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« 6th Feb. 1776.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. every similar occasion. But, on inquiry
“12th March, 1776. into the matter, he found that the scheme “ DEAR SIR,–Very early in April we was not likely to be soon carried into exeleave England, and in the beginning of the cution; the profits arising from the Clarennext week I shall leave London for a short don press being, from some mismanagetime; of this I think it necessary to inform ment, very scanty. This having been you,
that you may not be disappointed in explained to him by a respectable dignitary any of your enterprises. I had not fully of the church, who had good means of resolved to go into the country before this knowing it, he wrote a letter upon the subday.
ject, which at once exhibits his extraordi** Please to make my compliments to nary precision and acuteness, and his warm Lord Hailes; and mention very particular- attachment to his alma mater. ly to Mrs. Boswell my hope that she is reconciled to, sir, your faithful servant, "TO THE REV. DR. WETHERELL, MASTER “ SAM. Johnson."
OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD.
“ 12th March, 1776. ["' DR. JOHNSON TO THE REV. JOHN WES- “ DEAR SIR,-Few things are more un
pleasant than the transaction of business
with men who are above knowing or caring Gent. Mag.
“ SIR,–When I received your what they have to do; such as the trus1797, p. 455. Commentary on the Bible,' I tees for Lord Cornbury's institution will, durst not at first flatter myself that I was perhaps, appear, when you have read to keep it, having so little claim to so valu- Dr. ******'s letter. able a present; and when Mrs. Halli in- “ The last part of the Doctor's letter formed me of your kindness, was hindered is of great importance. The complaint 4 from time to time from returning you those which he makes I have heard long ago, and thanks, which I now entreat you to accept. did not know but it was redressed. It is
“I have thanks likewise to return you unhappy that a practice so erroneous has for the addition of your important suffrage not been altered; for altered it must be, or to my argument on the American question. our press will be useless with all its priviTo have gained such a mind as yours may leges. The booksellers, who, like all justly confirm me in my own opinion. other men, have strong prejudices in their What effect my paper has upon the publick, own favour, are enough inclined to think I know not; but I have no reason to be dis the practice of printing and selling books couraged. The lecturer was surely in the by any but themselves an encroachment on right, who, though he saw his audience the rights of their fraternity; and have need slinking away, refused to quit the chair, of stronger inducements to circulate acawhile Plato staid.—I am, reverend sir, demical publications than those of another: your most humble servant,
for, of that mutual co-operation by which « Sam. Johnson."] the general trade is carried on, the univer
sity can bear no part. Of those whom he Above thirty years ago, the heirs of Lord neither loves nor fears, and from whom he Chancellor Clarendon presented the univer- expects no reciprocation of good offices, sity of Oxford with the continuation of his why should any man promote the interest
History,” and such other of his lordship’s but for profit? I suppose, with all our manuscripts as had not been published, on scholastick ignorance of mankind, we are condition that the profits arising from their still too knowing to expect that the bookpublication should be applied to the estab- sellers will erect themselves into patrons, lishment of a manège in the university 2. and buy and sell under the influence of a The gift was accepted in full convocation. disinterested Zeal for the promotion of A person 3 being now recommended to Dr. learning. Johnson, as fit to superintend this proposed “To the booksellers, if we look for either riding-school, he exerted himself with that honour or profit from our press, not only zeal for which he was remarkable upon their common profit, but something more
must be allowed; and if books, printed at (Mr. Wesley's sister.—Ed.]
Oxford, are expected to be rated at a high [The Clarendon MSS., and
any money which might arise from the sale or publication of them lick, and paid by the ultimate purchaser,
price, that price must be levied on the pubwere given by Catherine, Duchess Dowager of
What Queensbury, as a beginning of a fund for support
not by the intermediate agents. ing a manège or academy for riding, and other price shall be set upon the book is, to the useful exercises in Oxford, pursuant to, and in con
booksellers, wholly indifferent, provided firmation of, the last will of Henry Lord Hyde, bearing date the 10th day of August, 1751.- 4 I suppose the complaint was, that the trusILALL.]
tees of the Oxford press did not allow the London [A Mr. Carter. See ante, 3d of March, booksellers a sufficient profit upon vending their 1773.-ED,)
that they gain a proportionate profit by “ The country bookseller, buying at sixnegotiating the sale.
