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Title: Life of Johnson, Volume 3
 - 1776-1780
Author: Boswell, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Johnson, Volume 3
 - 1776-1780" ***

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VOLUME III.--LIFE (1776-1780)










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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volumes would be required to contain a list of his numerous and various
acquaintance[56], none of whom he ever forgot; and could describe and
discriminate them all with precision and vivacity. He associated with
persons the most widely different in manners, abilities, rank and
accomplishments[57]. He was at once the companion of the brilliant
Colonel Forrester[58] of the Guards, who wrote _The Polite Philosopher_,
and of the aukward and uncouth Robert Levet; of Lord Thurlow, and Mr.
Sastres, the Italian master; and has dined one day with the beautiful,
gay, and fascinating Lady Craven,[59] and the next with good Mrs.
Gardiner,[60] the tallow-chandler, on Snow-hill.

On my expressing my wonder at his discovering so much of the knowledge
peculiar to different professions, he told me, 'I learnt what I know of
law, chiefly from Mr. Ballow,[61] a very able man. I learnt some, too,
from Chambers;[62] but was not so teachable then. One is not willing to
be taught by a young man.' When I expressed a wish to know more about
Mr. Ballow, Johnson said, 'Sir, I have seen him but once these twenty
years. The tide of life has driven us different ways.' I was sorry at
the time to hear this; but whoever quits the creeks of private
connections, and fairly gets into the great ocean of London, will, by
imperceptible degrees, unavoidably experience such cessations of

'My knowledge of physick, (he added,) I learnt from Dr. James, whom I
helped in writing the proposals for his _Dictionary_ and also a little
in the Dictionary itself.[63] I also learnt from Dr. Lawrence, but was
then grown more stubborn.'

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

I mentioned a new gaming-club,[64] of which Mr. Beauclerk had given me an
account, where the members played to a desperate extent. JOHNSON.
'Depend upon it, Sir, this is mere talk. _Who_ is ruined by gaming? You
will not find six instances in an age. There is a strange rout made
about deep play: whereas you have many more people ruined by adventurous
trade, and yet we do not hear such an outcry against it.' THRALE. 'There
may be few people absolutely ruined by deep play; but very many are much
hurt in their circumstances by it.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, and so are very
many by other kinds of expence.' I had heard him talk once before in the
same manner; and at Oxford he said, 'he wished he had learnt to play at
cards.'[65] The truth, however, is, that he loved to display his
ingenuity in argument; and therefore would sometimes in conversation
maintain opinions which he was sensible were wrong, but in supporting
which, his reasoning and wit would be most conspicuous.[66] He would
begin thus: 'Why, Sir, as to the good or evil of card-playing--' 'Now,
(said Garrick,) he is thinking which side he shall take.'[67] He appeared
to have a pleasure in contradiction, especially when any opinion
whatever was delivered with an air of confidence[68]; so that there was
hardly any topick, if not one of the great truths of Religion and
Morality, that he might not have been incited to argue, either for or
against. Lord Elibank[69] had the highest admiration of his powers. He
once observed to me, 'Whatever opinion Johnson maintains, I will not say
that he convinces me; but he never fails to shew me, that he has good
reasons for it.' I have heard Johnson pay his Lordship this high
compliment: 'I never was in Lord Elibank's company without learning

We sat together till it was too late for the afternoon service. Thrale
said he had come with intention to go to church with us. We went at
seven to evening prayers at St. Clement's church, after having drank
coffee; an indulgence, which I understood Johnson yielded to on this
occasion, in compliment to Thrale[71].

On Sunday, April 7, Easter-day, after having been at St. Paul's
Cathedral, I came to Dr. Johnson, according to my usual custom. It
seemed to me, that there was always something peculiarly mild and placid
in his manner upon this holy festival, the commemoration of the most
joyful event in the history of our world, the resurrection of our LORD
and SAVIOUR, who, having triumphed over death and the grave, proclaimed
immortality to mankind[72].

I repeated to him an argument of a lady of my acquaintance, who
maintained, that her husband's having been guilty of numberless
infidelities, released her from conjugal obligations, because they were
reciprocal. JOHNSON. 'This is miserable stuff, Sir. To the contract of
marriage, besides the man and wife, there is a third party--Society; and
if it be considered as a vow--GOD: and, therefore, it cannot be
dissolved by their consent alone. Laws are not made for particular
cases, but for men in general. A woman may be unhappy with her husband;
but she cannot be freed from him without the approbation of the civil
and ecclesiastical power. A man may be unhappy, because he is not so
rich as another; but he is not to seize upon another's property with his
own hand.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, this lady does not want that the contract
should be dissolved; she only argues that she may indulge herself in
gallantries with equal freedom as her husband does, provided she takes
care not to introduce a spurious issue into his family. You know, Sir,
what Macrobius has told us of Julia.[73]' JOHNSON. 'This lady of yours,
Sir, I think, is very fit for a brothel.'

Mr. Macbean[74], authour of the _Dictionary of ancient Geography_, came
in. He mentioned that he had been forty years absent from Scotland. 'Ah,
Boswell! (said Johnson, smiling,) what would you give to be forty years
from Scotland?' I said, 'I should not like to be so long absent from the
seat of my ancestors.' This gentleman, Mrs. Williams, and Mr. Levet,
dined with us.

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

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

After coffee, we went to afternoon service in St. Clement's church.
Observing some beggars in the street as we walked along, I said to him I
supposed there was no civilised country in the world, where the misery
of want in the lowest classes of the people was prevented. JOHNSON. 'I
believe, Sir, there is not; but it is better that some should be
unhappy, than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a
general state of equality.'[76]

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

Upon the question whether a man who had been guilty of vicious actions
would do well to force himself into solitude and sadness; JOHNSON. 'No,
Sir, unless it prevent him from being vicious again. With some people,
gloomy penitence is only madness turned upside down. A man may be
gloomy, till, in order to be relieved from gloom, he has recourse again
to criminal indulgencies.'[78]

On Wednesday, April 10, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, where were Mr.
Murphy and some other company. Before dinner, Dr. Johnson and I passed
some time by ourselves. I was sorry to find it was now resolved that the
proposed journey to Italy should not take place this year.[79] He said,
'I am disappointed, to be sure; but it is not a great disappointment.' I
wondered to see him bear, with a philosophical calmness, what would have
made most people peevish and fretful. I perceived, however, that he had
so warmly cherished the hope of enjoying classical scenes, that he could
not easily part with the scheme; for he said, 'I shall probably contrive
to get to Italy some other way. But I won't mention it to Mr. and Mrs.
Thrale, as it might vex them.' I suggested, that going to Italy might
have done Mr. and Mrs. Thrale good. JOHNSON. 'I rather believe not, Sir.
While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must
wait till grief be _digested_, and then amusement will dissipate the
remains of it.'

At dinner, Mr. Murphy entertained us with the history of Mr. Joseph
Simpson,[80] a schoolfellow of Dr. Johnson's, a barrister at law, of good
parts, but who fell into a dissipated course of life, incompatible with
that success in his profession which he once had, and would otherwise
have deservedly maintained; yet he still preserved a dignity in his
deportment. He wrote a tragedy on the story of Leonidas, entitled _The
Patriot_. He read it to a company of lawyers, who found so many faults,
that he wrote it over again: so then there were two tragedies on the
same subject and with the same title. Dr. Johnson told us, that one of
them was still in his possession. This very piece was, after his death,
published by some person who had been about him, and, for the sake of a
little hasty profit, was fallaciously advertised, so as to make it be
believed to have been written by Johnson himself.

I said, I disliked the custom which some people had of bringing their
children into company,[81] because it in a manner forced us to pay
foolish compliments to please their parents. JOHNSON. 'You are right,
Sir. We may be excused for not caring much about other people's
children, for there are many who care very little about their own
children. It may be observed, that men, who from being engaged in
business, or from their course of life in whatever way, seldom see their
children, do not care much about them. I myself should not have had much
fondness for a child of my own.'[82] MRS. THRALE. 'Nay, Sir, how can you
talk so?' JOHNSON. 'At least, I never wished to have a child.'

Mr. Murphy mentioned Dr. Johnson's having a design to publish an edition
of _Cowley_. Johnson said, he did not know but he should; and he
expressed his disapprobation of Dr. Hurd, for having published a
mutilated edition under the title of _Select Works of Abraham
Cowley_.[83] Mr. Murphy thought it a bad precedent; observing that any
authour might be used in the same manner; and that it was pleasing to
see the variety of an authour's compositions, at different periods.

We talked of Flatman's Poems; and Mrs. Thrale observed, that Pope had
partly borrowed from him _The dying Christian to his Soul_.[84] Johnson
repeated Rochester's verses upon Flatman[85], which I think by much too

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

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

He told us, that the book entitled _The Lives of the Poets_, by Mr.
Cibber, was entirely compiled by Mr. Shiels, a Scotchman, one of his
amanuenses. 'The bookseller (said he,) gave Theophilus Cibber, who was
then in prison, ten guineas, to allow _Mr. Cibber_ to be put upon the
title-page, as the authour; by this, a double imposition was intended:
in the first place, that it was the work of a Cibber at all; and, in the
second place, that it was the work of old Cibber.'[86]

Mr. Murphy said, that _The Memoirs of Gray's Life_ set him much higher
in his estimation than his poems did; 'for you there saw a man
constantly at work in literature.' Johnson acquiesced in this; but
depreciated the book, I thought, very unreasonably. For he said, 'I
forced myself to read it, only because it was a common topick of
conversation. I found it mighty dull; and, as to the style, it is fit
for the second table[87].' Why he thought so I was at a loss to conceive.
He now gave it as his opinion, that 'Akenside[88] was a superiour poet
both to Gray and Mason.'

Talking of the Reviews, Johnson said, 'I think them very impartial: I do
not know an instance of partiality.'[89] He mentioned what had passed
upon the subject of the _Monthly_ and _Critical Reviews_, in the
conversation with which his Majesty had honoured him.[90] He expatiated a
little more on them this evening. 'The Monthly Reviewers (said he) are
not Deists; but they are Christians with as little christianity as may
be; and are for pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers
are for supporting the constitution both in church and state.[91] The
Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books
through; but lay hold of a topick, and write chiefly from their own
minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men, and are glad to read the
books through.'

He talked of Lord Lyttelton's extreme anxiety as an authour; observing,
that 'he was thirty years in preparing his _History_, and that he
employed a man to point it for him; as if (laughing) another man could
point his sense better than himself.'[92] Mr. Murphy said, he understood
his history was kept back several years for fear of Smollet[93]. JOHNSON.
'This seems strange to Murphy and me, who never felt that anxiety, but
sent what we wrote to the press, and let it take its chance.' MRS.
THRALE. 'The time has been, Sir, when you felt it.' JOHNSON. 'Why
really, Madam, I do not recollect a time when that was the case.'

Talking of _The Spectator_, he said, 'It is wonderful that there is such
a proportion of bad papers, in the half of the work which was not
written by Addison; for there was all the world to write that half, yet
not a half of that half is good. One of the finest pieces in the English
language is the paper on Novelty,[94] yet we do not hear it talked of. It
was written by Grove, a dissenting _teacher_.' He would not, I
perceived, call him a _clergyman_, though he was candid enough to allow
very great merit to his composition. Mr. Murphy said, he remembered when
there were several people alive in London, who enjoyed a considerable
reputation merely from having written a paper in _The Spectator_. He
mentioned particularly Mr. Ince, who used to frequent Tom's
coffee-house. 'But (said Johnson,) you must consider how highly Steele
speaks of Mr. Ince[95].' He would not allow that the paper[96] on carrying
a boy to travel, signed _Philip Homebred_, which was reported to be
written by the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, had merit. He said, 'it was
quite vulgar, and had nothing luminous.'

Johnson mentioned Dr. Barry's[97] System of Physick. 'He was a man (said
he,) who had acquired a high reputation in Dublin, came over to England,
and brought his reputation with him, but had not great success. His
notion was, that pulsation occasions death by attrition; and that,
therefore, the way to preserve life is to retard pulsation[98]. But we
know that pulsation is strongest in infants, and that we increase in
growth while it operates in its regular course; so it cannot be the
cause of destruction.' Soon after this, he said something very
flattering to Mrs. Thrale, which I do not recollect; but it concluded
with wishing her long life. 'Sir, (said I,) if Dr. Barry's system be
true, you have now shortened Mrs. Thrale's life, perhaps, some minutes,
by accelerating her pulsation.'

On Thursday, April 11[99], I dined with him at General Paoli's, in whose
house I now resided, and where I had ever afterwards the honour of being
entertained with the kindest attention as his constant guest, while I
was in London, till I had a house of my own there. I mentioned my having
that morning introduced to Mr. Garrick, Count Neni, a Flemish Nobleman
of great rank and fortune, to whom Garrick talked of Abel Drugger[100] as
_a small part_; and related, with pleasant vanity, that a Frenchman who
had seen him in one of his low characters, exclaimed, '_Comment! je ne
le crois pas. Ce n'est pas Monsieur Garrick, ce Grand Homme_!' Garrick
added, with an appearance of grave recollection, 'If I were to begin
life again, I think I should not play those low characters.' Upon which
I observed, 'Sir, you would be in the wrong; for your great excellence
is your variety of playing, your representing so well, characters so
very different.' JOHNSON. 'Garrick, Sir, was not in earnest in what he
said; for, to be sure, his peculiar excellence is his variety[101]: and,
perhaps, there is not any one character which has not been as well acted
by somebody else, as he could do it.' BOSWELL. 'Why then, Sir, did he
talk so?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, to make you answer as you did.' BOSWELL.
'I don't know, Sir; he seemed to dip deep into his mind for the
reflection.' JOHNSON. 'He had not far to dip, Sir: he said the same
thing, probably, twenty times before.'

Of a nobleman raised at a very early period to high office, he said,
'His parts, Sir, are pretty well for a Lord; but would not be
distinguished in a man who had nothing else but his parts[102]'.

A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts[103]. He said, 'A man who has
not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not
having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of
travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores
were the four great Empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the
Grecian, and the Roman.--All our religion, almost all our law, almost
all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from
the shores of the Mediterranean.' The General observed, that 'THE
MEDITERRANEAN would be a noble subject for a poem[104].'

We talked of translation. I said, I could not define it, nor could I
think of a similitude to illustrate it; but that it appeared to me the
translation of poetry could be only imitation. JOHNSON. 'You may
translate books of science exactly. You may also translate history, in
so far as it is not embellished with oratory[105], which is poetical.
Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets
that preserve languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a
language, if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a
translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any
language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the

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

The same gentleman maintained, that a general diffusion of knowledge
among a people was a disadvantage; for it made the vulgar rise above
their humble sphere. JOHNSON. 'Sir, while knowledge is a distinction,
those who are possessed of it will naturally rise above those who are
not. Merely to read and write was a distinction at first; but we see
when reading and writing have become general, the common people keep
their stations. And so, were higher attainments to become general the
effect would be the same.'[106]

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

We spent the evening at Mr. Hoole's. Mr. Mickle, the excellent
translator of _The Lusiad_[107], was there. I have preserved little of the
conversation of this evening.[108] Dr. Johnson said, 'Thomson had a true
poetical genius, the power of viewing every thing in a poetical light.
His fault is such a cloud of words sometimes, that the sense can hardly
peep through. Shiels, who compiled _Cibber's Lives of the Poets_[109], was
one day sitting with me. I took down Thomson, and read aloud a large
portion of him, and then asked,--Is not this fine? Shiels having
expressed the highest admiration. Well, Sir, (said I,) I have omitted
every other line.'[110]

I related a dispute between Goldsmith and Mr. Robert Dodsley, one day
when they and I were dining at Tom Davies's, in 1762. Goldsmith
asserted, that there was no poetry produced in this age. Dodsley
appealed to his own _Collection_[111], and maintained, that though you
could not find a palace like Dryden's _Ode on St. Cecilia's Day_, you
had villages composed of very pretty houses; and he mentioned
particularly _The Spleen_[112]. JOHNSON. 'I think Dodsley gave up the
question. He and Goldsmith said the same thing; only he said it in a
softer manner than Goldsmith did; for he acknowledged that there was no
poetry, nothing that towered above the common mark. You may find wit and
humour in verse, and yet no poetry. _Hudibras_ has a profusion of these;
yet it is not to be reckoned a poem. _The Spleen_, in Dodsley's
_Collection_, on which you say he chiefly rested, is not poetry[113].'
BOSWELL. 'Does not Gray's poetry, Sir, tower above the common mark?'
JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but we must attend to the difference between what
men in general cannot do if they would, and what every man may do if he
would. Sixteen-string Jack[114] towered above the common mark.' BOSWELL.
'Then, Sir, what is poetry?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is much easier to
say what it is not. We all _know_ what light is; but it is not easy to
_tell_ what it is.'

On Friday, April 12, I dined with him at our friend Tom Davies's, where
we met Mr. Cradock, of Leicestershire, authour of _Zobeide_, a
tragedy[115]; a very pleasing gentleman, to whom my friend Dr. Farmer's
very excellent _Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare_[116] is addressed;
and Dr. Harwood, who has written and published various works;
particularly a fantastical translation of the New Testament, in modern
phrase[117], and with a Socinian twist.

I introduced Aristotle's doctrine in his _Art of Poetry_, of 'the
[Greek: katharis ton pathaematon], the purging of the passions,' as the
purpose of tragedy[118]. 'But how are the passions to be purged by terrour
and pity?' (said I, with an assumed air of ignorance, to incite him to
talk, for which it was often necessary to employ some address)[119].
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider what is the meaning of purging
in the original sense. It is to expel impurities from the human body.
The mind is subject to the same imperfection. The passions are the great
movers of human actions; but they are mixed with such impurities, that
it is necessary they should be purged or refined by means of terrour and
pity. For instance, ambition is a noble passion; but by seeing upon the
stage, that a man who is so excessively ambitious as to raise himself by
injustice, is punished, we are terrified at the fatal consequences of
such a passion. In the same manner a certain degree of resentment is
necessary; but if we see that a man carries it too far, we pity the
object of it, and are taught to moderate that passion.' My record upon
this occasion does great injustice to Johnson's expression, which was so
forcible and brilliant, that Mr. Cradock whispered me, 'O that his words
were written in a book[120]!'

I observed, the great defect of the tragedy of _Othello_ was, that it
had not a moral; for that no man could resist the circumstances of
suspicion which were artfully suggested to Othello's mind. JOHNSON. 'In
the first place, Sir, we learn from _Othello_ this very useful moral,
not to make an unequal match; in the second place, we learn not to yield
too readily to suspicion. The handkerchief is merely a trick, though a
very pretty trick; but there are no other circumstances of reasonable
suspicion, except what is related by Iago of Cassio's warm expressions
concerning Desdemona in his sleep; and that depended entirely upon the
assertion of one man.[121] No, Sir, I think _Othello_ has more moral than
almost any play.'

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

He said, he wished to see John Dennis's _Critical Works_ collected.
Davies said they would not sell. Dr. Johnson seemed to think

Davies said of a well-known dramatick authour, that 'he lived upon
_potted stories_, and that he made his way as Hannibal did, by vinegar;
having begun by attacking people; particularly the players.'[123]

He reminded Dr. Johnson of Mr. Murphy's having paid him the highest
compliment that ever was paid to a layman, by asking his pardon for
repeating some oaths in the course of telling a story.[124]

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

We discussed the question whether drinking improved conversation and
benevolence.[127] Sir Joshua maintained it did. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir: before
dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who
are conscious of their inferiority, have the modesty not to talk. When
they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that
modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous: but he is not improved; he
is only not sensible of his defects.' Sir Joshua said the Doctor was
talking of the effects of excess in wine; but that a moderate glass
enlivened the mind, by giving a proper circulation to the blood. 'I am
(said he,) in very good spirits, when I get up in the morning. By
dinner-time I am exhausted; wine puts me in the same state as when I got
up; and I am sure that moderate drinking makes people talk better.'
JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; wine gives not light, gay, ideal hilarity; but
tumultuous, noisy, clamorous merriment. I have heard none of those
drunken,--nay, drunken is a coarse word,--none of those _vinous_
flights.' SIR JOSHUA. 'Because you have sat by, quite sober, and felt an
envy of the happiness of those who were drinking.' JOHNSON. 'Perhaps,
contempt.[128]--And, Sir, it is not necessary to be drunk one's self, to
relish the wit of drunkenness. Do we not judge of the drunken wit, of
the dialogue between Iago and Cassio, the most excellent in its kind,
when we are quite sober? Wit is wit, by whatever means it is produced;
and, if good, will appear so at all times. I admit that the spirits are
raised by drinking, as by the common participation of any pleasure:
cock-fighting, or bear-baiting, will raise the spirits of a company, as
drinking does, though surely they will not improve conversation. I also
admit, that there are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as
there are fruits which are not good till they are rotten. There are such
men, but they are medlars. I indeed allow that there have been a very
few men of talents who were improved by drinking; but I maintain that I
am right as to the effects of drinking in general: and let it be
considered, that there is no position, however false in its
universality, which is not true of some particular man.' Sir William
Forbes said, 'Might not a man warmed with wine be like a bottle of beer,
which is made brisker by being set before the fire?' 'Nay, (said
Johnson, laughing,) I cannot answer that: that is too much for me.'

I observed, that wine did some people harm, by inflaming, confusing, and
irritating their minds; but that the experience of mankind had declared
in favour of moderate drinking. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I do not say it is wrong
to produce self complacency by drinking; I only deny that it improves
the mind. When I drank wine, I scorned to drink it when in company.[129] I
have drunk many a bottle by myself; in the first place, because I had
need of it to raise my spirits; in the second place, because I would
have nobody to witness its effects upon me.'

He told us, 'almost all his _Ramblers_ were written just as they were
wanted for the press; that he sent a certain portion of the copy[130] of
an essay, and wrote the remainder, while the former part of it was
printing. When it was wanted, and he had fairly sat down to it, he was
sure it would be done.'[131]

He said, that for general improvement, a man should read whatever his
immediate inclination prompts him to; though, to be sure, if a man has a
science to learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance. He added,
'what we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we
read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the
attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.'[132]
He told us, he read Fielding's _Amelia_ through without stopping.[133] He
said, 'if a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an
inclination to go on, let him not quit it, to go to the beginning. He
may perhaps not feel again the inclination.'

Sir Joshua mentioned Mr. Cumberland's _Odes_,[134] which were just
published. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, they would have been thought as good as
Odes commonly are, if Cumberland had not put his name to them; but a
name immediately draws censure, unless it be a name that bears down
everything before it. Nay, Cumberland has made his _Odes_ subsidiary to
the fame of another man.[135] They might have run well enough by
themselves; but he has not only loaded them with a name, but has made
them carry double.'

We talked of the Reviews, and Dr. Johnson spoke of them as he did at
Thrale's.[136] Sir Joshua said, what I have often thought, that he
wondered to find so much good writing employed in them, when the
authours were to remain unknown, and so could not have the motive of
fame. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, those who write in them, write well, in order
to be paid well.'

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


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

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

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

'I am, Sir, your, &c.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I was then member for Aylesbury.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 16, 1776.'



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

'Your most humble servant,


'June 22, 1776.

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

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

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

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

Sir William Forbes writes to me thus:--

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

'Your most humble servant,


'May 16, 1776.'


'Edinburgh, June 25, 1776.

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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


'Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

      *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

'Your most affectionate


'July 6[255], 1776.'


'Edinburgh, July 18, 1776.


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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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



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

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Aug. 3, 1776.'


'Edinburgh, August 30, 1776.

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

'Your humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON[267].'

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

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



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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Your most humble servant,


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Your humble servant,


'Dec. 21, 1776.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Easter-day we find the following emphatick prayer:

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

'I am, Sir,

'Your most, &c.


'February 25, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 14, 1777.

'My Dear Sir,

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most faithful,

'And affectionate humble servant,



'Prestonfield, Feb. 17, 1777.


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

'Your much obliged,

'And obedient humble servant,




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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'February 18, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Feb. 24, 1777.


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most obliged

'And faithful humble servant,




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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am, dear Sir,

'Most affectionately your's,


'March 11, 1777.'

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


'Edinburgh, April 4, 1777.

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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


'Glasgow, April 24, 1777.

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

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

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

'What do you say of Lord Chesterfield's _Memoirs and last Letters_?[317]

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Southill, Sept. 26, 1777.


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

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

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

'Ever your's,

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


'July 9, 1777.[342]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

'I remain, my dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, and faithful humble servant,


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Yours affectionately,


'June, 28, 1777.'



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

'Your most humble servant,


'June 24, 1777.'

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



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

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

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

'Your most humble servant,


'June 29, 1777.'



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

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

'I am, reverend Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'July 9, 1777.'


'Lambeth, June 9, 1787.


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

'Your most obedient humble servant,

'W. VYSE.'



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

'I am, Sir, your humble servant,


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


'Edinburgh, July 15, 1777.


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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I am ever,

'Most faithfully yours,




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, &c.


'July 22, 1777.'



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

'Your most obliged,

'And most humble servant,


'July 22, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, July 28, 1777.

'My Dear Sir,

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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



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

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

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

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

'Your most, &c.


'Oxford, Aug. 4, 1777.'


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



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

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

'Your most humble servant,


'August 30, 1777.'



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Ashbourne, Sept. 1, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Sept. 9, 1777.

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

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

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

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

'Your most faithful humble servant,




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

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

'Most affectionately yours,


'Ashbourne, Sept. 11, 1777.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

He added:--

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

'Your Majesty's, &c.'

Subjoined to it was written as follows:



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

'Your most obedient

'And most humble servant,


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

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

'June 25, _Midnight_.

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

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



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

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

'Your affectionate servant,


'June 26, 1777.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Gray evening_ is common enough; but _evening gray_ he'd think
fine[449].--Stay;--we'll make out the stanza:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

yet we must contemplate, collectively, to have a just estimation of
objects. One moment's being uneasy or not, seems of no consequence; yet
this may be thought of the next, and the next, and so on, till there is
a large portion of misery. In the same way one must think of happiness,
of learning, of friendship. We cannot tell the precise moment when
friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at
last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there
is at last one which makes the heart run over. We must not divide
objects of our attention into minute parts, and think separately of each
part. It is by contemplating a large mass of human existence, that a
man, while he sets a just value on his own life, does not think of his
death as annihilating all that is great and pleasing in the world, as if
actually _contained in his mind_, according to Berkeley's reverie[464]. If
his imagination be not sickly and feeble, it 'wings its distant way[465]'
far beyond himself, and views the world in unceasing activity of every
sort. It must be acknowledged, however, that Pope's plaintive
reflection, that all things would be as gay as ever, on the day of his
death, is natural and common[466]. We are apt to transfer to all around us
our own gloom, without considering that at any given point of time there
is, perhaps, as much youth and gaiety in the world as at another. Before
I came into this life, in which I have had so many pleasant scenes, have
not thousands and ten thousands of deaths and funerals happened, and
have not families been in grief for their nearest relations? But have
those dismal circumstances at all affected _me_? Why then should the
gloomy scenes which I experience, or which I know, affect others? Let us
guard against imagining that there is an end of felicity upon earth,
when we ourselves grow old, or are unhappy.

Dr. Johnson told us at tea, that when some of Dr. Dodd's pious friends
were trying to console him by saying that he was going to leave 'a
wretched world,' he had honesty enough not to join in the cant[467]:--'No,
no (said he,) it has been a very agreeable world to me.' Johnson added,
'I respect Dodd for thus speaking the truth; for, to be sure, he had for
several years enjoyed a life of great voluptuousness[468].'

He told us, that Dodd's city friends stood by him so, that a thousand
pounds were ready to be given to the gaoler, if he would let him escape.
He added, that he knew a friend of Dodd's, who walked about Newgate for
some time on the evening before the day of his execution, with five
hundred pounds in his pocket, ready to be paid to any of the turnkeys
who could get him out: but it was too late; for he was watched with much
circumspection[469]. He said, Dodd's friends had an image of him made of
wax, which was to have been left in his place; and he believed it was
carried into the prison.

Johnson disapproved of Dr. Dodd's leaving the world persuaded that _The
Convict's Address to his unhappy Brethren_ was of his own writing[470].
'But, Sir, (said I,) you contributed to the deception; for when Mr.
Seward expressed a doubt to you that it was not Dodd's own, because it
had a great deal more force of mind in it than any thing known to be
his, you answered,--"Why should you think so? Depend upon it, Sir, when
a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind
wonderfully."' JOHNSON. 'Sir, as Dodd got it from me to pass as his own,
while that could do him any good, there was an _implied promise_ that I
should not own it. To own it, therefore, would have been telling a lie,
with the addition of breach of promise, which was worse than simply
telling a lie to make it be believed it was Dodd's. Besides, Sir, I did
not _directly_ tell a lie: I left the matter uncertain. Perhaps I
thought that Seward would not believe it the less to be mine for what I
said; but I would not put it in his power to say I had owned it.'

He praised Blair's sermons: 'Yet,' said he, (willing to let us see he
was aware that fashionable fame, however deserved, is not always the
most lasting,) 'perhaps, they may not be re-printed after seven years;
at least not after Blair's death[471].'

He said, 'Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late[472]. There appeared
nothing remarkable about him when he was young; though when he had got
high in fame, one of his friends[473] began to recollect something of his
being distinguished at College. Goldsmith in the same manner recollected
more of that friend's early years, as he grew a greater man.'

I mentioned that Lord Monboddo told me, he awaked every morning at four,
and then for his health got up and walked in his room naked, with the
window open, which he called taking _an air bath_[474]; after which he
went to bed again, and slept two hours more. Johnson, who was always
ready to beat down any thing that seemed to be exhibited with
disproportionate importance, thus observed: 'I suppose, Sir, there is no
more in it than this, he awakes at four, and cannot sleep till he chills
himself, and makes the warmth of the bed a grateful sensation.'

I talked of the difficulty of rising in the morning. Dr. Johnson told
me, 'that the learned Mrs. Carter, at that period when she was eager in
study, did not awake as early as she wished, and she therefore had a
contrivance, that, at a certain hour, her chamber-light should burn a
string to which a heavy weight was suspended, which then fell with a
strong sudden noise: this roused her from sleep, and then she had no
difficulty in getting up.' But I said _that_ was my difficulty; and
wished there could be some medicine invented which would make one rise
without pain, which I never did, unless after lying in bed a very long
time. Perhaps there may be something in the stores of Nature which could
do this. I have thought of a pulley to raise me gradually; but that
would give me pain, as it would counteract my internal inclination. I
would have something that can dissipate the _vis inertiæ_, and give
elasticity to the muscles. As I imagine that the human body may be put,
by the operation of other substances, into any state in which it has
ever been; and as I have experienced a state in which rising from bed
was not disagreeable, but easy, nay, sometimes agreeable; I suppose that
this state may be produced, if we knew by what. We can heat the body, we
can cool it; we can give it tension or relaxation; and surely it is
possible to bring it into a state in which rising from bed will not be a

Johnson observed, that 'a man should take a sufficient quantity of
sleep, which Dr. Mead says is between seven and nine hours.' I told him,
that Dr. Cullen said to me, that a man should not take more sleep than
he can take at once. JOHNSON. 'This rule, Sir, cannot hold in all cases;
for many people have their sleep broken by sickness; and surely, Cullen
would not have a man to get up, after having slept but an hour. Such a
regimen would soon end in a _long sleep_[475].' Dr. Taylor remarked, I
think very justly, that 'a man who does not feel an inclination to sleep
at the ordinary time, instead of being stronger than other people, must
not be well; for a man in health has all the natural inclinations to
eat, drink, and sleep, in a strong degree.'

Johnson advised me to-night not to _refine_ in the education of my
children. 'Life (said he) will not bear refinement: you must do as other
people do[476].'

As we drove back to Ashbourne, Dr. Johnson recommended to me, as he had
often done, to drink water only: 'For (said he) you are then sure not to
get drunk; whereas if you drink wine you are never sure.' I said,
drinking wine was a pleasure which I was unwilling to give up. 'Why,
Sir, (said he,) there is no doubt that not to drink wine is a great
deduction from life; but it may be necessary.' He however owned, that in
his opinion a free use of wine did not shorten life[477]; and said, he
would not give less for the life of a certain Scotch Lord[478] (whom he
named) celebrated for hard drinking, than for that of a sober man. 'But
stay, (said he, with his usual intelligence, and accuracy of enquiry,)
does it take much wine to make him drunk?' I answered, 'a great deal
either of wine or strong punch.'--'Then (said he) that is the worse.' I
presume to illustrate my friend's observation thus: 'A fortress which
soon surrenders has its walls less shattered than when a long and
obstinate resistance is made.'

I ventured to mention a person who was as violent a Scotsman as he was
an Englishman; and literally had the same contempt for an Englishman
compared with a Scotsman, that he had for a Scotsman compared with an
Englishman; and that he would say of Dr. Johnson, 'Damned rascal! to
talk as he does, of the Scotch.' This seemed, for a moment, 'to give him
pause[479].' It, perhaps, presented his extreme prejudice against the
Scotch in a point of view somewhat new to him, by the effect of

By the time when we returned to Ashbourne, Dr. Taylor was gone to bed.
Johnson and I sat up a long time by ourselves.

He was much diverted with an article which I shewed him in the _Critical
Review_ of this year, giving an account of a curious publication,
entitled, _A Spiritual Diary and Soliloquies_, by John Rutty, M.D. Dr.
Rutty was one of the people called Quakers, a physician of some eminence
in Dublin, and authour of several works[480]. This Diary, which was kept
from 1753 to 1775, the year in which he died, and was now published in
two volumes octavo, exhibited, in the simplicity of his heart, a minute
and honest register of the state of his mind; which, though frequently
laughable enough, was not more so than the history of many men would be,
if recorded with equal fairness.

The following specimens were extracted by the Reviewers:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He found fault with me for using the phrase to _make_ money. 'Don't you
see (said he) the impropriety of it? To _make_ money is to _coin_ it:
you should say _get_ money.' The phrase, however, is, I think, pretty
current[557]. But Johnson was at all times jealous of infractions upon the
genuine English language, and prompt to repress colloquial barbarisms;
such as, _pledging myself_, for _undertaking_; _line_, for _department_,
or _branch_, as, the _civil line_, the _banking line_. He was
particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word
_idea_ in the sense of _notion_ or _opinion_, when it is clear that
_idea_ can only signify something of which an image can be formed in the
mind[558]. We may have an _idea_ or _image_ of a mountain, a tree, a
building; but we cannot surely have an _idea_ or _image_ of an
_argument_ or _proposition_. Yet we hear the sages of the law
'delivering their _ideas_ upon the question under consideration;' and
the first speakers in parliament 'entirely coinciding in the _idea_
which has been ably stated by an honourable member;'--or 'reprobating an
_idea_ unconstitutional, and fraught with the most dangerous
consequences to a great and free country.' Johnson called this 'modern

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

He praised Grainger's _Ode on Solitude_, in Dodsley's _Collection_, and
repeated, with great energy, the exordium:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Intaminatis fulget honoribus;
Nec sumit aut ponit secures
Arbitrio popularis auræ_[580].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Tuesday morn_.'

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

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

My friend, who had a thorough dependance upon the authenticity of my
relation without any _embellishment_[592], as _falsehood_ or _fiction_ is
too gently called, laughed a good deal at this representation of


'Edinburgh, Sept. 29, 1777.


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Edinburgh, Nov. 29, 1777.


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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

'Your faithful humble servant,


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



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

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

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

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

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

'Yours faithfully,


'December 27, 1777.'


'Edinburgh, Jan. 8, 1778.


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,




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

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

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

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

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

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your's affectionately,


'January 24, 1778.'

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 3, 1778.'

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


'Edinburgh, Feb. 26, 1778.


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,



'Edinburgh, Feb. 28, 1778.


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

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

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

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

'I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,



'Edinburgh, March 12, 1778.


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

'Humble servant,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In his review of Dr. Warton's _Essay on the Writings and Genius of
Pope_, Johnson has given the following salutary caution upon this

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"_Quo clamor vocat et turba, faventium_[660]."'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'... _immota labescunt;
Et quae perpetuò sunt agitata manent_[716].'

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

"_Romae Tibur amem, ventosus Tibure Romam_[719];"

than when he boasts of his consistency:

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

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

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

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

'"Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow."

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

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

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

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

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

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

'_Est aliquid quocunque loco quocunque recessu,
Unius sese dominum fecisse lacertæ_[733].'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

'Your most faithful

'And affectionate humble servant,


       *       *       *       *       *



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

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

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most, &c.,


'April 23, 1778.'



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

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

'Your most obedient humble servant,


'South Audley-street, April 25.'

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

'CHAP. LXXII. _Concerning snakes_.

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

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

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

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

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

'... _facies non omnibus una,
Nec diversa tamen_[815].'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Mayo having asked Johnson's opinion of Soame Jenyns's _View of the
Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion_[841];--JOHNSON. 'I think it a
pretty book; not very theological indeed; and there seems to be an
affectation of ease and carelessness, as if it were not suitable to his
character to be very serious about the matter.' BOSWELL. 'He may have
intended this to introduce his book the better among genteel people, who
might be unwilling to read too grave a treatise. There is a general
levity in the age. We have physicians now with bag-wigs[842]; may we not
have airy divines, at least somewhat less solemn in their appearance
than they used to be?' JOHNSON. 'Jenyns might mean as you say[843].'
BOSWELL. 'You should like his book, Mrs. Knowles, as it maintains, as
you _friends_ do, that courage is not a Christian virtue.' MRS. KNOWLES.
'Yes, indeed, I like him there; but I cannot agree with him, that
friendship is not a Christian virtue[844].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, strictly
speaking, he is right. All friendship is preferring the interest of a
friend, to the neglect, or, perhaps, against the interest of others; so
that an old Greek said, "He that has _friends_ has _no friend_." Now
Christianity recommends universal benevolence, to consider all men as
our brethren[845], which is contrary to the virtue of friendship, as
described by the ancient philosophers. Surely, Madam, your sect must
approve of this; for, you call all men _friends_.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'We are
commanded to do good to all men, "but especially to them who are of the
household of Faith[846]."' JOHNSON. 'Well, Madam. The household of Faith
is wide enough.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'But, Doctor, our Saviour had twelve
Apostles, yet there was _one_ whom he _loved_. John was called "the
disciple whom JESUS loved[847]."' JOHNSON (with eyes sparkling
benignantly). 'Very well, indeed, Madam. You have said very well.'
BOSWELL. 'A fine application. Pray, Sir, had you ever thought of it?'
JOHNSON. 'I had not, Sir.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"_Vidit et erubuit lympha pudica Deum_[895],"

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

"_Mira cano, Sol occubuit, nox nulla secuta est_[896]."'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'... Numerisque fertur
Lege solutus[950],'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"_Si patriæ volumus, si_ Nobis _vivere cari_[975].'"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Robertson expatiated on the character of a certain nobleman[993]; that
he was one of the strongest-minded men that ever lived; that he would
sit in company quite sluggish, while there was nothing to call forth his
intellectual vigour; but the moment that any important subject was
started, for instance, how this country is to be defended against a
French invasion, he would rouse himself, and shew his extraordinary
talents with the most powerful ability and animation. JOHNSON. 'Yet this
man cut his own throat. The true strong and sound mind is the mind that
can embrace equally great things and small. Now I am told the King of
Prussia will say to a servant, "Bring me a bottle of such a wine, which
came in such a year; it lies in such a corner of the cellars." I would
have a man great in great things, and elegant in little things.' He said
to me afterwards, when we were by ourselves, 'Robertson was in a mighty
romantick humour[994], he talked of one whom he did not know; but I
_downed_[995] him with the King of Prussia.' 'Yes, Sir, (said I,) you
threw a _bottle_ at his head.'

An ingenious gentleman was mentioned, concerning whom both Robertson and
Ramsay agreed that he had a constant firmness of mind; for after a
laborious day, and amidst a multiplicity of cares and anxieties, he
would sit down with his sisters and be quite cheerful and good-humoured.
Such a disposition, it was observed, was a happy gift of nature.
JOHNSON. 'I do not think so; a man has from nature a certain portion of
mind; the use he makes of it depends upon his own free will. That a man
has always the same firmness of mind I do not say; because every man
feels his mind less firm at one time than another; but I think a man's
being in a good or bad humour depends upon his will.' I, however, could
not help thinking that a man's humour is often uncontroulable by his

Johnson harangued against drinking wine[996]. 'A man (said he) may choose
whether he will have abstemiousness and knowledge, or claret and
ignorance.' Dr. Robertson, (who is very companionable,) was beginning to
dissent as to the proscription of claret[997]. JOHNSON: (with a placid
smile.) 'Nay, Sir, you shall not differ with me; as I have said that the
man is most perfect who takes in the most things, I am for knowledge and
claret.' ROBERTSON: (holding a glass of generous claret in his hand.)
'Sir, I can only drink your health.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I should be sorry if
_you_ should be ever in such a state as to be able to do nothing more.'
ROBERTSON. 'Dr. Johnson, allow me to say, that in one respect I have the
advantage of you; when you were in Scotland you would not come to hear
any of our preachers[998], whereas, when I am here, I attend your publick
worship without scruple, and indeed, with great satisfaction.' JOHNSON.
'Why, Sir, that is not so extraordinary: the King of Siam sent
ambassadors to Louis the Fourteenth; but Louis the Fourteenth sent none
to the King of Siam[999].'

Here my friend for once discovered a want of knowledge or forgetfulness;
for Louis the Fourteenth did send an embassy to the King of Siam, and
the Abbé Choisi, who was employed in it, published an account of it in
two volumes[1000].

Next day, Thursday, April 30, I found him at home by himself. JOHNSON.
'Well, Sir, Ramsay gave us a splendid dinner. I love Ramsay. You will
not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more
information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.' BOSWELL. 'What I
admire in Ramsay, is his continuing to be so young.' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes,
Sir, it is to be admired. I value myself upon this, that there is
nothing of the old man in my conversation. I am now sixty-eight, and I
have no more of it than at twenty-eight[1001].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, would
not you wish to know old age? He who is never an old man, does not know
the whole of human life; for old age is one of the divisions of it.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, what talk is this?' BOSWELL. 'I mean, Sir, the
Sphinx's description of it;--morning, noon, and night. I would know
night, as well as morning and noon.' JOHNSON. 'What, Sir, would you know
what it is to feel the evils of old age? Would you have the gout? Would
you have decrepitude?'--Seeing him heated, I would not argue any
farther; but I was confident that I was in the right. I would, in due
time, be a Nestor, an elder of the people; and there _should_ be some
difference between the conversation of twenty-eight and sixty-eight. A
grave picture should not be gay. There is a serene, solemn, placid old
age. JOHNSON. 'Mrs. Thrale's mother said of me what flattered me much. A
clergyman was complaining of want of society in the country where he
lived; and said, "They talk of _runts_;" (that is, young cows). "Sir,
(said Mrs. Salusbury,) Mr. Johnson would learn to talk of runts:"
meaning that I was a man who would make the most of my situation,
whatever it was.' He added, 'I think myself a very polite man[1002].'

On Saturday, May 2, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where
there was a very large company, and a great deal of conversation; but
owing to some circumstance which I cannot now recollect, I have no
record of any part of it, except that there were several people there by
no means of the Johnsonian school; so that less attention was paid to
him than usual, which put him out of humour; and upon some imaginary
offence from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and
angry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon
his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so
much hurt, and had my pride so much roused, that I kept away from him
for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much longer, nay, gone to
Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been
reconciled. To such unhappy chances are human friendships liable[1003].

On Friday, May 8, I dined with him at Mr. Langton's. I was reserved and
silent, which I suppose he perceived, and might recollect the cause.
After dinner when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by
ourselves, he drew his chair near to mine, and said, in a tone of
conciliating courtesy[1004], 'Well, how have you done?' BOSWELL. 'Sir,
you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last
at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. You know, my dear Sir, no man has a greater
respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the
world to serve you. Now to treat me so--.' He insisted that I had
interrupted him, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded--
'But why treat me so before people who neither love you nor me?'
JOHNSON. 'Well, I am sorry for it. I'll make it up to you twenty
different ways, as you please.' BOSWELL. 'I said to-day to Sir Joshua,
when he observed that you _tossed_[1005] me sometimes--I don't care how
often, or how high he tosses me, when only friends are present, for then
I fall upon soft ground: but I do not like falling on stones, which is
the case when enemies are present.--I think this a pretty good image,
Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is one of the happiest I have ever heard.'

The truth is, there was no venom in the wounds which he inflicted at any
time, unless they were irritated by some malignant infusion by other
hands. We were instantly as cordial again as ever, and joined in hearty
laugh at some ludicrous but innocent peculiarities of one of our
friends[1006]. BOSWELL. 'Do you think, Sir, it is always culpable to
laugh at a man to his face?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, that depends upon the
man and the thing. If it is a slight man, and a slight thing, you may;
for you take nothing valuable from him.'

He said, 'I read yesterday Dr. Blair's sermon[1007] on Devotion, from
the text "_Cornelius, a devout man_[1008]." His doctrine is the best
limited, the best expressed: there is the most warmth without fanaticism,
the most rational transport. There is one part of it which I disapprove,
and I'd have him correct it; which is, that "he who does not feel joy in
religion is far from the kingdom of heaven!" There are many good men
whose fear of GOD predominates over their love. It may discourage. It
was rashly said. A noble sermon it is indeed. I wish Blair would come
over to the Church of England.'

When Mr. Langton returned to us, the 'flow of talk' went on. An eminent
author[1009] being mentioned;--JOHNSON. 'He is not a pleasant man. His
conversation is neither instructive nor brilliant. He does not talk as
if impelled by any fulness of knowledge or vivacity of imagination. His
conversation is like that of any other sensible man. He talks with no
wish either to inform or to hear, but only because he thinks it does not
become ---- to sit in a company and say nothing.'

Mr. Langton having repeated the anecdote of Addison having distinguished
between his powers in conversation and in writing, by saying 'I have
only nine-pence in my pocket; but I can draw for a thousand
pounds[1010];'--JOHNSON. 'He had not that retort ready, Sir; he had
prepared it before-hand.' LANGTON: (turning to me.) 'A fine surmise. Set
a thief to catch a thief.'

Johnson called the East-Indians barbarians. BOSWELL. 'You will except
the Chinese, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'Have they not arts?'
JOHNSON. 'They have pottery.' BOSWELL. 'What do you say to the written
characters of their language? 'JOHNSON. 'Sir, they have not an alphabet.
They have not been able to form what all other nations have formed.'
BOSWELL. 'There is more learning in their language than in any other,
from the immense number of their characters.' JOHNSON. 'It is only more
difficult from its rudeness; as there is more labour in hewing down a
tree with a stone than with an axe.'

He said, 'I have been reading Lord Kames's _Sketches of the History of
Man_. In treating of severity of punishment, he mentions that of Madame
Lapouchin, in Russia, but he does not give it fairly; for I have looked
at _Chappe D'Auteroche_[1011], from whom he has taken it. He stops where
it is said that the spectators thought her innocent, and leaves out what
follows; that she nevertheless was guilty. Now this is being as culpable
as one can conceive, to misrepresent fact in a book, and for what
motive? It is like one of those lies which people tell, one cannot see
why. The woman's life was spared; and no punishment was too great for
the favourite of an Empress who had conspired to dethrone her mistress.'
BOSWELL. 'He was only giving a picture of the lady in her sufferings.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, don't endeavour to palliate this. Guilt is a principal
feature in the picture. Kames is puzzled with a question that puzzled me
when I was a very young man. Why is it that the interest of money is
lower, when money is plentiful; for five pounds has the same proportion
of value to a hundred pounds when money is plentiful, as when it is
scarce? A lady explained it to me. "It is (said she) because when money
is plentiful there are so many more who have money to lend, that they
bid down one another. Many have then a hundred pounds; and one
says,--Take mine rather than another's, and you shall have it at four
_per cent_."' BOSWELL. 'Does Lord Kames decide the question?' JOHNSON.
'I think he leaves it as he found it[1012].' BOSWELL. 'This must have
been an extraordinary lady who instructed you, Sir. May I ask who she
was?' JOHNSON. 'Molly Aston[1013], Sir, the sister of those ladies with
whom you dined at Lichfield[1014]. I shall be at home to-morrow.'
BOSWELL. 'Then let us dine by ourselves at the Mitre, to keep up the
old custom, "the custom of the manor," the custom of the mitre.'
JOHNSON.  'Sir, so it shall be.'

On Saturday, May 9, we fulfilled our purpose of dining by ourselves at
the Mitre, according to old custom. There was, on these occasions, a
little circumstance of kind attention to Mrs. Williams, which must not
be omitted. Before coming out, and leaving her to dine alone, he gave
her choice of a chicken, a sweetbread, or any other little nice
thing, which was carefully sent to her from the tavern, ready-drest.

Our conversation to-day, I know not how, turned, (I think for the only
time at any length, during our long acquaintance,) upon the sensual
intercourse between the sexes, the delight of which he ascribed chiefly
to imagination. 'Were it not for imagination, Sir, (said he,) a man
would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a Duchess. But such
is the adventitious charm of fancy, that we find men who have violated
the best principles of society, and ruined their fame and their fortune,
that they might possess a woman of rank.' It would not be proper to
record the particulars of such a conversation in moments of unreserved
frankness, when nobody was present on whom it could have any hurtful
effect. That subject, when philosophically treated, may surely employ
the mind in as curious discussion, and as innocently, as anatomy;
provided that those who do treat it keep clear of inflammatory

'From grave to gay, from lively to severe[1015],'--we were soon engaged
in very different speculation; humbly and reverently considering and
wondering at the universal mystery of all things, as our imperfect
faculties can now judge of them. 'There are (said he) innumerable
questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no
answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was
to be created, why was it not created sooner?'

On Sunday, May 10, I supped with him at Mr. Hoole's, with Sir Joshua
Reynolds. I have neglected the memorial of this evening, so as to
remember no more of it than two particulars; one, that he strenuously
opposed an argument by Sir Joshua, that virtue was preferable to vice,
considering this life only; and that a man would be virtuous were it
only to preserve his character: and that he expressed much wonder at the
curious formation of the bat, a mouse with wings; saying, that 'it was
almost as strange a thing in physiology, as if the fabulous dragon could
be seen.'

On Tuesday, May 12, I waited on the Earl of Marchmont, to know if his
Lordship would favour Dr. Johnson with information concerning Pope,
whose Life he was about to write. Johnson had not flattered himself with
the hopes of receiving any civility from this nobleman; for he said to
me, when I mentioned Lord Marchmont as one who could tell him a great
deal about Pope,--'Sir, he will tell _me_ nothing.' I had the honour of
being known to his Lordship, and applied to him of myself, without being
commissioned by Johnson. His Lordship behaved in the most polite and
obliging manner, promised to tell all he recollected about Pope, and was
so very courteous as to say, 'Tell Dr. Johnson I have a great respect
for him, and am ready to shew it in any way I can. I am to be in the
city to-morrow, and will call at his house as I return.' His Lordship
however asked, 'Will he write the Lives of the Poets impartially? He was
the first that brought Whig and Tory into a Dictionary[1016]. And what do
you think of his definition of Excise? Do you know the history of his
aversion to the word _transpire_[1017]?' Then taking down the folio
_Dictionary_, he shewed it with this censure on its secondary sense: 'To
escape from secrecy to notice; a sense lately innovated from France,
without necessity[1018].' The truth was Lord Bolingbroke, who left the
Jacobites, first used it; therefore, it was to be condemned. 'He should
have shewn what word would do for it, if it was unnecessary.' I
afterwards put the question to Johnson: 'Why, Sir, (said he,) _get
abroad_.' BOSWELL. 'That, Sir, is using two words[1019].' JOHNSON. 'Sir,
there is no end of this. You may as well insist to have a word for old
age.' BOSWELL. 'Well, Sir, _Senectus_.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, to insist
always that there should be one word to express a thing in English,
because there is one in another language, is to change the language.'

I availed myself of this opportunity to hear from his Lordship many
particulars both of Pope and Lord Bolingbroke, which I have in

I proposed to Lord Marchmont that he should revise Johnson's _Life of
Pope_: 'So (said his Lordship) you would put me in a dangerous
situation. You know he knocked down Osborne the bookseller[1021].'

Elated with the success of my spontaneous exertion to procure material
and respectable aid to Johnson for his very favourite work, _The Lives
of the Poets_, I hastened down to Mr. Thrale's at Streatham, where he
now was, that I might insure his being at home next day; and after
dinner, when I thought he would receive the good news in the best
humour, I announced it eagerly: 'I have been at work for you to-day,
Sir. I have been with Lord Marchmont. He bade me tell you he has a great
respect for you, and will call on you to-morrow at one o'clock, and
communicate all he knows about Pope.'--Here I paused, in full
expectation that he would be pleased with this intelligence, would
praise my active merit, and would be alert to embrace such an offer from
a nobleman. But whether I had shewn an over-exultation, which provoked
his spleen; or whether he was seized with a suspicion that I had
obtruded him on Lord Marchmont, and humbled him too much; or whether
there was any thing more than an unlucky fit of ill-humour, I know not;
but, to my surprize, the result was,--JOHNSON. 'I shall not be in town
to-morrow. I don't care to know about Pope.' MRS. THRALE: (surprized as
I was, and a little angry.) 'I suppose, Sir, Mr. Boswell thought, that
as you are to write _Pope's Life_, you would wish to know about him.'
JOHNSON. 'Wish! why yes. If it rained knowledge I'd hold out my hand;
but I would not give myself the trouble to go in quest of it.' There was
no arguing with him at the moment. Some time afterwards he said, 'Lord
Marchmont will call on me, and then I shall call on Lord Marchmont.' Mr.
Thrale was uneasy at his unaccountable caprice[1022]; and told me, that
if I did not take care to bring about a meeting between Lord Marchmont
and him, it would never take place, which would be a great pity. I sent
a card to his Lordship, to be left at Johnson's house, acquainting him,
that Dr. Johnson could not be in town next day, but would do himself the
honour of waiting on him at another time. I give this account fairly, as
a specimen of that unhappy temper with which this great and good man had
occasionally to struggle, from something morbid in his constitution. Let
the most censorious of my readers suppose himself to have a violent fit
of the tooth-ach, or to have received a severe stroke on the shin-bone,
and when in such a state to be asked a question; and if he has any
candour, he will not be surprized at the answers which Johnson sometimes
gave in moments of irritation, which, let me assure them, is exquisitely
painful. But it must not be erroneously supposed that he was, in the
smallest degree, careless concerning any work which he undertook, or
that he was generally thus peevish. It will be seen, that in the
following year he had a very agreeable interview with Lord Marchmont, at
his Lordship's house[1023]; and this very afternoon he soon forgot any
fretfulness, and fell into conversation as usual.

I mentioned a reflection having been thrown out against four Peers for
having presumed to rise in opposition to the opinion of the twelve
Judges, in a cause in the House of Lords[1024], as if that were indecent.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no ground for censure. The Peers are Judges
themselves; and supposing them really to be of a different opinion, they
might from duty be in opposition to the Judges, who were there only to
be consulted.'

In this observation I fully concurred with him; for, unquestionably, all
the Peers are vested with the highest judicial powers; and when they are
confident that they understand a cause, are not obliged, nay ought not
to acquiesce in the opinion of the ordinary Law Judges, or even in that
of those who from their studies and experience are called the Law Lords.
I consider the Peers in general as I do a Jury, who ought to listen with
respectful attention to the sages of the law; but, if after hearing
them, they have a firm opinion of their own, are bound, as honest men,
to decide accordingly. Nor is it so difficult for them to understand
even law questions, as is generally thought; provided they will bestow
sufficient attention upon them. This observation was made by my honoured
relation the late Lord Cathcart, who had spent his life in camps and
courts; yet assured me, that he could form a clear opinion upon most of
the causes that came before the House of Lords, 'as they were so well
enucleated[1025] in the Cases.'

Mrs. Thrale told us, that a curious clergyman of our acquaintance had
discovered a licentious stanza, which Pope had originally in his
_Universal Prayer_, before the stanza,

'What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns us[1026] not to do,' &c.

It was thus:--

'Can sins of moment claim the rod
Of everlasting fires?
And that offend great Nature's GOD,
Which Nature's self inspires[1027]?'

and that Dr. Johnson observed, 'it had been borrowed from _Guarini_.'
There are, indeed, in _Pastor Fido_, many such flimsy superficial
reasonings, as that in the last two lines of this stanza. BOSWELL. 'In
that stanza of Pope's, "_rod of fires_" is certainly a bad metaphor.'
MRS. THRALE. 'And "sins of _moment_" is a faulty expression; for its
true import is _momentous_, which cannot be intended.' JOHNSON. 'It must
have been written "of _moments_." Of _moment_, is _momentous_; of
_moments_, _momentary_. I warrant you, however, Pope wrote this stanza,
and some friend struck it out. Boileau wrote some such thing, and
Arnaud[1028] struck it out, saying, "_Vous gagnerez deux ou trois impies,
et perdrez je ne scais combien des honnettes gens_." These fellows want
to say a daring thing, and don't know how to go about it. Mere poets
know no more of fundamental principles than--.' Here he was interrupted
somehow. Mrs. Thrale mentioned Dryden. JOHNSON. 'He puzzled himself
about predestination.--How foolish was it in Pope to give all his
friendship to Lords, who thought they honoured him by being with him;
and to choose such Lords as Burlington, and Cobham, and Bolingbroke!
Bathurst was negative, a pleasing man; and I have heard no ill of
Marchmont; and then always saying, "I do not value you for being a
Lord;" which was a sure proof that he did[1029]. I never say, I do not
value Boswell more for being born to an estate, because I do not care.'
BOSWELL. 'Nor for being a Scotchman?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I do value you
more for being a Scotchman. You are a Scotchman without the faults of a
Scotchman. You would not have been so valuable as you are, had you not
been a Scotchman.'

