1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

Samuel Johnson to Joseph Warton, 8 March 1754; Wooll, Biographical Memoirs of Joseph Warton (1806) 219.



March 8th, 1754.

Dear Sir,

I cannot but congratulate you upon the conclusion of a work [The Adventurer] in which you have born so great a part with so much reputation. I immediately determined that your name should be mentioned, but the paper having been some time written, Mr. Hawkesworth, I suppose, did not care to disorder its text, and therefore put your eulogy in a note. He and every other man mention your papers of Criticism with great commendation, though not with greater than they deserve.

But how little can we venture to exult in any intellectual powers or literary attainments, when we consider the condition of poor Collins. I knew him a few years ago full of hopes and full of projects, versed in many languages, high in fancy, and strong in retention. This busy and forcible mind is now under the government of those who lately would not have been able to comprehend the least and most narrow of its designs. What do you hear of him? are there hopes of his recovery? or is he to pass the remainder of his life in misery and degradation? perhaps with complete consciousness of his calamity.

You have flatter'd us, dear Sir, for some time with hopes of seeing you; when you come you will find your reputation encreased, and with it the kindness of those friends who do not envy you; for success always produces either love or hatred. I enter my name among those that love, and that love you more and more in proportion as by writing you are more known; and believe that as you continue to diffuse among us your integrity and learning, I shall be still with greater esteem and affection,

Dear Sir,

Your most obedient

and most humble servant,

SAM JOHNSON.