teen and sixpence, and conimonly trusting Why books printed at Oxford should a considerable time, gains but three and be particularly dear, I am, however, unable sixpence, and if he trusts a year, not much to find. We pay no rent; we inherit many more than two and sixpence; otherwise of our instruments and materials; lodging than as he may, perhaps, take as long credit and victuals are cheaper than at London; as he gives. and, therefore, workmanship ought, at “With less profit than this, and more least, not to be dearer. Our expenses are you see he cannot have, the country booknaturally less than those of booksellers; seller cannot live; for his receipts are small, and in most cases, communities are content and his debts sometimes bad. with less profit than individuals.
“ Thus, dear sir, I have been incited by “ It is, perhaps, not considered through Dr. ******s letter to give you a detail of the how many hands a book often passes, before circulation of books, which, perhaps, every it comes into those of the reader; or what man has not had opportunity of knowing; part of the profit each hand must re- and which those who know it, do not, pertain, as a motive for transmitting it to the haps, always distinctly consider.-I am, &c.
“ Sam. Johnson 1.” “We will call our primary agent in London, Mr. Cadell, who receives our books Having arrived in London late on Frifrom us, gives them room in his warehouse, day, the 15th of March, I hastened next and issues them on demand; by him they morning to wait on Dr. Johnson, at his are sold to Mr. Dilly, a wholesale booksel- house; but found he was removed from ler, who sends them into the country; and Johnson's-court, No. 7, to Bolt-court, No. the last seller is the country bookseller. 8, still keeping to his favourite Fleet-street. Here are three profits to be paid between My reflection at the time upon this change, the printer and the reader, or, in the style as marked in my journal, is as follows: “I of commerce, between the manufacturer felt a foolish regret that he had left a court and the consumer; and if any of these which bore his name 2 ; but it was not foolprofits is too penuriously distributed, the ish to be affected with some tenderness of process of commerce is interrupted. regard for a place in which I had seen him
“We are now come to the practical a great deal, from whence I had often issuquestion, what is to be done? You will ed a better and a happier man than when I tell me, with reason, that I have said no went in, and which had often appeared to thing, till I declare how much, according to my imagination while I trod its pavement, my opinion, of the ultimate price ought to in the solemn darkness of the night, to be be distributed through the whole succes sacred to wisdom and piety:” Being insion of sale.
formed that he was at Mr. Thrale's in the “The deduction, I am afraid, will appear borough, I hastened thither, and found very great; but let it be considered before Mrs. Thrale and himn‘at breakfast. I was it is refused. We must allow, for profit, kindly welcomed. In a moment he was in between thirty and thirty-five per cent. be- a full glow of conversation, and I felt mytween six and seven shillings in the pound; self elevated as if brought into another state that is, for every book which costs the last of being. Mrs. Thrale and I looked to buyer twenty shillings, we must charge Mr. each other while he talked, and our looks Cadell with something less than fourteen. expressed our congenial admiration and afWe must set the copies at fourteen shillings fection for him. I shall ever récoHect this each, and superadd what is called the quar- scene with great pleasure. I exclaimed to terly book, or for every hundred books so her, “ I am now, intellectually, Hermippus charged we must deliver an hundred and redivivus 3, I am quite restored by him, by four.
transfusion of mind.”
6. There are many, “The profits will then stand thus: she replied, “who admire and respect Mr. “Mr. Cadell, who runs no hazard, and Johnson; but you and I love him." gives no credit, will be paid for warehouse room and attendance by a shilling profit on each book, and his chance of the quarterly
"I am happy in giving this full and clear, book.
statement to the publick, to vindicate, by the au“Mr. Dilly, who buys the book for fif thority of the greatest authour of his age, that res
pectable body of men, the booksellers of London, teen shillings, and who will expect the from vulgar reflections, as if their profits were quarterly-book if he takes five and twenty, exorbitant, when, in truth, Dr. Johnson has here will send it to his country customer at six- allowed them more than they usually demand. teen and sixpence, by which, at the hazard Boswell. of loss, and the certainty of long credit, he 2 He said, when in Scotland, that he was Johngains the regular profit of ten per cent. son of that Ilk.–BogWELL. which is expected in the wholesale trade. > See vol. 1. p. 189.-BOSWELL.
