Human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning.
The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Let us begin this letter, this prelude to an encounter, formally, as a declaration, in the old-fashioned way: I love you. You do not know me (although you have seen me, smiled at me). I know you (although not so well as I would like. I want to be there when your eyes flutter open in the morning, and you see me, and you smile. Surely this would be paradise enough?). So I do declare myself to you now, with pen set to paper. I declare it again: I love you.
Johnson, who defines as 'metrical composition', defines as 'An inventor; an author of fiction; a writer of poems; one who writes in measure'. We can gauge how far we have traveled by comparing this with the Shorter Oxford Dictionary which, after a definition very like Johnson's, feels obligated to add 'A writer in verse (or sometimes in elevated prose) distinguished by imaginative power, insight, sensibility, and faculty of expression'.
The main qualities that had earned him this universal respect in the service were, first, an extreme indulgence towards people, based on his awareness of his own shortcomings; second, a perfect liberalism, not the sort he read about in the newspapers, but the sort he had in his blood, which made him treat all people, whatever their rank or status, in a perfectly equal and identical way; and, third - most important - a perfect indifference to the business he was occupied with, owing to which he never got carried away and never made mistakes.