zondag 11 oktober 2015

James Boswell -- 12 oktober 1763

James Boswell (1740-1795) was een Schotse advocaat en schrijver, bekend vanwege zijn The Life of Samuel Johnson, zijn vriendschap met Belle van Zuylen, maar zeker ook vanwege zijn dagboeken, waaronder Boswell in Holland.

I like exceedingly to wash my feet in warm water. It gives me a kind of tranquillity. I am not joking; I speak from experience. I have often done it merely for pleasure. But if I receive so much delight from washing my feet, how great must have been the luxury of the Romans, who solaced thus their entire bodies. The warm baths which they had everywhere contributed greatly to felicity Truly, without exaggeration, one cannot imagine anything more consoling than after a day of annoyance and fatigue to undress and stretch one's self out at full length in fluid warmth, to have one's nerves gently relaxed, to enjoy indolent ease and forget all one's cares. I experienced a little of that enjoyment when I was at Moffat in Scotland for the mineral waters. But my pleasure was very crude because I was taking the baths for my health, and there were no conveniences for bathing for pleasure. I was put into a horrible tub, a scanty covering was thrown over me, and in that state I was obliged to remain for half an hour. I had as my supervisor a barbarian of a Presbyterian preacher, who called out from time to time in a harsh voice, "Take care, you rogue! If we see the least disobedience to our orders, we shall proceed to instant punishment." And that was why I kept quiet, though I was extremely bored.

A warm bath is, I confess, a most agreeable kind of luxury, but luxury is very dangerous. . . . Above all things a young man should guard against effeminacy. I would advise him to avoid warm baths and accustom himself rather to the cold bath, which will give him vigour and liveliness. When I was at Edinburgh, I used to take a cold bath every morning, even in the severest winter. I met there the most shameless flatterer I ever saw. He was the bath-keeper. He said to me, "Mr. Boswell, if you should choose to join the Army, there is no doubt that you would be accepted for any rank lower than that of General." He always flattered me without limit. He had a prodigious stock of gross compliments. But, indeed, though I always laughed at his amazing effrontery, I liked to hear him run on. The most obvious flattery has in it something agreeable.

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