Sunday, May 29, 2016

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 122

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Associate Professor of 18th Century Women’s Studies, Assistant Women’s Greco-Roman Wrestling Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: A Mêlée at the Mitre, the Olney Community College Press

Art direction by rhoda penmarq (pencils, inks, oils, watercolors and latex-based paints by eddie el greco; lettering by roy dismas) for penmarqaroq™ productions.

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here


'Edinburgh, Dec. 5, 1775.


'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 shew 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 
'And most humble servant, 

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.'

'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 than a cat or a dog, for you can speak." If I had bestowed such an education on a daughter, and had discovered that she thought of marrying such a fellow, I would have sent her to the Congress.'

'After having talked slightingly of musick, he was observed to listen very attentively while Miss Thrale played on the harpsichord.

Dr. Burney upon this said to him, "I believe, Sir, we shall make a musician of you at last."

Johnson with candid complacency replied, "Sir, I shall be glad to have a new sense given to me."'

'He had come down one morning to the breakfast-room, and been a considerable time by himself before any body appeared. When, on a subsequent day, he was twitted by Mrs. Thrale for being very late, which he generally was, he defended himself by alluding to the extraordinary morning, when he had been too early.

"Madam, I do not like to come down to vacuity."'

'Dr. Burney having remarked that Mr. Garrick was beginning to look old, he said, "Why, Sir, you are not to wonder at that; no man's face has had more wear and tear."’

Not having heard from him for a longer time than I supposed he would be silent, I wrote to him December 18, not in good spirits:—

'Sometimes I have been afraid that the cold which has gone over Europe this year like a sort of pestilence has seized you severely: sometimes my imagination, which is upon occasions prolifick of evil, hath figured that you may have somehow taken offence at some part of my conduct.'



'Never dream of any offence. How should you offend me? I consider your friendship as a possession, which I intend to hold till you take it from me, and to lament if ever by my fault I should lose it. However, when such suspicions find their way into your mind, always give them vent; I shall make haste to disperse them; but hinder their first ingress if you can. Consider such thoughts as morbid.

'How does the young Laird of Auchinleck? I suppose Miss Veronica is grown a reader and discourser.

'I have just now got a cough, but it has never yet hindered me from sleeping: I have had quieter nights than are common with me.

'Young Col brought me your letter. He is a very pleasing youth. I took him two days ago to the Mitre, and we dined together. I was as civil as I had the means of being.

'My compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who does not love me; and of all the rest, I need only send them to those that do: and I am afraid it will give you very little trouble to distribute them.

'I am, my dear, dear Sir,
'Your affectionate humble servant,

'December, 23, 1775.'

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part 123

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 121

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Remedial English Reading Skills, Assistant Women’s Rowing Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: Francis Solves a Murder, the Olney Community College Press.

Artwork and layout personally supervised by rhoda penmarq (pencils, inks and oils by eddie el greco; lettering by roy dismas) for penmarqroniq™ studios.

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

'Sat. Oct. 28. I visited the Grand Chartreux built by St. Louis.— It is built for forty, but contains only twenty-four, and will not maintain more. The friar that spoke to us had a pretty apartment.— His garden was neat; he gave me grapes.— We saw the Place de Victoire, with the statues of the King, and the captive nations.

We saw the palace and gardens of Luxembourg, but the gallery was shut.— We climbed to the top stairs.— Called on the Prior, and found him in bed.

Sunday, Oct. 29. We saw the boarding-school.— The Enfants trouvés.— A room with about eighty-six children in cradles, as sweet as a parlour.— They lose a third; take in to perhaps more than seven; put them to trades; pin to them the papers sent with them.

'Went to St. Eustatia; saw an innumerable company of girls catechised, in many bodies, perhaps 100 to a catechist.— Boys taught at one time, girls at another.— The sermon; the preacher wears a cap, which he takes off at the name:— his action uniform, not very violent.

'Oct. 31. Tuesday. I lived at the Benedictines; meagre day; soup meagre, herrings, eels, both with sauce; fryed fish; lentils, tasteless in themselves. I parted very tenderly from the Prior and Friar Wilkes.

'Nov. 1. Wednesday. We left Paris.— St. Denis, a large town; the church not very large, but the middle aisle is very lofty and aweful. The organ is higher above the pavement than any I have ever seen.— The gates are of brass.— On the middle gate is the history of our Lord.— The painted windows are historical, and said to be eminently beautiful.

'Nov. 2. Thursday. We came this day to Chantilly, a seat belonging to the Prince of Condé.— This place is eminently beautified by all varieties of waters starting up in fountains, falling in cascades, running in streams, and spread in lakes.—The water seems to be too near the house.— All this water is brought from a source or river three leagues off, by an artificial canal, which for one league is carried under ground.— The house is magnificent.— The cabinet seems well stocked: what I remember was, the jaws of a hippopotamus, and a young hippopotamus preserved, which, however, is so small, that I doubt its reality.—

It seems too hairy for an abortion, and too small for a mature birth. — Nothing was in spirits; all was dry.— The dog, the deer; the ant-bear with long snout.— The toucan, long broad beak.— The stables were of very great length.— The kennel had no scents.— The Menagerie had few animals. Two faussans, or Brasilian weasels, spotted, very wild.— There is a forest, and, I think, a park.— I walked till I was very weary, and next morning felt my feet battered, and with pains in the toes.

