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since been indebted for many civilities, as well as some obliging communications concerning Johnson.
Mr. Seward mentioned to us the observations which he had made upon the strata of earth in volcanos, from which it appeared, that they were $0 very different in depth at different periods, that no calculation whatever could be made as to the time required for their formation. This fully refuted an anti-mosaical remark introduced into Captaiu Brydone's eutertaining tour, I hope heedlessly, from a kind of vanity which is too common in those who have not sufficiently studied the most important of all subjects. Dr. Johnson, indeed, had said before, independent of this observation, “Shall all the accumulated evidence of the history of the world ;-shall the authority of what is unquestionably the most ancient writing, be overturned by an uncertain remark such as this ?”
Ou Monday, March 25, we breakfasted at Mrs. Lucy Porter's. Jolina sop bad sent an express to Dr. Taylor's, acquainting him of our being at Lichfield, and Taylor had returned an answer that his postchaise should coine for us this day. While we sat at breakfast, Dr. Johnson received a letter by the post, which seemed to agitate bin very much. When he had read it, he exclaimed, “One of the most dreadful things that has happened in my time. The phrase my time, like the word age, is usually understood to refer to an event of a public or general nature. I imagined something like an assassination of the King-like a gunpowder plot carried into execution-or like another fire of London, When asked, What is it, Sir: he answered, Mr. Thrale has lost his only son ! This was, no doubt, a very great afHiction to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, which their friends would consider accordingly; but from the manner in which the intelligence of it was communicated by Johnson, it appeared for the moment to be comparatively small. 1, however, 8000 felt a sincere concern, and was curious to observe, how Dr. Johnson would be effected. He said “ This is total extinction to their family, as much as if they were sold into captivity." Upon my mentioning that Mr. Thrale had daughters, who night inherit his wealth ;-Daughters, (said Johnson, warmly,) he'll no more value his daughters than-1 was going to speak.-Sir, (said he, don't you know how you yourself think? Sir, he wishes to propagate bis name. In short, I saw male succession strong in his mind, even where there was no name, no family of any long blanding. I said, it was lucky he was not present when this misfortune happened. Johnson. It is lucky for me. People iu distress never think that you feel enough. Boswell. And, Sir, they will haye the hope of seeing you, which will be a relief in the mean time: and when you get to them, the pain will be so far abated, that they will be capable of being consoled by you, which, in the first violence of it, I believe, would not be the case.
Johnson. No, Sir: violent pain of mind, like violent pain of body, must be severely felt. Boswell. I own, Sir, I have not so much feeling for the distress of others, as some people have, or pretend to have : but I know this, that I would do all in my power to relieye them. Jounson. Sir, it is affectation to pretend to feel the distress
of others, as much as they do themselves. It is equally so, as if one should pretend to feel as much pain while a friend's leg is cutting off, as he does. No, Sir: you have expressed the rational and just nature of sympathy. I would have gone to the extremity of the earth to have preserved this boy.
He was soon quite calw. The letter was from Mr. Thrale's clerk, and concluded, “I need not say how much they wish to see you in London." He said, We shall hasten back from Taylor's.
Mrs. Lucy Porter and some other ladies of the place talked a great deal of him when he was out of the room, not only with veneration, bụt affection. It pleased me to find that he was so much beloved in his native city.
Mrs. Aston, whom I had seen the preceding night, and her sister, Mrs. Gastrel, a widow lady, had each a house and garden, and pleasureground, prettily situated upon Stowhill, a gentle eminence, adjoining to Lichfield. Johnson walked away to dinner there, leaving me by myself without any apology; I wondered at this want of that facility of manDers, from which a man has no difficulty in carrying a friend to a house where he is intimate; I felt it very unpleasant to be thụs left in solitude in a country town, where I was an entire stranger, and began to think myself unkindly deserted: but I was soon relieved, and convinced that my friend, instead of being deficient in delicacy, had conducted the matter with perfect propriety, for I received the following note in his handwriting : “Mrs. Gastrel, at the lower house on Stowhill, desires Mr. Boswell's company to dinner at two." I accepted of the invitation, and had here another proof how amiable his character was in the opinion of those who knew him best. I was not informed, till afterwards, that Mrs, Gastrel's husband was the clergyman, who, while he lived at Stratfordupon-Avon, where he was proprietor of Shakspear's garden, with Gothic barbarity cut down his mulberry-tree, and, as Dr. Johnson told me, did it to vex his neighbours. His lady, I have reason to believe, on the same authority, participated in the guilt of what the enthusiasts of our immortal bard deem almost a species of sacrilege.
