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" In loco cui nomen Pallas,
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Sir William Forbes writes to me thus:-"I enclose the Round Robin. This jeu d'esprit took its rise one day at dinner at our friend Sir Joshua Reynolds's. All the company present, except myself, were friends and acquaintance of Dr. Goldsmith. The Epitaph, written for him by Dr. Johnson, became the subject of conversation, and various emendations were suggested, which it was agreed should be submitted to the Doctor's consideration.-But the question was, who should have the courage to propose them to him? At last it was hinted, that there could be no way so good as that of a Round Robin, as the sailors call it, which they make use of when they enter into a conspiracy, so as not to let it be known who puts his name first or last to the paper. This proposition was instantly assented to; and Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, now Bishop of Killaloe, drew up an address to Dr. Johnson on the occasion, replete with wit and humour, but which it was feared the Doctor might think treated the subject with too much levity. Mr. Burke then proposed the address as it stands in the paper in writing, to which I had the honour to officiate as clerk.
“ Sir Joshua agreed to carry it to Dr. Johnson, who received it with much good humour ?, and desired Sir Joshua to tell the gentlemen, that he would alter the Epitaph in any manner they pleased, as to the sense of it; but he would never consent to disgrace the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English inscription.
“ I consider this Round Robin as a species of literary curiosity worth preserving, as it marks, in a certain degree, Dr. Johnson's character.”
My readers are presented with a faithful transcript of a paper, which I doubt not of their being desirous to fee.
? He however, upon seeing Dr. Warton's name to the suggestion that the Epitaph should be in: English, observed to Sir Joshua, “ I wonder that Joe Warton, a scholar by profeffion, should be such a fool.” Mr. Langton, who was one of the company at Sir Joshua's, like a sturdy scholar, resolutely refused to sign the Round Robin. The epitaph is engraved upon Dr. Goldsmith's monument without any alteration.
ROUND ROBIN, addressed to SAMUEL JOHNSON, L.L.D.
We the Circumscribers,
that the Character of the Deceased as
The late Doctor
Sir William Forbes's observation is very just. The anecdote now related 1776. proves, in the strongest manner, the reverence and awe with which Johnson Etat. . was regarded, by some of the most eminent men of his time in various departments, and even by such of them as lived most with him ; while it also confirms what I have again and again inculcated, that he was by no means of that ferocious and irascible character which has been ignorantly imagined.
This hafty composition is also to be remarked as one of a thousand instances
Besides this Latin Epitaph, Johnson honoured the memory of his friend
“ YOU must not think me uncivil in omitting to answer the letter with which you favoured me some time ago. I imagined it to have been written without Mr. Boswell's knowledge, and therefore supposed the answer to require, what I could not find, a private conveyance.
« The difference with Lord Auchinleck is now over; and since young Alexander has appeared, I hope no more difficulties will arise among you; for I sincerely wish you all happy. Do not teach the young ones to disike me, as you dinike me yourself; but let me at least have Veronica's kindness, because she is my acquaintance.
“ You will now have Mr. Boswell home; it is well that you have him, he has led a wild life. I have taken him to Lichfield, and he has followed Mr.
Thrale to Bath. Pray take care of him, and tame him. The only thing in
- Your most humble servant,
Mr. BOSWELL 10 Dr. JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, June 25, 1776.
“ The boxes of books which you sent to me are arrived; but I have not
“ I send you Mr. Maclaurin's paper for the negro, who claims his freedom in the Court of Session."
Dr. JOHNSON to Mr. BOSWELL. "DEAR SIR,
" THESE black fits, of which you complain, perhaps hurt your memory as well as your imagination. When did I complain that your letters were too longo? Your last letter, after a very long delay, brought very bad news. [Here a series of reflections upon melancholy, and—what I could not help thinking strangely unreasonable in him who had suffered so much from it himself—a good deal of severity and reproof, as if it were owing to my own fault, or that I was, perhaps, affecting it from a desire of distinction].
“ Read Cheyne's - English Malady;' but do not let him teach you a foolish notion that melancholy is a proof of acuteness.
« To hear that you have not opened your boxes of books is very offensive. The examination and arrangement of so many volumes might have
* Upon a settlement of our account of expences on our Tour to the Hebrides, there was a balance due to me, which Dr. Johnson chose to discharge by sending books.
9 Baretti told me that Johnson complained of my writing very long letters to him when I was upon the continent ; which was most certainly true; but it seems my friend did not remember it.