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He, I know not why, showed upon all occasions an aversion to go to Ireland, where I proposed to him that we should make a tour. JOHNSON. “ It is the last place that I should wish to travel.” BosWELL. “ Should you not like to see Dublin, sir?” JOHNSON. “No, sir ; Dublin is only a worse capital.” BosWELL. “Is not the Giant's-causeway worth seeing?” JOHNSON. “ Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see.”
Yet he had a kindness for the Irish nation; and thus generously expressed himself to a gentleman from that country, on the subject of an Union which artful politicians have often had in view : “Do not make an union with us, sir. We should unite with you only to rob you. We should have robbed the Scotch, if they had had any thing of which we could have robbed them."
Of an acquaintance of ours, whose manners and every thing about him, though expensive, were coarse, he said, “ Sir, you see in him vulgar prosperity.”
A foreign minister of no very high talents, who had been in his company for a considerable time quite overlooked, happened luckily to mention that he had read some of his “ Rambler" in Italian, and admired it much. This pleased him greatly; he observed that the title had been translated Il Genio errante, though I have been told it was rendered more ludicrously I Vagabondo ; and finding that this minister gave such a proof of his taste, he was all attention to him, and on the first remark which he made, however simple, exclaimed, “ The ambassadour says well; His excellency observes—;" and then he expanded and enriched the little that had been said in so strong a manner, that it appeared something of consequence. This was exceedingly entertaining to the company who were present, and many a time afterwards it furnished a pleasant topick of merriment.
“ The ambassadour says well” became a laughable term of applause when no mighty matter had been expressed.
[" TO MRS. THRALE.
“ 16th October, 1779. “My foot gives me very little trouble ; but it is not yet well. I have dined, since you saw me, not so often as once in two days. But I am told how well I look; and I really think I get more mobility. I dined on Tuesday with Ramsay, and on Thursday with Paoli, who talked of coming to see you, till I told him of your migration.
“ Mrs. Williams is not yet returned; but discord and discontent reign in my humble habitation as in the palaces of monarchs. Mr. Levet and Mrs. Desmoulins have vowed eternal hate. Levet is the more insidious, and wants me to turn her out. Poor Williams writes word that she is no better, and has left off her physick. Mr. Levet has seen Dr. Lewis, who declares himself hopeless of doing her any good. Lawrence desponded some time ago.
“ I thought I had a little fever some time, but it seems to be starved away. Bozzy says, he never saw me so well."]
[“ DR. JOHNSON TO MISS REYNOLDS.
“ 19th October, 1779. « DEARES
EST MADAM,—You are extremely kind in taking so much trouble. My foot is almost well; and one of my first visits will certainly be to Dover-street'.
“ You will do me a great favour if you will buy for me the prints of Mr. Burke, Mr. Dyer, and Dr. Goldsmith, as you know good impressions.
“ If any of your own pictures are engraved, buy them for me. I am fitting up a little room with prints. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant, “ SAM. JOHNSON."]
I left London on Monday, October 18, and accompanied Colonel Stuart to Chester, where his regiment was to lie for some time.
(Where Miss Reynolds lived.-ED.)
“MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
6. Chester, 22 October, 1779. “ MY DEAR SIR,—It was not till one o'clock on Monday morning that Colonel Stuart and I left London ; for we chose to bid a cordial adieu to Lord Mountstuart, who was to set out on that day on his embassy to Turin. We drove on excellently, and reached Lichfield in good time enough that night. The colonel had heard so preferable a character of the George, that he would not put up at the Three Crowns, so that I did not see our host, Wilkins. We found at the George as good accommodation as we could wish to have, and I fully enjoyed the comfortable thought that I was in Lichfield again. Next morning it rained very hard ; and as I had much to do in a little time, I ordered a postchaise, and between eight and nine sallied forth to make a round of visits. I first went to Mr. Green, hoping to have had him to accompany me to all my other friends ; but he was engaged to attend the Bishop of Sodor and Man, who was then lying at Lichfield very ill of the gout. Having taken a hasty glance at the additions to Green's museum', from which it was not easy to break away, I next went to the Friary, where I at first occasioned some tumult in the ladies, who were not prepared to receive company so early; but my name, which has by wonderful felicity come to be closely associated with yours, soon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb 2 and Miss Adey reassumed their seats at the breakfast-table, which they had quitted with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of an old acquaintance; and, after we had joined in a cordial chorus to your praise, Mrs. Cobb gave me the high satisfaction of hearing that you said, 'Boswell is a man who I believe never left a house without leaving a wish for his return. And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell me, that if ever I came to Lichfield, she hoped I would take a bed at the Friary. From thence I drove to Peter Garrick’s , where I also found a very flattering welcome. He appeared to me to enjoy his usual cheerfulness; and he very kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass a week with him. From Mr. Garrick’s I went to the Palace to wait on Mr. Seward. I was first entertained
[See ante, vol. iii. p. 353.-Ed.). ? (Mrs. Cobb was the daughter of Mr. Hammond, an apothecary (ante, v. i. p. Ji), and the widow of a mercer, who had retired from business, and resided at the Friary. Miss Adey was her niece, daughter of the town-clerk of Lich. field : she married William Sneyd, Esq. of Belmont-house, near Cheadle, and died 1829, æt. 87.-Harwood.] 3 [Sec ante, vol. iii. p. 126, n. and p. 350.-Ed.] VOL. IV.
by his lady and daughter, he himself being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he desired to see me: and I found him dressed in his black gown, with a white flannel night-gown above it; so that he looked like a Dominican friar. He was good-humoured and polite ; and under his roof too my reception was very pleasing. I then proceeded to Stowhill, and first paid my respects to Mrs. Gastrell, whose conversation I was not willing to quit. But my sand-glass was now beginning to run low, as I could not trespass too long on the colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me ; so I hastened to Mrs. Aston's, whom I found much better than I feared I should; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, with sincere satisfaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her again; and as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see me again, for she expressed herself so that I could not doubt of her being in earnest. What a great keystone of kindness, my dear sir, were you that morning ; for we were all held together by our common attachment to you! I cannot say that I ever passed two hours with more self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield.
Let me not entertain any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will not you confirm me in my persuasion, that he who finds himself so regarded has just reason to be happy?
“We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday ; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment. Colonel Stuart and his officers treat me with all the civility I could wish; and I play my part admirably. Lætus aliis, sapiens sibi, the classical sentence which you, I imagine, invented the other day, is exemplified in my present existence. The bishop, to whom had the honour to be known several years ago, shows me much attention; and I am edified by his conversation. I must not omit to tell you, that his lordship admires, very highly, your prefaces to the Poets. I am daily obtaining an extension of agreeable acquaintance, so that I am kept in animated variety ; and the study of the place itself, by the assistance of books and of the bishop, is sufficient occupation. Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I ever saw.
But I will not enter upon it at all in this letter.
“ How long I shall stay here I cannot yet say. I told a very pleasing young lady', niece to one of the prebendaries, at whose
Miss Letitia Barnston.--BOSWELL.
house I saw her, I have come to Chester, madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it.' Do not think me too juvenile. I beg it of you, my dear sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here, and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with affectionate veneration, most sincerely yours,
“ JAMES BOSWELL. “ If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright." ["TO MRS. ASTON.
Pemb. " Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 25th Oct. 1779. MSS. “ DEAREST MADAM,—Mrs. Gastrell is so kind as to write to me, and yet I always write to you ; but I consider what is written to either as written to both.
“Publick affairs do not seem to promise much amendment, and the nation is now full of distress. What will be the event of things none can tell. We may still hope for better times.
“My health, which I began to recover when I was in the country, continues still in a good state: it costs me, indeed, some physick, and something of abstinence, but it pays the cost. I wish, dear madam, I could hear a little of your improvements. “Here is no news. The talk of the invasion seems to be
But a very turbulent session of parliament is expected; though turbulence is not likely to do any good. Those are happiest who are out of the noise and tumult. There will be no great violence of faction at Stowhill; and that it may be free from that and all other inconvenience and disturbance is the sincere wish of all your friends. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant,
“TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, 27th Oct. 1779. “ DEAR SIR,– Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If to the delight of such universal kindness of reception any thing can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.
“I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success. The oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.