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thieves naturally; a child always tries to get at what it wants, the nearest 1778. way; by good instruction and good habits this is cured, till a man has not Ætat. En even an inclination to seize what is another's; has no struggle with himself about it."
And here I shall record a scene of too much heat between Dr. Johnson and Dr. Percy, which I should have suppressed, were it not that it gave occasion to display the truely tender and benevolent heart of Johnson, who as soon as he found a friend was at all hurt by any thing which he had “ said in his wrath,” was not only prompt and desirous to be reconciled, but exerted himfelf to make ample reparation.
Books of Travels having been mentioned, Johnson praised Pennant very highly, as he did at Dunvegan, in the Ine of Skys. Dr. Percy still holding , himself as the heir male of the ancient Percies, and having the warmest and most dutiful attachment to the noble house of Northumberland, could not fit quietly and hear a man praised, who had spoken disrespectfully of AlnwickCastle and the Duke's pleasure-grounds, especially as he thought meanly of his travels. He therefore opposed Johnson eagerly. Johnson. “Pennant
« in what he has said of Alnwick, has done what he intended; he has made you very angry.” Percy. “He has said the garden is trim, which is representing it like a citizen's parterre, when the truth is, there is a very large extent of fine turf and gravel walks.” JOHNSON. “ According to your own account, Sir, Pennant is right. It is trim. Here is grass cut close, and gravel rolled smooth. Is not that trim? The extent is nothing against that ; a mile may be as trim as a square yard. Your extent puts me in mind of the citizens' enlarged dinner, two pieces of roast-beef, and two puddings: There is no variety, no mind exerted in laying out the ground, no trees.' PERCY. “ He pretends to give the natural history of Northumberland, and yet takes no notice of the immense number of trees planted there of late.” Johnson. “ That, Sir, has nothing to do with the natural history; that is civil history. A man who gives the natural history of the oak, is not to tell how many oaks have been planted in this place or that. A man who gives the natural history of the cow, is not to tell how many cows are milked at Inington. The animal is the fame, whether milked in the Park or at INington.” Percy, “ Pennant does not describe well; a carrier who goes along the side of Lochlomond would describe it better.” Johnson. “I think he describes very well.” Percy. “ I travelled after him.” JOHNSON. << And I travelled
5 - Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," edit. 3, p. 221,
after him." Percy. " But, my good friend, you are short-sighted, and do not fee fo well as I do.” I wondered at Dr. Percy's venturing thus. Dr. Johnson said nothing at the time; but inflammable particles were collecting for a cloud to burst. In a little while Dr. Percy said something more in disparagement of Pennant. Johnson. (pointedly) « This is the resentment of a narrow mind, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland." Percy. (feeling the stroke) “ Sir, you may be as rude as you please.” Johnson. “ Hold, Sir! Don't talk of rudeness; remember, Sir, you told me (pusfing hard with passion struggling for a vent) I was short-fighted. We have done with civility. We are to be as rude as we please.” Percy, . “ Upon my honour, Sir, I did not mean to be uncivil.” Johnson. “I cannot say so, Sir; for I did mean to be uncivil, thinking you had been uncivil.” Dr. Percy rose, ran up to him, and taking him by the hand, assured him affectionately that his meaning had been misunderstood; upon which a reconciliation instantly took place. Johnson. “My dear Sir, I am willing you shall bang Pennant.” Percy. (resuming the former subject) « Pennant complains that the helmet is not hung out to invite to the hall of hospitality. Now I never heard that it was a custom to hang out a helmet.” Johnson, “ Hang him up, hang him up.” Boswell. (humouring the joke) “ Hang out his skull instead of a helmet, and you may drink ale out of it in your hall of Odin, as he is your enemy; that will be truly ancient. There will be Northern Antiquities.” Johnson. “He's a Whig, Sir; a fad dog (smiling at his own violent expressions, merely for political difference of opinion). But he's the best traveller I ever read; he observes more things than any one else does.”
