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ance to me, which Johnson was pleased to consider with friendly attention. I had long complained to him that I felt myself discontented in Scotland, as too narrow a sphere, and that I wished to make my chief residence in London, the great scene of ambition, instruction, and amusement: a scene which was to me, comparatively speaking, a heaven upon earth. JOHNSON. “Why, sir, I never knew any one who had such a gust for London as you have; and I cannot blame you for your wish to live there: yet, sir, were I in your father's place, I should not consent to your settling there; for I have the old feudal notions, and I should be afraid that Auchinleck would be deserted, as you would soon find it more desirable to have a country seat in a better climate. I own, however, that to consider it as a duty to reside on a family estate is a prejudice; for we must consider, that working people get employment equally, and the produce of land is sold equally, whether a great family resides at home or not; and if the rents of an estate be carried to London, they return again in the circulation of commerce; nay, sir, we must perhaps allow, that carrying the rents to a distance is a good, because it contributes to that circulation. We must, however, allow, that a well-regulated great family may improve a neighbourhood in civility and elegance, and give an example of good order, virtue, and piety; and so its residence at home may be of much advantage. But if a great family be disorderly and vicious, its residence at home is very pernicious to a neighbourhood. There is not now the same inducement to live in the country as formerly: the pleasures of social life are much better enjoyed in town; and there is no longer in the country that power and influence in proprietors of land which they had in old times, and which made the country so agreeable to them. The laird of Auchinleck now is not near so great a man as the laird of Auchinleck was a hundred years ago.'
I told him, that one of my ancestors never went from home without being attended by thirty men on horseback. Johnson's shrewdness and spirit of enquiry were exerted
upon every occasion.
Pray,” said he, “how did your ancestor support his thirty men and thirty horses when he went at a distance from home, in an age when there was hardly any money in circulation ?" I suggested the same difficulty to a friend who mentioned Douglas's going to the holy land with a numerous train of followers. Douglas could, no doubt, maintain followers enough while living upon his own lands, the produce of which supplied them with food; but he could not carry that food to the holy land; and as there was no commerce by which he could be supplied with money, how could he maintain them in foreign countries?
I suggested a doubt, that if I were to reside in London, the exquisite zest with which I relished it in occasional visits might go off, and I might grow tired of it. JOHNson. “Why, sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
To obviate his apprehension, that by settling in London I might desert the seat of my ancestors, I assured him that I had old feudal principles to a degree of enthusiasm ; and that I felt all the dulcedo of the natale solum. I reminded him, that the laird of Auchinleck had an elegant house, in front of which he could ride ten miles forward upon his own territories, upon which he had upwards of six hundred people attached to him; that the family seat was rich in natural romantick beauties of rock, wood, and water; and that in my morn of life” I had appropriated the finest descriptions in the ancient classicks to certain scenes there, which were thus associated in my mind : that when all this was considered, I should certainly pass a part of the year at home, and enjoy it the more from variety, and from bringing with me a share of the intellectual stores of the metropolis. He listened to all this, and kindly “ hoped it might be as I now supposed.”
He said, a country gentleman should bring his lady to
visit London as soon as he can, that they may have agreeable topicks for conversation when they are by themselves.
As I meditated trying my fortune in Westminster-hall, our conversation turned upon the profession of the law in England. JOHNSON. “ You must not indulge too sanguine hopes, should you be called to our bar. I was told by a very sensible lawyer, that there are a great many chances against any man's success in the profession of the law; the candidates are so numerous, and those who get large practice so few. He said, it was by no means true that a man of good parts and application is sure of having business; though he, indeed, allowed that if such a man could but appear in a few causes, his merit would be known, and he would get forward; but that the great risk was, that a man might pass half a lifetime in the courts, and never have an opportunity of showing his abilities.”
We talked of employment being absolutely necessary to preserve the mind from wearying and growing fretful, especially in those who have a tendency to melancholy; and I mentioned to him a saying which somebody had related of an American savage, who, when an European was expatiating on all the advantages of money, put this question: “ Will it purchase occupation?" JOHNSON. “ Depend upon it, sir, this saying is too refined for a savage. And, sir, money will purchase occupation; it will purchase all the conveniencies of life; it will purchase variety of company; it will purchase all sorts of entertainment.”
