Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

1781. sation, I could not judge otherwise than favourably. Ætat. 72. I am, Sir,

. “ Your most humble servant, “ June 2, 1781,

“SAM. Johnson.”

On Saturday, June 2, I set out for Scotland, and had promised to pay a visit, in my way, as I sometimes did, at Southill, in Bedfordshire, at the hospitable mansion of 'Squire Dilly, the elder brother of iny worthy friends, the booksellers, in the Poultry. Dr. Johnson agreed to be of the party this year, with Mr. Charles Dilly and me, and to go and see Lord Bute's seat at Luton Hoe. He talked little to us in the carriage, being chiefly occupied in reading Dr. Watson's' second volume of “ Chemical Essays," which he liked very well, and his own “ Prince of Abyssinia," on which he seemed to be intensely fixed; having told us, that he had not looked at it since it was first published. I happened to take it out of my pocket this day, and he seized upon it with avidity. He pointed out to me the following remarkable passage : “By what means (said the prince) are the Europeans thus powerful ; or why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or conquest, cannot the Asiaticks and Africans invade their coasts, plant colonies? in their ports, and give ..Now Bishop of Llandaff, one of the poorest Bishopricks in this Kingdom. His Lordship has written with much zeal to shew the propriety of equalizing the revenues of Bishops. He has informed us that he has burnt all his Chemical papers. The friends of our excellent constitution, now assailed on every side by innovators and levellers, would have less regretted the suppression of some * of his Lordship’s other writings. *** 2 [The Phænicians and Carthaginians did plant colonies in Europe. K.]

laws to their natural princes? The same wind that 18 carried them back would bring us thither.”_" They

Ætat. 72. are more powerful, Sir, than we, (answered Imlack,) because they are wiser. Knowledge will always pre-, dominate over ignorance, as man governs the other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not what reason can he given, but the, unsearchable will of the Supreme Being." He said, “ This, Sir, no man can explain otherwise." ; - We stopped at Welwin, where I wished much to see, in company with Johnson, the residence of the authour of “ Night Thoughts," which was then possessed by his son, Mr. Young. Here some address was requisite, for I was not acquainted with Mr. Young, and had I proposed to Dr. Johnson that we should send to him, he would have checked my wish, and perhaps been offended. I therefore concerted with Mr. Dilly, that I should steal away from Dr. Johnson and him, and try what reception I could procure from Mr. Young; if unfavourable, nothing was to be said ; but if agreeable, I should return and notify it to them. I hastened to Mr. Young's, found he was at home, sent in word that a gentleman de, sired to wait upon him, and was shewn into a parlour, where he and a young lady, his daughter, were sitting. He appeared to be a plain, civil, country gentleman ; and when I begged pardon for presuming to trouble him, but that I wished much to see his place, if he would give me leave; he behaved very courteously, and answered, “ By all means, Sir ; we are just going to drink tea ; will you sit down?” I thanked him, but said, that Dr. Johnson had come with me from London, and I must return to the inn to drink tea with him ; that my name was Boswell, I had travelled

Ætat.72.

1781. with him in the Hebrides. “Sir, (said he) I should

think it a great honour to see Dr. Johnson here. Will you allow me to send for him?" Availing myself of this opening, I said that “ I would go myself and bring him, when he had drunk tea; he knew nothing of my calling here.” Having been thus successful, I hastened back to the inn, and informed Dr. Johnson that“ Mr. Young, son of Dr. Young, the authour of Night Thoughts,' whom I had just left, desired to have the honour of seeing him at the house where his father lived.” Dr. Johnson luckily made no enquiry how this invitation had arisen, but agreed to go, and when we entered Mr. Young's parlour, he addressed him with a very polite bow, " Sir, I had a curiosity to come and see this place. I had the honour to know that great man, your father.” We went into the garden, where we found a gravel walk, on each side of which was a row of trees, planted by Dr. Young, which formed a handsome Gothick arch; Dr. Johnson called it a fine grove. I beheld it with reverence.

We sat some time in the summer-house, on the outside wall of which was inscribed, " Ambulantes in horto audiebant vocem Dei ;” and in reference to a brook by which it is situated, “ Vivendi rectè qui prorogat horam," &c. I said to Mr. Young, that I had been told his father was cheerful. “ Sir, (said he he was too well-bred a man not to be cheerful in company; but he was glooiny when alone. He never was cheerful after my mother's death, and he had met with many disappointments.” Dr. Johnson observed to me afterwards, “ That this was no favourable account of, Dr. Young; for it is not becoming in a man to have so little acquiescence in the ways

of Providence, as to be gloomy because he has not 1781. obtained as much preferment as he expected ; nor to

Ætat. 72. continue gloomy for the loss of his wife. Grief has its time.” The last part of this censure was theoretically made. Practically, we know that grief for the loss of a wife may be continued very long, in pro. portion as affection has been sincere. No man knew this better than Dr. Johnson.

We went into the church, and looked at the monument erected by Mr. Young to his father. Mr. Young mentioned an anecdote, that his father had received several thousand pounds of subscriptionmoney for his “ Universal Passion," but had lost it in the South-Sea. Dr. Johnson thought this must be a mistake ; for he had never seen a subscriptionbook.

Upon the road we talked of the uncertainty of profit with which authours and booksellers engage in the publication of literary works. Johnson. “ My judgement I have found is no certain rule as to the sale of a book.” Boswell. “Pray, Sir, have you been much plagued with authours sending you their works to revise ?" JOHNSON. “ No, Sir ; I have been thought a sour surly fellow. Boswell. - Very lucky for you, Sir,-in that respect." I must however observe, that notwithstanding what he now said, which he no doubt imagined at the time to be the fact, there was, perhaps, no man who more frequently yielded to the solicitations even of very obscure authours, to read their manuscripts, or more liberally assisted them with advice and correction.

*[This assertion is disproved by a comparison of dates. The first four satires of Young were published in 1725; The Southsea scheme (which appears to be meant,) was in 1720. M.]

1781. He found himself very happy at 'Squire Dilly's, Ætat. 72.

To where there is always abundance of excellent fare, and hearty welcome.

On Sunday, June 3, we all went to Southill church, which is very near to Mr. Dilly's house. It being the first Sunday of the month, the holy sacrament was administered, and I staid to partake of it. When I came afterwards into Dr. Johnson's room, he said, “ You did right to stay and receive the communion; I had not thought of it.” This, seemed to imply that he did not choose to approach the altar without a previous preparation, as to which good men entertain different opinions, soine holding that it is irreverent to partake of that ordinance without considerabe premeditation; others, that whoever is a sincere Christian, and in a proper frame of mind to discharge any other ritual duty of our religion, may, without scruple, discharge this most solemn one. A middle notion I believe to be the just one, which is, that communicants need not think a long train of preparatory forms indispensably necessary; but neither should they rashly and lightly venture upon so aweful and mysterious an institution Christians must judge each for hiinself, what degree of retirement and self-examination is necessary upon each occasion.

Being in a frame of mind which, I hope for the felicity of human nature, many experience,.in fine. weather,-at the country house of a friend, --conso-, led and elevated by pious exercises, ---I expressed myself with an unrestrained fervour to my “ Guide, Philosopher, and Friend ;” “My dear Sir, I would fain be a good man; and I am very good now. I fear God, and honour the King, I wish to do no ill,

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »