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“ My health seems in general to improve; but I have been troubled for many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and physick; and am afraid, that I must expect help from brighter days and softer air.
“Write to me now and then; and whenever any good befalls you, make haste to let me know it, for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear Sir, “ Your most humble servant,
“Sam. JOHNSON. “ London, Feb. 24, 1773. “ You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale."
On Saturday, April 3, the day after my arrival in London this year, I went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs.
Cor. et Ad.-After line 12, insert: "While this edition of my work was passing through the press, I was unexpectedly favoured with a packet from Philadelphia, from Mr. James Abercrombie, a gentleman of that country, who is pleased to honour me with very high praise of my Life of Dr. Johnson. To have the fame of my illustrious friend, and his faithful biographer, echoed from the New World is extremely flattering; and my grateful acknowledgements shall be wafted across the Atlantick. Mr. Abercrombie has politely conferred on me a considerable additional obligation, by transmitting to me copies of two letters from Dr. Johnson to American gentlemen. Gladly, Sir, (says he,) would I have sent you the originals; but being the only relicks of the kind in America, they are considered by the possessors of such inestimable value, that no possible consideration would induce them to part with them. In some future publication of your's relative to that great and good man, they may perhaps be thought worthy of insertion.”
Second Edition, add-Though the first part of my narrative of this year was printed off before I received them, they will now come in with very little deviation from chronological order.
“ TO MR. B
-D. “SIR,—That in the burry of a sudden departure you should yet find leisure to consult my convenience, is a degree of kindness, and an instance of regard, not only beyond my claims, but above my expectation. You are not mistaken in supposing that I set a high value on my American friends, and that you should confer a very valuable favour upon me by giving me an opportunity of keeping myself in their memory.
“I have taken the liberty of troubling you with a packet, to which I wish a safe and speedy conveyance, because I wish a safe and speedy voyage to him that conveys it. I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON. Jo London, Johnson's-Court,
Fleet-street, March 4, 1773."
* This gentleman, who now resides in America in a publick character of considerable dignity, desired that his name might not be transcribed at full length.:
1 Noted by Mrs. Piozzi in her copy of Bland, of Virginia, who wrote a book this work: “Poor Mrs. Thrale was on the rights of the colonies, 1770. obliged to say so in order to keep well A Mr. Beresford is alluded to later with Johnson.”
(vol. iii. p. 72), who might be in. * Mr. Croker conjectures a Mr. Richard tended.
Williams till he came home. I found in the London Chronicle, Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his; but when he came home he soon undeceived us. When he said to Mrs. Williams, “Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper;" I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith. JOHNSON. “ Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do anything else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I
" TO THE REVEREND MR. WHITE. “DEAR SIR, Your kindness for your friends accompanies you across the Atlantick. It was long since observed by Horace, that no ship could leave care behind: you have been attended in your voyage by other powers,—by benevolence and constancy: and I hope care did not often shew her face in their company.
“I received the copy of Rasselas. The impression is not magnificent, but it flatters an authour, because the printer seems to have expected that it would be scattered among the people. The little book has been well received, and is translated into Italian, French, German, and Dutch. It has now one honour more by an American edition.
“I know not that much has happened since your departure that can engage your curiosity. Of all publick transactions the whole world is now informed by the newspapers. Opposition seems to despond; and the dissenters, though they have taken advantage of unsettled times, and a government much enfeebled, seem not likely to gain any immunities.
“Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent-Garden, to which the manager predicts ill success. I hope he will be mistaken. I think it deserves a very kind reception.
“I shall soon publish a new edition of my large Dictionary; I have been persuaded to revise it, and have mended some faults, but added little to its usefulness.
“No book has been published since your departure, of which much notice is taken. Faction only fills the town with pamphlets, and greater subjects are forgotten in the noise of discord.
* Now Doctor White, and Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania. During his first visit to England in 1771, as a candidate for holy orders, he was several times in company with Dr. Johnson, who expressed a wish to see the edition of Rasselas, which Dr. White told him had been printed in America. Dr. White, on his return, immediately sent him a copy.
