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had vanity fufficient to prevent him from borrowing his materials from another.
But whatever inducement Dr. Dodd might have to folicit Dr. Johnson's aid on fuch an occafion, it is hardly poffible to divine what could be Dr. Johnson's motive for accepting the office. A man to exprefs the precife ftate of mind of another about to be deftined to an ignominious death for a capital crime, fhould, one would imagine, have fome confcioufnefs, that he himself had incurred. fome guilt of the fame kind; in which cafe his own apprehenfions would furnifh him with topics of deprecation, fuited to the purpose of his obtaining mercy. But this, we truft, was not the cafe.
Was it then the vanity of fhewing how far he was fuperior in abilities to an eminent mafter in his own craft of artificial compofition, that prevailed with Dr. Johnson to lend his talent on fo critical an occafion? Such, one might fear, was the motive, from the early and general intelligence imparted to the public, by whom this admired piece of oratory was fabricated.
Was it, lastly, the prefumption that a fpeech composed by Dr. Johnson, and delivered by Dr. Dodd, could not fail of interefting all the world in favour of the prifoner, and of procuring the most powerful interceffion for the unhappy criminal's life?
Authors in the pleafing contemplation of their own powers, and in the exer tion of them upon paper, may imagine ftrange things in their clofets concerning their efficiency when they come abroad. But here, alas! all the propriety of diction, and the beauty of colouring, were abfolutely wafted upon the good fenfe and native integrity of the late worthy Recorder of London. He faw through the artifice. He faw no circumftance from one end of the tranfaction to the other to make it probable that no fraud was intended, nor found any weight in the counterbalance propofed in the pompous ftrains of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
But there is no end of conjectures in
a cafe where fome abfurdity or other
arifes to disgrace every account that can be fuggefted of the origin of a manœuvre of which no precedent can be found,
except among the works of the chaplain of Newgate.
We fhould indeed be inclined to call it a mere jeu d'efprit, in the nature of an effay of what could be faid in a fictitious. cafe, were it not utterly incredible that any one with the cooleft feelings of humanity (of which we by no means fuppofe. Dr. Johnson to be deftitute) could bring himself to fport with the calamity of the unhappy criminal, without hope or profpect, or intention of re
-lief; a fort of prostitution for which hardly any cenfure can be too fevere.
Mr. Boerhadem's Letter in the Gentleman's Magazine for: October, 1779, concerning Dr. Johnson's. narrative of Milton's omitting all acts of religious worship both in public and private, came not to our hands till it was too late to infert, in the printed Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Life of Milton, the thanks. we think he well deserves, as an able cooperator with us in the defence of Milton. The friends of Milton are particularly obliged to him, for remarking Dr. Newton's improvement upon Toland,