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IF you will be pleased to lend me Clarendon's History for a few days, it will be a favour to,

Sir, your most humble servant,




March 29, 1755.

I HAVE sent some parts of my Dictionary, such as were at hand, for your inspection. The favour which I beg is, that if you do not like them you will say nothing.

I am, Sir,

Your most affectionate humble servant,



To Mr. Samuel Johnson.

"SIR, Norfolk-street, April 3, 1755. THE part of your Dictionary, which you have favoured me with the sight of, has given me such an idea of the whole, that I most sincerely congratulate the public upon the acquisition of a work long wanted, and now executed with an industry, accuracy, and judgment, equal to the importance of the subject. You might perhaps have chosen one, in which your genius would have appeared to more advantage; but you could not have fixed upon any other in which your labours would have done such substantial service to the present age and to posterity. I am glad that your health has supported the application necessary to the performance of so vast a task; and can undertake to promise you as one (though perhaps the only) reward of it, the approbation and thanks of every well-wisher to the honour of the English language.

I am, with the greatest regard,
Sir, your most faithful and affectionate

humble servant,


et SIR,


Saturday, Nov. 8, 1755.

IF you can lend me, for a few days, Wood's Ath. Ox. it will be a favour. My servant will call for it on Monday. I am, Sir, your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON."


"March 20, 1756.

MR. JOHNSON returns Dr. Birch thanks for his book, which sickness has obliged him to keep beyond the time intended; and desires his acceptance of the Life of Sir Thomas Browne, by way [of] interest for the loan."

<< SIR,

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June 9, 1756.

HAVING obtained from Mr. Garrick a benefit for the gentlewoman of learning, distressed by blindness, almost the only casualty that could have distressed her; I beg leave to trouble you, among my other friends, with some of her tickets. Your benevolence is well known, and was, I believe, never exerted on a more laudable occasion. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,




June 22, 1756.

BEING, as you will find by the proposal, engaged in a work which requires the concurrence of my friends to make it of much benefit to me, I have taken the liberty of recommending six receipts to your care, and do not doubt of your endeavour to dispose of them.

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I have likewise a further favour to beg. I know you have been long a curious collector of books. If, therefore, you have any of the contemporaries or ancestors of Shakespeare, it will be of great use to lend me them for a short time; my stock of those authors is yet but curta supellex. I am, Sir, your obliged humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON."

1785, Jan.

Mrs. Williams. N. VOL. IV.

+ The edition of Shakespeare. N.



THE following account of Dr. Johnson, at Cambridge, in the year 1765, in an extract of a letter from the late Dr. John Sharp, may not be an unacceptable addition to your other anecdotes of that truly great and good man.


Yours, &c.

A. B.

"" Cambridge, March 1, 1765.

AS to Johnson, you will be surprised to hear that I have had him in the chair in which I am now writing. He has ascended my aërial citadel. He came down on a Saturday evening, with a Mr. Beauclerk,* who has a friend at Trinity.t Caliban, you may be sure, was not roused from his lair before next day noon, and his breakfast probably kept him till night. I saw nothing of him, nor was he heard of by any one, till Monday afternoon, when I was sent for home to two gentlemen unknown. In conversation 1 made a strange faux pas about Barnaby Greene's poem, in which Johnson is drawn at full length. He drank his large potations of tea with me, interrupted by many an indignant contradiction, and many a noble sentiment. He had on a better wig than usual, but one whose curls were not, like Sir Cloudesley's, formed for eternal buckle.'‡ Our conversation was chiefly on books, you may be sure. He was much pleased with a small Milton of mine, published in the author's life-time, and with the Greek epigram on his own effigy, of its being the picture, not of him, but of a bad painter. There are many manuscript stanzas, for aught I know, in Milton's own hand-writing, and several interlined hints and fragments. We were puzzled about one of the sonnets, which we thought was not to be found in Newton's edition, and differed from all the printed ones. But Johnson cried, "No! No;' repeated the whole sonnet instantly, memoriter, and shewed it us in Newton's book. After which he learnedly harangued on sonnet-writing, and its different numbers. He tells me, he will come hither again quickly, and is promised an habitation in Emanuel college.' He went back to town next morning; but, as it began to be known that he was in the university, several persons got into his company

* The Honourable Topham Beauclerk, no doubt.


