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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, “Il 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 Ambassador 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 topic of merriment : “ The Ambassador says well,” became a laughable term of applause, when no mighty matter had been expressed.
I left London on Monday, October 18, and accompanied Colonel Stuart to Chester, where his regiment was to lie for some time.
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON. “ MY DEAR SIR,
Chester, October 22, 1779. “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 so 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 and Miss Adey re-assumed 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 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 brotherin-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 I 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 wiil 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 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.”
A maiden sister of Johnson's favourite, Molly Aston, who married Captain Brodie of too Navy.-MALONE.
2 Miss Letitia Barnston.-BOSWELL.
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “DEAR SIR,
London, October 27, 1779. “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, anything 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 are liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.
'In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed : and you will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog that worries you at home? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, inquire into the old tenures and old characters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages. The feudal system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of great anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of public record; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to image the economy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.?
“We have, I think, once talked of another project-a History of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents. Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, has told what he could not find to be true.
“You may make collections for either of these projects, or for both, as opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The great direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you, is this Be not solitary; be not idle: which I would thus modify ;-If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle. “There is a letter for you, from
“ Your humble servant,
“ TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “MY DEAR SIR,
Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779. “That I should importune you to write to me at Chester is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nummi, increases in proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter, so full of polite kindness and masterly counsel,
I have a valuable collection made by my father, which, with some additions and illustrations of my own, I intend to publish. I have some hereditary claim to be an antiquary, not only from my father, but as being descended, by the mother's side, from the able and learned Sir John Skene, whose merit bids defance to all the attempts which have been made to lessen his fame.--BOSWELL.
came like a large treasure upon me, while already glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester; so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circé; for so far was there from being anything sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only: for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not ?If you please I will send you a copy, or an abridgment of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of felicity.
“The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering. I told him that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester. His Lordship bade me tell you, that he should be glad to show you more of it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known in so many places.
“I arrived here late last night. Our friend the Dean has been gone from hence some months; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popular.) However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to the Bishop, and with him I have breakfasted and dined very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the assizes here about a year and a half ago; he is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and, I believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the Cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month; and was at prayers there in the morning. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a Cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to Gor for granting me.
“The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet, as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet; I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines
“ Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to show me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted.? In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the Post-office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. “I am, more and more, my dear Sir, your affectionate
“And obliged humble servant,
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “DEAR SIR,
London, Nov. 13, 1779. “Your last letter was not only kind but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures, nor aggravate your vexations beyond their real and natural state. Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester ? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit usquam. Please yourself with your wife and children, and studies, and practice.
i His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order, I should think a sufficient refutation of the idle rumour that "there was still something behind the throne greater than the throne itself."-BOSWELL
“I have sent a petition, from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to anything that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.
“If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal, or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.
“How near is the Cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well.
“Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.
“Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told much better." Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved; he has not bathed but hunted.
“At Bolt-court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility. I have had a cold, but it is gone. “Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c. "I am, Sir, your humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON." On November 22, and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover-that after a good deal of inquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary; that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's, which he had retained : and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence. That I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send his letter to Lord Chesterfield, and that this memento, like Delenda est Carthago, must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object.
In 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the completion of Johnson's " Lives of the Poets," upon which he was employed so far as his indolence allowed him to labour.
I wrote to him on January 1, and March 13, sending him my notes of Lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope, complaining that I
1 Requesting me to inquire concerning the family of a gentleman who was * en paying his addresses to Miss Doxy.-BOSWELL.