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Boswell mentioned a scheme which he 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."
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 reputation.”
Dr. Johnson observed, “ That every body commended his Journey to the Western Islands, as it were, in their own way. For instance," said he, “Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing), told me there was more good sense upon trade in it, thay he should hear in the house of commons in a year, except from Burke. w Jones commended the part which treats of language; Burke that which describes the inhabitants of mountainous countries.”
JOHNSON. “I liave been reading Thicknesse's Travels, which, I think, are entertaining." Bos
" 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, and frightening a French nobleman till he made him tie on his portmantean—that he would be loath 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. Travellers must be often mistaken: in every thing, except where mensuration can be ap
plied, they may honestly differ. There has been, of late, a strange turn in travellers to be displeased.”
Boswell expressed some inclination to publish an account of his Travels upon the continent of Europe, for which he 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 re. marks, so as to make very pleasant reading." JOHN. SON. 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. The world is now not contented to be merely entertained by a traveller's narrative; they want to learn something. 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." Bos. WELL. 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) yon should have given us your travels in France. I am sure I am right, and there's an end on't.”
Boswell said to him, that it was certainly true, as his friend Dempster had observed in his letter to him 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 topics were ; and books of travels will be good in propor. tion 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. Şo 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.”
A gentleman having come in who was to go as a mate in the ship along with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, Dr. Johnson asked what were the names of the ships destined for the expedition. The gen-, tleman answered, they were once to be called the Drake and the Raleigh, but now they were to be called the Resolution and the Adventure. Johnson. “ Much better; for had the Raleigh returned with, out going round the world, it would have been ridi. culous. To give them the names of the Drake and the Raleigh, was laying a trap for satire.” BosWELL. “ Had not you some desire to go upon this expedition, sir?" JOHNSON. “Why yes, but I soon laid it aside. Sir, there is very little of intellectual
in the course : besides, I see but at a small distance : so it was not worth my while to go to see birds fly, which I should not have seen fly; and fishes swim, which I should not have seen swim."
Boswell mentioned that a gay friend had advised him against being a lawyer, because he would be excelled by plodding block heads. Johnson.“ Why, sir, in the formulary and statutary part of law, a plodding blockhead may excel; but, in the ingenious and rational part of it, a plodding blockhead can never excel.”
Sir Alexander Macdonald observed to hiin, I think, sir, almost all great lawyers, such at least as have written upon law, have known only law, and nothing else.” JOHNSON, “ Why, no, sir ; Judge Hale was a great lawyer, and wrote upon law, and yet he knew a great many other things, and has written upon other things. Selden too." Sir A. "" Very true, sir, and Lord Bacon. But was not Lord Coke a mere lawyer ?” Johnson. " Why, I am afraid he was ; but he would have taken it very ill if you had told him so; he would have prosecuted you for scandal.” BOSWELL. “Lord Mansfield is not a mere lawyer.” JOHNSON. “ No, sir, I never was in Lord Mansfield's company; but Lord Mansfield was distinguished at the university. Lord Mansfield, when he first came to town, drank Champagne with the wits, as Prior says. He was
the friend of Pope.” Sir A.“ Barristers, I believe, are not so abusive now as they were formerly. I fancy they had less law long ago, and so were obliged to take to abuse, to fill up the time. Now they have such a number of precedents, they have no occasion for abuse." JOHNSON. “ Nay, sir, they had more law long ago than they have now. As to precedents, to be sure they will increase in course of time; but the more precedents there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is to say, the less occasiou is there for investigating principles."
Boswell asked him, whether, as a moralist, he did not think, that the practice of the law, in some degree, hurt the fine feeling of honesty. Johnson. “Why no, sir, if you act properly. You are not to deceive your clients with false representations of your opinion : you are not to tell lies to a judge." Boswell. “ But what do you think of supporting a cause which you know to be bad ?" Johnson. “ Sir, you do not know it to be good or bad, till the judge determines it. I have said, that you are to state facts fairly; so that your thinking, or what you call knowing, a cause to be bad, must be from reasoning, must be from your supposing your arguments to be weak and inconclusive. But, sir, that is not enough. An argument, which does not convince yourself, may convince the judge to whom you urge it : and if it does convince him, why, then, sir, you are wrong, and he is right. It is his business to judge; and you are not to be confident in your own opinion, that a cause is bad, but to say all you can for your client, and then hear the judge's opinion.” Boswell. “ But, sir, does not affecting a warmth when you have no warmth, and appear