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leaft probability that this element, fo effential to be known, in order to determine with precifion the exact diftance and magnitude of a ftar, can ever be obtained, where it is in the fame circumstances, or nearly the fame, with thofe above fuppofed, yet the other elements, fuch as perhaps may be obtained, are fufficient to determine the diftance, &c. with a good deal of probability, within fome moderate limits; for in whatever ratio the real diftance of the two ftars may be greater or lefs than the diftance fuppofed, the denfity of the central ftar must be greater or lefs in the fixth power of that ratio inverfely; for the periodic time of the revolving body being given, the quantity of matter contained in the central body must be as the cube of their diftance from each other. See Sir I. Newton's Prin. b. 3d. pr. 8th.
cor. 3d. But the quantity of matter in different bodies, at whofe furfaces the velocity acquired by falling from an infinite height is the fame, muft be, according to art. 12, directly as their femi-diameters; the femi-diameters, therefore, of fuch bodies must be in the triplicate ratio of the distance of the revolving body; and confequently their denfities, by art. 11, being in the inverfe duplicate ratio of their femidiameters, must be in the inverfe fextuplicate ratio of the distance of the revolving body. Hence if the real diftance fhould be greater or lefs than that fuppofed, in the proportion of two or three to one, the denfity of the central body muft be lefs or greater, in the firft cafe, in the proportion of 64, or in the latter of 729 to 1. [To be continued.]
TO THE EDITOR OF THE LONDON MAGAZINE. SIR,
IF you will infert in your next number the inclosed pacquet of letters relative to the late great Dr. Johnfon, you will much oblige a great number of your correfpondents. They have not the claim of originality, but ftill, on account of their fubject, and on account of the real merit of several of them, they feem to deferve prefervation.
I am, Sir, your conftant reader, and occafional correfpondent,
LETTERS AND DETACHED PAPERS RELATIVE TO DR. SAMUEL
LETTER I. TO THE PRINTER OF THE ST. JAMES'S CHRONICLE.
IT is evident from the conduct of him with fuch materials for it as were
the late Dr. Johnson, that he defigned Mr. Bofwell for the fole writer of his life. Why elfe did he furnish
withheld from every other friend? That the Doctor alfo knew this work would be undertaken by his companion
ciently aware: if it were not fo, the intenfity of the light of these stars muft either be exceedingly inferior indeed to that of the fun, or they must be immensely larger, otherwife they must have a very fenfible parallax; for the fum, if removed to 10.000.000 times his prefent distance, would still, I apprehend, be of about the brightness of the stars of the fixth magnitude; in which cafe he must be magnified 1.000.000 times to make his apparent difc of any fenfible magnitude; or, on the other hand, if he was only removed to a thousandth part of that distance, then he must be lefs luminous in the proportion of 1.000.000 to 1, to make him appear no brighter than a ftar of the fixth magnitude. Now the fun's diameter being contained nearly 215 times in the diameter of the earth's orbit, the annual parallax therefore of fuch a body in that cafe, if it was placed in the pole of the ecliptic, would be 215 times its apparent diameter; and as the bright star in Lyra appeared to Mr. Herschel about a third part of a fecond in diameter, if this was its real difc, and it was no bigger than the fun, it would confequently have an annual parallax in the pole of the ecliptic of about 72”.
to the Hebrides will be proved by living evidence. Little indeed did he fuppofe that a perfon whom he had made one of his executors would have inftantly claimed the office of his biographer. Still lefs could he have imagined that this felf-appointment would have been precipitately confirmed by
Dr. Johnfon intended the deftruction of all papers that might afford af fiftance to thofe injudicious and incapable compilers of memoirs whom he had but too much reason to fear. A few scraps of petite information are, however, faid to have escaped his diligence, and by what means is not unknown. The quality alfo of these triAles is understood, for the examination of them was not reftrained to any one out of his three executors.-Where and in what company our author dined -how often he forgot the return of his birth or wedding-day-when he began to chew liquorice for his cough -or take opium to fecure his reft
are particulars without which the world can fleep in tranquillity. Yet of articles equally fplendid and momentous a certain vaunted diary is faid to confist. The value of Mr. Bofwell's intelligence is unquestionably afcertained. It must be genuine, becaufe received from the deceafed. It must be copious, as it is the refult of enquiries continued through a period of more than twenty years. It must be exact, because committed to paper as faft as communicated; and cannot fail to convey inftruction, as it will be enriched with a multitude of original letters by Dr. Johnson, on a variety of fubjects.→ Let the oppofer of Mr. Bofwell prove the authenticity and confequence of his materials in a manner as fatisfactory to the public. The public may then judge between our rival biographers, and decide on their respective claims to confidence and fupport.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient fervant, &c.
