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Letter by John Wilkes

We are desired by many of our Readers to re-print
the following
L E T T E R.

To the P R I N T E R.

S I R,

How much the English Letters are indebted to Mr Samuel Johnson A.M. you will judge from the following Specimen of the Grammar prefix'd to his English Dictionary.

"H seldom, perhaps never, begins any but the first syllable, in which it is always sounded with a full breath, except in heir, herb, hostler, honour, humble, honest, humour, and their derivatives."

The author of this remark must be a man of a quick appre-hension, and compre-hensive genius; but I can never forgive his un-hand-some be-haviour to the poor knight-hood, priest-hood, and widow-hood, nor his in-humanity to all man-hood and woman-hood. I do not indeed wonder at so great a Scholar's disregarding a maiden-head, but should he dare to treat the God-head with neglect? It be-hooves us to detect the fals-hoods of this writer, and his ad-herents; yet be-hold! his modesty keeps pace with his learning. In his Preface he says, "I have devoted this Book, the labour of years, to the honour of my country." If this is the honour of our country, it is (to quote Milton honour dis-honourable; But how un-happy are we in mistaking our talents! This writer might have been of real service to his country as a cow-herd, or a goat-herd, or the simplicity of a shep-herd would very well become him. As a hostler, he would have encreased his little stock of science, for he would have heard all his English guests crying out to him, hostler with a strong aspiration, and never ostler. But there is, on recollection, another employment he is still fitter for: I mean that of Haberdasher of small wares; a trade which bears so great an affinity to his present business of piddling in words and syllables, that the transformation would be easier than any in the Metamorphosis; that of the nymph Charybdis into a whirlppol only excepted. In this occasion he would, in all likeli-hood, leave all competitors far be-hind him; and though he says he is un-healthy, he might pursue it un-hurt, and for the most part un-hous'd — So much for this logger-head.

I am, &c.

Cite this page: "Letter by John Wilkes." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: December 6, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/history-of-johnsons-dictionary/letter-by-john-wilkes/.

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