Boswell's Life of Johnson

Edited by Jack Lynch

These selections from James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. are for use in my classes. The text comes from R. W. Chapman's 1904 Oxford edition; the page numbers correspond to those in the Oxford World's Classic edition. I have removed all footnotes, both those by Boswell and by other editors. Please send comments and corrections to Jack Lynch.
[Pages 1203-19]

[1] I shall here insert a few of Johnson's sayings, without the formality of dates, as they have no reference to any particular time or place.

[2] “The more a man extends and varies his acquaintance the better.” This, however, was meant with a just restriction; for, he on another occasion said to me, “Sir, a man may be so much of every thing, that he is nothing of any thing.”

[3] “Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong; for it does not make them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad thing for human nature.”

[4] “It is a very good custom to keep a journal for a man's own use; he may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be written, because there is a great deal of novelty; but when once a man has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down.”

[5] “There is nothing wonderful in the Journal which we see Swift kept in London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be written.”

[6] I praised the accuracy of an account-book of a lady whom I mentioned. Johnson. “Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.” I mentioned another lady who thought as he did, so that her husband could not get her to keep an account of the expence of the family, as she thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. Johnson. “Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes it; but I do not see its use.” I maintained that keeping an account has this advantage, that it satisfies a man that his money has not been lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt to imagine, were there no written state of his expence; and besides, a calculation of economy so as not to exceed one's income, cannot be made without a view of the different articles in figures, that one may see how to retrench in some particulars less necessary than others. This he did not attempt to answer.

[7] Talking of an acquaintance of ours, whose narratives, which abounded in curious and interesting topicks, were unhappily found to be very fabulous; I mentioned Lord Mansfield's having said to me, “Suppose we believe one half of what he tells.” Johnson. “Ay; but we don't know which half to believe. By his lying we lose not only our reverence for him, but all comfort in his conversation.” Boswell. “May we not take it as amusing fiction?” Johnson. “Sir, the misfortune is, that you will insensibly believe as much of it as you incline to believe.”

[8] It is remarkable, that notwithstanding their congeniality in politicks, he never was acquainted with a late eminent noble judge, whom I have heard speak of him as a writer, with great respect. Johnson, I know not upon what degree of investigation, entertained no exalted opinion of his Lordship's intellectual character. Talking of him to me one day, he said, “It is wonderful, Sir, with how little real superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in publick life.” He expressed himself to the same purpose concerning another law-lord, who, it seems, once took a fancy to associate with the wits of London; but with so little success, that Foote said, “What can he mean by coming among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others.” Trying him by the test of his colloquial powers, Johnson found him very defective. He once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, “This man now has been ten years about town, and has made nothing of it”; meaning as a companion. He said to me, “I never heard any thing from him in company that was at all striking; and depend upon it, Sir, it is when you come close to a man in conversation, that you discover what his real abilities are: to make a speech in a publick assembly is a knack. Now I honour Thurlow, Sir; Thurlow is a fine fellow; he fairly puts his mind to yours.”

[9] After repeating to him some of his pointed, lively sayings, I said, “It is a pity, Sir, you don't always remember your own good things, that you may have a laugh when you will.” Johnson. “Nay, Sir, it is better that I forget them, that I may be reminded of them, and have a laugh on their being brought to my recollection.”

[10] When I recalled to him his having said as we sailed up Lochlomond, “That if he wore any thing fine, it should be very fine”; I observed that all his thoughts were upon a great scale. Johnson. “Depend upon it, Sir, every man will have as fine a thing as he can get; as large a diamond for his ring.” Boswell. “Pardon me, Sir: a man of a narrow mind will not think of it, a slight trinket will satisfy him:

'Nec sufferre queat majoris pondera gemmæ.'

[11] I told him I should send him some “Essays,” which I had written, which I hoped he would be so good as to read, and pick out the good ones. Johnson. “Nay, Sir, send me only the good ones; don't make me pick them.”

[12] I heard him once say, “Though the proverb 'Nullum numen abest, si sit prudentia,' does not always prove true, we may be certain of the converse of it, Nullum numen adest, si sit imprudentia.”

