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1777] MATERIALS FOR THOMSON'S LIFE

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there, under the care of Mr. Thomson, the master of it, whose wife is sister to the authour of The Seasons. She is an old woman; but her memory is very good; and she will with pleasure give me for you every particular that you wish to know, and she can tell. Pray then take the trouble to send me such questions as may lead to biographical materials. You say that the Life which we have of Thomson is scanty. Since I received your letter I have read his Life, published under the name of Cibber, but as you told me, really written by a Mr. Shiels1; that written by Dr. Murdoch; one prefixed to an edition of the Seasons, published at Edinburgh, which is compounded of both, with the addition of an anecdote of Quin's relieving Thomson from prison; the abridgement of Murdoch's account of him, in the Biographia Britannica, and another abridgement of it in the Biographical Dictionary, enriched with Dr. Joseph Warton's critical panegyrick on the Seasons in his Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope from all these it appears to me that we have a pretty full account of this poet. However, you will, I doubt not, shew me many blanks, and I shall do what can be done to have them filled up. As Thomson never returned to Scotland, (which you will think very wise,) his sister can speak from her own knowledge only as to the early part of his life. She has some letters from him, which may probably give light as to his more advanced progress, if she will let us see them, which I suppose she will. I believe George Lewis Scott and Dr. Armstrong are now his only surviving companions, while he lived in and about London; and they, I dare say, can tell more of him than is yet known. My own notion is, that Thomson was a much coarser man than his friends are willing to acknowledge. His Seasons are indeed full of elegant and pious sentiments: but a rank soil, nay a dunghill, will produce beautiful flowers.

2

3

'Your edition of The English Poets will be very valu

1 See ante, pp. 21-2.

2 Formerly Sub-preceptor to his present Majesty, and afterwards a Commissioner of Excise. [M.]

3 Dr. Johnson was not the editor of this Collection of The English Poets; he merely furnished the biographical prefaces. [M.]

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PROPOSED MEETING AT CARLISLE [1777 able, on account of the Prefaces and Lives. But I have seen a specimen of an edition of The Poets at the Apollo press, at Edinburgh, which, for excellence in printing and engraving, highly deserves a liberal encouragement.

Most sincerely do I regret the bad health and bad rest with which you have been afflicted; and I hope you are better. I cannot believe that the Prologue which you generously gave to Mr. Kelly's widow and children the other day, is the effusion of one in sickness and in disquietude but external circumstances are never sure indications of the state of man. I send you a letter which I wrote to you two years ago at Wilton; and did not send it at the time, for fear of being reproved as indulging too much tenderness; and one written to you at the tomb of Melancthon, which I kept back, lest I should appear at once too superstitious and too enthusiastick. I now imagine that perhaps they may please you.

'You do not take the least notice of my proposal for our meeting at Carlisle1. Though I have meritoriously refrained from visiting London this year, I ask you if it would not be wrong that I should be two years without having the benefit of your conversation, when, if you come down as far as Derbyshire, we may meet at the expence of a few days' journeying, and not many pounds. I wish you to see Carlisle, which made me mention that place. But if you have not a desire to complete your tour of the English cathedrals, I will take a larger share of the road between this place and Ashbourne. So tell me where you will fix for our passing a few days by ourselves. Now don't cry "foolish fellow," or "idle dog.' idle dog." Chain your

humour, and let your kindness play.

1 Dr. Johnson had himself talked of our seeing Carlisle together. High was a favourite word of his to denote a person of rank. He said to me, 'Sir, I believe we may meet at the house of a Roman Catholick lady in Cumberland; a high lady, Sir.' I afterwards discovered that he meant Mrs. Strickland, sister of Charles Townley, Esq., whose very noble collection of statues and pictures is not more to be admired, than his extraordinary and polite readiness in shewing it, which I and several of my friends have agreeably experienced. They who are possessed of valuable stores of gratification to persons of taste, should exercise their benevolence in imparting the pleasure. Grateful acknowledgments are due to Welbore Ellis Agar, Esq., for the liberal access which he is pleased to allow to his exquisite collection of pictures.

1777]

THE LIFE OF DAVID HUME

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'You will rejoice to hear that Miss Macleod, of Rasay, is married to Colonel Mure Campbell, an excellent man, with a pretty good estate of his own, and the prospect of having the Earl of Loudoun's fortune and honours. Is not this a noble lot for our fair Hebridean? How happy am I that she is to be in Ayrshire. We shall have the Laird of Rasay, and old Malcolm, and I know not how many gallant Macleods, and bagpipes, &c. &c. at Auchinleck. Perhaps you may meet them all there.

6 Without doubt you have read what is called The Life of David Hume, written by himself, with the letter from Dr. Adam Smith subjoined to it. Is not this an age of daring effrontery? My friend Mr. Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow, at whose house you and I supped, and to whose care Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, was entrusted at that University, paid me a visit lately; and after we had talked with indignation and contempt of the poisonous productions with which this age is infested, he said there was now an excellent opportunity for Dr. Johnson to step forth. I agreed with him that you might knock Hume's and Smith's heads together, and make vain and 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 not how you think on that subject; though the newspapers give us a saying of your's 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 shew 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

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PETITIONS FOR DR. DODD

[1777

Master, as you call him, is alive. I hope I shall often taste his Champagne-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 ship-master'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 day-light 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 threeand-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 his 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

1777] A LETTER FROM MELANCTHON'S TOMB 91 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 store 1; and rejoice at Miss Rasay's advancement, and wish Sir Allan success.

1 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 far I resemble Mr. Johnson. You will be agreeably surprized 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 grave-stone 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, 'Sunday, Sept. 30, 1764.'

'TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.

'JAMES BOSWELL.'

'MY DEAR SIR, 'Wilton-house, April 22, 1775. "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.'

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