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“ The answer is to be directed to his Excellency Mr. Zon, Venetian Resident, Soho Square.
“ I hope, dear Sir, that you do not regret the change of London for Oxford. Mr. Baretti is well, and Miss Williams; and we shall all be glad to hear from you, whenever you shall be so kind as to write to, Sir, your most humble servant,
- SAM. Johnson.”
The degree of Master of Arts, which, it has been observed, could not be obtained for him at an early period of his life, was now considered as an honour of considerable importance, in order to grace the title-page of his Dictionary; and his character in the literary world being by this time deservedly high, nis friends thought that, if proper exertions were made, the University of Oxford would pay him the compliment.
LETTER 28. TO THE REV. T. WARTON.
" (London,] Nov. 28. 1754. “ DEAR SIR, - I am extremely obliged to you and to Mr. Wise, for the uncommon care which you have taken of my interest: if you can accomplish your kind design, I shall certainly take me a little habitation among you.
“ The books which I promised to Mr. Wise, I have not been able to procure : but I shall send him a Finnick Dictionary, the only copy, perhaps, in England, which was presented me by a learned Swede: but I keep it back, that it may make a set of my own books (') of the new edition, with which I shall accompany it, more welcome. You will assure him of my gratitude.
(1) The Rambler, - C.
“ Poor dear Collins ! (1)– Would a letter give him any pleasure ? I have a mind to write.
“I am glad of your hindrance in your Spenserian design (?), yet I would not have it delayed. Three hours a day stolen from sleep and amusement will produce it. Let a Servitour (3) transcribe the quotations, and interleave them with references, to save time. This will shorten the work, and lessen the fatigue.
“ Can I do any thing to promoting the diploma ? I would not be wanting to co-operate with your kindness ; of which, whatever be the effect, I shall be, dear Sir your most obliged, &c.
« SAM. JOHNSON.”
LETTER 29. TO THE SAME.
[London,] Dec. 21. 1754. “ DEAR Sir,
I am extremely sensible of the favour done, me, both by Mr. Wise and yourself. The book(4) cannot, I think, be printed in less than six weeks, nor probably so soon ; and I will keep back the titlepage for such an insertion as you seem to promise me. Be pleased to let me know what money I shall send you, for bearing the expense of the affair ; and I will take care that you may have it ready at your hand.
“ I had lately the favour of a letter from your brother, with some account of poor Collins, for whom I am much concerned. I have a notion, that by very
(1) Collins (the poet) was at this time at Oxford, on a visit to Mr. Warton; but labouring under the most deplorable languor of body, and dejection of mind. WARTON.
[He died at his native city, Chichester, in 1756. See Johnson's Life of him.]
(2) Of publishing a volume of observations on Spenser. WARTON.
(3) Young students of the lowest rank are so called. WARTON.
(4) His Dictionary, - WARTON.
great temperance, or more properly abstinence, he may yet recover.
“ There is an old English and Latin book of poems by Barclay, called “ The Ship of Fools ;" at the end of which are a number of Eglogues,- so he writes it, from Egloga, which are probably the first in our language. If you cannot find the book, I will get Mr. Dodsley to
send it you.
" I shall be extremely glad to hear from you again, to know if the affair proceeds. I have mentioned it to none of my friends, for fear of being laughed at for my disappointment.
“ You know poor Mr. Dodsley has lost his wife; I believe he is much affected. I hope he will not suffer so much as I yet suffer for the loss of mine.
Οίμοι" τι δ' οίμοι; θνητα γάρ πεπόνθαμεν. (1) I have ever since seemed to myself broken off from mankind; a kind of solitary wanderer in the wild of life, without any direction, or fixed point of view ; a gloomy gazer on the world, to which I have little relation. Yet I would endeavour, by the help of you and your brother, to supply the want of closer union by friendship; and hope to have long the pleasure of being, dear Sir, most affectionately yours,
- SAM. JOHNSON.”
LETTER 30. TO THE SAME.
(London,] Dec. 24. 1754. “ DEAR SIR, — I am sat down to answer your kind letter, though I know not whether I shall direct it so as that it may reach you ; the miscarriage of it will be no
(1) This verse is from the long lost BELLEROPHON, a tragedy by Euripides. It is preserved by Suidas. — Burney. The meaning is, “ Alas! but why should I say alas ? we have only suffered the common lot of mortality! ” It was the habitual exclamation of the philosopher Crantor.-C,
great matter, as I have nothing to send but thanks, of which I owe you many, yet if a few should be lost, I shall amply find them in my own mind; and, professions of respect, of which the profession will easily be renewed while the respect continues: and the same causes which first produced can hardly fail to preserve it. Pray let me know, however, whether my letter finds its way to you.
“ Poor dear Collins ! - Let me know whether you think it would give him pleasure if I should write to him. I have often been near his state (1), and there. fore have it in great commiseration.
“ I sincerely wish you the usual pleasures of this joyous season, and more than the usual pleasures, those of contemplation on the great event which this festival commemorates. I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate and most humble servant,
- SAM. JOHNSON
(1) (See antè, Vol. I. p. 29. 1
Johnson receives the Degree of M. A. by Diploma.
Correspondence with Warton and the Authorities of the University of Oxford. - Publication of the Dictionary of the English Language. Remarkable Definitions. — Abridgment of the Dictionary. The Universal Visiter, The Literary Magazine. Defence of Tea. — Pulpit Discourses. — Proposals for an Edition of Shakspeare. Jonas Hanway. Soame Jenyns. Charles Burney.
IN 1755 we behold him to great advantage; his degree of Master of Arts conferred upon him, his Dictionary published, his correspondence animated, his benevolence exercised.
LETTER 31. TO THE REV. THOMAS WARTON.
“ [London,] Feb. 1. 1755. « DEAR SIR, - I wrote to you some
but be. lieve did not direct accurately, and therefore know not whether you
my letter. I would, likewise, write to your brother, but know not where to find him. I now begin to see land, after having wandered, according to Mr. Warburton's phrase, in this vast sea of words. What reception I shall meet with on the shore, I know not: whether the sound of bells, and acclamations of the people, which Ariosto talks of in his last Canto ("), (1) p« Sento venir per allegrezza, un tuono
Che fremar l'aria, e rimbombar far l' onde :