but there were also some in which he had no concern whatever[793]. He was
at first very angry, as he had good reason to be. But, upon
consideration of his poor friend's narrow circumstances, and that he had
only a little profit in view, and meant no harm, he soon relented, and
continued his kindness to him as formerly[794].

In the course of his self-examination with retrospect to this year, he
seems to have been much dejected; for he says, January 1, 1774, 'This
year has passed with so little improvement, that I doubt whether I have
not rather impaired than increased my learning';[795] and yet we have seen
how he _read_, and we know how he _talked_ during that period.

He was now seriously engaged in writing an account of our travels in the
Hebrides, in consequence of which I had the pleasure of a more frequent
correspondence with him.



'My operations have been hindered by a cough; at least I flatter myself,
that if my cough had not come, I should have been further advanced. But
I have had no intelligence from Dr. W----, [Webster,] nor from the
Excise-office, nor from you. No account of the little borough[796].
Nothing of the Erse language. I have yet heard nothing of my box.

'You must make haste and gather me all you can, and do it quickly, or I
will and shall do without it.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and tell her that I do not love
her the less for wishing me away. I gave her trouble enough, and shall
be glad, in recompense, to give her any pleasure.

'I would send some porter into the Hebrides, if I knew which way it
could be got to my kind friends there. Enquire, and let me know.

'Make my compliments to all the Doctors of Edinburgh, and to all my
friends, from one end of Scotland to the other.

'Write to me, and send me what intelligence you can: and if any thing is
too bulky for the post, let me have it by the carrier. I do not like
trusting winds and waves.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most, &c.

'Jan. 29, 1774.'



'In a day or two after I had written the last discontented letter, I
received my box, which was very welcome. But still I must entreat you to
hasten Dr. Webster, and continue to pick up what you can that may be

'Mr. Oglethorpe was with me this morning, you know his errand. He was
not unwelcome.

'Tell Mrs. Boswell that my good intentions towards her still continue I
should be glad to do any thing that would either benefit or please her.

'Chambers is not yet gone, but so hurried, or so negligent, or so proud,
that I rarely see him. I have, indeed, for some weeks past, been very
ill of a cold and cough, and have been at Mrs. Thrale's, that I might be
taken care of. I am much better: _novae redeunt in praelia vires_[797];
but I am yet tender, and easily disordered. How happy it was that
neither of us were ill in the Hebrides.

'The question of Literary Property is this day before the Lords[798].
Murphy[799] drew up the Appellants' case, that is, the plea against the
perpetual right. I have not seen it, nor heard the decision. I would not
have the right perpetual.

'I will write to you as any thing occurs, and do you send me something
about my Scottish friends. I have very great kindness for them. Let me
know likewise how fees come in, and when we are to see you.

'I am. Sir,
Yours affectionately,
London, Feb. 7, 1774.

He at this time wrote the following letters to Mr. Steevens, his able
associate in editing Shakspeare:

To George Steevens, Esq., in Hampstead.


'If I am asked when I have seen Mr. Steevens, you know what answer I
must give; if I am asked when I shall see him, I wish you would tell me
what to say.

'If you have Lesley's _History of Scotland_, or any other book about
Scotland, except Boetius and Buchanan, it will be a kindness if you send
them to, Sir,

'Your humble servant,
'Feb. 7, 1774.'

To the same.


'We are thinking to augment our club, and I am desirous of nominating
you, if you care to stand the ballot, and can attend on Friday nights at
least twice in five weeks: less than this is too little, and rather more
will be expected. Be pleased to let me know before Friday.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most, &c.,
'Feb. 21, 1774.

To the same.


'Last night you became a member of the club; if you call on me on
Friday, I will introduce you. A gentleman, proposed after you, was

'I thank you for _Neander_, but wish he were not so fine.[800] I will take
care of him.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'March 5, 1774.'



'Dr. Webster's informations were much less exact and much less
determinate than I expected: they are, indeed, much less positive than,
if he can trust his own book[801] which he laid before me, he is able to
give. But I believe it will always be found, that he who calls much for
information will advance his work but slowly.

'I am, however, obliged to you, dear Sir, for your endeavours to help
me, and hope, that between us something will some time be done, if not
on this, on some occasion.

'Chambers is either married, or almost married, to Miss Wilton, a girl
of sixteen, exquisitely beautiful, whom he has, with his lawyer's
tongue, persuaded to take her chance with him in the East.

'We have added to the club[802], Charles Fox[803], Sir Charles Bunbury
[804], Dr. Fordyce[805], and Mr. Steevens[806].

'Return my thanks to Dr. Webster. Tell Dr. Robertson I have not much to
reply to his censure of my negligence; and tell Dr. Blair, that since he
has written hither what I said to him, we must now consider ourselves as
even, forgive one another, and begin again[807]. I care not how soon, for
he is a very pleasing man. Pay my compliments to all my friends, and
remind Lord Elibank of his promise to give me all his works.

'I hope Mrs. Boswell and little Miss are well.--When shall I see them
again? She is a sweet lady, only she was so glad to see me go, that I
have almost a mind to come again, that she may again have the same

'Enquire if it be practicable to send a small present of a cask of
porter to Dunvegan, Rasay, and Col. I would not wish to be thought
forgetful of civilities.

'I am, Sir,
'Your humble servant,

'March 5, 1774.'

On the 5th of March I wrote to him, requesting his counsel whether I
should this spring come to London. I stated to him on the one hand some
pecuniary embarrassments, which, together with my wife's situation at
that time, made me hesitate; and, on the other, the pleasure and
improvement which my annual visit to the metropolis always afforded me;
and particularly mentioned a peculiar satisfaction which I experienced
in celebrating the festival of Easter in St. Paul's cathedral; that to
my fancy it appeared like going up to Jerusalem at the feast of the
Passover; and that the strong devotion which I felt on that occasion
diffused its influence on my mind through the rest of the year[808].

[Not dated[809], but written about the 15th of March.]


'I am ashamed to think that since I received your letter I have passed
so many days without answering it.

'I think there is no great difficulty in resolving your doubts. The
reasons for which you are inclined to visit London, are, I think, not of
sufficient strength to answer the objections. That you should delight to
come once a year to the fountain of intelligence and pleasure, is very
natural; but both information and pleasure must be regulated by
propriety. Pleasure, which cannot be obtained but by unseasonable or
unsuitable expence, must always end in pain; and pleasure, which must be
enjoyed at the expence of another's pain, can never be such as a worthy
mind can fully delight in.

'What improvement you might gain by coming to London, you may easily
supply, or easily compensate, by enjoining yourself some particular
study at home, or opening some new avenue to information. Edinburgh is
not yet exhausted; and I am sure you will find no pleasure here which
can deserve either that you should anticipate any part of your future
fortune, or that you should condemn yourself and your lady to penurious
frugality for the rest of the year.

'I need not tell you what regard you owe to Mrs. Boswell's entreaties;
or how much you ought to study the happiness of her who studies yours
with so much diligence, and of whose kindness you enjoy such good
effects. Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.
She permitted you to ramble last year, you must permit her now to keep
you at home.

'Your last reason is so serious, that I am unwilling to oppose it. Yet
you must remember, that your image of worshipping once a year in a
certain place, in imitation of the Jews, is but a comparison; and
_simile non est idem_; if the annual resort to Jerusalem was a duty to
the Jews, it was a duty because it was commanded; and you have no such
command, therefore no such duty. It may be dangerous to receive too
readily, and indulge too fondly, opinions, from which, perhaps, no pious
mind is wholly disengaged, of local sanctity and local devotion. You
know what strange effects they have produced over a great part of the
Christian world. I am now writing, and you, when you read this, are
reading under the Eye of Omnipresence.

'To what degree fancy is to be admitted into religious offices, it would
require much deliberation to determine. I am far from intending totally
to exclude it. Fancy is a faculty bestowed by our Creator, and it is
reasonable that all His gifts should be used to His glory, that all our
faculties should co-operate in His worship; but they are to co-operate
according to the will of Him that gave them, according to the order
which His wisdom has established. As ceremonies prudential or convenient
are less obligatory than positive ordinances, as bodily worship is only
the token to others or ourselves of mental adoration, so Fancy is always
to act in subordination to Reason. We may take Fancy for a companion,
but must follow Reason as our guide. We may allow Fancy to suggest
certain ideas in certain places; but Reason must always be heard, when
she tells us, that those ideas and those places have no natural or
necessary relation. When we enter a church we habitually recall to mind
the duty of adoration, but we must not omit adoration for want of a
temple; because we know, and ought to remember, that the Universal Lord
is every where present; and that, therefore, to come to Jona[810], or to
Jerusalem, though it may be useful, cannot be necessary.

'Thus I have answered your letter, and have not answered it negligently.
I love you too well to be careless when you are serious.

'I think I shall be very diligent next week about our travels, which I
have too long neglected.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most, &c.,


'Compliments to Madam and Miss.'

To The Same.


'The lady who delivers this has a lawsuit, in which she desires to make
use of your skill and eloquence, and she seems to think that she shall
have something more of both for a recommendation from me; which, though
I know how little you want any external incitement to your duty, I could
not refuse her, because I know that at least it will not hurt her, to
tell you that I wish her well.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 10, 1774.'


'Edinburgh, May 12, 1774.

'Lord Hailes has begged of me to offer you his best respects, and to
transmit to you specimens of _Annals of Scotland, from the Accession of
Malcolm Kenmore to the Death of James V_,' in drawing up which, his
Lordship has been engaged for some time. His Lordship writes to me thus:
"If I could procure Dr. Johnson's criticisms, they would be of great use
to me in the prosecution of my work, as they would be judicious and
true. I have no right to ask that favour of him. If you could, it would
highly oblige me."

'Dr. Blair requests you may be assured that he did not write to London
what you said to him, and that neither by word nor letter has he made
the least complaint of you; but, on the contrary, has a high respect for
you, and loves you much more since he saw you in Scotland. It would both
divert and please you to see his eagerness about this matter.'


'Streatham, June 21, 1774.


'Yesterday I put the first sheets of the _Journey to the Hebrides_ to
the press. I have endeavoured to do you some justice in the first
paragraph[811]. It will be one volume in octavo, not thick.

'It will be proper to make some presents in Scotland. You shall tell me
to whom I shall give; and I have stipulated twenty-five for you to give
in your own name[812]. Some will take the present better from me, others
better from you. In this, you who are to live in the place ought to
direct. Consider it. Whatever you can get for my purpose send me; and
make my compliments to your lady and both the young ones.

'I am, Sir, your, &c.,


'Edinburgh, June 24, 1774.

'You do not acknowledge the receipt of the various packets which I have
sent to you. Neither can I prevail with you to _answer_ my letters,
though you honour me with _returns_[813]. You have said nothing to me
about poor Goldsmith[814], nothing about Langton[815].

'I have received for you, from the Society for propagating Christian
Knowledge in Scotland[816], the following Erse books:--_The New Testament;
Baxter's Call; The Confession of Faith of the Assembly of Divines at
Westminster; The Mother's Catechism; A Gaelick and English



'I wish you could have looked over my book before the printer, but it
could not easily be. I suspect some mistakes; but as I deal, perhaps,
more in notions than in facts, the matter is not great, and the second
edition will be mended, if any such there be. The press will go on
slowly for a time, because I am going into Wales to-morrow.

'I should be very sorry if I appeared to treat such a character as Lord
Hailes otherwise than with high respect. I return the sheets[818], to
which I have done what mischief I could; and finding it so little,
thought not much of sending them. The narrative is clear, lively, and

'I have done worse to Lord Hailes than by neglecting his sheets: I have
run him in debt. Dr. Horne, the President of Magdalen College in Oxford,
wrote to me about three months ago, that he purposed to reprint
_Walton's Lives_, and desired me to contribute to the work: my answer
was, that Lord Hailes intended the same publication; and Dr. Home has
resigned it to him[819]. His Lordship must now think seriously about it.

'Of poor dear Dr. Goldsmith there is little to be told, more than the
papers have made publick. He died of a fever, made, I am afraid, more
violent by uneasiness of mind. His debts began to be heavy, and all his
resources were exhausted. Sir Joshua[820] is of opinion that he owed not
less than two thousand pounds[821]. Was ever poet so trusted before?

'You may, if you please, put the inscription thus:--

"_Maria Scotorum Regina nata_ 15--, _a suis in exilium acta_ 15--, _ab
hospitá neci data_ 15--." You must find the years.

'Of your second daughter you certainly gave the account yourself, though
you have forgotten it. While Mrs. Boswell is well, never doubt of a boy.
Mrs. Thrale brought, I think, five girls running, but while I was with
you she had a boy.

'I am obliged to you for all your pamphlets, and of the last I hope to
make some use. I made some of the former.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most affectionate servant,

'July 4, 1774.'

'My compliments to all the three ladies.'



'You have reason to reproach me that I have left your last letter so
long unanswered, but I had nothing particular to say. Chambers, you
find, is gone far, and poor Goldsmith is gone much further. He died of a
fever, exasperated, as I believe, by the fear of distress. He had raised
money and squandered it, by every artifice of acquisition, and folly of
expence. But let not his frailties be remembered; he was a very great

'I have just begun to print my _Journey to the Hebrides_, and am leaving
the press to take another journey into Wales, whither Mr. Thrale is
going, to take possession of, at least, five hundred a year, fallen to
his lady. All at Streatham, that are alive[823], are well.

'I have never recovered from the last dreadful illness[824], but flatter
myself that I grow gradually better; much, however, yet remains to mend.
[Greek: Kurie eleaeson][825].

'If you have the Latin version of _Busy, curious, thirsty fly_[826], be so
kind as to transcribe and send it; but you need not be in haste, for I
shall be I know not where, for at least five weeks. I wrote the
following tetastrick on poor Goldsmith:--

'Ton taphon eisoraas ton Olibaroio koniaen
  Aphrosi mae semnaen, Xeine, podessi patei
Oisi memaele phusis, metron charis, erga palaion,
  Klaiete posaetaen, istorikon, phusikon.][827]

'Please to make my most respectful compliments to all the ladies, and
remember me to young George and his sisters. I reckon George begins to
shew a pair of heels.

'Do not be sullen now[828], but let me find a letter when I come back.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate, humble servant,


'July 5, 1774.'


'Llewenny[829], in Denbighshire, Aug. 16, 1774.


'Mr. Thrale's affairs have kept him here a great while, nor do I know
exactly when we shall come hence. I have sent you a bill upon Mr.

'I have made nothing of the Ipecacuanha, but have taken abundance of
pills, and hope that they have done me good.

'Wales, so far as I have yet seen of it, is a very beautiful and rich
country, all enclosed, and planted. Denbigh is not a mean town. Make my
compliments to all my friends, and tell Frank I hope he remembers my
advice. When his money is out, let him have more.

'I am, Sir,
'Your humble servant,


'Edinburgh, Aug. 30, 1774.

'You have given me an inscription for a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots,
in which you, in a short and striking manner, point out her hard fate.
But you will be pleased to keep in mind, that my picture is a
representation of a particular scene in her history; her being forced to
resign her crown, while she was imprisoned in the castle of Lochlevin. I
must, therefore, beg that you will be kind enough to give me an
inscription suited to that particular scene; or determine which of the
two formerly transmitted to you is the best; and, at any rate, favour me
with an English translation. It will be doubly kind if you comply with
my request speedily.

'Your critical notes on the specimen of Lord Hailes's _Annals of
Scotland_ are excellent, I agreed with you in every one of them. He
himself objected only to the alteration of _free to brave_, in the
passage where he says that Edward "departed with the glory due to the
conquerour of a free people." He says, "to call the Scots brave would
only add to the glory of their conquerour." You will make allowance for
the national zeal of our annalist. I now send a few more leaves of the
_Annals_, which I hope you will peruse, and return with observations, as
you did upon the former occasion. Lord Hailes writes to me thus:--"Mr.
Boswell will be pleased to express the grateful sense which Sir David
Dalrymple[830] has of Dr. Johnson's attention to his little specimen. The
further specimen will show, that

"Even in an Edward he can see desert[831]."

'It gives me much pleasure to hear that a republication of _Isaac
Walton's Lives_ is intended. You have been in a mistake in thinking that
Lord Hailes had it in view. I remember one morning[832], while he sat with
you in my house, he said, that there should be a new edition of
_Walton's Lives_; and you said that "they should be benoted a little."
This was all that passed on that subject. You must, therefore, inform
Dr. Horne, that he may resume his plan, I enclose a note concerning it;
and if Dr. Horne will write to me, all the attention that I can give
shall be cheerfully bestowed, upon what I think a pious work, the
preservation and elucidation of Walton, by whose writings I have been
most pleasingly edified.'

       *       *       *       *       *


'Edinburgh, Sept. 16, 1774.

'Wales has probably detained you longer than I supposed. You will have
become quite a mountaineer, by visiting Scotland one year and Wales
another. You must next go to Switzerland. Cambria will complain, if you
do not honour her also with some remarks. And I find _concessere
columnæ_[833], the booksellers expect another book. I am impatient to see
your _Tour to Scotland and the Hebrides_[834]. Might you not send me a
copy by the post as soon as it is printed off?'

        *       *       *       *       *



'Yesterday I returned from my Welch journey, I was sorry to leave my
book suspended so long; but having an opportunity of seeing, with so
much convenience, a new part of the island, I could not reject it. I
have been in five of the six counties of North Wales; and have seen St.
Asaph and Bangor, the two seats of their Bishops; have been upon
Penmanmaur[835] and Snowden[836], and passed over into Anglesea. But Wales
is so little different from England, that it offers nothing to the
speculation of the traveller.

'When I came home, I found several of your papers, with some pages of
Lord Hailes's _Annals_, which I will consider. I am in haste to give you
some account of myself, lest you should suspect me of negligence in the
pressing business which I find recommended to my care, and which I knew
nothing of till now, when all care is vain[837].

'In the distribution of my books I purpose to follow your advice, adding
such as shall occur to me. I am not pleased with your notes of
remembrance added to your names, for I hope I shall not easily forget

'I have received four Erse books, without any direction, and suspect
that they are intended for the Oxford library. If that is the intention,
I think it will be proper to add the metrical psalms, and whatever else
is printed in _Erse_, that the present may be complete. The donor's name
should be told.

'I wish you could have read the book before it was printed, but our
distance does not easily permit it.

'I am sorry Lord Hailes does not intend to publish _Walton_; I am afraid
it will not be done so well, if it be done at all.

'I purpose now to drive the book forward. Make my compliments to Mrs.
Boswell, and let me hear often from you.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your affectionate humble servant,

'London, Octob. 1, 1774.'

This tour to Wales, which was made in company with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale,
though it no doubt contributed to his health and amusement, did not give
an occasion to such a discursive exercise of his mind as our tour to the
Hebrides. I do not find that he kept any journal or notes of what he saw
there[838]. All that I heard him say of it was, that 'instead of bleak and
barren mountains, there were green and fertile ones; and that one of the
castles in Wales would contain all the castles that he had seen in

Parliament having been dissolved[839], and his friend Mr. Thrale, who was
a steady supporter of government, having again to encounter the storm of
a contested election, he wrote a short political pamphlet, entitled _The
Patriot_, addressed to the electors of Great-Britain; a title which, to
factious men, who consider a patriot only as an opposer of the measures
of government, will appear strangely misapplied. It was, however,
written with energetick vivacity; and, except those passages in which it
endeavours to vindicate the glaring outrage of the House of Commons in
the case of the Middlesex election, and to justify the attempt to reduce
our fellow-subjects in America to unconditional submission, it contained
an admirable display of the properties of a real patriot, in the
original and genuine sense;--a sincere, steady, rational, and unbiassed
friend to the interests and prosperity of his King and country. It must
be acknowledged, however, that both in this and his two former
pamphlets, there was, amidst many powerful arguments, not only a
considerable portion of sophistry, but a contemptuous ridicule of his
opponents, which was very provoking.

'To MR. PERKINS[840].


'You may do me a very great favour. Mrs. Williams, a gentlewoman whom
you may have seen at Mr. Thrale's, is a petitioner for Mr.
Hetherington's charity: petitions are this day issued at Christ's

'I am a bad manager of business in a crowd; and if I should send a mean
man, he may be put away without his errand. I must therefore intreat
that you will go, and ask for a petition for Anna Williams, whose paper
of enquiries was delivered with answers at the counting-house of the
hospital on Thursday the 20th. My servant will attend you thither, and
bring the petition home when you have it.

'The petition, which they are to give us, is a form which they deliver
to every petitioner, and which the petitioner is afterwards to fill up,
and return to them again. This we must have, or we cannot proceed
according to their directions. You need, I believe, only ask for a
petition; if they enquire for whom you ask, you can tell them.

'I beg pardon for giving you this trouble; but it is a matter of great

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'October 25, 1774.'



'There has appeared lately in the papers an account of a boat overset
between Mull and Ulva, in which many passengers were lost, and among
them Maclean of Col. We, you know, were once drowned[841]; I hope,
therefore, that the story is either wantonly or erroneously told. Pray
satisfy me by the next post.

'I have printed two hundred and forty pages. I am able to do nothing
much worth doing to dear Lord Hailes's book. I will, however, send back
the sheets; and hope, by degrees, to answer all your reasonable

'Mr. Thrale has happily surmounted a very violent and acrimonious
opposition[842]; but all joys have their abatement: Mrs. Thrale has fallen
from her horse, and hurt herself very much. The rest of our friends, I
believe, are well. My compliments to Mrs. Boswell.

'I am, Sir,

Your most affectionate servant,


'London, October. 27, 1774.'

This letter, which shows his tender concern for an amiable young
gentleman to whom he had been very much obliged in the Hebrides, I have
inserted according to its date, though before receiving it I had
informed him of the melancholy event that the young Laird of Col was
unfortunately drowned[843].



'Last night I corrected the last page of our _Journey to the Hebrides_.
The printer has detained it all this time, for I had, before I went into
Wales, written all except two sheets. _The Patriot_ was called for by my
political friends on Friday, was written on Saturday, and I have heard
little of it. So vague are conjectures at a distance[844]. As soon as I
can, I will take care that copies be sent to you, for I would wish that
they might be given before they are bought; but I am afraid that Mr.
Strahan will send to you and to the booksellers at the same time. Trade
is as diligent as courtesy. I have mentioned all that you recommended.
Pray make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell and the younglings. The club
has, I think, not yet met.

'Tell me, and tell me honestly, what you think and what others say of
our travels. Shall we touch the continent[845]?

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Nov. 26, 1774.'

In his manuscript diary of this year, there is the following entry:--

'Nov. 27. Advent Sunday. I considered that this day, being the beginning
of the ecclesiastical year, was a proper time for a new course of life.
I began to read the Greek Testament regularly at 160 verses every
Sunday. This day I began the Acts.

'In this week I read Virgil's _Pastorals_. I learned to repeat the
_Pollio_ and _Gallus_. I read carelessly the first _Georgick_.'

Such evidences of his unceasing ardour, both for 'divine and human
lore,' when advanced into his sixty-fifth year, and notwithstanding his
many disturbances from disease, must make us at once honour his spirit,
and lament that it should be so grievously clogged by its material
tegument. It is remarkable, that he was very fond of the precision which
calculation produces[846]. Thus we find in one of his manuscript diaries,
'12 pages in 4to. Gr. Test, and 30 pages in Beza's folio, comprize the
whole in 40 days.'



'I have returned your play[848], which you will find underscored with red,
where there was a word which I did not like. The red will be washed off
with a little water.

'The plot is so well framed, the intricacy so artful, and the
disentanglement so easy, the suspense so affecting, and the passionate
parts so properly interposed, that I have no doubt of its success.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'December 19, 1774.'

1775: AETAT. 66.--The first effort of his pen in 1775 was, 'Proposals
for publishing the Works of Mrs. Charlotte Lennox[849],'[Dagger] in three
volumes quarto. In his diary, January 2, I find this entry: 'Wrote
Charlotte's Proposals.' But, indeed, the internal evidence would have
been quite sufficient. Her claim to the favour of the public was thus

'Most of the pieces, as they appeared singly, have been read with
approbation, perhaps above their merits, but of no great advantage to
the writer. She hopes, therefore, that she shall not be considered as
too indulgent to vanity, or too studious of interest, if, from that
labour which has hitherto been chiefly gainful to others, she endeavours
to obtain at last some profit for herself and her children. She cannot
decently enforce her claim by the praise of her own performances; nor
can she suppose, that, by the most artful and laboured address, any
additional notice could be procured to a publication, of which Her
MAJESTY has condescended to be the PATRONESS.'

He this year also wrote the Preface to Baretti's _Easy Lessons in
Italian and English_[850].



'You never did ask for a book by the post till now, and I did not think
on it. You see now it is done. I sent one to the King, and I hear he
likes it[851].

'I shall send a parcel into Scotland for presents, and intend to give to
many of my friends. In your catalogue you left out Lord Auchinleck.

'Let me know, as fast as you read it, how you like it; and let me know
if any mistake is committed, or any thing important left out. I wish you
could have seen the sheets. My compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to
Veronica[852], and to all my friends.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'January 14, 1775.


'Edinburgh, Jan. 19, 1775.

'Be pleased to accept of my best thanks for your _Journey to the
Hebrides_, which came to me by last night's post. I did really ask the
favour twice; but you have been even with me by granting it so speedily.
_Bis dat qui cito dat_[853]. Though ill of a bad cold, you kept me up the
greatest part of the last night; for I did not stop till I had read
every word of your book. I looked back to our first talking of a visit a
visit to the Hebrides, which was many years ago, when sitting by
ourselves in the Mitre tavern[854], in London, I think about _witching
time o' night_[855]; and then exulted in contemplating our scheme
fulfilled, and a _monumentum perenne_[856] of it erected by your superiour
abilities. I shall only say, that your book has afforded me a high
gratification. I shall afterwards give you my thoughts on particular
passages. In the mean time, I hasten to tell you of your having mistaken
two names, which you will correct in London, as I shall do here, that
the gentlemen who deserve the valuable compliments which you have paid
them, may enjoy their honours. In page 106, for _Gordon_ read
_Murchison_; and in page 357, for _Maclean_ read _Macleod_[857].

       *       *       *       *       *

'But I am now to apply to you for immediate aid in my profession, which
you have never refused to grant when I requested it. I enclose you a
petition for Dr. Memis, a physician at Aberdeen, in which Sir John
Dalrymple has exerted his talents, and which I am to answer as Counsel
for the managers of the Royal Infirmary in that city. Mr. Jopp, the
Provost, who delivered to you your freedom[858], is one of my clients,
and, _as a citizen of Aberdeen_, you will support him.

'The fact is shortly this. In a translation of the charter of the
Infirmary from Latin into English, made under the authority of the
managers, the same phrase in the original is in one place rendered
_Physician_, but when applied to Dr. Memis is rendered _Doctor of
Medicine_. Dr. Memis complained of this before the translation was
printed, but was not indulged with having it altered; and he has brought
an action for damages, on account of a supposed injury, as if the
designation given to him was an inferiour one, tending to make it be
supposed he is _not a Physician_, and, consequently, to hurt his
practice. My father has dismissed the action as groundless, and now he
has appealed to the whole Court[859].'



'I long to hear how you like the book; it is, I think, much liked here.
But Macpherson is very furious[860]; can you give me any more intelligence
about him, or his Fingal? Do what you can and do it quickly. Is Lord
Hailes on our side?

'Pray let me know what I owed you when I left you, that I may send it to

'I am going to write about the Americans[861]. If you have picked up any
hints among your lawyers, who are great masters of the law of nations,
or if your own mind suggests any thing, let me know. But mum, it is a

'I will send your parcel of books as soon as I can; but I cannot do as I
wish. However, you find every thing mentioned in the book which you

'Langton is here; we are all that ever we were[862]. He is a worthy
fellow, without malice, though not without resentment.

'Poor Beauclerk is so ill, that his life is thought to be in danger[863].
Lady Di nurses him with very great assiduity.

'Reynolds has taken too much to strong liquor[864], and seems to delight
in his new character.

'This is all the news that I have; but as you love verses, I will send
you a few which I made upon Inchkenneth[865]; but remember the condition,
you shall not show them, except to Lord Hailes, whom I love better than
any man whom I know so little. If he asks you to transcribe them for
him, you may do it, but I think he must promise not to let them be
copied again, nor to show them as mine.

'I have at last sent back Lord Hailes's sheets. I never think about
returning them, because I alter nothing. You will see that I might as
well have kept them. However, I am ashamed of my delay; and if I have
the honour of receiving any more, promise punctually to return them by
the next post. Make my compliments to dear Mrs. Boswell, and to Miss

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours most faithfully,

'SAM. JOHNSON[866].'

'Jan. 21, 1775.


'Edinburgh, Jan. 27, 1775.

       *       *       *       *       *

'You rate our lawyers here too high, when you call them great masters of
the law of nations.

       *       *       *       *       *

'As for myself, I am ashamed to say I have read little and thought
little on the subject of America. I will be much obliged to you, if you
will direct me where I shall find the best information of what is to be
said on both sides. It is a subject vast in its present extent and
future consequences. The imperfect hints which now float in my mind,
tend rather to the formation of an opinion that our government has been
precipitant and severe in the resolutions taken against the
Bostonians[867]. Well do you know that I have no kindness for that race.
But nations, or bodies of men, should, as well as individuals, have a
fair trial, and not be condemned on character alone. Have we not express
contracts with our colonies, which afford a more certain foundation of
judgement, than general political speculations on the mutual rights of
States and their provinces or colonies? Pray let me know immediately
what to read, and I shall diligently endeavour to gather for you any
thing that I can find. Is Burke's speech on American taxation published
by himself? Is it authentick? I remember to have heard you say, that you
had never considered East-Indian affairs; though, surely, they are of
much importance to Great-Britain. Under the recollection of this, I
shelter myself from the reproach of ignorance about the Americans. If
you write upon the subject I shall certainly understand it. But, since
you seem to expect that I should know something of it, without your
instruction, and that my own mind should suggest something, I trust you
will put me in the way.

       *       *       *       *       *

'What does Becket[868] mean by the _Originals_ of Fingal and other poems
of Ossian, which he advertises to have lain in his shop?'

       *       *       *       *       *



'You sent me a case to consider, in which I have no facts but what are
against us, nor any principles on which to reason. It is vain to try to
write thus without materials. The fact seems to be against you; at least
I cannot know nor say any thing to the contrary. I am glad that you like
the book so well. I hear no more of Macpherson. I shall long to know
what Lord Hailes says of it. Lend it him privately. I shall send the
parcel as soon as I can. Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell.

'I am, Sir, &c.,


'Jan. 28, 1775.'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 2, 1775

       *       *       *       *       *

'As to Macpherson, I am anxious to have from yourself a full and pointed
account of what has passed between you and him. It is confidently told
here, that before your book came out he sent to you, to let you know
that he understood you meant to deny the authenticity of Ossian's poems;
that the originals were in his possession; that you might have
inspection of them, and might take the evidence of people skilled in the
Erse language; and that he hoped, after this fair offer, you would not
be so uncandid as to assert that he had refused reasonable proof. That
you paid no regard to his message, but published your strong attack upon
him; and then he wrote a letter to you, in such terms as he thought
suited to one who had not acted as a man of veracity. You may believe it
gives me pain to hear your conduct represented as unfavourable, while I
can only deny what is said, on the ground that your character refutes
it, without having any information to oppose. Let me, I beg it of you,
be furnished with a sufficient answer to any calumny upon this occasion.

'Lord Hailes writes to me, (for we correspond more than we talk
together,) "As to Fingal, I see a controversy arising, and purpose to
keep out of its way. There is no doubt that I might mention some
circumstances; but I do not choose to commit them to paper[869]." What his
opinion is, I do not know. He says, "I am singularly obliged to Dr.
Johnson for his accurate and useful criticisms. Had he given some
strictures on the general plan of the work, it would have added much to
his favours." He is charmed with your verses on Inchkenneth, says they
are very elegant, but bids me tell you he doubts whether be according to
the rubrick; but that is your concern; for, you know, he is a

"Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces.[870]"

       *       *       *       *       *

'To DR. LAWRENCE[871].

'Feb. 7, 1775.


'One of the Scotch physicians is now prosecuting a corporation that in
some publick instrument have stiled him _Doctor of Medicine_ instead of
_Physician_. Boswell desires, being advocate for the corporation, to
know whether _Doctor of Medicine_ is not a legitimate title, and whether
it may be considered as a disadvantageous distinction. I am to write
to-night; be pleased to tell me.

'I am, Sir, your most, &c.,




'I am surprised that, knowing as you do the disposition of your
countrymen to tell lies in favour of each other[872], you can be at all
affected by any reports that circulate among them. Macpherson never in
his life offered me a sight of any original or of any evidence of any
kind; but thought only of intimidating me by noise and threats, till my
last answer,--that I would not be deterred from detecting what I thought
a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian--put an end to our correspondence.

'The state of the question is this. He, and Dr. Blair, whom I consider
as deceived, say, that he copied the poem from old manuscripts. His
copies, if he had them, and I believe him to have none, are nothing.
Where are the manuscripts? They can be shown if they exist, but they
were never shown. _De non existentibus et non apparentibus_, says our
law, _eadem est ratio_. No man has a claim to credit upon his own word,
when better evidence, if he had it, may be easily produced. But, so far
as we can find, the Erse language was never written till very lately for
the purposes of religion. A nation that cannot write, or a language that
was never written, has no manuscripts.

'But whatever he has he never offered to show. If old manuscripts should
now be mentioned, I should, unless there were more evidence than can be
easily had, suppose them another proof of Scotch conspiracy in national

'Do not censure the expression; you know it to be true.

'Dr. Memis's question is so narrow as to allow no speculation; and I
have no facts before me but those which his advocate has produced
against you.

'I consulted this morning the President of the London College of
Physicians[873], who says, that with us, _Doctor of Physick_ (we do not
say _Doctor of Medicine_) is the highest title that a practicer of
physick can have; that _Doctor_ implies not only _Physician_, but
teacher of physick; that every _Doctor_ is legally a _Physician_; but no
man, not a _Doctor_, can _practice physick_ but by _licence_
particularly granted. The Doctorate is a licence of itself. It seems to
us a very slender cause of prosecution.

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am now engaged, but in a little time I hope to do all you would have.
My compliments to Madam and Veronica.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'February 7, 1775.'

What words were used by Mr. Macpherson in his letter to the venerable
Sage, I have never heard; but they are generally said to have been of a
nature very different from the language of literary contest. Dr.
Johnson's answer appeared in the newspapers of the day, and has since
been frequently re-published; but not with perfect accuracy. I give it
as dictated to me by himself, written down in his presence, and
authenticated by a note in his own hand-writing, '_This, I think, is a
true copy_[874].'


'I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence offered me I
shall do my best to repel; and what I cannot do for myself, the law
shall do for me. I hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I
think a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian.

'What would you have me retract? I thought your book an imposture; I
think it an imposture still. For this opinion I have given my reasons to
the publick, which I here dare you to refute. Your rage I defy. Your
abilities, since your Homer[875], are not so formidable; and what I hear
of your morals, inclines me to pay regard not to what you shall say, but
to what you shall prove. You may print this if you will.

'SAM. JOHNSON[876].'

Mr. Macpherson little knew the character of Dr. Johnson, if he supposed
that he could be easily intimidated; for no man was ever more remarkable
for personal courage. He had, indeed, an aweful dread of death, or
rather, 'of something after death[877];' and what rational man, who
seriously thinks of quitting all that he has ever known, and going into
a new and unknown state of being, can be without that dread? But his
fear was from reflection; his courage natural. His fear, in that one
instance, was the result of philosophical and religious consideration.
He feared death, but he feared nothing else, not even what might
occasion death[878]. Many instances of his resolution may be mentioned.
One day, at Mr. Beauclerk's house in the country, when two large dogs
were fighting, he went up to them, and beat them till they separated[879];
and at another time, when told of the danger there was that a gun might
burst if charged with many balls, he put in six or seven, and fired it
off against a wall. Mr. Langton told me, that when they were swimming
together near Oxford, he cautioned Dr. Johnson against a pool, which was
reckoned particularly dangerous; upon which Johnson directly swam into
it. He told me himself that one night he was attacked in the street by
four men, to whom he would not yield, but kept them all at bay, till the
watch came up, and carried both him and them to the round-house[880]. In
the playhouse at Lichfield, as Mr. Garrick informed me, Johnson having
for a moment quitted a chair which was placed for him between the
side-scenes, a gentleman took possession of it, and when Johnson on his
return civilly demanded his seat, rudely refused to give it up; upon
which Johnson laid hold of it, and tossed him and the chair into the
pit. Foote, who so successfully revived the old comedy, by exhibiting
living characters, had resolved to imitate Johnson on the stage,
expecting great profits from his ridicule of so celebrated a man.
Johnson being informed of his intention, and being at dinner at Mr.
Thomas Davies's the bookseller, from whom I had the story, he asked Mr.
Davies 'what was the common price of an oak stick;' and being answered
six-pence, 'Why then, Sir, (said he,) give me leave to send your servant
to purchase me a shilling one. I'll have a double quantity; for I am
told Foote means to _take me off_, as he calls it, and I am determined
the fellow shall not do it with impunity.' Davies took care to acquaint
Foote of this, which effectually checked the wantonness of the
mimick[881]. Mr. Macpherson's menaces made Johnson provide himself with
the same implement of defence[882]; and had he been attacked, I have no
doubt that, old as he was, he would have made his corporal prowess be
felt as much as his intellectual.

His _Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland_[883] is a most valuable
performance. It abounds in extensive philosophical views of society, and
in ingenious sentiment and lively description. A considerable part of
it, indeed, consists of speculations, which many years before he saw the
wild regions which we visited together, probably had employed his
attention, though the actual sight of those scenes undoubtedly quickened
and augmented them. Mr. Orme, the very able historian[884], agreed with me
in this opinion, which he thus strongly expressed:--'There are in that
book thoughts, which, by long revolution in the great mind of Johnson,
have been formed and polished like pebbles rolled in the ocean!'

That he was to some degree of excess a _true-born Englishman_[885], so as
to have entertained an undue prejudice against both the country and the
people of Scotland, must be allowed[886]. But it was a prejudice of the
head, and not of the heart. He had no ill-will to the Scotch; for, if he
had been conscious of that, he would never have thrown himself into the
bosom of their country, and trusted to the protection of its remote
inhabitants with a fearless confidence. His remark upon the nakedness of
the country, from its being denuded of trees[887], was made after having
travelled two hundred miles along the eastern coast, where certainly
trees are not to be found near the road; and he said it was 'a map of
the road[888]' which he gave. His disbelief of the authenticity of the
poems ascribed to Ossian, a Highland bard, was confirmed in the course
of his journey, by a very strict examination of the evidence offered for
it; and although their authenticity was made too much a national point
by the Scotch, there were many respectable persons in that country, who
did not concur in this; so that his judgement upon the question ought
not to be decried, even by those who differ from him. As to myself, I
can only say, upon a subject now become very uninteresting, that when
the fragments of Highland poetry first came out, I was much pleased with
their wild peculiarity, and was one of those who subscribed to enable
their editor, Mr. Macpherson, then a young man, to make a search in the
Highlands and Hebrides for a long poem in the Erse language, which was
reported to be preserved somewhere in those regions. But when there came
forth an Epick Poem in six books, with all the common circumstances of
former compositions of that nature; and when, upon an attentive
examination of it, there was found a perpetual recurrence of the same
images which appear in the fragments; and when no ancient manuscript, to
authenticate the work, was deposited in any publick library, though that
was insisted on as a reasonable proof, _who_ could forbear to doubt[889]?

Johnson's grateful acknowledgements of kindnesses received in the course
of this tour, completely refute the brutal reflections which have been
thrown out against him, as if he had made an ungrateful return; and his
delicacy in sparing in his book those who we find from his letters to
Mrs. Thrale were just objects of censure[890], is much to be admired. His
candour and amiable disposition is conspicuous from his conduct, when
informed by Mr. Macleod, of Rasay, that he had committed a mistake,
which gave that gentleman some uneasiness. He wrote him a courteous and
kind letter, and inserted in the news-papers an advertisement,
correcting the mistake[891].

The observations of my friend Mr. Dempster in a letter[892] written to me,
soon after he had read Dr. Johnson's book, are so just and liberal, that
they cannot be too often repeated:

'There is nothing in the book, from beginning to end, that a Scotchman
need to take amiss. What he says of the country is true; and his
observations on the people are what must naturally occur to a sensible,
observing, and reflecting inhabitant of a convenient metropolis, where a
man on thirty pounds a year may be better accommodated with all the
little wants of life, than Col or Sir Allan.

'I am charmed with his researches concerning the Erse language, and the
antiquity of their manuscripts. I am quite convinced; and I shall rank
Ossian and his Fingals and Oscars amongst the nursery tales, not the
true history of our country, in all time to come.

'Upon the whole, the book cannot displease, for it has no pretensions.
The authour neither says he is a geographer, nor an antiquarian, nor
very learned in the history of Scotland, nor a naturalist, nor a
fossilist[893]. The manners of the people, and the face of the country,
are all he attempts to describe, or seems to have thought of. Much were
it to be wished, that they who have travelled into more remote, and of
course more curious regions, had all possessed his good sense. Of the
state of learning, his observations on Glasgow University show he has
formed a very sound judgement. He understands our climate too; and he
has accurately observed the changes, however slow and imperceptible to
us, which Scotland has undergone, in consequence of the blessings of
liberty and internal peace.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Knox, another native of Scotland, who has since made the same tour,
and published an account of it, is equally liberal.

'I have read (says he,) his book again and again, travelled with him
from Berwick to Glenelg, through countries with which I am well
acquainted; sailed with him from Glenelg to Rasay, Sky, Rum, Col, Mull,
and Icolmkill, but have not been able to correct him in any matter of
consequence. I have often admired the accuracy, the precision, and the
justness of what he advances, respecting both the country and the

'The Doctor has every where delivered his sentiments with freedom, and
in many instances with a seeming regard for the benefit of the
inhabitants and the ornament of the country. His remarks on the want of
trees and hedges for shade, as well as for shelter to the cattle, are
well founded, and merit the thanks, not the illiberal censure of the
natives. He also felt for the distresses of the Highlanders, and
explodes with great propriety the bad management of the grounds, and the
neglect of timber in the Hebrides.'

Having quoted Johnson's just compliments on the Rasay family[894], he

'On the other hand, I found this family equally lavish in their
encomiums upon the Doctor's conversation, and his subsequent civilities
to a young gentleman of that country, who, upon waiting upon him at
London, was well received, and experienced all the attention and regard
that a warm friend could bestow. Mr. Macleod having also been in London,
waited upon the Doctor, who provided a magnificent and expensive
entertainment in honour of his old Hebridean acquaintance.'

And talking of the military road by Fort Augustus, he says,

'By this road, though one of the most rugged in Great Britain, the
celebrated Dr. Johnson passed from Inverness to the Hebride Isles. His
observations on the country and people are extremely correct, judicious,
and instructive[895].'

Mr. Tytler, the acute and able vindicator of Mary Queen of Scots, in one
of his letters to Mr. James Elphinstone, published in that gentleman's
_Forty Years' Correspondence_, says,

'I read Dr. Johnson's Tour with very great pleasure. Some few errours he
has fallen into, but of no great importance, and those are lost in the
numberless beauties of his work.

'If I had leisure, I could perhaps point out the most exceptionable
places; but at present I am in the country, and have not his book at
hand. It is plain he meant to speak well of Scotland; and he has in my
apprehension done us great honour in the most capital article, the
character of the inhabitants.'

His private letters to Mrs. Thrale, written during the course of his
journey, which therefore may be supposed to convey his genuine feelings
at the time, abound in such benignant sentiments towards the people who
showed him civilities[896], that no man whose temper is not very harsh and
sour, can retain a doubt of the goodness of his heart.

It is painful to recollect with what rancour he was assailed by numbers
of shallow irritable North Britons, on account of his supposed injurious
treatment of their country and countrymen, in his _Journey_. Had there
been any just ground for such a charge, would the virtuous and candid
Dempster[897] have given his opinion of the book, in the terms which I
have quoted? Would the patriotick Knox[898] have spoken of it as he has
done? Would Mr. Tytler, surely

'--a Scot, if ever Scot there were,'

have expressed himself thus? And let me add, that, citizen of the world
as I hold myself to be, I have that degree of predilection for my
_natale solum_, nay, I have that just sense of the merit of an ancient
nation, which has been ever renowned for its valour, which in former
times maintained its independence against a powerful neighbour, and in
modern times has been equally distinguished for its ingenuity and
industry in civilized life, that I should have felt a generous
indignation at any injustice done to it. Johnson treated Scotland no
worse than he did even his best friends, whose characters he used to
give as they appeared to him, both in light and shade. Some people, who
had not exercised their minds sufficiently, condemned him for censuring
his friends. But Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose philosophical penetration
and justness of thinking were not less known to those who lived with
him, than his genius in his art is admired by the world, explained his
conduct thus: 'He was fond of discrimination, which he could not show
without pointing out the bad as well as the good in every character; and
as his friends were those whose characters he knew best, they afforded
him the best opportunity for showing the acuteness of his judgement.'

He expressed to his friend Mr. Windham of Norfolk, his wonder at the
extreme jealousy of the Scotch, and their resentment at having their
country described by him as it really was; when, to say that it was a
country as good as England, would have been a gross falsehood. 'None of
us, (said he), would be offended if a foreigner who has travelled here
should say, that vines and olives don't grow in England.' And as to his
prejudice against the Scotch, which I always ascribed to that
nationality which he observed in _them_, he said to the same gentleman,
'When I find a Scotchman, to whom an Englishman is as a Scotchman, that
Scotchman shall be as an Englishman to me[899].' His intimacy with many
gentlemen of Scotland, and his employing so many natives of that country
as his amanuenses[900], prove that his prejudice was not virulent; and I
have deposited in the British Museum, amongst other pieces of his
writing, the following note in answer to one from me, asking if he would
meet me at dinner at the Mitre, though a friend of mine, a Scotchman,
was to be there:--

'Mr. Johnson does not see why Mr. Boswell should suppose a Scotchman
less acceptable than any other man. He will be at the Mitre.'

My much-valued friend Dr. Barnard, now Bishop of Killaloe, having once
expressed to him an apprehension, that if he should visit Ireland he
might treat the people of that country more unfavourably than he had
done the Scotch; he answered, with strong pointed double-edged wit,
'Sir, you have no reason to be afraid of me. The Irish are not in a
conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of
their countrymen[901]. No, Sir; the Irish are a FAIR PEOPLE;--they never
speak well of one another.'

Johnson told me of an instance of Scottish nationality, which made a
very unfavourable impression upon his mind. A Scotchman, of some
consideration in London, solicited him to recommend, by the weight of
his learned authority, to be master of an English school, a person of
whom he who recommended him confessed he knew no more but that he was
his countryman. Johnson was shocked at this unconscientious conduct[902].

All the miserable cavillings against his _Journey_, in news-papers[903],
magazines, and other fugitive publications, I can speak from certain
knowledge, only furnished him with sport. At last there came out a
scurrilous volume, larger than Johnson's own, filled with malignant
abuse, under a name, real or fictitious, of some low man in an obscure
corner of Scotland, though supposed to be the work of another Scotchman,
who has found means to make himself well known both in Scotland and
England. The effect which it had upon Johnson was, to produce this
pleasant observation to Mr. Seward, to whom he lent the book: 'This
fellow must be a blockhead. They don't know how to go about their abuse.
Who will read a five shilling book against me? No, Sir, if they had wit,
they should have kept pelting me with pamphlets[904].'

'Edinburgh, Feb. 18, 1775.

'You would have been very well pleased if you had dined with me to-day.
I had for my guests, Macquharrie, young Maclean of Col, the successor of
our friend, a very amiable man, though not marked with such active
qualities as his brother; Mr. Maclean of Torloisk in Mull, a gentleman
of Sir Allan's family; and two of the clan Grant; so that the Highland
and Hebridean genius reigned. We had a great deal of conversation about
you, and drank your health in a bumper. The toast was not proposed by
me, which is a circumstance to be remarked, for I am now so connected
with you, that any thing that I can say or do to your honour has not the
value of an additional compliment. It is only giving you a guinea out of
that treasure of admiration which already belongs to you, and which is
no hidden treasure; for I suppose my admiration of you is co-existent
with the knowledge of my character.

'I find that the Highlanders and Hebrideans in general are much fonder
of your _Journey_ than the low-country or _hither_ Scots. One of the
Grants said to-day, that he was sure you were a man of a good heart, and
a candid man, and seemed to hope he should be able to convince you of
the antiquity of a good proportion of the poems of Ossian. After all
that has passed, I think the matter is capable of being proved to a
certain degree. I am told that Macpherson got one old Erse MS. from
Clanranald, for the restitution of which he executed a formal
obligation; and it is affirmed, that the Gaelick (call it Erse or call
it Irish,) has been written in the Highlands and Hebrides for many
centuries. It is reasonable to suppose, that such of the inhabitants as
acquired any learning, possessed the art of writing as well as their
Irish neighbours, and Celtick cousins; and the question is, can
sufficient evidence be shewn of this?

'Those who are skilled in ancient writings can determine the age of MSS.
or at least can ascertain the century in which they were written; and if
men of veracity, who are so skilled, shall tell us that MSS. in the
possession of families in the Highlands and isles are the works of a
remote age, I think we should be convinced by their testimony.

'There is now come to this city, Ranald Macdonald from the Isle of Egg,
who has several MSS. of Erse poetry, which he wishes to publish by
subscription. I have engaged to take three copies of the book, the price
of which is to be six shillings, as I would subscribe for all the Erse
that can be printed be it old or new, that the language may be
preserved. This man says, that some of his manuscripts are ancient; and,
to be sure, one of them which was shewn to me does appear to have the
duskyness of antiquity.

       *       *       *       *       *

'The enquiry is not yet quite hopeless, and I should think that the
exact truth may be discovered, if proper means be used. I am, &c.




'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. If they come, put
the names of my friends into them; you may cut them out[905], and paste
them with a little starch in the book.

'You then are going wild about Ossian. Why do you think any part can be
proved? The dusky manuscript of Egg is probably not fifty years old; if
it be an hundred, it proves nothing. The tale of Clanranald is no proof.
Has Clanranald told it? Can he prove it? There are, I believe, no Erse
manuscripts. None of the old families had a single letter in Erse that
we heard of. You say it is likely that they could write. The learned, if
any learned there were, could; but knowing by that learning, some
written language, in that language they wrote, as letters had never been
applied to their own. If there are manuscripts, let them be shewn, with
some proof that they are not forged for the occasion. You say many can
remember parts of Ossian. I believe all those parts are versions of the
English; at least there is no proof of their antiquity.

'Macpherson is said to have made some translations himself; and having
taught a boy to write it, ordered him to say that he had learnt it of
his grandmother. The boy, when he grew up, told the story. This Mrs.
Williams heard at Mr. Strahan's table. Don't be credulous; you know how
little a Highlander can be trusted.[906] Macpherson is, so far as I know,
very quiet. Is not that proof enough? Every thing is against him. No
visible manuscript; no inscription in the language: no correspondence
among friends: no transaction of business, of which a single scrap
remains in the ancient families. Macpherson's pretence is, that the
character was Saxon. If he had not talked unskilfully of _manuscripts_,
he might have fought with oral tradition much longer. As to Mr. Grant's
information, I suppose he knows much less of the matter than ourselves.

'In the mean time, the bookseller says that the sale[907] is sufficiently
quick. They printed four thousand. Correct your copy wherever it is
wrong, and bring it up. Your friends will all be glad to see you. I
think of going myself into the country about May.

'I am sorry that I have not managed to send the book sooner. I have left
four for you, and do not restrict you absolutely to follow my directions
in the distribution. You must use your own discretion.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell: I suppose she is now just
beginning to forgive me.

'I am, dear Sir, your humble servant,
'Feb. 25, 1775.'

On Tuesday, March 21, I arrived in London[908]; and on repairing to Dr.
Johnson's before dinner, found him in his study, sitting with Mr. Peter
Garrick, the elder brother of David, strongly resembling him in
countenance and voice, but of more sedate and placid manners[909]. Johnson
informed me, that 'though Mr. Beauclerk was in great pain, it was hoped
he was not in danger[910], and that he now wished to consult Dr. Heberden
to try the effect of a _new understanding_.' Both at this interview, and
in the evening at Mr. Thrale's, where he and Mr. Peter Garrick and I met
again, he was vehement on the subject of the Ossian controversy;
observing, 'We do not know that there are any ancient Erse manuscripts;
and we have no other reason to disbelieve that there are men with three
heads, but that we do not know that there are any such men.' He also was
outrageous, upon his supposition that my countrymen 'loved Scotland
better than truth[911],' saying, 'All of them,--nay not all,--but _droves_
of them, would come up, and attest any thing for the honour of
Scotland.' He also persevered in his wild allegation, that he questioned
if there was a tree between Edinburgh and the English border older than
himself[912]. I assured him he was mistaken, and suggested that the proper
punishment would be that he should receive a stripe at every tree above
a hundred years old, that was found within that space. He laughed, and
said, 'I believe I might submit to it for a _banbee_!'

The doubts which, in my correspondence with him, I had ventured to state
as to the justice and wisdom of the conduct of Great-Britain towards the
American colonies, while I at the same time requested that he would
enable me to inform myself upon that momentous subject, he had
altogether disregarded; and had recently published a pamphlet, entitled,
_Taxation no Tyranny; an answer to the Resolutions and Address of the
American Congress_.[913]

He had long before indulged most unfavourable sentiments of our
fellow-subjects in America.[914] For, as early as 1769, I was told by Dr.
John Campbell, that he had said of them, 'Sir, they are a race of
convicts,[915] and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short
of hanging.'

Of this performance I avoided to talk with him; for I had now formed a
clear and settled opinion,[916] that the people of America were well
warranted to resist a claim that their fellow-subjects in the
mother-country should have the entire command of their fortunes, by
taxing them without their own consent; and the extreme violence which it
breathed, appeared to me so unsuitable to the mildness of a Christian
philosopher, and so directly opposite to the principles of peace which
he had so beautifully recommended in his pamphlet respecting Falkland's
Islands,[917] that I was sorry to see him appear in so unfavourable a
light. Besides, I could not perceive in it that ability of argument, or
that felicity of expression, for which he was, upon other occasions, so
eminent. Positive assertion, sarcastical severity, and extravagant
ridicule, which he himself reprobated as a test of truth, were united in
this rhapsody.

That this pamphlet was written at the desire of those who were then in
power, I have no doubt; and, indeed, he owned to me, that it had been
revised and curtailed by some of them. He told me, that they had struck
out one passage, which was to this effect:--

'That the Colonists could with no solidity argue from their not having
been taxed while in their infancy, that they should not now he taxed. We
do not put a calf into the plow; we wait till he is an ox.'

He said, 'They struck it out either critically as too ludicrous, or
politically as too exasperating. I care not which. It was their
business. If an architect says, I will build five stories, and the man
who employs him says, I will have only three, the employer is to
decide.' 'Yes, Sir, (said I,) in ordinary cases. But should it be so
when the architect gives his skill and labour _gratis_?'

Unfavourable as I am constrained to say my opinion of this pamphlet was,
yet, since it was congenial with the sentiments of numbers at that time,
and as everything relating to the writings of Dr. Johnson is of
importance in literary history, I shall therefore insert some passages
which were struck out, it does not appear why, either by himself or
those who revised it. They appear printed in a few proof leaves of it in
my possession, marked with corrections in his own hand-writing. I shall
distinguish them by _Italicks_.

In the paragraph where he says the Americans were incited to resistance
by European intelligence from

'Men whom they thought their friends, but who were friends only to

there followed,--

'_and made by their selfishness, the enemies of their country_'

And the next paragraph ran thus:--

'On the original contrivers of mischief, _rather than on those whom they
have deluded_, let an insulted nation pour out its vengeance.'

The paragraph which came next was in these words:--

'_Unhappy is that country in which men can hope for advancement by
favouring its enemies. The tranquillity of stable government is not
always easily preserved against the machinations of single innovators;
but what can be the hope of quiet, when factions hostile to the
legislature can be openly formed and openly avowed?_'

After the paragraph which now concludes the pamphlet, there followed
this, in which he certainly means the great Earl of Chatham[919], and
glances at a certain popular Lord Chancellor[920].'

'_If, by the fortune of war, they drive us utterly away, what they will
do next can only be conjectured. If a new monarchy is erected, they will
want a KING. He who first takes into his hand the sceptre of America,
should have a name of good omen. WILLIAM has been known both as
conqueror and deliverer; and perhaps England, however contemned, might
yet supply them with ANOTHER WILLIAM. Whigs, indeed, are not willing to
be governed; and it is possible that KING WILLIAM may be strongly
inclined to guide their measures: but Whigs have been cheated like other
mortals, and suffered their leader to become their tyrant, under the
name of their PROTECTOR. What more they will receive from England, no
man can tell. In their rudiments of empire they may want a CHANCELLOR_.'

Then came this paragraph:--

'_Their numbers are, at present, not quite sufficient for the greatness
which, in some form of government or other, is to rival the ancient
monarchies; but by Dr. Franklin's rule of progression[921], they will, in
a century and a quarter, be more than equal to the inhabitants of
Europe. When the Whigs of America are thus multiplied, let the Princes
of the earth tremble in their palaces. If they should continue to double
and to double, their own hemisphere would not contain them. But let not
our boldest oppugners of authority look forward with delight to this
futurity of Whiggism_.'

How it ended I know not, as it is cut off abruptly at the foot of the
last of these proof pages[922].

His pamphlets in support of the measures of administration were
published on his own account, and he afterwards collected them into a
volume, with the title of _Political Tracts, by the Authour of the
Rambler_, with this motto:--

'Fallitur egregio quisquis sub Principe credit
Servitium; nunquam libertas gratior extat
Quam sub Rege pio.' CLAUDIANUS[923].

These pamphlets drew upon him numerous attacks[924]. Against the common
weapons of literary warfare he was hardened; but there were two
instances of animadversion which I communicated to him, and from what I
could judge, both from his silence and his looks, appeared to me to
impress him much.

One was, _A Letter to Dr. Samuel Johnson, occasioned by his late
political Publications_. It appeared previous to his _Taxation no
Tyranny_, and was written by Dr. Joseph Towers[925]. In that performance,
Dr. Johnson was treated with the respect due to so eminent a man, while
his conduct as a political writer was boldly and pointedly arraigned, as
inconsistent with the character of one, who, if he did employ his pen
upon politics,

'It might reasonably be expected should distinguish himself, not by
party violence and rancour, but by moderation and by wisdom.'

It concluded thus:--

'I would, however, wish you to remember, should you again address the
publick under the character of a political writer, that luxuriance of
imagination or energy of language will ill compensate for the want of
candour, of justice, and of truth. And I shall only add, that should I
hereafter be disposed to read, as I heretofore have done, the most
excellent of all your performances, _The Rambler_, the pleasure which I
have been accustomed to find in it will be much diminished by the
reflection that the writer of so moral, so elegant, and so valuable a
work, was capable of prostituting his talents in such productions as
_The False Alarm_, the _Thoughts on the Transactions respecting
Falkland's Islands_, and _The Patriot_'

I am willing to do justice to the merit of Dr. Towers, of whom I will
say, that although I abhor his Whiggish democratical notions and
propensities, (for I will not call them principles,) I esteem him as an
ingenious, knowing, and very convivial man.

The other instance was a paragraph of a letter to me, from my old and
most intimate friend, the Reverend Mr. Temple, who wrote the character
of Gray, which has had the honour to be adopted both by Mr. Mason and
Dr. Johnson in their accounts of that poet[927]. The words were,--

'How can your great, I will not say your _pious_, but your _moral_
friend, support the barbarous measures of administration, which they
have not the face to ask even their infidel pensioner Hume to

However confident of the rectitude of his own mind, Johnson may have
felt sincere uneasiness that his conduct should be erroneously imputed
to unworthy motives, by good men; and that the influence of his valuable
writings should on that account be in any degree obstructed or

He complained to a Right Honourable friend[929] of distinguished talents
and very elegant manners, with whom he maintained a long intimacy, and
whose generosity towards him will afterwards appear[930], that his pension
having been given to him as a literary character, he had been applied to
by administration to write political pamphlets; and he was even so much
irritated, that he declared his resolution to resign his pension. His
friend shewed him the impropriety of such a measure, and he afterwards
expressed his gratitude, and said he had received good advice. To that
friend he once signified a wish to have his pension secured to him for
his life; but he neither asked nor received from government any reward
whatsoever for his political labours[931].

On Friday, March 24, I met him at the LITERARY CLUB, where were Mr.
Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Mr. Colman, Dr. Percy, Mr. Vesey, Sir Charles
Bunbury, Dr. George Fordyce, Mr. Steevens, and Mr. Charles Fox. Before
he came in, we talked of his _Journey to the Western Islands_, and of
his coming away 'willing to believe the second sight[932],' which seemed
to excite some ridicule. I was then so impressed with the truth of many
of the stories of it which I had been told, that I avowed my conviction,
saying, 'He is only _willing_ to believe: I _do_ believe. The evidence
is enough for me, though not for his great mind. What will not fill a
quart bottle will fill a pint bottle. I am filled with belief[933].' 'Are
you? (said Colman,) then cork it up.'

I found his _Journey_ the common topick of conversation in London at
this time, wherever I happened to be. At one of Lord Mansfield's formal
Sunday evening conversations, strangely called _Levées_, his Lordship
addressed me, 'We have all been reading your travels, Mr. Boswell.' I
answered, 'I was but the humble attendant of Dr. Johnson.' The Chief
Justice replied, with that air and manner which none, who ever saw and
heard him, can forget, 'He speaks ill of nobody but Ossian.'

Johnson was in high spirits this evening at the club, and talked with
great animation and success. He attacked Swift, as he used to do upon
all occasions. The _Tale of a Tub_ is so much superiour to his other
writings, that one can hardly believe he was the authour of it[934]:
'there is in it such a vigour of mind, such a swarm of thoughts, so much
of nature, and art, and life[935].' I wondered to hear him say of
_Gulliver's Travels_, 'When once you have thought of big men and little
men, it is very easy to do all the rest.' I endeavoured to make a stand
for Swift, and tried to rouse those who were much more able to defend
him; but in vain. Johnson at last, of his own accord, allowed very great
merit to the inventory of articles found in the pocket of the Man
Mountain, particularly the description of his watch, which it was
conjectured was his GOD, as he consulted it upon all occasions. He
observed, that 'Swift put his name to but two things, (after he had a
name to put,) _The Plan for the Improvement of the English Language_,
and the last _Drapier's Letter_[936].'

From Swift, there was an easy transition to Mr. Thomas
Sheridan.--JOHNSON. 'Sheridan is a wonderful admirer of the tragedy of
_Douglas_, and presented its authour with a gold medal. Some years ago,
at a coffee-house in Oxford, I called to him, "Mr. Sheridan, Mr.
Sheridan, how came you to give a gold medal to Home, for writing that
foolish play[937]?" This, you see, was wanton and insolent; but I _meant_
to be wanton and insolent. A medal has no value but as a stamp of merit.
And was Sheridan to assume to himself the right of giving that stamp? If
Sheridan was magnificent enough to bestow a gold medal as an honorary
reward of dramatick excellence, he should have requested one of the
Universities to choose the person on whom it should be conferred.
Sheridan had no right to give a stamp of merit: it was counterfeiting
Apollo's coin[938].'

On Monday, March 27, I breakfasted with him at Mr. Strahan's. He told
us, that he was engaged to go that evening to Mrs. Abington's benefit.
'She was visiting some ladies whom I was visiting, and begged that I
would come to her benefit. I told her I could not hear: but she insisted
so much on my coming, that it would have been brutal to have refused
her.' This was a speech quite characteristical. He loved to bring
forward his having been in the gay circles of life; and he was, perhaps,
a little vain of the solicitations of this elegant and fashionable
actress. He told us, the play was to be _The Hypocrite_, altered from
Cibber's _Nonjuror_[939], so as to satirize the Methodists. 'I do not
think (said he,) the character of _The Hypocrite_ justly applicable to
the Methodists, but it was very applicable to the Nonjurors[940]. I once
said to Dr. Madan[941], a clergyman of Ireland, who was a great Whig, that
perhaps a Nonjuror would have been less criminal in taking the oaths
imposed by the ruling power, than refusing them; because refusing them,
necessarily laid him under almost an irresistible temptation to be more
criminal; for, a man _must_ live, and if he precludes himself from the
support furnished by the establishment, will probably be reduced to very
wicked shifts to maintain himself[942].' BOSWELL. 'I should think, Sir,
that a man who took the oaths contrary to his principles, was a
determined wicked man, because he was sure he was committing perjury;
whereas a Nonjuror might be insensibly led to do what was wrong, without
being so directly conscious of it.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man who goes
to bed to his patron's wife is pretty sure that he is committing
wickedness.' BOSWELL. 'Did the nonjuring clergymen do so, Sir?' JOHNSON.
'I am afraid many of them did.'

