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“ If you will be pleased to let me know when you have an hour of leisure, I will drink tea with you. I am engaged for the afternoon to-morrow, and on Friday : all my mornings are my own. I am, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." I came to London in the autumn; and having informed him that I was going to be married in a few months, I wished to have as much of his conversation as I could before engaging in a state of life which would probably keep me more in Scotland, and prevent me seeing him so often as when I was a single man; but I found he was at Brighthelmstone with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. I was very sorry that I had not his company with me at the Jubilee, in honour of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, the great poet's native town. Johnson's connection both with Shakspeare and Garrick founded a double claim to his presence; and it would have been highly gratifying to Mr.
1 During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to be deeply engaged in some literary work. Miss Williams was now with him at Oxford. - Warton.
? Mr. Boswell, on this occasion, justified Johnson's foresight and prudence, in advising him to “ clear his head of Corsica : " unluckily, the advice had no effect, for Boswell made a fool of himself at the Jubilee by sundry enthusiastic freaks; amongst others, lest he should not be sufficiently distinguished, he wore the words CORSICA BOSWELL in large letters round his hat. There was an absurd print of him, I think in the London Magazine, published, no doubt, with his concurrence, in the character of an armed Corsican chief, at the Jubilee masquerade on the evening of the 7th Sept. 1769, in which he wears a cap with the inscription of“ Viva la Libertà !"_but his friend and admirer, Tom Davies, records that he wore ordinarily the vernacular inscription of “ CORSICA BOSWELL in large letters outside his hat.”—Life of Garrick, ii. 212. Earlier in the year he had visited Ireland, and was no doubt the correspondent who furnished the following paragraph to the Public Advertiser of the 7tb July, 1769 :
“Extract of a letter from Dublin, 8th June. James Boswell, Esq., having now visited Ireland, he dined with his Grace the Duke of Leinster, at his seat at Carton. He went also by special invitation, to visit the Lord Lieutenant at his country seat at Leixlip; to which he was conducted in one of his Excellency's coaches by Lt. Col. Walshe. He dined there, and stayed all night, and next morning came in the coach with his Excellency, to the Phænix Park, and was present at a review of Sir Joseph Yorke's Dragoons. He also dined with the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor. He is now set out on his return to Scotland.”—Croker.
Garrick. Upon this occasion I particularly lamented that he had not that warmth of friendship for his brilliant pupil, which we may suppose would have had a benignant effect on both. When almost every man of eminence in the literary world was happy to partake in this festival of genius, the absence of Johnson could not but be wondered at and regretted. The only trace of him there, was in the whimsical advertisement of a haberdasher, who sold Shaksperian ribands of various dyes; and by way of illustrating their appropriation to the bard, introduced a line from the celebrated Prologue, at the opening of Drury Lane theatre:
“Each change of many-colour'd life he drew." From Brighthelmstone Dr. Johnson wrote me the following letter; which they who may think that I ought to have suppressed, must have less ardent feelings than I have always avowed.?
1 In the Preface (p. xix-xx) to my Account of Corsica, published in 1768, I thus express myself:
“He who publishes a book, affecting not to be an author, and professing an indifference for literary fame, may possibly impose upon many people such an idea of his consequence as he wishes may be received. For my part, I should be proud to be known as an author, and I have an ardent ambition for literary fame; for, of all possessions, I should imagine literary fame to be the most valuable. A man who has been able to furnish a book, which has been approved by the world, has established himself as a respectable character in distant society, without any danger of having that character lessened by the observation of his weaknesses. To preserve an uniform dignity among those who see us every day, is hardly possible; and to aim at it, must put us under the fetters of perpetual restraint. The author of an approved book may allow his natural disposition an easy play, and yet indulge the pride of superior genius, when he considers that by those who know him only as an author, he never ceases to be respected. Such an author, when in his hours of gloom and discontent, may have the consolation to think, that his writings are, at that very time, giving pleasure to numbers; and such an author may cherish the hope of being remembered after death; which has been a great object to the noblest minds in all ages.” [Added in the second edition, vol. i., p. 527.-Editor.]
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ES v.
“ Brighthelmstone, Sept. 9, 1769. “ DEAR SIR,
Why do you charge me with unkindness? I have omitted nothing that could do you good, or give you pleasure, unless it be that I have forborne to tell you my opinion of your • Account of Corsica.' I believe my opinion, if you think well of my judgment, might have given you pleasure ; but when it is considered how much vanity is excited by praise, I am not sure that it would have done you good. Your History is like other histories, but your Journal is, in a very high degree, curious and delightful There is between the history and the journal that difference which there will always be found between notions borrowed from without, and notions generated within. Your history was copied from books; your journal rose out of your own experience and observation. You express images which operated strongly upon yourself, and you have impressed them with great force upon your readers. I know not whether I could name any narrative by which curiosity is better excited, or better gratified.
