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1772, have given her one. You, Sir, may perhaps have an Ætat. epick poem from some happier pen than, Sir, 63.
" Your most humble servant,
" SAM. JOHNSON." “ Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, February 27, 1772.”
66 TO DR. JOHNSON.
MY DEAR SIR,
“ It is hard that I cannot prevail on you to write to me oftener. But I am convinced that it is in vain to expect from you a private correspondence with any regularity. I must, therefore, look upon you as a fountain of wisdom, from whence few rills are communicated to a distance, and which must be approached at its source, to partake fully of its virtues.
“ I am coming to London soon, and am to appear in an appeal from the Court of Session in the House of Lords. A schoolmaster in Scotland was, by a court of inferior jurisdiction, deprived of his office, for being somewhat severe in the chastisement of his scholars. The court of Session considering it to be dangerous to the interest of learning and education, to lessen the dignity of teachers, and make them afraid of too indulgent parents, instigated by the complaints of their children, restored him. Hiš enemies have appealed to the House of Lords, though the salary is only twenty pounds a year. I was Counsel for him here. I hope there will be little fear of a reversal ; but I must beg to have your aid in my plan of supporting the decree. It is a general question, and not a point of particular law.
“ I am, &c.
“ JAMES Boswell."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
6C DEAR SIR,
“ That you are coming so soon to town I am very glad ; and still more glad that you are coming as an advocate. I think nothing more likely to make your life
pass happily away, than that consciousness of your own 1772. value, which eminence in your profession will certainly Ætat. confer. If I can give you any collateral help, I hope 63. you do not suspect that it will be wanting. My kindness for you has neither the merit of singular virtue, nor the reproach of singular prejudice. Whether to love you be right or wrong, I have many on my side: Mrs. Thrale loves you, and Mrs. Williams loves you, and what would have inclined me to love you, if I had been neutral before, you are a great favourite of Dr. Beattie.
“ Of Dr. Beattie I should have thought much, but that his lady puts him out of my head; she is a very lovely woman.
“ The ejection which you come hither to oppose, appears very cruel, unreasonable, and oppressive. I should think there could not be much doubt of
My health grows better, yet I am not fully recovered. I believe it is held, that men do not recover very fast after threescore. I hope yet to see Beattie's College: and have not given up the western voyage. But however all this may be or not, let us try to make each other happy when we meet, and not refer our pleasure to distant times or distant places. “ How comes it that you tell me nothing of your
la. dy? I hope to see her some time, and till then shall be glad to hear of her.
“I am, dear Sir, &c. “ March 15, 1772.
" Sam. Johnson."
4 TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. NEAR SPILSBY, LIN
“I CONGRATULATE you and Lady Rothess on your little man, and hope you will all be many years happy together.
5 (Mr. Langton married, May 24, 1770, Jane, the daughter of — Lloyd, Esq. and widow of John Earl of Rothes, many years Commander in Chief of the For. ces in Ireland, who died in 1767. M.]
1772. “ Poor Miss Langton can have little part in the joy Etat.
of her family. She this day called her aunt Langton 63. to receive the sacrament with her; and made me talk
yesterday on such subjects as suit her condition. It will probably be her viaticum. I surely need not mention again that she wishes to see her mother. I am, Sir,
" Your most humble servant, 66 March 14, 1772.
“ SAM. Johnson."
On the 21st of March, I was happy to find myself again in my friend's study, and was glad to see my old acquaintance, Mr. Francis Barber, who was now returned home. Dr. Johnson received me with a hearty welcome ; saying, “ I am glad you are come, and glad you are come upon such an errand :" (alluding to the cause of the schoolmaster.) Boswell. “I hope, Sir, he will be in no danger. It is a very delicate matter to interfere between a master and his scholars : nor do I see how you can fix the degree of severity that a master may use."
JOHNSON Why, Sir, till you can fix the degree of obstinacy and negligence of the scholars, you cannot fix the degree of severity of the master. Severity must be continued until obstinacy be subdued, and negligence be cured.” He mentioned the severity of Hunter, his own master. “Sir, (said I,) Hunter is a Scotch name: so it should seem this schoolmaster who beat you so severely, was a Scotchman. I can now account for your prejudice against the Scotch." Johnson. “ Sir, he was not Scotch ; and, abating his brutality, he was a very good master."