Talking of divorces, I asked if Othello's doctrine was not plausible?

'He that is robb'd, not wanting what is stolen,
Let him not know't, and he's not robb'd at all[1030].'

Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale joined against this. JOHNSON. 'Ask any man
if he'd wish not to know of such an injury.' BOSWELL. 'Would you tell
your friend to make him unhappy?' JOHNSON. 'Perhaps, Sir, I should not;
but that would be from prudence on my own account. A man would tell his
father.' BOSWELL. 'Yes; because he would not have spurious children to
get any share of the family inheritance.' MRS. THRALE. 'Or he would tell
his brother.' BOSWELL. 'Certainly his _elder_ brother.' JOHNSON. 'You
would tell your friend of a woman's infamy, to prevent his marrying a
whore: there is the same reason to tell him of his wife's infidelity,
when he is married, to prevent the consequences of imposition. It is a
breach of confidence not to tell a friend.' BOSWELL. 'Would you tell
Mr.----[1031]?' (naming a gentleman who assuredly was not in the least
danger of such a miserable disgrace, though married to a fine woman.)
JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; because it would do no good: he is so sluggish, he'd
never go to parliament and get through a divorce.'

He said of one of our friends[1032], 'He is ruining himself without
pleasure. A man who loses at play, or who runs out his fortune at court,
makes his estate less, in hopes of making it bigger: (I am sure of this
word, which was often used by him:) but it is a sad thing to pass
through the quagmire of parsimony, to the gulph of ruin. To pass over
the flowery path of extravagance is very well.'

Amongst the numerous prints pasted[1033] on the walls of the dining-room
at Streatham, was Hogarth's 'Modern Midnight Conversation.' I asked him
what he knew of Parson Ford[1034], who makes a conspicuous figure in the
riotous group. JOHNSON. 'Sir, he was my acquaintance and relation, my
mother's nephew. He had purchased a living in the country, but not
simoniacally. I never saw him but in the country. I have been told he
was a man of great parts; very profligate, but I never heard he was
impious.' BOSWELL. 'Was there not a story of his ghost having appeared?'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, it was believed. A waiter at the Hummums[1035], in which
house Ford died, had been absent for some time, and returned, not
knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, according to the
story, he met him; going down again he met him a second time. When he
came up, he asked some of the people of the house what Ford could be
doing there. They told him Ford was dead. The waiter took a fever, in
which he lay for some time. When he recovered, he said he had a message
to deliver to some women from Ford; but he was not to tell what, or to
whom. He walked out; he was followed; but somewhere about St. Paul's
they lost him. He came back, and said he had delivered the message, and
the women exclaimed, "Then we are all undone!" Dr. Pellet, who was not a
credulous man, inquired into the truth of this story, and he said, the
evidence was irresistible. My wife went to the Hummums; (it is a place
where people get themselves cupped.) I believe she went with intention
to hear about this story of Ford. At first they were unwilling to tell
her; but, after they had talked to her, she came away satisfied that it
was true. To be sure the man had a fever; and this vision may have been
the beginning of it. But if the message to the women, and their
behaviour upon it, were true as related, there was something
supernatural. That rests upon his word; and there it remains.'

After Mrs. Thrale was gone to bed, Johnson and I sat up late. We resumed
Sir Joshua Reynolds's argument on the preceding Sunday, that a man would
be virtuous though he had no other motive than to preserve his
character. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is not true: for as to this world vice does
not hurt a man's character.' BOSWELL. 'Yes, Sir, debauching a friend's
wife will.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Who thinks the worse of ----[1036] for it?'
BOSWELL. 'Lord ----[1037] was not his friend.' JOHNSON. 'That is only a
circumstance, Sir; a slight distinction. He could not get into the house
but by Lord ----. A man is chosen Knight of the shire, not the less for
having debauched ladies.' BOSWELL. 'What, Sir, if he debauched the
ladies of gentlemen in the county, will not there be a general
resentment against him?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. He will lose those
particular gentlemen; but the rest will not trouble their heads about
it.' (warmly.) BOSWELL. 'Well, Sir, I cannot think so.' JOHNSON. 'Nay,
Sir, there is no talking with a man who will dispute what every body
knows, (angrily.) Don't you know this?' BOSWELL. 'No, Sir; and I wish to
think better of your country than you represent it. I knew in Scotland a
gentleman obliged to leave it for debauching a lady; and in one of our
counties an Earl's brother lost his election, because he had debauched
the lady of another Earl in that county, and destroyed the peace of a
noble family.'

Still he would not yield. He proceeded: 'Will you not allow, Sir, that
vice does not hurt a man's character so as to obstruct his prosperity in
life, when you know that ----[1038] was loaded with wealth and honours;
a man who had acquired his fortune by such crimes, that his consciousness
of them impelled him to cut his own throat.' BOSWELL. 'You will
recollect, Sir, that Dr. Robertson said, he cut his throat because he
was weary of still life; little things not being sufficient to move his
great mind.' JOHNSON, (very angry.) 'Nay, Sir, what stuff is this! You
had no more this opinion after Robertson said it, than before. I know
nothing more offensive than repeating what one knows to be foolish
things, by way of continuing a dispute, to see what a man will
answer,--to make him your butt!' (angrier still.) BOSWELL. 'My dear Sir,
I had no such intentions as you seem to suspect; I had not indeed. Might
not this nobleman have felt every thing "weary, stale, flat, and
unprofitable[1039]," as Hamlet says?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, if you are to bring
in gabble, I'll talk no more. I will not, upon my honour.'--My readers
will decide upon this dispute.

Next morning I stated to Mrs. Thrale at breakfast, before he came down,
the dispute of last night as to the influence of character upon success
in life. She said he was certainly wrong; and told me, that a Baronet
lost an election in Wales, because he had debauched the sister of a
gentleman in the county, whom he made one of his daughters invite as her
companion at his seat in the country, when his lady and his other
children were in London. But she would not encounter Johnson upon the

I staid all this day with him at Streatham. He talked a great deal, in
very good humour.

Looking at Messrs. Dilly's splendid edition of Lord Chesterfield's
miscellaneous works, he laughed, and said, 'Here now are two speeches
ascribed to him, both of which were written by me: and the best of it
is, they have found out that one is like Demosthenes, and the other like

He censured Lord Kames's _Sketches of the History of Man_[1041], for
misrepresenting Clarendon's account of the appearance of Sir George
Villiers's ghost, as if Clarendon were weakly credulous; when the truth
is, that Clarendon only says, that the story was upon a better
foundation of credit, than usually such discourses are founded upon[1042];
nay, speaks thus of the person who was reported to have seen the vision,
'the poor man, _if he had been at all waking_;' which Lord Kames has
omitted. He added, 'in this book it is maintained that virtue is natural
to man, and that if we would but consult our own hearts we should be
virtuous.[1043] Now after consulting our own hearts all we can, and with
all the helps we have, we find how few of us are virtuous. This is
saying a thing which all mankind know not to be true.' BOSWELL. 'Is not
modesty natural?' JOHNSON. 'I cannot say, Sir, as we find no people
quite in a state of nature; but I think the more they are taught, the
more modest they are. The French are a gross, ill-bred, untaught people;
a lady there will spit on the floor and rub it with her foot.[1044] What
I gained by being in France was, learning to be better satisfied with my
own country. Time may be employed to more advantage from nineteen to
twenty-four almost in any way than in travelling; when you set
travelling against mere negation, against doing nothing, it is better to
be sure; but how much more would a young man improve were he to study
during those years. Indeed, if a young man is wild, and must run after
women and bad company, it is better this should be done abroad, as, on
his return, he can break off such connections, and begin at home a new
man, with a character to form, and acquaintances to make[1045]. How
little does travelling supply to the conversation of any man who has
travelled; how little to Beauclerk!' BOSWELL. 'What say you to
Lord ----?' JOHNSON. 'I never but once heard him talk of what he had
seen, and that was of a large serpent in one of the Pyramids of Egypt.'
BOSWELL. 'Well, I happened to hear him tell the same thing, which made
me mention him[1046].'

I talked of a country life. JOHNSON. 'Were I to live in the country, I
would not devote myself to the acquisition of popularity; I would live
in a much better way, much more happily; I would have my time at my own
command[1047].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, is it not a sad thing to be at a
distance from all our literary friends?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will by and
by have enough of this conversation, which now delights you so much.'

As he was a zealous friend of subordination, he was at all times
watchful to repress the vulgar cant against the manners of the great;
[1049] High people, Sir, (said he,) are the best; take a hundred ladies
of quality, you'll find them better wives, better mothers, more willing
to sacrifice their own pleasure to their children than a hundred other
women. Tradeswomen (I mean the wives of tradesmen) in the city, who are
worth from ten to fifteen thousand pounds, are the worst creatures upon
the earth, grossly ignorant, and thinking viciousness fashionable.
Farmers, I think, are often worthless fellows[1050]. Few lords will
cheat; and, if they do, they'll be ashamed of it: farmers cheat and are
not ashamed of it: they have all the sensual vices too of the nobility,
with cheating into the bargain. There is as much fornication and adultery
among farmers as amongst noblemen.' BOSWELL. 'The notion of the world,
Sir, however is, that the morals of women of quality are worse than
those in lower stations.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, the licentiousness of one
woman of quality makes more noise than that of a number of women in
lower stations; then, Sir, you are to consider the malignity of women in
the city against women of quality, which will make them believe any
thing of them, such as that they call their coachmen to bed. No, Sir, so
far as I have observed, the higher in rank, the richer ladies are, they
are the better instructed and the more virtuous.'

This year the Reverend Mr. Horne published his _Letter to Mr. Dunning on
the English Particle_; Johnson read it, and though not treated in it
with sufficient respect[1051], he had candour enough to say to Mr. Seward,
'Were I to make a new edition of my _Dictionary_, I would adopt
several[1052] of Mr. Horne's etymologies; I hope they did not put the dog
in the pillory for his libel; he has too much literature for that[1053].'

On Saturday, May 16, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's with Mr.
Langton, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Higgins, and some others. I regret very
feelingly every instance of my remissness in recording his
_memorabilia_; I am afraid it is the condition of humanity (as Mr.
Windham, of Norfolk, once observed to me, after having made an admirable
speech in the House of Commons, which was highly applauded, but which he
afterwards perceived might have been better:) 'that we are more uneasy
from thinking of our wants, than happy in thinking of our acquisitions.'
This is an unreasonable mode of disturbing our tranquillity, and should
be corrected; let me then comfort myself with the large treasure of
Johnson's conversation which I have preserved for my own enjoyment and
that of the world, and let me exhibit what I have upon each occasion,
whether more or less, whether a bulse[1054], or only a few sparks of a

He said, 'Dr. Mead lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost
any man[1055].' The disaster of General Burgoyne's army was then the
common topic of conversation. It was asked why piling their arms was
insisted upon as a matter of such consequence, when it seemed to be a
circumstance so inconsiderable in itself[1056]. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a
French authour says, "_Il y a beaucoup de puerilités dans la guerre_."
All distinctions are trifles, because great things can seldom occur, and
those distinctions are settled by custom. A savage would as willingly
have his meat sent to him in the kitchen, as eat it at the table here;
as men become civilized, various modes of denoting honourable preference
are invented.'

He this day made the observations upon the similarity between _Rasselas_
and _Candide_, which I have inserted in its proper place[1057], when
considering his admirable philosophical Romance. He said _Candide_ he
thought had more power in it than any thing that _Voltaire_ had written.

He said, 'the lyrical part of Horace never can be perfectly translated;
so much of the excellence is in the numbers and the expression. Francis
has done it the best; I'll take his, five out of six, against them all.'

On Sunday, May 17, I presented to him Mr. Fullarton, of Fullarton, who
has since distinguished himself so much in India[1058], to whom he
naturally talked of travels, as Mr. Brydone accompanied him in his tour
to Sicily and Malta. He said, 'The information which we have from modern
travellers is much more authentick than what we had from ancient
travellers; ancient travellers guessed; modern travellers measure[1059].
The Swiss admit that there is but one errour in Stanyan[1060]. If Brydone
were more attentive to his Bible, he would be a good traveller[1061].'

He said, 'Lord Chatham was a Dictator; he possessed the power of putting
the State in motion; now there is no power, all order is relaxed.'
BOSWELL. 'Is there no hope of a change to the better?' JOHNSON. 'Why,
yes, Sir, when we are weary of this relaxation. So the City of London
will appoint its Mayors again by seniority[1062].' BOSWELL. 'But is not
that taking a mere chance for having a good or a bad Mayor?' JOHNSON.
'Yes, Sir; but the evil of competition is greater than that of the worst
Mayor that can come; besides, there is no more reason to suppose that
the choice of a rabble will be right, than that chance will be right.'

On Tuesday, May 19, I was to set out for Scotland in the evening. He was
engaged to dine with me at Mr. Dilly's, I waited upon him to remind him
of his appointment and attend him thither; he gave me some salutary
counsel, and recommended vigorous resolution against any deviation from
moral duty. BOSWELL. 'But you would not have me to bind myself by a
solemn obligation?' JOHNSON, (much agitated) 'What! a vow--O, no, Sir, a
vow is a horrible thing, it is a snare for sin[1063]. The man who cannot
go to Heaven without a vow--may go--.' Here, standing erect, in the
middle of his library, and rolling grand, his pause was truly a curious
compound of the solemn and the ludicrous; he half-whistled in his usual
way, when pleasant, and he paused, as if checked by religious awe.
Methought he would have added--to Hell--but was restrained. I humoured
the dilemma. 'What! Sir, (said I,) _In cælum jusseris ibit_[1064]?'
alluding to his imitation of it,--

'And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.'

I had mentioned to him a slight fault in his noble _Imitation of the
Tenth Satire of Juvenal_, a too near recurrence of the verb _spread_, in
his description of the young Enthusiast at College:--

'Through all his veins the fever of renown,
_Spreads_ from the strong contagion of the gown;
O'er Bodley's dome his future labours _spread_,
And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head[1065].'

He had desired me to change _spreads_ to _burns_, but for perfect
authenticity, I now had it done with his own hand[1066]. I thought this
alteration not only cured the fault, but was more poetical, as it might
carry an allusion to the shirt by which Hercules was inflamed.

We had a quiet comfortable meeting at Mr. Dilly's; nobody there but
ourselves. Mr. Dilly mentioned somebody having wished that Milton's
_Tractate on Education_ should be printed along with his Poems in the
edition of _The English Poets_ then going on. JOHNSON. 'It would be
breaking in upon the plan; but would be of no great consequence. So far
as it would be any thing, it would be wrong. Education in England has
been in danger of being hurt by two of its greatest men, Milton and
Locke. Milton's plan is impracticable, and I suppose has never been
tried. Locke's, I fancy, has been tried often enough, but is very
imperfect; it gives too much to one side, and too little to the other;
it gives too little to literature[1067].--I shall do what I can for Dr.
Watts; but my materials are very scanty. His poems are by no means his
best works; I cannot praise his poetry itself highly; but I can praise
its design[1068].'

My illustrious friend and I parted with assurances of affectionate

I wrote to him on the 25th of May, from Thorpe in Yorkshire, one of the
seats of Mr. Bosville[1069], and gave him an account of my having passed
a day at Lincoln, unexpectedly, and therefore without having any letters
of introduction, but that I had been honoured with civilities from the
Reverend Mr. Simpson, an acquaintance of his, and Captain Broadley, of
the Lincolnshire Militia; but more particularly from the Reverend Dr.
Gordon, the Chancellor, who first received me with great politeness as a
stranger, and when I informed him who I was, entertained me at his house
with the most flattering attention; I also expressed the pleasure with
which I had found that our worthy friend Langton was highly esteemed in
his own county town.


'Edinburgh, June 18, 1778.


       *       *       *       *       *

'Since my return to Scotland, I have been again at Lanark, and have had
more conversation with Thomson's sister. It is strange that Murdoch, who
was his intimate friend, should have mistaken his mother's maiden name,
which he says was Hume, whereas Hume was the name of his grandmother by
the mother's side. His mother's name was Beatrix Trotter[1070], a
daughter of Mr. Trotter, of Fogo, a small proprietor of land. Thomson
had one brother, whom he had with him in England as his amanuensis; but
he was seized with a consumption, and having returned to Scotland, to
try what his native air would do for him, died young. He had three
sisters, one married to Mr. Bell, minister of the parish of Strathaven;
one to Mr. Craig, father of the ingenious architect, who gave the plan
of the New Town of Edinburgh; and one to Mr. Thomson, master of the
grammar-school at Lanark. He was of a humane and benevolent disposition;
not only sent valuable presents to his sisters, but a yearly allowance
in money, and was always wishing to have it in his power to do them more
good. Lord Lyttelton's observation, that "he loathed much to write," was
very true. His letters to his sister, Mrs. Thomson, were not frequent,
and in one of them he says, "All my friends who know me, know how
backward I am to write letters; and never impute the negligence of my
hand to the coldness of my heart." I send you a copy of the last letter
which she had from him[1071]; she never heard that he had any intention
of going into holy orders. From this late interview with his sister, I
think much more favourably of him, as I hope you will. I am eager to see
more of your Prefaces to the Poets; I solace myself with the few
proof-sheets which I have.

'I send another parcel of Lord Hailes's _Annals_[1072], which you will
please to return to me as soon as you conveniently can. He says, "he
wishes you would cut a little deeper;" but he may be proud that there is
so little occasion to use the critical knife. I ever am, my dear Sir,

'Your faithful and affectionate,

'humble servant,


Mr. Langton has been pleased, at my request, to favour me with some
particulars of Dr. Johnson's visit to Warley-camp, where this gentleman
was at the time stationed as a Captain in the Lincolnshire militia[1073].
I shall give them in his own words in a letter to me.

'It was in the summer of the year 1778[1074], that he complied with my
invitation to come down to the Camp at Warley, and he staid with me
about a week; the scene appeared, notwithstanding a great degree of ill
health that he seemed to labour under, to interest and amuse him, as
agreeing with the disposition that I believe you know he constantly
manifested towards enquiring into subjects of the military kind. He
sate, with a patient degree of attention, to observe the proceedings of
a regimental court-martial, that happened to be called, in the time of
his stay with us; and one night, as late as at eleven o'clock, he
accompanied the Major of the regiment in going what are styled the
_Rounds_, where he might observe the forms of visiting the guards, for
the seeing that they and their sentries are ready in their duty on their
several posts. He took occasion to converse at times on military
topicks, one in particular, that I see the mention of, in your _Journal
of a Tour to the Hebrides_, which lies open before me[1075], as to
gun-powder; which he spoke of to the same effect, in part, that you

'On one occasion, when the regiment were going through their exercise,
he went quite close to the men at one of the extremities of it, and
watched all their practices attentively; and, when he came away, his
remark was, "The men indeed do load their muskets and fire with
wonderful celerity." He was likewise particular in requiring to know
what was the weight of the musquet balls in use, and within what
distance they might be expected to take effect when fired off.

'In walking among the tents, and observing the difference between those
of the officers and private men, he said that the superiority of
accommodation of the better conditions of life, to that of the inferiour
ones, was never exhibited to him in so distinct a view. The civilities
paid to him in the camp were, from the gentlemen of the Lincolnshire
regiment, one of the officers of which accommodated him with a tent in
which he slept; and from General Hall, who very courteously invited him
to dine with him, where he appeared to be very well pleased with his
entertainment, and the civilities he received on the part of the
General[1076]; the attention likewise, of the General's aid-de-camp,
Captain Smith, seemed to be very welcome to him, as appeared by their
engaging in a great deal of discourse together. The gentlemen of the
East York regiment likewise on being informed of his coming, solicited
his company at dinner, but by that time he had fixed his departure, so
that he could not comply with the invitation.'



'I have received two letters from you, of which the second complains of
the neglect shewn to the first. You must not tye your friends to such
punctual correspondence. You have all possible assurances of my
affection and esteem; and there ought to be no need of reiterated
professions. When it may happen that I can give you either counsel or
comfort, I hope it will never happen to me that I should neglect you;
but you must not think me criminal or cold if I say nothing when I have
nothing to say.

'You are now happy enough. Mrs. Boswell is recovered; and I congratulate
you upon the probability of her long life. If general approbation will
add anything to your enjoyment, I can tell you that I have heard you
mentioned as _a man whom everybody likes_[1077]. I think life has little
more to give.

'----[1078] has gone to his regiment. He has laid down his coach, and
talks of making more contractions of his expence: how he will succeed I
know not. It is difficult to reform a household gradually; it may be
better done by a system totally new. I am afraid he has always something
to hide. When we pressed him to go to ----[1079], he objected the
necessity of attending his navigation[1080]; yet he could talk of going
to Aberdeen, a place not much nearer his navigation. I believe he cannot
bear the thought of living at ----[1081] in a state of diminution; and
of appearing among the gentlemen of the neighbourhood _shorn of his
beams_.[1082] This is natural, but it is cowardly. What I told him of
the encreasing expence of a growing family seems to have struck him. He
certainly had gone on with very confused views, and we have, I think,
shewn him that he is wrong; though, with the common deficiency of
advisers, we have not shewn him how to do right.[1083]

'I wish you would a little correct or restrain your imagination, and
imagine that happiness, such as life admits, may be had at other places
as well as London. Without asserting Stoicism, it may be said, that it
is our business to exempt ourselves as much as we can from the power of
external things. There is but one solid basis of happiness; and that is,
the reasonable hope of a happy futurity.[1084] This may be had every where.

'I do not blame your preference of London to other places, for it is
really to be preferred, if the choice is free; but few have the choice
of their place, or their manner of life; and mere pleasure ought not to
be the prime motive of action.

'Mrs. Thrale, poor thing, has a daughter.[1085] Mr. Thrale dislikes the
times,[1086] like the rest of us. Mrs. Williams is sick; Mrs. Desmoulins
is poor. I have miserable nights. Nobody is well but Mr. Levett.

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


'London, July 3, 1778.'

In the course of this year there was a difference between him and his
friend Mr. Strahan;[1087] the particulars of which it is unnecessary to
relate. Their reconciliation was communicated to me in a letter from Mr.
Strahan, in the following words:--

'The notes I shewed you that passed between him and me were dated in
March last. The matter lay dormant till July 27,[1088] when he wrote to
me as follows:

"To William Strahan, Esq.


"It would be very foolish for us to continue strangers any longer. You
can never by persistency make wrong right. If I resented too
acrimoniously, I resented only to yourself. Nobody ever saw or heard
what I wrote. You saw that my anger was over, for in a day or two I came
to your house. I have given you longer time; and I hope you have made so
good use of it, as to be no longer on evil terms with, Sir,

"Your, &c.

"Sam. Johnson."

'On this I called upon him; and he has since dined with me.'

After this time, the same friendship as formerly continued between Dr.
Johnson and Mr. Strahan. My friend mentioned to me a little circumstance
of his attention, which, though we may smile at it, must be allowed to
have its foundation in a nice and true knowledge of human life. 'When I
write to Scotland, (said he,) I employ Strahan to frank my letters, that
he may have the consequence of appearing a Parliament-man among his



'When I recollect how long ago I was received with so much kindness at
Warley Common, I am ashamed that I have not made some enquiries after my

'Pray how many sheep-stealers did you convict? and how did you punish
them? When are you to be cantoned in better habitations? The air grows
cold, and the ground damp. Longer stay in the camp cannot be without
much danger to the health of the common men, if even the officers can

'You see that Dr. Percy is now Dean of Carlisle; about five hundred a
year, with a power of presenting himself to some good living. He is
provided for.

'The session of the CLUB is to commence with that of the Parliament. Mr.
Banks[1090] desires to be admitted; he will be a very honourable

'Did the King please you[1091]? The Coxheath men, I think, have some
reason to complain[1092]: Reynolds says your camp is better than theirs.

'I hope you find yourself able to encounter this weather. Take care of
your own health; and, as you can, of your men. Be pleased to make my
compliments to all the gentlemen whose notice I have had, and whose
kindness I have experienced.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Sam. Johnson.'

'October 31, 1778.'

I wrote to him on the 18th of August, the 18th of September, and the 6th
of November; informing him of my having had another son born, whom I had
called James[1093]; that I had passed some time at Auchinleck; that the
Countess of Loudoun, now in her ninety-ninth year, was as fresh as when
he saw her[1094], and remembered him with respect; and that his mother
by adoption, the Countess of Eglintoune[1095], had said to me, 'Tell Mr.
Johnson I love him exceedingly;' that I had again suffered much from bad
spirits; and that as it was very long since I heard from him, I was not
a little uneasy.

The continuance of his regard for his friend Dr. Burney, appears from
the following letters:--



'Dr. Burney, who brings this paper, is engaged in a History of Musick;
and having been told by Dr. Markham of some MSS. relating to his
subject, which are in the library of your College, is desirous to
examine them. He is my friend; and therefore I take the liberty of
intreating your favour and assistance in his enquiry: and can assure
you, with great confidence, that if you knew him he would not want any
intervenient solicitation to obtain the kindness of one who loves
learning and virtue as you love them.

'I have been flattering myself all the summer with the hope of paying my
annual visit to my friends; but something has obstructed me: I still
hope not to be long without seeing you. I should be glad of a little
literary talk; and glad to shew you, by the frequency of my visits, how
eagerly I love it, when you talk it.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, November 2, 1778.'



'The bearer, DR. BURNEY, has had some account of a Welsh Manuscript in
the Bodleian library, from which he hopes to gain some materials for his
History of Musick; but being ignorant of the language, is at a loss
where to find assistance. I make no doubt but you, Sir, can help him
through his difficulties, and therefore take the liberty of recommending
him to your favour, as I am sure you will find him a man worthy of every
civility that can be shewn, and every benefit that can be conferred.

'But we must not let Welsh drive us from Greek. What comes of
Xenophon[1098]? If you do not like the trouble of publishing the book,
do not let your commentaries be lost; contrive that they may be published

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'London, November 2, 1778.

These letters procured Dr. Burney great kindness and friendly offices
from both of these gentleman, not only on that occasion, but in future
visits to the university[1099]. The same year Dr. Johnson not only wrote
to Dr. Joseph Warton in favour of Dr. Burney's youngest son, who was to
be placed in the college of Winchester, but accompanied him when he went

We surely cannot but admire the benevolent exertions of this great and
good man, especially when we consider how grievously he was afflicted
with bad health, and how uncomfortable his home was made by the
perpetual jarring of those whom he charitably accommodated under his
roof. He has sometimes suffered me to talk jocularly of his group of
females, and call them his _Seraglio_. He thus mentions them, together
with honest Levett, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale[1101]:
'Williams hates every body; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does not love
Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll[1102] loves none of them.'



'It is indeed a long time since I wrote, and I think you have some
reason to complain; however, you must not let small things disturb you,
when you have such a fine addition to your happiness as a new boy, and I
hope your lady's health restored by bringing him. It seems very probable
that a little care will now restore her, if any remains of her
complaints are left.

'You seem, if I understand your letter, to be gaining ground at
Auchinleck[1104], an incident that would give me great delight.

       *       *       *       *       *

'When any fit of anxiety, or gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays
hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints, but exert
your whole care to hide it; by endeavouring to hide it, you will drive
it away. Be always busy[1105].

'The CLUB is to meet with the Parliament; we talk of electing Banks, the
traveller; he will be a reputable member.

'Langton has been encamped with his company of militia on Warley-common;
I spent five days amongst them; he signalized himself as a diligent
officer, and has very high respect in the regiment. He presided when I
was there at a court-martial; he is now quartered in Hertfordshire; his
lady and little ones are in Scotland. Paoli came to the camp and
commended the soldiers.

'Of myself I have no great matter to say, my health is not restored, my
nights are restless and tedious. The best night that I have had these
twenty years was at Fort-Augustus[1106].

'I hope soon to send you a few lines to read.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,


'November 21, 1778.'

About this time the Rev. Mr. John Hussey, who had been some time in
trade, and was then a clergyman of the Church of England, being about to
undertake a journey to Aleppo, and other parts of the East, which he
accomplished, Dr. Johnson, (who had long been in habits of intimacy with
him,) honoured him with the following letter:--



'I have sent you the _Grammar_, and have left you two books more, by
which I hope to be remembered; write my name in them; we may perhaps see
each other no more, you part with my good wishes, nor do I despair of
seeing you return. Let no opportunities of vice corrupt you; let no bad
example seduce you; let the blindness of Mahometans confirm you in
Christianity. GOD bless you.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,


'December 29, 1778.'

Johnson this year expressed great satisfaction at the publication of the
first volume of _Discourses to the Royal Academy_[1107], by Sir Joshua
Reynolds, whom he always considered as one of his literary school[1108].
Much praise indeed is due to those excellent _Discourses_, which are so
universally admired, and for which the authour received from the Empress
of Russia a gold snuff-box, adorned with her profile in _bas relief_,
set in diamonds; and containing what is infinitely more valuable, a slip
of paper, on which are written with her Imperial Majesty's own hand, the
following words: '_Pour le Chevalier Reynolds en témoignage du
contentement que j'ai ressentie[1109] à la lecture de ses excellens
discours sur la peinture_.'

In 1779, Johnson gave the world a luminous proof that the vigour of his
mind in all its faculties, whether memory, judgement, or imagination,
was not in the least abated; for this year came out the first four
volumes of his _Prefaces, biographical and critical, to the most eminent
of the English Poets_,[*] published by the booksellers of London. The
remaining volumes came out in the year 1780[1110]. The Poets were
selected by the several booksellers who had the honorary copy right,
which is still preserved among them by mutual compact, notwithstanding
the decision of the House of Lords against the perpetuity of Literary
Property[1111]. We have his own authority[1112], that by his
recommendation the poems of Blackmore[1113], Watts[1114], Pomfret[1115],
and Yalden[1116], were added to the collection. Of this work I shall
speak more particularly hereafter.

On the 22nd of January, I wrote to him on several topicks, and mentioned
that as he had been so good as to permit me to have the proof sheets of
his _Lives of the Poets_, I had written to his servant, Francis, to take
care of them for me.


'Edinburgh, Feb. 2, 1779.


'Garrick's death is a striking event; not that we should be surprised
with the death of any man, who has lived sixty-two years; but because
there was a _vivacity_ in our late celebrated friend, which drove away
the thoughts of _death_ from any association with _him_. I am sure you
will be tenderly affected with his departure[1117]; and I would wish to
hear from you upon the subject. I was obliged to him in my days of
effervescence in London, when poor Derrick was my governour[1118]; and
since that time I received many civilities from him. Do you remember how
pleasing it was, when I received a letter from him at Inverary[1119],
upon our first return to civilized living after our Hebridean journey? I
shall always remember him with affection as well as admiration.

'On Saturday last, being the 30th of January[1120], I drank coffee and
old port, and had solemn conversation with the Reverend Mr. Falconer, a
nonjuring bishop, a very learned and worthy man. He gave two toasts,
which you will believe I drank with cordiality, Dr. Samuel Johnson, and
Flora Macdonald. I sat about four hours with him, and it was really as
if I had been living in the last century. The Episcopal Church of
Scotland, though faithful to the royal house of Stuart, has never
accepted of any _congé d'liré_, since the Revolution; it is the only
true Episcopal Church in Scotland, as it has its own succession of
bishops. For as to the episcopal clergy who take the oaths to the
present government, they indeed follow the rites of the Church of
England, but, as Bishop Falconer observed, "they are not _Episcopals_;
for they are under no bishop, as a bishop cannot have authority beyond
his diocese." This venerable gentleman did me the honour to dine with me
yesterday, and he laid his hands upon the heads of my little ones. We
had a good deal of curious literary conversation, particularly about Mr.
Thomas Ruddiman[1121], with whom he lived in great friendship.

'Any fresh instance of the uncertainty of life makes one embrace more
closely a valuable friend. My dear and much respected Sir, may GOD
preserve you long in this world while I am in it.

'I am ever,

'Your much obliged,

'And affectionate humble servant,


On the 23rd of February I wrote to him again, complaining of his
silence, as I had heard he was ill, and had written to Mr. Thrale, for
information concerning him; and I announced my intention of soon being
again in London.



'Why should you take such delight to make a bustle, to write to Mr.
Thrale that I am negligent, and to Francis to do what is so very
unnecessary. Thrale, you may be sure, cared not about it; and I shall
spare Francis the trouble, by ordering a set both of the _Lives_ and
_Poets_ to dear Mrs. Boswell[1122], in acknowledgement of her marmalade.
Persuade her to accept them, and accept them kindly. If I thought she
would receive them scornfully, I would send them to Miss Boswell, who, I
hope, has yet none of her mamma's ill-will to me.

'I would send sets of _Lives_, four volumes, to some other friends, to
Lord Hailes first. His second volume lies by my bed-side; a book surely
of great labour, and to every just thinker of great delight. Write me
word to whom I shall send besides[1123]; would it please Lord Auchinleck?
Mrs. Thrale waits in the coach.

'I am, dear Sir, &c.,


'March 13, 1779.'

This letter crossed me on the road to London, where I arrived on Monday,
March 15, and next morning at a late hour, found Dr. Johnson sitting
over his tea, attended by Mrs. Desmoulins, Mr. Levett, and a clergyman,
who had come to submit some poetical pieces to his revision. It is
wonderful what a number and variety of writers, some of them even
unknown to him, prevailed on his good-nature to look over their works,
and suggest corrections and improvements[1124]. My arrival interrupted
for a little while the important business of this true representative
of Bayes[1125]; upon its being resumed, I found that the subject under
immediate consideration was a translation, yet in manuscript, of the
_Carmen Seculare_ of Horace, which had this year been set to musick, and
performed as a publick entertainment in London, for the joint benefit of
Monsieur Philidor and Signer Baretti[1126]. When Johnson had done
reading, the authour asked him bluntly, 'If upon the whole it was a good
translation?' Johnson, whose regard for truth was uncommonly strict,
seemed to be puzzled for a moment, what answer to make; as he certainly
could not honestly commend the performance: with exquisite address he
evaded the question thus, 'Sir, I do not say that it may not be made a
very good translation[1127].' Here nothing whatever in favour of the
performance was affirmed, and yet the writer was not shocked. A printed
_Ode to the Warlike Genius of Britain_, came next in review; the bard
[1128] was a lank bony figure, with short black hair; he was writhing
himself in agitation, while Johnson read, and shewing his teeth in a
grin of earnestness, exclaimed in broken sentences, and in a keen sharp
tone, 'Is that poetry, Sir?--Is it _Pindar_?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, there
is here a great deal of what is called poetry.' Then, turning to me, the
poet cried, 'My muse has not been long upon the town, and (pointing to
the _Ode_) it trembles under the hand of the great critick[1129].'
Johnson, in a tone of displeasure, asked him, 'Why do you praise Anson
[1130]?' I did not trouble him by asking his reason for this question.
He proceeded, 'Here is an errour, Sir; you have made Genius feminine.'
[1131] 'Palpable, Sir; (cried the enthusiast) I know it. But (in a lower
tone) it was to pay a compliment to the Duchess of Devonshire, with
which her Grace was pleased. She is walking across Coxheath, in the
military uniform, and I suppose her to be the Genius of Britain[1132].'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it
right. You may have a reason why two and two should make five; but they
will still make but four.'

Although I was several times with him in the course of the following
days, such it seems were my occupations, or such my negligence, that I
have preserved no memorial of his conversation till Friday, March 26,
when I visited him. He said he expected to be attacked on account of his
_Lives of the Poets_. 'However (said he) I would rather be attacked than
unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an authour is to be silent
as to his works.[1133]. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but
starving it is still worse; an assault may be unsuccessful; you may have
more men killed than you kill; but if you starve the town, you are sure
of victory.'

Talking of a friend of ours associating with persons of very discordant
principles and characters; I said he was a very universal man, quite a
man of the world[1134]. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but one may be so much a man
of the world as to be nothing in the world. I remember a passage in
Goldsmith's _Vicar of Wakefield_, which he was afterwards fool enough to
expunge: "I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing."' BOSWELL.
'That was a fine passage.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir: there was another fine
passage too, which he struck out: "When I was a young man, being anxious
to distinguish myself, I was perpetually starting new propositions. But
I soon gave this over; for, I found that generally what was new was
false[1135]."' I said I did not like to sit with people of whom I had not
a good opinion. JOHNSON. 'But you must not indulge your delicacy too much;
or you will be a _tête-à-tête_ man all your life.'

During my stay in London this spring, I find I was unaccountably[1136]
negligent in preserving Johnson's sayings, more so than at any time when
I was happy enough to have an opportunity of hearing his wisdom and wit.
There is no help for it now. I must content myself with presenting such
scraps as I have. But I am nevertheless ashamed and vexed to think how
much has been lost. It is not that there was a bad crop this year; but
that I was not sufficiently careful in gathering it in. I, therefore, in
some instances can only exhibit a few detached fragments.

Talking of the wonderful concealment of the authour of the celebrated
letters signed _Junius_[1137]; he said, 'I should have believed Burke to
be Junius, because I know no man but Burke who is capable of writing
these letters[1138]; but Burke spontaneously denied it to me. The case
would have been different had I asked him if he was the authour; a man
so questioned, as to an anonymous publication, may think he has a right
to deny it.'[1139].

He observed that his old friend, Mr. Sheridan, had been honoured with
extraordinary attention in his own country, by having had an exception
made in his favour in an Irish Act of Parliament concerning insolvent
debtors[1140]. 'Thus to be singled out (said he) by a legislature, as an
object of publick consideration and kindness, is a proof of no common

At Streatham, on Monday, March 29, at breakfast he maintained that a
father had no right to control the inclinations of his daughters in

On Wednesday, March 31, when I visited him, and confessed an excess of
which I had very seldom been guilty; that I had spent a whole night in
playing at cards, and that I could not look back on it with
satisfaction; instead of a harsh animadversion, he mildly said, 'Alas,
Sir, on how few things can we look back with satisfaction.'

On Thursday, April 1, he commended one of the Dukes of Devonshire for 'a
dogged veracity[1142].' He said too, 'London is nothing to some people;
but to a man whose pleasure is intellectual, London is the place. And
there is no place where oeconomy can be so well practised as in London.
More can be had here for the money, even by ladies, than any where else.
You cannot play tricks with your fortune in a small place; you must make
an uniform appearance. Here a lady may have well-furnished apartments,
and elegant dress, without any meat in her kitchen.'

I was amused by considering with how much ease and coolness he could
write or talk to a friend, exhorting him not to suppose that happiness
was not to be found as well in other places as in London[1143]; when he
himself was at all times sensible of its being, comparatively speaking,
a heaven upon earth[1144]. The truth is, that by those who from sagacity,
attention, and experience, have learnt the full advantage of London, its
preeminence over every other place, not only for variety of enjoyment,
but for comfort, will be felt with a philosophical exultation[1145]. The
freedom from remark and petty censure, with which life may be passed
there, is a circumstance which a man who knows the teazing restraint of
a narrow circle must relish highly. Mr. Burke, whose orderly and amiable
domestic habits might make the eye of observation less irksome to him
than to most men, said once very pleasantly, in my hearing, 'Though I
have the honour to represent Bristol, I should not like to live there; I
should be obliged to be so much _upon my good behaviour_.' In London, a
man may live in splendid society at one time, and in frugal retirement
at another, without animadversion. There, and there alone, a man's own
house is truly his _castle_, in which he can be in perfect safety from
intrusion whenever he pleases. I never shall forget how well this was
expressed to me one day by Mr. Meynell[1146]: 'The chief advantage of
London (said he) is, that a man is always _so near his burrow_[1147].'

He said of one of his old acquaintances, 'He is very fit for a
travelling governour. He knows French very well. He is a man of good
principles; and there would be no danger that a young gentleman should
catch his manner; for it is so very bad, that it must be avoided. In
that respect he would be like the drunken Helot[1148].'

A gentleman has informed me, that Johnson said of the same person, 'Sir,
he has the most _inverted_ understanding of any man whom I have ever

On Friday, April 2, being Good-Friday, I visited him in the morning as
usual; and finding that we insensibly fell into a train of ridicule upon
the foibles of one of our friends, a very worthy man[1149], I, by way of
a check, quoted some good admonition from _The Government of the
Tongue_[1150], that very pious book. It happened also remarkably enough,
that the subject of the sermon preached to us to-day by Dr. Burrows, the
rector of St. Clement Danes, was the certainty that at the last day we
must give an account of 'the deeds done in the body[1151];' and, amongst
various acts of culpability he mentioned evil-speaking. As we were
moving slowly along in the crowd from church, Johnson jogged my elbow,
and said, 'Did you attend to the sermon?' 'Yes, Sir, (said I,) it was
very applicable to _us_.' He, however, stood upon the defensive. 'Why,
Sir, the sense of ridicule is given us, and may be lawfully used[1152].
The authour of _The Government of the Tongue_ would have us treat all
men alike.'

In the interval between morning and evening service, he endeavoured to
employ himself earnestly in devotional exercises; and as he has
mentioned in his _Prayers and Meditations_[1153], gave me '_Les Pensées
de Paschal_', that I might not interrupt him. I preserve the book with
reverence. His presenting it to me is marked upon it with his own hand,
and I have found in it a truly divine unction. We went to church again
in the afternoon[1154].

On Saturday, April 3, I visited him at night, and found him sitting in
Mrs. Williams's room, with her, and one who he afterwards told me was a
natural son[1155] of the second Lord Southwell. The table had a singular
appearance, being covered with a heterogeneous assemblage of oysters and
porter for his company, and tea for himself. I mentioned my having heard
an eminent physician, who was himself a Christian, argue in favour of
universal toleration, and maintain, that no man could be hurt by another
man's differing from him in opinion. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are to a certain
degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe[1156].'

On Easter-day, after solemn service at St. Paul's, I dined with him: Mr.
Allen the printer was also his guest. He was uncommonly silent; and I
have not written down any thing, except a single curious fact, which,
having the sanction of his inflexible veracity, may be received as a
striking instance of human insensibility and inconsideration. As he was
passing by a fishmonger who was skinning an eel alive, he heard him
'curse it, because it would not lye still[1157].'

On Wednesday, April 7, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. I have
not marked what company was there. Johnson harangued upon the qualities
of different liquors; and spoke with great contempt of claret, as so
weak, that 'a man would be drowned by it before it made him drunk[1158].'
He was persuaded to drink one glass of it, that he might judge, not from
recollection, which might be dim, but from immediate sensation. He shook
his head, and said, 'Poor stuff! No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys;
port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink
brandy. In the first place, the flavour of brandy is most grateful to
the palate; and then brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking
_can_ do for him[1159]. There are, indeed, few who are able to drink
brandy. That is a power rather to be wished for than attained. And yet,
(proceeded he) as in all pleasure hope is a considerable part, I know
not but fruition comes too quick by brandy. Florence wine I think the
worst; it is wine only to the eye; it is wine neither while you are
drinking it, nor after you have drunk it; it neither pleases the taste,
nor exhilarates the spirits.' I reminded him how heartily he and I used
to drink wine together, when we were first acquainted; and how I used to
have a head-ache after sitting up with him[1160]. He did not like to
have this recalled, or, perhaps, thinking that I boasted improperly,
resolved to have a witty stroke at me: 'Nay, Sir, it was not the _wine_
that made your head ache, but the _sense_ that I put into it.' BOSWELL.
'What, Sir! will sense make the head ache?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, (with a
smile) when it is not used to it.'--No man who has a true relish of
pleasantry could be offended at this; especially if Johnson in a long
intimacy had given him repeated proofs of his regard and good estimation.
I used to say, that as he had given me a thousand pounds in praise, he
had a good right now and then to take a guinea from me.

On Thursday, April 8, I dined with him at Mr. Allan Ramsay's, with Lord
Graham[1161] and some other company. We talked of Shakspeare's witches.
JOHNSON. 'They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of
malignity and meanness, without any abilities; and are quite different
from the Italian magician. King James says in his _Daemonology_,
'Magicians command the devils: witches are their servants. The Italian
magicians are elegant beings.' RAMSAY. 'Opera witches, not Drury-lane
witches.' Johnson observed, that abilities might be employed in a narrow
sphere, as in getting money, which he said he believed no man could do,
without vigorous parts, though concentrated to a point[1162]. RAMSAY.
'Yes, like a strong horse in a mill; he pulls better.'

Lord Graham, while he praised the beauty of Lochlomond, on the banks of
which is his family seat, complained of the climate, and said he could
not bear it. JOHNSON. 'Nay, my Lord, don't talk so: you may bear it well
enough. Your ancestors have borne it more years than I can tell.' This
was a handsome compliment to the antiquity of the House of Montrose. His
Lordship told me afterwards, that he had only affected to complain of
the climate; lest, if he had spoken as favourably of his country as he
really thought, Dr. Johnson might have attacked it. Johnson was very
courteous to Lady Margaret Macdonald. 'Madam, (said he,) when I was in
the Isle of Sky, I heard of the people running to take the stones off
the road, lest Lady Margaret's horse should stumble[1163].'

Lord Graham commended Dr. Drummond[1164] at Naples, as a man of
extraordinary talents; and added, that he had a great love of liberty.
JOHNSON. 'He is _young_, my Lord; (looking to his Lordship with an arch
smile) all _boys_ love liberty, till experience convinces them they are
not so fit to govern themselves as they imagined. We are all agreed as
to our own liberty; we would have as much of it as we can get; but we
are not agreed as to the liberty of others: for in proportion as we
take, others must lose. I believe we hardly wish that the mob should
have liberty to govern us. When that was the case some time ago, no man
was at liberty not to have candles in his windows.' RAMSAY. 'The result
is, that order is better than confusion.' JOHNSON. 'The result is, that
order cannot be had but by subordination.'

On Friday, April 16, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate
Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray,
the favourite of a nobleman.[1165] Johnson, in whose company I dined
to-day with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what
passed, and particularly with his prayer for the mercy of heaven.[1166]
He said, in a solemn fervid tone, 'I hope he _shall_ find mercy.'

This day[1167] a violent altercation arose between Johnson and
Beauclerk,[1168] which having made much noise at the time, I think it
proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a
minute account of it.

In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as Judge Blackstone had done,
that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to
shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, 'No; for that every wise man who
intended to shoot himself, took two pistols, that he might be sure of
doing it at once. Lord ----'s cook shot himself with one pistol, and
lived ten days in great agony. Mr. ----, who loved buttered muffins, but
durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to
shoot himself; and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast,
before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with
indigestion:[1169] _he_ had two charged pistols; one was found lying
charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the
other.' 'Well, (said Johnson, with an air of triumph,) you see here one
pistol was sufficient.' Beauclerk replied smartly, 'Because it happened
to kill him.' And either then or a very little afterwards, being piqued
at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, 'This is what you don't know, and
I do.' There was then a cessation of the dispute; and some minutes
intervened, during which, dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when
Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed, 'Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to
talk so petulantly to me, as "This is what you don't know, but what I
know"? One thing _I_ know, which _you_ don't seem to know, that you are
very uncivil.' BEAUCLERK. 'Because you began by being uncivil, (which
you always are.)' The words in parenthesis were, I believe, not heard by
Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me,
that the reason why he waited at first some time without taking any
notice of what Mr. Beauclerk said, was because he was thinking whether
he should resent it. But when he considered that there were present a
young Lord and an eminent traveller, two men of the world with whom he
had never dined before, he was apprehensive that they might think they
had a right to take such liberties with him as Beauclerk did, and
therefore resolved he would not let it pass; adding, that 'he would not
appear a coward.' A little while after this, the conversation turned on
the violence of Hackman's temper. Johnson then said, 'It was his
business to _command_ his temper, as my friend, Mr. Beauclerk, should
have done some time ago.' BEAUCLERK. 'I should learn of _you_, Sir.'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have given _me_ opportunities enough of learning,
when I have been in _your_ company. No man loves to be treated with
contempt.' BEAUCLERK. (with a polite inclination towards Johnson) 'Sir,
you have known me twenty years, and however I may have treated others,
you may be sure I could never treat you with contempt' JOHNSON. 'Sir,
you have said more than was necessary.' Thus it ended; and Beauclerk's
coach not having come for him till very late, Dr. Johnson and another
gentleman sat with him a long time after the rest of the company were
gone; and he and I dined at Beauclerk's on the Saturday se'nnight

After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars
of his conversation:--

'I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a
sure good. I would let him at first read _any_ English book which
happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal when
you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He'll get better
books afterwards[1170].'

'Mallet, I believe, never wrote a single line of his projected life of
the Duke of Marlborough.[1171] He groped for materials; and thought of
it, till he had exhausted his mind. Thus it sometimes happens that men
entangle themselves in their own schemes.'

'To be contradicted, in order to force you to talk, is mighty
unpleasing. You _shine_, indeed; but it is by being _ground_.'

Of a gentleman who made some figure among the _Literati_ of his time,
(Mr. Fitzherbert,)[1172] he said, 'What eminence he had was by a felicity
of manner; he had no more learning than what he could not help.'

On Saturday, April 24, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, with Sir
Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Jones, (afterwards Sir William,) Mr. Langton, Mr.
Steevens, Mr. Paradise, and Dr. Higgins. I mentioned that Mr. Wilkes had
attacked Garrick to me, as a man who had no friend. 'I believe he is
right, Sir. [Greek: _Oi philoi, ou philos_]--He had friends, but no
friend.[1173] Garrick was so diffused, he had no man to whom he wished to
unbosom himself. He found people always ready to applaud him, and that
always for the same thing: so he saw life with great uniformity.' I took
upon me, for once, to fight with Goliath's weapons, and play the
sophist.--'Garrick did not need a friend, as he got from every body all
he wanted. What is a friend? One who supports you and comforts you,
while others do not. Friendship, you know, Sir, is the cordial drop, "to
make the nauseous draught of life go down[1174]:" but if the draught be
not nauseous, if it be all sweet, there is no occasion for that drop.'
JOHNSON. 'Many men would not be content to live so. I hope I should not.
They would wish to have an intimate friend, with whom they might compare
minds, and cherish private virtues.' One of the company mentioned Lord
Chesterfield, as a man who had no friend. JOHNSON. 'There were more
materials to make friendship in Garrick, had he not been so diffused.'
BOSWELL. 'Garrick was pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf. Lord
Chesterfield was tinsel.' JOHNSON. 'Garrick was a very good man, the
cheerfullest man of his age;[1175] a decent liver in a profession which
is supposed to give indulgence to licentiousness; and a man who gave
away, freely, money acquired by himself. He began the world with a great
hunger for money; the son of a half-pay officer, bred in a family, whose
study was to make four-pence do as much as others made four-pence
halfpenny do. But, when he had got money, he was very liberal.'[1176] I
presumed to animadvert on his eulogy on Garrick, in his _Lives of the
Poets_.[1177] 'You say, Sir, his death eclipsed the gaiety of nations.'
[1178] JOHNSON. 'I could not have said more nor less. It is the truth;
_eclipsed_, not _extinguished_; and his death _did_ eclipse; it was like
a storm.' BOSWELL. 'But why nations? Did his gaiety extend farther than
his own nation?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, some exaggeration must be
allowed.[1179] Besides, nations may be said--if we allow the Scotch to be
a nation, and to have gaiety,--which they have not. _You_ are an
exception, though. Come, gentlemen, let us candidly admit that there is
one Scotchman who is cheerful.' BEAUCLERK. 'But he is a very unnatural
Scotchman.' I, however, continued to think the compliment to Garrick
hyperbolically untrue. His acting had ceased some time before his death;
at any rate he had acted in Ireland but a short time, at an early period
of his life[1180], and never in Scotland. I objected also to what appears
an anticlimax of praise, when contrasted with the preceding
panegyrick,--'and diminished[1181] the public stock of harmless
pleasure!'--'Is not harmless pleasure very tame?' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir,
harmless pleasure is the highest praise. Pleasure is a word of dubious
import; pleasure is in general dangerous, and pernicious to virtue; to
be able therefore to furnish pleasure that is harmless, pleasure pure
and unalloyed, is as great a power as man can possess.' This was,
perhaps, as ingenious a defence as could be made; still, however, I was
not satisfied.

A celebrated wit[1182] being mentioned, he said, 'One may say of him as
was said of a French wit, _Il n'a de l'esprit que contre Dieu_. I have
been several times in company with him, but never perceived any strong
power of wit. He produces a general effect by various means; he has a
cheerful countenance and a gay voice. Besides his trade is wit. It would
be as wild in him to come into company without merriment, as for a
highwayman to take the road without his pistols.'

Talking of the effects of drinking, he said, 'Drinking may be practised
with great prudence; a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated,
has not the art of getting drunk; a sober man who happens occasionally
to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who
has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing;
he is without skill in inebriation. I used to slink home, when I had
drunk too much[1183]. A man accustomed to self-examination will be
conscious when he is drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be
conscious of it. I knew a physician who for twenty years was not sober;
yet in a pamphlet, which he wrote upon fevers, he appealed to Garrick
and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness[1184]. A
bookseller (naming him) who got a large fortune by trade[1185], was so
habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never
perceived that he was more sober at one time than another.'

Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physick; he
said, 'Taylor[1186] was the most ignorant man I ever knew; but sprightly.
Ward[1187] the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him;
(laughing). I quoted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of my
own speech. He said a few words well enough.' BEAUCLERK. 'I remember,
Sir, you said that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry
ignorance.' Mr. Beauclerk was very entertaining this day, and told us a
number of short stories in a lively elegant manner, and with that air of
_the world_ which has I know not what impressive effect, as if there
were something more than is expressed, or than perhaps we could
perfectly understand[1188]. As Johnson and I accompanied Sir Joshua
Reynolds in his coach, Johnson said, 'There is in Beauclerk a
predominance over his company, that one does not like. But he is a man
who has lived so much in the world, that he has a short story on every
occasion; he is always ready to talk, and is never exhausted.'

Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, Sir Joshua's
sister. I mentioned that an eminent friend of ours[1189], talking of the
common remark, that affection descends, said, that 'this was wisely
contrived for the preservation of mankind; for which it was not so
necessary that there should be affection from children to parents, as
from parents to children; nay, there would be no harm in that view
though children should at a certain age eat their parents.' JOHNSON.
'But, Sir, if this were known generally to be the case, parents would
not have affection for children.' BOSWELL. 'True, Sir; for it is in
expectation of a return that parents are so attentive to their children;
and I know a very pretty instance of a little girl of whom her father
was very fond, who once when he was in a melancholy fit, and had gone to
bed, persuaded him to rise in good humour by saying, "My dear papa,
please to get up, and let me help you on with your clothes, that I may
learn to do it when you are an old man."'

Soon after this time a little incident occurred, which I will not
suppress, because I am desirous that my work should be, as much as is
consistent with the strictest truth, an antidote to the false and
injurious notions of his character, which have been given by others, and
therefore I infuse every drop of genuine sweetness into my biographical



'I am in great pain with an inflamed foot, and obliged to keep my bed,
so am prevented from having the pleasure to dine at Mr. Ramsay's to-day,
which is very hard; and my spirits are sadly sunk. Will you be so
friendly as to come and sit an hour with me in the evening.

'I am ever

'Your most faithful,

'And affectionate humble servant,


'South Audley-street[1190],
Monday, April 26.'


'Mr. Johnson laments the absence of Mr. Boswell, and will come to him.'


He came to me in the evening, and brought Sir Joshua Reynolds. I need
scarcely say, that their conversation, while they sat by my bedside, was
the most pleasing opiate to pain that could have been administered[1192].

Johnson being now better disposed to obtain information concerning Pope
than he was last year[1193], sent by me to my Lord Marchmont a present
of those volumes of his _Lives of the Poets_ which were at this time
published, with a request to have permission to wait on him; and his
Lordship, who had called on him twice, obligingly appointed Saturday,
the first of May, for receiving us.

On that morning Johnson came to me from Streatham, and after drinking
chocolate, at General Paoli's, in South-Audley-street, we proceeded to
Lord Marchmont's in Curzon-street. His Lordship met us at the door of
his library, and with great politeness said to Johnson, 'I am not going
to make an encomium upon _myself_, by telling you the high respect I
have for _you_, Sir.' Johnson was exceedingly courteous; and the
interview, which lasted about two hours, during which the Earl
communicated his anecdotes of Pope, was as agreeable as I could have
wished[1194]. When we came out, I said to Johnson, that considering his
Lordship's civility, I should have been vexed if he had again failed to
come. 'Sir, (said he,) I would rather have given twenty pounds than not
have come.' I accompanied him to Streatham, where we dined, and returned
to town in the evening.

On Monday, May 3, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's[1195]; I pressed him
this day for his opinion on the passage in Parnell, concerning which I
had in vain questioned him in several letters, and at length obtained it
in _due form of law_.

CASE for Dr. JOHNSON'S Opinion;
3rd of May, 1779.

'PARNELL, in his _Hermit_, has the following passage:

"To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if _books_ and[1196] _swains_ report it right:
(For yet by _swains alone_ the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew.)"

'Is there not a contradiction in its being _first_ supposed that the
_Hermit_ knew _both_ what books and swains reported of the world; yet
_afterwards_ said, that he knew it by swains _alone_?' 'I think it an
inaccuracy.--He mentions two instructors in the first line, and says he
had only one in the next.[1197].'

