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The richness of Johnson's fancy, which could supply his page abundantly on all occasions, and the strength of his memory, which at once detected the real owner of any thought, made him less liable to the imputation of plagiarism than, perhaps, any of our writers. In the Idler, however, there is a paper, in which conversation is assimilated to a bowl of punch, where there is the same train of comparison as in a poem by Blacklock, in his collection published in 1756; in which a parallel is ingeniously drawn between human life and that liquor. It ends,
“ Say, then, physicians of each kind,
Who cure the body or the mind,
To the Idler, when collected in volumes, he added, beside the Essay on Epitaphs, and the Dissertation on those of Pope, an Essay on the Bravery of the English common Soldiers. He, however, omitted one of the original papers, which in the folio copy is
No. 221. Hawk.
[The profits accruing from the sale of this paper, and the subscriptions which, from the year 1756, he was receiving for the edition of Shakspeare by him proposed, were the only known means of his subsistence for a period of near four years, and we may suppose them hardly adequate to his wants, for, upon
finding the balance of the account for the Dictionary Murphy against him, he [found it necessary to retrench his p.90,91. expenses.
. He gave up his house in Gougb-square. Mrs. Williams went into lodgings. He retired to Gray’s-Inn, and soon removed to chambers in the Inner Temple-lane, where he lived in poverty, total idleness, and the pride of literature. Magna ştat
· This paper may be found in Stockdale's supplemental volume, of Johnson's Miscellaneous Pieces.-BOSWELL.
nominis umbrá. Mr. Fitzherbert (the father of Murphy
p.90,91. Lord St. Helen's), a man distinguished through life for his benevolence and other amiable qualities, used to say, that he paid a morning visit to Johnson, intending from his chambers to send a letter into the city ; but, to his great surprise, he found an authour by profession without pen, ink, or paper. The present Bishop of Salisbury was also among those who endeavoured, by constant attention, to soothe the cares of a mind which he knew to be afflicted with gloomy apprehensions. ]
“ DR. JOHNSON TO MR. WARTON.
“ (London), 14th April, 1758. “DEAR SIR,– Your notes upon my poet were very acceptable. I beg that you will be so kind as to continue your
searches. It will be reputable to my work, and suitable to your professorship, to have something of yours in the notes. As you have given no directions about your name, I shall therefore put it. I wish your brother would take the same trouble. A commentary must arise from the fortuitous discoveries of many men in devious walks of literature. Some of your remarks are on plays already printed: but I purpose to add an Appendix of Notes, so that nothing comes too late.
“ You give yourself too much uneasiness, dear sir, about the loss of the papers'. The loss is nothing, if nobody has found them; nor even then, perhaps, if the numbers be known. You are not the only friend that has had the same mischance. You may repair your want out of a stock, which is deposited with Mr. Allen of Magdalen-Hall; or out of a parcel which I have just sent to Mr. Chambers ? for the use of any body that will be so kind as to want them. Mr. Langtons are well; and Miss Roberts, whom I have at last brought to speak, upon the information which you gave me, that she had something to say. I am, &c.
“ SAM. Johnson."
· Receipts for Shakspeare.-WARTON.
3 [Miss Roberts was a near relation of Mr. Langton; the subject on which she was to afford information does not appear.-ED.)
“ TO MR. WARTON.
“ (London,) Ist June, 1758. “ DEAR SIR,—You will receive this by Mr. Baretti, a gentleman particularly entitled to the notice and kindness of the professor of poesy. He has time but for a short stay, and will be glad to have it filled up with as much as he can hear and see.
“ In recommending another to your favour, I ought not to omit thanks for the kindness which you have shown to myself. Have you any more notes on Shakspeare? I shall be glad of them.
“ I see your pupil sometimes'; his mind is as exalted as his stature. I am half afraid of him; but he is no less amiable than formidable. He will, if the forwardness of his spring be not blasted, be a credit to you, and to the university. He brings some of my playswith him, which he has my permission to show you, on condition you will hide them from every body else. I am, dear sir, &c.
“ Sam. Johnson."
“TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. AT LANGTON.
“ 21st Sept. 1758. “ Dear Sir, I should be sorry to think that what engrosses the attention of my friend should have no part of mine. Your mind is now full of the fate of Durys; but his fate is past, and nothing remains but to try what reflection will suggest to mitigate the terrours of a violent death, which is more formidable at the first glance, than on a nearer and more steady yiew. A violent death is never very painful: the only danger is, lest it should be unprovided. But if a man can be supposed to make no provision for death in war, what can be the state that would have awakened him to the care of futurity ? When would that man have prepared himself to die, who went to seek death without preparation? What then can be the reason why we lament more him that dies of a wound, than him that dies of a fever? A man that languishes with disease, ends his life with more pain, but with less virtue: he leaves no example to his friends, nor bequeaths any honour to his descendants. The only reason why we lament a soldier's death, is, that we think he might have lived longer; yet this cause of grief is common to many other kinds of death, which are not so passionately bewailed. The truth is, that every death is violent which is the effect of accident; every death, which is not gradually brought on by the miseries of age, or when life is extinguished for any
1 Mr. Langton.-WARTON. (He was very tall.-Ed.]
· Part of the impression of the Shakspeare, which Dr. Jobnson conducted alone, and published by subscription. This edition came out in 1765.WARTON.
