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trash, we may be forgiven for rejecting both as fabulous, and the rather because Mr. Boswell's note was written on the instant (“his custom always of the afternoon”); while those of the ladies seem to have been made up many years after the event. It may, however, be suspected that Boswell was himself a little ashamed of Johnson's violence, for he evidently slurs over the latter part of the conversation. But in the Doctor's behalf it should be recollected, that he had taken a great and affectionate interest in this young creature, who had, as he feared, not only endangered her spiritual welfare, but offended her friends, and forfeited her fortune; and that he was forced into the discussion by the very person by whose unauthorised and underhand interference so much mischief (as he considered it) had been done. - Long as this note is, it must be added, that it appears in another part of Miss Seward's correspondence (vol. ii. p. 383.), that when a young Quaker lady married a member of the church of England, Mrs. Knowles did not hesitate to designate her as an APOSTATE, al. though she had not quitted her sect, but only married one who did not belong to it. - C.
Good Friday. - Bad Housewifery.- Books of Travels.
- Fleet Street. — Meeting with Mr. Oliver Edwards. Lawyers. — Tom Tyers. Choice of a Profession.— Dignity of Literature.—Lord Camden.
- George Psalmanazar. Daines Barrington. Punishment of the Pillory. — Insolence of Wealth.-Extravagance.
“ Demosthenes Taylor.” Pamphlets. Goldsmith's Comedies. - “ The Beggar's Opera.” Johnson's Historia Studiorum." Gentleman's Magazine. — Avarice. — Bon Mots, Burke's Classical Pun. Egotism.
APRIL 17., being Good-Friday, I waited on Johnson, as usual.
I observed at breakfast, that although it was a part of his abstemious discipline, on this most solemn fast, to take no milk in his tea, yet when Mrs. Desmoulins inadvertently poured it in, he did not reject it. I talked of the strange indecision of mind, and imbecility in the common occurrences of life, which we may observe in some people. Johnson. " Why, Sir, I am in the habit of getting others to do things for me." BOSWELL. “ What, Sir! have you that weakness?" JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir. But I always think afterwards I should have done better for myself.”
I told him that at a gentleman's house where there was thought to be such extravagance or bad
management that he was living much beyond his income, his lady had objected to the cutting of a pickled mango, and that I had taken an opportunity to ask the price of it, and found it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor saving. Johnson. “ Sir, that is the blundering economy of a narrow understanding. It is stopping one hole in a sieve.”
I expressed some inclination to publish an account of my travels upon the continent of Europe, for which I had a variety of materials collected. John
“ I do not say, Sir, you may not publish your travels; but I give you my opinion, that lessen yourself by it. What can you tell of countries so well known as those upon the continent of Europe, which you have visited ?" BosweLL. “ But I can give an entertaining narrative, with many incidents, anecdotes, jeux d'esprit, and remarks, so as to make very pleasant reading.” JOHNson. “Why, Sir, most modern travellers in Europe who have published their travels have been laughed at: I would not have you added to the number. (1) The world is now not contented to be merely entertained by a traveller's narrative; they want to learn something Now some of my friends asked me, why I did not give some account of my travels in France. The reason is plain; intelligent readers had seen more of France than I had.
(1) I believe, however, I shall follow my own opinion; for the world has shown a very flattering partiality to my writings, on many occasions. B.- [Mr. Boswell mentions several in tended publications in this manner, none of which he lived to execute. - CHALMERS.)
have liked my travels in France, and The CLUB might have liked them; but, upon the whole, there would have been more ridicule than good produced by them.” Boswell. “I cannot agree Sir. People would like to read what you say of any thing. Suppose a face has been painted by fifty painters before ; still we love to see it done by Sir Joshua.” JOHNSON. " True, Sir; but Sir Joshua cannot paint a face when he has not time to look on it.” BosWELL. “ Sir, a sketch of
sort by him is valuable. And, Sir, to talk to you in your own style (raising my voice and shaking my head), you should have given us your travels in France. I am sure I am right, and there's an end on't.”
I said to him that it was certainly true, as my friend Dempster had observed in his letter to me upon the subject, that a great part of what was in his “Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland" had been in his mind before he left London. John
Why, yes, Sir, the topics were ; and books of travels will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind ; his knowing what to observe; his power of contrasting one mode of life with another. As the Spanish proverb says, He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.” BOSWELL. “ The proverb, I suppose, Sir, means, he must carry a large stock with him to trade with.” JOHNSON.
It was a delightful day: as we walked to St. Clement's church, I again remarked that Fleet-street was the most cheerful scene in the world.
• Fleetstreet,” said I, “is in my mind more delightful than Tempé.” Johnson. Ay, Sir, but let it be compared with Mull!”
There was a very numerous congregation to-day at St. Clement's church, which Dr. Johnson said he observed with pleasure.
And now I am to give a pretty full account of one of the most curious incidents in Johnson's life, of which he himself has made the following minute on this day :
“In my return from church, I was accosted by Edwards ('), an old fellow-collegian, who had not seen me since 1729.() He knew me, and asked if I remembered one Edwards; I did not at first recollect the name, but gradually, as we waiked along, recovered it, and told him a conversation that had passed at an alehouse between us. My purpose is to continue our ac. quaintance." (Pr. and Med. p. 164.)
It was in Butcher-row that this meeting happened. Mr. Edwards, who was a decent-looking, elderly man, in gray clothes, and a wig of many curls, accosted. Johnson with familiar confidence, knowing
(1) Oliver Edwards entered at Pembroke College only in June, 1729, so that he and Johnson could not have been long acquainted. — Hall.
(2) This deliberate assertion of Johnson, that he had not seen Edwards since 1729, is a confirmation of the opinion derived by Dr. Hall from the dates in the college books, that Johnson did not return to Pembroke College after Christmas, 1729 - an important fact in his early history. See antè, Vol. I. p. 79. n.