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hunger for moncy; the son of a half-pay officer, bred in a family whose study
rou are an exception though. Come, gentlemen, let us candidly admit that there is one Scotchman who is cheerful.” BEAUCLERK.
BEAUCLERK. “ But he is a very unnatural Scotchman.” I, however, continued to think the compliment to Garrick hyperbolically untrue. His acting had ceased some time before his death ; at any rate he had acted in Ireland but a short time, at an early period of his life, and never in Scotland. I objected also to what appears. an anticlymax of praise, when contrasted with the preceding panegyrick“and diminished the publick stock of harmless pleasure !"-"Is not harmless pleojure very tame?” Johnson.“ Nay, Sir, harmless pleasure is the highest praise. Pleasure is a word of dubious import; pleasure is in general dangerous, and pernicious to virtue; to be able therefore to furnish pleasure that is harmless, pleasure pure and unalloyed, is as great a power as man can: possess poffefs.” This was, perhaps, as ingenious a defence as could be made ; ftill, however, I was not satisfied.
A celebrated wit being mentioned, he faid, “ One may say of him as was faid of a French wit, Il n'a de l'esprit que contre Dieu. I have been several times in company with him, but never perceived any strong power of wit.. He produces a general effect by various means ; he has a chearful countenance, and a gay voice; besides his trade is wit. It would be as wild in him to come into company without merriment, as for a highwayman to take the road without his pistols.
Talking of the effects of drinking, he said, « Drinking may be practised with great prudence; a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk; a sober man who happens occasionally to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing; he is without skill in inebriation. I used to sink home when I had drunk too much. A man accustomed to self-examination will be conscious when he is
drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be conscious of it. I knew a physician who for twenty years was not fober; yet in a pamphlet, which he Ætat. 7o. wrote upon fevers, he appealed to Garrick and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness. A bookseller (naming him) who got a large fortune by trade, was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more sober at one time than another.”
Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physick; he said, “ Taylor was the most ignorant man I ever knew; but sprightly. Ward the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him; (laughing). I qucted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of my own speech. He said a few words well enough.” BEAUCLERK. “I re
. member, Sir, you said that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry ignorance.” Mr. Beauclerk was very entertaining this day, and told us a number of short stories in a lively elegant manner, and with that air of the world which has I know not what impressive effect, as if there were something more than is expresled, or than perhaps we could perfectly understand. As Johnson and I accompanied Sir Joshua Reynolds in his coach, Johnson said, “ There is in Beauclerk a predominance over his company, that one does not like. But he is a man who has lived so much in the world, that he has a short story on every occasion; he is always ready to talk and is never exhausted.”
Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, Sir Joshua's sister. I mentioned that an eminent friend of our's talking of the common remark, that affection descends, said that “this was wisely contrived for the preservation of mankind; for which it was not so necessary that there should be affection from children to parents, as from parents to children; nay there would be no harm in that view though children should at a certain age eat their parents.” Johnson. “But, Sir, if this were known generally to be the case, parents would not have affection for children.” BOSWELL. “ True, Sir; for it is in expectation of a return that parents are so attentive to their children; and I know a very pretty instance of a little girl of whom her father was very fond, who once when he was in a melancholy fit, and had gone to bed, persuaded him to rise in good-humour, by saying, ' My dear papa, please to get up, and let me help you on with your clothes, that I may learn to do it when you are an old man.”
Soon after this time a little incident occurred, which I will not suppress, because I am desirous that my work Mould be, as much as is consistent with the Itrictest truth, an antidote to the falfe and injurious notions of his character, P p 2
which have been given by others, and therefore I infuse every drop of genuinc sweetness into my biographical cup.
To Dr. Johnson. - MY DEAR Sir,
“ I am in great pain with an inflamed foot, and obliged to keep my bed, so am prevented from having the pleasure to dine at Mr. Ramsay's to-day, which is very hard; and my spirits are sadly sunk. Will you be so friendly as to come and sit an hour with me in the evening. I am ever
“ Your most faithful,
" And affectionate humble servant, « South Audley-street,
JAMES BOSWELL.”. Monday, April 26.
