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"grand-daughter to the author, and the only “ surviving branch of his family. Nota bene, “ there will be a new prologue on the occasion, “ written by the author of Irene, and spoken " by Mr. Garrick.” The man who had thus exerted himself to serve the grand-daughter, cannot be supposed to have entertained personal malice to the grand-father. It is true, that the malevolence of Lauder, as well as the impostures of Archibald Bower, were fully detected by the labours, in the cause of truth, of the Rev. Dr. Douglas, now Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
- " Diram qui contudit Hydram,
“ Notaque fatali portenta labore subegit.” But the pamphlet, entituled, Milton vindicated from the charge of Plagiarism brought against him by Mr. Lauder, and Lauder himself convicted of several Forgeries and gross Impositions upon the Publick, by John Douglas, M.A. Rector of Eaton Constantine, Salop, was not published till the year 1751. In that work, p. 77, Dr. Douglas says, “ It is to be hoped, “nay, it is expected, that the elegant and nerv“ous writer, whose judicious sentiments and “inimitable style point out the author of Lau“ der’spreface and postscript,will no longer allow “A man to plume himself with his feathers, who " appears so little to have deserved his assistance, “ an assistance which I am persuaded would “ never have been communicated, had there “ been the least suspicion of those facts, which "I have been the instrument of conveying to
" the world.” We have here a contemporary testimony to the integrity of Dr. Johnson throughout the whole of that vile transaction. What was the consequence of the requisition made by Dr. Douglas? Johnson, whose ruling' passion may be said to be the love of truth, con. vinced Lauder, that it would be more to his interest to make a full confession of his guilt, than to stand forth the convicted champion of a lie; and for this purpose he drew up, in the strongest terms, a recantation in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. Douglas, which Lauder signed, and published in the year 1751. That piece will remain a lasting memorial of the abhorrence with which Johnson beheld a violation of truth. Mr. Nichols, whose attachment to his illustrious friend was unwearied, shewed him in 1780, a book,' called Remarks on Johnson's Life of Milton, in which the affair of Lauder was renewed with virulence, and a poetical scale in the Literary Magazine, 1758, (when Johnson had ceased to write in that collection) was urged as an additional proof of deliberate malice. He read the libellous passage with atten-ion, and instantly wrote on the margin: “ In the business “ of Lauder I was deceived, partly by thinking “ the man too frantic to be fraudulent. Of the « poetical scale quoted from the Magazine I am “ not the author. I fancy it was put in after “ I had quitted that work; for I not only did “ not write it, but I do not remember it." As a critic and a scholar, Johnson was willing to receive what numbers at the time. believed to be true information : when he found that the
whole was a forgery, he renounced all connection with the author.
In March 1752, he felt a severe stroke of affliction in the death of his wife. The last number of the Rambler, as already mentioned, was on the 14th of that month. The loss of Mrs. Johnson was then approaching, and probably, was the cause that put an end to those admirable periodical essays. It appears that she died on the 28th of March: in a memorandum, at the foot of the Prayers and Meditations, that is called her Dying Day. She was buried at Bromley, under the care of Dr. Hawkesworth. Johnson placed a Latin inscription on her tomb, in which he celebrated her beauty. With the singularity of his prayers for his deceased wife, from that time to the end of his days, the world is sufficiently acquainted. On Easter-day, 22d April, 1764, his memorandum says: “ Thought on Tetty, poor dear " Tetty ; with my eyes full. Went to Church. “ After sermon I recommended Tetty in a “ prayer by herself; and my father, mother, “ brother, and Bathurst, in another. I did it “only once, so far as it might be lawful for me.” In a prayer, January 23, 1759, the day on which his mother was buried, he commends as far as may be lawful, her soul to God, imploring for her whatever is most beneficial to her present state. In this habit he persevered to the end of his days. The Rev. Mr. Strahan, the the editor of the Prayers and Meditations, observes, “ That Johnson, on some occasions,
“ prays that the Almighty may have had mercy, “ on his wife and Mr. Thrale; evidently sup
posing their sentence to have been already “ passed in the Divine Mind; and by conse“ quence, proving, that he had no belief in a “ state of purgatory, and no reason for praying “ for the dead that could impeach the sincerity. ~ of his profession as a protestant.” Mr. Strahan adds, “ That, in praying for the regretted “ tenants of the grave, Johnson conformed to ^ a practice which has been retained by many ♡ learned members of the Established Church, “ though the Liturgy no longer admits it. If < where the tree falleth, there it shall be; if our “ state, at the close of life, is to be the meao sure of our final sentence, then prayers for
the dead, being visibly fruitless, can be re“ garded only as the vain oblations of supersti« tion. But of all superstitions this, perhaps, ç is one of the least unamiable, and the most o incident to a good mind. If our sensations “ of kindness be intense, those, whom we have “ revered and loved, death cannot wholly se- clude from our concern. It is true, for the “ reason just mentioned, such evidences of our “ surviving affection may be thought ill-judged; so but surely they are generous, and some na“ tural tenderness is due even to a superstition, so which thus originates in piety and benevo6 lence." These sentences, extracted from the Rev. Mr. Strahan's preface, if they are not a full justification, are, at least, a beautiful apology. It will not be improper to add what Johne. son himself has said on the subject. Being asked by Mr. Boswell *, what he thought of purgatory as believed by the Roman Catholics? His answer was, “ It is a very harmless “ doctrine, They are of opinion, that the ge“ nerality of mankind are neither so obstinately " wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment; so nor so good as to merit being admitted into “the society of blessed spirits; and, therefore, " that God is graciously pleased to allow a mid“ dle state, where they may be purified by cer“tain degrees of suffering. You see there is “ nothing unreasonable in this; and if it be « once established that there are souls in pur" gatory, it is as proper to pray for them, as for “ our brethren of mankind who are yet in this “ life.” This was Dr. Johnson's guess into futurity; and to guess is the utmost that man can do, Shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Mrs. Johnson left a daughter, Lucy Porter, by her first husband. She had contracted a friendship with Mrs. Anne Williams, the daughter of Zachary Williams, a physician of emipence in South Wales, who had devoted more than thirty years of a long life to the study of the longitude, and was thought to have made great advances towards that important discovery. His letters to Lord Halifax, and the Lords of the Admiralty, partly corrected and partly written by Dr. Johnson, are still extant in the hands of Mr. Nichols t. We there find Dr. Williams, in the eighty-third year of his
Life of Johnson, Vol. I. p. 328. 4to Edition. t See Gentleman's Magazine for Nov. and Dec. 1787,