This evening I set out for Scotland.



'Mr. Green has informed me that you are much better; I hope I need not
tell you that I am glad of it. I cannot boast of being much better; my
old nocturnal complaint still pursues me, and my respiration is
difficult, though much easier than when I left you the summer before
last. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale are well; Miss has been a little indisposed;
but she is got well again. They have since the loss of their boy had two
daughters; but they seem likely to want a son.

'I hope you had some books which I sent you. I was sorry for poor Mrs.
Adey's death, and am afraid you will be sometimes solitary; but
endeavour, whether alone or in company, to keep yourself cheerful. My
friends likewise die very fast; but such is the state of man.

'I am, dear love,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 4, 1779.'

He had, before I left London, resumed the conversation concerning the
appearance of a ghost at Newcastle upon Tyne, which Mr. John Wesley
believed, but to which Johnson did not give credit[1198]. I was, however,
desirous to examine the question closely, and at the same time wished to
be made acquainted with Mr. John Wesley; for though I differed from him
in some points, I admired his various talents, and loved his pious zeal.
At my request, therefore, Dr. Johnson gave me a letter of introduction
to him.



Mr. Boswell, a gentleman who has been long known to me, is desirous of
being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him
with great willingness, because I think it very much to be wished that
worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant,
May 3, 1779.'

Mr. Wesley being in the course of his ministry at Edinburgh, I presented
this letter to him, and was very politely received. I begged to have it
returned to me, which was accordingly done. His state[1199] of the
evidence as to the ghost did not satisfy me. I did not write to Johnson,
as usual, upon my return to my family, but tried how he would be affected
by my silence. Mr. Dilly sent me a copy of a note which he received from
him on the 13th of July, in these words:--



Since Mr. Boswell's departure I have never heard from him; please to
send word what you know of him, and whether you have sent my books to
his lady. I am, &c.,


My readers will not doubt that his solicitude about me was very



'What can possibly have happened, that keeps us two such strangers to
each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home; I
expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned[1200]; and yet
there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill I hope has happened; and if
ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves you? Is
it a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold out
longest without writing? If it be, you have the victory. But I am afraid
of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.

'My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your
silence: you must not expect that I should tell you any thing, if I had
any thing to tell. Write, pray write to me, and let me know what is, or
what has been the cause of this long interruption.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate humble servant,


'July 13, 1779.'


'Edinburgh, July 17, 1779.


'What may be justly denominated a supine indolence of mind has been my
state of existence since I last returned to Scotland. In a livelier
state I had often suffered severely from long intervals of silence on
your part; and I had even been chided by you for expressing my
uneasiness. I was willing to take advantage of my insensibility, and
while I could bear the experiment, to try whether your affection for me
would, after an unusual silence on my part, make you write first. This
afternoon I have had very high satisfaction by receiving your kind
letter of inquiry, for which I most gratefully thank you. I am doubtful
if it was right to make the experiment; though I have gained by it. I
was beginning to grow tender, and to upbraid myself, especially
after having dreamt two nights ago that I was with you. I and my wife,
and my four children, are all well. I would not delay one post to answer
your letter; but as it is late, I have not time to do more. You shall
soon hear from me, upon many and various particulars; and I shall never
again put you to any test[1201].

I am, with veneration, my dear Sir,

'Your much obliged,

'And faithful humble servant,


On the 22nd of July, I wrote to him again; and gave him an account of my
last interview with my worthy friend, Mr. Edward Dilly, at his brother's
house at Southill, in Bedfordshire, where he died soon after I parted
from him[1202], leaving me a very kind remembrance of his regard.

I informed him that Lord Hailes, who had promised to furnish him with
some anecdotes for his _Lives of the Poets_, had sent me three instances
of Prior's borrowing from _Gombauld_, in _Recueil des Poetes_, tome 3.
Epigram _To John I owed 'great obligation_,' p. 25. _To the Duke of
Noailles_, p. 32. _Sauntering Jack and Idle Joan_, p. 25.

My letter was a pretty long one, and contained a variety of particulars;
but he, it should seem, had not attended to it; for his next to me was
as follows:--



'Are you playing the same trick again, and trying who can keep silence
longest? Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish; and
that it is as foolish to make experiments upon the constancy of a
friend, as upon the chastity of a wife.

'What can be the cause of this second fit of silence, I cannot
conjecture; but after one trick, I will not be cheated by another, nor
will harass my thoughts with conjectures about the motives of a man who,
probably, acts only by caprice. I therefore suppose you are well, and
that Mrs. Boswell is well too; and that the fine summer has restored
Lord Auchinleck. I am much better than you left me; I think I am better
than when I was in Scotland[1203].

'I forgot whether I informed you that poor Thrale has been in great
danger[1204]. Mrs. Thrale likewise has miscarried, and been much
indisposed. Every body else is well; Langton is in camp. I intend to put
Lord Hailes's description of Dryden[1205] into another edition, and as I
know his accuracy, wish he would consider the dates, which I could not
always settle to my own mind.

'Mr. Thrale goes to Brighthelmston, about Michaelmas, to be jolly and
ride a hunting. I shall go to town, or perhaps to Oxford. Exercise and
gaiety, or rather carelessness, will, I hope, dissipate all remains of
his malady; and I likewise hope by the change of place, to find some
opportunities of growing yet better myself. I am, dear Sir,

'Your humble servant,
         'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Streatham, Sept. 9[1206], 1779.'

My readers will not be displeased at being told every slight
circumstance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his
solitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometimes in
watering and pruning a vine[1207], sometimes in small experiments, at
which those who may smile, should recollect that there are moments which
admit of being soothed only by trifles[1208].

On the 20th of September I defended myself against his suspicion of me,
which I did not deserve; and added, 'Pray let us write frequently. A
whim strikes me, that we should send off a sheet once a week, like a
stage-coach, whether it be full or not; nay, though it should be empty.
The very sight of your handwriting would comfort me; and were a sheet to
be thus sent regularly, we should much oftener convey something, were it
only a few kind words.'

My friend Colonel James Stuart[1209], second son of the Earl of Bute, who
had distinguished himself as a good officer of the Bedfordshire
militia[1210], had taken a publick-spirited resolution to serve his
country in its difficulties, by raising a regular regiment, and taking
the command of it himself. This, in the heir of the immense property of
Wortley, was highly honourable[1211]. Having been in Scotland recruiting,
he obligingly asked me to accompany him to Leeds, then the head-quarters
of his corps; from thence to London for a short time, and afterwards to
other places to which the regiment might be ordered. Such an offer, at a
time of the year when I had full leisure, was very pleasing; especially
as I was to accompany a man of sterling good sense, information,
discernment, and conviviality; and was to have a second crop in one year
of London and Johnson. Of this I informed my illustrious friend, in
characteristical warm terms, in a letter dated the 30th of September,
from Leeds.

On Monday, October 4, I called at his house before he was up. He sent
for me to his bedside, and expressed his satisfaction at this incidental
meeting, with as much vivacity as if he had been in the gaiety of youth.
He called briskly, 'Frank, go and get coffee, and let us breakfast _in

During this visit to London I had several interviews with him, which it
is unnecessary to distinguish particularly. I consulted him as to the
appointment of guardians to my children, in case of my death. 'Sir,
(said he,) do not appoint a number of guardians. When there are many,
they trust one to another, and the business is neglected. I would advise
you to choose only one; let him be a man of respectable character, who,
for his own credit, will do what is right; let him be a rich man, so
that he may be under no temptation to take advantage; and let him be a
man of business, who is used to conduct affairs with ability and
expertness, to whom, therefore, the execution of the trust will not be

On Sunday, October 10, we dined together at Mr. Strahan's. The
conversation having turned on the prevailing practice of going to the
East-Indies in quest of wealth;--JOHNSON. 'A man had better have ten
thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in England, than twenty
thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in India, because you
must compute what you _give_ for money; and a man who has lived ten
years in India, has given up ten years of social comfort and all those
advantages which arise from living in England. The ingenious Mr. Brown,
distinguished by the name of Capability Brown[1213], told me, that he
was once at the seat of Lord Clive, who had returned from India with
great wealth; and that he shewed him at the door of his bed-chamber a
large chest, which he said he had once had full of gold; upon which
Brown observed, "I am glad you can bear it so near your bed-chamber.'"

We talked of the state of the poor in London.--JOHNSON. 'Saunders
Welch[1215], the Justice, who was once High-Constable of Holborn, and
had the best opportunities of knowing the state of the poor, told me,
that I under-rated the number, when I computed that twenty a week, that
is, above a thousand a year, died of hunger; not absolutely of immediate
hunger; but of the wasting and other diseases which are the consequences
of hunger[1216]. This happens only in so large a place as London, where
people are not known. What we are told about the great sums got by
begging is not true: the trade is overstocked. And, you may depend upon
it, there are many who cannot get work. A particular kind of manufacture
fails: those who have been used to work at it, can, for some time, work
at nothing else. You meet a man begging; you charge him with idleness:
he says, "I am willing to labour. Will you give me work?"--"I
cannot."--"Why, then you have no right to charge me with idleness."'

We left Mr. Strahan's at seven, as Johnson had said he intended to go to
evening prayers. As we walked along, he complained of a little gout in
his toe, and said, 'I shan't go to prayers to-night; I shall go
to-morrow: Whenever I miss church on a Sunday, I resolve to go another
day. But I do not always do it[1218].' This was a fair exhibition of that
vibration between pious resolutions and indolence, which many of us have
too often experienced.

I went home with him, and we had a long quiet conversation.

I read him a letter from Dr. Hugh Blair concerning Pope, (in writing
whose life he was now employed,) which I shall insert as a literary


'In the year 1763, being at London, I was carried by Dr. John Blair,
Prebendary of Westminster, to dine at old Lord Bathurst's; where we
found the late Mr. Mallet, Sir James Porter, who had been Ambassadour at
Constantinople, the late Dr. Macaulay, and two or three more. The
conversation turning on Mr. Pope, Lord Bathurst told us, that _The Essay
on Man_ was originally composed by Lord Bolingbroke in prose, and that
Mr. Pope did no more than put it into verse: that he had read Lord
Bolingbroke's manuscript in his own hand-writing; and remembered well,
that he was at a loss whether most to admire the elegance of Lord
Bolingbroke's prose, or the beauty of Mr. Pope's verse. When Lord
Bathurst told this, Mr. Mallet bade me attend, and remember this
remarkable piece of information; as, by the course of Nature, I might
survive his Lordship, and be a witness of his having said so. The
conversation was indeed too remarkable to be forgotten. A few days
after, meeting with you, who were then also in London, you will remember
that I mentioned to you what had passed on this subject, as I was much
struck with this anecdote. But what ascertains[1220] my recollection of
it beyond doubt, is that being accustomed to keep a journal of what
passed when I was in London, which I wrote out every evening, I find the
particulars of the above information, just as I have now given them,
distinctly marked; and am thence enabled to fix this conversation to
have passed on Friday, the 22d of April, 1763.

'I remember also distinctly, (though I have not for this the authority
of my journal,) that the conversation going on concerning Mr. Pope, I
took notice of a report which had been sometimes propagated that he did
not understand Greek[1221]. Lord Bathurst said to me, that he knew that
to be false; for that part of the _Iliad_ was translated by Mr. Pope in
his house in the country; and that in the mornings when they assembled
at breakfast, Mr. Pope used frequently to repeat, with great rapture,
the Greek lines which he had been translating, and then to give them his
version of them, and to compare them together.

'If these circumstances can be of any use to Dr. Johnson, you have my
full liberty to give them to him. I beg you will, at the same time,
present to him my most respectful compliments, with best wishes for his
success and fame in all his literary undertakings. I am, with great
respect, my dearest Sir,

'Your most affectionate,

'And obliged humble servant,


'Broughton Park,

'Sept. 21, 1779.'

JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, this is too strongly stated. Pope may
have had from Bolingbroke the philosophick _stamina_ of his Essay; and
admitting this to be true, Lord Bathurst did not intentionally falsify.
But the thing is not true in the latitude that Blair seems to imagine;
we are sure that the poetical imagery, which makes a great part of the
poem, was Pope's own[1222]. It is amazing, Sir, what deviations there
are from precise truth, in the account which is given of almost every
thing[1223]. I told Mrs. Thrale, "You have so little anxiety about truth,
that you never tax your memory with the exact thing[1224]." Now what is
the use of the memory to truth, if one is careless of exactness? Lord
Hailes's _Annals of Scotland_ are very exact; but they contain mere dry
particulars[1225]. They are to be considered as a Dictionary. You know
such things are there; and may be looked at when you please. Robertson
paints; but the misfortune is, you are sure he does not know the people
whom he paints; so you cannot suppose a likeness[1226]. Characters
should never be given by an historian, unless he knew the people whom
he describes, or copies from those who knew them[1227].'

BOSWELL. 'Why, Sir, do people play this trick which I observe now, when
I look at your grate, putting the shovel against it to make the fire
burn?' JOHNSON. 'They play the trick, but it does not make the fire
burn. _There_ is a better; (setting the poker perpendicularly up at
right angles with the grate.) In days of superstition they thought, as
it made a cross with the bars, it would drive away the witch.'

BOSWELL. 'By associating with you, Sir, I am always getting an accession
of wisdom. But perhaps a man, after knowing his own character--the
limited strength of his own mind, should not be desirous of having too
much wisdom, considering, _quid valeant humeri_[1228], how little he can
carry[1229].' JOHNSON. 'Sir, be as wise as you can; let a man be _aliis
laetus, sapiens sibi_:

"Though pleas'd to see the dolphins play,
I mind my compass and my way[1230]."

You may be wise in your study in the morning, and gay in company at a
tavern in the evening. Every man is to take care of his own wisdom and
his own virtue, without minding too much what others think.'

He said, 'Dodsley first mentioned to me the scheme of an English
Dictionary[1231]; but I had long thought of it.' BOSWELL. 'You did not
know what you were undertaking.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, I knew very well
what I was undertaking,--and very well how to do it,--and have done it
very well[1232].' BOSWELL. 'An excellent climax! and it _has_ availed
you. In your Preface you say, "What would it avail me in this gloom of
solitude[1233]?" You have been agreeably mistaken.'

In his _Life of Milton_[1234] he observes, 'I cannot but remark a kind
of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his
biographers: every house in which he resided is historically mentioned,
as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by
his presence.' I had, before I read this observation, been desirous of
shewing that respect to Johnson, by various inquiries. Finding him this
evening in a very good humour, I prevailed on him to give me an exact
list of his places of residence, since he entered the metropolis as an
authour, which I subjoin in a note[1235].

I mentioned to him a dispute between a friend of mine and his lady,
concerning conjugal infidelity, which my friend had maintained was by no
means so bad in the husband, as in the wife. JOHNSON. 'Your friend was
in the right, Sir. Between a man and his Maker it is a different
question: but between a man and his wife, a husband's infidelity is
nothing. They are connected by children, by fortune, by serious
considerations of community. Wise married women don't trouble themselves
about the infidelity in their husbands.' BOSWELL. 'To be sure there is a
great difference between the offence of infidelity in a man and that of
his wife.' JOHNSON. 'The difference is boundless. The man imposes no
bastards upon his wife[1236].'

Here it may be questioned whether Johnson was entirely in the right. I
suppose it will not be controverted that the difference in the degree of
criminality is very great, on account of consequences: but still it may
be maintained, that, independent of moral obligation, infidelity is by
no means a light offence in a husband; because it must hurt a delicate
attachment, in which a mutual constancy is implied, with such refined
sentiments as Massinger has exhibited in his play of _The
Picture_.--Johnson probably at another time would have admitted this
opinion. And let it be kept in remembrance, that he was very careful not
to give any encouragement to irregular conduct. A gentleman[1237], not
adverting to the distinction made by him upon this subject, supposed a
case of singular perverseness in a wife, and heedlessly said, 'That then
he thought a husband might do as he pleased with a safe conscience.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is wild indeed (smiling) you must consider that
fornication is a crime[1238] in a single man; and you cannot have more
liberty by being married.'

He this evening expressed himself strongly against the Roman Catholics;
observing, 'In every thing in which they differ from us they are wrong.'
He was even against the invocation of saints[1239]; in short, he was in
the humour of opposition.

Having regretted to him that I had learnt little Greek, as is too
generally the case in Scotland; that I had for a long time hardly
applied at all to the study of that noble language, and that I was
desirous of being told by him what method to follow; he recommended to
me as easy helps, Sylvanus's _First Book of the Iliad_; Dawson's
_Lexicon to the Greek New Testament_; and _Hesiod_, with _Pasoris
Lexicon_ at the end of it.

On Tuesday, October 13, I dined with him at Mr. Ramsay's, with Lord
Newhaven[1240], and some other company, none of whom I recollect, but a
beautiful Miss Graham[1241], a relation of his Lordship's, who asked Dr.
Johnson to hob or nob with her. He was flattered by such pleasing
attention, and politely told her, he never drank wine; but if she would
drink a glass of water, he was much at her service. She accepted. 'Oho,
Sir! (said Lord Newhaven) you are caught.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, I do not see
_how_ I am _caught_; but if I am caught, I don't want to get free again.
If I am caught, I hope to be kept.' Then when the two glasses of water
were brought, smiling placidly to the young lady, he said, 'Madam, let
us _reciprocate_.'

Lord Newhaven and Johnson carried on an argument for some time,
concerning the Middlesex election[1242]. Johnson said, 'Parliament may
be considered as bound by law as a man is bound where there is nobody to
tie the knot. As it is clear that the House of Commons may expel, and
expel again and again, why not allow of the power to incapacitate for
that parliament, rather than have a perpetual contest kept up between
parliament and the people.' Lord Newhaven took the opposite side; but
respectfully said, 'I speak with great deference to you, Dr. Johnson; I
speak to be instructed.' This had its full effect on my friend. He bowed
his head almost as low as the table, to a complimenting nobleman; and
called out, 'My Lord, my Lord, I do not desire all this ceremony; let us
tell our minds to one another quietly.' After the debate was over, he
said, 'I have got lights on the subject to-day, which I had not before.'
This was a great deal from him, especially as he had written a pamphlet
upon it[1243].

He observed, 'The House of Commons was originally not a privilege of the
people, but a check for the Crown on the House of Lords. I remember
Henry the Eighth wanted them to do something; they hesitated in the
morning, but did it in the afternoon. He told them, "It is well you did;
or half your heads should have been upon Temple-bar[1244]." But the House
of Commons is now no longer under the power of the crown, and therefore
must be bribed.' He added, 'I have no delight in talking of publick

Of his fellow-collegian,[1246] the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield, he
said, 'Whitefield never drew as much attention as a mountebank does; he
did not draw attention by doing better than others, but by doing what
was strange.[1247] Were Astley[1248] to preach a sermon standing upon
his head on a horse's back, he would collect a multitude to hear him;
but no wise man would say he had made a better sermon for that. I never
treated Whitefield's ministry with contempt; I believe he did good. He
had devoted himself to the lower classes of mankind, and among them he
was of use.[1249] But when familiarity and noise claim the praise due to
knowledge, art, and elegance, we must beat down such pretensions.'

What I have preserved of his conversation during the remainder of my
stay in London at this time, is only what follows: I told him that when
I objected to keeping company with a notorious infidel,[1250] a
celebrated friend[1251] of ours said to me, 'I do not think that men who
live laxly in the world, as you and I do, can with propriety assume such
an authority. Dr. Johnson may, who is uniformly exemplary in his conduct.
But it is not very consistent to shun an infidel to-day, and get drunk
to-morrow.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is sad reasoning. Because a man
cannot be right in all things, is he to be right in nothing? Because a
man sometimes gets drunk, is he therefore to steal? This doctrine would
very soon bring a man to the gallows.'

After all, however, it is a difficult question how far sincere
Christians should associate with the avowed enemies of religion; for in
the first place, almost every man's mind may be more or less 'corrupted
by evil communications;'[1252] secondly, the world may very naturally
suppose that they are not really in earnest in religion, who can easily
bear its opponents; and thirdly, if the profane find themselves quite
well received by the pious, one of the checks upon an open declaration
of their infidelity, and one of the probable chances of obliging them
seriously to reflect, which their being shunned would do, is removed.

He, I know not why, shewed upon all occasions an aversion to go to
Ireland, where I proposed to him that we should make a tour. JOHNSON.
'It is the last place where I should wish to travel.' BOSWELL. 'Should
you not like to see Dublin, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir? Dublin is only a
worse capital.' BOSWELL. 'Is not the Giant's-Causeway worth seeing?'
JOHNSON. 'Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see.'

Yet he had a kindness for the Irish nation, and thus generously
expressed himself to a gentleman from that country, on the subject of an
UNION which artful Politicians have often had in view--'Do not make an
union with us, Sir. We should unite with you, only to rob you. We should
have robbed the Scotch, if they had had any thing of which we could have
robbed them[1253].'

Of an acquaintance of ours, whose manners and every thing about him,
though expensive, were coarse, he said, 'Sir, you see in him vulgar

A foreign minister of no very high talents, who had been in his company
for a considerable time quite overlooked, happened luckily to mention
that he had read some of his _Rambler_ in Italian, and admired it much.
This pleased him greatly; he observed that the title had been
translated, _Il Genio errante_, though I have been told it was rendered
more ludicrously, _Il Vagabondo_;[1254] and finding that this minister
gave such a proof of his taste, he was all attention to him, and on the
first remark which he made, however simple, exclaimed, 'The Ambassadour
says well--His Excellency observes--.' And then he expanded and enriched
the little that had been said, in so strong a manner, that it appeared
something of consequence.[1255] This was exceedingly entertaining to the
company who were present, and many a time afterwards it furnished a
pleasant topick of merriment: '_The Ambassadeur says well_,' became a
laughable term of applause, when no mighty matter had been expressed.

I left London on Monday, October 18, and accompanied Colonel Stuart to
Chester, where his regiment was to lye for some time.

'Mr. Boswell to Dr. Johnson.
'Chester, October 22, 1779.

'My Dear Sir,

'It was not till one o'clock on Monday morning, that Colonel Stuart and
I left London; for we chose to bid a cordial adieu to Lord Mountstuart,
who was to set out on that day on his embassy to Turin. We drove on
excellently, and reached Lichfield in good time enough that night. The
Colonel had heard so preferable a character of the George, that he would
not put up at the Three Crowns, so that I did not see our host
Wilkins.[1256] We found at the George as good accommodation as we could
wish to have, and I fully enjoyed the comfortable thought that _I was in
Lichfield again_. Next morning it rained very hard; and as I had much to
do in a little time, I ordered a post-chaise, and between eight and nine
sallied forth to make a round of visits. I first went to Mr. Green,
hoping to have had him to accompany me to all my other friends, but he
was engaged to attend the Bishop of Sodor and Man, who was then lying at
Lichfield very ill of the gout. Having taken a hasty glance at the
additions to Green's museum,[1257] from which it was not easy to break
away, I next went to the Friery,[1258] where I at first occasioned some
tumult in the ladies, who were not prepared to receive _company_ so
early: but my _name_, which has by wonderful felicity come to be closely
associated with yours, soon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb and Miss Adye
re-assumed their seats at the breakfast-table, which they had quitted
with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of an old
acquaintance; and after we had joined in a cordial chorus to _your_
praise, Mrs. Cobb gave _me_ the high satisfaction of hearing that you
said, "Boswell is a man who I believe never left a house without leaving
a wish for his return." And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell
me, that if ever I came to Lichfield, she hoped I would take a bed at
the Friery. From thence I drove to Peter Garrick's, where I also found a
very flattering welcome. He appeared to me to enjoy his usual
chearfulness; and he very kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass
a week with him. From Mr. Garrick's, I went to the Palace to wait on Mr.
Seward.[1259] I was first entertained by his lady and daughter, he himself
being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he
desired to see me; and I found him drest in his black gown, with a white
flannel night-gown above it; so that he looked like a Dominican friar.
He was good-humoured and polite; and under his roof too my reception was
very pleasing. I then proceeded to Stow-hill, and first paid my respects
to Mrs. Gastrell,[1260] whose conversation I was not willing to quit. But
my sand-glass was now beginning to run low, as I could not trespass too
long on the Colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me; so I
hastened to Mrs. Aston's,[1261] whom I found much better than I feared I
should; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked
much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only
remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, with
sincere satisfaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her
again; and, as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see
me again; for she expressed herself so, that I could not doubt of her
being in earnest. What a great key-stone of kindness, my dear Sir, were
you that morning! for we were all held together by our common attachment
to you. I cannot say that I ever passed two hours with more
self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield. Let me not entertain
any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will not you confirm me in my
persuasion, that he who finds himself so regarded has just reason to be

'We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a
state of much enjoyment. Colonel Stuart and his officers treat me with
all the civility I could wish; and I play my part admirably. _Laetus
aliis, sapiens sibi_,[1262] the classical sentence which you, I imagine,
invented the other day, is exemplified in my present existence. The
Bishop[1263], to whom I had the honour to be known several years ago,
shews me much attention; and I am edified by his conversation. I must
not omit to tell you, that his Lordship admires, very highly, your
_Prefaces to the Poets_. I am daily obtaining an extension of agreeable
acquaintance, so that I am kept in animated variety; and the study of
the place itself, by the assistance of books, and of the Bishop, is
sufficient occupation. Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I
ever saw. But I will not enter upon it at all in this letter.

'How long I shall stay here I cannot yet say. I told a very pleasing
young lady[1264], niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw
her, "I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can
I tell how I am to get away from it." Do not think me too juvenile. I
beg it of you, my dear Sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here,
and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with
affectionate veneration,

'Most sincerely yours,
'James Boswell.'[1265]

'If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be
disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright.'

'To James Boswell, Esq.
'Dear Sir,

'Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance
can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome
wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If
to the delight of such universal kindness of reception, any thing can be
added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself
in the full enjoyment of that small addition.

'I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success:
the oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to
me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad
to see you.

'In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you
will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to
keep away the _black dog_[1266] that worries you at home? If you would,
in compliance with your father's advice, enquire into the old tenures
and old charters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many
striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages.[1267] The feudal
system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of great
anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally
growing less in all cases not of publick record; and the past time of
Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a
Scotchman to image the oeconomy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor
negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.[1268]

'We have, I think, once talked of another project, a _History of the
late insurrection in Scotland_, with all its incidents.[1269] Many
falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved
a striking story, has told what he[1270] could not find to be true.

'You may make collections for either of these projects, or for both, as
opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The great
direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you, is this, _Be
not solitary; be not idle_[1272]: which I would thus modify;--If you are
idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.

'There is a letter for you, from
                  'Your humble servant,
                            'Sam. Johnson[1273].'

'London, October 27, 1779.'
'To Dr. Samuel Johnson.
'Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779.

'My dear Sir,

'That I should importune you to write to me at Chester, is not
wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and
that the _amor_ of pleasure, like the _amor nummi_[1274], increases in
proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter, so
full of polite kindness and masterly counsel, came like a large treasure
upon me, while already glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at
Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment
was the reverse of that of Circé; for so far was there from being any
thing sensual in it, that I was _all mind_. I do not mean all reason
only; for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not?--If you please
I will send you a copy, or an abridgement of my Chester journal, which
is truly a log-book of felicity.

'The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering. I told
him, that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester.[1275] His
Lordship bade me tell you, that he should be glad to shew you more of
it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known
in so many places.

'I arrived here late last night. Our friend the Dean[1276] has been gone
from hence some months; but I am told at my inn, that he is very
_populous_ (popular). However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to
the Bishop[1277], and with him I have breakfasted and dined very agreeably.
I got acquainted with him at the assizes here, about a year and a half
ago; he is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and I
believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the
Cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month; and
was at prayers there in the evening. It is divinely cheering to me to
think that there is a Cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old
England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to GOD for granting me.

'The _black dog_ that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I
have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall
_repulse_ him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a
trumpet, I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern
field, I shall receive a few lines from you.

'Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to shew
me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we
parted[1278]. In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote
to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me
to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made
my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by
commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the
Post-Office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well,
and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more,
my dear Sir,

'Your affectionate
'And obliged humble servant,


'Your last letter was not only kind but fond. But I wish you to get rid
of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures, nor
aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state[1279].

'Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? _In culpa
est animus, qui se non effugit usquam_[1280]. Please yourself with your
wife and children, and studies, and practice.

'I have sent a petition[1281] from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to
your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter,
which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced
to any thing that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know
to be Mr. Garrick's niece.

'If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has
in his disposal two livings, each equal, or almost equal in value to the
deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.

'How near is the Cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted
with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off[1282].
However, if you are pleased, it is so far well.

'Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of
his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last

'Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither
seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from
Brighthelmston, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are
still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved; he has not
bathed, but hunted[1283].

'At Bolt-court there is much malignity, but of late little open
hostility[1284]. I have had a cold, but it is gone.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,

'London, Nov. 13, 1779.'


On November 22, and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a
very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover;--that after a
good deal of enquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis
Stewart[1285], one of his amanuenses when writing his _Dictionary_;--that
I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her
brother's which he had retained; and that the good woman, who was in
very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his
scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her
by Providence[1286].--That I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his
promise to send me his letter to Lord Chesterfield, and that this
_memento_, like _Delenda est Carthago_, must be in every letter that I
should write to him, till I had obtained my object[1287].

1780: AETAT. 71.--In 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the
completion of his _Lives of the Poets_, upon which he was employed so
far as his indolence allowed him to labour[1288].

I wrote to him on January 1, and March 13, sending him my notes of Lord
Marchmont's information concerning Pope;--complaining that I had not
heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my
debt;--that I had suffered again from melancholy;--hoping that he had
been in so much better company, (the Poets,) that he had not time to
think of his distant friends; for if that were the case, I should have
some recompence for my uneasiness;--that the state of my affairs did not
admit of my coming to London this year; and begging he would return me
Goldsmith's two poems, with his lines marked[1289].

His friend Dr. Lawrence having now suffered the greatest affliction to
which a man is liable, and which Johnson himself had felt in the most
severe manner; Johnson wrote to him in an admirable strain of sympathy
and pious consolation.



'At a time when all your friends ought to shew their kindness, and with
a character which ought to make all that know you your friends, you may
wonder that you have yet heard nothing from me.

'I have been hindered by a vexatious and incessant cough, for which
within these ten days I have been bled once, fasted four or five times,
taken physick five times, and opiates, I think, six. This day it seems
to remit.

'The loss, dear Sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years
ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little
help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has
long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same
hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has
shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at
liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of
being is lacerated[1290]; the settled course of sentiment and action is
stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by
external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is

'Our first recourse in this distressed solitude, is, perhaps for want of
habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal
beings, one must lose the other; but surely there is a higher and better
comfort to be drawn from the consideration of that Providence which
watches over all, and a belief that the living and the dead are equally
in the hands of GOD, who will reunite those whom he has separated; or
who sees that it is best not to reunite.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,

'And most humble servant,


'January 20, 1780.'



'Well, I had resolved to send you the Chesterfield letter; but I will
write once again without it. Never impose tasks upon mortals. To require
two things is the way to have them both undone.

'For the difficulties which you mention in your affairs I am sorry; but
difficulty is now very general: it is not therefore less grievous, for
there is less hope of help. I pretend not to give you advice, not
knowing the state of your affairs; and general counsels about prudence
and frugality would do you little good. You are, however, in the right
not to increase your own perplexity by a journey hither; and I hope that
by staying at home you will please your father.

'Poor dear Beauclerk[1291]--_nec, ut soles, dabis joca_[1292]. His wit
and his folly, his acuteness and maliciousness, his merriment and
reasoning, are now over. Such another will not often be found among
mankind. He directed himself to be buried by the side of his mother, an
instance of tenderness which I hardly expected[1293]. He has left his
children to the care of Lady Di, and if she dies, of Mr. Langton, and of
Mr. Leicester his relation, and a man of good character. His library has
been offered to sale to the Russian ambassador[1294].

'Dr. Percy, notwithstanding all the noise of the newspapers, has had no
literary loss[1295]. Clothes and moveables were burnt to the value of
about one hundred pounds; but his papers, and I think his books, were
all preserved.

'Poor Mr. Thrale has been in extreme danger from an apoplectical
disorder, and recovered, beyond the expectation of his physicians; he is
now at Bath, that his mind may be quiet, and Mrs. Thrale and Miss are
with him.

'Having told you what has happened to your friends, let me say something
to you of yourself. You are always complaining of melancholy, and I
conclude from those complaints that you are fond of it. No man talks of
that which he is desirous to conceal, and every man desires to conceal
that of which he is ashamed.[1296] Do not pretend to deny it; _manifestum
habemus furem_; make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself,
never to mention your own mental diseases; if you are never to speak of
them, you will think on them but little, and if you think little of
them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain
that you want either praise or pity; for praise there is no room, and
pity will do you no good; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think
no more, about them[1297].

'Your transaction with Mrs. Stewart gave me great satisfaction; I am
much obliged to you for your attention. Do not lose sight of her; your
countenance may be of great credit, and of consequence of great
advantage to her. The memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind; he
was an ingenious and worthy man.

'Please to make my compliments to your lady, and to the young ladies. I
should like to see them, pretty loves.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours affectionately,


'April 8, 1780.'

Mrs. Thrale being now at Bath with her husband, the correspondence
between Johnson and her was carried on briskly. I shall present my
readers with one of her original letters to him at this time, which will
amuse them probably more than those well-written but studied epistles
which she has inserted in her collection, because it exhibits the easy
vivacity of their literary intercourse. It is also of value as a key to
Johnson's answer, which she has printed by itself, and of which I shall
subjoin extracts.


'I had a very kind letter from you yesterday, dear Sir, with a most
circumstantial date[1298]. You took trouble with my circulating letter,
[1299] Mr. Evans writes me word, and I thank you sincerely for so doing:
one might do mischief else not being on the spot.

'Yesterday's evening was passed at Mrs. Montagu's: there was Mr.
Melmoth;[1300] I do not like him _though_, nor he me; it was expected we
should have pleased each other; he is, however, just Tory enough to hate
the Bishop of Peterborough[1301] for Whiggism, and Whig enough to abhor
you for Toryism.

'Mrs. Montagu flattered him finely; so he had a good afternoon on't.
This evening we spend at a concert. Poor Queeney's[1302] sore eyes have
just released her; she had a long confinement, and could neither read
nor write, so my master[1303] treated her very good-naturedly with the
visits of a young woman in this town, a taylor's daughter, who professes
musick, and teaches so as to give six lessons a day to ladies, at five
and threepence a lesson. Miss Burney says she is a great performer; and
I respect the wench for getting her living so prettily; she is very
modest and pretty-mannered, and not seventeen years old.

'You live in a fine whirl indeed; if I did not write regularly you would
half forget me, and that would be very wrong, for I _felt_ my regard for
you in my _face_ last night, when the criticisms were going on.

'This morning it was all connoisseurship; we went to see some pictures
painted by a gentleman-artist, Mr. Taylor, of this place; my master
makes one, every where, and has got a good dawling[1304] companion to ride
with him now. He looks well enough, but I have no notion of health for a
man whose mouth cannot be sewed up.[1305] Burney[1306] and I and Queeney
teize him every meal he eats, and Mrs. Montagu is quite serious with him;
but what _can_ one do? He will eat, I think, and if he does eat I know he
will not live; it makes me very unhappy, but I must bear it. Let me
always have your friendship. I am, most sincerely, dear Sir,

'Your faithful servant,

'H. L. T.'

'Bath, Friday, April 28.'



'Mr. Thrale never will live abstinently, till he can persuade himself to
live by rule[1307].

       *       *       *       *       *

Encourage, as you can, the musical girl.

'Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is
particularly expected. There is often on both sides a vigilance not
over-benevolent; and as attention is strongly excited, so that nothing
drops unheeded, any difference in taste or opinion, and some difference
where there is no restraint will commonly appear, immediately generates

'Never let criticisms operate upon your face or your mind; it is very
rarely that an authour is hurt by his criticks. The blaze of reputation
cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket[1308]; a very few
names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed. From
the authour of _Fitzosborne's Letters_ I cannot think myself in much
danger. I met him only once about thirty years ago, and in some small
dispute reduced him to whistle; having not seen him since, that is the
last impression. Poor Moore, the fabulist[1309], was one of the company.

'Mrs. Montagu's long stay, against her own inclination, is very
convenient. You would, by your own confession, want a companion; and she
is _par pluribus_; conversing with her you may _find variety in

'London, May 1, 1780.'

On the and of May I wrote to him, and requested that we might have
another meeting somewhere in the North of England, in the autumn of this

From Mr. Langton I received soon after this time a letter, of which I
extract a passage, relative both to Mr. Beauclerk and Dr. Johnson.

'The melancholy information you have received concerning Mr. Beauclerk's
death is true. Had his talents been directed in any sufficient degree as
they ought, I have always been strongly of opinion that they were
calculated to make an illustrious figure; and that opinion, as it had
been in part formed upon Dr. Johnson's judgment, receives more and more
confirmation by hearing what, since his death, Dr. Johnson has said
concerning them; a few evenings ago, he was at Mr. Vesey's[1311], where
Lord Althorpe[1312], who was one of a numerous company there, addressed
Dr. Johnson on the subject of Mr. Beauclerk's death, saying, "Our CLUB
has had a great loss since we met last." He replied, "A loss, that
perhaps the whole nation could not repair!" The Doctor then went on to
speak of his endowments, and particularly extolled the wonderful ease
with which he uttered what was highly excellent. He said, that "no man
ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a _look_
that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look
that expressed that it had come." At Mr. Thrale's, some days before when
we were talking on the same subject, he said, referring to the same idea
of his wonderful facility, "That Beauclerk's talents were those which he
had felt himself more disposed to envy, than those of any whom he had

'On the evening I have spoken of above, at Mr. Vesey's, you would have
been much gratified, as it exhibited an instance of the high importance
in which Dr. Johnson's character is held, I think even beyond any I ever
before was witness to. The company consisted chiefly of ladies, among
whom were the Duchess Dowager of Portland[1314], the Duchess of Beaufort,
whom I suppose from her rank I must name before her mother Mrs.
Boscawen, and her elder sister Mrs. Lewson, who was likewise there; Lady
Lucan[1315], Lady Clermont, and others of note both for their station
and understandings. Among the gentlemen were Lord Althorpe, whom I have
before named, Lord Macartney, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Lucan, Mr.
Wraxal[1316], whose book you have probably seen, _The Tour to the
Northern Parts of Europe_; a very agreeable ingenious man; Dr. Warren,
Mr. Pepys, the Master in Chancery, whom I believe you know, and Dr.
Barnard, the Provost of Eton[1317]. As soon as Dr. Johnson was come in
and had taken a chair[1318], the company began to collect round him,
till they became not less than four, if not five, deep; those behind
standing, and listening over the heads of those that were sitting near
him[1319]. The conversation for some time was chiefly between Dr.
Johnson and the Provost of Eton, while the others contributed
occasionally their remarks. Without attempting to detail the particulars
of the conversation, which perhaps if I did, I should spin my account
out to a tedious length, I thought, my dear Sir, this general account of
the respect with which our valued friend was attended to, might be


'May 25, 1780.


'I know your disposition to second any literary attempt, and therefore
venture upon the liberty of entreating you to procure from College or
University registers, all the dates, or other informations which they
can supply, relating to Ambrose Philips, Broome, and Gray, who were all
of Cambridge, and of whose lives I am to give such accounts as I can
gather. Be pleased to forgive this trouble from, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


While Johnson was thus engaged in preparing a delightful literary
entertainment for the world, the tranquillity of the metropolis of
Great-Britain was unexpectedly disturbed, by the most horrid series of
outrage that ever disgraced a civilised country. A relaxation of some of
the severe penal provisions against our fellow-subjects of the Catholic
communion had been granted by the legislature, with an opposition so
inconsiderable that the genuine mildness of Christianity, united with
liberal policy, seemed to have become general in this island[1321]. But
a dark and malignant spirit of persecution soon shewed itself, in an
unworthy petition for the repeal of the wise and humane statute. That
petition was brought forward by a mob, with the evident purpose of
intimidation, and was justly rejected. But the attempt was accompanied
and followed by such daring violence as is unexampled in history. Of
this extraordinary tumult, Dr. Johnson has given the following concise,
lively, and just account in his _Letters to Mrs. Thrale[1322]:--

'On Friday[1323], the good Protestants met in Saint George's-Fields, at
the summons of Lord George Gordon, and marching to Westminster, insulted
the Lords and Commons, who all bore it with great tameness. At night the
outrages began by the demolition of the mass-house by Lincoln's-Inn.'

'An exact journal of a week's defiance of government I cannot give you.
On Monday, Mr. Strahan[1324], who had been insulted, spoke to Lord
Mansfield, who had I think been insulted too, of the licentiousness of
the populace; and his Lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity.
On Tuesday night[1325] they pulled down Fielding's house, and burnt his
goods in the street. They had gutted on Monday Sir George Savile's
house, but the building was saved. On Tuesday evening, leaving
Fielding's ruins, they went to Newgate to demand their companions who
had been seized demolishing the chapel. The keeper could not release
them but by the Mayor's permission, which he went to ask; at his return
he found all the prisoners released, and Newgate in a blaze. They then
went to Bloomsbury, and fastened upon Lord Mansfield's house, which they
pulled down; and as for his goods, they totally burnt them[1326]. They
have since gone to Caen-wood, but a guard was there before them. They
plundered some Papists, I think, and burnt a mass-house[1327] in
Moorfields the same night.'

'On Wednesday I walked with Dr. Scott to look at Newgate, and found it
in ruins, with the fire yet glowing. As I went by, the Protestants were
plundering the Sessions-house at the Old-Bailey. There were not, I
believe, a hundred; but they did their work at leisure, in full
security, without sentinels, without trepidation, as men lawfully
employed, in full day. Such is the cowardice of a commercial place. On
Wednesday they broke open the Fleet, and the King's-Bench, and the
Marshalsea, and Wood-street Compter, and Clerkenwell Bridewell, and
released all the prisoners[1328].'

'At night they set fire to the Fleet, and to the King's-Bench, and I
know not how many other places; and one might see the glare of
conflagration fill the sky from many parts. The sight was dreadful. Some
people were threatened: Mr. Strahan advised me to take care of myself.
Such a time of terrour you have been happy in not seeing.'

'The King said in Council, "That the magistrates had not done their
duty, but that he would do his own;" and a proclamation was published,
directing us to keep our servants within doors, as the peace was now to
be preserved by force. The soldiers were sent out to different parts,
and the town is now [_June_ 9] at quiet.'

'The soldiers[1329] are stationed so as to be every where within call:
there is no longer any body of rioters, and the individuals are hunted
to their holes, and led to prison; Lord George was last night sent to
the Tower. Mr. John Wilkes was this day[1330] in my neighbourhood, to
seize the publisher of a seditious paper.'

'Several chapels have been destroyed, and several inoffensive Papists
have been plundered; but the high sport was to burn the gaols. This was
a good rabble trick. The debtors and the criminals were all set at
liberty; but of the criminals, as has always happened, many are already
retaken; and two pirates have surrendered themselves, and it is expected
that they will be pardoned.'

'Government now acts again with its proper force; and we are all[1331]
under the protection of the King and the law. I thought that it would be
agreeable to you and my master to have my testimony to the publick
security; and that you would sleep more quietly when I told you that you
are safe.'

'There has, indeed, been an universal panick from which the King was the
first that recovered. Without the concurrence of his ministers, or the
assistance of the civil magistrate, he put the soldiers in motion, and
saved the town from calamities, such as a rabble's government must
naturally produce.'

'The publick[1332] has escaped a very heavy calamity. The rioters
attempted the Bank on Wednesday night, but in no great number; and like
other thieves, with no great resolution. Jack Wilkes headed the party
that drove them away. It is agreed, that if they had seized the Bank on
Tuesday, at the height of the panick, when no resistance had been
prepared, they might have carried irrecoverably away whatever they had
found. Jack, who was always zealous for order and decency,[1333] declares
that if he be trusted with power, he will not leave a rioter alive.
There is, however, now no longer any need of heroism or bloodshed; no
blue ribband[1334] is any longer worn[1335].'

Such was the end of this miserable sedition, from which London was
delivered by the magnanimity of the Sovereign himself. Whatever some may
maintain, I am satisfied that there was no combination or plan, either
domestic or foreign; but that the mischief spread by a gradual contagion
of frenzy, augmented by the quantities of fermented liquors, of which
the deluded populace possessed themselves in the course of their

I should think myself very much to blame, did I here neglect to do
justice to my esteemed friend Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, who
long discharged a very important trust with an uniform intrepid
firmness, and at the same time a tenderness and a liberal charity, which
entitle him to be recorded with distinguished honour[1336].

Upon this occasion, from the timidity and negligence of magistracy on
the one hand, and the almost incredible exertions of the mob on the
other, the first prison of this great country was laid open, and the
prisoners set free; but that Mr. Akerman, whose house was burnt, would
have prevented all this, had proper aid been sent to him in due time,
there can be no doubt.

Many years ago, a fire broke out in the brick part which was built as an
addition to the old gaol of Newgate. The prisoners were in consternation
and tumult, calling out, 'We shall be burnt--we shall be burnt! Down
with the gate--down with the gate!' Mr. Akerman hastened to them, shewed
himself at the gate, and having, after some confused vociferation of
'Hear him--hear him!' obtained a silent attention, he then calmly told
them, that the gate must not go down; that they were under his care, and
that they should not be permitted to escape: but that he could assure
them, they need not be afraid of being burnt, for that the fire was not
in the prison, properly so called, which was strongly built with stone;
and that if they would engage to be quiet, he himself would come in to
them, and conduct them to the further end of the building, and would not
go out till they gave him leave. To this proposal they agreed; upon
which Mr. Akerman, having first made them fall back from the gate, went
in, and with a determined resolution, ordered the outer turnkey upon no
account to open the gate, even though the prisoners (though he trusted
they would not) should break their word, and by force bring himself to
order it. 'Never mind me, (said he,) should that happen.' The prisoners
peaceably followed him, while he conducted them through passages of
which he had the keys, to the extremity of the gaol which was most
distant from the fire. Having, by this very judicious conduct, fully
satisfied them that there was no immediate risk, if any at all, he then
addressed them thus: 'Gentlemen, you are now convinced that I told you
true. I have no doubt that the engines will soon extinguish this fire;
if they should not, a sufficient guard will come, and you shall all be
taken out and lodged in the Compters[1337]. I assure you, upon my word
and honour, that I have not a farthing insured. I have left my house,
that I might take care of you. I will keep my promise, and stay with you
if you insist upon it; but if you will allow me to go out and look after
my family and property, I shall[1338] be obliged to you.' Struck with
his behaviour, they called out, 'Master Akerman, you have done bravely;
it was very kind in you: by all means go and take care of your own
concerns.' He did so accordingly, while they remained, and were all

Johnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high
praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend,
speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this
eulogy upon his character:--'He who has long had constantly in his view
the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his
disposition, must have had it originally in a great degree, and
continued to cultivate it very carefully[1339].'

In the course of this month my brother David waited upon Dr. Johnson,
with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should
be lying ready on his arrival in London.


'Edinburgh, April 29, 1780.


'This will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from
Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to "stand by the old
castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword;" that romantick
family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with
complacency upon the spot. I trust that twelve years of absence have not
lessened his feudal attachment; and that you will find him worthy of
being introduced to your acquaintance.

'I have the honour to be,

'With affectionate veneration,

'My dear Sir,

'Your most faithful humble servant,


Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a
letter to Mrs. Thrale[1340]: 'I have had with me a brother of Boswell's,
a Spanish merchant,[1341] whom the war has driven from his residence at
Valentia; he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a
sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a
very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch.'



'More years[1342] than I have any delight to reckon, have past since you
and I saw one another; of this, however, there is no reason for making
any reprehensory complaint--_Sic fata ferunt[1343]_. But methinks there
might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say, that
I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I
have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health
better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees
Southwards: a softer climate may do you both good; winter is coming on;
and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of
amusement than Aberdeen.

'My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I
tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is I doubt now but
weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much
better, and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from
business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well; and Mr.
Davies has got great success as an authour,[1344] generated by the
corruption of a bookseller.[1345] More news I have not to tell you, and
therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know not whether
you much wish to hear[1346], that I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,
August 21, 1780.'



'I find you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have
resolved not to write till you are written to; it is but a peevish
humour, but you shall have your way.

'I have sat at home in Bolt-court, all the summer, thinking to write the
_Lives_, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them,
however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.

'Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time
first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmston; but I have been at neither
place. I would have gone to Lichfield, if I could have had time, and I
might have had time if I had been active; but I have missed much, and
done little.

'In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great
danger; the mob was pacified at their first invasion, with about fifty
pounds in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the
soldiers[1347]. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained
them a fortnight; he was so frighted that he removed part of his goods.
Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country.

'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn[1348]; it is now
about the time when we were travelling. I have, however, better health
than I had then, and hope you and I may yet shew ourselves on some part
of Europe, Asia, or Africa[1349]. In the mean time let us play no trick,
but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.

'The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar, of Aberdeen, who has written and
published a very ingenious book[1350], and who I think has a kindness
for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.

'I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son is become a
learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I
never shall persuade to love me. When the _Lives_ are done, I shall send
them to complete her collection, but must send them in paper, as for
want of a pattern, I cannot bind them to fit the rest.

'I am, Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'London, Aug. 21, 1780.'

This year he wrote to a young clergyman[1351] in the country, the
following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to
Divines in general:--

'Dear Sir,

'Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence shewed me a letter, in which you make
mention of me: I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I
endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your
letter suggested to me.

'You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service
by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope,
secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as
have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without
some peculiarity of manner: but that manner may be good or bad, and a
little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good,
there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which
cannot be taught.

'Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few
frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than
yours will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authours
from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that
you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible
to forget.

'My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an
original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burthen your
mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of
excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent
first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing
was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration
of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise,
in the first words that occur; and, when you have matter, you will
easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary;
for by habit, your thoughts and diction will flow together[1352].

'The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not
only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgement of the
writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its
proper place.

'What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your
parish; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the
parson. The Dean of Carlisle[1353], who was then a little rector in
Northamptonshire[1354], told me, that it might be discerned whether or no
there was a clergyman resident in a parish by the civil or savage manner
of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much
reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform
them. A very savage parish was civilised by a decayed gentlewoman, who
came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr.
Wheeler[1355] of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a
neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid;
but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon
weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and, when he
reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He
was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser
than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such
honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every
clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved[1356].
Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find,
that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects,
the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will
learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I
have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I
pray GOD to bless you.

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

'Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780.'

My next letters to him were dated August 24, September 6, and October 1,
and from them I extract the following passages:--

'My brother David and I find the long indulged fancy of our comfortable
meeting again at Auchinleck, so well realised, that it in some degree
confirms the pleasing hope of _O! preclarum diem!_[1357] in a future

'I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a
peevish humour, or playing tricks; you will recollect that when I
confessed to you, that I had once been intentionally silent to try your
regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again[1358].'

'I rejoice to hear of your good state of health; I pray GOD to continue
it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added
to my life, to have ten taken from yours; I mean, that I would be ten
years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for
the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself
with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being,
trusting always, that in another state, we shall meet never to be
separated. Of this we can form no notion; but the thought, though
indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear[1359].'

'The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you give me no account
of your own situation, during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it
by DR. JOHNSON would be a great painting[1360]; you might write another
_London, a Poem_.'

'I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, "let us
keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power;" my revered
Friend! how elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a
companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson! All that you have said in grateful
praise of Mr. Walmsley,[1361] I have long thought of you; but we are
both Tories,[1362] which has a very general influence upon our
sentiments. I hope that you will agree to meet me at York, about the
end of this month; or if you will come to Carlisle, that would be better
still, in case the Dean be there. Please to consider, that to keep each
other's kindness, we should every year have that free and intimate
communication of mind which can be had only when we are together. We
should have both our solemn and our pleasant talk.'

'I write now for the third time, to tell you that my desire for our
meeting this autumn, is much increased. I wrote to Squire Godfrey
Bosville[1363], my Yorkshire chief, that I should, perhaps, pay him a
visit, as I was to hold a conference with Dr. Johnson at York. I give
you my word and honour that I said not a word of his inviting you; but
he wrote to me as follows:--

'"I need not tell you I shall be happy to see you here the latter end of
this month, as you propose; and I shall likewise be in hopes that you
will persuade Dr. Johnson to finish the conference here. It will add to
the favour of your own company, if you prevail upon such an associate,
to assist your observations. I have often been entertained with his
writings, and I once belonged to a club of which he was a member, and I
never spent an evening there, but I heard something from him well worth

'We have thus, my dear Sir, good comfortable quarters in the
neighbourhood of York, where you may be assured we shall be heartily
welcome. I pray you then resolve to set out; and let not the year 1780
be a blank in our social calendar, and in that record of wisdom and wit,
which I keep with so much diligence, to your honour, and the instruction
and delight of others.'

Mr. Thrale had now another contest for the representation in parliament
of the borough of Southwark, and Johnson kindly lent him his assistance,
by writing advertisements and letters for him. I shall insert one as a



'A new Parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being
elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater
confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of
having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of
independent constituents; superiour to fear, hope, and expectation, who
has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in
the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe
distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the Hall, and
hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.

'I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may
tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough.

'I am, Gentlemen,

'Your most faithful

'And obedient servant,


'Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.'

On his birth-day, Johnson has this note:--

'I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with more
strength of body, and greater vigour of mind, than I think is common at
that age[1364].'

But still he complains of sleepless nights and idle days, and
forgetfulness, or neglect of resolutions. He thus pathetically expresses

'Surely I shall not spend my whole life with my own total

Mr. Macbean, whom I have mentioned more than once, as one of Johnson's
humble friends, a deserving but unfortunate man, being now oppressed by
age and poverty, Johnson solicited the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, to have
him admitted into the Charterhouse. I take the liberty to insert his
Lordship's answer[1366], as I am eager to embrace every occasion of
augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my
illustrious friend:--


'London, October 24, 1780.


'I have this moment received your letter, dated the 19th, and returned
from Bath.

'In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux[1367],
without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so
authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to
the establishment of the House, the opportunity of making the charity so
good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if
you'll favour me with notice of it, I will try to recommend him to the
place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate.

'I am, Sir, with great regard,

'Your most faithful

'And obedient servant,




'I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it
is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an
interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my
summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to
work, without working much.

'Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election;[1369] he is now
going to Brighthelmston, and expects me to go with him; and how long I
shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall
go, and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content
ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of
man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness,
and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.

'I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in
supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would
be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love
very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I
hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.

'I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father
received him kindly, but not fondly; however, you seem to have lived
well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as
you can.

'You lately told me of your health: I can tell you in return, that my
health has been for more than a year past, better than it has been for
many years before. Perhaps it may please GOD to give us some time
together before we are parted.

'I am, dear Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'October 17, 1780.'


(_Page_ 314.)

The alehouse in the city where Johnson used to go and sit with George
Psalmanazar was, no doubt, the club in Old Street, where he met also
'the metaphysical tailor,' the uncle of Hoole the poet (_post_, under
March 30, 1783). Psalmanazar is mentioned a third time by Boswell
(_post_, May 15, 1784) in a passage borrowed from Hawkins's edition of
Johnson's _Works_, xi. 206, where it is stated that 'Johnson said: "He
had never seen the close of the life of any one that he wished so much
his own to resemble as that of him, for its purity and devotion." He was
asked whether he ever contradicted him. "I should as soon," said he,
"have thought of contradicting a bishop." When he was asked whether he
had ever mentioned Formosa before him, he said, "he was afraid to
mention even China."' We learn from Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_, p. 547,
that 'Psalmanazar lived in Ironmonger Row, Old Street; in the
neighbourhood whereof he was so well known and esteemed, that, as Dr.
Hawkesworth once told me, scarce any person, even children, passed him
without shewing him the usual signs of respect.' In the list of the
writers of the _Universal History_ that Johnson drew up a few days
before his death his name is given as the historian of the Jews, Gauls,
and Spaniards (_post_, November, 1784). According to Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anecdotes_, p. 175):--'His pious and patient endurance of a tedious
illness, ending in an exemplary death, confirmed the strong impression
his merit had made upon the mind of Mr. Johnson. "It is so very
difficult," said he always, "for a sick man not to be a scoundrel."'
Johnson, in _Prayers and Meditations_, p. 102, mentions him as a man
'whose life was, I think, uniform.' Smollett, in _Humphry Clinker_ (in
Melford's Letter of June 10), describes him as one 'who, after having
drudged half a century in the literary mill, in all the simplicity and
abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few
booksellers, just sufficient to keep him from the parish.' A writer in
the _Annual Register_ for 1764 (ii. 71), speaking of the latter part of
his life, says:--'He was concerned in compiling and writing works of
credit, and lived exemplarily for many years.' He died a few days before
that memorable sixteenth day of May 1763, when Boswell first met
Johnson. It is a pity that no record has been kept of the club meetings
in Ironmonger Row, for then we should have seen Johnson in a new light.
Johnson in an alehouse club, with a metaphysical tailor on one side of
him, and an aged writer on the other side of him, 'who spoke English
with the city accent and coarsely enough,'[1370] and whom he would never
venture to contradict, is a Johnson that we cannot easily imagine.

