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high value upon your friendship, and count your kindness as one of the chief felicities of my life. Do not fancy that an intermission of writing is a decay of kindness. No man is always in a disposition to write; nor has any man at all times something to say.
“That distrust which intrudes so often on your mind is a mode of melancholy which, if it be the business of a wise man to be happy, it is foolish to indulge; and, if it be a duty to preserve our faculties entire for their proper use, it is criminal. Suspicion is very often an useless pain. From that, and all other pains, I wish you free and safe ; for I am, dear Sir,
“ Most affectionately yours,
BOSWELL S ARRIVAL AT ASHBOURNE–GRIEF FOR THE Loss OF FRIENDS—" JOURNEY TO
THE WESTERN ISLANDS"-ASHBOURNE SCHOOL - POOR CURATES — JOHNSON'S ZEALOUS
ON Sunday evening, Sept. 14, I arrived at Ashbourne, and drove
directly up to Dr. Taylor's door; Dr. Johnson and he appeared before I had got out of the post-chaise, and welcomed me cordially.
I told them that I had travelled all the preceding night, and gone to bed at Leek in Staffordshire; and that when I rose to go to church in the afternoon I was informed there had been an earthquake, of which, it seems, the shock had been felt in some degree at Ashbourne. JOHNSON: “Sir, it will be much exaggerated in popular talk : for, in the first place, the common people do not accurately adapt their thoughts to the objects ; nor, secondly, do they accurately adapt their words to their thoughts: they do not mean to lie ; but, taking no pains to be exact, they give you very false accounts. A great part of their language is proverbial. If any thing rocks at all, they say it rocks like a cradle : and in this way they go on.”
The subject of grief for the loss of relations and friends being intra duced, I observed that it was strange to consider how soon it in general wears away. Dr. Taylor mentioned a gentleman of the neighbourhood as the only instance he had ever known of a person who had endeavoured to retain grief. He told Dr. Taylor, that after his lady's death, which affected him deeply, he resolved that the grief, which he cherished with a kind of sacred fondness, should be lasting ; but that he found he could not keep it long. JOHNSON : “All grief for what cannot in the course of nature be helped soon wears away ; in some sooner indeed, in some later; but it never continues very long, unless where there is madness. such as will make a man have pride so fixed in his mind, as to imagine himself a king; or any other passion in an unreasonable way: for all unnecessary grief is unwise, and therefore will not long be retained by a sound mind. If, indeed, the cause of our grief is occasioned by ow own misconduct, if grief is mingled with remorse of conscience, it should be lasting.” BOSWELL: “ But, Sir, we do not approve of a man who very soon forgets the loss of a wife or a friend.” JOHNSON “Sir, we disapprove of him, not because he soon forgets his grief; foi the sooner it is forgotteu the better, but because we suppose, that if he forgets his wife or his friend soon, he has not had much affection for them."
I was somewhat disappointed in finding that the edition of the English Poets, for which he was to write Prefaces and Lives, was not an undertaking directed by him : but that he was to furnish a Preface and Life to any poet the booksellers pleased. I asked him if he would do this to any dunce's works, if they asked him. JOHNSON : “Yes Sir; and say he was a dunce.” My friend seemed now not much to relish talking of this edition.
On Monday, September 15, Dr. Johnson observed that everybody commended such parts of his “ Journey to the Western Islands,” as were in their own way. “For instance," said he, “Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing) told me there was more good sense upon trade in it, than he should hear in the House of Commons in a year, except from Burke. Jones commended the part which treats of language ; Burke that which describes the inhabitants of mountainous countries."
After breakfast, Johnson carried me to see the garden belonging to the school of Ashbourne, which is very prettily formed upon a bank, rising gradually behind the house. The Reverend Mr. Langley, the head-master, accompanied us.
While we sat basking in the sun upon a seat here, I introduced a common subject of complaint, the very small salaries which many curates have, and I maintained that no man should be invested with the character of a clergyman, unless he has a security for such an income as will enable him to appear respectable ; that, therefore, a clergyman should not be allowed to have a curate, unless he gives him a hundred pounds a year; if he cannot do that, let him perform the duty himself.” JOHNSON: “To be sure, Sir, it is wrong that any clergyman should be without a reasonable income ; but as the church revenues were sadly diminished at the Reformation, the clergy who have livings cannot afford, in many instances, to give good salaries to curates, without leaving themselves too little; and if no curate were to be permitted unless he had a hundred pounds a-year, their number would be very small, which would be a disadvantage, as then there would not be such choice in the nursery for the church, curates being candidates for the higher ecclesiastical offices, according to their merit and good behaviour.” He explained the system of the English hierarchy exceedingly well.
