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help admiring how well it is adapted to produce the effect which he wished :
“ Neither the judges of our laws, nor the representatives of our people, would be much affected by laboured gesticulations, or believe any man the more because he rolled his eyes, or puffed his cheeks, or spread abroad his arms, or stamped the ground, or thumped his breast; or turned his eyes sometimes to the ceiling, and sometimes to the floor.”
A casual coincidence with other writers, or an adoption of a sentiment or image which has been found in the writings of another, and afterwards appears in the mind as one's own, is not unfrequent. The richness of Johnson's fancy, which could supply his page abundantly on all occasions, and the strength of his memory, which at once detected the real owner of any thought, made him less liable to the imputation of plagiarism than, perhaps, any of our writers. In the Idler, however, there is a paper, in which conversation is assimilated to a bowl of punch, where there is the same train of comparison as in a poem by Blacklock, in his collection published in 1756 ; in which a parallel is ingeniously drawn between human life and that liquor. It ends,
6 Say, then, physicians of each kind,
Who cure the body or the mind,
Since punch and life so well agree ?” To the Idler (1), when collected in volumes, he (1) The profits accruing from the sale of this paper, and the subscriptions which, from the year 1756, he was receiving for the edition of Shakspeare by him proposed, were the only known
added, beside the Essay on Epitaphs, and the Dissertation on those of Pope, an Essay on the Bravery of the English common Soldiers. He, however, omitted one of the original papers, which in the folio copy is No. 22. (1)
LETTER 57. TO THE REV. THOMAS WARTON.
“(London,] April 14. 1758. “ DEAR SIR,– Your notes upon my poet were very acceptable. I beg that you will be so kind as to continue your searches. It will be reputable to my work, and suitable to your professorship, to have something of yours in the notes. As you have given no directions about your name, I shall therefore put it. I wish your brother would take the same trouble. A commentary must arise from the fortuitous discoveries of many men in devious walks of literature. Some of your remarks are on plays already printed : but I purpose to add an Appendix of Notes, so that nothing comes too late.
means of his subsistence for a period of near four years, and we may suppose them hardly adequate to his wants, for, upon finding the balance of the account for the Dictionary against him, he quitted his house in Gough Square, and took chambers in Gray's Inn; and Mrs. Williams, upon this removal, fixed herself in lodgings at a boarding-school, in the neighbourhood of their former dwelling. - HAWKINS.
He retired to Gray's Inn, and soon removed to chambers in the Inner Temple Lane, where he lived in poverty, total idleness, and the pride of literature. Mr. Fitzherbert (the father of Lord St. Helen's), a man distinguished through life for his benevolence and other amiable qualities, used to say, that he paid a morning visit to Johnson, intending from his chambers to send a letter into the city; but, to his great surprise, he found an author by profession without pen, ink, or paper. The present Bishop of Salisbury was also among those who endeavoured, by constant attention, to soothe the cares of a mind which he knew to be afflicted with gloomy apprehensions. — MURPHY.
(1) This paper may be found in Stockdale's supplementai volume of Johnson's Miscellaneous Pieces,
“ You give yourself too much uneasiness, dear Sir, about the loss of the papers. () The loss is nothing, if nobody has found them ; nor even then, perhaps, if the numbers be known. You are not the only friend that has had the same mischance. You may repair your want out of a stock, which is deposited with Mr. Allen, of Magdalen Hall; or out of a parcel which I have just sent to Mr. Chambers, for the use of any body that will be so kind as to want them. Mr. Langtons are well ; and Miss Roberts, whom I have at last brought to speak, upon the information which you gave me, that she had something to say. I am, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
LETTER 58. TO THE SAME.
• (London,] June 1. 1758. “ DEAR SIR,--You will receive this by Mr. Baretti, a gentleman particularly entitled to the notice and kind. ness of the professor of poesy.
He has time but for a short stay, and will be glad to have it filled up with as much as he can hear and see.
“ In recommending another to your favour, I ought not to omit thanks for the kindness which you have shown to myself. Have you any more notes on Shakspeare ? I shall be glad of them.
“ I see your pupil sometimes (2); his mind is as exalted as his stature. I am half afraid of him ; but he is no less amiable than formidable. He will, if the forwardness of his spring be not blasted, be a credit to you, and to the University. He brings some of my plays (3) with him, which he has my permission to
(1) Receipts for Shakspeare. – Warton. (2) Mr. Langton. - WARTON.
(3) Part of the impression of the Shakspeare, which Dr. Johnson conducted alone, and published by subscription. This edition came out in 1765. - WARTON.
show you, on condition you will hide them from every body else. I am, dear Sir, &c.,
LETTER 59. TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.
“ June 28. 1758. (1) “ DEAR SIR, – Though I might have expected to hear from you, upon your entrance into a new state of life at a new place, yet recollecting, (not without some degree of shame,) that I owe you a letter upon an old account, I think it my part to write first. This, indeed, I do not only from complaisance but from interest; for living on in the old way, I am very glad of a correspondent so capable as yourself to diversify the hours. You have, at present, too many novelties about you to need any help from me to drive along your time.
“ I know not any thing more pleasant, or more instructive, than to compare experience with expectation, or to register from time to time the difference between idea and reality. It is by this kind of observation that we grow daily less liable to be disappointed. You, who are very capable of anticipating futurity, and raising phantoms before your own eyes, must often have imagined to yourself an academical life, and have conceived what would be the manners, the views, and the conversation, of men devoted to letters ; how they would choose their companions, how they would direct their studies, and how they would regulate their lives. Let me know what you expected, and what you have found. At least record it to yourself, before custom has reconciled you to the scenes before you, and the disparity of
(1) This letter is dated June 28. 1758; but it is evident that this must be a mistake; for it is written on Mr. Langton's first entrance into college life; and we see in the letter dated June 1. 1758 (p. 93.), that Langton had been already some time the pupil of Warton.
The true date, therefore, of this letter, was, probably, June, 1757. - C.
your discoveries to your hopes has vanished from your mind. It is a rule never to be forgotten, that whatever strikes strongly, should be described while the first impression remains fresh upon the mind.
“I love, dear Sir, to think on you, and therefore, should willingly write more to you, but that the post will not now give me leave to do more than send my compliments to Mr. Warton, and tell you that I am, dear Sir, most affectionately, your very humble servant,
6 SAM. Johnson. LETTER 60. TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.
Sept. 21. 1758. “ DEAR SIR,-) should be sorry to think that what engrosses the attention of my friend, should have no part of mine. Your mind is now full of the fate of Dury (); but his fate is past, and nothing remains but to try what reflection will suggest to mitigate the terrors of a violent death, which is more formidable at the first glance, than on a nearer and more steady view. A violent death is never very painful ; the only danger is, lest it should be unprovided. But if a man can be supposed to make no provision for death in war, what can be the state that would have awakened him to the care of futurity ? When would that man have prepared himself to die, who went to seek death without preparation ? What then can be the reason why we lament more him that dies of a wound, than him that dies of a fever ? A man that languishes with disease, ends his life with more pain, but with less virtue : he leaves no example to his friends, nor bequeaths any
(1) Major-General Alexander Dury, of the First Regiment of Foot Guards, who fell in the gallant discharge of his duty, near St. Cas, in the well-known unfortunate expedition against France, in 1758. His lady and Mr. Langton's mother were sisters. He left an only son, Lieutenant-Colonel Dury, who has a company in the same regiment.