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Virgil. I have now sent it, and desire you to reposit it on the shelves in my name '.
“ 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." [" TO MRS. THRALE.
“Lichfield, 14th August, 1769. “I set out on Thursday morning, and found my companion, to whom I was very much a stranger, more agreeable than I expected. We went cheerfully forward, and passed the night at Coventry. We came in late, and went out early; and therefore I did not send for my cousin Tom, but I design to make him some amends for the omission.
“Next day we came early to Lucy, who was, I believe, glad to see us. She had saved her best gooseberries upon the tree for me ; and, as Steele says, I was neither too proud nor too wise to gather them. I have rambled a very little inter fontes et flumina nota, but I am not yet well. They have cut down the trees in George-lane. Evelyn, in his book of Forest Trees, tells us of wicked men that cut down trees, and never prospered afterwards; yet nothing has deterred these audacious aldermen from violating the Hamadryad of George-lane. As an impartial traveller I must, however, tell that, in Stow-street, where I left a draw-well, I have found a pump, but the lading-well in this ill-fated George-lane lies shamefully neglected.
“I am going to-day or to.morrow to Ashbourne; but I am at a loss how I shall get back in time to London. Here are only chance coaches, so that there is no certainty of a place. If I do not come, let it not hinder your journey. I can be but a few days behind you; and I will follow in the Brighthelmstone coach. But I hope to come."]
[“ TO MRS. ASTON.
“Brighthelmstone, 26th August, 1769. “Madam,—I suppose you have received the mill: the whole
"It has this inscription in a blank leaf : Hunc librum D. D. Samuel Johnson, co quod hic loci studiis interdum vacaret.' Of this library, which is an old Gothic room, he was very fond. On my observing to him that some of the modern libraries of the University were more commodious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he replied, “Sir, if a man has a mind to prance, he must study at Christ-Church and All-Souls.'»
* “ 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.
apparatus seemed to be perfect, except that there is wanting a little tin spout at the bottom, and some ring or knob, on which the bag that catches the meal is to be hung. When these are added, I hope you will be able to grind your own bread, and treat me with a cake, made by yourself, of meal from your own corn of your own grinding.
“I was glad, madam, to see you so well, and hope your health will long increase, and then long continue. I am, madam, your most obedient servant,
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 connexion both with Shakspeare and Garrick founded a double claim to his presence; and it would have been highly gratifying to Mr. 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, intro
' (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.-ED.
duced 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'.
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ Brighthelmstone, 9th December, 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.
1 In the Preface to my Account of Corsica, published in 1768, I thus express myself:
“ He who publishes a book affecting not to be an authour, and professing an indifference for literary fame, may possibly ose 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 authour, 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 authour 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 authour, he never ceases to be respected. Such an authour, 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 authour may cherish the hope of being re. membered after death, which has been a great object to the noblest minds in all nges."- BOSWELL.
“ 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,
“ Sam. JOHNSON." 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 conversation 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.
(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-Aun. Reg. -Ed.]
* (Mr. Boswell's ostentations attendance on General Paoli excited, at the time, a good deal of observation and ridicule.-Ed.]
[He ridiculed a friend who, looking out on Streatham-common from our windows one day, lamented the enormous wickedness of the times, because some bird-catchers were busy there one fine Sunday morning. “ While half the Christian world is permitted,” said he, “ to dance and sing, and celebrate Sunday as a day of festivity, how comes your puritanical spirit so offended with frivolous and empty deviations from exactness? Whoever loads life with unnecessary scruples, sir,” continued he, “ provokes the attention of others on his conduct, and incurs the censure of singularity without reaping the reward of superior virtue."]
I told him that David Hume had made a short collection of Scotticisms. “ I wonder (said Johnson) that he should find them ?."
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 acknowledge; 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,
[Though Dr. Johnson may have been induced by a spirit of contradiction or impatience, to say something of the kind here stated by Mrs. Piozzi, it is proper to observe, that he was, both in precept and practice, a decorous and generally a strict, though not a puritanical, observer of the Sabbath.-Ed.]
2 The first edition of Hune's History of England was full of Scotticisins, many of which he corrected in subsequent editions.—MALONE.