Samuel Johnson

R. W. Chapman (ed.), The Letters of Samuel Johnson, with Mrs. Thrale's genuine letters to him, Vol. 1: 1719-1774; Letters 1-369

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114.1. F. 14 Apr. '58. Robert Chambers (Oxford).Address: To Mr Chambers of Lincoln. This letter and 114 may have been enclosed with the Receipts; this would explain the absence of postmarks.Adam.—

Dear Sir

I long to hear how you go on in your solicitation, and what hopes you have of success. Of what value do you expect any of these new benefactions1 to be. The great fault of our constitution is that we have many little things which may pg 108support idleness, but scarcely any thing great enough to kindle ambition. So that very few men stay in the houses who are qualified to live elsewhere. A professorship of the common law is at least decent, but I do not expect it to be of much use; it will not be worth the acceptance of any practical Lawyer, and a mere speculatist will have no authority. However I am glad it is thought on.

I have sent you a parcel of receipts, as a fund out of which any body that wants them may be supplied. Set down the numbers of those which you give to others.

Let me know which of my letters2 you delivered, and how they were received. I have no pretensions to much regard from those to whom I wrote, having never done any thing for them. However let me hear what they said to you.

  • I am, Sir, Your most affectionate and most humble servant
  • Sam: Johnson

Apr. 14. 1758

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Editor’s Note
114.1.—1. See next page.
Editor’s Note
114.1.—1. J's view of academic lawyers is still held, and has been expressed in a modern epigram: 'Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.' The history of the Vinerian foundation does much to confute the doubter. The first Professor was Blackstone, and the roll of Vinerian Professors includes also the names of Anson, Bryce, Dicey, and Holdsworth.
Editor’s Note
2. Recommending C in his 'solicitation' for the Vinerian scholarship, see 113.1.
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