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romantic fancy, which I little thought would be afterwards realised. He told me, that his father had put Martin's account of those islands into his hands when he was very young, and that he was highly pleased with it; that he was particularly struck with the St. Kilda man's notion that the high church of Glasgow had been hollowed out of a rock (1); a circumstance to which old Mr. Johnson had directed his attention. He said, he would go to the Hebrides with me, when I returned from my travels, unless some very good companion should offer when I was absent, which he did not think probable; adding, "There are few people to whom I take so much to as to you." And when I talked of my leaving England, he said with a very affectionate air, " My dear Boswell, I should be very unhappy at parting, did I think we were not to meet again." —I cannot too often remind my readers, that although such instances of his kindness are doubtless very flattering to me, yet I hope my recording them will be ascribed to a better motive than to vanity; for they afford unquestionable evidence of his tenderness and complacency, which some, while they were forced to acknowledge his great powers, have been so strenuous to deny.
He maintained, that a boy at school was the happiest of human beings. I supported a different opinion, from which I have never yet varied, that a man is happier and I enlarged upon the anxiety and sufferings which are endured at school. JOHNSON.
(1) Addison in the Spectator, No. 50., makes the Indian king suppose that St. Paul's was carved out of a rock .C.
"Ah! Sir, a boy's being flogged is not so severe as a man's having the hiss of the world against him. Men have a solicitude about fame; and the greater share they have of it, the more afraid they are of losing it." I silently asked myself, "Is it possible that the great SAMUEL JOHNSON really entertains any such apprehension, and is not confident that his exalted fame is established upon a foundation never to be shaken ?"
He this evening drank a bumper to Sir David Dalrymple, " as a man of worth, a scholar, and a wit." "I have," said he, "never heard of him, except from you; but let him know my opinion of him for, as he does not shew himself much in the world, he should have the praise of the few who hear of him."
Table-Talk. Influence of the Weather. Swift. Thomson. Burke. Sheridan. Evidences of Christianity. Derrick. -Day at Greenwich. - The Methodists. Johnson's "Walk." The Convocation. - Blacklock. Johnson accompanies Boswell to Harwich. The Journey. "Good Eating." "Abstinence and Temperance."
- Johnson's fa"refuted."
ON Tuesday, July 26., I found Mr. Johnson alone. It was a very wet day, and I again complained of the disagreeable effects of such weather. JOHNSON. "Sir, this is all imagination, which physicians encourage; for man lives in air, as a fish lives in water; so that, if the atmosphere press heavy from above, there is an equal resistance from below. To be sure, bad weather is hard upon people who are obliged to be abroad; and men cannot labour so well in the open air in bad weather, as in good: but, Sir, a smith or tailor, whose work is within doors, will surely do as much in rainy weather as in fair. Some very delicate frames indeed may be affected by wet weather; but not commor constitutions."
We talked of the education of children; and I asked him what he thought was best to teach them first. JOHNSON. "Sir, it is no matter what you teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your breeches first. Sir, you may stand disputing which is best to put in first, but in the mean time your breech is bare. Sir, while you are considering which of two things you should teach your child first, another boy has learnt them both."
On Thursday, July 28., we again supped in private at the Turk's Head coffee-house. JOHNSON. "Swift has a higher reputation than he deserves. His excellence is strong sense; for, his humour though very well, is not remarkably good. I doubt whether the Tale of a Tub' be his; for he never owned it, and it is much above his usual manner. (1)
"Thomson, I think, had as much of the poet about him as most writers. Every thing appeared to him through the medium of his favourite pursuit. He could not have viewed those two candles burning but with a poetical eye."
"Has not (2) a great deal of wit, Sir?" JOHNSON. "I do not think so, Sir. He is, indeed, continually attempting wit, but he fails. And I
(1) This opinion was given by him more at large at a subsequent period. See post, Aug. 16. 1773.-B. How could Johnson doubt that Swift was the author of the Tale of a Tub, when, as he himself relates in his Life of Swift, "No other claimants can be produced; and when Archbishop Sharpe and the Duchess of Somerset, by showing it to Queen Anne, debarred Swift of a bishoprick, he did not deny it ?" We have, moreover, Swift's own acknowledgment of it, in his letter to Ben. Tooke the printer, June 29. 1710. . C.
(2) There is no doubt that this blank must be filled with the name of Mr. Burke. See post, Aug. 15. and Sept. 15. 1773, and April 25. 1778.-C.
have no more pleasure in hearing a man attempting wit and failing, than in seeing a man trying to leap over a ditch and tumbling into it."
He laughed heartily when I mentioned to him a saying of his concerning Mr. Thomas Sheridan, which Foote took a wicked pleasure to circulate. "Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an access of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature.”- "So," said he, "I allowed him all his own merit."
He now added, "Sheridan cannot bear me. I bring his declamation to a point. I ask him a plain question, What do you mean to teach?' Besides, Sir, what influence can Mr. Sheridan have upon the language of this great country, by his narrow exertions? Sir, it is burning a farthing candle at Dover, to show light at Calais."
Talking of a young man (1) who was uneasy from thinking that he was very deficient in learning and knowledge, he said, “A man has no reason to complain who holds a middle place, and has many below him; and perhaps he has not six of his years above him;-perhaps not one. Though he may know any thing perfectly, the general mass of knowledge that he has acquired is considerable. Time will do for him all that is wanting."
The conversation then took a philosophical turn. JOHNSON. "Human experience, which is constantly contradicting theory, is the great test of truth.
(1) [No doubt Boswell himself.]