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SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
A JOURNAL OF A TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES,
BY JAMES BOSWELL.
A REPRINT OF THE FIRST EDITION.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED MR. BOSWELL'S CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS, ISSUED
IN 1792 ; THE VARIATIONS OF THE SECOND EDITION, WITH SOME
EDITED, WITH NEW NOTES,
PERCY FITZGERALD, M.A., F.S.A.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
THIRD EDITION WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE EDITOR, AND A BOSWELL
Librarian to the Athenæum Club.
I SHALL here insert a few of Johnson's sayings, without the formality of dates, as they have no reference to any particular time or place.
“The more a man extends and varies his acquaintance the better." This, however, was meant with a just restriction; for, he on another occasion said to me, “Sir, a man may be so much of everything, that he is nothing of any thing."
“Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong; for it does not make them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad thing for human nature.”
“ It is a very good custom to keep a journal for a man's own use; he may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be written, because there is a great deal of novelty. But when once a man has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down.”
“There is nothing wonderful in the journal which we see Swift kept in London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be written.”
I praised the accuracy of an account book of a private persoa whom I mentioned. JOHNSON. “Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday." I mentioned a lady who thought as he did, so that her husband could not get her
Cor. et Ad.-Line 19 : For "private person” read “lady.” Line 23 : For " read “ another." VOL. III.
to keep an account of the expence of the family, as she thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. JOHNSON.
'Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes it; but I do not see its use." I maintained that keeping an account has this advantage, that it satisfies a man that his money has not been lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt to imagine, were there no written state of his expence; and besides, a calculation of economy so as not to exceed one's income, cannot be made without a view of the different articles in figures, that one may see how to retrench in some particulars less necessary than others. This he did not attempt to answer.
Talking of an acquaintance of ours, 'whose narratives, which abounded in curious and interesting topicks, were unhappily found to be very fabulous; I mentioned Lord Mansfield having said to me, “Suppose we believe one half of what he tells.” JOHNSON. “Aye; but we don't know which half to believe. By his lying we lose not only our reverence for him, but all comfort in his conversation.” BOSWELL. “May we not take it as amusing fiction ?” JOHNSON. “Sir, the misfortune is, that you will insensibly believe as much of it as you incline."
It is remarkable, that notwithstanding their congeniality in politicks, he never was acquainted with a late eminent noble judge, whom I have heard speak of him as a writer, with great respect.1
Cor, et Ad.-Line 20: After “ incline" read “to believe."
1 I was at first inclined to believe that have been acquainted with him.' It fits Mr. Croker was mistaken when he said in, too, with one phase of Lord MapsLord Mansfield was alluded to here, field's mind that Johnson, notwithstandas Lord Mansfield was alive when Mr. ing his eminence, should have 'enterBoswell wrote, and the word “late" did tained no exalted opinion of his intelnot apply. But I have received from Mr. lectual character.' Malone relates the Elwin the following note on the point, first interview that Reynolds had with than which no more admirable illustration Mansfield, and says "he was grievously of legitimate Boswellian criticism could disappointed in finding this great lawyer be found :-"My own opinion is, that so little at the same time,' (Prior's Life Croker is right in supposing the late of Malone,' p. 382), and Malone himself eminent noble judge' to be Lord Mans says of him, His own conversation was field, and that the late' applies not to never very brilliant, and he was always his death, but to his office of judge,' very fond of bad jokes and dull stories he having retired from the bench in (Prior, p. 348). Cradock also says 1788. If the person had been dead, Bos (Literary Memoirs,' vol. iv. p. 155), well would probably not have scrupled to I have heard it remarked by his friends, print the name ; and I know no other indeed by Lord Sandwich, as a strange contemporary judge who was 'eminent, circumstance, that in company, though noble,' and of the same politics with he admitted his occasional bon-mots, yet Johnson. Northington was hardly of he scarce ever knew him to get clear Johnson's school of politics, nor had he through any long tale of humour. ever that general eminence and social “True, my lord,” said a gentleman preposition which would have made it 're sent, "that has often struck me too, but he markable’ that Johnson should never is generally hunting about for fine select
Johnson, I know not upon what degree of investigation, entertained no exalted opinion of his Lordship's intellectual character. Talking of him to me one day, he said, “It is wonderful, Sir, with how little real superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in publick life.” He expressed himself to the same purpose concerning another law Lord, who, it seems, once took a fancy to associate with the wits of London ; but with so little success, that Foote said, “What can he mean by coming among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others." Trying him by the test of his colloquial powers, Johnson had found him very defective. He once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, “This man now has been ten years about town, and has made nothing of it;" meaning as a companion. He said to me, “I never heard any thing from him in company that was at all striking; and depend upon it, Sir, it is when you come close to a man in conversation, that you discover what his real abilities are ; to make a speech in a public assembly is a knack. Now I honour Thurlow, Sir; Thurlow is a fine fellow; he fairly puts his mind to yours.”
After repeating to him some of his pointed lively sayings, I said, “It is a pity, Sir, you don't always remember your own good things, that you may have a laugh when you will.” JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir, it is better that I forget them, that I may be reminded of them and have a laugh brought to my recollection."
When I recalled his having said as we sailed upon Lochlomond, “That if he wore anything fine, it should be very fine;" I observed that all his thoughts were upon a great scale. JOHNSON. “Depend
• Knowing as well as I do, what precision and elegance of oratory his Lordship can display, I cannot but suspect that his unfavourable appearance in a social circle, which drew such animadversions upon him, must be owing to a cold affectation of consequence, from being reserved and stiff. If it be so, and he might be an agreeable man if he would, we cannot be sorry that he misses his aim,
Cor, et Ad.-Line 23 : After " laugh" read on their being."
phrases till he is sure to lose the material joke." ? Depend upon it, sir,' says Johnson, it is when you come close to a man in conversation, that you discover what his real abilities are ;' and the pretentiousness and feebleness of Lord Mansfield's conversation must have been well-known to him by the reports of Reynolds, Malone, and fifty people besides."
1 The hero of this well-known story is Wedderburne, Lord Loughborough.
3 “Now that Dr. Johnson is gone to a better world, I bow the intellectual knee to Lord Thurlow, who, with inflexible
wisdom, stops the tide of fashionable reform. It was Johnson who confirmed me in my opinion of that mighty sage of the law and the constitution. Before his promotion to the high office for which he seems to have been formed on purpose, the doctor said of him, I honour Thur. low, sir. Thurlow is a fine fellow. He fairly puts his mind to yours.' Long, long may he put his mind against those who would take even one stone out of that venerable fabric which is the wonder of the world.” Boswell had already published this anecdote in his “Letter to the People of Scotland, 1785."