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LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
Good Friday-Bad Housewifery-Books of Travels-Fleet Street-Meeting with Mr. Oliver Edwards-Lawyers-Tom Tyers-Choice of a Profession-Dignity of Literature-Lord Camden-George Psalmanazar-Daines Barrington-Punishment of the Pillory-Insolence of Wealth-Extravagance-“ Demosthenes Taylor "-Pamphlets-Goldsmith's Comedies"The Beggar's Opera "-Johnson's "Historia Studiorum "-Gentleman's MagazineAvarice-Bon-Mots-Burke's Classical Pun-Egotism.
APRIL 17, being Good Friday, I waited on Johnson, as usual. I observed at breakfast, that although it was a part of his abstemious discipline, on this most solemn fast, to take no milk in his tea, yet when Mrs. Desmoulins inadvertently poured it in, he did not reject it. I talked of the strange indecision of mind, and imbecility in the common occurrences of life, which we may observe in some people. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I am in the habit of getting others to do things for me." BOSWELL. "What, Sir! have you that weakness?" JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir. But I always think afterwards I should have done better for myself."
I told him that at a gentleman's house where there was thought to be such extravagance or bad management that he was living much beyond his income, his lady had objected to the cutting of a pickled mango, and that I had taken an opportunity to ask the price of it, and found it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor
saving. JOHNSON. "Sir, that is the blundering economy of a nar row understanding. It is stopping one hole in a sieve."
I expressed some inclination to publish an account of my travels upon the continent of Europe, for which I had a variety of materials collected. JOHNSON. "I do not say, Sir, you may not publish your travels; but I give you my opinion, that you would lessen yourself by it. What can you tell of countries so well known as those upon the continent of Europe, which you have visited?" BOSWELL. "But I can give an entertaining narrative, with many incidents, anecdotes, jeux d'esprit, and remarks, so as to make very pleasant reading." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, most modern travellers in Europe who have published their travels have been laughed at: I would not have you added to the number.' The world is now not contented to be merely entertained by a traveller's narrative; they want to learn something. Now some of my friends asked me, why I did not give some account of my travels in France. The reason is plain; intelligent readers had seen more of France than I had. You might have liked my travels in France, and THE CLUB might have liked them; but, upor the whole, there would have been more ridicule than good produced by them." BOSWELL. "I cannot agree with you, Sir. People would like to read what you say of anything. Suppose a face has been painted by fifty painters before; still we love to see it done by Sir Joshua." JOHNSON. "True, Sir; but Sir Joshua cannot paint a face when he has not time to look on it." BoSWELL. "Sir, a sketch of any sort by him is valuable. And, Sir, to talk to you in your own style (raising my voice and shaking my head), you should have given us your travels in France. I am sure I am right, and there's an end on't."
I said to him that it was certainly true, as my friend Dempster had observed in his letter to me upon the subject, that a great part of what was in his "Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland" had been in his mind before he left London. JOHNSON. "Why, yes, Sir, the topics were; and books of travels will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind; his knowing
I believe, however, I shall follow my own opinion; for the world has shown a very flat tering partiality to my writings, on many occasions B. Mr. Boswell mentions severa intended publications in this manner, none of which he lived to execute. --CHALMERS.