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Letters, words. The French is but a secondary and subordinate part of your vol. ii. design; exactness, however, in all parts is necessary, though complete
exactness cannot be attained; and the French are so well stocked with dictionaries, that a little attention may easily keep you safe from gross faults; and as you work on, your vigilance will be quickened, and your observation regulated; you will better know your own wants, and learn better whence they may be supplied. Let me know minutely the whole state of your negotiations. Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
“ The weather here is very strange summer weather; and we are here two degrees nearer the north than you. I was, I think, loath to think a fire necessary in July, till I found one in the servants' hall, and thought myself entitled to as much warmth as them.
“I wish you would make it a task to yourself to write to me twice a week; a letter is a great relief to, dear sir, your, &c.”
“TO THE SAME.
“ Ashbourne, 20 September, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,— Your critick seems to me to be an exquisite Frenchman; his remarks are nice; they would at least have escaped me. I wish you better luck with your next specimen; though if such slips as these are to condemn a dictionary, I know not when a dictionary will be made. I cannot yet think that gourmander is wrong; but I have here no means of verifying my opinion.
“My health, by the mercy of God, still improves; and I have hope of standing the English winter, and of seeing you, and reading Petrarch at Bolt-court; but let me not flatter myself too much. I am yet weak, but stronger than I was.
I suppose the club is now almost forsaken ; but we shall I hope meet again. We have lost poor Allen ; a very worthy man, and to me a very kind and officious neighbour.
“Of the pieces ascribed by Bembo to Virgil, the Dirce (ascribed, I think, to Valerius Cato), the Copa and the Moretum are, together with the Culex and Ceiris, in Scaliger's Appendix ad Virgilium. The rest I never heard the name of before.
“I am highly pleased with your account of the gentleman and lady with whom you lodge; such characters have sufficient attractions to draw me towards them; you are lucky to light upon them in the casual commerce of life.
Continue, dear sir, to write to me; and let me hear any thing or nothing, as the chance of the day may be. I am, sir, your, &c.”
" TO THE SAME.
“ Ashbourne, 16th September, 1784. “DEAR SIR,—What you have told me of your landlord and his lady at Brompton has made them such favourites, that I am not sorry to hear how you are turned out of your lodgings, because the good is greater to them than the evil is to you.
“The death of dear Mr. Allen gave me pain. When after some time of absence I visit a town, I find my friends dead; when I leave a place, I am followed with intelligence, that the friend whom I hope to meet at my return is swallowed in the grave. This is a gloomy scene; but let us learn from it to prepare for our own removal. Allen is gone ;
Sastres and Johnson are hasting after him; may we be both as well prepared !
“I again wish your next specimen success. Paymistress can hardly be said without a preface (it may be expressed by a word perhaps not in use, pay mistress).
“ The club is, it seems, totally deserted; but as the forfeits go on, the house does not suffer; and all clubs, I suppose, are unattended in
I the summer. We shall, I hope, meet in winter, and be cheerful. “ After this week, do not write to me till
hear again from me, for I know not well where I shall be; I have grown weary of the solitude of this place, and think of removal. I am, sir, your, &c.”
66 TO MR. STRAHAN.
“ 16th October, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—I have hitherto omitted to give you that account of Gent. myself, which the kindness with which you have treated me gives Mag.
1788, you a right to expect.
“I went away feeble, asthmatical, and dropsical. The asthma has remitted for a time, but is now very troublesome; the weakness still continues, but the dropsy has disappeared; and has twice, in the summer, yielded to medicine. I hope to return with a body somewhat, however little, relieved, and with a mind less dejected.
I hope your dear lady and dear little ones are all well, and all happy; I love them all. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“DR. JOHNSON TO MR. SASTRES.
“ Lichfield, 20th October, 1784. “Sir, You have abundance of naughty tricks; is this your way Letters, of writing to a poor sick friend twice a week ? Post comes after post, vol. ii. and brings no letter from Mr. Sastres. If you know any thing, write p. 410. and tell it; if you know nothing, write and say that you know nothing
Letters, vol. ii.
“What comes of the specimen ? If the booksellers want a specimen, in which a keen critick can spy no faults, they must wait for another generation. Had not the Crusca faults? Did not the academicians of France commit
faults? It is enough that a dictionary is better than others of the same kind. A perfect performance of any kind is not to be expected, and certainly not a perfect dictionary.
“ Mrs. Desmoulines never writes, and I know not how things go on at home; tell me, dear sir, what you can.
“ If Mr. Seward be in town, tell me his direction, for I ought to write to him.
'I am very weak, and have had bad nights. I am, dear sir,
“ TO THE SAME.
“Lichfield, 1st November, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,- I beg you to continue the frequency of your letters; every letter is a cordial; but you must not wonder that I do not answer with exact punctuality. You may always have something to live among
the various orders of mankind, and may make a letter from the exploits, sometimes of the philosopher, and sometimes of the pickpocket. You see some balloons succeed and some miscarry, and a thousand strange and a thousand foolish things. But I see nothing ; I must make my letter from what I feel, and what I feel with so little delight, that I cannot love to talk of it.
“ I am certainly not to come to town, but do not omit to write ; for I know not when I shall come, and the loss of a letter is not much. I am, dear sir, your, &c.”
Gent. Mag. vol. ly.
“ DR. JOHNSON TO MR. NICHOLS I.
“27th July, 1778. “ You have now all Cowley. I have been drawn to a great length; but Cowley or [and] Waller never had any critical examination before. I am very far advanced in Dryden, who will be long too. The next great Life I purpose to be Milton's.
