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any witness present at its hirth. A man, either in confidence or by improper means, obtains possession of a copy of it in manuscript, and boldly publishes it as his own. The trne author, in many cases, may not be able to make his title clear. Johnson, indeed, from the peculiar features of his literary offspring, might hid defiance to any attempt to appropriate them to others:
"But Shakspeare's magick could not copied be,
He this year lent his friendly assistance to correct and improve a pamphlet written by Mr. Gwyn, the architect, entitled " Thoughts on the Coronation of George III."*
Johnson had now for some years admitted Mr. Baretti to his intimacy; nor did their friendship cease upon their being separated by Barretti's revisiting his native country, as appears from Johnson's letters to him.
"To Mr. Joseph Baretti, At Mii.an.j "Yon reproach me very often with parsimony of writing; but you may discover by the extent of my paper, that 1 design to recompence rarity by length. A short letter to a distant friend is, in my opinion, an insult like that of a slight bow or cursory salutation ;—a proof of unwillingness to do much, even where there is a necessity of doing something. Yet it must be remembered, that he who continnes the same course of life in the same place, will have little to tell. One week and one year are very like one another. The silent changes made by time are not always perceived; and if they are not perceived, cuunot be recounted. I have risen and lain down, talked and amused, while you have roved over a considerable part of Europe; yet I have not envied my Baretti any of his pleasures, though, perhaps, 1 have envied others his company; and I iim glad to have other nations made acquainted with the character of the English by a traveller who has so nicely inspected our manners, and so successfully stndied our literature. I received your kind letter from Falmouth, in which you gave me notice of your departure for Lisbou; and another from Lisbon, in which you told me that you were to leave Portugal in a few days. To either of these how could any answer be returned? I have had a third from Turin, complaining that 1 have not answered the former. Your English style still continnes in its purity Rnd vigour. With vigour your genins will supply it; but its purity must be continned by close attention. To use two languages familiarly, and without contaminating one by the other, is very difficult; and to use more than two, is hardly to.be hoped. The praises which some have received for their multiplicity of languages, may be sufficient to excite industry, but can hardly generate confidence.
X The originals of Dr. Johnson's three letters to Mr. Baretti, which are among the very best he ever wrote, were communicated to the proprietors of 'hat instructive and elegant monthly miscellany, "The European Magazine," in which they first appeared.
No. 3. Z
"I know not whether I can heartily rejoice at the kind receptioa which you have found, or at the popularity to which you are exalted. I am willing that your merit should be distinguished; but cannot wish that your affections may be gained. I would have you happy wherever you are: yet I would have you wish to return to England. If ever you visit us again, you will find the kindness of your friends undiminished. To tell you how many enquiries are made after you, would be tedious, or if not tedious, would be vain; because you may be told in a very few .words, that all who knew you wish you well; and that all that you embraced at your departure, will caress you at your return; therefore let not Italian academicians nor Italian ladies drive us from your thoughts. You may find among us what you will leave behind, soft smiles and easy sonnets. Yet I shall not wonder if all our invitations should be rejected: for there is a pleasure in being considerable at home, which is not easily resisted.
"By conducting Mr. Southwell to Venice, you fulfilled, I know, the original contract; yet I would wish you not wholly to lose him from your notice, but to recommend him to such acquaintance as may best secure him from suffering by his own follies, and to take such general care both of his safety and his interest as my come within your power. His relations will thank you for any such gratuitous attention: sit least they will not blame you for any evil that may happen, whether they thank you or not for any good.
"You know that we have a new King and a new Parliament. Of the new Parliament Fitzberbert is a member. We were so weary of our old King, that we are much pleased with his successor; of whom we are so much inclined to hope great things, that most of us begin already to believe them. The young man is hitherto blameless; but it would be unreasonable to expect much from the immaturity of juvenile years, and the iguorance of princely education. He has been loog in the hands of the Scots, and has already favoured them more than the English will contentedly endure. But, perhaps, he scarcely knows whom he has distinguished, or whom he has disgusted.
