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"You did not tell me your determination about the Soldier's Letter,1 which I am confident was never printed. I think it will not do by itself, or in any other place so well as the Mag. Extraordinary. If you will have it all, I believe you do not think I set it high, and I will be glad if what you give, you will give quickly.

"You need not be in care about something to print, for I have got the State Trials, and shall extract Layer, Atterbury, and Macclesfield from them, and shall bring them to you in a fortnight; after which I will try to get the South Sea Report." [No date, nor signature.]

I would also ascribe to him an "Essay on the Description of China, from the French of Du Halde."+

His writings in the "Gentleman's Magazine," in 1743, are, the "Preface," the "Parliamentary Debates,"+ "Considerations on the Dispute between Crousaz and Warburton, on Pope's Essay on Man ;"+ in which, while he defends Crousaz, he shows an admirable metaphysical acuteness and temperance in controversy; "Ad Lauram parituram Epigramma ;** and, "A Latin Translation of Pope's Verses on his


1 I have not discovered what this was.-BOSWELL.

2 "Angliacas inter pulcherrima Laura puellas,

Mox uteri pondus depositura grave,

Adsit, Laura, tibi facilis Lucina dolenti,

Neve tibi noceat prænituisse Deæ."

Mr. Hector was present when this Epigram was made impromptu. The first line was proposed by Dr. James, and Johnson was called upon by the company to finish it, which he instantly did.- BOSWELL.

The following elegant Latin Ode, which appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1743 (vol. xiii. p. 548), was many years ago pointed out to James Bindley, Esq., as written by Johnson, and may safely be attributed to him :


Vanæ sit arti, sit studio modus,
Formosa virgo! sit speculo quies,
Curamque quærendi decoris

Mitte, supervacuosque cultus.

Ut fortuitis verna coloribus
Depicta vulgo rura magis placent,
Nec invident horto nitenti
Divitias operosiores :

Lenique fons cum murmure pulcrior
Obliquat ultro præcipitem fugam
Inter reluctantes lapillos, et

Ducit aquas temere sequentes:

Utque inter undas, inter et arbores,
Jam vere primo dulce strepunt aves,
Et arte nulla gratiores

Ingeminant sine lege cantus:



Grotto;" and, as he could employ his pen with equal success upon a small matter as a great, I suppose him to be the author of an advertisement for Osborne, concerning the great Harleian Catalogue.

But I should think myself much wanting, both to my illustrious friend and my readers, did I not introduce here, with more than ordinary respect, an exquisitely beautiful Ode, which has not been inserted in any of the collections of Johnson's poetry, written by him at a very early period, as Mr. Hector informs me, and inserted in "The Gentleman's Magazine" of this year.


Friendship, peculiar boon of heaven,
The noble mind's delight and pride,
To men and angels only given,
To all the lower world denied.

While love unknown among the blest,
Parent of thousand wild desires,
The savage and the human breast
Torments alike with raging fires :
With bright, but oft destructive, gleam,
Alike o'er all his lightnings fly;
Thy lambent glories only beam
Around the fav'rites of the sky.

Thy gentle flows of guiltless joys

On fools and villains ne'er descend:

In vain for thee the tyrant sighs,
And hugs a flatterer for a friend.

Nativa sic te gratia, te nitor
Simplex decebit, te Veneres tuæ ;
Nudus Cupido suspicatur
Artifices nimis apparatus.

Ergo fluentum tu, male sedula,
Ne sæva inuras semper acu comam;
Nec sparsa odorato nitentes

Pulvere dedecores capillos;

Quales nec olim Ptolemæia
Jactabat uxor, sidereo in chore
Utcunque devotæ refulger,
Verticis exuviæ decori;

Nec diva mater, cum similem tuæ
Mentita formam, et pulcrior adspici,

Permisit incomtas protervis

Fusa comas agitare ventis.

In vol. xiv. p. 46, of the same work, an elegant Epigram was inserted, in answer to the to going Ode, which was written by Dr. Inyon of Norfolk, a physician, and an excellent classical scholar:


"O cui non potuit, quia culta, placere puella,
Qui speras Musam posse placere tuam !"-MALOne.

Directress of the brave and just,

O guide us through life's darksome way!
And let the tortures of mistrust

On selfish bosoms only prey.