TO Mr. BOSWELL.
« MR. JOHNSON laments the absence of Mr. Boswell, and will come to him.”
He came to me in the evening, and brought Sir Joshua Reynolds. I need fcarcely say, that their conversation, while they fate by my bedside, was the most pleasing opiate to pain that could have been administered.
Johnson being now better disposed to obtain information concerning Pope than he was last year}, sent by me to my Lord Marchmont, a present of those volumes of his “Lives of the Poets,” which were at this time published, with a request to have permission to wait on him, and his Lordship, who had called on him twice, obligingly appointed Saturday, the first of May, for receiving us.
On that morning Johnson came to me from Streatham, and after drinking chocolate, at General Paoli's, in South-Audley-street, we proceeded to Lord Marchmont's, in Curzon-street. His Lordship met us at the door of his library, and with great politeness said to Johnson, “. I am not going to make an encomium upon myself, by telling you the high respect I have for you, Sir.” " Johnson was exceedingly courteous, and the interview, which lasted about two hours, during which the Earl communicated his anecdotes of Pope,
was as agreeable as I could have wished. When we came out, I faid to Johnson, that considering his Lordship's civility, I should have been vexed if he had again failed to come. “ Sir (said he) I would rather have given twenty pounds than not have come.” I accompanied him to Streatham, where we dined, and returned to town in the evening.
On Monday, May 3, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's; I pressed him this day for his opinion on the passage in Parnell, concerning which I had in vain questioned him in several letters, and at length obtained it in due form of law;
Case for Dr. Johnson's Opinion ; 3d of May, 1779.
“ PARNELL, in his · Hermit,' has the following passage:
"To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
(For yet by fwains alone the world he knew,
Is there not a contradiction in its being first supposed that the Hermit knew both what books and swains reported of the world; yet afterwards said, that he knew it by swains alone ?”
“ I think it an inaccuracy.—He mentions two instructors in the first line, and Jays be had only one in the next." This evening I set out for Scotland.
To Mrs. Lucy PORTER, in Lichfield,
« DEAR MAD AM,
“ MR. GREEN has informed me that you are much better; I hope I need not tell you that I am glad of it. I cannot boast of being much better ; my old nocturnal complaint still pursues me, and my respiration is difficult, though much easier than when I left you the summer before last. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale are well; Miss has been a little indisposed; but she is got well again. They have since the loss of their boy had two daughters; but they seem likely to want a son.
“ I hope you had some books which I sent you. I was sorry for poor Mrs. Adey's death, and am afraid you will be sometimes folitary; but
endeavour, whether alone or in company, to keep yourself cheerful. My friends likewise die very fast; but such is the state of man. I am, dear love,
* Your most humble servant, « May 4, 1779
He had, before I left London, resumed the conversation concerning the appearance of a ghost at Newcastle upon Tyne, which Mr. John Wesley believed, but to which Johnson did not give credit. I was, however, desirous to examine the question closely, and at the same time wished to be made acquainted with Mr. John Wesley; for though I differed from him in fome points, I admired his various talents, and loved his pious zeal. At my request, therefore, Dr. Johnson gave me a letter of introduction to him.
To the Reverend Mr. JOHN WESLEY. " SIR,
MR. BOSWELL, a gentleman who has been long known to me, is desirous of being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him with great willingness, because I think it very much to be wished that worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other. I am, Sir,
« Your most humble servant, “ May 3, 1779.
Mr. Wesley being in the course of his ministry at Edinburgh, I presented this letter to him, and was very politely received. I begged to have it returned to me, which was accordingly done. His state of the evidence as to the ghost, did not satisfy me.
I did not write to Johnson, as usual, upon my return to my family; but tried how he would be affected by my silence. Mr. Dilly sent me a copy of a note which he received from him on the 13th of July, in these words :
“ SINCE Mr. Boswell's departure I have never heard from him; please to send word what you know of him, and whether you have sent my books to his lady. I am, &c.
« SAM. Johnson.” My readers will not doubt that his solicitude about me was very flattering.