IN ANSWER TO THE ABOVE.
TO THE PRINTER OF THE ST. JAMES'S CHRONICLE,
I Read in your paper with the higheft fatisfaction a character of my illuftrious friend Dr. Samuel Johnfon*, by a writer who does me the honour to pay me diftinguished compliments, as the intended biographer of that great and good man. I am only afraid, that while he animates my mind to its beft exertions, he may teach the public to expect too much from me. Upon my honour I have not the least notion who this writer is. But his knowledge of the intimacy between Dr. Johnson and me, and of my means of obtaining information for writing his life, is fo particular, that were it not expreffed with more elegance than I were mafter of, I fhould almoft believe that his effay was written by myfelf. If the writer will have the generofity to avow
himself in your paper, I fhall be very much obliged to him. But if he has any objection to a public difcovery, I entreat he may be kind enough to let me know by a private note to whom I am indebted for fuch encouraging notice, that I may teftify my gratitude, and may be further indebted to him for his advice in the progrefs of my labours.
And as my name has, upon the late much-lamented occafion been often mentioned in the newspapers, I think it proper folemnly to declare, that I have not fent a fingle article, nor fhall I fend one, without being figned with my name.
JAMES BOSWELL, Edinburgh, Jan. 18, 1785.
MR. TYERS, fpeaking of the de- not naturally fmooth." How far our ceafed, afferts that his temper was ingenious biographer can afcertain the
* See the next letter.
truth of this remark is at prefent un known; but one whofe intimacy with Dr. Johnfon continued without interruption, or even a coldnefs on either fide, through upwards of nineteen years, one who faw him at all hours, and in all fituations, begs leave to obferve that his frame of mind rarely appeared difcompofed, except when ignorance attempted to pafs itself on him for learning. But even fuch provocations he endured, without refentment, perhaps longer than any man poffeffed of the fame confcioufnefs of fuperior knowledge would have borne them. When urged at laft beyond the bounds of common patience, though furnished with a giant's ftrength, he thought it tyrannous to use it like a giant, and generally was content to play with the victim whom he might have annihilated. Even when he was proceeding to rigorous juftice, he afforded warning of its ftroke. He put forth " firft a whifker, and then a claw." Time was afforded for retreat, but pertinacious emptiness and vanity were fure of their reward, and who can fay it was undeferved?
To a race of beings who vifited him only to collect materials for converfation, to hear what he would fay, with a defign to scatter his remarks as their own in other companies, he might fometimes be induftriously fevere, or turn their defign against themfelves, by delivering opinions purpofely erroneous and abfurd. To thofe whom he feriously difliked, he was "clofe as oak," He had been told that a catalogue of his works was coveted by one who would have made no better ufe of it, than to difplay it as a mark of peculiar confidence repofed in himself.
I have therefore (faid the Doctor) amufed myfelf with hearing him recite a lift of performances, fome of which I had never written, nay, had never heard of, without the flighteft objection to their authenticity. The time is coming when I can derive comfort only from recollecting the tenour of what I have published, and not from the number of pieces which the zeal of friends, or the motives of interested people, would induce me to acknow
ledge. Had it pleafed God to alleviate my fufferings, and extend the limits of my life, I would have collected and amended my own works; but, as I fear a period to my existence approaches, the task of selection must be abandoned to chance. An affignment of my labours to the care of fome friends. has been propofed, with a view to my own immediate benefit. But, for what the bookfellers have once paid, they ought not to pay again, unlefs additions or improvements could have entitled me to fresh emolument."
