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had seen him do it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick." BOSWELL. "I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat; he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him."
"Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of myself I can only add, that having been afflicted many weeks with a very troublesome cough, I am now recovered.
"I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of which you will please to fill up the direction. I am, Sir, "Your most humble servant,
"Johnson's-Court, Fleet-street, London, March 4, 1773."
The reader will be glad to see Boswell's effusive letters to the American gentlemen in return for their civility. In the second edition they are inserted after Boswell's letter of Dec. 18, 1773.
London, June 11, 1792. "SIR,-The packet with which your spontaneous kindness has been pleased to honour me, after being a little while delayed by the ship's having put into Ireland, came safely to my hands. The two letters from Johnson to American gentlemen are a valuable acquisition. I received them in time to be inserted in the second edition of my life of that great man, which is now in the press. It is to be in three volumes, octavo, and it will contain a good many editions. A copy from the author shall be sent to you, hoping that you will allow it a place in your library. Meanwhile, Sir, my grateful acknowledgments to you shall be wafted across the Atlantic. In the letter to Bishop White, I observe, Johnson says, 'I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of which you will please to fill up the direction.' There must therefore have been a third letter of my illustrious friend's sent to your continent. If the respectable gentleman under whose care it was transmitted can procure a copy of it for me, I shall be much obliged to him, and to you, of whom I beg pardon for giving you more trouble after what you have done for me. You are, I find Sir, a true Johnsonian; and you may believe that I have great pleasure in being of any ser
vice to one of that description. I have not yet been able to discover any more of his sermons beside those left for publication by Dr. Taylor. I am informed by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury, that he gave an excellent one to a clergyman, who preached and published it in his own name on some public occasion. But the Bishop has not yet told me the name, and seems unwilling to do it. Yet I flatter myself I shall get at it. Your list of Johnson's works, and of what has been written concerning him, has what is most valuable. There have, however, been various other publications concerning him, several of which I have mentioned in my book. If you think it worth your while to collect all that can be had, I will do all that I can to assist you, though some of them attack me with a good deal of ill-nature, the effect of which, however, is by no means painful. I now send you a poetical review of Dr. Johnson's literary and moral character, by my friend Mr. Courtenay, in which, though I except to several passages, you will find some very good writing. It will be kind if you will be so good as to let me know if anything be published in the New World relative to Johnson My worthy bookseller, Mr. Dilly, will take care of whatever packets you may have to send me.-I am, Sir, your much obliged, humble servant, 'JAMES BOSWELL."
"London, July 28, 1793. "DEAR SIR,-I have this very day
I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's "Memoirs of Great-Britain and Ireland," and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals." BOSWELL. “But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals." JOHNSON. "Consider, Sir; would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an
received your packet concerning your letter of 17th May; and, as a vessel sails for Philadelphia to-morrow, I shall not delay to express my sincere thanks for your accumulated favours. I am sorry that you have experienced any uneasiness at not hearing from me, in answer to your obliging letter of 10 October, 1792, which came safe to my hands, together with Mr. Hopkins' Miscellaneous Works, and the magazine giving an account of that gentleman. The truth is, I delayed writing to you again till I could send you the second edition of my life of Dr. Johnson, which I supposed would be ready long before this time, but it has been retarded by various causes, one of which you will not regret, I mean my having had some valuable additions lately communicated to me. The work is at length finished, and you will be pleased to receive your copy of it from the author. It will be accompanied with Mr. Young's criticism, Mr. Gray's celebrated elegy, in imitation of Dr. Johnson's manner, which I persuade myself will entertain you a great deal. I think a kind of national modesty in a young race, if I may so express myself, has led you to rate your countryman lower than he deserves. I do not mean to estimate him as a first-rate genius, but surely he has good abilities, and a wide and various range of application. I have not time to consider the writings which you have kindly sent me with your last letter, so as to give any opinion upon them by this opportunity. But I shall
certainly presume to tell you in a future letter what I think of them. I shall be glad to have the curious dissertation on the elements of written language, though you mention that it contains some severe strictures on Dr. Johnson. I am not afraid. I know what he can bear.