"Eternal buckle take in Parian stope." Pope.

the last evening at Trinity, where, about twelve, he began to be very great; stripped poor Mrs. Macaulay to the very skin, then gave her for his toast, and drank her in two bumpers."

1785, March.

J. S.

XXXVI. Anecdotes of Mr. LEVETT, Dr. Johnson's Pensioner.


A FEW particulars concerning Mr. Levett, on whose memory Dr. Johnson has bestowed an elegiac copy of verses, may not be unacceptable to your readers.*

Mr. Levett, though an Englishman by birth,† became early in life a waiter at a coffee-house in Paris. The surgeons who frequented it, finding him of an inquisitive turn, and attentive to their conversation, made a purse for him, and gave him some instructions in their art. They afterwards furnished him with the means of other knowledge, by procuring him free admission to such lectures in pharmacy and anatomy as were read by the ablest professors of that period. Hence his introduction to a business, which afforded him a continual, though slender maintenance. Where the middle part of his life was spent, is uncertain. He resided, however, above twenty years under the roof of Johnson, who never wished him to be regarded as an inferior, or treated him like a dependant. He breakfasted with the Doctor every morning, and perhaps was seen no more by him till midnight. Much of the day was employed in attendance on his patients, who were chiefly of the lowest rank of tradesmen. The remainder of his hours he dedicated to Hunter's lectures, and to as many different opportunities of improvement as he could meet with on the same gratuitous conditions. "All his medical knowledge (said Johnson), and it is not inconsiderable,§ was obtained

This letter originally appeared in the St. James's Chronicle, but with some mistakes, which are here corrected, and an original letter of Dr. Johnson's is also added.

He was born at Hull, in Yorkshire.

Dr. Johnson has frequently observed that Levett was indebted to him for nothing more than house-room, his share in a penny loaf at breakfast, and now and then a dinner on a Sunday.

ile had acted for many years in the capacity of surgeon and apothecary to Johnson, under the direction of the good and learned Dr. Lawrence; when he retired to Canterbury, Dr. Heberden was called in to him.

through the ear. Though he buys books, he seldom looks into them, or discovers any power by which he can be supposed to judge of an author's merit."

Before he became a constant inmate of the Doctor's house, he married, when he was near sixty, a woman of the town, who had persuaded him (notwithstanding their place of congress was a small coal-shed in Fetter-lane), that she was nearly related to a man of fortune, but was injuriously kept by him out of large possessions. It is almost needless to add that both parties were disappointed in their views.― If Levett took her for an heiress, who in time might be rich, she regarded him as a physician already in considerable practice. Compared with the marvels of this transaction (as Johnson himself declared when relating them), the tales in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments seem familiar occurrences. Never was infant more completely duped than our hero. He had not been married four months, before a writ was taken out against him, for debts incurred by his wife.He was secreted; and his friend then procured him a protection from a foreign minister. In a short time afterward, she ran away from him and was tried (providentially in his opinion) for picking pockets, at the Old Bailey. Her husband was with difficulty prevented from attending the court, in the hope she would be hanged. She pleaded her own cause, and was acquitted; a separation between this ill-starred couple took place; and Dr. Johnson then took Levett home, where he continued till his death, which happened suddenly, without pain, Jan. 17, 1782. His vanity in supposing that a young woman of family and fortune should be enamoured of him, Dr. Johnson thought, deserved some check.

As no relations of his were known to Dr. Johnson, he advertised for them. In the course of a few weeks an heir at law appeared, and ascertained his title to what effects the deceased had left behind him.

Levett's character was rendered valuable by repeated proofs of honesty, tenderness, and gratitude to his benefactor, as well as by an unwearied diligence in his profession. His single failing was an occasional departure from sobriety. Johnson would observe, he was perhaps the only man who ever became intoxicated through motives of prudence. He reflected, that, if he refused the gin or brandy offered him by some of his patients, he could have been no gainer by their cure, as they might have had nothing else to bestow on him. This habit of taking a fee, in whatever shape it was exhibited, could not be put off by advice or admonition of any kind. He would swallow what

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