This is the fum of what he obferved relative to his writings. The little he added on the fubject may be as well fuppreffed as divulged. The trade will fcarce permit the bulk of the projected volumes to be diminished on the fcore of any reafons that can now be offered.
"I have caufe to believe (fays Mr. Tyers) he has left a manufcript biography behind him." Nothing of this kind, however, has been difcovered, except an imperfect diary, begun about the year 1764, and containing little befide notices of whom he dined with on fuch or fuch a day, with other particulars equally trivial and uninterefting. May this MS. prove more ufeful than a certain collection made, by George Faulkener of Dublin, for the lives of Dryden and Swift! Poor George's materials comprifed only the following information "that the laureat was accustomed to fit in a big chair among the wits at Buttons," and that the dean " was a man who had
wax in his ears. "But this (fays George) my friends telling me not being fufficient for lives of faid poets, I accordingly difcontinued them."
To Mr. Bofwell the public will be indebted, on the fubject of our author's life, for genuine and ample information as well as entertainment. has been happy in refources that were obvious to none but himfelf. He was acquainted with the mollia fandi tempora, and improved them to the best advantage. His playful importunities and anxious follicitations, were alike prevalent with Johnfon. If he failed once in an enquiry, he renewed it at a
more lucky hour, and feldom retired without the intelligence he fought. During his long affociation with the Doctor in England, as well as throughout his Hebridian tour, he may be pronounced to have loft no opportunity of fearch respecting the paft occurrences of our author's life, or his fentiments relative to men and literature; nor will it be fufpected by thofe who are acquainted with Mr. Bofwell's active mind, that his curiofity permit ted one circumftance to efcape him that might illuftrate the habits, or exalt the character of the fage whom he refpected almoft to adoration.
One caution, however, may be neceffary even to Mr. Bofwell. Let him not difgrace his page by an implicit adoption of fuch narratives as are dictated by those who are intent only on procuring celebrity to their own equi
vocal though boafted friendship and munificence, without too much folicitude for the cause of truth, or the memory of Johnfon! Let our biographer. be as minute as Mr. Tyers, without his credulity; nor be perfuaded to puff the living into fallacious confequence, while he is erecting a monument wor thy of the dead. Let puffs be restrained within their proper channel, the news. From paragraphs we may learn, almoft every day, who wishes to be thought of as the confidential friend*” of Johnfon; but let not the fober biographer degrade himfelf by taking fuch a talk out of the hands of the poor, the. fhallow, the interested, and the vain, who strive, by means like these, to fuggeft themselves into notice to which they have no pretenfions, except their neceffities and their wishes.
THOSE who were only familiar feared. His Hiftory of a learned Man with the magnitude of Dr. Johnfon's in Raffelas, defcribes the ftate of his talents and the purity of his mind, own feelings on this melancholy fubwithout acquaintance with his peculiar ject; and in the character of Imlac he habits, have often expreffed their won has pointed out the methods he himder on finding how acceffible he was felf adopted, to guard againft what he to many perfons neither eminent for juftly calls the moft alarming of all literature or virtue. This circumftance uncertainties, the uncertain continu-. has been imputed by fome to his love ance of reafon. This confideration of fociety, and by others to his dread was always uppermoft in his thoughts, of folitude, which might induce medi infomuch, that when he was firft attations on death too frequent to be tacked by paralytic fymptoms, welcome. To neither of thefe caufes, waked (faid he) and finding myfelf unhowever, was the folicited and fome-commonly difordered, addreffed a prayer times degrading mixture of company found about him, to be attributed-a mixture more heterogeneous than ever perhaps appeared within the walls of any private dwelling. The truth is, he had paffed many years under conftant apprehenfions of infanity, and his beft endeavours were employed to ftop its advances, by cutting off its fupplies. He had studied the tendency of his own excurfive mind, had obferved in it the flying vapours of incipient madnefs," and knew from what quarter the tempeft was to be
LOND. MAG. April 1785.
to the Almighty, humbly befeeching him in his mercy, whatever he determined refpecting my body, not to difturb my mind. Shall we break in on our narrative too much, if we obferve that his petition was finally granted, and that he expired in a tranquil- ̈ ̈ lity like that of fleep?