“ It will be kind if you will gather the Lives of Denham, Butler, and Waller, and bind them in half-binding in a small volume, and let me have it to show my friends as soon as may be. I sincerely hope the press shall stand no more.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ August, 1778. “ You have now the Life of Dryden, and you see it is very long. 1 [Here follow such of the short letters and notes referred to by Mr. Boswell, ante, vol. iv. p. 404, n. 1, as he did not introduce into his text.--Ed.]
2 The first life that was begun at the press was that of Cowley, in December, 1777. The progress made in July, 1778, appears above. Butler was the life in which the doctor at that time more particularly prided himself. Milton was begun in January, 1779, and finished in six weeks.NICHOLS.
It must, however, have an Appendix. 1. The invocation to the Gent.
“ 26th November, 1778. “ Mr. Johnson will hope for Mr. Nichols's company to tea, about six this afternoon, to talk of the Index, and settle the terms.—Monday.
“I am very well contented that the Index is settled; for though the price is low, it is not penurious. Mr. M. having been for some time out of business, is in some little perplexities, from which twelve guineas will set him free. This, we hope, you will advance; and, during the continuance of the work subject to your inspection, he desires a weekly payment of sixteen shillings, the rest to remain till it is completed.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ 1st March, 1779. “Mr. Johnson purposes to make his next attempt upon Prior, at least to consider him very soon; and desires that some volumes published of his papers, in two vols. 8vo. may be procured.
he “ The Turtle and Sparrow can be but a fable. The Conversation I never read.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ In examining this book, I find it necessary to add to the Life the preface to the British Enchanters ;' and you may add, if you will, the notes on · Unuatural Flights.' I am, sir, &c.-Friday."
“ There is a copy of verses by Fenton on the · First Fit of the Gout,’ in Pope's Miscellanies, and I think in the last volumes of Dryden. In Pope's I am sure.
Answ. “ I should have given Fenton's birth to Shelton ? in Staffordshire, but that I am afraid there is no such place. The rest I have, except his secretaryship, of which I know not what to make. When Lord Orrery was in an office, Lewis was his secretary. Lewis lived in my time; I knew him. The gout verses were always given to Fenton, when I was young, and he was living. Lord Orrery told me that Fenton was his tutor; but never thought he was his father's secretary S. Pray let me see the Oxford and Cambridge [Verses],
1 This refers to a hint given him in consequence of what is said in the Life of Prior, that of his “ Tales there are only four.”-NICHOLS.
2 It is now said to be “ near Newcastle." Shelton (near Newcastle-under-Line) is to be found in Staffordshire in the Index Villaris of 1700.-Nichols.
3 Dr. Johnson retracted this opinion, as Fenton in his Life is styled “ secretary.” Fenton was secretary to Lord Orrery when he commanded a regiment in Flanders, and was dismissed in 1705, four years before Dr. Johnson was born.--Nichols. [There is some mistake in the statement of Dr. Johnson. The first mention of Lord Orrery was probably a slip of the pen for Oxford, whose sccretary Lewis was.-Ed.]
&c. . If you are sure it was published by Fenton, I shall take notice of it."
“ Mr. Johnson desires Mr. Nichols to send him Ruffhead's Life of Pope, Pope's works, Swift's works with Dr. Hawkesworth’s Life, Lyttelton's works; and with these he hopes to have done. The first to be got is Lyttelton.”
“Mr. Johnson, being now at home, desires the last leaves of the criticism on Pope's epitaphs, and he will correct them. Mr. N. is entreated to save the proof sheets of Pope, because they are promised to a lady?, who desires to have them.”
“In reading Rowe in your edition, which is very impudently called mine, I observed a little piece unnaturally and odiously ob
I was offended, but was still more offended when I could not find it in Rowe's genuine volumes S.
To admit it, had been wrong ; to interpolate it, is surely worse. If I had known of such a piece in the whole collection, I should have been angry. What can be done?”
“ 24th May, 1780. ** Mr. Johnson is obliged to Mr. Nichols for his communication, and must have Hammond again. Mr. Johnson would be glad of Blackmore's Essays for a few days.”
“16th June, 1780. “I have been out of order, but by bleeding and physick think I am better, and can go again to work. Your note on Broome 5 will do me much good. Can you give me a few dates for A. Phillips ? I wrote to Cambridge about them, but have had no answer.”
“ Dr. Warton tells me that Collins's first piece 6 is in the Gent. Mag. for August, 1739. In August there is no such thing. Amasius was at that time the poetical name of Dr. Swan, who translated Sydenham. Where to find Collins I know not. I think I must make some short addition to Thomson's sheet, but will send it to-day.”
“ This Life of Dr. Young was written by a friend of his son [Mr. Croft]. What is crossed with black is expunged by the author; what is crossed with red is expunged by me. If you find any thing more that can be well omitted, I shall not be sorry to see it yet shorter.”
1 See Lives of the Poets, vol. iii. p. 111.-—Nichols. 2 Probably to Miss Burney.-NICHOLS.
3 The epigram on a lady at the tragedy of Cato, which has not only appeared in the works of Rowe, but has been transplanted by Pope into the “ Miscellanies” he pub. lished in his own name and that of Dean Swift.-Nichols. [This would have been a sufficient excuse (if one were needed) for the editor's omission of two or three indelicate expressions which escaped from Mr. Boswell in the course of his work. -Ed.]
4 Lives of the Poets, vol. iii. p. 185.—Nichols.