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Sam's nods, and winks, and laughs, will form a treat;
Bless'd be thy labours, most adventurous Bozzy,
As Mr. Boswell's Journal has afforded such universal pleasure by the relation of minute incidents, and the great moralist's opinion of men and things, during his northern tour; it will be adding greatly to the anecdotical treasury, as well as making Mr. B. happy, to communicate part of a dialogue that took place between Dr. Johnson and the author of this Congratulatory Epistle, a few months before the Doctor paid the great debt of nature. The Doctor was very cheerful on that day; had on a black coat and waistcoat, a black plush pair of breeches, and black worsted stockings; a handsome grey wig, a shirt, a muslin neckcloth, a black pair of buttons in his shirt sleeves, a pair of shoes ornamented with the very identical little buckles that accompanied the philosopher to the Hebrides; his nails were very neatly pared, and his beard fresh shaved with a razor fabricated by the ingenious Mr. Savigny.
P. P. Pray, Doctor, what is your opinion of Mr. Boswell's literary powers?
Johnson. Sir, my opinion is, that whenever Bozzy expires, he will create no vacuum in the region of literature- he seems strongly affected by the cacoethes scribendi; wishes to be thought a rara avis; and in truth so he is - your knowledge in ornithology, Sir, will easily discover to what species of bird I al
P. P. What think you, Sir, of his account of Corsica?— of
his character of Paoli?
Johnson. Sir, he hath made a mountain of a wart.
Paoli has virtues.
The account is a farrago of disgusting
egotism and pompous inanity.
P. P. I have heard it whispered, Doctor, that, should you die before him, Mr. B. means to write your life.
Johnson. Sir, he cannot mean me so irreparable an injury. Which of us shall die first, is only known to the great Disposer of events; but were I sure that James Boswell would write my life, I do not know whether I would not anticipate the measure, by taking his. [Here he made three or four strides across the room, and returned to his chair with violent emotion.] P. P. I am afraid that he means to do you the favour. Johnson. He dares not- he would make a scarecrow of me. I give him liberty to fire his blunderbuss in his own face, but not to murder me. Sir, I heed not his autos epa. Boswell write my life! why the fellow possesses not abilities for writing the life of an ephemeron.
No. V. INSCRIPTION ON A CARICATURE OF JOHNSON AND MADAME PIOZZI, BY SAYERS. (1)
Madam (my debt to nature paid),
I thought the grave with hallow'd shade
Would now protect my name:
Yet there in vain I seek repose,
First, Boswell, with officious care,
(1) [From the European Magazine.]
Sir John with nonsense strew'd my hearse,
When Streatham spread its plenteous board,
Good things I said, good things I eat,
If obligations still I owed,
You sold each item to the crowd,
For God's sake, Madam, let me rest,
No. I. BRIEF MEMOIR OF BOSWELL, BY EDMOND MALONE, ESQ. (1)
JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. eldest son of Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck, one of the judges in the supreme courts of session and justiciary in Scotland, was born at Edinburgh, October 29. 1740, and received his
(1) [From Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth
first rudiments of education in that city. He afterwards studied Civil Law in the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. During his residence in these cities, he acquired, by the society of the English gentlemen who were students in the English colleges, that remarkable predilection for their manners, which neither the force of education, nor the dulcedo of his natale solum, could ever eradicate. But his most intimate acquaintance at this period was the Rev. Mr. Temple, a worthy, learned, and pious divine, whose well-written character of Gray was inserted in Johnson's Life of that poet. Mr. Boswell imbibed early the ambition of distinguishing himself by his literary talents, and had the good fortune to obtain the patronage of the late Lord Somerville. This nobleman treated him with the most flattering kindness; and Mr. Boswell ever remembered with gratitude the friendship he so long enjoyed with this worthy peer. Having always entertained an exalted idea of the felicity of London, in the year 1760 he visited that capital; in the manners and amusements of which he found so much that was congenial to his own taste and feelings, that it became ever after his favourite residence, whither he always returned from his estate in Scotland, and from his various rambles in various parts of Europe, with increasing eagerness and delight; and we find him, nearly twenty years afterwards, condemning Scotland as too narrow a sphere, and wishing to make his chief residence in London, which he calls the great scene of ambition, instruction, and, comparatively, making his heaven upon earth. He was, doubtless, confirmed in this attachment to the metropolis by the strong predilection entertained towards it by his friend Dr. Johnson, whose sentiments on this subject Mr. Boswell details in various parts of his Life of that great man; and which are corroborated by every one, in pursuit of literary and intellectual attainments, who has enjoyed but a taste of the rich feast which that city spreads before him.
The politeness, affability, and insinuating urbanity of manners, which distinguished Mr. Boswell, introduced him into the company of many eminent and learned men, whose acquaintance and friendship he cultivated with the greatest assiduity. In truth, the esteem and approbation of learned men seems to have been one chief object of his literary ambition; and we find him so successful in pursuing his end, that he enumerated some of the greatest men in Scotland among his friends even before he left it for the first time. Notwithstanding Mr. Boswell by his education was intended for the bar, yet he was himself earnestly bent at this period upon obtaining a commission in the Guards, and solicited Lord Auchinleck's acquiescence; but returned, however, by his desire, into Scotland, where he received a regular course of instruction in the Law, and passed his trials as a civilian at Edinburgh. Still, however, ambitious of displaying himself as one of "the manly heart who guard the fair," he revisited London a second time in 1762; and, various occurrences delaying the purchase of a commission, he was at length persuaded by Lord Auchinleck to relinquish his pursuit, and become an advocate at the Scotch bar. In compliance, therefore, with his father's wishes, he consented to go to Utrecht the ensuing winter, to hear the lectures of an excellent civilian in that university; after which he had permission to make his grand tour of Europe.
In 1762 Mr. Boswell published the little poem, entitled "The Club at Newmarket, a Tale," and the next year may be considered the most important epocha in his life, as he had the singular felicity to be introduced to Dr. Johnson. This event, so auspicious for Mr. Boswell, and so fortunate for the literary world, happened on May 16. 1763. Having afterwards continued one winter at Utrecht, during which time he visited several parts of the Netherlands, he commenced his projected