Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

degree participate in the honour, I have, at the same 1781. time, the gratification of my own vanity in view.

Ætat. 72.
1
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
SIR,

Park-lane, Dec. 2, 1790. I have been fortunately spared the troublesome suspense of a long search, to which, in performance of my promise, I had devoted this morning, by lighting upon the objects of it among the first papers that I laid my hands on: my veneration for your great and good friend, Dr. Johnson, and the pride, or I hope something of a better sentiment, which I indulge in possessing such memorials of his good will towards me, having induced me to bind them in a parcel containing other select papers, and labelled with the titles appertaining to them. They consist but of three letters, which I believe were all that I ever received from Dr. Johnson. Of these, one, which was written in quadruplicate, under the different dates of its respective dispatches, has already been made publick, but not from any communication of mine. This, however, I have joined to the rest; and have now the pleasure of sending them to you for the use to which you informed me it was your desire to destine them.

My promise was pledged with the condition, that if the letters were found to contain any thing which should render them improper for the publick eye, you would dispense with the performance of it. You will have the goodness, I am sure, to pardon my recalling this stipulation to your recollection, as I shall be loath to appear negligent of that obligation which is always implied in an epistolary confidence. In the reservation of that right I have read them over

1781. with the most scrupulous attention, but have not Ætat. 72:

seen in them the slightest cause on that ground to
withhold them from you. But, though not on that,
yet on another ground I own I feel a little, yet but a
little, reluctance to part with them : I mean on that
of my own credit, which I fear will suffer by the in-
formation conveyed by them, that I was early in the
possession of such valuable instructions for the bene-
ficial employment of the influence of my late station,
and (as it may seem) have so little availed myself of
them. Whether I could, if it were necessary, defend
myself against such an imputation, it little concerns
the world to know. I look only to the effect which
these relicks may produce, considered as evidences of
the virtues of their authour : and believing that they
will be found to display an uncommon warmth of pri-
vate friendship, and a mind ever attentive to the im-
provement and extension of useful knowledge, and
solicitous for the interests of mankind, I can cheer-
fully submit to the little sacrifice of my own fame,
to contribute to the illustration of so great and vene.
rable a character. They cannot be better applied,
for that end, than by being entrusted to your hands.
Allow with this offering, to infer from it a proof
of the very great esteem with which I have the ho-
nour to profess myself, Sir,

" Your most obedient
66 And most humble servant,

" WARREN HASTINGS." “ P. S. At some future time, and when

you

have no further occasion for these papers, I shall be obliged to you if you will return them."

The last of the three letters thus graciously put

me,

into my hands, and which has already appeared in 1781. publick, belongs to this year ; but I shall previously

Ætat. 72. insert the first two in the order of their dates. They altogether form a grand group in my biographical picture.

TO THE HONOURABLE WARREN HASTINGS, ESQ.

SIR,

“ Though I have had but little personal know. ledge of you, I have had enough to make me wish for more ; and though it be now a long time since I was honoured by your visit, I had too much pleasure from it to forget it. By those whom we delight to remember, we are unwilling to be forgotten ; and therefore I cannot omit this opportunity of reviving myself in your memory by a letter which you will receive from the hands of my friend Mr. Chambers ; 5 a man, whose purity of manners and vigour of mind are sufficient to make every thing welcome that he brings.

“ That this is my only reason for writing, will be too apparent by the uselessness of my letter to any other purpose. I have no questions to ask; not that I want curiosity after either the ancient or present state of regions, in which have been seen all the power and splendour of wide-extended empire; and which, as by some grant of natural superiority, supply the rest of the world with almost all that pride desires, and luxury enjoys. But my knowledge of them is too scanty to furnish me with proper topicks of enquiry ; I can only wish for information ; and hope,

5 Afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of his Majesty's Judges in India,

66

1781. that a mind comprehensive like yours will find leisure,

amidst the cares of your important station, to enquire Ætat. 72.

into many subjects of which the European world either thinks not at all, or thinks with deficient intelligence and uncertain conjecture. I shall hope, that he who once intended to increase the learning of his country by the introduction of the Persian language, will examine nicely the traditions and histories of the East ; that he will survey the wonders of its ancient edifices, and trace the vestiges of its ruined cities; and that, at his return, we shall know the arts and opinions of a race of men, from whom very little has been hitherto derived.

"You, Sir, have no need of being told by me, how much

may be added by your attention and patronage to experimental knowledge and natural history. There are arts of manufacture practised in the countries in which you preside, which are yet very imperfectly known here, either to artificers or philosophers. Of the natural productions, animate and inanimate, we yet have so little intelligence, that our books are filled, I fear, with conjectures about things which an Indian peasant knows by his senses.

Many of those things my first wish is to see; my second to know, by such accounts as a man like you will be able to give.

As I have not skill to ask proper questions, I have likewise no such access to great men as can enable me to send you any political information, Of the agitations of an unsettled government, and the struggles of a feeble ministry, care is doubtless taken to give you more exact accounts than I can obtain. If you are inclined to interest yourself much in publick

transactions, it is no misfortune to you to be distant 17$1. from them.

Ætat. 72. “ That literature is not totally forsaking us, and that

your favourite language is not neglected, will appear from the book, which I should have pleased myself more with sending, if I could have presented it bound: but time was wanting. I beg, however, Sir, that you will accept it from a man very desirous of your regard ; and that if you think me able to gratify you by any thing more important you will employ me.

“ I am now going to take leave, perhaps a very long leave, of my dear Mr. Chambers. That he is going to live where you govern, may justly alleviate the regard of parting; and the hope of seeing both him and you again, which I am not willing to mingle with doubt, must at present, comfort as it can, Sir,

" Your most humble servant, " March 30, 1774.

" SAM. JOHNSON."

TO THE SAME.

SIR,

“ Being informed that by the departure of a ship, there is now an opportunity of writing to Bengal, I am unwilling to slip out of your memory by my own negligence, and therefore take the liberty of reminding you of my existence, by sending you a book which is not yet made publick.

“ I have lately visited a region less remote, and less illustrious than India, which afforded some occasions for speculation; what has occurred to me, I

Jones's “ Persian Grammar."

« ElőzőTovább »