"The Artists have instituted a yearly Exhibition of pictures and statues, in imitation, as I am told, of foreign academies. This year was the second Exhibition. They please themselves much with the multitude of spectators, and imagine that the Englith School will rise in reputation. Reynolds is without a rival, and continues to add thousands to thousands, which he deserves, among other excellencies, by retaining his kindness for Buretti. This exhibition has filled the heads of the Artists and lovers of art. Surely life, if it be not long, istediout, since we are forced to call in the assistance of so many trifles to rid us of our time, of that time which never can return.
"I know my Baretti will not be satisfied with a letter in which I give him no account of myself: yet what account shall I give him; I have not, since the day of our separation, suffered or done any thing considerable. The only change in my life is, that 1 have frequented the thsalrc more than in former seasons. But I have gone thither only to escape from myself. We have had many new farces, and the comedy called 'The Jealous Wife,' which, though not written with much genins, was yet so well adapted to the stage, and so well exhibited by the actors, that it was crowded for twenty nights. 1 am digressing from myself to the play-house; but a barren plan must be filled with episodes. Of myself I have nothing to say, but that I have hitherto lived without the concurrence of my own judgement; yet I continue to flatter myself, that, when you return, you will find me mended. I do not wonder that, where the monastic life is permitted, every order finds votaries, and every monastery inhabitants. Men will stil1mit to any rule, by which they may be exempted from the tyranny of caprice and of chance. They are glad to supply by external authority their own want of constancy and resolution, and court the government of others, when long experience has convinced them of their own inability to govern themselves. If I were to visit Italy, my curiosity would be more attracted by convents than by palaces; though I am afraid that I should find expectation in both places equally disappointed, and life in both places supported with impatience and quitted with reluctance. That it must be so soon quitted, is a powerful remedy against impatience: but what shall free us from reluctance? Those who have endeavoured to teach us to die well, have taught few to die willingly: yet 1 cannot but hope that a good life might end at last in a contented death.
"You see to what a train of thought I am drawn by the mention of myself. Let me now turn my attention upon you. I hope you take care to keep an exact journal, and to register all occurrences and observations; for your friends here expect such a book of travels as has not been often seen. You have given us good specimens in your letters from Lisbon. I wish you had staid longer in Spain, for no country is less known to the rest of Europe; but the quickness of your discernment must make amends for the celerity of your motions. He that knows which way to direct his view, sees much in a little time.
"Write to me very often, and I will not neglect to write to you; and I may, perhaps, in time, get something to write; at least, you will know by my letters, whatever else they may have or want, that I continue to be "Your most uffectionate friend, "[London,] June 10, 1761. "sam. Johnson."
In 1762 he wrote for the Reverend Dr. Kennedy, Rector of Bradley, in Derbyshire, in a strain of very courtly elegance, a Dedication to the King* of that gentleman's work, entitled "A complete System of Astronomical Chronology, unfolding the Scriptures." He had certainly looked at this work before it was piinted! for the concluding paragraph is undoubtedly of his composition, of which let my readers judge:
"Thus have I endeavoured to free Religion and History from the darkness of a disputed and uncertain chronology; from difficulties which have hitherto appeared insuperable, and darkness which no luminary of learning has hitherto been able to dissipate. I hove established the truth of the Mosaical account, by evidence which no transcription can corrupt, no negligence can lose, and no interest can pervert. I have shewn that the universe bean witness to the inspiration of its historian, by the revolution of its orbs and the successions of its seasons; that the stars in their courses fight against incredulity, that the works of God give hourly confirmation to the laic, the prophets, and the gospel, of which one day telleth another; and one night certifieth another; and that the validity of the sacred writings never can be denied, while the moon shall increase and wane, and the sun shall know his going down."
