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He told him, if he had not been a witness to his faculty himself, he should not have thought it possible. He said, Isaac Hawkins Browne had endeavoured at it in English, but could not get beyond thirty verses. ]
Mr. Steevens, whose generosity is well known, joined Dr. Johnson in kind assistance to a female relation of Dr. Goldsmith, and desired that on her return to Ireland she would procure authentick particulars of the life of her celebrated relation. Concerning her is the following letter:
" TO GEORGE STEEVENS, ESQ.
“- 25th February, 1777. “DEAR SIR,– You will be glad to hear that from Mrs. Goldsmith, whom we lamented as drowned, I have received a letter full of gratitude to us all, with promise to make the inquiries which we recommended to her.
“I would have had the honour of conveying this intelligence to Miss Caulfield, but that her letter is not at hand, and I know not the direction. You will tell the good news.-I am, sir,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
your most, &c.
"MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
“ Edinburgh, 14th February. 1777. “ MY DEAR SIR,–My state of epistolary accounts with you at present is extraordinary. The balance, as to number, is on your side. I am indebted to you for two letters: one dated the 16th of November, upon which very day I wrote to you, so that our letters were exactly exchanged; and one dated the 21st of December last.
“ My heart was warmed with gratitude by the truly kind contents of both of them; and it is amazing and vexing that I have allowed so much time to elapse without writing to you. But delay is inherent in me, by nature or by bad habit. I waited till I should have an opportunity of paying you my compliments on a new year. I have procrastinated till the year is no longer new.
“ Dr. Memis's cause was determined against him, with 401. costs. The lord president, and two other of the judges, dissented from the majority upon this ground: that although there may have been no intention to injure him by calling him doctor of
medicine, instead of physician, yet, as 'he remonstrated against the designation before the charter was printed off, and repre. sented that it was disagreeable, and even hurtful to him, it was ill-natured to refuse to alter it, and let him have the designation to which he was certainly entitled. My own opinion is, that our court has judged wrong. The defendants were in mala fide, to persist in naming him in a way that he disliked. You remember poor Goldsmith, when he grew important, and wished to appear Doctor Major, could not bear your calling him Goldy. Would it not have been wrong to have named him so in your
Preface to Shakspeare,' or in any serious permanent writing of any sort? The difficulty is, whether an action should be allowed on such petty wrongs. De minimis non curat lex. “ The negru cause is not yet decided. A memorial is
preparing on the side of slavery. I shall send you a copy as soon as it is printed. Maclaurin is made happy by your approbation of his memorial for the black.
Macquarry was here in the winter, and we passed an evening together. The sale of his estate cannot be prevented.
“Sir Allan Maclean's suit against the Duke of Argyle, for recovering the ancient inheritance of his family, is now fairly before all our judges. I spoke for him yesterday, and Maclaurin to-day ; Crosbie spoke to-day against him. Three more
unsel are to be heard, and next week the cause will be determined. I send you the informations, or cases, on each side, which I hope you will read. You said to me when we were under Sir Allan's hospitable roof, I will help you with my pen. You said it with a generous glow; and though his Grace of Argyle did afterwards mount you upon an excellent horse, upon which you looked like a bishop, you must not swerve from your purpose at Inchkenneth. I wish you may understand the points at issue, amidst our Scotch law principles and phrases.";
Here followed a full state of the case, in which I endeavoured to make it as clear as I could to an Englishman who had no knowledge of the formularies and technical language of the law of Scotland.
“ I shall inform you how the cause is decided here. But as it may be brought under the review of our judges, and is certainly to be carried by appeal to the house of lords, the assistance of such a mind as yours will be of consequence. Your paper
[See ante, vol. ii. p. 330.-Ed.] VOL. III.
on Vicious Intromission is a noble proof of what you can do even in Scotch law.
“ I have not yet distributed all your books. Lord Hailes and Lord Monboddo have each received one, and return you thanks. Monboddo dined with me lately, and, having drank tea, we were a good while by ourselves; and as I knew that he had read the · Journey' superficially, as he did not talk of it as I wished, I brought it to him, and read aloud several passages; and then he talked so, that I told him he was to have a copy from the authour. He begged that might be marked on it.
“ I ever am, my dear sir, your most faithful and affectionate humble servant,
“ JAMES BOSWELL."