I was startled at his argument, and could by no means think it
convincing. Had not his own father complied with the requisition of
government[943], (as to which he once observed to me, when I pressed him
upon it, '_That_, Sir, he was to settle with himself,') he would
probably have thought more unfavourably of a Jacobite who took the

'--had he not resembled
My father as he _swore_--[944].'

Mr. Strahan talked of launching into the great ocean of London, in order
to have a chance for rising into eminence; and, observing that many men
were kept back from trying their fortunes there, because they were born
to a competency, said, 'Small certainties are the bane of men of
talents[945];' which Johnson confirmed. Mr. Strahan put Johnson in mind of
a remark which he had made to him; 'There are few ways in which a man
can be more innocently employed than in getting money.' 'The more one
thinks of this, (said Strahan,) the juster it will appear.'

Mr. Strahan had taken a poor boy from the country as an apprentice, upon
Johnson's recommendation. Johnson having enquired after him, said, 'Mr.
Strahan, let me have five guineas on account, and I'll give this boy
one. Nay, if a man recommends a boy, and does nothing for him, it is sad
work. Call him down.'

I followed him into the court-yard[946], behind Mr. Strahan's house; and
there I had a proof of what I had heard him profess, that he talked
alike to all. 'Some people tell you that they let themselves down to the
capacity of their hearers. I never do that. I speak uniformly, in as
intelligible a manner as I can[947].'

'Well, my boy, how do you go on?' 'Pretty well, Sir; but they are afraid
I an't strong enough for some parts of the business.' JOHNSON. 'Why I
shall be sorry for it; for when you consider with how little mental
power and corporeal labour a printer can get a guinea a week, it is a
very desirable occupation for you. Do you hear,--take all the pains you
can; and if this does not do, we must think of some other way of life
for you. There's a guinea.'

Here was one of the many, many instances of his active benevolence. At
the same time, the slow and sonorous solemnity with which, while he bent
himself down, he addressed a little thick short-legged boy, contrasted
with the boy's aukwardness and awe, could not but excite some ludicrous

I met him at Drury-lane play-house in the evening. Sir Joshua Reynolds,
at Mrs. Abington's request, had promised to bring a body of wits to her
benefit; and having secured forty places in the front boxes, had done me
the honour to put me in the group. Johnson sat on the seat directly
behind me[949]; and as he could neither see nor hear at such a distance
from the stage, he was wrapped up in grave abstraction, and seemed quite
a cloud, amidst all the sunshine of glitter and gaiety[950].

I wondered at his patience in sitting out a play of five acts, and a
farce of two. He said very little; but after the prologue to Bon Ton[951]
had been spoken, which he could hear pretty well from the more slow and
distinct utterance, he talked of prologue-writing, and observed, 'Dryden
has written prologues superiour to any that David Garrick has written;
but David Garrick has written more good prologues than Dryden has done.
It is wonderful that he has been able to write such variety of them[952].'

At Mr. Beauclerk's, where I supped, was Mr. Garrick, whom I made happy
with Johnson's praise of his prologues; and I suppose, in gratitude to
him, he took up one of his favourite topicks, the nationality of the
Scotch, which he maintained in a pleasant manner, with the aid of a
little poetical fiction. 'Come, come, don't deny it: they are really
national. Why, now, the Adams[953] are as liberal-minded men as any in the
world: but, I don't know how it is, all their workmen are Scotch. You
are, to be sure, wonderfully free from that nationality: but so it
happens, that you employ the only Scotch shoe-black in London.' He
imitated the manner of his old master with ludicrous exaggeration;
repeating, with pauses and half-whistlings interjected,

'_Os homini sublime dedit,--calumque tueri
Jussit,--et erectos ad sidera--tollere vultus_[954]';

looking downwards all the time, and, while pronouncing the four last
words, absolutely touching the ground with a kind of contorted

Garrick, however, when he pleased, could imitate Johnson very
exactly[955]; for that great actor, with his distinguished powers of
expression which were so universally admired, possessed also an
admirable talent of mimickry. He was always jealous that Johnson spoke
lightly of him[956]. I recollect his exhibiting him to me one day, as if
saying, 'Davy has some convivial pleasantry about him, but 'tis a futile
fellow[957];' which he uttered perfectly with the tone and air of Johnson.

I cannot too frequently request of my readers, while they peruse my
account of Johnson's conversation, to endeavour to keep in mind his
deliberate and strong utterance. His mode of speaking was indeed very
impressive[958]; and I wish it could be preserved as musick is written,
according to the very ingenious method of Mr. Steele[959], who has shown
how the recitation of Mr. Garrick, and other eminent speakers, might be
transmitted to posterity in score[960].

Next day I dined with Johnson at Mr. Thrale's. He attacked Gray, calling
him 'a dull fellow.' BOSWELL. 'I understand he was reserved, and might
appear dull in company; but surely he was not dull in poetry.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull every where.[961]
He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him GREAT. He
was a mechanical poet.' He then repeated some ludicrous lines, which
have escaped my memory, and said, 'Is not that GREAT, like his Odes?'
Mrs. Thrale maintained that his Odes were melodious; upon which he

'Weave the warp, and weave the woof;'--I added, in a solemn tone,

'The winding-sheet of Edward's race.'

'_There_ is a good line.' 'Ay, (said he), and the next line is a good
one,' (pronouncing it contemptuously;) 'Give ample verge and room

'No, Sir, there are but two good[963] stanzas in Gray's poetry, which are
in his _Elegy in a Country Church-yard_.' He then repeated the stanza,

'For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,' &c.

mistaking one word; for instead of _precincts_ he said _confines_. He
added, 'The other stanza I forget[964].'

A young lady[965] who had married a man much her inferiour in rank being
mentioned, a question arose how a woman's relations should behave to her
in such a situation; and, while I recapitulate the debate, and recollect
what has since happened[966], I cannot but be struck in a manner that
delicacy forbids me to express. While I contended that she ought to be
treated with an inflexible steadiness of displeasure, Mrs. Thrale was
all for mildness and forgiveness, and, according to the vulgar phrase,
'making the best of a bad bargain.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, we must
distinguish. Were I a man of rank, I would not let a daughter starve who
had made a mean marriage; but having voluntarily degraded herself from
the station which she was originally entitled to hold, I would support
her only in that which she herself had chosen; and would not put her on
a level with my other daughters. You are to consider, Madam, that it is
our duty to maintain the subordination of civilized society; and when
there is a gross and shameful deviation from rank, it should be punished
so as to deter others from the same perversion.'

After frequently considering this subject, I am more and more confirmed
in what I then meant to express, and which was sanctioned by the
authority, and illustrated by the wisdom, of Johnson; and I think it of
the utmost consequence to the happiness of Society, to which
subordination is absolutely necessary[967]. It is weak, and contemptible,
and unworthy, in a parent to relax in such a case. It is sacrificing
general advantage to private feelings. And let it be considered, that
the claim of a daughter who has acted thus, to be restored to her former
situation, is either fantastical or unjust. If there be no value in the
distinction of rank, what does she suffer by being kept in the situation
to which she has descended? If there be a value in that distinction, it
ought to be steadily maintained. If indulgence be shewn to such conduct,
and the offenders know that in a longer or shorter time they shall be
received as well as if they had not contaminated their blood by a base
alliance, the great check upon that inordinate caprice which generally
occasions low marriages will be removed, and the fair and comfortable
order of improved life will be miserably disturbed[968].

Lord Chesterfield's Letters being mentioned, Johnson said, 'It was not
to be wondered at that they had so great a sale, considering that they
were the letters of a statesman, a wit, one who had been so much in the
mouths of mankind, one long accustomed _virûm volitare per ora_[969].'

On Friday, March 31, I supped with him and some friends at a tavern[970].
One of the company[971] attempted, with too much forwardness, to rally him
on his late appearance at the theatre; but had reason to repent of his
temerity. 'Why, Sir, did you go to Mrs. Abington's benefit? Did you
see?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' 'Did you hear?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' 'Why then,
Sir, did you go?' JOHNSON. 'Because, Sir, she is a favourite of the
publick; and when the publick cares the thousandth part for you that it
does for her, I will go to your benefit too[972].'

Next morning I won a small bet from lady Diana Beauclerk, by asking him
as to one of his particularities, which her Ladyship laid I durst not
do. It seems he had been frequently observed at the Club to put into his
pocket the Seville oranges, after he had squeezed the juice of them into
the drink which he made for himself. Beauclerk and Garrick talked of it
to me, and seemed to think that he had a strange unwillingness to be
discovered. We could not divine what he did with them; and this was the
bold question to be put. I saw on his table the spoils of the preceding
night, some fresh peels nicely scraped and cut into pieces. 'O, Sir,
(said I,) I now partly see what you do with the squeezed oranges which
you put into your pocket at the Club.' JOHNSON. 'I have a great love for
them.' BOSWELL. 'And pray, Sir, what do you do with them? You scrape
them, it seems, very neatly, and what next?' JOHNSON. 'Let them dry,
Sir.' BOSWELL. 'And what next?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, you shall know their
fate no further.' BOSWELL. 'Then the world must be left in the dark. It
must be said (assuming a mock solemnity,) he scraped them, and let them
dry, but what he did with them next, he never could be prevailed upon to
tell.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, you should say it more emphatically:--he
could not be prevailed upon, even by his dearest friends, to tell[973].'

He had this morning received his Diploma as Doctor of Laws from the
University of Oxford. He did not vaunt of his new dignity, but I
understood he was highly pleased with it. I shall here insert the
progress and completion of that high academical honour, in the same
manner as I have traced his obtaining that of Master of Arts.

To the Reverend Dr. FOTHERGILL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of
Oxford, to be communicated to the Heads of Houses, and proposed in


'The honour of the degree of M.A. by diploma, formerly conferred upon
MR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in consequence of his having eminently distinguished
himself by the publication of a series of Essays, excellently calculated
to form the manners of the people, and in which the cause of religion
and morality has been maintained and recommended by the strongest powers
of argument and elegance of language, reflected an equal degree of
lustre upon the University itself.

'The many learned labours which have since that time employed the
attention and displayed the abilities of that great man, so much to the
advancement of literature and the benefit of the community, render him
worthy of more distinguished honours in the Republick of letters: and I
persuade myself, that I shall act agreeably to the sentiments of the
whole University, in desiring that it may be proposed in Convocation to
confer on him the degree of Doctor in Civil Law by diploma, to which I
readily give my consent; and am,

'Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen,

'Your affectionate friend and servant,



March 23, 1775.'


'CANCELLARIUS, Magistri, et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis omnibus
ad quos presentes Literae pervenerint, salutem in Domino Sempiternam.

'SCIATIS, virum illustrem, SAMUELEM JOHNSON, in omni humaniorum
literarum genere eruditum, omniumque scientiarum comprehensione
felicissimum, scriptis suis, ad popularium mores formandos summá
verborum elegantiá ac sententiarum gravitate compositis, ita olim
inclaruisse, ut dignus videretur cui ab Academiá suá eximia quaedam
laudis praemia deferentur [deferrentur] quique [in] venerabilem
Magistrorum Ordinem summá cum dignitate cooptaretur:

'Cum verò eundem clarissimum virum tot posteà tantique labores, in
patriá praesertim linguá ornandá et stabiliendá feliciter impensi, ita
insigniverint, ut in Literarum Republicá PRINCEPS jam et PRIMARIUS jure
habeatur; Nos CANCELLARIUS, Magistri, et Scholares Universitatis
Oxoniensis, quo talis viri merita pari honoris remuneratione
exaequentur, et perpetuum suae simul laudis, nostraeque ergà literas
propensissimae voluntatis extet monumentum, in solenni Convocatione
Doctorum et Magistrorum Regentium, et non Regentium, praedictum SAMUELEM
JOHNSON Doctorem in Jure Civili renunciavimus et constituimus, eumque
virtute praesentis Diplomatis singulis juribus, privilegiis et
honoribus, ad istum gradum quàquà pertinentibus, frui et gaudere
jussimus. In cujus rei testimonium commune Universitatis Oxoniensis
sigillum praesentibus apponi fecimus.

'Datum in Domo nostrae Convocationis die tricesimo Mensis Martii, Anno
Domini Millesimo septingentesimo, septuagesimo quinto[976].'

'_Viro Reverendo_ Thomae Fothergill, S.T.P. _Universitatis Oxoniensis

'S. P. D.

'Sam Johnson.

'MULTIS non est opus, ut testimonium quo, te praeside, Oxonienses nomen
meum posteris commendârunt, quali animo acceperim compertum faciam. Nemo
sibi placens non laetatur[977]; nemo sibi non placet, qui vobis, literarum
arbitris, placere potuit. Hoc tamen habet incommodi tantum beneficium,
quod mihi nunquam posthâc sine vestrae famae detrimento vel labi liceat
vel cessare; semperque sit timendum, ne quod mihi tam eximiae laudi est,
vobis aliquando fiat opprobrio. Vale[978].'

'7 Id. Apr., 1775.'

He revised some sheets of Lord Hailes's _Annals of Scotland_, and wrote
a few notes on the margin with red ink, which he bade me tell his
Lordship did not sink into the paper, and might be wiped off with a wet
sponge, so that he did not spoil his manuscript. I observed to him that
there were very few of his friends so accurate as that I could venture
to put down in writing what they told me as his sayings. Johnson. 'Why
should you write down my sayings?' Boswell. 'I write them when they are
good.' Johnson. 'Nay, you may as well write down the sayings of any one
else that are good.' But _where_, I might with great propriety have
added, can I find such?

I visited him by appointment in the evening, and we drank tea with Mrs.
Williams. He told me that he had been in the company of a gentleman[979]
whose extraordinary travels had been much the subject of conversation.
But I found that he had not listened to him with that full confidence,
without which there is little satisfaction in the society of travellers.
I was curious to hear what opinion so able a judge as Johnson had formed
of his abilities, and I asked if he was not a man of sense. Johnson.
'Why, Sir, he is not a distinct relater; and I should say, he is neither
abounding nor deficient in sense. I did not perceive any superiority of
understanding.' BOSWELL. 'But will you not allow him a nobleness of
resolution, in penetrating into distant regions?' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir,
is not to the present purpose. We are talking of his sense. A fighting
cock has a nobleness of resolution.'

Next day, Sunday, April 2, I dined with him at Mr. Hoole's. We talked of
Pope. JOHNSON. 'He wrote his _Dunciad_ for fame. That was his primary
motive. Had it not been for that, the dunces might have railed against
him till they were weary, without his troubling himself about them. He
delighted to vex them, no doubt; but he had more delight in seeing how
well he could vex them.'[980]

The _Odes to Obscurity and Oblivion_, in ridicule of 'cool Mason and
warm Gray,'[981] being mentioned, Johnson said, 'They are Colman's best
things.' Upon its being observed that it was believed these Odes were
made by Colman and Lloyd jointly;--JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, how can two
people make an Ode? Perhaps one made one of them, and one the other.'[982]
I observed that two people had made a play, and quoted the anecdote of
Beaumont and Fletcher, who were brought under suspicion of treason,
because while concerting the plan of a tragedy when sitting together at
a tavern, one of them was overheard saying to the other, 'I'll kill the
King.' JOHNSON. 'The first of these Odes is the best: but they are both
good. They exposed a very bad kind of writing.' BOSWELL. 'Surely, Sir,
Mr. Mason's _Elfrida_ is a fine Poem: at least you will allow there are
some good passages in it.' JOHNSON. 'There are now and then some good
imitations of Milton's bad manner.'

I often wondered at his low estimation of the writings of Gray and
Mason. Of Gray's poetry I have in a former part of this work[983]
expressed my high opinion; and for that of Mr. Mason I have ever
entertained a warm admiration[984]. His _Elfrida_ is exquisite, both in
poetical description and moral sentiment; and his _Caractacus_ is a
noble drama[985]. Nor can I omit paying my tribute of praise to some of
his smaller poems, which I have read with pleasure, and which no
criticism shall persuade me not to like. If I wondered at Johnson's not
tasting the works of Mason and Gray, still more have I wondered at their
not tasting his works; that they should be insensible to his energy of
diction, to his splendour of images, and comprehension of thought.
Tastes may differ as to the violin, the flute, the hautboy, in short all
the lesser instruments: but who can be insensible to the powerful
impressions of the majestick organ?

His _Taxation no Tyranny_ being mentioned, he said, 'I think I have not
been attacked enough for it. Attack is the re-action; I never think I
have hit hard, unless it rebounds[986].' BOSWELL. 'I don't know, Sir, what
you would be at. Five or six shots of small arms in every newspaper, and
repeated cannonading in pamphlets, might, I think, satisfy you[987]. But,
Sir, you'll never make out this match, of which we have talked, with a
certain, political lady, since you are so severe against her
principles[988].' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I have the better chance for that.
She is like the Amazons of old; she must be courted by the sword. But I
have not been severe upon her.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir, you have made her
ridiculous.' JOHNSON. 'That was already done, Sir. To endeavour to make
_her_ ridiculous, is like blacking the chimney.'

I put him in mind that the landlord at Ellon[989] in Scotland said, that
he heard he was the greatest man in England,--next to Lord Mansfield.
'Ay, Sir, (said he,) the exception defined the idea. A Scotchman could
go no farther:

"The force of Nature could no farther go[990]."'

Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were put
into her Vase at Batheaston villa[991], near Bath, in competition for
honorary prizes, being mentioned, he held them very cheap: '_Bouts
rimés_ (said he,) is a mere conceit, and an _old_ conceit now, I wonder
how people were persuaded to write in that manner for this lady[992].' I
named a gentleman of his acquaintance who wrote for the Vase. JOHNSON.
'He was a blockhead for his pains.' BOSWELL. 'The Duchess of
Northumberland wrote[993].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the Duchess of Northumberland
may do what she pleases: nobody will say anything to a lady of her high
rank. But I should be apt to throw ----'s[994] verses in his face.'

I talked of the chearfulness of Fleet-street, owing to the constant
quick succession of people which we perceive passing through it.
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, Fleet-street has a very animated appearance; but I
think the full tide of human existence is at Charing-cross[995].'

He made the common remark on the unhappiness which men who have led a
busy life experience, when they retire in expectation of enjoying
themselves at ease, and that they generally languish for want of their
habitual occupation, and wish to return to it. He mentioned as strong an
instance of this as can well be imagined. 'An eminent tallow-chandler in
London, who had acquired a considerable fortune, gave up the trade in
favour of his foreman, and went to live at a country-house near town. He
soon grew weary, and paid frequent visits to his old shop, where he
desired they might let him know their _melting-days_, and he would come
and assist them; which he accordingly did. Here, Sir, was a man, to whom
the most disgusting circumstance in the business to which he had been
used was a relief from idleness[996].'

On Wednesday, April 5, I dined with him at Messieurs Dilly's, with Mr.
John Scott of Amwell[997], the Quaker, Mr. Langton, Mr. Miller, (now Sir
John,) and Dr. Thomas Campbell[998], an Irish Clergyman, whom I took the
liberty of inviting to Mr. Billy's table, having seen him at Mr.
Thrale's, and been told that he had come to England chiefly with a view
to see Dr. Johnson, for whom he entertained the highest veneration. He
has since published _A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland_, a
very entertaining book, which has, however, one fault;--that it assumes
the fictitious character of an Englishman.

We talked of publick speaking.--JOHNSON. 'We must not estimate a man's
powers by his being able or not able to deliver his sentiments in
publick. Isaac Hawkins Browne[999], one of the first wits of this country,
got into Parliament, and never opened his mouth. For my own part, I
think it is more disgraceful never to try to speak, than to try it and
fail; as it is more disgraceful not to fight, than to fight and be
beaten.' This argument appeared to me fallacious; for if a man has not
spoken, it may be said that he would have done very well if he had
tried; whereas, if he has tried and failed, there is nothing to be said
for him. 'Why then, (I asked,) is it thought disgraceful for a man not
to fight, and not disgraceful not to speak in publick?' JOHNSON.
'Because there may be other reasons for a man's not speaking in publick
than want of resolution: he may have nothing to say, (laughing.)
Whereas, Sir, you know courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues;
because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving
any other.'

He observed, that 'the statutes against bribery were intended to prevent
upstarts with money from getting into Parliament[1000];' adding, that 'if
he were a gentleman of landed property, he would turn out all his
tenants who did not vote for the candidate whom he supported[1001].'
LANGTON. 'Would not that, Sir, be checking the freedom of election?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, the law does not mean that the privilege of voting should
be independent of old family interest; of the permanent property of the

On Thursday, April 6, I dined with him at Mr. Thomas Davies's, with Mr.
Hicky[1002], the painter, and my old acquaintance Mr. Moody, the player.

Dr. Johnson, as usual, spoke contemptuously of Colley Cibber. 'It is
wonderful that a man, who for forty years had lived with the great and
the witty, should have acquired so ill the talents of conversation: and
he had but half to furnish; for one half of what he said was oaths[1003].'
He, however, allowed considerable merit to some of his comedies, and
said there was no reason to believe that the _Careless Husband_ was not
written by himself[1004]. Davies said, he was the first dramatick writer
who introduced genteel ladies upon the stage. Johnson refuted this
observation by instancing several such characters in comedies before his
time. DAVIES (trying to defend himself from a charge of ignorance,) 'I
mean genteel moral characters.' 'I think (said Hicky,) gentility and
morality are inseparable.' BOSWELL. 'By no means, Sir. The genteelest
characters are often the most immoral. Does not Lord Chesterfield give
precepts for uniting wickedness and the graces? A man, indeed, is not
genteel when he gets drunk; but most vices may be committed very
genteelly: a man may debauch his friend's wife genteely: he may cheat at
cards genteelly.' HICKY. 'I do not think _that_ is genteel.' BOSWELL.
'Sir, it may not be like a gentleman, but it may be genteel.' JOHNSON.
'You are meaning two different things. One means exteriour grace; the
other honour. It is certain that a man may be very immoral with
exteriour grace. Lovelace, in _Clarissa_, is a very genteel and a very
wicked character. Tom Hervey[1005], who died t'other day, though a vicious
man, was one of the genteelest men that ever lived.' Tom Davies
instanced Charles the Second. JOHNSON, (taking fire at any attack upon
that Prince, for whom he had an extraordinary partiality[1006],) 'Charles
the Second was licentious in his practice; but he always had a reverence
for what was good. Charles the Second knew his people, and rewarded
merit[1007]. The Church was at no time better filled than in his reign. He
was the best King we have had from his time till the reign of his
present Majesty, except James the Second, who was a very good King, but
unhappily believed that it was necessary for the salvation of his
subjects that they should be Roman Catholicks. _He_ had the merit of
endeavouring to do what he thought was for the salvation of the souls of
his subjects, till he lost a great Empire. _We_, who thought that we
should _not_ be saved if we were Roman Catholicks, had the merit of
maintaining our religion, at the experience of submitting ourselves to
the government of King William[1008], (for it could not be done
otherwise,)--to the government of one of the most worthless scoundrels
that ever existed. No; Charles the Second was not such a man as ----,
(naming another King). He did not destroy his father's will[1009]. He took
money, indeed, from France: but he did not betray those over whom he
ruled[1010]: He did not let the French fleet pass ours. George the First
knew nothing, and desired to know nothing; did nothing, and desired to
do nothing: and the only good thing that is told of him is, that he
wished to restore the crown to its hereditary successor[1011].' He roared
with prodigious violence against George the Second. When he ceased,
Moody interjected, in an Irish tone, and with a comick look, 'Ah! poor
George the Second.'

I mentioned that Dr. Thomas Campbell had come from Ireland to London,
principally to see Dr. Johnson. He seemed angry at this observation.
DAVIES. 'Why, you know, Sir, there came a man from Spain to see Livy[1012];
and Corelli came to England to see Purcell[1013], and when he heard he was
dead, went directly back again to Italy.' JOHNSON. 'I should not have
wished to be dead to disappoint Campbell, had he been so foolish as you
represent him; but I should have wished to have been a hundred miles
off.' This was apparently perverse; and I do believe it was not his real
way of thinking: he could not but like a man who came so far to see him.
He laughed with some complacency, when I told him Campbell's odd
expression to me concerning him: 'That having seen such a man, was a
thing to talk of a century hence,'--as if he could live so long[1014].

We got into an argument whether the Judges who went to India might with
propriety engage in trade. Johnson warmly maintained that they might.
'For why (he urged) should not Judges get riches, as well as those who
deserve them less?' I said, they should have sufficient salaries, and
have nothing to take off their attention from the affairs of the
publick. JOHNSON. 'No Judge, Sir, can give his whole attention to his
office; and it is very proper that he should employ what time he has to
himself, to his own advantage, in the most profitable manner.' 'Then,
Sir, (said Davies, who enlivened the dispute by making it somewhat
dramatick,) he may become an insurer; and when he is going to the bench,
he may be stopped,--"Your Lordship cannot go yet: here is a bunch of
invoices: several ships are about to sail."' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you may as
well say a Judge should not have a house; for they may come and tell
him, "Your Lordship's house is on fire;" and so, instead of minding the
business of his Court, he is to be occupied in getting the engine with
the greatest speed. There is no end of this. Every Judge who has land,
trades to a certain extent in corn or in cattle; and in the land itself,
undoubtedly. His steward acts for him, and so do clerks for a great
merchant. A Judge may be a farmer; but he is not to geld his own
pigs[1015]. A Judge may play a little at cards for his amusement; but he is
not to play at marbles, or at chuck-farthing in the Piazza. No, Sir;
there is no profession to which a man gives a very great proportion of
his time. It is wonderful, when a calculation is made, how little the
mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession. No man
would be a Judge, upon the condition of being totally a Judge. The best
employed lawyer has his mind at work but for a small proportion of his
time: a great deal of his occupation is merely mechanical[1016]. I once
wrote for a magazine: I made a calculation, that if I should write but a
page a day, at the same rate, I should, in ten years, write nine volumes
in folio, of an ordinary size and print.' BOSWELL. 'Such as Carte's
_History_?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. When a man writes from his own mind, he
writes very rapidly[1017]. The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in
reading, in order to write: a man will turn over half a library to make
one book.'

I argued warmly against the Judges trading, and mentioned Hale as an
instance of a perfect Judge, who devoted himself entirely to his office.
JOHNSON. 'Hale, Sir, attended to other things besides law: he left a
great estate.' BOSWELL. 'That was, because what he got, accumulated
without any exertion and anxiety on his part.'

While the dispute went on, Moody once tried to say something upon our
side. Tom Davies clapped him on the back, to encourage him. Beauclerk,
to whom I mentioned this circumstance, said, 'that he could not conceive
a more humiliating situation than to be clapped on the back by Tom

We spoke of Rolt, to whose _Dictionary of Commerce_ Dr. Johnson wrote
the Preface[1018]. JOHNSON. 'Old Gardner the bookseller employed Rolt and
Smart to write a monthly miscellany, called _The Universal Visitor_[1019].
There was a formal written contract, which Allen the printer saw.
Gardner thought as you do of the Judge. They were bound to write nothing
else; they were to have, I think, a third of the profits of this
sixpenny pamphlet; and the contract was for ninety-nine years. I wish I
had thought of giving this to Thurlow, in the cause about Literary
Property. What an excellent instance would it have been of the
oppression of booksellers towards poor authours[1020]!' (smiling)! Davies,
zealous for the honour of _the Trade_[1021], said, Gardner was not properly
a bookseller. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir; he certainly was a bookseller. He had
served his time regularly, was a member of the Stationers' company, kept
a shop in the face of mankind, purchased copyright, and was a
_bibliopole_[1022], Sir, in every sense. I wrote for some months in _The
Universal Visitor_, for poor Smart, while he was mad, not then knowing
the terms on which he was engaged to write, and thinking I was doing him
good. I hoped his wits would soon return to him. Mine returned to me,
and I wrote in _The Universal Visitor_ no longer.'

Friday, April 7, I dined with him at a Tavern, with a numerous
company[1023]. JOHNSON. 'I have been reading Twiss's _Travels in Spain_,
which are just come out. They are as good as the first book of travels
that you will take up. They are as good as those of Keysler[1024] or
Blainville[1025]; nay, as Addison's, if you except the learning. They are
not so good as Brydone's[1026], but they are better than Pococke's[1027]. I
have not, indeed, cut the leaves yet; but I have read in them where the
pages are open, and I do not suppose that what is in the pages which are
closed is worse than what is in the open pages. It would seem (he
added,) that Addison had not acquired much Italian learning, for we do
not find it introduced into his writings[1028]. The only instance that I
recollect, is his quoting "_Stavo bene; per star meglio, sto qui_[1029]."'

I mentioned Addison's having borrowed many of his classical remarks from
Leandro Alberti[1030]. Mr. Beauclerk said, 'It was alledged that he had
borrowed also from another Italian authour.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, all who
go to look for what the Classicks have said of Italy, must find the same
passages; and I should think it would be one of the first things the
Italians would do on the revival of learning, to collect all that the
Roman authors have said of their country.'

Ossian being mentioned;--JOHNSON. 'Supposing the Irish and Erse
languages to be the same, which I do not believe[1031], yet as there is no
reason to suppose that the inhabitants of the Highlands and Hebrides
ever wrote their native language, it is not to be credited that a long
poem was preserved among them. If we had no evidence of the art of
writing being practised in one of the counties of England, we should not
believe that a long poem was preserved _there_, though in the
neighbouring counties, where the same language was spoken, the
inhabitants could write.' BEAUCLERK. 'The ballad of _Lilliburlero_ was
once in the mouths of all the people of this country, and is said to
have had a great effect in bringing about the Revolution[1032]. Yet I
question whether any body can repeat it now; which shews how improbable
it is that much poetry should be preserved by tradition.'

One of the company suggested an internal objection to the antiquity of
the poetry said to be Ossian's, that we do not find the wolf in it,
which must have been the case had it been of that age.

The mention of the wolf had led Johnson to think of other wild beasts;
and while Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Langton were carrying on a
dialogue about something which engaged them earnestly, he, in the midst
of it, broke out, 'Pennant tells of Bears--'[what he added, I have
forgotten.] They went on, which he being dull of hearing, did not
perceive, or, if he did, was not willing to break off his talk; so he
continued to vociferate his remarks, and _Bear_ ('like a word in a
catch' as Beauclerk said,) was repeatedly heard at intervals, which
coming from him who, by those who did not know him, had been so often
assimilated to that ferocious animal[1033], while we who were sitting
around could hardly stifle laughter, produced a very ludicrous effect.
Silence having ensued, he proceeded: 'We are told, that the black bear
is innocent; but I should not like to trust myself with him.' Mr. Gibbon
muttered, in a low tone of voice. 'I should not like to trust myself
with _you_.' This piece of sarcastick pleasantry was a prudent
resolution, if applied to a competition of abilities[1034].

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered,
in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start:
'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel[1035].' But let it be
considered, that he did not mean a real and generous love of our
country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and
countries, have made a cloak for self-interest. I maintain, that
certainly all patriots were not scoundrels. Being urged, (not by
Johnson) to name one exception, I mentioned an eminent person[1036], whom
we all greatly admired. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I do not say that he is _not_
honest; but we have no reason to conclude from his political conduct
that he _is_ honest. Were he to accept of a place from this ministry, he
would lose that character of firmness which he has, and might be turned
out of his place in a year. This ministry is neither stable[1037], nor
grateful to their friends, as Sir Robert Walpole was, so that he may
think it more for his interest to take his chance of his party coming

Mrs. Prichard being mentioned, he said, 'Her playing was quite
mechanical. It is wonderful how little mind she had. Sir, she had never
read the tragedy of _Macbeth_ all through. She no more thought of the
play out of which her part was taken, than a shoemaker thinks of the
skin, out of which the piece of leather, of which he is making a pair of
shoes, is cut[1038].'

On Saturday, May 8[1039], I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, where we met
the Irish Dr. Campbell[1040]. Johnson had supped the night before at Mrs.
Abington's, with some fashionable people whom he named; and he seemed
much pleased with having made one in so elegant a circle. Nor did he
omit to pique his _mistress_[1041] a little with jealousy of her
housewifery; for he said, (with a smile,) 'Mrs. Abington's jelly, my
dear Lady, was better than yours.'

Mrs. Thrale, who frequently practised a coarse mode of flattery, by
repeating his _bon-mots_ in his hearing[1042], told us that he had said, a
certain celebrated actor was just fit to stand at the door of an
auction-room with a long pole, and cry 'Pray gentlemen, walk in;' and
that a certain authour, upon hearing this, had said, that another still
more celebrated actor was fit for nothing better than that, and would
pick your pocket after you came out[1043]. JOHNSON. 'Nay, my dear lady,
there is no wit in what our friend added; there is only abuse. You may
as well say of any man that he will pick a pocket. Besides, the man who
is stationed at the door does not pick people's pockets; that is done
within, by the auctioneer.'

Mrs. Thrale told us, that Tom Davies repeated, in a very bald manner,
the story of Dr. Johnson's first repartee to me, which I have related
exactly[1044]. He made me say, 'I was _born_ in Scotland,' instead of 'I
_come from_ Scotland;' so that Johnson saying, 'That, Sir, is what a
great many of your countrymen cannot help,' had no point, or even
meaning: and that upon this being mentioned to Mr. Fitzherbert, he
observed, 'It is not every man that can _carry_ a _bon mot_.'

On Monday, April 10, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, with Mr.
Langton and the Irish Dr. Campbell, whom the General had obligingly
given me leave to bring with me. This learned gentleman was thus
gratified with a very high intellectual feast, by not only being in
company with Dr. Johnson, but with General Oglethorpe, who had been so
long a celebrated name both at home and abroad[1045].

I must, again and again, intreat of my readers not to suppose that my
imperfect record of conversation contains the whole of what was said by
Johnson, or other eminent persons who lived with him. What I have
preserved, however, has the value of the most perfect authenticity.

He this day enlarged upon Pope's melancholy remark,

'Man never _is_, but always _to be_ blest[1046].'

He asserted that _the present_ was never a happy state to any human
being; but that, as every part of life, of which we are conscious, was
at some point of time a period yet to come, in which felicity was
expected, there was some happiness produced by hope[1047]. Being pressed
upon this subject, and asked if he really was of opinion, that though,
in general, happiness was very rare in human life, a man was not
sometimes happy in the moment that was present, he answered, 'Never, but
when he is drunk[1048].'

He urged General Oglethorpe to give the world his Life. He said, 'I know
no man whose Life would be more interesting. If I were furnished with
materials, I should be very glad to write it[1049].'

Mr. Scott[1050] of Amwell's _Elegies_ were lying in the room. Dr. Johnson
observed, 'They are very well; but such as twenty people might write.'
Upon this I took occasion to controvert Horace's maxim,

'--mediocribus esse poetis
Non Di, non homines, non concessére columnæ.[1051]'

For here, (I observed,) was a very middle-rate poet, who pleased many
readers, and therefore poetry of a middle sort was entitled to some
esteem; nor could I see why poetry should not, like every thing else,
have different gradations of excellence, and consequently of value.
Johnson repeated the common remark, that, 'as there is no necessity for
our having poetry at all, it being merely a luxury, an instrument of
pleasure, it can have no value, unless when exquisite in its kind.' I
declared myself not satisfied. 'Why then, Sir, (said he,) Horace and you
must settle it.' He was not much in the humour of talking.

No more of his conversation for some days appears in my journal[1052],
except that when a gentleman told him he had bought a suit of lace for
his lady, he said, 'Well, Sir, you have done a good thing and a wise
thing.' 'I have done a good thing, (said the gentleman,) but I do not
know that I have done a wise thing.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; no money is
better spent than what is laid out for domestick satisfaction. A man is
pleased that his wife is drest as well as other people; and a wife is
pleased that she is drest.'

On Friday, April 14, being Good-Friday, I repaired to him in the
morning, according to my usual custom on that day, and breakfasted with
him. I observed that he fasted so very strictly[1053], that he did not even
taste bread, and took no milk with his tea; I suppose because it is a
kind of animal food.

He entered upon the state of the nation, and thus discoursed: 'Sir, the
great misfortune now is, that government has too little power. All that
it has to bestow must of necessity be given to support itself; so that
it cannot reward merit. No man, for instance, can now be made a Bishop
for his learning and piety[1054]; his only chance for promotion is his
being connected with somebody who has parliamentary interest. Our
several ministries in this reign have outbid each other in concessions
to the people. Lord Bute, though a very honourable man,--a man who meant
well,--a man who had his blood full of prerogative,--was a theoretical
statesman,--a book-minister[1055],--and thought this country could be
governed by the influence of the Crown alone. Then, Sir, he gave up a
great deal. He advised the King to agree that the Judges should hold
their places for life, instead of losing them at the accession of a new
King. Lord Bute, I suppose, thought to make the King popular by this
concession; but the people never minded it; and it was a most impolitick
measure. There is no reason why a Judge should hold his office for life,
more than any other person in publick trust. A Judge may be partial
otherwise than to the Crown: we have seen Judges partial to the
populace[1056]. A Judge may become corrupt, and yet there may not be legal
evidence against him. A Judge may become froward from age. A Judge may
grow unfit for his office in many ways. It was desirable that there
should be a possibility of being delivered from him by a new King. That
is now gone by an act of Parliament _ex gratiâ_ of the Crown[1057]. Lord
Bute advised the King to give up a very large sum of money[1058], for which
nobody thanked him. It was of consequence to the King, but nothing to
the publick, among whom it was divided. When I say Lord Bute advised, I
mean, that such acts were done when he was minister, and we are to
suppose that he advised them.--Lord Bute shewed an undue partiality to
Scotchmen. He turned out Dr. Nichols[1059], a very eminent man, from being
physician to the King, to make room for one of his countrymen, a man
very low in his profession[1060]. He had ----[1061] and ----[1062] to go on
errands for him. He had occasion for people to go on errands for him;
but he should not have had Scotchmen; and, certainly, he should not have
suffered them to have access to him before the first people in England.'

I told him, that the admission of one of them before the first people in
England, which had given the greatest offence, was no more than what
happens at every minister's levee, where those who attend are admitted
in the order that they have come, which is better than admitting them
according to their rank; for if that were to be the rule, a man who has
waited all the morning might have the mortification to see a peer, newly
come, go in before him, and keep him waiting still. JOHNSON. 'True, Sir;
but ---- should not have come to the levee, to be in the way of people
of consequence. He saw Lord Bute at all times; and could have said what
he had to say at any time, as well as at the levee. There is now no
Prime Minister: there is only an agent for government in the House of
Commons[1063]. We are governed by the Cabinet: but there is no one head
there since Sir Robert Walpole's time.' BOSWELL. 'What then, Sir, is the
use of Parliament?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, Parliament is a larger council
to the King; and the advantage of such a council is, having a great
number of men of property concerned in the legislature, who, for their
own interest, will not consent to bad laws. And you must have observed,
Sir, that administration is feeble and timid, and cannot act with that
authority and resolution which is necessary. Were I in power, I would
turn out every man who dared to oppose me. Government has the
distribution of offices, that it may be enabled to maintain its

'Lord Bute (he added,) took down too fast, without building up something
new.' BOSWELL. 'Because, Sir, he found a rotten building. The political
coach was drawn by a set of bad horses: it was necessary to change
them.' JOHNSON. 'But he should have changed them one by one.'

I told him that I had been informed by Mr. Orme[1065], that many parts of
the East-Indies were better mapped than the Highlands of Scotland.
JOHNSON. 'That a country may be mapped, it must be travelled over.'
'Nay, (said I, meaning to laugh with him at one of his prejudices,)
can't you say, it is not _worth_ mapping?'

As we walked to St. Clement's church, and saw several shops open upon
this most solemn fast-day of the Christian world, I remarked, that one
disadvantage arising from the immensity of London, was, that nobody was
heeded by his neighbour; there was no fear of censure for not observing
Good Friday, as it ought to be kept, and as it is kept in country-towns.
He said, it was, upon the whole, very well observed even in London. He,
however, owned, that London was too large; but added, 'It is nonsense to
say the head is too big for the body. It would be as much too big,
though the body were ever so large; that is to say, though the country
were ever so extensive. It has no similarity to a head connected with a

Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College, Oxford, accompanied us home
from church; and after he was gone, there came two other gentlemen, one
of whom uttered the common-place complaints, that by the increase of
taxes, labour would be dear, other nations would undersell us, and our
commerce would be ruined. JOHNSON (smiling). 'Never fear, Sir. Our
commerce is in a very good state; and suppose we had no commerce at all,
we could live very well on the produce of our own country.' I cannot
omit to mention, that I never knew any man who was less disposed to be
querulous than Johnson. Whether the subject was his own situation, or
the state of the publick, or the state of human nature in general,
though he saw the evils, his mind was turned to resolution, and never to
whining or complaint[1066].

We went again to St. Clement's in the afternoon. He had found fault with
the preacher in the morning for not choosing a text adapted to the day.
The preacher in the afternoon had chosen one extremely proper: 'It is

After the evening service, he said, 'Come, you shall go home with me,
and sit just an hour.' But he was better than his word; for after we had
drunk tea[1067] with Mrs. Williams, he asked me to go up to his study with
him, where we sat a long while together in a serene undisturbed frame of
mind, sometimes in silence, and sometimes conversing, as we felt
ourselves inclined, or more properly speaking, as _he_ was inclined; for
during all the course of my long intimacy with him, my respectful
attention never abated, and my wish to hear him was such, that I
constantly watched every dawning of communication from that great and
illuminated mind.

He observed, 'All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing
so minute or inconsiderable, that I would not rather know it than not.
In the same manner, all power, of whatever sort, is of itself desirable.
A man would not submit to learn to hem a ruffle, of his wife, or his
wife's maid; but if a mere wish could attain it, he would rather wish to
be able to hem a ruffle.'

He again advised me to keep a journal[1068] fully and minutely, but not to
mention such trifles as, that meat was too much or too little done, or
that the weather was fair or rainy. He had, till very near his death, a
contempt for the notion that the weather affects the human frame[1069].

I told him that our friend Goldsmith had said to me, that he had come
too late into the world, for that Pope and other poets had taken up the
places in the Temple of Fame; so that, as but a few at any period can
possess poetical reputation, a man of genius can now hardly acquire it.
JOHNSON. 'That is one of the most sensible things I have ever heard of
Goldsmith[1070]. It is difficult to get literary fame, and it is every day
growing more difficult. Ah, Sir, that should make a man think of
securing happiness in another world, which all who try sincerely for it
may attain. In comparison of that, how little are all other things! The
belief of immortality is impressed upon all men, and all men act under
an impression of it, however they may talk, and though, perhaps, they
may be scarcely sensible of it.' I said, it appeared to me that some
people had not the least notion of immortality; and I mentioned a
distinguished gentleman of our acquaintance. JOHNSON. 'Sir, if it were
not for the notion of immortality, he would cut a throat to fill his
pockets.' When I quoted this to Beauclerk, who knew much more of the
gentleman than we did, he said, in his acid manner, 'He would cut a
throat to fill his pockets, if it were not for fear of being hanged.'

Dr. Johnson proceeded: 'Sir, there is a great cry about infidelity[1071];
but there are, in reality, very few infidels. I have heard a person,
originally a Quaker, but now, I am afraid, a Deist, say, that he did not
believe there were, in all England, above two hundred infidels.'

He was pleased to say, 'If you come to settle here, we will have one day
in the week on which we will meet by ourselves. That is the happiest
conversation where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm quiet
interchange of sentiments[1072].' In his private register this evening is
thus marked, 'Boswell sat with me till night; we had some serious
talk[1073].' It also appears from the same record, that after I left him he
was occupied in religious duties, in 'giving Francis, his servant, some
directions for preparation to communicate; in reviewing his life, and
resolving on better conduct[1074].' The humility and piety which he
discovers on such occasions, is truely edifying. No saint, however, in
the course of his religious warfare, was more sensible of the unhappy
failure of pious resolves, than Johnson. He said one day, talking to an
acquaintance on this subject, 'Sir, Hell is paved with good

On Sunday, April 16, being Easter Day, after having attended the solemn
service at St. Paul's[1076], I dined with Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Williams. I
maintained that Horace was wrong in placing happiness in _Nil
admirari_[1077], for that I thought admiration one of the most agreeable of
all our feelings[1078]; and I regretted that I had lost much of my
disposition to admire, which people generally do as they advance in
life. JOHNSON. 'Sir, as a man advances in life, he gets what is better
than admiration--judgement, to estimate things at their true value.' I
still insisted that admiration was more pleasing than judgement, as love
is more pleasing than friendship. The feeling of friendship is like that
of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened
with champagne. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; admiration and love are like being
intoxicated with champagne; judgement and friendship like being
enlivened. Waller has hit upon the same thought with you[1079]: but I don't
believe you have borrowed from Waller. I wish you would enable yourself
to borrow more[1080].'

He then took occasion to enlarge on the advantages of reading, and
combated the idle superficial notion, that knowledge enough may be
acquired in conversation. 'The foundation (said he,) must be laid by
reading. General principles must be had from books, which, however, must
be brought to the test of real life. In conversation you never get a
system. What is said upon a subject is to be gathered from a hundred
people. The parts of a truth, which a man gets thus, are at such a
distance from each other that he never attains to a full view.'



'I have enquired more minutely about the medicine for the rheumatism,
which I am sorry to hear that you still want. The receipt is this:

'Take equal quantities of flour of sulphur, and _flour_ of mustard-seed,
make them an electuary with honey or treacle; and take a bolus as big as
a nutmeg several times a day, as you can bear it: drinking after it a
quarter of a pint of the infusion of the root of Lovage.

'Lovage, in Ray's _Nomenclature_, is Levisticum: perhaps the Botanists
may know the Latin name.

'Of this medicine I pretend not to judge. There is all the appearance of
its efficacy, which a single instance can afford: the patient was very
old, the pain very violent, and the relief, I think, speedy and lasting.

'My opinion of alterative medicine is not high, but _quid tentasse
nocebit_? if it does harm, or does no good, it may be omitted; but that
it may do good, you have, I hope, reason to think is desired by,

'Sir, your most affectionate,
Humble servant,

'April 17, 1775.'

On Tuesday, April 18, he and I were engaged to go with Sir Joshua
Reynolds to dine with Mr. Cambridge[1081], at his beautiful villa on the
banks of the Thames, near Twickenham. Dr. Johnson's tardiness was such,
that Sir Joshua, who had an appointment at Richmond, early in the day,
was obliged to go by himself on horseback, leaving his coach to Johnson
and me. Johnson was in such good spirits, that every thing seemed to
please him as we drove along.

Our conversation turned on a variety of subjects. He thought
portrait-painting an improper employment for a woman[1082]. 'Publick
practice of any art, (he observed,) and staring in men's faces, is very
indelicate in a female.' I happened to start a question, whether, when a
man knows that some of his intimate friends are invited to the house of
another friend, with whom they are all equally intimate, he may join
them without an invitation. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; he is not to go when he
is not invited. They may be invited on purpose to abuse him' (smiling).

As a curious instance how little a man knows, or wishes to know, his own
character in the world, or, rather, as a convincing proof that Johnson's
roughness was only external, and did not proceed from his heart, I
insert the following dialogue. JOHNSON. 'It is wonderful, Sir, how rare
a quality good humour is in life. We meet with very few good humoured
men.' I mentioned four of our friends[1083], none of whom he would allow to
be good humoured. One was _acid_, another was _muddy_[1084], and to the
others he had objections which have escaped me. Then, shaking his head
and stretching himself at ease in the coach, and smiling with much
complacency, he turned to me and said, 'I look upon _myself_ as a good
humoured fellow.' The epithet _fellow_, applied to the great
Lexicographer, the stately Moralist, the masterly Critick, as if he had
been Sam Johnson, a mere pleasant companion, was highly diverting; and
this light notion of himself struck me with wonder. I answered, also
smiling, 'No, no, Sir; that will _not_ do. You are good natured, but not
good humoured[1085]: you are irascible. You have not patience with folly
and absurdity. I believe you would pardon them, if there were time to
deprecate your vengeance; but punishment follows so quick after
sentence, that they cannot escape.'

I had brought with me a great bundle of Scotch magazines and
news-papers, in which his _Journey to the Western Islands_ was attacked
in every mode; and I read a great part of them to him, knowing they
would afford him entertainment. I wish the writers of them had been
present: they would have been sufficiently vexed. One ludicrous
imitation of his style, by Mr. Maclaurin[1086], now one of the Scotch
Judges, with the title of Lord Dreghorn, was distinguished by him from
the rude mass. 'This (said he,) is the best. But I could caricature my
own style much better myself.' He defended his remark upon the general
insufficiency of education in Scotland; and confirmed to me the
authenticity of his witty saying on the learning of the Scotch;--'Their
learning is like bread in a besieged town: every man gets a little, but
no man gets a full meal[1087].' 'There is (said he,) in Scotland, a
diffusion of learning, a certain portion of it widely and thinly spread.
A merchant there has as much learning as one of their clergy[1088].'

He talked of Isaac Walton's _Lives_, which was one of his most favourite
books. Dr. Donne's _Life_, he said, was the most perfect of them. He
observed, that 'it was wonderful that Walton, who was in a very low
situation in life, should have been familiarly received by so many great
men, and that at a time when the ranks of society were kept more
separate than they are now.' He supposed that Walton had then given up
his business as a linen draper and sempster, and was only an authour[1089];
and added, 'that he was a great panegyrist.' BOSWELL. 'No quality will
get a man more friends than a disposition to admire the qualities of
others. I do not mean flattery, but a sincere admiration.' JOHNSON.
'Nay, Sir, flattery pleases very generally[1090]. In the first place, the
flatterer may think what he says to be true: but, in the second place,
whether he thinks so or not, he certainly thinks those whom he flatters
of consequence enough to be flattered.'

No sooner had we made our bow to Mr. Cambridge, in his library, than
Johnson ran eagerly to one side of the room, intent on poring over the
backs of the books[1091]. Sir Joshua observed, (aside,) 'He runs to the
books, as I do to the pictures: but I have the advantage. I can see much
more of the pictures than he can of the books.' Mr. Cambridge, upon
this, politely said, 'Dr. Johnson, I am going, with your pardon, to
accuse myself, for I have the same custom which I perceive you have. But
it seems odd that one should have such a desire to look at the backs of
books.' Johnson, ever ready for contest, instantly started from his
reverie, wheeled about, and answered, 'Sir, the reason is very plain.
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where
we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the
first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This
leads us to look at catalogues, and the backs of books in libraries.'
Sir Joshua observed to me the extraordinary promptitude with which
Johnson flew upon an argument. 'Yes, (said I,) he has no formal
preparation, no flourishing with his sword; he is through your body in
an instant[1092].'

Johnson was here solaced with an elegant entertainment, a very
accomplished family, and much good company; among whom was Mr. Harris[1093]
of Salisbury, who paid him many compliments on his _Journey to the
Western Islands_.

The common remark as to the utility of reading history being made;--
JOHNSON. 'We must consider how very little history there is; I mean real
authentick history. That certain Kings reigned, and certain battles were
fought, we can depend upon as true; but all the colouring, all the
philosophy of history is conjecture[1094].' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, you would
reduce all history to no better than an almanack[1095], a mere
chronological series of remarkable events.' Mr. Gibbon, who must at that
time have been employed upon his _History_[1096], of which he published the
first volume in the following year, was present; but did not step forth
in defence of that species of writing. He probably did not like to trust
himself with JOHNSON[1097]!

Johnson observed, that the force of our early habits was so great, that
though reason approved, nay, though our senses relished a different
course, almost every man returned to them. I do not believe there is any
observation upon human nature better founded than this; and, in many
cases, it is a very painful truth; for where early habits have been mean
and wretched, the joy and elevation resulting from better modes of life
must be damped by the gloomy consciousness of being under an almost
inevitable doom to sink back into a situation which we recollect with
disgust. It surely may be prevented, by constant attention and
unremitting exertion to establish contrary habits of superiour efficacy.

_The Beggar's Opera_, and the common question, whether it was pernicious
in its effects, having been introduced;--JOHNSON. 'As to this matter,
which has been very much contested, I myself am of opinion, that more
influence has been ascribed to _The Beggar's Opera_, than it in reality
ever had; for I do not believe that any man was ever made a rogue by
being present at its representation. At the same time I do not deny that
it may have some influence, by making the character of a rogue familiar,
and in some degree pleasing[1098].' Then collecting himself as it were, to
give a heavy stroke: 'There is in it such a _labefactation_ of all
principles, as may be injurious to morality.'

While he pronounced this response, we sat in a comical sort of
restraint, smothering a laugh, which we were afraid might burst out. In
his _Life of Gay_, he has been still more decisive as to the
inefficiency of _The Beggar's Opera_ in corrupting society[1099]. But I
have ever thought somewhat differently; for, indeed, not only are the
gaiety and heroism of a highwayman very captivating to a youthful
imagination, but the arguments for adventurous depredation are so
plausible, the allusions so lively, and the contrasts with the ordinary
and more painful modes of acquiring property are so artfully displayed,
that it requires a cool and strong judgement to resist so imposing an
aggregate: yet, I own, I should be very sorry to have _The Beggar's
Opera_ suppressed; for there is in it so much of real London life, so
much brilliant wit, and such a variety of airs, which, from early
association of ideas, engage, soothe, and enliven the mind, that no
performance which the theatre exhibits, delights me more.

The late '_worthy_' Duke of Queensberry[1100], as Thomson, in his
_Seasons_, justly characterises him, told me, that when Gay first shewed
him _The Beggar's Opera_, his Grace's observation was, 'This is a very
odd thing, Gay; I am satisfied that it is either a very good thing, or a
very bad thing.' It proved the former, beyond the warmest expectations
of the authour or his friends, Mr. Cambridge, however, shewed us to-day,
that there was good reason enough to doubt concerning its success. He
was told by Quin, that during the first night of its appearance it was
long in a very dubious state; that there was a disposition to damn it,
and that it was saved by the song[1101],

'Oh ponder well! be not severe!'

the audience being much affected by the innocent looks of Polly, when
she came to those two lines, which exhibit at once a painful and
ridiculous image,

'For on the rope that hangs my Dear,
Depends poor Polly's life.'

Quin himself had so bad an opinion of it, that he refused the part of
Captain Macheath, and gave it to Walker[1102], who acquired great celebrity
by his grave yet animated performance of it[1103].

We talked of a young gentleman's marriage with an eminent singer[1104], and
his determination that she should no longer sing in publick, though his
father was very earnest she should, because her talents would be
liberally rewarded, so as to make her a good fortune. It was questioned
whether the young gentleman, who had not a shilling in the world[1105], but
was blest with very uncommon talents, was not foolishly delicate, or
foolishly proud, and his father truely rational without being mean.
Johnson, with all the high spirit of a Roman senator, exclaimed, 'He
resolved wisely and nobly to be sure. He is a brave man. Would not a
gentleman be disgraced by having his wife singing publickly for hire?
No, Sir, there can be no doubt here. I know not if I should not
_prepare_ myself for a publick singer, as readily as let my wife be

Johnson arraigned the modern politicks of this country, as entirely
devoid of all principle of whatever kind. 'Politicks (said he) are now
nothing more than means of rising in the world. With this sole view do
men engage in politicks, and their whole conduct proceeds upon it. How
different in that respect is the state of the nation now from what it
was in the time of Charles the First, during the Usurpation, and after
the Restoration, in the time of Charles the Second. _Hudibras_ affords a
strong proof how much hold political principles had then upon the minds
of men. There is in _Hudibras_ a great deal of bullion which will always
last. But to be sure the brightest strokes of his wit owed their force
to the impression of the characters, which was upon men's minds at the
time; to their knowing them, at table and in the street; in short, being
familiar with them; and above all, to his satire being directed against
those whom a little while before they had hated and feared[1106]. The
nation in general has ever been loyal, has been at all times attached to
the monarch, though a few daring rebels have been wonderfully powerful
for a time. The murder of Charles the First was undoubtedly not
committed with the approbation or consent of the people. Had that been
the case, Parliament would not have ventured to consign the regicides to
their deserved punishment. And we know what exuberance of joy there was
when Charles the Second was restored. If Charles the Second had bent all
his mind to it, had made it his sole object, he might have been as
absolute as Louis the Fourteenth.' A gentleman observed he would have
done no harm if he had. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, absolute princes seldom do
any harm. But they who are governed by them are governed by chance.
There is no security for good government.' CAMBRIDGE. 'There have been
many sad victims to absolute government.' JOHNSON. 'So, Sir, have there
been to popular factions.' BOSWELL. 'The question is, which is worst,
one wild beast or many?'

Johnson praised _The Spectator_, particularly the character of Sir Roger
de Coverley. He said, 'Sir Roger did not die a violent death, as has
been generally fancied. He was not killed; he died only because others
were to die, and because his death afforded an opportunity to Addison
for some very fine writing. We have the example of Cervantes making Don
Quixote die[1107].--I never could see why Sir Roger is represented as a
little cracked. It appears to me that the story of the widow was
intended to have something superinduced upon it: but the superstructure
did not come[1108].'

Somebody found fault with writing verses in a dead language, maintaining
that they were merely arrangements of so many words, and laughed at the
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, for sending forth collections of
them not only in Greek and Latin, but even in Syriac, Arabick, and other
more unknown tongues. JOHNSON. 'I would have as many of these as
possible; I would have verses in every language that there are the means
of acquiring. Nobody imagines that an University is to have at once two
hundred poets; but it should be able to show two hundred scholars.
Pieresc's[1109] death was lamented, I think, in forty languages. And I
would have had at every coronation, and every death of a King, every
_Gaudium_, and every _Luctus_, University-verses, in as many languages
as can be acquired. I would have the world to be thus told, "Here is a
school where every thing may be learnt."'

Having set out next day on a visit to the Earl of Pembroke, at
Wilton[1110], and to my friend, Mr. Temple[1111], at Mamhead, in
Devonshire, and not having returned to town till the second of May, I
did not see Dr. Johnson for a considerable time, and during the remaining
part of my stay in London, kept very imperfect notes of his conversation,
which had I according to my usual custom written out at large soon after
the time, much might have been preserved, which is now irretrievably lost.
I can now only record some particular scenes, and a few fragments of his
_memorabilia_. But to make some amends for my relaxation of diligence in
one respect, I have to present my readers with arguments upon two law
cases, with which he favoured me.

On Saturday, the sixth of May, we dined by ourselves at the Mitre, and
he dictated to me what follows, to obviate the complaint already
mentioned[1112], which had been made in the form of an action in the Court
of Session, by Dr. Memis, of Aberdeen, that in the same translation of a
charter in which _physicians_ were mentioned, he was called _Doctor of

'There are but two reasons for which a physician can decline the title
of _Doctor of Medicine_, because he supposes himself disgraced by the
doctorship, or supposes the doctorship disgraced by himself. To be
disgraced by a title which he shares in common with every illustrious
name of his profession, with Boerhaave, with Arbuthnot, and with Cullen,
can surely diminish no man's reputation. It is, I suppose, to the
doctorate, from which he shrinks, that he owes his right of practising
physick. A doctor of Medicine is a physician under the protection of the
laws, and by the stamp of authority. The physician, who is not a Doctor,
usurps a profession, and is authorised only by himself to decide upon
health and sickness, and life and death. That this gentleman is a
Doctor, his diploma makes evident; a diploma not obtruded upon him, but
obtained by solicitation, and for which fees were paid. With what
countenance any man can refuse the title which he has either begged or
bought, is not easily discovered.

'All verbal injury must comprise in it either some false position, or
some unnecessary declaration of defamatory truth. That in calling him
Doctor, a false appellation was given him, he himself will not pretend,
who at the same time that he complains of the title, would be offended
if we supposed him to be not a Doctor. If the title of Doctor be a
defamatory truth, it is time to dissolve our colleges; for why should
the publick give salaries to men whose approbation is reproach? It may
likewise deserve the notice of the publick to consider what help can be
given to the professors of physick, who all share with this unhappy
gentleman the ignominious appellation, and of whom the very boys in the
street are not afraid to say, _There goes the Doctor_.

'What is implied by the term Doctor is well known. It distinguishes him
to whom it is granted, as a man who has attained such knowledge of his
profession as qualifies him to instruct others. A Doctor of Laws is a
man who can form lawyers by his precepts. A Doctor of Medicine is a man
who can teach the art of curing diseases. There is an old axiom which no
man has yet thought fit to deny, _Nil dat quod non habet_. Upon this
principle to be Doctor implies skill, for _nemo docet quod non didicit_.
In England, whoever practises physick, not being a Doctor, must practise
by a licence: but the doctorate conveys a licence in itself.

'By what accident it happened that he and the other physicians were
mentioned in different terms, where the terms themselves were
equivalent, or where in effect that which was applied to him was the
most honourable, perhaps they who wrote the paper cannot now remember.
Had they expected a lawsuit to have been the consequence of such petty
variation, I hope they would have avoided it[1113]. But, probably, as they
meant no ill, they suspected no danger, and, therefore, consulted only
what appeared to them propriety or convenience.'

A few days afterwards I consulted him upon a cause, _Paterson and
others_ against _Alexander and others_, which had been decided by a
casting vote in the Court of Session, determining that the Corporation
of Stirling was corrupt, and setting aside the election of some of their
officers, because it was proved that three of the leading men who
influenced the majority had entered into an unjustifiable compact, of
which, however, the majority were ignorant. He dictated to me, after a
little consideration, the following sentences upon the subject:--

'There is a difference between majority and superiority; majority is
applied to number, and superiority to power; and power, like many other
things, is to be estimated _non numero sed pondere_. Now though the
greater _number_ is not corrupt, the greater _weight_ is corrupt, so
that corruption predominates in the borough, taken _collectively_,
though, perhaps, taken _numerically_, the greater part may be uncorrupt.
That borough, which is so constituted as to act corruptly, is in the eye
of reason corrupt, whether it be by the uncontrolable power of a few, or
by an accidental pravity of the multitude. The objection, in which is
urged the injustice of making the innocent suffer with the guilty, is an
objection not only against society, but against the possibility of
society. All societies, great and small, subsist upon this condition;
that as the individuals derive advantages from union, they may likewise
suffer inconveniences; that as those who do nothing, and sometimes those
who do ill, will have the honours and emoluments of general virtue and
general prosperity, so those likewise who do nothing, or perhaps do
well, must be involved in the consequences of predominant corruption.'

This in my opinion was a very nice case; but the decision was affirmed
in the House of Lords.

On Monday, May 8, we went together and visited the mansions of
Bedlam[1114]. I had been informed that he had once been there before with
Mr. Wedderburne, (now Lord Loughborough,) Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Foote; and
I had heard Foote give a very entertaining account of Johnson's
happening to have his attention arrested by a man who was very furious,
and who, while beating his straw[1115], supposed it was William Duke of
Cumberland, whom he was punishing for his cruelties in Scotland, in
1746[1116]. There was nothing peculiarly remarkable this day; but the
general contemplation of insanity was very affecting. I accompanied him
home, and dined and drank tea with him.

Talking of an acquaintance of ours[1117], distinguished for knowing an
uncommon variety of miscellaneous articles both in antiquities and
polite literature, he observed, 'You know, Sir, he runs about with
little weight upon his mind.' And talking of another very ingenious
gentleman[1118], who from the warmth of his temper was at variance with
many of his acquaintance, and wished to avoid them, he said, 'Sir, he
leads the life of an outlaw.'

On Friday, May 12[1119], as he had been so good as to assign me a room in
his house, where I might sleep occasionally, when I happened to sit with
him to a late hour, I took possession of it this night, found every
thing in excellent order, and was attended by honest Francis with a most
civil assiduity. I asked Johnson whether I might go to a consultation
with another lawyer upon Sunday, as that appeared to me to be doing work
as much in my way, as if an artisan should work on the day appropriated
for religious rest. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, when you are of consequence
enough to oppose the practice of consulting upon Sunday, you should do
it: but you may go now. It is not criminal, though it is not what one
should do, who is anxious for the preservation and increase of piety, to
which a peculiar observance of Sunday is a great help. The distinction
is clear between what is of moral and what is of ritual obligation.'

On Saturday, May 13, I breakfasted with him by invitation, accompanied
by Mr. Andrew Crosbie[1120], a Scotch Advocate, whom he had seen at
Edinburgh, and the Hon. Colonel (now General) Edward Stopford, brother
to Lord Courtown, who was desirous of being introduced to him. His tea
and rolls and butter, and whole breakfast apparatus were all in such
decorum, and his behaviour was so courteous, that Colonel Stopford was
quite surprised, and wondered at his having heard so much said of
Johnson's slovenliness and roughness. I have preserved nothing of what
passed, except that Crosbie pleased him much by talking learnedly of
alchymy, as to which Johnson was not a positive unbeliever, but rather
delighted in considering what progress had actually been made in the
transmutation of metals, what near approaches there had been to the
making of gold; and told us that it was affirmed, that a person in the
Russian dominions had discovered the secret, but died without revealing
it, as imagining it would be prejudicial to society. He added, that it
was not impossible but it might in time be generally known.