I could not help thinking that this was too high praise of a writer who traversed a wide extent of country in such haíte, that he could put together only curt frittered fragments of his own, and afterwards procured supplemental intelligence from parochial ministers, and others not the best qualified or most impartial narrators, whose ungenerous prejudice against the house of Stuart glares in misrepresentation; a writer, who at best treats merely of superficial objects, and shews no philosophical investigation of character and manners, such as Johnson has exhibited in his masterly “ Journey,” over part of the fame ground; and who it hould seem from a desire of ingratiating himself with the Scotch, has flattered the people of North-Britain fo inordinately and with so little discrimination, that the judicious and candid amongst them must be disgusted, while they value more the plain, juft, yet kindly report of Jolinton.
We had a calm after the storm, staid the evening and supt, and were
1778. pleasant and gay. But Dr. Percy told me he was very uneasy at what had Ærat. 69. passed; for there was a gentleman there who had recently been admitted into the confidence of the Northumberland family, to whom he hoped to appear more respectable, by shewing him how intimate he was with the great Dr. Johnson; and now the gentleman would go away with an impression much to his disadvantage, as if Johnson treated him with disregard, which might do him an essential injury. He begged I would mention this to Dr. Johnson, which I afterwards did. His observation
insert this kindly correspondence, having faithfully narrated the circumstances aktat. 69. accompanying it.
To Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON. « MY DEAR SIR,
“ I BEG leave to address you in behalf of our friend Dr. Percy, who was much hurt by what you said to him that day we dined at his houses; when, in the course of the dispute as to Pennant's merit as a traveller, you told Percy that he had the resentment of a narrow mind against Pennant, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland.' Percy is sensible that you did not mean to injure him; but he is vexed to think that your behaviour to him upon that occasion may be interpreted as a proof that he is despised by you, which I know is not the case. I have told him, that the charge of being narrow-minded was only as to the particular point in question; and that he had the merit of being a martyr to his noble family.
“ Earl Percy is to dine with General Paoli next Friday; and I should be sincerely glad to have it in my power to satisfy his Lordship how well you think of Dr. Percy, who, I find, apprehends that your good opinion of him may be of very essential consequence; and who assures me, that he has the highest respect and the warmest affection for you.
“ I have only to add, that my suggesting this occasion for the exercise of your candour and generosity, is altogether unknown to Dr. Percy, and proceeds from my good-will towards him, and my persuasion that you will be happy to do him an essential kindness. I am, more and more, my
« Your most faithful
“ JAMES BOSWELL."
“ THE debate between Dr. Percy and me is one of those foolish controversies, which begin upon a question of which neither party cares how it is decided, and which is, nevertheless, continued to acrimony, by the vanity with which every man resists confutation. Dr. Percy's warmth proceeded from a cause which, perhaps, does him more honour than he could
Sunday, April 12, 1778.
have derived from juster criticism. His abhorrence of Pennant proceeded 1778.
So much extension of mind, and so much minute accuracy of
you survey your whole circle of acquaintance, you will find so
Upon the whole, you see that what I might say in sport or petulance to
“ Your moft, &c. “ April 23, 1778.
To the Reverend Dr. PERCY, Northumberland-house. « DEAR SIR,
“ I WROTE to Dr. Johnson on the subject of the Pennantian controversy; and have received from him an answer which will delight you. I read it yesterday to Dr. Robertson, at the Exhibition ; and at dinner to Lord Percy, General Oglethorpe, &c. who dined with us at General Paoli's; who was also a witness to the high testimony to your honour.
“ General Paoli desires the favour of your company next Tuesday to dinner, to meet Dr. Johnson. If I can, I will call on you to-day. I am, with sincere regard,
" Your most obedient humble servant, “ South Audley-Street, April 25.
On Monday, April 13, I dined with Johnson at Mr. Langton's, where werę