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my own speech. He said a few words well enough." BEAUCLERK. I remember, sir, you said that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry ignorance.”—Mr. Beauclerk was very entertaining this day, and told us a number of short stories in a lively elegant manner, and with that air of the world which has I know not what impressive effect, as if there were something more than is expressed, or than, perhaps, we could perfectly understand. As Johnson and I accompanied sir Joshua Reynolds in his coach, Johnson said, "There is in Beauclerk a predominance over his company that one does not like. But he is a man who has lived so much in the world, that he has a short story on every occasion; he is always ready to talk, and is never exhausted."

Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, sir Joshua's sister. I mentioned that an eminent friend of ours, talking of the common remark, that affection descends, said, that “this was wisely contrived for the preservation of mankind; for which it was not so necessary that there should be affection from children to parents, as from parents to children ; nay, there would be no harm in that view though children should at a certain age eat their parents". JOHNSON. “ But, sir, if this were known generally to be the case, parents would not have affection for children." Boswell. True, sir; for it is in expectation of a return that parents are so attentive to their children ; and I know a very pretty instance of a little girl, of whom her father was very fond, who once, when he was in a melancholy fit, and had gone to bed, persuaded him to rise in good humour by saying, My dear papa, please to get up, and let me help you on with your clothes, that I may learn to do it when you are an old man.'

Soon after this time a little incident occurred, which I will not suppress, because I am desirous that my work should be, as much as is consistent with the strictest truth,


r See Herodotus, Thalia, 38.-Ed.

an antidote to the false and injurious notions of his character which have been given by others, and therefore I infuse every drop of genuine sweetness into my biographical cup.


“MY DEAR SIR,- I am in great pain with an inflamed foot, and obliged to keep my bed; so am prevented from having the pleasure to dine at Mr. Ramsay's to day, which is very hard ; and my spirits are sadly sunk. Will you be so friendly as to come and sit an hour with me in the evening? I am ever

“ Your most faithful
“ And affectionate humble servant,

" JAMES BOSWELL. “South Audley-street, Monday, April 26."


“MR. Johnson laments the absence of Mr. Boswell, and will come to him.

“ Harley-street."

He came to me in the evening, and brought sir Joshua Reynolds. I need scarcely say, that their conversation, while they sat by my bedside, was the most pleasing opiate to pain that could have been administered.

Johnson being now better disposed to obtain information concerning Pope than he was last year, sent by me to my lord Marchmont, a present of those volumes of his Lives of the Poets which were at this time published, with a request to have permission to wait on him; and his lordship, who had called on him twice, obligingly appointed Saturday, the first of May, for receiving us.

s See p. 306 of this volume.

On that morning Johnson came to me from Streatham, and, after drinking chocolate at general Paoli's, in South Audley-street, we proceeded to lord Marchmont's in Curzon-street. His lordship met us at the door of his library, and with great politeness said to Johnson, “I am not going to make an encomium upon myself, by telling you the high respect I have for you, sir.” Johnson was exceedingly courteous; and the interview, which lasted about two hours, during which the earl communicated his anecdotes of Pope, was as agreeable as I could have wished. When we came out, I said to Jobpson, that, considering his lordship’s civility, I should have been vexed if he had again failed to come.” Sir,” said he, “ I would rather have given twenty pounds than not have come.” I accompanied him to Streatham, where we dined, and returned to town in the evening.

On Monday, May 3rd, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's. I pressed him this day for his opinion on the passage in Parnell, concerning which I had in vain questioned him in several letters, and at length obtained it in due form of law.

Case for Dr. Johnson's opinion ; 3d of May, 1779. Parnell, in his Hermit, has the following passage:

To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books and swains report it right:
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,

Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew.) Is there not a contradiction in its being first supposed that the hermit knew both what books and swains reported of the world; yet afterwards said, that he knew it by swains alone ?"

I think it an inaccuracy.-He mentions two instructors in the first line, and says he had only one in the nextt.”

This evening I set out for Scotland.

{ "I do not,” says Mr. Malone, “see any difficulty in this passage; and wonder that Dr. Johnson should have acknowledged it to be inaccurate. The

I was

TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD. “ DEAR MADAM, Mr. Green has informed me that you are much better; I hope I need not tell you that I am glad of it. I cannot boast of being much better: my old nocturnal complaint still pursues me, and my respiration is difficult, though much easier than when I left you the summer before last. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale are well: miss has been a little indisposed; but she is got well again. They have since the loss of their boy had two daughters ; but they seem likely to want a son.

I hope you had some books which I sent you. sorry for poor Mrs. Adey's death, and am afraid you will be sometimes solitary; but endeavour, whether alone or in company, to keep yourself cheerful. My friends likewise die very fast; but such is the state of man.

· I am, dear love,
" Your most humble servant,

- Sam. JOHNSON. May 4, 1779.hermit, it should be observed, had no actual experience of the world whatsoever: all his knowledge concerning it had been obtained in two ways; from books, and from the relations of those country swains who had seen a little of it. The plain meaning, therefore, is, ' To clear his doubts concerning Providence, and to obtain some knowledge of the world by actual experience; to see whether the accounts furnished by books, or by the oral communications of swains, were just representations of it;' [I say swains,] for his oral or viva voce information had been obtained from that part of mankind alone, etc. The word alone here does not relate to the whole of the preceding line, as has been supposed, but, by a common license, to the words,—of all mankind, which are understood, and of which it is restrictive."

Mr. Malone, it must be owned, has shown much critical ingenuity in his explanation of this passage. His interpretation, however, seems to me much too recondite. The meaning of the passage may be certain enough; but surely the expression is confused, and one part of it contradictory to the other.-Boswell.

But why too recondite ?-When a meaning is given to a passage by understanding words in an uncommon sense, the interpretation may be said to be recondite ; and, however ingenious, may be suspected not to be sound: but when words are explained in their ordinary acceptation, and the explication which is fairly deduced from them, without any force or constraint, is also perfectly justified by the context, it surely may be safely accepted; and the calling such an explication recondite, when nothing else can be sail against it, will not make it the less just.-MALONE.

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He had, before I left London, resumed the conversation concerning the appearance of a ghost at Newcastle upon Tyne, which Mr. John Wesley believed, but to which Johnson did not give credit. I was, however, desirous to examine the question closely, and at the same time wished to be made acquainted with Mr. John Wesley; for though I differed from him in some points, I admired his various talents, and loved his pious zeal. At my request, therefore, Dr. Johnson gave me a letter of introduction to him.


“SIR, -Mr. Boswell, a gentleman who has been long known to me, is desirous of being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him with great willingness, because I think it very much to be wished that worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other. I am, sir, ,

“ Your most humble servant, " May 3, 1779.


Mr. Wesley being in the course of his ministry at Edinburgh, I presented this letter to him, and was very politely received. I begged to have it returned to me, which was accordingly done.-His state of the evidence as to the ghost did not satisfy me.

I did not write to Johnson, as usual, upon my return to my family; but tried how he would be affected by my silence. Mr. Dilly sent me a copy of a note which he received from him on the 13th of July, in these words :


“ Sir,-Since Mr. Boswell's departure I have never heard from him; please to send word what you know of him, and whether you have sent my books to his lady.

I am, etc.


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