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be perfectly translated ; so much of the excellence is in the numbers and the expression. Francis has done it the best ; I'll take his, five out of six, against them all.”
On Sunday, May 17, I presented to him Mr. Fullarton, of Fullarton, who has since distinguished himself so much in India, to whom he naturally talked of travels, as Mr. Brydone accompanied him in his tour to Sicily and Malta. He said, “ The information which we have from modern travellers is much more authentick than what we had from ancient travellers; ancient travellers guessed; modern travellers measure. The Swiss admit that there is but one errour in Stanyan. If Brydone were more attentive to his Bible, he would be a good traveller.”
He said, “ Lord Chatham was a Dictator; he possessed the power of putting the State in motion ; now there is no power, all order is relaxed.” Bos
“Is there no hope of a change to the better?" Johnson. “Why, yes, sir, when we are weary of this relaxation. So the City of London will appoint its Mayors again by seniority.” Boswell. “But is not that taking a mere chance for having a good or a bad Mayor?" Johnson. “ Yes, sir; but the evil of competition is greater than that of the worst Mayor that can come; besides, there is no more reason to suppose
that the choice of a rabble will be right, than that chance will be right.”
On Tuesday, May 19, I was to set out for Scotland in the evening. He was engaged to dine with me at Mr. Dilly's; I waited upon him to remind him of his appointment and attend him thither; he gave me some salutary counsel, and recommended vigorous resolution against any deviation from moral duty; BoswELL. you
would not have me to bind myself by a solemn obligation ?" JOHNSON, (much agitated). “ What ! a vow-0, no, sir, a vow is a
horrible thing; it is a snare for sin. The man who cannot go to heaven without a vow-may go Here, standing erect, in the middle of his library, and rolling grand, his pause was truly a curious compound of the solemn and the ludicrous; he halfwhistled in his usual way, when pleasant, and he paused, as if checked by religious awe.—Methought he would have added to Hell—but was restrained. I humoured the dilemma. “What! sir (said I), 'In coelum jusseris ibit?'” alluding to his imitation of it,
66 And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.”
I had mentioned to him a slight fault in his noble ' “ Imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal,” a too near recurrence of the verb spread, in his description of the young Enthusiast at College:
Through all his veins the fever of renown,
He had desired me to change spreads to burns, but for perfect authenticity, I now had it done with his own hand.' I thought this alteration not only cured the fault, but was more poetical, as it might carry an allusion to the shirt by which Hercules was inflamed.
We had a quiet comfortable meeting at Mr. Dilly's; nobody there but ourselves. Mr. Dilly mentioned somebody having wished that Milton's “ Tractate on Education" should be printed along
1 The slip of paper on which he made the correction is deposited by me in the noble library to which it relates, and to which
have presented other pieces of his hand-writing.
with his Poems in the edition of the English Poets then going on. Johnson. “It would be breaking in upon the plan; but would be of no great consequence. So far as it would be any thing, it would be wrong. Education in England has been in danger of being hurt by two of its greatest men, Milton and Locke. Milton's plan is impracticable, and I suppose has never been tried. Locke's, I fancy, has been tried often enough, but is very imperfect; it gives too much to one side, and too little to the other; it gives too little to literature-I shall do what I can for Dr. Watts; but my materials are very scanty. His poems are by no means his best works; I cannot praise his poetry itself highly; but I can praise its design.”
My illustrious friend and I parted with assurances of affectionate regard.
I wrote to him on the 25th of May, from Thorpe in Yorkshire, one of the seats of Mr. Bosville, and gave him an account of my having passed a day at Lincoln, unexpectedly, and therefore without having any letters of introduction, but that I had been honoured with civilities from the Rev. Mr. Simpson, an acquaintance of his, and Captain Broadley, of the Lincolnshire Militia ; but more particularly from the Rev. Dr. Gordon, the Chancellor, who first received me with great politeness as a stranger, and, when I informed him who I was, entertained me at his house with the most flattering attention ; I also expressed the pleasure with which I had found that our worthy friend, Langton, was highly esteemed in his own county town.
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
MY DEAR SIR,
“ Edinburgh, June 18, 1778.
“SINCE my return to Scotland, I have been again at Lanark, and have had more conversation with Thomson's sister. It is strange that Murdoch, who was his intimate friend, should have mistaken his mother's maiden name, which he says was Hume, whereas Hume was the name of his grandmother by the mother's side. His mother's name was Beatrix Trotter,' a daughter of Mr. Trotter, of Fogó, a small proprietor of land. Thomson had one brother, whom he had with him in England as his amanuensis; but he was seized with a consumption, and having returned to Scotland, to try what his native air would do for him, died young. He had three sisters, one married to Mr. Bell, minister of the parish of Strathaven; one to Mr. Craig, father of the ingenious architect, who gave the plan of the New Town of Edinburgh ; and one to Mr. Thomson, master of the grammar-school at Lanark. He was of a humane and benevolent disposition ; not only sent yaluable presents to his sisters, but a yearly allowance in money, and was always wishing to have it in his power to do them more good. Lord Lyttelton's observation, that he loathed much to write,' was very true. His letters to his sister, Mrs. Thomson, were not frequent, and in one of them he says,
my friends who know me, know how backward I am to write letters; and never impute the negligence of my hand to the coldness of my heart.' I send you a
1 Dr. Johnson was by no means attentive to minute accuracy in his “ Lives of the Poets ;' for notwithstanding my having de tected this mistake, he has continued it.
copy of the last letter which she had from him; she never heard that he had any intention of going into holy orders. From this late interview with his sister, I think much more favourably of him, as I hope you will. I am eager to see more of your Prefaces to the Poets: I solace myself with the few proof-sheets which I have.
“ I send another parcel of Lord Hailes's “ Annals,' which
will please to return to me as soon as you conveniently can. He
would cut a little deeper;' but he may be proud that there is so little occasion to use the critical knife. I ever am, my dear sir,
“ Your faithful and affectionate,
" JAMES BOSWELL."
Mr. Langton has been pleased, at my request, to favour me with some particulars of Dr. Johnson's visit to Warley-camp, where this gentleman was at the time stationed as a Captain in the Lincolnshire militia. I shall give them in his own words in a letter to me.
“ It was in the summer of the year 1778, that he complied with
invitation to come down to the Camp at Warley, and he staid with me about a week; the scene appeared, notwithstanding a great degree of ill health that he seemed to labour under, to interest and amuse him, as agreeing with the disposition that I believe you know he constantly manifested towards inquiring into subjects of the military kind. He sate, with a patient degree of -attention, to observe the proceedings of a regimental courtmartial, that happened to be called, in the time of his stay with us; and one night, as late as at eleven o'clock, he accompanied the Major of the regiment in going what are styled the Rounds, where he might