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TO THOMAS CARLYLE, Esq.

DEAR MR. CARLYLE,

You were kind enough to encourage me to undertake the task of restoring the text of Mr. Boswell's great Biography: and, in addition, have allowed me to inscribe the work, now completed, to you.

That my humble labour will be found worthy of such encouragement, I will not venture to affirm: but it has, at least, been directed by a reverential feeling, and, above all, is conceived in the spirit of that admirable view of Boswell's work and character which you gave to the world many years ago.

PERCY FITZGERALD.

THE LIFE

OF

SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.

DR. JOHNSON revised some sheets of Lord Hailes's "Annals of Scotland," and wrote a few notes on the margin with red ink, which he bade me tell his Lordship did not sink into the paper, and might be wiped off with a wet sponge, so that he did not spoil his manuscript. I told him there were very few of his friends so accurate as that I could venture to put down in writing what they told me as his sayings. JOHNSON. "Why should you write down my sayings?" BOSWELL. "I write them when they are good." JOHNSON. "Nay, you may as well write down the sayings of any one else that are good." But where, I might with great propriety have added, can I find such?

I visited him by appointment in the evening,1 and we drank tea with Mrs. Williams. He told me that he had been in the company of a gentleman whose extraordinary travels had been much the subject of conversation. But I found that he had not listened to him with that full confidence, without which there is little satisfaction in the society of travellers. I was curious to hear what opinion so able a judge as Johnson had formed of his abilities, and I asked if he was not a man of sense. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, he is not a distinct relater; and I should say, he is neither abounding nor deficient in sense. I did not perceive any superiority of understanding." BoSWELL. "But will you not allow him a nobleness of resolution, in penetrating into distant regions?" JOHNSON. "That,

1 Of Saturday, April 1, 1775.

VOL. II.

? The traveller Bruce.

Sir, is not to the present purpose: we are talking of his sense. A fighting cock has a nobleness of resolution."

Next day, Sunday, April 2, I dined with him at Mr. Hoole's. We talked of Pope. JOHNSON. "He wrote his Dunciad' for fame. That was his primary motive. Had it not been for that, the dunces might have railed against him till they were weary, without his troubling himself about them. He delighted to vex them, no doubt; but he had more delight in seeing how well he could vex them."

66

The "Odes to Obscurity and Oblivion," in ridicule of "cool Mason and warm Gray," being mentioned, Johnson said, "They are Colman's best things." Upon it being observed that it was believed these Odes were made by Colman and Lloyd jointly;-JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, how can two people make an Ode? Perhaps one made one of them, and one the other." I observed that two people had made a play, and quoted the anecdote of Beaumont and Fletcher, who were brought under suspicion of treason, because while concerting the plan of a tragedy when sitting together at a tavern, one of them was overheard saying to the other, "I'll kill the King." JOHNSON. "The first of these Odes is the best but they are both good. They exposed a very bad kind of writing." BOSWELL. "Surely, Sir, Mr. Mason's Elfrida' is a fine poem: at least you will allow there are some good passages in it." JOHNSON. "There are now and then some good imitations of Milton's bad manner.”

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I often wondered at his low estimation of the writings of Gray and Mason. Of Gray's poetry I have, in a former part of this work, expressed my high opinion; and for that of Mr. Mason I have ever entertained a warm admiration. His "Elfrida" is exquisite, both in poetical description and moral sentiment; and his "Caractacus" is a noble drama. Nor can I omit paying my tribute of praise to some of his smaller poems which I have read with pleasure, and which no criticism shall persuade me not to like. If I wondered at Johnson's not tasting the works of Mason and Gray, still more have I wondered at their not tasting his works; that they should be insensible to his energy of diction, to his splendour of images, and comprehension of thought. Tastes may differ as to the violin, the flute, the hautboy, in short, all the lesser instruments: but who can be insensible to the powerful impressions of the majestick organ?

His "Taxation no Tyranny" being mentioned, he said, "I think I have not been attacked enough for it. Attack is the re-action. I never think I have hit hard, unless it rebounds." BosWELL. “I don't know, Sir, what you would be at. Five or six shots of small

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