It being asked whether it was reasonable for a man to be angry at
another whom a woman had preferred to him;--JOHNSON. 'I do not see, Sir,
that it is reasonable for a man to be angry at another, whom a woman has
preferred to him: but angry he is, no doubt; and he is loath to be angry
at himself.'

Before setting out for Scotland on the 23rd[1121], I was frequently in his
company at different places, but during this period have recorded only
two remarks: one concerning Garrick: 'He has not Latin enough. He finds
out the Latin by the meaning rather than the meaning by the Latin[1122].'
And another concerning writers of travels, who, he observed, 'were more
defective than any other writers[1123].'

I passed many hours with him on the 17th[1124], of which I find all my
memorial is, 'much laughing.' It should seem he had that day been in a
humour for jocularity and merriment, and upon such occasions I never
knew a man laugh more heartily. We may suppose, that the high relish of
a state so different from his habitual gloom, produced more than
ordinary exertions of that distinguishing faculty of man, which has
puzzled philosophers so much to explain[1125]. Johnson's laugh was as
remarkable as any circumstance in his manner. It was a kind of good
humoured growl. Tom Davies described it drolly enough: 'He laughs like a



'I have an old amanuensis[1126] in great distress. I have given what I
think I can give, and begged till I cannot tell where to beg again. I
put into his hands this morning four guineas. If you could collect three
guineas more, it would clear him from his present difficulty.

'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,

'May 21, 1775.'



'I make no doubt but you are now safely lodged in your own habitation,
and have told all your adventures to Mrs. Boswell and Miss Veronica.
Pray teach Veronica to love me. Bid her not mind mamma.

'Mrs. Thrale has taken cold, and been very much disordered, but I hope
is grown well. Mr. Langton went yesterday to Lincolnshire, and has
invited Nicolaida[1127] to follow him. Beauclerk talks of going to Bath. I
am to set out on Monday; so there is nothing but dispersion.

'I have returned Lord Hailes's entertaining sheets[1128], but must stay
till I come back for more, because it will be inconvenient to send them
after me in my vagrant state.

'I promised Mrs. Macaulay[1129] that I would try to serve her son at
Oxford. I have not forgotten it, nor am unwilling to perform it. If they
desire to give him an English education, it should be considered whether
they cannot send him for a year or two to an English school. If he comes
immediately from Scotland, he can make no figure in our Universities.
The schools in the north, I believe, are cheap; and, when I was a young
man, were eminently good.

'There are two little books published by the Foulis[1130], Telemachus and
Collins's _Poems_, each a shilling: I would be glad to have them.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, though she does not love me. You
see what perverse things ladies are, and how little fit to be trusted
with feudal estates. When she mends and loves me, there may be more hope
of her daughters.

'I will not send compliments to my friends by name, because I would be
loath to leave any out in the enumeration. Tell them, as you see them,
how well I speak of Scotch politeness, and Scotch hospitality, and
Scotch beauty, and of every thing Scotch, but Scotch oat-cakes, and
Scotch prejudices.

'Let me know the answer of Rasay[1131], and the decision relating to Sir

'I am, my dearest Sir, with great affection,
'Your most obliged, and
'Most humble servant,

'May 27, 1775.'

After my return to Scotland, I wrote three letters to him, from which I
extract the following passages:--

'I have seen Lord Hailes since I came down. He thinks it wonderful that
you are pleased to take so much pains in revising his _Annals_. I told
him that you said you were well rewarded by the entertainment which you
had in reading them.'

'There has been a numerous flight of Hebrideans in Edinburgh this
summer, whom I have been happy to entertain at my house. Mr. Donald
Macqueen[1133] and Lord Monboddo supped with me one evening. They joined in
controverting your proposition, that the Gaelick of the Highlands and
Isles of Scotland was not written till of late.'

'My mind has been somewhat dark this summer[1134]. I have need of your
warming and vivifying rays; and I hope I shall have them frequently. I
am going to pass some time with my father at Auchinleck.'



'I am returned from the annual ramble into the middle counties[1135].
Having seen nothing I had not seen before, I have nothing to relate.
Time has left that part of the island few antiquities; and commerce has
left the people no singularities. I was glad to go abroad, and, perhaps,
glad to come home; which is, in other words, I was, I am afraid, weary
of being at home, and weary of being abroad. Is not this the state of
life? But, if we confess this weariness, let us not lament it, for all
the wise and all the good say, that we may cure it.

'For the black fumes which rise in your mind, I can prescribe nothing
but that you disperse them by honest business or innocent pleasure, and
by reading, sometimes easy and sometimes serious. Change of place is
useful; and I hope that your residence at Auchinleck will have many good

'That I should have given pain to Rasay, I am sincerely sorry; and am
therefore very much pleased that he is no longer uneasy. He still thinks
that I have represented him as personally giving up the Chieftainship. I
meant only that it was no longer contested between the two houses, and
supposed it settled, perhaps, by the cession of some remote generation,
in the house of Dunvegan. I am sorry the advertisement was not continued
for three or four times in the paper.

'That Lord Monboddo and Mr. Macqueen should controvert a position
contrary to the imaginary interest of literary or national prejudice,
might be easily imagined; but of a standing fact there ought to be no
controversy: If there are men with tails, catch an _homo caudatus_; if
there was writing of old in the Highlands or Hebrides, in the Erse
language, produce the manuscripts. Where men write, they will write to
one another, and some of their letters, in families studious of their
ancestry, will be kept. In Wales there are many manuscripts.

'I have now three parcels of Lord Hailes's history, which I purpose to
return all the next week: that his respect for my little observations
should keep his work in suspense, makes one of the evils of my journey.
It is in our language, I think, a new mode of history, which tells all
that is wanted, and, I suppose, all that is known, without laboured
splendour of language, or affected subtilty of conjecture. The exactness
of his dates raises my wonder. He seems to have the closeness of
Henault[1137] without his constraint.

'Mrs. Thrale was so entertained with your _Journal_[1138], that she almost
read herself blind. She has a great regard for you.

'Of Mrs. Boswell, though she knows in her heart that she does not love
me, I am always glad to hear any good, and hope that she and the little
dear ladies will have neither sickness nor any other affliction. But she
knows that she does not care what becomes of me, and for that she may be
sure that I think her very much to blame.

'Never, my dear Sir, do you take it into your head to think that I do
not love you; you may settle yourself in full confidence both of my love
and my esteem; I love you as a kind man, I value you as a worthy man,
and hope in time to reverence you as a man of exemplary piety. I hold
you, as Hamlet has it, 'in my heart of hearts[1139],' and therefore, it is
little to say, that I am, Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,

'London, Aug. 27, 1775.'



'If in these papers[1140] there is little alteration attempted, do not
suppose me negligent. I have read them perhaps more closely than the
rest; but I find nothing worthy of an objection.

'Write to me soon, and write often, and tell me all your honest heart.

'I am Sir,
'Yours affectionately,

'Aug. 30, 1775.'



'I now write to you, lest in some of your freaks and humours you should
fancy yourself neglected. Such fancies I must entreat you never to
admit, at least never to indulge: for my regard for you is so radicated
and fixed, that it is become part of my mind, and cannot be effaced but
by some cause uncommonly violent; therefore, whether I write or not, set
your thoughts at rest. I now write to tell you that I shall not very
soon write again, for I am to set out to-morrow on another journey.

       *       *       *       *       *

'Your friends are all well at Streatham, and in Leicester-fields[1141].
Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, if she is in good humour with me.

'I am, Sir, &c.

'September 14, 1775.'

What he mentions in such light terms as, 'I am to set out to-morrow on
another journey,' I soon afterwards discovered was no less than a tour
to France with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. This was the only time in his life
that he went upon the Continent.


'Sept. 18[1142], 1775.


'We are here in France, after a very pleasing passage of no more than
six hours. I know not when I shall write again, and therefore I write
now, though you cannot suppose that I have much to say. You have seen
France yourself[1143]. From this place we are going to Rouen, and from
Rouen to Paris, where Mr. Thrale designs to stay about five or six
weeks. We have a regular recommendation to the English resident, so we
shall not be taken for vagabonds. We think to go one way and return
another, and for [?see] as much as we can. I will try to speak a little
French[1144]; I tried hitherto but little, but I spoke sometimes. If I
heard better, I suppose I should learn faster. I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,



'Paris, Oct. 22, 1775.


'We are still here, commonly very busy in looking about us. We have been
to-day at Versailles. You have seen it, and I shall not describe it. We
came yesterday from Fontainbleau, where the Court is now. We went to see
the King and Queen at dinner, and the Queen was so impressed by Miss[1145],
that she sent one of the Gentlemen to enquire who she was. I find all
true that you have ever told me of Paris. Mr. Thrale is very liberal,
and keeps us two coaches, and a very fine table; but I think our cookery
very bad[1146]. Mrs. Thrale got into a convent of English nuns, and I
talked with her through the grate, and I am very kindly used by the
English Benedictine friars. But upon the whole I cannot make much
acquaintance here; and though the churches, palaces, and some private
houses are very magnificent, there is no very great pleasure after
having seen many, in seeing more; at least the pleasure, whatever it be,
must some time have an end, and we are beginning to think when we shall
come home. Mr. Thrale calculates that, as we left Streatham on the
fifteenth of September, we shall see it again about the fifteenth of

'I think I had not been on this side of the sea five days before I found
a sensible improvement in my health. I ran a race in the rain this day,
and beat Baretti. Baretti is a fine fellow, and speaks French, I think,
quite as well as English[1147].

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Williams; and give my love to Francis; and
tell my friends that I am not lost.

I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble, &c.



'Edinburgh, Oct. 24, 1775.


'If I had not been informed that you were at Paris, you should have had
a letter from me by the earliest opportunity, announcing the birth of my
son, on the 9th instant; I have named him Alexander[1148], after my father.
I now write, as I suppose your fellow traveller, Mr. Thrale, will return
to London this week, to attend his duty in Parliament, and that you will
not stay behind him.

'I send another parcel of Lord Hailes's _Annals_, I have undertaken to
solicit you for a favour to him, which he thus requests in a letter to
me: "I intend soon to give you _The Life of Robert Bruce_, which you
will be pleased to transmit to Dr. Johnson. I wish that you could assist
me in a fancy which I have taken, of getting Dr. Johnson to draw a
character of Robert Bruce, from the account that I give of that prince.
If he finds materials for it in my work, it will be a proof that I have
been fortunate in selecting the most striking incidents."

'I suppose by _The Life of Robert Bruce_, his Lordship means that part
of his _Annals_ which relates the history of that prince, and not a
separate work.

'Shall we have _A Journey to Paris_ from you in the winter? You will, I
hope, at any rate be kind enough to give me some account of your French
travels very soon, for I am very impatient. What a different scene have
you viewed this autumn, from that which you viewed in autumn 1773! I
ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your much obliged and
'Affectionate humble servant,



'I am glad that the young Laird is born, and an end, as I hope, put to
the only difference that you can ever have with Mrs. Boswell[1149]. I know
that she does not love me; but I intend to persist in wishing her well
till I get the better of her.

'Paris is, indeed, a place very different from the Hebrides, but it is
to a hasty traveller not so fertile of novelty, nor affords so many
opportunities of remark. I cannot pretend to tell the publick any thing
of a place better known to many of my readers than to myself. We can
talk of it when we meet.

'I shall go next week to Streatham, from whence I purpose to send a
parcel of the _History_ every post. Concerning the character of Bruce, I
can only say, that I do not see any great reason for writing it; but I
shall not easily deny what Lord Hailes and you concur in desiring.

'I have been remarkably healthy all the journey, and hope you and your
family have known only that trouble and danger which has so happily
terminated. Among all the congratulations that you may receive, I hope
you believe none more warm or sincere, than those of, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,

'November 16, 1775[1150].'



'This week I came home from Paris. I have brought you a little box,
which I thought pretty; but I know not whether it is properly a
snuff-box, or a box for some other use. I will send it, when I can find
an opportunity. I have been through the whole journey remarkably well.
My fellow-travellers were the same whom you saw at Lichfield[1152], only we
took Baretti with us. Paris is not so fine a place as you would expect.
The palaces and churches, however, are very splendid and magnificent;
and what would please you, there are many very fine pictures; but I do
not think their way of life commodious or pleasant[1153].

'Let me know how your health has been all this while. I hope the fine
summer has given you strength sufficient to encounter the winter.

'Make my compliments to all my friends; and, if your fingers will let
you, write to me, or let your maid write, if it be troublesome to you. I
am, dear Madam,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,

'November 16, 1775.'



'Some weeks ago I wrote to you, to tell you that I was just come home
from a ramble, and hoped that I should have heard from you. I am afraid
winter has laid hold on your fingers, and hinders you from writing.
However, let somebody write, if you cannot, and tell me how you do, and
a little of what has happened at Lichfield among our friends. I hope you
are all well.

'When I was in France, I thought myself growing young, but am afraid
that cold weather will take part of my new vigour from me. Let us,
however, take care of ourselves, and lose no part of our health by

'I never knew whether you received the _Commentary on the New Testament_
and the _Travels_, and the glasses.

'Do, my dear love, write to me; and do not let us forget each other.
This is the season of good wishes, and I wish you all good. I have not
lately seen Mr. Porter[1154], nor heard of him. Is he with you?

'Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Adey, and Mrs. Cobb, and all
my friends; and when I can do any good, let me know.

'I am, dear Madam,
'Yours most affectionately,

'December, 1775.'

It is to be regretted that he did not write an account of his travels in
France; for as he is reported to have once said, that 'he could write
the Life of a Broomstick[1155],' so, notwithstanding so many former
travellers have exhausted almost every subject for remark in that great
kingdom, his very accurate observation, and peculiar vigour of thought
and illustration, would have produced a valuable work. During his visit
to it, which lasted but about two months, he wrote notes or minutes of
what he saw. He promised to show me them, but I neglected to put him in
mind of it; and the greatest part of them has been lost, or perhaps,
destroyed in a precipitate burning of his papers a few days before his
death, which must ever be lamented. One small paper-book, however,
entitled 'FRANCE II,' has been preserved, and is in my possession. It is
a diurnal register of his life and observations, from the 10th of
October to the 4th of November, inclusive, being twenty-six days, and
shows an extraordinary attention to various minute particulars. Being
the only memorial of this tour that remains, my readers, I am confident,
will peruse it with pleasure, though his notes are very short, and
evidently written only to assist his own recollection.

'Oct. 10. Tuesday. We saw the _Ecole Militaire_, in which one hundred
and fifty young boys are educated for the army. They have arms of
different sizes, according to the age;--flints of wood. The building is
very large, but nothing fine, except the council-room. The French have
large squares in the windows;--they make good iron palisades. Their
meals are gross.

'We visited the Observatory, a large building of a great height. The
upper stones of the parapet very large, but not cramped with iron. The
flat on the top is very extensive; but on the insulated part there is no
parapet. Though it was broad enough, I did not care to go upon it. Maps
were printing in one of the rooms.

'We walked to a small convent of the Fathers of the Oratory. In the
reading-desk of the refectory lay the lives of the Saints.

'Oct. 11. Wednesday. We went to see _Hotel de Chatlois_[1156], a house not
very large, but very elegant. One of the rooms was gilt to a degree that
I never saw before. The upper part for servants and their masters was

'Thence we went to Mr. Monville's, a house divided into small
apartments, furnished with effeminate and minute elegance.--Porphyry.

'Thence we went to St. Roque's church, which is very large;--the lower
part of the pillars incrusted with marble.--Three chapels behind the
high altar;--the last a mass of low arches.--Altars, I believe, all

'We passed through _Place de Vendôme_, a fine square, about as big as
Hanover-square.--Inhabited by the high families.--Lewis XIV. on
horse-back in the middle.

'Monville is the son of a farmer-general. In the house of Chatlois is a
room furnished with japan, fitted up in Europe.

'We dined with Boccage[1157], the Marquis Blanchetti, and his lady.--The
sweetmeats taken by the Marchioness Blanchetti, after observing that
they were dear.--Mr. Le Roy, Count Manucci, the Abbé, the Prior[1158], and
Father Wilson, who staid with me, till I took him home in the coach.

'Bathiani is gone.

'The French have no laws for the maintenance of their poor.--Monk not
necessarily a priest.--Benedictines rise at four; are at church an hour
and half; at church again half an hour before, half an hour after,
dinner; and again from half an hour after seven to eight. They may sleep
eight hours.--Bodily labour wanted in monasteries.

'The poor taken to hospitals, and miserably kept.--Monks in the convent
fifteen:--accounted poor.

'Oct. 12. Thursday. We went to the Gobelins.--Tapestry makes a good
picture;--imitates flesh exactly.--One piece with a gold ground;--the
birds not exactly coloured.--Thence we went to the King's cabinet;--very
neat, not, perhaps, perfect.--Gold ore.--Candles of the candle-tree.--
Seeds.--Woods. Thence to Gagnier's house, where I saw rooms nine,
furnished with a profusion of wealth and elegance which I never had seen
before.--Vases.--Pictures.--The Dragon china.--The lustre said to be of
crystal, and to have cost 3,500£.--The whole furniture said to have cost
125,000£.--Damask hangings covered with pictures.--Porphyry.--This house
struck me.--Then we waited on the ladies to Monville's.--Captain Irwin
with us[1159].--Spain. County towns all beggars.--At Dijon he could not
find the way to Orleans.--Cross roads of France very bad.--Five
soldiers.--Woman.--Soldiers escaped.--The Colonel would not lose five
men for the death of one woman.--The magistrate cannot seize a soldier
but by the Colonel's permission.--Good inn at Nismes.--Moors of Barbary
fond of Englishmen.--Gibraltar eminently healthy;--It has beef from
Barbary;--There is a large garden.--Soldiers sometimes fall from the

'Oct. 13. Friday. I staid at home all day, only went to find the Prior,
who was not at home.--I read something in Canus[1160].--_Nec admiror, nec
multum laudo_.

Oct. 14. Saturday. We went to the house of Mr. Argenson, which was
almost wainscotted with looking-glasses, and covered with gold.--The
ladies' closet wainscotted with large squares of glass over painted
paper. They always place mirrours to reflect their rooms.

'Then we went to Julien's, the Treasurer of the Clergy:--30,000£ a
year.--The house has no very large room, but is set with mirrours, and
covered with gold.--Books of wood here, and in another library.

'At D----'s[1161] I looked into the books in the lady's closet, and, in
contempt, shewed them to Mr. T.--_Prince Titi_[1162]; _Bibl. des Fées_, and
other books.--She was offended, and shut up, as we heard afterwards, her

'Then we went to Julien Le Roy, the King's watch-maker, a man of
character in his business, who shewed a small clock made to find the
longitude[1163].--A decent man.

'Afterwards we saw the _Palais Marchand_[1164], and the Courts of Justice,
civil and criminal.--Queries on the _Sellette_[1165].--This building has
the old Gothick passages, and a great appearance of antiquity.--Three
hundred prisoners sometimes in the gaol[1166].

'Much disturbed; hope no ill will be[1167].

'In the afternoon I visited Mr. Freron the journalist[1168]. He spoke Latin
very scantily, but seemed to understand me.--His house not splendid, but
of commodious size.--His family, wife, son, and daughter, not elevated
but decent.--I was pleased with my reception.--He is to translate my
books, which I am to send him with notes.

'Oct. 15. Sunday. At Choisi, a royal palace on the banks of the Seine,
about 7m. from Paris.--The terrace noble along the river.--The rooms
numerous and grand, but not discriminated from other palaces.--The
chapel beautiful, but small.--China globes.--Inlaid tables.--Labyrinth.
--Sinking table[1169].--Toilet tables.

'Oct. 16. Monday. The Palais Royal very grand, large, and lofty.--A very
great collection of pictures.--Three of Raphael.--Two Holy Family.--One
small piece of M. Angelo.--One room of Rubens--I thought the pictures of
Raphael fine[1170].

'The Thuilleries.--Statues.--Venus.--Aen. and Anchises in his
arms.--Nilus.--Many more. The walks not open to mean persons.--Chairs at
night hired for two sous apiece.--Pont tournant[1171].

'Austin Nuns.--Grate.--Mrs. Fermor, Abbess[1172].--She knew Pope, and
thought him disagreeable.--Mrs. ------- has many books[1173];--has seen
life.--Their frontlet disagreeable.--Their hood.--Their life easy.--Rise
about five; hour and half in chapel.--Dine at ten.--Another hour and
half at chapel; half an hour about three, and half an hour more at
seven:--four hours in chapel.--A large garden.--Thirteen
pensioners[1174].--Teacher complained.

'At the Boulevards saw nothing, yet was glad to be there.--Rope-dancing
and farce.--Egg dance.

'N. [Note.] Near Paris, whether on week-days or Sundays, the roads

'Oct. 17, Tuesday. At the Palais Marchand I bought

        A snuff-box[1175],          24 L.
        -------------             6
        Table book               15
        Scissars 3 p [pair]      18
                                 63--2 12 6[1176]

'We heard the lawyers plead.--N. As many killed at Paris as there are
days in the year. _Chambre de question_[1177].--Tournelle[1178] at the
Palais Marchand.--An old venerable building.

'The Palais Bourbon, belonging to the Prince of Condé. Only one small
wing shown;--lofty;--splendid;--gold and glass.--The battles of the
great Condé are painted in one of the rooms. The present Prince a
grandsire at thirty-nine[1179].

'The sight of palaces, and other great buildings, leaves no very
distinct images, unless to those who talk of them. As I entered, my wife
was in my mind[1180]: she would have been pleased. Having now nobody to
please, I am little pleased.

'N. In France there is no middle rank[1181].

'So many shops open, that Sunday is little distinguished at Paris.--The
palaces of Louvre and Thuilleries granted out in lodgings.

'In the _Palais de Bourbon_, gilt globes of metal at the fire-place.

'The French beds commended.--Much of the marble, only paste.

'The Colosseum a mere wooden building, at least much of it.

'Oct. 18. Wednesday. We went to Fontainebleau, which we found a large
mean town, crowded with people.--The forest thick with woods, very
extensive.--Manucci[1182] secured us lodgings.--The appearance of the
country pleasant. No hills, few streams, only one hedge.--I remember no
chapels nor crosses on the road.--Pavement still, and rows of trees.

'N. Nobody but mean people walk in Paris[1183].

'Oct. 19. Thursday. At Court, we saw the apartments;--the King's
bed-chamber and council-chamber extremely splendid--Persons of all ranks
in the external rooms through which the family passes:--servants and
masters.--Brunet with us the second time.

'The introductor came to us;--civil to me.--Presenting.--I had
scruples.--Not necessary.--We went and saw the King[1184] and Queen at
dinner.--We saw the other ladies at dinner--Madame Elizabeth[1185], with
the Princess of Guimené.--At night we went to a comedy. I neither saw
nor heard.--Drunken women.--Mrs. Th. preferred one to the other.

'Oct. 20. Friday. We saw the Queen mount in the forest--Brown habit;
rode aside: one lady rode aside.--The Queen's horse light grey;
martingale.--She galloped.--We then went to the apartments, and admired
them.--Then wandered through the palace.--In the passages, stalls and
shops.--Painting in Fresco by a great master, worn out.--We saw the
King's horses and dogs.--The dogs almost all English.--Degenerate.

'The horses not much commended.--The stables cool; the kennel filthy.

'At night the ladies went to the opera. I refused, but should have been

'The King fed himself with his left hand as we.

'Saturday, 21. In the night I got ground.--We came home to Paris.--I
think we did not see the chapel.--Tree broken by the wind.--The French
chairs made all of boards painted.

N. Soldiers at the court of justice.--Soldiers not amenable to the
magistrates.--Dijon woman[1186].

'Faggots in the palace.--Every thing slovenly, except in the chief
rooms.--Trees in the roads, some tall, none old, many very young and

'Women's saddles seem ill made.--Queen's bridle woven with silver.--Tags
to strike the horse.

'Sunday, Oct. 22. To Versailles[1187], a mean town. Carriages of business
passing.--Mean shops against the wall.--Our way lay through Sêve, where
the China manufacture.--Wooden bridge at Sêve, in the way to
Versailles.--The palace of great extent.--The front long; I saw it not
perfectly.--The Menagerie. Cygnets dark; their black feet; on the
ground; tame.--Halcyons, or gulls.--Stag and hind, young.--Aviary, very
large; the net, wire.--Black stag of China, small.--Rhinoceros, the horn
broken and pared away, which, I suppose, will grow; the basis, I think,
four inches 'cross; the skin folds like loose cloth doubled over his
body, and cross his hips; a vast animal, though young; as big, perhaps,
as four oxen.--The young elephant, with his tusks just appearing.--The
brown bear put out his paws;--all very tame.--The lion.--The tigers I
did not well view.--The camel, or dromedary with two bunches called the
Huguin[1188], taller than any horse.--Two camels with one bunch.--Among the
birds was a pelican, who being let out, went to a fountain, and swam
about to catch fish. His feet well webbed: he dipped his head, and
turned his long bill sidewise. He caught two or three fish, but did not
eat them.

'Trianon is a kind of retreat appendant to Versailles. It has an open
portico; the pavement, and, I think, the pillars, of marble.--There are
many rooms, which I do not distinctly remember--A table of porphyry,
about five feet long, and between two and three broad, given to Louis
XIV. by the Venetian State.--In the council-room almost all that was not
door or window, was, I think, looking-glass.--Little Trianon is a small
palace like a gentleman's house.--The upper floor paved with
brick.--Little Vienne.--The court is ill paved.--The rooms at the top
are small, fit to sooth the imagination with privacy. In the front of
Versailles are small basons of water on the terrace, and other basons, I
think, below them. There are little courts.--The great gallery is
wainscotted with mirrors, not very large, but joined by frames. I
suppose the large plates were not yet made.--The play-house was very
large.--The chapel I do not remember if we saw--We saw one chapel, but I
am not certain whether there or at Trianon.--The foreign office paved
with bricks.--The dinner half a Louis each, and, I think, a Louis
over.--Money given at Menagerie, three livres; at palace, six livres.

'Oct. 23. Monday. Last night I wrote to Levet.--We went to see the
looking-glasses wrought. They come from Normandy in cast plates, perhaps
the third of an inch thick. At Paris they are ground upon a marble
table, by rubbing one plate upon another with grit between them. The
various sands, of which there are said to be five, I could not learn.
The handle, by which the upper glass is moved, has the form of a wheel,
which may be moved in all directions. The plates are sent up with their
surfaces ground, but not polished, and so continue till they are
bespoken, lest time should spoil the surface, as we were told. Those
that are to be polished, are laid on a table, covered with several thick
cloths, hard strained, that the resistance may be equal; they are then
rubbed with a hand rubber, held down hard by a contrivance which I did
not well understand. The powder which is used last seemed to me to be
iron dissolved in aqua fortis: they called it, as Baretti said, _marc de
beau forte_, which he thought was dregs. They mentioned vitriol and
salt-petre. The cannon ball swam in the quicksilver. To silver them, a
leaf of beaten tin is laid, and rubbed with quicksilver, to which it
unites. Then more quicksilver is poured upon it, which, by its mutual
[attraction] rises very high. Then a paper is laid at the nearest end of
the plate, over which the glass is slided till it lies upon the plate,
having driven much of the quicksilver before it. It is then, I think,
pressed upon cloths, and then set sloping to drop the superfluous
mercury; the slope is daily heightened towards a perpendicular.

'In the way I saw the Greve, the Mayor's house, and the Bastile.[1189]

'We then went to Sans-terre, a brewer. He brews with about as much malt
as Mr. Thrale, and sells his beer at the same price, though he pays no
duty for malt, and little more than half as much for beer. Beer is sold
retail at 6d. a bottle. He brews 4,000 barrels a year. There are
seventeen brewers in Paris, of whom none is supposed to brew more than
he:--reckoning them at 3,000 each, they make 51,000 a year.--They make
their malt, for malting is here no trade. The moat of the Bastile is

'Oct. 24, Tuesday. We visited the King's library--I saw the _Speculum
humanae Salvationis_, rudely printed, with ink, sometimes pale,
sometimes black; part supposed to be with wooden types, and part with
pages cut on boards.--The Bible, supposed to be older than that of
Mentz, in 62[1190]: it has no date; it is supposed to have been printed
with wooden types.--I am in doubt; the print is large and fair, in two
folios.--Another book was shown me, supposed to have been printed with
wooden types;--I think, _Durandi Sanctuarium_[1191] in 58. This is inferred
from the difference of form sometimes seen in the same letter, which
might be struck with different puncheons.--The regular similitude of
most letters proves better that they are metal.--I saw nothing but the
_Speculum_ which I had not seen, I think, before.

'Thence to the Sorbonne.--The library very large, not in lattices like
the King's. _Marbone_ and _Durandi_, q. collection 14 vol. _Scriptores
de rebus Gallicis_, many folios.--_Histoire Généalogique of France_, 9
vol.--_Gallia Christiana_, the first edition, 4to. the last, f. 12
vol.--The Prior and Librarian dined [with us]:--I waited on them
home.--Their garden pretty, with covered walks, but small; yet may hold
many students.--The Doctors of the Sorbonne are all equal:--choose those
who succeed to vacancies.--Profit little.

'Oct. 25. Wednesday. I went with the Prior to St. Cloud, to see Dr.
Hooke.--We walked round the palace, and had some talk.--I dined with our
whole company at the Monastery.--In the library,_Beroald_,--_Cymon_,--
_Titus_, from Boccace.--_Oratio Proverbialis_ to the Virgin, from
Petrarch; Falkland to Sandys; Dryden's Preface to the third vol. of

'Oct. 26. Thursday. We saw the china at Sêve, cut, glazed, painted.
Bellevue, a pleasing house, not great: fine prospect.--Meudon, an old
palace.--Alexander, in Porphyry: hollow between eyes and nose, thin
cheeks.--Plato and Aristotle--Noble terrace overlooks the town.--St.
Cloud.--Gallery not very high, nor grand, but pleasing.--In the rooms,
Michael Angelo, drawn by himself, Sir Thomas More, Des Cartes, Bochart,
Naudacus, Mazarine.--Gilded wainscot, so common that it is not
minded.--Gough and Keene.--Hooke came to us at the inn.--A message from

'Oct. 27. Friday. I staid at home.--Gough and Keene, and Mrs. S----'s
friend dined with us.--This day we began to have a fire.--The weather is
grown very cold, and I fear, has a bad effect upon my breath, which has
grown much more free and easy in this country.

'Sat. Oct. 28. I visited the Grand Chartreux built by St. Louis.--It is
built for forty, but contains only twenty-four, and will not maintain
more. The friar that spoke to us had a pretty apartment[1193].--Mr. Baretti
says four rooms; I remember but three.--His books seemed to be
French.--His garden was neat; he gave me grapes.--We saw the Place de
Victoire, with the statues of the King, and the captive nations.

We saw the palace and gardens of Luxembourg, but the gallery was
shut.--We climbed to the top stairs.--I dined with Colbrooke, who had
much company:--Foote, Sir George Rodney, Motteux, Udson, Taaf.--Called
on the Prior, and found him in bed.

'Hotel--a guinea a day.--Coach, three guineas a week.--Valet de
place[1194], three l.[1195] a day.--_Avantcoureur_, a guinea a week.--
Ordinary dinner, six l. a head.--Our ordinary seems to be about five
guineas a day.--Our extraordinary expences, as diversions, gratuities,
clothes, I cannot reckon.--Our travelling is ten guineas a day.

'White stockings, 18 l.--Wig.--Hat.

'Sunday, Oct. 29. We saw the boarding-school.--The _Enfans trouvés_
[1196].--A room with about eighty-six children in cradles, as sweet as
a parlour.--They lose a third[1197]; take in to perhaps more than seven
[years old]; put them to trades; pin to them the papers sent with them.
--Want nurses.--Saw their chapel.

'Went to St. Eustatia; saw an innumerable company of girls catechised,
in many bodies, perhaps 100 to a catechist.--Boys taught at one time,
girls at another.--The sermon; the preacher wears a cap, which he takes
off at the name:--his action uniform, not very violent.

'Oct. 30. Monday. We saw the library of St. Germain[1198].--A very noble
collection.--_Codex Divinorum Officiorum_, 1459:--a letter, square like
that of the _Offices_, perhaps the same.--The _Codex_, by Fust and
Gernsheym.--_Meursius_, 12 v. fol.--_Amadis_, in French, 3 v. fol.--
CATHOLICON _sine colophone_, but of 1460.--Two other editions[1199],
one by ... _Augustin. de Civitate Dei_, without name, date, or place,
but of Fust's square letter as it seems.

'I dined with Col. Drumgold;--had a pleasing afternoon.

'Some of the books of St. Germain's stand in presses from the wall, like
those at Oxford.

'Oct. 31. Tuesday. I lived at the Benedictines; meagre day; soup meagre,
herrings, eels, both with sauce; fryed fish; lentils, tasteless in
themselves. In the library; where I found _Maffeus's de Historiâ Indicâ:
Promontorium flectere, to double the Cape_. I parted very tenderly from
the Prior and Friar Wilkes[1200].

_Maitre des Arts_, 2 y.--_Bacc. Theol_. 3 y.--_Licentiate_, 2
y.--_Doctor Th_. 2 y. in all 9 years.--For the Doctorate three
disputations, _Major, Minor, Sorbonica_.--Several colleges suppressed,
and transferred to that which was the Jesuits' College.

'Nov. 1. Wednesday. We left Paris.--St. Denis, a large town; the church
not very large, but the middle isle is very lofty and aweful.--On the
left are chapels built beyond the line of the wall, which destroy the
symmetry of the sides. The organ is higher above the pavement than any I
have ever seen.--The gates are of brass.--On the middle gate is the
history of our Lord.--The painted windows are historical, and said to be
eminently beautiful.--We were at another church belonging to a convent,
of which the portal is a dome; we could not enter further, and it was
almost dark.

'Nov. 2. Thursday. We came this day to Chantilly, a seat belonging to
the Prince of Condé.--This place is eminently beautified by all
varieties of waters starting up in fountains, falling in cascades,
running in streams, and spread in lakes.--The water seems to be too near
the house.--All this water is brought from a source or river three
leagues off, by an artificial canal, which for one league is carried
under ground.--The house is magnificent.--The cabinet seems well
stocked: what I remember was, the jaws of a hippopotamus, and a young
hippopotamus preserved, which, however, is so small, that I doubt its
reality.--It seems too hairy for an abortion, and too small for a mature
birth.--Nothing was in spirits; all was dry.--The dog, the deer; the
ant-bear with long snout.--The toucan, long broad beak.--The stables
were of very great length.--The kennel had no scents.--There was a
mockery of a village.--The Menagerie had few animals[1201]. For Dr. Blagden
see _post_, 1780 in Mr. Langton's _Collection_.--Two faussans[1202], or
Brasilian weasels, spotted, very wild.--There is a forest, and, I think,
a park.--I walked till I was very weary, and next morning felt my feet
battered, and with pains in the toes.

'Nov. 3. Friday. We came to Compiegne, a very large town, with a royal
palace built round a pentagonal court.--The court is raised upon vaults,
and has, I suppose, an entry on one side by a gentle rise.--Talk of
painting[1203],--The church is not very large, but very elegant and
splendid.--I had at first great difficulty to walk, but motion grew
continually easier.--At night we came to Noyon, an episcopal city.--The
cathedral is very beautiful, the pillars alternately gothick and
Corinthian.--We entered a very noble parochial church.--Noyon is walled,
and is said to be three miles round.

'Nov. 4. Saturday. We rose very early, and came through St. Quintin to
Cambray, not long after three.--We went to an English nunnery, to give a
letter to Father Welch, the confessor, who came to visit us in the

'Nov. 5. Sunday. We saw the cathedral.--It is very beautiful, with
chapels on each side. The choir splendid. The balustrade in one part
brass.--The Neff[1204] very high and grand.--The altar silver as far as it
is seen.--The vestments very splendid.--At the Benedictines church----'

Here his Journal[1205] ends abruptly. Whether he wrote any more after this
time, I know not; but probably not much, as he arrived in England about
the 12th of November. These short notes of his tour, though they may
seem minute taken singly, make together a considerable mass of
information, and exhibit such an ardour of enquiry and acuteness of
examination, as, I believe, are found in but few travellers, especially
at an advanced age. They completely refute the idle notion which has
been propagated, _that he could not see_[1206]; and, if he had taken the
trouble to revise and digest them, he undoubtedly could have expanded
them into a very entertaining narrative.

When I met him in London the following year, the account which he gave
me of his French tour, was, 'Sir, I have seen all the visibilities of
Paris, and around it; but to have formed an acquaintance with the people
there, would have required more time than I could stay. I was just
beginning to creep into acquaintance[1207] by means of Colonel Drumgold, a
very high man, Sir, head of _L'Ecole Militaire_, a most complete
character, for he had first been a professor of rhetorick, and then
became a soldier. And, Sir, I was very kindly treated by the English
Benedictines, and have a cell appropriated to me in their convent.'

He observed, 'The great in France live very magnificently, but the rest
very miserably. There is no happy middle state as in England[1208]. The
shops of Paris are mean; the meat in the markets is such as would be
sent to a gaol in England[1209]: and Mr. Thrale justly observed, that the
cookery of the French was forced upon them by necessity; for they could
not eat their meat, unless they added some taste to it. The French are
an indelicate people; they will spit upon any place[1210]. At Madame
----'s[1211], a literary lady of rank, the footman took the sugar in his
fingers[1212], and threw it into my coffee. I was going to put it aside;
but hearing it was made on purpose for me, I e'en tasted Tom's fingers.
The same lady would needs make tea _à l'Angloise_. The spout of the
tea-pot did not pour freely; she bad the footman blow into it[1213]. France
is worse than Scotland in every thing but climate. Nature has done more
for the French; but they have done less for themselves than the Scotch
have done.'

It happened that Foote was at Paris at the same time with Dr. Johnson,
and his description of my friend while there, was abundantly ludicrous.
He told me, that the French were quite astonished at his figure and
manner, and at his dress, which he obstinately continued exactly as in
London[1214];--his brown clothes, black stockings, and plain shirt. He
mentioned, that an Irish gentleman said to Johnson, 'Sir, you have not
seen the best French players.' JOHNSON. 'Players, Sir! I look on them as
no better than creatures set upon tables and joint-stools to make faces
and produce laughter, like dancing dogs.'--'But, Sir, you will allow
that some players are better than others?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, as some
dogs dance better than others.'

While Johnson was in France, he was generally very resolute in speaking
Latin. It was a maxim with him that a man should not let himself down,
by speaking a language which he speaks imperfectly. Indeed, we must have
often observed how inferiour, how much like a child a man appears, who
speaks a broken tongue. When Sir Joshua Reynolds, at one of the dinners
of the Royal Academy, presented him to a Frenchman of great distinction,
he would not deign to speak French, but talked Latin, though his
Excellency did not understand it, owing, perhaps, to Johnson's English
pronunciation[1215]: yet upon another occasion he was observed to speak
French to a Frenchman of high rank, who spoke English; and being asked
the reason, with some expression of surprise,--he answered, 'because I
think my French is as good as his English.' Though Johnson understood
French perfectly, he could not speak it readily, as I have observed at
his first interview with General Paoli, in 1769[1216]; yet he wrote it, I
imagine, pretty well, as appears from some of his letters in Mrs.
Piozzi's collection, of which I shall transcribe one:--

_A Madame La Comtesse de----_[1217].
'July 16, 1775[1218].

'Oui, _Madame, le moment est arrivé, et il faut que je parte. Mais
pourquoi faut il partir? Est ce que je m'ennuye? Je m'ennuyerai
ailleurs. Est ce que je cherche ou quelque plaisir, ou quelque
soulagement? Je ne cherche rien, je n'espere rien. Aller voir ce que jai
vû, etre un peu rejoué, un peu degouté, me resouvenir que la vie se
passe en vain, me plaindre de moi, m'endurcir aux dehors; void le tout
de ce qu'on compte pour les delices de l'anneé. Que Dieu vous donne,
Madame, tous les agrémens de la vie, avec un esprit qui peut en jouir
sans s'y livrer trop_.'

Here let me not forget a curious anecdote, as related to me by Mr.
Beauclerk, which I shall endeavour to exhibit as well as I can in that
gentleman's lively manner; and in justice to him it is proper to add,
that Dr. Johnson told me I might rely both on the correctness of his
memory, and the fidelity of his narrative. 'When Madame de Boufflers was
first in England[1219], (said Beauclerk,) she was desirous to see Johnson.
I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was
entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was
over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple-lane, when all
at once I heard a noise like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson,
who it seems, upon a little recollection, had taken it into his head
that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a
foreign lady of quality, and eager to shew himself a man of gallantry,
was hurrying down the stair-case in violent agitation. He overtook us
before we reached the Temple-gate, and brushing in between me and Madame
de Boufflers, seized her hand, and conducted her to her coach. His dress
was a rusty brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers,
a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves
of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable
crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by this
singular appearance.'

He spoke Latin with wonderful fluency and elegance. When Pere
Boscovich[1220] was in England, Johnson dined in company with him at Sir
Joshua Reynolds's, and at Dr. Douglas's, now Bishop of Salisbury. Upon
both occasions that celebrated foreigner expressed his astonishment at
Johnson's Latin conversation. When at Paris, Johnson thus characterised
Voltaire to Freron the Journalist: '_Vir est acerrimi ingenii et
paucarum literarum!_'


'Edinburgh, Dec. 5, 1775.


'Mr. Alexander Maclean, the young Laird of Col, being to set out
to-morrow for London, I give him this letter to introduce him to your
acquaintance. The kindness which you and I experienced from his brother,
whose unfortunate death we sincerely lament[1221], will make us always
desirous to shew attention to any branch of the family. Indeed, you have
so much of the true Highland cordiality, that I am sure you would have
thought me to blame if I had neglected to recommend to you this
Hebridean prince, in whose island we were hospitably entertained.

'I ever am with respectful attachment, my dear Sir,
'Your most obliged
'And most humble servant,

Mr. Maclean returned with the most agreeable accounts of the polite
attention with which he was received by Dr. Johnson.

In the course of this year Dr. Burney informs me that 'he very
frequently met Dr. Johnson at Mr. Thrale's, at Streatham, where they had
many long conversations, often sitting up as long as the fire and
candles lasted, and much longer than the patience of the servants

A few of Johnson's sayings, which that gentleman recollects, shall here
be inserted.

'I never take a nap after dinner but when I have had a bad night, and
then the nap takes me.'

'The writer of an epitaph should not be considered as saying nothing but
what is strictly true. Allowance must be made for some degree of
exaggerated praise. In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath[1223].'

'There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then
less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at
the other[1224].'

'More is learned in publick than in private schools[1225], from emulation;
there is the collision of mind with mind, or the radiation of many minds
pointing to one centre. Though few boys make their own exercises, yet if
a good exercise is given up, out of a great number of boys, it is made
by somebody.'

'I hate by-roads in education. Education is as well known, and has long
been as well known, as ever it can be[1226]. Endeavouring to make children
prematurely wise is useless labour. Suppose they have more knowledge at
five or six years old than other children, what use can be made of it?
It will be lost before it is wanted, and the waste of so much time and
labour of the teacher can never be repaid. Too much is expected from
precocity, and too little performed. Miss----[1227] was an instance of
early cultivation, but in what did it terminate? In marrying a little
Presbyterian parson, who keeps an infant boarding-school, so that all
her employment now is,

"To suckle fools, and chronicle small-beer[1228]."

'She tells the children, "This is a cat, and that is a dog, with four
legs and a tail; see there! you are much better than a cat or a dog, for
you can speak[1229]." If I had bestowed such an education on a daughter,
and had discovered that she thought of marrying such a fellow, I would
have sent her to the _Congress_.'

'After having talked slightingly of musick, he was observed to listen
very attentively while Miss Thrale played on the harpsichord, and with
eagerness he called to her, "Why don't you dash away like Burney?" Dr.
Burney upon this said to him, "I believe, Sir, we shall make a musician
of you at last." Johnson with candid complacency replied, "Sir, I shall
be glad to have a new sense given to me[1230]."'

'He had come down one morning to the breakfast-room, and been a
considerable time by himself before any body appeared. When, on a
subsequent day, he was twitted by Mrs. Thrale for being very late, which
he generally was, he defended himself by alluding to the extraordinary
morning, when he had been too early. "Madam, I do not like to come down
to _vacuity_."'

'Dr. Burney having remarked that Mr. Garrick was beginning to look old,
he said, "Why, Sir, you are not to wonder at that; no man's face has had
more wear and tear[1231]."'

Not having heard from him for a longer time than I supposed he would be
silent, I wrote to him December 18, not in good spirits:--

'Sometimes I have been afraid that the cold which has gone over Europe
this year like a sort of pestilence[1232] has seized you severely:
sometimes my imagination, which is upon occasions prolifick of evil,
hath figured that you may have somehow taken offence at some part of my



'Never dream of any offence. How should you offend me? I consider your
friendship as a possession, which I intend to hold till you take it from
me, and to lament if ever by my fault I should lose it. However, when
such suspicions find their way into your mind, always give them vent; I
shall make haste to disperse them; but hinder their first ingress if you
can. Consider such thoughts as morbid.

'Such illness as may excuse my omission to Lord Hailes, I cannot
honestly plead. I have been hindered, I know not how, by a succession of
petty obstructions. I hope to mend immediately, and to send next post to
his Lordship. Mr. Thrale would have written to you if I had omitted; he
sends his compliments and wishes to see you.

'You and your lady will now have no more wrangling about feudal
inheritance[1233]. How does the young Laird of Auchinleck? I suppose Miss
Veronica is grown a reader and discourser.

'I have just now got a cough, but it has never yet hindered me from
sleeping: I have had quieter nights than are common with me.

'I cannot but rejoice that Joseph[1234] has had the wit to find the way
back. He is a fine fellow, and one of the best travellers in the world.

'Young Col brought me your letter. He is a very pleasing youth. I took
him two days ago to the Mitre, and we dined together. I was as civil as
I had the means of being.

'I have had a letter from Rasay, acknowledging, with great appearance of
satisfaction, the insertion in the Edinburgh paper[1235]. I am very glad
that it was done.

'My compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who does not love me; and of all the
rest, I need only send them to those that do: and I am afraid it will
give you very little trouble to distribute them.

'I am, my dear, dear Sir,
'Your affectionate humble servant,

'December, 23, 1775.'

1776: ÆTAT. 67--In 1776, Johnson wrote, so far as I can discover,
nothing for the publick: but that his mind was still ardent, and fraught
with generous wishes to attain to still higher degrees of literary
excellence, is proved by his private notes of this year, which I shall
insert in their proper place.



'I have at last sent you all Lord Hailes's papers. While I was in
France, I looked very often into Henault[1236]; but Lord Hailes, in my
opinion, leaves him far and far behind. Why I did not dispatch so short
a perusal sooner, when I look back, I am utterly unable to discover: but
human moments are stolen away by a thousand petty impediments which
leave no trace behind them. I have been afflicted, through the whole
Christmas, with the general disorder, of which the worst effect was a
cough, which is now much mitigated, though the country, on which I look
from a window at Streatham, is now covered with a deep snow. Mrs.
Williams is very ill: every body else is as usual.

'Among the papers, I found a letter to you, which I think you had not
opened; and a paper for _The Chronicle_, which I suppose it not
necessary now to insert. I return them both.

'I have, within these few days, had the honour of receiving Lord
Hailes's first volume, for which I return my most respectful thanks.

'I wish you, my dearest friend, and your haughty lady, (for I know she
does not love me,) and the young ladies, and the young Laird, all
happiness. Teach the young gentleman, in spite of his mamma, to think
and speak well of,

'Your affectionate humble servant,

'Jan. 10, 1776.'

At this time was in agitation a matter of great consequence to me and my
family, which I should not obtrude upon the world, were it not that the
part which Dr. Johnson's friendship for me made him take in it, was the
occasion of an exertion of his abilities, which it would be injustice to
conceal. That what he wrote upon the subject may be understood, it is
necessary to give a state of the question, which I shall do as briefly
as I can.

In the year 1504, the barony or manour of Auchinleck, (pronounced
_Affleck_[1237],) in Ayrshire, which belonged to a family of the same name
with the lands, having fallen to the Crown by forfeiture, James the
Fourth, King of Scotland, granted it to Thomas Boswell, a branch of an
ancient family in the county of Fife, stiling him in the charter,
_dilecto familiari nostro_; and assigning, as the cause of the grant,
_pro bono et fideli servitio nobis praestito_. Thomas Boswell was slain
in battle, fighting along with his Sovereign, at the fatal field of
Flodden, in 1513[1238].

From this very honourable founder of our family, the estate was
transmitted, in a direct series of heirs male, to David Boswell, my
father's great grand uncle, who had no sons, but four daughters, who
were all respectably married, the eldest to Lord Cathcart.

David Boswell, being resolute in the military feudal principle of
continuing the male succession, passed by his daughters, and settled the
estate on his nephew by his next brother, who approved of the deed, and
renounced any pretensions which he might possibly have, in preference to
his son. But the estate having been burthened with large portions to the
daughters, and other debts, it was necessary for the nephew to sell a
considerable part of it, and what remained was still much encumbered.

The frugality of the nephew preserved, and, in some degree, relieved the
estate. His son, my grandfather, an eminent lawyer, not only
re-purchased a great part of what had been sold, but acquired other
lands; and my father, who was one of the Judges of Scotland, and had
added considerably to the estate, now signified his inclination to take
the privilege allowed by our law[1239], to secure it to his family in
perpetuity by an entail, which, on account of his marriage articles,
could not be done without my consent.

In the plan of entailing the estate, I heartily concurred with him,
though I was the first to be restrained by it; but we unhappily differed
as to the series of heirs which should be established, or in the
language of our law, called to the succession. My father had declared a
predilection for heirs general, that is, males and females
indiscriminately. He was willing, however, that all males descending
from his grandfather should be preferred to females; but would not
extend that privilege to males deriving their descent from a higher
source. I, on the other hand, had a zealous partiality for heirs male,
however remote, which I maintained by arguments which appeared to me to
have considerable weight[1240]. And in the particular case of our family, I
apprehended that we were under an implied obligation, in honour and good
faith, to transmit the estate by the same tenure which we held it, which
was as heirs male, excluding nearer females. I therefore, as I thought
conscientiously, objected to my father's scheme.

My opposition was very displeasing to my father, who was entitled to
great respect and deference; and I had reason to apprehend disagreeable
consequences from my non-compliance with his wishes[1241]. After much
perplexity and uneasiness, I wrote to Dr. Johnson, stating the case,
with all its difficulties, at full length, and earnestly requesting that
he would consider it at leisure, and favour me with his friendly opinion
and advice.

'To James Boswell, Esq.

'Dear Sir,

'I was much impressed by your letter, and if I can form upon your case
any resolution satisfactory to myself, will very gladly impart it: but
whether I am quite equal to it, I do not know. It is a case compounded
of law and justice, and requires a mind versed in juridical
disquisitions. Could not you tell your whole mind to Lord Hailes? He is,
you know, both a Christian and a Lawyer. I suppose he is above
partiality, and above loquacity: and, I believe, he will not think the
time lost in which he may quiet a disturbed, or settle a wavering mind.
Write to me, as any thing occurs to you; and if I find myself stopped by
want of facts necessary to be known, I will make inquiries of you as my
doubts arise.

'If your former resolutions should be found only fanciful, you decide
rightly in judging that your father's fancies may claim the preference;
but whether they are fanciful or rational, is the question. I really
think Lord Hailes could help us.

'Make my compliments to dear Mrs. Boswell; and tell her, that I hope to
be wanting in nothing that I can contribute to bring you all out of your

'I am, dear Sir, most affectionately,

'Your humble servant,


'London, Jan. 15, 1776.'



'I am going to write upon a question which requires more knowledge of
local law, and more acquaintance with the general rules of inheritance,
than I can claim; but I write, because you request it.

'Land is, like any other possession, by natural right wholly in the
power of its present owner; and may be sold, given, or bequeathed,
absolutely or conditionally, as judgment shall direct, or passion

'But natural right would avail little without the protection of law; and
the primary notion of law is restraint in the exercise of natural right.
A man is therefore, in society, not fully master of what he calls his
own, but he still retains all the power which law does not take from

'In the exercise of the right which law either leaves or gives, regard
is to be paid to moral obligations.

'Of the estate which we are now considering, your father still retains
such possession, with such power over it, that he can sell it, and do
with the money what he will, without any legal impediment. But when he
extends his power beyond his own life, by settling the order of
succession, the law makes your consent necessary.

'Let us suppose that he sells the land to risk the money in some
specious adventure, and in that adventure loses the whole; his posterity
would be disappointed; but they could not think themselves injured or
robbed. If he spent it upon vice or pleasure, his successors could only
call him vicious and voluptuous; they could not say that he was
injurious or unjust.

'He that may do more may do less. He that, by selling, or squandering,
may disinherit a whole family, may certainly disinherit part, by a
partial settlement.

'Laws are formed by the manners and exigencies of particular times, and
it is but accidental that they last longer than their causes: the
limitation of feudal succession to the male arose from the obligation of
the tenant to attend his chief in war.

'As times and opinions are always changing, I know not whether it be not
usurpation to prescribe rules to posterity, by presuming to judge of
what we cannot know: and I know not whether I fully approve either your
design or your father's, to limit that succession which descended to you
unlimited. If we are to leave _sartum tectum_[1242] to posterity, what we
have without any merit of our own received from our ancestors, should
not choice and free-will be kept unviolated? Is land to be treated with
more reverence than liberty?--If this consideration should restrain your
father from disinheriting some of the males, does it leave you the power
of disinheriting all the females?

'Can the possessor of a feudal estate make any will? Can he appoint, out
of the inheritance, any portions to his daughters? There seems to be a
very shadowy difference between the power of leaving land, and of
leaving money to be raised from land; between leaving an estate to
females, and leaving the male heir, in effect, only their steward.

'Suppose at one time a law that allowed only males to inherit, and
during the continuance of this law many estates to have descended,
passing by the females, to remoter heirs. Suppose afterwards the law
repealed in correspondence with a change of manners, and women made
capable of inheritance; would not then the tenure of estates be changed?
Could the women have no benefit from a law made in their favour? Must
they be passed by upon moral principles for ever, because they were once
excluded by a legal prohibition? Or may that which passed only to males
by one law, pass likewise to females by another?

'You mention your resolution to maintain the right of your brothers[1243]:
I do not see how any of their rights are invaded.

'As your whole difficulty arises from the act of your ancestor, who
diverted the succession from the females, you enquire, very properly,
what were his motives, and what was his intention; for you certainly are
not bound by his act more than he intended to bind you, nor hold your
land on harder or stricter terms than those on which it was granted.

'Intentions must be gathered from acts. When he left the estate to his
nephew, by excluding his daughters, was it, or was it not, in his power
to have perpetuated the succession to the males? If he could have done
it, he seems to have shown, by omitting it, that he did not desire it to
be done; and, upon your own principles, you will not easily prove your
right to destroy that capacity of succession which your ancestors have

'If your ancestor had not the power of making a perpetual settlement;
and if, therefore, we cannot judge distinctly of his intentions, yet his
act can only be considered as an example; it makes not an obligation.
And, as you observe, he set no example of rigorous adherence to the line
of succession. He that overlooked a brother, would not wonder that
little regard is shown to remote relations.

'As the rules of succession are, in a great part, purely legal, no man
can be supposed to bequeath any thing, but upon legal terms; he can
grant no power which the law denies; and if he makes no special and
definite limitation, he confers all the power which the law allows.

'Your ancestor, for some reason, disinherited his daughters; but it no
more follows that he intended this act as a rule for posterity, than the
disinheriting of his brother.

'If, therefore, you ask by what right your father admits daughters to
inheritance, ask yourself, first, by what right you require them to be

'It appears, upon reflection, that your father excludes nobody; he only
admits nearer females to inherit before males more remote; and the
exclusion is purely consequential.

'These, dear Sir, are my thoughts, immethodical and deliberative; but,
perhaps, you may find in them some glimmering of evidence.

'I cannot, however, but again recommend to you a conference with Lord
Hailes, whom you know to be both a Lawyer and a Christian.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, though she does not love me.

'I am, Sir,
'Your affectionate servant,

'Feb. 3, 1773'

I had followed his recommendation and consulted Lord Hailes, who upon
this subject had a firm opinion contrary to mine. His Lordship
obligingly took the trouble to write me a letter, in which he discussed
with legal and historical learning, the points in which I saw much
difficulty, maintaining that 'the succession of heirs general was the
succession, by the law of Scotland, from the throne to the cottage, as
far as we can learn it by record;'[1244] observing that the estate of our
family had not been limited to heirs male; and that though an heir male
had in one instance been chosen in preference to nearer females, that
had been an arbitrary act, which had seemed to be best in the
embarrassed state of affairs at that time; and the fact was, that upon a
fair computation of the value of land and money at the time, applied to
the estate and the burthens upon it, there was nothing given to the heir
male but the skeleton of an estate. 'The plea of conscience (said his
Lordship,) which you put, is a most respectable one, especially when
_conscience_ and _self_ are on different sides. But I think that
conscience is not well informed, and that self and she ought on this
occasion to be of a side.'

This letter, which had considerable influence upon my mind, I sent to
Dr. Johnson, begging to hear from him again, upon this interesting



'Having not any acquaintance with the laws or customs of Scotland, I
endeavoured to consider your question upon general principles, and found
nothing of much validity that I could oppose to this position: "He who
inherits a fief unlimited by his ancestors, inherits the power of
limiting it according to his own judgement or opinion." If this be true,
you may join with your father.

'Further consideration produces another conclusion: "He who receives a
fief unlimited by his ancestors, gives his heirs some reason to
complain, if he does not transmit it unlimited to posterity. For why
should he make the state of others worse than his own, without a
reason?" If this be true, though neither you nor your father are about
to do what is quite right, but as your father violates (I think) the
legal succession least, he seems to be nearer the right than yourself.

'It cannot but occur that "Women have natural and equitable claims as
well as men, and these claims are not to be capriciously or lightly
superseded or infringed." When fiefs implied military service, it is
easily discerned why females could not inherit them; but that reason is
now at an end. As manners make laws, manners likewise repeal them.

'These are the general conclusions which I have attained. None of them
are very favourable to your scheme of entail, nor perhaps to any scheme.
My observation, that only he who acquires an estate may bequeath it
capriciously[1245], if it contains any conviction, includes this position
likewise, that only he who acquires an estate may entail it
capriciously. But I think it may be safely presumed, that "he who
inherits an estate, inherits all the power legally concomitant;" and
that "He who gives or leaves unlimited an estate legally limitable, must
be presumed to give that power of limitation which he omitted to take
away, and to commit future contingencies to future prudence." In these
two positions I believe Lord Hailes will advise you to rest; every other
notion of possession seems to me full of difficulties and embarrassed
with scruples.

'If these axioms be allowed, you have arrived now at full liberty
without the help of particular circumstances, which, however, have in
your case great weight. You very rightly observe, that he who passing by
his brother gave the inheritance to his nephew, could limit no more than
he gave; and by Lord Hailes's estimate of fourteen years' purchase, what
he gave was no more than you may easily entail according to your own
opinion, if that opinion should finally prevail.

'Lord Hailes's suspicion that entails are encroachments on the dominion
of Providence, may be extended to all hereditary privileges and all
permanent institutions; I do not see why it may not be extended to any
provision for the present hour, since all care about futurity proceeds
upon a supposition, that we know at least in some degree what will be
future. Of the future we certainly know nothing; but we may form
conjectures from the past; and the power of forming conjectures,
includes, in my opinion, the duty of acting in conformity to that
probability which we discover. Providence gives the power, of which
reason teaches the use.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Your most faithful servant,

'Feb. 9. 1776.'

'I hope I shall get some ground now with Mrs. Boswell; make my
compliments to her, and to the little people.

'Don't burn papers; they may be safe enough in your own box,--you will
wish to see them hereafter.'



'To the letters which I have written about your great question I have
nothing to add. If your conscience is satisfied, you have now only your
prudence to consult. I long for a letter, that I may know how this
troublesome and vexatious question is at last decided[1246]. I hope that it
will at last end well. Lord Hailes's letter was very friendly, and very
seasonable, but I think his aversion from entails has something in it
like superstition. Providence is not counteracted by any means which
Providence puts into our power. The continuance and propagation of
families makes a great part of the Jewish law, and is by no means
prohibited in the Christian institution, though the necessity of it
continues no longer. Hereditary tenures are established in all civilised
countries, and are accompanied in most with hereditary authority. Sir
William Temple considers our constitution as defective, that there is
not an unalienable estate in land connected with a peerage[1247]; and Lord
Bacon mentions as a proof that the Turks are Barbarians, their want of
Stirpes, as he calls them, or hereditary rank[1248]. Do not let your mind,
when it is freed from the supposed necessity of a rigorous entail, be
entangled with contrary objections, and think all entails unlawful, till
you have cogent arguments, which I believe you will never find. I am
afraid of scruples[1249].

'I have now sent all Lord Hailes's papers; part I found hidden in a
drawer in which I had laid them for security, and had forgotten them.
Part of these are written twice: I have returned both the copies. Part I
had read before.

'Be so kind as to return Lord Hailes my most respectful thanks for his
first volume; his accuracy strikes me with wonder; his narrative is far
superiour to that of Henault, as I have formerly mentioned.

'I am afraid that the trouble, which my irregularity and delay has cost
him, is greater, far greater, than any good that I can do him will ever
recompense; but if I have any more copy, I will try to do better.

'Pray let me know if Mrs. Boswell is friends with me, and pay my
respects to Veronica, and Euphemia, and Alexander.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'February, 15, 1775 [1776].'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 20, 1776.

       *       *       *       *       *

'You have illuminated my mind and relieved me from imaginary shackles of
conscientious obligation. Were it necessary, I could immediately join in
an entail upon the series of heirs approved by my father; but it is
better not to act too suddenly.'



'I am glad that what I could think or say has at all contributed to
quiet your thoughts. Your resolution not to act, till your opinion is
confirmed by more deliberation, is very just. If you have been
scrupulous, do not now be rash. I hope that as you think more, and take
opportunities of talking with men intelligent in questions of property,
you will be able to free yourself from every difficulty.

'When I wrote last, I sent, I think, ten packets. Did you receive them

'You must tell Mrs. Boswell that I suspected her to have written without
your knowledge[1250], and therefore did not return any answer, lest a
clandestine correspondence should have been perniciously discovered. I
will write to her soon.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Most affectionately yours,


'Feb. 24, 1776.'

Having communicated to Lord Hailes what Dr. Johnson wrote concerning the
question which perplexed me so much, his Lordship wrote to me: 'Your
scruples have produced more fruit than I ever expected from them; an
excellent dissertation on general principles of morals and law.'

I wrote to Dr. Johnson on the 20th of February, complaining of
melancholy, and expressing a strong desire to be with him; informing him
that the ten packets came all safe; that Lord Hailes was much obliged to
him, and said he had almost wholly removed his scruples against entails.



'I have not had your letter half an hour; as you lay so much weight upon
my notions, I should think it not just to delay my answer.

'I am very sorry that your melancholy should return, and should be sorry
likewise if it could have no relief but from company. My counsel you may
have when you are pleased to require it; but of my company you cannot in
the next month have much, for Mr. Thrale will take me to Italy, he says,
on the first of April.

'Let me warn you very earnestly against scruples. I am glad that you are
reconciled to your settlement, and think it a great honour to have
shaken Lord Hailes's opinion of entails. Do not, however, hope wholly to
reason away your troubles; do not feed them with attention, and they
will die imperceptibly away. Fix your thoughts upon your business, fill
your intervals with company, and sunshine will again break in upon your
mind[1251]. If you will come to me, you must come very quickly; and even
then I know not but we may scour the country together, for I have a mind
to see Oxford and Lichfield, before I set out on this long journey. To
this I can only add, that

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,


'March 5, 1776.'



'Very early in April we leave England, and in the beginning of the next
week I shall leave London for a short time; of this I think it necessary
to inform you, that you may not be disappointed in any of your
enterprises. I had not fully resolved to go into the country before this

'Please to make my compliments to Lord Hailes; and mention very
particularly to Mrs. Boswell my hope that she is reconciled to, Sir,

'Your faithful servant,


'March 12, 1776.'

