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1778. various books, had he read solely with that view.
Henry erred in not selling his first volume at a moÆtat. 69.
derate price to the booksellers, that they might have pushed him on till he had got reputation. I sold my · History of Scotland' at a moderate price, as a work by which the booksellers might either gain or not; and Cadell has told me, that Miller and he have got six thousand pounds by it. I afterwards received a much higher price for my writings. An authour should sell his first work for what the booksellers will give, till it shall appear whether he is an authour of merit, or, which is the same thing as to purchase-money, an authour who pleases the publick."
Dr. Robertson expatiated on the character of a certain nobleman ; that he was one of the strongestminded men that ever lived ; that he would sit in company quite sluggish, while there was nothing to call forth his intellectual vigour ; but the moment that any important subject was started, for instance, how this country is to be defended against a French invasion, he would rouse himself, and shew his extraordinary talents with the most powerful ability and animation. JOHNSON. " Yet this man cut his own throat. The true strong and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small. Now I am told the King of Prussia will say to a servant, · Bring me a bottle of such a wine, which came in such a year ; it lies in such a corner of the cellars,' I would have a man great in great things, and elegant in little things." He said to me afterwards, when we were by ourselves, “ Robertson was in a mighty romantick humour, he talked of one whom he did not know; but I downed him with the King of Prussia. "_"Yes, Sir, (said I,) you threw a 1778. tottle at his head."
Ætat. 69. An ingenious gentleman was mentioned, concerning whom both Robertson and Ramsay agreed that he had a constant firmness of mind; for after a laborious day, and amidst a multiplicity of cares and anxieties, he would sit down with his sisters and be quite cheerful and good-humoured. Such a disposition, it was observed, was the happy gift of nature. JOHNSON. “I do not think so.; a man has from nature a certain portion of mind ; the use he makes of it depends upon his own free will. That a man has always the same firmness of mind, I do not say: because every man feels his mind less firm at one time than another ; but I think, a man's being in a good or bad humour depends upon his will."-I, however, could not help thinking that a man's humour is often uncontroulable by his will.
Johnson harangued against drinking wine. man, (said he,) may choose whether he will have abstemiousness and knowledge, or claret and ignorance.” Dr. Robertson, (who is very companionable,) was beginning to dissent as to the proscription of claret. JOHNSON: (with a placid smile.) “ Nay, Sir, you shall not differ with me; as I have said that the man is most perfect who takes in the most things, I am for knowledge and claret." ROBERTSON: (holding a glass of generous claret in his hand.) “Sir, I can
.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, I should
should be ever in such a state as to be able to do nothing more. ROBERTSON. “ Dr. Johnson, allow me to say, that in one respect I have the advantage of you; when you were in Scotland you
would not come to hear any of our preachers,
1778. whereas, when I am here, I attend your publick worÆtat. 69. ship without scruple, and indeed, with great satis
faction.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, that is not so extraordinary: the King of Siam sent ambassadors to Louis the Fourteenth; but Louis the Fourteenth sent none to the King of Siam. " 3
Here my friend for once discovered a want of knowledge or forgetfulness ; for Louis the Fourteenth did send an embassy to the King of Siam, * and the Abbé Choisi, who was employed in it, published an account of it in two volumes.
Next day, Thursday, April 30, I found him at home by himself. Johnson. “Well, Sir, Ramsay gave us a splendid dinner. I love Ramsay. You will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.” BOSWELL. . 66 What I admire in Ramsay, is his continuing to be so young.” JOHNSON Why, yes, Sir, it is to be admired. I value myself upon this, that there is nothing of the old man in my conversation. I am now sixty-eight, and I have no more of it than at twenty-eight. Boswell. “But, Sir, would not you wish to know old age ? He who is never an old man, does not know the whole of human life; for old age is one of the divisions of it." JOHNSON. “ Nay, Sir, what talk is this?” Boswell. I mean, Sir, the Sphinx's description of it:--morning, noon, and night. I would know. night, as well as morning and noon.'
3 Mrs. Piozzi confidently mentions this as having passed in Scotland. “ Anecdotes," p. 62.
4 [The Abbé de Choisi was sent by Louis XIV.on an embassy to the King of Siam in 1683, with a view, it has been said, tò convert the King of that country to Christianity. MALONE.]
JOHNSON. “ What, Sir, would you know what it is 1778. to feel the evils of old age? Would you have the
Ætat. 69. gout? Would you have decrepitude ?"-Seeing him heated, I would not argue any farther ; but I was confident that I was in the right. I would, in due time, be a Nestor, an elder of the people; and there should be some difference between the conversation of twenty-eight and sixty-eight.“ A grave picture should not be gay. There is a serene, solemn, placid old age.
JOHNSON. “ Mrs. Thrale's mother said of me what flattered me much. A clergyman was complaining of want of society in the country where he lived; and said, “ They talk of runts ;” (that is, young cows.) • Sir, (said Mrs. Salusbury,) Mr. Johnson would learn to talk of runts;' meaning that I was a man who would make the most of my situation, whatever it was. He added, “ I think myself a very polite man.
5. [Johnson clearly meant, (what the authour has often elsewhere mentioned,) that he had none of the listlessness of old age, that he had the same activity and energy of mind as formerly; not that a man of sixty-eight might dance in a publick assembly with as much propriety as he could at twenty-eight. His conversation, being the product of much various knowledge, great acuteness, and extraordinary wit, was equally well suited to every period of life; and as in his youth it probably did not exhibit any unbecoming levity, so certainly in his later years it was totally free from the garrulity and querulousness of old age. MALONE.]
6 [Such is the signification of this word in Scotland, and it should seem in Wales. (See Skinner in v.) But the heifers of Scotland and Wales, when brought to England, being always smaller than those of this country, the word runt has acquired a. secondary sense, and generally signifies a heifer diminutive in size, small beyond the ordinary growth of that animal ; and in this sense alone the word is acknowledged by Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary. Malone.]
1778. On Saturday, May 2, I dined with him at Sir Ætat. 69.
Joshua Reynolds’s, where there was a very large company, and a gread deal of conversation ; but owing to some circumstance which I cannot now recollect, I have no record of any part of it, except that there were several people there by no means of the Johnsonian school; so that less attention was paid to him than usual, which put him out of humour ; and upon some imaginary offence from me, he attacked me with such rudeness, that I was vexed and angry, because it gave those persons an opportunity of enlarging upon his supposed ferocity, and ill treatment of his best friends. I was so much hurt, and had my pride so much roused, that I kept away from him for a week; and, perhaps, might have kept away much longer, nay, gone to Scotland without seeing him again, had not we fortunately met and been reconciled. To such unhappy chances are human friendships liable.
On Friday, May 8, I dined with him at Mr. Langton's. I was reserved and silent, which I suppose he perceived, and might recollect the cause. After dinner, when Mr. Langton was called out of the room, and we were by ourselves, he drew his chair near to mine, and said, in a tone of conciliating courtesy, “ Well, how have you done ? ” Boswell. “ Sir, you have made me very uneasy by your behaviour to me when we were last at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. You know, my dear Sir, no man has a greater respect and affection for you, or would sooner go to the end of the world to serve you. Now to treat me so- . He insisted that I had interrupted him, which I assured him was not the case; and proceeded" But why treat me so