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LETTER 249. TO HENRY THRALE, ESQ.

"June 3. 1776.

afraid that I

Pray tell her

"My Mistress writes as if she was should make too much haste to see her. that there is no danger. The lameness of which I made mention in one of my notes has improved into a very serious and troublesome fit of the gout. I creep about and hang by both hands. I enjoy all the dignity of lameness. I receive ladies and dismiss them sitting. Painful pre-eminence !" "

The following letters concerning an Epitaph which he wrote for the monument of Dr. Goldsmith, in Westminster Abbey, afford at once a proof of his unaffected modesty, his carelessness as to his own writings, and of the great respect which he entertained for the taste and judgment of the excellent and eminent person to whom the first and last are addressed:

LETTER 250. TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

"May 16. 1776. "DEAR SIR,—I have been kept away from you, I know not well how, and of these vexatious hindrances

them. But these trifling embarrassments only served to enhance the hilarity and singular pleasure of the entertainment. The wine, cookery, and dishes were but little attended to; nor was the fish or venison ever talked of or recommended. Amidst this convivial, animated bustle among his guests, our host sat perfectly composed; always attentive to what was said, never minding what was eat or drank, but left every one at perfect liberty to scramble for himself. Temporal and spiritual peers, physicians, lawyers, actors, and musicians, composed the motley group, and played their parts without dissonance or discord. At five o'clock precisely dinner was served, whether all the invited guests were arrived or not. Sir Joshua was never so fashionably ill-bred as to wait an hour perhaps for two or three persons of rank or title, and put the rest of the company out of humour by this invidous distinction. His friends and intimate acquaintance will ever love his memory, and will long regret those social hours, and the cheerfulness of that irregular, convivial table, which no one has attempted to revive or imitate, or was indeed qualified to supply."-- C.

I know not when there will be an end. I therefore send you the poor dear Doctor's epitaph. Read it first yourself; and if you then think it right, show it to the Club. I am, you know, willing to be corrected. If you think any thing much amiss, keep it to yourself till we come together. I have sent two copies, but prefer the card. The dates must be settled by Dr. Percy. I am, Sir, &c. "SAM. JOHNSON."

LETTER 251. FROM MISS REYNOLDS.

"Richmond Hill, June 21. 1776.

"SIR,-You saw by my last letter that I knew nothing of your illness, and it was unkind of you not to tell me what had been the matter with you; and you should have let me know how Mrs. Thrale and all the family were; but that would have been a sad transgression of the rule you have certainly prescribed to yourself of writing to some sort of people just such a number of lines. Be so good as to favour me with Dr. Goldsmith's Epitaph; and if you have no objection, I should be very glad to send it to Dr. Beattie. I am writing now to Mrs. Beattie, and can scarce hope she will ever excuse my shameful neglect of writing to her, but by sending her something curious for Dr. Beattie.

"I don't know whether my brother ever mentioned to you what Dr. Beattie said in a letter he received from him the beginning of last month. As I have his letter here, I will transcribe it. 'In my third Essay, which treats of the advantages of classical learning, I have said something of Dr. Johnson, which I hope will please him; I ought not to call it a compliment, for it expresses nothing but the real sentiments of my heart. can never forget the many and great obligations I am under to his genius and to his virtue, and I wish for an opportunity of testifying my gratitude to the world.'

66

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My brother says he has lost Dr. Goldsmith's Epi

taph, otherwise I would not trouble you for it. Indeed I should or I ought have asked if you had any objection to my sending it, before I did send it.—I am, my good Sir, &c. "FRANCES REYNOLDS."

LETTER 252. TO MISS REYNOLDS.

"June 21. 1776.

"DEAREST MADAM,-You are as naughty as you can be. I am willing enough to write to you when I have any thing to say. As for my disorder, as Sir Joshua saw me, I fancied he would tell you, and that I needed not tell you myself. Of Dr. Goldsmith's Epitaph, I sent Sir Joshua two copies, and had none myself, If he has lost it, he has not done well. But I suppose I can recollect it, and will send it to you.—I am, Madam, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.