3 Major General Alexander Dury, of the first regiment of foot-guards, who fell in the gallant discharge of his duty, near St. Cas, in the well-known unfortunate expedition against France, in 1758. His lady and Mr. Langton's mother were sisters. He left an only son, Lieutenant Colonel Dury, who has a company in the same regiment.---BoswELL.
other reason than that it is burnt out. He that dies before sixty, of a cold or consumption, dies, in reality, by a violent death; yet his death is borne with patience, only because the cause of his untimely end is silent and invisible. Let us endeavour to see things as they are, and then inquire whether we ought to complain. Whether to see life as it is, will give us much consolation, I know not; but the consolation which is drawn from truth, if any there be, is solid and durable: that which
may be derived from errour, must be, like its original, fallacious and fugitive. I am, dear, dear sir, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”
“ TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. AT LANGTON,
“ 9th Jan. 1758. (1759.) “ DEAREST SIR, -I must have indeed slept very fast, not to have been awakened by your letter. None of your suspicions are true; I am not much richer than when
and what is worse, my omission of an answer to your first letter will prove that I am not much wiser. But I go on as I formerly did, designing to be some time or other both rich and wise; and yet cultivate neither mind nor fortune. Do you take notice of my example, and learn the danger of delay. When I was as you are now, towering in [the] confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be, at forty-nine, what I now am ?
“But you do not seem to need my admonition. You are busy in acquiring and in communicating knowledge, and while you are studying, enjoy the end of study, by making others
[This letter was by Mr. Boswell misplaced under the year 1758, of which it bears the date. Johnson frequently, at the beginning of a new year, continued inadvertently the date of the old one. But the reference to Cleone, which was acted in the autumn of 1758, shows this letter to have been written in January, 1759, about the time when pecuniary distress obliged him to break up his establishment in Gough-square, and retire to chambers, first in Staple-inn, and afterwards in the Inner Temple ; which he alludes to in this letter by saying that he has “ given up housekeeping.". In the list of Johnson's residences (ante, p. 81), the editor, misled by the date of this letter, the error of which he had not then discovered, placed the time of Johnson's residence at Stapleinn a year too soon. A subsequent letter to Miss Porter ascertains the point. Ed.]
(If the reader will look back to Johnson's deplorable situation when he was about the age
of twenty-one, he will be inclined to think that he might rather have prided himself at having attained to the station which he now held in society..ED.]
wiser and happier. I was much pleased with the tale that you told me of being tutour to your sisters. I, who have no sisters nor brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends '; and cannot see, without wonder, how rarely that native union is afterwards regarded. It sometimes, indeed, happens, that some supervenient cause of discord may overpower this original amity; but it seems to me more frequently thrown away with levity, or lost by negligence, than destroyed by injury or violence. We tell the ladies that good wives make good husbands; I believe it is a more certain position that good brothers make good sisters.
“I am satisfied with your stay at home, as Juvenal with his friend's retirement to Cumæ: I know that your absence is best, though it be not best for me.
“Quamvis digressu veteris confusus amici,
Destinet, atque unum civem donare Sibyllæ.' “ Langton is a good Cume, but who must be Sibylla? Langton is as wise as Sibyl, and as good; and will live, if my wishes can prolong life, till she shall in time be as old. But she differs in this, that she has not scattered her precepts in the wind, at least not those which she bestowed upon you.
“ The two Wartons just looked into the town, and were taken to see Cleone, where, David (Garrick] says, they were starved for want of company to keep them warm. David and Doddyo have had a new quarrel, and, I think, cannot conveniently quarrel any more. · Cleone' was well acted by all the characters, but Bellamy : left nothing to be desired. I went the first night, and supported it as well as I might; for Doddy, you know, is my patron, and I would not desert him. The play was very well received. Doddy, after the danger was over, went every night to the stage-side, and cried at the distress of poor Cleone.
[See, however (ante, p. 3), Johnson's observation to Mrs. Piozzi, from which, as well as from other circumstatices, it may be inferred that he did not, while he possessed it, sufficiently appreciate the happiness of fraternal inter
Mr. Gibbon, in his memoirs, alludes to this subject with good taste and feeling: “From my childhood to the present hour, I have deeply and sin. cerely regretted my sister, whose life was somewhat prolonged, and whom I remember to have seen an amiable infant. The relation of a brother and a sister, particularly if they do not marry, appears to me of a very singular nature. It is a familiar and tender friendship with a female much about our own age; an affection perhaps softened by the secret influence of the sex, but pure from any mixture of sensual desire- the sole species of Platonic love that can be indulged with truth and without danger.”—Mem. p. 25.--Ed.]
? Mr. Dodsley, the authour of Cleone.—Boswell. 3 [The well-known Miss George Anne Bellamy, who played the heroine.-