« ZurückWeiter »
Bishop of Rochester; and, as it contains a curious specimen of his Latin prose, it will probably be acceptable to the readers of your entertaining Miscellany. Dr. Atterbury's skill in Latin verse is well known by his translation of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel. The person to whom the letter is addressed is most probably Dr. Aldrich, Dean of Christ Church, with whom Atterbury lived on terms of intimacy during his residence in college.
“ Effluxit jam puto plus quam semestre spatium, ex quo a te, vir plurimum colende! tuis consiliis, monitis, et donis auctus cumulatusque discesserim: et tamen nihil a me interim datum est literarum, nihil tibi gratiarum quidem! Ha. bes confitentem reum, ita tamen fatentem, ut delicti, si quod fuerit, imputationem non tam defugere studeat, quam amplecti. Sic enim egomet mihi persuasi nihil isto hominum genere turpius, nihil indignius, quam qui in patronorum lau, dibus multi sunt, in gratiis referendis etiam nimii, non quod collocati muneris novo ipsi sub onere laborent, sed ut specie gratulationis majora eliciant, quam quæ pridem acceperint, ita per beneficia ad beneficium viam struunt; et aucupum more quicquid uspiam prædæ nacti sunt, id ipsum ita disponunt, ita exornant, ut in sui societatem aviculas etiam plures trahat. Et sane quod a literis scribendis tantisper me continui, neque ignavus uti spero, neque ingratus apud te audiam; quippe qui verebar ne festinata nimis gratiarum actione, non tam veteri beneficio satisfactum esse viderer, quam aucupari novum. En tandem literas! nulla tamen, quod solet, carminum sarcina onustas : ne forte musis æquo addictior videar, adeoque non horas tantum subseciras sed et dies integros in poematiis scribendis collocasse. Et profecto id ipsum mihi jampridem obstitit, quo minus poeticam quandam farraginem ante oculos tuos exponerem, quæ publici quidem juris facta cum sit, deberet recta ad te proficisci; nisi id vetuisset cum tua, vir plurimum reverende, auctoritas, tum nostra, quantulacunque sit, verecundia. Restat jain, ut abjectis nugis, sapere tandem incipiam, et dere, dictis ainænioribus musarum diverticulis, per omnifariæ doctrinæ campos longe lateque expatior. Et profecto, cum, ut rei literariæ sedulo operam navem, multa sint quæ exhortentur, multa etiam quæ accendant, nihil tamen mibi acriores stimulos injecit, quam ut exinde dignum aliquid moliar cui tuum, vir optime! inscribatur nomen; adeoque palam in omnibus et reipsa innotescat, quod nunc clanculum et verbo tenus profiteor
Favoris scilicet tui perquam studiosum esse 1785, July
XLVI. Dr. Johnson to a Young Clergyman, a Fellow of a College
Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780. NOT many days ago Dr. Lawrance shewed me a letter, in which you make mention of me; I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your letter suggested to me.
You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service, by reading to an audience that' requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often without some peculiarity of manner; but that manner may be good or bad, and a little care will at least prevent it from being bad; to make it very good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.
Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than yours will be. Take care to register somewhere or other the authors from whom your several discourses are borrowed, and do not imagine that you shall always remember even what perhaps you now think it impossible to forget.
My advice, however, is, that you attempt from time to time an original sermon, and in the labour of composition do not burden your mind with too much at once; do not 'exact from yourself, at one effort of excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts, as they rise, in the first words that occur, and when you have matter, you will easily give it form; nor perhaps will this method be always necessary; for by habit your thoughts and diction will flow together.
The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgment of the writer; they supply sources of inven-, tion, and keep every part in its proper place.
What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your parish; from which I gather, that it has
been long neglected by the parson. The Dean of Carlisle,* who was then a little rector in Northamptonshire, told me that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in the parish, by the civil or savage manners of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in much need of reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was civilized by a decayed gentlewoman, who came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend, Dr. Wheeler, of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion ; and, when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in language level to her mind. Such honest, I may call them holy, artifices, must be practised by every clergyman, for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved. Talk to your people, however, as much as you can, and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I pray God to bless you.
. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant, 1785, May.
XLVII. Dr. Johnson to Warren Hastings, Esq. Governor-General
in Bengal. SIR,
Jan. 9, 1781. AMIDST the importance and multiplicity of affairs in which your great office engages you, I take the liberty of recalling your attention for a moment to literature, and will not prolong the interruption by an apology, which your cha racter makes needless.
1* Dr. Percy.
Mr. Hoole, a gentleman long known and long esteemed in the India-house, after having translated Tasso, has undertaken Ariosto. How well he is qualified for his undertaking he has already shewn. He is desirous, Sir, of your favour in promoting his proposals, and flatters me by supposing that my testinong may advance his interest.
It is a new thing for a clerk of the India-house to translate poets—it is new for a governor of Bengal to patronize learning. That he may find his ingenuity rewarded, and that learning may flourish under your protection, is the wish of,
Sir, your most humble servant, 1785, June.
XLVIII. Letters from Dr. Johnson and Dr. Adams.
Dr. Johnson to Mr. J. Elphinstone.
Sept. 25, 1750. You have, as I find by every kind of evidence, lost an excellent mother, and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. I have a mother now 82 years of age, whom therefore I must soon lose, unless it please God that she rather should mourn for me. I read the fetters in which you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahan*; and I think I do myself honour, when I tell you, that I read them with tears, But tears are neither to me, nor to you, of any farther use, when once the tribute of nature has been paid. The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can conter upon another is, to guard, for so surely it must be, and incite, and elevate, his virtues. This your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life, and other death; a life, so far as I can learn, useful, wise, and innocent; and a death, resigned, peaceful, and holy. I cannot forbear to mention, that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope, that you may increase her happiness, by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her present state, look with pleasure upon every act of virtue, to which her instructions and example have contributed. Whether this be more than
* Sister to Mr. Elphinstone.
å pleasing dream, or a just opinion of separate spirits, is in, deed of no great importance to us, when we consider ourselves as acting under the eye of God; yet surely there is something pleasing in the belief, that our separation from those whom we love is merely corporeal ; and it may be a great incitement to virtuous friendship, if it can be made probable, that that union has received the divine approbation, and shall continue to eternity. There is one expedient by which you may, in some degree, continue her pre
you write down minutely what you can remember of her from your earliest years, you will read it with great pleasure, and receive from it many hints of soothing recollection when time shall remove her yet farther from you, and your grief shall be matured to veneration. To this, however painful for the present, I cannot but advise you, as to a source of comfort and satisfaction in the time to come; for all comfort and all satisfaction is sincerely wished you by, dear Sir, yours, &c.
Orford, Oct. 22, 1785. IN your last month's Review of Books you have asserted, " that the publication of Dr. Johnson's Prayers and Meditations appears to have been at the instance of Dr. Adams, Master of Pembroke College, in Oxford.” This is more than I think you are warranted by the Editor's Preface* to say; and is so far from being true, that Dr. Adams never saw a line of these compositions before they appeared in print, nor ever heard from Dr. Johnson, or the Editor, that any such existed. Had he been consulted about the publication, he would certainly have given his voice against it; and he therefore hopes that you will clear him, in as public a manner as you can, from being any way accessary to it.
* The words of the Preface, which led to the supposition, are, “ Being last summer on a visit at Oxford, to the Rev. Nr. Adams, (Master of Pembroke College, at which Dr. Johnson received part of his education,) and that gentleman urging him repeatedly to engage in some work of this kind, he then first conceived a design to revise these pious effusions, and bequeath them, with cnlargements, to the use and benefit of others." E.