Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

1765. round;" and it was indifferent to him what was the Ætat. 56. subject of the work dedicated, provided it were inno

cent. He once dedicated some Musick for the German Flute to Edward, Duke of York. In writing Dedications for others, he considered himself as by no means speaking his own sentiments.

Notwithstanding his long silence, I never omitted to write to him when I had any thing worthy of communicating. I generally kept copies of my letters to him, that I might have a full view of our correspondence, and never be at a loss to understand any reference in his letters. He kept the greater part of mine very carefully; and a short time before his death was attentive enough to seal them up in bundles, and order them to be delivered to me, which was accordingly done. Amongst then I found one, of which I had not made a copy, and which I own I read with pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years.

Tt is dated November, 1765, at the palace of Pascal Paoli, in Corte, the capital of Corsica, and is full of generous enthusiasm. After giving a sketch of what I had seen and heard in that island, it proceeded thus : “ I dare to call this a spirited tour. I dare to challenge your approbation.”

This letter produced the following answer, which I found on my arrival at Paris.

A Mr. Mr. Boswell, chez Mr. Waters, Banquier,

à Paris.

[ocr errors]

- APOLOGIES are seldom of any use.

We will delay till your arrival the reasons, good or bad, which have made me such a sparing and ungrateful correspondent. Be assured, for the present, that nothing has lessened either the esteem or love with which I

[ocr errors]

dismissed you at Harwich. Both have been in- 1765. creased by all that I have been told of you by your- Ætat. 56. self or others; and when you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I hope, unalterable friend.

“ All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me. No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour; and the pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment will be sufficient to afford it.

“ Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come home, and expect such welcome as is due to him, whom a wise and noble curiosity has led, where perhaps no native of this country ever was before.

“ I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would I willingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your return. afraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind which has been so long feasted with variety. But let us try what esteem and kindness can effect.

“ As your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a ramble, I doubt not but you will think his sickness, or even his desire to see you, a sufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we live, and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends. Parents we can have but once ; and he promises himself too much, who enters life with the expectation of finding many friends. Upon some motive, I hope, that you will be here soon; and am willing to think that it will be an in

I am

1766. and Luke. When it was quelled, George, not Luke,

was punished by his head being encircled with a red Ætat. 57.

hot iron crown : “ coronâ candescente ferreâ coronatur.The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl of Athol, one of the murderers of King James I. of Scotland. *

Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which he furnished to Goldsmith's “ Deserted Village,” which are only the last four :

“ That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
“ As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away :
“ While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky."

Talking of education, “ People have now a-days, (said he,) got a strange opinion that every thing should be taught by lectures. Now, I cannot see that lectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lectures, except where experiments are to be shewn. You may teach chymistry by lectures.—You might teach making of shoes by lectures !"

At night I supped with him at the Mitre Tavern, that we might renew our social intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now a considerable difference in his way of living. Having had an illness, in which he was advised to leave off wine, he had, from that period, continued to abstain from it, and drank only water, or lemonade.

[On the iron crown, see Mr, Steevens's note 7, on Act iv, Sc. i. of RICHARD III. It seems to be alluded to in MACBETH, Act. iv. Sc. i. Thy crown does sear,” &c. See also Gough's Camden, vol. iii. p. 396. I. B.]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

I told him that a foreign friend of his, whom I had 1766. met with abroad, was so wretchedly perverted to in

Ætat. 57 fidelity, that he treated the hopes of immortality with brutal levity; and said, “ As man dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog.” Johnson. “ If he dies like

" a dog, let him lie like a dog." I added, that this man said to me, “ I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, he must be very singular in his opinion, if he thinks himself one of the best of men; for none of his friends think him so.”—He said, “ No honest man could be a Deist; for no man could be so after a fair examination of the proofs of V Christianity.” I named Hume. Johnson.

Johnson. “ No, Sir; Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishoprick of Durham, that he had never read the New Testament with attention.” I mentioned Hume's notion, that all who are happy are equally happy; a little miss with a new gown at a dancing school-ball, a general at the head of a victorious army, and an orator, after having made an eloquent speech in a great assembly. JOHNSON. • Sir, that all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher.”. I remember this very question very happily illustrated in opposition to Hume, by the Reverend Mr. Robert Brown, at Utrecht. “ A small drinkingglass and a large one, (said he,) may be equally full; but the large one holds more than the small."

Dr. Johnson was very kind this evening, and said to me, “ You have now lived five-and-twenty years,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1766. and you have employed them well.”

" Alas, Sir, (said I, I fear not. Do I know history! Do I Ætat. 57.

know mathematicks ? Do I know law?" JOHNSON,

Why, Sir, though you may know no science so well as to be able to teach it, and no profession so well as to be able to follow it, your general mass of knowledge of books and men renders you very capable to make yourself master of any science, or fit yourself for any profession.” I mentioned that a gay friend had advised me against being a lawyer, because I should be excelled by plodding block-heads. Johnson. “Why, Sir, in the formulary and statutory part of law, a plodding block-head may excel; but in the ingenious and rational part of it a plodding block-head can never excel."

I talked of the mode adopted by some to rise in the world, by courting great men, and asked him whether he had ever submitted to it.. JOHNSON. " Why, Sir, I never was near enough to great men to court them. You may be prudently attached to great men, and yet independent. You are not to do what you think wrong; and, Sir, you are to calculate, and not pay too dear for what you get. You must not give a shilling's worth of court for six-pence worth of good. But if you can get a shilling's worth of good for six-pence worth of court, you are a fool if you do not pay court.”

He said, “ If convents should be allowed at all, they should only be retreats for persons unable to

serve the publick, or who have served it. It is our ✓

first duty to serve society, and, after we have done that, we may attend. wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged.”

« AnteriorContinuar »