Freedom and the Pen

  • Allan Ingram


Boswell’s journals afford many examples of his awareness of the difference between the inner self and the outer, of the gloss necessary for safe participation in social and business life — indeed, in all but the most extraordinary personal intercourse. Of Lord Marchmont he observes without irony, ‘He is a true Politician so that the qualities of the heart must be dispensed with’ (BP, i, p. 106). Johnson in company with Wilkes ‘tuned himself up to appear quite as an easy man of the world, who can adapt himself at once to the manners of those whom he may chance to meet’ (OY, p. 347). Of John Lee’s warning that Boswell’s Letter to the People of Scotland on … Diminishing the Number of Lords of Session might anger Dundas ‘when you are on terms of friendship with him’, Boswell says, ‘I laughed it off on the difference between one’s publick and private attitudes’ (BP, xvi, p. 96). And in the Letter itself he writes ‘It is my system to regard, in a publick capacity — measures, and not men; in a private capacity, men, and not measures.’1


Real Character Private Capacity Business Life True Communication Private Attitude 
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  1. 1.
    Cited by Frank Brady, Boswell’s Political Career (1965) p. 137.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1735) II, pp. 199–200.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    David L. Passler, Time, Form, and Style in B oswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ (1971) p. 94.Google Scholar
  4. 28.
    Peter Pindar’ (John Wolcot), Epistle to James Boswell (1786), in English Satiric Poetry, ed. James Kinsley and J. T. Boulton (1966) pp. 134–5.Google Scholar

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© Allan Ingram 1982

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  • Allan Ingram

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