He seemed very happy in the near pros-tity. Let a family, according to the abilipect of going to Italy with Mr. and Mrs. ties of its representatives, be richer or poorThrale. “ But,” said he, “ before leaving er in different generations, or always rich England I am to take a jaunt to Oxford, if its representatives be always wise: but Birmingham, my native city Lichfield, and let its absolute permanency be moderate. my old friend Dr. Taylor's, at Ashbourne, In this way we should be certain of there in Derbyshire. I shall go in a few days, being always a number of established roots; and you, Boswell shall go with me.” I and as, in the course of nature, there is in was ready to accompany him; being willing every age an extinction of some families, even to leave London to have the pleasure there would be continual openings for men of his conversation.
ambitious of perpetuity, to plant a stock in I mentioned with much regret the ex- the entail ground !.” Johnson. Why, travagance of the representative of a great sir, mankind will be better able to regulate family in Scotland, by which there was dan- the system of entails, when the evil of too ger of its being ruined; and as Johnson re- much land being locked up by them is felt, spected it for its antiquity, he joined with than we can do at present when it is not me in thinking it would be happy if this felt.” person should die. Mrs. Thrale seemed I mentioned Dr. Adam Smith's book on shocked at this, as feudal barbarity, and " The Wealth of Nations,” which was just said, “ I do not understand this preference published, and that Sir John Pringle had of the estate to its owner; of the land to observed to me, that Dr. Smith, who had the man who walks upon that. , land.” never been in trade, could not be expected Johnson. “Nay, madam, it is not a pre- to write well on that subject any more than ference of the land to its owner; it is the a lawyer upon physick. Johnson. preference of family to an individual. is mistaken, sir; a man who has never been Here is an establishment in a country, engaged in trade himself may undoubtedly which is of importance for ages, not only to write well upon trade, and there is nothing the chief but to his people; an establish- which requires more to be illustrated by ment which extends upwards and down- philosophy than trade does. As to mere wards; that this should be destroyed by wealth, that is to say, money, it is clear one idle fellow is a sad thing.”
that one nation or one individual cannot He said, “ Entails are good, because it increase its store but by making another is good to preserve in a country series of poorer: but trade procures what is more men, to whom the people are accustomed valuable, the reciprocation of the peculiar to look up as to their leaders. But I am advantages of different countries. A merfor leaving a quantity of land in commerce, chant seldom thinks but of his own particuto excite industry, and keep money in the lar trade. To write a good book upon it, country; for if no land were to be bought a man must have extensive views.' It is in the country, there would be no encour- not necessary to have practised, to write agement to acquire wealth, because a fam- well upon a subject.” I mentioned law as ily could not be founded there; or if it were a subject on which no man could write well acquired, it must be carried away to anoth- without practice. Johnson. “ Why, sir, er country where land may be bought. in England, where so much money is to be And although the land in every country got by the practice of the law, most of our will remain the same, and be as fertile writers upon it have been in practice; where there is no money, as where there though Blackstone had not been much in is, yet all that portion of the happiness of practice when he published his ‘Commencivil life, which is produced by money cir- taries.' But upon the continent, the great culating in a country, would be lost.” writers on law have not all been in practice: Boswell. " Then, sir, would it be for Grotius, indeed, was; but Puffendorf was the advantage of a country that all its lands not; Burlamaqui was not ?.” were sold at once?” JOHNSON. “ So far, sír, as níoney produces good, it would be
1 The privilege of perpetuating in a family an an advantage; for then that country would estate and arms indefeasibly from generation to have as much money circulating in it as it generation is enjoyed by none of his majesty's is worth. But to be sure this would be subjects except in Scotland, where the legal iccounterbalanced by disadvantages attending privilege so proud, that I should think it would
tion of fine and recovery is unknown. It is a a total change of proprietors.” I expressed my opinion that the power the royal prerogative. It seems absurd to permit
