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1768. Talking of the Russians and the Chinese, he ad
vised me to read Bell's travels. I asked him whether Ætat. 59.
I should read Du Halde's account of China. “Why yes, (said he) as one reads such a book ; that is to
say, consult it.”
He talked of the heinousness of the crime of adultery, by which the peace of families was destroyed. He said, “Confusion of progeny constitutes the essence of the crime; and therefore a woman who breaks her marriage vows is much more criminal than a man who does it. A man, to be sure, is criminal in the sight of GOD; but he does not do his wife a very material injury, if he does not insult her ; if, for instance, from mere wantonness of appetite, he steals privately to her chambermaid. Sir, a wife ought not greatly to resent this. I would not receive home a daughter who had run away from her husband on
that account. A wife should study to reclaim her w
husband by more attention to please him. Sir, a man Vill not, once in a hundred instances, leave his wife and go to a harlot, if his wife has not been negligent of pleasing.”
Here he discovered that acute discrimination, that solid judgement, and that knowledge of human nature, for which he was upon all occasions remarkable. Taking care to keep in view the moral and religious duty, as understood in our nation, he shewed clearly from reason and good sense, the greater degree of culpability in the one sex deviating from it than the other; and, at the same time, inculcated a very useful lesson as to the way to keep him.
I asked him if it was not hard that one deviation from chastity should so absolutely ruin a young woman. Johnson, "Why no, Sir'; it is the great
principle which she is taught. When she has given 1768. up that principle, she has given up every notion of
Ætat. 59. female honour aud virtuc, which are all included in chastity.”
A gentleman talked to him of a lady whom he greatly admired and wished to marry, but was afraid of her fuperiority of talents. “Sir, (said he,) you need not be afraid ; marry her. Before a year goes about, you'll find that reason much weaker, and that wit not so bright.”. Yet the gentleman may be justified in his apprehension by one of Dr. Johnson's admirable sentences in his life of Waller: « He doubtless praised many whom he would have been afraid to marry ; and, perhaps, married one whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities contribute to domestic happiness, upon which poetry has no colours to bestow; and many airs and sallies may delight imagination, which he who flatters them never can approve."
He praised Signor Baretti. “His account of Italy is a very entertaining book; and, Sir, I know no man who carries his head higher in conversation than Baretti. There are strong powers in his mind. He has not, indeed, many hooks ; but with whàt hooks he has, he grapples very forcibly.”
At this time I observed upon the dial-plate of his watch a short Greek inscription, taken from the New Testament, Nuk goez sexet&, being the first words of our Saviour's solemn admonition to the improvement of that time, which is allowed us to prepare for eternity; “ the night cometh when no man can work." He sometime afterwards laid aside this dialplate ; and when I asked him the reason, he said, " It might do very well upon a clock which a man
1768. keeps in his closet ; but to have it upon his watch
which he carries about with him, and which is often Ætat, 59.
looked at by others, might be censured as ostentatious.” Mr. Steevens is now possessed of the dialplate inscribed as above.
He remained at Oxford a considerable time; I was obliged to go to London, where I received his letter, which had been returned froni Scotland.
66 TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
MY DEAR BOSWELL,
“ I have omitted a long time to write to you, without knowing very well why. I could now tell why I should not write ; for who would write to men who publish the letters of their friends, without their leave? Yet I write to you in spite of my caution, to tell
you that I shall be glad to see you, and that I wish
you would empty your head of Corsica, which I think has filled it rather too long. But, at all events, I shall be glad, very glad to see you.
“ I am, Sir,
“ Yours affectionately, 6 Oxford, March 23, 176$. “ SAM. Johnson.”
I answered thus:
TO MR, SAMUEL JOHNSON.
« MY DEAR SIR,
“ London, 26th April, 1768. “I have received your last letter, which, though very short, and by no means complimentary, yet gave me real pleasure, because it contains these words,
I shall be glad, very glad to see you.'-Surely you have no reason to complain of my publishing a single
paragraph of one of
your letters; the temptation to it 1768. was so strong. : An irrevocable An irrevocable grant of your
Ætat, 59. ship, and your dignifying my desire of visiting Corsica with the epithet of a wise and noble curiosity, are to me more valuable than many of the grants of kings.
“ But how can you bid me empty my head of Corsica ?' My noble-minded friend, do you not feel for an oppressed nation bravely struggling to be free? Consider fairly what is the case. The Corsicans never received any kindness from the Genoese. They never agreed to be subject to them. They owe them nothing, and when reduced to an abject state of slavery, bý force, shall they not rise in the great cause of liberty, and break the galling yoke ? And shall not every liberal soul be warm for them ? Empty . my head of Corsica! Empty it of honour, empty it of humanity, empty it of friendship, empty it of piety. No! while I live, Corsica and the cause of the brave islanders shall ever employ much of my attention, shall ever interest me in the sincerest
« I am, &c.
“ James Boswell."
[" To MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD. MY DEAR DEAR LOVE,
“Oxford, Apr. 18, 1768. “““ You have had a very great loss. To lose an old friend, is to be cut off from a great part of the little pleasure that this life allows. But such is the condition of our nature, that as we live on we must see those whom we lore drop successively, and find our circle of relation grow less and less, till we are
1768. almost unconnected with the world; and then it
must soon be our turn to drop into the ,
“ I am glad that Mrs. Adey and Mrs. Cobb do not
“ When I go back to London, I will take care of your reading.glass. Whenever I can do any thing for you, remember, my dear darling, that one of my greatest pleasures is to please you.
“ The punctuality of your correspondence I consider as a proof of great regard. When we shall see each other, I know not, but let us often think on each other, and think with tenderness. Do not forget me in your prayers. I have for a long time back been very poorly; but of what use is it to complain?
“ Write often, for your letters always give great
“ My dear,
“ Sam. Johnson."]
Upon his arrival in London in May, he surprized me one morning with a visit at my lodgings in Half