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has been mentioned, to which many might be added. I cannot omit Lord and Lady Lucan, at whose house he often enjoyed all that an elegant table and the best company can contribute to happiness: he found hospitality united with extraordinary accomplishments, and einbel. lished with charms of which no man could be insensible.
On Tuesday, June 22, I dined with him at the Literary Club, the last time of his being in that respectable society. The other members present were the Bishop of St. Asaph, Lord Eliot, Lord Palmerston, Dr. Fordyce, and Mr. Malone. He looked ill, but had such a manly fortitude, that he did not trouble the company with melancholy complaints. They all showed evident marks of kind concern about him, with which he was much pleased, and he exerted himself to be as entertaining as his indisposition allowed him.
The anxiety of his friends to preserve so estimable a life as long as human means might be supposed to have influence, made thein plan for him a retreat from the severity of a British winter to the mild climate of Italy. This scheme was at last brought to a serious resolution at General Paoli's, where I had often talked of it. One essential matter, however, I understood, was necessary to be previously settled, which was obtaining such an addition to his income as would be sufficient to enable him to defray the expense in a manner becoming the first literary character of a great nation, and, independent of all his other merits, the author of the “ Dictionary of the English Language.” The person to whom I above all others thought I should apply to negotiate this business was the Lord Chancellor, because I knew that he highly valued Johnson, and that Johnson highly valued his lordship, so that it was no degradation of my illustrious friend to solicit for him the favour of such a man. I have mentioned what Johnson said of him to me when he was at the bar; and after his lordship was advanced to the seals, he said of him, “I would prepare myself for no man in England but Lord Thurlow. When I am to meet with him, I should wish to know a day before.” How he would have prepared himself, I cannot conjecture. Would he have selected certain topics, and considered them in every view, so as to be in readiness to argue them at all points? And what may we suppose those topics to have been ? I once started the curious inquiry to the great man who was the subject of this compliment: he smiled, but did not pursue it.
I first consulted with Sir Joshua Reynolds, who perfectly coincided in opinion with me; and I therefore, though personally very little known to his lordship, wrote to him, stating the case, and requesting his good offices for Dr. Johnson. I mentioned that I was obliged to set out for Scotland early in the following week, so that if his lordship should have any commands for me as to this pious negotiation, he would be pleased to send them before that time, otherwise Sir Joshua Reynolds would give all attention to it.
This application was made not only without any suggestion on the part of Johnson himself, but was utterly un. known to him, nor had he the smallest suspicion of it. Any insinuations, therefore, which since his death have been thrown out, as if he had stooped to ask what was superfluous, are without any foundation. But, had he asked it, it would not have been superfluous; for though the money he had saved proved to be more than his friends imagined, or than I believe he himself, in his carelessness concerning worldly matters, knew it to be, had he travelled upon the continent, an augmentation of his income would by no means have been unnecessary.
On Wednesday, June 23, I visited him in the morning, after having been present at the shocking sight of fifteen men executed before Newgate. I said to him, I was sure that human life was not machinery, that is to say, a chain of fatality planned and directed by the Supreme Being, as it had in it so much wickedness and misery, so many instances of both, as that by which my mind was now clouded. Were it machinery, it would be better than it is in these respects, though less noble, as not being a system of moral government. He agreed with me now, as he
* It is strange that Sir John Hawkins should have related that the application was made by Sir Joshua Reynolds, when he could so easily have been informed of the truth by inquiring of Sir Joshua. Sir John's carelessness to ascertain facts is very remarkable.
Boswell's letter to Lord Thurlow, first published by Mr. Croker, in the text, will be found in the Appendix to this volume.--Editor.
always did, upon the great question of the liberty of the human will, which has been in all ages perplexed with so much sophistry: “But, Sir, as to the doctrine of necessity, no man believes it. If a man should give me arguments that I do not see, though I could not answer them, should I believe that I do not see?” It will be observed, that Johnson at all times made the just distinction between doctrines contrary to reason, and doctrines above reason.
Talking of the religious discipline proper for unhappy convicts, he said, “ Sir, one of our regular clergy will probably not impress their minds sufficiently: they should be attended by a methodist preacher,' or a popish priest.” Let me however observe, in justice to the Reverend Mr. Vilette, who has been ordinary of Newgate for no less than eighteen years, in the course of which he has attended many hundreds of wretched criminals, that his earnest and humane exhortations have been very effectual. His extraordinary diligence is highly praiseworthy, and merits a distinguished reward.?