« SIR ALEXANDER DICK TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
“ Prestonfield, 17th February, 1777. “ SIR-I had yesterday the honour of receiving your book of your · Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, which you was so good as to send me, by the hands of our mutual friend, Mr. Boswell, of Auchinleck; for which I return you my most hearty thanks; and, after carefully reading it over again, shall deposit it in my little collection of choice books, next our worthy friend's Journey to Corsica.' As there are many things to admire in both performances, I have often wished that no travels or journey should be published but those undertaken by persons of integrity, and capacity to judge well and describe faithfully, and in good language, the situation, condition, and manners of the countries passed through. Indeed, our country of Scotland, in spite of the union of the crowns, is still in most places so devoid of clothing or cover from hedges and plantations, that it was well you gave your readers a sound monitoire with respect to that circumstance. The truths you have told, and the purity of the language in which they are expressed, as your 'Journey' is universally read, may, and already appear to have a very good effect. For a man of my acquaintance, who has the largest nursery for trees and hedges in this country, tells me, that of late the demand upon him for these articles is doubled, and sometimes tripled. I have, therefore, listed Dr. Samuel Johnson in some of my memorandums of the principal planters and favourers of the enclosures, under a name which I took the liberty to invent from the Greek, Papadendrion. Lord Auchinleck and some few more are of the list.
I am told that one gentleman in the shire of
Aberdeen, viz. Sir Archibald Grant, has planted above fifty millions of trees on a piece of very wild ground at Monimusk : I must inquire if he has fenced them well, before he enters my list; for that is the soul of enclosing. I began myself to plant a little, our ground being too valuable for much, and that is now fifty years ago ; and the trees, now in my seventy-fourth year, I look up to with reverence, and show them to
eldest son, now in his fifteenth year; and they are the full height of my country-house here, where I had the pleasure of receiving you, and hope again to have that satisfaction with our mutual friend, Mr. Boswell. I shall always continue, with the truest esteem, dear doctor, your much obliged and obedient humble servant,
“ ALEXANDER Dick?.”
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“18th February, 1777. “DEAR SIR,--It is so long since I heard any thing from you, that I am not easy about it; write something to me next post. When you sent your last letter, every thing seemed to be mending; I hope nothing has lately grown worse. I suppose young Alexander continues to thrive, and Veronica is now very pretty company. I do not suppose the lady is yet reconciled to me; yet let her know that I love her very well, and value her very much.
“ Dr. Blair is printing some sermons. If they are all like the first, which I have read, they are sermones aurei, ac auro magis aurei. It is excellently written both as to doctrine and language. Mr. Watson's book 3 seems to be much esteemed.
“ Poor Beauclerk still continues very ill. Langton lives on as he used to do. His children are very pretty, and, I think, his lady loses her Scotch 4. Paoli I never see.
“ I have been so distressed by difficulty of breathing, that I lost, as was computed, six-and-thirty ounces of blood in a few days. I am better, but not well.
“I wish you would be vigilant and get me Graham’s • Telemachus,' that was printed at Glasgow, a very little book; and
Johnstoni Poemata,' another little book, printed at Middleburgh.
1 For a character of this very amiable man, see ante, vol. ii. p. 283, and the Biographical Dictionary. He died in 1785.—Boswell.
2 By the then course of the post, my long letter of the 14th had not yet reached him.-BoswELL.
3 History of Philip the Second.BOSWELL.
4 [Lady Rothes was a native of England, but she had lived long in Scotland, and never, it is said, entirely lost the accent she had acquired there. Ed.] 5 [See ante, vol. ii. p. 328_ED.]
“ Mrs. Williams sends her compliments, and promises that when you come hither she will accommodate you as well as ever she can in the old room. She wishes to know whether you sent her book to Sir Alexander Gordon.
My dear Boswell, do not neglect to write to me; for your kindness is one of the pleasures of my life, which I should be sorry to lose. I am, sir, your humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
“ Edinburgh, 24th February, 1777. ” DEAR SIR,-Your letter dated the 18th instant, I had the pleasure to receive last post. Although my late long neglect, or rather delay, was truly culpable, I am tempted not to regret it, since it has produced me so valuable a proof of your regard. I did, indeed, during that inexcusable silence, sometimes divert the reproaches of my own mind, by fancying that I should hear again from you, inquiring with some anxiety about me, because, for aught you knew, I might have been ill.
“ You are pleased to show me that my kindness is of some consequence to you. My heart is elated at the thought. Be assured, my dear sir, that my affection and reverence for you are exalted and steady. I do not believe that a more perfect attachment ever existed in the history of mankind. And it is a noble attachment; for the attractions are genius, learning, and piety.
“ Your difficulty of breathing alarms me, and brings into my imagination an event, which, although, in the natural course of things, I must expect at some period, I cannot view with composure.
My wife is much honoured by what you say
of her. She begs you may accept of her best compliments. She is to send you some marmalade of oranges of her own making.
“I ever am, my dear sir, your most obliged and faithful humble servant,
« JAMES BOSWELL."
[“ DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. ASTON.
“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 8th March, 1777. “ DEAR MADAM,-As we pass on through the journey of life, we meet, and ought to expect, many unpleasing occurrences, but many likewise encounter us unexpected. I have this morning heard from Lucy of your illness. I heard indeed in