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answer, as I am eager to embrace every occasion of augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my illustrious friend :
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
London, Oct. 24, 1780. “I HAVE this moment received your letter dated the 19th, and returned from Bath.
“ In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux, without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to the establishment of the House, the opportunity of making the charity so good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if you'll favour me with notice of it, I will try to recommend him to the place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate.
“Jam, sir, with great regard,
- Your most faithful
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it is at last what I resolve to do. This year must
without an interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many
my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.
“ Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election; he is now going to Brighthelmston, and expects me to go with him; and how long I shall stay, I
cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but shall go, and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness, and that the lapse of year
cannot lessen our mutual kindness.
“I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in supposing that she bears me illwill. I love you so much, that I would be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.
“ I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father received him kindly, but not fondly; however, you' seem to have lived well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as you can. • You lately told me of your
health: I you in return, that my health has been for more than a year past, better than it has been for many years before. Perhaps it may please God to give us some time together before we are parted.
“ I am, dear sir,
“ Yours, most affectionately, “ Oct. 17, 1780.”
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”
[“ TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.
will forgive the liberty I take, in soliciting your interposition with his Grace the Archbishop: my first petition was successful, and I therefore venture on a second.
“ The matron of the Chartreux is about to resign her place, and Mrs. Desmoulins, a daughter of the
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late Dr. Swinfen,' who was well known to your father, is desirous of succeeding her. She has been accustomed by keeping a boarding school to the care of children, and I think is very likely to discharge her duty. She is in great distress, and therefore may properly receive the benefit of a charitable foundation. If you wish to see her, she will be willing to give an account of herself. « If
you shall be pleased, sir, to mention her favourably to his Grace, you will do a great act of kindness to, sir,
“ Your most obliged,
“ And most humble servant, “ December 30, 1780.”
“ SAM. Johnson.”]
Being disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so that I could hear none of his admirable sayings, I shall compensate for this want by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to
my worthy friend Mr. Langton, whose kind communications have been separately interwoven in many parts of this work. Very few articles of this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that habit; which he regrets, and which those who know the numerous opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of Johnsonian wit and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversation with him, that a good store of JOHNSONIANA was treasured in his mind; and I compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which when dug, fully rewards the labour employed. The authenticity of every article is unquestionable. For the expression, I, who wrote them down in his presence, am partly answerable.
“ Theocritus is not deserving of very high 'respect
1 [See vol. i. p. 51. M.]
as a writer; as to the pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superiour. He wrote, when there had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in de. scription, though living in a beautiful country: the manners painted are coarse and gross. Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of nature, and more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the King of that country; which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it; and the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumphant.-Thocritus seems not to have seen that the brothers have the advantage in their argument over his Argonaut heroes.-- The Sicilian Gossips' is a piece of merit.”
" Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of ancient authours, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their writings.”
“ Mattaire's account of the Stephani is a heavy book. He seems to have been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship, but with little geometry or logick in his head, without method, and possessed of little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called · Senilia;' in which he shews so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl.-In matters of genealogy it is necessary to
give the bare names as they are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them.--His book of the Dialects is a sad heap of confusion ; the only way to write on them is to tabulate them with Notes, added at the bottom of the page, and references.”
“ It may be questioned, whether there is not some mistake as to the methods of employing the poor, seemingly on a supposition that there is a certain portion of work left undone for want of persons to do it; but if that is otherwise, and all the materials we have are actually worked up, or all the manufactures we can use or dispose of are already executed, then what is given to the poor, who are to be set at work, must be taken from some who now have it: as time must be taken for learning (according to Sir William Petty's observation), a certain part of those very materials that, as it is, are properly worked up, must be spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. We may apply to well-meaning, but misjudging persons in particulars of this nature, what Giannone said to a monk, who wanted what he called to convert him : • Tu sei santo, ma tu non sei filosopho.'-It is an unhappy circumstance that one might give away five hundred pounds in a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do
any good.” “ There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity, than condescension ; when he seems to suppose his understanding too powerful for his company."
Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, 'Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.””