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1765. round;" and it was indifferent to him what was the Ssubject of the work dedicated, provided it were innoÆtat. 56. cent.
He once dedicated some Musick for the German Flute to Edward, Duke of York. In writing Dedications for others, he considered himself as by no means speaking his own sentiments.
Notwithstanding his long silence, I never omitted to write to him, when I had any thing worthy of communicating. I generally kept copies of my letters to him, that I might have a full view of our correspondence, and never be at a loss to understand any reference in his letters. He kept the greater part of mine very carefully; and a short time before his death was attentive enough to seal them up in bundles, and order them to be delivered to me, which was accordingly done. Amongst them I found one, of which I had not made a copy, and which I own I read with pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years. It is dated November, 1765, at the palace of Pascal Paoli, in Corte, the capital of Corsica, and is full of generous enthusiasm. After giving a sketch of what I had seen and heard in that island, it proceeded thus: " I dare to call this a spirited tour. I dare to challenge your approbation.”
This letter produced the following answer, which I found on my arrival at Paris.
A Mr. Mr. BosWELL, chez Mr. Waters, Banquier,
“ APOLOGIES are seldom of any use. We will delay till your arrival the reasons, good or bad, which have made me such a sparing and ungrateful correspondent. Be assured, for the present, that nothing has lessened either the esteein or love with which I
dismissed you at Harwich. Both have been in- 1765. creased by all that I have been told of you by your
Ætat. 56. self or others; and when you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I hope, unalterable friend.
“ All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me. No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour ; and the pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment will be sufficient to afford it.
“ Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to hear you ; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come home, and expect such welcome as is due to him, whom a wise and noble curiosity has led, where perhaps no native of this country ever was before.
“ I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would I willingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your return. I am afraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind which has been so long feasted with variety. But let us try what esteem and kindness can effect. " As
your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a rambie, I doubt not but sickness, or even his desire to see you, a sufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we live, and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends. Parents we can have but once; and he promises himself too much, who en ters life with the expectation of finding many friends. . Upon some motive, I hope, that you will be here soon ; and am willing to think that it will be an in
you will think his
1766. ducement to your return, that it is sincerely desired
Ætat. 57. by, dear Sir,
" Your affectionate humble servant,
" SAM. JOHNSON."
I returned to London in February, and found Dr. Johnson in a good house in Johnson's-court, Fleetstreet, in which he had accommodated Miss Williams with an apartment on the ground floor, while Mr. Levett occupied his post in the garret : his faithful Francis was still attending upon him. He received me with much kindness. The fragments of our first conversation, which I have preserved, are these: I told him that Voltaire, in a conversation with me, had distinguished Pope and Dryden thus :—"Pope drives a handsome chariot, with a couple of neat trim nags; Dryden a coach, and six stately horses.” John.. SON.
Why, Sir, the truth is, they both drive coaches and six ; but Dryden's horses are either galloping or stumbling: Pope's go at a steady even trot." He said of Goldsmith's “ Traveller,” which had been published in my absence, “ There has not been so fine a poem since Pope's time."
And here it is proper to settle, with authentick precision, what has long floated in publick report, as to Johnson's being himself the authour of a consider
1 It is remarkable that Mr. Gray has employed somewhat the same image to characterise Dryden. He, indeed, furnishes his car with but two horses; but they are of “ etliereal race :"
« Behold where Dryden's less presumptuous car, “ Wide o'er the fields of glory bear • Two coursers of ethereal race, “ With necks in thunder cloath'd, and long resounding pace."
Ode on the Progress of Poesy.
able part of that poem. Much, no doubt, both of the 1766. sentiments and expression, were derived from con
Ætat. 57. versation with him; and it was certainly submitted to his friendly revision : but in the year 1783, he at my request, marked with a pencil the lines which he had furnished, which are only line 420th.
• To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;"
and the concluding ten lines, except the last couplet but one, which I distinguish by the Italick character:
" How small of all that human hearts endure,
Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel,
He added, “ These are all of which I can be sure." They bear a small proportion to the whole, which consists of four hundred and thirty-eight verses. Goldsmith, in the couplet which he inserted, mentions Luke as a person well known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite smoothly; while those of more attention have been as much perplexed by Luke, as by Lydiat, in “ The Vanity of Human Wishes.” The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. “ In the Respublica Hungarica,” there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brother's, of the name of Zeck, George
1766. and Luke. When it was quelled, George, not Luhe, Ætat. 57.
was punished by his head being encircled with a red hot iron crown : “ coronâ candescente ferreá coronatur.” The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl of Athol, one of the murderers of King James I. of Scotland.2
Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which he furnished to Goldsmith's “ Deserted Village,” which are only the last four: « That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay, " As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away : “ While self-dependent power can time defy, “ As rocks resist the billows and the sky."
Talking of education, “ People have now a-days, (said he,) got a strange opinion that every thing should be taught by lectures. Now, I cannot see that lectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lectures, except where experiments are to be shewn. You may teach
hymistry by lectures. You might teach making of shoes by lectures !"
At night I supped with him at the Mitre Tavern, that we might renew our social intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now a considerable difference in his way of living. Having had an illness, in which he was advised to leave off wine, he had, from that period, continued to abstain from it, and drank only water, or lemonade.
2 [On the iron crown, see Mr. Steevens's note 7, on Act iv. $c, i. of RICHARD III. It seems to be alluded to in MACBETH, Act. iv. Sc. i. Thy crown does sur," &c. See also Gough's Camden, vol. iii. p. 396. I. B.]