Dr Samuel Johnson meets his biographer James Boswell
On this day in 1763 in London, Dr Samuel Johnson met for the first time his future biographer, James Boswell.
It was not love at first sight. Boswell tried unsuccessfully to hide the fact that he was a Scot but when it came out said: “Indeed I come from Scotland but I cannot help it.” To which Johnson replied: “That I find is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.” However they soon met again and became good friends.
Somehow the brash young Boswell was the perfect foil for the weighty old man. Boswell wrote after that first meeting: “a Man of a most dreadful appearance. He is very slovenly in his dress and speaks with a most uncouth voice. Yet his great knowledge, and strength of expression command vast respect and render him excellent company.”
The socially ambitious Boswell is only known to have written one (not very good) poem entitled The Cub at Newmarket. Typically, he dedicated it to the Prince of Wales, without his permission. His prose is much better:
Poets, for most part, have been poor;
Experience tells us; “Proof too sure.”
“Ay, may be so,” Lord Rich exclaims,
Who Fortune’s Will incessant blames,
It may be so; but yet, confound ’em,
They still have Jollity around ’em.”
Pray, my good Lord, tis no Offence
To ask by rules of common sense,
Is not this distribution right?
At least I view it in that light;
For ’tis but just that ev’ry Creature
Should have some favour from Dame Nature.
Today I will remember that if I can love others without expecting to be loved back, I will most likely receive love in return.