Of the greater part of Psalmanazar's life we know next to
nothing--little, I believe, beyond the few facts that I have here
gathered together. His early years he has described in his _Memoirs_.
That he started as one of the most shameless impostors, and that he
remained a hypocrite and a cheat till he was fully forty, if not indeed
longer, his own narrative shows. That for many years he lived
laboriously, frugally, and honestly seems to be no less certain. How far
his _Memoirs_ are truthful is somewhat doubtful. In them he certainly
confesses the impudent trick which he had played in his youth, when he
passed himself off as a Formosan convert. He wished, he writes, 'to
undeceive the world by unravelling that whole mystery of iniquity' (p.
5). He lays bare roguery enough, and in a spirit, it seems, of real
sorrow. Nevertheless there are passages which are not free from the
leaven of hypocrisy, and there are, I suspect, statements which are at
least partly false. Johnson, indeed, looked upon him as little less than
a saint; but then, as Sir Joshua Reynolds tells us, though 'Johnson was
not easily imposed upon by professions to honesty and candour, he
appeared to have little suspicion of hypocrisy in religion.'[1371] It was
in the year 1704 that Psalmanazar published his _Historical and
Geographical Description of Formosa_. So gross is the forgery that it
almost passes belief that it was widely accepted as a true narrative. He
gave himself out as a native of that island and a convert to
Christianity. He lied so foolishly as to maintain that in the Academies
of Formosa Greek was studied (p. 290). He asserted also that in an
island that is only about half as large as Ireland 18,000 boys were
sacrificed every year (p. 176). But his readers were for the most part
only too willing to be deceived; for in Protestant England his abuse of
the Jesuits covered a multitude of lies. Ere he had been three months in
London, he was, he writes (_Memoirs_, p. 179), 'cried up for a prodigy,
and not only the domestic, but even the foreign papers had helped to
blaze forth many things in his praise.' He was aided in his fraud by the
Rev. Dr. Innes, or Innys, a clergyman of the English Church, who by
means of his interesting convert pushed himself into the notice of
Compton, Bishop of London, and before long was made chaplain-general to
the English forces in Portugal (_Memoirs_, p. 191). The same man, as
Boswell tells us (_ante_, i. 359), by another impudent cheat, a second
time obtained 'considerable promotion.' Psalmanazar's book soon reached
a second edition, 'besides the several versions it had abroad' (p. 5).
Yet it is very dull reading--just such a piece of work as might be
looked for from a young man of little fancy, but gifted with a strong
memory. Nevertheless, the author's credit lasted so long, that for many
years he lived on a subscription 'which was founded on a belief of his
being a Formosan and a real convert to the Church of England' (p. 208).
He was even sent to Oxford to study, and had rooms in one of the
colleges--Christ Church, if I mistake not (p. 186). It was not only as a
student that he was sent by his dupes to that ancient seat of learning;
the Bishop of London hoped that he would 'teach the Formosan language to
a set of gentlemen who were afterwards to go with him to convert those
people to Christianity' (p. 161).

While he was living the life of a lying scoundrel, he was, he says (p.
192), 'happily restrained by Divine Grace,' so that 'all sense of
remorse was not extinguished,' and there was no fall into 'downright
infidelity.' At length he picked up Law's _Serious Call_, which moved
him, as later on it moved better men (_ante_, i. 68). Step by step he
got into a way of steady work, and lived henceforth a laborious and
honest life. It was in the year 1728, thirty-five years before his
death, that he began, he says, to write the narrative of his imposture
(p. 59). A dangerous illness and the dread of death had deeply moved
him, and filled him with the desire of leaving behind 'a faithful
narrative' which would 'undeceive the world.' Nineteen years later,
though he did not publish his narrative, he made a public confession of
his guilt. In the unsigned article on Formosa, which he wrote in 1747
for Bowen's _Complete System of Geography_ (ii. 251), he says,
'Psalmanaazaar [so he had at one time written his name] hath long since
ingenuously owned the contrary [of the truthfulness of his narrative]
though not in so public a manner, as he might perhaps have done, had not
such an avowment been likely to have affected some few persons who for
private ends took advantage of his youthful vanity to encourage him in
an imposture, which he might otherwise never had the thought, much less
the confidence, to have carried on. These persons being now dead, and
out of all danger of being hurt by it, he now gives us leave to assure
the world that the greatest part of that account was fabulous ... and
that he designs to leave behind him a faithful account of that unhappy
step, and other particulars of his life leading to it, to be published
after his death.'

In his _Memoirs_ he will not, he writes (p. 59), give any account 'of
his real country or family.' Yet it is quite clear from his own
narrative that he was born in the south of France. 'His pronunciation of
French had,' it was said, 'a spice of the Gascoin accent, and in that
provincial dialect he was so masterly that none but those born in the
country could excel him' (Preface, p. 1). If a town can be found that
answers to all that he tells of his birth-place, his whole account may
be true; but the circumstances that he mentions seem inconsistent. The
city in which he was born was twenty-four miles from an archiepiscopal
city in which there was a college of Jesuits (p. 67), and about sixty
miles from 'a noble great city full of gentry and nobility, of coaches,
and all kinds of grandeur,' the seat of a great university (pp. 76, 83).
When he left the great city for Avignon he speaks of himself as 'going
_down_ to Avignon' (p. 87). Thence he started on a pilgrimage to Rome,
and in order to avoid his native place, after he had gone no great way,
'he wheeled about to the left, to leave the place at some twenty or
thirty miles distance' (p. 101). He changed his mind, however, and
returned home. Thence he set off to join his father, who was 'near 500
miles off' in Germany (p. 60). 'The direct route was through the great
university city' and Lyons (p. 104). His birth-place then, if his
account is true, was on the road from Avignon to Rome, sixty miles from
a great university city and southwards of it, for through this
university city passed the direct road from his home to Lyons. It was,
moreover, sixty miles from an archiepiscopal city. I do not think that
such a place can be found. He says (p. 59) that he thought himself
'obliged out of respect to his country and family to conceal both, it
being but too common, though unjust, to censure them for the crimes of
private persons.' The excuse seems unsatisfactory, for he tells enough
to shew that he came from the South of France, while for his family
there was no need of care. It was, he writes, 'ancient but decayed,' and
he was the only surviving child. Of his father and mother he had heard
nothing since he started on the career of a pious rogue. They must have
been dead very many years by the time his _Memoirs_ were given to the
world. His story shews that at all events for the first part of his life
he had been one of the vainest of men, and vanity is commonly found
joined with a love of mystery. He is not consistent, moreover, in his
dates. On April 23, 1752, he was in the 73rd year of his age (p. 7); so
that he was born in either 1679 or 1680. When he joined his father he
was 'hardly full sixteen years old' (p. 112); yet it was a few years
after the Peace of Ryswick, which was signed on September 22, 1697. He
was, he says, 'but near twenty' when he wrote his _History of Formosa_
(p. 184). This was in the year 1704.

With his father he stayed but a short time, and then set out rambling
northwards. At Avignon, by shameless lying, he had obtained a pass 'as a
young student in theology, of Irish extract [_sic_] who had left his
country for the sake of religion' (p. 98). It was wonderful that his
fraud had escaped detection there, for he had kept his own name,
'because it had something of quality in it' (p. 99). He now resolved on
a more impudent pretence; for 'passing as an Irishman and a sufferer for
religion, did not only,' he writes, 'expose me to the danger of being
discovered, but came short of the merit and admiration I had expected
from it' (p. 112). He thereupon gave himself out as a Japanese convert,
and forged a fresh pass, 'clapping to it the old seal' (p. 116). He went
through different adventures, and at last enlisted in the army of the
Elector of Cologne--an 'unhappy herd, destitute of all sense of religion
and shamefacedness.' He got his discharge, but enlisted a second time,
'passing himself off for a Japanese and a heathen, under the name of
Salmanazar' (pp. 133-141). Later on he altered it, he says, 'by the
addition of a letter or two to make it somewhat different from that
mentioned in the _Book of Kings_' (Shalmaneser, II _Kings_, xvii. 3). In
his _Description of Formosa_ he wrote it Psalmanaazaar, and in later
life Psalmanazar. In his vanity he invented 'an awkward show of worship,
turning his face to the rising or setting sun, and pleased to be taken
notice of for so doing' (p. 144). He had moreover 'the ambition of
passing for a moral heathen' (p. 147). By way of singularity he next
took to living altogether upon raw flesh, roots, and herbs (p. 163).

It was when he was on garrison duty at Sluys that he became acquainted
with Innes, who was chaplain to a Scotch regiment that was in the pay of
the Dutch (p. 148). This man found in him a tool ready made to his hand.
He had at once seen through his roguery, but he used his knowledge only
to plunge him deeper in his guilt. By working on his fears and his
vanity and by small bribes he induced him to profess himself a convert
to the Church of England and to submit to baptism (p. 158). He brought
him over to London, and introduced him to the Bishop of London, and to
Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury (pp. 164, 179). Psalmanazar spoke
Latin fluently, but 'his Grace had either forgotten his, or being unused
to the foreign pronunciation was forced to have it interpreted to him by
Dr. Innes in English' (p. 178). The young impostor everywhere gave
himself out as a Formosan who had been entrapped by a Jesuit priest, and
brought to Avignon. 'There I could expect,' he wrote, 'no mercy from the
Inquisitors, if I had not in hypocrisy professed their religion'
(_History of Formosa_, p. 25). He was kept, he says, in a kind of
custody, 'but I trusted under God to my heels' (p. 24). It was Innes who
made him write this _History_.

In the confession of his fraud Psalmanazar seems to keep back nothing.
His repentance appears to be sincere, and his later life, there can be
little question, was regular. Yet, as I have said, even his confessions
apparently are not free from the old leaven of hypocrisy. It is indeed
very hard, if not altogether impossible, for a man who has passed forty
years and more as a lying hypocrite altogether to 'clear his mind of
cant.' In writing of the time when he was still living the life of a
lying scoundrel, he says:--'I have great reason to acknowledge it the
greatest mercy that could befall me, that I was so well grounded in the
principles and evidence of the Christian religion, that neither the
conversation of the then freethinkers, as they loved to stile
themselves, and by many of whom I was severely attacked, nor the
writings of Hobbes, Spinosa, &c. against the truth of Divine revelation
could appear to me in any other light than as the vain efforts of a
dangerous set of men to overturn a religion, the best founded and most
judiciously calculated to promote the peace and happiness of mankind,
both temporal and eternal' (_Memoirs_, p. 192). Two pages further on he
writes, a little boastfully it seems, of having had 'some sort of
gallantry with the fair sex; with many of whom, even persons of fortune
and character, of sense, wit, and learning, I was become,' he continues,
'a great favourite, and might, if I could have overcome my natural
sheepishness and fear of a repulse, have been more successful either by
way of matrimony or intrigue.' He goes on:--'I may truly say, that
hardly any man who might have enjoyed so great a variety ever indulged
himself in so few instances of the unlawful kind as I have done.' He
concludes this passage in his writings by 'thankfully acknowledging that
there must have been some secret providence that kept me from giving
such way to unlawful amours as I might otherwise have done, to the ruin
of my health, circumstances,' &c.

When he came to wish for an honest way of life he was beset with
difficulties. 'What a deadly wound,' he writes, 'must such an unexpected
confession have given to my natural vanity, and what a mortification
would it have been to such sincere honest people [as my friends] to hear
it from my mouth!' (p. 213.) This was natural enough. That he long
hesitated, like a coward, on the brink is not to be cast in his teeth,
seeing that at last he took the plunge. But then in speaking of the time
when he weakly repeated, and to use his own words, 'as it were confirmed
anew,' his old falsehoods, he should not have written that 'as the
assurance of God's mercy gave me good grounds to hope, so that hope
inspired me with a design to use all proper means to obtain it, and
leave the issue of it to his Divine Providence' (p. 214). The only
proper means to obtain God's mercy was at once to own to all the world
that he had lied. It is only the Tartuffes and the Holy Willies who,
whilst they persist in their guilt, talk of leaving the issue to the
Divine Providence of God.

Since this Appendix was in type I have learnt, through the kindness of
Mr. C.E. Doble, the editor of Hearne's _Remarks and Collections_, ed.
1885, that a passage in that book (i. 271), confirms my conjecture that
Psalmanazar was lodged in Christ Church when at Oxford. Hearne says
(July 9, 1706):--'Mr. Topping of Christ Church ... also tells me that
Salmanezzer, the famous Formosan, when he left Christ Church (where he
resided while in Oxon) left behind him a Book in MSt., wherein a
distinct acct was given of the Consular and Imperial coyns by himself.'
Mr. Doble has also pointed out to me in the first edition of the
_Spectator_ the following passage at the end of No. 14:--


'On the first of April will be performed at the Play-house in the
Hay-market an opera call'd _The Cruelty of Atreus_. N.B. The Scene
wherein Thyestes eats his own children is to be performed by the famous
Mr. Psalmanazar lately arrived from Formosa: The whole Supper being set
to Kettle-drums.'

       *       *       *       *       *



(_Page 352_).

On the passage in the text Macaulay in his Review of Croker's Edition of
_Boswell's Life of Johnson_ partly founds the following criticism:--

'Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced him to a state of society
completely new to him; and a salutary suspicion of his own deficiencies
seems on that occasion to have crossed his mind for the first time. He
confessed, in the last paragraph of his _Journey_, that his thoughts on
national manners were the thoughts of one who had seen but little, of
one who had passed his time almost wholly in cities. This feeling,
however, soon passed away. It is remarkable that to the last he
entertained a fixed contempt for all those modes of life and those
studies which tend to emancipate the mind from the prejudices of a
particular age or a particular nation. Of foreign travel and of history
he spoke with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance. "What
does a man learn by travelling? Is Beauclerk the better for travelling?
What did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there was a
snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?"' Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843,
i. 403.

In another passage (p. 400) Macaulay says:--

'Johnson was no master of the great science of human nature. He had
studied, not the genus man, but the species Londoner. Nobody was ever so
thoroughly conversant with all the forms of life and all the shades of
moral and intellectual character which were to be seen from Islington to
the Thames, and from Hyde-Park corner to Mile-end green. But his
philosophy stopped at the first turnpike-gate. Of the rural life of
England he knew nothing, and he took it for granted that everybody who
lived in the country was either stupid or miserable.'

Of the two assertions that Macaulay makes in these two passages, while
one is for the most part true, the other is utterly and grossly false.
Johnson had no contempt for foreign travel. That curiosity which
animated his eager mind in so many parts of learning did not fail him,
when his thoughts turned to the great world outside our narrow seas. It
was his poverty that confined him so long to the neighbourhood of Temple
Bar. He must in these early days have sometimes felt with Arviragus when
he says:--

'What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December, how
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing.'

With his pension his wanderings at once began. His friendship with the
Thrales gave them a still wider range. His curiosity, which in itself
was always eager, was checked in his more prosperous circumstances by
his years, his natural unwillingness at any one moment to make an
effort, and by the want of travelling companions who were animated by a
spirit of inquiry and of enterprise equal to his own. He did indeed
travel much more than is commonly thought, and was far less frequently
to be seen rolling along Fleet-street or stemming the full tide of human
existence at Charing Cross than his biographers would have us believe.

The following table, imperfect though it must necessarily be, shows how
large a part of his life he passed outside 'the first turnpike-gate,'
and beyond the smoke of London:--

1709-1736. The first twenty-seven years of his life he spent in small
country towns or villages--Lichfield, Stourbridge, Oxford,
Market-Bosworth, Birmingham. So late as 1781 Lichfield did not contain
4,000 inhabitants (Harwood's _History of Lichfield_, p. 380); eight
years later it was reckoned that a little over 8,000 people dwelt in
Oxford (Parker's _Early History of Oxford_, ed. 1885, p. 229). In 1732
or 1733 Birmingham, when Johnson first went to live there, had not, I
suppose, a population of 10,000. Its growth was wonderfully rapid.
Between 1770 and 1797 its inhabitants increased from 30,000 to nearly
80,000 (_Birmingham Directory for_ 1780, p. xx, and _A Brief History of
Birmingham_, p. 8).

1736-7. The first eighteen months of his married life he lived quite in
the country at Edial, two miles from Lichfield. _Ante_, i. 97.

1737. He was twenty-eight years old when he removed to London. _Ante_,
i. 110.

1739. He paid a visit to Appleby in Leicestershire and to Ashbourn.
_Ante_, i. 82, 133 note 1.

1754. Oxford. July and August, about five weeks. _Ante_, i. 270, note 5.

1759. Oxford. July, length of visit not mentioned. _Ante_, i. 347.

1761-2. Lichfield. Winter, a visit of five days. _Ante_, i. 370.

1762. In the summer of this year his pension was granted, and he
henceforth had the means of travelling. _Ante_, i. 372.

A trip to Devonshire, from Aug. 16 to Sept. 26; six weeks. _Ante_, i.

Oxford. December. 'I am going for a few days or weeks to Oxford.' Letter
of Dec. 21, 1762. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 129.

1763. Harwich. August, a few days. _Ante_, i. 464.

Oxford. October, length of visit not mentioned. A letter dated Oxford,
Oct. 27 [1763]. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 161.

1764. Langton in Lincolnshire, part of January and February. _Ante_, i.

Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire, part of June, July, and August.
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 166, note, and _ante_, i. 486.

Oxford, October. Letter to Mr. Strahan dated Oxford, Oct. 24, 1764.
_Post, Addenda_ to vol. v.

Either this year or the next Johnson made the acquaintance of the
Thrales. For the next seventeen years he had 'an apartment appropriated
to him in the Thrales' villa at Streatham' (_ante_, i. 493), a handsome
house that stood in a small park. Streatham was a quiet country-village,
separated by wide commons from London, on one of which a highwayman had
been hanged who had there robbed Mr. Thrale (_ante_, iii. 239, note 2).
According to Mrs. Piozzi Johnson commonly spent the middle of the week
at their house, coming on the Monday night and returning to his own home
on the Saturday (_post_, iv. 169, note 3). Miss Burney, in 1778,
describes him 'as living almost wholly at Streatham' (_ante_, i. 493,
note 3). No doubt she was speaking chiefly of the summer half of the
year, for in the winter time the Thrales would be often in their town
house, where he also had his apartment. Mr. Strahan complained of his
being at Streatham 'in a great measure absorbed from the society of his
old friends' (_ante_, iii. 225). He used to call it 'my _home_' (_ante_,
i. 493, note 3).

1765. Cambridge, early in the year; a short visit. _Ante_, i. 487.

Brighton, autumn; a short visit. Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 126, and _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 1.

1766. Streatham, summer and autumn; more than three months. Ante, ii.
25, and _Pr. and Med_. p. 71.

Oxford, autumn; a month. _Ante_, ii. 25.

1767. Lichfield, summer and autumn; 'near six months.' _Ante_, ii. 30,
and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 4, 5.

1768. Oxford, spring; several weeks. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 6-15.

Townmalling in Kent, September; apparently a short visit. _Pr. and Med_.
p. 81.

1769. Oxford, from at least May 18 to July 7. _Piozzi Letters_, i.
19-23, and _ante_, ii. 67.

Lichfield and Ashbourn, August; a short visit. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 24,
and _ante_, ii. 67.

Brighton, part of August and September; some weeks. _Ante_, ii. 68, 70,
and Croker's _Boswell_, p. 198, letter dated 'Brighthelmstone. August
26, 1769.'

1770. Lichfield and Ashbourn, apparently whole of July. _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 26-32.

1771. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from June 20 to after Aug. 5. _Ante_, ii.
141, 142, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 36-54.

1772. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from about Oct. 15 to early in December.
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 55-69.

1773. Oxford, April; a hurried visit. _Ante_, ii. 235, note 2.

Tour to Scotland from Aug. 6 to Nov. 26. _Ante_, ii. 265, 268.

Oxford, part of November and December. _Ante_, ii. 268.

1774. Tour to North Wales (Derbyshire, Chester, Conway, Anglesey,
Snowdon, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Birmingham, Oxford, Beaconsfield) from
July 5 to Sept. 30. _Ante_, ii. 285, and _post_, v. 427.

1775. Oxford, March; a short visit. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 212.

Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from end of May till some time in August.
_Ante_, ii. 381, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 223-301.

Brighton; apparently a brief visit in September. Croker's _Boswell_, p.

A tour to Paris (going by Calais and Rouen and returning by Compiegne,
St. Quintin, and Calais), from Sept. 15 to Nov. 12. _Ante_, ii. 384,

1776. Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, March 19-29. (The trip was cut short
by young Thrale's death.) _Ante_, ii. 438, and iii. 4.

Bath, from the middle of April to the beginning of May. _Ante_, iii. 44,

Brighton, part of September and October; full seven weeks. _Ante_, iii.

1777. Oxford, Lichfield, and Ashbourn, from about July 28 to about Nov.
6. _Ante_, iii. 129, 210, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 348-396 and ii. 1-16
(the letter of Oct. 3, i. 396, is wrongly dated, as is shown by the
mention of Foote's death).

Brighton, November; a visit of three days. _Ante_, iii. 210.

1778. Warley Camp, in Essex, September; about a week. _Ante_, iii. 360.

1779. Lichfield, Ashbourn, from May 20 to end of June. _Ante_, iii. 395,
and _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 44-55.

Epsom, September; a few days. _Pr. and Med_. pp. 181, 225.

1780. Brighton. October. MS. letter dated Oct. 26, 1780 to Mr. Nichols
in the British Museum.

1781. Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 11.
_Post_, iv. 135, and Croker's _Boswell_, p. 699, note 5.

1782. Oxford, June; about ten days. _Post_, iv. 151, and _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 243-249.

Brighton, part of October and November. _Post_, iv. 159.

1783. Rochester, July; about a fortnight. _Post_, iv. 233.

Heale near Salisbury, part of August and September; three weeks. _Post_,
iv. 233, 239.

1784. Oxford, June; a fortnight. _Post_, iv. 283, 311.

Lichfield, Ashbourn, Oxford, from July 13 to Nov. 16. _Post_, iv. 353,

That he was always eager to see the world is shown by many a passage in
his writings and by the testimony of his biographers. How Macaulay, who
knew his _Boswell_ so well, could have accused him of 'speaking of
foreign travel with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance'
would be a puzzle indeed, did we not know how often this great
rhetorician was by the stream of his own mighty rhetoric swept far away
from the unadorned strand of naked truth. To his unjust and insulting
attack I shall content myself with opposing the following extracts which
with some trouble I have collected:--

1728 or 1729. Johnson in his undergraduate days was one day overheard

'I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I'll go
and visit the Universities abroad. I'll go to France and Italy. I'll go
to Padua.' _Ante_, i. 73.

1734. 'A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more
certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity, nor is that curiosity
ever more agreeably or usefully employed than in examining the laws and
customs of foreign nations.' _Ante_, i. 89.

1751. 'Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristicks of
a vigorous intellect.' _Rambler_, No. 103. 'Curiosity is in great and
generous minds the first passion and the last; and perhaps always
predominates in proportion to the strength of the contemplative
faculties.' _Ib_. No. 150.

1752. Francis Barber, describing Johnson's friends in 1752, says:--

'There was a talk of his going to Iceland with Mr. Diamond, which would
probably have happened had he lived.' _Ante_, i. 242. Johnson, in a
letter to the wife of the poet Smart, says, 'we have often talked of a
voyage to Iceland.' _Post_, iv. 359 note. Mrs. Thrale wrote to him when
he was in the Hebrides in 1773:--'Well! 'tis better talk of Iceland.
Gregory challenges you for an Iceland expedition; but I trust there is
no need; I suppose good eyes might reach it from some of the places you
have been in.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 188.

1761. Johnson wrote to Baretti:--

'I wish you had staid longer in Spain, for no country is less known to
the rest of Europe.' _Ante_, i. 365. He twice recommended Boswell to
perambulate Spain. _Ante_, i. 410, 455.

1763. 'Dr. Johnson flattered me (Boswell) with some hopes that he would,
in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and
accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.' _Ante_, i. 470.

1772. He said that he had had some desire, though he soon laid it aside,
to go on an expedition round the world with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander.
_Ante_, ii. 147.

1773. 'Dr. Johnson and I talked of going to Sweden.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, _post_, v. 215.

On Sept. 9, 1777, Boswell wrote to Johnson:--

'I shrink a little from our scheme of going up the Baltick: I am sorry
you have already been in Wales; for I wish to see it.' _Ante_, iii. 134.
Four days later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Boswell shrinks from the
Baltick expedition, which, I think, is the best scheme in our power:
what we shall substitute I know not. He wants to see Wales; but except
the woods of Bachycraigh (_post_, v. 436), what is there in Wales, that
can fill the hunger of ignorance, or quench the thirst of curiosity? We
may, perhaps, form some scheme or other; but in the phrase of _Hockley
in the Hole_, it is a pity he has not a _better bottom_.' _Ib_. note 1.

Boswell writes:--

'Martin's account of the Hebrides had impressed us with a notion that we
might there contemplate a system of life almost totally different from
what we had been accustomed to see.... Dr. Johnson told me that his
father put Martin's account into his hands when he was very young, and
that he was much pleased with it.' _Post_, v. 13.

From the Hebrides Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--

'I have a desire to instruct myself in the whole system of pastoral
life; but I know not whether I shall be able to perfect the idea.
However, I have many pictures in my mind, which I could not have had
without this journey; and should have passed it with great pleasure had
you, and Master, and Queeney been in the party. We should have excited
the attention and enlarged the observation of each other, and obtained
many pleasing topicks of future conversation.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 159.
'We travelled with very little light in a storm of wind and rain; we
passed about fifty-five streams that crossed our way, and fell into a
river that, for a very great part of our road, foamed and roared beside
us; all the rougher powers of nature except thunder were in motion, but
there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed any of the
inconveniencies, to have had more light or less rain, for their
co-operation crowded the scene and filled the mind.' _Ib_. p. 177.

See _post_, v. 334 for the splendid passage in which, describing the
emotions raised in his mind by the sight of Iona, he says:--

'Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the
past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances
us in the dignity of thinking beings.... That man is little to be envied
whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or
whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.'

Macaulay seems to have had the echo of these lines still in his ear,
when he described imagination as 'that noble faculty whereby man is able
to live in the past and in the future, in the distant and in the
unreal.' _Essays_, ed. 1853, iii. 167.

1774. When he saw some copper and iron works in Wales he wrote:--

'I have enlarged my notions.' _Post_, v. 442. See also _ante_, iii. 164.

His letter to Warren Hastings shows his curiosity about India. _Ante,_
iv. 68.

1775. The Thrales had just received a sum of £14,000. Johnson wrote to
Mrs. Thrale:--

'If I had money enough, what would I do? Perhaps, if you and master did
not hold me, I might go to Cairo, and down the Red Sea to Bengal, and
take a ramble to India. Would this be better than building and planting?
It would surely give more variety to the eye, and more amplitude to the
mind. Half fourteen thousand would send me out to see other forms of
existence, and bring me back to describe them.' _Piozzi Letters_, i.

'Regions mountainous and wild, thinly inhabited and little cultivated,
make a great part of the earth, and he that has never seen them must
live unacquainted with much of the face of nature, and with one of the
great scenes of human existence.' Johnson's _Works_, ix. 36. 'All travel
has its advantages. If the traveller visits better countries he may
learn to improve his own; and if fortune carries him to worse he may
learn to enjoy it.' _Ib_. p. 136.

To Dr. Taylor he wrote:--

'I came back last Tuesday from France. Is not mine a kind of life turned
upside down? Fixed to a spot when I was young, and roving the world when
others are contriving to sit still, I am wholly unsettled. I am a kind
of ship with a wide sail, and without an anchor.' _Ante_, ii. 387, note

1776. In the spring of this year everything was settled for his journey
to Italy with the Thrales. Hannah More wrote (_Memoirs_, i. 74):--

'Johnson and Mr. Boswell have this day set out for Oxford, Lichfield,
&c., that the Doctor may take leave of all his old friends previous to
his great expedition across the Alps. I lament his undertaking such a
journey at his time of life, with beginning infirmities. I hope he will
not leave his bones on classic grounds.'

Boswell tells how--

'Speaking with a tone of animation Johnson said, "We must, to be sure,
see Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and as much more as we can."'
_Ante_, iii. 19.

When the journey was put off by the sudden death of Mr. Thrale's son,
Boswell wrote:--

'I perceived that he had so warmly cherished the hope of enjoying
classical scenes, that he could not easily part with the scheme; for he
said, "I shall probably contrive to get to Italy some other way."' _Ib_.
p. 28.

A day later Boswell wrote:--

'A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts. He said, "A man who has
not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not
having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of
travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean."' _Ib_. p. 36.
'Johnson's desire to go abroad, particularly to see Italy, was very
great; and he had a longing wish, too, to leave some Latin verses at the
Grand Chartreux. He loved indeed the very act of travelling.... He was
in some respects an admirable companion on the road, as he piqued
himself upon feeling no inconvenience, and on despising no
accommodations.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 168.

Johnson, this same year, speaking of a friend who had gone to the East
Indies, said:--

'I had some intention of accompanying him. Had I thought then as I do
now, I should have gone.' _Ante_, iii. 20. According to Mr. Tyers he
once offered to attend another friend to India. Moreover 'he talked much
of travelling into Poland to observe the life of the Palatines, the
account of which struck his curiosity very much.' _Johnsoniana_, ed.
1836, p. 157.

1777. Boswell wrote to Johnson this year (_ante_, iii. 107):--

'You have, I believe, seen all the cathedrals in England except that of

This was not the case, yet most of them he had already seen or lived to
see. With Lichfield, Oxford, and London he was familiar. Winchester and
Exeter he had seen in 1762 on his tour to Devonshire (_ante_, i. 377),
Peterborough, Ely, Lincoln, York, and Durham he no doubt saw in 1773 on
his way to Scotland. The first three he might also have seen in 1764 on
his visit to Langton (_ante_, i. 476). Chester, St. Asaph, Bangor, and
Worcester he visited in 1774 in his journey to Wales (_post_, v. 435,
436, 448, 456). Through Canterbury he almost certainly passed in 1775 on
his way to France (_ante_, ii. 384). Bristol he saw in 1776 (_ante_,
iii. 51). To Chichester he drove from Brighton in 1782 (_post_, iv.
160). Rochester and Salisbury he visited in the summer of 1783 (_post_,
iv. 233). Wells he might easily have seen when he was at Bath in 1776
(_ante_, iii. 44), and possibly Gloucester. Through Norwich he perhaps
came on his return from Lincolnshire in 1764 (_ante_, i. 476). Hereford,
I think, he could not have visited.

When in the September of this year Johnson and Boswell were driving in
Dr. Taylor's chaise to Derby, 'Johnson strongly expressed his love of
driving fast in a post-chaise. "If," said he, "I had no duties, and no
reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a
post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could
understand me, and would add something to the conversation"' (_ante_,
iii. 162). He had previously said (_ante_, ii. 453), as he was driven
rapidly along in a post-chaise, 'Life has not many things better than

1778. Boswell wrote to Johnson:--

'My wife is so different from you and me that she dislikes travelling.'
_Ante_, iii. 219.

Later on in the year Boswell records:--

'Dr. Johnson expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting
the wall of China. I catched it for the moment, and said I really
believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of
whom it was my duty to take care. "Sir, (said he,) by doing so you would
do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence.
There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and
curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man
who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, Sir."' _Ante_,
iii. 269.

1780. In August he wrote to Boswell:--

'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this summer.... I hope you and
I may yet shew ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa.'
_Ante_, iii. 435.

In the same year Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--

'I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the
election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy,
but seventy-one.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 177.

On Oct. 17 he wrote:--

'The summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and
winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without
working much.' _Ante_, iii. 441.

1784. Johnson's wish to go to Italy in the last year of his life was
caused by the hope that it might be good for his health. 'I do not,' he
wrote, 'travel for pleasure or curiosity; yet if I should recover,' he
added, 'curiosity would revive.' _Post_, iv. 348.

Mrs. Piozzi, without however giving the year, records:--

'Dr. Johnson was very angry with a gentleman at our house for not being
better company, and urged that he had travelled into Bohemia and seen
Prague. "Surely," added he, "the man who has seen Prague might tell us
something new and something strange, and not sit silent for want of
matter to put his lips in motion."' Piozzi's _Journey_, ii. 317.

All these passages shew, what indeed is evident enough from the text,
that it was not travelling in general but travelling between the ages of
nineteen and twenty-four, with a character unformed, a memory unstored,
and a judgment untrained, that Johnson attacked. It was a common habit
in his day to send young men of fortune to make the tour of Europe, as
it was called, at an age when they would now be sent to either Oxford or
Cambridge. Lord Charlemont was but eighteen when he left England. Locke,
at the end of his work on _Education_, said in 1692 much the same as
Johnson said in 1778.

'The ordinary time of travel,' he wrote, 'is from sixteen to one and
twenty.' He would send any one either at a younger age than sixteen
under a tutor, or at an older age than twenty-one without a tutor; 'when
he is of age to govern himself, and make observations of what he finds
in other countries worthy his notice ... and when, too, being thoroughly
acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages
and defects of his own country, he has something to exchange with those
abroad, from whose conversation he hoped to reap any knowledge.'

Goldsmith, in his _Present State of Polite Learning_, ch. xiii, wrote in

'We see more of the world by travel, but more of human nature by
remaining at home.... A youth just landed at the Brille resembles a
clown at a puppet-show; carries his amazement from one miracle to
another; from this cabinet of curiosities to that collection of
pictures; but wondering is not the way to grow wise.... The greatest
advantages which result to youth from travel are an easy address, the
shaking off national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridiculous in
national peculiarities. The time spent in these acquisitions could have
been more usefully employed at home.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 197)
says that 'the previous and indispensable requisites of foreign travel
are age, judgment, a competent knowledge of men and books, and a freedom
from domestic prejudices.'

When he was only eighteen years old he saw the evils of early

'I never liked young travellers; they go too raw to make any great
remarks, and they lose a time which is (in my opinion) the most precious
part of a man's life.' _Ib_. p. 98.

Cowper, in his _Progress of Error_ (ed. 1782, i. 60), describes how--

'His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn and nothing to impart,
The youth obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands.

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.'



(_Page_ 356.)

In the years 1751-2-3, the Lord Mayor was not appointed by rotation; Sir
G. Champion, the senior Alderman, being accused of a leaning towards
Spain. From 1754 to 1765 (inclusive) if there was in any year a contest,
yet in each case the senior Alderman nominated was chosen. From 1766 to
1775 (inclusive) there was in every year a departure from the order of
seniority. In 1776-8 the order of seniority was again observed; so that
two years before Johnson made his remark the irregularity had come to an
end. This information I owe to the kindness of Mr. Scott, the excellent
Chamberlain of the City. Sir George Champion had been passed over in the
year 1739 also. In an address to the Liverymen he says that 'the
disorders and great disturbance to the peace of the city, which in
former times had been occasioned by the over-eagerness of some, too
ambitious and impatient to obtain this great honour, had been quieted'
by the adoption of the order of seniority. _Gent. Mag_. 1739, p. 595.
Among the Lord Mayors from 1769-1775 (inclusive) we find Beckford,
Trecothick, Crosby, Townshend, Bull, Wilkes, and Sawbridge. 'Where did
Beckford and Trecothick learn English?' asked Johnson (_ante_, iii. 76).
Crosby, in the year of his mayoralty (1770-1), was committed to the
Tower by the House of Commons, for having himself committed to prison a
messenger of the House when attempting to arrest the printer of the
_London Evening Debates_, who was accused of a breach of privilege in
reporting the Debates (_Parl. Hist_. xvii. 155). Townshend in the same
year refused to pay the land-tax, on the plea that his county
(Middlesex) was no longer represented, as Wilkes's election had been
annulled (_Walpole's Letters_, v. 348). Bull in the House of Commons
violently attacked Lord North's ministry (_Parl. Hist_. xix. 980).
Sawbridge, year after year, brought into Parliament a bill for
shortening the duration of parliaments. During his Mayoralty he would
not suffer the pressgangs to enter the city. (Walpole's _Journal of the
Reign of George III_, ii. 84.)

Among the Aldermen the Court-party had a majority. In April 1769
Wilkes's eligibility for election as an Alderman was not allowed by a
majority of ten to six (Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_,
iii. 360, and _Ann. Reg_. xii. 92). On his release from prison in April
1770 he was, however, admitted without a division (_ib_. xiii. 99).
When, in March 1770, the City presented an outspoken remonstrance to the
King, sixteen Aldermen protested against it (Walpole's _Letters_, v.
229). About this time there arose a great division in the popular party
in the City. According to Lord Albemarle, in his _Memoirs of
Rockingham_, ii. 209, from the period of this struggle 'the Whigs and
what are now called Radicals became two distinct sections of the Liberal
party.' Townshend, who in this followed the lead of Lord Shelburne,
headed the more moderate men against Wilkes. The result was that in 1771
each section running a candidate for the Mayoralty, a third man, Nash,
who was opposed to both, was returned (Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign
of George III_, iv. 345, and _Ann. Reg_. xiv. 146).

The Livery, for a time at least, was Wilkite. Wilkes's name was sent up
as Lord Mayor at the top of the list in 1772 and 1773, but he was in
each case passed over by the Court of Aldermen. It was not till 1774
that he was elected by a kind of 'Hobson's choice.' The Aldermen had to
choose between him and the retiring Lord Mayor, Bull. Walpole, writing
of Nov. 1776, says the new Lord Mayor 'invited the Ministers to his
feast, to which they had not been asked for seven years' (_Journal of
the Reign of George III_, ii. 84). See Boswell's _Hebrides_, _post_, v.


(Page 368.)

In September of this year (1778) Miss Burney records the following
conversation at Streatham:--'MRS. THRALE. "Pray, Sir, how does Mrs.
Williams like all this tribe?" DR. J. "Madam, she does not like them at
all; but their fondness for her is not greater. She and Desmoulins
quarrel incessantly; but as they can both be occasionally of service to
each other, and as neither of them have any other place to go to, their
animosity does not force them to separate." ... MR. T. "And pray who is
clerk of your kitchen, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, Sir, I am afraid there is
none; a general anarchy prevails in my kitchen, as I am told by Mr.
Levett, who says it is not now what it used to be." MRS. T. "Mr. Levett,
I suppose, Sir, has the office of keeping the hospital in health, for he
is an apothecary." DR. J. "Levett, Madam, is a brutal fellow, but I have
a good regard for him; for his brutality is in his manners, not his
mind." MR. T. "But how do you get your dinners drest?" DR. J. "Why,
Desmoulins has the chief management of the kitchen; but our roasting is
not magnificent, for we have no jack." MR. T. "No jack! Why, how do they
manage without?" DR. J. "Small joints, I believe, they manage with a
string, and larger are done at the tavern. I have some thoughts (with a
profound gravity) of buying a jack, because I think a jack is some
credit to a house." MR. T. "Well, but you'll have a spit too." DR. J.
"No, Sir, no; that would be superfluous; for we shall never use it; and
if a jack is seen, a spit will be presumed." MRS. T. "But pray, Sir, who
is the Poll you talk of? She that you used to abet in her quarrels with
Mrs. Williams, and call out, _At her again, Poll! Never flinch, Poll!_"
DR. J. "Why, I took to Poll very well at first, but she won't do upon a
nearer examination." MRS. T. "How came she among you, Sir?" DR. J. "Why,
I don't rightly remember, but we could spare her very well from us. Poll
is a stupid slut. I had some hopes of her at first; but when I talked to
her tightly and closely, I could make nothing of her; she was wiggle
waggle, and I could never persuade her to be categorical."' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary,_ i. 114.

More than a year later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Discord keeps her
residence in this habitation, but she has for some time been silent. We
have much malice, but no mischief. Levett is rather a friend to
Williams, because he hates Desmoulins more. A thing that he should hate
more than Desmoulins is not to be found.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 80. Mrs.
Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 213) says:--'He really was oftentimes afraid of going
home, because he was so sure to be met at the door with numberless
complaints; and he used to lament pathetically to me that they made his
life miserable from the impossibility he found of making theirs happy,
when every favour he bestowed on one was wormwood to the rest. If,
however, I ventured to blame their ingratitude, and condemn their
conduct, he would instantly set about softening the one and justifying
the other; and finished commonly by telling me, that I knew not how to
make allowances for situations I never experienced.' Hawkins (_Life_, p.
404) says:--'Almost throughout Johnson's life poverty and distressed
circumstances seemed to be the strongest of all recommendations to his
favour. When asked by one of his most intimate friends, how he could
bear to be surrounded by such necessitous and undeserving people as he
had about him, his answer was, "If I did not assist them, no one else
would, and they must be lost for want."' 'His humanity and generosity,
in proportion to his slender income, were,' writes Murphy (_Life_, p.
146), 'unbounded. It has been truly said that the lame, the blind, and
the sorrowful found in his house a sure retreat.' See also _ante_, iii.
222. At the same time it must be remembered that while Mrs. Desmoulins
and Miss Carmichael only brought trouble into the house, in the society
of Mrs. Williams and Levett he had real pleasure. See _ante_, i. 232,
note 1, and 243, note 3.

       *       *       *       *       *



(_Page 370, note i_.)


'Agli Illustrissimi Signori Il Presidente e Consiglieri dell' Academia
Reale delle arti in Londra.

'Avreste forse illustrissimi Signori potuto scegliere molte persone piu
degne dell' ufficcio di Segretario per la corrispondenza straniera; ma
non sarebbe, son certo, stato possibile di trovar alcuno dal quale
questa distinzione sarebbe stata piu stimata. Sento con un animo molto
riconoscente la parzialitá che l'Academia a ben voluto mostrar per me; e
mi conto felicissimo che la mia elezione sia stata graziosamente
confirmata dalla sua Maestá lo stesso Sovrano che a fondato l'Academia,
e che si é sempre mostrato il suo beneficente Protettore.

'Vi prego, Signori, di credere que porro ogni mio studio a contribuire
tanto che potro alia prosperita della nostra instituzione ch' é gia
arrivata ad un punto si rispettevole.

'Ho l'onore d'essere,
'Illustrissimi Signori,
'Vostro umilissimo,
'e divotissimo servo,
'Giacomo Boswell.'
'31 d'Ottobre, 1791.'


'A Messieurs Le President et les autres Membres du Conseil de l'Academie
Royale des Arts à Londres.


'C'est avec la plus vive reconnoissance que J'accepte la charge de
Secretaire pour la Correspondence etrangêre de votre Academie á laquelle
J'ai eu l'honneur d'etre choisi par vos suffrages unanimes gracieusement
confirmés par sa Majesté.

'Ce choix spontané Messieurs me flatte beaucoup; et m'inspire des desirs
les plus ardens de m'en montrer digne, au moins par la promptitude avec
laquelle Je saisirai toute occasion de faire ce que Je pourrai pour
contribuer á l'avantage des Arts et la celebrité de l'Academie.

'J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec toute la consideration possible,


'Votre serviteur tres obligé tres humble et tres fidel,
'A Londres,
'ce 31 d'Octobre, 1791'

[In this letter I have made no attempt to correct Boswell's errors.]


'To the President and Council of The Royal Academy of Arts in London.


'Your unsolicited and unanimous election of me to be Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence to your Academy, and the gracious confirmation of
my election by his Majesty, I acknowledge with the warmest sentiments of
gratitude and respect.

'I have always loved the Arts, and during my travels on the Continent I
did not neglect the opportunities which I had of cultivating a taste for
them.[1372] That taste I trust will now be much improved, when I shall
be so happy as to share in the advantages which the Royal Academy
affords; and I fondly embrace this very pleasing distinction as giving
me the means of providing additional solace for the future years of my

'Be assured, Gentlemen, that as I am proud to be a member of an Academy
which has the peculiar felicity of not being at all dependant on a
Minister[1373], but under the immediate patronage and superintendence of
the Sovereign himself, I shall be zealous to do every thing in my power
that can be of any service to our excellent Institution.

'I have the honour to be,


'Your much obliged

'And faithful humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.'



'I am much obliged to you for the very polite terms in which you have
been pleased to communicate to me my election to be Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and I
request that you will lay before the President and Council the enclosed
letters signifying my acceptance of that office.

'I am with great regard,


'Your most obedient humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.

'To John Richards, Esq., R.A. &c.'

Bennet Langton's letter of acceptance of the Professorship of Ancient
Literature in the place of Johnson is dated April 2, 1788.

I must express my acknowledgments to the President and Council of the
Royal Academy for their kindness in allowing me to copy the above
letters from the originals that are in their possession.


[1] See ante, March 15, 1776.

[2] _Anecdotes of Johnson_, p. 176. BOSWELL. 'It is,' he said, 'so
_very_ difficult for a sick man not to be a scoundrel.' Ib. p. 175.
He called Fludyer a scoundrel (_ante_, March 20, 1776), apparently
because he became a Whig. 'He used to say a man was a scoundrel that was
afraid of anything. "Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve
o'clock is," he said, "a scoundrel."' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 199,
211. Mr. Croker points out that 'Johnson in his _Dictionary_ defined
_knave_, a scoundrel; _sneakup_, a scoundrel; _rascal_, a scoundrel;
_loon_, a scoundrel; _lout_, a scoundrel; _poltroon_, a scoundrel; and
that he coined the word _scoundrelism_' (Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25,
1773). Churchill, in _The Ghost_, Book ii. (_Poems_, i. 1. 217),
describes Johnson as one

'Who makes each sentence current pass,
With _puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass_.'

Swift liked the word. 'God forbid,' he wrote, 'that ever such a
scoundrel as Want should dare to approach you.' Swift's _Works_, ed.
1803, xviii. 39.

[3] See _ante_, i. 49, for Johnson's fondness for the old romances.

[4] Boswell, _ante_, i. 386, implies that Sheridan's pension was partly
due to Wedderburne's influence.

[5] See _ante_, i. 386.

[6] Akenside, in his _Ode to Townshend_ (Book ii. 4), says:--

'For not imprudent of my loss to come,
I saw from Contemplation's quiet cell
His feet ascending to another home,
Where public praise and envied greatness dwell.'

He had, however, no misgivings, for he thus ends:--

'Then for the guerdon of my lay,
This man with faithful friendship, will I say,
From youth to honoured age my arts and me hath viewed.'

[7] We have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read
now 'which is a great extension.' _Post_, April 29, 1778.

[8] See _post_, April, 28, 1783.

[9] See _post_, March 22, 1783.

[10] See _post_, March 18, 1784.

[11] Newbery, the publisher, was the vendor of Dr. James's famous
powder. It was known that on the doctor's death a chemist whom he had
employed meant to try to steal the business, under the pretence that
he alone knew the secret of the preparation. A supply of powders enough
to last for many years was laid in by Newbery in anticipation, while
James left an affidavit that the chemist was never employed in the
manufacture. He, however, asserted that James was deprived of his mental
faculties when the affidavit was made. Evidence against this was
collected and published; the conclusion to the Preface being written by
Johnson. _A Bookseller of the Last Century_, p. 138. See _ante_, i.

[12] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on the birth of a second son who died
early:--'I congratulate you upon your boy; but you must not think that I
shall love him all at once as well as I love Harry, for Harry you know
is so rational. I shall love him by degrees.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 206.
A week after Harry's death he wrote:--'I loved him as I never expect to
love any other little boy; but I could not love him as a parent.' _Ib_.
p. 310.

[13] Johnson had known this anxiety. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale from
Ashbourne on July 7, 1775:--'I cannot think why I hear nothing from you.
I hope and fear about my dear friends at Streatham. But I may have a
letter this afternoon--Sure it will bring me no bad news.' _Ib_. i. 263.
See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 21, 1773.

[14] See _ante_, ii. 75.

[15] _ante_, April 10, 1775.

[16] See _ante_, March 21, 1776, and _post_, Sept. 19, 1777.

[17] The phrase 'vexing thoughts,' is I think, very expressive. It has
been familiar to me from my childhood; for it is to be found in the
_Psalms in Metre_, used in the churches (I believe I should say _kirks_)
of Scotland, _Psal_. xliii. v. 5;

'Why art thou then cast down, my soul?
  What should discourage thee?
And why with _vexing thoughts art_ thou
  Disquieted in me?'

Some allowance must no doubt be made for early prepossession. But at a
maturer period of life, after looking at various metrical versions of
the _Psalms_, I am well satisfied that the version used in Scotland is,
upon the whole, the best; and that it has in general a simplicity and
_unction_ of sacred Poesy; and in many parts its transfusion is
admirable. BOSWELL.

[18] 'Burke and Reynolds are the same one day as another,' Johnson said,
_post_, under Sept. 22, 1777. Boswell celebrates Reynolds's 'equal and
placid temper,' _ante_, i. I. On Aug. 12, 1775, he wrote to Temple:--'It
is absurd to hope for continual happiness in this life; few men, if any,
enjoy it. I have a kind of belief that Edmund Burke does; he has so much
knowledge, so much animation, and the consciousness of so much fame.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 212.

[19] _ante_, i. 446.

[20] Baretti says, that 'Mrs. Thrale abruptly proposed to start for Bath,
as wishing to avoid the sight of the funeral. She had no man-friend to
go with her,' and so he offered his services. Johnson at that moment
arrived. 'I expected that he would spare me the jaunt, and go himself to
Bath with her; but he made no motion to that effect.' _European Mag_.
xiii. 315. It was on the evening of the 29th that Boswell found Johnson,
as he thought, not in very good humour. Yet on the 30th he wrote to Mrs.
Thrale, and called on Mr. Thrale. On April 1 and April 4 he again wrote
to Mrs. Thrale. He would have gone a second time, he says, to see Mr.
Thrale, had he not been made to understand that when he was wanted he
would be sent for. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 309-314.

[21] Pope, _Essay on Man_, iv. 390. Boswell twice more applies the same
line to Johnson, post, June 3, 1781, and under Dec. 13, 1784.

[22] Imlac consoles the Princess for the loss of Pekuah. 'When the
clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can
imagine how they will be dispelled; yet a new day succeeded to the
night, and sorrow is never long without a dawn of ease. But they who
restrain themselves from receiving comfort do as the savages would have
done, had they put out their eyes when it was dark.' _Rasselas_, ch. 35.
'Keep yourself busy,' wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'and you will in
time grow cheerful. New prospects may open, and new enjoyments may come
within your reach.' _Piozzi Letters_.

[23] See _ante_, i. 86. It was reprinted in 1789.

[24] See Boswell's _Hebrides_ under Nov. 11, 1773.

[25] See _post_, under April 29, 1776.

[26] In like manner he writes, 'I catched for the moment an enthusiasm
with respect to visiting the Wall of China.' _post_ April 10, 1778.
Johnson had had some desire to go upon Cook's expedition in 1772.
_ante_, March 21, 1772.

[27] Mme. D'Arblay (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i. 284) describes 'the
perfect case with which Omai managed a sword which he had received from
the King, and which he had that day put on for the first time in order
to go to the House of Lords.' He is the 'gentle savage' in Cowpers
_Task_, i. 632.

[28] See ante, ii. 50.

[29] Voltaire (_Siècle de Louis XV_, ch. xv.), in his account of the
battle of Fontenoy, thus mentions him:--'On était à cinquante pas de
distance.... Les officiers anglais saluèrent les Français en ôtant leurs
chapeaux.... Les officiers des gardes françaises leur rendirent le
salut, Mylord Charles Hay, capitaine aux gardes anglaises,
cria:--_Messieurs des gardes françaises, tirez_. Le comte d'Auteroche
leur dit a voix haute:--_Messieurs, nous ne tirons jamais les premiers;
tirez vous-mêmes_.'

[30] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_. Hay was third in
command in the expedition to North America in 1757. It was reported that
he said that 'the nation's wealth was expended in making sham-fights and
planting cabbages.' He was put under arrest and sent home to be tried.
_Gent. Mag_. 1758, p. 170. Mr. Croker says that 'the real state of the
case was that he had gone mad, and was in that state sent home.' He died
before the sentence of the court-martial was promulgated. Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 497.

[31] In _Thoughts on the Coronation of George III_ (_Works_, v. 458) he
expressed himself differently, if indeed the passage is of his writing
(see _ante_, i. 361). He says: 'It cannot but offend every Englishman to
see troops of soldiers placed between him and his sovereign, as if they
were the most honourable of the people, or the King required guards to
secure his person from his subjects. As their station makes them think
themselves important, their insolence is always such as may be expected
from servile authority.' In his _Journey to the Hebrides_ (_ib_. ix. 30)
he speaks of 'that courtesy which is so closely connected with the
military character.' See _post_, April 10, 1778.

[32] 'It is not in the power even of God to make a polite
soldier.' Meander; quoted by Hume, _Essays_, Part i. 20, note.

[33] In Johnson's Debates for 1741 (_Works_, x. 387) is on the
quartering of soldiers. By the Mutiny Act the innkeeper was required to
find each foot-soldier lodging, diet, and small beer for fourpence a
day. By the Act as amended that year if he furnished salt, vinegar,
small-beer, candles, fire, and utensils to dress their victuals, without
payment, he had not to supply diet except on a march. _Ib_. pp. 416,
420. The allowance of small-beer was fixed at five pints a day, though
it was maintained that it should be six. Lord Baltimore, according to
Johnson, said that 'as every gentleman's servants each consumed daily
six pints, it surely is not to be required that a soldier should live in
a perpetual state of warfare with his constitution.' _Ib_. p. 418.
Burke, writing in 1794, says:--'In quarters the innkeepers are obliged
to find for the soldiers lodging, fire, candle-light, small-beer, salt
and vinegar gratis.' Burke's _Corres_. iv. 258. Johnson wrote in 1758
(_Works_, vi. 150):--'The manner in which the soldiers are dispersed in
quarters over the country during times of peace naturally produces
laxity of discipline; they are very little in sight of their officers;
and when they are not engaged in the slight duty of the guard are
suffered to live every man his own way.' Fielding, in _Tom Jones_, bk.
ix. ch. 6, humourously describes an innkeeper's grievances.

[34] This alludes to the pleadings of a Stoic and an Epicurean for and
against the existence of the Divinity in Lucian's _Jupiter the Tragic_.

[35] 'There is a time when every man is weary of raising difficulties
only to ask himself with the solution and desires to enjoy truth without
the labour or hazard of contest.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 497. See _ante_
May 7, 1773, and _post_, April 3, 1779, where he says, 'Sir, you are to
a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe.'
Hume, in his Essay _Of Parties in General_, had written:--'Such is the
nature of the human mind, that it always takes hold of every mind that
approaches it; and as it is wonderfully fortified and corroborated by
an unanimity of sentiments, so is it, shocked and disturbed by any
contrariety.' 'Carlyle was fond of quoting a sentence of Novalis:--"My
conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in
it."' _Saturday Review_, No. 1538, p. 521. 'The introducing of new
doctrines,' said Bacon, 'is an affectation of tyranny over the
understandings and beliefs of men.' Bacon's _Nat. Hist_., Experiment

[36] 'We must own,' said Johnson, 'that neither a dull boy, nor an idle
boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 22, 1773. See _ante_, under Dec. 5, 1775. On June 16,
1784, he said of a very timid boy:--'Placing him at a public school is
forcing an owl upon day.' Lord Shelburne says that the first Pitt told
him 'that his reason for preferring private to public education was,
that he scarce observed a boy who was not cowed for life at Eton; that a
public school might suit a boy of a turbulent forward disposition, but
would not do where there was any gentleness.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_,
i. 72.

[37] 'There are,' wrote Hume in 1767, 'several advantages of a Scots
education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not
counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English.' He
decides it does. He continues:--'The only inconvenience is, that few
Scotsmen that have had an English education have ever settled cordially
in their own country; and they have been commonly lost ever after to
their friends.' J.H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 403.

[38] He wrote to Temple on Nov. 28, 1789:--'My eldest son has been at
Eton since the 15th of October. You cannot imagine how miserable he has
been; he wrote to me for some time as if from the galleys, and
intreated me to come to him.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 314. On July 21,
1790, he wrote of his second son who was at home ill:--'I am in great
concern what should be done with him, for he is so oppressed at
Westminster School by the big boys that I am almost afraid to send him
thither.' _Ib_. p. 327. On April 6, 1791, he wrote:--'Your little friend
James is quite reconciled to Westminster.' _Ib_. p. 337. Southey, who
was at Westminster with young Boswell, describes 'the capricious and
dangerous tyranny' under which he himself had suffered. Southey's
_Life_, i. 138.

[39] Horace, Satires, i. 6. 65-88.

[40] Dr. Adam Smith, who was for some time a Professor in the
University of Glasgow, has uttered, in his _Wealth of Nations_ [v. I,
iii. 2], some reflections upon this subject which are certainly not well
founded, and seem to be invidious. BOSWELL.

[41] See _ante,_ ii. 98.

