« PreviousContinue »
He, I know not why, shewed upon all occasions an aversion to go to
1779. Ireland, where I proposed to him that we should make a tour. Johnson. Ætat. 7e. “ It is the last place where I should wish to travel.” Boswell. “ Should you not like to see Dublin, Sir?” JOHNSON. “No, Sir, Dublin is only a worse capital.” Boswell. “Is not the Giant’s-Causeway worth seeing?" Johnson. “ Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.”
Of an acquaintance of ours, whose manners and every thing about him, though expensive, were coarse, he said, “ Sir, you see in him vulgar prosperity,"
A foreign minister of no very high talents, who had been in his company for a considerable time quite overlooked, happened luckily to mention that he had read some of his “ Rambler" in Italian, and admired it much. This pleased him greatly; he observed, that the title had been translated, Il Genio errante, though I have been told it was rendered more ludicrously, Il Vagabondo; and finding that this minister gave such a proof of his taste, he was all attention to him, and on the first remark which he made, however simple, exclaimed, ~ The Ambassadour says well—His Excellency observesAnd then he expanded and enriched the little that had been said in so strong a manner, that it appeared something of consequence. This was exceedingly entertaining to the company who were present, and many a time afterwards it furnished a pleasant topick of merriment: “ The Ambasadour says well,” became a laughable term of applause, when no mighty matter had been expressed.
I left London on Monday, October 18, and accompanied Colonel Stuart to Chester, where his regiment was to lye for some time.
Mr. BOSWEL I to Dr. JOHNSON. « MY DEAR SIR,
Chester, 22 October, 1779. « IT was not till one o'clock on Monday morning, that Colonel Stuart and I left London ; for we chose to bid a cordial adieu to Lord Mountstuart, who was to set out on that day on his embassy to Turin. We drove on excellently, and reached Lichfield in good time enough that night. The Colonel had heard so preferable a character of the George, that he would not put up at the Three Crowns, so that I did not see our host,. Wilkins. We found at the George as good accommodation as we could wish to have, and I fully enjoyed the comfortable thought that I was in Lichfield again. Next morning it rained very hard; and as I had much to do in a little time, I ordered a post-chaise, and between eight and VOL. II. Rr
nine fallied forth to make a round of visits. I first went to Mr. Green, Etat. 70. hoping to have had him to accompany me to all my other friends, but
he was engaged to attend the Bishop of Sodor and Man, who was then lying at Lichfield very ill of the gout. Having taken a hasty glance at the
. additions to Green's museum, from which it was not easy to break away, I next went to the Friery, where I at first occasioned some tumult in the ladies, who were not prepared to receive company fo early: but my name, which has by wonderful felicity come to be so closely associated with yours, foon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb and Miss Adye re-assumed their seats at the breakfasttable, which they had quitted with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of old acquaintance; and after we had joined in a cordial chorus to your praise, Mrs. Cobb gave me the high fatisfaction of hearing that you said, • Boswell is a man who I believe never left a house without leaving a wish for his return.' And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell me, that if ever I came to Lichfield; she hoped I would take a bed at the Friery. From thence, I drove to Peter Garrick's, where I also found a very flattering welHe appeared to me to enjoy his usual cheerfulness; and he very
; kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass a week with him. From Mr. Garrick's I went to the Palace to wait on Mr. Seward. I was first entertained by his lady and daughter, he himself being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he desired to see me; and I
I found him drest in his black gown, with a white flannel night-gown above it; so that he looked like a Dominican friar. He was good-humoured and polite ; and under his roof too my reception was very pleasing. I then pro- . ceeded to Stowhill, and first paid my respects to Mrs. Gastrell, whose con-. versation I was not willing to quit. But my fand-glass was now beginning to run low, as I could not trespass too long on the Colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me; so I hastened to Mrs. Aston's, whom I found much better than I feared I should; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, wth sincere fatiffaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her again ; and, as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see me again ; for she expressed herself so, that I could not doubt of her being in earnest. What a great key-stone of kindness, my dear Sir, was you that morning!' for we were all held together by our common attachment to you. I cannot say that I ever passed two hours with more self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield. Let me not entertain any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will
not you confirm me in my persuasion, that he who finds himself fo regarded
“ We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in
“ How long I shall stay here, I cannot yet say. I told a very pleasing young lady, niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw her, I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it. Do not think me too juvenile. I beg it of you, my dear Sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here, and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with affectionate veneration,
« Most sincerely yours,
“ James Boswell.
“ If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright.”
TO JAMES Boswell, Eja. « DEAR SIR,
“ WHY should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If, to the delight of such universal kindness of reception, any thing can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.
“ I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success : the oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to me
to read that Mrs. Aston was so well ; and that Lucy Porter was so glad to
“ In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you : will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog that worries you at home? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, enquire into the old tenures, and old charters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages. The feudal system, in a country half barbarous, is naturally productive of great anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of publick record; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to image the economy of his grand-father. Do not be tardy, nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found 8.
“ We have, I think, once talked of another project, a History of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents. Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, 'has told what we could not find to be true.
“ You may make collections for either of these projects, or for both, as opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The
direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you, Be not folitary; be not idle: which I would thus modify ;-If you are idle, be not folitary; if you . are folitary, be not idle. « There is a letter for
« Your humble fervant, “ London, Oat, 27, 1779.
To Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “ MY DEAR SIR,
Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779 . “ THAT I should importune you to write to me at Chester, is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nimmi, increases in proportion with the
• I have a valuable collection made by my Father, which, with some additions and illustrations of my own, I intend to publish. I have some hereditary claim to be an Antiquary; not only from my Father, but as being descended, by the mother's fide, of the able and learned Sir John Skene, whose merit bids defiance to all the attempts which have been made to lessen his fame..
quantity which we poffess of it. Your letter,
1779 and masterly counsel, came like a large treasure upon me, while already Ætat. 70. glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circe; for so far was there from being any thing sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only; for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not?—If you please I will send you a copy,
a or an abridgement of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of felicity.
“ The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering: I told him, that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester. His Lordship bid me tell you,, that he should be glad to fhew you more of it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known in so many places.
“ I arrived here late last night.. Our friend the Dean, has been gone from hence fome months; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popular). However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to the Bishop, and with him I have breakfafted and dined very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the allizes here, about a year and a half ago; he is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and I believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday of the month; and was at prayers there in the evening. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a Cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to God for granting me.
“ The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I have been for some time past in a military.train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet, I therefore hope that soon after my return to the Northern field, I shall receive a few lines:
“ Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to fhew me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted'. In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you, that as I was so happy, she would not be so felfish as to wish me to return fooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind. letter from her met me at the Post-Office here, acquainting me that she and
9 His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order I should think a sufficient refutation of the .idle rumour that “ there was kill something behind the throne greater than the throne itself."