After dinner Dr. Johnson wrote a letter to Mrs. Thrale, on the death of her son. I said it would be very distressing to Thrale, but she would soon forget it, as she had so many things to think of. Johoson. No, Sir, Thrale will forget it first, She has many things that she may think of. He has many things that he must think of. This wils a very just remark upon the different effects of those light pursuits which occupy a vacant and easy mind, and those serious engagements which arrest atteotion, and keep us from brooding over grief.
He observed of Lord Bute, “it was said of Augustus, that it would have been better for Rome that he had never been born, or had never died. So it would have been better for this nation if Lord Bute had never been minister, or had never resigned."
In the evening we went to the Town-hall, which was converted into a temporary theatre, and saw " Theodosios,” with “ The Stratford Ju. bilee." I was happy to see Dr. Johnson sitting in a conspicuous part of the pit, and receiving affectionate homage from all his acquaintance. We were quite gay and merry. I afterwards mentioned to him that I condemned myself for being so, when poor Mr. and Mrs. Thrale were in such distress. Johnson. You are wrong, Sir : twenty years hence Mr. and Mrs. Thrale will not suffer inuch pain from the death of their son. Now, Sir, you are to consider, that the distance of place, as well as distance of time, operates upon the human feelings. I would not have you
gay in the presence of the distressed, because it would shock them; but you may be gay at a distance. Pain for the loss of a friend, or of a relation whom we love, is occasioned by the want which we feel. In time the vacuity is filled with something else; or sometimes the vacuity closes up of itself.
Mr. Seward and Mr. Pearson, another clergyman here, supped with us at our ion, and after they left us, we sat up late as we used to do in London.
Here I shall record soine fragments of my friends's conversation during thi s jaunt.
Marriage, Sir, is much more necessary to a man than to a woman ; for he is much less able to supply himself with domestic comforts. You will recollect my saying to some ladies the other day, that I had often wondered why young women should marry, as they have so much more freedom, and so much more attention paid to them while unmarried, than when married. · I indeed did not mention the strong reason for their marrying—the mechanical reason. 'Boswell. Why that is a strong one. But does not imagination make it much more important than it is in reality? Is it not, to a certain degree, a delusion in us as well as in women ? Johnson. Why yes, Sir; but it is a delusioo that is always beginning again. Boswell. I don't know but there is, upon the whole, more misery than happiness produced by that passion. Johnson. I don't think so, Sir.
“Never speak of a man in his own presence. It is always indelicate, and njay be offensive.”
“Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen. It is assuming a superiority, and it is particularly wrong to question a man concerning himself. There may be parts of his former life which he may not wish to be made known to other persous, or even brought to his own recollection."
“ A man should be careful never to tell tales of himself to his own disadvantage. People may be amused and laugh at the time, but they will be remembered and brought out against bim, upou some subsequent occasion."
“Much may be done if a man puts his whole mind to a particular object. By doing so, Norton has made himself the great lawyer that he is allowed to be."
I mentioned an acquaintance of mine, a sectary, who was a very relia gious man, who not only attended regularly on public worship with those of his communion, but made a particular study of the Scriptures, end even wrote a commentary on some parts of them, yet was known to be very licentious in indulging himself with women; maintaining that men are to be saved by faith alone, and that the Christian religion had not prescribed any fixed rule for the intercourse between the sexes. Joboson. Sir, there is no trusting to that crazy piety.
