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that he could not see ; and, if he had taken the trouble to revise and digest them, he undoubtedly could have expanded them into a very entertaining narrative.
When I met him in London the following year, the account which he gave me of his French tour, was,
Sir, I have seen all the visibilities of Paris, and around it: but to have formed an acquaintance with the people there, would have required more time than I could stay. I was just beginning to creep into acquaintance by means of colonel Drumgould, a very high man, sir, head of l'Ecole Militaire; a most complete character, for he had first been a professor of rhetorick, and then became a soldier. And, sir, I was very kindly treated by the English benedictines, and have a cell appropriated to me in their convent.”
He observed, “ The great in France live very magnificently, but the rest very miserably. There is no happy middle state, as in England. The shops of Paris are mean;
the meat in the markets is such as would be sent to a gaol in England; and Mr. Thrale justly observed, that the cookery of the French was forced upon them by necessity; for they could not eat their meat, unless they added some taste to it. The French are an indelicate people; they will spit upon any place. At madame —-'s, a literary lady of rank, the footman took the sugar in his fingers, and threw it into my coffee. I was going to put it aside ; but bearing it was made on purpose for me, I e'en tasted Tom's fingers. The same lady would needs make tea à l'Angloise. The spout of the teapot did not pour freely: she bade the footman blow into it. France is worse than Scotland in every thing but climate. Nature has done more for the French; but they have done less for themselves than the Scotch have done."
It happened that Foote was at Paris at the same time with Dr. Johnson, and his description of my friend while
e In a letter to a friend, written a few days after his return from France, he says,“ The French have a clear air and a fruitful soil; but their mode of common life is gross, and incommodious, and disgusting. I am come home convinced that no improvement of general use is to be found among them.”
there was abundantly ludicrous. He told me, that the French were quite astonished at his figure and manner, and at his dress, which he obstinately continued exactly as in London ;-his brown clothes, black stockings, and plain shirt. He mentioned, that an Irish gentleman said to Johnson, "Sir, you have not seen the best French players.” JOHNSON. “ Players, sir! I look upon them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint stools, to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs."_" But, sir, you will allow that some players are better than others ?" JOHNSON. “ Yes, sir, as some dogs dance better than others.”
While Johnson was in France, he was generally very resolute in speaking Latin. It was a maxim with him, that a man should not let himself down by speaking a language which he speaks imperfectly. Indeed we must have often observed how inferiour, how much like a child, a man appears, who speaks a broken tongue. When sir Joshua Reynolds, at one of the dinners of the Royal Academy, presented him to a Frenchman of great distinction, he would not deign to speak French, but talked Latin, though his excellency did not understand it, owing, perhaps, to Johnson's English pronunciation : yet upon another occasion he was observed to speak French to a Frenchman of high rank who spoke English; and being asked the reason, with some expression of surprise,-he answered, “ Because I think my French is as good as his English.” Though Johnson understood French perfectly, he could not speak it readily, as I have observed at his first interview with general Paoli, in 1769; yet he wrote it, I imagine, pretty well, as appears from some of his letters in Mrs. Piozzi's collection, of which I shall transcribe one.
f Mr. Foote seems to have embellished a little in saying that Johnson did not alter his dress at Paris; as in his journal is a memorandum about white stockings, wig, and hat. In another place we are told that “ during his travels in France he was furnished with a French-made wig of handsome construction.” That Johnson was not inattentive to his appearance is certain, from a circumstance related by Mr. Steevens, and inserted by Mr. Boswell, in vol. iv. between June 15th and June 22nd, 1784.–J. BLAKEWAY.
Mr. Blakeway's observation is further confirmed by a note in Johnson's diary (quoted by sir John Hawkins, Life of Johnson, p: 517,) by which it appears that he laid out thirty pounds in clothes for his French journey. VOL. II.