He this year wrote also the Dedication f to the Earl of Middlesex of Mrs. Lennox's " Female Quixotte," and the Preface to the " Catalogue of the Artists' Exhibition."!
The following letter, which, on account of its intrinsic!* merit, it would have been unjust both to Johnson and the public to have withheld, was obtained for me by the solicitation of my friend Mr. Seward:
"To Dr. Staunton, (mow Sir George Staunton, Baronet.)
"I Make haste to answer your kind letter, in hope of hearing again from you before you leave us. I cannot but regret that a man of your qualifications should find it necessary to seek an establishment in Guadaloupe, which if a peace should restore to the French, 1 shall think it some alleviation of the loss, that it must restore likewise Dr. Staunton to the English.
"It is a melancholy consideration, that so much of our time is necessarily to be spent upon the care of living, and that we can seldom obtain ease in one respect but by resigning it in another: yet I suppose we are by this dispensation not less happy in the whole, than if the spontaneous bounty of Nature poured all that we want into our hands. A few, if they were thus left to themselves, would, perhaps, spend their time in laudable pursuits'; but the greater part would prey upon the quiet of each other, or, in the want of other objects, would prey upon themselves.
"This, however, is our condition, which we must improve and solace as we can: and though we cannot choose always our place of residence, we may in every place find rational amusements, and possess in every place the comforts of piety and a pure conscience.
In America there is little to be observed except natural curiosities. The new world must have many vegetables and animals with which philosophers are but little acquainted. I hope you will furnish yourself with some books of natural history, and some glasses and oilier instruments of observation. Trust as little as you can to report; examine all you cau by your own senses. I do not doubt but you will be able to add much to knowledge, and, perhaps, to medicine. Wild nations trust to simples; and, perhaps, the Peruvian bark is not the only specific with those extensive regions may afford us.
"Wherever you are, and whatever be your fortune, be certain, dear Sir, that you carry with you my kind wishes; and that whether you return hither, or stay in the other hemisphere, to hear that you are happy will give pleasure to, Sir,
"Your most affectionate humble servant, "June I, 1762. "sam. Johnson."
A lady having at this time solicited him to obtain the Archbishop of Canterbury's patronage to have her son sent to the University, one of those solicitations which are too frequent, where people, anxious for a particular object, do hot consider propriety, or the opportunity which the persons whom they solicit have to assist them, he wrote to her the following answer; with a copy of which I am favoured by the Reverend Dr. Farmer, Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge.
"I Hope that you will believe that my delay in answering your letter could proceed only from my unwillingness to destroy any hope that yon had formed. Hopeis itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by puin; and expectations improperly indulged, must end in disappointment. If it be asked, what is the improper expectation that is dangerous to indulge, experience will quickly answer, that it is such expectation as is dictated not by reason, but by desire; expectation raised, not by the common occurrences of life, but by the wants of the expectant; an expectation that requires the common course of things to be changed, and the general rules of action to be broken,
"When you made your request to me, you should have considered, Madam, what you were asking. You ask me to solict a great man, to whom I never spoke, for a young person whom I had never seen, upon a supposition which 1 had no means of knowing to be true. There is no reason why, among all the great, I should chuse to supplicate the Archbi»hop, nor why, among all the possible objects of his bounty, the Archbishop should chuse your son. 1 know, Madam, how unwillingly conviction is admitted, when interest opposes it: but surely, Madam, you must allow, that there is no reason why that should be done by me, which every other man may do with equal reason, and which, indeed, no man can do properly, without some very particular relation both to the Archbishop and to you. If I could help you in this exigence by any proper means, it would give me pleasure; but this proposal is so very remote from usual methods, that I cannot comply with it, but at the risk of such answer and suspicions as I believe you do not wish me to undergo.
"I have seen your son this morning; he seems a pretty youth, and will, perhaps, find some better friend than I can procure him; but though he ahould at last miss the University, he muy still be wise, useful, and happy. "I am, Madam,
"Your most humble servant,