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not have been one of the first masquers, in a country where no masquerade had ever been before.
“A new edition of my great Dictionary is printed, from a copy which I was persuaded to revise ; but having made no preparation, I was able to do very little. Some superfluities I have expunged, and some faults I have corrected, and here and there have scattered a remark; but the main fabrick of the work remains as it was. I had looked very little into it since I wrote it; and I think I found it full as often better, as worse, than I expected.
Baretti and Davies have had a furious quarrel ; a quarrel, I think, irreconcileable. Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which is expected in the spring. No name is yet given it. The chief diversion arises from a stratagem by which a lover is made to mistake his future father-in-law's house for an inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. The dialogue is quick and gay, and the incidents are so prepared as not to seem improbable. “I am sorry that you lost your cause of intromission,
, because I yet think the arguments on your
side unanswerable. But you seem, I think, to say that you gained reputation even by your defeat; and reputation you will daily gain, if you keep lord Auchinleck’s precept in your mind, and endeavour to consolidate in your mind a firm and regular system of law, instead of picking up occasional fragments.
• My health seems in general to improve; but I have been troubled for many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and physick; and am afraid, that I must expect help from brighter days and softer air.
“Write to me now and then; and whenever any good
i There had been masquerades in Scotland; but not for a very long time. -BOSWELL.
Mary queen of Scots was attending a masque when Darnley was murdered. See Robertson's Scotland, i. p. 322.-ED.
make haste to let me know it, for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear sir, “ Your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON. “ London, Feb. 22, 1773.
“You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale.”
While a former edition of my work was passing through the press, I was unexpectedly favoured with a packet from Philadelphia, from Mr. James Abercrombie, a gentleman of that country, who is pleased to honour me with very high praise of my Life of Dr. Johnson. To have the fame of my illustrious friend, and his faithful biographer, echoed from the New World is extremely flattering; and my grateful acknowledgements shall be wafted across the Atlantick. Mr. Abercrombie bas politely conferred on me a considerable additional obligation, by transmitting to me copies of two letters from Dr. Johnson to American gentlemen. “Gladly, sir,” says he, “would I have sent you the originals ; but being the only relicks of the kind in America, they are considered by the possessors of such inestimable value, that no possible consideration would induce them to part with them. In some future publication of yours relative to that great and good man, they may perhaps be thought worthy of insertion.”
“SIR,-That in the hurry of a sudden departure you should yet find leisure to consult my convenience, is a degree of kindness, and an instance of regard, not only beyond my claims, but above my expectation. You are not mistaken in supposing that I set a high value on my American friends, and that you should confer a very valuable favour upon me by giving me an opportunity of keeping myself in their memory.
k This gentleman, who now resides in America in a publick character of considerable dignity, desired that his name might not be transcribed at full length.---BOSWELL.
“ I have taken the liberty of troubling you with a packet, to which I wish a safe and speedy conveyance, because I wish a safe and speedy voyage to him that conveys it. I am, sir, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON. “ London, Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, March 4, 1773."
TO THE REVEREND MR. Whitel.
“ DEAR SIR,—Your kindness for your friends accompanies you across the Atlantick. It was long since observed by Horace, that no ship could leave care behind : you have been attended in your voyage by other powersby benevolence and constancy; and I hope care did not often show her face in their company.
“ I received the copy of Rasselas. The impression is not. magnificent, but it flatters an author, because the printer seems to have expected that it would be scattered among the people. The little book has been well received, and is translated into Italian, French, German, and Dutch. It has now one honour more by an American edition.
“ I know not that much has happened since your departure that can engage your curiosity. Of all publick transactions the whole world is now informed by the newspapers. Opposition seems to despond; and the dissenters, though they have taken advantage of unsettled times, and a government much enfeebled, seem not likely to gain any immunities.
| Now Dr. White, and bishop of the episcopal church in Pennsylvania. During his first visit to England in 1771, as a candidate for holy orders, he was several times in company with Dr. Johnson, who expressed a wish to see the edition of Rasselas which Dr. White told him had been printed in America. Dr. White, on his return, immediately sent him a copy.--Boswell.
“ Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent Garden, to which the manager predicts ill success. I hope he will be mistaken. I think it deserves a very kind reception.
“ I shall soon publish a new edition of my large Dictionary: I have been persuaded to revise it, and have mended some faults, but added little to its usefulness.
“ No book has been published since your departure, of which much notice is taken. Faction only fills the town with pamphlets, and greater subjects are forgotten in the noise of discord.
“ Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of myself, I can only add, that having been afflicted many weeks with a very troublesome cough, I am now recovered.
“ I take the liberty which you give me of troubling you with a letter, of which you will please to fill up the direction. “I am, sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. " Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,
London, March 4, 1773."
On Saturday, April 3rd, the day after my arrival in London this year, I went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs. Williams till he came home. I found in the London Chronicle, Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his ; but when he came home, he soon undeceived us. When he said to Mrs. Williams, “ Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper;" I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith. JOHNSON. “ Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do any thing else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had he shown it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick.” BOSWELL. “I fancy, sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure." Johnson, “ Why, sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat ; he may have been beaten before. This, sir, is a new plume to him.”
m The offence given, was a long abusive letter in the London Packet. A particular account of this transaction, and Goldsmith's vindication, (for such it was, rather than an apology,) may be found in the life of that poet, prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works, in 4 vols. 8vo. pp. 105-108.—Malone.
I mentioned sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, and his discoveries to the prejudice of lord Russell and Algernon Sydney. JOHNSON, “Why, sir, every body who has just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals.” BoSWELL. “But, sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals.” Johnson. “ Consider, sir; would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France ? Depend upon it, sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing; it is the mere bouncing of a schoolboy: Great Hen! but greater She! and such stuff.”
n A bombastick ode of Oldham's on Ben Jonson begins thus : “ GREAT THOU !" which, perhaps, Johnson had in his recollection.—ED.