be proper to have the exercise of it dependent on of entailing should be limited thus: “ That the power of perpetuating their representation to there should be one-third, or perhaps one men, who, having had no eminent merit, have half of the land of a country kept free for truly no name. The king, as the impartial father commerce; that the proportion allowed to of his people, would never refuse to grant the be entailed should be parcelled out so that privilege to those who deserved it.—Boswell. no family could entail above a certain quan- [Neither Grotius, Puffendorf, nor Burlamaqui,
When we had talked of the great conse- of your land-tax, by making us pay and quencē which a man acquired by being em- clothe your militia.” Boswell. *. You ployed in his profession, I suggested a doubt should not talk of we and you, sir; there is of the justice of the general opinion, that it now an union.". Johnson. “There must is improper in a lawyer to solicit employ- be a distinction of interest, while the prement, for why, I urged, should it not be portions of land-tax are so unequal." if equally allowable to solicit that as the Yorkshire should say, 'Instead of paying means of consequence, as it is to solicit our land-tax, we will keep a greater numvotes to be elected a member of parliament? ber of militia,' it would be unreasonable.” Mr. Strahan had told me that a country- In this argument my frient was certainly man of his and mine', who had risen to in the wrong. The land-tax is as unequaleminence in the law, had, when first making ly proportioned between different parts of his way, solicited him to get him employed England, as between England and Scotin city causes. Johnson. “Sir, it is land; nay, it is considerably unequal in wrong to stir up lawsuits; but when once Scotland itself. But the land-tax is but a it is certain that a lawsuit is to go on, there small part of the numerous branches of pubis nothing wrong in a lawyer's endeavour-lick revenue, all of which Scotland pays ing that he shall have the benefit, rather precisely as England does. A French inthan another.” Boswell. “ You would vasion made in Scotland would soon penenot solicit employment, sir, if you were a trate into England. lawyer." "Johnson. “ No, sir; but not He thus discoursed upon supposed oblibecause I should think it wrong, but be- gation in settling estates: “Where a man cause I should disdain it.” This was a gets the unlimited property of an estate, good distinction, which will be felt by men there is no obligation upon him in justice of just pride. He proceeded: “However, to leave it to one person rather than to anI would not have a lawyer to be wanting to other. There is a motive or preference himself in using fair means. I would haye from kindness, and this kindness is generalhim to inject a little hint now and then, to ly entertained for the nearest relation. If prevent his being overlooked.”
I owe a particular man a sum of money, I Lord Mountstuart's bill for a Scotch am obliged to let that man have the next militia, in supporting which his lordship money I get, and cannot in justice let anhad made an able speech 2 in the house of other have it; but if I owe money to no commons, was now a pretty general topick man, I may dispose of what I get as I please. of conversation. Johnson. “ As Scot- There is not a debitum justiliæ to a man's land contributes so little land-tax towards next heir; there is only a debiium caritatis. the general support of the nation, it ought It is plain, then, that I have morally a not to have a militia paid out of the general choice according to my liking. If I have a fund, unless it should be thought for the brother in want, he has a claim from affecgeneral interest that Scotland should be tion to my assistance; but if I have also a protected from an invasion, which no man brother in want, whom I like better, he bas can think will happen; for what enemy a preferable claim. The right of an heir at would invade Scotland, where there is no law is only this, that he is to have the sucthing to be got? No, sir; now that the cession to an estate, in case no other perScotch have not the pay of English soldiers son is appointed to it by the owner. His spent among them, as so many troops are right is merely preferable to that of the sent abroad, they are trying to get money king another way, by having a militia paid. If We got into a boat to cross over to they are afraid, and seriously desire to have Blackfriars; and as we moved along the an armed force to defend them, they should Thames, I talked to him of a livle-volume, pay for it. Your scheme is to retain a part which, altogether unknown to him, was ad
vertised to be published in a few days, unwere writers on what can be strictly called prac- der the title of “ Johnsoniana, or Bon Mots tical law; and the great writers on practical law, of Dr. Johnson.” Johnson. Sir, it is in all countries, have been practical lawyers.- a mighty impudent thing 3.” Boswell. Ed.]
