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I thank you for Neander?, but wish he were not so fine. I will take care of him. I am,
I am, sir,
“SAM. JOHNSON. “ March 5, 1774.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,-Dr. Webster's informations were much less exact, and much less determinate than I expected : they are, indeed, much less positive than, if he can trust his own book a which he laid before me, he is able to give. But I believe it will always be found, that he who calls much for information will advance his work but slowly.
“I am, however, obliged to you, dear sir, for your endeavours to help me, and hope, that between us something will sometime be done, if not on this, on some occasion.
“ Chambers is either married, or almost married, to Miss Wilton, a girl of sixteen, exquisitely beautiful, whom he has, with his lawyer's tongue, persuaded to take her chance with him in the East.
“We have added to the club, Charles Fox, sir Charles Bunbury, Dr. Fordyce, and Mr. Steevens. “Return
thanks to Dr. Webster. Tell Dr. Robertson I have not much to reply to his censure of my negligence: and tell Dr. Blair, that since he has written hither what I said to him, we must now consider ourselves as even, forgive one another, and begin again. I care not how soon, for he is a very pleasing man. Pay my compliments to all my friends, and remind lord Elibank of his promise to give me all his works.
? See the Catalogue of Mr. Steevens's Library, No. 265:-Neandri (Mich.) Opus aureum, Gr. et Lat. 2 tom. 4to. corio turcico, foliis deauratis. Lipsiæ, 1577.—This was doubtless the book which appears to have been lent by Mr. Steevens to Dr. Johnson.
a A manuscript account, drawn by Dr. Webster, of all the parishes in Scotland, ascertaining their length, breadth, number of inhabitants, and distinguishing protestants and Roman catholicks. This book had been transmitted to government, and Dr. Johnson saw a copy of it in Dr. Webster's possession.Boswell.
“I hope Mrs. Boswell and little miss are well.—When shall I see them again? She is a sweet lady; only she was so glad to see me go, that I have almost a mind to come again, that she may again have the same pleasure.
Enquire if it be practicable to send a small present of a cask of porter to Dunvegan, Rasay, and Col. I would not wish to be thought forgetful of civilities.
“I am, sir,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ March 5, 1774."
On the 5th of March I wrote to him, requesting his counsel whether I should this spring come to London. I stated to him, on the one hand, some pecuniary embarrassments, which, together with my wife's situation at that time, made me hesitate: and, on the other, the pleasure and improvement which my annual visit to the metropolis always afforded me; and particularly mentioned a peculiar satisfaction which I experienced in celebrating the festival of Easter in St. Paul's cathedral; that to my fancy it appeared like going up to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover; and that the strong devotion which I felt on that occasion diffused its influence on my mind through the rest of the year.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
[Not dated, but written about
the 15th of March.]
“DEAR SIR, I am ashamed to think that since I received your letter I have passed so many days without answering it.
“I think there is no great difficulty in resolving your doubts. The reasons for which you are inclined to visit
London, are, I think, not of sufficient strength to answer the objections. That you should delight to come once a year to the fountain of intelligence and pleasure, is very natural; but both information and pleasure must be regulated by propriety. Pleasure which cannot be obtained but by unseasonable or unsuitable expense, must always end in pain ; and pleasure which must be enjoyed at the expense of another's pain, can never be such as a worthy mind can fully delight in.
What improvement you might gain by coming to London, you may easily supply, or easily compensate, by enjoining yourself some particular study at home, or opening some new avenue to information. Edinburgh is not yet exhausted: and I am sure you will find no pleasure here which can deserve either that you should anticipate any part of your future fortune, or that you should condemn yourself and your lady to penurious frugality for the rest of the year.
“I need not tell you what regard you owe to Mrs. Boswell's entreaties; or how much you ought to study the happiness of her who studies yours with so much diligence, and of whose kindness you enjoy such good effects. Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions. She permitted you to ramble last year, you must permit her now to keep you at home.
“Your last reason is so serious, that I am unwilling to oppose it. Yet you must remember, that your image of worshipping once a year in a certain place, in imitation of the jews, is but a comparison; and simile non est idem :' if the annual resort to Jerusalem was a duty to the jews, it was a duty because it was commanded; and you have no such command, therefore no such duty. It may be dangerous to receive too readily, and indulge too fondly, opinions, from which, perhaps, no pious mind is wholly disengaged, of local sanctity and local devotion. You know what strange effects they have produced over a great part of the christian world. I am now writing, and you, when you read this, are reading under the eye of Omnipresence.
“ To what degree fancy is to be admitted into religious offices, it would require much deliberation to determine. I am far from intending totally to exclude it. Fancy is a faculty bestowed by our Creator, and it is reasonable that all his gifts should be used to his glory, that all our faculties should co-operate in his worship; but they are to cooperate according to the will of him that gave them, according to the order which his wisdom has established. As ceremonies prudential or convenient are less obligatory than positive ordinances, as bodily worship is only the token to others or ourselves of mental adoration, so fancy is always to act in subordination to reason. take fancy for a companion, but must follow reason as our guide. We may allow fancy to suggest certain ideas in certain places; but reason must always be heard, when she tells us, that those ideas and those places have no natural or necessary relation. When we enter a church we habitually recall to mind the duty of adoration, but we must not omit adoration for want of a temple; because we know, and ought to remember, that the Universal Lord is everywhere present; and that, therefore, to come to Jona", or to Jerusalem, though it may be useful, cannot be necessary.
“Thus I have answered your letter, and have not answered it negligently. I love you too well to be careless when you are serious.
“I think I shall be very diligent next week about our travels, which I have too long neglected. I am, dear sir,
"Your most, etc.
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “Compliments to 'madam and miss."
All the editions have Jona; but Johnson most probably alluded to Iona, which place would readily suggest itself to his mind when writing to Boswell on this particular effect produced on the mind by locality. We are persuaded that his magnificent meditation amidst the ruins of luna is too familiar to our readers to need more than this brief reference to recall it to their memory. We must, however, pause to point out the sound advice given in the above letter, on a subject on which those who are scantily acquainted with Johnson's cha. racter imagine he entertained delusive opinions. See Idler, No. 33, and note ; and Rasselas, vol. i. p. 225; and Travels, vol. ix. p. 145.-Ed.
TO THE SAME.
“DEAR SIR, -The lady who delivers this has a lawsuit, in which she desires to make use of your skill and eloquence, and she seems to think that she shall have something more of both for a recommendation from me; which, though I know how little you want any external incitement to your duty, I could not refuse her, because I know that at least it will not hurt her, to tell you that I wish her well.
“ Sam. JOHNSON.
May 10, 1774.”
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, May 12, 1774. “LORD HAILES bas begged of me to offer you his best respects, and to transmit to you specimens of Annals of Scotland, from the Accéssion of Malcolm Kenmore to the Death of James V. in drawing up which, his lordship has been engaged for some time. His lordship writes to me thus: “If I could procure Dr. Johnson's criticisms, they would be of great use to me in the prosecution of my work, as they would be judicious and true. I have no right to ask that favour of him. If you could, it would highly oblige me.'
“ Dr. Blair requests you may be assured that he did not write to London what you said to him, and that neither by word nor letter has he made the least complaint of you; but, on the contrary, has a high respect for you, and loves you much more since he saw you in Scotland. It would both divert and please you to see his eagerness about this matter.”