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1775. stood French perfectly, he could not speak it readily,
as I have observed at his first interview with General Etat. 66.
Paoli, in 1769 ; yet he wrote it, I imagine, pretty well, as appears from some of his letters in Mrs. Piozzi's collection, of which I shall transcribe one:
A Madame La Comtesse de
“ July 16, 1975. « Oui, Madame, le moment est arrivé, et il faut que je parle. Mais pourquoi faut il partir? Est ce que je m'ennuye ? Je m'ennuyerai ailleurs.
Je m'ennuyerai ailleurs. Est ce que je cherche ou quelque plaisir, ou quelque soulagement? Je ne cherche rien, je n'espere rien. Aller voir ce que jai vú, etre un peu rejoué, un peu degoulé, me resouvenir
la vie se passe en vain, me plaindre de moi, m'endurcir aux dehors ; voici le tout de ce qu'on compte pour les delices de l'année. Que Dieu vous donne, Madame, tous les agrémens de la vie, avec un esprit qui peut en jouir sans sy livrer trop.”
Here let me not forget a curious anecdote, as related to me by Mr. Beauclerk, which I shall endeavour to exhibit as well as I can in that gentleman's lively manner; and in justice to him it is proper to add, that Dr. Johnson told me I might rely both on the correctness of his memory, and the fidelity of his narrative. 5. When Madame de Boufflers was first in England, (said Beauclerk,) she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple-lane, when all at once I heard a noise like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who it seenis, upon a little recollection, had taken it into
his head that he ought to have done the honours of 1775. his literary residence to foreign lady of quality, and
Ætat. 66. eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the stair-case in violent agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Temple-gate, and brushing in between me and Madame de Boufflers, seized her hand, and conducted her to her coach. His dress was a rusty brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers, a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by this singular appearance.”
He spoke Latin with wonderful fluency and elegance. When Pere Boscovich was in England, Johnson dined in company with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, and at Dr. Douglas's, now Bishop of Salisbury. Upon both occasions that celebrated foreigner expressed his astonishment at Johnson's Latin conversation. When at Paris, Johnson thus characterised Voltaire to Freronthe Journalist : “ Vir est acerrimi ingenii et paucarum literarum.”
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, Dec 5, 1775.
have so much of the true Highland cordiality,
1775. that I am sure you would have thought me to blame Ætat. 68.
if I had neglected to recommend to you this He-
- Your most obliged
“ JAMES BOSWELL."
Mr. Maclean returned with the most agreeable ccounts of the polite attention with which he was received by Dr. Johnson.
In the course of this year Dr. Burney informs me that " he very frequently met Dr. Johnson at Mr. Thrale's, at Streatham, where they had many long conversations, often sitting up as long as the fire and candles lasted, and much longer than the patience of the servants subsisted."
A few of Johnson's sayings, which that gentleman recollects, shall here be inserted.
“ I never take a nap after dinner but when I have had a bad night, and then the nap takes me."
“ The writer of an epitaph should not be considered as saying nothing but what is strictly true, Allowance must be made for some degree of exaggerated praise. In lapidary inscriptions a man is not
** There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other.”
:« More is learned in publick than in private schools, from emulation, there is the collision of mind with mind, or the radiation of many minds pointing to one centre. Though few boys make
their own exercises, yet if a good exercise is given 1775. up, out of a great number of boys, it is made by Etat. 66. somebody.”
“I hate by-roads in education. Education is as well known, and has long been as well known, as ever it can be. Endeavouring to make children prematurely wise is useless labour. Suppose they have more knowledge at five or six years old than other children, what use can be made of it? It will be lost before it is wanted, and the waste of so much time and labour of the teacher can never be repaid. Too much is expected from precocity, and too little performed. Miss was an instance of early cultivation, but in what did it terminate? In marrying a little Presbyterian parson, who keeps an infant boarding-school, so that all her employment now is,
• To suckle fools, and chronicle small-beer.'':. She tells the children, This is a cat, and that is a dog, with four legs and a tail; see there! you are much better than a cat or a dog, for you can speak.': If I had bestowed such an education on a daughter, and had discovered that she thought of marrying such a fellow, I would have sent her to the Congress.”
“. After having talked slightingly of musick, he was observed to listen very attentively while Miss Thrale played on the harpsicord, and with eagerness ho called to her, “Why don't
, like Burney?' Dr. Burney upon this said to him, • I believe, Sir, we shall make a musician of you at last.'. Johnson with candid complacency replied,
Sir, I shall be glad to have a new sense given to
1775. “ He had come down one morning to the break
fast-room, and been a considerable time by himself Ætat. 66.
before any body appeared. · When on a subsequent day he was twitted by Mrs. Thrale for being very late, which he generally was, he defended himself by alluding to the extraordinary morning, when he had been too early. 'Madam, I do not like to come down to vacuity."
“ Dr. Burney having remarked that Mr. Garrick was beginning to look old, he said, “Why, Sir, you are not to wonder at that ; no man's face has had more wear and tear."
Not having heard from him for a longer time than I supposed he would be silent, I wrote to him December 18, not in good spirits. “Sometimes I have been afraid that the cold which has gone over Europe this year like a sort of pestilence has siezed you severely : sometimes my imagination, which is upon occasions prolifick of evil, hath figured that you may have somehow taken offence at some part of my conduct."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
« DEAR SIR,
“ Never dream of any offence. How should you offend me? I consider your friendship as a possession, which I intend to hold till you take it from me, and to lament if ever by my fault I should lose it. However, when such suspicions find their way into
your mind, always give them vent; I shall make haste to disperse them; but hinder their first