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1784. gratifications to a man under sentence of death?
There is a humane custom in Italy, by which perÆtat. 75.
sons in that melancholy situation are indulged with having whatever they like best to eat and drink, even with expensive delicacies.”
I shewed him some verses on Lichfield by Miss Seward, which I had that day received from her, and had the pleasure to hear him approve of them. He confirmed to me the truth of a high compliment which I had been told he had paid to that lady, when she mentioned to him “ The Colombiade," an epick poem, by Madame du Boccage :-Madam, there is not any thing equal to your description of the sea round the North Pole, in your Ode on the death of Captain Cooke.”
On Sunday, June 27, I found him rather better. I mentioned to him a young man who was going to Jamaica with his wife and children, in expectation of being provided for by two of her brothers settled in that island, one a clergyman, and the other a physician. JOHNSON.
" It is a wild scheme, Sir, unless he has a positive and deliberate invitation. Thera was a poor girl, who used to come about me, , who had a cousin in Barbadoes, that, in a letter to her, expressed a wish she should come out to that Island, and expatiated on the comforts and happiness of her situation. The poor girl went out: her cousin was much surprized, and asked her how she could think of coming. Because, (said she,) you
· invited me.'- Not I,' answered the cousin. The letter was then produced. “I see it is true, (said she,) that I did invite you: but I did not think you would come.' They lodged her in an out-house, where she passed her time miserably; and as soon as she
had an opportunity she returned to England. Al. 1784. ways tell this, when you hear of people going abroad
Ætat. 75 to relations, upon a notion of being well received. In the case which you mention, it is probable the clergyman spends all he gets, and the physician does not know how much he is to get."
We this day dined at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with General Paoli, Lord Eliot, (formerly Mr. Eliot, of Port Eliot,) Dr. Beattie, and some other company. Talking of Lord Chesterfield ;-JOHNSON. manner was exquisitely elegant, and he had more knowledge than I expected.” BOSWELL. “ Did you find, Sir, his conversation to be of a superiour style. JOHNSON. “ Sir, in the conversation which I had with him I had the best right to superiority, for it was upon philology and literature.” Lord Eliot, who had travelled at the same time with Mr. Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's natural son, justly observed, that it was strange that a man who shewed he had so much affection for his son as Lord Chesterfield did, by writing so many long and anxious letters to him, alınost all of them when he was Secri ry of State, which certainly was a proof of great goodness of disposition, should endeavour to make his son a rascal, His Lordship told us, that Foote had intended to bring on the stage a father who had thus tutored his son, and to show the son an honest man to every one else, but practising his father's maxims upon hiin, and cheating him. Johnson. “ I am much pleased with this design; but I think there was no occasion to make the son honest at all. No; he should be a consummate rogue: the contrast between honesty and knavery would be the stronger. It should be contrived so that the father should be the only suf.
· Ætat. 75.
ferer by the son's villainy, and thus there would be
put Lord Eliot in mind of Dr. Walter Harte. “ I know, (said he,) Harte was your Lordship's tutor, and he was also tutor to the Peterborough family. Pray, my Lord, do you recollect any particulars that he told you of Lord Peterborough ? He is a favourite of mine, and is not enough known; his character has been only ventilated in party pamphlets.”. Lord Eliot said, if Dr. Johnson would be so good as to ask him any questions, he would tell what he could recollect. Accordingly some things were mentioned.
“ But, (said his Lordship,) the best account of Lord Peterborough that I have happened to meet with, is in, 'Captain Carleton's Memoirs.' Carleton was descended of an ancestor who had distinguished himself at the siege of Derry. He was an officer ; and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of engineering." Johnson said, he had never heard of the book. Lord Eliot had it at Port Eliot; but, after a good deal of enquiry, procured a copy in London, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he was going to bed when it came, but was so much pleased with it, that he sat up till he had read it through, and found in it such an air of truth, that he could not doubt of its authenticity ; adding, with a smile, (in allusion to Lord Eliot's having recently been raised to the peerage,) 'I did not think a young Lord could have mentioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to me."
An addition to our company came after we went up to the drawing room ; Dr. Johnson seemed to rise in spirits as his audience increased. He said,
* He wished Lord Orford's pictures, and Sir Ashton 1784. Lever's Museum, might be purchased by the publick, because both the money, and the pictures, and the curiosities would remain in the country; whereas if they were sold into another kingdom, the nation would indeed get some money, but would lose the pictures and curiosities, which it would be desirable we should have, for improvement in taste and natural history. The only question was, as the nation was much in want of money, whether it would not he better to take a large price from a foreign State?"
He entered upon a cúrious discussion of the difference between intuition and sagacity ; one being immediate in its effect, the other requiring a circuitous process; one he observed was the eye of the mind, the other the nose of the mind.
A young gentleman present took up the argument against him, and maintained that no man ever thinks of the nose of the mind, not adverting that though that figurative sense seems strange to us, as very unusual, it is truly not more forced than Hamlet's “In my mind's eye, Horatio.” He persisted much too long, and appeared to Johnson as putting himself forward as his antagonist with too much presumption: upon which he called to him in a loud tone, “ What is it you are contending for, if you be contending?". -And afterwards imagining that the gentleman retorted upon him with a kind of smart drollery, he said, “ Mr. *****, it does not become you to talk so to me. Besides, ridicule is not your talent ; you have there neither intuition nor sagacity.”--The gentleman protested that he had intended no improper
1784. freedom, but had the greatest respect for Dr. John
son. After a short pause, during which we were Ætat.75.
somewhat uneasy.--JOHNSON. “Give me your hand, Sir. You were too tedious, and I was too short. MR. *****,“ Sir, I am honoured by your attention in any way.
JOHNSON. “Come, Sir, let's have no more of it. We offended one another by our contenţion ; let us not offend the company by our compliments."
He now said, “ He wished much to go to Italy, and that he dreaded passing the winter in England.” I said nothing; but enjoyed a secret satisfaction in thinking that I had taken the most effectual measures to make such a scheme practicable.
On Monday, June 28, I had the honour to receive from the Lord Chancellor the following letter :
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ I SHOULD have answered your letter immediately ; if, (being much engaged when I received it) I had not put it in my pocket, and forgot to open it till this morning
“ I am much obliged to you for the suggestion; and I will adopt and press it as far as I can. The . best argument, I am sure, and I hope it is not likely to fail, is Dr. Johnson's merit.---- But it will be necessary, if I should be so unfortunate as to miss seeing you, to converse with Sir Joshua on the sum it will be proper to ask,-in short, upon the means of setting him out. It would be a reflection on us all, if such