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LETTER 301. FROM DR. DODD.
«June 25. midnight.
Accept, thou great and good heart, my earnest and fervent thanks and prayers for all thy benevolent and kind efforts in my behalf. Oh! Dr. Johnson! as I sought your knowledge at an early hour in life, would to Heaven I had cultivated the love and acquaintance of so excellent a man! — I pray God most sincerely to bless you with the highest transports - the infelt satisfaction of humane and benevolent exertions ! And admitted, as I trust I shall be, to the realms of bliss before you, I shall hail your arrival there with transports, and rejoice to acknowledge that you was my comforter, my advocate, and my friend! God be ever with you!"
Dr. Johnson lastly wrote to Dr. Dodd this solemn and soothing letter:
LETTER 302. TO THE REV. DR. DODD.
"June 26. 1777.
"DEAR SIR, That which is appointed to all men is now coming upon you. Outward circumstances, the eyes and the thoughts of men, are below the notice of an immortal being about to stand the trial for eternity, before the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth. Be comforted: your crime, morally or religiously considered, has no very deep dye of turpitude. It corrupted no man's principles; it attacked no man's life. It involved only a temporary and reparable injury. Of this, and of all other sins, you are earnestly to repent; and may God, who knoweth our frailty, and desireth not our death, accept your repentance, for the sake of his son Jesus Christ, our Lord!
"In requital of those well-intended offices which you
are pleased so emphatically to acknowledge, let me beg that you make in your devotions one petition for my eternal welfare. I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate SAM. JOHNSON.”
Under the copy of this letter I found written, in Johnson's own hand, "Next day, June 27., he was executed." (1)
To conclude this interesting episode with an useful application, let us now attend to the reflections of Johnson at the end of the "Occasional Papers," concerning the unfortunate Dr. Dodd. (2)
"Such were the last thoughts of a man whom we have seen exulting in popularity and sunk in shame. For his reputation, which no man can give to himself, those who conferred it are to answer. Of his public Ininistry the means of judging were sufficiently attainable. He must be allowed to preach well, whose sermons strike his audience with forcible conviction. Of
(1) That Dr. Johnson should have desired one prayer from Dr. Dodd, who was himself such an atrocious offender, has been very much condemned; but we ought to consider, that Dr. Johnson might, perhaps, have had sufficient reason to believe Dodd to be a sincere penitent, which, indeed, was the case; and, besides, his mind was so softened with pity and compassion for him, so impressed with the awful idea of his situation, the last evening of his life, that he probably did not think of his former transgressions, or thought, perhaps, that he ought not to remember them, when the offender was so soon to appear before the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth. Dr. Johnson told me that Dodd, on reading this letter, gave it into the hands of his wife, with a strong injunction never to part with it; that he had slept during the night, and when he awoke in the morning, he did not immediately recollect that he was to suffer, and when he did, he expressed the utmost horror and agony of mindoutrageously vehement in his speech and in his looks-till he went into the chapel, and on his coming out of it his face expressed the most angelic peace and composure.- REYNOLDS's Recoll.
(2) See Dr. Johnson's final opinion concerning Dr. Dodd, sub April 18. 1783. — M.
his life, those who thought it consistent with his doctrine did not originally form false notions. He was at first what he endeavoured to make others; but the world broke down his resolution, and he in time ceased to exemplify his own instructions.
"Let those who are tempted to his faults tremble at his punishment; and those whom he impressed from the pulpit with religious sentiments endeavour to confirm them, by considering the regret and self-abhorrence with which he reviewed in prison his deviations from rectitude." (1)
(1) Johnson was deeply concerned at the failure of the petitions in behalf of Dr. Dodd; and asked me at the time, if the request contained in them was not such an one as ought to have been granted to the prayer of twenty-three thousand subjects: to which I answered, that the subscription of popular petitions was a thing of course, and that, therefore, the difference between twenty and twenty thousand names was inconsiderable. He further censured the clergy very severely, for not interposing in his behalf, and said, "that their inactivity arose from a paltry fear of being reproached with partiality towards one of their own order." But although he assisted in the solicitations for pardon, yet, in his private judgment, he thought Dodd unworthy of it; having been known to say, that had he been the adviser of the king, he should have told him, that, in pardoning Dodd, his justice, in consigning the Perreaus to their sentence would have been called in question.- HAWKINS.
Dr. Dodd was born May 29. 1729, and died June 27. 1777, in the forty-ninth year of his age. He married a Miss Perkins from Durham. Left in sorrow, poverty, and disgrace, reason forsook her, and she died a wretched maniac at Ilford, in Essex, July 14. 1784. NOBLE.]
Hamilton of Bangour.
Hume. Fear of Death. pher. Stuart Family. · Poems. Keddlestone.
Bleeding. Duties of a BiograBirth-days. Warton's · Derby. - Shaving. Nichols's "De Animâ Medicâ."— Dr. Dodd.—Blair.— Goldsmith.-Monboddo's " Air-bath."-Early-rising.
- Sleep. Rutty's Spiritual Diary."— Autobiographers.— Imitators of Johnson's Style. Biographia Britannica. — Melancholy and Madness. London Life. Profession of the Law. — Employment. — Dr. Taylor's "Sermons.”—Actors. JOHNSON gave us this evening, in his happy discriminative manner, a portrait of the late Mr. Fitzherbert (') of Derbyshire. "There was," said he, "no sparkle, no brilliancy in Fitzherbert; but I never knew a man who was so generally acceptable. He made every body quite easy, overpowered nobody by the superiority of his talents, made no man think worse of himself by being his rival, seemed always to listen, did not oblige you to hear much from him, and did not oppose what you said. Every body liked him; but he had no friends, as I understand the word, nobody with whom he exchanged intimate thoughts. People were willing to think well of every thing about him. A gentleman was making an affecting rant, as many people do, of
(1) See antè, Vol. I. p. 85., and Vol. IV. p. 271. — C.
great feelings about his dear son,' who was at school near London; how anxious he was lest he might be ill, and what he would give to see him. 'Can't you,' said Fitzherbert, take a postchaise and go to him?' This, to be sure, finished the affected man, but there was not much in it. (1) However, this was circulated as wit for a whole winter, and I believe part of a summer too; a proof that he was no very witty man. He was an instance of the truth of the observation, that a man will please more upon the whole by negative qualities than by positive; by never offending, than by giving a great deal of delight. In the first place, men hate more steadily than they love; and if I have said something to hurt a man once, I shall not get the better of this by saying many things to please him."
Tuesday, September 16., Dr. Johnson having mentioned to me the extraordinary size and price of some cattle reared by Dr. Taylor, I rode out with our host, surveyed his farm, and was shown one cow which he had sold for a hundred and twenty guineas, and another for which he had been offered a hundred and thirty. Taylor thus described to me
(1) Dr. Gisborne, physician to his Majesty's household, has obligingly communicated to me a fuller account of this story than had reached Dr. Johnson. The affected gentleman was the late John Gilbert Cooper, Esq., author of a Life of Socrates, and of some poems in Dodsley's collection. Mr. Fitzherbert found him one morning, apparently, in such violent agitation, on account of the indisposition of his son, as to seem beyond the power of comfort. At length, however, he exclaimed, "I'll write an elegy." Mr. Fitzherbert, being satisfied by this of the sincerity of his emotions, slily said, "Had not you better take a post chaise, and go and see him?" It was the shrewdness of the insinuation which made the story be circulated.