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I generally kept copies of my letters to him, that I might have a full view of our correspondence, and never be at a loss to understand any reference in his letters. He kept the greater part of mine very carefully; and a short time before his death was attentive enough to seal them up in bundles, and order them to be delivered to me, which was accordingly done. Amongst them I found one, of which I had not made a copy, and which I own I read with pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years. It is dated November, 1765, at the palace of Pascal Paoli, in Corte, the capital of Corsica, and is full of generous enthusiasm. After giving a sketch of what I had seen and heard in that island, it proceeded thus: "I dare to call this a spirited tour. I dare to challenge your approbation."
This letter produced the following answer, which I found on my arrival at Paris.
A MR. MR. BOSWELL, CHEZ MR. WATERS, BANQUIER, A PARIS.
"DEAR SIR,-Apologies are seldom of any use. will delay till your arrival the reasons, good or bad, which have made me such a sparing and ungrateful correspondent. Be assured, for the present, that nothing has lessened either the esteem or love with which I dismissed you at Harwich. Both have been increased by all that I have been told of you by yourself or others; and when you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I hope, unalterable friend.
“All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me. No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour; and the pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment will be sufficient to afford it.
Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come home, and expect such
welcome as is due to him whom a wise and noble curiosity has led, where perhaps no native of this country ever was before.
"I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would I willingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your return. I am afraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind which has been so long feasted with variety. But let us try what esteem and kindness can effect.
"As your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a ramble, I doubt not but you will think his sickness, or even his desire to see you, a sufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we live, and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends. Parents we can have but once; and he promises himself too much, who enters life with the expectation of finding many friends. Upon some motive, I hope that you will be here soon; and am willing to think that it will be an inducement to your return, that it is sincerely desired by, dear sir,
"Your affectionate humble servant,
"Johnson's Court, Fleet-street,
January 14, 1766."
I returned to London in February, and found Dr. Johnson in a good house in Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, in which he had accommodated Miss Williams with an apartment on the ground floor, while Mr. Levett occupied his post in the garret: his faithful Francis was still attending upon him. He received me with much kindness. The fragments of our first conversation, which I have preserved, are these: I told him that Voltaire, in a conversation with me, had distinguished Pope and Dryden thus:-" Pope drives a handsome chariot, with a couple of neat trim nags; Dryden a coach, and six stately horses." JOHNSON. Why, sir, the truth is, they both drive coaches and six; but Dryden's horses are either galloping or stumbling;
Pope's go at a steady even trot." He said of Goldsmith's Traveller, which had been published in my absence, "There has not been so fine a poem since Pope's time."
And here it is proper to settle, with authentick precision, what has long floated in publick report, as to Johnson's being himself the author of a considerable part of that poem. Much, no doubt, both of the sentiments and expression were derived from conversation with him; and it was certainly submitted to his friendly revision: but in the year 1783, he at my request marked with a pencil the lines which he had furnished, which are only line 420,
To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;
and the concluding ten lines, except the last couplet but one, which I distinguish by the Italick character:
How small of all that human hearts endure,
Our own felicity we make or find;
With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel,
He added, "These are all of which I can be sure." They bear a small proportion to the whole, which consists of four hundred and thirty-eight verses. Goldsmith, in the couplet which he inserted, mentions Luke as a person well known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite smoothly; while those of more attention have been
a It is remarkable that Mr. Gray has employed somewhat the same image to characterize Dryden. He, indeed, furnishes his car with but two horses; but they are of "ethereal race:"
Behold where Dryden's less presumptuous car
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder cloth'd, and long resounding pace.
Ode on the Progress of Poesy.—Boswell.
as much perplexed by Luke as by Lydiat in The Vanity of Human Wishes. The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. In the Respublica Hungarica, there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brothers, of the name of Zeck, George and Luke. When it was quelled, George, not Luke, was punished by his head being encircled with a red hot iron crown: corona candescente ferrea coronatur." The same severity of torture was exercised on the earl of Athol, one of the murderers of king James the first of Scotland". Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which he furnished to Goldsmith's Deserted Village, which are only the last four:
That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
Talking of education, "People have now-a-days," said he, "got a strange opinion that every thing should be taught by lectures. Now I cannot see that lectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lectures, except where experiments are to be shown. You may teach chymistry by lectures.-You might teach making of shoes by lectures!"
At night I supped with him at the Mitre tavern, that we might renew our social intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now a considerable difference in his way of living. Having had an illness, in which he was advised to leave off wine, he had from that period
b In Richard the Third, Act iv. Sc. 1, Shakspeare puts these words into the mouth of princess Anne :
O, would to God, that the inclusive verge
Of golden metal that must round my brow,
See Mr. Steevens's note on the passage; and also Gough's Camden, iii. 396. Macbeth exclaims to the phantom Banquo, "Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs." Act iv. Sc. 3.
continued to abstain from it, and drank only water or lemonade.
I told him that a foreign friend of his, whom I had met with abroad, was so wretchedly perverted to infidelity, that he treated the hopes of immortality with brutal levity; and said, "As man dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog." JOHNSON. "If he dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog.” I added that this man said to me, "I hate mankind; for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am." JOHNSON. "Sir, he must be very singular in his opinion, if he thinks himself one of the best of men; for none of his friends think him so."-He said, "No honest man could be a deist; for no man could be so after a fair examination of the proofs of christianity." I named Hume. JOHNSON. "No, sir; Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishoprick of Durham, that he had never read the New Testament with attention."—I mentioned Hume's notion, that all who are happy are equally happy ; a little miss with a new gown at a dancing-school ball, a general at the head of a victorious army, and an orator after having made an eloquent speech in a great assembly. JOHNSON. "Sir, that all who are happy are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher." I remember this very question very happily illustrated in opposition to Hume, by the reverend Mr. Robert Brown, at Utrecht. "A small drinking-glass and a large one," said he, “may be equally full; but the large one holds more than the small c.”
c Bishop Hall, in discussing this subject, has the same image: "Yet so conceive of these heavenly degrees, that the least is glorious. So do these vessels differ, that all are full." EPISTLES, Dec. iii. cap. 6. "Of the different degrees of heavenly glory." This most learned and ingenious writer, however, was not the first who suggested this image; for it is found also in an old book entitled A Work worth the reading, by Charles Gibbon, 4to. 1591. In the fifth dialogue of this work, in which the question debated is, "whether there be degrees of glorie in heaven, or difference of paines in hell," one of the speakers