[13] Once, when Mr. Seward was going to Bath, and asked his commands, he said, “Tell Dr. Harrington that I wish he would publish another volume of the 'Nugæ antiquae;' it is a very pretty book.” Mr. Seward seconded this wish, and recommended to Dr. Harrington to dedicate it to Johnson, and take for his motto, what Catullus says to Cornelius Nepos:

“— namque tu solebas
Meas esse aliquid putare NUGAS.”

[14] As a small proof of his kindliness and delicacy of feeling, the following circumstance may be mentioned: One evening when we were in the street together, and I told him I was going to sup at Mr. Beauclerk's, he said, “I'll go with you.” After having walked part of the way, seeming to recollect something, he suddenly stopped and said, “I cannot go, — but I do not love Beauclerk the less.”

[15] On the frame of his portrait, Mr. Beauclerk had inscribed,

“— Ingenium ingens
Inculto latet hoc sub corpore.”

[16] After Mr. Beauclerk's death, when it became Mr. Langton's property, he made the inscription be defaced. Johnson said complacently, “It was kind in you to take it off”; and then after a short pause, added, “and not unkind in him to put it on.”

[17] He said, “How few of his friends' houses would a man choose to be at, when he is sick!” He mentioned one or two. I recollect only Thrale's.

[18] He observed, “There is a wicked inclination in most people to suppose an old man decayed in his intellects. If a young or middle-aged man, when leaving a company, does not recollect where he laid his hat, it is nothing; but if the same inattention is discovered in an old man, people will shrug up their shoulders, and say, 'His memory is going.'”

[19] When I once talked to him of some of the sayings which every body repeats, but nobody knows where to find, such as, Quos DEUS vult perdere, prius dementat; he told me that he was once offered ten guineas to point out from whence Semel insanivimus omnes was taken. He could not do it; but many years afterwards met with it by chance in Johannes Baptista Mantuanus.

[20] I am very sorry that I did not take a note of an eloquent argument in which he maintained that the situation of Prince of Wales was the happiest of any person's in the kingdom, even beyond that of the Sovereign. I recollect only — the enjoyment of hope, — the high superiority of rank, without the anxious cares of government, — and a great degree of power, both from natural influence widely used, and from the sanguine expectations of those who look forward to the chance of future favour.

[21] Sir Joshua Reynolds communicated to me the following particulars:

[22] Johnson thought the poems published as translations from Ossian, had so little merit, that he said, “Sir, a man might write such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to it.”

[23] He said, “A man should pass a part of his time with the laughers, by which means any thing ridiculous or particular about him might be presented to his view, and corrected.” I observed, he must have been a bold laugher who would have ventured to tell Dr. Johnson of any of his particularities.

[24] Having observed the vain ostentatious importance of many people in quoting the authority of Dukes and Lords, as having been in their company, he said, he went to the other extreme, and did not mention his authority when he should have done it, had it not been that of a Duke or a Lord.

[25] Dr. Goldsmith once said to Dr. Johnson, that he wished for some additional members to the LITERARY CLUB, to give it an agreeable variety; for (said he) there can now be nothing new among us: we have travelled over one another's minds. Johnson seemed a little angry, and said, “Sir, you have not travelled over my mind, I promise you.” Sir Joshua, however, thought Goldsmith right; observing, that “when people have lived a great deal together, they know what each of them will say on every subject. A new understanding, therefore, is desirable; because though it may only furnish the same sense upon a question which would have been furnished by those with whom we are accustomed to live, yet this sense will have a different colouring; and colouring is of much effect in every thing else as well as in painting.”

[26] Johnson used to say that he made it a constant rule to talk as well as he could, both as to sentiment and expression; by which means, what had been originally effort became familiar and easy. The consequence of this, Sir Joshua observed, was, that his common conversation in all companies was such as to secure him universal attention, as something above the usual colloquial style was expected.