Above thirty years ago, the heirs of Lord Chancellor Clarendon presented
the University of Oxford with the continuation of his _History_, and
such other of his Lordship's manuscripts as had not been published, on
condition that the profits arising from their publication should be
applied to the establishment of a _Manège_ in the University. The gift
was accepted in full convocation. A person being now recommended to Dr.
Johnson, as fit to superintend this proposed riding-school, he exerted
himself with that zeal for which he was remarkable upon every similar
occasion[1252]. But, on enquiry into the matter, he found that the scheme
was not likely to be soon carried into execution; the profits arising
from the Clarendon press being, from some mismanagement, very scanty.
This having been explained to him by a respectable dignitary of the
church, who had good means of knowing it, he wrote a letter upon the
subject, which at once exhibits his extraordinary precision and
acuteness, and his warm attachment to his ALMA MATER.



'Few things are more unpleasant than the transaction of business with
men who are above knowing or caring what they have to do; such as the
trustees for Lord Cornbury's institution will, perhaps, appear, when you
have read Dr. ----'s letter.

'The last part of the Doctor's letter is of great importance. The
complaint[1253] which he makes I have heard long ago, and did not know but
it was redressed. It is unhappy that a practice so erroneous has not yet
been altered; for altered it must be, or our press will be useless, with
all its privileges. The booksellers, who, like all other men, have
strong prejudices in their own favour, are enough inclined to think the
practice of printing and selling books by any but themselves, an
encroachment on the rights of their fraternity; and have need of
stronger inducements to circulate academical publications than those of
one another; for, of that mutual co-operation by which the general trade
is carried on, the University can bear no part. Of those whom he neither
loves nor fears, and from whom he expects no reciprocation of good
offices, why should any man promote the interest but for profit? I
suppose, with all our scholastick ignorance of mankind, we are still too
knowing to expect that the booksellers will erect themselves into
patrons, and buy and sell under the influence of a disinterested zeal
for the promotion of learning.

'To the booksellers, if we look for either honour or profit from our
press, not only their common profit, but something more must be allowed;
and if books, printed at Oxford, are expected to be rated at a high
price, that price must be levied on the publick, and paid by the
ultimate purchaser, not by the intermediate agents. What price shall be
set upon the book, is, to the booksellers, wholly indifferent, provided
that they gain a proportionate profit by negociating the sale.

'Why books printed at Oxford should be particularly dear, I am, however,
unable to find. We pay no rent; we inherit many of our instruments and
materials; lodging and victuals are cheaper than at London; and,
therefore, workmanship ought, at least, not to be dearer. Our expences
are naturally less than those of booksellers; and, in most cases,
communities are content with less profit than individuals.

'It is, perhaps, not considered through how many hands a book often
passes, before it comes into those of the reader; or what part of the
profit each hand must retain, as a motive for transmitting it to the

'We will call our primary agent in London, Mr. Cadell[1254], who receives
our books from us, gives them room in his warehouse, and issues them on
demand; by him they are sold to Mr. Dilly a wholesale bookseller, who
sends them into the country; and the last seller is the country
bookseller. Here are three profits to be paid between the printer and
the reader, or in the style of commerce, between the manufacturer and
the consumer; and if any of these profits is too penuriously
distributed, the process of commerce is interrupted.

'We are now come to the practical question, what is to be done? You will
tell me, with reason, that I have said nothing, till I declare how much,
according to my opinion, of the ultimate price ought to be distributed
through the whole succession of sale.

'The deduction, I am afraid, will appear very great: but let it be
considered before it is refused. We must allow, for profit, between
thirty and thirty-five _per cent_., between six and seven shillings in
the pound; that is, for every book which costs the last buyer twenty
shillings, we must charge Mr. Cadell with something less than fourteen.
We must set the copies at fourteen shillings each, and superadd what is
called the quarterly-book, or for every hundred books so charged we must
deliver an hundred and four.

'The profits will then stand thus:--

'Mr. Cadell, who runs no hazard, and gives no credit, will be paid for
warehouse room and attendance by a shilling profit on each book, and his
chance of the quarterly-book.

'Mr. Dilly, who buys the book for fifteen shillings, and who will expect
the quarterly-book if he takes five and twenty, will send it to his
country customer at sixteen and six, by which, at the hazard of loss,
and the certainty of long credit, he gains the regular profit of ten
_per cent_, which is expected in the wholesale trade.

'The country bookseller, buying at sixteen and sixpence, and commonly
trusting a considerable time, gains but three and sixpence, and if he
trusts a year, not much more than two and sixpence; otherwise than as he
may, perhaps, take as long credit as he gives.

'With less profit than this, and more you see he cannot have, the
country bookseller cannot live; for his receipts are small, and his
debts sometimes bad.

'Thus, dear Sir, I have been incited by Dr. ----'s letter to give you a
detail of the circulation of books, which, perhaps, every man has not
had opportunity of knowing; and which those who know it, do not,
perhaps, always distinctly consider.

'I am, &c.
'SAM. JOHNSON[1255].'

'March 12, 1776.'

Having arrived in London late on Friday, the 15th of March, I hastened
next morning to wait on Dr. Johnson, at his house; but found he was
removed from Johnson's-court, No. 7, to Boltcourt, No. 8[1256], still
keeping to his favourite Fleet-street. My reflection at the time upon
this change as marked in my Journal, is as follows: 'I felt a foolish
regret that he had left a court which bore his name[1257]; but it was not
foolish to be affected with some tenderness of regard for a place in
which I had seen him a great deal, from whence I had often issued a
better and a happier man than when I went in, and which had often
appeared to my imagination while I trod its pavements, in the solemn
darkness of the night, to be sacred to wisdom and piety[1258].' Being
informed that he was at Mr. Thrale's, in the Borough, I hastened
thither, and found Mrs. Thrale and him at breakfast. I was kindly
welcomed. In a moment he was in a full glow of conversation, and I felt
myself elevated as if brought into another state of being. Mrs. Thrale
and I looked to each other while he talked, and our looks expressed our
congenial admiration and affection for him. I shall ever recollect this
scene with great pleasure. I exclaimed to her, 'I am now,
intellectually, _Hermippus redivivus_, I am quite restored by him, by
transfusion of mind[1259]!' 'There are many (she replied) who admire and
respect Mr. Johnson; but you and I _love_ him.'

He seemed very happy in the near prospect of going to Italy with Mr. and
Mrs. Thrale. 'But, (said he,) before leaving England I am to take a
jaunt to Oxford, Birmingham, my native city Lichfield, and my old
friend, Dr. Taylor's, at Ashbourn, in Derbyshire. I shall go in a few
days, and you, Boswell, shall go with me.' I was ready to accompany him;
being willing even to leave London to have the pleasure of his

I mentioned with much regret the extravagance of the representative of a
great family in Scotland, by which there was danger of its being ruined;
and as Johnson respected it for its antiquity, he joined with me in
thinking it would be happy if this person should die. Mrs. Thrale seemed
shocked at this, as feudal barbarity; and said, 'I do not understand
this preference of the estate to its owner; of the land to the man who
walks upon that land.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, it is not a preference of
the land to its owner, it is the preference of a family to an
individual. Here is an establishment in a country, which is of
importance for ages, not only to the chief but to his people; an
establishment which extends upwards and downwards; that this should be
destroyed by one idle fellow is a sad thing.'

He said, 'Entails[1260] are good, because it is good to preserve in a
country, serieses of men, to whom the people are accustomed to look up
as to their leaders. But I am for leaving a quantity of land in
commerce, to excite industry, and keep money in the country; for if no
land were to be bought in the country, there would be no encouragement
to acquire wealth, because a family could not be founded there; or if it
were acquired, it must be carried away to another country where land may
be bought. And although the land in every country will remain the same,
and be as fertile where there is no money, as where there is, yet all
that portion of the happiness of civil life, which is produced by money
circulating in a country, would be lost.' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, would it
be for the advantage of a country that all its lands were sold at once?'
JOHNSON. 'So far, Sir, as money produces good, it would be an advantage;
for, then that country would have as much money circulating in it as it
is worth. But to be sure this would be counterbalanced by disadvantages
attending a total change of proprietors.'

I expressed my opinion that the power of entailing should be limited
thus: 'That there should be one third, or perhaps one half of the land
of a country kept free for commerce; that the proportion allowed to be
entailed, should be parcelled out so that no family could entail above a
certain quantity. Let a family according to the abilities of its
representatives, be richer or poorer in different generations, or always
rich if its representatives be always wise: but let its absolute
permanency be moderate. In this way we should be certain of there being
always a number of established roots; and as in the course of nature,
there is in every age an extinction of some families, there would be
continual openings for men ambitious of perpetuity, to plant a stock in
the entail ground[1261].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, mankind will be better able
to regulate the system of entails, when the evil of too much land being
locked up by them is felt, than we can do at present when it is not
felt.' I mentioned Dr. Adam Smith's book on _The Wealth of Nations_[1262]
which was just published, and that Sir John Pringle had observed to me,
that Dr. Smith, who had never been in trade, could not be expected to
write well on that subject any more than a lawyer upon physick. JOHNSON.
'He is mistaken, Sir: a man who has never been engaged in trade himself
may undoubtedly write well upon trade, and there is nothing which
requires more to be illustrated by philosophy than trade does. As to
mere wealth, that is to say, money, it is clear that one nation or one
individual cannot increase its store but by making another poorer: but
trade procures what is more valuable, the reciprocation of the peculiar
advantages of different countries. A merchant seldom thinks but of his
own particular trade. To write a good book upon it, a man must have
extensive views. It is not necessary to have practised, to write well
upon a subject.' I mentioned law as a subject on which no man could
write well without practice. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, in England, where so
much money is to be got by the practice of the law, most of our writers
upon it have been in practice; though Blackstone had not been much in
practice when he published his _Commentaries_. But upon the Continent,
the great writers on law have not all been in practice: Grotius, indeed,
was; but Puffendorf was not, Burlamaqui was not.'

When we had talked of the great consequence which a man acquired by
being employed in his profession, I suggested a doubt of the justice of
the general opinion, that it is improper in a lawyer to solicit
employment; for why, I urged, should it not be equally allowable to
solicit that as the means of consequence, as it is to solicit votes to
be elected a member of Parliament? Mr. Strahan had told me that a
countryman of his and mine[1263], who had risen to eminence in the law,
had, when first making his way, solicited him to get him employed in
city causes. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is wrong to stir up law-suits; but when
once it is certain that a law-suit is to go on, there is nothing wrong
in a lawyer's endeavouring that he shall have the benefit, rather than
another.' BOSWELL. 'You would not solicit employment, Sir, if you were a
lawyer.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, but not because I should think it wrong, but
because I should disdain it.' This was a good distinction, which will be
felt by men of just pride. He proceeded: 'However, I would not have a
lawyer to be wanting to himself in using fair means. I would have him to
inject a little hint now and then, to prevent his being overlooked.'

Lord Mountstuart's bill for a Scotch Militia[1264], in supporting which his
Lordship had made an able speech in the House of Commons, was now a
pretty general topick of conversation. JOHNSON. 'As Scotland contributes
so little land-tax[1265] towards the general support of the nation, it
ought not to have a militia paid out of the general fund, unless it
should be thought for the general interest, that Scotland should be
protected from an invasion, which no man can think will happen; for what
enemy would invade Scotland, where there is nothing to be got? No, Sir;
now that the Scotch have not the pay of English soldiers spent among
them, as so many troops are sent abroad, they are trying to get money
another way, by having a militia paid. If they are afraid, and seriously
desire to have an armed force to defend them, they should pay for it.
Your scheme is to retain a part of your land-tax, by making us pay and
clothe your militia.' BOSWELL. 'You should not talk of _we_ and _you_,
Sir: there is now an _Union_.' JOHNSON. 'There must be a distinction of
interest, while the proportions of land-tax are so unequal. If Yorkshire
should say, "Instead of paying our land-tax, we will keep a greater
number of militia," it would be unreasonable.' In this argument my
friend was certainly in the wrong. The land-tax is as unequally
proportioned between different parts of England, as between England and
Scotland; nay, it is considerably unequal in Scotland itself. But the
land-tax is but a small part of the numerous branches of publick
revenue, all of which Scotland pays precisely as England does. A French
invasion made in Scotland would soon penetrate into England.

He thus discoursed upon supposed obligation in settling estates:--'Where
a man gets the unlimited property of an estate, there is no obligation
upon him in _justice_ to leave it to one person rather than to another.
There is a motive of preference from _kindness_, and this kindness is
generally entertained for the nearest relation. If I _owe_ a particular
man a sum of money, I am obliged to let that man have the next money I
get, and cannot in justice let another have it: but if I owe money to no
man, I may dispose of what I get as I please. There is not a _debitum
justitice_ to a man's next heir; there is only a _debitum caritatis_. It
is plain, then, that I have morally a choice, according to my liking. If
I have a brother in want, he has a claim from affection to my
assistance; but if I have also a brother in want, whom I like better, he
has a preferable claim. The right of an heir at law is only this, that
he is to have the succession to an estate, in case no other person is
appointed to it by the owner. His right is merely preferable to that of
the King.'

We got into a boat to cross over to Black-friars; and as we moved along
the Thames, I talked to him of a little volume, which, altogether
unknown to him, was advertised to be published in a few days, under the
title of _Johnsoniana, or Bon-Mots of Dr. Johnson_[1266]. JOHNSON, 'Sir,
it is a mighty impudent thing.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, could you have no
redress if you were to prosecute a publisher for bringing out, under
your name, what you never said, and ascribing to you dull stupid
nonsense, or making you swear profanely, as many ignorant relaters of
your _bon-mots_ do[1267]?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; there will always be some
truth mixed with the falsehood, and how can it be ascertained how much
is true and how much is false? Besides, Sir, what damages would a jury
give me for having been represented as swearing?' BOSWELL. 'I think,
Sir, you should at least disavow such a publication, because the world
and posterity might with much plausible foundation say, "Here is a
volume which was publickly advertised and came out in Dr. Johnson's own
time, and, by his silence, was admitted by him to be genuine."'
JOHNSON. 'I shall give myself no trouble about the matter.'

He was, perhaps, above suffering from such spurious publications; but I
could not help thinking, that many men would be much injured in their
reputation, by having absurd and vicious sayings imputed to them; and
that redress ought in such cases to be given.

He said, 'The value of every story depends on its being true. A story is
a picture either of an individual or of human nature in general: if it
be false, it is a picture of nothing. For instance: suppose a man should
tell that Johnson, before setting out for Italy, as he had to cross the
Alps, sat down to make himself wings. This many people would believe;
but it would be a picture of nothing. ----[1268] (naming a worthy friend
of ours,) used to think a story, a story, till I shewed him that truth
was essential to it[1269].' I observed, that Foote entertained us with
stories which were not true; but that, indeed, it was properly not as
narratives that Foote's stories pleased us, but as collections of
ludicrous images. JOHNSON. 'Foote is quite impartial, for he tells lies
of every body.'

The importance of strict and scrupulous veracity cannot be too often
inculcated. Johnson was known to be so rigidly attentive to it, that
even in his common conversation the slightest circumstance was mentioned
with exact precision[1270]. The knowledge of his having such a principle
and habit made his friends have a perfect reliance on the truth of every
thing that he told, however it might have been doubted if told by many
others. As an instance of this, I may mention an odd incident which he
related as having happened to him one night in Fleet-street. 'A
gentlewoman (said he) begged I would give her my arm to assist her in
crossing the street, which I accordingly did; upon which she offered me
a shilling, supposing me to be the watchman. I perceived that she was
somewhat in liquor.' This, if told by most people, would have been
thought an invention; when told by Johnson, it was believed by his
friends as much as if they had seen what passed.

We landed at the Temple-stairs, where we parted.

I found him in the evening in Mrs. Williams's room. We talked of
religious orders. He said, 'It is as unreasonable for a man to go into a
Carthusian convent for fear of being immoral, as for a man to cut off
his hands for fear he should steal. There is, indeed, great resolution
in the immediate act of dismembering himself; but when that is once
done, he has no longer any merit: for though it is out of his power to
steal, yet he may all his life be a thief in his heart. So when a man
has once become a Carthusian, he is obliged to continue so, whether he
chooses it or not. Their silence, too, is absurd. We read in the Gospel
of the apostles being sent to preach, but not to hold their tongues. All
severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.
I said to the Lady Abbess[1271] of a convent, "Madam, you are here, not for
the love of virtue, but the fear of vice." She said, "She should
remember this as long as she lived."' I thought it hard to give her this
view of her situation, when she could not help it; and, indeed, I
wondered at the whole of what he now said; because, both in his
_Rambler_[1272] and _Idler_[1273], he treats religious austerities with
much solemnity of respect[1274].

Finding him still persevering in his abstinence from wine, I ventured to
speak to him of it.--JOHNSON. 'Sir, I have no objection to a man's
drinking wine, if he can do it in moderation. I found myself apt to go
to excess in it, and therefore, after having been for some time without
it, on account of illness, I thought it better not to return to it[1275].
Every man is to judge for himself, according to the effects which he
experiences. One of the fathers tells us, he found fasting made him so
peevish[1276] that he did not practise it.'

Though he often enlarged upon the evil of intoxication[1277], he was by no
means harsh and unforgiving to those who indulged in occasional excess
in wine. One of his friends[1278], I well remember, came to sup at a tavern
with him and some other gentlemen, and too plainly discovered that he
had drunk too much at dinner. When one who loved mischief, thinking to
produce a severe censure, asked Johnson, a few days afterwards, 'Well,
Sir, what did your friend say to you, as an apology for being in such a
situation?' Johnson answered, 'Sir, he said all that a man _should_ say:
he said he was sorry for it.'

I heard him once give a very judicious practical advice upon this
subject: 'A man, who has been drinking wine at all freely, should never
go into a new company. With those who have partaken of wine with him, he
may be pretty well in unison; but he will probably be offensive, or
appear ridiculous, to other people.'

He allowed very great influence to education. 'I do not deny, Sir, but
there is some original difference in minds; but it is nothing in
comparison of what is formed by education. We may instance the science
of _numbers_, which all minds are equally capable of attaining[1279]; yet
we find a prodigious difference in the powers of different men, in that
respect, after they are grown up, because their minds have been more or
less exercised in it: and I think the same cause will explain the
difference of excellence in other things, gradations admitting always
some difference in the first principles[1280].' This is a difficult
subject; but it is best to hope that diligence may do a great deal. We
are _sure_ of what it can do, in increasing our mechanical force and

I again visited him on Monday. He took occasion to enlarge, as he often
did, upon the wretchedness of a sea-life[1281]. 'A ship is worse than a
gaol. There is, in a gaol, better air, better company, better
conveniency of every kind; and a ship has the additional disadvantage of
being in danger. When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to
live on land[1282].'--'Then (said I) it would be cruel in a father to breed
his son to the sea.' JOHNSON. 'It would be cruel in a father who thinks
as I do. Men go to sea, before they know the unhappiness of that way of
life; and when they have come to know it, they cannot escape from it,
because it is then too late to choose another profession; as indeed is
generally the case with men, when they have once engaged in any
particular way of life.'

On Tuesday, March 19, which was fixed for our proposed jaunt, we met in
the morning at the Somerset coffee-house in the Strand, where we were
taken up by the Oxford coach. He was accompanied by Mr. Gwyn[1283], the
architect; and a gentleman of Merton College, whom we did not know, had
the fourth seat. We soon got into conversation; for it was very
remarkable of Johnson, that the presence of a stranger had no restraint
upon his talk. I observed that Garrick, who was about to quit the stage,
would soon have an easier life. JOHNSON. 'I doubt that, Sir.' BOSWELL.
'Why, Sir, he will be Atlas with the burthen off his back.' JOHNSON.
'But I know not, Sir, if he will be so steady without his load. However,
he should never play any more, but be entirely the gentleman, and not
partly the player: he should no longer subject himself to be hissed by a
mob, or to be insolently treated by performers, whom he used to rule
with a high hand, and who would gladly retaliate.' BOSWELL. 'I think he
should play once a year for the benefit of decayed actors, as it has
been said he means to do.' JOHNSON. 'Alas, Sir! he will soon be a
decayed actor himself.'

Johnson expressed his disapprobation of ornamental architecture, such as
magnificent columns supporting a portico, or expensive pilasters
supporting merely their own capitals, 'because it consumes labour
disproportionate to its utility.' For the same reason he satyrised
statuary. 'Painting (said he) consumes labour not disproportionate to
its effect; but a fellow will hack half a year at a block of marble to
make something in stone that hardly resembles a man. The value of
statuary is owing to its difficulty. You would not value the finest head
cut upon a carrot[1284].' Here he seemed to me to be strangely deficient in
taste; for surely statuary is a noble art of imitation, and preserves a
wonderful expression of the varieties of the human frame; and although
it must be allowed that the circumstances of difficulty enhance the
value of a marble head, we should consider, that if it requires a long
time in the performance, it has a proportionate value in durability.

Gwyn was a fine lively rattling fellow. Dr. Johnson kept him in
subjection, but with a kindly authority. The spirit of the artist,
however, rose against what he thought a Gothick attack, and he made a
brisk defence. 'What, Sir, will you allow no value to beauty in
architecture or in statuary? Why should we allow it then in writing? Why
do you take the trouble to give us so many fine allusions, and bright
images, and elegant phrases? You might convey all your instruction
without these ornaments.' Johnson smiled with complacency; but said,
'Why, Sir, all these ornaments are useful, because they obtain an easier
reception for truth; but a building is not at all more convenient for
being decorated with superfluous carved work.'

Gwyn at last was lucky enough to make one reply to Dr. Johnson, which he
allowed to be excellent. Johnson censured him for taking down a church
which might have stood many years, and building a new one at a different
place, for no other reason but that there might be a direct road to a
new bridge; and his expression was, 'You are taking a church out of the
way, that the people may go in a straight line to the bridge.'--'No,
Sir, (said Gwyn,) I am putting the church _in_ the way, that the people
may not _go out of the way_.' JOHNSON, (with a hearty loud laugh of
approbation,) 'Speak no more. Rest your colloquial fame upon this.'

Upon our arrival at Oxford, Dr. Johnson and I went directly to
University College, but were disappointed on finding that one of the
fellows, his friend Mr. Scott[1285], who accompanied him from Newcastle to
Edinburgh, was gone to the country. We put up at the Angel inn, and
passed the evening by ourselves in easy and familiar conversation.
Talking of constitutional melancholy, he observed, 'A man so afflicted,
Sir, must divert distressing thoughts, and not combat with them.'
BOSWELL. 'May not he think them down, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. To
attempt to _think them down_ is madness. He should have a lamp
constantly burning in his bed-chamber during the night, and if wakefully
disturbed, take a book, and read, and compose himself to rest. To have
the management of the mind is a great art, and it may be attained in a
considerable degree by experience and habitual exercise.' BOSWELL.
'Should not he provide amusements for himself? Would it not, for
instance, be right for him to take a course of chymistry?' JOHNSON. 'Let
him take a course of chymistry, or a course of rope-dancing, or a course
of any thing to which he is inclined at the time. Let him contrive to
have as many retreats for his mind as he can, as many things to which it
can fly from itself[1286]. Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_[1287] is a
valuable work. It is, perhaps, overloaded with quotation. But there is
great spirit and great power in what Burton says, when he writes from
his own mind.'

Next morning we visited Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College,
with whom Dr. Johnson conferred on the most advantageous mode of
disposing of the books printed at the Clarendon press, on which subject
his letter has been inserted in a former page[1288]. I often had occasion
to remark, Johnson loved business[1289], loved to have his wisdom actually
operate on real life. Dr. Wetherell and I talked of him without reserve
in his own presence. WETHERELL. 'I would have given him a hundred
guineas if he would have written a preface to his _Political Tracts_[1290],
by way of a Discourse on the British Constitution.' BOSWELL. 'Dr.
Johnson, though in his writings, and upon all occasions a great friend
to the constitution both in church and state, has never written
expressly in support of either. There is really a claim upon him for
both. I am sure he could give a volume of no great bulk upon each, which
would comprise all the substance, and with his spirit would effectually
maintain them. He should erect a fort on the confines of each.' I could
perceive that he was displeased with this dialogue. He burst out, 'Why
should _I_ be always writing[1291]?' I hoped he was conscious that the debt
was just, and meant to discharge it, though he disliked being dunned.

We then went to Pembroke College, and waited on his old friend Dr.
Adams, the master of it, whom I found to be a most polite, pleasing,
communicative man. Before his advancement to the headship of his
college, I had intended to go and visit him at Shrewsbury, where he was
rector of St. Chad's, in order to get from him what particulars he could
recollect of Johnson's academical life. He now obligingly gave me part
of that authentick information, which, with what I afterwards owed to
his kindness, will be found incorporated in its proper place in this

Dr. Adams had distinguished himself by an able answer to David Hume's
_Essay on Miracles_. He told me he had once dined in company with Hume
in London[1292]; that Hume shook hands with him, and said, 'You have
treated me much better than I deserve;' and that they exchanged visits.
I took the liberty to object to treating an infidel writer with smooth
civility. Where there is a controversy concerning a passage in a
classick authour, or concerning a question in antiquities, or any other
subject in which human happiness is not deeply interested, a man may
treat his antagonist with politeness and even respect. But where the
controversy is concerning the truth of religion, it is of such vast
importance to him who maintains it, to obtain the victory, that the
person of an opponent ought not to be spared. If a man firmly believes
that religion is an invaluable treasure[1293], he will consider a writer
who endeavours to deprive mankind of it as a _robber_; he will look upon
him as _odious_, though the infidel might think himself in the right. A
robber who reasons as the gang do in the _Beggar's Opera_, who call
themselves _practical_ philosophers[1294], and may have as much sincerity
as pernicious _speculative_ philosophers, is not the less an object of
just indignation. An abandoned profligate may think that it is not wrong
to debauch my wife, but shall I, therefore, not detest him? And if I
catch him in making an attempt, shall I treat him with politeness? No, I
will kick him down stairs, or run him through the body; that is, if I
really love my wife, or have a true rational notion of honour. An
infidel then shall not be treated handsomely by a Christian, merely
because he endeavours to rob with ingenuity. I do declare, however, that
I am exceedingly unwilling to be provoked to anger, and could I be
persuaded that truth would not suffer from a cool moderation in its
defenders, I should wish to preserve good humour, at least, in every
controversy; nor, indeed, do I see why a man should lose his temper
while he does all he can to refute an opponent. I think ridicule may be
fairly used against an infidel; for instance, if he be an ugly fellow,
and yet absurdly vain of his person[1295], we may contrast his appearance
with Cicero's beautiful image of Virtue, could she be seen[1296]. Johnson
coincided with me and said, 'When a man voluntarily engages in an
important controversy, he is to do all he can to lessen his antagonist,
because authority from personal respect has much weight with most
people, and often more than reasoning[1297]. If my antagonist writes bad
language, though that may not be essential to the question, I will
attack him for his bad language.' ADAMS. 'You would not jostle a
chimney-sweeper.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, if it were necessary to jostle him

Dr. Adams told us, that in some of the Colleges at Oxford, the fellows
had excluded the students from social intercourse with them in the
common room[1298]. JOHNSON. 'They are in the right, Sir: there can be no
real conversation, no fair exertion of mind amongst them, if the young
men are by; for a man who has a character does not choose to stake it in
their presence.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, may there not be very good
conversation without a contest for superiority?' JOHNSON. 'No animated
conversation, Sir, for it cannot be but one or other will come off
superiour. I do not mean that the victor must have the better of the
argument, for he may take the weak side; but his superiority of parts
and knowledge will necessarily appear: and he to whom he thus shews
himself superiour is lessened in the eyes of the young men[1299]. You know
it was said, "_Mallem cum Scaligero errare quam cum Clavio recte
sapere_[1300]." In the same manner take Bentley's and Jason de Nores'
Comments upon Horace, you will admire Bentley more when wrong, than
Jason when right.'

We walked with Dr. Adams into the master's garden, and into the common
room. JOHNSON, (after a reverie of meditation,) 'Ay! Here I used to play
at draughts with Phil. Jones[1301] and Fludyer. Jones loved beer, and did
not get very forward in the church. Fludyer turned out a scoundrel[1302], a
Whig, and said he was ashamed of having been bred at Oxford. He had a
living at Putney, and got under the eye of some retainers to the court
at that time, and so became a violent Whig: but he had been a scoundrel
all along to be sure.' BOSWELL. 'Was he a scoundrel, Sir, in any other
way than that of being a political scoundrel? Did he cheat at draughts?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, we never played for _money_.'

He then carried me to visit Dr. Bentham, Canon of Christ-Church, and
Divinity Professor, with whose learned and lively conversation we were
much pleased. He gave us an invitation to dinner, which Dr. Johnson told
me was a high honour. 'Sir, it is a great thing to dine with the Canons
of Christ-Church.' We could not accept his invitation, as we were
engaged to dine at University College. We had an excellent dinner there,
with the Master and Fellows, it being St. Cuthbert's day, which is kept
by them as a festival, as he was a saint of Durham, with which this
college is much connected[1303].

We drank tea with Dr. Home[1304], late President of Magdalen College, and
Bishop of Norwich, of whose abilities, in different respects, the
publick has had eminent proofs, and the esteem annexed to whose
character was increased by knowing him personally. He had talked of
publishing an edition of Walton's _Lives_[1305], but had laid aside that
design, upon Dr. Johnson's telling him, from mistake, that Lord Hailes
intended to do it. I had wished to negociate between Lord Hailes and
him, that one or other should perform so good a work. JOHNSON. 'In order
to do it well, it will be necessary to collect all the editions of
Walton's _Lives_. By way of adapting the book to the taste of the
present age, they have, in a later edition, left out a vision which he
relates Dr. Donne had[1306], but it should be restored; and there should be
a critical catalogue given of the works of the different persons whose
lives were written by Walton, and therefore their works must be
carefully read by the editor.'

We then went to Trinity College, where he introduced me to Mr. Thomas
Warton, with whom we passed a part of the evening. We talked of
biography.--JOHNSON. 'It is rarely well executed[1307]. They only who live
with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and
discrimination; and few people who have lived with a man know what to
remark about him. The chaplain of a late Bishop[1308], whom I was to assist
in writing some memoirs of his Lordship, could tell me scarcely any

I said, Mr. Robert Dodsley's life should be written, as he had been so
much connected with the wits of his time[1310], and by his literary merit
had raised himself from the station of a footman. Mr. Warton said, he
had published a little volume under the title of _The Muse in Livery_
[1311]. JOHNSON. 'I doubt whether Dodsley's brother[1312] would thank a
man who should write his life: yet Dodsley himself was not unwilling that
his original low condition should be recollected. When Lord Lyttelton's
_Dialogues of the Dead_ came out, one of which is between Apicius, an
ancient epicure, and Dartineuf, a modern epicure, Dodsley said to me,
"I knew Dartineuf well, for I was once his footman[1313]."'

Biography led us to speak of Dr. John Campbell[1314], who had written a
considerable part of the _Biographia Britannica_. Johnson, though he
valued him highly, was of opinion that there was not so much in his
great work, _A Political Survey of Great Britain_, as the world had been
taught to expect[1315]; and had said to me, that he believed Campbell's
disappointment, on account of the bad success of that work, had killed
him. He this evening observed of it, 'That work was his death.' Mr.
Warton, not adverting to his meaning, answered, 'I believe so; from the
great attention he bestowed on it.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, he died of
_want_ of attention, if he died at all by that book.'

We talked of a work much in vogue at that time, written in a very
mellifluous style, but which, under pretext of another subject,
contained much artful infidelity[1316]. I said it was not fair to attack us
thus unexpectedly; he should have warned us of our danger, before we
entered his garden of flowery eloquence, by advertising, 'Spring guns
and men-traps set here[1317].' The authour had been an Oxonian, and was
remembered there for having 'turned Papist.' I observed, that as he had
changed several times--from the Church of England to the Church of
Rome,--from the Church of Rome to infidelity,--I did not despair yet of
seeing him a methodist preacher. JOHNSON, (laughing.) 'It is said, that
his range has been more extensive, and that he has once been
Mahometan[1318]. However, now that he has published his infidelity, he will
probably persist in it.' BOSWELL. 'I am not quite sure of that, Sir.'

I mentioned Sir Richard Steele having published his _Christian Hero_,
with the avowed purpose of obliging himself to lead a religious life[1319],
yet, that his conduct was by no means strictly suitable. JOHNSON.
'Steele, I believe, practised the lighter vices.'

Mr. Warton, being engaged, could not sup with us at our inn; we had
therefore another evening by ourselves. I asked Johnson, whether a
man's[1320] being forward to make himself known to eminent people, and
seeing as much of life, and getting as much information as he could in
every way, was not yet lessening himself by his forwardness. JOHNSON.
'No, Sir; a man always makes himself greater as he increases his

I censured some ludicrous fantastick dialogues between two coach-horses
and other such stuff, which Baretti had lately published[1321]. He joined
with me, and said, 'Nothing odd will do long. _Tristram Shandy_ did not
last[1322].' I expressed a desire to be acquainted with a lady who had been
much talked of, and universally celebrated for extraordinary address and
insinuation[1323]. JOHNSON. 'Never believe extraordinary characters which
you hear of people. Depend upon it, Sir, they are exaggerated. You do
not see one man shoot a great deal higher than another.' I mentioned Mr.
Burke. JOHNSON. 'Yes; Burke is an extraordinary man. His stream of mind
is perpetual[1324].' It is very pleasing to me to record, that Johnson's
high estimation of the talents of this gentleman was uniform from their
early acquaintance. Sir Joshua Reynolds informs me, that when Mr. Burke
was first elected a member of Parliament, and Sir John Hawkins expressed
a wonder at his attaining a seat, Johnson said, 'Now we who know Mr.
Burke, know, that he will be one of the first men in this country[1325].'
And once, when Johnson was ill, and unable to exert himself as much as
usual without fatigue, Mr. Burke having been mentioned, he said, 'That
fellow calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now it would kill
me[1326].' So much was he accustomed to consider conversation as a
contest[1327], and such was his notion of Burke as an opponent.

Next morning, Thursday, March 31, we set out in a post-chaise to pursue
our ramble. It was a delightful day, and we rode through Blenheim park.
When I looked at the magnificent bridge built by John Duke of
Marlborough, over a small rivulet, and recollected the Epigram made upon

'The lofty arch his high ambition shows,
The stream, an emblem of his bounty flows[1328]:'

and saw that now, by the genius of Brown[1329], a magnificent body of water
was collected, I said, 'They have _drowned_ the Epigram.' I observed to
him, while in the midst of the noble scene around us, 'You and I, Sir,
have, I think, seen together the extremes of what can be seen in
Britain:--the wild rough island of Mull, and Blenheim park.'

We dined at an excellent inn at Chapel-house, where he expatiated on the
felicity of England in its taverns and inns, and triumphed over the
French for not having, in any perfection, the tavern life. 'There is no
private house, (said he,) in which people can enjoy themselves so well,
as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great plenty of good
things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much
desire that every body should be easy; in the nature of things it cannot
be: there must always be some degree of care and anxiety. The master of
the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to
be agreeable to him: and no man, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as
freely command what is in another man's house, as if it were his own[1330].
Whereas, at a tavern, there is a general freedom from anxiety. You are
sure you are welcome: and the more noise you make, the more trouble you
give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are. No
servants will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are
incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they
please. No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man,
by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn[1331].'
He then repeated, with great emotion, Shenstone's lines:--

'Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome at an inn[1332].'

My illustrious friend, I thought, did not sufficiently admire
Shenstone[1333]. That ingenious and elegant gentleman's opinion of Johnson
appears in one of his letters to Mr. Graves[1334], dated Feb. 9, 1760. 'I
have lately been reading one or two volumes of _The Rambler_; who,
excepting against some few hardnesses[1335] in his manner, and the want of
more examples to enliven, is one of the most nervous, most perspicuous,
most concise, [and] most harmonious prose writers I know. A learned
diction improves by time.'

In the afternoon, as we were driven rapidly along in the post-chaise, he
said to me 'Life has not many things better than this[1336].'

We stopped at Stratford-upon-Avon, and drank tea and coffee; and it
pleased me to be with him upon the classick ground of Shakspeare's
native place.

He spoke slightingly of Dyer's _Fleece_[1337].--'The subject, Sir, cannot
be made poetical. How can a man write poetically of serges and druggets?
Yet you will hear many people talk to you gravely of that _excellent_
poem, _The Fleece_.' Having talked of Grainger's _Sugar-Cane_, I
mentioned to him Mr. Langton's having told me, that this poem, when read
in manuscript at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits
burst into a laugh, when, after much blank-verse pomp, the poet began a
new paragraph thus:--

'Now, Muse, let's sing of _rats_'

And what increased the ridicule was, that one of the company, who slily
overlooked the reader, perceived that the word had been originally
_mice_, and had been altered to _rats_, as more dignified[1338].

This passage does not appear in the printed work. Dr. Grainger, or some
of his friends, it should seem, having become sensible that introducing
even _Rats_ in a grave poem, might be liable to banter. He, however,
could not bring himself to relinquish the idea; for they are thus, in a
still more ludicrous manner, periphrastically exhibited in his poem as
it now stands:

'Nor with less waste the whisker'd vermin race
A countless clan despoil the lowland cane.'

Johnson said, that Dr. Grainger was an agreeable man; a man who would do
any good that was in his power. His translation of _Tibullus_, he
thought, was very well done; but _The Sugar-Cane_, a poem, did not
please him[1339]; for, he exclaimed, 'What could he make of a sugar-cane?
One might as well write the "Parsley-bed, a Poem;" or "The
Cabbage-garden, a Poem."' BOSWELL. 'You must then _pickle_ your cabbage
with the _sal atticum_.' JOHNSON. 'You know there is already _The
Hop-Garden_, a Poem[1340]: and, I think, one could say a great deal about
cabbage. The poem might begin with the advantages of civilised society
over a rude state, exemplified by the Scotch, who had no cabbages till
Oliver Cromwell's soldiers introduced them[1341]; and one might thus shew
how arts are propagated by conquest, as they were by the Roman arms.' He
seemed to be much diverted with the fertility of his own fancy.

I told him, that I heard Dr. Percy was writing the history of the wolf
in Great-Britain. JOHNSON. 'The wolf, Sir! why the wolf? Why does he not
write of the bear, which we had formerly? Nay, it is said we had the
beaver. Or why does he not write of the grey rat, the Hanover rat, as it
is called, because it is said to have come into this country about the
time that the family of Hanover came? I should like to see _The History
of the Grey Rat, by Thomas Percy, D.D., Chaplain in Ordinary to His
Majesty_,' (laughing immoderately). BOSWELL. 'I am afraid a court
chaplain could not decently write of the grey rat.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, he
need not give it the name of the Hanover rat.' Thus could he indulge a
luxuriant sportive imagination, when talking of a friend whom he loved
and esteemed.

He mentioned to me the singular history of an ingenious acquaintance.
'He had practised physick in various situations with no great emolument.
A West-India gentleman, whom he delighted by his conversation, gave him
a bond for a handsome annuity during his life, on the condition of his
accompanying him to the West-Indies, and living with him there for two
years. He accordingly embarked with the gentleman; but upon the voyage
fell in love with a young woman who happened to be one of the
passengers, and married the wench. From the imprudence of his
disposition he quarrelled with the gentleman, and declared he would have
no connection with him. So he forfeited the annuity. He settled as a
physician in one of the Leeward Islands. A man was sent out to him
merely to compound his medicines. This fellow set up as a rival to him
in his practice of physick, and got so much the better of him in the
opinion of the people of the island that he carried away all the
business, upon which he returned to England, and soon after died.'

On Friday, March 22, having set out early from Henley[1342], where we had
lain the preceding night, we arrived at Birmingham about nine o'clock,
and, after breakfast, went to call on his old schoolfellow Mr.
Hector[1343]. A very stupid maid, who opened the door, told us, that 'her
master was gone out; he was gone to the country; she could not tell when
he would return.' In short, she gave us a miserable reception; and
Johnson observed, 'She would have behaved no better to people who wanted
him in the way of his profession.' He said to her, 'My name is Johnson;
tell him I called. Will you remember the name?' She answered with
rustick simplicity, in the Warwickshire pronunciation, 'I don't
understand you, Sir.'--'Blockhead, (said he,) I'll write.' I never heard
the word _blockhead_ applied to a woman before, though I do not see why
it should not, when there is evident occasion for it[1344]. He, however,
made another attempt to make her understand him, and roared loud in her
ear, '_Johnson_', and then she catched the sound.

We next called on Mr. Lloyd, one of the people called Quakers. He too
was not at home; but Mrs. Lloyd was, and received us courteously, and
asked us to dinner. Johnson said to me, 'After the uncertainty of all
human things at Hector's, this invitation came very well.' We walked
about the town, and he was pleased to see it increasing.

I talked of legitimation by subsequent marriage, which obtained in the
Roman law, and still obtains in the law of Scotland. JOHNSON. 'I think
it a bad thing; because the chastity of women being of the utmost
importance, as all property depends upon it, they who forfeit it should
not have any possibility of being restored to good character; nor should
the children, by an illicit connection, attain the full right of lawful
children, by the posteriour consent of the offending parties.' His
opinion upon this subject deserves consideration. Upon his principle
there may, at times, be a hardship, and seemingly a strange one, upon
individuals; but the general good of society is better secured. And,
after all, it is unreasonable in an individual to repine that he has not
the advantage of a state which is made different from his own, by the
social institution under which he is born. A woman does not complain
that her brother, who is younger than her, gets their common father's
estate. Why then should a natural son complain that a younger brother,
by the same parents lawfully begotten, gets it? The operation of law is
similar in both cases. Besides, an illegitimate son, who has a younger
legitimate brother by the same father and mother, has no stronger claim
to the father's estate, than if that legitimate brother had only the
same father, from whom alone the estate descends.

Mr. Lloyd joined us in the street; and in a little while we met _Friend
Hector_, as Mr. Lloyd called him. It gave me pleasure to observe the joy
which Johnson and he expressed on seeing each other again. Mr. Lloyd and
I left them together, while he obligingly shewed me some of the
manufactures of this very curious assemblage of artificers. We all met
at dinner at Mr. Lloyd's, where we were entertained with great
hospitality. Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd had been married the same year with
their Majesties, and like them, had been blessed with a numerous family
of fine children, their numbers being exactly the same. Johnson said,
'Marriage is the best state for a man in general; and every man is a
worse man, in proportion as he is unfit for the married state.'

I have always loved the simplicity of manners, and the
spiritual-mindedness of the Quakers; and talking with Mr. Lloyd, I
observed, that the essential part of religion was piety, a devout
intercourse with the Divinity; and that many a man was a Quaker without
knowing it.

As Dr. Johnson had said to me in the morning, while we walked together,
that he liked individuals among the Quakers, but not the sect; when we
were at Mr. Lloyd's, I kept clear of introducing any questions
concerning the peculiarities of their faith. But I having asked to look
at Baskerville's edition of _Barclay's Apology_, Johnson laid hold of
it; and the chapter on baptism happening to open, Johnson remarked, 'He
says there is neither precept nor practice for baptism, in the
scriptures; that is false.' Here he was the aggressor, by no means in a
gentle manner; and the good Quakers had the advantage of him; for he had
read negligently, and had not observed that Barclay speaks of _infant_
baptism[1345]; which they calmly made him perceive. Mr. Lloyd, however, was
in as great a mistake; for when insisting that the rite of baptism by
water was to cease, when the _spiritual_ administration of CHRIST began,
he maintained, that John the Baptist said, '_My baptism_ shall decrease,
but _his_ shall increase.' Whereas the words are, '_He_ must increase,
but _I_ must decrease[1346].'

One of them having objected to the 'observance of days, and months, and
years,' Johnson answered, 'The Church does not superstitiously observe
days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas
might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there
should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour,
because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be

He said to me at another time, 'Sir, the holidays observed by our church
are of great use in religion.' There can be no doubt of this, in a
limited sense, I mean if the number of such consecrated portions of time
be not too extensive. The excellent Mr. Nelson's[1347] _Festivals and
Fasts_, which has, I understand, the greatest sale of any book ever
printed in England, except the Bible, is a most valuable help to
devotion; and in addition to it I would recommend two sermons on the
same subject, by Mr. Pott, Archdeacon of St. Alban's, equally
distinguished for piety and elegance. I am sorry to have it to say, that
Scotland is the only Christian country, Catholick or Protestant, where
the great events of our religion are not solemnly commemorated by its
ecclesiastical establishment, on days set apart for the purpose.

Mr. Hector was so good as to accompany me to see the great works of Mr.
Bolton, at a place which he has called Soho, about two miles from
Birmingham, which the very ingenious proprietor shewed me himself to the
best advantage. I wish Johnson had been with us: for it was a scene
which I should have been glad to contemplate by his light[1348]. The
vastness and the contrivance of some of the machinery would have
'matched his mighty mind.' I shall never forget Mr. Bolton's expression
to me: 'I sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have--POWER.' He
had about seven hundred people at work. I contemplated him as an _iron
chieftain_, and he seemed to be a father to his tribe. One of them came
to him, complaining grievously of his landlord for having distrained his
goods.' 'Your landlord is in the right, Smith, (said Bolton). But I'll
tell you what: find you a friend who will lay down one half of your
rent, and I'll lay down the other half; and you shall have your goods

From Mr. Hector I now learnt many particulars of Dr. Johnson's early
life, which, with others that he gave me at different times since, have
contributed to the formation of this work.

Dr. Johnson said to me in the morning, 'You will see, Sir, at Mr.
Hector's, his sister, Mrs. Careless[1349], a clergyman's widow. She was the
first woman with whom I was in love. It dropt out of my head
imperceptibly; but she and I shall always have a kindness for each
other.' He laughed at the notion that a man never can be really in love
but once, and considered it as a mere romantick fancy.

On our return from Mr. Bolton's, Mr. Hector took me to his house, where
we found Johnson sitting placidly at tea[1350], with his _first love_; who,
though now advanced in years, was a genteel woman, very agreeable, and

Johnson lamented to Mr. Hector the state of one of their school-fellows,
Mr. Charles Congreve, a clergyman, which he thus described: 'He
obtained, I believe, considerable preferment in Ireland, but now lives
in London, quite as a valetudinarian, afraid to go into any house but
his own. He takes a short airing in his post-chaise every day. He has an
elderly woman, whom he calls cousin, who lives with him, and jogs his
elbow when his glass has stood too long empty, and encourages him in
drinking, in which he is very willing to be encouraged; not that he gets
drunk, for he is a very pious man, but he is always muddy[1351]. He
confesses to one bottle of port every day, and he probably drinks more.
He is quite unsocial; his conversation is quite monosyllabical: and
when, at my last visit, I asked him what a clock it was? that signal of
my departure had so pleasing an effect on him, that he sprung up to look
at his watch, like a greyhound bounding at a hare.' When Johnson took
leave of Mr. Hector, he said, 'Don't grow like Congreve; nor let me grow
like him, when you are near me[1352].'

When he again talked of Mrs. Careless to-night, he seemed to have had
his affection revived; for he said, 'If I had married her, it might have
been as happy for me.[1353]' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, do you not suppose that
there are fifty women in the world, with any one of whom a man may be as
happy, as with any one woman in particular.' JOHNSON. 'Ay, Sir, fifty
thousand.' BOSWELL. 'Then, Sir, you are not of opinion with some who
imagine that certain men and certain women are made for each other; and
that they cannot be happy if they miss their counterparts.' JOHNSON. 'To
be sure not, Sir. I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and
often more so, if they were all made by the Lord Chancellor, upon a due
consideration of characters and circumstances, without the parties
having any choice in the matter.'

I wished to have staid at Birmingham to-night, to have talked more with
Mr. Hector; but my friend was impatient to reach his native city; so we
drove on that stage in the dark, and were long pensive and silent. When
we came within the focus of the Lichfield lamps, 'Now (said he,) we are
getting out of a state of death.' We put up at the Three Crowns, not one
of the great inns, but a good old fashioned one, which was kept by Mr.
Wilkins, and was the very next house to that in which Johnson was born
and brought up, and which was still his own property[1354]. We had a
comfortable supper, and got into high spirits. I felt all my Toryism
glow in this old capital of Staffordshire. I could have offered incense
_genio loci_; and I indulged in libations of that ale, which Boniface,
in _The Beaux Stratagem_, recommends with such an eloquent jollity[1355].

Next morning he introduced me to Mrs. Lucy Porter, his step-daughter.
She was now an old maid, with much simplicity of manner. She had never
been in London. Her brother, a Captain in the navy, had left her a
fortune of ten thousand pounds; about a third of which she had laid out
in building a stately house, and making a handsome garden, in an
elevated situation in Lichfield. Johnson, when here by himself, used to
live at her house. She reverenced him, and he had a parental tenderness
for her[1356].

We then visited Mr. Peter Garrick, who had that morning received a
letter from his brother David, announcing our coming to Lichfield. He
was engaged to dinner, but asked us to tea, and to sleep at his house.
Johnson, however, would not quit his old acquaintance Wilkins, of the
Three Crowns. The family likeness of the Garricks was very striking[1357];
and Johnson thought that David's vivacity was not so peculiar to himself
as was supposed. 'Sir, (said he,) I don't know but if Peter had
cultivated all the arts of gaiety as much as David has done, he might
have been as brisk and lively. Depend upon it, Sir, vivacity is much an
art, and depends greatly on habit.' I believe there is a good deal of
truth in this, notwithstanding a ludicrous story told me by a lady
abroad, of a heavy German baron, who had lived much with the young
English at Geneva, and was ambitious to be as lively as they; with which
view, he, with assiduous exertion, was jumping over the tables and
chairs in his lodgings; and when the people of the house ran in and
asked, with surprize, what was the matter, he answered, '_Sh' apprens
t'etre fif_.'

We dined at our inn, and had with us a Mr. Jackson[1358], one of Johnson's
schoolfellows, whom he treated with much kindness, though he seemed to
be a low man, dull and untaught. He had a coarse grey coat, black
waistcoat, greasy leather breeches, and a yellow uncurled wig; and his
countenance had the ruddiness which betokens one who is in no haste to
'leave his can.' He drank only ale. He had tried to be a cutler at
Birmingham, but had not succeeded; and now he lived poorly at home, and
had some scheme of dressing leather in a better manner than common; to
his indistinct account of which, Dr. Johnson listened with patient
attention, that he might assist him with his advice. Here was an
instance of genuine humanity and real kindness in this great man, who
has been most unjustly represented as altogether harsh and destitute of
tenderness. A thousand such instances might have been recorded in the
course of his long life; though that his temper was warm and hasty, and
his manner often rough, cannot be denied.

I saw here, for the first time, _oat ale_; and oat cakes not hard as in
Scotland, but soft like a Yorkshire cake, were served at breakfast. It
was pleasant to me to find, that _Oats_, the _food of horses_[1359], were
so much used as the _food of the people_ in Dr. Johnson's own town. He
expatiated in praise of Lichfield and its inhabitants, who, he said,
were 'the most sober, decent people[1360] in England, the genteelest in
proportion to their wealth, and spoke the purest English[1361].' I doubted
as to the last article of this eulogy: for they had several provincial
sounds; as _there_, pronounced like _fear_, instead of like _fair; once_
pronounced _woonse_, instead of _wunse_, or _wonse_. Johnson himself
never got entirely free of those provincial accents[1362]. Garrick
sometimes used to take him off, squeezing a lemon into a punch-bowl,
with uncouth gesticulations, looking round the company, and calling out,
'Who's for _poonsh_?[1363]'

Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found
however two strange manufactures for so inland a place, sail-cloth and
streamers for ships; and I observed them making some saddle-cloths, and
dressing sheepskins: but upon the whole, the busy hand of industry
seemed to be quite slackened. 'Surely, Sir, (said I,) you are an idle
set of people.' 'Sir, (said Johnson,) we are a city of philosophers, we
work with our heads, and make the boobies of Birmingham[1364] work for us
with their hands.'

There was at this time a company of players performing at Lichfield. The
manager, Mr. Stanton, sent his compliments, and begged leave to wait on
Dr. Johnson. Johnson received him very courteously, and he drank a glass
of wine with us. He was a plain decent well-behaved man, and expressed
his gratitude to Dr. Johnson for having once got him permission from Dr.
Taylor at Ashbourne to play there upon moderate terms. Garrick's name
was soon introduced. JOHNSON. 'Garrick's conversation is gay and
grotesque. It is a dish of all sorts, but all good things. There is no
solid meat in it: there is a want of sentiment in it. Not but that he
has sentiment sometimes, and sentiment, too, very powerful and very
pleasing: but it has not its full proportion in his conversation.'

When we were by ourselves he told me, 'Forty years ago, Sir, I was in
love with an actress here, Mrs. Emmet, who acted Flora, in _Hob in the
Well_[1365].' What merit this lady had as an actress, or what was her
figure, or her manner, I have not been informed: but, if we may believe
Mr. Garrick, his old master's taste in theatrical merit was by no means
refined[1366]; he was not an _elegans formarum spectator_[1367]. Garrick
used to tell, that Johnson said of an actor, who played Sir Harry Wildair
[1368] at Lichfield, 'There is a courtly vivacity about the fellow;' when
in fact, according to Garrick's account, 'he was the most vulgar ruffian
that ever went upon _boards_.'

We had promised Mr. Stanton to be at his theatre on Monday. Dr. Johnson
jocularly proposed me to write a Prologue for the occasion: 'A Prologue,
by James Boswell, Esq. from the Hebrides.' I was really inclined to take
the hint. Methought, 'Prologue, spoken before Dr. Samuel Johnson, at
Lichfield, 1776;' would have sounded as well as, 'Prologue, spoken
before the Duke of York, at Oxford,' in Charles the Second's time. Much
might have been said of what Lichfield had done for Shakspeare, by
producing Johnson and Garrick. But I found he was averse to it.

We went and viewed the museum of Mr. Richard Green, apothecary here, who
told me he was proud of being a relation of Dr. Johnson's. It was,
truely, a wonderful collection, both of antiquities and natural
curiosities, and ingenious works of art. He had all the articles
accurately arranged, with their names upon labels, printed at his own
little press; and on the staircase leading to it was a board, with the
names of contributors marked in gold letters. A printed catalogue of the
collection was to be had at a bookseller's. Johnson expressed his
admiration of the activity and diligence and good fortune of Mr. Green,
in getting together, in his situation, so great a variety of things; and
Mr. Green told me that Johnson once said to him, 'Sir, I should as soon
have thought of building a man of war, as of collecting such a museum.'
Mr. Green's obliging alacrity in shewing it was very pleasing. His
engraved portrait, with which he has favoured me, has a motto truely
characteristical of his disposition, '_Nemo sibi vivat_.'

A physician being mentioned who had lost his practice, because his
whimsically changing his religion had made people distrustful of him, I
maintained that this was unreasonable, as religion is unconnected with
medical skill. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not unreasonable; for when people
see a man absurd in what they understand, they may conclude the same of
him in what they do not understand. If a physician were to take to
eating of horse-flesh, nobody would employ him; though one may eat
horse-flesh, and be a very skilful physician. If a man were educated in
an absurd religion, his continuing to profess it would not hurt him,
though his changing to it would.'

We drank tea and coffee at Mr. Peter Garrick's, where was Mrs. Aston,
one of the maiden sisters of Mrs. Walmsley, wife of Johnson's first
friend[1369], and sister also of the lady of whom Johnson used to speak
with the warmest admiration, by the name of Molly Aston[1370], who was
afterwards married to Captain Brodie of the navy.

On Sunday, March 24, we breakfasted with Mrs. Cobb, a widow lady, who
lived in an agreeable sequestered place close by the town, called the
Friary, it having been formerly a religious house. She and her niece,
Miss Adey, were great admirers of Dr. Johnson; and he behaved to them
with a kindness and easy pleasantry, such as we see between old and
intimate acquaintance. He accompanied Mrs. Cobb to St. Mary's church,
and I went to the cathedral, where I was very much delighted with the
musick, finding it to be peculiarly solemn and accordant with the words
of the service.

We dined at Mr. Peter Garrick's, who was in a very lively humour, and
verified Johnson's saying, that if he had cultivated gaiety as much as
his brother David, he might have equally excelled in it. He was to-day
quite a London narrator, telling us a variety of anecdotes with that
earnestness and attempt at mimicry which we usually find in the wits of
the metropolis. Dr. Johnson went with me to the cathedral in the
afternoon[1371]. It was grand and pleasing to contemplate this illustrious
writer, now full of fame, worshipping in the 'solemn temple[1372]' of his
native city.

I returned to tea and coffee at Mr. Peter Garrick's, and then found Dr.
Johnson at the Reverend Mr. Seward's[1373], Canon Residentiary, who
inhabited the Bishop's palace[1374], in which Mr. Walmsley lived, and which
had been the scene of many happy hours in Johnson's early life. Mr.
Seward had, with ecclesiastical hospitality and politeness, asked me in
the morning, merely as a stranger, to dine with him; and in the
afternoon, when I was introduced to him, he asked Dr. Johnson and me to
spend the evening and sup with him. He was a genteel well-bred dignified
clergyman, had travelled with Lord Charles Fitzroy, uncle of the present
Duke of Grafton, who died when abroad, and he had lived much in the
great world. He was an ingenious and literary man, had published an
edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, and written verses in Dodsley's
collection. His lady was the daughter of Mr. Hunter, Johnson's first
schoolmaster. And now, for the first time, I had the pleasure of seeing
his celebrated daughter, Miss Anna Seward, to whom I have since been
indebted for many civilities, as well as some obliging communications
concerning Johnson[1375].

Mr. Seward mentioned to us the observations which he had made upon the
strata of earth in volcanos, from which it appeared, that they were so
very different in depth at different periods, that no calculation
whatever could be made as to the time required for their formation. This
fully refuted an antimosaical remark introduced into Captain Brydone's
entertaining tour, I hope heedlessly, from a kind of vanity which is too
common in those who have not sufficiently studied the most important of
all subjects. Dr. Johnson, indeed, had said before, independent of this
observation, 'Shall all the accumulated evidence of the history of the
world;--shall the authority of what is unquestionably the most ancient
writing, be overturned by an uncertain remark such as this?[1376]'

On Monday, March 25, we breakfasted at Mrs. Lucy Porter's. Johnson had
sent an express to Dr. Taylor's, acquainting him of our being at
Lichfield[1377], and Taylor had returned an answer that his postchaise
should come for us this day. While we sat at breakfast, Dr. Johnson
received a letter by the post, which seemed to agitate him very much.
When he had read it, he exclaimed, 'One of the most dreadful things that
has happened in my time.' The phrase _my time_, like the word _age_, is
usually understood to refer to an event of a publick or general nature.
I imagined something like an assassination of the King--like a gunpowder
plot carried into execution--or like another fire of London. When asked,
'What is it, Sir?' he answered, 'Mr. Thrale has lost his only son![1378]'
This was, no doubt, a very great affliction to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale,
which their friends would consider accordingly; but from the manner in
which the intelligence of it was communicated by Johnson, it appeared
for the moment to be comparatively small. I, however, soon felt a
sincere concern, and was curious to observe, how Dr. Johnson would be
affected. He said, 'This is a total extinction to their family, as much
as if they were sold into captivity.' Upon my mentioning that Mr. Thrale
had daughters, who might inherit his wealth;--'Daughters, (said Johnson,
warmly,) he'll no more value his daughters than--'I was going to
speak.--'Sir, (said he,) don't you know how you yourself think? Sir, he
wishes to propagate his name[1379].' In short, I saw male succession strong
in his mind, even where there was no name, no family of any long
standing. I said, it was lucky he was not present when this misfortune
happened. JOHNSON. 'It is lucky for _me_. People in distress never think
that you feel enough.' BOSWELL. 'And Sir, they will have the hope of
seeing you, which will be a relief in the mean time; and when you get to
them, the pain will be so far abated, that they will be capable of being
consoled by you, which, in the first violence of it, I believe, would
not be the case.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; violent pain of mind, like violent
pain of body, _must_ be severely felt.' BOSWELL. 'I own, Sir, I have not
so much feeling for the distress of others, as some people have, or
pretend to have: but I know this, that I would do all in my power to
relieve them.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is affectation to pretend to feel the
distress of others, as much as they do themselves. It is equally so, as
if one should pretend to feel as much pain while a friend's leg is
cutting off, as he does. No, Sir; you have expressed the rational and
just nature of sympathy. I would have gone to the extremity of the earth
to have preserved this boy[1380].'

He was soon quite calm. The letter was from Mr. Thrale's clerk, and
concluded, 'I need not say how much they wish to see you in London.' He
said, 'We shall hasten back from Taylor's.'

Mrs. Lucy Porter and some other ladies of the place talked a great deal
of him when he was out of the room, not only with veneration but
affection. It pleased me to find that he was so much _beloved_ in his
native city.

Mrs. Aston, whom I had seen the preceding night, and her sister, Mrs.
Gastrel, a widow lady, had each a house and garden, and pleasure-ground,
prettily situated upon Stowhill, a gentle eminence, adjoining to
Lichfield. Johnson walked away to dinner there, leaving me by myself
without any apology; I wondered at this want of that facility of
manners, from which a man has no difficulty in carrying a friend to a
house where he is intimate; I felt it very unpleasant to be thus left in
solitude in a country town, where I was an entire stranger, and began to
think myself unkindly deserted: but I was soon relieved, and convinced
that my friend, instead of being deficient in delicacy, had conducted
the matter with perfect propriety, for I received the following note in
his handwriting: 'Mrs. Gastrel, at the lower house on Stowhill, desires
Mr. Boswell's company to dinner at two.' I accepted of the invitation,
and had here another proof how amiable his character was in the opinion
of those who knew him best. I was not informed, till afterwards, that
Mrs. Gastrel's husband was the clergyman who, while he lived at
Stratford upon Avon, where he was proprietor of Shakspeare's garden,
with Gothick barbarity cut down his mulberry-tree[1381], and, as Dr.
Johnson told me, did it to vex his neighbours. His lady, I have reason
to believe, on the same authority[1382], participated in the guilt of what
the enthusiasts for our immortal bard deem almost a species of

After dinner Dr. Johnson wrote a letter to Mrs. Thrale on the death of
her son[1383]. I said it would be very distressing to Thrale, but she would
soon forget it, as she had so many things to think of. JOHNSON. 'No,
Sir, Thrale will forget it first. _She_ has many things that she _may_
think of. _He_ has many things that he _must_ think of[1384].' This was a
very just remark upon the different effect of those light pursuits which
occupy a vacant and easy mind, and those serious engagements which
arrest attention, and keep us from brooding over grief.

He observed of Lord Bute, 'It was said of Augustus, that it would have
been better for Rome that he had never been born, or had never died. So
it would have been better for this nation if Lord Bute had never been
minister, or had never resigned.'

In the evening we went to the Town-hall, which was converted into a
temporary theatre, and saw _Theodosius_, with _The Stratford Jubilee_. I
was happy to see Dr. Johnson sitting in a conspicuous part of the pit,
and receiving affectionate homage from all his acquaintance. We were
quite gay and merry. I afterwards mentioned to him that I condemned
myself for being so, when poor Mr. and Mrs. Thrale were in such
distress. JOHNSON. 'You are wrong, Sir; twenty years hence Mr. and Mrs.
Thrale will not suffer much pain from the death of their son. Now, Sir,
you are to consider, that distance of place, as well as distance of
time, operates upon the human feelings. I would not have you be gay in
the presence of the distressed, because it would shock them; but you may
be gay at a distance. Pain for the loss of a friend, or of a relation
whom we love, is occasioned by the want which we feel. In time the
vacuity is filled with something else; or sometimes the vacuity closes
up of itself.'

Mr. Seward and Mr. Pearson, another clergyman here, supt with us at our
inn, and after they left us, we sat up late as we used to do in London.

Here I shall record some fragments of my friend's conversation during
this jaunt.

'Marriage, Sir, is much more necessary to a man than to a woman; for he
is much less able to supply himself with domestick comforts. You will
recollect my saying to some ladies the other day, that I had often
wondered why young women should marry, as they have so much more
freedom, and so much more attention paid to them while unmarried, than
when married. I indeed did not mention the _strong_ reason for their
marrying--the _mechanical_ reason.' BOSWELL. 'Why that _is_ a strong
one. But does not imagination make it much more important than it is in
reality? Is it not, to a certain degree, a delusion in us as well as in
women?' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; but it is a delusion that is always
beginning again.' BOSWELL. 'I don't know but there is upon the whole
more misery than happiness produced by that passion.' JOHNSON. 'I don't
think so, Sir.'

'Never speak of a man in his own presence. It is always indelicate, and
may be offensive.'

'Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen[1385]. It is
assuming a superiority, and it is particularly wrong to question a man
concerning himself. There may be parts of his former life which he may
not wish to be made known to other persons, or even brought to his own

'A man should be careful never to tell tales of himself to his own
disadvantage. People may be amused and laugh at the time, but they will
be remembered, and brought out against him upon some subsequent

'Much may be done if a man puts his whole mind to a particular object.
By doing so, Norton[1386] has made himself the great lawyer that he is
allowed to be.'

