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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. 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. I pressed him this day for his opinion on the passage on 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:
“PARNELL, in his 'Hermit,' has the following passage:
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wandering 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 after wards 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.” 1
This evening I set out for Scotland.
1 "I do not," says Mr. Malone, "see any difficulty in this passage, and wonder that Dr. Johnson should have acknowledged it to be inaccurate. The Hermit, it should be observed, had no actual experience of the world whatsoever; all his knowledge concerning it had been obtained in two ways: from books, and from the relations of those country swains who had seen a little of it. The plain meaning, therefore, is, 'To clear his doubts concerning Providence, and to obtain some knowledge of the world by actual experience: to see whether the accounts furnished by books, or by the oral communications of swains, were just representations of it; [I say, swains], for his oral or viva voce information had been obtained from that part of mankind alone, &c. The word alone here does not relate to the whole of the preceding line as has been supposed, but, by a common license, to the words, of all mankind, which are understood, and of which it is restrictive."-Mr. Malone, it must be owned, has shown much critical ingenuity in his explanation of this passage. His interpretation, however, seems to me much too recondite. The meaning of the passage may be certain enough; but surely the expression is confused, and one part of it contradictory to the other.-BOSWELL.
But why too recondite? When a meaning is given to a passage by understanding words in an uncommon sense, the interpretation may be said to be recondite, and, however ingenious, may be suspected not to be sound; but when words are explained in their ordinary acceptation, and the explication, which is fairly deduced from them without any force or constraint, is also perfectly justified by the context, it surely may be safely accepted; and the calling such an explication recondite, when nothing else can be said against it, will not make it the less just.-MALONE.
"TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
May 4, 1779.
"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,
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. 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.
"TO THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY.
May 3, 1779.
"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,
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 of the evidence as to the ghost did not satisfy me.
REV. JOHN WESLEY.
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 :
"TO MR. DILLY.
"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. "SAM. JOHNSON."
My readers will not doubt that his solicitude about me was very flattering.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
July 13, 1779.
"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, 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,
"TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, July 17, 1779.
"MY DEAR SIR, "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 chid 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. 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, 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 Poètes," tome iii. Epigram "To John I owed great obligation,” p. 25. “Tʊ 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:
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"MY DEAR SIR,
Streatham, Sept. 9, 1799.
“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 I 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.
"I forgot whether I informed you that poor Thrale has been in great danger. Mrs. Thrale likewise has miscarried, and been much indisposed. Everybody else is well; Langton is in camp. I intend to put Lord Hailes's description of Dryden1 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 Brighthelmstone 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,
1 Which I communicated to him from his Lordship; but it has not yet been published. I have a copy of it.-BOSWELL.
The few notices concerning Dryden, which Lord Hailes had collected, the author afterwards ave me.-MALONE.
DR. JOHNSON'S LEISURE-HOUR AMUSEMENTS-COLONEL STUART'S REGIMENT-SELECTION OF GUARDIANS-EAST INDIES-"CAPABILITY BROWN"-LONDON POOR-JOHNSON'S ATTEND ANCE AT CHURCH-LORD BOLINGBROKE AND POPE'S "ESSAY ON MAN"-JOHNSON'S VARIOUS RESIDENCES IN LONDON-CONJUGAL INFIDELITY-JOHNSON'S AVERSION ΤΟ ROMAN CATHOLICS-STUDY OF GREEK-MISS GRAHAM-MIDDLESEX ELECTION-HOUSE OF COMMONS-WHITEFIELD-INFIDELS-JOHNSON'S AVERSION TO VISITING IRELANDTHE AMBASSADOR AND "THE RAMBLER "-BOSWELL LEAVES LONDON FOR CHESTERCORRESPONDENCE-BOSWELL'S NUMEROUS VISITS AT LICHFIELD AND CHESTER-"LIVES OF THE POETS"-DR. LAWRENCE-ON THE LOSS OF A WIFE-DEATH OF BEAUCLERK -MR. MELMOTH-" FITZOSBORNE'S LETTERS"- EVENING AT MR. VESEY'S-DISTINGUISHED COTERIE.
MY readers will not be displeased at being told every slight circum
stance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his solitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chemistry, sometimes in watering and pruning a vine, sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile should recollect that there are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifles.1
1 In one of his manuscript Diaries, there is the following entry, which marks his curious minute attention:-"July 26, 1768. I shaved my nail by accident in whetting the knife about an eighth of an inch from the bottom, and about a fourth from the top. This I measure that I may know the growth of nails; the whole is about five-eighths of an inch." Another of