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every day more liked; at least, I like it more, as I look more upon it.1
"I am glad if you got credit by your cause, and am yet of opinion, that our cause was good, and that the determination ought to have been in your favour. Poor Hastie, I think, had but his deserts.
"You promised to get me a little Pindar, you may add to it a little Anacreon.
"The leisure which I cannot enjoy, it will be a pleasure to hear that you employ upon the antiquities of the feudal establishment. The whole system of ancient tenures is gradually passing away; and I wish to have the knowledge of it preserved adequate and complete. For such an institution makes a very important part of the history of mankind. Do not forget a design so worthy of a scholar who studies the law of his country, and of a gentleman who may naturally be curious to know the condition of his own ancestors. I am, dear Sir, yours with great affection, "SAM. JOHNSON.
"August 31, 1772."
"" TO DR. JOHNSON.
"MY DEAR SIR,
"Edinburgh, Dec. 25, 1772.
"I WAS much disappointed that you did not come to Scotland last autumn. However, I must own that your letter prevents me from complaining; not only because I am sensible that the state of your health was but too good an excuse, but because you write in a strain which shews that you have agreeable views of the scheme which we have so long proposed.
"I communicated to Beattie what you said of his book in your last letter to me. He writes to me thus; You judge very rightly in supposing that Dr. Johnson's favourable opinion of my book must give me great delight. Indeed it is impossible for me to say how much I am gratified by it; for there is not a man upon earth whose good opinion I would be more ambitious to cultivate. His talents and his virtues I reverence more than any words can express. The extraordinary civilities (the paternal attentions I should rather say) and the many instructions I have had the
1 Essay on Truth, 1770, of which five large editions were sold in the first four years of publication, besides three translations in French, Dutch, and German, Dr. Hill.
honour to receive from him, will to me be a perpetual source of pleasure in the recollection.
"Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos reget artus."
"I had still some thoughts, while the summer lasted, of being obliged to go to London on some little business; otherwise I should certainly have troubled him with a letter several months ago, and given some vent to my gratitude and admiration. This I intend to do, as soon as I am left a little at leisure. Meantime, if you have occasion to write to him, I beg you will offer him my most respectful compliments, and assure him of the sincerity of my attachment and the warmth of my gratitude.'
"I am, &c.
66 "JAMES BOSWELL."
In 1773, his only publication was an edition of his folio Dictionary, with additions and corrections; nor did he, so far as is known, furnish any productions of his fertile pen to any of his numerous friends or dependants, except the Preface to his old amanuensis Macbean's "Dictionary of Ancient Geography." His "Shakespeare," indeed, which had been received with high approbation by the public, and gone through several editions, was this year republished by George Steevens, Esq., a gentleman not only deeply skilled in ancient learning, and of very extensive reading in English literature, especially the early writers, but at the same time of acute discernment and elegant It is almost unnecessary to say, that by his great and valuable additions to Dr. Johnson's work, he justly obtained considerable reputation :
“Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæsar habet.”
1 He, however, wrote, or partly wrote, an epitaph on Mrs. Bell, wife of his friend John Bell, Esq. brother of the Rev. Dr. Bell, Prebendary of Westminster, which is printed in his Works. It is in English prose, and has so little of his manner that I did not believe he had any hand in it, till I was satisfied of the fact by the authority of Mr. Bell. B.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"I HAVE read your kind letter much more than the elegant Pindar which it accompanied. I am always glad to find myself not forgotten; and to be forgotten by you would give me great uneasiness. My northern friends have never been unkind to me: I have from you, dear Sir, testimonies of affection, which I have not often been able to excite; and Dr. Beattie rates the testimony which I was desirous of paying to his merit, much higher than I should have thought it reasonable to expect.
"I have heard of your masquerade.1 What says your synod to such innovations? I am not studiously scrupulous, nor do I think a masquerade either evil in itself, or very likely to be the occasion of evil; yet as the world thinks it a very licentious relaxation of manners, I would not have been one of the first masquers in a country where no masquerade had ever been before.2
"A new edition of my great Dictionary is printed, from a copy which I was persuaded to revise; but having made no preparation, I was able to do very little. Some superfluities I have expunged, and some faults I have corrected, and here and there have scattered a remark; but the main fabric of the work remains as it was. I had looked very little into it since I wrote it, and, I think, I found it full as often better, as worse, than I expected.