[42] Gibbon denied this. 'The diligence of the tutors is voluntary, and
will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their
parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change,' _Misc.
Works_, i. 54. Of one of his tutors he wrote:--'He well remembered that
he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to
perform.' _Ib_. p. 58. Boswell, _post_, end of Nov. 1784, blames Dr.
Knox for 'ungraciously attacking his venerable _Alma Mater_.' Knox, who
was a Fellow of St. John's, left Oxford in 1778. In his _Liberal
Education_, published in 1781, he wrote:--'I saw immorality, habitual
drunkenness, idleness and ignorance, boastingly obtruding themselves on
public view.' Knox's _Works_, iv. 138. 'The general tendency of the
universities is favourable to the diffusion of ignorance, idleness,
vice, and infidelity among young men.' _Ib_. p. 147. 'In no part of the
kingdom will you meet with more licentious practices and sentiments, and
with less learning than in some colleges.' _Ib_. p. 179. 'The tutors
give what are called lectures. The boys construe a classic, the jolly
young tutor lolls in his elbow-chair, and seldom gives himself the
trouble of interrupting the greatest dunce.' _Ib_. p. 199. 'Some
societies would have been glad to shut themselves up by themselves, and
enjoy the good things of the cook and manciple, without the intrusion of
commoners who come for education.' _Ib_. p. 200. 'The principal thing
required is external respect from the juniors. However ignorant or
unworthy a senior fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated
as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty.' _Ib_. p. 201.
The Proctors gave far 'more frequent reprimands to the want of a band,
or to the hair tied in queue, than to important irregularities. A man
might be a drunkard, a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's
animadversion; but no virtue could protect you if you walked on
Christ-church meadow or the High Street with a band tied too low, or
with no band at all; with a pig-tail, or with a green or scarlet coat.'
_Ib_. p. 159. Only thirteen weeks' residence a year was required. _Ib_.
p. 172. The degree was conferred without examination. _Ib_. p. 189.
After taking it 'a man offers himself as a candidate for orders. He is
examined by the Bishop's chaplain. He construes a few verses in the
Greek testament, and translates one of the articles from Latin into
English. His testimonial being received he comes from his jolly
companions to the care of a large parish.' _Ib_. p. 197. Bishop Law gave
in 1781 a different account of Cambridge. There, he complains, such was
the devotion to mathematics, that 'young men often sacrifice their whole
stock of strength and spirits, and so entirely devote most of their
first few years to what is called _taking a good degree_, as to be
hardly good for anything else.' Preface to Archbishop King's _Essay on
the Origin of Evil_, p. xx.

[43] According to Adam Smith this is true only of the Protestant
countries. In Roman Catholic countries and England where benefices are
rich, the church is continually draining the universities of all their
ablest members. In Scotland and Protestant countries abroad, where a
chair in a university is generally a better establishment than a
benefice, by far the greater part of the most eminent men of letters
have been professors. _Wealth of Nations_, v. i. iii. 3.

[44] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17, 1773.

[45] Dr. Goldsmith was dead before Mr. Maclaurin discovered the
ludicrous errour. But Mr. Nourse, the bookseller, who was the proprietor
of the work, upon being applied to by Sir John Pringle, agreed very
handsomely to have the leaf on which it was contained cancelled, and
re-printed without it, at his own expence. BOSWELL. In the second
edition, published five years after Goldsmith's death, the story
remains. In a foot-note the editor says, that 'he has been credibly
informed that the professor had not the defect here mentioned.' The
story is not quite as Boswell tells it. 'Maclaurin,' writes Goldsmith
(ii. 91), 'was very subject to have his jaw dislocated; so that when he
opened his mouth wider than ordinary, or when he yawned, he could not
shut it again. In the midst of his harangues, therefore, if any of his
pupils began to be tired of his lecture, he had only to gape or yawn,
and the professor instantly caught the sympathetic affection; so that he
thus continued to stand speechless, with his mouth wide open, till his
servant, from the next room, was called in to set his jaw again.'

[46] Dr. Shebbeare (_post_, April 18, 1778) was tried for writing a
libellous pamphlet. Horace Walpole says:--'The bitterest parts of the
work were a satire on William III and George I. The most remarkable part
of this trial was the Chief Justice Mansfield laying down for law that
satires even on dead Kings were punishable. Adieu! veracity and history,
if the King's bench is to appreciate your expressions!' _Memoirs of the
Reign of George II_, iii. 153.

[47] What Dr. Johnson has here said, is undoubtedly good sense; yet I am
afraid that law, though defined by _Lord Coke_ 'the perfection of
reason,' is not altogether _with him_; for it is held in the books, that
an attack on the reputation even of a dead man, may be punished as a
libel, because tending to a breach of the peace. There is, however, I
believe, no modern decided case to that effect. In the King's Bench,
Trinity Term, 1790, the question occurred on occasion of an indictment,
_The King_ v. _Topham_, who, as a _proprietor_ of a news-paper entitled
_The World_, was found guilty of a libel against Earl Cowper, deceased,
because certain injurious charges against his Lordship were published in
that paper. An arrest of Judgment having been moved for, the case was
afterwards solemnly argued. My friend Mr. Const, whom I delight in
having an opportunity to praise, not only for his abilities but his
manners; a gentleman whose ancient German blood has been mellowed in
England, and who may be truely said to unite the _Baron_ and the
_Barrister_, was one of the Counsel for Mr. Topham. He displayed much
learning and ingenuity upon the general question; which, however, was
not decided, as the Court granted an arrest chiefly on the informality
of the indictment. No man has a higher reverence for the law of England
than I have; but, with all deference I cannot help thinking, that
prosecution by indictment, if a defendant is never to be allowed to
justify, must often be very oppressive, unless Juries, whom I am more
and more confirmed in holding to be judges of law as well as of fact,
resolutely interpose. Of late an act of Parliament has passed
declaratory of their full right to one as well as the other, in matter
of libel; and the bill having been brought in by a popular gentleman,
many of his party have in most extravagant terms declaimed on the
wonderful acquisition to the liberty of the press. For my own part I
ever was clearly of opinion that this right was inherent in the very
constitution of a Jury, and indeed in sense and reason inseparable from
their important function. To establish it, therefore, by Statute, is, I
think, narrowing its foundation, which is the broad and deep basis of
Common Law. Would it not rather weaken the right of primo-geniture, or
any other old and universally-acknowledged right, should the legislature
pass an act in favour of it? In my _Letter to the People of Scotland,
against diminishing the number of the Lords of Session_, published in
1785, there is the following passage, which, as a concise, and I hope a
fair and rational state of the matter, I presume to quote: 'The Juries
of England are Judges of _law_ as well as of fact, in _many civil_, and
in all _criminals_ trials. That my principles of _resistance_ may not be
misapprehended and more than my principles of _submission_, I protest
that I should be the last man in the world to encourage Juries to
contradict rashly, wantonly, or perversely, the opinion of the Judges.
On the contrary, I would have them listen respectfully to the advise
they receive from the Bench, by which they may be often well directed in
forming _their own opinion_; which, "and not anothers," is the opinion
they are to return _upon their oaths_. But where, after due attention to
all that the judge has said, they are decidedly of a different opinion
from him, they have not only a _power and a right_, but they are _bound
in conscience_ to bring in a verdict accordingly.' BOWELL. _The World_
is described by Gifford in his _Baviad and Marviad_, as a paper set up
by 'a knot of fantastic coxcombs to direct the taste of the town.'
Lowndes (_Bibl. Man_. ed. 1871, p. 2994) confounds it with _The World_
mentioned _ante_, i. 257. The 'popular gentleman' was Fox, whose Libel
Bill passed the House of Lords in June 1792. _Parl. Hist_. xxix. 1537.

[48] Nobody, that is to say, but Johnson. _Post_, p. 24, note 2.

[49] Of this service Johnson recorded:--'In the morning I had at church
some radiations of comfort.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 146.

[50] Baretti, in a marginal note on _Piozzi Letters_, i. 311, says:--
'Mr. Thrale, who was a worldly man, and followed the direction of his
own feelings with no philosophical or Christian distinctions, having
now lost the strong hope of being one day succeeded in the profitable
Brewery by the only son he had left, gave himself silently up to his
grief, and fell in a few years a victim to it.' In a second note (ii.
22) he says:--'The poor man could never subdue his grief on account of
his son's death.'

[51] A gentleman, who from his extraordinary stores of knowledge, has
been stiled _omniscient_. Johnson, I think very properly, altered it to
all-knowing, as it is a _verbum solenne_, appropriated to the Supreme

[52] Mrs. Thrale wrote to him on May 3:--'Should you write about
Streatham and Croydon, the book would be as good to me as a journey to
Rome, exactly; for 'tis Johnson, not _Falkland's Islands_ that interest
us, and your style is invariably the same. The sight of Rome might have
excited more reflections indeed than the sight of the Hebrides, and so
the book might be bigger, but it would not be better a jot.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i 318.

[53] Hawkins says (_Life_, p. 84) that 'Johnson was never greedy of
money, but without money could not be stimulated to write. I have been
told by a clergyman with whom he had been long acquainted, that, being
(sic) to preach on a particular occasion, he applied to him for help. "I
will write a sermon for thee," said Johnson, "but thou must pay me for
it."' See _post_, May 1, 1783. Horace Walpole (_Letters_, viii. 150)
records an anecdote that he had from Hawkins:--'When Dr. Johnson was at
his work on his _Shakespeare_, Sir John said to him, "Well! Doctor, now
you have finished your _Dictionary_, I suppose you will labour your
present work _con amore_ for your reputation." "No Sir," said Johnson,
"nothing excites a man to write but necessity."' Walpole then relates
the anecdote of the clergyman, and speaks of Johnson as 'the mercenary.'
Walpole's sinecure offices thirty-nine years before this time brought
him in 'near, £2000 a year.' In 1782 he wrote that his office of Usher
of the Exchequer was worth £1800 a year. _Letters_, i. lxxix, lxxxii.

[54] Swift wrote in 1735, when he was sixty-seven:--'I never got a
farthing by anything I writ, except one about eight years ago, and that
was by Mr. Pope's prudent management for me.' _Works_, xix. 171. It was,
I conjecture, _Gulliver's Travels_. Hume, in 1757, wrote:--'I am writing
the _History of England_ from the accession of Henry VII. I undertook
this work because I was tired of idleness, and found reading alone,
after I had often perused all good books (which I think is soon done),
somewhat a languid occupation.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 33.

[55] This Mr. Ellis was, I believe, the last of that profession called
_Scriveners_, which is one of the London companies, but of which the
business is no longer carried on separately, but is transacted by
attornies and others. He was a man of literature and talents. He was the
authour of a Hudibrastick version of Maphæsus's _Canto_, in addition to
the _Æneid_; of some poems in Dodsley's _Collections_; and various other
small pieces; but being a very modest man, never put his name to
anything. He shewed me a translation which he had made of Ovid's
_Epistles_, very prettily done. There is a good engraved portrait of him
by Pether, from a picture by Fry, which hangs in the hall of the
Scriveners' company. I visited him October 4, 1790, in his ninety-third
year, and found his judgment distinct and clear, and his memory, though
faded so as to fail him occasionally, yet, as he assured me, and I
indeed perceived, able to serve him very well, after a little
recollection. It was agreeable to observe, that he was free from the
discontent and fretfulness which too often molest old age. He in the
summer of that year walked to Rotherhithe, where he dined, and walked
home in the evening. He died on the 31st of December, 1791. BOSWELL. The
version of Maphæsus's 'bombastic' additional _Canto_ is advertised in
the _Gent. Mag_. 1758, p. 233. The engraver of Mr. Ellis's portrait in
the first two editions is called Peffer.

[56] 'Admiral Walsingham boasted that he had entertained more
miscellaneous parties than any other man in London. At one time he had
received the Duke of Cumberland, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Nairne the optician,
and Leoni the singer. It was at his table that Dr. Johnson made that
excellent reply to a pert coxcomb who baited him during dinner. "Pray
now," said he to the Doctor, "what would you give, old gentleman, to be
as young and sprightly as I am?" "Why, Sir, I think," replied Johnson,
"I would almost be content to be as foolish."' Cradock's _Memoirs_, i.

[57] 'Dr. Johnson almost always prefers the company of an intelligent
man of the world to that of a scholar.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 241.

[58] See J.H. Burton's _Hume_, i. 174, for an account of him.

[59] Lord Macartney, who with his other distinguished qualities, is
remarkable also for an elegant pleasantry, told me, that he met Johnson
at Lady Craven's, and that he seemed jealous of any interference: 'So,
(said his Lordship, smiling,) _I kept back_.' BOSWELL.

[60] See _ante_, i. 242.

[61] There is an account of him in Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson.
BOSWELL. Hawkins (Life, p. 246) records the following sarcasm of Ballow.
In a coffee-house he attacked the profession of physic, which Akenside,
who was a physician as well as poet, defended. 'Doctor,' said Ballow,
'after all you have said, my opinion of the profession of physic is
this. The ancients endeavoured to make it a science, and failed; and the
moderns to make it a trade, and have succeeded.'

[62] See _ante_, i. 274.

[63] I have in vain endeavoured to find out what parts Johnson wrote
for Dr. James. Perhaps medical men may. BOSWELL. See _ante_, i. 159.
Johnson, needing medicine at Montrose, 'wrote the prescription in
technical characters.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.

[64] Horace Walpole, writing of May in this year, says that General
Smith, an adventurer from the East Indies, who was taken off by Foote in
_The Nabob_, 'being excluded from the fashionable club of young men of
quality at Almack's, had, with a set of sharpers, formed a plan for a
new club, which, by the excess of play, should draw all the young
extravagants thither. They built a magnificent house in St.
James's-street, and furnished it gorgeously.' _Journal of the Reign of
George III_, ii. 39.

[65] He said the same when in Scotland. Boswell's _Hebrides_, under Nov.
22, 1773. On the other hand, in _The Rambler_, No. 80, he wrote:--'It is
scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being
able, when we rise from it, to please ourselves with having given or
received some advantages; but a man may shuffle cards, or rattle dice,
from noon to midnight, without tracing any new idea in his mind, or
being able to recollect the day by any other token than his gain or
loss, and a confused remembrance of agitated passions, and clamorous

[66] 'Few reflect,' says Warburton, 'on what a great wit has so
ingenuously owned. That wit is generally false reasoning.' The wit was
Wycherley. See his letter xvi. to Pope in Pope's _Works_. Warburton's
_Divine Legation_, i. xii.

[67] 'Perhaps no man was ever more happy than Dr. Johnson in the
extempore and masterly defence of any cause which, at the given moment,
he chose to defend.' Stockdale's _Memoirs_, i. 261.

[68] Burke, in a letter that he wrote in 1771 (_Corres_. i. 330), must
have had in mind his talks with Johnson. 'Nay,' he said, 'it is not
uncommon, when men are got into debates, to take now one side, now
another, of a question, as the momentary humour of the man and the
occasion called for, with all the latitude that the antiquated freedom
and ease of English conversation among friends did, in former days,
encourage and excuse.' H.C. Robinson (_Diary_, iii. 485) says that Dr.
Burney 'spoke with great warmth of affection of Dr. Johnson, and said he
was the kindest creature in the world when he thought he was loved and
respected by others. He would play the fool among friends, but he
required deference. It was necessary to ask questions and make no
assertion. If you said two and two make four, he would say, 'How will
you prove that, Sir?' Dr. Burney seemed amiably sensitive to every
unfavourable remark on his old friend.

[69] Patrick Lord Elibank, who died in 1778. BOSWELL. See Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 12, 1773.

[70] Yet he said of him:--'Sir, there is nothing conclusive in his talk.'
See _post_, p. 57.

[71] Johnson records of this Good Friday:--'My design was to pass part
of the day in exercises of piety, but Mr. Boswell interrupted me; of
him, however, I could have rid myself; but poor Thrale, _orbus et
exspes_, came for comfort, and sat till seven, when we all went to
church.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 146.

[72] Johnson's entries at Easter shew this year, and some of the
following years, more peace of mind than hitherto. Thus this Easter he
records, 'I had at church some radiations of comfort.... When I
received, some tender images struck me. I was so mollified by the
concluding address to our Saviour that I could not utter it.' _Pr. and
Med_. pp. 146, 149. 'Easter-day, 1777, I was for some time much
distressed, but at last obtained, I hope from the God of peace, more
quiet than I have enjoyed for a long time. I had made no resolution, but
as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased.'
_Ib_. p. 158. 'Good Friday, 1778. I went with some confidence and
calmness through the prayers.' _Ib_. p. 164.

[73] '_Nunquam enim nisi navi plenâ tollo vectorem_.' Lib. ii. c. vi.

[74] See _ante_, i. 187.

[75] See _ante_, i. 232.

[76] See _ante_, ii, 219.

[77] Cheyne's _English Malady, or a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of All
Kinds_, 1733. He recommended a milk, seed, and vegetable diet; by seed
he apparently meant any kind of grain. He did not take meat. He drank
green tea. At one time he weighed thirty-two stones. His work shews the
great change in the use of fermented liquors since his time. Thus he
says:--'For nearly twenty years I continued sober, moderate, and plain
in my diet, and in my greatest health drank not above a quart, or three
pints at most of wine any day' (p. 235). 'For near one-half of the time
from thirty to sixty I scarce drank any strong liquor at all. It will be
found that upon the whole I drank very little above a pint of wine, or
at most not a quart one day with another, since I was near thirty'
(p. 243). Johnson a second time recommended Boswell to read this book,
_post_, July 2, 1776. See _ante_, i. 65. Boswell was not the man to
follow Cheyne's advice. Of one of his works Wesley says:--'It is one of
the most ingenious books which I ever saw. But what epicure will ever
regard it? for "the man talks against good eating and drinking."'
Wesley's _Journal_, i. 347. Young, in his _Epistles to Pope_, No. ii.

'--three ells round huge Cheyne
   rails at meat.'

Dr. J. H. Burton (_Life of Hume_, i. 45) shews reason for believing that
a very curious letter by Hume was written to Cheyne.

[78] '"Solitude," he said one day, "is dangerous to reason, without
being favourable to virtue; pleasures of some sort are necessary to the
intellectual as to the corporeal health; and those who resist gaiety
will be likely for the most part to fall a sacrifice to appetite; for
the solicitations of sense are always at hand, and a dram to a vacant
and solitary person is a speedy and seducing relief. Remember (continued
he) that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably
superstitious, and possibly mad."' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 106.

[79] The day before he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Mr. Thrale's alteration
of purpose is not weakness of resolution; it is a wise man's compliance
with the change of things, and with the new duties which the change
produces. Whoever expects me to be angry will be disappointed. I do not
even grieve at the effect, I grieve only at the cause.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 314. Mrs. Thrale on May 3 wrote:--'Baretti said you would
be very angry, because this dreadful event made us put off our Italian
journey, but I knew you better. Who knows even now that 'tis deferred
for ever? Mr. Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome,
and I am sure he will go no-where that he can help without you.' _Ib_.
p. 317.

[80] See _ante_, i. 346.

[81] See _post_, July 22, 1777, note, where Boswell complains of
children being 'suffered to poison the moments of festivity.'

[82] Boswell, _post_, under March 30, 1783, says, 'Johnson discovered a
love of little children upon all occasions.'

[83] Johnson at a later period thought otherwise. _Post_, March 30, 1778.

[84] Pope borrowed from the following lines:--

'When on my sick bed I languish,
Full of sorrow, full of anguish;
Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying,
Panting, groaning, speechless, dying--
Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say,
Be not fearful, come away.'

Campbell's _Brit. Poets_, p. 301.

[85] In Rochester's _Allusion to the Tenth Satire of the First Book of

[86] In the _Monthly Review_ for May, 1792, there is such a correction
of the above passage, as I should think myself very culpable not to
subjoin. 'This account is very inaccurate. The following statement of
facts we know to be true, in every material circumstance:--Shiels was
the principal collector and digester of the materials for the work: but
as he was very raw in authourship, an indifferent writer in prose, and
his language full of Scotticisms, Cibber, who was a clever, lively
fellow, and then soliciting employment among the booksellers, was
engaged to correct the style and diction of the whole work, then
intended to make only four volumes, with power to alter, expunge, or
add, as he liked. He was also to supply _notes_, occasionally,
especially concerning those dramatick poets with whom he had been
chiefly conversant. He also engaged to write several of the Lives;
which, (as we are told,) he, accordingly, performed. He was farther
useful in striking out the Jacobitical and Tory sentiments, which Shiels
had industriously interspersed wherever he could bring them in:--and, as
the success of the work appeared, after all, very doubtful, he was
content with twenty-one pounds for his labour beside a few sets of the
books, to disperse among his friends.--Shiels had nearly seventy pounds,
beside the advantage of many of the best Lives in the work being
communicated by friends to the undertaking; and for which Mr. Shiels had
the same consideration as for the rest, being paid by the sheet, for the
whole. He was, however, so angry with his Whiggish supervisor, (He, like
his father, being a violent stickler for the political principles which
prevailed in the Reign of George the Second,) for so unmercifully
mutilating his copy, and scouting his politicks, that he wrote Cibber a
challenge: but was prevented from sending it, by the publisher, who
fairly laughed him out of his fury. The proprietors, too, were
discontented, in the end, on account of Mr. Cibber's unexpected
industry; for his corrections and alterations in the proof-sheets were
so numerous and considerable, that the printer made for them a grievous
addition to his bill; and, in fine, all parties were dissatisfied. On
the whole, the work was productive of no profit to the undertakers, who
had agreed, in case of success, to make Cibber a present of some
addition to the twenty guineas which he had received, and for which his
receipt is now in the booksellers' hands. We are farther assured, that
he actually obtained an additional sum; when he, soon after, (in the
year 1758,) unfortunately embarked for Dublin, on an engagement for one
of the theatres there: but the ship was cast away, and every person on
board perished. There were about sixty passengers, among whom was the
Earl of Drogheda, with many other persons of consequence and property.
[_Gent. Mag_. 1758, p. 555.]

'As to the alledged design of making the compilement pass for the work
of old Mr. Cibber, the charges seem to have been founded on a somewhat
uncharitable construction. We are assured that the thought was not
harboured by some of the proprietors, who are still living; and we hope
that it did not occur to the first designer of the work, who was also
the printer of it, and who bore a respectable character.

'We have been induced to enter thus circumstantially into the foregoing
detail of facts relating to _The Lives of the Poets_, compiled by
Messrs. Cibber and Shiels, from a sincere regard to that sacred
principle of Truth, to which Dr. Johnson so rigidly adhered, according
to the best of his knowledge; and which we believe, _no consideration_
would have prevailed on him to violate. In regard to the matter, which
we now dismiss, he had, no doubt, been misled by partial and wrong
information: Shiels was the Doctor's amanuensis; he had quarrelled with
Cibber; it is natural to suppose that he told his story in his own way;
and it is certain that _he_ was not "a very sturdy moralist." [The
quotation is from Johnson's _Works_, ix. 116.] This explanation appears
to me very satisfactory. It is, however, to be observed, that the story
told by Johnson does not rest solely upon my record of his conversation;
for he himself has published it in his _Life of Hammond_ [_ib_. viii.
90], where he says, "the manuscript of Shiels is now in my possession."
Very probably he had trusted to Shiels's word, and never looked at it so
as to compare it with _The Lives of the Poets_, as published under Mr.
Cibber's name. What became of that manuscript I know not. I should have
liked much to examine it. I suppose it was thrown into the fire in that
impetuous combustion of papers, which Johnson I think rashly executed,
when _moribundus_.' BOSWELL. Mr. Croker, quoting a letter by Griffiths
the publisher, says:--'The question is now decided by this letter in
opposition to Dr. Johnson's assertion.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 818. The
evidence of such an infamous fellow as Griffiths is worthless. (For his
character see Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 161.) As the _Monthly Review_
was his property, the passage quoted by Boswell was, no doubt, written
by his direction. D'Israeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, vi.
375) says that Oldys (_ante_, i. 175) made annotations on a copy of
Langbaine's _Dramatic Poets_. 'This _Langbaine_, with additions by
Coxeter, was bought by Theophilus Cibber; on the strength of these notes
he prefixed his name to the first collection of the _Lives of Our
Poets_, written chiefly by Shiels.'

[87] Mason's _Memoirs of Gray's Life_ was published in 1775. Johnson, in
his _Life of Gray_ (_Works_, viii. 476), praises Gray's portion of the
book:--'They [Gray and Horace Walpole] wandered through France into
Italy; and Gray's _Letters_ contain a very pleasing account of many
parts of their journey.' 'The style of Madame de Sévigné,' wrote
Mackintosh (_Life_, ii. 221), 'is evidently copied, not only by her
worshipper Walpole, but even by Gray; notwithstanding the extraordinary
merits of his matter, he has the double stiffness of an imitator and of
a college recluse.'

[88] See ante, ii. 164.

[89] This impartiality is very unlikely. In 1757 Griffiths, the owner of
the _Monthly_, aiming a blow at Smollett, the editor of the _Critical_,
said that _The Monthly Review_ was not written by 'physicians without
practice, authors without learning, men without decency, gentlemen
without manners, and critics without judgement.' Smollett retorted:--
'_The Critical Review_ is not written by a parcel of obscure hirelings,
under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who presume to revise,
alter, and amend the articles occasionally. The principal writers in the
_Critical Review_ are unconnected with booksellers, un-awed by old women,
and independent of each other.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 100. 'A fourth
share in _The Monthly Review_ was sold in 1761 for £755.' _A Bookseller
of the Last Century_, p. 19.

[90] See ante, ii. 39.

[91] Horace Walpole writes:--'The scope of the _Critical Review_ was to
decry any work that appeared favourable to the principles of the
Revolution.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George II_, iii. 260.

[92] 'The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole book was
printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four
or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression; but the
charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expense of the
author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him at least a
thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in
1764, and the conclusion in 1771. Andrew Reid undertook to persuade
Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret
of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was employed, I know
not at what price, to point the pages of _Henry the Second_. When time
brought the _History_ to a third edition, Reid was either dead or
discarded; and the superintendence of typography and punctuation was
committed to a man originally a comb-maker, but then known by the style
of Doctor. Something uncommon was probably expected, and something
uncommon was at last done; for to the Doctor's edition is appended, what
the world had hardly seen before, a list of errors in nineteen pages.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 492. In the first edition of _The Lives of the
Poets_ 'the Doctor' is called Dr. Saunders. So ambitious was Lord
Lyttelton's accuracy that in the second edition he gave a list of 'false
stops which hurt the sense.' For instance, the punctuation of the
following paragraph:--'The words of Abbot Suger, in his life of Lewis le
Gros, concerning this prince are very remarkable,' he thus corrects,
'after prince a comma is wanting.' See _ante_, ii. 37.

[93] According to Horace Walpole, Lyttelton had angered Smollett by
declining 'to recommend to the stage' a comedy of his. 'He promised,'
Walpole continues, 'if it should be acted, to do all the service in his
power for the author. Smollett's return was drawing an abusive portrait
of Lord Lyttelton in _Roderick Random.' Memoirs of the Reign of George
II_, iii. 259.

[94] _Spectator_, No. 626. See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's
_Collection_, near the end.

[95] When Steele brought _The Spectator_ to the close of its first
period, he acknowledged in the final number (No. 555) his obligation to
his assistants. In a postscript to the later editions he says:--'It had
not come to my knowledge, when I left off _The Spectator_, that I owe
several excellent sentiments and agreeable pieces in this work to Mr.
Ince, of Gray's Inn.' Mr. Ince died in 1758. _Gent. Mag_. 1758, p. 504.

[96] _Spectator_, No. 364.

[97] Sir Edward Barry, Baronet. BOSWELL.

[98] 'We form our words with the breath of our nostrils, we have the
less to live upon for every word we speak.' Jeremy Taylor's _Holy
Dying_, ch. i. sec. 1.

[99] On this day Johnson sent the following application for rooms in
Hampton Court to the Lord Chamberlain:--

'My Lord, Being wholly unknown to your lordship, I have only this
apology to make for presuming to trouble you with a request, that a
stranger's petition, if it cannot be easily granted, can be easily
refused. Some of the apartments are now vacant in which I am encouraged
to hope that by application to your lordship I may obtain a residence.
Such a grant would be considered by me as a great favour; and I hope
that to a man who has had the honour of vindicating his Majesty's
Government, a retreat in one of his houses may not be improperly or
unworthily allowed. I therefore request that your lordship will be
pleased to grant such rooms in Hampton Court as shall seem proper to

'My Lord,

'Your lordship's most obedient and most faithful humble servant,


'April 11, 1776.'

'Mr. Saml. Johnson to the Earl of Hertford, requesting apartments at
Hampton Court, 11th May, 1776.' And within, a memorandum of the
answer:--'Lord C. presents his compliments to Mr. Johnson, and is sorry
he cannot obey his commands, having already on his hands many
engagements unsatisfied.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 337. The endorsement does
not, it will be seen, agree in date with the letter. Lord C. stands for
the Lord Chamberlain.

[100] Hogarth saw Garrick in Richard III, and on the following night in
Abel Drugger; he was so struck, that he said to him, 'You are in your
element when you are begrimed with dirt, or up to your elbows in blood.'
Murphy's _Garrick_, p. 21. Cooke, in his _Memoirs of Macklin_, p. 110,
says that a Lichfield grocer, who came to London with a letter of
introduction to Garrick from Peter Garrick, saw him act Abel Drugger,
and returned without calling on him. He said to Peter Garrick: 'I saw
enough of him on the stage. He may be rich, as I dare say any man who
lives like him must be; but by G-d, though he is your brother, Mr.
Garrick, he is one of the shabbiest, meanest, most pitiful hounds I ever
saw in the whole course of my life.' Abel Drugger is a character in Ben
Jonson's _Alchemist_.

[101] See _post_, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[102] Lord Shelburne in 1766, at the age of twenty-nine, was appointed
Secretary of State in Lord Chatham's ministry. Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_,
ii. 1. Jeremy Bentham said of him:--'His head was not clear. He felt the
want of clearness. He had had a most wretched education.' _Ib_. p. 175.

[103] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:--'I hope you have no
design of stealing away to Italy before the election, nor of leaving me
behind you; though I am not only seventy, but seventy-one.... But what
if I am seventy-two; I remember Sulpitius says of Saint Martin (now
that's above your reading), _Est animus victor annorum et senectuti
cedere nescius_. Match me that among your young folks.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 177.

[104] Lady Hesketh, taking up apparently a thought which Paoli, as
reported by Boswell, had thrown out in conversation, proposed to Cowper
the Mediterranean for a topic. 'He replied, "Unless I were a better
historian than I am, there would be no proportion between the theme and
my ability. It seems, indeed, not to be so properly a subject for one
poem, as for a dozen."' Southey's _Cowper_, iii. 15, and vii. 44.

[105] Burke said:--'I do not know how it has happened, that orators have
hitherto fared worse in the hands of the translators than even the
poets; I never could bear to read a translation of Cicero.' _Life of Sir
W. Jones_, p. 196.

[106] See _ante_, ii. 188.

[107] See _ante_, ii. 182.

[108] See _post_, under date of Dec. 24, 1783, where mention seems to be
made of this evening.

[109] See _ante_, note, p. 30. BOSWELL

[110] 'Thomson's diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant,
such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts "both their lustre
and their shade;" such as invest them with splendour, through which,
perhaps, they are not always easily discerned.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 378. See _ante_, i. 453, and ii. 63.

[111] _A Collection of Poems in six volumes by several hands_, 1758.

[112] _Ib_. i. 116.

[113] Mr. Nicholls says, '_The Spleen_ was a great favourite with Gray
for its wit and originality.' Gray's _Works_, v. 36. See _post_, Oct. 10,
1779, where Johnson quotes two lines from it. 'Fling but a stone, the
giant dies,' is another line that is not unknown.

[114] A noted highwayman, who after having been several times tried and
acquitted, was at last hanged. He was remarkable for foppery in his dress,
and particularly for wearing a bunch of sixteen strings at the knees of his
breeches. BOSWELL.

[115] Goldsmith wrote a prologue for it. Horace Walpole wrote on
Dec. 14, 1771 (_Letters_, v. 356):--'There is a new tragedy at Covent
Garden called _Zobeide_, which I am told is very indifferent, though
written by a country gentleman.' Cradock in his old age published his
own _Memoirs_.

[116] '"Dr. Farmer," said Johnson {speaking of this essay}, "you have
done that which never was done before; that is, you have completely
finished a controversy beyond all further doubt." "There are some
critics," answered Farmer, "who will adhere to their old opinions."
"Ah!" said Johnson, "that may be true; for the limbs will quiver and
move when the soul is gone."' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 152. Farmer was
Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge (_ante_, i. 368). In a letter dated
Oct. 3, 1786, published in Romilly's _Life_ (i. 332), it is
said:--'Shakespeare and black letter muster strong at Emanuel.'

[117] 'When Johnson once glanced at this _Liberal Translation of the New
Testament_, and saw how Dr. Harwood had turned _Jesus wept_ into _Jesus,
the Saviour of the world, burst into a flood of tears_, he
contemptuously threw the book aside, exclaiming, "Puppy!" The author,
Dr. Edward Harwood, is not to be confounded with Dr. Thomas Harwood, the
historian of Lichfield.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 836.

[118] See an ingenious Essay on this subject by the late Dr. Moor, Greek
Professor at Glasgow. BOSWELL.

[119] See _ante_, i. 6, note 2.

[120] 'Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a
book!' _Job_ xix. 23.

[121] 'The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction,
and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully
natural, that, though it will perhaps not be said of him as he says of
himself, that he is "a man not easily jealous," yet we cannot but pity
him, when at last we find him "perplexed in the extreme."' Johnson's
_Works_, v. 178.

[122] Of Dennis's criticism of Addison's _Cato_, he says:--'He found and
shewed many faults; he shewed them indeed with anger, but he found them
with acuteness, such as ought to rescue his criticism from oblivion.'
_Ib_. vii. 457. In a note on 'thunder rumbling from the mustard-bowl'
(The _Dunciad_, ii. 226) it is said:--'Whether Mr. Dennis was the
inventor of that improvement, I know not; but is certain that, being
once at a tragedy of a new author, he fell into a great passion at
hearing some, and cried, "S'death! that is _my_ thunder."' See
D'Israeli's _Calamities of Authors_, i. 135, for an amplification of
this story.

[123] Sir James Mackintosh thought Cumberland was meant. I am now
satisfied that it was Arthur Murphy. CROKER. The fact that Murphy's name
is found close to the story renders it more likely that Mr. Croker is

[124] 'Obscenity and impiety,' Johnson boasted in the last year of his
life, 'have always been repressed in my company.' _Post_, June 11, 1784.
See also _post_, Sept. 22, 1777.

[125] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 18.

[126] See _ib_. Aug. 15.

[127] See _post_, April 28, 29, 1778.

[128] See _ante_, Jan. 21, 1775, note.

[129] See _post_, April 28, 1778. That he did not always scorn to drink
when in company is shewn by what he said on April 7, 1778:--'I have
drunk three bottles of port without being the worse for it. University
College has witnessed this.'

[130] _Copy_ is _manuscript for printing_.

[131] In _The Rambler_, No. 134, he describes how he had sat
deliberating on the subject for that day's paper, 'till at last I was
awakened from this dream of study by a summons from the press; the time
was now come for which I had been thus negligently purposing to provide,
and, however dubious or sluggish, I was now necessitated to write. To a
writer whose design is so comprehensive and miscellaneous that he may
accommodate himself with a topick from every scene of life, or view of
nature, it is no great aggravation of his task to be obliged to a sudden
composition.' See _ante_, i. 203.

[132] See _ante_, i. 428.

[133] We have here an involuntary testimony to the excellence of this
admirable writer, to whom we have seen that Dr. Johnson _directly_
allowed so little merit. BOSWELL. 'Fielding's Amelia was the most
pleasing heroine of all the romances,' he said; 'but that vile broken
nose never cured [_Amelia_, bk. ii. ch. 1] ruined the sale of perhaps
the only book, which being printed off betimes one morning, a new
edition was called for before night.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 221. Mrs.
Carter, soon after the publication of _Amelia_, wrote (_Corres_. ii.
71):--'Methinks I long to engage you on the side of this poor
unfortunate book, which I am told the fine folks are unanimous in
pronouncing to be very sad stuff.' See _ante_, ii. 49.

[134] Horace Walpole wrote, on Dec, 21, 1775 (_Letters_, vi. 298):--
'Mr. Cumberland has written an _Ode_, as he modestly calls it, in
praise of Gray's _Odes_; charitably no doubt to make the latter taken
notice of. Garrick read it the other night at Mr. Beauclerk's, who
comprehended so little what it was about, that he desired Garrick to
read it backwards, and try if it would not be equally good; he did, and
it was.' It was to this reading backwards that Dean Barnard alludes in
his verses--

'The art of pleasing, teach me, Garrick;
Thou who reversest odes Pindaric,
A second time read o'er.'

See _post_, under May 8, 1781.

[135] Mr. Romney, the painter, who has now deservedly established a high
reputation. BOSWELL. Cumberland (_Memoirs_, i. 384) dedicated his _Odes_
to him, shortly after 'he had returned from pursuing his studies at
Rome.' 'A curious work might be written,' says Mr. Croker, 'on the
reputation of painters. Hayley dedicated his lyre (such as it was) to
Romney. What is a picture of Romney now worth?' The wheel is come full
circle, and Mr. Croker's note is as curious as the work that he

[136] Page 32 of this vol. BOSWELL.

[137] Thurlow.

[138] Wedderburne. Boswell wrote to Temple on May 1:--'Luckily Dr.
Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in
some interesting business, and Johnson loves much to be so consulted and
so comes up.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 234. On the 14th Johnson wrote to
Mrs. Thrale:--'Mr. Wedderburne has given his opinion today directly
against us. He thinks of the claim much as I think.' _Piozzi Letters_,
i. 323. In _Notes and Queries_, 6th S., v. 423, in a letter from Johnson
to Taylor, this business is mentioned.

[139] Goldsmith wrote in 1762:--'Upon a stranger's arrival at Bath he is
welcomed by a peal of the Abbey bells, and in the next place by the
voice and music of the city waits.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_,
iv. 57. In _Humphry Clinker_ (published in 1771), in the Letter of April
24, we read that there was 'a peal of the Abbey bells for the honour of
Mr. Bullock, an eminent cow-keeper of Tottenham, who had just arrived at
Bath to drink the waters for indigestion.' The town waits are also
mentioned. The season was not far from its close when Boswell arrived.
Melford, in _Humphry Clinker_, wrote from Bath on May 17:--'The music
and entertainments of Bath are over for this season; and all our gay
birds of passage have taken their flight to Bristol-well [Clifton],
Tunbridge, Brighthelmstone, Scarborough, Harrowgate, &c. Not a soul is
seen in this place, but a few broken-winded parsons, waddling like so
many crows along the North Parade.' Boswell had soon to return to London
'to eat commons in the Inner Temple.' Delighted with Bath, and
apparently pleasing himself with the thought of a brilliant career at
the Bar, he wrote to Temple, 'Quin said, "Bath was the cradle of age,
and a fine slope to the grave." Were I a Baron of the Exchequer and you
a Dean, how well could we pass some time there!' _Letters of Boswell_,
pp. 231, 234.

[140] To the rooms! and their only son dead three days over one month!

'That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two.'

_Hamlet_, act i. sc. 2.

[141] No doubt Mr. Burke. See _ante_, April 15, 1773, and under Oct. 1,
1774, note, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 15.

[142] Mr. E.J. Payne, criticising this passage, says:--'It is certain
that Burke never thought he was deserting any principle of his own in
joining the Rockinghams.' Payne's _Burke_, i. xvii.

[143] No doubt Mrs. Macaulay. See _ante_, i. 447. 'Being asked whether
he had read Mrs. Macaulay's second volume of the _History of England_,
"No, Sir," says he, "nor her first neither."' Johnson's _Works_ (1787),
xi. 205.

[144] 'Of this distinguished Epilogue the reputed author was the
wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate "the man who calls me
cousin" [Spence's _Anecdotes_, ed. 1820, p. 161]; and when he was asked
how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, "The Epilogue was
quite another thing when I saw it first." [_Ib_. p. 257.] It was known
in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the
author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name,
he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and
ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the
solicitation which he was then making for a place.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 389. See _ante_, i. 181.

[145] See _post_, Jan. 20, 1782.

[146] On May 10, 1768, on which day the new parliament met, a great body
of people gathered round the King's Bench prison in St. George's Fields
in expectation that Wilkes would go thence to the House of Commons. Some
kind of a riot arose, a proclamation was made in the terms of the
Riot-Act, and the soldiers firing by order of Justice Gillam, killed
five or six on the spot. The justice and one of the soldiers were on the
coroner's inquest brought in guilty of wilful murder, and two other
soldiers of aiding and abetting therein. With great difficulty the
prisoners were saved from the rage of the populace. They were all
acquitted however. At Gillam's trial the judge ruled in his favour, so
that the case did not go to the jury. Of the trial of one of the
soldiers 'no account was allowed to be published by authority.' _Ann.
Reg_. 1768, pp. 108-9, 112, 136-8, 233. Professor Dicey (_Law of the
Constitution_, p. 308) points out that 'the position of a soldier may
be both in theory and practice, a difficult one. He may, as it has
been well said, be liable to be shot by a court-martial if he disobeys
an order, and to be hanged by a judge and jury if he obeys it.' The
remembrance of these cases was perhaps the cause of the feebleness shewn
in the Gordon Riots in June 1780. Dr. Franklin wrote from London on May
14, 1768 (_Memoirs_, iii. 315):--'Even this capital is now a daily scene
of lawless riot. Mobs patrolling the streets at noon-day, some knocking
all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice
afraid to give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling
down the houses of coal-merchants that refuse to give them more wages;
sawyers destroying saw-mills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound
ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their
pay; watermen destroying private boats, and threatening bridges;
soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women, and children.'
'While I am writing,' he adds (_ib_. p. 316), 'a great mob of
coal-porters fill the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon
poles to be ducked for working at the old wages.' See also _ib_. p. 402.
Hume agreed with Johnson about the 'imbecility' of the government; but
he drew from it different conclusions. He wrote on Oct. 27, 1775, about
the addresses to the King:--'I wish they would advise him first to
punish those insolent rascals in London and Middlesex, who daily insult
him and the whole legislature, before he thinks of America. Ask him, how
he can expect that a form of government will maintain an authority at
3000 miles' distance, when it cannot make itself be respected, or even
be treated with common decency, at home.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii.
479. On the 30th of this month of April--four days after the
conversation in the text--John Home recorded:--'Mr. Hume cannot give any
reason for the incapacity and want of genius, civil and military, which
marks this period.' _Ib_. p. 503.

[147] See _Dr. Johnson, His Friends, &c_., p. 252.

[148] It was published in 1743.

[149] I am sorry that there are no memoirs of the Reverend Robert Blair,
the author of this poem. He was the representative of the ancient family
of Blair, of Blair, in Ayrshire, but the estate had descended to a
female, and afterwards passed to the son of her husband by another
marriage. He was minister of the parish of Athelstanford, where Mr. John
Home was his successor; so that it may truely be called classick ground.
His son, who is of the same name, and a man eminent for talents and
learning, is now, with universal approbation, Solicitor-General of
Scotland. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 94) describes Blair 'as so
austere and void of urbanity as to make him quite disagreeable to young

[150] In 1775 Mrs. Montagu gave Mrs. Williams a small annuity. Croker's
_Boswell_, pp. 458, 739. Miss Burney wrote of her:--'Allowing a little
for parade and ostentation, which her power in wealth and rank in
literature offer some excuse for, her conversation is very agreeable.'
Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 325. See _post_, April 7, 1778, note.


'Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.'

Pope, _Sat. Ep_. i. 135.

[152] Johnson refers to Jenyns's _View of the Internal Evidence of the
Christian Religion_, published this spring. See _post_, April 15, 1778.
Jenyns had changed his view, for in his _Origin of Evil_ he said, in a
passage quoted with applause by Johnson (_Works_, vi. 69), that 'it is
observable that he who best knows our formation has trusted no one
thing of importance to our reason or virtue; he trusts to our vanity or
compassion for our bounty to others.'

[153] Mr. Langton is certainly meant. It is strange how often his mode
of living was discussed by Johnson and Boswell. See _post_, Nov. 16,
1776, July 22, and Sept. 22, 1777, March 18, April 17, 18, and 20,
May 12, and July 3, 1778.

[154] Baretti made a brutal attack on Mrs. Piozzi in the _European Mag_.
for 1788, xiii. 313, 393, and xiv. 89. He calls her 'the frontless
female, who goes now by the mean appellation of Piozzi; La Piozzi, as
my fiddling countrymen term her; who has dwindled down into the
contemptible wife of her daughter's singing-master.' His excuse was
the attacks made on him by her in the correspondence just published
between herself and Johnson (see _Piozzi Letters_, i. 277, 319). He
suspected her, and perhaps with reason, of altering some of these
letters. Other writers beside Baretti attacked her. To use Lord
Macaulay's words, grossly exaggerated though they are, 'She fled from
the laughter and hisses of her countrymen and countrywomen to a land
where she was unknown.' Macaulay's _Writings and Speeches_, ed. 1871, p.
393. According to Dr. T. Campbell (_Diary_, p. 33) Baretti flattered
Mrs. Thrale to her face. 'Talking as we were at tea of the magnitude of
the beer vessels, Baretti said there was one thing in Mr. Thrale's house
still more extraordinary; meaning his wife. She gulped the pill very
prettily--so much for Baretti.' See _post_, Dec. 21, 1776.

[155] Likely enough Boswell himself. On three other occasions he
mentions Otaheité; _ante_, May 7, 1773, _post_, June 15, 1784 and in his
_Hebrides_, Sept. 23, 1773. He was fond of praising savage life. See
_ante_, ii. 73.

[156] Chatterton said that he had found in a chest in St. Mary Redcliffe
Church manuscript poems by Canynge, a merchant of Bristol in the
fifteenth century, and a friend of his, Thomas Rowley. He gave some of
these manuscripts to George Catcot, a pewterer of Bristol, who
communicated them to Mr. Barret, who was writing a History of Bristol.
Rose's _Biog. Dict_. vi. 256.

[157] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22.

[158] See _ante_, i. 396.

[159] 'Artificially. Artfully; with skill.' Johnson's _dictionary_.

[160] Mr. Tyrwhitt, Mr. Warton, Mr. Malone. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote on
May 16:--'Steevens seems to be connected with Tyrwhitt in publishing
Chatterton's poems; he came very anxiously to know the result of our
inquiries, and though he says he always thought them forged, is not well
pleased to find us so fully convinced.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 326.

[161] Catcot had been anticipated by Smith the weaver (2 _Henry VI_.
iv. 2)--'Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and the bricks are
alive at this day to testify it; therefore deny it not.'

[162] Horace Walpole says (_Works_, iv. 224) that when he was 'dining at
the Royal Academy, Dr. Goldsmith drew the attention of the company with
an account of a marvellous treasure of ancient poems lately discovered at
Bristol, and expressed enthusiastic belief in them; for which he was
laughed at by Dr. Johnson, who was present.... You may imagine we did not
at all agree in the measure of our faith; but though his credulity
diverted me, my mirth was soon dashed; for, on asking about Chatterton,
he told me he had been in London, and had destroyed himself.'

[163] Boswell returned a few days earlier. On May 1 he wrote to Temple:
--'Luckily Dr. Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to
assist him in some interesting business; and Johnson loves much to be so
consulted, and so comes up. I am now at General Paoli's, quite easy and
gay, after my journey; not wearied in body or dissipated in mind. I have
lodgings in Gerrard Street, where cards are left to me; but I lie at the
General's, whose attention to me is beautiful.' _Letters of Boswell_,
p. 234. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on May 6:--'Tomorrow I am to dine,
as I did yesterday, with Dr. Taylor. On Wednesday I am to dine with
Oglethorpe; and on Thursday with Paoli. He that sees before him to his
third dinner has a long prospect.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 320.

[164] See _ante_, May 12, 1775.

[165] In the _Dramatis Personæ_ of the play are 'Aimwell and Archer, two
gentlemen of broken fortunes, the first as master, and the second as
servant.' See _ante_, March 23, 1776, for Garrick's opinion of Johnson's
'taste in theatrical merit.'

[166] Johnson is speaking of the _Respublicæ Elzevirianæ_, either 36 or
62 volumes. 'It depends on every collector what and how much he will
admit.' Ebert's _Bibl. Dict_. iii. 1571. See _ante_, ii. 7.

[167] See _post_, under Oct. 20, 1784, for 'the learned pig.'

[168] In the first edition Mme. de Sévigné's name is printed Sevigné, in
the second Sevigé, in the third Sevigne. Authors and compositors last
century troubled themselves little about French words.

[169] Milton had put the same complaint into Adam's mouth:--

'Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? ...
... As my will
Concurred not to my being,' &c.

_Paradise Lost_, x. 743.

[170] See _ante_, April 10, 1775.

[171] Fielding in the _Covent Garden Journal_ for June 2, 1752 (_Works_,
x. 80), says of the difficulty of admission at the hospitals:--'The
properest objects (those I mean who are most wretched and friendless)
may as well aspire at a place at Court as at a place in the Hospital.'

[172] 'We were talking of Dr. Barnard, the Provost of Eton. "He was the
only man," says Mr. Johnson quite seriously, "that did justice to my
good breeding; and you may observe that I am well-bred to a degree of
needless scrupulosity. No man," continued he, not observing the
amazement of his hearers, "no man is so cautious not to interrupt
another; no man thinks it so necessary to appear attentive when others
are speaking; no man so steadily refuses preference on himself, or so
willingly bestows it on another, as I do; no man holds so strongly as I
do the necessity of ceremony, and the ill effects which follow the
breach of it; yet people think me rude; but Barnard did me justice."'
Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 36. On p. 258, Mrs. Piozzi writes:--'No one was
indeed so attentive not to offend in all such sort of things as Dr.
Johnson; nor so careful to maintain the ceremonies of life; and though
he told Mr. Thrale once, that he had never sought to please till past
thirty years old, considering the matter as hopeless, he had been always
studious not to make enemies by apparent preference of himself.' See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 27, 1773, where Johnson said:--'Sir, I look
upon myself as a very polite man.'

[173] The younger Colman in his boyhood met Johnson and Gibbon. 'Johnson
was in his rusty brown and his black worsteds, and Gibbon in a suit of
flowered velvet, with a bag and sword. He condescended, once or twice in
the course of the evening, to talk with me;--the great historian was
light and playful, suiting his matter to the capacity of the boy; but it
was done more sua [sic]; still his mannerism prevailed; still he tapped
his snuff-box; still he smirked, and smiled, and rounded his periods
with the same air of good-breeding, as if he were conversing with men.
His mouth, mellifluous as Plato's, was a round hole, nearly in the
centre of his visage.' _Random Records_, i. 121.

[174] Samuel Sharp's _Letters from Italy_ were published in 1766. See
_ante_, ii. 57, note 2, for Baretti's reply to them.

[175] It may be observed, that Mr. Malone, in his very valuable edition
of Shakspeare, has fully vindicated Dr. Johnson from the idle censures
which the first of these notes has given rise to. The interpretation of
the other passage, which Dr. Johnson allows to be _disputable_, he has
clearly shown to be erroneous. BOSWELL. The first note is on the line in
_Hamlet_, act v. sc. 2--

'And many such like as's of great charge.'

Johnson says:--'A quibble is intended between _as_ the conditional
particle, and _ass_ the beast of burthen.' On this note Steevens
remarked:--'Shakespeare has so many quibbles of his own to answer for,
that there are those who think it hard he should be charged with others
which perhaps he never thought of.' The second note is on the opening of
Hamlet's soliloquy in act iii. sc. i. The line--

'To be, or not to be, that is the question,'

is thus paraphrased by Johnson:--'Before I can form any rational scheme
of action under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to decide
whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be.'

[176] See _post_, March 30, April 14 and 15, 1778, and Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Oct. 25.

[177] Wesley wrote on Jan. 21, 1767 (_Journal_, iii. 263):--'I had a
conversation with an ingenious man who proved to a demonstration that it
was the duty of every man that could to be "clothed in purple and fine
linen," and to "fare sumptuously every day;" and that he would do
abundantly more good hereby than he could do by "feeding the hungry
and clothing the naked." O the depth of human understanding! What may
not a man believe if he will?' Much the same argument Johnson,
thirty-three years earlier, had introduced in one of his _Debates_
(_Works_, xi. 349). He makes one of the speakers say:--'Our expenses are
not all equally destructive; some, though the method of raising them be
vexatious and oppressive, do not much impoverish the nation, because
they are refunded by the extravagance and luxury of those who are
retained in the pay of the court.' See _post_, March 23, 1783. The whole
argument is nothing but Mandeville's doctrine of 'private vices, public
benefits.' See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[178] See _ante_, iii. 24.

[179] Johnson no doubt refers to Walpole in the following passage
(_Works_, viii. l37):--'Of one particular person, who has been at one
time so popular as to be generally esteemed, and at another so
formidable as to be universally detested, Mr. Savage observed that his
acquisitions had been small, or that his capacity was narrow, and that
the whole range of his mind was from obscenity to politicks, and from
politicks to obscenity.' This passage is a curious comment on Pope's
lines on Sir Robert--

'Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
 Of social pleasure, ill-exchanged for power.'

_Epilogue to the Satires_, i. 29.

[180] Most likely Boswell himself. See _ante_, March 25, 1776, and
_post_, April 10, 1778, for Johnson's dislike of questioning. See also
_ante_, ii. 84, note 3.

[181] See _ante_, April 14, 1775.

[182] See _ante_, May 12, 1774.

[183] A Gallicism, which has it appears, with so many others, become
vernacular in Scotland. The French call a pulpit, _la chaire de vérité_.

[184] As a proof of Dr. Johnson's extraordinary powers of composition,
it appears from the original manuscript of this excellent dissertation,
of which he dictated the first eight paragraphs on the 10th of May, and
the remainder on the 13th, that there are in the whole only seven
corrections, or rather variations, and those not considerable. Such were
at once the vigorous and accurate emanations of his mind. BOSWELL.

[185] It is curious to observe that Lord Thurlow has here, perhaps in
compliment to North Britain, made use of a term of the Scotch Law, which
to an English reader may require explanation. To _qualify_ a wrong, is
to point out and establish it. BOSWELL.


'Quaeque ipse miserrima vidi,
Et quorum pars magna fui.'

'Which thing myself unhappy did behold,
Yea, and was no small part thereof.'

Morris, _Aeneids_, ii. 5.

[187] In the year 1770, in _The False Alarm_, Johnson attacked Wilkes
with more than 'some asperity.' 'The character of the man,' he wrote, 'I
have no purpose to delineate. Lampoon itself would disdain to speak ill
of him, of whom no man speaks well.' He called him 'a retailer of
sedition and obscenity;' and he said:--'We are now disputing ... whether
Middlesex shall be represented, or not, by a criminal from a gaol.'
_Works_, vi. 156, 169, 177. In _The North Briton_, No. xii, Wilkes,
quoting Johnson's definition of a pensioner, asks:--'Is the said Mr.
Johnson a _dependant_? or is he _a slave of state, hired by a stipend
to obey his master_? There is, according to him, no alternative.--As Mr.
Johnson has, I think, failed in this account, may I, after so great an
authority, venture at a short definition of so intricate a word? A
_pension_ then I would call _a gratuity during the pleasure of the
Prince for services performed, or expected to be performed, to himself,
or to the state_. Let us consider the celebrated Mr. _Johnson_, and a
few other late pensioners in this light.'

[188] Boswell, in his _Letter to the People of Scotland_ (p. 70),
mentions 'my old classical companion, Wilkes;' and adds, 'with whom I
pray you to excuse my keeping company, he is so pleasant.'

[189] When Johnson was going to Auchinleck, Boswell begged him, in
talking with his father, 'to avoid three topicks as to which they
differed very widely; whiggism, presbyterianism, and--Sir John Pringle.'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov 2, 1773. See also _ib_. Aug 24. 'Pringle was
President of the Royal Society--"who sat in Newton's chair, And wonder'd
how the devil he got there."' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, i. 165. He was one
of Franklin's friends (Franklin's _Memoirs_ iii. III), and so was likely
to be uncongenial to Johnson.

[190] No 22. CROKER. At this house 'Johnson owned that he always found a
good dinner.' _Post_, April 15, 1778.

[191] This has been circulated as if actually said by Johnson; when the
truth is, it was only _supposed_ by me. BOSWELL.

[192] 'Don't let them be _patriots_,' he said to Mr. Hoole, when he
asked him to collect a city Club. _Post_, April 6, 1781.

[193] See p. 7 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[194] 'Indifferent in his choice to sleep or die.' Addison's _Cato_,
act v. sc. 1.

[195] See _ante_, i. 485.

[196] He was at this time 'employed by Congress as a private and
confidential agent in England.' Dr. Franklin had arranged for letters to
be sent to him, not by post but by private hand, under cover to his
brother, Mr. Alderman Lee. Franklin's _Memoirs_, ii. 42, and iii. 415.

[197] When Wilkes the year before, during his mayoralty, had presented
An Address, 'the King himself owned he had never seen so well-bred a
Lord Mayor.' Walpole's _Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 484.

[198] Johnson's _London, a Poem_, v. 145. BOSWELL--

'How when competitors like these contend,
Can surly virtue hope to fix a friend.'

[199] See _ante_, ii. 154.

[200] Johnson had said much the same at a dinner in Edinburgh. See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 10, 1773. See _ante_, March 15, 1776, and
_post_, Sept. 21, 1777.

[201] 'To convince any man against his will is hard, but to please him
against his will is justly pronounced by Dryden to be above the reach of
human abilities.' _The Rambler_, No. 93.

[202] Foote told me that Johnson said of him, 'For loud obstreperous
broadfaced mirth, I know not his equal.' BOSWELL.

[203] In Farquhar's _Beaux-Stratagem_, Scrub thus describes his duties:
--'Of a Monday I drive the coach, of a Tuesday I drive the plough, on
Wednesday I follow the hounds, a Thursday I dun the tenants, on Friday I
go to market, on Saturday I draw warrants, and a Sunday I draw beer.'
Act iii. sc. 3.