I observed that it was strange how well Scotchmen were known to one another in their own country, though born in very distant counties; for we do not find that the gentlemen of neighbouring counties in England ere mutually known to each other. Johnson, with his usual acuteness, at once saw and explained the reason of this ; “Why, Sir, you have Edinburgh, where the gentlemen from all your counties meet, and which is not so large but they are all known. There is no such common place of collection in England, except London, where from its great size and diffusion, many of those who reside in contiguous counties of England, inay long reinain unknown to each other.” . On thesday, March 26, there caine. for us an equipage properly suited to "a wealthyo " well-beneficed clergyman': Dr. Taylor's large, roomy fost-chaise, drawn by four stout plump horses, and driven by two steady jolly postillions, which cončeyed us to Ashbourne; where I found my friend's sehool-fellow living upoir an establishment perfectly corresponding with his substantial creditable equipage: his house, garden, pleasure-grounds, table, in short every thing good, and no scantiness appearing. Every man should form such a plan of living as he can execute completely. Let him not draw an outline wider than he can fill up. I have seen many skeletons of shew and magnificencé which excite at once ridicule and pity. Dr. 'Taylor had a good estate of his owy, and good prefermeut in the church, being a prebendary of Westminster, and rector of Bosworth. He was a diligent justice of the peace, and presided over the town of Ashbourne, to the inhabitants of which I was told he was very liberal; and as a proof of this it was 'mentioned to me, he had the preceding winter, distributed two hundred pounds among such of them as stood in need of his assistance. He had consequently a considerable political interest in the county of Derby, which he employed to support the Devonshire family; for though the school-fellow and friend of Johnson, he was a Whig. I could not perceive in his character much congeniality of any sort with that of Johnson, who, however, said to me, “Sir, he has a very strong understanding." His size, and figure, and countenance, and manner, were that of a hearty English 'Squire, with the parson super-induced : and I took particular botice of his upper-servant, Mr. Peters, a decent grave man, in purple clothes, and a large white wig, like the butler or major domo of a bishop.
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Taylor niet with great cordiality; and Johnson soon gave him the same sad account of their school-fellow Congreve, that he had given to Mr. Hector; adding a remark of such moment to the rational conduct of a man in the decline of life, that deserves to be imprinted upon every mind : “ There is nothing against which ay old man should be so much upon his guard, as putting bimself to nurse.” Inoumerable have been the melancholy instances of men, once distinguished for firmness, resolution, and spirit, who in their latter days have been governed like children, by interested female artifice.
Dr. Taylor commended a physician who was known to him and Dr. Johnson, and said, I fight many battles for him, as many people in the cuuntry dislike him. Johnson. But you should consider, Sir, that by every one of your victories he is a loser; for, every man of whom you get the better, will be very angry, and resolve not to employ himn; whereas if people get the better of you in argument about him, they'll thiuk, We'll send for Dr. ***** nevertheless. This was an observation deep and sure in human nature.
Next day we talked of a book in which an eminent judge was arraigned before the bar of the public, as having pronounced au unjust decision in a great cause. Dr. Johnson maintained that this publication would not give any uneasiness to the judge. For (said he,) either he acted honestly, or he meant to do injustice. If he acted honestly, bis own consciousness will protect him; if he meant to do injustice, he will be glad to see the man who attacks bim, so much vexed.
Next day, as Dr. Johnson had acquainted Dr. Taylor of the reason for his returning speedily to London, it was resolved that we should set out after dinner. A few of Dr. Taylor's neighbours were his guests that day.
Dr. Johnson talked with approbation of one who had attained to the state of the philosophical wise man, that is, to have no want of any thing. Then Sir, (said I,) the savage is a wise man. Sir, (said he,) I do not
an simply being without,,but not having a want. I maintained, against this proposition, that it was better to have five clothes, for instance, than not to feel the want of them. Johnson. No, Sir; five clothes are. good only as they supply the want of other means of procuring respect. Was Charles the Twelfth, think you, less respected for his coarse blue coat and black stock ? And you find the King of Prussia dresses plain, because the dignity of bis character is sufficient. l here brought myself into a scrape, for I heedlessly said, Would not you, Sir, be the better for velvet embroidery ? Johnson. Sir, you put an end to all argument when you introduce your opponent himself. Have you no better manners? There is your want. I apologised by saying, I had mentioned him as an instance of one who wanted as little as any man in the worid, and yet, perhaps, might receive some additional lustre from dress.
Having left Ashbourne in the evening, we stopped to change horses at Derby, and availed ourselves of a moment to enjoy the conversation. of my countryman, Dr. Butter, then physician there. He was in great