[27] Yet, though Johnson had this habit in company, when another mode was necessary, in order to investigate truth, he could descend to a language intelligible to the meanest capacity. An instance of this was witnessed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, when they were present at an examination of a little blackguard boy, by Mr. Saunders Welch, the late Westminster Justice. Welch, who imagined that he was exalting himself in Dr. Johnson's eyes by using big words, spoke in a manner that was utterly unintelligible to the boy; Dr. Johnson perceiving it, addressed himself to the boy, and changed the pompous phraseology into colloquial language. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was much amused by this procedure, which seemed a kind of reversing of what might be expected from the two men, took notice of it to Dr. Johnson, as they walked away by themselves. Johnson said, that it was continually the case; and that he was always obliged to translate the Justice's swelling diction, (smiling,) so as that his meaning might be understood by the vulgar, from whom information was to be obtained.

[28] Sir Joshua once observed to him, that he had talked above the capacity of some people with whom they had been in company together. “No matter, Sir, (said Johnson); they consider it as a compliment to be talked to, as if they were wiser than they are. So true is this, Sir, that Baxter made it a rule in every sermon that he preached, to say something that was above the capacity of his audience.”

[29] Johnson's dexterity in retort, when he seemed to be driven to an extremity by his adversary, was very remarkable. Of his power in this respect, our common friend, Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, has been pleased to furnish me with an eminent instance. However unfavourable to Scotland, he uniformly gave liberal praise to George Buchanan, as a writer. In a conversation concerning the literary merits of the two countries, in which Buchanan was introduced, a Scotchman, imagining that on this ground he should have an undoubted triumph over him, exclaimed, “Ah, Dr. Johnson, what would you have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman?” — “Why, Sir, (said Johnson, after a little pause,) I should not have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman, what I will now say of him as a Scotchman, — that he was the only man of genius his country ever produced.”

[30] And this brings to my recollection another instance of the same nature. I once reminded him that when Dr. Adam Smith was expatiating on the beauty of Glasgow, he had cut him short by saying, “Pray, Sir, have you ever seen Brentford?” and I took the liberty to add, “My dear Sir, surely that was shocking.” — “Why, then, Sir, (he replied,) YOU have never seen Brentford.”

[31] Though his usual phrase for conversation was talk, yet he made a distinction; for when he once told me that he dined the day before at a friend's house, with “a very pretty company”; and I asked him if there was good conversation, he answered, “No, Sir; we had talk enough, but no conversation; there was nothing discussed.”

[32] Talking of the success of the Scotch in London, he imputed it in a considerable degree to their spirit of nationality. “You know, Sir, (said he,) that no Scotchman publishes a book, or has a play brought upon the stage, but there are five hundred people ready to applaud him.”

[33] He gave much praise to his friend, Dr. Burney's elegant and entertaining travels, and told Mr. Steward that he had them in his eye, when writing his “Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.”

[34] Such was his sensibility, and so much was he affected by pathetick poetry, that, when he was reading Dr. Beattie's “Hermit,” in my presence, it brought tears into his eyes.

[35] He disapproved much of mingling real facts with fiction. On this account he censured a book entitled “Love and Madness.”

[36] Mr. Hoole told him, he was born in Moorfields, and had received part of his early instruction in Grub-street. “Sir, (said Johnson, smiling,) you have been regularly educated.” Having asked who was his instructor, and Mr. Hoole having answered, “My uncle, Sir, who was a taylor”; Johnson, recollecting himself, said, “Sir, I knew him; we called him the metaphysical taylor. He was of a club in Old-street, with me and George Psalmanazar, and some others: but pray, Sir, was he a good taylor?” Mr. Hoole having answered that he believed he was too mathematical, and used to draw squares and triangles on his shop-board, so that he did not excel in the cut of a coat; — “I am sorry for it, (said Johnson,) for I would have every man to be master of his own business.”

[37] In pleasant reference to himself and Mr. Hoole, as brother authours, he often said, “Let you and I, Sir, go together, and eat a beef-steak in Grub-street.”

[38] Sir William Chambers, that great Architect, whose works shew a sublimity of genius, and who is esteemed by all who know him, for his social, hospitable, and generous qualities, submitted the manuscript of his “Chinese Architecture,” to Dr. Johnson's perusal. Johnson was much pleased with it, and said, “It wants no addition nor correction, but a few lines of introduction”; which he furnished, and Sir William adopted.

