James Boswell (1740-1795) verbleef in 1763-1764 in Nederland, om er te studeren in Utrecht. Hij leerde er Belle van Zuylen kennen, met wie hij zeer goed bevriend raakte, maar Boswell zag af van een huwelijk. De dag voor hij wegging uit Nederland, deelde hij haar mee dat hij niet verliefd op haar was. Alle brieven en dagboekfragmenten uit deze periode staan hier.
MONDAY 18 JUNE. My wakeful night well past, I was in glow
of spirits. Zelide's letter [Belle van Zuylen] was long and warm. She imagined me in
love with her, and with much romantic delicacy talked of this
having rendered her distraite. I was honest or simple enough to
leave her a short letter, assuring her that I was not amoureux, but
would always be her fidèle ami.
I had all my affairs in order. Honest Carron came and took
leave of me. And next comes a most flagrant whim. Some days ago
I called to me François, told him that he had served me honestly
and well, and that I could give him a good character as a servant. I
said I hoped that I had been a good master. To know this certainly,
I ordered him to write out a full character of me, since he entered
to my service, and charged him to mark equally the bad and the
good which he had observed, and to give it me carefully sealed up.
I accordingly received it this morning [zie hieronder].
I took leave of my house in which I have had such an infinity of
ideas. At seven we set out in a coach and four. . . .
• Brief van François Mazerac, waarin hij de goede en slechte eigenschappen van Boswell opsomt.
Utrecht, 17 June 1764
MONSIEUR: My small ability makes it almost impossible for
me to comply with your orders, and I hope that Monsieur will take
my remarks kindly and regard them as coming from a person who
is only trying to obey you.
First: I have found that Monsieur is extremely negligent about
his money, his watch, and other effects, in leaving them on the
table, or in leaving the key on the bureau, and going out of the
room leaving the door open, as happened several times at The
Hague. If it should ever happen that you have the misfortune to
lose something in this way, you might entertain suspicions of your servant or some other innocent person. There is a saying, "Oppor-
tunity makes the thief."
Secondly: I have found that Monsieur has a good heart, in
doing good to the poor: a virtue which is dictated by humanity and
prescribed by religion.
Thirdly: Monsieur is not at all given to backbiting, a vice very
common among great minds.
Fourthly: 6 Very punctual in performing the duties of your
religion, by going to church, not swearing, and above all by saying
your prayers every morning.
Fifthly: I have found that when Monsieur has invited com-
pany, the guests always arrived before you, which might expose
you to some reproach, especially in another country where they
care more for social formalities than they do here.
Sixthly: I have found that Monsieur applies himself too much
to study, which is noble in itself but ruinous to health if not done
Seventhly: I find that Monsieur goes to bed too late, which,
with the study, will make you lose your health, which Monsieur
will regret when it is too late and there is no help for it.
Eighthly and last item: I have found in Monsieur a really
Christian and noble heart, especially towards me, which I shall
never forget. May the Father of fathers take you under His holy
protection, and keep His eye on you, guarding you as a beloved
child. May He guide your steps and direct your thoughts, so that no
harm may come to you, and that when you have returned home
safe and sound, you will bless Him therefor eternally.
I end by thanking Monsieur again for all his goodness, begging
him to think of me sometimes. As for me, I believe I shall never
forget Monsieur. Permit me to beg you, Monsieur, that, should
you ever have a chance, you will let me know how you are. Your
very grieved and faithful servant,