Nor shall thine ardour cease to glow,

When souls to blissful climes remove:

What rais'd our virtue here below,

Shall aid our happiness above.

Johnson had now an opportunity of obliging his schoolfellow Dr. James, of whom he once observed, "No man brings more mind to his profession." James published this year his "Medicinal Dictionary," in three volumes folio. Johnson, as I understood from him, had written, or assisted in writing, the proposals for this work; and being very fond of the study of physic, in which James was his master, he furnished some of the articles. He, however, certainly wrote for it the Dedication to Dr. Mead, which is conceived with great address, to conciliate the patronage of that very eminent man.'

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It has been circulated, I know not with what authenticity, that Johnson considered Dr. Birch as a dull writer, and said of him, "Tom

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"That the 'Medicinal Dictionary' is dedicated to you, is to be imputed only to your reputation for superior skill in those sciences which I have endeavoured to explain and facilitate; and you are, therefore, to consider this address, if it be agreeable to you, as one of the rewards of merit; and if otherwise, as one of the inconveniences of eminence.

"However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed, because this public appeal to your judgment will show that I do not found my hopes of approbation upon the ignorance of my readers, and that I fear his censure least whose knowledge is most extensive.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,


Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation. but no sooner does he take a pen in his hand, than it becomes a torpedo to him, and benumbs all his faculties." That the literature of this country is much indebted to Birch's activity and diligence must certainly be acknowledged. We have seen that Johnson honoured him with a Greek Epigram; and his correspondence with him, during many years, proves that he had no mean opinion of him.



Thursday, Sept. 29, 1743.

"I hope you will excuse me for troubling you on an occasion on which I know not whom else I can apply to; I am at a loss for the Lives and Characters of Earl Stanhope, the two Craggs, and the minister Sunderland; and beg that you will inform [me] where I may find them, and send any pamphlets, &c. relating to them to Mr. Cave to be perused for a few days by, Sir,

"Your most humble servant,


His circumstances were at this time embarrassed; yet his affection for his mother was so warm, and so liberal, that he took upon himself a debt of hers, which, though small in itself, was then considerable to him. This appears from the following letter which he wrote to Mr. Levett, of Lichfield, the original of which lies now before me :—



December 1, 1743.

"I am extremely sorry that we have encroached so much upon your forbearance with respect to the interest, which a great perplexity of affairs hindered me from thinking of with that attention that I ought, and which I am not immediately able to remit to you, but will pay it (I think twelve pounds) in two months. I look upon this, and on the future interest of that mortgage, as my own debt; and beg that you will be pleased to give me directions how to pay it, and not mention it to my dear mother. If it be necessary to pay this in less time, I believe I can do it; but I take two months for certainty, and beg an answer whether you can allow me so much time. I think myself very much obliged to your forbearance, and shall esteem it a great happiness to be able to serve you. I have great opportunities of dispersing any thing that you may think it proper to make public. I will give a note for the money, payable at the time mentioned, to any one here that you shall appoint. I am, Sir,

"Your most obedient and most humble servant,

"At Mr. Osborne's, bookseller, in Gray's Inn."

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IT does not appear that Johnson wrote anything in 1744 for the "Gentleman's Magazine," but the Preface.† His "Life of Barretier" was now published in a pamphlet by itself. But he produced one work this year, fully sufficient to maintain the high reputation which he had acquired. This was "The Life of Richard Savage;" ""* a man, of whom it is difficult to speak impartially, without wondering that he was for some time the intimate companion of Johnson; for his character1 was marked by profligacy, insolence, and ingratitude: yet, as he undoubtedly had a warm and vigorous, though unregulated mind, had seen life in all its varieties, and been much in the company of the states

1 As a specimen of his .temper, I insert the following letter from him to a noble Lord Tyrconnel] to whom he was under great obligations, but who, on account of his bad conduct, was obliged to discard him. The original was in the hands of the late Francis Cockayne Cust, Esq., one of his Majesty's Counsel, learned in the law :

"Right Honourable BRUTE and BOOBY,

"I find you want (as Mr.

is pleased to hint) to swear away my life, that is, the life of your creditor, because he asks you for a debt.-The public shall soon be acquainted with this, to judge whether you are not fitter to be an Irish evidence, than to be an Irish Peer.-I defy and despise you. I am

"Your determined adversary,


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