His wifh, therefore, that he might, as rarely as poffible, be left alone to the dominion of any one tyrannical idea, will account for his regular and indifcriminate admiffion of vifitors. Hence tradefmen without customers, K k phyficians
* See the newspapers, paffim.- -N. B. Dr. Heberden was a conftant attendant on Dr. Johnfen throughout his laft illnefs; but of this eminent phyfician the public prints exhibit not the fighteft mention. His skill, his learning, and his humanity, afk no diurnal recommendations.
phyficians without practice, artists without employers, and preachers without audiences, were fo often by the Doctor's fide. The profperous, in the fame callings, were ambitious of this honour for obvious reafons; but fome of thofe of a different defcription were actuated by other views, thought their mercantile interefts befriended by his countenance, and regarded his notice only as a paffport to fuccefs in their feveral vocations.
A period, alas! is now arrived, when his petty civilities, his cafual attentions, to vifitants of this fecond clafs, may be conftrued into his acknowledgement of their learning or their virtues; and many a man who is acquainted with fome of our author's numerous biographers may fecure a degree of celebrity to himfelf, by obtaining a junction of his name with that of the deceased. Admit the accounts which fome have delivered in' refpecting their particular confequence, and each of them was a denizen of his heart. Believe the narratives of others, and Johnfon muft appear a fubordinate perfonage in his own drama. His wit will" pale its ineffectual fires" when compared with the fparkling promptitude of medical repartee, and his fenfe will be found wanting in the balance, when weighed against the ftores of prebendal wifdom. One of thefe ecclefiaftics (one already famed for his fkilful and pathetic enunciation of the burial fervice) has boafted, not of honours he has, but (if he be credited) of fuch as he might have enjoyed. "I might have been (faid he to a young painter) my friend Sam's executor, but declined the office *.-I grant that in converfation he was more ready than I am, but the public concur in allowing me the preference as a writer."-Silly
old fellow! to make a boy the confidante of what a child could not believe! We hope we fhall hear no more of this-mor, from another quarter, of Dr. Johnson's fuperftitious fear of death," and "terrors of inftant annihilation+." The world has entertained few apprehenfions of this kind, fince it was enabled to prove, from a certain Harveian oration, that thofe who have died once, may live to die over again.
Let not, however, the cloud that fo conftantly hung over the mind of our great and venerable Johnfon, prove an equal fource of calamity to thofe who may have been induced to believe that none but the honeft or eminent in their various purfuits and profefhons were to be found under his roof. Every Chriftian may fafely adopt fuch rules as the author of the Rambler has laid down for the moral conduct of life. But let it likewife be understood that fomewhat of importance may be hazarded by admitting all whom he admitted to familiarity, and by treating all in whom he confided, with a fimilar degree of confidence- Unfeignedly pious himself, he was often duped by a femblance of piety in others; and though not to be impofed on by fpecious pretences to literature, he was rarely proof against the arts of hypocrify and adulation, that accommodate themfelves to every caprice, and afford an echo to every opinion.
Such arts have been practifed among thofe who take places for their own names in catch-penny vehicles of biography-who fcribble accounts of their own problematic friendfhip, &c. to be inferted in public prints-and who are ambitious, by any means to snatch a plume from the hearfe of Johnson.
A Few particulars concerning Mr. Levet, on whofe memory Dr. Johnson
has bestowed an elegiac copy of verses, may not be unacceptable to your readers.
Volpone (himfelf upwards of feventy years of age) affured the Doctor he had appointed him his fole executor and heir; and no doubt expected fuch pretended confidence and kindnefs would have been repaid by real trust and liberality of a fimilar kind, at leaft by a substantial acknowledge
+Dr. Johnfon's folemn confeffion of faith, committed to paper by his own hand, and published ith his will, affords the most complete refutation of fuch a calumny. 2. Has it ever appeared? EDIT. 5