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then burst into such a fit of laughter, that he appeared to be almost in a convulsion; and, in order to support himself, laid hold of one of the posts at the side of the foot pavement, and sent forth peals so loud, that in the silence of the night his voice seemed to resound from Temple Bar to Fleet Ditch.
This most ludicrous exhibition of the awful, melancholy, and venerable Johnson, happened well to counteract the feelings of sadness which I used to experience when parting with him for a considerable time. I accompanied him to his door, where he gave me his blessing.
He records of himself this year:
“ Between Easter and Whitsuntide, having always considered that time as propitious to study, I attempted to learn the Low Dutch language." [Pr. & Med. p. 191.]
It is to be observed, that he here admits an opinion of the human mind being influenced by seasons, which he ridicules in his writings. His progress, he says, was interrupted by a fever, “which, by the imprudent use of a small print, left an inflammation in his useful eye." We cannot but admire his spirit when we know, that amidst a complication of bodily and mental distress, he was still animated with the desire of intellectual improvement.(1) Various notes of his studies appear on different days, in his manuscript diary of this
(1) Not six months before his death, he wished me to teach him the scale of music: “ Dr. Burney, teach me at least the alphabet of your language.” — BURNEY.
“ Inchoavi lectionem Pentateuchi. Finivi lectionem Conf. Fab. Burdonum. Legi primum actum Troadum. Legi Dissertationem Clerici postremam de Pent. 2 of Clark's Sermons. L. Apollonii pugnam Betriciam. L. centum versus Homeri.”
Let this serve as a specimen of what accessions of literature he was perpetually infusing into his mind, while he charged himself with idleness. (1)
In a letter from Edinburgh, dated the 29th of May, I pressed him to persevere in his resolution to make this year the projected visit to the Hebrides, of which he and I had talked for many years, and which I was confident would afford us much entertainment.
(1) This year died Mrs. Salusbury (mother of Mrs. Thrale), a lady whom he appears to have esteemed much, and whose memory he honoured with an epitaph. This event also furnished him with a subject of meditation for the evening of June the 18th, on which day this lady died ::
“ Friday, June 18. 1773. This day, after dinner, died Mrs. Salusbury; she had for some days almost lost the power of speaking. Yesterday, as I touched her hand, and kissed it, she pressed my hand between her two hands, which she probably intended as the parting caress. At night her speech returned a little ; and she said, among other things, to her daughter, I have had much time, and I hope I have used it.
This morning being called about nine to feel her pulse, I said at parting, God bless you, for Jesus Christ's sake. She smiled, as pleased. She had her senses perhaps to the dying moment.” (Pr. & Med., p. 127.] He complains, about this period, that his memory had been for a long time very much confused; and that names, and persons, and events, slide away strangely from himn.
“ But," he adds, “ I grow easier.” (p. 129.] — C.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ Johnson's Court, July 5. 1773. " DEAR SIR,
When your letter came to me, I was so darkened by an inflammation in my eye that I could not for some time read it. I can now write without trouble, and can read large prints. My eye is gradually growing stronger ; and I hope will be able to take some delight in the survey of a Caledonian loch.
“ Chambers is going a judge, with six thousand a year, to Bengal. He and I shall come down together as far as Newcastle, and thence I shall easily get to Edinburgh. Let me know the exact time when your courts intermit. I'must conform a little to Chambers's occasions, and he must conform a little to mine. The time which
shall fix must be the common point to. which we will come as near as we can.
Except this eye, I am very well.
“ Beattie is so caressed, and invited, and treated, and liked, and flattered by the great, that I can see nothing of him. I am in great hope that he will be well provided for, and then we will live upon him at the Marischal College, without pity or modesty.
(1) left the town without taking leave of me, and is gone in deep dudgeon to -.() Is not this very childish? Where is now my legacy ?
“I hope your dear lady and her dear baby are both well. I shall see them too when I come ; and I have that opinion of your choice, as to suspect that when I have seen Mrs. Boswell, I shall be less willing to go away. I am, dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,
“ SAM, Johnson.”
Chambers is now
“ Write to me as soon as you can. at Oxford.”
(1) (2) Both these blanks must be filled with Langton. See antè, p. 305. — C.
I again wrote to him, informing him that the court of session rose on the 12th of August, hoping to see him before that time, and expressing, perhaps in too extravagant terms, my admiration of him, and my expectation of pleasure from our intended tour.
LETTER 155. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
August 3. 1773. “Dear Sir,– I shall set out from London on Friday the sixth of this month, and purpose not to loiter much by the way. Which day I shall be at Edinburgh, I cannot exactly tell. I suppose I must drive to an inn, and send a porter to find you.
“I am afraid Beattie will not be at his college soon enough for us, and I shall be sorry to miss him; but there no staying for the concurrence of all conveniences. We will do as well as we can. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
“ August 3. 1773. “ DEAR SIR, - Not being at Mr. Thrale's when your letter came, I had written the inclosed paper and sealed it; bringing it hither for a frank, I found yours. any thing could repress my ardour, it would be such a letter as yours. To disappoint a friend is unpleasing; and he that forms expectations like yours, must be disappointed. Think only, when you see me, that you see a man who loves you, and is proud and glad that you love him. I am, Sir, your most affectionate,
o Sam. Johnson."
No. I. — ARGUMENT IN BEHALF OF HASTIE, THE SCHOOLMASTER, PROSECUTED FOR UNDUE SEVERITY.
(See p. 222.)
The charge is, that he has used immoderate and cruel correction. Correction in itself is not cruel; children, being not reasonable, can be governed only by fear. To impress this fear is, therefore, one of the first duties of those who have the care of children. It is the duty of a parent; and has never been thought inconsistent with parental tenderness. It is the duty of a master, who is in his highest exaltation when he is loco parentis. Yet, as good things become evil by excess, correction, by being immoderate, may become cruel. But when is correction immoderate ? When it is more frequent or more severe than is required ad monendum et docendum, for reformation and instruction. No severity is cruel which obstinacy makes necessary; for the greatest cruelty would be, to desist, and leave the scholar too careless for instruction, and too much hardened for reproof. Locke, in his treatise of education, mentions a mother, with applause, who whipped an infant eight times before she subdued it; for had she stopped at the seventh act of correction, her daughter, says he, would have been ruined. The degrees of obstinacy in young minds are very different: as different must be the degrees of persevering severity. A stubborn scholar must be corrected till he is subdued. The discipline of a school is military. There must be