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1770. to promise me some notes on Shakspeare, was a new
instance of your friendship. I shall not hurry you ; Ætat, 61.
but am desired by Mr. Steevens, who helps me in this edition, to let you know, that we shall print the tragedies first, and shall therefore want first the notes which belong to them. We think not to incommode the readers with a supplement; and therefore, what we cannot put into its proper place, will do us no good. We shall not begin to print before the end of six weeks, perhaps not so soon.
“ I am, &c. “ London, June 23, 1770.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
TO THE REV. DR. JOSEPH WARTON.
“ I Am revising my edition of Shakspeare, and remember that I formerly misrepresented your opinion of Lear. Be pleased to write the paragraph as you would have it, and send it. If you have any
your own upon that or any other play, I shall gladly receive them.
“ Make my compliments to Mrs. Warton. I sometimes think of wandering for a few days to Winchester, but am apt to delay. I am, Sir,
" Your most humble servant, "Sept. 27, 1770.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.
TO MR. FRANCIS BARBER, AT MRS. CLAPP's, BISHOP
“ I AM at last sat down to write to you, and should very much blame myself for having neglected you so long, if I did not impute that and many other failings to want of health. I hope not to be so long 1770. silent again. I am very well satisfied with your pro- Ætat. 61. gress,
you can really perform the exercises which you are set; and I hope Mr. Ellis does not suffer
you to impose on him, or on yourself.
“ Make my compliments to Mr. Ellis, and to Mrs. Clapp, and Mr. Smith.
“ Let me know what English books you read for your entertainment. You can never be wise unless you love reading.
“ Do not imagine that I shall forget or forsake you; for if, when I examine you, I find that
you have not lost your time, you shall want no encouragement from
“ Your's affectionately, “ London, Sept. 25, 1770.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
TO THE SAME.
“ I Hope you mind your business. I design you shall stay with Mrs. Clapp these holidays. If you are invited out you may go, if Mr. Ellis gives leave. I have ordered you some clothes, which you will receive, I believe, next week. My compliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Ellis, and Mr. Smith, &c.
" Your affectionate, " December 7, 1770.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
6 I am
During this year there was a total cessation of all correspondence between Dr. Johnson and me, without any coldness on either side, but merely from procrastination, continued from day to day; and as I was
1770. not in London, I had no opportunity of enjoying his Ætat. 61.
and recording his conversation. To supply company this blank, I shall present my readers with some Collectanea, obligingly furnished to me by the Rev. Dr. Maxwell, of Falkland, in Ireland, some time assistant preacher at the Temple, and for many years the social friend of Johnson, who spoke of him with a very kind regard.
“ My acquaintance with that great and venerable character commenced in the year 1754. I was introduced to hion by Mr. Grierson, his Majesty's. printer at Dublin, a gentleman of uncommon learning, and great wit and vivacity. Mr. Grierson died in Germany, at the age of twenty-seven. Dr. Johnson highly respected his abilities, and often observed, that he possessed more extensive knowledge than any man of his years he had ever known. His in dustry was equal to his talents; and he particularly excelled in every species of philological learning, and was, perhaps, the best critick of the age he lived in.
“ I must always remember with gratitude my obligation to Mr. Grierson, for the honour and happiness of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance and friendship, which continued uninterrupted and undiminished to his death : a connection, that was at once the pride and happiness of my life.
4 Son of the learned Mrs. Grierson, who was patronised by the late Lord Granville, and was the editor of several of the classicks.
[Her edition of Tacifus, with the notes of Rychius, in three volumes, 8vo. 1730, was dedicated in very elegant Latin to John, Lord Carteret, (afterwards Earl Granville,) by whom she was patronized during his residence in Ireland as Lord Lieutenant between 17 24 and 1730. M.]
“ What pity it is, that so much wit and good 1770. sense as he continually exhibited in conversation,
Ætat. 61. should perish unrecorded ! Few persons quitted his company without perceiving themselves wiser and better than they were before. On serious subjects he flashed the most interesting conviction upon his auditors; and upon lighter topicks, you might have supposed-- Albano musas de monte locutas.
Though I can hope to add but little to the cele. brity of so exalted a character, by any communications I can furnish, yet out of pure respect to his memory,
I will venture to transmit to you some anecdotes concerning him, which fell under my own observation. The very minutiæ of such a character must be interesting, and may be compared to the filings of diamonds.
“ In politicks he was deemed a Tory, but certainly was not so in the obnoxious or party sense of the term ; for while he asserted the legal and salutary prerogatives of the crown, he no less respected the constitutional liberties of the people. Whiggism, at the time of the Revolution, he said, was accompanied with certain principles; but latterly, as a mere party distinction under Walpole and the Pelhams, was no better than the politicks of stock jobbers, and the religion of infidels.
“ He detested the idea of governing by parliaméntary corruption, and asserted most strenuously, that a prince steadily and conspicuously pursuing the interests of his people, could not fail of parliamentary concurrence. A prince of ability, he contended, might and should be the directing soul and spirit of his own administration ; in short, his own minister, and not the mere head of a party : and then, and
1770. not till then, would the royal dignity be sincerely re
Ætat. 61 spected.
“ Johnson seemed to think, that a certain degree of crown influence over the Houses of Parliament, (not meaning a corrupt and shameful dependence,) was very salutary, nay, even necessary, in our mixed government. “For, (said he,) if the members were under no crown influence, and disqualified from receiving any gratification from Court, and resembled, as they possibly might, Pym and Haslerig, and other stubborn and sturdy members of the long Parliament, the wheels of governinent would be totally obstructed. Such men would oppose, merely to shew their power, from envy, jealousy, and perversity of disposition ; and not gaining themselves, would hate and oppose all who did : not loving the person of the prince, and conceiving they owed him little gratitude, from the mere spirit of insolence and contradiction, they would oppose and thwart him upon all occasions.
“ The inseparable imperfection annexed to all human governments, consistad, he said, in not being able to create a sufficient fund of virtue and principle to carry the laws into due and effectual execution. Wisdom might plan, but virtue alone could execute. And where could sufficient virtue be found ? A va. riety of delegated, and often discretionary, powers must be entrusted somewhere; which, if not governed by integrity and conscience, would necessarily be abused, till at last the constable would sell his for a shilling
“ This excellent person was sometimes charged with abetting slavish and arbitrary principles of government. Nothing in my opinion could be a grosser calumny and misrepresentation; for how can it