[204] See _ante_, i. 393, note 1.

[205] See _post_, April 10, 1778, and April 24, 1779.

[206] See _ante_, i. 216, note 2.

[207] See _ante_, March 20, 1776, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22.

[208] Dryden had been dead but thirty-six years when Johnson came to

[209] 'Owen MacSwinny, a buffoon; formerly director of the play-house.'
Horace Walpole, _Letters_, i. 118. Walpole records one of his puns.
'Old Horace' had left the House of Commons to fight a duel, and at once
'returned, and was so little moved as to speak immediately upon the
_Cambrick Bill_, which made Swinny say, "That it was a sign he was not
_ruffled_."' _Ib_. p. 233. See also, _ib_. vi. 373 for one of his

[210] A more amusing version of the story, is in _Johnsoniana_
(ed. 1836, p. 413) on the authority of Mr. Fowke. '"So Sir," said
Johnson to Cibber, "I find you know [knew?] Mr. Dryden?" "Know him? O
Lord! I was as well acquainted with him as if he had been my own
brother." "Then you can tell me some anecdotes of him?" "O yes, a
thousand! Why we used to meet him continually at a club at Button's. I
remember as well as if it were but yesterday, that when he came into the
room in winter time, he used to go and sit by the fire in one corner;
and in summer time he would always go and sit in the window." "Thus,
Sir," said Johnson, "what with the corner of the fire in winter and the
window in summer, you see that I got _much_ information from Cibber of
the manners and habits of Dryden.'" Johnson gives, in his _Life of
Dryden_ (_Works_, vii. 300), the information that he got from Swinney
and Cibber. Dr. Warton, who had written on Pope, found in one of the
poet's female-cousins a still more ignorant survivor. 'He had been
taught to believe that she could furnish him with valuable information.
Incited by all that eagerness which characterised him, he sat close to
her, and enquired her consanguinity to Pope. "Pray, Sir," said she, "did
not you write a book about my cousin Pope?" "Yes, madam." "They tell me
t'was vastly clever. He wrote a great many plays, did not he?" "I have
heard of only one attempt, Madam." "Oh no, I beg your pardon; that was
Mr. Shakespeare; I always confound them."' Wooll's _Warton_, p. 394.

[211] Johnson told Malone that 'Cibber was much more ignorant even of
matters relating to his own profession than he could well have
conceived any man to be who had lived nearly sixty years with players,
authors, and the most celebrated characters of the age.' Prior's
_Malone_, p. 95. See _ante_, ii. 92.

[212] 'There are few,' wrote Goldsmith, 'who do not prefer a page of
Montaigne or Colley Cibber, who candidly tell us what they thought of
the world, and the world thought of them, to the more stately memoirs
and transactions of Europe.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv. 43.

[213] _Essay on Criticism_, i. 66.

[214] 'Cibber wrote as bad Odes (as Garrick), but then Gibber wrote
_The Careless Husband_, and his own _Life_, which both deserve
immortality.' Walpole's _Letters_, v. 197. Pope (_Imitations of Horace_,
II. i. 90), says:--

'All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
And yet deny _The Careless Husband_ praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.'

See _ante_, April 6, 1775.

[215] See page 402 of vol. i. BOSWELL.

[216] Milton's _L'Allegro_, 1. 36.

[217] 'CATESBY. My Liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken. RICHARD. Off
with his head. So much for Buckingham.' Colley Gibber's _Richard III_,
iv. I.

[218] _Ars Poetica, i. 128.

[219] My very pleasant friend himself, as well as others _who remember
old stories_, will no doubt be surprised, when I observe that _John
Wilkes_ here shews himself to be of the WARBURTONIAN SCHOOL. It is
nevertheless true, as appears from Dr. Hurd the Bishop of Worcester's
very elegant commentary and notes on the '_Epistola ad Pisones_.'

It is necessary to a fair consideration of the question, that the whole
passage in which the words occur should be kept in view:

'Si quid inexpertum scenae committis, et audes
Personam formare novam, servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.
Difficile est propriè communia dicere: tuque
Rectiùs Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
Quàm si proferres ignota indictaque primus,
Publica materies privati juris erit, si
Non circa vilem patulumque moraberis orbem,
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus
Interpres; nee desilies imitator in artum
Unde pedem proferre pudor vetat aut operis lex.'

The 'Commentary' thus illustrates it: 'But the formation of quite _new
characters_ is a work of great difficulty and hazard. For here there is
no generally received and fixed _archetype_ to work after, but every one
_judges_ of common right, according to the extent and comprehension of
his own idea; therefore he advises to labour and refit _old characters
and subjects_, particularly those made known and authorised by the
practice of Homer and the Epick writers.'

The 'Note' is,

'_Difficile_ EST PROPRIE COMMUNIA DICERE.' Lambin's Comment is,
'_Communia hoc loco appellat Horatius argumenta fabularum à nullo adhuc
tractata: et ita, quae cuivis exposita sunt et in medio quodammodo
posita, quasi vacua et à nemine occupata_.' And that this is the true
meaning of _communia_ is evidently fixed by the words _ignota
indictaque_, which are explanatory of it; so that the sense given it in
the commentary is unquestionably the right one. Yet, notwithstanding the
clearness of the case, a late critick has this strange passage:
'_Difficile quidem esse propriè communia dicere, hoc est, materiam
vulgarem, notam et è medio petitam, ita immutare atque exornare, ut nova
et scriptori propria videatur, ultra concedimus; et maximi procul dubio
ponderis ista est observatio. Sed omnibus utrinque collatis, et tum
difficilis, tum venusti, tam judicii quam ingenii ratione habitá, major
videtur esse gloria fabulam formare penitùs novam, quàm veterem,
utcunque mutatam, de novo exhibere_. (Poet. Prael. v. ii. p. 164.)
Where, having first put a wrong construction on the word _comnmnia_, he
employs it to introduce an impertinent criticism. For where does the
poet prefer the glory of refitting _old_ subjects to that of inventing
new ones? The contrary is implied in what he urges about the superiour
difficulty of the latter, from which he dissuades his countrymen, only
in respect of their abilities and inexperience in these matters; and in
order to cultivate in them, which is the main view of the Epistle, a
spirit of correctness, by sending them to the old subjects, treated by
the Greek writers.'

For my own part (with all deference for Dr. Hurd, who thinks the _case
clear_,) I consider the passage, '_Difficile est propriè communia
dicere_,' to be a _crux_ for the criticks on Horace.

The explication which My Lord of Worcester treats with so much contempt,
is nevertheless countenanced by authority which I find quoted by the
learned Baxter in his edition of Horace: '_Difficile est propriè
communia dicere_, h.e. res vulgares disertis verbis enarrare, vel humile
thema cum dignitate tractare. _Difficile est communes res propriis
explicare verbis_. Vet. Schol.' I was much disappointed to find that the
great critick, Dr. Bentley, has no note upon this very difficult
passage, as from his vigorous and illuminated mind I should have
expected to receive more satisfaction than I have yet had.

_Sanadon_ thus treats of it: '_Propriè communia dicere; c'est à dire,
qu'il n'est pas aisé de former à ces personnages d'imagination, des
caractêres particuliers et cependant vraisemblables. Comme l'on a eté le
maitre de les former tels qu'on a voulu, les fautes que l'on fait en
cela sont moins pardonnables. C'est pourquoi Horace conseille de prendre
toujours des sujets connus tels que sont par exemple ceux que l'on peut
tirer des poèmes d'Homere_.'

And _Dacier_ observes upon it, '_Apres avoir marqué les deux qualités
qu'il faut donner aux personnages qu'on invente, il conseille aux Poêtes
tragiques, de n'user pas trop facilement de cette liberté quils ont d'en
inventer, car il est três difficile de reussir dans ces nouveaux
caractêres. Il est mal aisé, dit Horace_, de traiter proprement, _c'st à
dire_ convenablement, _des_ sujets communs; _c'est à dire, des sujets
inventés, et qui n'ont aucun fondement ni dans l'Histoire ni dans la
Fable; et il les appelle_ communs, _parce qu'ils sont en disposition à
tout le monde, et que tout le monde a le droit de les inventer, et
qu'ils sont, comme on dit, au premier occupant_.' See his observations
at large on this expression and the following.

After all, I cannot help entertaining some doubt whether the words,
_Difficile est propriè communia dicere_, may not have been thrown in by
Horace to form a _separate_ article in a 'choice of difficulties' which
a poet has to encounter, who chooses a new subject; in which case it
must be uncertain which of the various explanations is the true one, and
every reader has a right to decide as it may strike his own fancy. And
even should the words be understood as they generally are, to be
connected both with what goes before and what comes after, the exact
sense cannot be absolutely ascertained; for instance, whether _propriè_
is meant to signify _in an appropriated manner_, as Dr. Johnson here
understands it, or, as it is often used by Cicero, _with propriety_, or
_elegantly_. In short, it is a rare instance of a defect in perspicuity
in an admirable writer, who with almost every species of excellence, is
peculiarly remarkable for that quality. The length of this note perhaps
requires an apology. Many of my readers, I doubt not, will admit that a
critical discussion of a passage in a favourite classick is very
engaging. BOSWELL. Boswell's French in this tedious note is left as he
printed it.

[220] Johnson, after describing Settle's attack on Dryden, continues
(_Works_, vii. 277):--'Such are the revolutions of fame, or such is the
prevalence of fashion, that the man whose works have not yet been
thought to deserve the care of collecting them, who died forgotten in
an hospital, and whose latter years were spent in contriving shows for
fairs ... might with truth have had inscribed upon his stone:--

"Here lies the Rival and Antagonist of Dryden."'

Pope introduces him in _The Dunciad_, i. 87, in the description of the
Lord Mayor's Show:--

'Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces,
Glad chains, warm furs, broad banners and broad faces.
Now night descending the proud scene was o'er,
But lived in Settle's numbers one day more.'

In the third book the ghost of Settle acts the part of guide in the
Elysian shade.

[221] Johnson implies, no doubt, that they were both Americans by birth.
Trecothick was in the American trade, but he was not an American.
Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iii. 184, note. Of
Beckford Walpole says:--'Under a jovial style of good humour he was
tyrannic in Jamaica, his native country.' _Ib_. iv. 156. He came over to
England when young and was educated in Westminster School. Stephens's
_Horne Tooke_, ii. 278. Cowper describes 'a jocular altercation that
passed when I was once in the gallery [of the House], between Mr. Rigby
and the late Alderman Beckford. The latter was a very incorrect speaker,
and the former, I imagine, not a very accurate scholar. He ventured,
however, upon a quotation from Terence, and delivered it thus, _Sine
Scelere et Baccho friget venus_. The Alderman interrupted him, was very
severe upon his mistake, and restored Ceres to her place in the
sentence. Mr. Rigby replied, that he was obliged to his worthy friend
for teaching him Latin, and would take the first opportunity to return
the favour by teaching him English.' Southey's _Cowper_, iii. 317. Lord
Chatham, in the House of Lords, said of Trecothick:--'I do not know in
office a more upright magistrate, nor in private life a worthier man.'
_Parl. Hist_. xvi. 1101. See _post_, Sept. 23, 1777.


'Oft have I heard thee mourn the wretched lot
Of the poor, mean, despised, insulted Scot,
Who, might calm reason credit idle tales,
By rancour forged where prejudice prevails,
Or starves at home, or practises through fear
Of starving arts which damn all conscience here.'

Churchill's _Prophecy of Famine, Poems_, i. 105.

[223] For Johnson's praise of Lichfield see _ante_, March 23, 1776. For
the use of the word _civility_, see _ante_ ii. 155.

[224] See _ante_, i. 447.

[225] See _ante_, April 18, 1775.

[226] See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[227] It would not become me to expatiate on this strong and pointed
remark, in which a very great deal of meaning is condensed. BOSWELL.

[228] 'Mr. Wilkes's second political essay was an ironical dedication to
the Earl of Bute of Ben Jonson's play, _The Fall of Mortimer_. "Let me
entreat your Lordship," he wrote, "to assist your friend [Mr. Murphy] in
perfecting the weak scenes of this tragedy, and from the crude labours
of Ben Jonson and others to give us a _complete play_. It is the warmest
wish of my heart that the Earl of Bute may speedily complete the story of
Roger Mortimer."' Almon's _Wilkes_, i. 70, 86.

[229] Yet Wilkes within less than a year violently attacked Johnson in
parliament. He said, 'The two famous doctors, Shebbeare and Johnson, are
in this reign the state hirelings called pensioners.' Their names, he
continued, 'disgraced the Civil List. They are the known pensioned
advocates of despotism.' _Parl. Hist_. xix. 118. It is curious that
Boswell does not mention this attack, and that Johnson a few months
after it was made, speaking of himself and Wilkes, said:--'The contest
is now over.' _Post_, Sept 21, 1777.

[230] The next day he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'For my part, I begin to
settle and keep company with grave aldermen. I dined yesterday in the
Poultry with Mr. Alderman Wilkes, and Mr. Alderman Lee, and Counsellor
Lee, his brother. There sat you the while, so sober, with your W----'s
and your H----'s, and my aunt and her turnspit; and when they are gone,
you think by chance on Johnson, what is he doing? What should he be
doing? He is breaking jokes with Jack Wilkes upon the Scots. Such,
Madam, are the vicissitudes of things.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 325.

[231] See _ante_, March 20, 1776.

[232] If he had said this on a former occasion to a lady, he said it
also on a latter occasion to a gentleman--Mr. Spottiswoode. _Post_,
April 28, 1778. Moreover, Miss Burney records in 1778, that when Johnson
was telling about Bet Flint (_post_, May 8, 1781) and other strange
characters whom he had known, 'Mrs. Thrale said, "I wonder, Sir, you
never went to see Mrs. Rudd among the rest." "Why, Madam, I believe I
should," said he, "if it was not for the newspapers; but I am prevented
many frolics that I should like very well, since I am become such a
theme for the papers."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 90.

[233] Pope, _Essay on Man_, ii. 2.

[234] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on May 14 (Tuesday):--'----goes away
on Thursday, very well satisfied with his journey. Some great men have
promised to obtain him a place, and then a fig for my father and his new
wife.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 324. He is writing no doubt of Boswell; yet,
as Lord Auchinleck had been married more than six years, it is odd his
wife should be called _new_. Boswell, a year earlier, wrote to Temple of
his hopes from Lord Pembroke:--'How happy should I be to get an
independency by my own influence while my father is alive!' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 182. Johnson, in a second letter to Mrs. Thrale, written
two days after Boswell left, says:--'B---- went away on Thursday night,
with no great inclination to travel northward; but who can contend with
destiny? ... He carries with him two or three good resolutions; I hope
they will not mould upon the road.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 333.

[235] 1 _Corinthians_, xiii. 5.

[236] This passage, which is found in Act iii, is not in the acting copy
of _Douglas_.

[237] Malone was one of these gentlemen. See _post_, under June 30,
1784. Reynolds, after saying that eagerness for victory often led
Johnson into acts of rudeness, while 'he was not thus strenuous for
victory with his intimates in tête-à-tête conversations when there were
no witnesses,' adds:--'Were I to write the Life of Dr. Johnson I would
labour this point, to separate his conduct that proceeded from his
passions, and what proceeded from his reason, from his natural
disposition seen in his quiet hours.' Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 462.

[238] These words must have been in the other copy. They are not in that
which was preferred. BOSWELL.

[239] On June 3 he wrote that he was suffering from 'a very serious and
troublesome fit of the gout. I enjoy all the dignity of lameness. I
receive ladies and dismiss them sitting. _Painful pre-eminence_.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 337. 'Painful pre-eminence' comes from Addison's _Cato_,
act iii. sc. 5. Pope, in his _Essay on Man_, iv. 267, borrows the

'Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view,
Above life's weakness and its comforts too.'

It is humorously introduced into the _Rolliad_ in the description of the

'There Cornewall sits, and oh! unhappy fate!
Must sit for ever through the long debate.
Painful pre-eminence! he hears, 'tis true,
Fox, North, and Burke, but hears Sir Joseph too.'

[240] Dean Stanley (_Memorials of Westminster Abbey_, p. 297) says:--
'One expression at least has passed from the inscription into the
proverbial Latin of mankind--

"Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit."'

In a note he adds:--'Professor Conington calls my attention to the fact
that, if this were a genuine classical expression, it would be
_ornaret_. The slight mistake proves that it is Johnson's own.' The
mistake, of course, is the Dean's and the Professor's, who did not take
the trouble to ascertain what Johnson had really written. If we may
trust Cradock, Johnson here gave in a Latin form what he had already
said in English. 'When a bookseller ventured to say something rather
slightingly of Dr. Goldsmith, Johnson retorted:--"Sir, Goldsmith never
touches any subject but he adorns it." Once when I found the Doctor very
low at his chambers I related this circumstance to him, and it instantly
proved a cordial.' Cradock's _Memoirs_, i. 231.

[241] According to Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_, i. 1), he was born
on Nov. 10, 1728. There is a passage in Goldsmith's _Bee_, No. 2, which
leads me to think that he himself held Nov. 12 as his birth-day. He says;
'I shall be sixty-two the twelfth of next November.' Now, as _The Bee_
was published in October 1759, he would be, not sixty-two, but just half
that number--thirty-one on his next birth-day. It is scarcely likely that
he selected the number and the date at random.

[242] Reynolds chose the spot in Westminster Abbey where the monument
should stand. Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 326.

[243] For A. Chamier, see _ante_, i. 478, note 1; and _post_, April 9,
1778: for P. Metcalfe, _post_, under Dec. 20, 1782. W. Vachell seems
only known to fame as having signed this _Round Robin_, and attended Sir
Joshua's funeral. Who Tho. Franklin was I cannot learn. He certainly was
not Thomas Francklin, D.D., the Professor of Greek at Cambridge and
translator of _Sophocles_ and _Lucian_, mentioned _post_, end of 1780.
The Rev. Dr. Luard, the Registrar of that University, has kindly
compared for me six of his signatures ranging from 1739 to 1770. In each
of these the _c_ is very distinct, while the writing is unlike the
signature in the _Round Robin_.

[244] Horace Walpole wrote in Dec. of this year:--'The conversation of
many courtiers was openly in favour of arbitrary power. Lord Huntingdon
and Dr. Barnard, who was promised an Irish Bishopric, held such
discourse publicly.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, ii. 91.

[245] He however upon seeing Dr. Warton's name to the suggestion, that
the Epitaph should be in English, observed to Sir Joshua, 'I wonder
that Joe Warton, a scholar by profession, should be such a fool.' He
said too, 'I should have thought Mund Burke would have had more sense.'
Mr. Langton, who was one of the company at Sir Joshua's, like a sturdy
scholar, resolutely refused to sign the _Round Robin_. The Epitaph is
engraved upon Dr. Goldsmith's monument without any alteration. At
another time, when somebody endeavoured to argue in favour of its being
in English, Johnson said, 'The language of the country of which a
learned man was a native, is not the language fit for his epitaph, which
should be in ancient and permanent language. Consider, Sir; how you
should feel, were you to find at Rotterdam an epitaph upon Erasmus _in
Dutch_!' For my own part I think it would be best to have Epitaphs
written both in a learned language, and in the language of the country;
so that they might have the advantage of being more universally
understood, and at the same time be secured of classical stability. I
cannot, however, but be of opinion, that it is not sufficiently
discriminative. Applying to Goldsmith equally the epithets of '_Poetae_,
_Historici_, _Physici_,' is surely not right; for as to his claim to the
last of those epithets, I have heard Johnson himself say, 'Goldsmith,
Sir, will give us a very fine book upon the subject; but if he can
distinguish a cow from a horse, that, I believe, may be the extent of
his knowledge of natural history.' His book is indeed an excellent
performance, though in some instances he appears to have trusted too
much to Buffon, who, with all his theoretical ingenuity and
extraordinary eloquence, I suspect had little actual information in the
science on which he wrote so admirably. For instance, he tells us that
the _cow_ sheds her horns every two years; a most palpable errour, which
Goldsmith has faithfully transferred into his book. It is wonderful that
Buffon, who lived so much in the country, at his noble seat, should have
fallen into such a blunder. I suppose he has confounded the _cow_ with
the _deer_. BOSWELL. Goldsmith says:--'At three years old the cow sheds
its horns and new ones arise in their place, which continue as long as
it lives.' _Animated Nature_, iii. 12. This statement remains in the
second edition. Johnson said that the epitaph on Sir J. Macdonald
'should have been in Latin, as everything intended to be universal and
permanent should be.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 5, 1773. He treated
the notion of an English inscription to Smollett 'with great contempt,
saying, "an English inscription would be a disgrace to Dr. Smollett."'
_Ib_. Oct. 28, 1773.

[246] Beside this Latin Epitaph, Johnson honoured the memory of his
friend Goldsmith with a short one in Greek. See _ante_, July 5, 1774.

[247] See _ante_, Oct. 24, 1775.

[248] Upon a settlement of our account of expences on a Tour to the
Hebrides, there was a balance due to me, which Dr. Johnson chose to
discharge by sending books. BOSWELL.

[249] See _post_, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[250] Baretti told me that Johnson complained of my writing very long
letters to him when I was upon the continent; which was most certainly
true; but it seems my friend did not remember it. BOSWELL.

[251] See _ante_, iii. 27.

[252] See _ante_, i. 446, for Johnson's remedies against melancholy.

[253] It was not 'last year' but on June 22, 1772, that the negro, James
Somerset--who had been brought to England by his master, had escaped
from him, had been seized, and confined in irons on board a ship in The
Thames that was bound for Jamaica, and had been brought on a writ of
_Habeas Corpus_ before the Court of King's Bench was discharged by Lord
Mansfield. Howell's _State Trials_, xx. 79, and Lofft's _Reports_, 1772,
p. 1. 'Lord Mansfield,' writes Lord Campbell (_Lives of the Chief
Justices_, ii. 418), 'first established the grand doctrine that the air
of England is too pure to be breathed by a slave.' According to Lord
Campbell, Mansfield's judgment thus ended:--'The air of England has long
been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it. Every
man who comes into England is entitled to the protection of English law,
whatever oppression he may heretofore have suffered, and whatever may be
the colour of his skin:

'"Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses."

'Let the negro be discharged.'

Where Lord Campbell found this speech, that is to say if he did not put
it together himself, I cannot guess. Mansfield's judgment was very
brief. He says in the conclusion:--'The only question before us is,
whether the cause on the return [to the writ of _habeas corpus_] is
sufficient. If it is, the negro must be remanded; if it is not, he must
be discharged. Accordingly the return states that the slave departed,
and refused to serve; whereupon he was kept to be sold abroad. So high
an act of dominion must be recognised by the law of the country where it
is used. The power of a master over his slave has been extremely
different in different countries. The state of slavery is of such a
nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or
political.... It is so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it
but positive law. Whatever inconveniences therefore may follow from a
decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of
England; and therefore the black must be discharged.' Lofft's _Reports_,
1772, p. 19. 'The judgment of the court,' says Broom (_Constitutional
Law_, 1885, p. 99), 'was delivered by Lord Mansfield, C.J., after some
delay, and with evident reluctance.' The passage about the air of
England that Campbell puts into Mansfield's mouth is found in Mr.
Hargrave's argument on May 14, 1772, where he speaks of England as 'a
soil whose air is deemed too pure for slaves to breathe in.' Lofft's
_Reports_, p. 2. Mr. Dunning replied:--'Let me take notice, neither the
air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe in, nor the laws of
England have rejected servitude.' _Ib_. p. 12. Serjeant Davy
rejoined:--'It has been asserted, and is now repeated by me, this air is
too pure for a slave to breathe in. I trust I shall not quit this court
without certain conviction of the truth of that assertion.' _Ib_. p. 17.
Lord Mansfield said nothing about the air. The line from Virgil, with
which Lord Campbell makes Mansfield's speech end, was 'the happily
chosen motto' to Maclaurin's published argument for the negro; Joseph
Knight, _post_, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[254] The son of Johnson's old friend, Mr. William Drummond. (See vol.
ii. pp. 26-29.) He was a young man of such distinguished merit, that he
was nominated to one of the medical professorships in the College of
Edinburgh without solicitation, while he was at Naples. Having other
views, he did not accept of the honour, and soon afterwards died.

[255] In the third and subsequent editions the date is wrongly given as
the 16th.

[256] A Florentine nobleman, mentioned by Johnson in his _Notes of his
Tour in France_ [_ante_, Oct. 18, 1775]. I had the pleasure of becoming
acquainted with him in London, in the spring of this year. BOSWELL. Mrs.
Thrale wrote to Johnson from Bath on May 16:--'Count Manucci would wait
seven years to come with you; so do not disappoint the man, but bring
him along with you. His delight in your company is like Boniface's
exultation when the squire speaks Latin; for understand you he
certainly cannot.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 328. It was not the squire,
but the priest, Foigard, who by his Latin did Boniface good.
_The Beaux Strategem_, act iii. sc. 2.

[257] _Pr. and Med_. p. 151.

[258] _St. James_, i. 17.

[259] See _ante_, ii. 175. Seven and even eight years later Paterson was
still a student in need of Johnson's recommendation. _Post_, June 2,
1783, and April 5, 1784.

[260] See _ante_, p. 58.

[261] Why his Lordship uses the epithet _pleasantly_, when speaking of
a grave piece of reasoning, I cannot conceive. But different men have
different notions of pleasantry. I happened to sit by a gentleman one
evening at the Opera-house in London, who, at the moment when _Medea_
appeared to be in great agony at the thought of killing her children,
turned to me with a smile, and said, '_funny_ enough.' BOSWELL.

[262] Dr. Johnson afterwards told me, that he was of opinion that a
clergyman had this right. BOSWELL.

[263] Johnson, nearly three years earlier, had said of Granger:--'The
dog is a Whig. I do not like much to see a Whig in any dress; but I hate
to see a Whig in a parson's gown.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 24, 1773.

[264] 'I did my utmost,' wrote Horace Walpole (_Letters_, v. 168), 'to
dissuade Mr. Granger from the dedication, and took especial pains to get
my _virtues_ left out of the question.'


'In moderation placing all my glory,
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.'

Pope, _Imitations of Horace_, Bk. ii Sat. I. 1. 67.

[266] 'One of the dippers at Brighthelmstone, seeing Mr. Johnson swim in
the year 1766, said:--"Why, Sir, you must have been a stout-hearted
gentleman forty years ago."' _Piozzi's Anec_. p. 113. Johnson, in his
verses entitled, _In Rivum a Mola Stoana Lichfeldiæ diffluentem_
(_Works_, i. 163), writes:--

'Errat adhuc vitreus per prata virentia rivus,
  Quo toties lavi membra tenella puer;
Hic delusa rudi frustrabar brachia motu,
  Dum docuit blanda voce natare pater.'

[267] For this and Dr. Johnson's other letters to Mr. Levett, I am
indebted to my old acquaintance Mr. Nathaniel Thomas, whose worth and
ingenuity have been long known to a respectable, though not a wide
circle; and whose collection of medals would do credit to persons of
greater opulence. BOSWELL.

[268] Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale shew the difference between
modern Brighton and the Brighthelmstone of his days. Thus he writes:--
'Ashbourne, Sept. 27, 1777. I know not when I shall write again, now
you are going to the world's end [i.e. Brighton]. _Extra anni solisque
vias_, where the post will be a long time in reaching you. I shall,
notwithstanding all distance, continue to think on you.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 387. 'Oct. 6, 1777. Methinks you are now a great way off;
and if I come, I have a great way to come to you; and then the sea is so
cold, and the rooms are so dull; yet I do love to hear the sea roar and
my mistress talk--For when she talks, ye gods! how she will talk. I wish
I were with you, but we are now near half the length of England asunder.
It is frightful to think how much time must pass between writing this
letter and receiving an answer, if any answer were necessary.'
_Ib_. ii. 2.

[269] Boswell wrote to Temple on Nov. 3, 1780:--'I could not help
smiling at the expostulation which you suggest to me to try with my
father. It would do admirably with some fathers; but it would make mine
much worse, for he cannot bear that his son should talk with him as a
man. I can only lament his unmelting coldness to my wife and children,
for I fear it is hopeless to think of his ever being more affectionate
towards them. Yet it must be acknowledged that his paying £1000 of my
debt some years ago was a large bounty. He allows me £300 a year.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 255.

[270] See _ante_, Aug. 27, 1775, note.

[271] See _ante_, p. 48, note 4.

[272] 'He said to me often that the time he spent in this Tour was
the pleasantest part of his life, and asked me if I would lose the
recollection of it for five hundred pounds.' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
under Nov. 22, 1773.

[273] Chap. viii. 10. A translation of this work is in
_Bibliotheca Pastorum_, ed. J. Ruskin, vol. i.

[274] 'The chief cause of my deficiency has been a life immethodical
and unsettled, which breaks all purposes, confounds and suppresses
memory, and perhaps leaves too much leisure to imagination.' _Pr. and
Med_. p. 136.

[275] Johnson wrote to Boswell (_ante_, June 12, 1774):--'I have
stipulated twenty-five for you to give in your own name.' The book was
published early in 1775. On Feb. 25, 1775, he wrote:--'I am sorry that I
could get no books for my friends in Scotland. Mr. Strahan has at last
promised to send two dozen to you.' It is strange that not far short of
two years passed before the books were sent.

[276] Boswell had 'expressed his extreme aversion to his father's
second marriage.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 255--On Sept. 2, 1775, he
thus described his step-mother:--'His wife, whom in my conscience I
cannot condemn for any capital bad quality, is so narrow-minded, and, I
don't know how, so set upon keeping him under her own management, and so
suspicious and so sourishly tempered that it requires the utmost
exertion of practical philosophy to keep myself quiet.' _Ib_. p. 216.

[277] See _ante_, Jan. 19 and May 6, 1775.

[278] See _ante_, p. 86.

[279] See _ante_, May 27, 1775.

[280] Macquarry was the chief of Ulva's Isle. 'He told us,' writes
Boswell, 'his family had possessed Ulva for nine hundred years; but I
was distressed to hear that it was soon to be sold for payment of his
debts.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct 16, 1773.

[281] See _ante_, March 24, 1776.

[282] Mrs. Thrale gives a long but scarcely credible account of her
quarrel with Baretti. It is very unlikely that he used to say to her
eldest daughter 'that, if her mother died in a lying-in which happened
while he lived here, he hoped Mr. Thrale would marry Miss Whitbred, who
would be a pretty companion for her, and not tyrannical and overbearing
like me.' Hayward's _Piozzi_, ii. 336. No doubt in 1788 he attacked her
brutally (see _ante_, p. 49). 'I could not have suspected him,' wrote
Miss Burney, 'of a bitterness of invective so cruel, so ferocious.' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, iv. 185. The attack was provoked. Mrs. Piozzi, in
January, 1788, published one of Johnson's letters, in which he wrote--at
all events she says he wrote:--'Poor B----i! do not quarrel with him; to
neglect him a little will be sufficient. He means only to be frank, and
manly, and independent, and perhaps, as you say, a little wise. To be
frank he thinks is to be cynical, and to be independent is to be rude.
Forgive him, dearest lady, the rather because of his misbehaviour I am
afraid he learnt part of me. I hope to set him hereafter a better
example.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 277. Malone, in 1789, speaks of 'the
roughness for which Baretti was formerly distinguished.' Prior's
_Malone_, p. 391. Mrs. Thrale thus describes his departure: 'My daughter
kept on telling me that Mr. Baretti was grown very old and very cross,
would not look at her exercises, but said he would leave this house
soon, for it was no better than Pandæmonium. The next day he packed up
his cloke-bag, which he had not done for three years, and sent it to
town; and while we were wondering what he would say about it at
breakfast, he was walking to London himself, without taking leave of any
one person, except it may be the girl, who owns they had much talk, in
the course of which he expressed great aversion to me and even to her,
who, [_sic_] he said, he once thought well of.' Hayward's _Piozzi_, ii.
339. Baretti, in the _Eur. Mag_. xiii. 398, told his story. He
said:--'Madam took it into her head to give herself airs, and treat me
with some coldness and superciliousness. I did not hesitate to set down
at breakfast my dish of tea not half drank, go for my hat and stick that
lay in the corner of the room, turn my back to the house _insalutato
hospite_, and walk away to London without uttering a syllable.' In a
marginal note on _Piozzi Letters_, i. 338, he says he left Streatham on
June 4, 1776. 'I had,' he writes, 'by that time been in a manner one of
the family during six years and a-half. Johnson had made me hope that
Thrale would at last give me an annuity for my pains, but, never
receiving a shilling from him or from her, I grew tired at last, and on
some provocation from her left them abruptly.' It should seem that he
afterwards made it up with them, for in a note on vol. ii. p. 191, he
says of the day of Mr. Thrale's death, 'Johnson and I, and many other
friends, were to dine with him that day.' The rest of the note, at all
events, is inaccurate, for he says that 'Mrs. Thrale imparted to Johnson
the news [of her husband's death],' whereas Johnson saw him die.

[283] Mrs. Piozzi says that this money was given to Baretti as a
consolation for the loss of the Italian tour (_ante_, iii. 6). Hayward's
_Piozzi_, ii. 337.

[284] The Duke of York was present when Foote had the accident by which
he lost his leg (_ante_, ii. 95). Moved by compassion, he obtained for
him from the King a royal patent for performances at the Haymarket from
May 14 to Sept. 14 in every year. He played but thrice after his
retirement. Forster's Essays, ii. 400, 435.

[285] Strahan showed greater sagacity about Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_,
which had been declined by Elmsly. 'So moderate were our hopes,' writes
Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 223), 'that the original impression had been
stinted to five hundred, till the number was doubled by the prophetic
taste of Mr. Strahan.' Carrick called Strahan 'rather an _obtuse_ man.'
_Post_, April 9 1778.

[286] See _post_, Sept. 19, 1777, and April 20, 1781.

[287] Johnson, I believe, at this time suffered less than usual from
despondency. See _ante_, iii. 25, note 1. The passage in which these
words are found applies to one day only. It is as follows:--'March 28.
This day is Good Friday. It is likewise the day on which my poor Tetty
was taken from me. My thoughts were disturbed in bed. I remembered
that it was my wife's dying day, and begged pardon for all our sins, and
commended her; but resolved to mix little of my own sorrows or cares
with the great solemnity. Having taken only tea without milk I went to
church; had time before service to commend my wife, and wished to join
quietly in the service, but I did not hear well, and my mind grew
unsettled and perplexed. Having rested ill in the night I slumbered at
the sermon, which, I think, I could not as I sat perfectly hear.... At
night I had some ease. L.D. [Laus Deo] I had prayed for pardon and
peace.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 153. Hawkins, however (_Life_, p. 532), says,
perhaps with considerable exaggeration, that at this time, 'he sunk into
indolence, till his faculties seemed to be impaired; deafness grew upon
him; long intervals of mental absence interrupted his conversation, and
it was difficult to engage his attention to any subject. His friends
concluded that his lamp was emitting its last rays, but the lapse of a
short period gave them ample proofs to the contrary.' The proofs were
_The Lives of the Poets_. Johnson himself says of this time:--'Days and
months pass in a dream; and I am afraid that my memory grows less
tenacious, and my observation less attentive.' _Pr. and Med_. 160.


'Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind.'

Pope's _Essay on Man_, i. 99.

[289] '"I inherited," said Johnson, "a vile melancholy from my father,
which has made me mad all my life, at least not sober."' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 16, 1773. See _ante_, i. 65, and _post_, Sept. 20,

[290] _Pr. and Med_. p. 155. BOSWELL.

[291] _Pr. and Med_. p. 158. BOSWELL.

[292] He continues:--'I passed the afternoon with such calm gladness of
mind as it is very long since I felt before. I passed the night in such
sweet uninterrupted sleep as I have not known since I slept at Fort
Augustus.' See _post_, Nov. 21, 1778, where in a letter to Boswell he
says:--'The best night that I have had these twenty years was at Fort
Augustus.' In 1767 he mentions (_Pr. and Med_. p. 73) 'a sudden relief
he once had by a good night's rest in Fetter Lane,' where he had lived
many years before. His good nights must have been rare indeed.

[293] Bishop Percy says that he handed over to Johnson various memoranda
which he had received from 'Goldsmith's brother and others of his family,
to afford materials for a _Life of Goldsmith_, which Johnson was to
write and publish for their benefit. But he utterly forgot them and the
subject.' Prior successfully defends Johnson against the charge that he
did not include Goldsmith's _Life_ among the _Lives of the Poets_. 'The
copy-right of _She Stoops to Conquer_ was the property of Carnan the
bookseller (surviving partner of F. Newbery); and Carnan being "a most
impracticable man and at variance with all his brethren," in the words
of Malone to the Bishop, he refused his assent, and the project for the
time fell to the ground.' But Percy clearly implies that it was a
separate work and not one of the _Lives_ that Johnson had undertaken.
See Prior's _Goldsmith_, Preface, p. x. Malone, in a note on Boswell's
letter of July 9, 1777, says:--'I collected some materials for a _Life
of Goldsmith_, by Johnson's desire.' He goes on to mention the quarrel
with Carnan. It should seem then that Johnson was gathering materials
for Goldsmith's _Life_ before the _Lives of the Poets_ were projected;
that later on he intended to include it in that series, but being
thwarted by Carnan that he did nothing.

[294] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 24, 1773.

[295] 'I have often desired him not to call me Goldy.' _Ib_. Oct. 14.

[296] 'The Duke of Argyle was obliging enough to mount Dr. Johnson on a
stately steed from his grace's stable. My friend was highly pleased, and
Joseph [Boswell's Bohemian servant] said, "He now looks like a bishop."'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 26.

[297] See _ante_, ii. 196.

[298] Even Burke falls into the vulgarism of 'mutual friend.' See his
_Correspondence_, i. 196, ii. 251. Goldsmith also writes of 'mutual
acquaintance.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv. 48.

[299] He means to imply, I suppose, that Johnson was the father of
plantations. See _ante_, under Feb. 7, 1775. note.

[300] For a character of this very amiable man, see _Journal of a Tour
to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 36. [Aug. 17.] BOSWELL.

[301] By the then course of the post, my long letter of the 14th had not
yet reached him. BOSWELL.

[302] _History of Philip the Second_. BOSWELL.

[303] See _ante_, Jan. 21, 1775.

[304] See _ante_, iii. 48.

[305] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Jan. 15, 1777, that he had had about
twelve ounces of blood taken, and then about ten more, and that another
bleeding was to follow. 'Yet I do not make it a matter of much form. I
was to-day at Mrs. Gardiner's. When I have bled to-morrow, I will not
give up Langton nor Paradise. But I beg that you will fetch me away on
Friday. I do not know but clearer air may do me good; but whether the
air be clear or dark, let me come to you.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 344. See
_post_, Sept. 16, 1777, note.

[306] See _ante_, i. 411, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 24, 1773.

[307] Johnson tried in vain to buy this book at Aberdeen. _Ib_. Aug. 23.

[308] See _ante_, May 12, 1775.

[309] No doubt her _Miscellanies_. _Ante_, ii. 25.

[310] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 22.

[311] John_son_ is the most common English formation of the Sirname from
_John_; John_ston_ the Scotch. My illustrious friend observed that many
North Britons pronounced his name in their own way. BOSWELL. Boswell
(_Hebrides_, Oct. 21, 1773) tells of one Lochbuy who, 'being told that
Dr. Johnson did not hear well, bawled out to him, "Are you of the
Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan?"'

[312] See _post_, under Dec. 24, 1783.

[313] Johnson's old amanuensis. _Ante_, i. 187. Johnson described him as
'a man of great learning.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 654.

[314] On account of their differing from him as to religion and
politicks. BOSWELL. See _post_, April 13, 1778. Mr. Croker says that
'the Club had, as its records show, for many of his latter years very
little of his company.'

[315] See _ante_, i. 225 note 2, July 4, 1774, and March 20, 1776.

[316] Boswell was no reader. 'I don't believe,' Johnson once said to
him, 'you have borrowed from Waller. I wish you would enable yourself
to borrow more.' _Ante_, April 16, 1775. Boswell wrote to Temple on
March 18, 1775:--'I have a kind of impotency of study.' Two months later
he wrote:--'I have promised to Dr. Johnson to read when I get to
Scotland, and to keep an account of what I read. I shall let you know
how I go on. My mind must be nourished.' _Letters of Boswell_, pp. 181,

[317] Chesterfield's _Letters to his Son_ were published in 1774, and
his _Miscellaneous Works_, together with _Memoirs and Letters to his
Friends_, early in 1777.

[318] 'Whatso it is, the Danaan folk, yea gift-bearing I fear.' Morris,
Æneids, ii. 49.

[319] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on March 19, 1777:--'You are all young,
and gay, and easy; but I have miserable nights, and know not how to make
them better; but I shift pretty well a-days, and so have at you all at
Dr. Burney's to-morrow.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 345.

[320] A twelfth was born next year. See _post_, July 3, 1778.

[321] It was March 29.

[322] _Pr. and Med_. p. 155. BOSWELL

[323] See _ante_, i. 341, note 3.

[324] See _ante_, i. 439.

[325] Johnson's moderation in demanding so small a sum is extraordinary.
Had he asked one thousand, or even fifteen hundred guineas, the
booksellers, who knew the value of his name, would doubtless have
readily given it. They have probably got five thousand guineas by this
work in the course of twenty-five years. MALONE.

[326] See _post_, beginning of 1781.

[327] See _ante_, ii. 272, note 2.

[328] Mr. Joseph Cooper Walker, of the Treasury, Dublin, who obligingly
communicated to me this and a former letter from Dr. Johnson to the
same gentleman (for which see vol. i. p. 321), writes to me as follows:
--'Perhaps it would gratify you to have some account of Mr. O'Connor. He
is an amiable, learned, venerable old gentleman, of an independent
fortune, who lives at Belanagar, in the county of Roscommon; he is an
admired writer, and Member of the Irish Academy.--The above Letter is
alluded to in the Preface to the 2nd edit, of his _Dissert_, p. 3.'--Mr.
O'Connor afterwards died at the age of eighty-two. See a well-drawn
character of him in the _Gent. Mag_. for August 1791. BOSWELL.

[329] Mr. Croker shows good reason for believing that in the original
letter this parenthesis stood:--'_if such there were_.'

[330] See _ante_, i. 292.

[331] 'Johnson had not heard of Pearce's _Sermons_, which I wondered at,
considering that he wrote all the _Life_ published by the Chaplain
Derby, except what his Lordship wrote himself.' _Letters of Boswell_,
p. 242. See ante, March 20, 1776.

[332] Boswell, it seems, is here quoting himself. See his _Hebrides_,
3rd edit. p. 201 (Sept. 13, 1773), where, however, he lays the emphasis
differently, writing '_fervour_ of loyalty.'

[333] 'An old acquaintance' of the Bishop says that 'he struggled hard
ten years ago to resign his Bishopric and the Deanery of Westminster, in
which our gracious King was willing to gratify him; but upon a
consultation of the Bishops they thought it could not be done with
propriety; yet he was permitted to resign the Deanery.' _Gent. Mag_.
1775, p. 421.

[334] 'This person, it is said, was a stay-maker, but being a man of wit
and parts he betook himself to study, and at a time when the discipline
of the inns of court was scandalously lax, got himself called to the
Bar, and practised at the quarter-sessions under me, but with little
success. He became the conductor of a paper called _The Public Ledger_
and a writer for the stage, in which he met with some encouragement, till
it was insinuated that he was a pensioner of the minister, and therefore
a fit object of patriotic vengeance.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 518. See
_ante_, ii. 48 note, and _post_, 1784, in Mr. Nichols's account of
Johnson's last days.

[335] 'This address had the desired effect. The play was well received.'
Murphy's _Garrick_, p. 302. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Lichfield,
'Lucy [his step-daughter] thinks nothing of my prologue for Kelly, and
says she has always disowned it.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 352.

[336] It was composed at a time when Savage was generally without
lodging, and often without meat. Much of it was written with pen and ink
that were borrowed, on paper that had been picked up in the streets. The
unhappy poet 'was obliged to submit himself wholly to the players, and
admit with whatever reluctance the emendations of Mr. Cibber, which he
always considered as the disgrace of his performance.' When it was
brought out, he himself took the part of Overbury. 'He was so much
ashamed of having been reduced to appear as a player, that he always
blotted out his name from the list when a copy of his tragedy was to be
shown to his friends.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 110-112.

[337] It was not at Drury-lane, but at Covent Garden theatre, that it
was acted. MALONE.

[338] Part First, Chap 4. BOSWELL. See _ante_ ii. 225.

[339] _Life of Richard Savage_, by Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL.

[340] See _ante_, i. 387, and _post_, May 17, 1783.

[341] Sheridan joined the Literary Club in March, 1777. _The Rivals_
and _The Duenna_ were brought out in 1775; _The Trip to Scarborough_
on Feb. 24, 1777, and _The School for Scandal_ in the following May.
Moore (_Life of Sheridan_, i. 168), speaking of _The Duenna_, says,
'The run of this opera has, I believe, no parallel in the annals of the
drama. Sixty-three nights was the career of _The Beggar's Opera_; but
_The Duenna_ was acted no less than seventy-five times during the
season.' _The Trip to Scarborough_ was a failure. Johnson, therefore,
doubtless referred to _The Rivals_ and _The Duenna_.

[342] The date is wrongly given. Boswell says that he wrote again on
June 23 (_post_, p. 120), and Johnson's letter of June 28 is in answer
to both letters. The right date is perhaps June 9.

[343] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, under Nov. 11, 1773.

[344] See pp. 29, 30, of this volume. BOSWELL.

[345] Johnson, describing 'the fond intimacy' of Quin and Thomson, says
(_Works_, viii. 374):--'The commencement of this benevolence is very
honourable to Quin, who is reported to have delivered Thomson, then
known to him only for his genius, from an arrest by a very considerable
present; and its continuance is honourable to both, for friendship is
not always the sequel of obligation.'

[346] See _ante_, ii. 63, and _post_, June 18, 1778.

[347] Formerly Sub-preceptor to his present Majesty, and afterwards a
Commissioner of Excise. MALONE.

[348] The physician and poet. He died in 1779.

[349] Boswell nine years earlier (_ante_, ii. 63) had heard Johnson
accuse Thomson of gross sensuality.

[350] 'Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me he heard a
lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of his
character, that he was a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously
abstinent; but, said Savage, he knows not any love but that of the sex;
he was perhaps never in cold water in his life; and he indulges himself
in all the luxury that comes within his reach.' Johnson's _Works_, viii.

[351] Dr. Johnson was not the _editor_ of this Collection of _The
English Poets_; he merely furnished the biographical prefaces. MALONE.
See _post_, Sept. 14, 1777.

[352] See _ante_, under April 18, 1775.

[353] One letter he seems to have sent to him from this spot. See
_ante_, ii. 3, note 1.

[354] Dr. Johnson had himself talked of our seeing Carlisle together.
_High_ was a favourite word of his to denote a person of rank. He said
to me, 'Sir, I believe we may at the house of a Roman Catholick lady in
Cumberland; a high lady, Sir.' I afterwards discovered he meant Mrs.
Strickland, sister of Charles Townley, Esq., whose very noble collection
of pictures is not more to be admired, than his extraordinary and polite
readiness in shewing it, which I and several of my friends have
agreeably experienced. They who are possessed of valuable stores of
gratification to persons of taste, should exercise their benevolence in
imparting the pleasure. Grateful acknowledgments are due to Welbore
Ellis Agar, Esq., for the liberal access which he is pleased to allow to
his exquisite collection of pictures. BOSWELL.

[355] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 11, 1773.

[356] It is no doubt, on account of its brevity that Boswell in speaking
of it writes:--'What is called _The Life_.'

[357] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct, 29, 1773.

[358] See _ante_, under Feb. 7, 1775.

[359] See post, p. 139.

[360] See _ante_, i. 494.

[361] From Prior's imitation of _Gualterus Danistonus ad Amicos_; the
poem mentioned by Boswell in his _Hebrides_, Aug. 18, 1773.

[362] _Copy_ is _manuscript for printing_.

[363] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 521) says that the jury did not at the trial
recommend Dodd to mercy. To one of the petitions 'Mrs. Dodd first got
the hands of the jury that found the bill against her husband, and after
that, as it is supposed, of the jury that tried him.' Ib. p. 527. He
says that the public were at first very little interested in his fate,
'but by various artifices, and particularly the insertion of his name in
public papers, with such palliatives as he and his friends could invent,
never with the epithet of _unfortunate_, they were betrayed into such an
enthusiastic commiseration of his case as would have led a stranger to
believe that himself had been no accessory to his distresses, but that
they were the inflictions of Providence.' Ib. p. 520. Johnson wrote to
Dr. Taylor on May 19:--'Poor Dodd was sentenced last week.... I am
afraid he will suffer. The clergy seem not to be his friends. The
populace, that was extremely clamorous against him, begins to pity him.
_Notes and Queries_, 6th S., v. 423.

[364] Horace Walpole says 'the criminal was raised to the dignity of a
confessor in the eyes of the people--but an inexorable judge had already
pronounced his doom. Lord Mansfield, who never felt pity, and never
relented unless terrified, had indecently declared for execution even
before the judges had given their opinion. An incident that seemed
favourable weighed down the vigorous [qu. rigorous] scale. The Common
Council had presented a petition for mercy to the king. Lord Mansfield,
who hated the popular party as much as he loved severity, was not likely
to be moved by such intercessors. At Court it grew the language that the
king must discountenance such interposition.' Walpole adds that 'as an
attempt to rescue Dodd might be apprehended, two thousand men were
ordered to be reviewed in Hyde Park during the execution.' _Journal of
the Reign of George III_, ii. 125.

[365] Johnson, in the '_Observations_ inserted in the newspapers'
(_post_, p. 142), said 'that though the people cannot judge of the
administration of justice so well as their governors, yet their voice
has always been regarded. That if the people now commit an error, their
error is on the part of mercy; and that perhaps history cannot shew a
time in which the life of a criminal, guilty of nothing above fraud, was
refused to the cry of nations, to the joint supplication of three and
twenty thousand petitioners.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 528. Johnson's
earnestness as a petitioner contrasts with the scornful way in which he
had spoken of petitions. 'There must be no yielding to encourage this,'
the minister might have answered in his own words. _Ante_, ii. 90.

[366] The king signs no sentences or death warrants; but out of respect
to the Royal perogative of mercy, expressed by the old adage, '_The
King's face gives grace_,' the cases of criminals convicted in London,
where the king is supposed to be resident, were reported to him by the
recorder, that his Majesty might have an option of pardoning. Hence it
was seriously doubted whether a recorder's report need or, indeed, could
be made at Windsor. All his Majesty did on these occasions was, to
express verbally his assent or dissent to or from the execution of the
sentence; and, though the King was on such occasions attended by his
Ministers and the great legal Privy Councillors, the business was not
technically a council business, but the individual act of the King.
On the accession of Queen Victoria, the nature of some cases that it
might be necessary to report to her Majesty occasioned the abrogation of
a practice which was certainly so far unreasonable that it made a
difference between London and all the rest of the kingdom. CROKER. 'I
was exceedingly shocked,' said Lord Eldon, 'the first time I attended to
hear the Recorder's report, at the careless manner in which, as it
appeared to me, it was conducted. We were called upon to decide on
sentences affecting no less than the lives of men, and yet there was
nothing laid before us to enable us to judge whether there had or had
not been any extenuating circumstances; it was merely a recapitulation
of the judge's opinion and the sentence. I resolved that I never would
attend another report, without having read and duly considered the whole
of the evidence of each case, and I never did.' Twiss's _Eldon_, i.

[367] Under-Secretary of State and a member of the Literary Club.
_Ante_, i. 478.

[368] Johnson does not here let Boswell know that he had written this
address (_post_, p. 141). Wesley, two days before Dodd's execution,
records (_Journal_, iv. 99):--'I saw Dr. Dodd for the last time. He was
in exactly such a temper as I wished. He never at any time expressed the
least murmuring or resentment at any one; but entirely and calmly gave
himself up to the will of God. Such a prisoner I scarce ever saw before;
much less such a condemned malefactor. I should think none could
converse with him without acknowledging that God is with him.' In
earlier years Wesley was more than once refused admittance to a man
under sentence of death who was 'earnestly desirous' to speak with him.
Wesley's _Journal_, ed. 1827, i. 255, 292, 378.

[369] Between the Methodists and the Moravians there was no good-will.
In 1749 the Moravians published a declaration that 'whosoever reckons
that those persons in England who are usually called Moravians, and
those who are called Methodists, are the same, he is mistaken.'
Thereupon Wesley recorded in his _Journal_, ii. l20:--'The Methodists,
so called, heartily thank Brother Louis for his Declaration; as they
count it no honour to be in any connexion either with him or his

[370] Since they have been so much honoured by Dr. Johnson I shall here
insert them:



'You know my solemn enthusiasm of mind. You love me for it, and I
respect myself for it, because in so far I resemble Mr. Johnson. You
will be agreeably surprized when you learn the reason of my writing this
letter. I am at Wittemberg in Saxony. I am in the old church where the
Reformation was first preached, and where some of the reformers lie
interred. I cannot resist the serious pleasure of writing to Mr. Johnson
from the Tomb of Melancthon. My paper rests upon the gravestone of that
great and good man, who was undoubtedly the worthiest of all the
reformers. He wished to reform abuses which had been introduced into the
Church; but had no private resentment to gratify. So mild was he, that
when his aged mother consulted him with anxiety on the perplexing
disputes of the times, he advised her "to keep to the old religion." At
this tomb, then, my ever dear and respected friend! I vow to thee an
eternal attachment. It shall be my study to do what I can to render your
life happy: and, if you die before me, I shall endeavour to do honour to
your memory; and, elevated by the remembrance of you, persist in noble
piety. May GOD, the Father of all beings, ever bless you! and may you
continue to love,

'Your most affectionate friend, and devoted servant,
'Sunday, Sept. 30, 1764.'

'Wilton-house, April 22, 1775.

'Every scene of my life confirms the truth of what you have told me,
"there is no certain happiness in this state of being."--I am here,
amidst all that you know is at Lord Pembroke's; and yet I am weary and
gloomy. I am just setting out for the house of an old friend in
Devonshire, and shall not get back to London for a week yet. You said to
me last Good-Friday, with a cordiality that warmed my heart, that if I
came to settle in London, we should have a day fixed every week, to meet
by ourselves and talk freely. To be thought worthy of such a privilege
cannot but exalt me. During my present absence from you, while,
notwithstanding the gaiety which you allow me to possess, I am darkened
by temporary clouds, I beg to have a few lines from you; a few lines
merely of kindness, as--a _viaticum_ till I see you again. In your
_Vanity of Human Wishes_, and in Parnell's _Contentment_, I find the
only sure means of enjoying happiness; or, at least, the hopes of
happiness. I ever am, with reverence and affection,

'Most faithfully yours,


[371] William Seward, Esq., F.R.S., editor of _Anecdotes of some
distinguished persons_, etc., in four volumes, 8vo., well known to a
numerous and valuable acquaintance for his literature, love of the fine
arts, and social virtues. I am indebted to him for several
communications concerning Johnson. BOSWELL. Miss Burney frequently
mentions him as visiting the Thrales. 'Few people do him justice,' said
Mrs. Thrale to her, 'because as Dr. Johnson calls him, he is an abrupt
young man; but he has excellent qualities, and an excellent
understanding.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 141. Miss Burney, in one of
her letters, says:--'Mr. Seward, who seems to be quite at home among
them, appears to be a penetrating, polite, and agreeable young man. Mrs.
Thrale says of him, that he does good to everybody, but speaks well of
nobody.' _Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, ii. 89. He must not be confounded with
the Rev. Mr. Seward of Lichfield.

[372] See _post_, under date of June 18, 1778.

[373] In the list of deaths in the _Gent. Mag_. for 1779, p. 103, we
find, 'Feb. 8. Isaac de Groot, great-grandson to the learned Grotius.
He had long been supported by private donations, and at length was
provided for in the Charterhouse, where he died.'

[374] The preceding letter. BOSWELL.

[375] This letter was addressed not to a Mr. Dilly, but to Mr. W. Sharp,
Junior. See _Gent. Mag_. 1787, p. 99. CROKER.

[376] See _ante_, i. 312.

[377] See _ante_, p. 101.

[378] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 16.

[379] See ante, p. 86, and _post_, under Nov. 29, 1777.

[380] Johnson gives both _epocha_ and _epoch_ in his _Dictionary_.

[381] Langton. See _ante_, p. 48, and _post_, Sept. 22, 1777.

[382] This very just remark I hope will be constantly held in
remembrance by parents, who are in general too apt to indulge their own
fond feelings for their children at the expence of their friends. The
common custom of introducing them after dinner is highly injudicious. It
is agreeable enough that they should appear at any other time; but they
should not be suffered to poison the moments of festivity by attracting
the attention of the company, and in a manner compelling them from
politeness to say what they do not think. BOSWELL. See _ante_, p. 28.

[383] Gibbon wrote to Garrick from Paris on Aug. 14:--'At this time of
year the society of the Turk's-head can no longer be addressed as a
corporate body, and most of the individual members are probably
dispersed: Adam Smith in Scotland; Burke in the shades of Beaconsfield;
Fox, the Lord or the devil knows where, etc. Be so good as to salute in
my name those friends who may fall in your way. Assure Sir Joshua, in
particular, that I have not lost my relish for _manly_ conversation and
the society of the brown table.' _Garrick Corres_. ii. 256. I believe
that in Gibbon's published letters no mention is found of Johnson.