I mentioned an acquaintance of mine[1387], a sectary, who was a very
religious man, who not only attended regularly on publick worship with
those of his communion, but made a particular study of the Scriptures,
and even wrote a commentary on some parts of them, yet was known to be
very licentious in indulging himself with women; maintaining that men
are to be saved by faith alone, and that the Christian religion had not
prescribed any fixed rule for the intercourse between the sexes.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no trusting to that crazy piety.'

I observed that it was strange how well Scotchmen were known to one
another in their own country, though born in very distant counties; for
we do not find that the gentlemen of neighbouring counties in England
are mutually known to each other. Johnson, with his usual acuteness, at
once saw and explained the reason of this; 'Why, Sir, you have
Edinburgh, where the gentlemen from all your counties meet, and which is
not so large but they are all known. There is no such common place of
collection in England, except London, where from its great size and
diffusion, many of those who reside in contiguous counties of England,
may long remain unknown to each other.'

On Tuesday, March 26, there came for us an equipage properly suited to a
wealthy well-beneficed clergyman;--Dr. Taylor's large roomy post-chaise,
drawn by four stout plump horses, and driven by two steady jolly
postillions, which conveyed us to Ashbourne; where I found my friend's
schoolfellow living upon an establishment perfectly corresponding with
his substantial creditable equipage: his house, garden,
pleasure-grounds, table, in short every thing good, and no scantiness
appearing. Every man should form such a plan of living as he can execute
completely. Let him not draw an outline wider than he can fill up. I
have seen many skeletons of shew and magnificence which excite at once
ridicule and pity. Dr. Taylor had a good estate of his own, and good
preferment in the church[1388], being a prebendary of Westminster, and
rector of Bosworth. He was a diligent justice of the peace, and presided
over the town of Ashbourne, to the inhabitants of which I was told he
was very liberal; and as a proof of this it was mentioned to me, he had
the preceding winter distributed two hundred pounds among such of them
as stood in need of his assistance. He had consequently a considerable
political interest in the county of Derby, which he employed to support
the Devonshire family; for though the schoolfellow and friend of
Johnson, he was a Whig. I could not perceive in his character much
congeniality of any sort with that of Johnson, who, however, said to me,
'Sir, he has a very strong understanding[1389].' His size, and figure, and
countenance, and manner, were that of a hearty English 'Squire, with the
parson super-induced: and I took particular notice of his upper servant,
Mr. Peters, a decent grave man, in purple clothes, and a large white
wig, like the butler or _major domo_ of a Bishop.

Dr. Johnson and Dr. Taylor met with great cordiality; and Johnson soon
gave him the same sad account of their school-fellow, Congreve, that he
had given to Mr. Hector[1390]; adding a remark of such moment to the
rational conduct of a man in the decline of life, that it deserves to be
imprinted upon every mind: 'There is nothing against which an old man
should be so much upon his guard as putting himself to nurse[1391].'
Innumerable have been the melancholy instances of men once distinguished
for firmness, resolution, and spirit, who in their latter days have been
governed like children, by interested female artifice.

Dr. Taylor commended a physician who was known to him and Dr. Johnson,
and said, 'I fight many battles for him, as many people in the country
dislike him.' JOHNSON. 'But you should consider, Sir, that by every one
of your victories he is a loser; for, every man of whom you get the
better, will be very angry, and resolve not to employ him; whereas if
people get the better of you in argument about him, they'll think,
"We'll send for Dr. ----[1392] nevertheless."' This was an observation deep
and sure in human nature.

Next day we talked of a book[1393] in which an eminent judge was arraigned
before the bar of the publick, as having pronounced an unjust decision
in a great cause. Dr. Johnson maintained that this publication would not
give any uneasiness to the judge. 'For (said he,) either he acted
honestly, or he meant to do injustice. If he acted honestly, his own
consciousness will protect him; if he meant to do injustice, he will be
glad to see the man who attacks him, so much vexed,'

Next day, as Dr. Johnson had acquainted Dr. Taylor of the reason for his
returning speedily to London, it was resolved that we should set out
after dinner. A few of Dr. Taylor's neighbours were his guests that day.

Dr. Johnson talked with approbation of one who had attained to the state
of the philosophical wise man, that is, to have no want of any thing.
'Then, Sir, (said I,) the savage is a wise man.' 'Sir, (said he,) I do
not mean simply being without,--but not having a want.' I maintained,
against this proposition, that it was better to have fine clothes, for
instance, than not to feel the want of them. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; fine
clothes are good only as they supply the want of other means of
procuring respect. Was Charles the Twelfth, think you, less respected
for his coarse blue coat and black stock[1394]? And you find the King of
Prussia dresses plain, because the dignity of his character is
sufficient.' I here brought myself into a scrape, for I heedlessly said,
'Would not _you_, Sir, be the better for velvet and embroidery?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, you put an end to all argument when you introduce your
opponent himself. Have you no better manners? There is _your want_.' I
apologised by saying, I had mentioned him as an instance of one who
wanted as little as any man in the world, and yet, perhaps, might
receive some additional lustre from dress.

(Page 17.)

In the Bodleian is the following autograph record by Johnson of Good
Friday, March 28, Easter Sunday, March 30, and May 4, 1766, and the copy
of the record of Saturday, March 29. They belong to the series published
by the Rev. Mr. Strahan under the title of _Prayers and Meditations_,
but they are not included in it.

'Good Friday, March 28, 1766.--On the night before I used proper
Collects, and prayed when I arose in the morning. I had all the week an
awe upon me, not thinking on Passion week till I looked in the almanack.
I have wholly forborne M [? meat] and wines, except one glass on Sunday

'In the morning I rose, and drank very small tea without milk, and had
nothing more that day.

'This was the day on which Tetty died. I did not mingle much men [?
mention] of her with the devotions of this day, because it is dedicated
to more holy subjects. I mentioned her at church, and prayed once
solemnly at home. I was twice at church, and went through the prayers
without perturbation, but heard the sermons imperfectly. I came in both
times at the second lesson, not hearing the bell.

'When I came home I read the Psalms for the day, and one sermon in
Clark. Scruples distract me, but at church I had hopes to conquer them.

'I bore abstinence this day not well, being at night insupportably
heavy, but as fasting does not produce sleepyness, I had perhaps rested
ill the night before. I prayed in my study for the day, and prayed again
in my chamber. I went to bed very early--before eleven.

'After church I selected collects for the Sacraments.

'Finding myself upon recollection very ignorant of religion, I formed a
purpose of studying it.

'I went down and sat to tea, but was too heavy to converse.

'Saturday, 29.--I rose at the time now usual, not fully refreshed. Went
to tea. A sudden thought of restraint hindered me. I drank but one dish.
Took a purge for my health. Still uneasy. Prayed, and went to dinner.
Dined sparingly on fish [added in different ink] about four. Went to
Simpson. Was driven home by my physick. Drank tea, and am much
refreshed. I believe that if I had drank tea again yesterday, I had
escaped the heaviness of the evening. Fasting that produces inability is
no duty, but I was unwilling to do less than formerly.

'I had lived more abstemiously than is usual the whole week, and taken
physick twice, which together made the fast more uneasy.

'Thus much I have written medically, to show that he who can fast long
must have lived plentifully.

'Saturday, March 29, 1766.--I was yesterday very heavy. I do not feel
myself to-day so much impressed with awe of the approaching mystery. I
had this day a doubt, like Baxter, of my state, and found that my faith,
though weak, was yet faith. O God! strengthen it.

'Since the last reception of the sacrament I hope I have no otherwise
grown worse than as continuance in sin makes the sinner's condition more

'Since last New Year's Eve I have risen every morning by eight, at least
not after nine, which is more superiority over my habits than I have
ever before been able to obtain. Scruples still distress me. My
resolution, with the blessing of God, is to contend with them, and, if I
can, to conquer them.

'My resolutions are--
'To conquer scruples.
'To read the Bible this year.
'To try to rise more early.
'To study Divinity.
'To live methodically.
'To oppose idleness.
'To frequent Divine worship.

'Almighty and most merciful Father! before whom I now appear laden with
the sins of another year, suffer me yet again to call upon Thee for
pardon and peace.

'O God! grant me repentance, grant me reformation. Grant that I may be
no longer distracted with doubts, and harassed with vain terrors. Grant
that I may no longer linger in perplexity, nor waste in idleness that
life which Thou hast given and preserved. Grant that I may serve Thee in
firm faith and diligent endeavour, and that I may discharge the duties
of my calling with tranquillity and constancy. Take not, O God, Thy holy
Spirit from me: but grant that I may so direct my life by Thy holy laws,
as that, when Thou shalt call me hence, I may pass by a holy and happy
death to a life of everlasting and unchangeable joy, for the sake of
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

'I went to bed (at) one or later; but did not sleep, tho' I knew not

'Easter Day, March 30, 1766.--I rose in the morning. Prayed. Took my
prayer book to tea; drank tea; planned my devotion for the church. I
think prayed again. Went to church, was early. Went through the prayers
with fixed attention. Could not hear the sermon. After sermon, applied
myself to devotion. Troubled with Baxter's scruple, which was quieted as
I returned home. It occurred to me that the scruple itself was its own

'I used the prayer against scruples in the foregoing page in the pew,
and commended (so far as it was lawful) Tetty, dear Tetty, in a prayer
by herself, then my other friends. What collects I do not exactly
remember. I gave a shilling. I then went towards the altar that I might
hear the service. The communicants were more than I ever saw. I kept
back; used again the foregoing prayer; again commended Tetty, and lifted
up my heart for the rest. I prayed in the collect for the fourteen S.
after Trinity for encrease of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and deliverance
from scruples; this deliverance was the chief subject of my prayers. O
God, hear me. I am now to try to conquer them. After reception I
repeated my petition, and again when I came home. My dinner made me a
little peevish; not much. After dinner I retired, and read in an hour
and a half the seven first chapters of St. Matthew in Greek. Glory be to
God. God grant me to proceed and improve, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

'I went to Evening Prayers, and was undisturbed. At church in the
morning it occurred to me to consider about example of good any of my
friends had set me. This is proper, in order to the thanks returned for
their good examples.

'My attainment of rising gives me comfort and hope. O God, for Jesus
Christ's sake, bless me. Amen.

'After church, before and after dinner, I read Rotheram on Faith.

'After evening prayer I retired, and wrote this account.

'I then repeated the prayer of the day, with collects, and my prayer for
night, and went down to supper at near ten.

'May 4,--66. I have read since the noon of Easter day the Gospels of St.
Matthew and St. Mark in Greek.

'I have read Xenophon's Cyropaidia.'


       *       *       *       *       *

(_Page_ 312.)

Johnson's sentiments towards his fellow-subjects in America have never,
so far as I know, been rightly stated. It was not because they fought
for liberty that he had come to dislike them. A man who, 'bursting forth
with a generous indignation, had said:--"The Irish are in a most
unnatural state; for we see there the minority prevailing over the
majority"' (_ante_, ii. 255), was not likely to wish that our
plantations should be tyrannically governed. The man who, 'in company
with some very grave men at Oxford, gave as his toast, "Here's to the
next insurrection of the negroes in the West Indies"' (_post_, iii.
200), was not likely to condemn insurrections in general. The key to his
feelings is found in his indignant cry, 'How is it that we hear the
loudest _yelps_ for liberty among the drivers of negroes?' (_Ib_) He
hated slavery as perhaps no man of his time hated it. While the Quakers,
who were almost the pioneers in the Anti-slavery cause, were still
slave-holders and slave-dealers, he lifted up his voice against it. So
early as 1740, when Washington was but a child of eight, he had
maintained 'the natural right of the negroes to liberty and
independence.' (_Works_, vi. 313.) In 1756 he described Jamaica as 'a
place of great wealth and dreadful wickedness, a den of tyrants and a
dungeon of slaves.' (_Ib_ vi. 130.) In 1759 he wrote:--'Of black men the
numbers are too great who are now repining under English cruelty.' (_Ib_
iv. 407.) In the same year, in describing the cruelty of the Portuguese
discoverers, he said:--'We are openly told that they had the less
scruple concerning their treatment of the savage people, because they
scarcely considered them as distinct from beasts; and indeed, the
practice of all the European nations, and among others of the _English
barbarians that cultivate the southern islands of America_, proves that
this opinion, however absurd and foolish, however wicked and injurious,
still continues to prevail. Interest and pride harden the heart, and it
is in vain to dispute against avarice and power.' (_Ib_ v. 218.) No
miserable sophistry could convince him, with his clear mind and his
ardour for liberty, that slavery can be right. 'An individual,' he wrote
(_post_, iii. 202), 'may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he
cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children.' How deeply he
felt for the wrongs done to helpless races is shown in his dread of
discoverers. No man had a more eager curiosity, or more longed that the
bounds of knowledge should be enlarged. Yet he wrote:--'I do not much
wish well to discoveries, for I am always afraid they will end in
conquest and robbery.' (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 248.) In his _Life of
Savage_, written in 1744, he said (_Works_, viii. 156):--'Savage has not
forgotten ... to censure those crimes which have been generally
committed by the discoverers of new regions, and to expose the enormous
wickedness of making war upon barbarous nations because they cannot
resist, and of invading countries because they are fruitful.... He has
asserted the natural equality of mankind, and endeavoured to suppress
that pride which inclines men to imagine that right is the consequence
of power.' He loved the University of Salamanca, because it gave it as
its opinion that the conquest of America by the Spaniards was not lawful
(_ante_, i. 455). When, in 1756, the English and French were at war in
America, he said that 'such was the contest that no honest man could
heartily wish success to either party.... It was only the quarrel of two
robbers for the spoils of a passenger' (_ante_, i. 308, note 2). When,
from political considerations, opposition was raised in 1766 to the
scheme of translating the Bible into Erse, he wrote:--'To omit for a
year, or for a day, the most efficacious method of advancing
Christianity, in compliance with any purposes that terminate on this
side of the grave, is a crime of which I know not that the world has yet
had an example, except in the practice of the planters of America--a
race of mortals whom, I suppose, no other man wishes to resemble'
(_ante_, ii. 27). Englishmen, as a nation, had no right to reproach
their fellow-subjects in America with being drivers of negroes; for
England shared in the guilt and the gain of that infamous traffic. Nay,
even as the Virginian delegates to Congress in 1774 complained:--'Our
repeated attempts to exclude all further importations of slaves from
Africa by prohibition, and by imposing duties which might amount to
prohibition, have hitherto been defeated by his Majesty's negative--thus
preferring the immediate advantages of a few British corsairs to the
lasting interests of the American States, and to the rights of human
nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice.' Bright's _Speeches_,
ed. 1869, i. 171. Franklin (_Memoirs_, ed. 1818, iii. 17), writing from
London in 1772, speaks of 'the hypocrisy of this country, which
encourages such a detestable commerce by laws for promoting the Guinea
trade; while it piqued itself on its virtue, love of liberty, and the
equity of its courts in setting free a single negro.' From the slightest
stain of this hypocrisy Johnson was free. He, at all events, had a right
to protest against 'the yelps' of those who, while they solemnly
asserted that among the unalienable rights of all men are liberty and
the pursuit of happiness, yet themselves were drivers of negroes.


[1] Had he been 'busily employed' he would, no doubt, have finished the
edition in a few months. He himself had recorded at Easter, 1765: 'My
time has been unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream that has left
nothing behind.' _Pr. and Med_., p. 61.

[2] Dedications had been commonly used as a means of getting money by
flattery. I. D'Israeli in his _Calamities of Authors_, i. 64,
says:--'Fuller's _Church History_ is disgraced by twelve particular
dedications. It was an expedient to procure dedication fees; for
publishing books by subscription was an art not yet discovered.' The
price of the dedication of a play was, he adds, in the time of George I,
twenty guineas. So much then, at least, Johnson lost by not dedicating
_Irene_. However, when he addressed the _Plan of his Dictionary_ to Lord
Chesterfield (_ante_, i. 183) he certainly came very near a dedication.
Boswell, in the _Hypochondriack_, writes:--'For my own part, I own I am
proud enough. But I do not relish the stateliness of not dedicating at
all. I prefer pleasure to pride, and it appears to me that there is much
pleasure in honestly expressing one's admiration, esteem, or affection
in a public manner, and in thus contributing to the happiness of another
by making him better pleased with himself.' _London Mag_. for 1782, p.
454. His dedications were dedications of friendship, not of flattery or
servility. He dedicated his _Tour to Corsica_ to Paoli, his _Tour to the
Hebrides_ to Malone, and his _Life of Johnson_ to Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Goldsmith, in like manner, distrest though he so often was, dedicated
his _Traveller_ to his brother, the _Deserted Village_ to Sir Joshua,
and _She Stoops to Conquer_ to Johnson.

[3] A passage in Boswell's letter to Malone of Jan. 29, 1791 (Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 829), shows that it is Reynolds of whom he is writing. 'I
am,' he writes, 'to cancel a leaf of the first volume, having found that
though Sir Joshua certainly assured me he had no objection to my
mentioning that Johnson wrote a dedication for him, he now thinks
otherwise. In that leaf occurs the mention of Johnson having written to
Dr. Leland, thanking the University of Dublin for their diploma.' In the
first edition, this mention of the letter is followed by the passage
above about dedications. It was no doubt Reynolds's _Dedication of his
Discourses_ to the King in the year 1778 that Johnson wrote. The first
sentence is in a high degree Johnsonian. 'The regular progress of
cultivated life is from necessaries to accommodations, from
accommodations to ornaments.'

[4] 'That is to say,' he added, 'to the last generation of the Royal
Family.' See _post_, April 15, 1773. We may hope that the Royal Family
were not all like the Duke of Gloucester, who, when Gibbon brought him
the second volume of the _Decline and Fall_, 'received him with much
good nature and affability, saying to him, as he laid the quarto on the
table, "Another d----d thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble,
scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?"' Best's _Memorials_, p. 68.

[5] Such care was needless. Boswell complained (_post_, June 24, 1774),
that Johnson did not _answer_ his letters, but only sent him _returns_.

[6] 'On one of the days that my ague disturbed me least, I walked from
the convent to Corte, purposely to write a letter to Mr. Samuel Johnson.
I told my revered friend, that from a kind of superstition agreeable in
a certain degree to him as well as to myself, I had, during my travels,
written to him from Loca Solennia, places in some measure sacred. That,
as I had written to him from the tomb of Melancthon (see _post_, June
28, 1777), sacred to learning and piety, I now wrote to him from the
palace of Pascal Paoli, sacred to wisdom and liberty.' Boswell's _Tour
to Corsica_, p. 218. How delighted would Boswell have been had he lived
to see the way in which he is spoken of by the biographer of Paoli: 'En
traversant la Méditerranée sur de frêles navires pour venir s'asseoir au
foyer de la nationalité Corse, _des hommes graves_ tels que Boswel et
Volney obéissaient sans doute à un sentiment bien plus élevé qu' au
besoin vulgaire d'une puerile curiosité.' _Histoire de Pascal Paoli_,
par A. Arrighi, i. 231. By every Corsican of any education the name of
Boswell is known and honoured. One of them told me that it was in
Boswell's pages that Paoli still lived for them. He informed me also of
a family which still preserved by tradition the remembrance of Boswell's
visit to their ancestral home.

[7] The twelve following lines of this letter were published by Boswell
in his _Corsica_ (p. 219) without Johnson's leave. (See _post_, March
23, 1768.) Temple, to whom the book had been shewn before publication,
had, it should seem, advised Boswell to omit this extract. Boswell
replied:--'Your remarks are of great service to me ... but I must have
my great preceptor, Mr. Johnson, introduced.' _Letters of Boswell_, p.
122. In writing to excuse himself to Johnson (_post_, April 26, 1768),
he says, 'the temptation to publishing it was so strong.'

[8] 'Tell your Court,' said Paoli to Boswell, 'what you have seen here.
They will be curious to ask you. A man come from Corsica will be like a
man come from the Antipodes.' Boswell's _Corsica_, p. 188. He was not
indeed the first 'native of this country' to go there. He found in
Bastia 'an English woman of Penrith, in Cumberland. When the Highlanders
marched through that country in the year 1745, she had married a soldier
of the French picquets in the very midst of all the confusion and
danger, and when she could hardly understand one word he said.' _Ib_, p.
226. Boswell nowhere quotes Mrs. Barbauld's fine lines on Corsica.
Perhaps he was ashamed of the praise of the wife of 'a little
Presbyterian parson who kept an infant boarding school.' (See _post_,
under Dec. 17, 1775.) Yet he must have been pleased when he read:--

'Such were the working thoughts which swelled the breast
Of generous Boswell; when with nobler aim
And views beyond the narrow beaten track
By trivial fancy trod, he turned his course
From polished Gallia's soft delicious vales,' &c.

Mrs. Barbauld's _Poems_, i. 2.

[9] Murphy, in the _Monthly Review_, lxxvi. 376, thus describes
Johnson's life in Johnson's Court after he had received his pension.
'His friend Levett, his physician in ordinary, paid his daily visits
with assiduity; attended at all hours, made tea all the morning, talked
what he had to say, and did not expect an answer; or, if occasion
required it, was mute, officious, and ever complying.... There Johnson
sat every morning, receiving visits, hearing the topics of the day, and
indolently trifling away the time. Chymistry afforded some amusement.'
Hawkins (_Life_, p. 452), says:--'An upper room, which had the
advantages of a good light and free air, he fitted up for a study. A
silver standish and some useful plate, which he had been prevailed on to
accept as pledges of kindness from some who most esteemed him, together
with furniture that would not have disgraced a better dwelling, banished
those appearances of squalid indigence which, in his less happy days,
disgusted those who came to see him.' Some of the plate Johnson had
bought. See _post_, April 15, 1781.

[10] It is remarkable, that Mr. Gray has employed somewhat the same
image to characterise Dryden. He, indeed, furnishes his car with but two
horses, but they are of 'ethereal race':

'Behold where Dryden's less presumptuous car,
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder cloath'd, and long resounding pace.'

_Ode on the Progress of Poesy_. BOSWELL. In the '_Life of Pope (Works_,
viii. 324) Johnson says:--'The style of Dryden is capricious and varied;
that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden obeys the motions of his
own mind; Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition.
Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform,
and gentle.'

[11] In the original _laws or kings_.


'The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.'

_Paradise Lost_, i. 254.

'Caelum, non animum, mutant qui
trans mare current.'

Horace, _Epis_. i. II. 27. See also _ante_, i. 381. note 2.

[13] 'I once inadvertently put him,' wrote Reynolds, 'in a situation
from which none but a man of perfect integrity could extricate himself.
I pointed at some lines in _The Traveller_ which I told him I was sure
he wrote. He hesitated a little; during this hesitation I recollected
myself, that, as I knew he would not lie, I put him in a cleft-stick,
and should have had but my due if he had given me a rough answer; but he
only said, 'Sir, I did not write them, but that you may not imagine that
I have wrote more than I really have, the utmost I have wrote in that
poem, to the best of my recollection, is not more than eighteen lines.
[Nine seems the actual number.] It must be observed there was then an
opinion about town that Dr. Johnson wrote the whole poem for his friend,
who was then in a manner an unknown writer.' Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii.
458. See also _post_, April 9, 1778. For each line of _The Traveller_
Goldsmith was paid 11-1/4d. (_ante_, i. 193, note), Johnson's present,
therefore, of nine lines was, if reckoned in money, worth 8/5-1/4.

[14] See _ante_, i. 194, note.

[15] _Respublica et Status Regni Hungariae. Ex Officina Elzeviriana_,
1634, p. 136. This work belongs to the series of _Republics_ mentioned
by Johnson, _post_, under April 29, 1776.

[16] '"Luke" had been taken simply for the euphony of the line. He was
one of two brothers, Dosa.... The origin of the mistake [of Zeck for
Dosa] is curious. The two brothers belonged to one of the native races
of Transylvania called Szeklers or Zecklers, which descriptive addition
follows their names in the German biographical authorities; and this,
through abridgment and misapprehension, in subsequent books came at last
to be substituted for the family name.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 370.
The iron crown was not the worst of the tortures inflicted.

[17] See _post_, April 15, 1781. In 1748 Johnson had written (_Works_,
v. 231): 'At a time when so many schemes of education have been
projected.... so many schools opened for general knowledge, and so many
lectures in particular sciences attended.' Goldsmith, in his _Life of
Nash_ (published in 1762), describes the lectures at Bath 'on the arts
and sciences which are frequently taught there in a pretty, superficial
manner so as not to tease the understanding while they afford the
imagination some amusement.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv 59.

[18] Perhaps Gibbon had read this passage at the time when he wrote in
his Memoirs:--'It has indeed been observed, nor is the observation
absurd, that, excepting in experimental sciences which demand a costly
apparatus and a dexterous hand, the many valuable treatises that have
been published on every subject of learning may now supersede the
ancient mode of oral instruction.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 50. See
_post_, March 20, 1776, note.

[19] See _ante_, i. 103.

[20] Baretti was in Italy at the same time as Boswell. That they met
seems to be shewn by a passage in Boswell's letter (_post_, Nov. 6,
1766). Malone wrote of him:--'He appears to be an infidel.' Prior's
_Malone_, p. 399.

[21] Lord Charlemont records (_Life_, i. 235) that 'Mrs. Mallet, meeting
Hume at an assembly, boldly accosted him in these words:--"Mr. Hume,
give me leave to introduce myself to you; we deists ought to know each
other." "Madame," replied Hume, "I am no deist. I do not style myself
so, neither do I desire to be known by that appellation."' Hume, in 1763
or 1764, wrote to Dr. Blair about the men of letters at Paris:--'It
would give you and Robertson great satisfaction to find that there is
not a single deist among them.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 181. There
was no deist, I suppose, because they were all atheists. Romilly
(_Life_, i. 179) records the following anecdote, which he had from
Diderot in 1781:--'Hume dìna avec une grande compagnie chez le Baron
d'Holbach. Il était assis à côté du Baron; on parla de la religion
naturelle. "Pour les Athées," disait Hume, "je ne crois pas qu'il en
existe; je n'en ai jamais vu." "Vous avez été un peu malheureux,"
répondit l'autre, "vous voici à table avec dix-sept pour la première
fois."' It was on the same day that Diderot related this that he said to
Romilly, 'Il faut _sabrer_ la théologie.'

[22] 'The inference upon the whole is, that it is not from the value or
worth of the object which any person pursues that we can determine his
enjoyment; but merely from the passion with which he pursues it, and the
success which he meets with in his pursuit. Objects have absolutely no
worth or value in themselves. They derive their worth merely from the
passion. If that be strong and steady and successful, the person is
happy. It cannot reasonably be doubted but a little miss, dressed in a
new gown for a dancing-school ball, receives as complete enjoyment as
the greatest orator, who triumphs in the splendour of his eloquence,
while he governs the passions and resolutions of a numerous assembly.'
Hume's _Essays_, i. 17 (_The Sceptic_). Pope had written in the _Essay
on Man_ (iv. 57):

'Condition, circumstance, is not the thing;
Bliss is the same in subject or in King.'

See also _post_, April 15, 1778.

[23] In _Boswelliana_, p. 220, a brief account is given of his life,
which was not altogether uneventful.

[24] We may compare with this what he says in _The Rambler_, No. 21,
about the 'cowardice which always encroaches fast upon such as spend
their time in the company of persons higher than themselves.' In No. 104
he writes:--'It is dangerous for mean minds to venture themselves within
the sphere of greatness.' In the court that Boswell many years later
paid to Lord Lonsdale, he suffered all the humiliations that the
brutality of this petty greatness can inflict. _Letters of Boswell_, p.
324. See also _post_, Sept. 22, 1777.

[25] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 19, 1773.

[26] Johnson (_Works_, ix. 107) thus sums up his examination of
second-sight:--'There is against it, the seeming analogy of things
confusedly seen, and little understood; and for it, the indistinct cry
of natural persuasion, which may be, perhaps, resolved at last into
prejudice and tradition. I never could advance my curiosity to
conviction; but came away at last only willing to believe.' See also
_post_, March 24, 1775. Hume said of the evidence in favour of
second-sight--:'As finite added to finite never approaches a hair's
breadth nearer to infinite, so a fact incredible in itself acquires not
the smallest accession of probability by the accumulation of testimony.'
J. H. Burton's Hume, i. 480.

[27] 'I love anecdotes,' said Johnson. Boswell's _Hebridge_, Aug. 16,
1773. Boswell said that 'Johnson always condemned the word _anecdotes_,
as used in the sense that the French, and we from them, use it, as
signifying particulars.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 311. In his
_Dictionary_, he defined '_Anecdotes_ Something yet unpublished; secret
history.' In the fourth edition he added: 'It is now used, after the
French, for a biographical incident; a minute passage of private life.'

[28] See _ante_, July 19, 1763.

[29] Boswell, writing to Wilkes in 1776, said:--'Though we differ widely
in religion and politics, _il y a des points ou nos ames sont animes_,
as Rouseau said to me in his wild retreat.' Almon's _Wilkes_, iv. 319.

[30] Rousseau fled from France in 1762. A few days later his arrest was
ordered at Geneva. He fled from Neufchatel in 1763, and soon afterwards
he was banished from Berne. _Nonev. Biog. Gen., Xlii. 750_. He had come
to England with David Hume a few weeks before this conversation was
held, and was at this time in Chiswick. Hume's _Private Corres_.,
pp. 125, 145.

[31] Rousseau had by this time published his _Nouvelle Helloise_ and

[32] Less than three months after the date of this conversation Rousseau
wrote to General Conway, one of the Secretaries of State, thanking him
for the pension which George III proposed secretly to confer on him.
Hume's _Private Corres_., p. 165. Miss Burney, in her preface to
_Evelina_, a novel which was her introduction to Johnson's strong
affection, mentioning Rousseau and Johnson, adds in a footnote:--
'However superior the capacities in which these great writers deserve to
be considered, they must pardon me that, for the dignity of my subject,
I here rank the authors of _Rasselas_ and _Eloïse_ as novelists.'

[33] Rousseau thus wrote of himself:

'Dieu est juste; il veut que je souffre; et il sait que je suis
innocent. Voilà le motif de ma confiance, mon coeur et ma raison me
crient qu'elle ne me trompera pas. Laissons donc faire les hommes et la
destinée; apprenons à souffrir sans murmure; tout doit à la fin rentrer
dans Fordre, et mon tour viendra tôt ou tard.' Rousseau's _Works_,
xx. 223.

[34] 'He entertained me very courteously,' wrote Boswell in his
_Corsica_, p. 140.

[35] In this preference Boswell pretended at times to share. See _post_,
Sept. 30, 1769.

[36] Johnson seems once to have held this view to some extent; for,
writing of Savage's poem _On Public Spirit_, he says (_Works_, viii.
156):--'He has asserted the natural equality of mankind, and endeavoured
to suppress that pride which inclines men to imagine that right is the
consequence of power.' See also _post_, Sept. 23, 1777, where he
asserts:--'It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original
state were equal.' For the opposite opinion, see _ante_, June 25, 1763.

[37] 'Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes.' 'Manners and towns of
various nations viewed.' FRANCIS. Horace, _Ars Poetica_, 1. 142.

[38] By the time Boswell was twenty-six years old he could boast that he
had made the acquaintance of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Paoli among
foreigners; and of Adam Smith, Robertson, Hume, Johnson, Goldsmith,
Garrick, Horace Walpole, Wilkes, and perhaps Reynolds, among Englishmen.
He had twice at least received a letter from the Earl of Chatham.

[39] In such passages as this we may generally assume that the
gentleman, whose name is not given, is Boswell himself. See _ante_, i.
4, and _post_, Oct. 16, 1769.

[40] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's 'Collection,' where this
assertion is called 'his usual remark.'

[41] See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[42] These two words may be observed as marks of Mr. Boswell's accuracy.
It is a jocular Irish phrase, which, of all Johnson's acquaintances, no
one probably, but Goldsmith, would have used.--CROKER.

[43] See _ante_, May 24, 1763.

[44] Johnson's best justification for the apparent indolences of the
latter part of his life may be found in his own words: 'Every man of
genius has some arts of fixing the attention peculiar to himself, by
which, honestly exerted, he may benefit mankind.... To the position of
Tully, that if virtue could be seen she must be loved, may be added,
that if truth could be heard she must be obeyed.' _The Rambler_, No. 87.
He fixed the attention best by his talk. For 'the position of Tully,'
see _post_, March 19, 1776.

[45] See _ante_, i. 192, and _post_, May 1, 1783. Goldsmith wrote _The
Traveller and Deserted Village_ on a very different plan. 'To save
himself the trouble of transcription, he wrote the lines in his first
copy very wide, and would so fill up the intermediate space with
reiterated corrections, that scarcely a word of his first effusions was
left unaltered.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 113.

[46] Mrs. Thrale in a letter to Dr. Johnson, said:--'Don't sit making
verses that never will be written.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 183. Baretti
noted opposite this in the margin of his copy: 'Johnson was always
making Latin or English verses in his mind, but never would write
them down.'

[47] Burke entered Parliament as member for Wendover borough on Jan.
14th, 1766. William Burke, writing to Barry the artist on the following
March 23, says:--'Ned's success has exceeded our most sanguine hopes;
all at once he has darted into fame. He is full of real business, intent
upon doing real good to his country, as much as if he was to receive
twenty per cent. from the commerce of the whole empire, which he labours
to improve and extend.' Barry's _Works_, i. 42.

[48] It was of these speeches that Macaulay wrote:--'The House of
Commons heard Pitt for the last time and Burke for the first time, and
was in doubt to which of them the palm of eloquence should be assigned.
It was indeed a splendid sunset and a splendid dawn.' Macaulay's
_Essays_ (edition 1874), iv. 330.

[49] See _post_, March 20, 1776.

[50] Boswell has already stated (_ante_, Oct. 1765) that Johnson's
_Shakespeare_ was 'virulently attacked' by Kenrick. No doubt there were
other attacks and rejoinders too.

[51] Two days earlier he had drawn up a prayer on entering _Novum
Museum_. _Pr. and Med_., p. 69.

[52] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[53] _Dictionarium Saxonico et Gothico-Latinum_. London, 1772. Lye died
in 1767. O. Manning completed the work.

[54] See Appendix A.

[55] Mr. Langton's uncle. BOSWELL.

[56] The place of residence of Mr. Peregrine Langton. BOSWELL.

[57] Mr. Langton did not disregard this counsel, but wrote the following
account, which he has been pleased to communicate to me:

'The circumstances of Mr. Peregrine Langton were these. He had an
annuity for life of two hundred pounds _per annum_. He resided in a
village in Lincolnshire; the rent of his house, with two or three small
fields, was twenty-eight pounds; the county he lived in was not more
than moderately cheap; his family consisted of a sister, who paid him
eighteen pounds annually for her board, and a niece. The servants were
two maids, and two men in livery. His common way of living, at his
table, was three or four dishes; the appurtenances to his table were
neat and handsome; he frequently entertained company at dinner, and then
his table was well served with as many dishes as were usual at the
tables of the other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. His own appearance,
as to clothes, was genteelly neat and plain. He had always a
post-chaise, and kept three horses.

'Such, with the resources I have mentioned, was his way of living, which
he did not suffer to employ his whole income: for he had always a sum of
money lying by him for any extraordinary expences that might arise. Some
money he put into the stocks; at his death, the sum he had there
amounted to one hundred and fifty pounds. He purchased out of his income
his household-furniture and linen, of which latter he had a very ample
store; and, as I am assured by those that had very good means of
knowing, not less than the tenth part of his income was set apart for
charity: at the time of his death, the sum of twenty-five pounds was
found, with a direction to be employed in such uses.

'He had laid down a plan of living proportioned to his income, and did
not practise any extraordinary degree of parsimony, but endeavoured that
in his family there should be plenty without waste; as an instance that
this was his endeavour, it may be worth while to mention a method he
took in regulating a proper allowance of malt liquor to be drunk in his
family, that there might not be a deficiency, or any intemperate
profusion: On a complaint made that his allowance of a hogshead in a
month, was not enough for his own family, he ordered the quantity of a
hogshead to be put into bottles, had it locked up from the servants, and
distributed out, every day, eight quarts, which is the quantity each day
at one hogshead in a month; and told his servants, that if that did not
suffice, he would allow them more; but, by this method, it appeared at
once that the allowance was much more than sufficient for his small
family; and this proved a clear conviction, that could not be answered,
and saved all future dispute. He was, in general, very diligently and
punctually attended and obeyed by his servants; he was very considerate
as to the injunctions he gave, and explained them distinctly; and, at
their first coming to his service, steadily exacted a close compliance
with them, without any remission; and the servants finding this to be
the case, soon grew habitually accustomed to the practice of their
business, and then very little further attention was necessary. On
extraordinary instances of good behaviour, or diligent service, he was
not wanting in particular encouragements and presents above their wages;
it is remarkable that he would permit their relations to visit them, and
stay at his house two or three days at a time.

'The wonder, with most that hear an account of his œconomy, will be, how
he was able, with such an income, to do so much, especially when it is
considered that he paid for everything he had; he had no land, except
the two or three small fields which I have said he rented; and, instead
of gaining any thing by their produce, I have reason to think he lost by
them; however, they furnished him with no further assistance towards his
housekeeping, than grass for his horses, (not hay, for that I know he
bought,) and for two cows. Every Monday morning he settled his family
accounts, and so kept up a constant attention to the confining his
expences within his income; and to do it more exactly, compared those
expences with a computation he had made, how much that income would
afford him every week and day of the year. One of his œconomical
practices was, as soon as any repair was wanting in or about his house,
to have it immediately performed. When he had money to spare, he chose
to lay in a provision of linen or clothes, or any other necessaries; as
then, he said, he could afford it, which he might not be so well able to
do when the actual want came; in consequence of which method, he had a
considerable supply of necessary articles lying by him, beside what was
in use.

'But the main particular that seems to have enabled him to do so much
with his income, was, that he paid for every thing as soon as he had it,
except, alone, what were current accounts, such as rent for his house
and servants’ wages; and these he paid at the stated times with the
utmost exactness. He gave notice to the tradesmen of the neighbouring
market-towns that they should no longer have his custom, if they let any
of his servants have anything without their paying for it. Thus he put
it out of his power to commit those imprudences to which those are
liable that defer their payments by using their money some other way
than where it ought to go. And whatever money he had by him, he knew
that it was not demanded elsewhere, but that he might safely employ it
as he pleased.

'His example was confined, by the sequestered place of his abode, to the
observation of few, though his prudence and virtue would have made it
valuable to all who could have known it. These few particulars, which I
knew myself, or have obtained from those who lived with him, may afford
instruction, and be an incentive to that wise art of living, which he so
successfully practiced.’ BOSWELL

[58] Of his being in the chair of THE LITERARY CLUB, which at this time
met once a week in the evening. BOSWELL. See _ante_, Feb. 1764, note.

[59] See _post_, Feb. 1767, where he told the King that 'he must now
read to acquire more knowledge.'

[60] The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction. BOSWELL.

[61] The censure of my Latin relates to the Dedication, which was as

           LABENTE SECULO,
            SEMPER MEMORI,

           JAM LEGATO;




                D. D. C Q.


[62] See _ante_, i. 211.

[63] See _post_, May 19, 1778.

[64] This alludes to the first sentence of the _Proæmium_ of my Thesis.
'JURISPRUDENTÆ studio nullum uberius, nullum generosius: in legibus enim
agitandis, populorum mores, variasque fortunæ vices ex quibus leges
oriuntur, contemplari simul solemus_' BOSWELL.

[65] 'Mr. Boswell,' says Malone, 'professed the Scotch and the English
law; but had never taken very great pains on the subject. His father,
Lord Auchinleck, told him one day, that it would cost him more trouble
to hide his ignorance in these professions than to show his knowledge.
This Boswell owned he had found to be true.' _European Magazine_, 1798,
p. 376. Boswell wrote to Temple in 1775:--'You are very kind in saying
that I may overtake you in learning. Believe me though that I have a
kind of impotency of study.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 181.

[66] This is a truth that Johnson often enforced. 'Very few,' said the
poet; 'live by choice: every man is placed in his present condition by
causes which acted without his foresight, and with which he did not
always willingly co-operate.' _Rasselas_, chap. 16. 'To him that lives
well,' answered the hermit, 'every form of life is good; nor can I give
any other rule for choice than to remove from all apparent evil.' _Ib_,
chap. 21. 'Young man,' said Omar, 'it is of little use to form plans of
life.' _The Idler_, No. 101.

[67] 'Hace sunt quae nostra _liceat_ te voce moneri.' _Aeneid_, iii.

[68] The passage omitted explained the transaction to which the
preceding letter had alluded. BOSWELL.

[69] See _ante_, June 10, 1761.

[70] Mr. Croker says:--'It was by visiting Chambers, when a fellow of
University College, that Johnson became acquainted with Lord Stowell [at
that time William Scott]; and when Chambers went to India, Lord Stowell,
as he expressed it to me, seemed to succeed to his place in Johnson's
friendship.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 90, note. John Scott (Earl of
Eldon), Sir William Jones and Mr. Windham, were also members of
University College. The hall is adorned with the portraits of these five
men. An engraving of Johnson is in the Common Room.

[71] It is not easy to discover anything noble or even felicitous in
this Dedication. _Works_, v. 444.

[72] See _ante_, i. 148.

[73] See _ante_, i. 177, note 2.

[74] See _ante_, i. 158.

[75] See _ante_, i. 178, note 2.

[76] This poem is scarcely Johnson's, though all the lines but the third
in the following couplets may be his.

Whose life not sunk in sloth is free from care,
Nor tost by change, nor stagnant in despair;
Who with wise authors pass the instructive day
And wonder how the moments stole away;
Who not retired beyond the sight of life
Behold its weary cares, its noisy strife.'

[77] Johnson's additions to these three poems are not at all evident.

[78] In a note to the poem it is stated that Miss Williams, when, before
her blindness, she was assisting Mr. Grey in his experiments, was the
first that observed the emission of the electrical spark from a human
body. The best lines are the following:--

Now, hoary Sage, purse thy happy flight,
With swifter motion haste to purer light,
Where Bacon waits with Newton and with Boyle
To hail thy genius, and applaud thy toil;
Where intuition breaks through time and space,
And mocks experiment's successive race;
Sees tardy Science toil at Nature's laws,
And wonders how th' effect obscures the cause.
Yet not to deep research or happy guess
Is owed the life of hope, the death of peace.'

[79] A gentleman, writing from Virginia to John Wesley, in 1735, about
the need of educating the negro slaves in religion, says:--'Their
masters generally neglect them, as though immortality was not the
privilege of their souls in common with their own.' Wesley's _Journal_,
II. 288. But much nearer home Johnson might have found this criminal
enforcement of ignorance. Burke, writing in 1779, about the Irish,
accuses the legislature of 'condemning a million and a half of people to
ignorance, according to act of parliament.' Burke's _Corres_. ii. 294.

[80] See _post_, March 21, 1775, and Appendix.

[81] Johnson said very finely:--'Languages are the pedigree of nations.'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 18, 1773.

[82] The Rev. Mr. John Campbell, Minister of the Parish of Kippen, near
Stirling, who has lately favoured me with a long, intelligent, and very
obliging letter upon this work, makes the following remark:--'Dr.
Johnson has alluded to the worthy man employed in the translation of the
New Testament. Might not this have afforded you an opportunity of paying
a proper tribute of respect to the memory of the Rev. Mr. James Stuart,
late Minister of Killin, distinguished by his eminent Piety, Learning
and Taste? The amiable simplicity of his life, his warm benevolence, his
indefatigable and successful exertions for civilizing and improving the
Parish of which he was Minister for upwards of fifty years, entitle him
to the gratitude of his country, and the veneration of all good men. It
certainly would be a pity, if such a character should be permitted to
sink into oblivion.' BOSWELL.

[83] Seven years later Johnson received from the Society some religious
works in Erse. See post, June 24, 1774. Yet in his journey to the
Hebrides, in 1773 (Works, ix. 101), he had to record of the parochial
schools in those islands that 'by the rule of their institution they
teach _only_ English, so that the natives read a language which they may
never use or understand,'

[84] This paragraph shews Johnson's real estimation of the character and
abilities of the celebrated Scottish Historian, however lightly, in a
moment of caprice, he may have spoken of his works. BOSWELL.

[85] See _ante_, i. 210.

[86] This is the person concerning whom Sir John Hawkins has thrown out
very unwarrantable reflections both against Dr. Johnson and Mr. Francis
Barber. BOSWELL. See _post_, under Oct. 20, 1784. In 1775, Heely, it
appears, applied through Johnson for the post that was soon to be vacant
of 'master of the tap' at Ranelagh House. 'He seems,' wrote Johnson, in
forwarding his letter of application, 'to have a genius for an
alehouse.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 210. See also _post_, Aug. 12, 1784.

[87] See an account of him in the _European Magazine_, Jan. 1786.
BOSWELL. There we learn that he was in his time a grammar-school usher,
actor, poet, the puffing partner in a quack medicine, and tutor to a
youthful Earl. He was suspected of levying blackmail by threats of
satiric publications, and he suffered from a disease which rendered him
an object almost offensive to sight. He was born in 1738 or 1739, and
died in 1771.

[88] It was republished in _The Repository_, ii. 227, edition of 1790.

[89] The Hon. Thomas Hervey, whose _Letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer_ in 1742
was much read at that time. He was the second son of John, first Earl of
Bristol, and one of the brothers of Johnson's early friend Henry Hervey.
He died Jan. 20, 1775. MALONE. See _post_, April 6, 1775.

[90] See _post_, under Sept. 22, 1777, for another story told by
Beauclerk against Johnson of a Mr. Hervey.

[91] Essays published in the _Daily Gazetteer_ and afterwards collected
into two vols. _Gent. Mag_. for 1748, P. 48.

[92] Mr. Croker regrets that Johnson employed his pen for hire in
Hervey's 'disgusting squabbles,' and in a long note describes Hervey's
letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer with whose wife he had eloped. But the
attack to which Johnson was hired to reply was not made by Hanmer, but,
as was supposed, by Sir C. H. Williams. Because a man has wronged
another, he is not therefore to submit to the attacks of a third.
Williams, moreover, it must be remembered, was himself a man of
licentious character.

[93] Buckingham House, bought in 1761, by George III, and settled on
Queen Charlotte. The present Buckingham Palace occupies the site. P.
CUNNINGHAM. Here, according to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 470), Johnson met the
Prince of Wales (George IV.) when a child, 'and enquired as to his
knowledge of the Scriptures; the prince in his answers gave him great
satisfaction.' Horace Walpole, writing of the Prince at the age of
nineteen, says (_Journal of the Reign of George III_, ii.
503):--'Nothing was coarser than his conversation and phrases; and it
made men smile to find that in the palace of piety and pride his Royal
Highness had learnt nothing but the dialect of footmen and grooms.'

[94] Dr. Johnson had the honour of contributing his assistance towards
the formation of this library; for I have read a long letter from him to
Mr. Barnard, giving the most masterly instructions on the subject. I
wished much to have gratified my readers with the perusal of this
letter, and have reason to think that his Majesty would have been
graciously pleased to permit its publication; but Mr. Barnard, to whom I
applied, declined it 'on his own account.' BOSWELL. It is given in Mr.
Croker's edition, p. 196.

[95] The particulars of this conversation I have been at great pains to
collect with the utmost authenticity from Dr. Johnson's own detail to
myself; from Mr. Langton who was present when he gave an account of it
to Dr. Joseph Warton, and several other friends, at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's; from Mr. Barnard; from the copy of a letter written by the
late Mr. Strahan the printer, to Bishop Warburton; and from a minute,
the original of which is among the papers of the late Sir James
Caldwell, and a copy of which was most obligingly obtained for me from
his son Sir John Caldwell, by Sir Francis Lumm. To all these gentlemen I
beg leave to make my grateful acknowledgements, and particularly to Sir
Francis Lumm, who was pleased to take a great deal of trouble, and even
had the minute laid before the King by Lord Caermarthen, now Duke of
Leeds, then one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, who
announced to Sir Francis the Royal pleasure concerning it by a letter,
in these words: 'I have the King's commands to assure you, Sir, how
sensible his Majesty is of your attention in communicating the minute of
the conversation previous to its publication. As there appears no
objection to your complying with Mr. Boswell's wishes on the subject,
you are at full liberty to deliver it to that gentleman, to make such
use of in his _Life of Dr. Johnson_, as he may think proper.' BOSWELL.
In 1790, Boswell published in a quarto sheet of eight pages _A
conversation between His Most Sacred Majesty George III. and Samuel
Johnson, LLD. Illustrated with Observations. By James Boswell, Esq.
London. Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly in the Poultry.
MDCCXC. Price Half-a-Guinea. Entered in the Hall-Book of the Company of
Stationers_. It is of the same impression as the first edition of _the
Life of Johnson_.

[96] After Michaelmas, 1766. See _ante_, ii. 25.

[97] See _post_, May, 31, 1769, note.

[98] Writing to Langton, on May 10, of the year before he had said, 'I
read more than I did. I hope something will yet come on it.' _Ante_,
ii. 20.

[99] Boswell and Goldsmith had in like manner urged him 'to continue his
labours.' See _ante_, i. 398, and ii. 15.

[100] Johnson had written to Lord Chesterfield in the _Plan of his
Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 19), 'Ausonius thought that modesty forbade him
to plead inability for a task to which Caesar had judged him
equal:--_Cur me posse negem posse quod ille pufat_?' We may compare also
a passage in Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_ (ii. 377):--'THE KING. "I believe
there is no constraint to be put upon real genius; nothing but
inclination can set it to work. Miss Burney, however, knows best." And
then hastily returning to me he cried; "What? what?" "No, sir,
I--I--believe not, certainly," quoth I, very awkwardly, for I seemed
taking a violent compliment only as my due; but I knew not how to put
him off as I would another person.'

[101] In one part of the character of Pope (_Works_, viii. 319), Johnson
seems to be describing himself:--'He certainly was in his early life a
man of great literary curiosity; and when he wrote his _Essay on
Criticism_ had for his age a very wide acquaintance with books. When he
entered into the living world, it seems to have happened to him as to
many others, that he was less attentive to dead masters; he studied in
the academy of Paracelsus, and made the universe his favourite
volume.... His frequent references to history, his allusions to various
kinds of knowledge, and his images selected from art and nature, with
his observations on the operations of the mind and the modes of life,
show an intelligence perpetually on the wing, excursive, vigorous, and
diligent, eager to pursue knowledge, and attentive to retain it.' See
_ante_, i. 57.

[102] Johnson thus describes Warburton (_Works_, viii. 288):--'About
this time [1732] Warburton began to make his appearance in the first
ranks of learning. He was a man of vigorous faculties, a mind fervid and
vehement, supplied by incessant and unlimited enquiry, with wonderful
extent and variety of knowledge.' Cradock (_Memoirs_, i. 188) says that
'Bishop Kurd always wondered where it was possible for Warburton to meet
with certain anecdotes with which not only his conversation, but
likewise his writings, abounded. "I could have readily informed him,"
said Mrs. Warburton, "for, when we passed our winters in London, he
would often, after his long and severe studies, send out for a whole
basketful of books from the circulating libraries; and at times I have
gone into his study, and found him laughing, though alone."' Lord
Macaulay was, in this respect, the Warburton of our age.

[103] The Rev. Mr. Strahan clearly recollects having been told by
Johnson, that the King observed that Pope made Warburton a Bishop.
'True, Sir, (said Johnson,) but Warburton did more for Pope; he made him
a Christian:' alluding, no doubt, to his ingenious Comments on the
_Essay on Man_. BOSWELL. The statements both of the King and Johnson are
supported by two passages in Johnson's _Life of Pope_, (_Works_, viii.
289, 290). He says of Warburton's Comments:--'Pope, who probably began
to doubt the tendency of his own work, was glad that the positions, of
which he perceived himself not to know the full meaning, could by any
mode of interpretation be made to mean well.... From this time Pope
lived in the closest intimacy with his commentator, and amply rewarded
his kindness and his zeal; for he introduced him to Mr. Murray, by whose
interest he became preacher at Lincoln's Inn; and to Mr. Allen, who gave
him his niece and his estate, and by consequence a bishoprick.' See also
the account given by Johnson, in Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.
Bishop Law in his Revised Preface to Archbishop King's _Origin of Evil_
(1781), p. xvii, writes:--'I had now the satisfaction of seeing that
those very principles which had been maintained by Archbishop King were
adopted by Mr. Pope in his Essay on Man; this I used to recollect, and
sometimes relate, with pleasure, conceiving that such an account did no
less honour to the poet than to our philosopher; but was soon made to
understand that anything of that kind was taken highly amiss by one
[Warburton] who had once held the doctrine of that same Essay to be rank
atheism, but afterwards turned a warm advocate for it, and thought
proper to deny the account above-mentioned, with heavy menaces against
those who presumed to insinuate that Pope borrowed anything from any man
whatsoever.' See _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.

[104] In Gibbon's _Memoirs_, a fine passage is quoted from Lowth's
Defence of the University of Oxford, against Warburton's reproaches. 'I
transcribe with pleasure this eloquent passage,' writes Gibbon, 'without
inquiring whether in this angry controversy the spirit of Lowth himself
is purified from the intolerant zeal which Warburton had ascribed to the
genius of the place.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 47. See BOSWELL'S
_Hebrides_, Aug. 28, 1773.

[105] See _post_, April 15, 1773, where Johnson says that Lyttelton 'in
his _History_ wrote the most vulgar Whiggism,' and April 10, 1776.
Gibbon, who had reviewed it this year, says in his _Memoirs_ (_Misc.
Works_, i. 207): 'The public has ratified my judgment of that voluminous
work, in which sense and learning are not illuminated by a ray
of genius.'

[106] Hawkins says of him (_Life_, p. 211):--'He obtained from one of
those universities which would scarce refuse a degree to an apothecary's
horse a diploma for that of doctor of physic.' He became a great
compiler and in one year earned £1500. In the end he turned
quack-doctor. He was knighted by the King of Sweden 'in return for a
present to that monarch of his _Vegetable System_.' He at least thrice
attacked Garrick (Murphy's _Garrick_, pp. 136, 189, 212), who replied
with three epigrams, of which the last is well-known:--

'For Farces and Physic his equal there scarce is;
 His Farces are Physic, his Physic a Farce is.'

Horace Walpole (_Letters_ iii. 372), writing on Jan. 3, 1761,
said:--'Would you believe, what I know is fact, that Dr. Hill earned
fifteen guineas a week by working for wholesale dealers? He was at once
employed on six voluminous works of Botany, Husbandry, &c., published
weekly.' Churchill in the Rescind thus writes of him:--

'Who could so nobly grace the motley list,
 Actor, Inspector, Doctor, Botanist?
 Knows any one so well--sure no one knows--
 At once to play, prescribe, compound, compose?'

Churchill's _Poems_, i. 6. In the _Gent. Mag_. xxii. 568, it is stated
that he had acted pantomime, tragedy and comedy, and had been damned
in all.

[107] Mr. Croker quotes Bishop Elrington, who says, 'Dr. Johnson was
unjust to Hill, and showed that _he_ did not understand the subject.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 186.

[108] D'Israeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, i. 201) says
that 'Hill, once when he fell sick, owned to a friend that he had
over-fatigued himself with writing seven works at once, one of which was
on architecture and another on cookery.' D'Israeli adds that Hill
contracted to translate a Dutch work on insects for fifty guineas. As he
was ignorant of the language, he bargained with another translator for
twenty-five guineas. This man, who was equally ignorant, rebargained
with a third, who perfectly understood his original, for twelve guineas.

[109] Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, v. 442), writing on Dec. 20, 1763, of the
_Journal des Savans_, says:--'I can hardly express how much I am
delighted with this journal; its characteristics are erudition,
precision, and taste.... The father of all the rest, it is still their
superior.... There is nothing to be wished for in it but a little more
boldness and philosophy; but it is published under the Chancellor's eye.'

[110] Goldsmith, in his _Present State of Polite Learning_ (ch. xi.),
published in 1759, says;--'We have two literary reviews in London, with
critical newspapers and magazines without number. The compilers of these
resemble the commoners of Rome, they are all for levelling property, not
by increasing their own, but by diminishing that of others.... The most
diminutive son of fame or of famine has his _we_ and his _us_, his
_firstlys_ and his _secondlys_, as methodical as if bound in cow-hide
and closed with clasps of brass. Were these Monthly Reviews and
Magazines frothy, pert, or absurd, they might find some pardon, but to
be dull and dronish is an encroachment on the prerogative of a folio.'

[111] See _post_, April 10, 1766.

[112] Mr. White, the Librarian of the Royal Society, has, at my request,
kindly examined the records of the Royal Society, but has not been able
to discover what the 'circumstance' was. Neither is any light thrown on
it by Johnson's reviews of Birch's _History of the Royal Society_ and
_Philosophical Transactions_, vol. xlix. (_ante_, i. 309), which I
have examined.

[113] 'Were you to converse with a King, you ought to be as easy and
unembarrassed as with your own valet-de-chambre; but yet every look,
word, and action should imply the utmost respect. What would be proper
and well-bred with others much your superior, would be absurd and
ill-bred with one so very much so.' Chesterfield's _Letters_, iii. 203.

[114] Imlac thus described to Rasselas his interview with the Great
Mogul:--'The emperor asked me many questions concerning my country and
my travels; and though I cannot now recollect anything that he uttered
above the power of a common man, he dismissed me astonished at his
wisdom, and enamoured of his goodness.' _Rasselas_, chap. ix. Wraxall
(_Memoirs_, edit. of 1884, i. 283) says that Johnson was no judge of a
fine gentleman. 'George III,' he adds, 'was altogether destitute of
these ornamental and adventitious endowments.' He mentions 'the
oscillations of his body, the precipitation of his questions, none of
which, it was said, would wait for an answer, and the hurry of his
articulation.' Mr. Wheatley, in a note on this passage, quotes the
opinion of 'Adams, the American Envoy, who said, the "King is, I really
think, the most accomplished courtier in his dominions."'

[115] 'Dr. Warton made me a most obsequious bow.... He is what Dr.
Johnson calls a rapturist, and I saw plainly he meant to pour forth much
civility into my ears. He is a very communicative, gay, and pleasant
converser, and enlivened the whole day by his readiness upon all
subjects.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 236. It is very likely that he
is 'the ingenious writer' mentioned _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's
'Collection,' of whom Johnson said, 'Sir, he is an enthusiast by rule.'
Mr. Windham records that Johnson, speaking of Warton's admiration of
fine passages, said:--'His taste is amazement' (misprinted _amusement_).
Windham's _Diary_, p. 20. In her _Memoirs of Dr. Burney_ (ii. 82), Mme.
D'Arblay says that Johnson 'at times, when in gay spirits, would take
off Dr. Warton with the strongest humour; describing, almost
convulsively, the ecstasy with which he would seize upon the person
nearest to him, to hug in his arms, lest his grasp should be eluded,
while he displayed some picture or some prospect.' In that humourous
piece, _Probationary Odes for the Laureateship_ (p. xliii), Dr. Joseph
is made to hug his brother in his arms, when he sees him descend safely
from the balloon in which he had composed his _Ode_. Thomas Warton is
described in the same piece (p. 116) as 'a little, thick, squat,
red-faced man.' There was for some time a coolness between Johnson and
Dr. Warton. Warton, writing on Jan. 22, 1766, says:--'I only dined with
Johnson, who seemed cold and indifferent, and scarce said anything to
me; perhaps he has heard what I said of his _Shakespeare_, or rather was
offended at what I wrote to him--as he pleases.' Wooll's _Warton_, p.
312. Wooll says that a dispute took place between the two men at
Reynolds's house. 'One of the company overheard the following conclusion
of the dispute. JOHNSON. "Sir, I am not used to be contradicted."
WARTON. "Better for yourself and friends, Sir, if you were; our
admiration could not be increased, but our love might."' _Ib_ p. 98.

[116] _The Good-Natured Man_, _post_ p. 45.

[117] 'It has been said that the King only sought one interview with Dr.
Johnson. There was nothing to complain of; it was a compliment paid by
rank to letters, and once was enough. The King was more afraid of this
interview than Dr. Johnson was; and went to it as a schoolboy to his
task. But he did not want to have the trial repeated every day, nor was
it necessary. The very jealousy of his self-love marked his respect; and
if he thought the less of Dr. Johnson, he would have been more willing
to risk the encounter.' Hazlitt's _Conversations of Northcote_, p. 45.
It should seem that Johnson had a second interview with the King
thirteen years later. In 1780, Hannah More records (_Memoirs_, i.
174):--'Johnson told me he had been with the King that morning, who
enjoined him to add Spenser to his _Lives of the Poets_.' It is strange
that, so far as I know, this interview is not mentioned by any one else.
It is perhaps alluded to, _post_, Dec., 1784, when Mr. Nichols told
Johnson that he wished 'he would gratify his sovereign by a _Life of

[118] It is proper here to mention, that when I speak of his
correspondence, I consider it independent of the voluminous collection
of letters which, in the course of many years, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale,
which forms a separate part of his works; and as a proof of the high
estimation set on any thing which came from his pen, was sold by that
lady for the sum of five hundred pounds. BOSWELL.

[119] He was away from the London 'near six months.' See _ante_, ii. 30.

[120] On August 17 he recorded:--'I have communicated with Kitty, and
kissed her. I was for some time distracted, but at last more composed. I
commended my friends, and Kitty, Lucy, and I were much affected. Kitty
is, I think, going to heaven.' _Pr. and Med., p. 75_.

[121] _Pr. and Med_., pp. 77 and 78. BOSWELL.

[122] _Pr. and Med_., p. 73. BOSWELL. On Aug. 17, he recorded:--'By
abstinence from wine and suppers I obtained sudden and great relief, and
had freedom of mind restored to me, which I have wanted for all this
year, without being able to find any means of obtaining it.' _Ib_ p. 74.

[123] Hawkins, in his second edition (p. 347) assigns it to Campbell,
'who,' he says, 'as well for the malignancy of his heart as his terrific
countenance, was called horrible Campbell.'

[124] See _ante_, i. 218.

[125] The book is as dull as it is indecent. The 'drollery' is of the
following kind. Johnson is represented as saying:--'Without dubiety you
misapprehend this dazzling scintillation of conceit in totality, and had
you had that constant recurrence to my oraculous dictionary which was
incumbent upon you from the vehemence of my monitory injunctions,'
&c. p. 2.

[126] _Pr. and Med_., p. 81. BOSWELL. 'This day,' he wrote on his
birthday, 'has been passed in great perturbation; I was distracted at
church in an uncommon degree, and my distress has had very little
intermission.... This day it came into my mind to write the history of
my melancholy. On this I purpose to deliberate; I know not whether it
may not too much disturb me.' See _post_, April 8, 1780.

[127] It is strange that Boswell nowhere quotes the lines in _The
Good-Natured Man_, in which Paoli is mentioned. 'That's from Paoli of
Corsica,' said Lofty. Act v. sc. i.

[128] In the original, 'Pressed _by_.' Boswell, in thus changing the
preposition, forgot what Johnson says in his _Plan of an English
Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 12):--'We say, according to the present modes
of speech, The soldier died _of_ his wounds, and the sailor perished
_with_ hunger; and every man acquainted with our language would be
offended with a change of these particles, which yet seem originally
assigned by chance.'

[129] Boswell, writing to Temple on March 24, says:--'My book has
amazing celebrity; Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Walpole, Mrs. Macaulay, and Mr.
Garrick have all written me noble letters about it. There are two Dutch
translations going forward.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 145. It met with a
rapid sale. A third edition was called for within a year. Dilly, the
publisher, must have done very well by it, as he purchased the copyright
for one hundred guineas. _Ib_, p. 103. 'Pray read the new account of
Corsica,' wrote Horace Walpole to Gray on Feb. 18, 1768 (_Letters_, v.
85). 'The author is a strange being, and has a rage of knowing everybody
that ever was talked of. He forced himself upon me at Paris in spite of
my teeth and my doors.' To this Gray replied:--'Mr. Boswell's book has
pleased and moved me strangely; all, I mean, that relates to Paoli. He
is a man born two thousand years after his time! The pamphlet proves,
what I have always maintained, that any fool may write a most valuable
book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with
veracity.' In _The Letters of Boswell_ (p. 122) there is the following
under date of Nov. 9, 1767:--'I am always for fixing some period for my
perfection, as far as possible. Let it be when my account of _Corsica_
is published; I shall then have a character which I must support.' In
April 16 of the following year, a few weeks after the book had come out,
he writes:--'To confess to you at once, Temple, I have since my last
coming to town been as wild as ever.' (p. 146.)

[130] Boswell used to put notices of his movements in the newspapers,
such as--'James Boswell, Esq., is expected in town.' _Public
Advertiser_, Feb. 28, 1768. 'Yesterday James Boswell, Esq., arrived from
Scotland at his lodgings in Half-Moon Street, Piccadilly.' _Ib_ March
24, 1768. Prior's _Goldsmith_, i. 449.