The “paragraph,” supposed to have London Packet, the offending journal, been written by Kenrick, was in the struck the publisher, Evans, as he stooped, scurrilous tone then tolerated. It accused with a cane, and received a blow in reGoldsmith of writing puffs on his own turn, which led to a scuffle. Goldsmith piece, which was called “an incoherent therefore seems scarcely entitled to the piece of stuff.” The lady alluded to was credit of having beaten” his adversary. Miss Horneck. “ Was but the lovely The address to the public, which is hardly H-k as much enamoured, you would as “ Johnsonian” as Boswell states, will not sigh, my gentle swain, in vain!” be found in the “Life” by Mr. Forster, Goldsmith, after dining with the Hor. necks, hurried off to the office of the
had seen him do it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well ; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick.” Boswell. “I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure." JOHNSON.“ Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat; he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.”
“ Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of myself I can only add, that having been afflicted many weeks with a very troublesome cough, I am now recovered.
“I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of which you will please to fill up the direction. I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant, “ Johnson's-Court, Fleet-street,
“SAM. JOHNSON.? London, March 4, 1773."
The reader will be glad to see Bos- vice to one of that description. I have well's effusive letters to the American not yet been able to discover any more of gentlemen in return for their civility. In his sermons beside those left for publicathe second edition they are inserted after tion by Dr. Taylor. I am informed by Boswell's letter of Dec. 18, 1773.
the Lord Bishop of Salisbury, that he “ London, June 11, 1792.
gave an excellent one to a clergyman, “SIR,—The packet with which your
who preached and published it in his spontaneous kindness has been pleased
own name on some public occasion. But to honour me, after being a little while
the Bishop has not yet told me the name, delayed by the ship's having put into
and seems unwilling to do it. Yet I Ireland, came safely to my hands. The flatter myself I shall get at it. Your list two letters from Johnson to American
of Johnson's works, and of what has gentlemen are a valuable acquisition. I
been written concerning him, has what received them in time to be inserted in
is most valuable. There have, however, the second edition of my life of that
been various other publications congreat man, which is now in the press. It
cerning him, several of which I have is to be in three volumes, octavo, and it
mentioned in my book. If you think it will contain a good many editions. A
worth your while to collect all that can
be had, I will do all that I can to assist copy from the author shall be sent to you, hoping that you will allow it a place in
you, though some of them attack me your library. Meanwhile, Sir, my grate
with a good deal of ill-nature, the effect ful acknowledgments to you shall be
of which, however, is by no means painwasted across the Atlantic. In the let
ful. I now send you a poetical review of ter to Bishop White, I observe, John
Dr. Johnson's literary and moral characson says, 'I take the liberty which you
ter, by my friend Mr. Courtenay, in give me of troubling you with a letter, of
which, though I except to several pas. which you will please to fill up the direc
sages, you will find some very good tion. There must therefore have been
writing It will be kind if you will a third letter of my illustrious friend's
be so good as to let me know if anything sent to your continent. If the respect.
