1756 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

Samuel Johnson to Joseph Warton, 15 April 1756; Wooll, Biographical Memoirs of Joseph Warton (1806) 238-39.



April 15th, 1756.

Dear Sir,

Though when you and your brother were in town you did not think my humble habitation worth a visit, yet I will not so far give way to sullenness as not to tell you that I have lately seen an octavo book which I suspect to be yours, though I have not yet read above ten pages. That way of publishing without acquainting your friends is a wicked trick. However I will not so far depend upon a mere conjecture as to charge you with a fraud which I cannot prove you to have committed.

I should be glad to hear that you are pleased with your new situation. You have now a kind of royalty, and are to be answerable for your conduct to posterity. I suppose you care not now to answer a letter, except there be a lucky concurrence of a post day with a holiday. These restraints are troublesome for a time, but custom makes them easy with the help of some honour and a great deal of profit, and I doubt not but your abilities will obtain both.

For my part, I have not lately done much. I have been ill in the winter, and my eye has been inflamed, but I please myself with the hopes of doing many things with which I have long pleased and deceived myself.

What becomes of poor dear Collins? I wrote him a letter which he never answered. I suppose writing is very troublesome to him. That man is no common loss. The moralists all talk of the uncertainty of fortune, and the transitoriness of beauty; but it is yet more dreadful to consider that the powers of the mind are equally liable to change, that understanding may make its appearance and depart, that it may blaze and expire.

Let me not be long without a letter, and I will forgive you the omission of the visit; and if you can tell me that you are now more happy than before, you will give great pleasure to,

Dear Sir,

Your most affectionate and most humble servant,

SAM. JOHNSON.