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Piozzi, p. 173,

174.

do not wonder that serious men should put themselves under the protection of a religious order, when they have found how unable they are to take care of themselves. For my own part, without affecting to be a Socrates, I am sure I have a more than ordinary struggle to maintain with the Evil Principle; and all the methods I can devise are little enough to keep me tolerably steady in the paths of rectitude.

"I am am ever, with the highest veneration, your affectionate humble servant,

"JAMES BOSWELL."

[Much of Johnson's eloquence and much of his logick were occasionally used to prevent men from making vows on trivial occasions; and when he saw a person oddly perplexed about a slight difficulty, "Let the man alone (he would say), and torment him no more about it; there is a vow in the case, I am convinced; but is it not very strange that people should be neither afraid nor ashamed of bringing in God Almighty thus at every turn between themselves and their dinner?" When once asked what ground he had for such imaginations, he replied, “That a young lady once told him in confidence, that she could never persuade herself to be dressed against the bell rung for dinner, till she had made a vow to heaven that she would never more be absent from the family meals."]

It appears from Johnson's diary', that he was this year at Mr. Thrale's, from before Midsummer till after Michaelmas, and that he afterwards passed a month at Oxford. He had then contracted a great intimacy with Mr. Chambers of that university, afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of the judges in India,

He published nothing this year in his own name; but the noble dedication* to the king, of Gwyn's

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["I returned from Streatham, Oct. 1, having lived there more than three months."-Prayers and Meditations, p. 70.-ED.]

[He had known him at least twelve years before this. See ante, vol. i. p. 261.-ED.]

"London and Westminster Improved," was written by him; and he furnished the Preface †, and several of the pieces, which compose a volume of Miscellanies by Mrs. Anna Williams, the blind lady who had an asylum in his house. Of these, there are his "Epitaph on Phillips * ;"" Translation of a Latin Epitaph on Sir Thomas Hanmer † 3;" "Friendship, an ode *;" and "The Ant *," a paraphrase from the Proverbs, of which I have a copy in his own handwriting; and, from internal evidence, I ascribe to him, "To Miss on her giving the Authour a gold and silver net-work purse of her own weaving ;" and "The happy Life t." Most of the pieces in this volume have evidently received additions from his superiour pen, particularly "Verses to Mr. Richardson, on his Sir Charles Grandison;" "The Excursion;" flections on a Grave digging in Westminster Abbey." There is in this collection a poem, "On the death of

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[In this work Mr. Gwyn proposed the principle, and in many instances the details, of the most important improvements which have been made in the metropolis in our day. A bridge near Somerset House-a great street from the neighbourhood of the Haymarket to the New Road-the improvement of the interior of St. James's Park-quays along the Thames-new approaches to London Bridge the removal of Smithfield market, and several other suggestions on which we pride ourselves as original designs of our own times, are all to be found in Mr Gwyn's very able and very curious work. It is singular, that he denounced a row of houses then building in Pimlico, as intolerable nuisances to Buckingham Palace, and of these very houses the public voice now calls for the destruction. Gwyn had, as Mr. D'Israeli very happily quotes, the prophetic eye of taste."-ED.]

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2 In a paper already mentioned (see vol. i. p. 214. 221.) the following account of this publication is given by a lady [Lady Knight] well acquainted with Mrs. Williams:

"As to her poems, she many years attempted to publish them: the halfcrowns she had got towards the publication, she confessed to me, went for necessaries, and that the greatest pain she ever felt was from the appearance of defrauding her subscribers: but what can I do? the Doctor (Johnson) always puts me off with, Well, we'll think about it; and Goldsmith says, Leave it to me.' However, two of her friends, under her directions, made a new subscription at a crown, the whole price of the work, and in a very little time raised sixty pounds. Mrs. Carter was applied to by Mrs. Williams's desire, and she, with the utmost activity and kindness, procured a long list of names. At length the work was published, in which is a fine written but gloomy tale of Dr. Johnson. The money Mrs. Williams had various uses for, and a part of it was funded." By this publication Mrs. Williams got 1507. Ibid-MALONE. 3 [See ante, vol. i. p. 153. n. where it is shown that the translation of the Epitaph on Hanmer and the Verses on the Purse are by Hawkesworth.-Ed.]

