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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 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 him 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:

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"London, 21st August, 1766.

1. I will

"DEAR SIR,-The reception of your Thesis put me in mind of my debt to you. Why did you punish you for it, by telling you that your Latin wants correction 2. In the beginning, Spei alteræ, not to urge that it should be primæ, is not grammatical; altera should be alteri. In the next line you seem to use genus absolutely, for what we call family, that is, for illustrious extraction, I doubt without authority. Homines nullius originis, for nullis orti majoribus, or nullo loco nati, is, as I am afraid, barbarous.-Ruddiman is dead3.

"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, co

The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction. --Boswell.

2 This censure of my Latin relates to the dedication, which was as follows: "Viro nobilissimo ornatissimo, Joanni, Vicecomiti Mountstuart, atavis edito regibus, excelsæ familiæ de Bute spei alteræ ; labente seculo, quum homines nullius originis genus æquare opibus aggrediuntur, sanguinis antiqui et illustris semper memori, natalium splendorem virtutibus augenti: ad publica populi comitia jam legato; in optimatium vero magnæ Britanniæ senatu, jure hæreditario, olim consessuro: vim insitam variâ doctrinâ promovente, nec tamen se venditante, prædito: priscâ fide, animo liberrimo, et morum elegantiâ insigni: in Italiæ visitandæ itinere socio suo honoratissimo, hasce jurisprudentiæ primitias devinctissimæ amicitiæ et observantiæ, monumentum, D. D. C. Q. Jacobus Boswell."-BOSWELL.

3 [He says Ruddiman (a great grammarian) is dead-as in former days it was said that Priscian's head was broken. Ruddiman, who was born in 1644, had died in 1757. See ante, vol. i. p. 187.—ED.]

pious 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 wearisome 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 somebody, 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 expense 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 some unexpected inconveniences, 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 incessant cravings of vacancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idleness.

Hæc sunt quæ nostrâ potui te voce monere;
Vade, age.'

"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 imagination. 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, "SAM. JOHNSON."


"Auchinleck, 6th Nov. 1766.

"MUCH ESTEEMED AND DEAR SIR,—I plead not guilty to2

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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

This alludes to the first sentence of the Procenium of my Thesis. "Jurispru dentiæ studio nullum uberius, nullum generosius: in legibus enim agitandis, populorum mores, variasque fortunæ vices ex quibus leges oriuntur, contemplari simul solemus."-BOSWELL.

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


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 primæ, instead of spei altera. 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 nudâ connixa reliquit :'

and in Georg. iii. 1. 473.

'Spemque gregemque simul,'

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 præsidium, as Horace calls Mæcenas. So, Eneid xii. 1. 57, Queen Amata addresses her son-in-law, Turnus:Spes tu nunc una :' and he was then no future hope, for she adds,

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decus imperiumque Latini Te penes ;'

which might have been said of my Lord Bute some years ago. Now I consider the present Earl of Bute to be 'Excelsæ familiæ de Bute spes prima;' and my Lord Mountstuart, as his eldest son, to be 'spes altera.' So in Æneid xii. 1. 168, after having mentioned Pater Æneas, who was the present spes, the reigning spes, as my German friends would say, the spes prima, the poet adds,

Et juxta Ascanius, magnæ spes altera Romæ 1.'

"You think alteræ ungrammatical, and you tell me it should have been alteri. You must recollect, that in old times alter was declined regularly; and when the ancient fragments preserved in the Juris Civilis Fontes were written, it was certainly declined in the way that I use it. This, I should think, may protect a lawyer who writes alteræ in a dissertation upon part of

[It is very strange that Johnson, who in his letter quotes the Æneid, should not have recollected this obvious and decisive authority for spes altera, nor yet the remarkable use of these words, attributed to Cicero, by Servius and Donatus; the expressions of the latter are conclusive in Mr. Boswell's favour:

"At cum Cicero quosdam versus (Virgilii) audisset, in fine ait: 'Magnæ spes altera Romæ.' Quasi ipse lingua Latina spes prima fuisset et Maro futurus esset secunda." Donat. vit. Vir. § 41.-ED.]

his own science. But as I could hardly venture to quote fragments of old law to so classical a man as Mr. Johnson, I have not made an accurate search into these remains, to find examples of what I am able to produce in poetical composition. We find in Plaut. Rudens, act iii. scene 4,

'Nam huic altera patria quæ sit profecto nescio.'

Plautus is, to be sure, an old comick writer; but in the days of Scipio and Lelius, we find Terent. Heautontim. act ii. scene 3. hoc ipsa in itinere altera

Dum narrat, forte audivi.'

"You doubt my having authority for using genus absolutely, for what we call family, that is, for illustrious extraction. Now I take genus in Latin to have much the same signification with birth in English; both in their primary meaning expressing simply descent, but both made to stand kar' on for noble descent. Genus is thus used in Hor. lib. ii. Sat. v. 1. 8.

Et genus et virtus, nisi cum re, vilior alga est.'

And in lib. i. Epist. vi. 1. 37.

Et genus et formam Regina pecunia donat.'

And in the celebrated contest between Ajax and Ulysses, Ovid's Metamorph. lib. xiii. 1. 140.

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"Homines nullius originis, for nullis orti majoribus, or nullo loco nati, is, 'you are afraid, barbarous.'

"Origo is used to signify extraction, as in Virg. Æneid i. 286.

'Nascetur pulchrâ Trojanus origine Cæsar :'

and in Æneid x. 1. 618,

• Ille tamen nostrâ deducit origine nomen.'

And as nullus is used for obscure, is it not in the genius of the Latin language to write nullius originis, for obscure extraction? "I have defended myself as well as I could.

"Might I venture to differ from you with regard to the utility of vows? I am sensible that it would be very dangerous to make vows rashly, and without a due consideration. But I cannot help thinking that they may often be of great advantage to one of a variable judgment and irregular inclinations. I always remember a passage in one of your letters to our Italian friend Baretti, where, talking of the monastick life, you say you

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do not wonder that serious men should put themselves under the protection of a religious order, when they have found how unable they are to take care of themselves. For my own part, without affecting to be a Socrates, I am sure I have a more than ordinary struggle to maintain with the Evil Principle; and all the methods I can devise are little enough to keep me tolerably steady in the paths of rectitude.

“I am ever, with the highest veneration, your affectionate humble servant, "JAMES Boswell."

[Much of Johnson's eloquence and much of his logick were occasionally used to prevent men from making vows on trivial occasions; and when he saw a person oddly perplexed about a slight difficulty, "Let the man alone (he would say), and torment him no more about it; there is a vow in the case, I am convinced; but is it not very strange that people should be neither afraid nor ashamed of bringing in God Almighty thus at every turn between themselves and their dinner?" When once asked what ground he had for such imaginations, he replied, "That a young lady once told him in confidence, that she could never persuade herself to be dressed against the bell rung for dinner, till she had made a vow to heaven that she would never more be absent from the family meals."]

It appears from Johnson's diary 1, that he was this year at Mr. Thrale's, from before Midsummer till after Michaelmas, and that he afterwards passed a month at Oxford. He had then contracted a great intimacy with Mr. Chambers of that university, afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of the judges in India.

He published nothing this year in his own name; but the noble dedication to the king, of Gwyn's

["I returned from Streatham, Oct. 1, having lived there more than three months."-Prayers and Meditations, p. 70.- ED.]

2 [He had known him at least twelve years before this. See ante, vol. i. p. 261.-ED.].

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