« PreviousContinue »
with you, if I thought that we were not to meet again.' I heartily wish I could make him any return.
I hope, Sir David, to be able to make myself more worthy of the regard of such men. May I not hope to pass many days of friendship with you?
No. 51 of the North Briton is not written by Mr. Wilkes. Churchill told me that Wilkes has had nothing to do with it since No. 44. “The 45, Sir," said he, “is a spurious paper, you know.” I really believe that it is now done by another hand. I must tell you a joke upon Wilkes. He was coming out of Ranelagh some nights ago, and the footmen were bawling out
“ Mrs. Wilkes' coach! Mrs. Wilkes' coach!” Lord Kelly run (sic) to the door, and cried, “ Mrs. Wilkes' coach, No. 45."
My father has not yet settled matters so as I can fix the time for my setting out. But I imagine I shall go week after next. So that this day se'night will be the last Saturday on which I shall sit down in fair Augusta to talk to you. I wish
could get my father to let me have a fixed sum yearly. It is by much
It makes a young man independent, and learns him æconomy, or the art of living upon his income.
I ever am,
JAMES BOSWELL. Inner Temple, 23 July, 1763.
the best way.
VI. MY DEAR SIR,
I begin this letter in a situation that makes me uncertain when I shall end it, whether at the foot of the first, second, third, or fourth page.
Mr. Johnson and I are going upon the water to Greenwich, and his Ethiopian is to call me when his master is ready. Two nights ago Mr. Johnson said, “ Well, what are you to do, while in the Low Countries? Your mind must not lye uncultivated.” I told him I was to study Civil Law, and the Law of Nature and nations together with the French language, and as to other things he must advise me. Come, then," said he, “ let us make a day of it. Let us go to Greenwich and dine, and talk it over fully.” So that I shall say,
See Life, vol. i., p. 357.-Editor.
“ On Thames' banks in silent thought we stood,
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood," &c. See his London, which I think a noble poem. The satire is keen, and the numbers manly. I have sent you Smart's Song to David, which is a very curious composition, being a strange mixture of dun obscure and glowing genius at times. I have also sent some poems which he has lately published. His Genius and Imagination is (sic) very pretty. The other pieces have shivers of Genius here and there, but are often ludicrously low. Poor man, he has been relieved from his confinement, but not from his unhappy disorder. However, he has it not in any great height. He is not a poet of the first rank. I am much obliged to you for your polite recommendation to Count Nassau. It shall be properly sealed. I hope to be rationally happy at Utrecht. I told you in a former letter my schemes at length. You will judge of my application to French, by the letters which I write, tho' they cannot be frequent. As I know you are a man of rigid exactness (as you once settled a penny with me, when balancing our circuit accounts) you shall have your literary bill in from next post, and a letter extraordinary. I do hope you will forgive my haste, and commend my present punctuality and future good intentions.
My last gave you a promise of sending your account by this post. Do not think because it does not come exactly at the time, that I either resemble a negligent or a roguish tradesman. The truth is, that it now amounts only to seventeen shillings and sixpence, and I want to make it a pound, from the love of order, which Addison considers as natural to the mind of man, and because I owe a gentleman of Edinburgh that sum, and shall give him a draught upon you for it.
Yesterday brought me your long epistle, for which I return you my best thanks. My scepticism was not owing to thinking wrong, but to not thinking at all.
It is a matter of great
moment to keep a sense of Religion constantly impressed upon our minds. If that divine Guest does not occupy part of the space, vain intruders will ; and when once they have got in, it is difficult to get them out again.
I shall remember your commissions about the Greek Lyrics. I shall hear what the Librarian says, and I shall make diligent search myself. As to the MSS. of Anacreon, Mr. Johnson says he doubts much if there be such a thing at Leyden. He has been informed that there is one in the Vatican. When I am at Rome (which I hope to be) I shall find out the truth. Such an edition of the Greek Lyrics as you propose, will make a very elegant book. I wish you all success in it.
You will be surprised to find the name of John Wilkes franking a Scotsman Letter. The truth is, Wilkes is a most agreeable companion. He is good-humoured and vivacious, and likes the Scots as well as anybody : only he considers the abusing that nation as a political device, which he must make use of. Whether or no this can be esteemed fair, I am really at a loss to say. Wilkes and I are exceeding well, when we meet. The morning before he went last to Paris, I told him I was to pass the winter at Utrecht. He said, if I should write to him, he would send me the detail of this country. This, you will allow, is a very polite offer. But, perhaps, you will not allow the propriety of my accepting it. I beg to have your advice. To be sure, I should have very great entertainment from an account of the affairs in Britain from Mr. Wilkes' own hand, and were I a mere individual who wanted only immediate pleasure, I should be
very fond of the thing. The question is, if such a thing, if known, could hurt me, and whether it could be concealed. I wish you may think it right, as his letters would be a treasure for the next generation. I shall desire Mrs. Johnston to call upon you, and receive the twenty shillings. Perhaps this is the last letter that I shall write to you before I set out.
Believe me, ever
JAMES BOSWELL. Inner Temple, 2 August, 1763.