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I mentioned the advice given us by philosophers, to console ourselves, when 1766. distressed or embarrassed, by thinking of those who are in a worse situation Ætat. 57. than ourselves. This, I observed, could not apply to all, for there must be some who have nobody worse than they are. JOHNSON. “ Why to be sure, Sir, there are ; but they don't know it. There is no being so poor and so contemptible, who does not think there is somebody still poorer, and still more contemptible.”

As my stay in London at this time was very short, I had not many opportunities of being with Dr. Johnson ; but I felt my veneration for him in no degree lesened, by my having seen multorum hominum mores et urbes. On the contrary, by having it in my power to compare him with many of the most celebrated persons of other countries, my admiration of his extraordinary mind was increased and confirmed.

The roughness, indeed, which sometimes appeared in his manners, was more striking to me now, from my having been accustomed to the studied smooth complying habits of the Continent; and I clearly recognised in him, not without respect for his honest conscientious zeal, the same indignant and sarcastical mode of treating every attempt to unhinge or weaken good principles.

One evening, when a young gentleman teized him with an account of the infidelity of his servant, who, he said, would not believe the scriptures, because he could not read them in the original tongues, and be sure that they were not invented. “ Why, foolish fellow, (said Johnson,) has he any better authority for almost every thing that he believes ?"-" Then the vulgar, Sir, never can know they are right, but must submit themselves to the learned.” Johnson. “ To be sure, Sir. The vulgar are the children of the state, and must be taught like children.”_" Then, Sir, a poor Turk must be a Mahometan, just as a poor Englishman must be a Christian ?”—Johnson. “ Why yes, Sir; and what then? This now is such stuff as I used to talk to my mother, when I first began to think myself a clever fellow; and she ought to have whipt me for it.”

Another evening Dr. Goldsmith and I called on him, with the hope of prevailing on him to sup with us at the Mitre. We found him indisposed, and resolved not to go abroad. “Come then, (faid Goldsmith,) we will not go to the Mitre to-night, since we cannot have the big man with us.” Johnson then called for a bottle of port, of which Goldsmith and I partook, while our friend, now a water drinker sat by us. GOLDSMITH. “ I think, Mr. Johnson, you don't go near the theatres now, You give yourself no more concern about a new

play,

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1766.

Ætat. 57

play, than if you had never had any thing to do with the stage.” Johnson.

Why, Sir, our tastes greaty alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore." GOLDSMITH. “Nay, Sir ; but your Mufe was not a whore.” JOHNSON. « Sir, I do not think she was. But as we advance in the journey of life, we drop some of the things which have pleased us; whether it be that we are fatigued and don't choose to carry so many things any farther, or that we find other things which we like better.” Boswell. " But, Sir, why don't you give us something in some other way?” GOLDSMITH.“ Ay, Sir, we have a claim upon yo Johnson. “ No, Sir, I am not obliged to do any more. No man is obliged to do as much as he can do. A man is to have part of his life to himself. If a soldier has fought a good many campaigns, he is not to be blamed if he retires to ease and tranquillity. A physician, who has practised long in a great city, may be excused if he retires to a small town, and takes less practice. Now, Sir, the good I can do by my conversation bears the same proportion to the good I can do by my writings, that the practice of a physician, retired to a small town, does to his practice in a great city.” Boswell. « But I wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in writing than in not writing.” Johnson. “Sir, you may wonder.”

He talked of making verses, and observed, “ The great difficulty is to know when you have made good ones. When composing, I have generally had them in my mind, perhaps fifty at a time, walking up and down in my room; and then I have wrote them down, and often, from laziness, have written only half lines. I have written a hundred lines in a day. I remember I wrote a hundred lines of “ The Vanity of human Wishes” in a day. Doctor, (turning to Goldsmith,) I am not quite idle ; I made one line t’other day; but I made no more.” GOLDSMITH. “Let us hear it; we'll put a bad one to it.” Johnson. “ No, Sir; I have forgot it.”

Such specimens of the easy and playful conversation of the great Dr. Samuel Johnson are, I think, to be prized; as exhibiting the little varieties of a mind so enlarged and so powerful when objects of consequence required its exertions, and as giving us a minute knowledge of his character and modes of thinking.

After I had been some time in Scotland, I mentioned to him in a letter that « On

my first return to my native country, after some years of absence, I was told of a vast number of my acquaintance who were all gone to the land of forgetfulness, and I found myself like a man stalking over a field of battle, who every moment perceives some one lying dead.” I complained of irresolution,

and 1766.

and mentioned my having made a vow as a security for good conduct. I wrote to him again, without being able to move his indolence; nor did I hear from kim till he had received a copy of my inaugural Exercise, or Thesis in Civil Law, which I published at my admission as an Advocate, as is the custom in Scotland. He then wrote to me as follows:

To James Boswell, Esq. « DEAR SIR,

“ THE reception of your Thesis put me in mind of my debt to you. Why did you

* 8. I will punish you for it, by telling you that your Latin wants correction. In the beginning, Spei

• The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction.