It is not thought fit,” said he, "to trust a man with the care of a parish till he has given proof as a curate that he shall deserve such a trust.” This is an excellent theory: and if the practice were according to it, the church of England would be admirable indeed. However, as I have heard Dr. Johnson observe as to the universities, bad practice does not infer that the constitution is bad.
We had with us at dinner several of Dr. Taylor's neighbours, good civil gentlemen, who seemed to understand Dr. Johnson very well, and not to consider him in the light that a certain person did, who being struck, or rather stunned by his voice and manner, when he was afterwards asked what he thought of him, answered, “He's a tremendous companion.”
Johnson told me, that “Taylor was a very sensible acute man, and had a strong mind; that he had great activity in some respects, and yet such a sort of indolence, that if you should put a pebble upon his chimney-piece you would find it there, in the same state, a year afterwards.”
And here is a proper place to give an account of Johnson's humane and zealous interference in behalf of the Reverend Dr. William Dodd, formerly Prebendary of Brecon, and Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty ; celebrated as a very popular preacher, an encourager of charitable institutions, and author of a variety of works, chiefly theological. Having unhappily contracted expensive habits of living, partly occasioned by licentiousness of manners, he in an evil hour when pressed by want of money, and dreading an exposure of his circumstances, forged a bond, of which he attempted to avail himself to support his credit, flattering himself with hopes that he might be able to repay its amount without being detected. The person, whose name he thus rashly and criminally presumed to falsify, was the Earl of Chesterfield, to whom he had been tutor, and who he perhaps, in the warmth of his feelings, Aattered himself would have generously paid, the money in case of an alarm being taken, rather than suffer him to fall a victim to the dreadful consequences of violating the law against forgery, the most dangerous crime in a commercial country; but the unfortunate divine had the mortification to find that he was mistaken. His noble pupil appeared against him, and he was capitally convicted.
Johnson told me that Dr. Dodd was very little acquainted with him, having been but once in his company, many years previous to this
period (which was precisely the state of my own acquaintance with Dodd); but in his distress he bethought himself of Johnson's persuasive power of writing, if haply it might avail to obtain for him the royal mercy. He did not apply to him directly, but, extraordinary as it may seem, through the late Countess of Harrington, who wrote a letter to Johnson, asking him to employ his pen in favour of Dodd. Mr. Allen, the printer, who was Johnson's landlord and next neighbour in Bolt-court, and for whom he had much kindness, was one of Dodd's friends, of whom, to the credit of humanity be it
recorded, that he had many who did not desert him, even after his infringement of the law had reduced him to the state of a man under sentence of death. Mr. Allen told me that he carried Lady Harrington's letter to Johnson, that Johnson read it walking up and down his chamber, and seemed much agitated; after which he said, “I will do what I can;" and certainly he did make extraordinary exertions. He, this evening, as he had obligingly promised in one of his letters,
my hands the whole series of his writings upon this melancholy occasion, and I shall present my readers with the abstract which I made from the collection ; in doing which I studied to avoid copying what had appeared in print, and now make part of the edition of “ Johnson's Works,” published by the Booksellers of London, but taking care to mark Johnson's variations in some of the pieces there exhibited.
Dr. Johnson wrote, in the first place, Dr. Dodd's “Speech to the Recorder of London,” at the Old Bailey, when sentence of death was about to be pronounced upon him.
There are many acts of Dr. Dodd's life, which appear not only indiscreet but scandalous. He had been one of the King's chaplains, but was dismissed for an attempt at simony. He married a woman of very inferior station, and of equivocal character, Mary Perkins, who died mad in 1784. At the time when, Johnson took so deep an interest in obtaining his pardon, Dodd was in his 49th year.-ED.
· Caroline, eldest daughter of Charles Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, and wife of William, the second Earl of Harrington.-MALONE.