[39] He said to Sir William Scott, “The age is running mad after innovation; and all the business of the world is to be done in a new way; men are to be hanged in a new way; Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of innovation.” It having been argued that this was an improvement. — “No, Sir, (said he, eagerly,) it is not an improvement; they object, that the old method drew together a number of spectators. Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw spectators, they don't answer their purpose. The old method was most satisfactory to all parties; the publick was gratified by a procession; the criminal was supported by it. Why is all this to be swept away?” I perfectly agree with Dr. Johnson upon this head, and am persuaded that executions now, the solemn procession being discontinued, have not nearly the effect which they formerly had. Magistrates both in London, and elsewhere, have, I am afraid, in this, had too much regard to their own ease.

[40] Of Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, Johnson said to a friend, — “Hurd, Sir, is one of a set of men who account for every thing systematically; for instance, it has been a fashion to wear scarlet breeches; these men would tell you, that according to causes and effects, no other wear could at that time have been chosen.” He, however, said of him at another time to the same gentleman, “Hurd, Sir, is a man whose acquaintance is a valuable acquisition.”

[41] That learned and ingenious Prelate it is well known published at one period of his life “Moral and Political Dialogues,” with a woefully whiggish cast. Afterwards, his Lordship having thought better, came to see his errour, and republished the work with a more constitutional spirit. Johnson, however, was unwilling to allow him full credit for his political conversion. I remember when his Lordship declined the honour of being Archbishop of Canterbury, Johnson said, “I am glad he did not go to Lambeth; for, after all, I fear he is a Whig in his heart.”

[42] Johnson's attention to precision and clearness in expression was very remarkable. He disapproved of a parenthesis; and I believe in all his voluminous writings, not half a dozen of them will be found. He never used the phrases the former and the latter, having observed, that they often occasioned obscurity; he therefore contrived to construct his sentences so as not to have occasion for them, and would even rather repeat the same words, in order to avoid them. Nothing is more common than to mistake surnames, when we hear them carelessly uttered for the first time. To prevent this, he used not only to pronounce them slowly and distinctly, but to take the trouble of spelling them; a practice which I have often followed and which I wish were general.

[43] Such was the heat and irritability of his blood, that not only did he pare his nails to the quick, but scraped the joints of his fingers with a pen-knife, till they seemed quite red and raw.

[44] The heterogeneous composition of human nature was remarkably exemplified in Johnson. His liberality in giving his money to persons in distress was extraordinary. Yet there lurked about him a propensity to paltry saving. One day I owned to him, that “I was occasionally troubled with a fit of narrowness.” “Why, Sir, (said he,) so am I. But I do not tell it.” He has now and then borrowed a shilling of me; and when I asked him for it again, seemed to be rather out of humour. A droll little circumstance once occurred: As if he meant to reprimand my minute exactness as a creditor, he thus addressed me; — “Boswell, lend me sixpence — not to be repaid.”

[45] This great man's attention to small things was very remarkable. As an instance of it, he one day said to me, “Sir, when you get silver in change for a guinea, look carefully at it; you may find some curious piece of coin.”

[46] Though a stern true-born Englishman, and fully prejudiced against all other nations, he had discernment enough to see, and candour enough to censure, the cold reserve too common among Englishmen towards strangers: “Sir, (said he,) two men of any other nation who are shewn into a room together, at a house where they are both visitors, will immediately find some conversation. But two Englishmen will probably go each to a different window, and remain in obstinate silence. Sir, we as yet do not enough understand the common rights of humanity.”

[47] Johnson was at a certain period of his life a good deal with the Earl of Shelburne, now Marquis of Lansdown, as he doubtless could not but have a due value for that nobleman's activity of mind, and uncommon acquisitions of important knowledge, however much he might disapprove of other parts of his Lordship's character, which were widely different from his own.

[48] Maurice Morgann, Esq. authour of the very ingenious “Essay on the character of Falstaff,” being a particular friend of his Lordship, had once an opportunity of entertaining Johnson for a day or two at Wycombe, when its Lord was absent, and by him I have been favoured with two anecdotes.

