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vows is much more criminal than a man who does it. A man, to be sure, is criminal in the sight of God; but he does not do his wife a very material injury, if he does not insult her; if, for instance, from mere wantonness of appetite, he steals privately to her chambermaid. Sir, a wife ought not greatly to resent this. I would not receive home a daughter who had run away from her husband on that account. A wife should study to reclaim her husband by more attention to please him. Sir, a man will not, once in a hundred instances, leave his wife and go to a harlot, if his wife has not been negligent of pleasing."
Here he discovered that acute discrimination, that solid judgement, and that knowledge of human nature, for which he was upon all occasions remarkable. Taking care to keep in view the moral and religious duty, as understood in our nation, he showed clearly, from reason and good sense, the greater degree of culpability in the one sex deviating from it than the other ; and, at the same time, inculcated a very useful lesson as to the way to keep him.'
I asked him if it was not hard that one deviation from chastity should so absolutely ruin a young woman. JOHNson. “Why no, sir; it is the great principle which she is taught. When she has given up that principle, she has given up every notion of female honour and virtue, which are all included in chastity.”
A gentleman talked to him of a lady whom he greatly admired and wished to marry, but was afraid of her superiority of talents. Sir,” said he, “ you need not be afraid ; marry her. Before a year goes about, you'll find that reason much weaker, and that wit not so bright.” Yet the gentleman may be justified in his apprehension by one of Dr. Johnson's admirable sentences in his Life of Waller: “He doubtless praised many whom he would have been afraid to marry; and, perhaps, married one whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities contribute to domestick happiness, upon which poetry has no colours to bestow; and many airs and sallies may delight imagination, which he who flatters them never can approve."
He praised signor Baretti. “ His account of Italy is a very entertaining book; and, sir, I know no man who carries his head higher in conversation than Baretti. There are strong powers in his mind. He has not, indeed, many hooks; but with what hooks he has, he grapples very forcibly.”
At this time I observed upon the dial-plate of his watch a short Greek inscription, taken from the New Testament, NE yap épXetar, being the first words of our Saviour's solemn admonition to the improvement of that time which is allowed us to prepare for eternity; "the night cometh : when no man can work.” He some time afterwards laid aside this dial-plate ; and when I asked him the reason, he said, “ It might do very well upon a clock which a man keeps in his closet; but to have it upon his watch which he carries about with him, and which is often looked at by others, might be censured as ostentatious.” Mr. Steevens is now possessed of the dial-plate inscribed as above.
He remained at Oxford a considerable time; I was obliged to go to London, where I received his letter, which had been returned from Scotland.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ,
“MY DEAR BOSWELL,- I have omitted a long time to write to you, without knowing very well why. I could now tell why I should not write ; for who would write to men who publish the letters of their friends without their leave? Yet I write to you, in spite of my caution, to tell you that I shall be glad to see you, and that I wish you would empty your head of Corsica, which I think has filled it rather too long. But, at all events, I shall be glad, very glad to see you.
· I am, sir,
“ Yours affectionately, “ Oxford, March 23, 1768.
- SAM. Johnson."
I answered thus:
TO MR, SAMUEL JOHNSON.
“ London 26th April, 1768. “MY DEAR SIR,-I have received your last letter, whicb, though very short, and by no means complimentary, yet gave me real pleasure, because it contains these words, “I shall be glad, very glad to see you.'--Surely you have no reason to complain of my publishing a single paragraph of one of your letters, the temptation to it was so strong. An irrevocable grant of your friendship, and your dignifying my desire of visiting Corsica with the epithet of a wise and noble curiosity,' are to me more valuable than many of the grants of kings.
“But how can you bid me'empty my head of Corsica ? My noble-minded friend, do you not feel for an oppressed nation bravely struggling to be free? Consider fairly what is the case. The Corsicans never received any kindness from the Genoese. They never agreed to be subject to them. They owe them nothing; and when reduced to an abject state of slavery by force, shall they not rise in the great cause of liberty, and break the galling yoke? And shall not every liberal soul be warm for them ? Empty my head of Corsica! Empty it of honour, empty it of humanity, empty it- of friendship, empty it of piety. No! while I live, Corsica and the cause of the brave islanders shall ever employ much of my attention, sball ever interest me in the sincerest manner.
“ Oxford, Apr. 18, 1768. “MY DEAR DEAR LOVE,-You have had a very great loss. To lose an old friend, is to be cut off from a great
part of the little pleasure that this life allows. But such is the condition of our nature, that as we live on we must see those whom we love drop successively, and find our circle of relation grow less and less, till we are almost unconnected with the world ; and then it must soon be our turn to drop into the grave. There is always this consolation, that we have one Protector who can never be lost but by our own fault; and every new experience of the uncertainty of all other comforts, should determine us to fix our hearts where true joys are to be found. All union with the inbabitants of earth must in time be broken; and all the hopes that terminate here, must on [one] part or other end in disappointment.
I am glad that Mrs. Adey and Mrs. Cobb do not leave you alone. Pay my respects to them, and the Sewards, and all my friends. When Mr. Porter comes, he will direct you. Let me know of his arrival, and I will write to him.
" When I go back to London I will take care of your reading glass. Whenever I can do any thing for you, remember, my dear darling, that one of my greatest pleasures is to please you.
“ The punctuality of your correspondence I consider as a proof of great regard. When we shall see each other, I know not; but let us often think on each other, and think with tenderness. Do not forget me in your prayers. I have for a long time back been very poorly; but of what use is it to complain?
“ Write often, for your letters always give great pleasure to,
Upon his arrival in London in May, he surprised me one morning with a visit at my lodgings in Half-Moonstreet, was quite satisfied with my explanation, and was in the kindest and most agreeable frame of mind. As he had objected to a part of one of his letters being published, I thought it right to take this opportunity of asking him explicitly, whether it would be improper to publish his letters after his death. His answer was, Nay, sir, when I am dead, you may do as you will."
He talked in his usual style with a rough contempt of popular liberty. “ They make a rout about universal liberty, without considering that all that is to be valued, or indeed can be enjoyed by individuals, is private liberty. Political liberty is good only so far as it produces private liberty. Now, sir, there is the liberty of the press, which you know is a constant topick. Suppose you and I and two hundred more were restrained from printing our thoughts : what then? What proportion would that restraint upon us bear to the private happiness of the nation ?”
This mode of representing the inconveniencies of restraint as light and insignificant, was a kind of sophistry in which he delighted to indulge himself, in opposition to the extreme laxity for which it has been fashionable for too many to argue, when it is evident, upon reflection, that the very essence of government is restraint; and certain it is, that as government produces rational happiness, too much restraint is better than too little. But when restraint is unnecessary, and so close as to gall those who are subject to it, the people may and ought to remonstrate; and, if relief is not granted, to resist. Of this manly and spirited principle no man was more convinced than Johnson himself.
About this time Dr. Keurick attacked him, through my sides, in a pamphlet entitled An Epistle to James Boswell, Esq. occasioned by his having transmitted the Moral Writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson to Pascal Paoli, General of the Corsicans. I was at first inclined to answer this pamphlet; but Johnson, who knew that my doing so would only gratify Kenrick, by keeping alive what would soon die away of itself, would not suffer me to take any notice of it.