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the prisoners set free ; but that Mr. Akerman,' whose house was burnt, would have prevented all this, had proper aid been sent him in due time, there can be no doubt.
Many years ago, a fire broke out in the brick part which was built as an addition to the old gaol of Newgate. The prisoners were in consternation and tumult, calling out, “ We shall be burnt we shall be burnt! Down with the gate-down with the gate !” Mr. Akerman hastened to them, showed himself at the gate, and having, after some confused vociferation of “Hear him-hear him!” obtained a silent attention, he then calmly told them, that the gate must not go down; that they were under his care, and that they should not be permitted to escape; but that he could assure them, they need not be afraid of being burnt, for that the fire was not in the prison, properly so called, which was strongly built with stone ; and that if they would engage to be quiet, he himself would come to them, and conduct them to the farther erd of the building, and would not go out till they gave him leave. To this proposal they agreed ; upon which Mr. Akerman, having first made them fall back from the gate, went in, and with a determine? resolution ordered the outer turnkey upon no account to open the gate, eren though the prisoners (though he trusted they would not) should break their word, and by force bring himself to order it. “Never mind me,” said he, “ should that happen.” The prisoners peaceably followed him, while he conducted them through passages of which he had the keys, to the extremity of the gaol, which was most distant from the fire. Having by this very judicious conduct fully satisfied them that there was no immediate risk, if any at all, he then addressed them thus: “Gentlemen, you are now convinced that I told you true. I have no doubt that the engines will soon extinguish this fire ; if they should not a sufficient guard will come, and you shall be all taken out, and lodged in the Compters. I assure you, upon my word and honour, that I have not a farthing insured. I have left my house, that I might take care of you. I will keep my promise, and stay with you if you but if you will allow me to go out, and look after my family and property, I shall be obliged to you.” Struck with his behaviour, they called out, “Master Akerman, you have done bravely; it was very kind in you : by all means go and take care of your own concerns. He did so accordingly, while they remained and were all preserved.
Johnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend, speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this eulogy upon his character :-“He who has long had constantly in his view the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his disposition, must have had it originally in a great aegree, and continued to cultivate it very carefully.”
1 Governor of Newgate.- ED.
In the course of this month my brother David waited upon Dr. Johnson with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should be lying ready on his arrival in London :
" TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON “MY DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, April 29, 1780. “This will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to stand by the old castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword;' that romantic family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with complacency upon the spot. I trust that twelve years of absence have not lessened his feudal attachment and that you will find him worthy of being introduced to your acquaintance. I have the honour to be, with affectionate veneration, my dear Sir,
“ Your most faithful humble servant,
" JAMES BOSWELL."
Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a letter to Mrs. Thrale ;' “ I have had with me a brother of Boswell's, a Spanish merchant,? whom the war has driven from his residence at Valencia ; he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch.”
TO DR. BEATTIE, AT ABERDEEN,
Bolt-court, Fleet-street, August 21, 1780. “More years3 than I have any delight to reckon have past since you and I saw one another; of this, however, there is no reason for making reprehensory complaint :—Sic fata ferunt. But methirks there might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say that I ought to have written, I now write ; and I write to tell you that I have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees south wards; a softer climate may do you both good; winter is coming in ; and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile for amusement than Aberdeen.
“My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is, I doubt, now but weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much better, and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well: and Mr. Davies has got great success as an author, 4 generated by the corruption of a bookseller. More news I have not to tell you, and therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know not whether you much wish to hear,' that I am, Sir,
i Vol. ii. Mrs. Piozzi has omitted the name, she best knows why.-BOSWELL.
4 Meaning his entertaining “Memoirs of David Garrick, Esq." of which Johnson (as Davies informed me) wrote the first sentence; thus giving, as it were, the key-note to the performance. It is, indeed, very characteristical of its author, beginning with a maxim, and proceeding to illustrate. "All excellence has a right to be recorded. I shall therefore think it superfluous to apologise for writing the life of a man, who, by an uncommon assemblage of private virtues, adorned the highest eminence in a public profession.”—BOSWELL.
