Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

came through St. Quintin to Cambray, not long 1775. after three.-We went to an English nunnery, to

Ætat. 66. give a letter to Father Welch, the confessor, who came to visit us in the evening.

Nov. 5. Sunday. We saw the Cathedral. It is very beautiful, with chapels on each side.--The choir splendid.The balustrade in one part brass.The Neff very high and grand. The altar silver as far as it is seen.-The vestments very splendid. --At the Benedictines church

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 ac

? My worthy and ingenious friend, Mr. Andrew Lumisden, by his accurate acquaintance with France, enabled me to make out many proper names which Dr. Johnson had written indistinctly, and sometimes spelt erroneously.

VOL. II.

EE

1775. quaintance by means of Colonel Drumgould, a very Ætat. 66. high man, Sir, head of L'Ecole 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 bad 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

8 [Mr. Foote seems to have embellished a little in saying that Johnson did not alter his dress at Paris; as in his Journal is a me. morandum about white stockings, wig, and hat. In another place we are told that “ during his travels in France he was furnished with a French-made wig of handsome construction." That Johnson was not inattentive to his appearance is certain, from a circumstance related by Mr. Steevens, and inserted by Mr. Boswell, in vol. iv. between June 15 and June 22, 1784. I. B.]

Ætat, 66.

brown clothes, black stockings, and plain shirt. He 1775. 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-stoolş 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 suprise,-he answered, “because I think

my

French is as good as his English.” Though Johnson under

Mr. Blakeway's observation is further confirmed by a note in Johnson's diary (quoted by Sir John Hawkins, Life of Johnson, p. 517,) by which it appears, that he laid out thirty pounds in cloaths for his French journey. M.]

stood French perfectly, he could not speak it readily,

as I have observed at his first interview with General Ætat. 66.

Paoli, in 1769; yet he wrote it, I imagine, pretty well, as appears from some of his letters in Mrs. Piozzi's collection, of which I shall transcribe one:

Est ce que je

A Madame La Comtesse de

“ July 16, 1775. Oui, Madame, le moment est arrivé, et il faut que je parte. Mais pourquoi faut il partir? Est ce que je m'ennuye? Je m'ennuyerai ailleurs. cherche ou quelque plaisir, ou quelque soulagement ? Je ne cherche rien, je n'espere rien. Aller voir ce que jai , etre un peu rejoué, un peu degouté, me resouvenir que la vie se passe en vain, me plaindre de moi, m'endurcir aux dehors; voici le tout de ce qu'on compte pour les delices de l'année. Que Dieu vous donne, Madame, tous les agrémens de la vie, avec un esprit qui peut en jouir sans s'y livrer trop."

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 to 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 1775. his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality, and

Ætat. 66. eager to show 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."

He spoke Latin with wonderful fluency and elegance. When Pere Boscovich was in England, Johnson dined in company with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, and at Dr. Douglas's, now Bishop of Salisbury. Upon both occasions that celebrated foreigner expressed his astonishment at Johnson's Latin conversation. When at Paris, Johnson thus characterised Voltaire to Freron the Journalist: - Vir est acerrimi ingenii et paucarum literarum."

TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.

« MY DEAR SIR,

Edinburgh, Dec. 5, 1773. “ 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 show attention to any branch of the family. Indeed, you have so much of the true Highland cordiality,

« ZurückWeiter »