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of truth, of the Rev. Dr. Douglas, now Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
—“ Diram qui contudit Hydram,
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 on 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 ele“ gant and nervous writer, whose judicious “ sentiments and inimitable style point out “ the author of Lauder's preface and post“ script, will no longer allow A MAN to “ plume himself with his feathers, who ap“ pears so little to have deserved his assist“ ance; 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 • . 2O of 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, convinced 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 178o 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 attention, 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 schołar, 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 Easterday, 22d April, 1764, his memorandum says: “Thought “Thought on Tetty, poor dear Tetty' with “my eyes full. Went to Church. After sere “mon 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, 1750, 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 in her present state. In this habit he persevered to the end of his days. The Rev. Mr. Strahan, the editor of the Prayers and HMeditations, observes, “That Johnson, on “some occasions, prays that the Almighty “may have had mercy on his wife and Mr. “Thrale; evidently supposing their sentence “to have been already passed in the Divine “ Mind ; and, by consequence, 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 43 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 measure of our final sentence, then prayers for the dead, being visibly fruitless, can be regarded only as the vain oblations of superstition. But of all superstitions this, perhaps, is one of the least unamiable, and most incident to a good mind. If our sensations of kindness be intense, those, whom we have revered and loved, death cannot wholly seclude from our concern. It is true, for the reason just mentioned, such evidences of our surviving affection may be thought ill-judged; but surely they are generous, and some natural tenderness is due even to a superstition, which thus originates in piety and benevolence.” 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 Johnson himself has said on the subject. Being asked by Mr Boswell”,
hat he thought of purgatory as believed by the
* Life of Johnson, Vol. I. p. 328. 4to Edit.