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Boswell revisits London. - Peter Garrick.- Taxation no Tyranny.” – Dr. Towers's
Gerard Hamilton. - - Sheridan's Gold Medal to Home. Mrs. Abington. — Cibber's " Nonjuror.” — Boswell's " Surveillance." Garrick's Prologues. The Adams. — Garrick's Imitations of Johnson. — Gray's Odes. Lord Chesterfield's Letters. Johnson's Diploma of LL.D. - Abyssinian Bruce. Coleman's “ Odes to Obscurity and Oblivion.”. · Mason's “Elfrida,” and “ Caractacus.” — The Bath-Easton Vase.
Fleet Street and Charing Cross.
On Tuesday, 21st March, I arrived in London ; and on repairing to Dr. Johnson's before dinner, found him in his study, sitting with Mr. Peter Garrick, the elder brother of David, strongly resembling him in countenance and voice, but of more sedate and placid manners. (1) Johnson informed me, that though Mr. Beauclerk was in great pain, it was hoped he was not in danger, and that he now wished to consult Dr. Heberden, to try the effect
new understanding." Both at this interview, and in the evening at Mr. Thrale's, where he and Mr. Peter Garrick and I met again, he was vehement on the subject of the Ossian controversy ; observing,
(1) See antè, p. 194., and post, March 23. 1776. — C.
“ We do not know that there are any ancient Erse
The doubts which, in my correspondence with him,
He had long before indulged most unfavourable sentiments of our fellow-subjects in America. For,
as early as 1769, I was told by Dr. John Campbell, 72. that he had said of them, “ Sir, they are a race of
(1) [Published March 7. 1775, by T. Cadell in the Strand.]
convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging.” (1)
Of this performance I avoided to talk with him ; for I had now formed a clear and settled opinion, that the people of America were well warranted to resist a claim that their fellow-subjects in the mother country should have the entire command of their fortunes, by taxing them without their own consent; and the extreme violence which it breathed appeared to me so unsuitable to the mildness of a Christian philosopher, and so directly opposite to the principles of peace which he had so beautifully recommended in his pamphlet respecting Falkland's Islands, that I was sorry to see him appear in so unfavourable a light. Besides, I could not perceive in it that ability of argument, or that felicity of expression, for which he was, upon other occasions, so eminent. Positive assertion, sarcastical severity, and extravagant ridicule, which he himself reprobated as a test of truth, were united in this rhapsody.
That this pamphlet was written at the desire of those who were then in power, I have no doubt(), and, indeed, he owned to me, that it had been revised and curtailed by some of them. He told me that they had struck out one passage, which was to this effect :
“ That the colonjsts could with no solidity argue from
(1) I cannot believe that this coarse and foolish phrase was really uttered by Johnson. If it or any thing like it was said, it certainly referred to some particular case in discussion at the time. C. 1835.
(2) Yet see antè, Vol. II. p. 141. and n. - - C.
their not having been taxed while in their infancy, that they should not now be taxed, We do not put a calf into the plough; we wait till he is an ox.”
He said, “ They struck it out either critically as too ludicrous, or politically as too exasperating. I care not which. It was their business. If an architect says
I will build five stories, and the man who employs him says I will have only three, the employer is to decide.” “Yes, Sir,” said I,“ in ordinary cases : but should it be so when the architect gives his skill and labour gratis ? ”
Unfavourable as I am constrained to say my opinion of this pamphlet was, yet since it was congenial with the sentiments of numbers at that time, and as every thing relating to the writings of Dr. Johnson is of importance in literary history, I shall therefore insert some passages which were struck out, it does not appear why, either by himself or those who revised it. They appear printed in a few proof leaves of it in my possession, marked with corrections in his own handwriting. I shall distinguish them by italics.
In the paragraph where he says, the Americans were incited to resistance by European intelligence from “ men whom they thought their friends, but who were friends only to themselves," there followed “ and made by their selfishness, the enemies of their country.”
And the next paragraph ran thus :
« On the original contrivers of mischief, rather than on those whom they have deluded, let an insulted nation pour out its vengeance.”
The paragraph which came next was in these words:
“ Unhappy is that country in which men can hope for advancement by favouring its enemies. The tranquillity of stable government is not always easily preserved against the machinations of single innovators ; but what can be the hope of quiet, when factions hostile to the legislature can be openly forined and openly avowed ?”
After the paragraph which now concludes the pamphlet, there follows this, in which he certainly means the great Earl of Chatham, and glances at a certain popular Lord Chancellor. (1)
"If, by the fortune of war, they drive us utterly away, what they will do next can only be conjectured. If a new monarchy is erected, they will want a king. He who first takes into his hand the sceptre of America should have a name of good omen. WILLIAM has been known both a conqueror and deliverer ; and perhaps England, however contemned, might yet supply them with another WILLIAM. Whigs, indeed, are not willing to be governed ; and it is possible that King WILLIAM may be strongly inclined to guide their measures : but Whigs have been cheated like other mortals, and suffered their leader to become their tyrant, under the name of their protector. What more they will receive from Engund, no man can tell. In their rudiments of empire they may want a chancellor."
Then came this paragraph; “ Their numbers are, at present, not quite suficient
(1) Lord Camden. - C.