"Baretti and Davies have had a furious quarrel; a quarrel, I think, irreconcilable. Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which is expected in the spring. No name is yet given it. The chief diversion arises from a stratagem by which a lover is made to mistake his future father-in-law's house for an inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. The dialogue is quick and gay, and the incidents are so prepared as not to seem improbable.
"I am sorry that you lost your cause of Intromission, because I yet think the arguments on your side unanswerable. But you seem, I think, to say that you gained reputation even by your defeat; and reputation you will daily gain, if you keep Lord Auchinleck's precept in your mind, and endeavour to consolidate in your mind a firm and regular system of law, instead of picking up occasional fragments.
1 Given by a lady at Edinburgh. B. us, was the Countess Dowager of Fife. Conjurer.
The lady, Croker tells Boswell went as a Dumb
There had been masquerades in Scotland; but not for a very long time. B.
She Stoops to Conquer was first acted on March 15, 1773, at Covent Garden.
LETTERS TO AMERICANS
"My health seems in general to improve; but I have been troubled for many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and physic, and am afraid that I must expect help from brighter days and softer air.
"Write to me now and then; and whenever any good befalls you, make haste to let me know it, for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear Sir, your most humble servant,
"London, Feb. 22, 1773.
"You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale."
While a former edition of my work was passing through the press, I was unexpectedly favoured with a packet from Philadelphia, from Mr. James Abercrombie a gentleman of that country, who is pleased to honour me with very high praise of my "Life of Dr. Johnson.' "Life of Dr. Johnson." To have the fame of my illustrious friend, and his faithful biographer, echoed from the New World is extremely flattering; and my grateful acknowledgements shall be wafted across the Atlantic. Mr. Abercrombie has politely conferred on me a considerable additional obligation, by transmitting to me copies of two letters from Dr. Johnson to American gentlemen. "Gladly, Sir," says he, "would I have sent you the originals; but being the only relics of the kind in America, they are considered by the possessors of such inestimable value, that no possible consideration would induce them to part with them. In some future publication of yours relative to that great and good man, they may perhaps be thought worthy of insertion."
"SIR, "THAT in the hurry of a sudden departure you should yet find leisure to consult my convenience, is a degree of kindness,
1 This gentleman, who now resides in America in a public character of considerable dignity, desired that his name might not be transcribed at full length. B. Croker supposes him to have been Mr. Richard Bland of Virginia, whose Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies was republished in London in 1770.
and an instance of regard, not only beyond my claims, but above my expectation. You are not mistaken in supposing that I set a high value on my American friends, and that you should confer a very valuable favour upon me by giving me an opportunity of keeping myself in their memory.
"I have taken the liberty of troubling you with a packet, to which I wish a safe and speedy conveyance, because I wish a safe and speedy voyage to him that conveys it. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
"London, Johnson's Court,
"Fleet Street, March 4, 1773."
"TO THE REVEREND MR. White.1
"YOUR kindness for your friends accompanies you across the Atlantic. It was long since observed by Horace, that no ship could leave care behind: you have been attended in your voyage by other powers,-by benevolence and constancy; and I hope care did not often shew her face in their company.
"I received the copy of Rasselas.' The impression is not magnificent, but it flatters an author, because the printer seems to have expected that it would be scattered among the people. The little book has been well received, and is translated into Italian, French, German, and Dutch. It has now one honour more by an American edition.
"I know not that much has happened since your departure that can engage your curiosity. Of all public transactions the whole world is now informed by the newspapers. Opposition seems to despond; and the dissenters, though they have taken advantage of unsettled times, and a Government much enfeebled, seem not likely to gain any immunities.
"Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent Garden, to which the manager predicts ill success. I hope he will be mistaken. I think it deserves a very kind reception.
"I shall soon publish a new edition of my large Dictionary; I
1 Now Doctor White, and bishop of the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania. During his first visit to England in 1771, as a candidate for holy orders, he was several times in company with Dr. Johnson, who expressed a wish to see the edition of Rasselas, which Dr. White told him had been printed in America. Dr. White on his return, immediately sent him a copy. Groker.