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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 expressed, 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 ours, 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
(Probably Mr. Burke.-Ed.] ? | Wisely and mercifully; wisely to ensure the preservation and education of children, and mercifully to render less afflictive the loss of parents, which, in the course of nature, children must suffer..ED]
work should be, as much as is consistent with the strictest truth, an antidote to the false and injurious notions of his character, which have been given by others, and therefore I infuse every drop of genuine sweetness into my biographical cup.
“ TO DR. JOHNSON.
“South-Audley-street', Monday, 26th April. “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,
“ JAMES BOSWELL."
" TO MR. BOSWELL.
“ Harley-street. “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 scarcely say, that their conversation, while they sat 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 years, 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
*[The residence of General Paoli.-Ed.]
2 See, as to his calling himself Mr. Johnson, ante, vol. i. p. 504, t., and vol. ji. p. 207.-Ep.)
3 See p. 212 of this volume. BoswELL.
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.”
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. Hawki [His first question, as he told Sir J. Hawkins, was, Apoph.
" What kind of a man was Mr. Pope in his conversation ?” His lordship answered, “ That if the conversation did not take something of a lively or epigrammatick turn, he fell asleep, or, perhaps, pretended to be so."] When we came out, I said 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.
• To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
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 says he had only one in the next !."
This evening I set out for Scotland.
[“ TO MRS. ASTON.
Pemb. “ 4th May, 1779.
MSS. “ DEAR MADAM,—When I sent you the little books, I was not sure that you were well enough to take the trouble of reading them, but have lately heard from Mr. Greeves that you are much recovered. I hope you will gain more and more strength, and live many and many years, and I shall come again to Stowhill, and live as I used to do, with you and dear Mrs. Gastrel.
“ I am not well: my nights are very troublesome, and my breath is short; but I know not that it grows
I wish to see you. Mrs. Harvey has just sent to me to dine with her, and I have promised to wait on her to-morrow.
“Mr. Green comes home loaded with curiosities, and will be
1“ I do not,” says Mr. Malone, “ see any difficulty in this passage, and wonder that Dr. Johnson should have acknowledged it to be inaccurate. The Hermit, it should be observed, had no actual experience of the world whatsoever : all his knowledge coneerning it had been obtained in two ways; from books, and from the relations of those country swains who had seen a little of it. The plain meaning, therefore, is, . To clear his doubts concerning Providence, and to obtain some knowledge of the world by actual experience; to see whether the accounts furnished by books, or by the oral communications of swains, were just representations of it;' (I say swains,] for his oral or viva voce information had been obtained from that part of mankind alone, &c. The word alone here does not relate to the whole of the preceding line, as has been supposed, but, by a common licence, to the words, of all mankind, which are understood, and of which it is restrictive.” Mr. Malone, it must be owned, has shown much critical ingenuity in his explanation of this passage. His interpretation, however, seems to me much too recondite. The meaning of the passage may be certain enough; but surely the expression is confused, and one part of it contradictory to the other. -BOSWELL. But why too recondite ? When a meaning is given to a passage by understanding words in an uncommon sense, the interpretation may be said to be recondite, and, however ingenious, may be suspected not to be sound; but when words are explained in their ordinary acceptation, and the explication which is fairly deduced from them, without any force or constraint, is also perfectly justified by the context, it surely may be safely accepted ; and the calling such an explication recondite, when nothing else can be said against it, will not make it the less just.-MALONE. [It is odd enough that these critics did not think it worth their while to consult the original for the exact words on which they were exercising their ingenuity. Parnell's words are not“ if books AND swains, but“ if books OR smains," which might mean, not that books and swains agreed, but that they differed, and that the Hermit's doubt was excited by the difference between his authorities. This, however, would make no great alteration in the question, on which Dr. Johnson's decision seems just.-Ed.)
* [Mr. Green, it will be recollected, had a muscum at Lichfield. Ed.]
able to give his friends new entertainment. When I come, it will be great entertainment to me if I can find you and Mrs. Gastrel well, and willing to receive me. I am, dearest madam, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."]
" TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
" 4th May, 1779. “ DEAR MADAM,— 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 solitary; but endeavour, whether alone or in company, to keep yourself cheerful. My friends likewise die very
but such is the state of man. I am, dear love, your most humble servant,
“ SAM, JOHNSON.”
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 some 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.
“ 3d May, 1779. “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,
" Sam. Johnson."