« ZurückWeiter »
cannot have, the country bookseller cannot live; for 1776. his receipts are small, and his debts sometimes bad.
Ætat. 67. Thus, dear Sir, I have been incited by Dr. *******'s letter to give you a detail of the circulation of books, which, perhaps, every man has not had opportunity of knowing; and which those who know it, do not, perhaps, always distinctly consider.
“I am, &c. « March 12, 1776.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
Having arrived in London late on Friday, the 15th of March, I hastened next morning to wait on Dr. Johnson, at his house; but found he was removed from Johnson's-court, No. 7, to Bolt-court, No. 8, still keeping to his favourite Fleet-street. My reflection at the time upon this change as marked in my Journal, is as follows: “I felt a foolish regret that he had left a court which bore his name;' but it was not foolish to be affected with some tenderness of regard for a place in which I had seen him a great deal, from whence I had often issued a better and a happier man than when I went in, and which had often appeared to my imagination while I trod its pavement, in the solemn darkness of the night, to be sacred to wisdom and piety.” Being informed that he was at Mr. Thrale’s, in the Borough, I hastened thither, and found Mrs. Thrale and him at breakfast. I was kindly welcomed. In a moment he was in a
8 I am happy in giving this full and clear statement to the publick, to vindicate, by the authority of the greatest authour of his age, that respectable body of men, the Booksellers of London, from vulgar reflections, as if their profits were exorbitant, when, in truth, Dr. Johnson has here allowed them more than they usually demand,
' He said, when in Scotland, that he was Johnson of that Ilk.
1776. full glow of conversation, and I felt myself elevated Atat. 67.
as is brought into another state of being. Mrs. Thrale and I looked to each other while he talked, and our looks expressed our congenial admiration and affection for him. I shall ever recollect this scene with great pleasure. I exclaimed to her, “ I am now, intellectually, Hermippus redivivus;' I am quite testored by him, by transfusion of mind." “ There are many (she replied) who admire and respect Mr. Johnson; but
and I love him." He seemed very happy in the near prospect of going to Italy with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. (said he,) before leaving England I am to take a jaunt to Oxford, Birmingham, my native city Lichfield, and my old friend, Dr. Taylor's, at Ashbourne, in Derbyshire. I shall go in a few days, and you, Boswell, shall go with me.” I was ready to accompany him; being willing even to leave London to have the pleasure of his conversation. .
I mentioned with much regret the extravagance of the representative of a great family in Scotland, by which there was danger of its being ruined; and as Johnson respected it for its antiquity, he joined with me in thinking it would be happy if this person should die. Mrs. Thrale seemed shocked at this, as feudal barbarity; and said, “I do not understand this preference of the estate to its owner; of the land to the man who walks upon that land.” JOHNSON.
Nay, Madam, it is not a preference of the land to its owner; it is the preference of a family to an indi. vidual. Here is an establishment in a country, which is of importance for ages, not only to the chief but to
i See vol. I. P.
his people; an establishment which extends upwards 1776. and downwards; that this should be destroyed by
Ætat, 67. one idle fellow is a sad thing."
He said, “ Entails are good, because it is good to preserve in a country, serieses of men, to whom the people are accustomed to look up as to their leaders. But I am for leaving a quantity of land in commerce, to excite industry, and keep money in the country: for if no land were to be bought in the country, there would be no encouragement to acquire wealth, because a family could not be founded there; or if it were acquired, it must be carried away to another country where land may be bought. And although the land in every country will remain the same, and be as fertile where there is no money, as where there is, yet all that portion of the happiness of civil life, which is produced by money circulating in a country, would be lost.” Boswell. “ Then, Sir, would it be for the advantage of a country that all its lands were sold at once?" JOHNSON. “ So far, Sir, as money produces good, it would be an advantage; for, then that country.would have as much money circulating in it as it is worth. But to be sure this would be counterbalanced by disadvantages attending a total change of proprietors.”
I expressed my opinion that the power of entailing should be limited thus: “ That there should be one third, or perhaps one half
of the land of a country kept free for coinmerce; that the proportion allowed to be entailed, should be parcelled out so that no family could entail above a certain quantity. Let a family, according to the abilities of its representatives, be richer or poorer in different generations, or always rich if its representatives be always wise: but let its absolute permanency be moderate. .
1776. In this way we should be certain of there being always
a number of established roots; and as in the course Ætat. 67.
of nature, there is in every age an extinction of some families, there would be continual openings for men ambitious of perpetuity, to plant a stock in the entail ground." JOHNSON.
JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, mankind will be better able to regulate the system of entails, when the evil of too much land being locked up by them is felt, than we can do at present when it is not felt.”
I mentioned Dr. Adam Smith's book on “The Wealth of Nations," which was just published, and that Sir John Pringle had observed to me, that Dr. Smith, who had never been in trade, could not be expected to write well on that subject any more than a lawyer upon physick. JOHNSON. “ He is mistaken, Sir: a man who has never been engaged in trade himself may undoubtedly write well upon trade, and there is nothing which requires more to be i)lustrated by philosophy than trade does. As to mere wealth, that is to say, '
money, it is clear that one nation or one individual cannot increase its store but by making another
procures what is more valuable, the reciprocation of the peculiar advantages of different countries, A merchant seldom thinks but of his own particular trade. To write a good book upon it, a man must have extensive views: It is not necessary to have practised, to write well 1776. upon a subject.” I mentioned law as a subject on
2 The privilege of perpetuating in a family an estate and arms indefeasibly from generation to generation, is enjoyed by none of his Majesty's subjects except in Scotland, where the legal fiction of fine and recovery is unknown. It is a privilege so proud, that I should think it would be proper to have the exercise of it dependent on the royal prerogative. It seems absurd to permit the power of perpetuating their representation, to men, who having liad no eminent merit, have truly no name. The King, as the impartial father of his people, would never refuse to grant the privilege to those who deserved it.
Ætat.67. which no man could write well without practice. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, in England, where so much money is to be got by the practice of the law, most of our writers upon it have been in practice; though Blackstone had not been much in practice when he published his · Commentaries.' But upon the Continent, the great writers on law have not all been in practice: Grotius, indeed was; but Puffendorf was noț, Burlamaqui was not."
When we had talked of the great consequence which a man acquired by being employed in his profession, I suggested a doubt of the justice of the general opinion, that it is improper in a lawyer to solicit employment; for why, I urged, should it not be equally allowable to solicit that as the means of consequence, as it is to solicit votes to be elected a member of Parliament? Mr. Strahan had told me that a countryınan of his and mine, who had risen to eminence in the law, had, when first making his way, solicited him to get him employed in city causes. JOHNSON. “Sir, it is wrong to stir up law-suits; but when once it is certain that a law-suit is to go on, there is nothing wrong in a lawyer’s endeavouring that he shall have the benefit, rather than another.” Boswell. “ You would not solicit employment, Sir; if
you were a lawyer.” JOHNSON. “ No, Sir; but not because I should think it wrong, but because I should disdain it." This was a good distinction, which will be felt by men of just pride. He proseeded : “ However, I would not have a lawyer to be wanting to himself in using fair means. I would