“ I am glad that you are going to be married ; and as I wish you well in things of less importance, wish you well with proportionate ardour in this crisis of your life. What I can contribute to your happiness, I should be very unwilling to withhold; for I have always loved and valued you, and shall love you and value
you still more, as you become more regular and useful; effects which a happy marriage will hardly fail to produce.
"I do not find that I am likely to come back very soon from this place. I shall, perhaps, stay a fortnight longer; and a fortnight is a long time to a lover absent from his mistress. Would a fortnight ever have an end ? I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate humble servant,
After his return to town, we met frequently, and I continued the practice of making notes of his conversation, though not with so much assiduity as I wish I had done. At this time, indeed, I had a sufficient excuse for not being able to appropriate so much time to my journal; for
General Paoli,' after Corsica had been overpowered by the monarchy of France, was now no longer at the head of his brave countrymen; but, having with difficulty escaped from his native island, had sought an asylum in Great Britain ; and it was my duty, as well as my pleasure, to attend much upon him. Such particulars of Johnson's conversations at this period as I have committed to writing, I shall here introduce, without any strict attention to methodical arrangement. Sometimes short notes of different days shall be blended together, and sometimes a day may seem important enough to be separately distinguished.
He said, he would not have Sunday kept with rigid severity and gloom, but with a gravity, and simplicity of behaviour.
I told him that David Hume had made a short collection of Scotticisms. “I wonder,” said Johnson, “ that he should find them.” 3
He would not admit the importance of the question concerning the legality of general warrants. “Such a power," he observed, “must be vested in every government, to answer particular cases of necessity; and there can be no just complaint but when it is abused, for which those who administer government must be answerable. It is a matter of such indifference, a matter about which the people care so very little, that were a man to be sent over Britain to offer them an exemption from it at a halfpenny a piece, very few would purchase it.” This was a specimen of that laxity of talking, which I had heard him fairly acknow
1 Pascal Paoli, born in 1726, was appointed by his countrymen Chief Magistrate and General in their resistance to the Genoese. He, after an honourable, and for a time successful defence, was at last overpowered by the French, and sought refuge in England in 1769, where he resided, till the French revolution seeming to afford an opportunity to liberate his country from the yoke of France, he went thither, and was a principal promoter of its short-lived union to the British Crown. When this was dissolved, Paoli returned to England, and resided here till his death in 1807.- Croker.
? 21st Sept. 1769. General Paoli arrived at Mr, Hutchinson's, in Old Bond Street.
27th Sept. General Paoli was presented to His Majesty at St. James's.-Ann. Reg., for the year 1769, pp. 132-133.-Editor.
3 The first edition of Hume's History of England was full of Scotti. cisms, many of which he corrected in subsequent editions.-Malone,
ledge; for, surely, while the power of granting general warrants was supposed to be legal, and the apprehension of them hung over our heads, we did not possess that security of freedom, congenial to our happy constitution, and which, by the intrepid exertions of Mr. Wilkes, has been happily established.
He said, “The duration of parliament, whether for seven years or the life of the king, appears to me so immaterial, that I would not give half a crown to turn the scale one way or the other. The habeas corpus is the single advantage which our government has over that of other countries.”
On the 30th of September we dined together at the Mitre. I attempted to argue for the superior happiness of the savage life, upon the usual fanciful topics. JOHNSON. “ Sir, there can be nothing more false. The savages have no bodily advantages beyond those of civilised men. They have not better health ; and as to care or mental uneasiness, they are not above it, but below it, like bears. No, Sir; you are not to talk such paradox: let me have no more on't. It cannot entertain, far less can it instruct. Lord Monboddo, one of your Scotch judges, talked a great deal of such nonsense. I suffered him ; but I will not suffer you." BOSWELL. “But, Sir, does not Rousseau talk such nonsense?” JOHNSON. " True, Sir; but Rousseau knows he is talking nonsense, and laughs at the world for staring at him.” BoSWELL. “How so, Sir?” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, a man who talks nonsense so well, must know that he is talking nonsense. But I am afraid (chuckling and laughing) Monboddo does not know that he is talking nonsense.” | BOSWELL. “Is it wrong, then, Sir, to affect singularity, in order to make people stare?” JOHNSON. “Yes, if you do it by propagating error: and, indeed, it is
1 His lordship having frequently spoken in an abusive manner of Dr. Johnson, in my company, I, on one occasion, during the lifetime of my illustrious friend, could not refrain from retaliation, and repeated to him this saying. He has since published I don't know how many pages in one of his curious books, attempting, in much anger, but with pitiful effect, to persuade mankind that my illustrious friend was not the great and good man which they esteemed and ever will esteem him to be.
Boswell, no doubt, alludes to the attack on Johnson, which runs through many pages of the fifth volume, published 1789, of Monboddo's Origin and Progress of Language, p. 260, et seqq.-Editor,