A MADAME LA COMTESSE DE
'July 16, 1775. “ Oui, madame, le moment est arrivé, et il faut que je parte. Mais pourquoi faut il partir ? Est ce que je m'ennuye ? Je m'ennuyerai ailleurs. Est ce que je cherche ou quelque plaisir, ou quelque soulagement? Je ne cherche rien, je n'espère rien. Aller voir ce que j'ai vu, être un peu rejoué, un peu dégoûté, me réssouvenir que la vie se passe, et qu'elle se passe en vain, me plaindre de moi, m'endurcir aux dehors; voici le tout de ce qu'on compte pour les délices de l'année. Que Dieu vous donne, madame, tous les agrémens de la vie, avec un esprit qui peut en jouir sans s'y livrer trop.”
Here let me not forget a curious anecdote, as related to me by Mr. Beauclerk, which I shall endeavour to exbibit as well as I can in that gentleman's lively manner; and in justice to him it is proper to add, that Dr. Johnson told me I might rely both on the correctness of his memory, and the fidelity of his narrative. “ When madame de Boufflers was first in England,” said Beauclerk," she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple-lane, when all at once I heard a noise like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who, it seems, upon a little recollection, had taken it into his head that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality, and, eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the staircase in violent agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Templegate, and, brushing in between me and madame de Boufflers, seized her hand, and conducted her to her coach. His dress was a rusty brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes, by way of slippers, a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by this singular appearance."
He spoke Latin with wonderful fluency and elegance. When père Boscovich was in England, Johnson dined in company with him at sir Joshua Reynolds's, and at Dr. Douglas's, now bishop of Salisbury. Upon both occasions that celebrated foreigner expressed his astonishment at Johnson's Latin conversation. When at Paris, Johnson thus characterised Voltaire to Freron the journalist : "Vir est acerrimi ingenii et paucarum literarum.”
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, Dec. 5, 1775. ** MY DEAR SIR,-Mr. Alexander Maclean, the young laird of Col, being to set out to-morrow for London, I give him this letter to introduce him to your acquaintance. The kindness which you and I experienced from his brother, whose unfortunate death we sincerely lament, will make us always desirous to show attention to any branch of the family. Indeed, you have so much of the true highland cordiality, that I am sure you would have thought me to blame if I had neglected to recommend to you this Hebridean prince, in whose island we were hospitably entertained. I ever am, with respectful attachment, my dear sir,
“ Your most obliged
“ JAMES Boswell."
Mr. Maclean returned with the most agreeable accounts of the polite attention with which he was received by Dr. Johnson.
In the course of this year Dr. Burney informs me that “ he very frequently met Dr. Johnson at Mr. Thrale's, at Streatham, where they had many long conversations, often sitting up as long as the fire and candles lasted, and much longer than the patience of the servants subsisted."
A few of Johnson's sayings, which that gentleman recollects, shall here be inserted.
I never take a nap after dinner but when I have had a bad night, and then the nap takes me.”
“ The writer of an epitaph should not be considered as saying nothing but what is strictly true. Allowance must be made for some degree of exaggerated praise. In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.”
There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there ; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other."
“ More is learned in publick than in private schools, from emulation; there is the collision of mind with mind, or the radiation of many minds pointing to one centre. Though few boys make their own exercises, yet if a good exercise is given up, out of a great number of boys, it is made by somebody."
“ I hate by-roads in education. Education is as well known, and has long been as well known, as ever it can be. Endeavouring to make children prematurely wise is useless labour. Suppose they have more knowledge at five or six years old than other children, what use can be made of it? It will be lost before it is wanted, and the waste of so much time and labour of the teacher can never be repaid. Too much is expected from precocity, and too little performed. Miss was an instance of early cultivation, but in what did it terminate? In marrying a little presbyterian parson, who keeps an infant boarding-school, so that all her employment now is,
To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer.
She tells the children, . This is a cat, and that is a dog, with four legs and a tail; see there! you are much better