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circumstantiality, his defects would be so far lost in 1784. the blaze of his virtues, that the latter only would
Ætat. 75. be regarded."
Though from my very high admiration of Johnson, I have wondered that he was not courted by all the great and all the eminent persons of his time, it ought fairly to be considered, that no man of humble birth, who lived entirely by literature, in short no authour by profession, ever rose in this country into that personal notice which he did. In the course of this work a numerous variety of names 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 com- , pany can contribute to happiness; he found hospitality united with extraordinary accomplishments, and embellished 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 Pal. merston, 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 shewed 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 seyerity of a British winter, to the mild
1784. climate of Italy. This scheme was at last brought
to a serious resolution at General Paoli's, where I Ætat. 75.4
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 dem fray the expence in a manner becoming the first literary character of a great nation, and, independent of all his other inerits, the Authour of The DicTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. The person to whom I above all others thought I should apply to negociate 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 iny illustrious friend to solicit for him the favour of such a man. I have mentioned what Johnson said of hiin to me when he was at the bar ; and after his Lordship was advanced to the seals, he said of hin, “ 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 preparerl himself, I cannot conjecture. Would he have selected certain topicks, and considered thein in every view, so as to be in readiness to argue them at all points ? and what may we suppose those topicks to have been ? I once started the curious enquiry to the great man who was the subject of this compliment: he siniled, 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
6 Edward Lord Thurlow, (who dicu September 11, 1806. M.]
Lordship, wrote to him, stating the case, and re- 1784. questing 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 negociation, 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 unknown 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 iinagined, or than I believe he himself, in bis careless, ness concerning wordly matters, knew it to be; had he travelled upon the Continent, an augmenta- . tion 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.
? 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 enquiring of Sir Joshua, Sir John's carelessness to ascertain facts is very remarkable.
1784. Were it machinery, it would be better than it is in
these respects, though less noble, as not being a Ætat. 75.
system of moral government. He agreed with me
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 ;8 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 criininals, that his earnest and humane exhortations have been very effectual. His extraordinary diligence is highly praise-worthy, 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,
8 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. ..
9 I trust that The City of LONDON, now happily in unisoir 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.
master of Tunbridge-school, Mr. Smith, Vicar of 1784. Southill, Dr. Beatie, Mr. Pinkerton, authour 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 to. gether again by chance, that a reconcilation 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, 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 himn. “Alas! (said. the General,) see how very ill he looks; he can live but a very short time. Would you refuse any slight