Here his Journal ends abruptly. Whether he wrote any more after this time, I know not; but probably not much, as he arrived in England about the 12th of November. These short notes of his tour, though they may seem minute taken singly, make together a considerable mass of information, and exhibit such an ardour of enquiry and acuteness of examination, as, I believe, are found in but few travellers, especially at an advanced age. They completely refute the idle notion which has been propagated, 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 Drumgold, a very high man, Sir, head of L'École 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 hearing 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 tea-pot 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 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 on 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.

Here let me not forget a curious anecdote, as related to me by Mr. Beauclerk, which I shall endeavour to exhibit 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 shew himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the stair-case in violent agitation.

He overtook us before we reached the Temple-gate, 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.'

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part 122

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 120

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Associate Professor of Golden Age Comic Book Studies, Assistant Women’s Karate Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: A Fair Wind for Calais!, the Olney Community College Press.

Art direction by "rhoda penmarq (computer-generated imagery and free-hand watercolors by eddie el greco; lettering by roy dismas) for penmarqtistiq™ productions.

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

Oct. 16. Monday. The Palais Royal very grand, large, and lofty.— A very great collection of pictures.— Three of Raphael.— Two Holy Family.— One small piece of M. Angelo.— One room of Rubens— I thought the pictures of Raphael fine.’

'The Thuilleries.— Statues.– The walks not open to mean persons.— Chairs at night hired for two sous apiece.’

'At the Boulevards saw nothing, yet was glad to be there.— Rope-dancing and farce.— Egg dance.’

'Near Paris, whether on week-days or Sundays, the roads empty.’

'Oct. 17, Tuesday. At the Palais Marchand I bought
A snuff-box
Table book

'The Palais Bourbon, belonging to the Prince of Condé. Only one small wing shown;— lofty;— splendid;— gold and glass.— The battles of the great Condé are painted in one of the rooms. The present Prince a grandsire at thirty-nine.’

'The sight of palaces, and other great buildings, leaves no very distinct images, unless to those who talk of them. As I entered, my wife was in my mind: she would have been pleased. Having now nobody to please, I am little pleased.’

'In France there is no middle rank.’

'So many shops open, that Sunday is little distinguished at Paris.’

'The Colosseum a mere wooden building, at least much of it.’

'Oct. 18. Wednesday. We went to Fontainebleau, which we found a large mean town, crowded with people.— The forest thick with woods, very extensive.— The appearance of the country pleasant. No hills, few streams, only one hedge.— I remember no chapels nor crosses on the road.’

'Nobody but mean people walk in Paris.’

'Oct. 19. Thursday. At Court, we saw the apartments;— the King's bed-chamber and council-chamber extremely splendid.’

‘We went and saw the King and Queen at dinner.— At night we went to a comedy. I neither saw nor heard.— Drunken women.— Mrs. Th. preferred one to the other.’  

'Oct. 20. Friday. We saw the Queen mount in the forest.— Brown habit; rode aside.— The Queen's horse light grey.— She galloped.— We then went to the apartments, and admired them.— Then wandered through the palace.— In the passages, stalls and shops.— Painting in Fresco by a great master, worn out.— We saw the King's horses and dogs.— The dogs almost all English.—Degenerate.’

'The horses not much commended.— The stables cool; the kennel filthy.’

'At night the ladies went to the opera. I refused, but should have been welcome.’

'The King fed himself with his left hand as we.’

'Saturday, 21. Soldiers at the court of justice.— Soldiers not amenable to the magistrates.’  

'Faggots in the palace.— Every thing slovenly, except in the chief rooms.— Trees in the roads.’

'Women's saddles seem ill made.’

'Sunday, Oct. 22. To Versailles, a mean town. Carriages of business passing.— Mean shops against the wall— The palace of great extent.— The front long; I saw it not perfectly.— The Menagerie. Cygnets dark; their black feet; on the ground; tame.— Halcyons, or gulls.— Stag and hind, young.— Aviary, very large; the net, wire.— Black stag of China, small.— Rhinoceros, the horn broken and pared away, which, I suppose, will grow; the basis, I think, four inches 'cross; the skin folds like loose cloth doubled over his body, and cross his hips; a vast animal, though young; as big, perhaps, as four oxen.—

The young elephant, with his tusks just appearing.— The brown bear put out his paws;— all very tame.— The lion.— The tigers I did not well view.— The camel, or dromedary with two bunches, taller than any horse.— Two camels with one bunch.— Among the birds was a pelican, who being let out, went to a fountain, and swam about to catch fish. His feet well webbed: he dipped his head, and turned his long bill sidewise. He caught two or three fish, but did not eat them.’  

'Oct. 24, Tuesday. We visited the King's library.— Thence to the Sorbonne.— The library very large.— The Prior and Librarian dined [with us]:— I waited on them home. — Their garden pretty, with covered walks, but small.— The Doctors of the Sorbonne are all equal:—choose those who succeed to vacancies.— Profit little.’