"P.S.-All the Thrales are well, and Mrs. Thrale has a great regard for Miss Reynolds."

LETTER 253. TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

"June 22. 1776.

"SIR,- Miss Reynolds has a mind to send the Epitaph to Dr. Beattie; I am very willing, but having no copy, cannot immediately recollect it. She tells me you have lost it. Try to recollect, and put down as much as you retain ; you perhaps may have kept what I have dropped. The lines for which I am at a loss are something of rerum civilium sive naturalium. (1) It was a sorry trick to lose it; help me if you can. -I am, Sir, your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON.

"The gout grows better, but slowly."

(1) These words must have been in the other copy. They are not in that which was preferred. — C.

It was, I think, after I had left London in this year, that this Epitaph gave occasion to a remonstrance to the Monarch of Literature, for an account of which I am indebted to Sir William Forbes, of Pitsligo.

That my readers may have the subject more fully and clearly before them, I shall insert the Epitaph:

"OLIVARII GOLDSMITH,
Poetæ, Physici, Historici,
Qui nullum ferè scribendi genus
Non tetigit,

Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit :
Sive risus essent movendi,
Sive lacrymæ,

Affectuum potens at lenis dominator :
Ingenio sublimis, vividus, versatilis,
Oratione grandis, nitidus, venustus:
Hoc monumento memoriam coluit
Sodalium amor,
Amicorum fides,
Lectorum veneratio.

Natus in Hiberniâ Fornia Longfordiensis,
In loco cui nomen Pallas,
Nov. XXIX. MDCCXXXI. (1);
Eblanæ literis institutus ;
Obiit Londini,

April. IV. MDCCLXXIV."

Sir William Forbes writes to me thus: "I enclose the Round Robin. This jeu d'esprit took its rise. one day at dinner at our friend Sir Joshua Reynolds's. All the company present, except myself, were friends and acquaintance of Dr. Goldsmith. The Epitaph written for him by Dr. Johnson became the subject of conversation, and various emendations were sug

(1) This was a mistake, which was not discovered till after Goldsmith's monument was put up in Westminster Abbey. He was born Nov. 29. 1728; and therefore, when he died, he was in his forty-sixth year.-M.

gested, which it was agreed should be submitted to the Doctor's consideration. But the question was, who should have the courage to propose them to him? At last it was hinted, that there could be no way so good as that of a Round Robin, as the sailors call it, which they make use of when they enter into a conspiracy, so as not to let it be known who puts his name first or last to the paper. This proposition was instantly assented to; and Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, now Bishop of Killaloe (1), drew up an address to Dr. Johnson on the occasion, replete with wit and humour, but which it was feared the Doctor might think treated the subject with too much levity. Mr. Burke then proposed the address as it stands in the paper in writing, to which I had the honour to officiate as clerk.

"Sir Joshua agreed to carry it to Dr. Johnson, who received it with much good humour (2), and

(1) This prelate, who was afterwards translated to the see of Limerick, died at Wimbledon, in Surrey, June 7. 1806, in his eightieth year. The original Round Robin remained in his possession; the paper which Sir William Forbes transmitted to Mr. Boswell being only a copy. MALONE. The engraving published by Mr. Boswell was not an exact fac simile of the whole of this curious paper (which is of the size called foolscap, and too large to be folded into an ordinary volume), but of the signatures only; and, in later editions, even these have, by successive copying, lost some of their original accuracy. By the favour of the Earl of Balcarras (to whom the paper has descended from his aunt, Lady Anne, the widow of the son of Bishop Barnard) I have been enabled to present the reader with a fresh and more accurate fac simile of the signatures. — C.

(2) He, however, upon seeing Dr. Warton's name to the suggestion, that the epitaph should be in English, observed to Sir Joshua, "I wonder that Joe Warton, a scholar by profession, should be such a fool." He said too, "I should have thought Mund Burke would have had more sense." Mr. Langton, who

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