[49] One is not a little to the credit of Johnson's candour. Mr. Morgann and he had a dispute pretty late at night, in which Johnson would not give up, though he had the wrong side; and in short, both kept the field. Next morning, when they met in the breakfasting-room, Dr. Johnson accosted Mr. Morgann thus: “Sir, I have been thinking on our dispute last night; — You were in the right.”

[50] The other was as follows: Johnson, for sport perhaps, or from the spirit of contradiction, eagerly maintained that Derrick had merit as a writer. Mr. Morgann argued with him directly, in vain. At length he had recourse to this device. “Pray, Sir, (said he,) whether do you reckon Derrick or Smart the best poet?” Johnson at once felt himself roused; and answered, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.”

[51] Once, when checking my boasting too frequently of myself in company, he said to me, “Boswell, you often vaunt so much as to provoke ridicule. You put me in mind of a man who was standing in the kitchen of an inn with his back to the fire, and thus accosted the person next him, 'Do you know, Sir, who I am?' 'No, Sir, (said the other,) I have not that advantage.' 'Sir, (said he,) I am the great TWALMLEY, who invented the New Floodgate Iron.'” The Bishop of Killaloe, on my repeating the story to him, defended TWALMLEY, by observing that he was entitled to the epithet of great; for Virgil in his group of worthies in the Elysian fields —

Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi; &c.
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.

[52] He was pleased to say to me one morning when we were left alone in his study, “Boswell, I think I am easier with you than with almost any body.”

[53] He would not allow Mr. David Hume any credit for his political principles, though similar to his own; saying of him, “Sir, he was a Tory by chance.”

[54] His acute observation of human life made him remark, “Sir, there is nothing by which a man exasperates most people more, than by displaying a superior ability of brilliancy in conversation. They seem pleased at the time; but their envy makes them curse him at their hearts.”

[55] My readers will probably be surprised to hear that the great Dr. Johnson could amuse himself with so slight and playful a species of composition as a Charade. I have recovered one which he made on Dr. Barnard, now Lord Bishop of Killahoe; who has been pleased for many years to treat me with so much intimacy and social ease, that I may presume to call him not only my Right Reverend, but my very dear, Friend. I therefore with peculiar pleasure give to the world a just and elegant compliment thus paid to his Lordship by Johnson.


“My first shuts out thieves from your house or your room,
My second expresses a Syrian perfume.
My whole is a man in whose converse is shard
The strength of a Bar and the sweetness of Nard.”

[56] Johnson asked Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq. if he had read the Spanish translation of Sallust, said to be written by a Prince of Spain, with the assistance of his tutor, who is professedly the authour of a treatise annexed, on the Phoenician language.

[57] Mr. Cambridge commended the work, particularly as he thought the Translator understood his authour better than is commonly the case with Translators; but said, he was disappointed in the purpose for which he borrowed the book; to see whether a Spaniard could be better furnished with inscriptions from monuments, coins, or other antiquities, which he might more probably find on a coast, so immediately opposite to Carthage, than the Antiquaries of any other countries. Johnson. “I am very sorry you were not gratified in your expectations.” CAMBRIDGE. “The language would have been of little use, as there is no history existing in that tongue to balance the partial accounts which the Roman writers have left us.” Johnson. “No, Sir. They have not been partial, they have told their own story, without shame or regard to equitable treatment of their injured enemy; they had no compunction, no feeling for a Carthaginian. Why. Sir, they would never have borne Virgil's description of Aeneas's treatment of Dido, if she had not been a Carthaginian.”

[58] I gratefully acknowledge this and other communications from Mr. Cambridge, whom, if a beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames, a few miles distant from London, a numerous and excellent library, which he accurately knows and reads, a choice collection of pictures, which he understands and relishes, an easy fortune, an amiable family, an extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, distinguished by rank, fashion, and genius, a literary fame, various, elegant and still increasing, colloquial talents rarely to be found, and with all these means of happiness, enjoying, when well advanced in years, health and vigour of body, serenity and animation of mind, do not entitle to be addressed fortunate senex! I know not to whom, in any age, that expression could with propriety have been used. Long may he live to hear and to feel it!