I talked to him of Forster's Voyage to the South Seas, which pleased me; but I found he did not like it. Sir," said he, “ there is a great affectation of fine writing in it." Boswell." But he carries you along with him." JOHN
y Now, at the distance of fifteen years since this conversation passed, the observation which I have had an opportunity of making in Westminster-hall has convinced me, that, however true the opinion of Dr. Johnson's legal friend may have been some time ago, the same certainty of success cannot now be promised to the same display of merit. The reasons, however, of the rapid rise of some, and the disappointment of others equally respectable, are such as it might seem invidious to mention, and would require a longer detail than would be proper for this work.--Boswell.
SON. “ No, sir; he does not carry me along with him : he leaves me behind him, or rather, indeed, he sets me before him; for he makes me turn over many leaves at a time.”
On Sunday, September 12th, we went to the church of Ashbourne, which is one of the largest and most luminous that I have seen in any town of the same size. I felt great satisfaction in considering that I was supported in my
fondness for solemn publick worship by the general concurrence and munificence of mankind.
Johnson and Taylor were so different from each other, that I wondered at their preserving an intimacy. Their having been at school and at college together might, in some degree, account for this; but sir Joshua Reynolds has furnished me with a stronger reason; for Johnson mentioned to him, that he had been told by Taylor he was to be his heir. I shall not take upon me to animadvert upon this; but certain it is, that Johnson paid great attention to Taylor. He now, however, said to me, “Sir, I love him ; but I do not love him more; my regard for him does not increase. As it is said in the Apocrypha, ' his talk is of bullocks?.' I do not suppose he is very fond of my company. His habits are by no means sufficiently clerical: this he knows that I see; and no man likes to live under the eye of perpetual disapprobation.”
I have no doubt that a good many sermons were composed for Taylor by Johnson. At this time I found upon his table, a part of one which he had newly begun to write: and “ Concio pro Tayloro" appears in one of his diaries. When to these circumstances we add the internal evidence from the power of thinking and style, in the collection which the reverend Mr. Hayes has published, with the significant title of Sermons left for Publication by the Reverend John Taylor, LL. D. our conviction will be complete.
? Ecclesiasticus, chap. xxxviii. v. 25. The whole chapter may be read as an admirable illustration of the superiority of cultivated minds over the gross and illiterate.--BOSWELL.
I, however, would not have it thought, that Dr. Taylor, though he could not write like Johnson, (as, indeed, who could ?) did not sometimes compose sermons as good as those which we generally have from very respectable divines. He showed me one with notes on the margin in Johnson's handwriting; and I was present when he read another to Johnson, that he might have his opinion of it, and Johnson said it was “ very well.” These, we may be sure, were not Johnson's; for he was above little arts, or tricks of deception.
Johnson was by no means of opinion, that every man of a learned profession should consider it as incumbent upon him, or as necessary to his credit, to appear as an author. When in the ardour of ambition for literary fame, I regretted to him one day that an eminent judge had nothing of it, and therefore would leave no perpetual monument of himself to posterity : “ Alas! sir,” said Johnson, “what a mass of confusion should we have, if every bishop, and every judge, every lawyer, physician, and divine, were to write books!”
I mentioned to Johnson a respectable person of a very strong mind, who had little of that tenderness wbich-is common to human nature; as an instance of which, when I suggested to him that he should invite his son, who had been settled ten years in foreign parts, to come home and pay him a visit, his answer was, No, no, let him mind his business.” JOHNSON. “ I do not agree with him, sir, in this. Getting money is not all a man's business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.”
In the evening, Johnson being in very good spirits, entertained us with several characteristical portraits: I regret that any of them escaped my retention and diligence. I found from experience, that to collect my friend's conversation, so as to exhibit it with any degree of its original flavour, it was necessary to write it down without delay. To record his sayings after some distance of time, was like preserving or pickling long-kept and faded fruits, or other