We talked of his two political pamphlets, “ The False Alarm,” and “Thoughts concerning Falkland's Islands." Johnson. “ Well, Šir, which of them did you think the best ?” Boswell. " I liked the second best.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, I liked the first best; and Beattie liked the first best. Sir, there is a subtlety of disquisition in the first, that is worth all the fire of the second.” BosWELL. Pray, Sir, is it true that Lord North paid you a visit, and that you got two hundred a year in addition to your pension ?" Johnson. “ No, Sir. Except what I had from the bookseller, I did not
get a farthing by them. And, between you and me, 1772. I believe Lord North is no friend to me. “ How so, Sir?” Johnson. " Why, Sir, you cannot 63. account for the fancies of men.-Well, how does Lord Elibank ? and how does Lord Monboddo?” BOSWELL. “ Very well, Sir. Lord Monboddo still maintains the superiority of the savage life.” Johnson. " What strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known, are better than the things which we have known.” Boswell. “Why, Sir, that is a common prejudice.” Johnson. “Yes, Sir, but a common prejudice should not be found in one whose trade it is to rectify errour.”
A gentleman having come in who was to go as a Mate in the ship along with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, Dr. Johnson asked what were the names of the ships destined for the expedition. The gentleman answered, they were once to be called the Drake and the Ralegh, but now they were to be called the Resolution and the Adventure. JOHNSON. “Much better; for had the Ralegh returned without going round the world, it would have been ridiculous. To give them the names of the Drake and the Ralegh was laying a trap for satire.” Boswell. “ Had not you some desire to go upon this expedition, Sir?” Johnson. “ Why yes, but I soon laid it aside. Sir, there is very little of intellectual, in the course. Besides, I see but at a small distance. So it was not worth my while to go to see birds fly, which I should not have seen fly ; and fishes swim, which I should not have seen swim.
The gentleman being gone, and Dr. Johnson having left the room for some time, a debate arose between the Reverend Mr. Stockdale and Mrs. Desmoulins, whether Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were entitled to any share of glory from their expedition. When Dr. Johnson returned to us, I told him the subject of their dispute. Johnson. Why, Sir, it was properly for botany that they went out: I believe they thought only of culling of simples.”
I thanked him for showing civilities to Beattie.“ Sir, (said he,) I should thank you. We all love Beattie.
She is a very
1772. Mrs. Thrale says, if ever she has another husband, she'll Etat.
have Beattie. He sunk upon us that he was married ; 63. else we should have shown his lady more civilities.
fine woman. But how can you show civilities to a non-entity? I did not think he had been married. Nay, I did not think about it one way or other; but he did not tell us of his lady till late.”
He then spoke of St. Kilda, the most remote of the Hebrides. I told him I thought of buying it. Johnson. “ Pray do, Sir. We will go and pass a winter amid the blasts there. We shall have fine fish, and we will take some dried tongues with us, and some books. We will have a strong built vessel, and some Orkney men to navigate her. We must build a tolerable house : but we may carry with us a wooden house ready made, and requiring nothing but to be put up. Consider, Sir, by buying St. Kilda, you may keep the people from falling into worse hands. We must give them a clergyman, and he shall be one of Beattie's choosing. He shall be educated at Marischal College. I'll be your Lord Chancellor, or what you please.” Boswell. “ Are you serious, Sir, in advising me to buy St. Kil
66 TO JAMES BOSWELL, Esg. MY DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, May 3, 1792. “ As I suppose your great work will soon be reprinted, I beg leave to trou. ble you with a remark on a passage of it, in which I am a little misrepresented. Be not alarmed, the misrepresentation is not imputable to you. Not having the book at hand, I cannot specify the page, but I suppose you will easily find it. Dr. Johnson says, speaking of Mrs. Thrale's family, “ Dr. Beattie sunk upon us that he was married, or words to that purpose.” I am not sure that I understand sunk upon us, which is a very uncommon phrase : but it seems to me to imply, (and others, I find, have understood it in the same sense,) studiously concealed from us bis being mar. ried. Now, Sir, this was by no means the case. I could have no motive to conceal a circumstance of which I never was nor can be ashamed ; and of which Dr. Johnson seemed to think, when he afterwards became acquainted with Mrs. Beattie, that I had, as was true, reason to be proud. So far was I from concealing her, that my wife had at that time almost as numerous an acquaintance in London as I had myself; and was, not very long after, kindly invited and elegantly entertained at Streatham by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale.
“ My request, therefore is, that you would rectify this matter in your new edition. You are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter.
“ My best wishes ever attend you and your family. Believe me to be, with the utmost regard and esteem, dear Sir, “ Your obliged and affectionate humble servant,
« J. BEATTIE.” I have, from my respect for my friend Dr. Beattie, and regard to his extreme sensibility, inserted the foregoing letter, though I cannot but wonder at his considering as any imputation a phrase commonly used among the best friends..