[59] Johnson's love of little children, which he discovered upon all occasions, calling them “pretty dears,” and giving them sweetmeats, was an undoubted proof of the real humanity and gentleness of his disposition.

[60] His uncommon kindness to his servants, and serious concern, not only for their comfort in this world, but their happiness in the next, was another unquestionable evidence of what all, who were intimately acquainted with him, knew to be true.

[61] Nor would it be just under this head, to omit the fondness which he shewed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat; for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants, having that trouble, should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying “why, yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this”; and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, “but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.”

[62] This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young gentleman of good family. “Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.” And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, “But Hodge shan't be shot: no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.”

[63] He thought Mr. Beauclerk made a shrewd and judicious remark to Mr. Langton, who, after having been for the first time in company with a well known wit about town, was warmly admiring and praising him, — “See him again,” said Beauclerk.

[64] His respect for the Hierarchy, and particularly the Dignitaries of the Church, has been more than once exhibited in the course of this work. Mr. Seward saw him presented to the Archbishop of York, and described his Bow to an ARCHBISHOP, as such a studied elaboration of homage, such an extension of limb, such a flexion of body, as have seldom or ever been equalled.

[65] I cannot help mentioning with much regret, that by my own negligence I lost an opportunity of having the history of my family from its founder Thomas Boswell, in 1504, recorded and illustrated by Johnson's pen. Such was his goodness to me, that when I presumed to solicit him for so great a favour, he was pleased to say, “Let me have all the materials you can collect, and I will do it both in Latin and English: then let it be printed, and copies of it be deposited in various places for security and preservation.” I can now only do the best I can to make up for this loss, keeping my great Master steadily in view. Family histories, like the imagines majorum of the ancients, excite to virtue; and I wish that they who really have blood, would be more careful to trace and ascertain its course. Some have affected to laugh at the history of the house of Yvery: it would be well if many others would transmit their pedigrees to posterity, with the same accuracy and generous zeal, with which the Noble Lord who compiled that work has honoured and perpetuated his ancestry.

[66] On Thursday, April 10, I introduced to him, at his house in Bolt-court, the Honourable and Reverend William Stuart, son of the Earl of Bute; a gentleman truly worthy of being known to Johnson; being, with all the advantages of high birth, learning, travel, and elegant manners, an exemplary parish-priest in every respect.

[67] After some compliments on both sides, the tour which Johnson and I had made to the Hebrides was mentioned. — Johnson. “I got an acquisition of more ideas by it than by any thing that I remember. I saw quite a different system of life.” Boswell. “You would not like to make the same journey again?” Johnson. “Why no, Sir; not the same: it is a tale told. Gravina, an Italian critick, observes, that every man desires to see that of which he has read; but no man desires to read an account of what he has seen: so much does description fall short of reality. Description only excites curiosity: seeing satisfies it. Other people may go and see the Hebrides.” Boswell. “I should wish to go and see some country totally different from what I have been used to; such as Turkey, where religion and every thing else are different.” Johnson. “Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, — the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous.” Boswell. “Pray, Sir, is the 'Turkish Spy' a genuine book?” Johnson. “No, Sir. Mrs. Manley, in her Life, says, that her father wrote the first two volumes: and in another book, 'Dunton's Life and Errours,' we find that the rest was written by one Sault, at two guineas a sheet, under the direction of Dr. Midgeley.”

[68] Boswell. “This has been a very factious reign, owing to the too great indulgence of Government.” Johnson. “I think so, Sir. What at first was lenity, grew timidity. Yet this is reasoning a posteriori, and may not be just. Supposing a few had at first been punished, I believe faction would have been crushed; but it might have been said, that it was a sanguinary reign. A man cannot tell a priori what will be best for government to do. This reign has been very unfortunate. We have had an unsuccessful war; but that does not prove that we have been ill governed. One side or other must prevail in war, as one or other must win at play. When we beat Louis, we were not better governed; nor were the French better governed, when Louis beat us.”