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"His art of life certainly deserves to be known and studied. He lived in plenty and elegance upon an income which to many would appear indigent, and to most scanty. How he lived, therefore, every man has an in
exacted a close compliance with them, without any remission: and the servants finding this to be the case, soon grew habitually accustomed to the practice of their business, and then very little further attention was necessary. On extraordinary instances of good behaviour or diligent service, he was not wanting in particular encouragements and presents above their wages: it is remarkable that he would permit their relations to visit them, and stay at his house two or three days at a time.
"The wonder, with most that hear an account of his economy, will be, how he was able, with such an income, to do so much, especially when it is considered that he paid for every thing he had. He had no land, except the two or three small fields which I have said he rented; and, instead of gaining any thing by their produce, I have reason to think he lost by them; however, they furnished him with no farther assistance towards his housekeeping, than grass for his horses, (not hay, for that I know he bought,) and for two cows. Every Monday morning he settled his family accounts, and so kept up a constant attention to the confining his expenses within his income; and to do it more exactly, compared those expenses with a computation he had made, how much that income would afford him every week and day of the year. One of his economical practices was, as soon as any repair was wanting in or about his house, to have it immediately performed. When he had money to spare, he chose to lay in a provision of linen or clothes, or any other necessaries; as then, he said, he could afford it, which he might not be so well able to do when the actual want came; in consequence of which method, he had a considerable supply of necessary articles lying by him, beside what was in use.
But the main particular that seems to have enabled him to do so much with his income, was, that he paid for every thing as soon as he had it, except alone what were current accounts, such as rent for his house, and servants' wages; and these he paid at the stated times with the utmost exactness. notice to the tradesmen of the neighbouring market-towns that they should no longer have his custom, if they let any of his servants have any thing without their paying for it. Thus he put it out of his power to commit those imprudences to which those are liable that defer their payments by using their money some other way than where it ought to go. And whatever money he had by him, he knew that it was not demanded elsewhere, but that he might safely employ it as he pleased.
"His example was confined by the sequestered place of his abode, to the observation of few, though his prudence and virtue would have made it valuable to all who could have known it.—These few particulars, which I knew myself, or have obtained from those who lived with him, may afford instruction, and be an incentive to that wise art of living which he so successfully practised."BOSWELL.
terest in knowing. His death, I hope, was peaceful; it was surely happy.
"I wish I had written sooner, lest, writing now, I should renew your grief; but I would not forbear saying what I have now said.
"This loss is, I hope, the only misfortune of a family to whom no misfortune at all should happen, if my wishes Icould avert it. Let me know how you all go on. Has Mr. Langton got him the little horse that I recommended? It would do him good to ride about his estate in fine weather.
"Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Langton, and to dear Miss Langton, and Miss Di, and Miss Juliet, and to every body else.
"THE CLUB holds very well together. Monday is my night. I continue to rise tolerably well, and read more than I did. I hope something will yet come on it. I am, sir,
"Your most affectionate servant,
"May 10, 1766."
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 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:
Of his being in the chair of the Literary Club, which at this time met once a week in the evening.-Boswell,
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"DEAR SIR,-The reception of your Thesis put me in mind of my debt to you. Why did ** you I will punish you for it, by telling you that your Latin wants correction'. 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 dead.
k The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction.
I This censure of my Latin relates to the Dedication, which was as follows:
VIRO NOBILISSIMO, ORNATISSIMO,
"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 sometimes 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 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 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 incessant cravings of vacancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idleness:
m This alludes to the first sentence of the Prooemium of my Thesis: "JURISPRUDENTIÆ studio nullum uberius, nullum generosius: in legibus enim agitandis, populorum mores, variasque fortunæ vices ex quibus leges oriuntur, contemplari simul solemus."-BoOSWELL.
Hæc sunt quæ nostra potui te voce monere:
"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,
"London, Aug. 21, 1766."
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
"Auchinleck, Nov. 6, 1766. "MUCH ESTEEMED AND DEAR SIR,-I plead not guilty to ***
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 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. l. 14,
modo namque gemellos,
Spem gregis, ah! silice in nuda connixa reliquit.
and in Georg. iii. 1. 473,
Spemque gregemque simul,
"The passage omitted explained the transaction to which the preceding letter had alluded.--BOSWELL.