Sunday, October 4, 2009

An Excerpt

From The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, by James Boswell

“ - Johnson. ‘Why, sir, a man grows better humoured as he grows older. He improves by experience. When young, he thinks himself of great consequence, and every thing of importance. As he advances in life, he learns to think himself of no consequence, and little things of little importance; and so he becomes more patient, and better pleased. All good-humour and complaisance are acquired. Naturally a child seizes directly what it sees, and thinks of pleasing itself only. By degrees, it is taught to please others; and that this will ultimately produce the greatest happiness. If a man is not convinced of that, he never will practice it. Common language speaks the truth as to this: we say, a person is well bred. As it is said, that all material motion is primarily in a right line, and is never per circuitum, never in another form, unless by some particular cause; so it may be said intellectual motion is.’ - Lady M’Leod asked, is no man naturally good? - Johnson. ‘No madam, no more than a wolf.’ - Boswell. ‘Nor no woman, sir?’ - Johnson. ‘No, sir.’ - Lady M’Leod started at this, saying, in a low voice, ‘This is worse than Swift.’”

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