JAMES BOSWELL has been most fortunate in his twentieth-century editors, from Margery Bailey’s edition of The Hypochrondriack in 1928 to Geoffrey Scott’s and Frederick A. Pottle’s work on the ‘Journals’ in the first half of the century, work continued by a fine group of scholars gathered around Pottle and producing journal volumes well to the end of the century. This superior editing is also true, of course, of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, but for several years now an effort has been undertaken to fill some annotative gaps in these other of Boswell’s writings; this note continues that effort.1 In December 1777, in the third of what became seventy periodic essays by James Boswell titled The Hypochondriack and published anonymously in the London Magazine from October 1777 to August 1783, Boswell takes up the topic of war. As he is wont to do in this venue, his essay is a pastiche of biblical, classical, and contemporary opinions on the topic, most of which were admirably traced by Bailey in her fine scholarly edition.2 Bailey hesitated, however, when explicating a source partially named by Boswell himself, when he comments on the inability of the Christian religion to prevent war: ‘That amiable religion which “proclaims peace on earth”, hath not as yet made war to cease. … Were the mild and humane doctrine of those Christians, who are called Quakers, which Mr Jenyns has lately embellished with his elegant pen, to prevail, human felicity would gain more than we can well conceive’ (I, 124). Bailey’s note reads, ‘Boswell is perhaps alluding to A View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion (1776) by Soame Jenyns (1703–1787)’.3 In a case of ‘right church, wrong pew’, Bailey is correct to confirm Boswell’s crediting of Jenyns—and surely this is Soame Jenyns—but nowhere in A View of the Internal Evidence is there a similar statement. Boswell may well have had in mind Jenyns’ observation that ‘if that tenet of quakerism, that war is absolutely unlawful, is not strictly true, it is certainly very near it; for all wars must be unjust, and consequently unlawful on one side, and they are most commonly so on both at their commencement, and always in their progress’.4 We quote from Jenyns’ collected Works, published in 1790, in a section titled ‘Reflections on Several Subjects’, and therein lies the rub. Obviously Boswell could not be referencing a source thirteen years before publication, but we have not been able to locate any earlier statement of the same sentiment by Jenyns. However, the closeness of this passage to what Boswell recalls does persuade us that this passage, reproduced in 1790, must have appeared earlier, although it does not seem to have appeared in any separately published work bearing Jenyns’ name. ‘Reflections on Several Subjects’ was the catchall phrase Jenyns used for smaller prose pieces when he collected his sundry writings. It appears, for example, in his Miscellaneous Pieces, in Verse and Prose (1770), where we find some—but far from all—the prose reflections that would subsequently appear in the 1790 Works. The paragraph on Quaker pacifism is not included in that earlier gathering, but has been added to the very end of the ‘Reflections’ section in 1790, the last of several items added on to those reprinted from the 1770 volume. No source is indicated, and its original printing remains to be recovered. A second addition to the annotations of Boswell’s writings may be made to Boswell in Holland: 1763–1764. In one of the earlier meetings between Boswell and Belle de Zuylen (Zélide), on Saturday, 28 January 1764, Boswell records having flirted with her by reciting a ballad line, ‘I love Sue, &c.’ before adding to Zélide that ‘the contrary is true with you and me’. Her response, typically enough, was to deny Boswell’s assertion, claiming that she was ‘prepossessed’ in his favour. Pottle was correct in suggesting the line was from a ‘currently popular’ song, but explained he knew it ‘only by the title’ and conjectured that ‘the words probably say that the lover had loved Sue before he had ever met her’.5 This turns out to be inaccurate in two ways. First, the words ‘I love Sue’ is the refrain not the title of ‘The Miller’s Wedding’, a song attributed to David Garrick, and first sung by John Beard (1716/17–91) in Harlequin Ranger in Drury-lane in 1751.6 Given that Boswell is embarked on a decade long ‘search for a wife’, the ballad is particularly apropos to his situation, although the refrain, reflecting marital satisfaction, is not: ‘I love Sue, and Sue loves me, / And while the wind blows / And while the mill goes, / Who’ll be so happy, so happy as we.’ The ballad’s lyrics, however, speak to Boswell’s actual search for a mate, the decade-long conflict between his fleshly desires and his (and his father’s) economic drive: ‘Let lords, and fine folks who for wealth take a bride, / Be marry’d to-day, and to-morrow be cloy’d; / My body is stout, and my heart is as sound, / And my love, like my courage will never give ground.’ Other stanzas repeat variations of the conflict, including such indelicate lines as ‘Let ladies of fashion the best jointures wed, / And prudently take the best bidders to bed.’ One hopes Boswell did not recite the entire ballad to Zélide, although, as their ‘romance’ progressed and regressed over the next five years, he perhaps too often recalled the opening couplet of the final stanza: ‘While thus I am able to work at my mill, / While thus thou art kind, and thy tongue but lies still.’ If Boswell just happened to pluck the refrain from his memory, as is often the case with popular ballads, he did find one particularly suited to him and his Zélide. Footnotes 1 See Robert G. Walker, ‘Notes on Boswell, Laird of Auchinleck, 1778–1782’, Age of Johnson, xxii (2012), 123–30; ‘Fugitive Allusions in Boswell in Search of a Wife, or The Charming Mr. Boswell’, 1650–1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era, xxii (2015), 93–111; and ‘Three Notes to Boswell in Extremes, 1776–1778’, N&Q, lviii (2011), 423–5. 2 The Hypochondriack, ed. Margery Bailey, 2 vols (Stanford, CA, 1928). 3 I, 124n14. Bailey repeats this part of the note verbatim in her later one-volume edition of The Hypochondriack, Boswell’s Column (London, 1951), 35. The passage is not remarked in Robert G. Walker, ‘Addenda and Corrigenda to the Annotations of the Bailey Edition of Boswell’s Hypochondriack’, English Studies, xci (2010), 274–88. 4 The Works of Soame Jenyns, Esq., 4 vols (London, 1790), II, 223. 5 Boswell in Holland, 1763–1764, ed. F. A. Pottle (New York, 1952), 128. 6 The Poetical Works of David Garrick, Esq. 2 vols. (1785), II, 372–3. The ballad is headed by the information concerning Beard’s singing of it. ECCO, Part 1, shows more than twenty reprintings of the song from 1751 to 1800. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Notes and Queries – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 10, 2018
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