“ Pray, sir, could you have no redress if you (Probably Mr. Wodderburn. -Ed.] (Boswell writes to Mr. Wilkes on this sub
were to prosecute a publisher for bringing ject, 20th April, 1776 : “ I am delighted to find and ascribing to you dull stupid nonsense, or
out, under your name, what you
never said, that my honoured friend and Mecænas, my Lord Mountstuart, made an excellent speech on making you swear profanely, as many ignothe Scotch militia bill.''- Wilkes's Corres
[This was a contemptible jest-book full of pondence, vol. iv. p. 319. Mr. Boswell's Me- indecencies, and with very little of Johnson in it. cænas disappointed his hopes, and hence, per- Mr. Boswell's work is the true Johnsoniana, and haps, some of those observations about " courting a judicious and entertaining selection from Bos the great ” and “apathy of patrons." which well, under this title, has been lately published.--Mr. Boswell occasionally makes. —ED.] Ep.)
rant relaters of your bon mots do?" John- Johnson, it is impossible that this impudent
Piozzi, admitted by him to be genuine.'” John- was so particularly exact might be
“ I shall give myself no trouble about derived from his rigid attention to veracity; the matter."
being always resolved to relate every fact He was, perhaps, above suffering from as it stood, he looked even on the smaller such spurious publications; but I could not parts of life with minute attention, and rehelp thinking, that many men would be nembered such passages as escape much injured in their reputation, by having cursory and common observers. His p. 234. absurd and vicious sayings imputed to them; veracity was indeed, from the most and that redress ought in such cases to be trivial to the most solemn occasions, strict given.
even to severity; he scorned to embellish a He said, “ The value of every story de- story with fictitious circumstances, which pends on its being true. A story is a pic-(he used to say) took off from its real value. ture either of an individual or of human na- "A story,” said Johnson, " should be a ture in general: if it be false, it is a picture specimen of life and manners; but if the of nothing. For instance: suppose a man surrounding circumstances are false, as it should tell that Johnson, before setting out is , no more a representation of reality, it for Italy, as he had to cross the Alps, sat down is no longer worthy our attention.”] The to make himself wings. This many peo- knowledge of his having such a principle ple would believe: but it would be a picture and habit made his friends have a perfect of nothing. ***1' (naming a worthy reliance on the truth of every thing that he friend of ours), used to think a story, a sto- told, however it might have been doubted ry, till I showed him that truth was essen- if told by many others. As an instance of
tial to it.” [On another occasion this, I may mention an odd incident which Piozal, he said, “ A story is a specimen of he related as having happened to him one
human manners, and derives its sole night in Fleet-street. "A gentlewoman," value from its truth. When Foote has said he, begged I would give her my arm told me something, I dismiss it from my to assist her in crossing the street, which I mind, like a passing shadow; when Rey accordingly did ; upon which she offered nolds tells me something, I consider myself me a shilling, supposing me to be the watchas possessed of an idea the more.”). I ob- man. I perceived that she was somewhat served, that Foote entertained us with sto- in liquor.” This, if told by most people, ries which were not true; but that, indeed, it would have been thought an invention; was properly not as narratives that Foote's when told by Johnson, it was believed stories pleased us, but as collections of ludi- by his friends as much as if they had seen crous images. Johnson. « Foote is quite what passed 3 impartial, for he tells lies of every body.” [Mrs. Piozzi' relates some very [Mr. Cradock 2 relates that a gen- similar instances, which he himself Piozzi
, tleman sitting next to Johnson at a told her. As he was walking along p.198. table where Foote was entertaining the Strand, a gentleman stepped out of some the company with some exaggerated reci- neighbouring tavern, with his napkin in tals, whispered his neighbour, “ Why, Dr. his hand and no hat, and stopping him as
civily as he could: “I beg your pardon, sir, ! [Although Mr. Langton was a man of strict but you are Dr. Johnson, I believe.” Yes, and accurate veracity, the Editor saspects, from sir,” “We have a wager depending on the term worthy friend, which Boswell general- your reply: pray, sir, is it irreparable or ly appropriates to Mr. Langton, as well as the irrepàirable that one should say?”, number of asterisks (See ante, vol. i. p. 522, n.), last, I think, sir," answered Dr. Johnson, that he was here meant; if so, the opinion which Johnson corrected was s probably one stated by 3 [Miss Reynolds says, in her Recollections, Mr. Langton in very early life, for he knew that she wonders why Mr. Boswell should think Johụson when he was only fifteen years of age. this anecdote so surprising; for Johnson's dress Ed.]
was so mean (until his pension) that he might . (See post, 12 April, 1776.–Ed.]
have been easily mistaken for a beggar.-Ed.]