[384] See _ante_, ii. 159, and _post_, April 4, 1778. Of his greatness
at the Bar Lord Eldon has left the following anecdote;--'Mr. Dunning,
being in very great business, was asked how he contrived to get through
it all. He said, "I do one third of it, another third does itself, and
the remaining third continues undone."' Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 327.

[385] It is not easy to detect Johnson in anything that comes even near
an inaccuracy. Let me quote, therefore, a passage from one of his
letters which shews that when he wrote to Mrs. Boswell he had not, as
he seems to imply, eaten any of the marmalade:--'Aug. 4, 1777. I believe
it was after I left your house that I received a pot of orange marmalade
from Mrs. Boswell. We have now, I hope, made it up. I have not opened my
pot.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 350.

[386] See _ante_, March 19, 1776.

[387] What it was that had occured is shewn by Johnson's letter to Mrs.
Thrale on Aug. 4:--'Boswell's project is disconcerted by a visit from a
relation of Yorkshire, whom he mentions as the head of his clan [see
_ante_, ii. 169, note 2]. Boszy, you know, make a huge bustle about
all his own motions and all mine. I have inclosed a letter to pacify
him, and reconcile him to the uncertainties of human life.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 350.

[388] When she was about four months old, Boswell declared that she
should have five hundred pounds of additional fortune, on account of
her fondness for Dr. Johnson. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 15, 1773.
She died, says Malone, of a consumption, four months after her father.

[389] See _ante_, March 23, 1776.

[390] By an odd mistake, in the first three editions we find a reading
in this line to which Dr. Johnson would by no means have subscribed,
_wine_ having been substituted for _time_. That error probably was a
mistake in the transcript of Johnson's original letter. The other
deviation in the beginning of the line (_virtue_ instead of nature) must
be attributed to his memory having deceived him. The verse quoted is the
concluding line of a sonnet of Sidney's:--

'Who doth desire that chast his wife should bee,
  First be he true, for truth doth truth deserve;
Then be he such, as she his worth may see,
  And, alwaies one, credit with her preserve:
Not toying kynd nor causelessly unkynd,
  Nor stirring thoughts, nor yet denying right,
Nor spying faults, nor in plaine errors blind,
  Never hard hand, nor ever rayns (reins) too light;
As far from want, as far from vaine expence,
  Th' one doth enforce, the t'other doth entice:
Allow good companie, but drive from thence
  All filthie mouths that glorie in their vice:
This done, thou hast no more but leave the rest
  To _nature_, fortune, _time_, and woman's breast.'


[391] 2 Corinthians, iv. 17.

[392] Boswell says (ante, i. 342):--'I am not satisfied if a year passes
without my having read _Rasselas_ through.'

[393] It appears that Johnson, now in his sixty-eighth year, was
seriously inclined to realise the project of our going up the Baltick,
which I had started when we were in the Isle of Sky [Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 16]; for he thus writes to Mrs. Thrale; _Letters_,
vol. i. p. 366:--

'Ashbourne, Sept. 13, 1777.

'BOSWELL, I believe, is coming. He talks of being here to day: I shall
be glad to see him: but he shrinks from the Baltick expedition, which, I
think, is the best scheme in our power: what we shall substitute I know
not. He wants to see Wales; but, except the woods of _Bachycraigh_, what
is there in Wales, that can fill the hunger of ignorance, or quench the
thirst of curiosity? We may, perhaps, form some scheme or other; but, in
the phrase of _Hockley in the Hole_, it is a pity he has not a _better

Such an ardour of mind, and vigour of enterprise, is admirable at any
age: but more particularly so at the advanced period at which Johnson
was then arrived. I am sorry now that I did not insist on our executing
that scheme. Besides the other objects of curiosity and observation, to
have seen my illustrious friend received, as he probably would have
been, by a Prince so eminently distinguished for his variety of talents
and acquisitions as the late King of Sweden; and by the Empress of
Russia, whose extraordinary abilities, information, and magnanimity,
astonish the world, would have afforded a noble subject for
contemplation and record. This reflection may possibly be thought too
visionary by the more sedate and cold-blooded part of my readers; yet I
own, I frequently indulge it with an earnest, unavailing regret.
BOSWELL. In _The Spectator_, No. 436, Hockley in the Hole is described
as 'a place of no small renown for the gallantry of the lower order of
Britons.' Fielding mentions it in _Jonathan Wild_, bk. i. ch. 2:--
'Jonathan married Elizabeth, daughter of Scragg Hollow, of Hockley
in the Hole, Esq., and by her had Jonathan, who is the illustrious
subject of these memoirs.' In _The Beggar's Opera_, act i. Mrs. Peachum
says to Filch: 'You should go to Hockley in the Hole, and to Marylebone,
child, to learn valour. These are the schools that have bred so many
brave men.' Hockley in the Hole was in Clerkenwell. That Johnson had
this valour was shewn two years earlier, when he wrote to Mrs. Thrale
about a sum of £14,000 that the Thrales had received: 'If I had money
enough, what would I do? Perhaps, if you and master did not hold me, I
might go to Cairo, and down the Red Sea to Bengal, and take a ramble in
India. Would this be better than building and planting? It would surely
give more variety to the eye, and more amplitude to the mind. Half
fourteen thousand would send me out to see other forms of existence, and
bring me back to describe them.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 266. To the 'King
of Sweden' _late_ was added in the second edition; Gustavus III having
been assassinated in March 1792. The story is somewhere told that George
III, on hearing the news, cried out, 'What, what, what! Shot, shot,
shot!' The Empress of Russia was Catherine II.

[394] It so happened. The letter was forwarded to my house at Edinburgh.
BOSWELL. Arthur Young (_Tour through the North of England_, iv. 431-5)
describes, in 1768, some of the roads along which Boswell was to travel
nine years later. 'I would advise all travellers to consider the country
between Newcastle-under-Line and Preston as sea, and as soon think of
driving into the ocean as venturing into such detestable roads. I am
told the Derby way to Manchester is good, but further is not
penetrable.' The road from Wigan to Preston he calls 'infernal,' and
'cautions all travellers, who may accidentally purpose to travel this
terrible country, to avoid it as they would the devil; for a thousand to
one they break their necks or their limbs. They will here meet with ruts
which I actually measured four feet deep, and floating with mud only
from a wet summer; what therefore must it be after a winter?'

[395] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Sept. 15, 1777:--'Last night came
Boswell. I am glad that he is come. He seems to be very brisk and
lively, and laughs a little at ---- [no doubt Taylor].' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 368. On the 18th he wrote:--'Boswell is with us in good
humour, and plays his part with his usual vivacity.' On this Baretti
noted in his copy:--'That is, he makes more noise than anybody in
company, talking and laughing loud.' On p. 216 in vol. i. he
noted:--'Boswell is not quite right-headed in my humble opinion.'

[396] In the _Gent. Mag_. for 1777, p. 458, it is described as a
'violent shock.'

[397] 'Grief has its time' he once said (_post_, June 2, 1781). 'Grief
is a species of idleness,' he wrote to Mrs. Thrale (_Piozzi Letters_,
i. 77). He constantly taught that it is a duty not to allow the mind to
prey on itself. 'Gaiety is a duty when health requires it' (Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 529). 'Encourage yourself in bustle, and variety, and
cheerfulness,' he wrote to Mrs. Thrale ten weeks after the
death of her only surviving son (_Piozzi Letters_, i. 341). 'Even to
think in the most reasonable manner,' he said at another time, 'is for
the present not useful as not to think.' _Ib_ i. 202. When Mr. Thrale
died, he wrote to his widow:--'I think business the best remedy for
grief, as soon as it can be admitted.' _Ib_. ii 197. To Dr. Taylor
Johnson wrote:--'Sadness only multiplies self.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th
S., v. 461.

[398] 'There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow; but there is
something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot
be loved, nor will by me at least be thought worthy of esteem.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 198. Against this Baretti has written in the margin:--
'Johnson never grieved much for anything. His trade was wisdom.' See
_ante_, ii. 94.

[399] See _ante_, iii 19. Mr. Croker gives a reference to p. 136 of his
edition. Turning to it we find an account of Johnson, who rode upon
three horses. It would seem from this that, because John=Jack, therefore

[400] Mr. Croker remarks on this:--'Johnson evidently thought, either
that Ireland is generally mountainous, or that Mr. Burke came from a
part which was: but he was mistaken.' The allusion may well be, not to
Burke as a native of Ireland, but to him as a student of national
politics and economy, to whom any general reflections on the character
of mountaineers would be welcome. In Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 201,
it is stated that 'it was the philosophy of the book that Burke thought
well of.'

[401] Mr. Langley, I have little doubt, is the Mr. L---- of the
following passage in Johnson's letter, written from Ashbourne on July
12, 1775:--'Mr. L---- and the Doctor still continue at variance; and the
Doctor is afraid and Mr. L---- not desirous of a reconciliation. I
therefore step over at by-times, and of by-times I have enough.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 267.

[402] See _ante_, ii. 52.

[403] George Garrick. See Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 141.

[404] See _ante_, March 26, 1776, and _post_, Sept. 21, 1777.

[405] 'While Lord Bathurst held the Great Seal, an attempt was in vain
made to corrupt him by a secret offer to Lady Bathurst of three thousand
guineas for the living of St. George's, Hanover Square. The offer was
traced to the famous Dr. Dodd, then a King's Chaplain, and he was
immediately dismissed.' Campbell's _Chancellors_, v. 464. See Walpole's
_Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 298.

[406] Horace Walpole, who accompanied Prince Edward to a service at the
Magdalen House in 1760, thus describes the service (_Letters_, iii. 282):
--'As soon as we entered the chapel the organ played, and the Magdalens
sung a hymn in parts. You cannot imagine how well. The chapel was
dressed with orange and myrtle, and there wanted nothing but a little
incense to drive away the devil,--or to invite him. Prayers then began,
psalms and a sermon; the latter by a young clergyman, one Dodd, who
contributed to the Popish idea one had imbibed, by haranguing entirely
in the French style, and very eloquently and touchingly. He
apostrophised the lost sheep, who sobbed and cried from their souls: so
did my Lady Hertford and Fanny Pelham, till, I believe, the city dames
took them both for Jane Shores. The confessor then turned to the
audience, and addressed himself to his Royal Highness, whom he called
most illustrious prince, beseeching his protection. In short, it was a
very pleasing performance, and I got _the most illustrious_ to desire it
might be printed.' Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 503) heard Dodd preach in
1769. 'We had,' he says, 'difficulty to get tolerable seats, the crowd
of genteel people was so great. The unfortunate young women were in a
latticed gallery, where you could only see those who chose to be seen.
The preacher's text was, "If a man look on a woman to lust after her,"
&c. The text itself was shocking, and the sermon was composed with the
least possible delicacy, and was a shocking insult on a sincere
penitent, and fuel for the warm passions of the hypocrites. The fellow
was handsome, and delivered his discourse remarkably well for a reader.
When he had finished, there were unceasing whispers of applause, which I
could not help contradicting aloud, and condemning the whole
institution, as well as the exhibition of the preacher, as _contra bonos
mores_, and a disgrace to a Christian city.' Goldsmith in 1774 exposed
Dodd as a 'quacking divine' in his _Retaliation_. He describes Dr.
Douglas as a 'The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks,' and he

'But now he is gone, and we want a detector,
Our Dodds shall be pious, our Kenricks shall lecture.'

See _post_, April 7, 1778.

[407] The fifth earl, the successor of the celebrated earl. On Feb. 22,
1777, Dodd was convicted of forging a bond for £4,200 in his name; _Ann.
Reg_. xx. 168. The earl was unfortunate in his tutors, for he had been
also under Cuthbert Shaw (_ante_, ii 31 note 2).

[408] Mr. Croker quotes the following letter of Dodd, dated 1750:--'I
spent yesterday afternoon with Johnson, the celebrated author of _The
Rambler_, who is of all others the oddest and most peculiar fellow I
ever saw. He is six feet high, has a violent convulsion in his head,
and his eyes are distorted. He speaks roughly and loud, listens to no
man's opinions, thoroughly pertinacious of his own. Good sense flows
from him in all he utters, and he seems possessed of a prodigious fund
of knowledge, which he is not at all reserved in communicating; but in a
manner so obstinate, ungenteel, and boorish, as renders it disagreeable
and dissatisfactory. In short it is impossible for words to describe
him. He seems often inattentive to what passes in company, and then
looks like a person possessed by some superior spirit. I have been
reflecting on him ever since I saw him. He is a man of most universal
and surprising genius, but in himself particular beyond expression.'
Dodd was born in 1729.

[409] 'One of my best and tenderest friends,' Johnson called him, _post_,
July 31, 1784. See _post_, April 10, 1778.

[410] _The Convict's Address to his Unhappy Brethren: Being a Sermon
preached by the Rev. Dr. Dodd, Friday, June 6, 1777, in the Chapel of
Newgate, while under sentence of death, for forging the name of the
Earl of Chesterfield on a bond for £4,200. Sold by the booksellers and
news-carriers. Price Two-pence_. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale from
Lichfield on Aug. 9:--'Lucy said, "When I read Dr. Dodd's sermon to the
prisoners, I said Dr. Johnson could not make a better."'

_Piozzi Letters_, i. 352. See _post_, p. 167.

[411] 'What must I do to be saved?' _Acts_ xvi. 30.

[412] 'And finally we must commend and entrust our souls to Him who
died for the sins of men; with earnest wishes and humble hopes that
He will admit us with the labourers who entered the vineyard at the last
hour, and associate us with the thief whom he pardoned on the cross.' p.

[413] _The Gent. Mag_. for 1777 (p. 450) says of this address:--'As
none but a convict could have written this, all convicts ought to read
it; and we therefore recommend its being framed, and hung up in all
prisons.' Mr. Croker, italicising _could_ and suppressing the latter
part of the sentence, describes it as a criticism that must have been
offensive to Johnson. The writer's meaning is simple enough. The
address, he knew, was delivered in the Chapel of Newgate by a prisoner
under sentence of death. If, instead of 'written' he had said
'delivered,' his meaning would have been quite clear.

[414] Having unexpectedly, by the favour of Mr. Stone, of London
Field, Hackney, seen the original in Johnson's hand-writing, of 'The
Petition of the City of London to his Majesty, in favour of Dr. Dodd,' I
now present it to my readers, with such passages as were omitted
in-closed in crotchets, and the additions or variations marked in

'That William Dodd, Doctor of Laws, now lying under sentence of death
_in your Majesty's gaol of Newgate_, for the crime of forgery, has for a
great part of his life set a useful and laudable example of diligence in
his calling, [and as we have reason to believe, has exercised his
ministry with great fidelity and efficacy,] _which, in many instances,
has produced the most happy effect_.

'That he has been the first institutor, [or] _and_ a very earnest and
active promoter of several modes of useful charity, and [that] therefore
[he] may be considered as having been on many occasions a benefactor to
the publick.

'[That when they consider his past life, they are willing to suppose his
late crime to have been not the consequence of habitual depravity, but
the suggestion of some sudden and violent temptation.]

'[That] _Your Petitioners_ therefore considering his case, as in some of
its circumstances unprecedented and peculiar, _and encouraged by your
Majesty's known clemency_, [they] most humbly recommend the said William
Dodd to [his] your Majesty's most gracious consideration, in hopes that
he will be found not altogether [unfit] _unworthy_ to stand an example
of Royal Mercy.' BOSWELL.

[415] His Speech at the Old Bailey, when found guilty. BOSWELL.

[416] In the second edition he is described as 'now Lord Hawkesbury.'
He had entered public life as Lord Bute's private secretary, and,
according to Horace Walpole, continued in it as his tool.' _Memoirs of
the Reign of George III_, iv. 70, 115. Walpole speaks of him as one of
'the Jesuits of the Treasury' (_Ib_. p. 110), and 'the director or agent
of all the King's secret counsels. His appearance was abject, his
countenance betrayed a consciousness of secret guilt; and, though his
ambition and rapacity were insatiate, his demeanour exhibited such a
want of spirit, that had he stood forth as Prime Minister, which he
really was, his very look would have encouraged opposition.' _Ib_. p.
135. The third Earl of Liverpool wrote to Mr. Croker on Dec. 7, 1845:
--'Very shortly before George III's accession my father became
confidential secretary of Lord Bute, if you can call secretary a man who
all through his life was so bad a penman that he always dictated
everything, and of whom, although I have a house full of papers, I have
scarcely any in his own hand.' _Croker Corres_. iii. 178. The editor is
in error in saying that the Earl of Liverpool who wrote this was son of
the Prime Minister. He was his half-brother.

[417] Burke wrote to Garrick of Fitzherbert:--'You know and love him;
but I assure you, until we can talk some late matters over, you, even
you, can have no adequate idea of the worth of that man.' _Garrick
Corres_. i. 190. See _ante_, i. 82.

[418] 'I remember a man,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (_Synonomy_, i. 2l7),
'much delighted in by the upper ranks of society, who upon a trifling
embarrassment in his affairs hanged himself behind the stable door, to
the astonishment of all who knew him as the liveliest companion and
most agreeable converser breathing. "What upon earth," said one at our
house, "could have made--[Fitzherbert] hang himself?" "Why, just his
having a multitude of acquaintance," replied Dr. Johnson, "and ne'er a
friend."' See _ante_, ii. 228.

[419] Dr. Gisborne, Physician to his Majesty's Household, has
obligingly communicated to me a fuller account of this story than had
reached Dr. Johnson. The affected Gentleman was the late John Gilbert
Cooper, Esq., author of a _Life of Socrates_, and of some poems in
Dodsley's _Collection_. Mr. Fitzherbert found him one morning,
apparently, in such violent agitation, on account of the indisposition
of his son, as to seem beyond the power of comfort. At length, however,
he exclaimed, 'I'll write an Elegy.' Mr. Fitzherbert being satisfied, by
this, of the sincerity of his emotions, slyly said, 'Had not you better
take a postchaise and go and see him?' It was the shrewdness of the
insinuation which made the story be circulated. BOSWELL. Malone
writes:--'Mr. Cooper was the last of the _benevolists_ or
sentimentalists, who were much in vogue between 1750 and 1760, and dealt
in general admiration of virtue. They were all tenderness in words;
their finer feeling evaporated in the moment of expression, for they had
no connection with their practice.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 427. See
_ante_, ii. 129. This fashion seems to have reached Paris a few years
later. Mme. Riccoboni wrote to Garrick on May 3, 1769:--'Dans notre
brillante capitale, où dominent les airs et la mode, s'attendrir,
s'émouvoir, s'affliger, c'est le bon ton du moment. La bonté, la
sensibilité, la tendre humanité sont devenues la fantaisie universelle.
On ferait volontiers des malheureux pour goûter la douceur de les
plaindre.' Garrick _Corres_. ii. 561.

[420] Johnson had felt the truth of this in the case of 'old Mr.
Sheridan.' _Ante_, i. 387.

[421] Johnson, in his letters from Ashbourne, used to joke about
Taylor's cattle:--'July 23, 1770. I have seen the great bull, and very
great he is. I have seen likewise his heir apparent, who promises to
enherit all the bulk and all the virtues of his sire, I have seen the
man who offered an hundred guineas for the young bull, while he was yet
little better than a calf.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 33. 'July 3, 1771. The
great bull has no disease but age. I hope in time to be like the great
bull; and hope you will be like him too a hundred years hence.' _Ib_. p.
39. 'July 10, 1771. There has been a man here to-day to take a farm.
After some talk he went to see the bull, and said that he had seen a
bigger. Do you think he is likely to get the farm?' _Ib_. p. 43. 'Oct.
31, 1772. Our bulls and cows are all well; but we yet hate the man that
had seen a bigger bull.' _Ib_. p. 61.

[422] Quoted by Boswell in his _Hebrides_, Aug. 16, 1773.

[423] In the letters that Boswell and Erskine published (_ante_, 384,
note) are some verses by Erskine, of very slight merit.

[424] Horace, _Odes_, ii. 4.


'The tender glance, the red'ning cheek,
  O'erspread with rising blushes,
A thousand various ways they speak
  A thousand various wishes.'

Hamilton's _Poems_, ed. 1760, p. 59.

[426] In the original, _Now. Ib_. p. 39.

[427] Thomson, in _The Seasons_, Winter, 1. 915, describes how the ocean

      'by the boundless frost
Is many a fathom to the bottom chain'd.'

In 1. 992, speaking of a thaw, he says,

'The rivers swell of bonds impatient.'

[428] See _ante_ March 24, 1776.

[429] Johnson wrote of Pope (_Works_, viii. 309):--'The indulgence and
accommodation which his sickness required had taught him all the
unpleasing and unsocial qualities of a valetudinary man.'

[430] When he was ill of a fever he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'The doctor
was with me again to-day, and we both think the fever quite gone. I
believe it was not an intermittent, for I took of my own head physick
yesterday; and Celsus says, it seems, that if a cathartick be taken the
fit will return _certo certius_. I would bear something rather than
Celsus should be detected in an error. But I say it was a _febris
continua_, and had a regular crisis.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 89.

[431] Johnson must have shortened his life by the bleedings that he
underwent. How many they were cannot be known, for no doubt he was
often bled when he has left no record of it. The following, however, I
have noted. I do not know that he was bled more than most people of his
time. Dr. Taylor, it should seem, underwent the operation every quarter.

Dec. 1755. Thrice. 54 ounces. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 100.

Jan. 1761. Once. _Ib_. p. 122.

April 1770. Cupped. _Pemb. Coll. MSS_.

Winter of 1772-3. Three times. _Ante_, ii. 206, and _Pemb. Coll. MSS_.

May 1773. Two copious bleedings. _Pr. and Med_. 130.

1774. Times not mentioned. 36 ounces. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 209.

Jan. 1777. Three bleedings. 22 ounces in first two. _Ib_. i. 343.

Jan. 1780. Once. _Post_, Jan. 20, 1780.

June 1780. Times not mentioned. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 649.

Jan. and Feb. 1782. Thrice. 50 ounces. _Post_, Feb. 4 and March 20,

May 1782. At least once. _Post_, under March 19, 1782, and _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 240.

Yet he wrote to Mrs. Thrale, 'I am of the chymical sect, which holds
phlebotomy in abhorrence.' _Ib_. ii. 240. 'O why,' asks Wesley, who was
as strongly opposed to bleeding as he was fond of poulticing, 'will
physicians play with the lives of their patients? Do not others (as well
as old Dr. Cockburn) know that "no end is answered by bleeding in a
pleurisy, which may not be much better answered without it?"' Wesley's
_Journal_, ii. 310. 'Dr. Cheyne,' writes Pope, 'was of Mr. Cheselden's
opinion, that bleeding might be frequently repeated with safety, for he
advised me to take four or five ounces every full moon.' Elwin and
Courthope's _Pope's Works_, ix. 162.

[432] 'It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to
tell him he is at the end of his nature.' _Sir Thomas Browne _quoted in
Johnson's _Works_, vi. 485. See _post_, April 15, 1778, and Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 12, 1773.

[433] In the last number of _The Idler_ Johnson says:--'There are few
things not purely evil of which we can say without some emotion of
uneasiness, _this is the last_.... The secret horrour of the last is
inseparable from a thinking being whose life is limited, and to whom
death is dreadful.'

[434] In the first edition for _scarce any man_ we find _almost no
man_. See _ante_, March 20, 1776, note.

[435] Bacon, in his _Essay on Death_, says:--'It is worthy the
observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak but it
mates and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such
terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can
win the combat of him.' In the _De Aug. Sci_. vi. 3. 12, he says:--'Non
invenias inter humanos affetum tam pusillum, qui si intendatur paullo
vehementius, non mortis metum superet.'

[436] Johnson, in his _Lives of Addison and Parnell_ (_Works_, vii. 399,
449), mentions that they drank too freely. See _post_, under Dec. 2,

[437] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_. 3d edit. p. 240 [Sept. 22].

[438] In the _Life of Addison_ (_Works_, vii. 444) he says:--'The
necessity of complying with times, and of sparing persons, is the great
impediment of biography. History may be formed from permanent monuments
and records; but Lives can only be written from personal knowledge,
which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost for ever.
What is known can seldom be immediately told; and when it might be told,
it is no longer known. The delicate features of the mind, the nice
discriminations of character, and the minute peculiarities of conduct,
are soon obliterated; and it is surely better that caprice, obstinacy,
frolick and folly, however they might delight in the description, should
be silently forgotten, than that, by wanton merriment and unseasonable
detection, a pang should be given to a widow, a daughter, a brother, or
a friend. As the process of these narratives is now bringing me among my
contemporaries, I begin to feel myself "walking upon ashes under which
the fire is not extinguished," and coming to the time of which it will
be proper rather to say "nothing that is false, than all that is true."'
See _ante_, i. 9, and 30.

[439] Dr. Taylor was very ready to make this admission, because the
party with which he was connected was not in power. There was then
some truth in it, owing to the pertinacity of factious clamour. Had he
lived till now, it would have been impossible for him to deny that his
Majesty possesses the warmest affection of his people. BOSWELL. See
_post_, March 21, 1783.

[440] The Duke of York in 1788, speaking in the House of Lords on
the King's illness, said:--'He was confident that his Royal Highness
[the Prince of Wales] understood too well the sacred principles which
seated the House of Brunswick on the throne of Great Britain ever to
assume or exercise any power, be his claim what it might, not derived
from the will of the people, expressed by their representatives, and
their lordships in parliament assembled.' _Parl. Hist_. xxvii. 678.

[441] See _ante_, i. 430.

[442] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 18, 1773, and _post_, under
date of Sept. 9, 1779, note.

[443] 'The return of my birth-day,' he wrote in 1773, 'if I remember
it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of
humanity to escape.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 134. In 1781 he viewed the
day with calmness, _if not with cheerfulness_. He writes:--'I rose,
breakfasted, and gave thanks at church for my creation, preservation and
redemption. As I came home, I thought I had never begun any period of
life so placidly. I have always been accustomed to let this day pass
unnoticed, but it came this time into my mind that some little festivity
was not improper. I had a dinner; and invited Allen and Levet.' _Pr. and
Med_. p. 198. In 1783 he again had 'a little dinner,' and invited four
friends to keep the day. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 739. At Streatham the
day, it would seem, was always kept. Mrs. Piozzi writes (_Anec_. p.
211):--'On the birthday of our eldest daughter, and that of our friend,
Dr. Johnson, the 17th and 18th of September, we every year made up a
little dance and supper to divert our servants and their friends.'

[444] The son of a Mr. Coxeter, 'a gentleman,' says Johnson, 'who was
once my friend,' enlisted in the service of the East India Company.
Johnson asked Mr. Thrale to use his influence to get his discharge.
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 33.

[445] The bookseller whom Johnson beat, _ante_, i. 154.

[446] 'When a well-known author published his poems in the year 1777,
"Such a one's verses are come out," said I: "Yes," replied Johnson,
"and this frost has struck them in again. Here are some lines I have
written to ridicule them; but remember that I love the fellow dearly
now--for all I laugh at him.

'Wheresoe'er I turn my view,
All is strange, yet nothing new;
Endless labour all along,
Endless labour to be wrong;
Phrase that time has flung away;
Uncouth words in disarray,
Trick'd in antique ruff and bonnet,
Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.'"'

Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 64.

Thomas Warton in 1777 published a volume of his poems. He, no doubt, is

[447] In _The Rambler_, No. 121. Johnson, twenty-six years earlier,
attacked 'the imitation of Spenser, which, by the influence of some men
of learning and genius, seems likely to gain upon the age.... They seem
to conclude that, when they have disfigured their lines with a few
obsolete syllables, they have accomplished their design, without
considering that they ought, not only to admit old words, but to avoid
new. The laws of imitation are broken by every word introduced since the
time of Spenser.'

[448] Warton's _Ode on the First of April_ is found a line which may
have suggested these two lines:--'The morning hoar, and evening chill.'

[449] 'Collins affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival;
and he puts his words out of the common order, seeming to think, with
some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to
write poetry.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 404. Goldsmith, eleven years
earlier, said in his _Life of Parnell_ (_Misc. Works_, iv. 22):--'These
misguided innovators have not been content with restoring antiquated
words and phrases, but have indulged themselves in the most licentious
transpositions and the harshest constructions, vainly imagining that the
more their writings are unlike prose, the more they resemble poetry.'
Collins and Warton might have quoted by way of defence the couplet in
Milton's _L'Allegro_.--

'While the cock with lively din
Scatters the rear of _darkness thin_.'

[450] As some of my readers may be gratified by reading the progress of
this little composition, I shall insert it from my notes. 'When Dr.
Johnson and I were sitting _tête-à-tête_ at the Mitre tavern, May 9,
1778, he said "_Where_ is bliss," would be better. He then added a
ludicrous stanza, but would not repeat it, lest I should take it down.
It was somewhat as follows; the last line I am sure I remember:

"While I thus cried,
The hoary seer reply'd,
  Come, my lad, and drink some beer."

In spring, 1779, when in better humour, he made the second stanza, as in
the text. There was only one variation afterwards made on my suggestion,
which was changing _hoary_ in the third line to _smiling_, both to avoid
a sameness with the epithet in the first line, and to describe the
hermit in his pleasantry. He was then very well pleased that I should
preserve it.' BOSWELL.

[451] When I mentioned Dr. Johnson's remark to a lady of admirable good
sense and quickness of understanding, she observed, 'It is true, all this
excludes only one evil; but how much good does it let in?'--To this
observation much praise has been justly given. Let me then now do myself
the honour to mention that the lady who made it was the late Margaret
Montgomerie, my very valuable wife, and the very affectionate mother of
my children, who, if they inherit her good qualities, will have no
reason to complain of their lot. _Dos magna parentum virtus_. BOSWELL.
The latter part of this note was first given in the second edition. The
quotation if from Horace:--

'Cos est magna parentium Virtus.'
'The lovers there for dowry claim
The father's virtue and the mother's fame.'

FRANCIS, Horace, Odes, iii. 24. 21.

[452] He saw it in 1774 on his way to Wales; but he must, I think, have
seen it since, for it does not appear from his _Journal of a Tour into
Wales_ that he then saw Lord Scarsdale. He met him also at Dr. Taylor's
in July 1775. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 267.

[453] I do not find the description in Young's _Six Months' Tour through
the North of England_, but in Pilkington's _Present State of Derbyshire_,
ii. 120.


'Quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris?'
'What place, what land in all the earth but with our grief is stored?'

Morris, _Æneids_, i. 460.

[455] See _ante_, March 21 and 28, 1776.

[456] At Derby.

[457] Baretti in his _Italy_, i. 236, says:--'It is the general custom
for our authors to make a present of their works to booksellers, who in
return scarcely give a few copies when printed.' The Venetian bookseller
to whom Metastasio gave his cleared, Baretti says, more than £10,000.
Goldoni scarcely got for each of his plays ten pounds from the manager of
the Venetian theatre, and much less from the booksellers. 'Our learned
stare when they are told that in England there are numerous writers who
get their bread by their productions only.'

[458] I am now happy to understand, that Mr. John Home, who was himself
gallantly in the field for the reigning family, in that interesting
warfare, but is generous enough to do justice to the other side, is
preparing an account of it for the press. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle, who
knew Home well, says (_Auto_. p. 295):--'All his opinions of men and
things were prejudices, which, though it did not disqualify him for
writing admirable poetry, yet made him unfit for writing history.' See
_ante_, i. 225, for Boswell's projected works.

[459] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale the next day:--'The finer pieces [of
the Derby china] are so dear that perhaps silver vessels of the same
capacity may be sometimes bought at the same price; and I am not yet so
infected with the contagion of china-fancy as to like anything at that
rate which can so easily be broken.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 380.

[460] See _ante_, April 14, 1775.

[461] See Hutton's _History of Derby_, a book which is deservedly
esteemed for its information, accuracy, and good narrative. Indeed the
age in which we live is eminently distinguished by topographical
excellence. BOSWELL. According to Hutton the Italians at the beginning
of the eighteenth century had 'the exclusive art of silk-throwing.'
Lombe went to Italy, and by bribery got admittance into the works.
Having mastered the secret he returned to England with two of the
workmen. About the year 1717 he founded a great silk-mill at Derby. He
died early, being poisoned, it was asserted, by an Italian woman who had
been sent over to destroy him. In this mill, Hutton, as a child, 'had
suffered intolerable severity.' Hutton's _Derby_, pp. 193-205.

[462] 'I have enlarged my notions,' recorded Johnson in his _Journal of
a Tour into Wales_ (Aug. 3, 1774), after he had seen some iron-works.

[463] Young. BOSWELL.

'Think nought a trifle, though it small appear.'
Small sands the mountain, moments make the year,
And trifles life.'

_Love of Fame_, Satire vi.

[464] 'Pray, Sir, don't leave us;' said Johnson to an upholder of
Berkeley's philosophy, 'for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and
then you will cease to exist.' _Post_, 1780, in Langton's _Collection_.
See also _ante_, i. 471.

[465] Perhaps Boswell is thinking of Gray's lines at the close of the
_Progress of Poesy_:--

'Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate.'

[466] Goldsmith wrote:--'In all Pope's letters, as well as in those of
Swift, there runs a strain of pride, as if the world talked of nothing
but themselves. "Alas," says he in one of them, "the day after I am
dead the sun will shine as bright as the day before, and the world
will be as merry as usual." Very strange, that neither an eclipse nor an
earthquake should follow the loss of a poet!' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's
Works_, iv. 85. Goldsmith refers, I suppose, to Pope's letter to Steele
of July 15, 1712, where he writes:--'The morning after my exit the sun
will rise as bright as ever, the flowers smell as sweet, the plants
spring as green, the world will proceed in its old course, people will
laugh as heartily, and marry as fast as they were used to do.' Elwin's
Pope's _Works_, vi. 392. Gray's friend, Richard West, in some lines
suggested by this letter, gives a pretty turn to Pope's thoughts where
he says:--

'For me, whene'er all-conquering Death shall spread
His wings around my unrepining head,
I care not; tho' this face be seen no more,
The world will pass as cheerful as before;
Bright as before the day-star will appear,
The fields as verdant, and the skies as clear.'

Mason's _Gray_, ed. 1807, i. 152.

[467] See _post_, April 12, 1778.

[468] A brother of Dodd's wife told Hawkins that 'Dodd's manner of
living was ever such as his visible income would no way account for.
He said that he was the most importunate suitor for preferment ever
known; and that himself had been the bearer of letters to great men,
soliciting promotion to livings, and had hardly escaped kicking down
stairs.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 435.

[469] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 523) says that a Mr. Selwin, who just missed
being elected Chamberlain of the City, went by request to see a man
under sentence of death in Newgate, 'who informed him that he was in
daily expectation of the arrival of the warrant for his execution;
"but," said he, "I have £200, and you are a man of character, and had
the court-interest when you stood for Chamberlain; I should therefore
hope it is in your power to get me off." Mr. Selwin was struck with so
strange a notion, and asked, if there were any alleviating circumstances
in his case. The man peevishly answered "No;" but that he had enquired
into the history of the place where he was, and could not find that any
one who had £200 was ever hanged. Mr. Selwin told him it was out of his
power to help him, and bade him farewell--"which," added he, "he did;
for he found means to escape punishment."'

[470] Dodd, in his Dedication of this Sermon to Mr. Villette, the
Ordinary of Newgate, says:--'The following address owes its present
public appearance to you. You heard it delivered, and are pleased to
think that its publication will be useful. To a poor and abject worm
like myself this is a sufficient inducement to that publication.'

[471] See _ante_, p. 97. 'They have,' says Lowndes (_Bibl. Man_.),
'passed through innumerable editions.' To how many the book-stalls
testify, where they are offered second-hand for a few pence.

[472] Goldsmith was thirty when he published _An Enquiry into the
Present State of Polite Learning in Europe_; thirty-six when he
published The _Traveller_; thirty-seven when he published _The Vicar of
Wakefield_, and thirty-nine when he brought out _The Good-Natured Man_.
In flowering late he was like Swift. 'Swift was not one of those minds
which amaze the world with early pregnancy; his first work, except his
few poetical Essays, was the _Dissentions in Athens and Rome_, published
in his thirty-fourth year.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 197. See _post_,
April 9, 1778.

[473] Burke, I think, is meant.

[474] This walking about his room naked was, perhaps, part of
Lord Monboddo's system that was founded 'on the superiority of the
savage life.' _Ante_, ii. 147.

[475] This regimen was, however, practised by Bishop Ken, of whom
Hawkins (_not Sir John_) in his life of that venerable Prelate, p. 4,
tells us: 'And that neither his study might be the aggressor on his
hours of instruction, or what he judged his duty prevent his
improvements; or both, his closet addresses to his GOD; he strictly
accustomed himself to but one sleep, which often obliged him to rise at
one or two of the clock in the morning, and sometimes sooner; and grew
so habitual, that it continued with him almost till his last illness.
And so lively and chearful was his temper, that he would be very
facetious and entertaining to his friends in the evening, even when it
was perceived that with difficulty he kept his eyes open; and then
seemed to go to rest with no other purpose than the refreshing and
enabling him with more vigour and chearfulness to sing his morning hymn,
as he then used to do to his lute before he put on his cloaths.'

[476] See _ante_, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[477] Boswell shortened his life by drinking, if, indeed, he did
not die of it. Less than a year before his death he wrote to Temple:--'I
thank you sincerely for your friendly admonition on my frailty in
indulging so much in wine. I _do_ resolve _anew_ to be upon my guard, as
I am sensible how very pernicious as well as disreputable such a habit
is! How miserably have I yielded to it in various years!' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 353. In 1776 Paoli had taken his word of honour that he
would not taste fermented liquor for a year, that he might recover
sobriety. _Ib_. p. 233. For a short time also in 1778 Boswell was a
water-drinker, _Post_, April 28, 1778.

[478] Sir James Mackintosh told Mr. Croker that he believed Lord Errol
was meant here as well as _post_, April 28, 1778. See Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 24, 1773.

[479] 'Must give us pause.' _Hamlet_, act iii. sc. 1.

[480] 'He was the first,' writes Dr. T. Campbell (_Survey of the South
of Ireland_, p. 373), 'who gave histories of the weather, seasons, and
diseases of Dublin.' Wesley records (_Journal_, iv. 40):--'April 6,
1775. I visited that venerable man, Dr. Rutty, just tottering over the
grave; but still clear in his understanding, full of faith and love, and
patiently waiting till his change should come.'

[481] Cowper wrote of Johnson's _Diary_:--'It is certain that the
publisher of it is neither much a friend to the cause of religion nor to
the author's memory; for, by the specimen of it that has reached us, it
seems to contain only such stuff as has a direct tendency to expose both
to ridicule.' Southey's _Cowper_, v. 152.

[482] Huet, Bishop of Avranches, born 1630, died 1721, published in
1718 _Commentarius de rebus ad eum pertinentibus. Nouv. Biog. Gene_.
xxv. 380.

[483] When Dr. Blair published his Lectures, he was invidiously attacked
for having omitted his censure on Johnson's style, and, on the contrary,
praising it highly. But before that time Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_
had appeared, in which his style was considerably easier than when he
wrote _The Rambler_. It would, therefore, have been uncandid in Blair,
even supposing his criticism to have been just, to have preserved it.

[484] Johnson refers no doubt to the essay _On Romances, An Imitation_,
by A. L. Aikin (Mrs. Barbauld); in _Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose_, by
J. and A. L. Aikin (1773), p. 39. He would be an acute critic who could
distinguish this _Imitation_ from a number of _The Rambler_.

[485] See _post_, under Dec. 6, 1784.

[486] _Id est, The Literary Scourge_.

[487] See _ante_, ii. 236, where Johnson attacks 'the _verbiage_ of

[488] 'We were now treading that illustrious island, which was once
the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and
roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings
of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be
impossible if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were
possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever
makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the
present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and
from my friends, be such rigid philosophy, as may conduct us,
indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by
wisdom, bravery or virtue. The [That] man is little to be envied, whose
patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose
piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.' Had our Tour
produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world must have
acknowledged that it was not made in vain. Sir Joseph Banks, the present
respectable President of the Royal Society, told me, he was so much
struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained
for some time in an attitude of silent admiration. BOSWELL. See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 19, 1773, and Johnson's _Works_, ix. 145.

[489] 'He that thinks with more extent than another will want words of
larger meaning.' _Ante_, i. 218.

[490] In the original _island_.

[491] See _ante_, ii. 203, note 3.

[492] In this censure which has been carelessly uttered, I carelessly
joined. But in justice to Dr. Kippis, who with that manly candid good
temper which marks his character, set me right, I now with pleasure
retract it; and I desire it may be particularly observed, as pointed
out by him to me, that 'The new lives of dissenting Divines in the
first four volumes of the second edition of the _Biographia Brittanica_,
are those of John Abernethy, Thomas Amory, George Benson, Hugh Broughton
the learned Puritan, Simon Browne, Joseph Boyse of Dublin, Thomas
Cartwright the learned Puritan, and Samuel Chandler. The only doubt I
have ever heard suggested is, whether there should have been an article
of Dr. Amory. But I was convinced, and am still convinced, that he was
entitled to one, from the reality of his learning, and the excellent and
candid nature of his practical writings.

'The new lives of clergymen of the Church of England, in the same four
volumes, are as follows: John Balguy, Edward Bentham, George Berkley
Bishop of Cloyne, William Berriman, Thomas Birch, William Borlase,
Thomas Bott, James Bradley, Thomas Broughton, John Brown, John Burton,
Joseph Butler Bishop of Durham, Thomas Carte, Edmund Castell, Edmund
Chishull, Charles Churchill, William Clarke, Robert Clayton Bishop of
Clogher, John Conybeare Bishop of Bristol, George Costard, and Samuel
Croxall.--"I am not conscious (says Dr. Kippis) of any partiality in
conducting the work. I would not willingly insert a Dissenting Minister
that does not justly deserve to be noticed, or omit an established
Clergyman that does. At the same time, I shall not be deterred from
introducing Dissenters into the _Biographia_, when I am satisfied that
they are entitled to that distinction, from their writings, learning,
and merit."'

Let me add that the expression 'A friend to the Constitution in Church
and State,' was not meant by me, as any reflection upon this reverend
gentleman, as if he were an enemy to the political constitution of his
country, as established at the revolution, but, from my steady and
avowed predilection for a _Tory_, was quoted from Johnson's
_Dictionary_, where that distinction is so defined. BOSWELL. In his
_Dictionary_ a _Tory_ is defined as 'one who adheres to the ancient
constitution of the state and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of
England.' It was on the _Biographia Britannica_ that Cowper wrote the
lines that end:--

'So when a child, as playful children use,
Has burnt to tinder a stale last year's news,
The flame extinct he views the roving fire,
There goes my lady, and there goes the squire,
There goes the parson, oh! illustrious spark,
And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.'

Cowper's Works, viii. 320.

Horace Walpole said that the '_Biographia Britannica_ ought rather to be
called _Vindicatio Britannica_, for that it was a general panegyric upon
everybody.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 115.

[493] See _ante_, p. 99.


'Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.'

Dryden's _Absalom and Achitophel_, 1, 163.

[495] _Observations on Insanity_, by Thomas Arnold, M.D., London, 1782.

[496] We read in the Gospels, that those unfortunate persons who were
possessed with evil spirits (which, after all, I think is the most
probable cause of madness, as was first suggested to me by my
respectable friend Sir John Pringle), had recourse to pain, tearing
themselves, and jumping sometimes into the fire, sometimes into the
water. Mr. Seward has furnished me with a remarkable anecdote in
confirmation of Dr. Johnson's observation. A tradesman, who had acquired
a large fortune in London, retired from business, and went to live at
Worcester. His mind, being without its usual occupation, and having
nothing else to supply its place, preyed upon itself, so that existence
was a torment to him. At last he was seized with the stone; and a friend
who found him in one of its severest fits, having expressed his concern,
'No, no, Sir, (said he) don't pity me: what I now feel is ease compared
with that torture of mind from which it relieves me.' BOSWELL.

[497] See _ante_, i. 446. 'Johnson was a great enemy to the present
fashionable way of supposing worthless and infamous persons mad.'
Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 203.

[498] See _post_, April 1, 1779.

[499] See _post_, April 7, 1778.

[500] 'Reynolds,' writes Malone, 'was as fond of London as Dr. Johnson;
always maintaining that it was the only place in England where a
pleasant society might be found.' Prior's _Malone_ p. 433. Gibbon
wrote to Holroyd _Misc. Works_, ii 126:--'Never pretend to allure me by
painting in odious colours the dust of London. I love the dust, and
whenever I move into the Weald it is to visit you and my Lady, and not
your trees.' Burke, on the other hand, wrote (_Corres_. iii 422):--'What
is London? clean, commodious, neat; but, a very few things indeed
excepted, and endless addition of littleness to littleness, extending
itself over a great tract of land.' 'For a young man,' he says, 'for a
man of easy fortune, London is the best place one can imagine. But for
the old, the infirm, the straightened in fortune, the grave in character
or in disposition, I do not believe a much worse place can be found.'
_Ib_. iv. 250.


'Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine captos
  Ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui.'
Ovid, _Ep. ex Ponto_, i. 3. 35.

[502] 'In the morn and liquid dew of youth.' _Hamlet_, act i. sc. 3.

[503] Now, at the distance of fifteen years since this conversation
passed, the observation which I have had an opportunity of making in
Westminster Hall has convinced me, that, however true the opinion of
Dr. Johnson's legal friend may have been some time ago, the same
certainty of success cannot now be promised to the same display of
merit. The reasons, however, of the rapid rise of some, and the
disappointment of others equally respectable, are such as it might seem
invidious to mention, and would require a longer detail than would be
proper for this work. BOSWELL. Boswell began to eat his dinners in the
Inner Temple in 1775. _Ante_, p. 45 note 1, and _Letters of Boswell_, p.
196. In writing to Temple he thus mentions his career as a barrister.
'Jan. 10, 1789. In truth I am sadly discouraged by having no practice,
nor probable prospect of it; and to confess fairly to you, my friend, I
am afraid that, were I to be tried, I should be found so deficient in
the forms, the _quirks_ and the _quiddities_, which early habit
acquires, that I should expose myself. Yet the delusion of Westminster
Hall, of brilliant reputation and splendid fortune as a barrister, still
weighs upon my imagination.' _Ib_. p. 267. 'Aug. 23, 1789. The Law life
in Scotland amongst vulgar familiarity would now quite destroy me. I am
not able to acquire the Law of England.' _Ib_. p. 304. 'Nov. 28, 1789. I
have given up my house and taken good chambers in the Inner Temple, to
have the appearance of a lawyer. O Temple! Temple! is this realising any
of the towering hopes which have so often been the subject of our
conversations and letters? ... I do not see the smallest opening in
Westminster Hall but I like the scene, though I have attended only one
day this last term, being eager to get my _Life of Johnson_ finished.'
_Ib_. p. 314. 'April 6, 1791. When my book is launched, I shall, if I am
alone and in tolerable health and spirits, have some furniture put into
my chambers in the Temple, and force myself to sit there some hours
a-day, and to attend regularly in Westminster Hall. The chambers cost me
£20 yearly, and I may reckon furniture and a lad to attend there
occasionally £20 more. I doubt whether I shall get fees equal to the
expense.' _Ib_. p. 335. 'Nov. 22, 1791. I keep chambers open in the
Temple, I attend in Westminster Hall, but there is not the least
prospect of my having business.' _Ib_. p. 344. His chambers, as he wrote
to Malone, were 'in the very staircase where Johnson lived.' Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 830.

[504] Sunday was the 21st.

[505] See _ante_, March 26, 1776, and _post_, under Nov. 17, 1784.

[506] In _Notes and Queries_ for April, May, and June 1882, is a series
of Johnson's letters to Taylor, between June 10, 1742 and April 12,
1784. In the first Johnson signs himself:--'Your very affectionate,'
(p. 304). On Nov. 18, 1756, he writes:--'Neither of us now can find many
whom he has known so long as we have known each other.... We both stand
almost single in the world,' (p. 324). On July 15, 1765, he reproaches
Taylor with not writing:--'With all your building and feasting you might
have found an hour in some wet day for the remembrance of your old
friend. I should have thought that since you have led a life so festive
and gay, you would have [invited] me to partake of your hospitality,'
(p. 383). On Oct. 19, 1779, he says:--'Write to me soon. We are both
old. How few of those whom we have known in our youth are left alive!'
(p. 461). On April 12, 1784, he writes:--'Let us be kind to one another.
I have no friend now living but you and Mr. Hector that was the friend
of my youth,' (p. 482, and _post_, April 12, 1784). See _ante_, p. 131,
for his regret on the death of his school-fellow, Henry Jackson, who
seemed to Boswell (_ante_, under March 22, 1776) to be a low man, dull
and untaught. 'One of the old man's miseries,' he wrote, (_post_, Feb.
3, 1778), 'is that he cannot easily find a companion able to partake
with him of the past.' 'I have none to call me Charley now,' wrote
Charles Lamb on the death of a friend of his boyhood (Talfourd's _Lamb_,
ed. 1865, p. 145). Such a companion Johnson found in Taylor. That, on
the death of his wife, he at once sent for him, not even waiting for the
light of morning to come, is a proof that he had a strong affection for
the man.

[507] _Ecclesiasticus_, ch. xxxviii. verse 25. The whole chapter may be
read as an admirable illustration of the superiority of cultivated minds
over the gross and illiterate. BOSWELL.

[508] Passages in Johnson's Letters to Mrs. Thrale are to the same
effect. 'Aug. 3, 1771. Having stayed my month with Taylor I came away on
Wednesday, leaving him, I think, in a disposition of mind not very
uncommon, at once weary of my stay, and grieved at my departure.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 52. 'July 13, 1775. Dr. Taylor and I spend little
time together, yet he will not yet be persuaded to hear of parting.'
_Ib_. p. 276. 'July 26, 1775. Having stayed long enough at Ashbourne, I
was not sorry to leave it. I hindered some of Taylor's diversions, and
he supplied me with very little.' _Ib_ p. 287.

[509] The second volume of these Sermons, which was published in 1789, a
year after the first, contains the following addition to the title:--'To
which is added a Sermon written by Samuel Johnson, L.L.D., for the
Funeral of his Wife.' 'Dr. Taylor had,' writes Murphy (_Life_, p. 171),
'The LARGEST BULL in England, and some of the best Sermons.'

[510] If the eminent judge was Lord Mansfield, we may compare with
Boswell's regret the lines in which Pope laments the influence of
Westminster Hall and Parliament:--

'There truant Windham every muse gave o'er,
There Talbot sunk, and was a wit no more.
How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast!
How many Martials were in Pulteney lost!'

_The Dunciad_, iv. 167.

[511] Boswell's brother David had been settled in Spain since 1768.
(_Boswelliana_, p. 5.) He therefore is no doubt the son, and Lord
Auchinleck the father.

[512] See _ante_, ii. 129, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22, 1773.

[513] 'Jack' had not shown all his manners to Johnson. Gibbon thus
describes him in 1762 (_Misc. Works_, i. 142):--'Colonel Wilkes, of
the Buckinghamshire militia, dined with us. I scarcely ever met with a
better companion; he has inexhaustible spirits, infinite wit and humour,
and a great deal of knowledge; but a thorough profligate in principle as
in practice, his life stained with every vice, and his conversation full
of blasphemy and indecency. These morals he glories in--for shame is a
weakness he has long since surmounted.' The following anecdote in
_Boswelliana_ (p. 274) is not given in the _Life of Johnson_:--'Johnson
had a sovereign contempt for Wilkes and his party, whom he looked upon
as a mere rabble. "Sir," said he, "had Wilkes's mob prevailed against
government, this nation had died of _phthiriasis_. Mr. Langton told me
this. The expression, _morbus pediculosus_, as being better known would
strike more."'

[514] See _ante_, p. 79, note 1.

[515] See _ante_, p. 69.

[516] See _ante_, i. 402.

[517] See _ante_, i. 167.

[518] See _post_, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[519] See _post, ib_., where Johnson told Mrs. Siddons that 'Garrick was
no declaimer.'

[520] Hannah More (_Memoirs_, ii. 16) says that she once asked Garrick
'why Johnson was so often harsh and unkind in his speeches both of him
and to him:--"Why," he replied, "it is very natural; is it not to be
expected he should be angry that I, who have so much less merit than
he, should have had so much greater success?"'

[521] Foote died a month after this conversation. Johnson wrote to Mrs.
Thrale:--'Did you see Foote at Brighthelmstone? Did you think he would
so soon be gone? Life, says Falstaff, is a shuttle [_Merry Wives of
Windsor_, act v. sc. 1]. He was a fine fellow in his way; and the world
is really impoverished by his sinking glories. Murphy ought to write his
life, at least to give the world a _Footeana_. Now will any of his
contemporaries bewail him? Will genius change _his sex_ to weep? I
would really have his life written with diligence.' This letter is
wrongly dated Oct. 3, 1777. It was written early in November. _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 396. Baretti, in a marginal note on _Footeana_, says:--'One
half of it had been a string of obscenities.' See _post_, April 24,
1779, note.

[522] See _ante_, i. 447.

[523] _To pit_ is not in Johnson's _Dictionary_.

[524] Very likely Mr. Langton. See _ante_, ii. 254.

[525] Two months earlier Johnson had complained that Langton's table was
rather coarse. _Ante_, p. 128.

[526] See _post_, April 13, 1781, where he again mentions this advice.
'He said of a certain lady's entertainments, "What signifies going
thither? There is neither meat, drink, nor talk."' Johnson's _Works_
(1787), xi. 207.

[527] William, third Duke of Devonshire, who died in 1755. Johnson
(_post_, April 1, 1779) 'commended him for a dogged veracity.' Horace
Walpole records of him a fact that 'showed a conscientious idea of
honesty in him. Sometime before his death he had given up to two of
his younger sons £600 a-year in land, that they might not perjure
themselves, if called upon to swear to their qualifications as Knights
of the Shire.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George II_, ii. 86.

[528] Philip Francis wrote to Burke in 1790:--'Once for all, I wish
you would let me teach you to write English. To me who am to read
everything you write, it would be a great comfort, and to you no sort of
disparagement. Why will you not allow yourself to be persuaded that
polish is material to preservation?' Burke's _Corres_, iii. 164.

[529] Edit. 2, p. 53. BOSWELL.

[530] This is a mistake. The Ports had been seated at Islam time out of
mind. Congreve had visited there, and his _seat_, that is _the bench_ on
which he sometimes sat, used to be shown. CROKER. On the way to Islam,
Johnson told Boswell about the dedication of his _Plan_ to Lord
Chesterfield. _Ante_, i. 183, note 4.

[531] See _ante_, i. 41.

[532] 'I believe more places than one are still shown in groves and
gardens where he is related to have written his _Old Bachelor_.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 23.

[533] Page 89. BOSWELL.

[534] See Plott's _History of Staffordshire_, p. 88, and the authorities
referred to by him. BOSWELL.

[535] See _ante_, ii. 247, and _post_, March 31, 1778.

[536] See _ante_, i. 444.

[537] Mrs. Piozzi records (_Anec_. p. 109):--'In answer to the arguments
urged by Puritans, Quakers, etc. against showy decorations of the human
figure, I once heard him exclaim:--"Oh, let us not be found, when our
Master calls us, ripping the lace off our waistcoats, but the spirit of
contention from our souls and tongues! ... Alas! Sir, a man who cannot
get to heaven in a green coat will not find his way thither the sooner
in a grey one."' See _ante_, i, 405.

[538] Campbell, who was an exciseman, had in July, 1769, caught a
favourite servant of Lord Eglintoune in smuggling 80 gallons of rum in
one of his master's carts. This, he maintains, led to an ill-feeling. He
had a right to carry a gun by virtue of his office, and from many of the
gentry he had licences to shoot over their grounds. His lordship,
however, had forbidden him to enter his. On Oct. 24, 1769, he passed
into his grounds, and walked along the shore within the sea-mark,
looking for a plover. Lord Eglintoune came up with him on the sea-sands
and demanded his gun, advancing as if to seize it. Campbell warned him
that he would fire if he did not keep off, and kept retiring backwards
or sideways. He stumbled and fell. Lord Eglintoune stopped a little, and
then made as if he would advance. Campbell thereupon fired, and hit him
in the side. He was found guilty of murder. On the day after the trial
he hanged himself in prison. _Ann. Reg_. xiii. 219. See _ante_, ii. 66,
and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 1.

[539] See _ante_, p. 40.

[540] _See ante_, ii. 10.

[541] Boswell here alludes to the motto of his Journal:--

'Oh! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?'

Pope's _Essay on Man_, iv. 383.


'His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.'

Gray's _Elegy_.

[543] Johnson, a fortnight or so later, mentions this waterfall in a
letter to Mrs. Thrale, after speaking of a pool that Mr. Thrale was
having dug. 'He will have no waterfall to roar like the Doctor's. I sat
by it yesterday, and read Erasmus's _Militis Christiani Enchiridion_.'
_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 3.

[544] See _post_, April 9 and 30, 1778. At the following Easter he
recorded: 'My memory is less faithful in retaining names, and, I am
afraid, in retaining occurrences.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 170.

[545] I am told that Horace, Earl of Orford, has a collection of
_Bon-Mots_ by persons who never said but one. BOSWELL. Horace Walpole
had succeeded to his title after the publication of the first edition of
this book.

[546] See Macaulay's _Essays_, i. 370.

