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I do not much wish well to discoveries, for

29. Letter from Dr. Sam. Johnson to a relative in Connecticut : The Doctor ‘puttering’ in a pottery.

ex Table of Contents, in The Knickerbocker : Or, New-York Monthly Magazine 21:4 (April 1843) : 295

the word “puttering” appears only in that table of contents, pointing to this item in “Gossip with Readers and Correspondents” —

It is not generally known, we presume, that Dr. Samuel Johnson had a relative and namesake residing many years ago at Stratford, (Conn.,) with whom he used to keep up a casual correspondence.
      ‘I was told a day or two ago of a design which must excite some curiosity. Two ships are in preparation to explore the Northern Ocean; not to seek the north-east or north-west passage, but to sail directly north, as near the pole as they can go. They hope to find an open ocean, but I suspect it is one mass of perpetual congelation. I do not much wish well to discoveries, for I am always afraid they will end in conquest and robbery.’ This last remark, by the by, whether referring to the past, or, in a spirit of prophecy, to the future, is characteristic of the wisdom of the writer. We were not aware until now, that Dr. Johnson once conceived a notion that he was capable of improving upon the manufacture of China. He used to visit an establishment near London, and was allowed to make his compositions there; but although he had free access to the oven, and superintended the whole process, he failed completely, both in composition and baking. The Doctor retired in disgust, but not in despair; for he afterward gave a dissertation on the subject; which only proved, however, that he he was still profoundly ignorant of the operation. We should like to have heard a description from that preëminent ‘toady,’ Boswell, ‘of Dr. Johnson in the Pottery.’
383-384 (hathitrust)

5 March 2022