1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Wilson Croker

Henry Ellis to John Wilson Croker, 29 October 1829; The Croker Papers, ed. Louis J. Jennings (1884) 1:442.



British Museum, October 29th, 1829.

DEAR SIR,

I understand from Mr. Murray that you are engaged upon a "Life of Dr. Johnson."

Are you aware that the Donation MS. in our house, No. 5,994, Art. 2, contains Johnson's original memoranda for his "Life of Pope."

Mr. Cary, the Assistant Keeper of our Printed Books, tells me a very old edition (I think 1504) of "Horace," belonging to the Burney Collection, has a few notes in Dr. Johnson's hand. The same collection also has the first folio Shakspeare which was Johnson's, but, I believe, without notes, though Burney complains of Johnson's ill-usage of it.

Boswell the elder, you of course know, deposited with us Johnson's own copy of the famous letter to Lord Chesterfield, which would look well in facsimile. Address is spelt in it twice, at least, with one "d."

In a letter among Cole's MSS. I once read an anecdote, which I cannot find now, but of which I gave a copy to Mr. Jerdan, the editor of the Literary Gazette, who may possibly furnish it. It gave an account of a very rude speech of Johnson's concerning the Scotch. Jerdan thought it too savage to tell of the great man in his work, and therefore kept it to himself.

I do not find that Dr. Johnson was ever much at the Museum. In 1761, however, "Mr. Sam. Johnson" is entered as admitted to use our reading-room for six months. Several of his friends used to come at that time, such as Dr. Percy, Sir John Hawkins, and Bennet Langton; and "Wedderburne Esq., of Lincoln's Inn." David Hume and Gray must have been his fellow-students, with Dr. Robertson of Edinburgh.

I am, dear Sir, faithfully yours,

HENRY ELLIS.