[131] Johnson was very ill during this visit. Mrs. Thrale had at the
same time given birth to a daughter, and had been nursed by her mother.
His thoughts, therefore, were turned on illness. Writing to Mrs. Thrale,
he says:--'To roll the weak eye of helpless anguish, and see nothing on
any side but cold indifference, will, I hope, happen to none whom I love
or value; it may tend to withdraw the mind from life, but has no
tendency to kindle those affections which fit us for a purer and a
nobler state.... These reflections do not grow out of any discontent at
C's [Chambers's] behaviour; he has been neither negligent nor
troublesome; nor do I love him less for having been ill in his house.
This is no small degree of praise.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 13.

[132] See _ante_, ii. 3, note.

[133] The editor of the _Letters of Boswell_ justly says (p. 149):--'The
detail in the _Life of Johnson_ is rather scanty about this period;
dissipation, the _History of Corsica_, wife-hunting, ... interfered
perhaps at this time with Boswell's pursuit of Dr. Johnson.'

[134] See _Boswell's_ Hebrides, Aug. 15, 1773, for a discussion of the
same question. Lord Eldon has recorded (_Life_, i. 106), that when he
first went the Northern Circuit (about 1776-1780), he asked Jack Lee
(_post_, March 20, 1778), who was not scrupulous in his advocacy,
whether his method could be justified. 'Oh, yes,' he said, 'undoubtedly.
Dr. Johnson had said that counsel were at liberty to state, as the
parties themselves would state, what it was most for their interest to
state.' After some interval, and when he had had his evening bowl of
milk punch and two or three pipes of tobacco, he suddenly said, 'Come,
Master Scott, let us go to bed. I have been thinking upon the questions
that you asked me, and I am not quite so sure that the conduct you
represented will bring a man peace at the last.' Lord Eldon, after
stating pretty nearly what Johnson had said, continues:--'But it may be
questioned whether even this can be supported.'

[135] Garrick brought out Hugh Kelly's _False Delicacy_ at Drury Lane
six days before Goldsmith's _Good-Natured Man_ was brought out at Covent
Garden. 'It was the town talk,' says Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_,
ii. 93), some weeks before either performance took place, 'that the two
comedies were to be pitted against each other.' _False Delicacy_ had a
great success. Ten thousand copies of it were sold before the season
closed. (_Ib_ p. 96.) 'Garrick's prologue to _False Delicacy_,' writes
Murphy (_Life of Garrick_, p. 287), 'promised a moral and sentimental
comedy, and with an air of pleasantry called it a sermon in five acts.
The critics considered it in the same light, but the general voice was
in favour of the play during a run of near twenty nights. Foote, at
last, by a little piece called _Piety in Pattens_, brought that species
of composition into disrepute.' It is recorded in Johnson's _Works_
(1787), xi. 201, that when some one asked Johnson whether they should
introduce Hugh Kelly to him, 'No, Sir,' says he, 'I never desire to
converse with a man who has written more than he has read.' See _post_,
beginning of 1777.

[136] _The Provoked Husband, or A Journey to London_, by Vanbrugh and
Colley Cibber. It was brought out in 1727-8. See _post_, June 3, 1784.

[137] See _ante_, i. 213.

[138] April 6, 1772, and April 12, 1776.

[139] Richardson, writing on Dec. 7, 1756, to Miss Fielding, about her
Familiar Letters, says:--'What a knowledge of the human heart! Well
might a critical judge of writing say, as he did to me, that your late
brother's knowledge of it was not (fine writer as he was) comparable to
yours. His was but as the knowledge of the outside of a clock-work
machine, while yours was that of all the finer springs and movements of
the inside.' _Richardson Corres_. ii. 104. Mrs. Calderwood, writing of
her visit to the Low Countries in 1756, says:--'All Richison's
[Richardson's] books are translated, and much admired abroad; but for
Fielding's the foreigners have no notion of them, and do not understand
them, as the manners are so entirely English.' _Letters, &c., of Mrs.
Calderwood_, p. 208

[140] In _The Provoked Husband_, act iv. sc. 1.

[141] By Dr. Hoadley, brought out in 1747. 'This was the first good
comedy from the time of _The Provoked Husband_ in 1727.' Murphy's
_Garrick_, p. 78.

[142] Madame Riccoboni, writing to Garrick from Paris on Sept. 7, 1768,
says:--'On ne supporterait point ici l'indécence de Ranger. Les
trèsindécens Françaisdeviennent délicats sur leur théâtre, à mesure
qu'ils le sont moins dans leur conduite.' _Garrick's Corres_. ii. 548.

[143] 'The question in dispute was as to the heirship of Mr. Archibald
Douglas. If he were really the son of Lady Jane Douglas, he would
inherit large family estates; but if he were supposititious, then they
would descend to the Duke of Hamilton. The Judges of the Court of
Session had been divided in opinion, eight against seven, the Lord
President Dundas giving the casting vote in favour of the Duke of
Hamilton; and in consequence of it he and several other of the judges
had, on the reversal by the Lords, their houses attacked by a mob. It is
said, but not upon conclusive authority, that Boswell himself headed the
mob which broke his own father's windows.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 86.
See _post_, April 27, 1773, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 24-26, 1773.
Mr. J. H. Burton, in his _Life of Hume_ (ii. 150), says:--'Men about to
meet each other in company used to lay an injunction on themselves not
to open their lips on the subject, so fruitful was it in debates and
brawls.' Boswell, according to the Bodleian catalogue, was the author of
_Dorando, A Spanish Tale_, 1767. In this tale the Douglas cause is
narrated under the thinnest disguise. It is reviewed in the _Gent. Mag_.
for 1767, p. 361.

[144] See _post_, under April 19, 1772, March 15, 1779, and June 2,

[145] Revd. Kenneth Macaulay. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 27, 1773.
He was the great-uncle of Lord Macaulay.

[146] Martin, in his _St. Kilda_ (p. 38), had stated that the people of
St. Kilda 'are seldom troubled with a cough, except at the Steward's
landing. I told them plainly,' he continues, 'that I thought all this
notion of infection was but a mere fancy, at which they seemed offended,
saying, that never any before the minister and myself was heard to doubt
of the truth of it, which is plainly demonstrated upon the landing of
every boat.' The usual 'infected cough,' came, he says, upon his visit.
Macaulay (_History of St. Kilda_, p. 204) says that he had gone to the
island a disbeliever, but that by eight days after his arrival all the
inhabitants were infected with this disease. See also _post_, March, 21,
1772, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 2, 1773.

[147] See _ante_, July 1, 1763.

[148] _Post_, March 21, 1772.

[149] This is not the case. Martin (p. 9) says that the only landing
place is inaccessible except under favour of a neap tide, a north-east
or west wind, or with a perfect calm. He himself was rowed to St. Kilda,
'the inhabitants admiring to see us get thither contrary to the wind and
tide' (p. 5).

[150] That for one kind of learning Oxford has no advantages, he shows
in a letter that he wrote there on Aug. 4, 1777. 'I shall inquire,' he
says, 'about the harvest when I come into a region where anything
necessary to life is understood.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 349. At Lichfield
he reached that region. 'My barber, a man not unintelligent, speaks
magnificently of the harvest;' _Ib_ p. 351.

[151] See _post_, Sept. 14, 1777.

[152] See _ante_, i. 116.

[153] The advancement had been very rapid. 'When Dr. Robertson's career
commenced,' writes Dugald Stewart in his _Life_ of that historian (p.
157), 'the trade of authorship was unknown in Scotland.' Smollet, in
_Humphry Clinker_, published three years after this conversation, makes
Mr. Bramble write (Letter of Aug. 8):--'Edinburgh is a hot-bed of
genius. I have had the good fortune to be made acquainted with many
authors of the first distinction; such as the two Humes [David Hume and
John Home, whose names had the same pronunciation], Robertson, Smith,
Wallace, Blair, Ferguson, Wilkie, &c.' To these might be added Smollett
himself, Boswell, Reid, Beattie, Kames, Monboddo. Henry Mackenzie and
Dr. Henry began to publish in 1771. Gibbon, writing to Robertson in
1779, says:--'I have often considered with some sort of envy the
valuable society which you possess in so narrow a compass.' Stewart's
_Robertson_, p. 363.

[154] See _post_, April 30, 1773, where Johnson owned that he had not
read Hume. J.H. Burton (_Life of Hume_, ii. 129), after stating that
'Hume was the first to add to a mere narrative of events an enquiry into
the progress of the people, &c.,' says:--'There seems to be no room for
the supposition that he had borrowed the idea from Voltaire's _Essai sur
les Moeurs_. Hume's own _Political Discourses_ are as close an approach
to this method of inquiry as the work of Voltaire; and if we look for
such productions of other writers as may have led him into this train of
thought, it would be more just to name Bacon and Montesquieu.'

[155] See _post_, May 8 and 13, 1778.

[156] See _post_, April 30, 1773, April 29, 1778, and Oct. 10, 1779.

[157] _An Essay on the Future Life of Brutes_. By Richard Dean, Curate
of Middleton, Manchester, 1767. The 'part of the Scriptures' on which
the author chiefly relies is the _Epistle to the Romans_, viii. 19-23.
He also finds support for his belief in 'those passages in _Isaiah_
where the prophet speaks of new Heavens, and a new Earth, of the Lion as
eating straw like the Ox, &c.' Vol. ii. pp. x, 4.

[158] The words that Addison's Cato uses as he lays his hand on his
sword. Act v. sc. 1.

[159] I should think it impossible not to wonder at the variety of
Johnson's reading, however desultory it may have been. Who could have
imagined that the High Church of England-man would be so prompt in
quoting _Maupertuis_, who, I am sorry to think, stands in the list of
those unfortunate mistaken men, who call themselves _esprits forts_. I
have, however, a high respect for that Philosopher whom the Great
Frederick of Prussia loved and honoured, and addressed pathetically in
one of his Poems,--

'Maupertuis, cher Maupertuis,
 Que notre vie est peu de chose!'

There was in Maupertuis a vigour and yet a tenderness of sentiment,
united with strong intellectual powers, and uncommon ardour of soul.
Would he had been a Christian! I cannot help earnestly venturing to hope
that he is one now. BOSWELL. Voltaire writing to D'Alembert on Aug. 25,
1759, says:--'Que dites-vous de Maupertuis, mort entre deux capucins?'
Voltaire's _Works_, lxii. 94. The stanza from which Boswell quotes is as

'O Maupertuis, cher Maupertuis,
Que notre vie est peu de chose!
Cette fleur, qui brille aujourd'hui
Demain se fane à peine éclose;
Tout périt, tout est emporté
Par la dure fatalité
Des arrtês de la destinée;
Votre vertu, vos grands talents
Ne pourront obtenir du temps
Le seul délai d'une journée.'
  _La vie est un Songe. Euvres de
        Frédéric II (edit. 1849), x. 40.

[160] Johnson does not give _Conglobulate_ in his _Dictionary_; only
_conglobe_. If he used the word it is not likely that he said
'conglobulate _together_.'

[161] Gilbert White, writing on Nov. 4, 1767, after mentioning that he
had seen swallows roosting in osier-beds by the river, says:--'This
seems to give some countenance to the northern opinion (strange as it
is) of their retiring under water.' White's _Selborne_, Letter xii. See
also _post_, May 7, 1773.

[162] _Travels from St. Petersburgh in Russia to divers parts of Asia_.
By John Bell, Glasgow, 1763: 4to. 2 vols.

[163] I. D'Israeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, i. 194) ranks
this book among Literary Impostures. 'Du Halde never travelled ten
leagues from Paris in his life; though he appears by his writings to be
familiar with Chinese scenery.' See _ante_, i. 136.

[164] See _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.

[165] Boswell, in his correspondence with Temple in 1767 and 1768,
passes in review the various ladies whom he proposes to marry. The lady
described in this paragraph--for the 'gentleman' is clearly Boswell--is
'the fair and lively Zelide,' a Dutch-woman. She was translating his
_Corsica_ into French. On March 24, 1768, he wrote, 'I must have her.'
On April 26, he asked his father's permission to go over to Holland to
see her. But on May 14 he forwarded to Temple one of her letters.
'Could,' he said, 'any actress at any of the theatres attack me with a
keener--what is the word? not fury, something softer. The lightning that
flashes with so much brilliance may scorch, and does not her esprit do
so?' _Letters of Boswell_, pp. 144-150.

[166] In the original it is _some_ not _many_. Johnson's _Works_, vii.

[167] _An account of the Manners and Customs of Italy_, by Joseph
Baretti, London, 1768. The book would be still more entertaining were it
not written as a reply to Sharp's _Letters on Italy_. _Post_ under
April 29, 1776.

[168] Mrs. Piozzi wrote of him: 'His character is easily seen, and his
soul above disguise, haughty and insolent, and breathing defiance
against all mankind; while his powers of mind exceed most people's, and
his powers of purse are so slight that they leave him dependent on all.
Baretti is for ever in the state of a stream damned up; if he could once
get loose, he would bear down all before him.' Hayward's _Piozzi_,
ii. 335.

[169] According to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 460), the watch was new this
year, and was, he believed, the first Johnson ever had.

[170] _St. John_, ix. 4. In _Pr. and Med_., p. 233, is the
following:--'Ejaculation imploring diligence. "O God, make me to
remember that the night cometh when no man can work."' Porson, in his
witty attack on Sir John Hawkins, originally published in the _Gent.
Mag_. for 1787, quotes the inscription as a proof of Hawkins's Greek.
'_Nux gar erchetai_. The meaning is (says Sir John) _For the night
cometh_. And so it is, Mr. Urban.' Porson _Tracts_, p. 337.

[171] He thus wrote of himself from Oxford to Mrs. Thrale:--'This little
dog does nothing, but I hope he will mend; he is now reading _Jack the
Giant-killer_. Perhaps so noble a narrative may rouse in him the soul of
enterprise.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 9.

[172] See _ante_, ii. 3

[173] Under the same date, Boswell thus begins a letter to
Temple:--'Your moral lecture came to me yesterday in very good time,
while I lay suffering severely for immorality. If there is any firmness
at all in me, be assured that I shall never again behave in a manner so
unworthy the friend of Paoli. My warm imagination looks forward with
great complacency on the sobriety, the healthfulness, and the worth of
my future life.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 147

[174] Johnson so early as Aug. 21, 1766, had given him the same advice
(_ante_, ii. 22). How little Boswell followed it is shewn by his letter
to the Earl of Chatham, on April 8, 1767, in which he informed him of
his intention to publish his _Corsica_, and concluded:--'Could your
Lordship find time to honour me now and then with a letter? I have been
told how favourably your Lordship has spoken of me. To correspond with a
Paoli and with a Chatham is enough to keep a young man ever ardent in
the pursuit of virtuous fame.' _Chatham Corres_., iii. 246. On the same
day on which he wrote to Johnson, he said in a letter to Temple, 'Old
General Oglethorpe, who has come to see me, and is with me often, just
on account of my book, bids me not marry till I have first put the
Corsicans in a proper situation. "You may make a fortune in the doing of
it," said he; "or, if you do not, you will have acquired such a
character as will entitle you to any fortune."' _Letters of Boswell_, p.
148. Four months later, Boswell wrote:--'By a private subscription in
Scotland, I am sending this week £700 worth of ordnance [to Corsica] ...
It is really a tolerable train of artillery.' _Ib_ p. 156. In 1769 he
brought out a small volume entitled _British Essays in favour of the
Brave Corsicans. By Several Hands_. Collected and published by James
Boswell, Esq.

[175] From about the beginning of the fourteenth century, Corsica had
belonged to the Republic of Genoa. In the great rising under Paoli, the
Corsicans would have achieved their independence, had not Genoa ceded
the island to the crown of France.

[176] Boswell, writing to Temple on May 14 of this year, says:--'I am
really the _great man_ now. I have had David Hume in the forenoon, and
Mr. Johnson in the afternoon of the same day, visiting me. Sir J.
Pringle and Dr. Franklin dined with me to-day; and Mr. Johnson and
General Oglethorpe one day, Mr. Garrick alone another, and David Hume
and some more _literati_ another, dine with me next week. I give
admirable dinners and good claret; and the moment I go abroad again,
which will be in a day or two, I set up my chariot. This is enjoying the
fruit of my labours, and appearing like the friend of Paoli.' _Letters
of Boswell_, p. 151.

[177] See _post_, April 12, 1778, and May 8, 1781.

[178] The talk arose no doubt from the general election that had just
been held amid all the excitement about Wilkes. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_,
iii. 307), in a letter dated April 16, 1768, describes the riots in
London. He had seen 'the mob requiring gentlemen and ladies of all ranks
as they passed in their carriages, to shout for Wilkes and liberty,
marking the same words on all their coaches with chalk, and No. 45 on
every door. I went last week to Winchester, and observed that for
fifteen miles out of town there was scarce a door or window shutter next
the road unmarked; and this continued here and there quite to

[179] In his _Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage_, he thus
writes:--'If I might presume to advise them [the Ministers] upon this
great affair, I should dissuade them from any direct attempt upon the
liberty of the press, which is the darling of the common people, and
therefore cannot be attacked without immediate danger.' _Works_, v. 344.
On p. 191 of the same volume, he shows some of the benefits that arise
in England from 'the boundless liberty with which every man may write
his own thoughts.' See also in his _Life of Milton_, the passage about
_Areopagitica_, _Ib_ vii. 82. The liberty of the press was likely to be
'a constant topic.' Horace Walpole (_Memoirs of the Reign of George
III_, ii. 15), writing of the summer of 1764, says:--'Two hundred
informations were filed against printers; a larger number than had been
prosecuted in the whole thirty-three years of the last reign.'

[180] 'The sun has risen, and the corn has grown, and, whatever talk has
been of the danger of property, yet he that ploughed the field commonly
reaped it, and he that built a house was master of the door; the
vexation excited by injustice suffered, or supposed to be suffered, by
any private man, or single community, was local and temporary; it
neither spread far nor lasted long.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 170. See
also _post_, March 31, 1772. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, iii. 215) wrote to
the Abbé Morellet, on April 22, 1787:--'Nothing can be better expressed
than your sentiments are on this point, where you prefer liberty of
trading, cultivating, manufacturing, &c., even to civil liberty, this
being affected but rarely, the other every hour.'

[181] See _ante_, July 6, 1763.

[182] See _ante_, Oct. 1765.

[183] 'I was diverted with Paoli's English library. It consisted
of:--Some broken volumes of the _Spectatour_ and _Tatler_; Pope's _Essay
on Man_; _Gulliver's Travels_; A _History of France_ in old English; and
Barclay's _Apology for the Quakers_. I promised to send him some English
books... I have sent him some of our best books of morality and
entertainment, in particular the works of Mr. Samuel Johnson.' Boswell's
_Corsica_, p. 169.

[184] Johnson, as Boswell believed, only once 'in the whole course of
his life condescended to oppose anything that was written against him.'
(See _ante_, i. 314.) In this he followed the rule of Bentley and of
Boerhaave. 'It was said to old Bentley, upon the attacks against him,
"why, they'll write you down." "No, Sir," he replied; "depend upon it,
no man was ever written down but by himself."' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Oct. 1 1773. Bentley shewed prudence in his silence. 'He was right,'
Johnson said, 'not to answer; for, in his hazardous method of writing,
he could not but be often enough wrong.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 10,
1773. 'Boerhaave was never soured by calumny and detraction, nor ever
thought it necessary to confute them; "for they are sparks," said he,
"which, if you do not blow them, will go out of themselves."' Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 288. Swift, in his _Lines on Censure_ which begin,--

  'Ye wise instruct me to endure
   An evil which admits no cure.'

ends by saying:--

  'The most effectual way to baulk
   Their malice is--to let them talk.'
              Swift's _Works_, xi. 58.

Young, in his _Second Epistle to Pope_, had written:--

  'Armed with this truth all critics I defy;
   For if I fall, by my own pen I die.'

Hume, in his _Auto_. (p. ix.) says:--'I had a fixed resolution, which I
inflexibly maintained, never to reply to any body.' This is not quite
true. See J. H. Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 252, for an instance of a
violent reply. The following passages in Johnson's writings are to the
same effect:--'I am inclined to believe that few attacks either of
ridicule or invective make much noise, but by the help of those that
they provoke.' _Piozzi Letters_ ii. 289. 'It is very rarely that an
author is hurt by his critics. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown
out, but it often dies in the socket.' _Ib_ p. 110. 'The writer who
thinks his works formed for duration mistakes his interest when he
mentions his enemies. He degrades his own dignity by shewing that he was
affected by their censures, and gives lasting importance to names,
which, left to themselves would vanish from remembrance.' Johnson's
_Works_, vii. 294. 'If it had been possible for those who were attacked
to conceal their pain and their resentment, the _Dunciad_ might have
made its way very slowly in the world.' _Ib_ viii. 276. Hawkins (_Life
of Johnson_, p. 348) says that, 'against personal abuse Johnson was ever
armed by a reflection that I have heard him utter:--"Alas! reputation
would be of little worth, were it in the power of every concealed enemy
to deprive us of it."' In his _Parl. Debates_ (_Works_, x. 359), Johnson
makes Mr. Lyttelton say:--'No man can fall into contempt but those who
deserve it.' Addison in _The Freeholder_, No. 40, says, that 'there is
not a more melancholy object in the learned world than a man who has
written himself down.' See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, near the end.

[185] Barber had entered Johnson's service in 1752 (_ante_, i. 239).
Nine years before this letter was written he had been a sailor on board
a frigate (_ante_, i. 348), so that he was somewhat old for a boy.

[186] Boswell, writing to Temple on May 14 of this year; says:--'Dr.
Robertson is come up laden with his _Charles V_.--three large quartos;
he has been offered three thousand guineas for it.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 152.

[187] In like manner the professors at Aberdeen and Glasgow seemed
afraid to speak in his presence. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug 23 and
Oct 29, 1773. See also _post_, April 20, 1778.

[188] See _ante_, July 28, 1763.

[189] Johnson, in inserting this letter, says (Works, viii. 374):--'I
communicate it with much pleasure, as it gives me at once an opportunity
of recording the fraternal kindness of Thomson, and reflecting on the
friendly assistance of Mr. Boswell, from whom I received it.' See
_post_, July 9, 1777, and June 18, 1778.

[190] Murphy, in his _Life of Garrick_, p. 183, says that Garrick once
brought Dr. Munsey--so he writes the name--to call on him. 'Garrick
entered the dining-room, and turning suddenly round, ran to the door,
and called out, "Dr. Munsey, where are you going?" "Up stairs to see the
author," said Munsey. "Pho! pho! come down, the author is here." Dr.
Munsey came, and, as he entered the room, said in his free way, "You
scoundrel! I was going up to the garret. Who could think of finding an
author on the first floor?"' Mrs. Montagu wrote to Lord Lyttelton from
Tunbridge in 1760:--'The great Monsey (_sic_) came hither on Friday ...
He is great in the coffee-house, great in the rooms, and great on the
pantiles.' _Montagu Letters_, iv. 291. In Rogers's _Table-Talk_, p. 271,
there is a curious account of him.

[191] See _ante_, July 26, 1763.

[192] My respectable friend, upon reading this passage, observed, that
he probably must have said not simply, 'strong facts,' but 'strong facts
well arranged.' His lordship, however, knows too well the value of
written documents to insist on setting his recollection against my notes
taken at the time. He does not attempt to _traverse_ the record. The
fact, perhaps, may have been, either that the additional words escaped
me in the noise of a numerous company, or that Dr. Johnson, from his
impetuosity, and eagerness to seize an opportunity to make a lively
retort, did not allow Dr. Douglas to finish his sentence. BOSWELL.

[193] 'It is boasted that between November [1712] and January, eleven
thousand [of _The Conduct of the Allies_] were sold.... Yet surely
whoever surveys this wonder-working pamphlet with cool perusal, will
confess that it's efficacy was supplied by the passions of its readers;
that it operates by the mere weight of facts, with very little
assistance from the hand that produced them.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 203.

[194] 'Every great man, of whatever kind be his greatness, has among his
friends those who officiously or insidiously quicken his attention to
offences, heighten his disgust, and stimulate his resentment.' _Ib_
viii 266.

[195] See the hard drawing of him in Churchill's _Rosciad_. BOSWELL. See
_ante_, i. 391, note 2.

[196] For _talk_, see _post_, under March 30 1783.

[197] See _post_, Oct. 6, 1769, and May 8, 1778, where Johnson tosses

[198] See _post_, Sept. 22, 1777, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. i,

[199] See _post_, Nov. 27, 1773, note, April 7, 1775, and under May 8,

[200] He wrote the character of Mr. Mudge. See _post_, under March 20,

[201] 'Sept. 18, 1769. This day completes the sixtieth year of my
age.... The last year has been wholly spent in a slow progress of
recovery.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 85.

[202] In which place he has been succeeded by Bennet Langton, Esq. When
that truly religious gentleman was elected to this honorary
Professorship, at the same time that Edward Gibbon, Esq., noted for
introducing a kind of sneering infidelity into his Historical Writings,
was elected Professor in Ancient History, in the room of Dr. Goldsmith,
I observed that it brought to my mind, 'Wicked Will Whiston and good Mr.
Ditton.' I am now also of that admirable institution as Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence, by the favour of the Academicians, and the
approbation of the Sovereign. BOSWELL. Goldsmith, writing to his brother
in Jan., 1770, said:--'The King has lately been pleased to make me
Professor of Ancient History in a Royal Academy of Painting, which he
has just established, but there is no salary annexed, and I took it
rather as a compliment to the institution than any benefit to myself.
Honours to one in my situation are something like ruffles to one that
wants a shirt.' Prior's _Goldsmith_, ii. 221. 'Wicked Will Whiston,'
&c., comes from Swift's _Ode for Music, On the Longitude_ (Swift's
_Works_, ed. 1803, xxiv. 39), which begins,--

'The longitude miss'd on
By wicked Will Whiston;
And not better hit on
By good Master Ditton.'

It goes on so grossly and so offensively as regards one and the other,
that Boswell's comparison was a great insult to Langton as well as
to Gibbon.

[203] It has this inscription in a blank leaf:--'_Hunc librum D.D.
Samuel Johnson, eo quod hic loci studiis interdum vacaret_.' Of this
library, which is an old Gothick room, he was very fond. On my observing
to him that some of the _modern_ libraries of the University were more
commodious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he
replied, 'Sir, if a man has a mind to _prance_, he must study at
Christ-Church and All-Souls.' BOSWELL.

[204] During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to be
deeply engaged in some literary work. Miss Williams was now with him at
Oxford. BOSWELL. It was more likely the state of his health which kept
him at home. Writing from Oxford on June 27 of this year to Mrs. Thrale,
who had been ill, he says:--'I will not increase your uneasiness with
mine. I hope I grow better. I am very cautious and very timorous.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 21.

[205] Boswell wrote a letter, signed with his own name, to the _London
Magazine_ for 1769 (p. 451) describing the Jubilee. It is followed by a
print of himself 'in the dress of an armed Corsican chief,' and by an
account, no doubt written by himself. It says:--'Of the most remarkable
masks upon this occasion was James Boswell, Esq., in the dress of an
armed Corsican chief. He entered the amphitheatre about twelve o'clock.
On the front of his cap was embroidered in gold letters, _Viva La
Liberta_; and on one side of it was a handsome blue feather and cockade,
so that it had an elegant, as well as a warlike appearance. He wore no
mask, saying that it was not proper for a gallant Corsican. So soon as
he came into the room he drew universal attention.' Cradock (_Memoirs_,
i. 217) gives a melancholy account of the festival. The preparations
were all behind-hand and the weather was stormy. 'There was a masquerade
in the evening, and all zealous friends endeavoured to keep up the
spirit of it as long as they could, till they were at last informed that
the Avon was rising so very fast that no delay could be admitted. The
ladies of our party were conveyed by planks from the building to the
coach, and found that the wheels had been two feet deep in water.'
Garrick in 1771 was asked by the Stratford committee to join them in
celebrating a Jubilee every year, as 'the most likely method to promote
the interest and reputation of their town.' Boswell caught at the
proposal eagerly, and writing to Garrick said:--'I please myself with
the prospect of attending you at several more Jubilees at
Stratford-upon-Avon.' _Garrick Corres_. i. 414, 435.

[206] Garrick's correspondents not seldom spoke disrespectfully of
Johnson. Thus, Mr. Sharp, writing to him in 1769, talks of 'risking the
sneer of one of Dr. Johnson's ghastly smiles.' _Ib_ i. 334. Dr. J.
Hoadly, in a letter dated July 25, 1775, says:--'Mr. Good-enough has
written a kind of parody of Puffy Pensioner's _Taxation no Tyranny_,
under the noble title of _Resistance no Rebellion_.' _Ib_ ii. 68.

[207] See ante, i. 181.

[208] In the Preface to my _Account of Corsica_, published in 1768, I
thus express myself:

'He who publishes a book affecting not to be an authour, and professing
an indifference for literary fame, may possibly impose upon many people
such an idea of his consequence as he wishes may be received. For my
part, I should be proud to be known as an authour, and I have an ardent
ambition for literary fame; for, of all possessions, I should imagine
literary fame to be the most valuable. A man who has been able to
furnish a book, which has been approved by the world, has established
himself as a respectable character in distant society, without any
danger of having that character lessened by the observation of his
weaknesses. To preserve an uniform dignity among those who see us every
day, is hardly possible; and to aim at it, must put us under the fetters
of perpetual restraint. The authour of an approved book may allow his
natural disposition an easy play, and yet indulge the pride of superior
genius, when he considers that by those who know him only as an authour,
he never ceases to be respected. Such an authour, when in his hours of
gloom and discontent, may have the consolation to think, that his
writings are, at that very time, giving pleasure to numbers; and such an
authour may cherish the hope of being remembered after death, which has
been a great object to the noblest minds in all ages.' BOSWELL. His
preface to the third edition thus ends:--'When I first ventured to send
this book into the world, I fairly owned an ardent desire for literary
fame. I have obtained my desire: and whatever clouds may overcast my
days, I can now walk here among the rocks and woods of my ancestors,
with an agreeable consciousness that I have done something worthy.' The
dedication of the first edition and the preface of the third are both
dated Oct. 29--one 1767, and the other 1768. Oct. 29 was his birthday.

[209] Paoli's father had been one of the leaders of the Corsicans in
their revolt against Genoa in 1734. Paoli himself was chosen by them as
their General-in-chief in 1755. In 1769 the island was conquered by the
French. He escaped in an English ship, and settled in England. Here he
stayed till 1789, when Mirabeau moved in the National Assembly the
recall of all the Corsican patriots. Paoli was thereupon appointed by
Louis XVI. Lieutenant-general and military commandant in Corsica. He
resisted the violence of the Convention, and was, in consequence,
summoned before it. Refusing to obey, an expedition was sent to arrest
him. Napoleon Buonaparte fought in the French army, but Paoli's party
proved the stronger. The islanders sought the aid of Great Britain, and
offered the crown of Corsica to George III. The offer was accepted, but
by an act of incredible folly, not Paoli, but Sir Gilbert Eliot, was
made Viceroy. Paoli returned to England, where he died in 1807, at the
age of eighty-two. In 1796 Corsica was abandoned by the English. By the
Revolution it ceased to be a conquered province, having been formally
declared an integral part of France. At the present day the Corsicans
are proud of being citizens of that great country; no less proud,
however, are they of Pascal Paoli, and of the gallant struggle for
independence of their forefathers.

[210] According to the _Ann. Reg_. (xii. 132) Paoli arrived in London on
Sept. 21. He certainly was in London on Oct. 10, for on that day he was
presented by Boswell to Johnson. Yet Wesley records in his _Journal_
(iii. 370) on Oct. 13:--'I very narrowly missed meeting the great Pascal
Paoli. He landed in the dock [at Portsmouth] but a very few minutes
after I left the waterside. Surely He who hath been with him from his
youth up hath not sent him into England for nothing.' In the _Public
Advertiser_ for Oct. 4 there is the following entry, inserted no doubt
by Boswell:--'On Sunday last General Paoli, accompanied by James
Boswell, Esq., took an airing in Hyde Park in his coach.' Priors
_Goldsmith_, i. 450. Horace Walpole writes:--'Paoli's character had been
so advantageously exaggerated by Mr. Boswell's enthusiastic and
entertaining account of him, that the Opposition were ready to
incorporate him in the list of popular tribunes. The Court artfully
intercepted the project; and deeming patriots of all nations equally
corruptible, bestowed a pension of £1000 a year on the unheroic
fugitive.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iii. 387.

[211] Johnson, writes Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_., p. 228), ridiculed a friend
'who, looking out on Streatham Common from our windows, lamented the
enormous wickedness of the times, because some bird-catchers were busy
there one fine Sunday morning. "While half the Christian world is
permitted," said Johnson, "to dance and sing and celebrate Sunday as a
day of festivity, how comes your puritanical spirit so offended with
frivolous and empty deviations from exactness? Whoever loads life with
unnecessary scruples, Sir," continued he, "provokes the attention of
others on his conduct, and incurs the censure of singularity, without
reaping the reward of superior virtue."' See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 20, 1773.

[212] The first edition of Hume's _History of England_ was full of
Scotticisms, many of which he corrected in subsequent editions. MALONE.
According to Mr. J. H. Burton (_Life of Hume_, ii. 79), 'He appears to
have earnestly solicited the aid of Lyttelton, Mallet, and others, whose
experience of English composition might enable them to detect
Scotticisms.' Mr. Burton gives instances of alterations made in the
second edition. He says also that 'in none of his historical or
philosophical writings does any expression used by him, unless in those
cases where a Scotticism has escaped his vigilance, betray either the
district or the county of his origin.' _Ib_ i. 9. Hume was shown in
manuscript Reid's _Inquiry into the Human Mind_. Though it was an attack
on his own philosophy, yet in reading it 'he kept,' he says, 'a watchful
eye all along over the style,' so that he might point out any
Scotticisms. _Ib_ ii. 154. Nevertheless, as Dugald Stewart says in his
_Life of Robertson_ (p. 214), 'Hume fails frequently both in purity and
grammatical correctness.' Even in his later letters I have noticed

[213] In 1763 Wilkes, as author of _The North Briton_, No. 45, had been
arrested on 'a general warrant directed to four messengers to take up
any persons without naming or describing them with any certainty, and to
bring them, together with their papers.' Such a warrant as this Chief
Justice Pratt (Lord Camden) declared to be 'unconstitutional, illegal,
and absolutely void.' _Ann. Reg_. vi. 145.

[214] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 24, 1773.

[215] In the Spring of this year, at a meeting of the electors of
Southwark, 'instructions' had been presented to Mr. Thrale and his
brother-member, of which the twelfth was:--'That you promote a bill for
shortening the duration of Parliaments.' _Gent. Mag_. xxxix. 162.

[216] This paradox Johnson had exposed twenty-nine years earlier, in his
_Life of Sir Francis Drake_, _Works_, vi. 366. In _Rasselas_, chap. xi.,
he considers also the same question. Imlac is 'inclined to conclude
that, if nothing counteracts the natural consequence of learning, we
grow more happy as our minds take a wider range.' He then enumerates the
advantages which civilisation confers on the Europeans. 'They are surely
happy,' said the prince, 'who have all these conveniences.' 'The
Europeans,' answered Imlac, 'are less unhappy than we, but they are not
happy. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured
and little to be enjoyed.' Writing to Mrs. Thrale from Skye, Johnson
said: 'The traveller wanders through a naked desert, gratified
sometimes, but rarely, with the sight of cows, and now and then finds a
heap of loose stones and turf in a cavity between rocks, where a being
born with all those powers which education expands, and all those
sensations which culture refines, is condemned to shelter itself from
the wind and rain. Philosophers there are who try to make themselves
believe that this life is happy, but they believe it only while they are
saying it, and never yet produced conviction in a single mind.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 150. See _post_, April 21 and May 7, 1773, April 26, 1776,
and June 15, 1784.

[217] James Burnet, a Scotch Lord of Session, by the title of Lord
Monboddo. 'He was a devout believer in the virtues of the heroic ages,
and the deterioration of civilised mankind; a great contemner of
luxuries, insomuch that he never used a wheel carriage.' WALTER SCOTT,
quoted in Croker's _Boswell_, p. 227. There is some account of him in
Chambers's _Traditions of Edinburgh_, ii. 175. In his _Origin of
Language_, to which Boswell refers in his next note, after praising
Henry Stephen for his _Greek Dictionary_, he continues:--'But to compile
a dictionary of a barbarous language, such as all the modern are
compared with the learned, is a work which a man of real genius, rather
than undertake, would choose to die of hunger, the most cruel, it is
said, of all deaths. I should, however, have praised this labour of
Doctor Johnson's more, though of the meanest kind,' &c. Monboddo's
_Origin of Language_, v. 274. On p. 271, he says:--'Dr. Johnson was the
most invidious and malignant man I have ever known.' See _post_, March
21, 1772, May 8, 1773, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.

[218] His Lordship having frequently spoken in an abusive manner of Dr.
Johnson, in my company, I on one occasion during the life-time of my
illustrious friend could not refrain from retaliation, and repeated to
him this saying. He has since published I don't know how many pages in
one of his curious books, attempting, in much anger, but with pitiful
effect, to persuade mankind that my illustrious friend was not the great
and good man which they esteemed and ever will esteem him to

[219] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 108) says:--'Mr. Johnson was indeed
unjustly supposed to be a lover of singularity. Few people had a more
settled reverence for the world than he, or was less captivated by new
modes of behaviour introduced, or innovations on the long-received
customs of common life.' In writing to Dr. Taylor to urge him to take a
certain course, he says:--'This I would have you do, not in compliance
with solicitation or advice, but as a justification of yourself to the
world; _the world has always a right to be regarded_.' _Notes and
Queries_, 6th S. v. 343. In _The Adventurer_, No. 131, he has a paper on
'Singularities.' After quoting Fontenelle's observation on Newton that
'he was not distinguished from other men by any singularity, either
natural or affected,' he goes on:--'Some may be found who, supported by
the consciousness of great abilities, and elevated by a long course of
reputation and applause, voluntarily consign themselves to singularity,
affect to cross the roads of life because they know that they shall not
be jostled, and indulge a boundless gratification of will, because they
perceive that they shall be quietly obeyed.... Singularity is, I think,
in its own nature universally and invariably displeasing.' Writing of
Swift, he says (_Works_, viii. 223):--'Whatever he did, he seemed
willing to do in a manner peculiar to himself, without sufficiently
considering that singularity, as it implies a contempt of the general
practice, is a kind of defiance which justly provokes the hostility of
ridicule; he, therefore, who indulges peculiar habits is worse than
others, if he be not better.' See _ante_, Oct. 1765, the record in his
_Journal_:--'At church. To avoid all singularity.'

[220] 'He had many other particularities, for which he gave sound and
philosophical reasons. As this humour still grew upon him he chose to
wear a turban instead of a periwig; concluding very justly that a
bandage of clean linen about his head was much more wholesome, as well
as cleanly, than the caul of a wig, which is soiled with frequent
perspirations.' _Spectator_, No. 576.

[221] See _post_, June 28, 1777, note.

[222] 'Depend upon it,' he said, 'no woman is the worse for sense and
knowledge.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 19; 1773--See, however, _post_,
1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection, where he says:--'Supposing a wife to
be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome'


'Though Artemisia talks by fits
Of councils, classics, fathers, wits;
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke:
Yet in some things, methinks she fails;
'Twere well if she would pare her nails,
And wear a cleaner smock.'

SWIFT. _Imitation of English Poets, Works_, xxiv. 6.

[224] _A Wife_, a poem, 1614. BOSWELL.

[225] In the original _that_.

[226] What a succession of compliments was paid by Johnson's old
school-fellow, whom he met a year or two later in Lichfield, who 'has
had, as he phrased it, _a matter of four wives_, for which' added
Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'neither you nor I like him much the better.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 41.

[227] Mr. Langton married the widow of the Earl of Rothes; _post_, March
20, 1771.

[228] Horace Walpole, writing of 1764, says:--'As one of my objects was
to raise the popularity of our party, I had inserted a paragraph in the
newspapers observing that the abolition of vails to servants had been
set on foot by the Duke of Bedford, and had been opposed by the Duke of
Devonshire. Soon after a riot happened at Ranelagh, in which the footmen
mobbed and ill-treated some gentlemen who had been active in that
reformation.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, ii. 3.


'Alexis shunned his fellow swains,
Their rural sports and jocund strains,
(Heaven guard us all from Cupid's bow!)
He lost his crook, he left his flocks;
And wandering through the lonely rocks,
He nourished endless woe.'

_The Despairing Shepherd_.

[230] 'In his amorous effusions Prior is less happy; for they are not
dictated by nature or by passion, and have neither gallantry nor
tenderness. They have the coldness of Cowley without his wit, the dull
exercises of a skilful versifier, resolved at all adventures to write
something about Chloe, and trying to be amorous by dint of study.... In
his private relaxation he revived the tavern, and in his amorous
pedantry he exhibited the college.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 15, 22.

[231] _Florizel and Perdita_ is Garrick's version of _The Winters Tale_.
He cut down the five acts to three. The line, which is misquoted, is in
one of Perdita's songs:--

'That giant ambition we never can dread;
Our roofs are too low for so lofty a head;
Content and sweet cheerfulness open our door,
They smile with the simple, and feed with the poor.'

Act ii. sc. 1.

[232] Horace. _Sat_. i. 4. 34.

[233] See _ante_, ii. 66.

[234] Horace Walpole told Malone that 'he was about twenty-two
[twenty-four] years old when his father retired; and that he remembered
his offering one day to read to him, finding that time hung heavy on his
hands. "What," said he, "will you read, child?" Mr. Walpole, considering
that his father had long been engaged in public business, proposed to
read some history. "No," said he, "don't read history to me; that can't
be true."' Prior's _Malone_, p. 387. See also _post_, April 30, 1773,
and Oct. 10, 1779.

[235] See _ante_, i 75, _post_, Oct 12, 1779, and Boswell's _Hebrides_,
August 15, 1773. Boswell himself had met Whitefield; for mentioning him
in his _Letter to the People of Scotland_ (p. 25), he adds:--'Of whose
pious and animated society I had some share.' Southey thus describes
Whitefield in his _Life of Wesley_ (i. 126):--'His voice excelled both
in melody and compass, and its fine modulations were happily accompanied
by that grace of action which he possessed in an eminent degree, and
which has been said to be the chief requisite of an orator. An ignorant
man described his eloquence oddly but strikingly, when he said that Mr.
Whitefield preached like a lion. So strange a comparison conveyed no
unapt a notion of the force and vehemence and passion of that oratory
which awed the hearers, and made them tremble like Felix before the
apostle.' Benjamin Franklin writes (_Memoirs_, i. 163):--'Mr.
Whitefield's eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses
of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance.' He happened to be
present at a sermon which, he perceived, was to finish with a collection
for an object which had not his approbation. 'I silently resolved he
should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper
money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he
proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another
stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give
the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly
into the collector's dish, gold and all.'

[236] 'What an idea may we not form of an interview between such a
scholar and philosopher as Mr. Johnson, and such a legislatour and
general as Paoli.' Boswell's _Corsica_, p. 198.

[237] Mr. Stewart, who in 1768 was sent on a secret mission to Paoli, in
his interesting report says:--'Religion seems to sit easy upon Paoli,
and notwithstanding what his historian Boswell relates, I take him to be
very free in his notions that way. This I suspect both from the strain
of his conversation, and from what I have learnt of his conduct towards
the clergy and monks.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, ii. 158. See _post_,
April 14, 1775, where Johnson said:--'Sir, there is a great cry about
infidelity; but there are in reality very few infidels.' Yet not long
before he had complained of an 'inundation of impiety.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 30, 1773.

[238] I suppose Johnson said atmosphere. CROKER. In _Humphry Clinker_,
in the Letter of June 2, there is, however, a somewhat similar use of
the word. Lord Bute is described as 'the Caledonian luminary, that
lately blazed so bright in our hemisphere; methinks, at present, it
glimmers through a fog.' A star, however, unlike a cloud, may pass from
one hemisphere to the other.

[239] See _post_, under Nov. 5, 1775. Hannah More, writing in 1782
(_Memoirs_, i. 242), says:--'Paoli will not talk in English, and his
French is mixed with Italian. He speaks no language with purity.'

[240] Horace Walpole writes:--'Paoli had as much ease as suited a
prudence that seemed the utmost effort of a wary understanding, and was
so void of anything remarkable in his aspect, that being asked if I knew
who it was, I judged him a Scottish officer (for he was
sandy-complexioned and in regimentals), who was cautiously awaiting the
moment of promotion.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iii. 387

[241] Boswell introduced this subject often. See _post_, Oct. 26, 1769,
April 15, 1778, March 14, 1781, and June 23, 1784. Like Milton's fallen
angels, he 'found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.' _Paradise Lost_,
ii. 561.

[242] 'To this wretched being, himself by his own misconduct lashed out
of human society, the stage was indebted for several very pure and
pleasing entertainments; among them, _Love in a Village_, _The Maid of
the Mill_.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 136. 'When,' says Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anec_. p. 168), 'Mr. Bickerstaff's flight confirmed the report of his
guilt, and my husband said in answer to Johnson's astonishment, that he
had long been a suspected man: "By those who look close to the ground
dirt will be seen, Sir, (was his lofty reply); I hope I see things from
a greater distance."' In the _Garrick Corres_ (i. 473) is a piteous
letter in bad French, written from St. Malo, by Bickerstaff to Garrick,
endorsed by Garrick, 'From that poor wretch Bickerstaff: I could not
answer it.'

[243] Boswell, only a couple of years before he published _The Life of
Johnson_, in fact while he was writing it, had written to Temple:--'I
was the _great man_ (as we used to say) at the late Drawing-room, in a
suit of imperial blue, lined with rose-coloured silk, and ornamented
with rich gold-wrought buttons.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 289.

[244] Miss Reynolds, in her _Recollections_ (Croker's _Boswell_, p.
831), says, 'One day at Sir Joshua Reynolds's Goldsmith was relating
with great indignation an insult he had just received from some
gentleman he had accidentally met. "The fellow," he said, "took me for a
tailor!" on which all the company either laughed aloud or showed they
suppressed a laugh.'

[245] In Prior's _Goldsmith_, ii. 232, is given Filby's Bill for a suit
of clothes sent to Goldsmith this very day:--

Oct. 16.--            £  s. d.
To making a half-dress
   suit of ratteen, lined
   with satin         12 12 0
To a pair of silk stocking
   breeches            2  5 0
To a pair of _bloom-coloured
   ditto               1  4 6

Nothing is said in this bill of the colour of the coat; it is the
breeches that are bloom-coloured. The tailor's name was William, not
John, Filby; _Ib_ i. 378, Goldsmith in his _Life of Nash_ had
said:--'Dress has a mechanical influence upon the mind, and we naturally
are awed into respect and esteem at the elegance of those whom even our
reason would teach us to contemn. He seemed early sensible of human
weakness in this respect; he brought a person genteelly dressed to every
assembly.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv. 46.

[246] 'The _Characters of Men and Women_ are the product of diligent
speculation upon human life; much labour has been bestowed upon them,
and Pope very seldom laboured in vain.... The _Characters of Men_,
however, are written with more, if not with deeper thought, and exhibit
many passages exquisitely beautiful.... In the women's part are some
defects.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 341.

[247] Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on the
authority of Spence), that Pope himself admired those lines so much that
when he repeated them his voice faltered: 'and well it might, Sir,' said
Johnson, 'for they are noble lines.' J. BOSWELL, JUN.

[248] We have here an instance of that reserve which Boswell, in his
Dedication to Sir Joshua Reynolds (_ante_, i. 4), says that he has
practised. In one particular he had 'found the world to be a great
fool,' and, 'I have therefore,' as he writes, 'in this work been more
reserved;' yet the reserve is slight enough. Everyone guesses that 'one
of the company' was Boswell.

[249] Yet Johnson, in his _Life of Pope_ (_Works_, viii. 276), seems to
be much of Boswell's opinion; for in writing of _The Dunciad_, he
says:--'The subject itself had nothing generally interesting, for whom
did it concern to know that one or another scribbler was a dunce?'

[250] The opposite of this Johnson maintained on April 29, 1778.

[251] 'It is surely sufficient for an author of sixteen ... to have
obtained sufficient power of language and skill in metre, to exhibit a
series of versification which had in English poetry no precedent, nor
has since had an imitation.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 326.

[252] See _ante_, i. 129.

[253] 'If the flights of Dryden are higher, Pope continues longer on the
wing ... Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with
perpetual delight.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 325.

[254] Probably, says Mr. Croker, those quoted by Johnson in _The Life of
Dryden_. _Ib_ vii. 339.

[255] The Duke of Buckingham in Dryden's _Absalom and Achitophel_.

[256] _Prologue to the Satires_, I. 193.


Almeria.--'It was a fancy'd noise; for all is hush'd.

Leonora.--It bore the accent of a human voice.

Almeria.--It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
Whistling thro' hollows of this vaulted aisle;
We'll listen--


Almeria.--No, all is hush'd and still as death,--'Tis dreadful!
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
To bear aloft its arch'd and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made stedfast and immoveable,
Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice--my own affrights me with its echoes.

Act ii. sc. 1.


'Swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry.'

_Romeo and Juliet_, act ii. sc. 2. He was a God with whom he ventured to
take great liberties. Thus on Jan. 10, 1776, he wrote:--'I have ventured
to produce _Hamlet_ with alterations. It was the most imprudent thing I
ever did in all my life; but I had sworn I would not leave the stage
till I had rescued that noble play from all the rubbish of the fifth
act. I have brought it forth without the grave-digger's trick and the
fencing match. The alterations were received with general approbation
beyond my most warm expectations.' _Garrick Corres_., ii. 126. See
_ante_, ii. 78, note 4.

[259] This comparison between Shakespeare and Congreve is mentioned
perhaps oftener than any passage in Boswell. Almost as often as it is
mentioned, it may be seen that Johnson's real opinion is misrepresented
or misunderstood. A few passages from his writings will shew how he
regarded the two men. In the _Life of Congreve_ (_Works_, viii. 31) he
repeats what he says here:--'If I were required to select from the whole
mass of English poetry the most poetical paragraph, I know not what I
could prefer to an exclamation in _The Mourning Bride_.' Yet in writing
of the same play, he says:--'In this play there is more bustle than
sentiment; the plot is busy and intricate, and the events take hold on
the attention; but, except a very few passages, we are rather amused
with noise and perplexed with stratagem, than entertained with any true
delineation of natural characters.' _Ib_, p. 26. In the preface to his
_Shakespeare_, published four years before this conversation, he almost
answered Garrick by anticipation. 'It was said of Euripides that every
verse was a precept; and it may be said of Shakespeare, that from his
works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence. Yet
his real power is not shown in the splendour of particular passages, but
by the progress of his fable, and the tenour of his dialogue, and he
that tries to recommend him by select quotations, will succeed like the
pedant in _Hierocles_, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a
brick in his pocket as a specimen.' _Ib_, v. 106. Ignorant, indeed, is
he who thinks that Johnson was insensible to Shakespeare's 'transcendent
and unbounded genius,' to use the words that he himself applied to him.
_The Rambler_, No. 156. 'It may be doubtful,' he writes, 'whether from
all his successors more maxims of theoretical knowledge, or more rules
of practical prudence, can be collected than he alone has given to his
country.' _Works_, v. 131. 'He that has read Shakespeare with attention
will, perhaps, find little new in the crowded world.' _Ib_, p. 434. 'Let
him that is yet unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who
desires to feel the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read every
play, from the first scene to the last, with utter negligence of all his
commentators. When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at
correction or explanation.' _Ib_, p. 152. And lastly he quotes Dryden's
words [from Dryden's _Essay of Dramatick Poesie_, edit. of 1701, i. 19]
'that Shakespeare was the man who, of all modern and perhaps ancient
poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.' _Ib_, p. 153. Mrs.
Piozzi records (_Anec_., p. 58), that she 'forced Johnson one day in a
similar humour [to that in which he had praised Congreve] to prefer
Young's description of night to those of Shakespeare and Dryden.' He
ended however by saying:--'Young froths and foams and bubbles sometimes
very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your
tea-kettle here with the roaring of the ocean.' See also _post_, p. 96.

[260] _Henry V_, act iv., Prologue.

[261] _Romeo and Juliet_, act iv., sc. 3.

[262] _King Lear_, act iv., sc. 6.

[263] See _ante_, July 26, 1763.

[264] See _ante_, i. 388.

[265] In spite of the gross nonsense that Voltaire has written about
Shakespeare, yet it was with justice that in a letter to Horace Walpole
(dated July 15, 1768,) he said:--'Je suis le premier qui ait fait
connaître Shakespeare aux Français.... Je peux vous assurer qu'avant moi
personne en France ne connaissait la poésie anglaise.' Voltaire's
_Works_, liv. 513.

[266] 'Of whom I acknowledge myself to be one, considering it as a piece
of the secondary or comparative species of criticism; and not of that
profound species which alone Dr. Johnson would allow to be "real
criticism." It is, besides, clearly and elegantly expressed, and has
done effectually what it professed to do, namely, vindicated Shakespeare
from the misrepresentations of Voltaire; and considering how many young
people were misled by his witty, though false observations, Mrs.
Montagu's Essay was of service to Shakspeare with a certain class of
readers, and is, therefore, entitled to praise. Johnson, I am assured,
allowed the merit which I have stated, saying, (with reference to
Voltaire,) "it is conclusive _ad hominem_."' BOSWELL. That this dull
essay, which would not do credit to a clever school-girl of seventeen,
should have had a fame, of which the echoes have not yet quite died out,
can only be fully explained by Mrs. Montagu's great wealth and position
in society. Contemptible as was her essay, yet a saying of hers about
Voltaire was clever. 'He sent to the Academy an invective [against
Shakespeare] that bears all the marks of passionate dotage. Mrs. Montagu
happened to be present when it was read. Suard, one of their writers,
said to her, "Je crois, Madame, que vous êtes un peu fâché (sic) de ce
que vous venez d'entendre." She replied, "Moi, Monsieur! point du tout!
Je ne suis pas amie de M. Voltaire."' Walpole's _Letters_, vi. 394. Her
own _Letters_ are very pompous and very poor, and her wit would not seem
to have flashed often; for Miss Burney wrote of her:--'She reasons well,
and harangues well, but wit she has none.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i.
335. Yet in this same _Diary_ (i. 112) we find evidence of the absurdly
high estimate that was commonly formed of her. 'Mrs. Thrale asked me if
I did not want to see Mrs. Montagu. I truly said, I should be the most
insensible of all animals not to like to see our sex's glory.' That she
was a very extraordinary woman we have Johnson's word for it. (See
_post_, May 15, 1784.) It is impossible, however, to discover anything
that rises above commonplace in anything that she wrote, and, so far as
I know, that she said, with the exception of her one saying about
Voltaire. Johnson himself, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, has a
laugh at her. He had mentioned Shakespeare, nature and friendship, and
continues:--'Now, of whom shall I proceed to speak? Of whom but Mrs.
Montagu? Having mentioned Shakespeare and Nature, does not the name of
Montagu force itself upon me? Such were the transitions of the ancients,
which now seem abrupt, because the intermediate idea is lost to modern
understandings. I wish her name had connected itself with friendship;
but, ah Colin, thy hopes are in vain.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 101. See
_post_, April 7, 1778.

[267] 'Reynolds is fond of her book, and I wonder at it; for neither I,
nor Beauclerk, nor Mrs. Thrale, could get through it.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 23, 1773.

[268] Lord Kames is 'the Scotchman.' See _ante_, i. 393.

[269] 'When Charles Townshend read some of Lord Kames's _Elements of
Criticism_, he said:--"This is the work of a dull man grown
whimsical"--a most characteristical account of Lord Kames as a writer.'
_Boswelliana_, p. 278. Hume wrote of it:--'Some parts of the work are
ingenious and curious; but it is too abstruse and crabbed ever to take
with the public.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 131. 'Kames,' he says, 'had
much provoked Voltaire, who never forgives, and never thinks any enemy
below his notice.' _Ib_, p. 195. Voltaire (_Works_, xliii. 302) thus
ridicules his book:--'Il nous prouve d'abord que nous avons cinq sens,
et que nous sentons moins l'impression douce faite sur nos yeux et sur
nos oreilles par les couleurs et par les sons que nous ne sentons un
grand coup sur la jambe ou sur la tête.'

[270] L'Abbé Dubos, 1670-1742. 'Tous les artistes lisent avec fruit ses
_Réflexions sur la poésie, la peinture, et la musique_. C'est le livre
le plus utile qu'on ait jamais écrit sur ces matières chez aucune des
nations de l'Europe.' Voltaire's _Siècle de Louis XIV_, i. 81.

[271] Bouhours, 1628-1702. Voltaire, writing of Bouhours' _Manière de
bien penser sur les ouvrages d'esprit_, says that he teaches young
people 'à éviter l'enflure, l'obscurité, le recherché, et le faux.'
_Ib_, p. 54. Johnson, perhaps, knew him, through _The Spectator_, No.
62, where it is said that he has shown 'that it is impossible for any
thought to be beautiful which is not just, ... that the basis of all wit
is truth.'

[272] _Macbeth_, act iii. sc. 2.

[273] In _The False Alarm_, that was published less than three months
after this conversation, Johnson describes how petitions were got. 'The
progress of a petition is well known. An ejected placeman goes down to
his county or his borough, tells his friends of his inability to serve
them, and his constituents of the corruption of the Government. His
friends readily understand that he who can get nothing will have nothing
to give. They agree to proclaim a meeting; meat and drink are
plentifully provided, a crowd is easily brought together, and those who
think that they know the reason of their meeting, undertake to tell
those who know it not; ale and clamour unite their powers.... The
petition is read, and universally approved. Those who are sober enough
to write, add their names, and the rest would sign it if they could.'
_Works_, vi. 172. Yet, when the petitions for Dr. Dodd's life were
rejected, Johnson said:--'Surely the voice of the public when it calls
so loudly, and calls only for mercy, ought to be heard.' _Post_, June
28, 1777. Horace Walpole, writing of the numerous petitions presented to
the King this year (1769), blames 'an example so inconsistent with the
principles of liberty, as appealing to the Crown against the House of
Commons.' Some of them prayed for a dissolution of Parliament. _Memoirs
of the Reign of George III_, iii. 382, 390. Two years earlier Lord
Shelburne, when Secretary of State, had found among the subscribers to a
petition for his impeachment, a friend of his, a London alderman. 'Oh!
aye,' said the alderman when asked for an explanation, 'I did sign a
petition at the Royal Exchange, which they told me was for the
impeachment of a Minister; I always sign a petition to impeach a
Minister, and I recollect that as soon as I had subscribed it, twenty
more put their names to it.' _Parl. Hist_., xxxv. 167.

[274] See _post_, under March 24, 1776.

[275] Mr. Robert Chambers says that the author of the ballad was
Elizabeth Halket, wife of Sir Henry Wardlaw. She died about 1727. 'The
ballad of Hardyknute was the first poem I ever read, and it will be the
last I shall forget.' SIR WALTER SCOTT. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 205.

[276] John Ray published, in 1674, _A Collection of English Words_, &c.,
and _A Collection of English Proverbs_. In 1768 the two were published
in one volume.

[277] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 23, 1773.


'Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.'

_Macbeth_, Act v. se. 5.

[279] In the _Garrick Corres_., i. 385, there is a letter from Mrs.
Montagu to Garrick, which shows the ridiculous way in which Shakespeare
was often patronised last century, and 'brought into notice.' She
says:--'Mrs. Montagu is a little jealous for poor Shakespeare, for if
Mr. Garrick often acts Kitely, Ben Jonson will eclipse his fame.'

[280] 'Familiar comedy is often more powerful on the theatre than in the
page; imperial tragedy is always less.' Johnson's _Works_, v. 122. See
also Boswell's _Hebrides_, August 15 and 16, 1773, where Johnson
'displayed another of his heterodox opinions--a contempt of tragick
acting.' Murphy (_Life_, p. 145) thus writes of Johnson's slighting
Garrick and the stage:--'The fact was, Johnson could not see the
passions as they rose and chased one another in the varied features of
that expressive face; and by his own manner of reciting verses, which
was wonderfully impressive, he plainly showed that he thought there was
too much of artificial tone and measured cadence in the declamation of
the theatre.' Reynolds said of Johnson's recitation, that 'it had no
more tone than it should the have.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 26, 1773.
See _post_, April 3, 1773.

[281] See _post_, April 6, 1775, where Johnson, speaking of Cibber's
'talents of conversation,' said:--'He had but half to furnish; for one
half of what he said was oaths.'

[282] See _ante_, June 13, 1763.

[283] See _post_, Sept. 21, 1777.

[284] On Oct. 18, one day, not two days before, four men were hanged at
Tyburn for robbery on the highway, one for stealing money and linen, and
one for forgery. _Gent. Mag_., xxxix. 508. Boswell, in _The
Hypochondriack_, No. 68 (_London Mag_. for 1783, p. 203), republishes a
letter which he had written on April 25, 1768, to the _Public
Advertiser_, after he had witnessed the execution of an attorney named
Gibbon, and a youthful highwayman. He says:--'I must confess that I
myself am never absent from a public execution.... When I first attended
them, I was shocked to the greatest degree. I was in a manner convulsed
with pity and terror, and for several days, but especially nights after,
I was in a very dismal situation. Still, however, I persisted in
attending them, and by degrees my sensibility abated, so that I can now
see one with great composure. I can account for this curiosity in a
philosophical manner, when I consider that death is the most awful
object before every man, whoever directs his thoughts seriously towards
futurity. Therefore it is that I feel an irresistible impulse to be
present at every execution, as I there behold the various effects of the
near approach of death.' He maintains 'that the curiosity which impels
people to be present at such affecting scenes, is certainly a proof of
sensibility, not of callousness. For, it is observed, that the greatest
proportion of the spectators is composed of women.' See _post_, June
23, 1784.

[285] Of Johnson, perhaps, might almost be said what he said of Swift
(_Works_, viii. 207):--'The thoughts of death rushed upon him at this
time with such incessant importunity that they took possession of his
mind, when he first waked, for many hours together.' Writing to Mrs.
Thrale from Lichfield on Oct. 27, 1781, he says:--'All here is gloomy; a
faint struggle with the tediousness of time, a doleful confession of
present misery, and the approach seen and felt of what is most dreaded
and most shunned. But such is the lot of man.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 209.

[286] Johnson, during a serious illness, thus wrote to Mrs.
Thrale:--'When any man finds himself disposed to complain with how
little care he is regarded, let him reflect how little he contributed to
the happiness of others, and how little, for the most part, he suffers
from their pain. It is perhaps not to be lamented that those solicitudes
are not long nor frequent which must commonly be vain; nor can we wonder
that, in a state in which all have so much to feel of their own evils,
very few have leisure for those of another.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 14.
See _post_, Sept. 14, 1777.

[287] 'I was shocked to find a letter from Dr. Holland, to the effect
that poor Harry Hallam is dying at Sienna [Vienna]. What a trial for my
dear old friend! I feel for the lad himself, too. Much distressed. I
dined, however. We dine, unless the blow comes very, very near the heart
indeed.' Macaulay's _Life_, ii. 287. See also _ante_, i. 355.

[288] See _post_, Feb. 24, 1773, for 'a furious quarrel' between Davies
and Baretti.

[289] Foote, two or three years before this, had lost one leg through an
accident in hunting. Forster's _Essays_, ii. 398. See _post_, under
Feb. 7, 1775.

[290] When Mr. Foote was at Edinburgh, he thought fit to entertain a
numerous Scotch company, with a great deal of coarse jocularity, at the
expense of Dr. Johnson, imagining it would be acceptable. I felt this as
not civil to me; but sat very patiently till he had exhausted his
merriment on that subject; and then observed, that surely Johnson must
be allowed to have some sterling wit, and that I had heard him say a
very good thing of Mr. Foote himself. 'Ah, my old friend Sam (cried
Foote), no man says better things; do let us have it.' Upon which I told
the above story, which produced a very loud laugh from the company. But
I never saw Foote so disconcerted. He looked grave and angry, and
entered into a serious refutation of the justice of the remark. 'What,
Sir, (said he), talk thus of a man of liberal education;--a man who for
years was at the University of Oxford;--a man who has added sixteen new
characters to the English drama of his country!' BOSWELL.