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Stephen Grey, the Electrician *;" which, on reading it, appeared to me to be undoubtedly Johnson's. asked Mrs. Williams whether it was not his. "Sir," said she, with some warmth, "I wrote that poem before I had the honour of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance." I, however, was so much impressed with my first notion, that I mentioned it to Johnson, repeating, at the same time, what Mrs. Williams had said. His answer was, "It is true, sir, that she wrote it before she was acquainted with me; but she has not told you that I wrote it all over again, except two lines." "The Fountains t," a beautiful little fairy tale in prose, written with exquisite simplicity, is one of Johnson's productions; and I cannot withhold' from Mrs. Thrale the praise of being the authour of that admirable poem, "The Three Warnings."

He was, indeed, at all times ready to give assistence 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

[This is almost a confession that he would if he could, and shows clearly the kind of feeling he had towards that lady.-ED.]

2 [This is surely not the occasion on which one would have expected to hear of "loftiness of mind:" a dedicator in his own person may be sincere, but he who writes a dedication for another cannot be so, and is moreover accessary to a public deception; and when this imposition is practised for hire (however it may be excused), it ought not, surely, to be accompanied by any extravagant culogy on loftiness of mind.—ED.]

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.

He wrote this year a letter, not intended for publication, which has, perhaps, as strong marks of his sentiment and style, as any of his compositions. The original is in my possession. It is addressed to the late Mr. William Drummond, bookseller in Edinburgh, a gentleman of good family, but small estate, who took arms for the house of Stuart in 1745; and during his concealment in London till the act of general pardon came out, obtained the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, who justly esteemed him as a very worthy man. It seems, some of the members of the society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge had opposed the scheme of translating the holy scriptures into the Erse or Gaelic language, from political considerations of the disadvantage of keeping up the distinction between the Highlanders and the other inhabitants of North Britain. Dr. Johnson being informed of this, I suppose by Mr. Drummond, wrote with a generous indignation as follows:

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"TO MR. WILLIAM DRUMMOND.

"Johnson's court, Flect-street, 13th August, 1766. SIR,-I did not expect to hear that it could be, in an assembly convened for the propagation of Christian knowledge, a question whether any nation uninstructed in religion should receive instruction; or whether that instruction should be imparted to them by a translation of the holy books into their own language. If obedience to the will of God be necessary to happiness, and knowledge of his will be necessary to obedience, I know not how he that withholds this knowledge, or delays it, can be said to love his neighbour as himself. He that voluntarily

continues in ignorance is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a lighthouse, might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks. Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity; and as no man is good but as he wishes the good of others, no man can be good in the highest degree, who wishes not to others the largest measures of the greatest good. To omit for a year, or for a day, the most efficacious method of advancing Christianity, in compliance with any purposes that terminate on this side of the grave, is a crime of which I know not that the world has yet had an example, except in the practice of the planters of America, a race of mortals whom, I suppose, no other man wishes to resemble.

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"The papists have, indeed, denied to the laity the use of the Bible; but this prohibition, in few places now very rigorously enforced, is defended by arguments, which have for their foundation the care of souls. To obscure, upon motives merely political, the light of revelation, is a practice reserved for the reformed; and, surely, the blackest midnight of popery is meridian sunshine to such a reformation. I am not very willing that any language should be totally extinguished. The similitude and derivation of languages afford the most indubitable proof of the traduction of nations, and the genealogy of mankind. They add often physical certainty to historical evidence; and often supply the only evidence of ancient migrations, and of the revolutions of ages which left no written monuments behind them. Every man's opinions, at least his desires, are a little influenced by his favourite studies. My zeal for languages may seem, perhaps, rather over-heated, even to those by whom I desire to be well esteemed. To those who have nothing in their thoughts but trade or policy, present power, or present money, I should not think it necessary to defend my opinions; but with men of letters I would not unwillingly compound, by wishing the continuance of every language, however narrow in its extent, or however incommodious for common purposes, till it is reposited in some version of a known book, that it may be always hereafter examined and compared with other languages, and then permitting its disuse. For this purpose, the translation of the Bible is most to be desired. It is not certain that the same method will not preserve the Highland language, for the purposes of learning, and abolish it from daily use. When the Highlanders read the Bible, they will naturally wish to have its obscurities cleared, and to know the history, collateral or appendant. Knowledge always desires increase; it is like fire,

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