This censure of my Latin relates to the Dedication, which was as follows:

:

VIRO NOBILISSIMO, ORNATISSIMO,

JOANNI,
VICECOMITI MOUNTSTUART,

ATAVIS EDITO REGIBUS,
EXCELS Æ FAMILIA DE BUTE SPEI ALTIRÆ ;

LABENTE SECULO,
QUUM HOMINES NULLIUS ORIGINIS
GENUS AQUARE OPIBUS AGGREDIUNTUR,
SANGUINIS ANTIQUI ET ILLUSTRIS

SEMPER MEMORI,
NATALIUM SPLENDOR EM VIRTUTIBUS AUGENTI:

W:

AD PUBLICA POPULI COMITIA

JAM LEGATO;
IN OPTIMATIUM VERO MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ SENATU,

JURE HÆREDITARIO,

OLIM CONSESSURO:

VIM INSITAM VARIA DOCTRINA PROMOVENTE,
NEC TAMEN SE VENDITANTE,

PRÆDITO:
PRISCA FIDE, ANIMO LIBERRIMO,

ET MORUM ELEGANTIA

INSIGNI:

IN ITALIÆ VISITANDÆ ITINERE,

SOCIO SVO HONORATISSIMO,
HASCE JURISPRUDENTIÆ PRIMITIAS
DEVINCTISSIMÆ AMICITIÆ ET OBSERVANTIÆ

MONUMENTUM,

D. D. CR
JACOBUS BOSWELL.

оо

altera,

1766.

Ætat. 57

alteræ, not to urge that it should be primæ, is not grammatical : altere should be alteri. In the next line you seem to use genus absolutely, for what we call family, that is, for illustrious extračtion, I doubt without authority, Homines nullius originis, for Nullis orti majoribus, or, Nullo loco nati, is, I am afraid, barbarous.-Ruddiman is dead.

“ I have now vexed you enough, and will try to please you. Your resolution to obey your father I sincerely approve; but do not accustom yourself to enchain your volatility by vows: they will sometime leave a thorn in your mind, which you will, perhaps, never be able to extract or eject. Take this warning, it is of great importance.

“ The study of the law is what you very justly term it, copious and generous'; and in adding your name to its professors, you have done exactly what I always wished, when I wished you best. I hope that you will continue to pursue it vigorously and constantly. You gain, at least, what is no small advantage, security from those troublesome and wearifome discontents, which are always obtruding themselves upon a mind vacant, unemployed, and undetermined.

« You ought to think it no small inducement to diligence and perseverance, that they will please your father. We all live upon the hope of pleasing fomebody; and the pleasure of pleasing ought to be greatest, and at last always will be greatest, when our endeavours are exerted in consequence of our duty.

“ Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent ; deliberation, which those who begin it by prudence, and continue it with subtilty, must, after long expence of thought, conclude by chance. To prefer one future mode of life to another, upon just reasons, requires faculties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us.

“ If, therefore, the profession you have chosen has fome unexpected inconveniencies, console yourself by reflecting that no profession is without them ; and that all the importunities and perplexities of business are softness and luxury, compared with the inceffant cravings of vacancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idleness,

· Hæc funt que nostri potui te voce monere ;
"Vade, agen?

• This alludes to the first sentence of the Proæmium of my Thesis. “ JURISPRUDENTIÆ Audio nullum uberius, nullum generofius : in legibus enim agitandis, populorum mores, variasque fortune vices ex quibus leges oriuntur, contemplari fimul folemus,"

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1766. " As to your History of Corsica, you have no materials which others have not, or may not have. You have, somehow or other, warmed your imagi- Ætat. 57. nation. I wish there were some cure, like the lover's leap, for all heads of which some single idea has obtained an unreasonable and irregular possession. Mind your own affairs, and leave the Corsicans to theirs. I am, dear Sir,

« Your most humble servant, London, Aug. 21, 1766.

SAM. JOHNSON.”

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“ Having thus, I hope cleared myself of the charge brought against me, I presume you will not be displeased if I escape the punishment which you have decreed for me unheard. If you have discharged the arrows of criticism against an innocent man, you must rejoice to find they have missed him, or have not been pointed so as to wound him.

“ To talk no longer in allegory, I am, with all deference, going to offer a few observations in defence of my Latin, which you have found fault with.

“ You think I should have used spei prima, instead of spei altere. Spes is, indeed, often used to express something on which we have a future dependence, as in Virg. Eclog. i. 1. 14,

modo namque gemellos Spem gregis ah silice in nudà connixa reliquit.' and in Georg. iii. 1. 473,

Spemque gregemque fimul,' for the lambs and the sheep. Yet it is also used to express any thing on which we have a present dependence, and is well applied to a man of distinguished influence, our support, our refuge, our præfidium, as Horace calls Mæcenas. So, Æneid xii. l. 57, Queen Amata addresses her son-in-law Turnus :- Spes tu nunc una;' and he was then no future hope, for she adds,

-decus imperiumque Latini

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· Te penes.'

2 The passage omitted explained the transaction to which the preceding letter had alluded. 002

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