Agutter's sermon on his death has not yet been published. Should it appear, you may depend on my taking care to transmit you a copy of it. I cannot warmly enough acknowledge the zeal with which you have exerted yourself in order to gratify me. I am very sorry that Dr. Johnson's letter to your friend Mr. Odell is lost; but that is one of the many evils occasioned by that unjust civil war, which I reprobated at a time when a bad ministry carried it on, and now look back upon with a mixture of wonder and regret. Let us not, however, get upon that subject. I beg you may present my compliments to Mr. Odell, with thanks for his very polite mention of me. I also beg to be respectfully remembered to who, I
am pleased to find, recollects having met me at the hospitable table of my old friend Sir Alexander Dick, who was truly a corycius senex. The Johnsoniana, which has obligingly allowed you
to send me, have the characteristic stamp, and I like much his expression that
The single weight of Johnson's massy understanding in the scale of Christianity is an over-balance to the infidelity of the age in which he lived. You will find in my second edition a correction of churn to charm, suggested to me by Lord Palmerston. I am glad to have it confirmed by the letter from Dr. Armstrong; and should my book come to another edition, that confirmation shall be added, as shall your discovery of the passage upon corps in Menagiana, in which you are, I clearly think, right. You will find an ingenious conjecture concerning it in my second edition, by an unknown correspondent.
"I have not yet obtained from the Bishop of Salisbury the name of the clergyman to whom Johnson gave a ser
honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing: it is the mere bouncing of a school-boy. Great He! but greater She! and such stuff."
I could not agree with him in this criticism; for though Sir John Dalrymple's style is not regularly formed in any respect, and one cannot help smiling sometimes at his affected grandiloquence, there is in his writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.
At Mr. Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical declamation against action in publick speaking. "Action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but
it never can enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action; you hold up your hand thus, because he is a brute; and in proportion as men are removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them." MRS. THRALE. "What then, Sir, becomes of Demosthenes's saying? Action, action, action!'" JOHNSON. "Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of brutes; to a barbarous people."
I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.
Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of that celebrated nobleman's witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship's saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both very old and infirm : "Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known."
He talked with approbation of an intended edition of "Thet Spectator," with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared
mon, which was preached on the 5th of November-for that, I find, was the public occasion. I will endeavour, if possible, to find it out. Sir Joshua Reynolds's Tour to the Netherlands is much better written by himself than I could do; for it is, I understand, almost entirely an account of the pictures. It is to be subjoined to an edition of his Discourses to the Royal Academy, which is now in the press, under the care of that accurate critic, my friend Mr. Malone. By your name, Sir, you must be of Scottish ex
by a gentleman eminent in the literary world, and the materials which he had collected for the remainder had been transferred to another hand.' He observed, that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw light upon "The Spectator." He said, "Addison had made his Sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments; but that he had thought better, and made amends by making him found an hospital for decayed farmers." He called for the volume of "The Spectator" in which that account is contained, and read it aloud to us. He read so well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his utterance.
The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads, and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that ridicule which he always displayed when this subject was mentioned.
He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse. This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.
On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he was very silent. He said, "Burnet's History of his own Times,' is very entertaining. The style, indeed, is mere chit-chat. I do not believe that Burnet intentionally lyed; but he was so much prejudiced, that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch; but will not inquire whether the watch is right or not."
Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave him; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock, he cried, "What's that to you and me?" and ordered Frank to tell Mrs. Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. It was settled that we should go to church together next day.
On the 9th of April, being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns; Doctor Levet, as Frank called him, making the tea. He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement
1 Drs. Percy and Calder. as Mr. Croker heard from Chalmers.
Danes, where he had his seat;1 and his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly devout. I never shall forget the tremulous earnestness with which he pronounced the awful petition in the Litany: "In the hour of death, and at the day of judgement, good LORD deliver us."
We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval between the two services we did not dine, but he read in the Greek New Testament, and I turned over several of his books.
In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read to Dr. Johnson:
"1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince Charles, at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally of many things with his attendants. Among other things, he said, that if he were necessitated to take any particular profession of life, he could not be a lawyer, adding his reasons: 'I cannot (saith he,) defend a bad, nor yield in a good cause."" JOHNSON. "Sir, this is false reasoning; because every cause has a bad side and a lawyer is not overcome, though the cause which he has endeavoured to support be determined against him."
I told him that Goldsmith had said to me a few days before, "As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the taylor, so I take my religion from the priest." I regretted this loose way of talking. JOHNSON. "Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about nothing."
To my great surprize, he asked me to dine with him on Easterday. I never supposed that he had a dinner at his house; for I had not then heard of any one of his friends having been entertained at his table. He told me, "I generally have a meat pye on Sunday: it is baked at a publick oven, which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress dinners."
April 11, being Easter-Sunday, after having attended divine ser vice at St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU, while he
• Afterwards Charles I.
1 Pew No. 18. A brass tablet has been affixed to the adjoining pillar, "against which he must often have reclined," with the following inscription by Dr. Croly:-"In this pew, and beside this pillar, for many years attended divine service the celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson, the philosopher, the poet, the
great lexicographer, the profound moralist and chief writer of his time. Born 1709; died 1784. In the remembrance and honour of noble faculties nobly employed, some inhabitants of the parish of St. Clement Danes have placed this slight memorial, A.D. 1851.”