Page images
PDF
EPUB

ostentatious infidelity exceedingly ridiculous. Would it not be worth your while to crush such noxious weeds in the moral garden?

“ You have said nothing to me of Dr. Dodd. I know pot how you think on that subject; though the newspapers give us a saying of yours in favour of mercy to him. But I own I am very desirous that the royal prerogative of remission of punishment should be employed, to exhibit an illustrious instance of the regard which God's vicegerent will ever show to piety and virtue. If for ten righteous men the Almighty would have spared Sodom, shall not a thousand acts of goodness done by Dr. Dodd counterbalance one crime? Such an instance would do more to encourage goodness, than his execution would do to deter from vice I am not afraid of any bad consequence to society; for who will persevere for a long course of years in a distinguished discharge of religious duties, with a view to commit a forgery with impunity?

“ Pray make my best compliments acceptable to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, by assuring them of my hearty joy that the master, as you call him, is alive. I hope I shall often taste his champaign-soberly.

“I have not heard from Langton for a long time. I suppose he is, as usual,

Studious the busy moments to deceive.

*

I remain, my dear sir,
“ Your most affectionate
“ And faithful humble servant,

JAMES Boswell."

On the 23rd of June I again wrote to Dr. Johnson, enclosing a shipmaster's receipt for a jar of orange marmalade, and a large packet of lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland.

TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.

“ DEAR SIR,-I have just received your packet from Mr. Thrale's, but have not daylight enough to look much into it. I am glad that I have credit enough with lord Hailes to be trusted with more copy. I hope to take more care of it than of the last. I return Mrs. Boswell my affectionate thanks for her present, which I value as a token of reconciliation.

Poor Dodd was put to death yesterday, in opposition to the recommendation of the jury—the petition of the city of London—and a subsequent petition signed by three-and-twenty thousand hands. Surely the voice of the publick, when it calls so loudly, and calls only for mercy, ought to be heard.

“ The saying that was given me in the papers I never spoke; but I wrote many of his petitions, and some of his letters. He applied to me very often. He was, I am afraid, long flattered with hopes of life; but I had no part in the dreadful delusion; for as soon as the king had signed his sentence, I obtained from Mr. Chamier an account of the disposition of the court towards him, with a declaration that there was no hope even of a respite. This letter immediately was laid before Dodd; but he believed those whom he wished to be right, as it is thought, till within three days of his end. He died with pious composure and resolution. I have just seen the ordinary that attended him. His address to bis fellow convicts offended the methodists; but he had a Moravian with him much of his time. His moral character is very bad : I hope all is not true that is charged upon him. Of his behaviour in prison an account will be published.

“ I give you joy of your country house, and your pretty garden; and hope some time to see you in your felicity. I was much pleased with your two letters that had been kept so long in stored; and rejoice at Miss Rasay's advancement, and wish sir Allan success.

Since they have been so much honoured by Dr. Johnson, I shall here insert them.

TO MR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.

“MY EVER DEAR AND MUCH RESPECTED SIR,—You know my solemn enthusiasm of mind. You love me for it, and I respect myself for it, because in so

I hope to meet you somewhere towards the north, but am loath to come quite to Carlisle. Can we not meet at Manchester ? But we will settle it in some other letters.

“Mr. Seward®, a great favourite at Streatham, has

far I resemble Mr. Johnson. You will be agreeably surprised when you learn the reason of my writing this letter. I am at Wittemberg, in Saxony. I am in the old church where the reformation was first preached, and where some of the reformers lie interred. I cannot resist the serious pleasure of writing to Mr. Johnson from the tomb of Melancthon. My paper rests upon

the

gravestone of that great and good man, who was undoubtedly the worthiest of all the reformers. He wished to reform abuses which had been introduced into the church; but had no private resentment to gratify. So mild was he, that when his aged mother consulted him with anxiety on the perplexing disputes of the times, he advised her to keep to the old religion. At this tomb, then, my ever dear and respected friend ! I vow to thee an eternal attachment. It shall be my study to do what I can to render your life happy: and if you die before me, I shall endeavour to do honour to your memory; and, elevated by the remembrance of you, persist in noble piety. May God, the father of all beings, ever bless you! and may you continue to love “ Your most affectionate friend, and devoted servant,

“ James BoSWELL. “Sunday, Sept. 30, 1764.

TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.

“ Wilton-house, April 22, 1775. “MY DEAR Sır,—Every scene of my life confirms the truth of what you have told me,' there is no certain happiness in this state of being.'-I am here, amidst all that you know is at lord Pembroke's; and yet I am weary and gloomy. I am just setting out for the house of an old friend in Devonshire, and shall not get back to London for a week yet. You said to me last Good Friday, with a cordiality that warmed my heart, that if I came to settle in London, we should have a day fixed every week, to meet by ourselves and talk freely. To be thought worthy of such a privilege cannot but exalt me. During my present absence from you, while, notwithstanding the gaiety which you allow me to possess, I am darkened by temporary clouds, I beg to have a few lines from you; a few lines merely of kindness, as a viaticum till I see you again. In your Vanity of Human Wishes, and in Parnell's Contentment, I find the only sure means of enjoying happiness; or, at least, the hopes of happiness. I ever am, with reverence and affection,

“ Most faithfully yours,

"JAMES Boswell.”

e William Seward, esq. F. R. S. editor of Anecdotes of some distinguished Persons, etc. in four volumes, 8vo. well known to a numerous and valuable ac“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ June 24, 1777.

been, I think, enkindled by our travels with a curiosity to see the highlands. I have given him letters to you and Beattie. He desires that a lodging may be taken for him at Edinburgh, against his arrival. He is just setting out.

Langton has been exercising the militia. Mrs. Williams is, I fear, declining. Dr. Lawrence says he can do no more. She is gone to summer in the country, with as many conveniencies about her as she can expect; but I have no great hope. We must all die : may we all be prepared!

“I suppose Miss Boswell reads her book, and young Alexander takes to his learning. Let me hear about them; for every thing that belongs to you, belongs, in a more remote degree, and not, I hope, very remote, to, dear sir,

“ Yours affectionately,

“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ June 28, 1777.

TO THE SAME.

“ DEAR SIR,--This gentleman is a great favourite at Streatham, and therefore you will easily believe that he has very valuable qualities. Our narrative has kindled him with a desire of visiting the highlands, after having already seen a great part of Europe. You must receive him as a friend; and when you have directed him to the curiosities of Edinburgh, give him instructions and recommendations for the rest of his journey.

I am, dear sir,
* Your most humble servant,

quaintance for his literature, love of the fine arts, and social virtues. I am indebted to him for several communications concerning Johnson.—Boswell.

This gentleman, who was born in 1747, and was educated at the Charterhouse and at Oxford, died in London, April 24, 1799.-MALONE.

am

Johnson's benevolence to the unfortunate was, I confident, as steady and active as that of any of those who have been most eminently distinguished for that virtue. Innumerable proofs of it, I have no doubt, will be for ever concealed from mortal eyes. We may, however, form some judgement of it from the many and very various instances which have been discovered. One, which happened in the course of this summer, is remarkable, from the name and connection of the person who was the object of it. The circumstance to which I allude is ascertained by two letters, one to Mr. Langton, and another to the reverend Dr. Vyse, rector of Lambeth, son of the respectable clergyman at Lichfield who was contemporary with Johnson, and in whose father's family Johnson had the happiness of being kindly received in his early years.

DR. JOHNSON TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.

“DEAR SIR,—I have lately been much disordered by a difficulty of breathing, but am now better. I hope your house is well.

“ You know we have been talking lately of St. Cross at Winchester; I have an old acquaintance whose distress makes him very desirous of an hospital, and I am afraid I have not strength enough to get him into the Chartreux. He is a painter, who never rose higher than to get his immediate living, and from that, at eighty-three, he is disabled by a slight stroke of the palsy, such as does not make him at all helpless on common occasions, though his hand is not steady enough for his art.

My request is, that you will try to obtain a promise of the next vacancy from the bishop of Chester.

It is not a great thing to ask, and I hope we shall obtain it. Dr. Warton has promised to favour him with his notice, and I hope he may end his days in peace.

“I am, sir, ,

--- Your most humble servant, “ June 29, 1777.

Sam. Johnson."

« PreviousContinue »