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“ Spence's Anecdotes," which are frequently quoted and referred to in Johnson's “ Lives of the Poets,” are in a manuscript collection, made by the Reverend Mr. Joseph Spence (1), containing a number of particulars concerning eminent men. To each anecdote is marked the name of the person on whose authority it is mentioned. This valuable collection is the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who, upon the application of Sir Lucas Pepys, was pleased to permit it to be put into the hands of Dr. Johnson, who I am sorry to think made but an awkward return. “ Great assistance,” says he “ has been given me by Mr. Spence's Collection, of which I consider the communication as a favour worthy of public acknowledgment:" but he has not owned to whom he was obliged ; so that the acknowledgment is unappropriated to his grace. (2)
While the world in general was filled with admiration of Johnson's " Lives of the Poets,” there were narrow circles in which prejudice and resentment were fostered, and from which attacks of different sorts issued against him. (3) By some violent Whigs
Not ten copies were called for. It may be presumed that the owners of the former editions had bound their sets; but it must also be observed, that the alterations were not considerable. -C.
(1) The Rev. Joseph Spence, A. M. Rector of Great Har. wood in Buckinghamshire, and Prebendary of Durham, died at Byfleet in Surrey, August 20, 1768. He was a fellow of New College in Oxford, and held the office of Professor of Poetry in that University from 1728 to 1738. — M.
(2) It appears from a letter of Mrs. Boscawen in Hannah More's Memoirs, that she was the person who procured Johnson the loan of Spence's papers. C.
(3) From this disreputable class, I except an ingenious though not satisfactory defence of Hammond, which I did not see till
he was arraigned of injustice to Milton; by some Cambridge men, of depreciating Gray; and his expressing with a dignified freedom what he really thought of George, Lord Lyttelton, gave offence to some of the friends of that nobleman, and particularly produced a declaration of war against him from Mrs. Montagu, the ingenious essayist on Shakspeare, between whom and his lordship a commerce of reciprocal compliments had long been carried on. In this war the smaller powers in alliance with him were of course led to engage, at least on the defensive, and thus I for one was excluded from the enjoyment of “ A Feast of Reason, such as Mr. Cumberland has described, with a keen yet just and delicate pen, in his “ Observer.” These minute inconveniences gave not the least disturbance to Johnson. He nobly said, when I talked to him of the feeble though shrill outcry which had been raised, “ Sir, I considered myself as intrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my opinion sincerely; let them show where they think me wrong."
iately, by the favour of its author, my amiable friend, the Reverend Mr. Bevil, who published it without his name. It is juvenile performance, but elegantly written, with classical enthusiasm of sentiment, and yet witu a becoming modesty, and great respect for Dr. Johnson,
Warren Hastings. - Liberty and Necessity. - Picture
of a Man, by Shakspeare and by Milton. Regia stration of Deeds.--- Duty of a Member of Parliament, Deportment of a Bishop. 66Merriment of Pur
Zachariah Mudge. Dr. Walter Harte. Scale of Liquors. Dancing. - Sir Philip Jennings Clerk.- American War. - Dudley Long. Exaggerated Praise. -“ Learning to Talk.” — Veracity.
Death of Mr. Thrale. Queen's Arms Club. Constructive Treason. Castes of Men, — Passion Week. Addison. Blackstone. Steele. - Edu cating by Lectures. The Resurrection. Appa ritions.
While my friend is thus contemplated in the splendour derived from his last and perhaps most admirable work, I introduce him with peculiar propriety as the correspondent of Warren Hastings ! a man whose regard reflects dignity even upon Johnson; a man, the extent of whose abilities was equal to that of his power; and who, by those who are fortunate enough to know him in private life, is admired for his literature and taste, and beloved for the candour, moderation, and mildness of his character. Were I capable of paying a suitable tribute of admiration to him, ' should certainly not with.