Foote was at Worcester College, but he left without taking his degree.
He was constantly in scrapes. When the Provost, Dr. Gower, who was a
pedant, sent for him to reprimand him, 'Foote would present himself with
great apparent gravity and submission, but with a large dictionary under
his arm; when, on the doctor beginning in his usual pompous manner with
a surprisingly long word, he would immediately interrupt him, and, after
begging pardon with great formality, would produce his dictionary, and
pretending to find the meaning of the word, would say, "Very well, Sir;
now please to go on."' Forster's _Essays_, ii. 307. Dr. Gower is
mentioned by Dr. King (_Anec_., p. 174) as one of the three persons he
had known 'who spoke English with that elegance and propriety, that if
all they said had been immediately committed to writing, any judge of
the language would have pronounced it an excellent and very beautiful
style.' The other two were Bishop Atterbury and Dr. Johnson.

[291] _Cento_. A composition formed by joining scrapes from other
authours.' Johnson's _Dictionary_.

[292] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 30, 1773.

[293] For the position of these chaplains see _The Tatler_, No. 255, and
_The Guardian_, No. 163.

[294] 'He had been assailed in the grossest manner possible by a woman
of the town, and, driving her off with a blow, was set upon by three
bullies. He thereupon ran away in great fear, for he was a timid man,
and being pursued, had stabbed two of the men with a small knife he
carried in his pocket.' Garrick and Beauclerk testified that every one
abroad carried such a knife, for in foreign inns only forks were
provided. 'When you travel abroad do you carry such knives as this?'
Garrick was asked. 'Yes,' he answered, 'or we should have no victuals.'
_Dr. Johnson: His Friends and His Critics_, p. 288. I have extracted
from the _Sessional Reports_ for 1769, p. 431, the following evidence as
to Baretti's character:--'SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. I have known Mr. Baretti
fifteen or sixteen years. He is a man of great humanity, and very active
in endeavouring to help his friends. He is a gentleman of a good temper;
I never knew him quarrelsome in my life; he is of a sober
disposition.... This affair was on a club night of the Royal
Academicians. We expected him there, and were inquiring about him before
we heard of this accident. He is secretary for foreign correspondence.'
'DR. JOHNSON. I believe I began to be acquainted with Mr. Baretti about
the year '53 or '54. I have been intimate with him. He is a man of
literature, a very studious man, a man of great diligence. He gets his
living by study. I have no reason to think he was ever disordered with
liquor in his life. A man that I never knew to be otherwise than
peaceable, and a man that I take to be rather timorous.' Qu. 'Was he
addicted to pick up women in the street?' 'Dr. J. I never knew that he
was.' Qu. 'How is he as to his eye-sight?' 'Dr. J. He does not see me
now, nor I do not [sic] see him. I do not believe he could be capable of
assaulting anybody in the street without great provocation.' 'EDMUND
BURKE, ESQ. I have known him between three and four years; he is an
ingenious man, a man of remarkable humanity--a thorough good-natured
man.' 'DAVID GARRICK, ESQ. I never knew a man of a more active
benevolence.... He is a man of great probity and morals.' 'DR.
GOLDSMITH. I have had the honour of Mr. Baretti's company at my chambers
in the Temple. He is a most humane, benevolent, peaceable man.... He is
a man of as great humanity as any in the world.' Mr. Fitzherbert and Dr.
Hallifax also gave evidence. 'There were divers other gentlemen in court
to speak for his character, but the Court thought it needless to call
them.' It is curious that Boswell passes over Reynolds and Goldsmith
among the witnesses. Baretti's bail before Lord Mansfield were Burke,
Garrick, Reynolds, and Fitzherbert. Mrs. Piozzi tells the following
anecdotes of Baretti:--'When Johnson and Burke went to see him in
Newgate, they had small comfort to give him, and bid him not hope too
strongly. "Why, what can _he_ fear," says Baretti, placing himself
between them, "that holds two such hands as I do?" An Italian came one
day to Baretti, when he was in Newgate, to desire a letter of
recommendation for the teaching his scholars, when he (Baretti) should
be hanged. "You rascal," replies Baretti in a rage, "if I were not _in
my own apartment_, I would kick you down stairs directly."' Hayward's
_Piazzi_, ii. 348. Dr. T. Campbell, in his _Diary_ (p. 52), wrote on
April 1, 1775:--'Boswell and Baretti, as I learned, are mortal foes; so
much so that Murphy and Mrs. Thrale agreed that Boswell expressed a
desire that Baretti should be hanged upon that unfortunate affair of his
killing, &c.'

[295] Lord Auchinleck, we may assume. Johnson said of Pope, that 'he was
one of those few whose labor is their pleasure.' _Works_, viii. 321.

[296] I have since had reason to think that I was mistaken; for I have
been informed by a lady, who was long intimate with her, and likely to
be a more accurate observer of such matters, that she had acquired such
a niceness of touch, as to know, by the feeling on the outside of the
cup, how near it was to being full. BOSWELL. Baretti, in a MS. note on
_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 84, says:--'I dined with Dr. Johnson as seldom as
I could, though often scolded for it; but I hated to see the victuals
pawed by poor Mrs. Williams, that would often carve, though
stone blind.'

[297] See _ante_, July 1 and Aug. 2, 1763.

[298] See _ante_, i. 232.

[299] An Italian quack who in 1765 established medicated baths in Cheney
Walk, Chelsea. CROKER.

[300] The same saying is recorded _post_, May 15, 1784, and in Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Oct. 5, 1773. 'Cooke reports another saying of Goldsmith's
to the same effect:--"There's no chance for you in arguing with Johnson.
Like the Tartar horse, if he does not conquer you in front, his kick
from behind is sure to be fatal."' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 167. 'In
arguing,' wrote Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Johnson did not trouble himself
with much circumlocution, but opposed directly and abruptly his
antagonist. He fought with all sorts of weapons--ludicrous comparisons
and similies; if all failed, with rudeness and overbearing. He thought
it necessary never to be worsted in argument. He had one virtue which I
hold one of the most difficult to practise. After the heat of contest
was over, if he had been informed that his antagonist resented his
rudeness, he was the first to seek after a reconciliation.... That he
was not thus strenuous for victory with his intimates in tête-à-tête
conversations when there were no witnesses, may be easily believed.
Indeed, had his conduct been to them the same as he exhibited to the
public, his friends could never have entertained that love and affection
for him which they all feel and profess for his memory.' Taylor's
_Reynolds_, ii. 457, 462.

[301] He had written the _Introduction_ to it. _Ante_, p. 317.

[302] See _post_, beginning of 1770.

[303] He accompanied Boswell on his tour to the Hebrides. Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 18, 1773.

[304] While he was in Scotland he never entered one of the churches. 'I
will not give a sanction,' he said, 'by my presence, to a Presbyterian
assembly.' _Ib_ Aug. 27, 1773. When he was in France he went to a Roman
Catholic service; _post_, Oct. 29, 1775.

[305] See _post_, March 21, 1772.

[306] See _ante_, ii. 82.

[307] See _post_, March 27, 1772.

[308] See _post_, May 7, 1773, Oct. 10, 1779, and June 9, 1784.

[309] _St. James_, v. 16.

[310] See _post_, June 28, 1777, note.

[311] Laceration was properly a term of surgery; hence the italics. See
_post_, Jan. 20, 1780.

[312] See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[313] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 12, 1773.

[314] He bids us pray 'For faith that panting for a happier seat, Counts
death kind nature's signal of retreat.'


'To die is landing on some silent shore,
Where billows never beat, nor tempests roar,
Ere well we feel the friendly stroke, 'tis o'er.'

GARTH. Quoted in Johnson's _Works_, vi. 61. Bacon, if he was the author
of _An Essay on Death_, says, 'I do not believe that any man fears to be
dead, but only the stroke of death.' Spedding's _Bacon_, vi. 600. Cicero
(_Tuscul. Quaest_. i. 8) quotes Epicharmus's saying:--'Emori nolo, sed
me esse mortuum nihil aestimo.'

[316] See _post_, beginning of 1773.

[317] See _post_, April 17, 1778.

[318] Perhaps _on_ is a misprint for _or_.

[319] Johnson says of Blackmore (_Works_, viii. 36) that 'he is one of
those men whose lot it has been to be much oftener mentioned by enemies
than by friends.'

[320] This account Johnson says he had from an eminent bookseller, who
had it from Ambrose Philips the poet. 'The relation of Philips,' he
adds, 'I suppose was true; but when all reasonable, all credible
allowance is made for this friendly revision, the author will still
retain an ample dividend of praise.... Correction seldom effects more
than the suppression of faults: a happy line, or a single elegance, may
perhaps be added, but of a large work the general character must always
remain.' _Works_, viii. 41.

[321] An acute correspondent of the _European Magazine_, April, 1792,
has completely exposed a mistake which has been unaccountably frequent
in ascribing these lines to Blackmore, notwithstanding that Sir Richard
Steele, in that very popular work, _The Spectator_, mentions them as
written by the Authour of The British Princes, the Honourable Edward
Howard. The correspondent above mentioned, shews this mistake to be so
inveterate, that not only _I_ defended the lines as Blackmore's, in the
presence of Dr. Johnson, without any contradiction or doubt of their
authenticity, but that the Reverend Mr. Whitaker has asserted in print,
that he understands they were _suppressed_ in the late edition or
editions of Blackmore. 'After all (says this intelligent writer) it is
not unworthy of particular observation, that these lines so often quoted
do not exist either in Blackmore or Howard.' In _The British Princes_,
8vo. 1669, now before me, p. 96, they stand thus:--

'A vest as admired Voltiger had on, Which, from this Island's foes, his
grandsire won, Whose artful colour pass'd the Tyrian dye, Oblig'd to
triumph in this legacy.'

It is probable, I think, that some wag, in order to make Howard still
more ridiculous than he really was, has formed the couplet as it now
circulates. BOSWELL. Swift in his _Poetry: A Rhapsody_, thus joins
Howard and Blackmore together:--

'Remains a difficulty still,
To purchase fame by writing ill.
From Flecknoe down to Howard's time
How few have reached the low sublime!
For when our high-born Howard died,
Blackmore alone his place supplied.'

_Swift's Works_ (1803), xi. 296.

[322] Boswell seems to have borrowed the notion from _The Spectator_,
No. 43, where Steele, after saying that the poet blundered because he
was 'vivacious as well as stupid,' continues:--'A fool of a colder
constitution would have staid to have flayed the Pict, and made buff of
his skin for the wearing of the conqueror.'

[323] See _ante_, ii. 100, note 1.

[324] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 97) tells how one day at Streatham 'when
he was musing over the fire, a young gentleman called to him suddenly,
and I suppose he thought disrespectfully, in these words:--"Mr.
Johnson, would you advise me to marry?" "I would advise no man to marry,
Sir," returns for answer in a very angry tone Dr. Johnson, "who is not
likely to propagate understanding," and so left the room. Our companion
looked confounded, and I believe had scarce recovered the consciousness
of his own existence, when Johnson came back, and drawing his chair
among us, with altered looks and a softened voice, joined in the general
chat, insensibly led the conversation to the subject of marriage, where
he laid himself out in a dissertation so useful, so elegant, so founded
on the true knowledge of human life, and so adorned with beauty of
sentiment, that no one ever recollected the offence except to rejoice in
its consequences.' This 'young gentleman,' according to Mr. Hayward
(Mrs. Piozzi's _Auto_. i. 69), was Sir John Lade, the hero of the ballad
which Johnson recited on his death-bed. For other instances of Johnson's
seeking a reconciliation, see _post_, May 7, 1773, and April 12 and
May 8, 1778.

[325] '_The False Alarm_, his first and favourite pamphlet, was written
at our house between eight o'clock on Wednesday night and twelve o'clock
on Thursday night. We read it to Mr. Thrale when he came very late home
from the House of Commons.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 41. See also _post_,
Nov. 26, 1774, where Johnson says that '_The Patriot_ was called for by
my political friends on Friday, was written on Saturday.'

[326] Wilkes was first elected member for Middlesex at the General
Election of March, 1768. He did not take his seat, having been thrown
into prison before Parliament met. On Feb. 3, 1769, he was declared
incapable of being elected, and a new writ was ordered. On Feb. 16 he
was again elected, and without opposition. His election was again
declared void. On March 16 he was a third time elected, and without
opposition. His election was again declared void. On April 13 he was a
fourth time elected by 1143 votes against 296 given for Colonel
Luttrell. On the 14th the poll taken for him was declared null and void,
and on the 15th, Colonel Luttrell was declared duly elected. _Parl.
Hist_. xvi. 437, and Almon's _Wilkes_, iv. 4. See _post_, Oct. 12, 1779.

[327] The resolution of expulsion was carried on Feb. 17, 1769. _Parl.
Hist_. xvi. 577. It was expunged on May 3, 1782. _Ib_ xxii. 1407.

[328] In the original it is not _rulers_, but _railers_. Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 176.

[329] How slight the change of system was is shown by a passage in
Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 388. Mr. Forster mentions a 'memorial in
favour of the most worthless of hack-partizans, Shebbeare, which
obtained for him his pension of £200 a year. It is signed by fifteen
members of the House of Commons, and it asks for a pension "that he may
be enabled to pursue that laudable _inclination which he has_ of
manifesting his zeal for the service of his Majesty and his Government";
in other words, that a rascal shall be bribed to support a corrupt
administration.' Horace Walpole, in 1757 (_Letters_, iii. 54), described
Shebbeare as one 'who made a pious resolution of writing himself into a
place or the pillory, but who miscarried in both views.' He added in a
note, 'he did write himself into a pillory before the conclusion of that
reign, and into a pension at the beginning of the next, for one and the
same kind of merit--writing against King William and the Revolution.'
See also _post_, end of May, 1781.

[330] Johnson could scarcely be soothed by lines such as the

'Never wilt thou retain the hoarded store,
In virtue affluent, but in metal poor;
       *       *       *       *       *
Great is thy prose; great thy poetic strain,
Yet to dull coxcombs are they great in vain.

[331] Stockdale, who was born in 1736 and died in 1811, wrote _Memoirs
of his Life_--a long, dull book, but containing a few interesting
anecdotes of Johnson. He thought himself, and the world also, much
ill-used by the publishers, when they passed him over and chose Johnson
to edit the _Lives of the Poets_. He lodged both in Johnson's Court and
in Bolt Court, but preserved little good-will for his neighbour.
Johnson, in the _Life of Waller_ (_Works_, vii. 194), quoting from
Stockdale's _Life_ of that poet, calls him 'his last ingenious
biographer.' I. D'Israeli says that 'the bookseller Flexney complained
that whenever this poet came to town, it cost him £20. Flexney had been
the publisher of Churchill's _Works_, and never forgetting the time when
he published _The Rosciad_, he was speculating all his life for another
Churchill and another quarto poem. Stockdale usually brought him what he
wanted, and Flexney found the workman, but never the work.' _Calamities
of Authors_, ed. 1812, ii. 314.

[332] 'I believe most men may review all the lives that have passed
within their observation without remembering one efficacious resolution,
or being able to tell a single instance of a course of practice suddenly
changed in consequence of a change of opinion, or an establishment of
determination.' _Idler_, No. 27. 'These sorrowful meditations fastened
upon Rasselas's mind; he passed four months in resolving to lose no more
time in idle resolves.' _Rasselas_, ch. iv.

[333] _Pr. and Med_. p. 95. [p. 101.] BOSWELL.

[334] See _ante_, i. 368.

[335] The passage remains unrevised in the second edition.

[336] Johnson had suffered greatly from rheumatism this year, as well as
from other disorders. He mentions 'spasms in the stomach which disturbed
me for many years, and for two past harassed me almost to distraction.'
These, however, by means of a strong remedy, had at Easter nearly
ceased. 'The pain,' he adds, 'harrasses me much; yet many leave the
disease perhaps in a much higher degree, with want of food, fire, and
covering, which I find also grievous, with all the succours that riches
kindness can buy and give.' (He was staying at Mr. Thrale's) _Pr. and
Med_. pp. 92-95. 'Shall I ever,' he asks on Easter Day, 'receive the
Sacrament with tranquility? Surely the time will come.' _Ib_ p. 99.

[337] Son of the learned Mrs. Grierson, who was patronised by the late
Lord Granville, and was the editor of several of the Classicks. BOSWELL.


'Pontificum libros, annosa volumina vatum,
Dictitet Albano Musas in monte locutas.'
'Then swear transported that the sacred Nine
Pronounced on Alba's top each hallowed line.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Epis_. II. i. 26.

[339] See _ante_, i. 131, where Boswell says that 'Johnson afterwards
honestly acknowledged the merit of Walpole.'

[340] See _post_, May 15, 1783.

[341] 'His acquaintance was sought by persons of the first eminence in
literature; and his house, in respect of the conversations there, became
an academy.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 329. See _ante_, i. 247, 350,
note 3.

[342] Probably Madame de Boufflers. See _post_, under November 12, 1775.

[343] 'To talk in publick, to think in solitude, to read and hear, to
inquire and answer inquiries, is the business of a scholar.' _Rasselas_,
ch. viii. Miss Burney mentions an amusing instance of a consultation by
letter. 'The letter was dated from the Orkneys, and cost Dr. Johnson
eighteen pence. The writer, a clergyman, says he labours under a most
peculiar misfortune, for which he can give no account, and which is
that, though he very often writes letters to his friends and others, he
never gets any answers. He entreats, therefore, that Dr. Johnson will
take this into consideration, and explain to him to what so strange a
thing may be attributed.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 96.

[344] 'How he [Swift] spent the rest of his time, and how he employed
his hours of study, has been inquired with hopeless curiosity. For who
can give an account of another's studies? Swift was not likely to admit
any to his privacies, or to impart a minute account of his business or
his leisure.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 208.

[345] See _post_, March 31, 1772.

[346] 'He loved the poor,' says Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 84), 'as I never
yet saw any one else do, with an earnest desire to make them happy.
"What signifies," says some one, "giving half-pence to common beggars?
they only lay it out in gin or tobacco." "And why should they be denied
such sweeteners of their existence?" says Johnson.' The harm done by
this indiscriminate charity had been pointed out by Fielding in his
_Covent Garden Journal_ for June 2, 1752. He took as the motto for
the paper:

'O bone, ne te
Frustrere, insanis et tu';

which he translates, 'My good friend, do not deceive thyself; for with
all thy charity thou also art a silly fellow.' 'Giving our money to
common beggars,' he describes as 'a kind of bounty that is a crime
against the public.' Fielding's _Works_, x. 77, ed. 1806. Johnson once
allowed (_post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_) that 'one might
give away £500 a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do
any good.' See also _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.

[347] He was once attacked, though whether by robbers is not made clear.
See _post_, under Feb. 7, 1775.

[348] Perhaps it was this class of people which is described in the
following passage:--'It was never against people of coarse life that his
contempt was expressed, while poverty of sentiment in men who considered
themselves to be company _for the parlour_, as he called it, was what he
would not bear.' Piozzi's _Anec_. 215.

[349] See _ante_, i. 320, for one such offer.

[350] See _ante_, i. 163, note 1, and _post_, March 30, 1781.

[351] Dr. T. Campbell, in his _Survey of the South of Ireland_, ed. 1777
(_post_, April 5, 1775), says:--'By one law of the penal code, if a
Papist have a horse worth fifty, or five hundred pounds, a Protestant
may become the purchaser upon paying him down five. By another of the
same code, a son may say to his father, "Sir, if you don't give me what
money I want, I'll turn _discoverer_, and in spite of you and my elder
brother too, on whom at marriage you settled your estate, I shall become
heir,"' p. 251. Father O'Leary, in his _Remarks on Wesley's Letter_,
published in 1780 (_post_, _Hebrides_, Aug. 15, 1773), says (p.
41):--'He has seen the venerable matron, after twenty-four years'
marriage, banished from the perjured husband's house, though it was
proved in open court that for six months before his marriage he went to
mass. But the law requires that he should be a year and a day of the
same religion.' Burke wrote in 1792: 'The Castle [the government in
Dublin] considers the out-lawry (or what at least I look on as such) of
the great mass of the people as an unalterable maxim in the government
of Ireland.' _Burke's Corres_., iii. 378. See _post_, ii. 130, and May
7, 1773, and Oct. 12, 1779.

[352] See post, just before Feb. 18, 1775.

[353] 'Of Sheridan's writings on elocution, Johnson said, they were a
continual renovation of hope, and an unvaried succession of
disappointments.' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 197. See _post_, May
17, 1783.

[354] In 1753, Jonas Hanway published his _Travels to Persia_.

[355] 'Though his journey was completed in eight days he gave a relation
of it in two octavo volumes.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 352. See
_ante_, i. 313.

[356] See _ante_, i. 68, and _post_, June 9, 1784, note, where he varies
the epithet, calling it 'the best piece of _parenetic_ divinity.'

[357] '"I taught myself," Law tells us, "the high Dutch language, on
purpose to know the original words of the blessed Jacob."' Overton's
_Life of Law_, p. 181. Behmen, or Böhme, the mystic shoemaker of
Gorlitz, was born in 1575, and died in 1624. 'His books may not hold at
all honourable places in libraries; his name may be ridiculous. But he
_was_ a generative thinker. What he knew he knew for himself. It was not
transmitted to him, but fought for.' F.D. Maurice's _Moral and Meta.
Phil_. ii. 325. Of Hudibras's squire, Ralph, it was said:

'He Anthroposophus, and Floud,
And Jacob Behmen understood.'

_Hudibras_, I. i. 541.

Wesley (_Journal_, i. 359) writes of Behmen's _Mysteriun Magnum_, 'I can
and must say thus much (and that with as full evidence as I can say two
and two make four) it is most sublime nonsense, inimitable bombast,
fustian not to be paralleled.'

[358] 'He heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to
utter,' 2 Corinthians, xii. 4.

[359] See _ante_, i. 458. In _Humphry Clinker_, in the Letter of June
11, the turnkey of Clerkenwell Prison thus speaks of a Methodist:--'I
don't care if the devil had him; here has been nothing but canting and
praying since the fellow entered the place. Rabbit him! the tap will be
ruined--we han't sold a cask of beer nor a dozen of wine, since he paid
his garnish--the gentlemen get drunk with nothing but your damned

[360] 'John Wesley probably paid more for turnpikes than any other man
in England, for no other person travelled so much.' Southey's _Wesley_,
i. 407. 'He tells us himself, that he preached about 800 sermons in a
year.' _Ib_ ii. 532. In one of his _Appeals to Men of Reason and
Religion_, he asks:--'Can you bear the summer sun to beat upon your
naked head? Can you suffer the wintry rain or wind, from whatever
quarter it blows? Are you able to stand in the open air, without any
covering or defence, when God casteth abroad his snow like wool, or
scattereth his hoar-frost like ashes? And yet these are some of the
smallest inconveniences which accompany field-preaching. For beyond all
these, are the contradiction of sinners, the scoffs both of the great
vulgar and the small; contempt and reproach of every kind--often more
than verbal affronts--stupid, brutal violence, sometimes to the hazard
of health, or limbs, or life. Brethren, do you envy us this honour?
What, I pray you, would buy you to be a field-preacher? Or what, think
you, could induce any man of common sense to continue therein one year,
unless he had a full conviction in himself that it was the will of God
concerning him?' Southey's _Wesley_, i. 405.

[361] Stockdale reported to Johnson, that Pope had told Lyttelton that
the reason why he had not translated Homer into blank verse was 'that he
could translate it more easily into rhyme. "Sir," replied Johnson, "when
the Pope said that, he knew that he lied."' Stockdale's _Memoirs_, ii.
44. In the _Life of Somervile_, Johnson says:--'If blank verse be not
tumid and gorgeous, it is crippled prose.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 95.
See _post_ beginning of 1781.

[362] _Ephesians_, v. 20.

[363] In the original--'Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain' See
_post_ June 12, 1784.

[364] See _post_ under Aug 29, 1783, and Boswell's _Hebrides_ Oct 14,

[365] 'The chief glory of every people arises from its authours.'
Johnson's _Works_, v 49.

[366] In a Discourse by Sir William Jones, addressed to the Asiatick
Society [in Calcutta], Feb. 24, 1785, is the following passage:--

'One of the most sagacious men in this age who continues, I hope, to
improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson [he had been dead ten weeks],
remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had flourished in ancient Greece,
he would have been worshipped as a Divinity.' MALONE. Johnson, in _An
Account of an Attempt to ascertain the Longitude_ (_Works_, v, 299),
makes the supposed author say:--'I have lived till I am able to produce
in my favour the testimony of time, the inflexible enemy of false
hypotheses; the only testimony which it becomes human understanding to
oppose to the authority of Newton.'

[367] Murphy (_Life_, p. 91) places the scene of such a conversation in
the house of the Bishop of Salisbury. 'Boscovitch,' he writes, 'had a
ready current flow of that flimsy phraseology with which a priest may
travel through Italy, Spain, and Germany. Johnson scorned what he called
colloquial barbarisms. It was his pride to speak his best. He went on,
after a little practice, with as much facility as if it was his native
tongue. One sentence this writer well remembers. Observing that
Fontenelle at first opposed the Newtonian philosophy, and embraced it
afterwards, his words were:--"Fontenellus, ni fallor, in extrema
senectute fuit transfuga ad castra Newtoniana."' See _post_, under Nov.
12, 1775. Boscovitch, the Jesuit astronomer, was a professor in the
University of Pavia. When Dr. Burney visited him, 'he complained very
much of the silence of the English astronomers, who answer none of his
letters.' Burney's _Tour in France and Italy_, p. 92.

[368] See _post_, in 1781, the _Life of Lyttelton_.

[369] The first of Macpherson's forgeries was _Fragments of Ancient
Poetry collected in the Highlands_. Edinburgh, 1760. In 1762, he
published in London, _The Works of Ossian, the son of Fingal_, 2 vols.
Vol. i. contained _Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem_, in six Books. See
_post_, Jan 1775.

[370] Horace, _Ars Poetica_, l. 41.

[371] Perhaps Johnson had some ill-will towards attorneys, such as he
had towards excisemen (_ante_, i. 36, note 5 and 294). In _London_,
which was published in May, 1738, he couples them with street robbers:

'Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay,
And here the fell attorney prowls for prey.'

_Works_, i. 1. In a paper in the _Gent. Mag_. for following June (p.
287), written, I have little doubt, by him, the profession is this
savagely attacked:--'Our ancestors, in ancient times, had some regard to
the moral character of the person sent to represent them in their
national assemblies, and would have shewn some degree of resentment or
indignation, had their votes been asked for murderer, an adulterer, a
know oppressor, an hireling evidence, an attorney, a gamester, or pimp.'
In the _Life of Blackmere_ (_Works_, viii. 36) he has a sly hit at the
profession. 'Sir Richard Blackmore was the son of Robert Blackmore,
styled by Wood gentleman, and supposed to have been an attorney.' We may
compare Goldsmith's lines in _Retaliation_:--'Then what was his failing?
come tell it, and burn ye,--

'He was, could he help it? a special attorney.'

See also _post_, under June 16, 1784.

[372] See _ante_, i. Appendix F.

[373] Dr. Maxwell is perhaps here quoting the _Idler_, No. 69, where
Johnson, speaking of _Bioethics on the Confronts of Philosophy_, calls
it 'the book which seems to have been the favourite of the middle ages.'

[374] Yet it is Murphy's tragedy of _Zenobia_ that Mrs. Piozzi writes
(_Anec_. p. 280):--'A gentleman carried Dr. Johnson his tragedy, which
because he loved the author, he took, and it lay about our rooms some
time. "Which answer did you give your friend, Sir?" said I, after the
book had been called for. "I told him," replied he, "that there was too
_Tig and Terry_ in it." Seeing me laugh most violently, "Why, what
would'st have, child?" said he. "I looked at nothing but the _dramatis_
[_personae_], and there was _Tigranes_ and _Tiridates_, or _Teribaeus_,
or such stuff. A man can tell but what he knows, and I never got any
further than the _first_ pages."' In _Zenobia_ two and Tigranes.

[375] Hume was one who had this idle dream. Shortly before his death one
of his friends wrote:--'He still maintains that the national debt must
be the ruin of Britain; and laments that the two most civilised nations,
the English and French, should be on the decline; and the barbarians,
the Goths and Vandals of Germany and Russia, should be rising in power
and renown.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 497.

[376] Hannah More was with Dr. Kennicott at his death. 'Thus closed a
life,' she wrote (_Memoirs_, i. 289), 'the last thirty years of which
were honourably spent in collating the Hebrew Scriptures.' See also
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 16, 1773.

[377] Johnson (_Works_, viii. 467) says that Mallet, in return for what
he wrote against Byng, 'had a considerable pension bestowed upon him,
which he retained to his death.' See _ante_, i. 268.

[378] See _ante_, ii. 76.

[379] 'It is dangerous for a man and woman to suspend their fate upon
each other at a time when opinions are fixed, and habits are
established; when friendships have been contracted on both sides; when
life has been planned into method, and the mind has long enjoyed the
contemplation of its own prospects.' _Rasselas_, ch. xxix.

[380] Malone records that 'Cooper was round and fat. Dr. Warton, one
day, when dining with Johnson, urged in his favour that he was, at
least, very well informed, and a good scholar. "Yes," said Johnson, "it
cannot be denied that he has good materials for playing the fool, and he
makes abundant use of them."' Prior's _Malone_, p. 428. See _post_,
Sept. 15, 1777, note.

[381] See _post_, Sept 21, 1777, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22,

[382] But see _ante_, i. 299, where Johnson owned that his happier days
had come last.


'In youth alone unhappy mortals live,
But ah! the mighty bliss is fugitive;
Discolour'd sickness, anxious labours come,
And age, and death's inexorable doom.'

DRYDEN. Virgil, _Georgics_, iii. 66. In the first edition Dr. Maxwell's
_Collectanea_ ended here. What follows was given in the second edition
in _Additions received after the second edition was printed_, i. v.

[384] To Glaucus. Clarke's translation is:--'Ut semper fortissime rem
gererem, et superior virtute essem aliis.' _Iliad_, vi. 208. Cowper's
version is:--

'That I should outstrip always all mankind In worth and valour.'

[385] Maxwell calls him his old master, because Sharpe was Master of the
Temple when Maxwell was assistant preacher. CROKER.

[386] Dr. T. Campbell, in his _Survey of the South of Ireland_, p. 185,
writes: 'In England the meanest cottager is better fed, better lodged,
and better dressed than the most opulent farmers here.' See post,
Oct. 19, 1779.

[387] In the vice-royalty of the Duke of Bedford, which began in Dec.
1756, 'in order to encourage tillage a law was passed granting bounties
on the land carriage of corn and flour to the metropolis.' Lecky's
_Hist. of Eng_. ii. 435. In 1773-4 a law was passed granting bounties
upon the export of Irish corn to foreign countries. _Ib_ iv. 415.

[388] See _ante_, i. 434.

[389] See _ante_, ii. 121. Lord Kames, in his _Sketches of the History
of Man_, published in 1774, says:--'In Ireland to this day goods
exported are loaded with a high duty, without even distinguishing made
work from raw materials; corn, for example, fish, butter, horned cattle,
leather, &c. And, that nothing may escape, all goods exported that are
not contained in the book of rates, pay five per cent, _ad valorem_.'
ii. 413. These export duties were selfishly levied in what was supposed
to be the interest of England.

[390] 'At this time [1756] appeared Brown's _Estimate_, a book now
remembered only by the allusions in Cowper's _Table Talk_ [Cowper's
_Poems_, ed. 1786, i. 20] and in Burke's _Letters on a Regicide Peace_
[Payne's _Burke_, p. 9]. It was universally read, admired, and believed.
The author fully convinced his readers that they were a race of cowards
and scoundrels; that nothing could save them; that they were on the
point of being enslaved by their enemies, and that they richly deserved
their fate.' Macaulay's _Essays_, ii. 183. Dr. J.H. Burton says:--'Dr.
Brown's book is said to have run to a seventh edition in a few months.
It is rather singular that the edition marked as the seventh has
precisely the same matter in each page, and the same number of pages as
the first.' _Life of Hume_, ii. 23. Brown wrote two tragedies,
_Barbarossa_ and _Athelstan_, both of which Garrick brought out at Drury
Lane. In _Barbarossa_ Johnson observed 'that there were two
improprieties; in the first place, the use of a bell is unknown to the
Mahometans; and secondly, Otway had tolled a bell before Dr. Brown, and
we are not to be made April fools twice by the same trick.' Murphy's
_Garrick_, p. 173. Brown's vanity is shown in a letter to Garrick
(_Garrick Corres_. i. 220) written on Jan. 19, 1766, in which he talks
of going to St. Petersburg, and drawing up a System of Legislation for
the Russian Empire. In the following September, in a fit of madness, he
made away with himself.

[391] See _post_, May 8, 1781.

[392] Horace Walpole, writing in May, 1764, says:--'The Earl of
Northumberland returned from Ireland, where his profusion and
ostentation had been so great that it seemed to lay a dangerous
precedent for succeeding governors.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George
III_, i. 417. He was created Duke in 1766. For some pleasant anecdotes
about this nobleman and Goldsmith, see Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 66,
and Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 379, and ii. 227.

[393] Johnson thus writes of him (_Works_, viii. 207):--'The Archbishop
of Dublin gave him at first some disturbance in the exercise of his
jurisdiction; but it was soon discovered that between prudence and
integrity he was seldom in the wrong; and that, when he was right, his
spirit did not easily yield to opposition.' He adds: 'He delivered
Ireland from plunder and oppression, and showed that wit confederated
with truth had such force as authority was unable to resist. He said
truly of himself that Ireland "was his debtor." It was from the time
when he first began to patronise the Irish, that they may date their
riches and prosperity.' _Ib_ p. 319. Pope, in his _Imitations of
Horace_, II. i. 221, says:--

'Let Ireland tell how wit upheld her cause,
Her trade supported, and supplied her laws;
And leave on Swift this grateful verse engraved,
"The rights a Court attacked, a poet saved."'

[394] These lines have been discovered by the author's second son in the
_London Magazine_ for July 1732, where they form part of a poem on
_Retirement_, copied, with some slight variations, from one of Walsh's
smaller poems, entitled _The Retirement_. They exhibit another proof
that Johnson retained in his memory fragments of neglected poetry. In
quoting verses of that description, he appears by a slight variation to
have sometimes given them a moral turn, and to have dexterously adapted
them to his own sentiments, where the original had a very different
tendency. In 1782, when he was at Brighthelmstone, he repeated to Mr.
Metcalfe, some verses, as very characteristic of a celebrated historian
[Gibbon]. They are found among some anonymous poems appended to the
second volume of a collection frequently printed by Lintot, under the
title of _Pope's Miscellanies_:--

'See how the wand'ring Danube flows,
   Realms and religions parting;
A friend to all true Christian foes,
   To Peter, Jack, and Martin.
Now Protestant, and Papist now,
   Not constant long to either,
At length an infidel does grow,
  And ends his journey neither.
Thus many a youth I've known set out,
   Half Protestant, half Papist,
And rambling long the world about,
   Turn infidel or atheist.'

MALONE. See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_, and Boswell's
_Hebrides_ Aug. 27, and Oct. 28, 1773.

[395] Juvenal, _Sat_. iii. 1. 2.

'Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend.'

Johnson's _London_, 1. 3.

[396] It was published without the authors name.

[397] 'What have we acquired? What but ... an island thrown aside from
human use; ... an island which not the southern savages have dignified
with habitation.' _Works_, vi. 198.

[398] 'It is wonderful with what coolness and indifference the greater
part of mankind see war commenced. Those that hear of it at a distance,
or read of it in books, but have never presented its evils to their
minds, consider it as little more than a splendid game, a proclamation,
an army, a battle, and a triumph. Some, indeed, must perish in the most
successful field, but they die upon the bed of honour, "resign their
lives, amidst the joys of conquest, and, filled with England's glory,
smile in death." The life of a modern soldier is ill-represented by
heroic fiction. War has means of destruction more formidable than the
cannon and the sword.

Of the thousands and ten thousands that perished in our late contests
with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an
enemy; the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst damps and
putrefaction; pale, torpid, spiritless, and helpless; gasping and
groaning, unpitied among men made obdurate by long continuance of
hopeless misery; and were at last whelmed in pits, or heaved into the
ocean, without notice and without remembrance. By incommodious
encampments and unwholesome stations, where courage is useless, and
enterprise impracticable, fleets are silently dispeopled, and armies
sluggishly melted away.' _Works_, vi. 199.

[399] Johnson wrote of the Earl of Chatham:--'This surely is a
sufficient answer to the feudal gabble of a man who is every day
lessening that splendour of character which once illuminated the
kingdom, then dazzled, and afterwards inflamed it; and for whom it will
be happy if the nation shall at last dismiss him to nameless obscurity,
with that equipoise of blame and praise which Corneille allows to
Richelieu.' _Works_, vi. 197.

[400] _Ephesians_, vi. 12. Johnson (_Works_, vi. 198) calls Junius 'one
of the few writers of his despicable faction whose name does not
disgrace the page of an opponent.' But he thus ends his attack;--'What,
says Pope, must be the priest where a monkey is the god? What must be
the drudge of a party of which the heads are Wilkes and Crosby,
Sawbridge and Townsend?' _Ib_ p. 206.

[401] This softening was made in the later copies of the _first_
edition. A second change seems to have been made. In the text, as given
in Murphy's edition (1796, viii. 137), the last line of the passage
stands:--'If he was sometimes wrong, he was often right.' Horace Walpole
describes Grenville's 'plodding, methodic genius, which made him take
the spirit of detail for ability.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_,
i. 36. For the fine character that Burke drew of him see Payne's
_Burke_, i. 122. There is, I think, a hit at Lord Bute's Chancellor of
the Exchequer, Sir F. Dashwood (Lord Le Despencer), who was described as
'a man to whom a sum of five figures was an impenetrable secret.'
Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, i. 172, note. He himself
said, 'People will point at me, and cry, "there goes the worst
Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever appeared."' _Ib_ p. 250.

[402] Boswell, I suspect, quoted this passage from hearsay, for
originally it stood:--'If he could have got the money, he could have
counted it' (p. 68). In the British Museum there are copies of the first
edition both _softened_ and _unsoftened_.

[403] _Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands_.

[404] By comparing the first with the subsequent editions, this curious
circumstance of ministerial authorship may be discovered. BOSWELL.

[405] _Navigation_ was the common term for canals, which at that time
were getting rapidly made. A writer in _Notes and Queries_, 6th, xi. 64,
shows that Langton, as payment of a loan, undertook to pay Johnson's
servant, Frank, an annuity for life, secured on profits from the
_navigation_ of the River Wey in Surrey.

[406] It was, Mr. Chalmers told me, a saying about that time, 'Married a
Countess Dowager of Rothes!' 'Why, everybody marries a Countess Dowager
of Rothes!' And there were in fact, about 1772, three ladies of that
name married to second husbands. CROKER. Mr. Langton married one of
these ladies.

[407] _The Hermit of Warkworth: A Ballad in three cantos_. T. Davis, 25.
6d. Cradock (_Memoirs_, i. 207) quotes Johnson's parody on a stanza in
_The Hermit_:

'I put my hat upon my head,
 And walked into the Strand,
 And there I met another man
 With his hat in his hand.'

'Mr. Garrick,' he continues, 'asked me whether I had seen Johnson's
criticism on the _Hermit_. "It is already," said he, "over half
the town."'

[408] '"I am told," says a letter-writer of the day, "that Dr. Goldsmith
now generally lives with his countryman, Lord Clare, who has lost his
only son, Colonel Nugent."' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 228. '_The Haunch
of Venison_ was written this year (1771), and appears to have been
written for Lord Clare alone; nor was it until two years after the
writer's death that it obtained a wider audience than his immediate
circle of friends.' _Ib_ p. 230. See _post_, April 17, 1778.

[409] Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 222) mentions Mr. Strahan:--'I agreed
upon easy terms with Mr. Thomas Cadell, a respectable bookseller, and
Mr. William Strahan, an eminent printer, and they undertook the care and
risk of the publication [of the _Decline and Fall_], which derived more
credit from the name of the shop than from that of the author.... So
moderate were our hopes, that the original impression had been stinted
to five hundred, till the number was doubled by the prophetic taste of
Mr. Strahan.' Hume, by his will, left to Strahan's care all his
manuscripts, 'trusting,' he says, 'to the friendship that has long
subsisted between us for his careful and faithful execution of my
intentions.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 494. See _ib_. p. 512, for a
letter written to Hume on his death-bed by Strahan.

[410] Dr. Franklin, writing of the year 1773, says (_Memoirs_, i.
398):--'An acquaintance (Mr. Strahan, M.P.) calling on me, after having
just been at the Treasury, showed me what he styled _a pretty thing_,
for a friend of his; it was an order for £150, payable to Dr. Johnson,
said to be one half of his yearly pension.'

[411] See _post_, July 27, 1778.

[412] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 513) says that Mr. Thrale made the same
attempt. 'He had two meetings with the ministry, who at first seemed
inclined to find Johnson a seat.' 'Lord Stowell told me,' says Mr.
Croker, 'that it was understood amongst Johnson's friends that Lord
North was afraid that Johnson's help (as he himself said of Lord
Chesterfield's) might have been sometimes _embarrassing_. "He perhaps
thought, and not unreasonably," added Lord Stowell, "that, like the
elephant in the battle, he was quite as likely to trample down his
friends as his foes."' Lord Stowell referred to Johnson's letter to
Chesterfield (_ante_, i. 262), in which he describes a patron as 'one
who encumbers a man with help.'

[413] Boswell married his cousin Margaret Montgomerie on Nov. 25, 1769.
On the same day his father married for the second time. _Scots Mag_. for
1769, p. 615. Boswell, in his _Letter to the People of Scotland_ (p.
55), published in 1785, describes his wife as 'a true _Montgomerie_,
whom I esteem, whom I love, after fifteen years, as on the day when she
gave me her hand.' See his _Hebrides_, Aug. 14, 1773.


'Musis amicus, tristitiam et metus
Tradam, &c.

While in the Muse's friendship blest,
Nor fear, nor grief, shall break my rest;
Bear them, ye vagrant winds, away,
And drown them in the Cretan Sea.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, i. 26. I.

[415] Horace. _Odes_, i. 22. 5.

[416] Lord Elibank wrote to Boswell two years later:--'Old as I am, I
shall be glad to go five hundred miles to enjoy a day of Mr. Johnson's
company.' Boswell's _Hebrides_ under date of Sept. 12, 1773. See _ib_.
Nov. 10, and _post_, April 5, 1776.

[417] Goldsmith wrote to Langton on Sept. 7, 1771:--'Johnson has been
down upon a visit to a country parson, Doctor Taylor, and is returned to
his old haunts at Mrs. Thrale's.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 93.

[418] While Miss Burney was examining a likeness of Johnson, 'he no
sooner discerned it than he began see-sawing for a moment or two in
silence; and then, with a ludicrous half-laugh, peeping over her
shoulder, he called out:--"Ah, ha! Sam Johnson! I see thee!--and an ugly
dog thou art!"' _Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, ii. 180. In another passage (p.
197), after describing 'the kindness that irradiated his austere and
studious features into the most pleased and pleasing benignity,' as he
welcomed her and her father to his house, she adds that a lady who was
present often exclaimed, 'Why did not Sir Joshua Reynolds paint Dr.
Johnson when he was speaking to Dr. Burney or to you?'

[419] 'Johnson,' wrote Beattie from London on Sept. 8 of this year, 'has
been greatly misrepresented. I have passed several entire days with him,
and found him extremely agreeable.' Beattie's _Life_, ed. 1824, p. 120.

[420] He was preparing the fourth edition, See _post, March 23, 1772.

[421] 'Sept. 18, 1771, 9 at night. I am now come to my sixty-third year.
For the last year I have been slowly recovering both from the violence
of my last illness, and, I think, from the general disease of my life:
... some advances I hope have been made towards regularity. I have
missed church since Easter only two Sundays.... But indolence and
indifference has [sic] been neither conquered nor opposed.' _Pr. and
Med_. p. 104.

[422] 'Let us search and try our ways.' _Lamentations_ iii. 40.

[423] _Pr. and Med_. p. 101 [105]. BOSWELL.

[424] Boswell forgets the fourth edition of his _Dictionary_. Johnson,
in Aug. 1771 (_ante_, p. 142), wrote to Langton:--'I am engaging in a
very great work, the revision of my _Dictionary_.' In _Pr. and Med_. p.
123, at Easter, 1773, as he 'reviews the last year,' he records:--'Of
the spring and summer I remember that I was able in those seasons to
examine and improve my _Dictionary_, and was seldom withheld from the
work but by my own unwillingness.'

[425] Thus translated by a friend:--

'In fame scarce second to the nurse of Jove,
This Goat, who twice the world had traversed round,
Deserving both her masters care and love,
Ease and perpetual pasture now has found.'


[426] Cockburn (_Life of Jeffrey_, i. 4) says that the High School of
Edinburgh, in 1781, 'was cursed by two under master, whose atrocities
young men cannot be made to believe, but old men cannot forget, and the
criminal law would not now endure.'

[427] Mr. Langton married the Countess Dowager of Rothes. BOSWELL.

[428] From school. See _ante_, ii. 62.

[429] See _ante_, i. 44.

[430] Johnson used to say that schoolmasters were worse than the
Egyptian task-masters of old. 'No boy,' says he, 'is sure any day he
goes to school to escape a whipping. How can the schoolmaster tell what
the boy has really forgotten, and what he has neglected to learn?'
Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 209. 'I rejoice,' writes J. S. Mill
(_Auto_. p. 53), 'in the decline of the old, brutal, and tyrannical
system of teaching, which, however, did succeed in enforcing habits of
application; but the new, as it seems to me, is training up a race of
men who be incapable of doing anything which is disagreeable to them.'

[431] See _ante_, i. 373.

[432] See _ante_, ii. 74.

[433] The ship in which Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were to have sailed
was the Endeavour. It was, they said, unfit for the voyage. The
Admiralty altered it in such a way as to render it top-heavy. It was
nearly overset on going down the river. Then it was rendered safe by
restoring it to its former condition. When the explorers raised their
former objections, they were told to take it or none. _Ann. Reg_. xv.
108. See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 18, 1773.

[434] I suspect that _Raleigh_ is here an error of Mr. Boswell's pen for
_Drake_. CROKER. Johnson had written Drake's _Life_, and therefore must
have had it well in mind that it was Drake who went round the world.

[435] _Romeo and Juliet_, act v. sc. 1.


'_Edinburgh_, May 3, 1792.


'As I suppose your great work will soon be reprinted, I beg leave to
trouble you with a remark on a passage of it, in which I am a little
misrepresented. Be not alarmed; the misrepresentation is not imputable
to you. Not having the book at hand, I cannot specify the page, but I
suppose you will easily find it. Dr. Johnson says, speaking of Mrs.
Thrale's family, "Dr. Beattie _sunk upon us_ that he was married, or
words to that purpose." I am not sure that I understand _sunk upon us_,
which is a very uncommon phrase, but it seems to me to imply, (and
others, I find, have understood it in the same sense,) _studiously
concealed from us his being married_. Now, Sir, this was by no means the
case. I could have no motive to conceal a circumstance, of which I never
was nor can be ashamed; and of which Dr. Johnson seemed to think, when
he afterwards became acquainted with Mrs. Beattie, that I had, as was
true, reason to be proud. So far was I from concealing her, that my wife
had at that time almost as numerous an acquaintance in London as I had
myself; and was, not very long after, kindly invited and elegantly
entertained at Streatham by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale.

'My request, therefore, is, that you would rectify this matter in your
new edition. You are at liberty to make what use you please of
this letter.

'My best wishes ever attend you and your family. Believe me to be, with
the utmost regard and esteem, dear Sir,

'Your obliged and affectionate humble servant, J. BEATTIE.'

I have, from my respect for my friend Dr. Beattie, and regard to his
extreme sensibility, inserted the foregoing letter, though I cannot but
wonder at his considering as any imputation a phrase commonly used among
the best friends. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker says there was a cause for the
'extreme sensibility.' 'Dr. Beattie was conscious that there was
something that might give a colour to such an imputation. It became
known, shortly after the date of this letter, that the mind of Mrs.
Beattie had become deranged.' Beattie would have found in Johnson's
_Dictionary_ an explanation of _sunk upon us_--'_To sink. To suppress;
to conceal_. "If sent with ready money to buy anything, and you happen
to be out of pocket, _sink_ the money and take up the goods on
account."' Swift's _Rules to Servants_, _Works_, viii. 256.

[437] See _ante_, i 450.

[438] See _ante_, ii. 10.

[439] See _Post_, April 15, 1778, note, and June 12, 1784.

[440] See ante, i. 405.

[441] _St. John_, xv. 24

[442] See note, p. 51 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[443] See _ante_, ii. 105.

[444] The petition was presented on Feb. 6 of this year. By a majority
thrown of 217 to 71 leave was refused for it to be brought up. _Parl.
Hist_. xvii. 245-297. Gibbon, in a letter dated Feb. 8, 1772 (_Misc.
Works_, ii. 74), congratulates Mr. Holroyd 'on the late victory of our
dear mamma, the Church of England. She had, last Thursday, 71 rebellious
sons, who pretended to set aside her will on account of insanity; but
217 worthy champions, headed by Lord North, Burke, and Charles Fox,
though they allowed the thirty-nine clauses of her testament were absurd
and unreasonable, supported the validity of it with infinite humour. By
the by, Charles Fox prepared himself for that holy war by passing
twenty-two hours in the pious exercise of hazard; his devotion cost him
only about £500 per hour--in all, £11,000.' See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 19, 1773.

[445] 'Lord George Germayne,' writes Horace Walpole, 'said that he
wondered the House did not take some steps on this subject with regard
to the Universities, where boys were made to subscribe to the Articles
without reading them--a scandalous abuse.' _Journal of the Reign of
George III_, i. 11.

[446] See _ante_, ii. 104.

[447] Burke had thus answered Boswell's proposal:--'What is that
Scripture to which they are content to subscribe? The Bible is a vast
collection of different treatises; a man who holds the divine authority
of one may consider the other as merely human. Therefore, to ascertain
Scripture you must have one Article more, and you must define what that
Scripture is which you mean to teach.' _Parl. Hist_. xvii. 284.

[448] Dr. Nowell (_post_, June 11, 1784) had this year preached the fast
sermon before the House of Commons on Jan. 30, the anniversary of the
execution of Charles I, and received the usual vote of thanks. _Parl.
Hist. xvii_. 245. On Feb. 25 the entry of the vote was, without a
division, ordered to be expunged. On the publication of the sermon it
had been seen that Nowell had asserted that George III was endued with
the same virtues as Charles I, and that the members of the House were
the descendants of those who had opposed that King. _Ib_ p. 313, and
_Ann. Reg_. xv. 79. On March 2, Mr. Montague moved for leave to bring in
a bill to abolish the fast, but it was refused by 125 to 97. _Parl.
Hist_. xvii. 319. The fast was abolished in 1859--thirteen years within
the century that Johnson was ready to allow it. 'It is remarkable,'
writes Horace Walpole, 'that George III had never from the beginning of
his reign gone to church on the 30th of January, whereas George II
always did.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 41.

[449] This passage puzzled Mr. Croker and Mr. Lockhart. The following
extract from the _Gent. Mag_. for Feb. 1772, p. 92, throws light on
Johnson's meaning:--'This, say the opposers of the Bill, is putting it
in the King's power to change the order of succession, as he may for
ever prevent, if he is so minded, the elder branches of the family from
marrying, and therefore may establish the succession in the younger. Be
this as it may, is it not, in fact, converting the holy institution of
marriage into a mere state contract?' See also the Protest of fourteen
of the peers in _Parl. Hist_. xvii. 391, and _post_, April 15, 1773.
Horace Walpole ends his account of the Marriage Bill by saying:--'Thus
within three weeks were the Thirty-nine Articles affirmed and the New
Testament deserted.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 37. How
carelessly this Act was drawn was shown by Lord Eldon, when
Attorney-General, in the case of the marriage of the Duke of Sussex to
Lady Augusta Murray. 'Lord Thurlow said to me angrily at the Privy
Council, "Sir, why have you not prosecuted under the Act of Parliament
all the parties concerned in this abominable marriage?" To which I
answered, "That it was a very difficult business to prosecute--that the
Act had been drawn by Lord Mansfield and _Mr. Attorney-General Thurlow_,
and Mr. Solicitor-General Wedderburne, and unluckily they had made all
parties present at the marriage guilty of felony; and as nobody could
prove the marriage except a person who had been present at it, there
could be no prosecution, because nobody present could be compelled to be
a witness." This put an end to the matter.' Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 234.

[450] See _post_, May 9, 1773, and May 13, 1778.

[451] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25, 1773, where Johnson, discussing
the same question, says:--'There is generally a _scoundrelism_ about
a low man.'

[452] Mackintosh told Mr. Croker that this friend was Mr. Cullen,
afterwards a judge by the name of Lord Cullen. In _Boswelliana_ (pp.
250-2), Boswell mentions him thrice, and always as 'Cullen the mimick.'
His manner, he says, was wretched, and his physiognomy worse than
Wilkes's. Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 268) says that 'Cullen possessed
the talent of mimicry beyond all mankind; for his was not merely an
exact imitation of voice and manner of speaking, but a perfect
exhibition of every man's manner of thinking on every subject.' Carlyle
mentions two striking instances of this.

[453] See _post_, May 15, 1776.

[454] 'The prince of Dublin printers,' as Swift called him. Swift's
_Works_ (1803), xviii. 288. He was taken off by Foote under the name of
Peter Paragraph, in _The Orators_, the piece in which he had meant to
take off Johnson (_ante_, ii. 95). 'Faulkner consoled himself (pending
his prosecution of the libeller) by printing the libel, and selling it
most extensively.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 287. See Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 29.

[455] Faulkner had lost one of his legs. 'When Foote had his accident
(_ante_, ii. 95), "Now I shall take off old Faulkner indeed to the
life," was the first remark he made when what he had to suffer was
announced to him.' Forster's _Essays_, ii. 400.

[456] A writer in the _Monthly Review_, lxxvi. 374 (no doubt Murphy),
says:--'A large number of friends such as Johnson, Mr. Burke, and Mr.
Murphy dined at Garrick's at Christmas, 1760. Foote was then in Dublin.
It was said at table that he had been horse-whipped by an apothecary for
taking him off upon the stage. "But I wonder," said Garrick, "that any
man would show so much resentment to Foote; nobody ever thought it worth
his while to quarrel with him in London." "And I am glad," said Johnson,
"to find that the man is rising in the world." The anecdote was
afterwards told to Foote, who in return gave out that he would in a
short time produce the Caliban of literature on the stage. Being
informed of this design, Johnson sent word to Foote, that, the theatre
being intended for the reformation of vice, he would go from the boxes
on the stage, and correct him before the audience, Foote abandoned the
design. No ill-will ensued.'

[457] See _post_, May 15, 1776, where Johnson says:--'I turned Boswell
loose at Lichfield, my native city, that he might see for once real

[458] In my list of Boswell's projected works (_ante_, i. 225, note 2) I
have omitted this.

[459] See _post_, April 7, 1775.

[460] Boswell visited Ireland in the summer of 1760. Prior's
_Goldsmith_, i. 450.

[461] Puffendorf states that 'tutors and schoolmasters have a right to
the moderate use of gentle discipline over their pupils'--viii. 3-10;
adding, rather superfluously, Grotius's _caveat_, that 'it shall not
extend to a power of death.' CROKER.

[462] The brother of Sir J. Macdonald, mentioned _ante_, i. 449. Johnson
visited him in the Isle of Skye. 'He had been very well pleased with him
in London, but he was dissatisfied at hearing heavy complaints of rents
racked, and the people driven to emigration.' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Sept. 2, 1773. He reproached him also with meanness as a host.

[463] Lord Campbell (_Lives of the Chancellors_, v. 449) points out that
this conversation followed close on the appointment of 'the incompetent
Bathurst' as Chancellor. 'Such a conversation,' he adds, 'would not have
occurred during the chancellorship of Lord Hardwicke or Lord Somers.'


'But if at first he minds his hits,
 And drinks champagne among the wits,' &c.

Prior's _Chameleon_, 1. 39.

[465] 'Plain truth, _dear Murray_, needs no flowers of speech.' Pope
thus addresses him in Epistle vi. Book i. of his _Imitations of Horace_,
which he dedicated to him.

[466] See _ante_, 386.

[467] See _post_, March 23, 1776.

[468] Afterwards Lord Ashburton. Described by Johnson (_post_, July 22,
1777), as 'Mr. Dunning, the great lawyer.'

[469] 'Having cleared his tongue from his native pronunciation, so as to
be no longer distinguished as a Scot, he seems inclined to disencumber
himself from all adherences of his original, and took upon him to change
his name from Scotch _Malloch_ to English _Mallet_, without any
imaginable reason of preference which the eye or ear can discover. What
other proofs he gave of disrespect to his native country I know not, but
it was remarked of him that he was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not
commend.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 464. See _ante_, i. 268, and _post_,
April 28, 1783.

[470] Mr. Love was, so far as is known, the first who advised Boswell to
keep a journal. When Boswell was but eighteen, writing of a journey he
had taken, he says: 'I kept an exact journal, at the particular desire
of my friend, Mr. Love, and sent it to him in sheets every post.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 8.

[471] 'That's villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool
that uses it.' _Hamlet_, iii. 2.

[472] Jeffrey wrote from Oxford, where he spent nine months in
1791-2:--'The only part of a Scotchman I mean to abandon is the
language, and language is all I expect to learn in England.' (Cockburn's
_Jeffrey_, i. 46). His biographer says:--'He certainly succeeded in the
abandonment of his habitual Scotch. The change was so sudden and so
complete, that it excited the surprise of his friends, and furnished
others with ridicule for many years.... The result, on the whole, was
exactly as described by Lord Holland, who said that though Jeffrey "had
lost the broad Scotch at Oxford, he had only gained the narrow
English."' Cockburn, in forgetfulness of Mallet's case, says that 'the
acquisition of a pure English accent by a full-grown Scotchman is
fortunately impossible.'

[473] Henry Dundas, afterwards Viscount Melville. See _post_, under Nov.
29, 1777. Boswell wrote to Temple on May 22, 1775:--'Harry Dundas is
going to be made King's Advocate--Lord Advocate at thirty-three! I
cannot help being angry and somewhat fretful at this; he has, to be
sure, strong parts, but he is a coarse, unlettered, unfanciful dog.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 195. Horace Walpole describes him as 'the
rankest of all Scotchmen, and odious for that bloody speech that had
fixed on him the nick-name of _Starvation_! _Journal of the Reign of
George III_, ii. 479. On p. 637 he adds:--'The happily coined word
"starvation" delivered a whole continent from the Northern harpies that
meant to devour it.' The speech in which Dundas introduced _starvation_
was made in 1775. Walpole's _Letters_, viii. 30. See _Parl. Hist_.,
xviii. 387. His character is drawn with great force by Cockburn. _Life
of Jeffrey_, i. 77.

[474] The correspondent of Hume. See J. H. Burton's _Hume_, i. 320.

[475] See _post_, May 12, 1778.

[476] In the _Plan_ (Works, v. 9), Johnson noticed the difference of the
pronunciation of _great_. 'Some words have two sounds which may be
equally admitted as being equally defensible by authority. Thus _great_
is differently used:--

'For Swift and him despised the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great.'--POPE.

'As if misfortune made the throne her seat,
And none could be unhappy but the great.'--ROWE.

In the _Preface to the Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 25), Johnson says that
'the vowels are capriciously pronounced, and differently modified by
accident or affectation, not only in every province, but in every
mouth.' Swift gives both rhymes within ten lines:--

'My lord and he are grown so great--
Always together, tête-à-tête.'

       *       *       *       *       *

'You, Mr. Dean, frequent the great, Inform us, will the emperor treat?'
Swift's _Works_ (1803), x. 110.

[477] 'Dr. Henry More, of Cambridge, Johnson did not much affect; he was
a Platonist, and, in Johnson's opinion, a visionary. He would frequently
cite from him, and laugh at, a passage to this effect:--"At the
consummation of all things, it shall come to pass that eternity shall
shake hands with opacity"' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 543.

[478] See _post_, April 17, 1778, and May 19, 1784.

[479] See _ante_, i. 240, and ii. 105.

[480] _Revelations_, xiv. 2.

[481] Johnson, in _The Rambler_, No. 78, describes man's death as 'a
change not only of the place, but the manner of his being; an entrance
into a state not simply which he knows not, but which perhaps he has not
faculties to know.'

[482] This fiction is known to have been invented by Daniel Defoe, and
was added to Drelincourt's book, to make it sell. The first edition had
it not. MALONE. 'More than fifty editions have not exhausted its
popularity. The hundreds of thousands who have bought the silly treatise
of Drelincourt have borne unconscious testimony to the genius of De
Foe.' Forster's _Essays_, ii. 70.

[483] See _ante_, i. 29.

[484] In his _Life of Akenside ( Works_, viii. 475) he says:--'Of
Akenside's _Odes_ nothing favourable can be said.... To examine such
compositions singly cannot be required; they have doubtless brighter and
darker parts; but when they are once found to be generally dull, all
further labour may be spared; for to what use can the work be criticised
that will not be read?' See _post_, April 10, 1776.

[485] See _post_, just before May 15, 1776.

[486] See _post_, Sept. 23, 1777.

[487] The account of his trial is entitled:--'_The Grand Question in
Religion Considered. Whether we shall obey God or Man; Christ or the
Pope; the Prophets and Apostles, or Prelates and Priests. Humbly offered
to the King and Parliament of Great Britain. By E. Elwall. With an
account of the Author's Tryal or Prosecution at Stafford Assizes before
Judge Denton. London.'_ No date. Elwall seems to have been a Unitarian
Quaker. He was prosecuted for publishing a book against the doctrines of
the Trinity, but was discharged, being, he writes, treated by the Judge
with great humanity. In his pamphlet he says (p. 49):--'You see what I
have already done in my former book. I have challenged the greatest
potentates on earth, yea, even the King of Great Britain, whose true and
faithful subject I am in all temporal things, and whom I love and
honour; also his noble and valiant friend, John Argyle, and his great
friends Robert Walpole, Charles Wager, and Arthur Onslow; all these can
speak well, and who is like them; and yet, behold, none of all these
cared to engage with their friend Elwall.' See _post_, May 7, 1773. Dr.
Priestley had received an account of the trial from a gentleman who was
present, who described Elwall as 'a tall man, with white hair, a large
beard and flowing garments, who struck everybody with respect. He spoke
about an hour with great gravity, fluency, and presence of mind.' The
trial took place, he said, in 1726. 'It is impossible,' adds Priestley
(_Works_, ed. 1831, ii. 417), 'for an unprejudiced person to read
Elwall's account of his trial, without feeling the greatest veneration
for the writer.' In truth, Elwall spoke with all the simple power of the
best of the early Quakers.

[488] Boswell, in the _Hypochrondriack_ (_London Mag_. 1783, p. 290),
writing on swearing, says:--'I have the comfort to think that my
practice has been blameless in this respect.' He continues (p. 293):--
'To do the present age justice, there is much less swearing among
genteel people than in the last age.'

[489] 'The _Life of Dr. Parnell_ is a task which I should very willingly
decline, since it has been lately written by Goldsmith, a man of such
variety of powers, and such felicity of performance, that he always
seemed to do best that which he was doing.... What such an author has
told, who would tell again? I have made an abstract from his larger
narrative, and have this gratification from my attempt, that it gives me
an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith. [Greek:
Togargerasesti Thanonton].' Johnson's _Works_, vii. 398.

[490] See _ante_, i. 26, and _post_, April 11, 1773.

[491] 'Mr. Ruffhead says of fine passages that they are fine, and of
feeble passages that they are feeble; but recommending poetical beauty
is like remarking the splendour of sunshine; to those who can see it is
unnecessary, and to those who are blind, absurd.' _Gent. Mag_. May,
1769, p. 255. The review in which this passage occurs, is perhaps in
part Johnson's.

[492] See _ante_, i. 448.

[493] See _post_, April 5, 1775.

[494] It was Lewis XIV who said it. 'Toutes les fois que je donne une
place vacante, je fais cent mecontens et un ingrat.' Voltaire, _Siecle
de Louis XIV_, ch. 26. 'When I give away a place,' said Lewis XIV, 'I
make an hundred discontented, and one ungrateful.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 204.

[495] See _post_, May 15, 1783.

[496] This project has since been realized. Sir Henry Liddel, who made a
spirited tour into Lapland, brought two rein-deer to his estate in
Northumberland, where they bred; but the race has unfortunately
perished. BOSWELL.

