« VorigeDoorgaan »
This letter, which shows his tender concern for an amiable young gentleman to whom he had been very much obliged in the Hebrides, I have inserted according to its date, though before receiving it I had informed him of the melancholy event that the young laird of Col was unfortunately drowned.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,_Last night I corrected the last page of our Journey to the Hebrides. The printer has detained it all this time, for I had, before I went into Wales, written all except two sheets. The Patriot was called for by my political friends on Friday, was written on Saturday, and I have heard little of it. So vague are conjectures at a distance? As soon as I can, I will take care that copies be sent to you, for I would wish that they might be given before they are bought; but I am afraid that Mr. Strahan will send to you and to the booksellers at the same time. Trade is as diligent as courtesy. I have mentioned all that you recommended. Pray make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell and the younglings. The club has, I think, not yet met.
Tell me, and tell me honestly, what you think and what others
say of our travels. Shall we touch the continent m? I am, dear sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON. « Nov. 26, 1774."
In his manuscript diary of this year, there is the following entry :
Alluding to a passage in a letter of mine, where, speaking of his Journey to the Hebrides, I say, “ But has not The Patriot been an interruption, by the time taken to write it, and the time luxuriously spent in listening to its applauses ?”—BOSWELL.
m We had projected a voyage together up the Baltick, and talked of visiting some of the more northern regions.-Boswell.
“ Nov. 27. Advent Sunday. I considered that this day, being the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, was a proper time for a new course of life. I began to read the Greek Testament regularly at 160 verses every Sunday. This day I began the Acts.
“ In this week I read Virgil's Pastorals. I learned to repeat the Pollio and Gallus. I read carelessly the first Georgick.”
Such evidences of his unceasing ardour, both for “divine and human lore,” when advanced into his sixty-fifth year, and notwithstanding his many disturbances from disease, must make us at once honour his spirit, and lament that it should be so grievously clogged by its material tegument. It is remarkable, that he was very fond of the precision which calculation produces. Thus we find in one of his manuscript diaries, “ 12 pages in 4to. Gr. Test. and 30 pages in Beza's folio, comprise the whole in 40 days.”
DR. JOHNSON TO JOHN HOOLE, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,-I have returned your play", which you will find underscored with red, where there was a word which I did not like. The red will be washed off with a little water.
“ The plot is so well framed, the intricacy so artful, and the disentanglement so easy, the suspense so affecting, and the passionate parts so properly interposed, that I have no doubt of its success. I am, sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
“ December 19, 1774.
The first effort of his pen in 1775, was, Proposals for publishing the Works of Mrs. Charlotte Lennox, † in three volumes quarto. In his diary, January 2nd, I find this entry: “Wrote Charlotte's Proposals.” But, indeed, the internal
evidence would have been quite sufficient. Her claim to the favour of the publick was thus enforced :
“ Most of the pieces, as they appeared singly, have been read with approbation, perhaps above their merits, but of no great advantage to the writer. She hopes, therefore, that she shall not be considered as too indulgent to vanity, or too studious of interest, if from that labour which has hitherto been chiefly gainful to others, she endeavours to obtain at last some profit to herself and her children. She cannot decently enforce her claim by the praise of her own performances; nor can she suppose that, by the most artful and laboured address, any additional notice could be procured to a publication of which her majesty has condescended to be the patroness.”
He this year also wrote the preface to Baretti's Easy Lessons in Italian and English. +
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,-You never did ask for a book by the post till now, and I did not think on it. You see now it is done. I sent one to the king, and I hear he likes it.
“ I shall send a parcel into Scotland for presents, and intend to give to many of my friends. In your catalogue you left out lord Auchinleck.
“ Let me know, as fast as you read it, how you like it; and let me know if any mistake is committed, or any thing important left out. I wish you could have seen the sheets. My compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to Veronica, and to all my friends. I am, sir,
“ Your most humble servant, January 14, 1775.
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, Jan. 19, 1775. “ BE pleased to accept of my best thanks for your Journey to the Hebrides, which came to me by last night's
post. I did really ask the favour twice; but you have been even with me by granting it so speedily. 'Bis dat qui cito dat.' Though ill of a bad cold, you kept me up the greatest part of last night; for I did not stop till I had read every word of your book. I looked back to our first talking of a visit to the Hebrides, which was many years ago, when sitting by ourselves in the Mitre tavern in London, I think about 'witching time o'night;' and then exulted in contemplating our scheme fulfilled, and a 'monumentum perenne' of it erected by your superiour abilities. I shall only say, that your book has afforded me a high gratification. I shall afterwards give you my thoughts on particular passages. In the mean time, I hasten to tell you of your having mistaken two names, which you will correct in London, as I shall do here, that the gentlemen who deserve the valuable compliments which you have paid them, may enjoy their honours. In page 106, for Gordon read Murchison ; and in page 357, for Maclean read Macleod.
“ But I am now to apply to you for immediate aid in my profession, which you have never refused to grant when I requested it. I enclose you a petition for Dr. Memis, a physician at Aberdeen, in which sir John Dalrymple has exerted his talents, and which I am to answer as counsel for the managers of the royal infirmary in that city. Mr. Jopp, the provost, who delivered to you your freedom, is one of my clients, and, as a citizen of Aberdeen, you will support him.
“ The fact is shortly this. In a translation of the charter of the infirmary from Latin into English, made under the authority of the managers, the same phrase in the original is in one place rendered physician, but when applied to Dr. Memis is rendered doctor of medicine. Dr. Memis complained of this before the translation was printed, but was not indulged with having it altered; and he has brought an action for damages, on account of a supposed injury, as if the designation given to him was an inferiour one, tending to make it be supposed he is not a physician, and consequently to hurt bis practice. My father has dismissed the action as groundless, and now he has appealed to the whole courto."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
" DeAR SIR,-I long to hear how you like the book : it is, I think, much liked here. But Macpherson is very furious: can you give me any more intelligence about him, or his Fingal ? Do what you can, and do it quickly. Is lord Hailes on our side?
“ Pray let me know what I owed you when I left you, that I may send it to you.
“ I am going to write about the Americans. If you have picked up any hints among your lawyers, who are great masters of the law of nations, or if your own mind suggest any thing, let me know. But mum, it is a secret. I will send your parcel of books as soon as I
but I cannot do as I wish. However, you find every thing mentioned in the book which you recommended.
Langton is here; we are all that ever we were. He is a worthy fellow, without malice, though not without resentment.
“ Poor Beauclerk is so ill that his life is thought to be in danger. . Lady Di nurses him with very great assiduity.
Reynolds has taken too much to strong liquor P, and seems to delight in his new character.
“ This is all the news that I have; but as you love • In the court of session of Scotland an action is first tried by one of the judges, who is called the lord ordinary; and if either party is dissatisfied, he may appeal to the whole court, consisting of fifteen, the lord president and fourteen other judges, who have both in and out of court the title of lords, from the name of their estates; as lord Auchinleck, lord Monboddo, etc.— -BosweLL.
p It should be recollected, that this fanciful description of his friend was given by Johnson after he himself had become a water-drinker.-Boswell.