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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 Dr. Joseph Spence, 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 aukward 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 publick acknowledgement;” but he has not owned to whom he was obliged; so that the acknowledgement is unappropriated to his Grace.
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 whence attacks of different forts issued against him. By some violent Whigs 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. Montague, the ingenious Efayist on Shakspeare, between whom and his Lordship a commerce of reciprocal compliments had long been carried on. In this war the finaller 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 Reaton,” such as Mr. Cumberland has described, with a keen, yet just and delicate pen, in his “OBSERVER.” These minute inconveniencies gave not the least disturbance to Johnson. He nobly faid, when I talked to him of the feeble, though thrill outcry which had been raised, “ Sir, I considered myself as entrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my opinion sincerely; let them shew where they think me wrong.”
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, I should certainly not with6
hold it at a moment * when it is not posible that I hould be suspected of being an interested flatterer. But how weak would be my voice after that of the millions whom he governed. His condescending and obliging compliance with my solicitation, I with humble gratitude acknowledge; and while by publishing his letter to me, accompanying the valuable communication, I do eminent honour to ny great friend, I shall entirely difregard any invidious suggestions, that as I in fome degree participate in the honour, I have, at the fame time, the gratification of my own vanity in view.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, F/2.
Park-lane, Dec. 2, 1790. « I have been fortunately spared the troublesome fufpense 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 indulged in poffefling 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 fending 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 should be loth to appear negligent of that obligation which is always implied in arı epistolary confidence. In the reservation of that right I have read them over with the most scrupulous attention, but have not seen in them the nightest cause on that ground to with-hold them from you. But, though not on that, yet on another ground. I own I feel a little, yet but a licle, reluctance to part with them : I mean on that of my own
* January, 1791.
credit, 1 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; a man, whose purity of manners and vigour of mind are sufficient to make every thing welcome that he brings.
credit, which I fear will suffer by the information conveyed by them, that I
" Your most obedient
« WARREN HASTINGS.
would return them."
To the Honourable WARREN HASTINGS, Ejq.
“ THOUGH I have had but little personal knowledge of you,
s Now Sir Robert Chalmers, one of his Majesty's Judges in India.
i. 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 alk; not that I want curiosity after either the ancient or present state of regions, in which have been seen all the power and fplendour 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 with for information ; and hope, that a mind comprehensive like yours will find leisure, amidst the cares of your important station, to enquire 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 ihall 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 fet; 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 feebie 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 so distant from them.
“ 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 1781. man very
desirous of your regard; and thaç if you think me able to gratify Ætat. 72. 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 regret 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, 66 March 30, 1774.
To the same.
“ BEING informed that by the departure of a ship, there is now an opportunity of writing to Bengal, I am unwilling to Nip 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 occurred to me, I have put into the volume?, of which I beg your acceptance.
“ Men in your station seldom have presents totally disinterested; my book is received, let me now make my request.
« There is, Sir, somewhere within your government, a young adventurer, one Chauncy Lawrence, whose father is one of my oldest friends. Be pleased to shew the young man what countenance is fit, whether he wants to be restrained by your authority, or encouraged by your favour. His father is now President of the College of Physicians, a man venerable for his knowledge, and more venerable for his virtue.
“ I wish you a prosperous government, a safe return, and a long enjoyment of plenty and tranquillity. I am, Sir,
( Your most obedient
" And most humble servant, « London, Dec. 20, 1774.
7 “ Journey to the Western Isands of Scotland.”
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