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L I F E
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
AN ACCOUNT OF HIS STUDIES,
AND NUMEROUS WORKS,
IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER ;
A SERIES OF HIS EPISTOLARY CORRESPONDENCE,
AND CONVERSATIONS WITH MANY EMINENT PERSONS;
Various Original pieces of his Composition,
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED:
THE WHOLE EXHIBITING A VIEW OF LITERATURE AND LITERARY
DURING WHICH HE FLOURISHED.
BY JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
Quo fit ut omnis
COPIOUS NOTES AND BIOGRAPHICAL ILLUSTRATIONS,
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR G. COWIE AND CO. POULTRY; SMITH AND ELDER, FENCHURCH
STREET; R. BAYNES, IVY LANE; J. BAIN, MEWS' GATE; WHITMORE AND
BY J. F. DOVE, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE.
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D.
In 1764 and 1765 it should seem that Dr. Johnson was so busily employed with his edition of Shakspeare, as to have had little leisure for any other literary exertion, or, indeed, even for private correspondence. He did not favour me with a single letter for more than two years, for which it will appear that he afterward apologized.
He was, however, at all times ready to give assistance to his friends, and others, in revising their works, and in writing for them, or greatly improving, their Dedications. In that courtly species of composition no man excelled Dr. Johnson. Though the loftiness of his mind prevented him from ever dedicating in his own person, he wrote a very great number of Dedications for others. Some of these, the persons who were favoured with them are unwilling should be mentioned, from a too anxious apprehension, as I think, that they might be suspected of having received larger assistance; and some, after all the diligence I have bestowed, have escaped my inquiries. He told me, a great many years ago,
" he believed he had dedicated to all the Royal Family round;" and it was indifferent to him what was the subject of the work dedicated, provided it were innocent. 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 esteem or love with which I dismissed you at Harwich.
at Harwich. Both have been increased by all that I have been told of you by yourself 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 ramble, I doubt not but you will think his 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 enters 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 inducement to your return, that it is sincerely desired by, dear Sir, « Your affectionate humble servant,
“ Sam. Johnson." “ Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
January 14, 1766."
I returned to London in February, and found Dr. Johnson in a good house in Johnson's-court, Fleet