The Life of Johnson HTML version
1776: AETAT. 67.]--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 pavements, 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 full glow of conversation,
and I felt myself elevated as if 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 restored by him, by
transfusion of mind.' 'There are many (she replied) who admire and respect Mr. Johnson;
but you and I LOVE him.'
* He said, when in Scotland, that he was Johnson of that Ilk.-- BOSWELL.
He seemed very happy in the near prospect of going to Italy with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale.
'But, (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 Ashbourn, 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.
We got into a boat to cross over to Black-friars; and as we moved along the Thames, I
talked to him of a little volume, which, altogether unknown to him, was advertised to be
published in a few days, under the title of Johnsoniana, or Bon-Mots of Dr. Johnson.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is a mighty impudent thing.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, could you have no
redress if you were to prosecute a publisher for bringing out, under your name, what you
never said, and ascribing to you dull stupid nonsense, or making you swear profanely, as
many ignorant relaters of your bon-mots do?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; there will always be
some truth mixed with the falsehood, and how can it be ascertained how much is true and
how much is false? Besides, Sir, what damages would a jury give me for having been
represented as swearing?' BOSWELL. 'I think, Sir, you should at least disavow such a
publication, because the world and posterity might with much plausible foundation say,
"Here is a volume which was publickly advertised and came out in Dr. Johnson's own
time, and, by his silence, was admitted by him to be genuine."' JOHNSON. 'I shall give
myself no trouble about the matter.'