Saturday, October 29, 2011

James Boswell Born

‘There was a variation of spirits about James Boswell which indicated some slight touch of insanity.  His melancholy, which he complained of to Johnson, was not affected, but constitutional, though doubtless he thought it a mark of high distinction to be afflicted with hypochondria like his moral patron.  But Johnson, however indulgent to his own sinking of the spirits, had little tolerance for those of his imitator.  After all, Bozzy, though submitting to Johnson in everything, had his means of indemnification.  Like the jackanapes mounted on the bear’s back, he contrived now and then to play the more powerful animal a trick by getting him into situations, like the meeting with Wilkes, merely to see how he would look.  The voyage to the Hebrides exhibited some tricks of that kind, the weather being so stormy at that late season that everyone thought they must have drowned.  Undoubtedly Bozzy wanted to see how the Doctor would look in a storm.’ 

October 29, 1740, is the day that James Boswell came into the world.  Sir Walter Scott writes of Bozzy to John Wilson Croker, who later sought Scott’s help toward gaining access to Boswell's papers, through Scott's connection with Boswell's sons, as material for his annotated version of Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson”.  Scott’s letter is dated January 30, 1829.

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