[497] Dr. Johnson seems to have meant the Address to the Reader with a
KEY subjoined to it; which have been prefixed to the modern editions of
that play. He did not know, it appears, that several additions were made
to _The Rehearsal_ after the first edition. MALONE. In his _Life of
Dryden_ (_Works_, vii. 272) Johnson writes:--'Buckingham characterised
Dryden in 1671 by the name of Bayes in _The Rehearsal_.... It is said
that this farce was originally intended against Davenant, who in the
first draught was characterised by the name of Bilboa.... It is said,
likewise, that Sir Robert Howard was once meant. The design was probably
to ridicule the reigning poet, whoever he might be. Much of the personal
satire, to which it might owe its first reception, is now lost or

[498] 'The Pantheon,' wrote Horace Walpole (_Letters_, v. 489), a year
later than this conversation, 'is still the most beautiful edifice in
England.' Gibbon, a few weeks before Johnson's visit to the Pantheon,
wrote:--'In point of _ennui_ and magnificence, the Pantheon is the
wonder of the eighteenth century and of the British empire.' Gibbon's
_Misc. Works_, ii. 74. Evelina, in Miss Burners novel (vol. i. Letter
xxiii.) contrasts the Pantheon and Ranelagh:--'I was extremely struck on
entering the Pantheon with the beauty of the building, which greatly
surpassed whatever I could have expected or imagined. Yet it has more
the appearance of a chapel than of a place of diversion; and, though I
was quite charmed with the magnificence of the room, I felt that I could
not be as gay and thoughtless there as at Ranelagh; for there is
something in it which rather inspires awe and solemnity than mirth and
pleasure.' Ranelagh was at Chelsea, the Pantheon was in Oxford-street.
See _ante_, ii. 119, and _post_, Sept. 23, 1777.

[499] Her husband, Squire Godfrey Bosville, Boswell (_post_, Aug. 24,
1780), calls 'my Yorkshire _chief_.' Their daughter was one of the young
ladies whom he passes in review in his letters to Temple. 'What say you
to my marrying? I intend next autumn to visit Miss Bosville in
Yorkshire; but I fear, my lot being cast in Scotland, that beauty would
not be content. She is, however, grave; I shall see.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 81. She married Sir A. Macdonald, Johnson's inhospitable
host in Sky (_ante_, ii. 157).

[500] In _The Adventurer_, No. 120, Johnson, after describing 'a gay
assembly,' continues:--'The world in its best state is nothing more than
a larger assembly of beings, combining to counterfeit happiness which
they do not feel.' _Works_, iv. 120.

[501] 'Sir Adam Fergusson, who by a strange coincidence of chances got
in to be member of Parliament for Ayrshire in 1774, was the
great-grandson of a messenger. I was talking with great indignation that
the whole (? old) families of the county should be defeated by an
upstart.' _Boswelliana_, p. 283.

[502] See _ante_, ii. 60.

[503] See _ante_, i. 424. Hume wrote of the judgment of Charles I.
(_Hist. of Eng_. vii. 148):--'If ever, on any occasion, it were laudable
to conceal truth from the populace, it must be confessed that the
doctrine of resistance affords such an example; and that all speculative
reasoners ought to observe with regard to this principle the same
cautious silence which the laws in every species of government have ever
prescribed to themselves.'

[504] 'All foreigners remark that the knowledge of the common people of
England is greater than that of any other vulgar. This superiority we
undoubtedly owe to the rivulets of intelligence [i. e. the newspapers]
which are continually trickling among us, which every one may catch, and
of which every one partakes.' _Idler_, No. 7. In a later number (30), he
speaks very contemptuously of news-writers. 'In Sir Henry Wotton's
jocular definition, _an ambassador is said to be a man of virtue sent
abroad to tell lies for the advantage of his country. A newswriter is _a
man without virtue, who writes lies at home for his own profit_.'

[505] See _post_, April 3, 1773.

[506] Probably Mr. Elphinston. See _ante_, i. 210, _post_, April 19,
1773, and April i, 1779. Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 493) wrote of a
friend:--'He had overcome many disadvantages of his education, for he
had been sent to a Jacobite seminary of one Elphinstone at Kensington,
where his body was starved and his mind also. He returned to Edinburgh
to college. He had hardly a word of Latin, and was obliged to work hard
with a private tutor.'

[507] 'In progress of time Abel Sampson, _probationer_ of divinity, was
admitted to the privileges of a preacher.' _Guy Mannering_, chap. ii.

[508] In his Dictionary he defines _heinous_ as _atrocious; wicked in a
high degree_.

[509] _Ephesians_, v. 5.

[510] His second definition of _whoremonger_ is _one who converses with
a fornicatress_.

[511] It must not be presumed that Dr. Johnson meant to give any
countenance to licentiousness, though in the character of an Advocate he
made a just and subtle distinction between occasional and habitual
transgression. BOSWELL.

[512] Erskine was born in 1750, entered the navy in 1764, the army in
1768, he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1776, was called
to the Bar in 1778, was made a King's counsel in 1783, and Lord
Chancellor in 1806. He died in 1823. Campbell's _Chancellors_,
vi. 368-674.

[513] Johnson had called Churchill 'a blockhead.' _Ante_, i. 419. 'I
have remarked,' said Miss Reynolds, 'that his dislike of anyone seldom
prompted him to say much more than that the fellow is a blockhead.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 834. In like manner Goldsmith called Sterne a
blockhead; for Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_, i. 260) is, no doubt,
right in saying that the author of _Tristram Shandy_ is aimed at in the
following passage in _The Citizen of the World_ (Letter, 74):--'In
England, if a bawdy blockhead thus breaks in on the community, he sets
his whole fraternity in a roar; nor can he escape even though he should
fly to nobility for shelter.' That Johnson did not think so lowly of
Fielding's powers is shown by a compliment that he paid Miss Burney, on
one of the characters in _Evelina_. '"Oh, Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith is the
man!" cried he, laughing violently. "Harry Fielding never drew so good a
character!"' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 78.

[514] Richardson wrote of Fielding (_Corres_, vi. 154):--'Poor Fielding!
I could not help telling his sister that I was equally surprised at and
concerned for his continued lowness. Had your brother, said I, been born
in a stable, or been a runner at a sponging-house, we should have
thought him a genius, and wished he had had the advantage of a liberal
education, and of being admitted into good company.' Other passages show
Richardson's dislike or jealousy of Fielding. Thus he wrote:--'You guess
that I have not read _Amelia_. Indeed, I have read but the first volume.
I had intended to go through with it; but I found the characters and
situations so wretchedly low and dirty that I imagined I could not be
interested for any one of them.' _Ib_ iv. 60. 'So long as the world will
receive, Mr. Fielding will write,' _Ib_ p. 285.

[515] Hannah More wrote in 1780 (_Memoirs_, i. 168), 'I never saw
Johnson really angry with me but once. I alluded to some witty passage
in _Tom Jones_; he replied, "I am shocked to hear you quote from so
vicious a book. I am sorry to hear you have read it: a confession which
no modest lady should ever make. I scarcely know a more corrupt work!"
He went so far as to refuse to Fielding the great talents which are
ascribed to him, and broke out into a noble panegyric on his competitor,
Richardson; who, he said, was as superior to him in talents as in
virtue; and whom he pronounced to be the greatest genius that had shed
its lustre on this path of literature.' Yet Miss Burney in her Preface
to _Evelina_ describes herself as 'exhilarated by the wit of Fielding
and humour of Smollett.' It is strange that while Johnson thus condemned
Fielding, he should 'with an ardent and liberal earnestness' have
revised Smollett's epitaph. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 28, 1773.
Macaulay in his _Speech on Copyright_ (_Writings and Speeches_, p. 615)
said of Richardson's novels:--'No writings have done more to raise the
fame of English genius in foreign countries. No writings are more deeply
pathetic. No writings, those of Shakespeare excepted, show more profound
knowledge of the human heart.' Horace. Walpole (_Letters_, iv. 305), on
the other hand, spoke of Richardson as one 'who wrote those deplorably
tedious lamentations, _Clarissa_ and _Sir Charles Grandison_, which are
pictures of high life as conceived by a bookseller, and romances as they
would be spiritualised by a methodist teacher.' Lord Chesterfield says
of _Sir Charles Grandison_, that 'it is too long, and there is too much
mere talk in it. Whenever he goes _ultra crepidam_ into high life, he
grossly mistakes the modes; but to do him justice he never mistakes
nature, and he has surely great knowledge and skill both in painting and
in interesting the heart.' _Ib_ note. See _ante_, ii. 48.

[516] _Amelia_ he read through without stopping. _Post_, April 12, 1776.
Shenstone (_Works_, iii. 70) writes of 'the tedious character of Parson
Adams,' and calls the book 'a very mean performance; of which the
greater part is unnatural and unhumorous.'

[517] Johnson wrote to Richardson of _Clarissa_, 'though the story is
long, every letter is short.' He begged him to add an _index rerum_,
'for _Clarissa_ is not a performance to be read with eagerness, and laid
aside for ever; but will be occasionally consulted by the busy, the
aged, and the studious.' Richardson's _Corres_, v. 281.

[518] 'Our immortal Fielding was of the younger branch of the Earls of
Denbigh, who draw their origin from the Counts of Habsburg, the lineal
descendants of Eltrico, in the seventh century Duke of Alsace. Far
different have been the fortunes of the English and German divisions of
the family of Habsburg: the former, the knights and sheriffs of
Leicestershire, have slowly risen to the dignity of a peerage: the
latter, the Emperors of Germany and Kings of Spain, have threatened the
liberty of the old, and invaded the treasures of the new world. The
successors of Charles the Fifth may disdain their brethren of England;
but the romance of _Tom Jones_, that exquisite picture of human manners,
will outlive the palace of the Escurial, and the imperial eagle of the
house of Austria.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 4. Richardson, five years
after _Tom Jones_ was published, wrote (_Corres_, v. 275):--'Its run is
over, even with us. Is it true that France had virtue enough to refuse a
license for such a profligate performance?'

[519] Mr. Samuel Paterson, eminent for his knowledge of books. BOSWELL.
In the first two editions this note does not appear, but Mr. Paterson is
described as 'the auctioneer.' See _post_, Aug. 3, 1776.

[520] Mr. Paterson, in a pamphlet, produced some evidence to shew that
his work was written before Sterne's _Sentimental Journey_
appeared. BOSWELL.

[521] _Coryat's Crudities hastily gobled up in five Moneths Trauells in
France, Sauoy, Italy, etc. London_, 1611.

[522] 'Lord Erskine,' says Mr. Croker, 'was fond of this anecdote. He
told it to me the first time that I was in his company, and often
repeated it, boasting that he had been a sailor, a soldier, a lawyer,
and a parson.'

[523] 185,000. 2 _Kings_, xix. 35.

[524] Lord Chatham wrote on Oct. 12, 1766, to Lord Shelburne that he
'had extremely at heart to obtain this post for Lord Cardross, a young
nobleman of great talents, learning, and accomplishments, and son of the
Earl of Buchan, an intimate friend of Lord Chatham, from the time they
were students together at Utrecht.' _Chatham Corres_. iii. 106. Horace
Walpole wrote on Oct. 26, 'Sir James Gray goes to Madrid. The embassy
has been sadly hawked about it.' Walpole's _Letters_, v. 22. 'Sir James
Gray's father was first a box-keeper, and then footman to James II.'
_Ib_ ii. 366.

[525] See _ante_, ii. 134, for Johnson's attack on Lord Chatham's
'feudal gabble.'

[526] In Boswell's _Hebrides_, on Aug. 25, 1773, Johnson makes much the
same answer to a like statement by Boswell. See _post_, March 21, 1783.

[527] See _ante_, i. 343, 405, and _post_, April 10, 1772.

[528] 'I cannot,' wrote John Wesley, (_Journal_, iv. 74), 'give up to
all Deists in Great Britain the existence of witchcraft, till I give up
the credit of all history, sacred and profane. And at the present time,
I have not only as strong but stronger proofs of this from eye and ear
witnesses than I have of murder; so that I cannot rationally doubt of
one any more the than the other.'

[529] See this curious question treated by him with most acute ability,
_Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 33. [Aug. 16.]
BOSWELL. Johnson, in his _Observations on Macbeth_ (_Works_, v. 55-7),
shews his utter disbelief in witchcraft. 'These phantoms,' he writes,
'have indeed appeared more frequently in proportion as the darkness of
ignorance has been more gross; but it cannot be shewn that the brightest
gleams of knowledge have at any time been sufficient to drive them out
of the world.' He describes the spread of the belief in them in the
middle ages, and adds:--'The reformation did not immediately arrive at
its meridian, and though day was gradually increasing upon us, the
goblins of witchcraft still continued to hover in the twilight.' See
_post_, April 8, 1779 and 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_.

[530] The passage to which Johnson alluded is to be found (I conjecture)
in the _Phoenissae_, I. 1120. J. BOSWELL, JUN.

[531] Boswell (_Letters_, p. 324), on June 21, 1790, described to Temple
the insults of that 'brutal fellow,' Lord Lonsdale, and continued:--'In
my fretfulness I used such expressions as irritated him almost to fury,
so that he used such expressions towards me that I should have,
according to the irrational laws of honour sanctioned by the world, been
under the necessity of risking my life, had not an explanation taken
place.' Boswell's eldest son, Sir Alexander Boswell, lost his life in
a duel.

[532] Johnson might have quoted the lieutenant in _Tom Jones_, Book vii.
chap. 13. 'My dear boy, be a good Christian as long as you live: but be
a man of honour too, and never put up an affront; not all the books, nor
all the parsons in the world, shall ever persuade me to that. I love my
religion very well, but I love my honour more. There must be some
mistake in the wording of the text, or in the translation, or in the
understanding it, or somewhere or other. But however that be, a man must
run the risk, for he must preserve his honour.' See _post_, April 19,
1773, and April 20, 1783, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 19, 1773.

[533] Oglethorpe was born in 1698. In 1714 he entered the army. Prince
Eugene's campaigns against the Turks in which Oglethorpe served were in
1716-17. Rose's _Biog. Dict_. vii. 266 and x. 381. He was not therefore
quite so young as Boswell thought.

[534] In the first two editions _Bender_. Belgrade was taken by Eugene
in 1717.

[535] 'Idem velle atque idem nolle ea demum firma amicitia est.'
Sallust, _Catilina_, xx. 4.

[536] More than one conjecture has been hazarded as to the passage to
which Johnson referred. I believe that he was thinking of the lines--

'Et variis albae junguntur saepe columbae;
 Et niger a viridi turtur amatur ave.'

_Sappho to Phaon_, line 37.

'Turtles and doves of differing hues unite,
And glossy jet is paired with shining white.' (POPE.)

Goldsmith had said that people to live in friendship together must have
the same likings and aversions. Johnson thereupon calls to mind Sappho,
who had shown that there could be love where there was little likeness.

[537] It was not published till after Goldsmith's death. It is in the
list of new books in the _Gent. Mag_. for Aug. 1774, p. 378. See _post_,
under June 22, 1776, the note on Goldsmith's epitaph.

[538] 'Upon my opening the door the young women broke off their
discourse, but my landlady's daughters telling them that it was nobody
but the Gentleman (for that is the name that I go by in the
neighbourhood as well as in the family), they went on without minding
me.' _Spectator_, No. 12.

[539] The author also of the _Ballad of Cumnor Hall_. See Scott's
_Introduction to Kenilworth. Bishop Horne says that 'Mickle inserted in
the _Lusiad_ an angry note against Garrick, who, as he thought, had used
him ill by rejecting a tragedy of his.' Shortly afterwards, he saw
Garrick act for the first time. The play was _Lear_. 'During the first
three acts he said not a word. In a fine passage of the fourth he
fetched a deep sigh, and turning to a friend, "I wish," said he, "the
note was out of my book."' Horne's _Essays_, ed. 1808, p. 38. See
_post_, under Dec. 24, 1783, and Garrick's letter in Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Oct. 23,1773.

[540] The farmer's son told Mr. Prior that 'he had felt much reluctance
in erasing during necessary repairs these memorials.' Prior's
_Goldsmith_, ii. 335.

[541] See _ante_, ii. 178.

[542] Here was a blank, which may be filled up thus:--'_was told by an
apparition_;'--the writer being probably uncertain whether he was asleep
or awake, when his mind was impressed with the solemn presentiment with
which the fact afterwards happened so wonderfully to correspond.
BOSWELL. 'Lord Hardinge, when Secretary at War,' writes Mr. Croker,
'informed me, that it appears that Colonel Sir Thomas Prendergast, of
the twenty-second foot, was killed at Malplaquet, Aug. 31, 1709; but no
trace can be found of any _Colonel_ Cecil in the army at that period.
Colonel W. Cecil, who was sent to the Tower in 1744, could hardly have
been, in 1709, of the age and rank which Oglethorpe's anecdote seems to
imply.' Prendergast, or Prendergrass, in the year 1696, informed the
government of the plot to assassinate William III., in which Friend was
one of the leaders. Macaulay (_Hist. of Eng_. chap. 21), calls
Prendergrass 'a Roman Catholic gentleman of known courage and honour.'
Swift, attacking Prendergast's son, attacks Prendergast himself:--

 'What! thou the spawn of him who shamed our isle,
 Traitor, assassin, and informer vile.'

Swift's _Works_, xi. 319.

[543] Locke says:--'When once it comes to be a trial of skill, contest
for mastery betwixt you and your child, you must be sure to carry it,
whatever blows it costs, if a nod or words will not prevail.' He
continues:--'A prudent and kind mother of my acquaintance was, on such
an occasion, forced to whip her little daughter, at her first coming
home from nurse, eight times successively the same morning, before she
could master her stubbornness, and obtain a compliance in a very easy
and indifferent matter.... As this was the first time, so I think it was
the last, too, she ever struck her.' _Locke on Education_ (ed. 1710),
p. 96.

[544] Andrew Crosbie, arguing for the schoolmaster, had
said:--'Supposing it true that the respondent had been provoked to use a
little more severity than he wished to do, it might well be justified on
account of the ferocious and rebellious behaviour of his scholars, some
of whom cursed and swore at him, and even went so far as to wrestle with
him, in which case he was under a necessity of subduing them as he best
could.' _Scotch Appeal Cases_, xvii. p. 214. The judgment of the House
of Lords is given in Paton's _Reports of Cases upon Appeal from
Scotland_, ii. 277, as follows:--'A schoolmaster, appointed by the
Magistrates and Town Council of Cambelton, without any mention being
made as to whether his office was for life or at pleasure: Held that it
was a public office, and that he was liable to be dismissed for a just
and reasonable cause, and that acts of cruel chastisement of the boys
were a justifiable cause for his dismissal; reversing the judgment of
the Court of Session.... The proof led before his dismission went to
shew that scarce a day passed without some of the scholars coming home
with their heads cut, and their bodies discoloured. He beat his pupils
with wooden squares, and sometimes with his fists, and used his feet by
kicking them, and dragged them by the hair of the head. He had also
entered into the trade of cattle grazing and farming--dealt in black
cattle--in the shipping business--and in herring fishing.'

[545] These six Methodists were in 1768 expelled St. Edmund's Hall, by
the Vice-Chancellor, acting as 'visitor.' Nominally they were expelled
for their ignorance; in reality for their active Methodism. That they
were 'mighty ignorant fellows' was shown, but ignorance was tolerated at
Oxford. One of their number confessed his ignorance, and declined all
examination. But 'as he was represented to be a man of fortune, and
declared that he was not designed for holy orders, the Vice-Chancellor
did not think fit to remove him for this reason only, though he was
supposed to be one of "the righteous over-much."' _Dr. Johnson: His
Friends and his Critics_, pp. 51-57. Horace Walpole, Whig though he was,
thought as Johnson. 'Oxford,' he wrote (_Letters_ v. 97), 'has begun
with these rascals, and I hope Cambridge will wake.'

[546] Much such an expulsion as this Johnson had justified in his _Life
of Cheynel_ (_Works_, vi. 415). 'A temper of this kind,' he wrote, 'is
generally inconvenient and offensive in any society, but in a place of
education is least to be tolerated ... He may be justly driven from a
society, by which he thinks himself too wise to be governed, and in
which he is too young to teach, and too opinionative to learn.'

[547] Johnson wrote far otherwise of the indulgence shown to Edmund
Smith, the poet. 'The indecency and licentiousness of his behaviour drew
upon him, Dec. 24, 1694, while he was yet only bachelor, a publick
admonition, entered upon record, in order to his expulsion. Of this
reproof the effect is not known. He was probably less notorious. At
Oxford, as we all know, much will be forgiven to literary merit.... Of
his lampoon upon Dean Aldrich, [Smith was a Christ-Church man], I once
heard a single line too gross to be repeated. But he was still a genius
and a scholar, and Oxford was unwilling to lose him; he was endured with
all his pranks and his vices two years longer; but on Dec. 20, 1705, at
the instance of all the Canons, the sentence declared five years before
was put in execution. The execution was, I believe, silent and tender.'
_Works_, vii. 373-4.

[548] See post, p. 193, note i.

[549] 'Our bottle-conversation,' wrote Addison, 'is infected with
party-lying.' _The Spectator_, No. 507.

[550] Mrs. Piozzi, in her _Anecdotes_, p. 261, has given an erroneous
account of this incident, as of many others. She pretends to relate it
from recollection, as if she herself had been present; when the fact is
that it was communicated to her by me. She has represented it as a
personality, and the true point has escaped her. BOSWELL. She tells the
story against Boswell. 'I fancy Mr. B---- has not forgotten,'
she writes.

[551] See post, April 11, 1776.

[552] Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines _manufacturer_ as a _workman;
an artificer_.

[553] Johnson had no fear of popular education. In his attack on
Jenyns's _Enquiry_ (ante, i. 315), he wrote (_Works_, vi. 56):--'Though
it should be granted that those who are _born to poverty and drudgery_
should not be _deprived_ by an _improper education_ of the _opiate_ of
_ignorance_, even this concession will not be of much use to direct our
practice, unless it be determined, who are those that are _born to
poverty_. To entail irreversible poverty upon generation after
generation, only because the ancestor happened to be poor, is in itself
cruel, if not unjust.... I am always afraid of determining on the side
of envy or cruelty. The privileges of education may sometimes be
improperly bestowed, but I shall always fear to withhold them, lest I
should be yielding to the suggestions of pride, while I persuade myself
that I am following the maxims of policy.' In _The Idler_, No. 26, he
attacked those who 'hold it little less than criminal to teach poor
girls to read and write,' and who say that 'they who are born to poverty
are born to ignorance, and will work the harder the less they know.'

[554] Tacitus's Agricola, ch. xii, was no doubt quoted in reference to
the shortness of the northern winter day.

[555] It is remarkable, that Lord Monboddo, whom, on account of his
resembling Dr. Johnson in some particulars, Foote called an Elzevir
edition of him, has, by coincidence, made the very same remark. _Origin
and Progress of Language_, vol. iii. 2nd ed. p. 219. BOSWELL. See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, note.

[556] On Saturday night Johnson recorded:--'I resolved last Easter to
read within the year the whole Bible, a very great part of which I had
never looked upon. I read the Greek Testament without construing, and
this day concluded the Apocalypse.... Easter Day. After twelve at night.
The day is now begun on which I hope to begin a new course, [Greek:
hosper aph husplaeggon], [as if from the starting-place.]

My hopes are from this time--
To rise early,
To waste less time,
To appropriate something to charity.'

A week later he recorded:--'It is a comfort to me that at last, in my
sixty-third year, I have attained to know even thus hastily, confusedly,
and imperfectly, what my Bible contains. I have never yet read the
Apocrypha. I have sometimes looked into the Maccabees, and read a
chapter containing the question, _Which is the strongest?_ I think, in
Esdras' [I Esdras, ch. iii. v. 10]. _Pr. and Med_. pp. 112-118.

[557] _Pr. and Med_. p. iii. BOSWELL.

[558] 'Perfect through sufferings.' _Hebrews_, ii. 10.

[559] 'I was always so incapable of learning mathematics,' wrote Horace
Walpole (_Letters_, ix. 467), 'that I could not even get by heart the
multiplication table, as blind Professor Sanderson honestly told me,
above three-score years ago, when I went to his lectures at Cambridge.
After the first fortnight he said to me, "Young man, it would be
cheating you to take your money; for you never can learn what I am
trying to teach you." I was exceedingly mortified, and cried; for, being
a Prime Minister's son, I had firmly believed all the flattery with
which I had been assured that my parts were capable of anything.'

[560] Reynolds said:--'Out of the great number of critics in this
metropolis who all pretend to knowledge in pictures, the greater part
must be mere pretenders only. Taste does not come by chance; it is a
long and laborious task to acquire it.' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 264.

[561] 'Jemmy Boswell,' wrote John Scott (afterwards Lord Eldon), 'called
upon me, desiring to know what would be my definition of taste. I told
him I must decline defining it, because I knew he would publish it. He
continued his importunities in frequent calls, and in one complained
much that I would not give him it, as he had that morning got Henry
Dundas's, Sir A. Macdonald's, and J. Anstruther's definitions. "Well,
then," I said, "Boswell, we must have an end of this. Taste, according
to my definition, is the judgment which Dundas, Macdonald, Anstruther,
and you manifested when you determined to quit Scotland and to come into
the south. You may publish this if you please."' Twiss's _Eldon_, i.
303. See _post_, April 10, 1778, note for Lord Eldon.

[562] Johnson (_Works_, viii. 220) says that 'Swift's delight was in
simplicity. That he has in his works no metaphor, as has been said, is
not true; but his few metaphors seem to be received rather by necessity
than choice. He studied purity.... His style was well suited to his
thoughts.... He pays no court to the passions; he excites neither
surprise nor admiration; he always understands himself, and his reader
always understands him; the peruser of Swift wants little previous
knowledge; it will be sufficient that he is acquainted with common words
and common things; ... [his style] instructs, but it does not persuade.'
Hume describes Swift's style as one which he 'can approve, but surely
can never admire. It has no harmony, no eloquence, no ornament, and not
much correctness, whatever the English may imagine.' J. H. Burton's
_Hume_, ii. 413.

[563] Johnson's Works, v. 146.

[564] Dr. Warton wrote on Jan. 22, 1766:--'Garrick is entirely off from
Johnson, and cannot, he says, forgive him his insinuating that he
withheld his old editions, which always were open to him; nor, I
suppose, his never mentioning him in all his works.' Wooll's _Warton_,
p. 313. Beauclerk wrote to Lord Charlemont in 1773:--'If you do not come
here, I will bring all the club over to Ireland to live with you, and
that will drive you here in your own defence, Johnson _shall spoil your
books_, Goldsmith pull your flowers, and Boswell talk to you: stay then
if you can.' Charlemont's _Life_, i. 347. Yet Garrick had lent Johnson
some books, for Johnson wrote to him on Oct. 10, 1766:--'I return you
thanks for the present of the _Dictionary_, and will take care to return
you [qu. your] other books.' _Garrick Corres_, i. 245. Steevens, who had
edited Johnson's _Shakespeare_, wrote to Garrick:--'I have taken the
liberty to introduce your name, because _I have found_ no reason to say
that the possessors of the old quartos were not sufficiently
communicative.' _Ib_ p. 501. Mme. D'Arblay describes how 'Garrick,
giving a thundering stamp on some mark on the carpet that struck his
eye--not with passion or displeasure, but merely as if from
singularity--took off Dr. Johnson's voice in a short dialogue with
himself that had passed the preceding week. "David! Will you lend me
your _Petrarca_?" "Y-e-s, Sir!" "David! you sigh?" "Sir--you shall have
it certainly." "Accordingly," Mr. Garrick continued, "the book,
stupendously bound, I sent to him that very evening. But scarcely had he
taken it in his hands, when, as Boswell tells me, he poured forth a
Greek ejaculation and a couplet or two from Horace, and then in one of
those fits of enthusiasm which always seem to require that he should
spread his arms aloft, he suddenly pounces my poor _Petrarca_ over his
head upon the floor. And then, standing for several minutes lost in
abstraction, he forgot probably that he had ever seen it."' Dr. Burney's
_Memoirs_, i. 352. See _post_, under Aug. 12, 1784.

[565] The gentleman most likely is Boswell (_ante_, ii. 14, note 1). I
suspect that this anecdote belongs to _ante_, April 14, when 'Johnson
was not in the most genial humour.' Boswell, while showing that Mrs.
Piozzi misrepresented an incident of that evening 'as a personality,'
would be afraid of weakening his case by letting it be seen that Johnson
on that occasion was very personal. Since writing this I have noticed
that Dr. T. Campbell records in his _Diary_, p. 53, that on April 1,
1775, he was dining at Mr. Thrale's with Boswell, when many of Johnson's
'bon-mots were retailed. Boswell arguing in favour of a cheerful glass,
adduced the maxim _in vino veritas_. "Well," says Johnson, "and what
then, unless a man has lived a lie." Boswell then urged that it made a
man forget all his cares. "That to be sure," says Johnson, "might be of
use, if a man sat by such a person as you."' Campbell's account confirms
what Boswell asserts (_ante_, ii. 188) that Mrs. Piozzi had the
anecdote from him.

[566] No. 150. The quotation is from Francis Osborne's _Advice to a
Son_. Swift, in _The Tatler_, No. 230, ranks Osborne with some other
authors, who 'being men of the Court, and affecting the phrases then in
fashion, are often either not to be understood, or appear perfectly

[567] See post, May 13, 1778, and June 30, 1784.

[568] Mrs. Piozzi, to whom I told this anecdote, has related it, as if
the gentleman had given 'the _natural history of the mouse_.' _Anec_. p.
191. BOSWELL. The gentleman was very likely Dr. Vansittart, who is
mentioned just before. (See _ante_, i. 348, note 1.) Mrs. Thrale, in
1773, wrote to Johnson of 'the man that saw the mouse.' Piozzi
_Letters_, i. 186. From Johnson's answer (_ib_. p. 197) it seems that
she meant Vansittart. Mr. Croker says 'this proves that Johnson himself
sanctioned Mrs. Piozzi's version of the story--_mouse versus flea_.' Mr.
Croker has an odd notion of what constitutes both a proof and
a sanction.

[569] Lord Shelburne says that 'William Murray [Lord Mansfield] was
sixteen years of age when he came out of Scotland, and spoke such broad
Scotch that he stands entered in the University books at Oxford as born
as Bath, the Vice-Chancellor mistaking _Bath for Perth_.' Fitzmaurice's
_Shelburne_, i. 87.

[570] The asterisks seem to show that Beattie and Robertson are meant.
This is rendered more probable from the fact that the last paragraph is
about Scotchmen.

[571] See _ante_, ii. 51.

[572] Boswell's friend was very likely his brother David, who had long
resided in Valencia. In that case, Johnson came round to Boswell's
opinion, for he wrote, 'he will find Scotland but a sorry place after
twelve years' residence in a happier climate;' _post_, April 29, 1780.

[573] See _ante_, i.443, note 2.

[574] Wilson against Smith and Armour. BOSWELL.

[575] Lord Kames, in his _Historical Law Tracts_. BOSWELL.

[576] 'Covin. A deceitful agreement between two or more to the hurt of
another.' Johnson's _Dictionary_.

[577] Lord Kames (_Sketches of the History of Man_, iv. 168) says:--'The
undisciplined manners of our forefathers in Scotland made a law
necessary, that whoever intermeddled irregularly with the goods of a
deceased person should be subjected to pay all his debts, however
extensive. A due submission to legal authority has in effect abrogated
that severe law, and it is now [1774] scarce ever heard of.' Scott
introduces Lord Kames in _Redgauntlet_, at the end of chap. I of the
_Narrative_:--'"What's the matter with the auld bitch next?" said an
acute metaphysical judge, though somewhat coarse in his manners, aside
to his brethren.' In Boswell's poem _The Court of Session Garland_,
where the Scotch judges each give judgment, we read:--

'Alemore the judgment as illegal blames,
"Tis equity, you bitch," replies my Lord Kames.'

Chambers's _Traditions of Edinburgh_, ii. 161. Mr. Chambers adds (p.
171) that when Kames retired from the Bench, 'after addressing his
brethren in a solemn speech, in going out at the door of the court room,
he turned about, and casting them a last look, cried, in his usual
familiar tone, "Fare ye a' weel, ye bitches."'

[578] At this time there were no civil juries in Scotland. 'But this was
made up for, to a certain extent, by the Supreme Court, consisting of no
fewer than fifteen judges; who formed a sort of judicial jury, and were
dealt with as such. The great mass of the business was carried on by
writing.' Cockbarn's _Jeffery_, i. 87. See _post_, Jan. 19, 1775, note.

[579] In like manner, he had discovered the _Life of Cheynel_ to be
Johnson's. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17, 1774.

[580] The _Essay on Truth_, published in May, 1770. Beattie wrote on
Sept. 30, 1772:--'The fourth edition of my _Essay_ is now in the press.'
Forbes's _Beattie_, ed. 1824, p. 134. Three translations--French,
Dutch, and German--had, it seems, already appeared. _Ib_ p. 121. 'Mr.
Johnson made Goldsmith a comical answer one day, when seeming to repine
at the success of Beattie's _Essay on Truth_. "Here's such a stir," said
he, "about a fellow that has written one book, and I have written many."
"Ah, Doctor," says he, "there go two and forty sixpences you know to one
guinea."' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 179. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct
1, 1773.

[581] See _ante_, ii. 144, 183.

[582] On the same day he wrote to Dr. Taylor:--'Your uneasiness at the
misfortunes of your relations, I comprehend perhaps too well. It was an
irresistible obtrusion of a disagreeable image, which you always wished
away, but could not dismiss, an incessant persecution of a troublesome
thought, neither to be pacified nor ejected. Such has of late been the
state of my own mind. I had formerly great command of my attention, and
what I did not like could forbear to think on. But of this power, which
is of the highest importance to the tranquillity of life, I have been so
much exhausted, that I do not go into a company towards night, in which
i foresee anything disagreeable, nor enquire after anything to which I
am not indifferent, lest something, which I know to be nothing, should
fasten upon my imagination, and hinder me from sleep.' _Notes and
Queries_, 6th S., v. 383. On Oct. 6 he wrote to Dr. Taylor:--'I am now
within a few hours of being able to send the whole _Dictionary_ to the
press [_ante_, ii. 155], and though I often went sluggishly to the work,
I am not much delighted at the completion. My purpose is to come down to
Lichfield next week.' _Ib_ p. 422. He stayed some weeks there and in
Ashbourne. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 55-70.

[583] See _ante_, ii. 141, note 3.

[584] 'While of myself I yet may think, while breath my body sways.'
Morris's Aeneids, iv. 336.

[585] It should seem that this dictionary work was not unpleasant to
Johnson; for Stockdale records (_Memoirs_, ii. 179) that about 1774,
having told him that he had declined to edit a new edition of Chambers's
_Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences_, 'Johnson replied that if I would
not undertake, he would. I expressed my astonishment that, in his easy
circumstances, he should think of preparing a new edition of a tedious,
scientific dictionary. "Sir," said he, "I like that muddling work." He
allowed some time to go by, during which another editor was found--Dr.
Rees. Immediately after this intelligence he called on me, and his first
words were:--"It is gone, Sir."'

[586] He, however, wrote, or partly wrote, an Epitaph on Mrs. Bell, wife
of his friend John Bell, Esq., brother of the Reverend Dr. Bell,
Prebendary of Westminster, which is printed in his _Works_ [i. 151]. It
is in English prose, and has so little of his manner, that I did not
believe he had any hand in it, till I was satisfied of the fact by the
authority of Mr. Bell. BOSWELL. 'The epitaph is to be seen in the parish
church of Watford.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 471.

[587] See _ante_, i. 187. Mme. D'Arblay (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i.
271) says that this year Goldsmith projected a _Dictionary of Arts and
Sciences_, in which Johnson was to take the department of ethics, and
that Dr. Burney finished the article _Musician_. The scheme came
to nothing.

[588] We may doubt Steevens's taste. Garrick 'produced _Hamlet_ with
alterations, rescuing,' as he said, 'that noble play from all the
rubbish of the fifth act' (_ante_, ii. 85, note 7.) Steevens wrote to
Garrick:--'I expect great pleasure from the perusal of your altered
_Hamlet_. It is a circumstance in favour of the poet which I have long
been wishing for. You had better throw what remains of the piece into a
farce, to appear immediately afterwards. No foreigner who should happen
to be present at the exhibition, would ever believe it was formed out of
the loppings and excrescences of the tragedy itself. You may entitle it
_The Grave-Diggers; with the pleasant Humours of Osric, the Danish
Macaroni_.' _Garrick Corres_. i. 451.

[589] A line of an epigram in the _Life of Virgil_, ascribed to Donatus.

[590] Given by a lady at Edinburgh. BOSWELL.

[591] There had been masquerades in Scotland; but not for a very long
time. BOSWELL. 'Johnson,' as Mr. Croker observes, 'had no doubt seen an
account of the masquerade in the _Gent. Mag_. for January,' p. 43. It is
stated there that 'it was the first masquerade ever seen in Scotland.'
Boswell appeared as a dumb Conjurer.

[592] Mrs. Thrale recorded in 1776, after her quarrel with Baretti:--'I
had occasion to talk of him with Tom Davies, who spoke with horror of
his ferocious temper; "and yet," says I, "there is great sensibility
about Baretti. I have seen tears often stand in his eyes." "Indeed,"
replies Davies, "I should like to have seen that sight vastly,
when--even butchers weep."' Hayward's _Piozzi_, ii. 340. Davies said of
Goldsmith:--'He least of all mankind approved Baretti's conversation; he
considered him as an insolent, overbearing foreigner.' Davies, in the
same passage, speaks of Baretti as 'this unhappy Italian.' Davies's
_Garrick_, ii. 168. As this was published in Baretti's life-time, the
man could scarcely have been so ferocious as he was described.

[593] 'There were but a few days left before the comedy was to be acted,
and no name had been found for it. "We are all in labour," says Johnson,
whose labour of kindness had been untiring throughout, "for a name to
Goldy's play." [See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 14, 1773.] What now
stands as the second title, _The Mistakes of a Night_, was originally
the only one; but it was thought undignified for a comedy. _The Old
House a New Inn_ was suggested in place of it, but dismissed as awkward.
Sir Joshua offered a much better name to Goldsmith, saying, "You ought
to call it _The Belle's Stratagem_, and if you do not I will damn it."
When Goldsmith, in whose ear perhaps a line of Dryden's lingered, hit
upon _She Stoops to Conquer_.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 337, and
Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 285. Mr. Forster quotes the line of Dryden as

'But kneels to conquer, and but stoops to rise.'

In Lord Chesterfield's _Letters_, iii. 131, the line is given,

'But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.'

[594] This gentleman, who now resides in America in a publick character
of considerable dignity, desired that his name might not be transcribed
at full length. BOSWELL.

[595] Now Doctor White, and Bishop of the Episcopal Church in
Pennsylvania. During his first visit to England in 1771, as a candidate
for holy orders, he was several times in company with Dr. Johnson, who
expressed a wish to see the edition of his _Rasselas_, which Dr. White
told him had been printed in America. Dr. White, on his return,
immediately sent him a copy. BOSWELL.

[596] Horace. _Odes_, iii. I. 34.

[597] See _post_, Oct. 12, 1779.

[598] Malone had the following from Baretti: 'Baretti made a translation
of _Rasselas_ into French. He never, however, could satisfy himself with
the translation of the first sentence, which is uncommonly lofty.
Mentioning this to Johnson, the latter said, after thinking two or three
minutes, "Well, take up the pen, and if you can understand my
pronunciation, I will see what I can do." He then dictated the sentence
to the translator, which proved admirable, and was immediately adopted.'
Prior's _Malone_, p. 161. Baretti, in a MS. note on his copy of _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 225, says:--'Johnson never wrote to me French, but when he
translated for me the first paragraph of his _Rasselas_.' That Johnson's
French was faulty, is shown by his letters in that language. _Ante_, ii.
82, and _post_, under Nov. 12, 1775.

[599] It has been translated into Bengalee, Hungarian, Polish, Modern
Greek, and Spanish, besides the languages mentioned by Johnson. Dr. J.
Macaulay's _Bibliography of Rasselas_. It reached its fifth edition by
1761. _A Bookseller of the Last Century_, p. 243. In the same book (p.
19) it is mentioned that 'a sixteenth share in _The Rambler_ was sold
for £22 2s. 6d.'

[600] A motion in the House of Commons for a committee to consider of
the subscription to the Thirty nine Articles had, on Feb. 23 of this
year, been rejected by 159 to 67. _Parl. Hist_. xvii. 742-758. A bill
for the relief of Protestant Dissenters that passed the House of Commons
by 65 to 14 on March 25, was rejected in the House of Lords by 86 to 28
on April 2. _Ib_ p. 790.

[601] See _post_, April 25, 1778, where Johnson says that 'Colman [the
manager] was prevailed on at last by much solicitation, nay, a kind of
force, to bring it on.' Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_, ii. 334-6)
writes:--'The actors and actresses had taken their tone from the
manager. Gentleman Smith threw up Voting Marlow; Woodward refused Tony
Lumpkin; Mrs. Abington declined Miss Hardcastle [in _The Athenæum_, No.
3041, it is pointed out that Mrs. Abington was not one of Colman's
Company]; and, in the teeth of his own misgivings, Colman could not
contest with theirs. He would not suffer a new scene to be painted for
the play, he refused to furnish even a new dress, and was careful to
spread his forebodings as widely as he could.' The play met with the
greatest success. 'There was a new play by Dr. Goldsmith last night,
which succeeded prodigiously,' wrote Horace Valpole (_Letters_, v. 452).
The laugh was turned against the doubting manager. Ten days after the
play had been brought out, Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'C----[Colman]
is so distressed with abuse about his play, that he has solicited
Goldsmith to _take him off the rack of the newspapers_.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 80. See _post_, just before June 22, 1784, for Mr.
Steevens's account.

[602] It was anything but an apology, unless _apology_ is used in its
old meaning of _defence_.

[603] Nine days after _She Stoops to Conquer_ was brought out, a vile
libel, written, it is believed, by Kenrick (_ante_ i. 297), was
published by Evans in _The London Packet_. The libeller dragged in one
of the Miss Hornecks, 'the Jessamy Bride' of Goldsmith's verse.
Goldsmith, believing Evans had written the libel, struck him with his
cane. The blow was returned, for Evans was a strong man. 'He indicted
Goldsmith for the assault, but consented to a compromise on his paying
fifty pounds to a Welsh charity. The papers abused the poet, and
steadily turned aside from the real point in issue. At last he stated it
himself, in an _Address to the Public_, in the _Daily Advertiser_ of
March 31.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 347-351. The libel is given in
Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_ (1801), i. 103.

[604] '_Your_ paper,' I suppose, because the _Chronicle_ was taken in at
Bolt Court. _Ante_, ii. 103.

[605] See Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 265, for a possible explanation of
this sarcasm.

[606] Horace Walpole is violent against Dalrymple and the King. 'What
must,' he says, 'be the designs of this reign when George III.
encourages a Jacobite wretch to hunt in France for materials for
blackening the heroes who withstood the enemies of Protestantism and
liberty.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 286.

[607] Mr. Hallam pointed out to Mr. Croker that Johnson was speaking of
Dalrymple's description of the parting of Lord and Lady Russell:--'With
a deep and noble silence; with a long and fixed look, in which respect
and affection unmingled with passion were expressed, Lord and Lady
Russell parted for ever--he great in this last act of his life, but she
greater.' Dalrymple's _Memoirs_, i. 31. See _post_, April 30, 1773, for
the foppery of Dalrymple; and Boswell's _Hebrides_, near the end, for
Johnson's imitation of Dalrymple's style.

[608] See _ante_, i. 334.

[609] See _ante_, ii. 170.

[610] Horace Walpole says:--'It was not Chesterfield's fault if he had
not wit; nothing exceeded his efforts in that point; and though they
were far from producing the wit, they at least amply yielded the
applause he aimed at.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George II_, i. 51.

[611] A curious account of Tyrawley is given in Walpole's _Reign of
George II_, iii. 108. He had been Ambassador at Lisbon, and he 'even
affected not to know where the House of Commons was.' Walpole says
(_Letters_, i. 215, note) that 'Pope has mentioned his and another
ambassador's seraglios in one of his _Imitations of Horace_.' He refers
to the lines in the _Imitations_, i. 6. 120:--

'Go live with Chartres, in each vice outdo
 K----l's lewd cargo, or Ty----y's crew.'

Kinnoul and Tyrawley, says Walpole, are meant.

[612] According to Chalmers, who himself has performed this task, Dr.
Percy was the first of these gentlemen, and Dr. John Calder the
second. CROKER.

[613] Sir Andrew Freeport, after giving money to some importunate
beggars, says:--'I ought to give to an hospital of invalids, to recover
as many useful subjects as I can, but I shall bestow none of my bounties
upon an almshouse of idle people; and for the same reason I should not
think it a reproach to me if I had withheld my charity from those common
beggars.' _The Spectator_, No. 232. This paper is not by Addison. In No.
549, which is by Addison, Sir Andrew is made to found 'an almshouse for
a dozen superannuated husbandmen.' I have before (ii. 119) contrasted
the opinions of Johnson and Fielding as to almsgiving. A more curious
contrast is afforded by the following passage in _Tom Jones_, book i.
chap. iii:--'I have told my reader that Mr. Allworthy inherited a large
fortune, that he had a good heart, and no family. Hence, doubtless, it
will be concluded by many that he lived like an honest man, owed no one
a shilling, took nothing but what was his own, kept a good house,
entertained his neighbours with a hearty welcome at his table, and was
charitable to the poor, i.e. to those who had rather beg than work, by
giving them the offals from it; that he died immensely rich, and built
an hospital.'

[614] Boswell says (_Hebrides_, Aug. 26, 1773):--'His recitation was
grand and affecting, and, as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, had
no more tone than it should have.' Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 302)
writes:--'His manner of repeating deserves to be described, though at
the same time it defeats all power of description; but whoever once
heard him repeat an ode of Horace would be long before they could endure
to hear it repeated by another.' See _ante_, ii. 92, note 4.

[615] 'Some of the old legendary stories put in verse by modern writers
provoked him to caricature them thus one day at Streatham:--

"The tender infant, meek and mild,
Fell down upon the stone;
The nurse took up the squealing child,
But still the child squeal'd on."

'A famous ballad also beginning--_Rio verde, Rio verde_, when I
commended the translation of it, he said he could do it better himself,
as thus:--

"Glassy water, glassy water,
Down whose current clear and strong,
Chiefs confused in mutual slaughter,
Moor and Christian roll along."

"But, Sir," said I, "this is not ridiculous at all." "Why no," replied
he, "why should I always write ridiculously?"' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 65.
See _ante_, ii. 136, note 4. Neither Boswell nor Mrs. Piozzi mentions
Percy by name as the subject of Johnson's ridicule.

[616] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 4, 1773.

[617] Rogers (_Table-Talk_, p. 88) said that 'Fox considered Burnet's
style to be perfect.'

[618] Johnson (_Works_, vii. 96) quotes; 'Dalrymple's observation, who
says "that whenever Burnet's narrations are examined, he appears to be
mistaken."' Lord Bolingbroke (_Works_, iv. 151) wrote of party pamphlets
and histories:--'Read them with suspicion, for they deserve to be
suspected; pay no regard to the epithets given, nor to the judgments
passed; neglect all declamation, weigh the reasoning, and advert to
fact. With such precautions, even Burnet's history may be of some use.'
Horace Walpole, noticing an attack on Burnet, says (_Letters_, vi.
487):--'It shows his enemies are not angry at his telling falsehoods,
but the truth ... I will tell you what was said of his _History_ by one
whose testimony you yourself will not dispute. That confessor said,
"Damn him, he has told a great deal of truth, but where the devil did he
learn it?" This was St. Atterbury's testimony.'

[619] The cross-buns were for Boswell and Levet. Johnson recorded (_Pr.
and Med_. p. 121):--'On this whole day I took nothing of nourishment but
one cup of tea without milk; but the fast was very inconvenient. Towards
night I grew fretful and impatient, unable to fix my mind or govern my

[620] It is curious to compare with this Johnson's own record:--'I found
the service not burdensome nor tedious, though I could not hear the
lessons. I hope in time to take pleasure in public works.' _Pr. and
Med_. p. 121.

[621] In the original _in_.

[622] Afterwards Charles I. BOSWELL.

[623] See _ante_, ii. 47.

[624] See _post_, April 9, 1778, where Johnson said:-'Goldsmith had no
settled notions upon any subject; so he talked always at random.'

[625] The next day Johnson recorded:--'I have had some nights of that
quiet and continual sleep which I had wanted till I had almost forgotten
it.' _Pemb. Coll. MSS_.

[626] See _ante_, ii. 11.

[627] We have the following account of Johnson's kitchen in 1778: 'Mr.
Thale.--"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 Mr. Levet, who says it is not now what it used to be." Mr.
T.--"But how do you get your dinners drest?" Dr. J.--"Why, Desmouline
has the chief management, 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 one 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; if a jack is seen, a spit will be presumed."' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, i. 115.

[628] See _ante_, i. 418.

[629] See _ante_, i. 252.

[630] 'By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so
much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the
publick, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve
the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may
be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected
piety.' BOSWELL.

[631] See an account of this learned and respectable gentleman, and of
his curious work in the _Middle State, Journal of a Tour to the
Hebrides_, 3rd edition. p. 371. [Oct. 25.] BOSWELL. See _post_, June
9, 1784.

[632] See _ante_, i. 225, for Boswell's project works, and i. 211.

[633] 'When the efficiency [of men and women] is equal, but the pay
unequal, the only explanation that can be given is custom.' J. S. Mill's
_Political Economy_, Book ii. ch. xiv. 5.

[634] The day before he told Boswell this he had recorded:--'My general
resolution, to which I humbly implore the help of God, is to methodise
my life, to resist sloth. I hope from this time to keep a journal.' _Pr.
and Med_. p. 124. Four times more he recorded the same resolution to
keep a journal. See _ante_, i. 433, and _post_, Apr. 14,1775.

[635] See _post_, March 30, 1778, where Johnson says:--'A man loves to
review his own mind. That is the use of a diary or journal.'

[636] 'He who has not made the experiment, or who is not accustomed to
require rigorous accuracy from himself, will scarcely believe how much a
few hours take from certainty of knowledge and distinctness of imagery
... To this dilatory notation must be imputed the false relations of
travellers, where there is no imaginable motive to deceive. They trusted
to memory what cannot be trusted safely but to the eye, and told by
guess what a few hours before they had known with certainty.' Johnson's
_Works_, ix. 144.

[637] Goldsmith, in his dedication to Reynolds of the _Deserted
Village_, refers no doubt to Johnson's opinion of luxury. He writes:--'I
know you will object (and indeed _several of our best and wisest
friends_ concur in the opinion) that the depopulation it deplores is
nowhere to be seen, and the disorders it laments are only to be found in
the poet's own imagination.... In regretting the depopulation of the
country I inveigh against the increase of our luxuries; and here also I
expect the shout of modern politicians against me. For twenty or thirty
years past it has been the fashion to consider luxury as one of the
greatest national advantages.' See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[638] Johnson, in his _Parl. Debates_ (_Works_, x. 418), makes General
Handasyd say:--'The whole pay of a foot soldier is sixpence a day, of
which he is to pay fourpence to his landlord for his diet, or, what is
very nearly the same, to carry fourpence daily to the market ...
Twopence a day is all that a soldier had to lay out upon cleanliness and
decency, and with which he is likewise to keep his arms in order, and to
supply himself with some part of his clothing. If, Sir, after these
deductions he can, from twopence a day, procure himself the means of
enjoying a few happy moments in the year with his companions over a cup
of ale, is not his economy much more to be envied than his luxury?'

[639] The humours of Ballamagairy. BOSWELL.


'Ah me! when shall I marry me?
Lovers are plenty; but fail to relieve me.
He, fond youth, that could carry me,
Offers to love, but means to deceive me.
But I will rally and combat the ruiner:
Not a look, nor a smile shall my passion discover;
She that gives all to the false one pursuing her,
Makes but a penitent and loses a lover.'

Boswell, in a letter published in Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, ii. 116,
with the song, says:--'The tune is a pretty Irish air, call _The Humours
of Ballamagairy_, to which, he told me, he found it very difficult to
adapt words; but he has succeeded very happily in these few lines. As I
could sing the tune and was fond of them, he was so good as to give me
them. I preserve this little relic in his own handwriting with an
affectionate care.'

[641] See _ante_, i. 408, and _post_ April 7, 1776.

[642] See _ante_, ii. 74.

[643] See _ante_, i. 429.

[644] See ante, ii. 169, for Johnson's 'half-a-guinea's worth of

[645] Boswell (_ante_, i. 256) mentions that he knew Lyttelton. For his
_History_, see _ante_, ii. 37.

[646] Johnson has an interesting paper 'on lying' in _The Adventurer_,
No. 50, which thus begins:--'When Aristotle was once asked what a man
could gain by uttering falsehoods, he replied, "Not to be credited when
he shall tell the truth."'

[647] Johnson speaks of the past, for Sterne had been dead five years.
Gray wrote on April 22, 1760:--'_Tristram Shandy_ is still a greater
object of admiration, the man as well as the book. One is invited to
dinner where he dines a fortnight beforehand.' Gray's _Works_, ed.
1858, iii. 241.

[648] 'I was but once,' said Johnson, 'in Sterne's company, and then his
only attempt at merriment consisted in his display of a drawing too
indecently gross to have delighted even in a brothel.' Johnson's _Works_
(1787), xi. 214.

[649] Townshend was not the man to make his jokes serve twice. Horace
Walpole said of his _Champagne Speech_,--'It was Garrick writing and
acting extempore scenes of Congreve.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George
III_, iii. 25. Sir G. Colebrooke says:--'When Garrick and Foote were
present he took the lead, and hardly allowed them an opportunity of
shewing their talents of mimicry, because he could excel them in their
own art.' _Ib_ p. 101, note. '"Perhaps," said Burke, "there never arose
in this country, nor in any country, a man of a more pointed and
finished wit."' Payne's _Burke_, i. 146.

[650] The 'eminent public character' is no doubt Burke, and the friend,
as Mr. Croker suggests, probably Reynolds. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 15, 1773, for a like charge made by Johnson against Burke. Boswell
commonly describes Burke as 'an eminent friend of ours;' but he could
not do so as yet, for he first met him fifteen days later. (_Post_,
April 30.)

[651] 'Party,' Burke wrote in 1770 (_Thoughts on the Present
Discontents_), 'is a body of men united for promoting by their joint
endeavours the national interest upon some particular principle in which
they are all agreed. For my part I find it impossible to conceive that
any one believes in his own politics, or thinks them to be of any
weight, who refuses to adopt the means of having them reduced into
practice.' Payne's _Burke_, i. 86.

[652] On May 5, and again on Nov. 10, the play was commanded by the King
and Queen. Prior's _Goldsmith_, ii. 394.

[653] _Absalom and Achitophel_, part i. l. 872.

[654] Paoli perhaps was thinking of himself. While he was still 'the
successful rebel' in Corsica, he had said to Boswell:--'The arts and
sciences are like dress and ornament. You cannot expect them from us for
some time. But come back twenty or thirty years hence, and we'll shew
you arts and sciences.' Boswell's _Corsica_, p. 172.

[655] 'The Duke of Cumberland had been forbidden the Court on his
marriage with Mrs. Horton, a year before; but on the Duke of
Gloucester's avowal of his marriage with Lady Waldegrave, the King's
indignation found vent in the Royal Marriage Act: which was hotly
opposed by the Whigs as an edict of tyranny. Goldsmith (perhaps for
Burke's sake) helped to make it unpopular with the people: "We'll go to
France", says Hastings to Miss Neville, "for there, even among slaves,
the laws of marriage are respected." Said on the first night this had
directed repeated cheering to the Duke of Gloucester, who sat in one of
the boxes.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 358. See _ante_, ii. 152.

[656] _Stenography_, by John Angell, 1758.

[657] See _post_, April 10, 1778.

[658] See _ante_, ii.

[659] James Harris, father of the first Earl of Malmesbury, born 1709,
died 1780. Two years later Boswell wrote to Temple: 'I am invited to a
dinner at Mr. Cambridge's (for the dinner, see _post_, April 18, 1773),
where are to be Reynolds, Johnson, and Hermes Harris. "_Do you think
so?" said he. "Most certainly, said I_." Do you remember how I used to
laugh at his style when we were in the Temple? He thinks himself an
ancient Greek from these little peculiarities, as the imitators of
Shakspeare, whom the _Spectator_ mentions, thought they had done
wonderfully when they had produced a line similar:--

"And so, good morrow to ye, good Master Lieutenant."'

_Letters of Boswell_, p. 187. It is not in the _Spectator_, but in
_Martinus Scriblerus_, ch. ix. (Swift's _Works_, 1803, xxiii, 53), that
the imitators of Shakspeare are ridiculed. Harris got his name of Hermes
from his _Hermes, or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Universal
Grammar_. Cradock (_Memoirs_, i, 208) says that, 'A gentleman applied to
his friend to lend him some amusing book, and he recommended Harris's
_Hermes_. On returning it, the other asked how he had been entertained.
"Not much," he replied; "he thought that all these imitations of
_Tristram Shandy_ fell far short of the original."' See _post_, April 7,
1778, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 3, 1773.

[660] Johnson suffers, in Cowper's epitaph on him, from the same kind of
praise as Goldsmith gives Harris:--

 'Whose verse may claim, grave, masculine and strong,
  Superior praise to the mere poet's song.'

Cowper's _Works_, v. 119.

[661] See _ante_, 210.

[662] Cave set up his coach about thirty years earlier (_ante_, i, 152,
note). Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, iii, 172) wrote to Mr. Straham in
1784:--'I remember your observing once to me, as we sat together in the
House of Commons, that no two journeymen printers within your knowledge
had met with such success in the world as ourselves. You were then at
the head of your profession, and soon afterwards became a member of
parliament. I was an agent for a few provinces, and now act for
them all.'

[663] 'Hamilton made a large fortune out of Smollett's _History_.'
Forster's _Goldsmith_, i, 149. He was also the proprietor of the
_Critical Review_.

[664] See _ante_, i, 71.

[665] See _ante_, ii, 179, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 19, 1773.
Horace Walpole wrote of the year 1773:--'The rage of duelling had of
late much revived, especially in Ireland, and many attempts were made in
print and on the stage to curb so horrid and absurd a practice.'
_Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 282.

[666] Very likely Boswell. See _Post_, April 10, 1778, where he
says:--'I slily introduced Mr. Garrick's fame and his assuming the airs
of a great man'.

[667] In the _Garrick's Corres_ up to this date there is no letter from
Lord Mansfield which answers Boswell's descriptions. To Lord Chatham
Garrick had addressed some verses from Mount Edgecumbe. Chatham, on
April 3, 1772, sent verses in return, and wrote:--'You have kindly
settled upon me a lasting species of property I never dreamed of in that
enchanting place; a far more able conveyancer than any in Chancery-land.
_Ib_ i, 459.


'Then I alone the conquest prize,
When I insult a rival's eyes:
If there's, &c.'

Act iii, sc. 12.


'But how did he return, this haughty brave,
Who whipt the winds, and made the sea his slave?
(Though Neptune took unkindly to be bound
And Eurus never such hard usage found
In his Æolian prison under ground).'

Dryden, _Juvenal_, x. 180.

[670] Most likely Mr. Pepys, a Master in Chancery, whom Johnson more
than once roughly attacked at Streatham. See _post_, April 1, 1781, and
Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 46.

[671] See _ante_, ii. 73.

[672] 'Jan. 5, 1772. Poor Mr. Fitzherbert hanged himself on Wednesday.
He went to see the convicts executed that morning; and from thence in
his boots to his son, having sent his groom out of the way. At three his
son said, Sir, you are to dine at Mr. Buller's; it is time for you to go
home and dress. He went to his own stable and hanged himself with a
bridle. They say his circumstances were in great disorder.' Horace
Walpole's _Letters_, v. 362. See _ante_, i. 82, and _post_, Sept.
15, 1777.

[673] Boswell, in his _Hebrides_ (Aug. 18, 1773) says that, 'Budgel was
accused of forging a will [Dr. Tindal's] and sunk himself in the Thames,
before the trial of its authenticity came on.' Pope, speaking of
himself, says that he--

'Let Budgel charge low Grub-street on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleas'd, except his will.'

_Prologue to the Satires_, 1, 378.

Budgel drowned himself on May 4, 1737, more than two years after the
publication of this Prologue. _Gent. Mag_. vii. 315. Perhaps the verse
is an interpolation in a later edition. See _post_, April 26, 1776.

[674] See _post_, March 15, 1776.

[675] On the Douglas Cause. See _ante_, ii. 50, and _post_, March 26,

[676] I regretted that Dr. Johnson never took the trouble to study a
question which interested nations. He would not even read a pamphlet
which I wrote upon it, entitled _The Essence of the Douglas Cause_;
which, I have reason to flatter myself, had considerable effect in
favour of Mr. Douglas; of whose legitimate filiation I was then, and am
still, firmly convinced. Let me add, that no fact can be more
respectably ascertained than by the judgement of the most august
tribunal in the world; a judgement, in which Lord Mansfield and Lord
Camden united in 1769, and from which only five of a numerous body
entered a protest. BOSWELL. Boswell, in his Hebrides, records on Oct.
26, 1773:--'Dr. Johnson roused my zeal so much that I took the liberty
to tell him that he knew nothing of the [Douglas] Cause.' Lord Shelburne
says: 'I conceived such a prejudice upon the sight of the present Lord
Douglas's face and figure, that I could not allow myself to vote in this
cause. If ever I saw a Frenchman, he is one.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_,
i. 10. Hume 'was struck,' he writes, 'with a very sensible indignation
at the decision. The Cause, though not in the least intricate, is so
complicated that it never will be reviewed by the public, who are
besides perfectly pleased with the sentence; being swayed by compassion
and a few popular topics. To one who understands the Cause as I do,
nothing could appear more scandalous than the pleadings of the two law
lords.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 423. In Campbell's _Chancellors_, v.
494, an account is given of a duel between Stuart and Thurlow that arose
out of this suit.

[677] The Fountains. _Works_, ix. 176.

[678] See _ante_, ii. 25.

[679] It has already been observed (_ante_, ii. 55), that one of his
first Essays was a Latin Poem on a glow-worm; but whether it be any
where extant, has not been ascertained. MALONE.

[680] 'Mallet's works are such as a writer, bustling in the world,
shewing himself in publick, and emerging occasionally from time to time
into notice, might keep alive by his personal influence; but which,
conveying little information and giving no great pleasure, must soon
give way, as the succession of things produces new topicks of
conversation and other modes of amusement.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 468.

[681] Johnson made less money, because he never 'traded' on his
reputation. When he had made his name, he almost ceased to write.

[682] 'May 27, 1773. Dr. Goldsmith has written a comedy--no, it is the
lowest of all farces. It is not the subject I condemn, though very
vulgar, but the execution. The drift tends to no moral, no edification
of any kind. The situations, however, are well imagined, and make one
laugh, in spite of the grossness of the dialogue, the forced witticisms,
and total improbability of the whole plan and conduct. But what disgusts
me most is, that though the characters are very low, and aim at low
humour, not one of them says a sentence that is natural or marks any
character at all. It is set up in opposition to sentimental comedy, and
is as bad as the worst of them.' Horace Walpole's _Letters_, v. 467.
Northcote (_Life of Reynolds_, i. 286) says that Goldsmith gave him an
order to see this comedy. 'The next time I saw him, he inquired of me
what my opinion was of it. I told him that I would not presume to be a
judge of its merits. He asked, "Did it make you laugh?" I answered,
"Exceedingly." "Then," said the Doctor, "that is all I require."'

[683] Garrick brought out his revised version of this play by Beaumont
and Fletcher in 1754-5. Murphy's _Garrick_, p. 170. The compliment is in
a speech by Don Juan, act v. sc. 2: 'Ay, but when things are at the
worst, they'll mend; example does everything, and the fair sex will
certainly grow better, whenever the greatest is the best woman in
the kingdom.'

[684] _Formular_ is not in Johnson's _Dictionary_.


'On earth, a present god, shall Caesar reign.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, iii. 5.2.

[686] See _ante_, i. 167.

[687] Johnson refers, I believe, to Temple's Essay _Of Heroic Virtue_,
where he says that 'the excellency of genius' must not only 'be
cultivated by education and instruction,' but also 'must be assisted by
fortune to preserve it to maturity; because the noblest spirit or genius
in the world, if it falls, though never so bravely, in its first
enterprises, cannot deserve enough of mankind to pretend to so great a
reward as the esteem of heroic virtue.' Temple's _Works_, iii. 306.

[688] See _post_, Sept. 17, 1777.

[689] In an epitaph that Burke wrote for Garrick, he says: 'He raised
the character of his profession to the rank of a liberal art.' Windham's
_Diary_, p. 361.

[690] 'The allusion,' as Mr. Lockhart pointed out, 'is not to the _Tale
of a Tub_, but to the _History of John Bull_' (part ii. ch 12 and 13).
Jack, who hangs himself, is however the youngest of the three brothers
of _The Tale of a Tub_, 'that have made such a clutter in the work'
(_ib_. chap ii). Jack was unwillingly convinced by Habbakkuk's argument
that to save his life he must hang himself. Sir Roger, he was promised,
before the rope was well about his neck, wo