Monthly Archives: March 2011

Samuel Johnson on the death of two associates

Letter to the Rev. Mr. Thomas Warton, June 24, 1755

Dear Sir,

To talk of coming to you, and not yet to come, has an air of trifling which I would not willingly have among you; and which, I believe, you will not willingly impute to me, when I have told you, that since my promise, two of our partners are dead, and that I was solicited to suspend my excursion till we could recover from our confusion.

I have not laid aside my purpose; for every day makes me more impatient of staying from you. But death, you know, hears not supplications, nor pays any regard to the convenience of mortals. I hope now to see you next week; but next week is but another name for to-morrow, which has been noted for promising and deceiving.

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Lately I’ve been reading Boswell’s Samuel Johnson and Thackeray’s The History of Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond. This profound bit is from Thackeray:


On the table, however, was the little box from the jeweller’s; and when I took it out, —my how the diamond did twinkle and glitter by the light of our one candle!

“I’m sure it would light up the room of itself,” says Gus. “I’ve read they do in – in history.”

It was in the history of Cogia Hassan Alhabbal, in the “Arabian Nights,” as I knew very well. But we put the candle out, nevertheless, to try.

“Well, I declare to goodness it does illuminate the old place!” says Gus; but the fact was, that there was a gas-lamp opposite our window, and I believe that was the reason why we could see pretty well.

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