be published in the New World relative able gentleman under whose care it was
to Johnson My worthy bookseller, Mr. transmitted can procure a copy of it for Dilly, will take care of whatever packets me, I shall be much obliged to him, and
you may have to send me. I am, Sir, to you, of whom I beg pardon for giving your much obliged, humble servant, you more trouble after what you have
“JAMES BOSWELL." done for me. You are, I find Sir, a true Johnsonian; and you may believe that I
“ London, July 28, 1793. have great pleasure in being of any ser- “ DEAR SIR, I have this very day
I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's “ Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland," and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals." Boswell. “But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals." JOHNSON. “Consider, Sir; would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France ? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing : it is the mere bouncing of a school-boy. Great He! but greater She! and such stuff.” 1
received your packet concerning your Agutter's sermon on his death has not letter of 17th May; and, as a vessel yet been published. Should it appear, sails for Philadelphia to-morrow, I shall you may depend on my taking care to not delay to express my sincere thanks transmit you a copy of it. I cannot for your accumulated favours. I am sorry warmly enough acknowledge the zeal that you have experienced any uneasi- with which you have exerted yourself in ness at not hearing from me, in answer order to gratify me. I am very sorry to your obliging letter of io October, that Dr. Johnson's letter to your friend 1792, which came safe to my hands, Mr. Odell is lost; but that is one of the together with Mr. Hopkins' Miscel- many evils occasioned by that unjust laneous Works, and the magazine civil war, which I reprobated at a time giving an account of that gentleman. when a bad ministry carried it on, and The truth is, I delayed writing to you now look back upon with a mixture again till I could send you the second of wonder and regret. Let us not, howedition of my life of Dr. Johnson, which ever, get upon that subject. I beg you I supposed would be ready long before may present my compliments to Mr. this time, but has been retarded by Odell, with thanks for his very polite various causes, one of which you will not mention of me. I also beg to be reregret, I mean my having had some spectfully remembered to who, I valuable additions lately communicated am pleased to find, recollects having met to me. The work is at length finished, me at the hospitable table of my old and you will be pleased to receive your friend Sir Alexander Dick, who was copy of it from the author. It will be truly a corycius senex. The Johnsoniana, accompanied with Mr. Young's criticism, which has obligingly allowed you Mr. Gray's celebrated elegy, in imitation to send me, have the characteristic stamp, of Dr. Johnson's manner, which I per- and I like much his expression that suade myself will entertain you a great • The single weight of Johnson's massy deal. I think a kind of national modesty understanding in the scale of Christianity in a young race, if I may so express my- is an over-balance to the infidelity of the self, has led you to rate your countryman age in which he lived. You will find in lower than he deserves. I do not mean my second edition a correction of churn to estimate him as a first-rate genius, to charm, suggested to me by Lord but surely he has good abilities, and a Palmerston. I am glad to have it conwide and various range of application. firmed by the letter from Dr. Armstrong; I have not time to consider the writings and should my book come to another which you have kindly sent me with your edition, that confirmation shall be added, last letter, so as to give any opinion upon as shall your discovery of the passage upon them by this opportunity. But I shall corps in Menagiana, in which you are, certainly presume to tell you in a future I clearly think, right. You will find letter what I think of them. I shall be an ingenious conjecture concerning it in glad to have the curious dissertation on my second edition, by an unknown cor. the elements of written language, though respondent. you mention that it contains some severe "I have not yet obtained from the strictures on Dr. Johnson. I am not Bishop of Salisbury the name of the afraid. I know what he can bear. Mr. clergyman to whom Johnson gave a ser mon, which was preached on the 5th of traction. May I presume to ask how November—for that, I find, was the public long your family has been settled in occasion. I will endeavour, if possible, America ? I have a great wish to see to find it out. Sir Joshua Reynolds's that country, and I once flattered myself Tour to the Netherlands is much better I should be sent thither in a station of written by himself than I could do ; for some importance. I am, with a very it is, I understand, almost entirely an grateful sense of my obligation to you," account of the pictures. It is to be sub- &c. joined to an edition of his Discourses to 1 Referring, as Mr. Hallam pointed the Royal Academy, which is now in the out to Mr. Croker, to the description of press, under the care of that accurate the parting of Lord and Lady W. critic, my friend Mr. Malone. By your Russell—"He great in this last act of name, Sir, you must be of Scottish ex- his life, She greater."
I could not agree with him in this criticism; for though Sir John Dalrymple's style is not regularly formed in any respect, and one cannot help smiling sometimes at his affected grandiloquence, there is in his writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.
At Mr. Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical declamation against action in publick speaking. “ Action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but it never can enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action ; you hold up your hand thus, because he is a brute ; and in proportion as men are removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them.” MRS. THRALE. “What then, Sir, becomes of Demosthenes's saying? Action, action, action!'” JOHNSON. “Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of brutes ; to a barbarous people.”
I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.
Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of that celebrated nobleman's witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship's saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both very old and infirm : “ Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.”
He talked with approbation of an intended edition of “ The Spectator," with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared