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.