Rev. William Dodd

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, 28 June 1777; Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 3:136-39.

Poor Dodd was put to death yesterday, in opposition to the recommendation of the jury — the petition of the city of London — and a subsequent petition signed by three-and-twenty thousand hands. Surely the voice of the publick, when it calls so loudly, and calls only for mercy, ought to be heard.

The saying that was given to me in the papers I never spoke; but I wrote many of his petitions, and some of his letters. He applied to me very often. He was, I am afraid, long flattered with hopes of life; but I had no part in the dreadful delusion; for, as soon as the King had signed his sentence, I obtained from Mr. Chamier an account of the court towards him, with a declaration that there "was no hope even of a respite." This letter immediately was laid before Dodd; but he believed those whom he wished to be right, as it is thought, till within three days of his end. He died with pious composure and resolution. I have just seen the Ordinary that attended him. His address to his fellow-convicts offended the Methodists; but he had a Moravian with him much of his time. His moral character is very bad; I hope all is not true that is charged upon him. Of his behaviour in prison an account will be published.