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be thankful for it, as a pledge of firm, and, I hope, of unalterable kindness. She is, after all, a dear, dear lady.
“ Please to return Dr. Blair thanks for his sermons. The Scotch write English wonderfully well.
“Your frequent visits to Auchinleck, and your short stays there, are very laudable and very judicious. Your present concord with your father gives me great pleasure; it was all that you seemed to want.
“My health is very bad, and my nights are very unquiet. What can I do to mend them? I have for this summer nothing better in prospect than a journey into Staffordshire and Derbyshire, perhaps with Oxford and Birmingham in my way.
“Make my compliments to Miss Veronica ; I must leave it to her philosophy to comfort you for the loss of little David. You must remember, that to keep three out of four is more than your share. Mrs. Thrale has but four out of eleven.
“I am engaged to write little Lives, and little Prefaces, to a little edition of • The English Poets.' I think I have persuaded the booksellers to insert something of Thomson; and if you could give me some information about him, for the life which we have is very scanty, I should be glad.
“I am, dear Sir,
Dr. CONSON'S AGREEMENT TO WRITE “THE LIVES OF THE BRITISH Poers"--DILLY THE
BIOKSELLER-CHARLES O'CONNOR-BISHOP PEARCE-PROLOGUE TO KELLY'S COMEDYSAVAGE'S TRAGEDY OF “SIR THOMAS OVERBURY" — SHERIDAN - HARRIS - THOMSON Anderson-Dr. DODD-BOSWELL'S LETTER FROM THE TOMB OF MELANCTHON--SEWARD -DE GROOT-DR. WATTS- Dr. VYSE - Sin ALLAN MACLEAN'S LAW-suit - Johnson's VISIT TO ASHBOURNE-DEATH OF HARRY JACKSON-SIR PHILIP SIDNEY-LORD HAILESSALE OF MACQUARRY'S ESTATES-ULVA AND STAFFA-PROJECTED TRIP TO THE BALTIOFOLY OF MELANCHOLY.
То ihose who delight in tracing the progress of works of literature, it
will be an entertainment to compare the limited design with the ampl execution of that admirable performance, “ The Lives of the English Poets,” which is the richest, most beautiful, and indeed most perfect, production of Johnson's pen. His notion of it at this time appears in the preceding letter. He has a memorandum in this year“ 29 Yay, Easter-eve, I treated with booksellers on a bargain, but the time was not long." The bargain was concerning that undertaking ; but bis tender conscience seems alarmed, lest it should have intruded too much on his devout preparation for the solemnity of the ensuing day. But, indeed, very little time was necessary for Johnson's concluding a treaty with the booksellers ; as he bad, I believe, less attention to profit from his labours than any man to whom literature has been a profession. I shall here insert (from a letter to me from my late worthy frieni, Mr. Edward Dilly, though of a later date), an account of this plan so happily conceived ; since it was the occasion of procuring for us an elegant collection of the best biography and criticism of which our language can boast.
1 "Prayers and Meditations," p. 165.--BOSWELL
“ MR E. DILLY TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
Southill, Sept. 26th, 1777. “ You will find, by this letter, that I am still in the same calm retreat, from the noise and bustle of London, as when I wrote to you last. I am happy to find you had such an agreeable meeting with your old friend, Dr. Johnson; I have no doubt your stock is much increased by the interview; few men, nay, I may say, scarcely any man, has got that fund of knowledge and entertainment as Dr. Johnson in conversation. When he opens freely, every one is attentive to what he says, and cannot fail of improvement as well as pleasure.
“The Edition of the Poets, now printing, will do honour to the English press; and a concise account of the life of each author, by Dr. Johnson, will be a very valuable addition, and stamp the reputation of this edition superior to any thing that is gone before. The first cause that gave rise to this undetaking, I believe, was owing to the little trifling edition of the Poets, printing by the Martins at Edinburgh, and to be sold by Bell in London. Upon examining the volumes which were printed, the type was found so extremely small, that many persons could not read them. Not only this inconveniace attended it, but the inaccuracy of the press was very conspicuous. Tiese reasons, as well as the idea of an invasion of what we call our Literary Property, induced the London booksellers to print an elegant and accurate edition of all the English poets of reputation, from Chaucer to the present time.
· Accordingly, a select number of the most respectable booksellers met on the occasion; and, on consulting together, agreed, that all the proprietas of copyright in the various poets should be summoned together; and, when their opinions were given, to proceed immediately on the business. Accordingly a meeting was held, consisting of about forty of the most respectable bookellers of London, when it was agreed that an elegant and uniform edition of The English Poets' should be immediately printed, with a concise account & the life of each author, by Dr. Samuel Johnson; and that three persons shoud be deputed to wait upon Dr. Johnson, to solicit him to undertake the Live:, viz., T. Davies, Strahan, and Cadell. The Doctor very politely undertook it and seemed exceedingly pleased with the proposal. As to the terms, it was left entirely to the Doctor to name his own; he mentioned two hundred guireas ;1 it was immediately agreed to; and a farther compliment, I believe, will be made him. A committee was likewise appointed to engage the best engnvers, viz., Bartolozzi,” Sherwin, Hall, &c. Likewise another committee for giving directions about the paper, printing, &c., so that the whole will be conducted
1 Johnson's moderation in demanding so small a sum is extraordinary. Had he askd one thousand, or even fifteen hundred, guineas, the booksellers, who knew the value of hisname, would, doubtless, have readily given it. They have, probably, got five thousand guinias by this work in the course of twenty-five years.-MALONE.