“ Your most humble servant,
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
London, Aug. 21, 1780. "I find you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have resolved not to write till you are written to; it is but a peevish humour, but you shall have your way.
“I have sat at home in Bolt-court all the summer, thinking to write the Lives, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them, however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.
“Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmstone; but I have been at neither place. I would have gone to Lichfield if I could hav had time, and I might have had time if I had been active; but I have missed much, and done little.
“ In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great danger; the mob was pacified at their first invasion, with about 501. in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the soldiers. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained them a fortnight; he was so frighted that he removed part of his goods. Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country.
“I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn; it is now about the time when we were travelling, I have, however, better health than I had then, and hope you and I may yet show ourselves on sone part of Europe, Asia, or Africa.? In the mean time let us play no trick, but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.
“ The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar, of Aberdeen, who has written and published a very ingenious book, and who I think has a kindness for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.
“I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son has become a learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I never shall persuade to love me. When the Lives are done, I shall send thern
1 I wish he had omitted the suspicion expressed here, though I believe he meant nothing but jocularity; for though he and I differed sometimes in opinion, he well knew how much I loved and revered him.-BEATTIE.
2 It will no doubt be remarked how he avoids the rebellious land of America. This puts me in mind of an anecdote for which I am obliged to my worthy social friend Governor Richard Penn: “At one of Miss E. Hervey's assemblies, Dr. Johnson was following her up and down the room ; upon which Lord Abington observed to her, “Your great friend is very fond of you: you can go nowhere without him.' 'Ay,' said she, 'he would follow me to any part of the world. Then,' said the Earl, "ask him to go with you to America.'"BOSWELL.
3 Dr. Dunbar was Professor of Philosophy in King's College, Aberdeen, and anthor of “ Essays on the H'story of Mankind in Rude and Uncultivated Ages." He died in 1779,-En.
to complete her collection, but must send them in paper, as, for want of a pattern, I cannot bind them to fit the rest. I am, Sir,
“ Yours most affectionately,
This year he wrote to a young clergyman in the country the followng very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to Divines in general >
" DEAR SIR,
Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780. “Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence showed me a letter, in which you make mention of me: I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your letter suggested to me.
“ You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without some peculiarity of manner; but that manner may be good or bad, and a little care will at least preserve it from being bad; to make it good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.
“Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than youre will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authors from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible to forget.
“My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burden your mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of ex-cogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise in the first words that occur; and when you have matter, you will easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary; for by habit your thoughts and diction will flow together.
“The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgment of the writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its proper place.
“What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your parish ; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the parson. The Dean of Carlisle,? who was then a little rector in Northamptonshire, told me, that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in a parish, by the civil or savage manner of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was civilised by a decayed gentlewoman, who came among them to teach a potły school. My learned friend Dr. Wheeler of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring
i Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore.-BOSWELL.
Talk to your
parish for 151. a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience, that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such honest, I may call them holy, artifices, must be practised by every clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved. people, however, as much as you can; and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I pray God to bless you. I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
My next letters to him were dated August 24, September 6, and October 1, and from them I extract the following passages :
“My brother David and I find the long-indulged fancy of our comfortable meeting again at Auchinleck, so well realised, that it in some degree confirms the pleasing hopes of Opreclarum diem!' in a future state.
“I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a peevish humour, or playing tricks; you will recollect, that when I confessed to you, that I had once been intentionally silent to try your regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again.
“I rejoice to hear of your good state of health ; I pray God to continue it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added to my life, to have ten from yours; I mean, that I would be ten years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being, trusting always, that in another state we shall meet never to be separated. Of this we can form no notion ; but the thought, though indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear.
“The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you gave me no account of your own situation during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it by DR. JOHNSON would be a great painting;' you might write another ‘LONDON, A POEM
“I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, 'Let us keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power.' My revered friend ! how elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson ! all that you have said in grateful praise of Mr. Walmsley, I have long thought of you; but we are both Tories, which has a very general influence upon our sentiments. I hope that you will cyrice to meet me at York, about the end of this month; or if you will
had not then seen his letters to Mrs. Thrale.-BUSWELL.