[547] Johnson (_Works_, vii. 158) tells how 'Rochester lived worthless
and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish
voluptuousness; till, at the age of one and thirty, he had exhausted the
fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.' He
describes how Burnet 'produced a total change both of his manners and
opinions,' and says of the book in which this conversion is recounted
that it is one 'which the critick ought to read for its elegance, the
philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.' In
Johnson's answer to Boswell we have a play on the title of this work,
which is, _Some passages of the Life and Death of John Earl of

[548] In the passages from Johnson's _Life of Prior_, quoted _ante_,
ii. 78, note 3, may be found an explanation of what he here says.
A poet who 'tries to be amorous by dint of study,' and who 'in his
amorous pedantry exhibits the college,' may be gross and yet not excite
to lewdness. Goldsmith, in 1766, in a book entitled _Beauties of English
Poetry Selected_, had inserted two of Prior's tales, 'which for once
interdicted from general reading a book with his name upon its
title-page.' Mr. Forster hereupon remarks 'on the changes in the public
taste. Nothing is more frequent than these, and few things so sudden.'
Of these changes he gives some curious instances. Forster's _Goldsmith_,
ii. 4.

[549] See _ante_, iii. 5.

[550] See _ante_, i. 428.

[551] Horace, _Odes_, ii. 14.

[552] I am informed by Mr. Langton, that a great many years ago he was
present when this question was agitated between Dr. Johnson and Mr.
Burke; and, to use Johnson's phrase, they 'talked their best;' Johnson
for Homer, Burke for Virgil. It may well be supposed to have been one
of the ablest and most brilliant contests that ever was exhibited. How
much must we regret that it has not been preserved. BOSWELL. Johnson
(_Works_, vii. 332), after saying that Dryden 'undertook perhaps the
most arduous work of its kind, a translation of Virgil,' continues:--'In
the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the discriminative excellence of
Homer is elevation and comprehension of thought, and that of Virgil is
grace and splendour of diction. The beauties of Homer are therefore
difficult to be lost, and those of Virgil difficult to be retained.' Mr.
E.J. Payne, in his edition of Burke's _Select Works_, i. xxxviii, says:--
'Most writers have constantly beside them some favourite classical author
from whom they endeavour to take their prevailing tone. Burke, according
to Butler, always had a "ragged Delphin _Virgil_" not far from his elbow.'
See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, note.

[553] According to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Mr. Burke, speaking of Bacon's
_Essays_, said he thought them the best of his works. Dr. Johnson was of
opinion that their excellence and their value consisted in being the
observations of a strong mind operating upon life; and in
consequence you find there what you seldom find in other books.'
Northcote's _Reynolds_, ii. 281.

[554] Mr. Seward perhaps imperfectly remembered the following passage in
the _Preface to the Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 40):--'From the authors
which rose in the time of Elizabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to
all the purposes of use and elegance. If the language of theology were
extracted from Hooker and the translation of the Bible; the terms of
natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation
from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and Sidney;
and the diction of common life from Shakespeare, few ideas would be lost
to mankind for want of English words in which they might be expressed.'

[555] Of Mallet's _Life of Bacon_, Johnson says (_Works_, viii. 465)
that it is 'written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation;
but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that when he
afterwards undertook the _Life of Marlborough_, Warburton remarked, that
he might perhaps forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had
forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.'

[556] It appears from part of the original journal in Mr. Anderdon's
papers that the friend who told the story was Mr. Beauclerk and the
gentleman and lady alluded to were Mr. (probably Henry) and Miss
Harvey. CROKER. Not Harvey but Hervey. See _ante_, i. 106, and ii. 32,
for another story told by Beauclerk against Johnson of Mr. Thomas

[557] Johnson, in his _Dictionary_, gives as the 17th meaning of _make,
to raise as profit from anything_. He quotes the speech of Pompey in
_Measure for Measure_, act iv. sc. 3:--'He made five marks, ready money.'
But Pompey, he might reply, was a servant, and his English therefore is
not to be taken as a standard.

[558] _Idea_ he defines as _mental imagination_.

[559] See _post_, May 15, 1783, note.

[560] In the first three editions of Boswell we find _Tadnor_ for
_Tadmor_. In Dodsley's _Collection_, iv. 229, the last couplet is as

'Or Tadmor's marble wastes survey,
Or in yon roofless cloister stray.'

[561] This is the tune that William Crotch (Dr. Crotch) was heard
playing before he was two years and a half old, on a little organ that
his father, a carpenter, had made. _Ann. Reg_. xxii 79.

[562] See _ante_, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[563] In 1757 two battalions of Highlanders were raised and sent
to North America. _Gent. Mag_. xxvii. 42, 333. Boswell (_Hebrides_,
Sept. 3, 1773) mentions 'the regiments which the late Lord Chatham
prided himself in having brought from "the mountains of the north."'
Chatham said in the House of Lords on Dec. 2, 1777:--'I remember that I
employed the very rebels in the service and defence of their country.
They were reclaimed by this means; they fought our battles; they
cheerfully bled in defence of those liberties which they attempted to
overthrow but a few years before.' _Parl. Hist_. xix. 477.


'Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee.'

Line 154.

[565] See _ante_, ii. 168. Boswell, when a widower, wrote to Temple
of a lady whom he seemed not unwilling to marry:--'She is about
seven-and-twenty, and he [Sir William Scott] tells me lively and gay--
_a Ranelagh girl_--but of excellent principles, insomuch that she reads
prayers to the servants in her father's family every Sunday evening.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 336.

[566] Pope mentions [_Dunciad_, iv. 342],

'Stretch'd on the rack of a too easy chair.'

But I recollect a couplet quite apposite to my subject in _Virtue an
Ethick Epistle_, a beautiful and instructive poem, by an anonymous
writer, in 1758; who, treating of pleasure in excess, says:--

'Till languor, suffering on the rack of bliss,
Confess that man was never made for this.' BOSWELL.

[567] See _post_, June 12, 1784.

[568] See _ante_, p. 86.

[569] 'For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not
according to knowledge.' _Romans_, x. 2.

[570] Horace Walpole wrote:--'Feb. 17, 1773. Caribs, black Caribs, have
no representatives in Parliament; they have no agent but God, and he is
seldom called to the bar of the House to defend their cause.' Walpole's
_Letters_, v. 438. 'Feb. 14, 1774. 'If all the black slaves were in
rebellion, I should have no doubt in choosing my side, but I scarce wish
perfect freedom to merchants who are the bloodiest of all tyrants. I
should think the souls of the Africans would sit heavy on the swords of
the Americans.' _Ib_. vi. 60.

[571] See _ante_, ii. 27, 312.

[572] 'We are told that the subjection of Americans may tend to the
diminution of our own liberties; an event which none but very
perspicacious politicians are able to foresee. If slavery be thus
fatally contagious, how is it that we hear,' etc. _Works_, vi. 262. In
his _Life of Milton_ (_ib_. vii. 116) he says:--'It has been observed
that they who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally
grant it.'

[573] See page 76 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[574] The address was delivered on May 23, 1770. The editor of _Rogers's
Table Talk_ quotes, on p. 129, Mr. Maltby, the friend of Rogers, who
says:--'Dr. C. Burney assured me that Beckford did not utter one
syllable of the speech--that it was wholly the invention of Horne Tooke.
Being very intimate with Tooke, I questioned him on the subject. "What
Burney states," he said, "is true. I saw Beckford just after he came
from St. James's. I asked him what he had said to the King; and he
replied, that he had been so confused, he scarcely knew what he had
said. But, cried I, _your speech_ must be sent to the papers; I'll write
it for you. I did so immediately, and it was printed forthwith."' Tooke
gave the same account to Isaac Reed. Walpole's _Letters_, v. 238, note.
Stephens (_Life of Horne Tooke_, i. 155-8) says, that the King's answer
had been anticipated and that Horne had suggested the idea of a reply.
Stephens continues:--'The speech in reply, as Mr. Horne lately
acknowledged to me, was his composition.' Stephens does not seem to have
heard the story that Beckford did not deliver the reply. He says that
Horne inserted the account in the newspapers. 'No one,' he continues,
'was better calculated to give copies of those harangues than the person
who had furnished the originals; and as to the occurrences at St.
James's, he was enabled to detail the particulars from the lips of the
members of the deputation.' Alderman Townshend assured Lord Chatham that
Beckford did deliver the speech. _Chatham Corres_. iii. 460. Horne
Tooke's word is not worth much. He did not resign his living till more
than seven years after he wrote to Wilkes:--'It is true I have suffered
the infectious hand of a bishop to be waved over me; whose imposition,
like the sop given to Judas, is only a signal for the devil to enter.'
Stephens's _Horne Tooke_, i. 76. Beckford, dying in his Mayoralty, is
oddly connected with Chatterton. 'Chatterton had written a political
essay for _The North Briton_, which, though accepted, was not printed on
account of Lord Mayor Beckford's death. The patriot thus calculated the
death of his great patron:--

                            £    s.    d.
Lost by his death in
   this Essay               1    11     6
Gained in Elegies  £2.2
       in Essays   £3.3
                            5     5     0
Am glad he is dead by      £3    13     6

D'Israeli's _Calamities of Authors_, i. 54.

[575] At the time that Johnson wrote this there were serfs in Scotland.
An Act passed in 1775 (15 Geo. III. c. 22) contains the following
preamble:--'Whereas by the law of Scotland, as explained by the judges
of the courts of law there, many colliers and salters are in a state of
slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries or saltworks where they
work for life, transferable with the coalwork and salteries,' etc. The
Act was ineffectual in giving relief, and in 1779 by 39 Geo. III. c. 56
all colliers were 'declared to be free from their servitude.' The last
of these emancipated slaves died in the year 1844. _Tranent and its
Surroundings_, by P. M'Neill, p. 26. See also _Parl. Hist_. xxix.
1109, where Dundas states that it was only 'after several years'
struggle that the bill was carried through both Houses.'

[576] See _ante_, ii. 13.

[577] 'The Utopians do not make slaves of the sons of their slaves; the
slaves among them are such as are condemned to that state of life for the
commission of some crime.' Sir T. More's _Utopia--Ideal Commonwealths_,
p. 129.

[578] The Rev. John Newton (Cowper's friend) in 1763 wrote of the
slave-trade, in which he had been engaged, 'It is indeed accounted a
genteel employment, and is usually very profitable, though to me it did
not prove so, the Lord seeing that a large increase of wealth could not
be good for me.' Newton's _Life_, p. 148. A ruffian of a London
Alderman, a few weeks before _The Life of Johnson_ was published, said
in parliament:--'The abolition of the trade would destroy our
Newfoundland fishery, which the slaves in the West Indies supported _by
consuming that part of the fish which was fit for no other consumption_,
and consequently, by cutting off the great source of seamen, annihilate
our marine.' _Parl. Hist_. xxix. 343.

[579] Gray's Elegy. Mrs. Piozzi maintained that 'mercy was totally
abolished by French maxims; for, if all men are equal, mercy is no
more.' Piozzi's _Synonymy_, i. 370. Johnson, in 1740, described
slavery as 'the most calamitous estate in human life,' a state 'which
has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a
slave and a thief are expressed by the same word.' _Works_, v. 265-6.
Nineteen years later he wrote of the discoveries of the
Portuguese:--'Much knowledge has been acquired, and much cruelty been
committed; the belief of religion has been very little propagated, and
its laws have been outrageously and enormously violated.' _Ib_. p. 219.
Horace Walpole wrote, on July 9, 1754, (_Letters_, ii. 394), 'I was
reading t'other day the _Life of Colonel Codrington_. He left a large
estate for the propagation of the Gospel, and ordered that three hundred
negroes should constantly be employed upon it. Did one ever hear a more
truly Christian charity than keeping up a perpetuity of three hundred
slaves to look after the Gospel's estate?' Churchill, in _Gotham_,
published in 1764 (_Poems_, ii. 101), says of Europe's treatment of the
savage race:--

'Faith too she plants, for her own ends imprest,
To make them bear the worst, and hope the best.'


'With stainless lustre virtue shines,
A base repulse nor knows nor fears;

Nor claims her honours, nor declines,
As the light air of crowds uncertain veers.'
FRANCIS. Horace _Odes_, iii. 2.

[581] Sir Walter Scott, in a note to _Redgauntlet_, Letter 1, says:--
'Sir John Nisbett of Dirleton's _Doubts and Questions upon the Law
especially of Scotland_, and Sir James Stewart's _Dirleton's Doubts
and Questions resolved and answered_, are works of authority in Scottish
jurisprudence. As is generally the case, the _Doubts_ are held more in
respect than the solution.'

[582] When Boswell first made Johnson's acquaintance it was he who
suffered from the late hours. _Ante_, i. 434.

[583] See _ante_, ii. 312.

[584] Burke, in _Present Discontents_, says:--'The power of the Crown,
almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has grown up anew, with much more
strength and far less odium, under the name of Influence.' _Influence_
he explains as 'the method of governing by men of great natural interest
or great acquired consideration.' Payne's _Burke_, i. 10, 11. 'Influence,'
said Johnson,' must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it
should.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 18. To political life might be applied
what Johnson wrote of domestic life:--'It is a maxim that no man ever was
enslaved by influence while he was fit to be free.' _Notes and Queries_,
6th S., v. 343.

[585] Boswell falls into what he calls 'the cant transmitted from age to
age in praise of the ancient Romans.' _Ante_, i. 311. To do so with
Johnson was at once to provoke an attack, for he looked upon the Roman
commonwealth as one 'which grew great only by the misery of the rest of
mankind.' _Ib_. Moreover he disliked appeals to history. 'General
history,' writes Murphy (_Life_, p. 138), 'had little of his regard.
Biography was his delight. Sooner than hear of the Punic War he
would be rude to the person that introduced the subject.' Mrs. Piozzi
says (_Anec_. p. 80) that 'no kind of conversation pleased him less, I
think, than when the subject was historical fact or general polity.
'What shall we learn from _that_ stuff?' said he. 'He never,' as he
expressed it, 'desired to hear of the _Punic War_ while he lived.' The
_Punic War_, it is clear, was a kind of humorous catch word with him.
She wrote to him in 1773:--'So here's modern politics in a letter from
me; yes and a touch of the _Punic War_ too.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 187.
He wrote to her in 1775, just after she had been at the first regatta
held in England:--'You will now find the advantage of having made one at
the regatta.... It is the good of public life that it supplies agreeable
topics and general conversation. Therefore wherever you are, and
whatever you see, talk not of the Punic War; nor of the depravity of
human nature; nor of the slender motives of human actions; nor of the
difficulty of finding employment or pleasure; but talk, and talk, and
talk of the regatta.' _Ib_. p. 260. He was no doubt sick of the constant
reference made by writers and public speakers to Rome. For instance, in
Bolingbroke's _Dissertation upon Parties_, we find in three consecutive
Letters (xi-xiii) five illustrations drawn from Rome.

[586] It is strange that Boswell does not mention that on this day they
met the Duke and Duchess of Argyle in the street. That they did so we
learn from _Piozzi Letters_, i. 386. Perhaps the Duchess shewed him 'the
same marked coldness' as at Inverary. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 25.

[587] At Auchinleck he had 'exhorted Boswell to plant assiduously.'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 4.

[588] See _ante_, i. 72. In Scotland it was Cocker's _Arithmetic_ that
he took with him. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 31. He was not always
correct in his calculations. For instance, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale from
Ashbourne less than a fortnight after Boswell's departure: 'Mr. Langdon
bought at Nottingham fair fifteen tun of cheese; which, at an ounce
a-piece, will suffice after dinner for four-hundred-and-eighty thousand
men.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 2. To arrive at this number he must have
taken a hundredweight as equal to, not 112, but 100, pounds.

[589] Johnson wrote the next day:--'Boswell is gone, and is, I hope,
pleased that he has been here; though to look on anything with pleasure
is not very common. He has been gay and good-humoured in his usual way,
but we have not agreed upon any other expedition.' _Piozzi Letters_,
i. 384.

[590] He lent him also the original journal of his _Hebrides_, and
received in return a complimentary letter, which he in like manner
published. Boswell's _Hebrides_, near the end.

[591] 'The landlord at Ellon said that he heard he was the greatest man
in England, next to Lord Mansfield.' _Ante_, ii. 336.

[592] See _ante_, under March 15, 1776, where Johnson says that 'truth
is essential to a story.'

[593] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Boswell kept his journal very
diligently; but then what was there to journalize? I should be glad
to see what he says of *********.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 390. The number
of stars renders it likely that Beauclerk is meant. See _ante_, p. 195,
note 1.

[594] See _ante_, ii. 279.

[595] Mr. Beauclerk. See _ante_, p. 195.

[596] Beauclerk.

[597] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Boswell says his wife does not
love me quite well yet, though we have made a formal peace.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 390.

[598] A daughter born to him. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker says that this
daughter was Miss Jane Langton, mentioned post, May 10, 1784.

[599] She had already had eleven children, of whom seven were by this
time dead. _Ante_, p. 109. This time a daughter was born, and not a
young brewer. _Post_, July 3, 1778.

[600] Three months earlier Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'We are not
far from the great year of a hundred thousand barrels, which, if three
shillings be gained upon each barrel, will bring us fifteen thousand
pounds a year.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 357. We may see how here, as
elsewhere, he makes himself almost one with the Thrales.

[601] See _ante_, p. 97.

[602] Mrs. Aston. BOSWELL.

[603] See _State Trials_, vol. xi. p. 339, and Mr. Hargrave's
argument. BOSWELL. See _ante_, p. 87.

[604] The motto to it was happily chosen:--

'Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses.'

I cannot avoid mentioning a circumstance no less strange than true, that
a brother Advocate in considerable practice, but of whom it certainly
cannot be said, _Ingenuas didicit fideliter artes_, asked Mr. Maclaurin,
with a face of flippant assurance, 'Are these words your own?' BOSWELL.
Sir Walter Scott shows where the humour of this motto chiefly lay. 'The
counsel opposite,' he writes, 'was the celebrated Wight, an excellent
lawyer, but of very homely appearance, with heavy features, a blind eye
which projected from its socket, a swag belly, and a limp. To him
Maclaurin applied the lines of Virgil:--

'Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses,
O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori.'

['Though he was black, and thou art heavenly fair,
Trust not too much to that enchanting face.'

DRYDEN. Virgil, _Eclogues_, ii. 16.] Mr. Maclaurin wrote an essay
against the Homeric tale of 'Troy divine,' I believe, for the sole
purpose of introducing a happy motto,--

'Non anni domuere decem non mille carinæ.'

[Æneid, ii. 198.] Croker's _Boswell_, p. 279.

[605] There is, no doubt, some malice in this second mention of Dundas's
Scottish accent (see _ante_, ii. 160). Boswell complained to Temple in
1789 that Dundas had not behaved well to himself or his brother David.
'The fact is, he writes, 'on David's being obliged to quit Spain on
account of the war, Dundas promised to my father that he would give him
an office. Some time after my father's death, Dundas renewed the
assurance to me in strong terms, and told me he had said to Lord
Caermarthen, "It is a deathbed promise, and I must fulfil it." Yet
David has now been kept waiting above eight years, when he might have
established himself again in trade.... This is cruel usage.' Boswell
adds:--'I strongly suspect Dundas has given Pitt a prejudice against me.
The excellent Langton says it is disgraceful; it is utter folly in Pitt
not to reward and attach to his Administration a man of my popular and
pleasant talents, whose merit he has acknowledged in a letter under his
own hand.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 286.

[606] Knight was kidnapped when a child and sold to a Mr. Wedderburne of
Ballandean, who employed him as his personal servant. In 1769 his master
brought him to Britain, and from that time allowed him sixpence a week
for pocket money. By the assistance of his fellow-servants he learnt to
read. In 1772 he read in a newspaper the report of the decision in the
Somerset Case. 'From that time,' said Mr. Ferguson, 'he had had it in his
head to leave his master's service.' In 1773 he married a fellow-servant,
and finding sixpence a week insufficient for married life, applied for
ordinary wages. This request being refused, he signified his intention
of seeking service elsewhere. On his master's petition to the Justices
of Peace of Perthshire, he was brought before them on a warrant; they
decided that he must continue with him as formerly. For some time he
continued accordingly; but a child being born to him, he petitioned the
Sheriff, who decided in his favour. He thereupon left the house of his
master, who removed the cause into the Court of Session.' Ferguson
maintained that there are 'many examples of greater servitude in this
country [Scotland] than that claimed by the defender, i.e. [Mr.
Wedderburne, the plaintiff]. There still exists a species of perpetual
servitude, which is supported by late statutes and by daily practice,
viz. That which takes place with regard to the coaliers and sailers,
where, from the single circumstance of entering to work after puberty,
they are bound to perpetual service, and sold along with the works.'
Ferguson's _Additional Information_, July 4, 1775, pp. 3; 29; and
Maclaurin's _Additional Information_, April 20, 1776, p. 2. See _ante_,
p. 202.

[607] See _ante_, p. 106.

[608] Florence Wilson accompanied, as tutor, Cardinal Wolsey's nephew
to Paris, and published at Lyons in 1543 his _De Tranquillitate Animi
Dialogus_. Rose's _Biog. Dict_. xii. 508.

[609] When Johnson visited Boswell in Edinburgh, Mrs. Boswell 'insisted
that, to show all respect to the Sage, she would give up her own
bed-chamber to him, and take a worse.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 14.
See _post_, April 18, 1778.

[610] See _ante_, Dec. 23, 1775.

[611] Fielding, in his _Voyage to Lisbon_ (p. 2), writes of him as
'my friend Mr. Welch, whom I never think or speak of but with love
and esteem.' See _post_, under March 30, 1783.

[612] Johnson defines _police_ as _the regulation and government of a
city or country, so far as regards the inhabitants_.

[613] At this time Under-secretary of State. See _ante_, i. 478, note 1.

[614] Fielding, after telling how, unlike his predecessor, he had not
plundered the public or the poor, continues:--'I had thus reduced an
income of about £500 a-year of the dirtiest money upon earth to little
more than £300; a considerable proportion of which remained with my
clerk.' He added that he 'received from the Government a yearly pension
out of the public service money.' _Voyage to Lisbon_, Introduction.

[615] The friendship between Mr. Welch and him was unbroken. Mr. Welch
died not many months before him, and bequeathed him five guineas for a
ring, which Johnson received with tenderness, as a kind memorial. His
regard was constant for his friend Mr. Welch's daughters; of whom, Jane
is married to Mr. Nollekens the statuary, whose merit is too well known
to require any praise from me. BOSWELL.

[616] See _ante_, ii. 50. It seems from Boswell's words, as the editor
of the _Letters of Boswell_ (p. 91) points out, that in this case he
was 'only a friend and amateur, and not a duly appointed advocate.'
He certainly was not retained in an earlier stage of the cause, for on
July 22, 1767, he wrote:--'Though I am not a counsel in that cause, yet
I am much interested in it.' _Ib_. p. 93.

[617] Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, humorously observed, that Levett
used to breakfast on the crust of a roll, which Johnson, after tearing
out the crumb for himself, threw to his humble friend. BOSWELL. Perhaps
the word _threw_ is here too strong. Dr. Johnson never treated Levett
with contempt. MALONE. Hawkins (_Life_, p. 398) says that 'Dr. Johnson
frequently observed that Levett was indebted to him for nothing more
than house-room, his share in a penny loaf at breakfast, and now and
then a dinner on a Sunday.' Johnson's roll, says Dr. Harwood, was every
morning placed in a small blue and white china saucer which had
belonged to his wife, and which he familiarly called 'Tetty.' See the
inscription on the saucer in the Lichfield Museum.

[618] See this subject discussed in a subsequent page, under May 3,
1779. BOSWELL.

[619] On Feb. 17, Lord North 'made his Conciliatory Propositions.'
_Parl. Hist_. xix. 762.

[620] See _ante_, ii 111.

[621] See _ante_, ii. 312.

[622] Alluding to a line in his _Vanity of Human Wishes_, describing
Cardinal Wolsey in his state of elevation:--

'Through him the rays of regal bounty shine.' BOSWELL.

[623] See _ante_, p. 205.

[624] 'In my mind's eye, Horatio.' _Hamlet_, act i. sc. 2.

[625] Mr. Langton. See _ante_, p. 48.

[626] See _ante_, May 12, 1775.

[627] Daughter of Dr. Swinfen, Johnson's godfather, and widow of Mr.
Desmoulins, a writing-master. BOSWELL.

[628] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Montagu on March 5:--'Now, dear Madam, we
must talk of business. Poor Davies, the bankrupt bookseller, is
soliciting his friends to collect a small sum for the repurchase of
part of his household stuff. Several of them gave him five guineas. It
would be an honour to him to owe part of his relief to Mrs. Montagu.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 570. J. D'Israeli says (_Calamities of Authors_,
i. 265):--'We owe to Davies beautiful editions of some of our elder
poets, which are now eagerly sought after; yet, though all his
publications were of the best kinds, and are now of increasing value,
the taste of Tom Davies twice ended in bankruptcy.' See _post_, April 7,

[629] See _ante_, i. 391. Davies wrote to Garrick in 1763:--'I remember
that during the run of _Cymbeline_ I had the misfortune to disconcert
you in one scene of that play, for which I did immediately beg your
pardon, and did attribute it to my accidentally seeing Mr. Churchill in
the pit, with great truth; and that was the only time I can recollect
of my being confused or unmindful of my business when that gentleman
was before me. I had even then a more moderate opinion of my abilities
than your candour would allow me, and have always acknowledged that
gentleman's picture of me was fair.' He adds that he left the stage
on account of Garrick's unkindness, 'who,' he says, 'at rehearsals took
all imaginable pains to make me unhappy.' _Garrick Corres_. i. 165.

[630] He was afterwards Solicitor-General under Lord Rockingham and
Attorney-General under the Duke of Portland. 'I love Mr. Lee
exceedingly,' wrote Boswell, 'though I believe there are not any two
specifick propositions of any sort in which we exactly agree. But the
general mass of sense and sociality, literature and religion, in each of
us, produces two given quantities, which unite and effervesce
wonderfully well. I know few men I would go farther to serve than Jack
Lee.' _Letter to the People of Scotland_, p. 75. Lord Eldon said that
Lee, in the debates upon the India Bill, speaking of the charter of the
East India Company, 'expressed his surprise that there could be such
political strife about what he called "a piece of parchment, with a bit
of wax dangling to it." This most improvident expression uttered by a
Crown lawyer formed the subject of comment and reproach in all the
subsequent debates, in all publications of the times, and in everybody's
conversation.' Twiss's _Eldon_, iii. 97. In the debate on Fox's India
Bill on Dec. 3, 1783, Lee 'asked what was the consideration of a
charter, a skin of parchment with a waxed seal at the corner, compared
to the happiness of thirty millions of subjects, and the preservation of
a mighty empire.' _Parl. Hist_. xxiv. 49. See Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 106-9,
and 131, for anecdotes of Lee; and _ante_, ii. 48, note 1.

[631] 'For now we see _through_ a glass darkly; but then face to face.'
I _Corinthians_, xiii. 12.

[632] Goldsmith notices this in the _Haunch of Venison_:--

My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb
With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come;
For I knew it (he cried), both eternally fail,
The one with his speeches, and _t'other with Thrale_.'

CROKER. See _ante_, i. 493.

[633] See _post_, April 1, 1781. 'Johnson said:--"He who praises
everybody praises nobody."' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 216.

[634] See ante, p. 55.

[635] Johnson wrote in July 1775:--'Everybody says the prospect of
harvest is uncommonly delightful; but this has been so long the
summer talk, and has been so often contradicted by autumn, that I do not
suffer it to lay much hold on my mind. Our gay prospects have now for
many years together ended in melancholy retrospects.' _Piozzi Letters_,
i. 259. On Aug. 27, 1777, he wrote:--'Amidst all these little things
there is one great thing. The harvest is abundant, and the weather _à la
merveille_. No season ever was finer.' _Ib_. p. 360. In this month of
March, 1778, wheat was selling at 5s. 3d. the bushel in London; at 6s.
10d. in Somerset; and at 5s. 1d. in Northumberland, Suffolk, and Sussex.
_Gent. Mag_. xlviii. 98. The average price for 1778 was 5s. 3d. _Ann.
Reg_. xxi. 282.

[636] See _post_, iii. 243, Oct. 10, 1779, and April 1, 1781.

[637] The first edition was in 1492. Between that period and 1792,
according to this account, there were 3600 editions. But this is
very improbable. MALONE. Malone assumes, as Mr. Croker points out, that
this rate of publication continued to the year 1792. But after all, the
difference is trifling. Johnson here forgot to use his favourite cure
for exaggeration--counting. See _post_, April 18, 1783. 'Round numbers,'
he said, 'are always false.' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 198. Horace
Walpole (_Letters_, viii. 300), after making a calculation, writes:--'I
may err in my calculations, for I am a woeful arithmetician; but no
matter, one large sum is as good as another.'

[638] The original passage is: 'Si non potes te talem facere, qualem
vis, quomodo poteris alium ad tuum habere beneplacitum?' _De Imit.
Christ_. lib. i. cap. xvi. J. BOSWELL, Jun.

[639] See p. 29 of this vol. BOSWELL.

[640] Since this was written the attainder has been reversed; and
Nicholas Barnewall is now a peer of Ireland with this title. The person
mentioned in the text had studied physick, and prescribed _gratis_ to
the poor. Hence arose the subsequent conversation. MALONE.

[641] See Franklin's _Autobiography_ for his conversion from

[642] See _ante_, ii. 217, where Johnson advised Boswell to keep a
journal. 'The great thing to be recorded, is the state of your own

[643] 'Nobody can live long without knowing that falsehoods of
convenience or vanity, falsehoods from which no evil immediately visible
ensues, except the general degradation of human testimony, are very
lightly uttered, and, once uttered, are sullenly supported.' Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 23.

[644] _Literary Magazine_, 1756, p. 37. BOSWELL. Johnson's _Works_,
vi. 42. See _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.


'Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi.'
'For while upon such monstrous scenes we gaze,
They shock our faith, our indignation raise.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Ars Poet_. 1. 188. Johnson speaks of 'the natural
desire of man to propagate a wonder.' _Works_, vii. 2. 'Wonders,' he
says, 'are willingly told, and willingly heard.' _Ib_. viii. 292.
Speaking of Voltaire he says:--'It is the great failing of a strong
imagination to catch greedily at wonders.' _Ib_. vi. 455. See _ante_, i.
309, note 3, ii. 247, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 19, 1773. According
to Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 137) Hogarth said:--'Johnson, though so wise
a fellow, is more like King David than King Solomon; for he says in his
haste that all men are liars.'

[646] The following plausible but over-prudent counsel on this subject
is given by an Italian writer, quoted by '_Rhedi de generatione
insectarum_,' with the epithet of '_divini poetæ_:'

'_Sempre a quel ver ch'ha faccia di menzogna
Dee l'uom chiuder le labbra quanto ei puote;
Però che senza colpa fa vergogna_.' BOSWELL.

It is strange that Boswell should not have discovered that these lines
were from Dante. The following is Wright's translation:--

'That truth which bears the semblance of a lie,
Should never pass the lips, if possible;
Tho' crime be absent, still disgrace is nigh.'

_Infern_. xvi. 124. CROKER.

[647] See _ante_, i. 7, note 1.

[648] See _ante_, i. 405.

[649] 'Of John Wesley he said:--"He can talk well on any subject."'
_Post_, April 15, 1778. Southey says that 'his manners were almost
irresistibly winning, and his cheerfulness was like perpetual sunshine.'
_Life of Wesley_, i. 409. Wesley recorded on Dec. 18, 1783 (_Journal_,
iv. 258):--'I spent two hours with that great man Dr. Johnson, who is
sinking into the grave by a gentle decay.'

[650] 'When you met him in the street of a crowded city, he attracted
notice, not only by his band and cassock, and his long hair white and
bright as silver, but by his pace and manner, both indicating that all
his minutes were numbered, and that not one was to be lost. "Though I
am always in haste," he says of himself, "I am never in a hurry; because
I never undertake any more work than I can go through with perfect
calmness of spirit."' Southey's _Wesley_, ii. 397.

[651] No doubt the Literary Club. See _ante_, ii. 330, 345. Mr. Croker
says 'that it appears by the books of the Club that the company on that
evening consisted of Dr. Johnson president, Mr. Burke, Mr. Boswell,
Dr. George Fordyce, Mr. Gibbon, Dr. Johnson (again named), Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Lord Upper Ossory, and Mr. R. B. Sheridan.' E. no doubt
stands for Edmund Burke, and J. for Joshua Reynolds. Who are meant by
the other initials cannot be known. Mr. Croker hazards some guesses; but
he says that Sir James Mackintosh and Chalmers were as dubious as

[652] See Langhorne's _Plutarch_, ed. 1809, ii. 133.

[653] 'A man came in balancing a straw upon his nose, and the audience
were clapping their hands in all the raptures of applause.' _The
Citizen of the World_, Letter xxi. According to Davis (_Life of Garrick_,
i. 113), 'in one year, after paying all expenses, £11,000 were the
produce of Mr. Maddocks (the straw-man's agility), added to the talents
of the players at Covent Garden theatre.'

[654] See _ante_, i. 399.

[655] 'Sir' said Edwards to Johnson (_post_, April 17, 1778),
'I remember you would not let us say _prodigious_ at College.'

[656] 'Emigration was at this time a common topick of discourse.
Dr. Johnson regretted it as hurtful to human happiness.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 15, 1773.

[657] In 1766 Johnson wrote a paper (first published in 1808) to
prove that 'the bounty upon corn has produced plenty.' 'The truth of
these principles,' he says, 'our ancestors discovered by reason, and the
French have now found it by experience. In this regulation we have the
honour of being masters to those who, in commercial policy, have been
long accounted the masters of the world.' _Works_, v. 323, 326, and
_ante_, i. 518. 'In 1688 was granted the parliamentary bounty upon the
exportation of corn. The country gentlemen had felt that the money price
of corn was falling. The bounty was an expedient to raise it
artificially to the high price at which it had frequently been sold in
the times of Charles I. and II.' Smith's _Wealth of Nations_, book I. c.
xi. The year 1792, the last year of peace before the great war, was
likewise the last year of exportation. _Penny Cyclo_. viii. 22.


'Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat
To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote.'

Goldsmith's _Retaliation_.

Horace Walpole says of Lord Mansfield's speech on the _Habeas Corpus
Bill_ of 1758:--'Perhaps it was the only speech that in my time at least
had real effect; that is, convinced many persons.' _Reign of George II_,
iii. 120.

[659] Gibbon, who was now a member of parliament, was present at this
dinner. In his _Autobiography_ (_Misc. Works_, i. 221) he says:--'After
a fleeting illusive hope, prudence condemned me to acquiesce in the
humble station of a mute.... Timidity was fortified by pride, and even
the success of my pen discouraged the trial of my voice. But I assisted
at the debates of a free assembly; I listened to the attack and defence
of eloquence and reason; I had a near prospect of the character, views,
and passions of the first men of the age.... The eight sessions that I
sat in parliament were a school of civil prudence, the first and most
essential virtue of an historian.'

[660] Horace, _Odes_, iii. 24, 46.

[661] Lord Bolingbroke, who, however detestable as a metaphysician, must
be allowed to have had admirable talents as a political writer, thus
describes the House of Commons, in his 'Letter to Sir William Wyndham:'
--'You know the nature of that assembly; they grow, like hounds, fond of
the man who shews them game, and by whose halloo they are used to be
encouraged.' BOSWELL. Bolingbroke's _Works_, i. 15.

[662] Smollett says (_Journey_, i. 147) that he had a musquetoon which
could carry eight balls. 'This piece did not fail to attract the
curiosity and admiration of the people in every place through which we
passed. The carriage no sooner halted than a crowd surrounded the man to
view the blunderbuss, which they dignified with the name of _petit
canon_. At Nuys in Burgundy, he fired it in the air, and the whole mob
dispersed, and scampered off like a flock of sheep.'

[663] Smollett does not say that he frightened the nobleman. He mistook
him for a postmaster and spoke to him very roughly. The nobleman seems
to have been good-natured; for, at the next stage, says Smollett,
'observing that one of the trunks behind was a little displaced, he
assisted my servant in adjusting it.' His name and rank were learnt
later on. _Journey_, i. p. 134.

[664] The two things did not happen in the same town. 'I am sure, writes
Thicknesse (_Travels_, ii. 147), 'there was but that single French
nobleman in this mighty kingdom, who would have submitted to such
insults as the Doctor _says_ he treated him with; nor any other town but
Sens [it was Nuys] where the firing of a gun would have so terrified the

[665] Both Smollett and Thicknesse were great grumblers.

[666] Lord Bolingbroke said of Lord Oxford:--'He is naturally inclined
to believe the worst, which I take to be a certain mark of a mean spirit
and a wicked soul; at least I am sure that the contrary quality, when it
is not due to weakness of understanding, is the fruit of a generous
temper and an honest heart.' Bolingbroke's _Works_, i. 25. Lord Eldon
asked Pitt, not long before his death, what he thought of the honesty of
mankind. 'His answer was, that he had a favourable opinion of mankind
upon the whole, and that he believed that the majority was really
actuated by fair meaning and intention.' Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 499.

[667] Johnson wrote in 175l:--'We are by our occupations, education,
and habits of life, divided almost into different species, which
regard one another, for the most part, with scorn and malignity.'
_The Rambler_, No. 160. In No. 173 he writes of 'the general hostility
which every part of mankind exercises against the rest to furnish
insults and sarcasm.' In 1783 he said:--'I am ready now to call a man _a
good man_ upon easier terms than I was formerly.' _Post_, under Aug. 29,

[668] Johnson thirty-four years earlier, in the _Life of Savage_
(_Works_, viii. 188), had written:--'The knowledge of life was indeed
his chief attainment; and it is not without some satisfaction that I can
produce the suffrage of Savage in favour of human nature.' On April 14,
1781, he wrote:--'The world is not so unjust or unkind as it is
peevishly represented. Those who deserve well seldom fail to receive
from others such services as they can perform; but few have much in
their power, or are so stationed as to have great leisure from their own
affairs, and kindness must be commonly the exuberance of content. The
wretched have no compassion; they can do good only from strong
principles of duty.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 199.

[669] Pope thus introduces this story:

'Faith in such case if you should prosecute,
I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
Who send the thief who [that] stole the cash away,
And punish'd him that put it in his way.'

_Imitations of Horace_, book II. epist. ii. [l. 23]. BOSWELL.

[670] Very likely Boswell himself. See _post_, July 17, 1779, where
he put Johnson's friendship to the test by neglecting to write to him.

[671] No doubt Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, afterwards Bishop of
Killaloe. See _ante_, p. 84.

[672] The reverse of the story of _Combabus_, on which Mr. David Hume
told Lord Macartney, that a friend of his had written a tragedy. It is,
however, possible that I may have been inaccurate in my perception of
what Dr. Johnson related, and that he may have been talking of the same
ludicrous tragical subject that Mr. Hume had mentioned. BOSWELL. The
story of Combabus, which was originally told by Lucian, may be found in
Bayle's _Dictionary_. MALONE.

[673] Horace Walpole, less than three months later, wrote (_Letters_,
vii. 83):--'Poor Mrs. Clive has been robbed again in her own lane
[in Twickenham] as she was last year. I don't make a visit without
a blunderbuss; one might as well be invaded by the French.' Yet Wesley
in the previous December, speaking of highwaymen, records (_Journal_,
iv. 110):--'I have travelled all roads by day and by night for these
forty years, and never was interrupted yet.' Baretti, who was a great
traveller, says:--'For my part I never met with any robbers in my
various rambles through several regions of Europe.' Baretti's _Journey
from London to Genoa_, ii. 266.

[674] A year or two before Johnson became acquainted with the
Thrales a man was hanged on Kennington Common for robbing Mr. Thrale.
_Gent. Mag_. xxxiii. 411.

[675] The late Duke of Montrose was generally said to have been uneasy
on that account; but I can contradict the report from his Grace's own
authority. As he used to admit me to very easy conversation with him, I
took the liberty to introduce the subject. His Grace told me, that when
riding one night near London, he was attacked by two highwaymen on
horseback, and that he instantly shot one of them, upon which the other
galloped off; that his servant, who was very well mounted, proposed to
pursue him and take him, but that his Grace said, 'No, we have had blood
enough: I hope the man may live to repent.' His Grace, upon my presuming
to put the question, assured me, that his mind was not at all clouded by
what he had thus done in self-defence. BOSWELL.

[676] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22, for a discussion on signing

[677] 'Mr. Dunning the great lawyer,' Johnson called him, _ante_, p. 128.
Lord Shelburne says:--'The fact is well known of the present Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas (Lord Loughborough, formerly Mr. Wedderburne)
beginning a law argument in the absence of Mr. Dunning, but upon hearing
him hem in the course of it, his tone so visibly [sic] changed that there
was not a doubt in any part of the House of the reason of it.'
Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, iii. 454.

[678] 'The applause of a single human being,' he once said, 'is of great
consequence.' _Post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_.

[679] Most likely Boswell's father, for he answers to what is said of
this person. He was known to Johnson, he had married a second time, and
he was fond of planting, and entertained schemes for the improvement
of his property. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 4 and 5, 1773.
_Respectable_ was still a term of high praise. It had not yet come
down to signify 'a man who keeps a gig.' Johnson defines it as
'venerable, meriting respect.' It is not in the earlier editions of his
_Dictionary_. Boswell, in his _Hebrides_ (Oct. 27), calls Johnson the
Duke of Argyle's 'respectable guest,' and _post_, under Sept. 5, 1780,
writes of 'the _respectable_ notion which should ever be entertained of
my illustrious friend.' Dr. Franklin in a dedication to Johnson
describes himself as 'a sincere admirer of his _respectable_ talents;'
_post_, end of 1780. In the _Gent. Mag_. lv. 235, we read that 'a stone
now covers the grave which holds his [Dr. Johnson's] _respectable_
remains.' 'I do not know,' wrote Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 43) of
Hampton Court, 'a more _respectable_ sight than a room containing
fourteen admirals, all by Sir Godfrey.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, ii. 487),
congratulating Lord Loughborough on becoming Lord Chancellor, speaks of
the support the administration will derive 'from so _respectable_ an
ally.' George III. wrote to Lord Shelburne on Sept. 16, 1782, 'when the
tie between the Colonies and England was about to be formally severed,'
that he made 'the most frequent prayers to heaven to guide me so to act
that posterity may not lay the downfall of this once _respectable_
empire at my door.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, iii. 297. Lord
Chesterfield (_Misc. Works_, iv. 308) writing of the hour of death
says:--'That moment is at least a very _respectable_ one, let people who
boast of not fearing it say what they please.'

[680] The younger Newbery records that Johnson, finding that he had a
violin, said to him:--'Young man, give the fiddle to the first beggar
man you meet, or you will never be a scholar.' _A Bookseller of the
Last Century_, pp. 127, 145. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 15.

[681] When I told this to Miss Seward, she smiled, and repeated, with
admirable readiness, from _Acis and Galatea_,

'Bring me a hundred reeds of ample growth,
To make a pipe for my CAPACIOUS MOUTH.' BOSWELL.

[682] See _post_, June 3, 1784, where Johnson again mentions this. In
_The Spectator_, No. 536, Addison recommends knotting, which was, he
says, again in fashion, as an employment for 'the most idle part of the
kingdom; I mean that part of mankind who are known by the name of the
women's-men, or beaus,' etc. In _The Universal Passion_, Satire i,
Young says of fame:--

'By this inspired (O ne'er to be forgot!)
Some lords have learned to spell, and some to knot.'

Lord Eldon says that 'at a period when all ladies were employed (when
they had nothing better to do) in knotting, Bishop Porteous was asked by
the Queen, whether she might knot on a Sunday. He answered, "You may
not;" leaving her Majesty to decide whether, as _knot_ and _not_ were in
sound alike, she was, or was not, at liberty to do so.' Twiss's _Eldon_,
ii. 355.

[683] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 23.

[684] See _post_, p. 248.

[685] Martin's style is wanting in that 'cadence which Temple gave to
English prose' (_post_, p. 257). It would not be judged now so
severely as it was a century ago, as the following instance will
show:--'There is but one steel and tinder-box in all this commonwealth;
the owner whereof fails not upon every occasion of striking fire in the
lesser isles, to go thither, and exact three eggs, or one of the lesser
fowls from each man as a reward for his service; this by them is called
the Fire-Penny, and this Capitation is very uneasy to them; I bid them
try their chrystal with their knives, which, when they saw it did strike
fire, they were not a little astonished, admiring at the strangeness of
the thing, and at the same time accusing their own ignorance,
considering the quantity of chrystal growing under the rock of their
coast. This discovery has delivered them from the Fire-Penny-Tax, and so
they are no longer liable to it.'

[686] See _ante_, p. 226.

[687] Lord Macartney observes upon this passage, 'I have heard him tell
many things, which, though embellished by their mode of narrative, had
their foundation in truth; but I never remember any thing approaching
to  this. If he had written it, I should have supposed some wag had put
the figure of one before the three.'--I am, however, absolutely certain
that Dr. Campbell told me it, and I gave particular attention to it,
being myself a lover of wine, and therefore curious to hear whatever is
remarkable concerning drinking. There can be no doubt that some men can
drink, without suffering any injury, such a quantity as to others
appears incredible. It is but fair to add, that Dr. Campbell told me, he
took a very long time to this great potation; and I have heard Dr.
Johnson say, 'Sir, if a man drinks very slowly, and lets one glass
evaporate before he takes another, I know not how long he may drink.'
Dr. Campbell mentioned a Colonel of Militia who sat with him all the
time, and drank equally. BOSWELL.

[688] See _ante_, i. 417.

[689] In the following September she is thus mentioned by Miss Burney:
--'Mrs. Thrale. "To-morrow, Sir, Mrs. Montagu dines here, and then you
will have talk enough." Dr. Johnson began to see-saw, with a countenance
strongly expressive of inward fun, and after enjoying it some time in
silence, he suddenly, and with great animation, turned to me and cried;
"Down with her, Burney! down with her! spare her not! attack her, fight
her, and down with her at once! You are a rising wit, and she is at the
top; and when I was beginning the world, and was nothing and nobody, the
joy of my life was to fire at all the established wits, and then
everybody loved to halloo me on."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 117. 'She
has,' adds Miss Burney, 'a sensible and penetrating countenance and the
air and manner of a woman accustomed to being distinguished and of great
parts. Dr. Johnson, who agrees in this, told us that a Mrs. Hervey of
his acquaintance says she can remember Mrs. Montagu _trying_ for this
same air and manner.' _Ib_. p. 122. See _ante_, ii. 88.

[690] Only one volume had been published; it ended with the sixteenth

[691] Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 462) says:--'She did not take at
Edinburgh. Lord Kames, who was at first catched with her Parnassian
coquetry, said at last that he believed she had as much learning as a
well-educated college lad here of sixteen. In genuine feelings and deeds
she was remarkably deficient. We saw her often in the neighbourhood of
Newcastle, and in that town, where there was no audience for such an
actress as she was, her natural character was displayed, which was that
of an active manager of her affairs, a crafty chaperon, and a keen
pursuer of her interest, not to be outdone by the sharpest coal-dealer
on the Tyne; but in this capacity she was not displeasing, for she was
not acting a part.'

[692] What my friend meant by these words concerning the amiable
philosopher of Salisbury, I am at a loss to understand. A friend
suggests, that Johnson thought his _manner_ as a writer affected, while
at the same time the _matter_ did not compensate for that fault. In
short, that he meant to make a remark quite different from that which a
_celebrated gentleman_ made on a very eminent physician: 'He is a
coxcomb, but a _satisfactory coxcomb_.' BOSWELL. Malone says that the
_celebrated gentleman_ was Gerard Hamilton. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Nov. 3, where Johnson says that 'he thought Harris a coxcomb,' and
_ante_, ii. 225.

[693] _Hermes_.

[694] On the back of the engraving of Johnson in the Common Room
of University College is inscribed:--'Samuel Johnson, LL.D. in hac
camera communi frequens conviva. D.D. Gulielmus Scott nuper socius.'
Gulielmus Scott is better known as Lord Stowell. See _ante_, i. 379,
note 2, and iii. 42; and _post_, April 17, 1778.

[695] See _ante_, under March 15, 1776.

[696] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 31.

[697] See _ante_, p. 176.

[698] See _ante_, i. 413.

[699] _Eminent_ is the epithet Boswell generally applies to Burke
(_ante_, ii. 222), and Burke almost certainly is here meant. Yet Johnson
later on said, 'Burke's talk is the ebullition of his mind. He does not
talk from a desire of distinction, but because his mind is full.'
_Post_, March 21, 1783.

[700] Kames describes it as 'an act as wild as any that superstition
ever suggested to a distempered brain.' _Sketches, etc_. iv. 321.

[701] See _ante,_ p. 243.

[702] 'Queen Caroline,' writes Horace Walpole, 'much wished to make
Dr. Clarke a bishop, but he would not subscribe the articles again.
I have often heard my father relate that he sat up one night at the
Palace with the Doctor, till the pages of the backstairs asked if they
would have fresh candles, my father endeavouring to persuade him to
subscribe again, as he had for the living of St. James's. Clarke
pretended he had _then_ believed them. "Well," said Sir Robert, "but if
you do not now, you ought to resign your living to some man who would
subscribe conscientiously." The Doctor would neither resign his living
nor accept the bishopric.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 8.
See _ante_, i. 398, _post_, Dec. 1784, where Johnson, on his death-bed,
recommended Clarke's _Sermons_; and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 5.

[703] Boswell took Ogden's _Sermons_ with him to the Hebrides, but
Johnson showed no great eagerness to read them. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 15 and 32.

[704] See _ante_, p. 223.

[705] _King Lear_, act iii. sc. 4.

[706] The Duke of Marlborough.

[707] See Chappell's _Popular Music of the Olden Time_, i. 330.

[708] See _ante_, p. 177.

[709] 'The accounts of Swift's reception in Ireland given by Lord
Orrery and Dr. Delany are so different, that the credit of the writers,
both undoubtedly veracious, cannot be saved but by supposing, what I
think is true, that they speak of different times. Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 207. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. Lord Orrery says that Swift,
on his return to Ireland in 1714, 'met with frequent indignities from
the populace, and indeed was equally abused by persons of all ranks and
denominations.' Orrery's _Remarks on Swift_, ed. 1752, p. 60. Dr. Delany
says (_Observations_, p. 87) that 'Swift, when he came--to take
possession of his Deanery (in 1713), was received with very
distinguished respect.'

[710] 'He could practise abstinence,' says Boswell (_post_, March 20,
1781), 'but not temperance.'

[711] 'The dinner was good, and the Bishop is knowing and conversible,'
wrote Johnson of an earlier dinner at Sir Joshua's where he had met the
same bishop. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 334.

[712] See _post_, Aug 19, 1784.

[713] There is no mention in the _Journey to Brundusium_ of a brook.
Johnson referred, no doubt, to Epistle I. 16. 12.


'Ne ought save Tyber hastning to his fall
Remaines of all. O world's inconstancie!
That which is firme doth flit and fall away,
And that is flitting doth abide and stay.'

Spenser, _The Ruines of Rome_.

[715] Giano Vitale, to give him his Italian name, was a theologian and
poet of Palermo. His earliest work was published in 1512, and he died
about 1560. _Brunet_, and Zedler's _Universal Lexicon_.


'Albula Romani restat nunc nominis index,
Qui quoque nunc rapidis fertur in aequor aquis.
Disce hinc quid possit Fortuna. Immota labascunt,
Et quae perpetuo sunt agitata manent.'

Jani Vitalis Panormitani _De Roma_. See _Delicia C.C. Italorum
Poetarum_, edit. 1608, p. 1433, It is curious that in all the editions
of Boswell that I have seen, the error _labescunt_ remains unnoticed.

[717] See _post_, June 2, 1781.

[718] Dr. Shipley was chaplain to the Duke of Cumberland. CROKER.
The battle was fought on July 2, N.S. 1747.


'Inconstant as the wind I various rove;
At Tibur, Rome--at Rome, I Tibur love.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Epistles_, i. 8. 12. In the first two editions Mr.
Cambridge's speech ended here.


'More constant to myself, I leave with pain,
By hateful business forced, the rural scene.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Epist_., I. 14. 16.

[721] See _ante_, p. 167.

[722] Fox, it should be remembered, was Johnson's junior by nearly
forty years.

[723] See _ante_, i. 413, ii. 214, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 2.

[724] See _ante_, i. 478.

[725] 'Who can doubt,' asks Mr. Forster, 'that he also meant slowness
of motion? The first point of the picture is _that_. The poet is
moving slowly, his tardiness of gait measuring the heaviness of
heart, the pensive spirit, the melancholy of which it is the outward
expression and sign.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 369.

[726] See _ante_, ii. 5.

[727] _Essay on Man_, ii. 2.

[728] Gibbon could have illustrated this subject, for not long before
he had at Paris been 'introduced,' he said, 'to the best company of
both sexes, to the foreign ministers of all nations, and to the first
names and characters of France.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 227. He says
of an earlier visit:--'Alone, in a morning visit, I commonly found the
artists and authors of Paris less vain and more reasonable than in the
circles of their equals, with whom they mingle in the houses of the
rich.' _Ib_. p. 162. Horace Walpole wrote of the Parisians in 1765,
(_Letters_, iv. 436):--'Their gaiety is not greater than their
delicacy--but I will not expatiate. [He had just described the grossness
of the talk of women of the first rank.] Several of the women are
agreeable, and some of the men; but the latter are in general vain and
ignorant. The _savans_--I beg their pardon, the _philosophes_--are
insupportable, superficial, overbearing, and fanatic.'

[729] See _post_, under Aug. 29, 1783, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 14.

[730] See _post_, April 28, 1783.

[731] See _ante_, p. 191.

[732] [Greek: 'gaerusko d aiei polla didaskomenos.'] 'I grow in learning
as I grow in years.' Plutarch, _Solon_, ch. 31.


''Tis somewhat to be lord of some small ground
In which a lizard may at least turn around.'

Dryden, _Juvenal_, iii. 230.

[734] _Modern characters from Shakespeare. Alphabetically arranged_.
A New Edition. London, 1778. It is not a pamphlet but a duodecimo of 88
pages. Some of the lines are very grossly applied.

[735] _As You Like it_, act iii. sc. 2. The giant's name is Gargantua,
not Garagantua. In _Modern Characters_ (p. 47), the next line also is
given:--'Tis a word too great for any mouth of this age's size.'
The lines that Boswell next quotes are not given.

[736] _Coriolanus_, act iii. sc. 1.

[737] See vol. i. p. 498. BOSWELL.

[738] See _ante_, ii. 236, where Johnson charges Robertson with
_verbiage_. This word is not in his _Dictionary_.

[739] Pope, meeting Bentley at dinner, addressed him thus:--'Dr.
Bentley, I ordered my bookseller to send you your books. I hope you
received them.' Bentley, who had purposely avoided saying anything about
_Homer_, pretended not to understand him, and asked, 'Books! books! what
books?' 'My _Homer_,' replied Pope, 'which you did me the honour to
subscribe for.'--'Oh,' said Bentley, 'ay, now I recollect--your
translation:--it is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope; but you must not call it
_Homer_.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 336, note.

[740] 'It is certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world
has ever seen; and its publication must therefore be considered as one
of the great events in the annals of Learning.' _Ib_. p. 256. 'There
would never,' said Gray, 'be another translation of the same poem equal
to it.' Gray's _Works_, ed. 1858, v. 37. Cowper however says, that he
and a friend 'compared Pope's translation throughout with the original.
They were not long in discovering that there is hardly the thing in the
world of which Pope was so utterly destitute as a taste for _Homer_.'
Southey's _Cowper_, i. 106.

[741] Boswell here repeats what he had heard from Johnson, _ante_, p. 36.

[742] Swift, in his Preface to Temple's _Letters_, says:--'It is
generally believed that this author has advanced our English tongue to
as great a perfection as it can well bear.' Temple's _Works_, i. 226.
Hume, in his Essay _Of Civil Liberty_, wrote in 1742:--'The elegance and
propriety of style have been very much neglected among us. The first
polite prose we have was writ by a man who is still alive (Swift). As to
Sprat, Locke, and even Temple, they knew too little of the rules of art
to be esteemed elegant writers.' Mackintosh says (_Life_, ii.
205):--'Swift represents Temple as having brought English style to
perfection. Hume, I think, mentions him; but of late he is not often
spoken of as one of the reformers of our style--this, however, he
certainly was. The structure of his style is perfectly modern.' Johnson
said that he had partly formed his style upon Temple's; _ante_, i. 218.
In the last _Rambler_, speaking of what he had himself done for our
language, he says:--'Something, perhaps, I have added to the elegance of
its construction, and something to the harmony of its cadence.'

[743] 'Clarendon's diction is neither exact in itself, nor suited to
the purpose of history. It is the effusion of a mind crowded with ideas,
and desirous of imparting them; and therefore always accumulating words,
and involving one clause and sentence in another.' _The Rambler_,
No. 122.

[744] Johnson's addressing himself with a smile to Mr. Harris is
explained by a reference to what Boswell said (_ante_, p. 245) of
Harris's analytic method in his _Hermes_.

[745] 'Dr. Johnson said of a modern Martial [no doubt Elphinston's],
"there are in these verses too much folly for madness, I think, and too
much madness for folly."' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 61. Burns wrote on it the
following epigram:--

'O thou whom Poetry abhors,
Whom Prose has turned out of doors,
Heard'st thou that gro