'Oct. 27. Friday. I staid at home.— Gough and Keene, and Mrs. S——'s friend dined with us.— This day we began to have a fire.— The weather is grown very cold, and I fear, has a bad effect upon my breath, which has grown much more free and easy in this country.’  

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part 121

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 119

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Remedial Basic English Writing Skills, Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Bawd from Battersea’s Bequest, the Olney Community College Press.

Art and layout personally supervised by rhoda penmarq (pencils, inks, watercolors, acrylics and oils by eddie el greco; lettering by roy dismas) for penmarqtastiq™ productions.

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

It is to be regretted that he did not write an account of his travels in France; for as he is reported to have once said, that 'he could write the Life of a Broomstick,' so, notwithstanding so many former travellers have exhausted almost every subject for remark in that great kingdom, his very accurate observation, and peculiar vigour of thought and illustration, would have produced a valuable work. During his visit to it, which lasted but about two months, he wrote notes or minutes of what he saw. He promised to show me them, but I neglected to put him in mind of it; and the greatest part of them has been lost, or perhaps, destroyed in a precipitate burning of his papers a few days before his death, which must ever be lamented.

One small paper-book, however, entitled 'FRANCE II,' has been preserved, and is in my possession. It is a diurnal register of his life and observations, from the 10th of October to the 4th of November, inclusive, being twenty-six days, and shows an extraordinary attention to various minute particulars. Being the only memorial of this tour that remains, my readers, I am confident, will peruse it with pleasure, though his notes are very short, and evidently written only to assist his own recollection.

'Oct. 10. Tuesday. We saw the École Militaire, in which one hundred and fifty young boys are educated for the army. They have arms of different sizes, according to the age;— flints of wood. The building is very large, but nothing fine, except the council-room. The French have large squares in the windows;— they make good iron palisades. Their meals are gross.’

'We visited the Observatory, a large building of a great height. The upper stones of the parapet very large, but not cramped with iron. The flat on the top is very extensive; but there is no parapet. Though it was broad enough, I did not care to go upon it. Maps were printing in one of the rooms.’

'We walked to a small convent of the Fathers of the Oratory. In the reading-desk of the refectory lay the lives of the Saints.’

'Oct. 11. Wednesday. We went to see Hotel de Chatlois, a house not very large, but very elegant. One of the rooms was gilt to a degree that I never saw before. The upper part for servants and their masters was pretty.’

'Thence we went to Mr. Monville's, a house divided into small apartments, furnished with effeminate and minute elegance.— Porphyry.’

'Thence we went to St. Roque's church, which is very large;—the lower part of the pillars incrusted with marble.— Three chapels behind the high altar;— the last a mass of low arches.— Altars, I believe, all round.’

'We passed through Place de Vendôme, a fine square, about as big as Hanover-square.— Inhabited by the high families.— Lewis XIV on horse-back in the middle.’

'The French have no laws for the maintenance of their poor.— Monk not necessarily a priest.— Benedictines rise at four; are at church an hour and half; at church again half an hour before, half an hour after, dinner; and again from half an hour after seven to eight. They may sleep eight hours.— Bodily labour wanted in monasteries.’

'The poor taken to hospitals, and miserably kept.’

'Oct. 12. Thursday. We went to the Gobelins.— Tapestry makes a good picture;— imitates flesh exactly;— the birds not exactly coloured.— Thence we went to the King's cabinet;— very neat, not, perhaps, perfect.— Gold ore.— Candles of the candle-tree.—  Thence to Gagnier's house, where I saw rooms nine, furnished with a profusion of wealth and elegance which I never had seen before.— Vases.— Pictures.— The Dragon china.— The lustre said to be of crystal, and to have cost 3,500£.— The whole furniture said to have cost 125,000£.—Damask hangings covered with pictures.— Porphyry.— This house struck me.’

‘— County towns all beggars.— Cross roads of France very bad.— Good inn at Nismes.— Moors of Barbary fond of Englishmen.— Gibraltar eminently healthy;— It has beef from Barbary;— There is a large garden.— Soldiers sometimes fall from the rock.’

'Oct. 13. Friday. I staid at home all day.’

'Oct. 14. Saturday. We went to the house of Mr. Argenson, which was almost wainscotted with looking-glasses, and covered with gold.— The ladies' closet wainscotted with large squares of glass over painted paper. They always place mirrours to reflect their rooms.’

'At D——' s I looked into the books in the lady's closet, and, in contempt, shewed them to Mr. T..— She was offended, and shut up, as we heard afterwards, her apartment.

'Then we went to Julien Le Roy, the King's watch-maker, a man of character in his business, who shewed a small clock made to find the longitude.— A decent man.’

'Afterwards we saw the Palais Marchand, and the Courts of Justice, civil and criminal.— This building has the old Gothick passages, and a great appearance of antiquity.— Three hundred prisoners sometimes in the gaol.’

'Much disturbed; hope no ill will be.’

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part 120