Francis Bartolozzi was born at Florence, in 1728, and came to England in 1764, when he was admitted a Member of the Royal Academy, and received extensive patronage is an engraver and artist. He was the father of the distinguished actress, Madame Vostris He went to Lisbon in 1802, and there died in 1815.—ED.
with spirit, and in the best manner, with respect to authorship, editorship, engravings, &c. My brother will give you a list of the Poets we mean to give, many of which are within the time of the Act of Queen Anne, which Martin and Bell cannot give, as they have no property in them; the proprietors are almost all the booksellers in London, of consequence.
“I am, dear Sir, ever urs,
“ EDWARD DILLY."
I shall afterwards have occasion to consider the extensive and varied range which Johnson took, when he was once led upon ground which he trod with a peculiar delight, having long been intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of it that could interest and please.
DR. JOHNSON TO CHARLES O'CONNOR, ESQ.? “SIR,
May 19th, 1777. “ Having had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Campbell about your character and your literary undertaking, I am resolved to gratify myself by renewing a correspondence which began and ended a great while ago, and ended, I am afraid, by my fault; a fault which, if you have not forgotten it, you must now forgive.
“If I have ever disappointed you, give me leave to tell you, that you have likewise disappointed me. I expected great discoveries in Irish antiquity, and large publications in the Irish language ; but the world still remains as it was, doubtful and ignorant. What the Irish language is in itself, and to what languages it has affinity, are very interesting questions, which every man wishes to see resolved that has any philological or historical curiosity. Dr. Lelanda begins his history too late : the ages which deserve an exact inquiry are those times (for such they were) when Ireland was the school of the west, the quiet habitation of sanctity and literature. If you could give a history, though imperfect, of the Irish nation, from its conversion to Christianity to the invasion from England, you would amplify knowledge with new views and new objects. Set about it, therefore, if you can: do what you can easily do without anxious exactness. Lay the foundation, and leave the superstructure to posterity.
“I am, Sir, your humble servant,
Mr. Joseph Cooper Walker, of the Treasury, Dublin, who obligingly communicated to me this and a former letter from Dr. Johnson to the same gentleman (for which see vol. i. chap. ix.), writes to me as follows :—"Perhaps it would gratify you to have some acconnt of Mr. O'Connor. He is an amiable, learned, venerable old gentleman, of an independent fortune, who lives at Belanagar, in the county of Roscommon; he is an admired writer, and Member of the Irish Academy.”—The above letter is alluded to in the Preface of the 2d edit. of his “Dissert.” p. 3. Mr. O'Connor afterwards died at the age of eighty-two, July 1, 1791. See a well-drawn character of him in “The Gentleman's Magazine” for August, 1791. -BOSWELL.
2 Dr. Thomas Leland was a divine and miscellaneous writer, and the author of a “ History of Ireland,” in 3 vols. 8vo. He was born and educated in Dublin in 1722, and appointed to the vicarage of Bray in 1768. He died in 1785.--ED.
Early in this year came out, in two volumes quarto, the posthumous works of the learned Dr. Zachary Pearce, Bishop of Rochester ;' being,
A Commentary, with Notes, on the Four Evangelists and the Acts of the Apostles,” with other theological pieces. Johnson had now an opportunity of making a grateful return to that excellent prelate, who, we have seen, was the only person who gave him any assistance in the compilation of his Dictionary, The Bishop had left some account of his life and character, written by himself. To this Johnson made some valuable additions, and furnished to the editor, the Reverend Mr. Derby, a Dedication, which I shall here insert, both because it will appear at this time with peculiar propriety, and because it will tend to propagate and increase that "fervour of loyalty,” which in me, who boast of the name of Tory, is not only a principle but a passion
" TO THE KING. “SIR, “I presume to lay before your Majesty the last labours of a learned Bishop who died in the toils and duties of his calling. He is now beyond the reach of all earthly honours and rewards; and only the hope of inciting others to imitate him, makes it now fit to be remembered that he enjoyed in his life the favour of your Majesty.
The tumultuary life of Princes seldom permits them to survey the wide extent of national interest without losing sight of private merit; to exhibit qualities which may be imitated by the highest and the humblest of mankind; and to be at once amiable and great.
“Such characters, if now and then they appear in history, are contemplated with admiration. May it be the ambition of all your subjects to make haste with their tribute of reverence; and as posterity may learn from your Majesty how kings should live, may they learn likewise from your people how they should be honoured. I am, may it please your Majesty,
“ With the most profound respect,
“Subject and servant.” In the summer he wrote a Prologue, which was spoken before “A Word to the Wise," a comedy by Mr. Hugh Kelly, which had been
1 Bishop Pearce was the son of a distiller in High Holborn, and educated at Westminster School. He became successively the Vicar of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Dean of Winchester, Bishop of Bangor, and, in 1756, the Bishop of Rochester. His principal works were critical and erudite editions of Longinus and Cicero. He left, among numerous charitable bequests, 50001. to the College for Clergymen's Widows, at Brompton. He was born in 1690, and died in 1774.- ED.
3 Mr. Derby was Rector of Southfleet and Longfield, in Kent. He died in 1778.GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.
3 Mr. Hugh Kelly was not only the author of various dramatic pieces, but he was also a poet, a novelist, and an essayist. His “ Thespis," a poem in the manner of Churchill's “Rosciad," and his “ Louisa Mildmay," a novel, are familiar to most readers. He was born in 1739, near the Lakes of Killarney, and originally apprenticed to a staymaker. He died in 1777.-ED.