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"A plain man may be apt to ask, But if this then, though enjoined in the Holy Scriptures, is to be my real aim and intention, when I am taught to pray for other persons, why is it that I do not plainly so expres it? Why is not the form of the petition brought neares to the meaning? Give them, say I to our heavenly Father, what is good. But this, I am to understand. will be as it will be, and is not for me to alter. What is it then that I am doing? I am desiring to become charitable myself; and why may I not plainly say so? Is there shame in it, or impiety? The wish is laudable: why should I form designs to hide it? — Or is it, perhaps, better to be brought about by indirect means, and in this artful manner? Alas! who is it that I would impose on? From whom can it be, in this commerce, that I desire to hide any thing? When, as my Saviour commands me, I have entered into my closet, and shut my door,' there are but two parties privy to my devotions, God and my own heart: which of the two am I deceiving ?"
He wished to have more books, and, upon inquiring if there were any in the house, was told that a waiter had some, which were brought to him; but I recollect none of them, except Hervey's Meditations. He thought slightingly of this admired book. He treated it with ridicule, and would not allow even the scene of the dying husband and father to be pathetic. I am not an impartial judge; for Hervey's Meditations engaged my affections in my early years. He read a passage concerning the moon, ludicrously, and showed how easily he could, in the same style, make reflections on that planet, the very reverse of Hervey's, representing her as treacherous to mankind. He did this with much
humour; but I have not preserved the particulars. He then indulged a playful fancy, in making a Meditation on a Pudding, of which I hastily wrote down, in his presence, the following note; which, though imperfect, may serve to give my readers some idea of it.
66 MEDITATION ON A PUDDING.
"Let us seriously reflect of what a pudding is composed. It is composed of flour that once waved in the golden grain, and drank the dews of the morning; of milk pressed from the swelling udder by the gentle hand of the beauteous milkmaid, whose beauty and innocence might have recommended a worse draught; who, while she stroked the udder, indulged no ambitious thoughts of wandering in palaces, formed no plans for the destruction of her fellow-creatures: milk, which is drawn from the cow, that useful animal, that eats the grass of the field, and supplies us with that which made the greatest part of the food of mankind in the age which the poets have agreed to call golden. It is made with an egg, that miracle of nature, which the theoretical Burnet has compared to creation. An egg contains water within its beautiful smooth surface; and an unformed mass, by the incubation of the parent, becomes a regular animal, furnished with bones and sinews, and covered with feathers. Let us consider: can there be more wanting to complete the meditation on a pudding? If more is wanting, more may be found. It contains salt, which keeps the sea from putrefaction: salt, which is made the image of intellectual excellence, contributes to the formation of a pudding."
In a Magazine I found a saying of Dr. Johnson's, something to this purpose; that the happiest part of a man's life is what he passes lying awake in bed
in the morning. I read it to him. He said, " I may, perhaps, have said this; for nobody, at times, talks more laxly than I do." I ventured to suggest to him, that this was dangerous from one of his authority.
I spoke of living in the country, and upon what footing one should be with neighbours. I observed that some people were afraid of being on too easy a footing with them, from an apprehension that their time would not be their own. He made the obvious remark, that it depended much on what kind of neighbours one has, whether it was desirable to be on an easy footing with them or not. I mentioned a certain baronet, who told me he never was happy in the country, till he was not on speaking terms with his neighbours, which he contrived in different ways to bring about. "Lord. ," said he, "stuck long; but at last the fellow pounded my pigs, and then I got rid of him." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, my lord got rid of Sir John, and showed how little he valued him, by putting his pigs in the pound."
I told Dr. Johnson I was in some difficulty how to act at Inverary. I had reason to think that the Duchess of Argyle disliked me, on account of my zeal in the Douglas cause (1); but the Duke of
(1) Elizabeth Gunning, celebrated (like her sister, Lady Coventry) for her personal charms, had been previously Duchess of Hamilton, and was mother of Douglas, Duke of Hamilton, the competitor for the Douglas property with the late Lord Douglas: she was, of course, prejudiced against Boswell, who had shown all the bustling importance of his character in the Douglas cause, and it was said, I know not on what authority, that he headed the mob which broke the windows of some of the judges, and of Lord Auchinleck, his father, in particular.— WALTER SCOTT.
Argyle (1) had always been pleased to treat me with great civility. They were now at the castle, which is a very short walk from our inn; and the question was, whether I should go and pay my respects there. Dr. Johnson, to whom I had stated the case, was clear that I ought; but, in his usual way, he was very shy of discovering a desire to be invited there himself. Though, from a conviction of the benefit of subordination to society, he has always shown great respect to persons of high rank, when he happened to be in their company, yet his pride of character has ever made him guard against any appearance of courting the great. Besides, he was impatient to go to Glasgow, where he expected letters. At the same time he was, I believe, secretly not unwilling to have attention paid him by so great a chieftain, and so exalted a nobleman. He insisted that I should not go to the castle this day before dinner, as it would look like seeking an invitation. "But," said I, " if the duke invites us to dine with him to-morrow, shall we accept ?" "Yes, Sir," I think he said, "to be sure." But he added, "He won't ask us!" I mentioned, that I was afraid my company might be disagreeable to the duchess. He treated this objection with a manly disdain: "That, Sir, he must settle with his wife." We dined well. I went to the castle just about the time when I supposed the ladies would be retired from dinner. I sent in my name; and, being shown in, found the amiable duke sitting at the head of his table with
(1) John, 5th Duke of Argyll, who died in 1806, ætat. 83.—C.
several gentlemen. I was most politely received, and gave his grace some particulars of the curious journey which I had been making with Dr. Johnson. When we rose from table, the duke said to me, " I hope you and Dr. Johnson will dine with us tomorrow." I thanked his grace; but told him, my friend was in a great hurry to get back to London. The duke, with a kind complacency, said, "He will stay one day; and I will take care he shall see this place to advantage." I said, I should be sure to let him know his grace's invitation. As I was going away, the duke said, "Mr. Boswell, won't you have some tea?" I thought it best to get over the meeting with the duchess this night; so respectfully agreed. I was conducted to the drawing-room by the duke, who announced my name; but the duchess, who was sitting with her daughter, Lady Betty Hamilton (1), and some other ladies, took not the least notice of me. I should have been mortified at being thus coldly received by a lady of whom I, with the rest of the world, have always entertained a very high admiration, had I not been consoled by the obliging attention of the duke.
When I returned to the inn, I informed Dr. Johnson of the Duke of Argyle's invitation, with which he was much pleased, and readily accepted of it. We talked of a violent contest which was then carrying on, with a view to the next general election for Ayrshire; where one of the candidates, in order to undermine the old and established interest, had
(1) Afterwards Countess of Derby.-C.