34 Extracts from James Boswell's Letters
��a bond for that sum, as then I would take my chance, and, as Sir Joshua says, game with my book ? Upon my honour, your telling me that you cannot comply with what I propose will not in the least surprise me, or make any manner of difference as to my opinion of your friendship. I mean to ask Sir Joshua if he will join ; for indeed I should be vexed to sell my Magnum Opus for a great deal less than its intrinsic value. I meant to publish on Shrove Tuesday ; but if I can get out within the month of March I shall be satisfied. I have now, I think, four or five sheets to print, which will make my second volume about 575 pages. But I shall have more cancels. That nervous mortal W. G. H. is not satisfied with my report of some particulars which I wrote down from his own mouth, and is so much agitated, that Courtenay has persuaded me to allow a new edition of them by H. himself to be made at H/s expense x . Besides, it has occurred to me, that when I mention a literary fraud, by Rolt the historian, in going to Dublin, and publishing Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination, with his own name 2 , I may not be able to authenticate it, as Johnson
��1 W. G. H. was William Gerard Hamilton. The cancel occurs at vol. ii. 396 of the first edition ; vol. iv. 1 1 1 of mine ; where, instead of the paragraph which now begins, ' One of Johnson's principal talents,' the following had stood: 'His friend, Mr. Hamilton, when dining at my house one day expressed this so well that I wrote down his words : " Johnson's great excellence in main taining the wrong side of an argu ment was a splendid perversion. If you could contrive it so as to have his fair opinion upon a subject, without any bias from personal pre judice, or from a wish to con quer it was wisdom, it was justice, it was convincing, it was over powering." '
The blank on the next page was filled by Hamilton. ' Mr. Hamilton,' wrote Malone, ' has all his life been distinguished for political timidity
��and indecision.' Prior's Malone, p. 418.
On Feb. 10 Boswell wrote to Ma- lone : ' I must have a cancelled leaf in vol. ii. [p. 302] of that passage where there is a conversation as to conjugal infidelity on the husband's side, and his wife saying she did not care how many women he went to, if he loved her alone, with my pro posing to mark in a pocket-book, every time a wife refuses, &c., &c. I wonder how you and I admitted this to the public eye, for Windham, &c. were struck with its indelicacy, and it might hurt the book much. It is however mighty good stuff.'
The passage occurs in vol. iii. p. 406 of my edition, where Johnson says : ' Wise married women don't trouble themselves about the infi delity in their husbands.'
2 Life ,i. 359. No change was made; ' literary fraud ' remains in the text.