On Thursday, June 24, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were the Rev. Mr. (now Dr.) Knox, master of Tunbridge School, Mr. Smith, vicar of Southill, Dr. Beattie, Mr. Pinkerton, author of various literary performances, and the Rev. Dr. Mayo. At my desire old Mr. Sheridan was invited, as I was earnest to have Johnson and him brought together again by chance, that a reconciliation might be effected. Mr. Sheridan happened to come early, and having learnt that Dr. Johnson was to be there, went away; so I found, with sincere regret, that my friendly intentions were hopeless. I recollect nothing that passed this day, except Johnson's quickness, who, when Dr. Beattie observed, as something remarkable which had happened to him, that he had chanced to see both No. 1 and No. 1000
A friend of mine happened to be passing by a field congregation in the environs of London, when a methodist preacher quoted this passage with triumph.
? I trust that the City of London, now happily in unison with the court, will have the justice and generosity to obtain preferment for this reverend gentleman, now a worthy old servant of that magnificent corporation.
This wish was not gratified. Mr. Vilette died in April, 1799, having been nearly thirty years chaplain of Newgate.-Croker.
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
of the hackney-coaches, the first and the last—“Why, Sir,” said Johnson, “ there is an equal chance for one's seeing those two numbers as any other two." He was clearly right; yet the seeing of the two extremes, each of which is in some degree more conspicuous than the rest, could not but strike one in a stronger manner than the sight of any other two numbers.—Though I have neglected to preserve his conversation, it was perhaps at this interview that Dr. Knox formed the notion of it which he has exhibited in his “ Winter Evenings.”
On Friday, June 25, I dined with him at General Paoli's, where, he says in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, “I love to dine.” There was a variety of dishes much to his taste, of all which he seemed to me to eat so much, that I was afraid he might be hurt by it; and I whispered to the General my fear, and begged he might not press him. “ Alas !” said the General, “ see how very ill he looks; he can live but a very short time. Would you refuse any slight.gratifications to a man under sentence of death? There is a humane custom in Italy, by which persons in that melancholy situation are indulged with having whatever they like best to eat and drink, even with expensive delicacies."
I showed him some verses on Lichfield by Miss Seward, which I had that day received from her, and had the pleasure to hear him approve of them. He confirmed to me the truth of a high compliment which I had been told he had paid to that lady, when she mentioned to him “The Columbiade,” an epic poem by Madame du Boccage:“Madam, there is not any thing equal to your description of the sea round the North Pole, in your Ode on the Death of Captain Cook.”
On Sunday, June 27, I found him rather better. I mentioned to him a young man who was going to Jamaica with his wife and children, in expectation of being provided for by two of her brothers settled in that island, one a clergyman and the other a physician. JOHNSON. “It is a wild scheme, Sir, unless he has a positive and deliberate invitation. There was a poor girl, who used to come about me, who had a cousin in Barbadoes, that, in a letter to her, expressed a wish she should come out to that island, and ex
patiated on the comforts and happiness of her situation. The poor girl went out: her cousin was much surprised, and asked her how she could think of coming. Because,' said she, 'you invited me.'- Not I,' answered the cousin. The letter was then produced. “I see it is true,' said she, 'that I did invite you: but I did not think you would come.' They lodged her in an out-house, where she passed her time miserably; and as soon as she had an opportunity she returned to England. Always tell this when you hear of people going abroad to relations upon a notion of being well received. In the case which you mention, it is probable the clergyman spends all he gets, and the physician does not know how much he is to get.”
We this day dined at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with General Paoli, Lord Eliot (formerly Mr. Eliot, of Port Eliot), Dr. Beattie, and some other company. Talking of Lord Chesterfield ;-JOHNSON. “His manner was exquisitely elegant, and he had more knowledge than I expected.” BOSWELL. “Did you find, Sir, his conversation to be of a superior style?" Johnson. “Sir, in the conversation which I had with him I had the best right to superiority, for it was upon philology and literature.” Lord Eliot, who had travelled at the same time with Mr. Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's natural son, justly observed, that it was strange that a man who showed he had so much affection for his son as Lord Chesterfield did, by writing so many long and anxious letters to him, almost all of them when he was secretary of state, which certainly was a proof of great goodness of disposition, should endeavour to make his son a rascal. His lordship told us that Foote had intended to bring on the stage a father who had thus tutored his son, and to show the son an honest man to every one else, but practising his father's maxims upon him, and cheating him. JOHNSON. “I am much pleased with this design; but I think there was no occasion to make the son honest at all. No: he should be a consummate rogue: the contrast between honesty and knavery would be the stronger. It should be contrived so that the father should be the only sufferer by the son's villany, and thus there would be poetical justice.”
Johnson said that he had once seen Mr. Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's son, at Dodsley's shop, and was so much struck with his awkward