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214

THE AFFINITIES OF LANGUAGE

[1757 prosecution of your design. Sir William Temple complains that Ireland is less known than any other country, as to its ancient state. The natives have had little leisure, and little encouragement for enquiry; and strangers, not knowing the language, have had no ability.

'I have long wished that the Irish literature were cultivated'. Ireland is known by tradition to have been once the seat of piety and learning; and surely it would be very acceptable to all those who are curious either in the original of nations, or the affinities of languages, to be further informed of the revolution of a people so ancient, and once so illustrious.

'What relation there is between the Welch and Irish language, or between the language of Ireland and that of Biscay, deserves enquiry. Of these provincial and unextended tongues, it seldom happens that more than one are understood by any one man; and, therefore, it seldom happens that a fair comparison can be made. I hope you will continue to cultivate this kind of learning, which has too long lain neglected, and which, if it be suffered to remain in oblivion for another century, may, perhaps, never be retrieved. As I wish well to all useful undertakings, I would not forbear to let you know how much you deserve in my opinion, from all lovers of study, and how much pleasure your work has given to, Sir, your most obliged, and most humble servant,

London, April 9, 1757.'

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'TO THE REVEREND MR. THOMAS WARTON. 'DEAR SIR,-Dr. Marsili of Padua, a learned gentleman, and good Latin poet, has a mind to see Oxford. I have given him a letter to Dr. Huddesford 2, and shall be glad if you will introduce him, and shew him any thing in Oxford.

1 The celebrated oratour, Mr. Flood, has shewn himself to be of Dr. Johnson's opinion; having by his will bequeathed his estate, after the death of his wife Lady Frances, to the University of Dublin; 'desiring that immediately after the said estate shall come into their possession, they shall appoint two professors, one for the study of the native Erse or Irish language, and the other for the study of Irish antiquities and Irish history, and for the study of any other European language illus. trative of, or auxiliary to, the study of Irish antiquities or Irish history; and that they shall give yearly two liberal premiums for two compositions, one in verse, and the other in prose, in the Irish language.'

'Now, or late, Vice-Chancellor."

WARTON.

1757]

PRAISE VERY SCARCE

'I am printing my new edition of Shakspeare.

215

'I long to see you all, but cannot conveniently come yet. You might write to me now and then, if you were good for any thing. But honores mutant mores. Professors forget their friends'. I shall certainly complain to Miss Jones 2. I am, your, &c.

[London,] June 21, 1757.'

'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'Please to make my compliments to Mr. Wise.'

Mr. Burney having enclosed to him an extract from the review of his Dictionary in the Bibliothèque des Savans 3, and a list of subscribers to his Shakspeare, which Mr. Burney had procured in Norfolk, he wrote the following answer :

'To MR. BURNEY, IN LYNNE, NORFOLK.

'SIR, That I may shew myself sensible of your favours, and not commit the same fault a second time, I make haste to answer the letter which I received this morning. The truth is, the other likewise was received, and I wrote an answer; but being desirous to transmit you some proposals and receipts, I waited till I could find a convenient conveyance, and day was passed after day, till other things drove it from my thoughts; yet not so, but that I remember with great pleasure your commendation of my Dictionary. Your praise was welcome, not only because I believe it was sincere, but because praise has been very scarce. A man of your candour will be surprised when I tell you, that among all my acquaintance there were only two, who upon the publication of my book did not endeavour to depress me with threats of censure from the publick, or with objections learned from those who had learned them from my own Preface. Your's is the only 1 'Mr. Warton was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in the preceding year.' WARTON.

2 6

Miss Jones lived at Oxford, and was often of our parties. She was a very ingenious poetess, and published a volume of poems; and, on the whole, was a most sensible, agreeable, and amiable woman. She was

a sister to the Reverend River Jones, Chanter of Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford, and Johnson used to call her the Chantress. I have heard him often address her in this passage from Il Penseroso :

"Thee, Chantress, oft the woods among

I woo," etc.

She died unmarried' WARTON.

Tom. iii. p. 482.

216

SUBSCRIBERS TO HIS SHAKESPEARE [1757

letter of goodwill that I have received; though, indeed, I am promised something of that sort from Sweden.

1

'How my new edition will be received I know not; the subscription has not been very successful. I shall publish about March..

'If you can direct me how to send proposals, I should wish that they were in such hands.

'I remember, Sir, in some of the first letters with which you favoured me, you mentioned your lady. May I enquire after her? In return for the favours which you have shewn me, it is not much to tell you, that I wish you and her all that can conduce to your happiness. I am, Sir, your most obliged, and most humble servant,

'Gough-square, Dec. 24, 1757.'

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

In 1758 we find him, it should seem, in as easy and pleasant a state of existence, as constitutional unhappiness ever permitted him to enjoy.

'TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ., AT LANGTON, LINCOLNSHIRE.

'DEAREST SIR,-I must indeed have slept very fast, not to have been awakened by your letter. None of your suspicions are true; I am not much richer than when you left me; and, what is worse, my omission of an answer to your first letter, will prove that I am not much wiser. But I go on as I formerly did, designing to be some time or other both rich and wise; and yet cultivate neither mind nor fortune. Do you take notice of my example, and learn the danger of delay. When I was as you are now, towering in the confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be at fortynine, what I now am.

'But you do not seem to need my admonition. You are busy in acquiring and in communicating knowledge, and while you are studying, enjoy the end of study, by making others wiser and happier. I was much pleased with the tale that you told me of being tutour to your sisters. I, who have no sisters nor brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends; and cannot see, without wonder, how rarely that native union is afterwards regarded. It sometimes, indeed, happens, that some supervenient cause of discord may overpower this 1 Of Shakspeare.

1758]

BROTHERS AND SISTERS

217

original amity; but it seems to me more frequently thrown away with levity, or lost by negligence, than destroyed by injury or violence. We tell the ladies that good wives make good husbands; I believe it is a more certain position that good brothers make good sisters.

'I am satisfied with your stay at home, as Juvenal with his friend's retirement to Cumæ: I know that your absence is best, though it be not best for me.

'Quamvis digressu veteris confusus amici,

Laudo tamen vacuis quod sedem figere Cumis
Destinet, atque unum civem donare Sibyllæ.'

'Langton is a good Cumæ, but who must be Sibylla? Mrs. Langton is as wise as Sibyl, and as good; and will live, if my wishes can prolong life, till she shall in time be as old. But she differs in this, that she has not scattered her precepts in the wind, at least not those which she bestowed upon you.

'The two Wartons just looked into the town, and were taken to see Cleone, where, David' says, they were starved for want of company to keep them warm. David and Doddy 2 have had a new quarrel, and, I think, cannot conveniently quarrel any more. Cleone was well acted by all the characters, but Bellamy left nothing to be desired. I went the first night, and supported it, as well as I might; for Doddy, you know, is my patron, and I would not desert him. The play was very well received. Doddy, after the danger was over, went every night to the stage-side, and cried at the distress of poor Cleone.

I have left off housekeeping, and therefore made presents of the game which you were pleased to send me. The pheasant I gave to Mr. Richardson, the bustard to Dr. Lawrence, and the pot I placed with Miss Williams, to be eaten by myself. She desires that her compliments and good wishes may be accepted by the family; and I make the same request for myself.

Mr. Reynolds has within these few days raised his price to twenty guineas a head, and Miss is much employed in miniatures. I know not any body [else] whose prosperity has encreased since you left them.

Murphy is to have his Orphan of China acted next month;
2 Mr. Dodsley, the Authour of Cleone.
' Mr. Samuel Richardson, authour of Clarissa.

1 Mr. Garrick.

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218

HIS SHAKESPEARE DELAYED

[1758

and is therefore, I suppose, happy. I wish I could tell you of any great good to which I was approaching, but at present my prospects do not much delight me; however, I am always pleased when I find that you, dear Sir, remember, your affectionate, humble servant,

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'To MR. BURNEY, AT LYNNE, Norfolk.

'SIR,-Your kindness is so great, and my claim to any particular regard from you so little, that I am at a loss how to express my sense of your favours; but I am, indeed, much pleased to be thus distinguished by you.

'I am ashamed to tell you that my Shakspeare will not be out so soon as I promised my subscribers; but I did not promise them more than I promised myself. It will, however, be published before summer.

'I have sent you a bundle of proposals, which, I think, do not profess more than I have hitherto performed. I have printed many of the plays, and have hitherto left very few passages unexplained; where I am quite at a loss, I confess my ignorance, which is seldom done by commentators.

'I have, likewise, enclosed twelve receipts; not that I mean to impose upon you the trouble of pushing them, with more importunity than may seem proper, but that you may rather have more than fewer than you shall want. The proposals you will disseminate as there shall be an opportunity. I once printed them at length in the Chronicle, and some of my friends (I believe Mr. Murphy, who formerly wrote the Gray'sInn Journal) introduced them with a splendid encomium.

'Since the Life of Browne, I have been a little engaged, from time to time, in the Literary Magazine, but not very lately. I have not the collection by me, and therefore cannot draw out a catalogue of my own parts, but will do it, and send it. Do not buy them, for I will gather all those that have anything of mine in them, and send them to Mrs. Burney, as a small token of gratitude for the regard which she is pleased to bestow upon me. I am, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant,

London, March 8, 1758.'

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

1 This letter was an answer to one in which was enclosed a draft for the payment of some subscriptions to his Shakspeare.

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