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been shown me; and I did not delay the perusal, of which I am now to tell the effect.
“ The construction of the play is not completely regular: the stage is too often vacant, and the scenes are not sufficiently connected. This, however, would be called by Dryden only a mechanical defect; which takes away little from the power of the poem, and which is seen rather than felt.
“A rigid examiner of the diction might, perhaps wish some words changed, and some lines more vigorously terminated. But from such petty imperfections what writer was ever free?
“ The general form and force of the dialogue is of more importance. It seems to want that quickness of reciprocation which characterises the English drama, and is not always sufficiently fervid or animated.
“Of the sentiments, I remember not one that I wished omitted. In the imagery I cannot forbear to distinguish the comparison of joy succeeding grief to light rushing on the eye accustomed to darkness. () It seems to have all that can be desired to make it please. It is new, just, and delightful.
“With the characters, either as conceived or pre served, I have no fault to find ; but was much inclined to congratulate a writer who, in defiance of prejudice and fashion, made the archbishop a good man, and scorned all thoughtless applause, which a vicious church. man would have brought him.
“The catastrophe is affecting. The father and daughter both culpable, both wretched, and both penitent, divide between them our pity and our sorrow.
Thus, Madam, I have performed what I did not willingly undertake, and could not decently refuse
(11 “ I could have borne my wnes; that stranger Joy
Wounds while it smiles : - the long imprison'd wretch,
The noble writer will be pleased to remember that sincere criticism ought to raise no resentment, because judgment is not under the control of will; but invo. luntary criticism, as it has still less of choice, ought to be.more remote from possibility of offence. I am, &c.
- SAM. JOHNSON." I consulted him on two questions of a very different nature : one, Whether the unconstitutional influence exercised by the peers of Scotland in the election of the representatives of the commons, by means of fictitious qualifications, ought not to be resisted; the other, What in propriety and humanity should be done with old horses unable to labour. I gave him some account of my life at Auchinleck; and expressed my satisfaction that the gentlemen of the county had, at two public meetings, elected me their preses or chairman. LETTER 446. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, Dec. 24. 1783. - DEAR SIR,
Like all other men who have great friends, you begin to feel the pangs of neglected merit; and all the comfort that I can give you is, by telling you that you have probably more pangs to feel, and more neglect to suffer. You have, indeed, begun to complain too soon; and I hope I am the only confidant of your discontent.
Your friends have not yet had leisure to gratify personal kindness; they have hitherto been busy in strengthening their ministerial interest. If a vacancy happens in Scotland, give them early intelligence: and as you can serve government as powerfully as any of your probable competitors, you may make in some sort a warrantable claim.
« Of the exaltations and depressions of your mind you delight to talk, and I hate to hear. Drive all such fancies from you.
“ On the day when I received your letter, I think, the foregoing page was written ; to which one disease or another has hindered me from making any additions. I am now a little better. But sickness and solitude press me very heavily. I could bear sickness better, it I were relieved from solitude.
“ The present dreadful confusion of the public ought to make you wrap yourself up in vour hereditary possessions, which, though less than you may wish, are more than you can want; and in an hour of religious retirement return thanks to God, who has exempted you from any strong temptation to faction, treachery, plunder, and disloyalty.
“ As your neighbours distinguish you by such honours as they can bestow, content yourself with your station, without neglecting your profession. Your estate and the courts will find you full employment, and your mind well occupied will be quiet.
“ The usurpation of the nobility, for they apparently usurp all the influence they gain by fraud and misrepresentation, I think it certainly lawful, perhaps your duty, to resist. What is not their own, they have only by robbery.
“ Your question about the horses gives me more perplexity. I know not well what advice to give you. I can only recommend a rule which you do not want: give as little pain as you can.
that we have a right to their service while their strength lasts; what we can do with them afterwards, I cannot so easily determine. But let us consider. Nobody denies that man has a right first to milk the cow, and to shear the sheep, and then to kill them for his table. May he not, by parity of reason, first work a horse, and then kill him the easiest way, that he may have the meanı of another horse, or food for cows and sheep? Man is influenced in both cases by different motives of self-in.
terest. He that rejects the one must reject the other. I am, &c.
SAM. JOANEON. “ A happy and pious Christmas ; and many happy years to you, your lady, and children.”
The late ingenious Mr. Mickle, some time before his death, wrote me a letter concerning Dr. Johnson, in which he mentions,
s I was upwards of twelve years acquainted with him, was frequently in his company, always talked with ease to him, and can truly say, that I never received from him one rough word.” In this letter he relates his having, while engaged in translating the Lusiad, had a dispute of considerable length with Johnson, who, as usual, declaimed upon the misery and cor. ruption of a sea life, and used this expression : had been happy for the world, Sir, if your hero, Gama, Prince Henry of Portugal, and Columbus, had never been born, or that their schemes had never gone farther than their own imaginations.” “ This sentiment,” says Mr. Mickle, “ which is to be found in his · Introduction to the World Displayed,' 1, in my Dissertation prefixed to the Lusiad, have controverted ; and though authors are said to be bad judges of their own works, I am not ashamed to own to a friend, that that dissertation is my favourite above all that I ever attempted in prose. Next year, when the Lusiad was published, I waited on Dr. Johnson, who addressed me with one of his good humoured smiles : - Well, you have remembered our dispute about Prince Henry, and have cited me too. You have done your part very well indeed: you have made the best of your argument; but I am not convinced yet.'
“ Before publishing the Lusiad, I sent Mr. Hoole a proof of that part of the introduction in which I make mention of Dr. Johnson, yourself, and other wellwishers to the work, begging it might be shown to Dr
Johnson. This was accordingly done ; and in place of the simple mention of him which I had made, he dic. tated to Mr. Hoole the sentence as it now stands.
“ Dr. Johnson told me in 1772, that, about twenty years before that time, he himself had a design to translate the Lusiad, of the merit of which he spoke highly, but had been prevented by a number of other engagements."
Mr. Mickle reminds me in this letter of a conversation at dinner one day at Mr. Hoole's with Dr. Johnson, when Mr. Nicol, the king's bookseller, and I, attempted to controvert the maxim, “ Better that ten guilty should escape, than one innocent person suffer,” and were answered by Dr. Johnson with great power of reasoning and eloquence. I am very sorry that I have no record of that day: but I well recollect my illustrious friend's having ably shown, that unless civil institutions ensure protection to the innocent, all the confidence which mankind should have in them would be lost.
I shall here mention what, in strict chronological arrangement, should have appeared in my account of last year; but may more properly be introduced here, the controversy having not been closed till this. The Reverend Mr. Shaw, a native of one of the Hebrides, having entertained doubts of the authenticity of the poems ascribed to Ossian, di vested himself of national bigotry; and having tra velled in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and also in Ireland, in order to furnish himself with materials for a Gaelic Dictionary, which he afterwards compilki, was so fully satisfied that Dr.