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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
 
 
 
 

Record Number: 21802


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

'On Sunday, April 12, I found him at home before dinner; Dr. Dodd's poem entitled "Thoughts in Prison" was lying upon his table. This appearing to me an extraordinary effort by a man who was in Newgate for a capital crime, I was desirous to hear Johnson's opinion of it: to my surprize, he told me he had not read a line of it. I took up the book and read a passage to him. JOHNSON. "Pretty well, if you are previously disposed to like them". I read another passage, with which he was better pleased. He then took the book into his own hands, and having looked at the prayer at the end of it, he said, "What evidence is there that this was composed the night before he suffered? I do not believe it". He then read aloud where he prays for the King, &c. and observed, "Sir, do you think that a man the night before he is to be hanged cares for the succession of a royal family?--Though, he may have composed this prayer, then. A man who has been canting all his life, may cant to the last.--And yet a man who has been refused a pardon after so much petitioning, would hardly be praying thus fervently for the King".

Century:

1700-1799

Date:

12 Apr 1778

Country:

England

Time

daytime: before dinner

Place:

city: London

Type of Experience
(Reader):
 

silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Type of Experience
(Listener):
 

solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown


Reader / Listener / Reading Group:

Reader:

James Boswell

Age:

Adult (18-100+)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

29 Oct 1709

Socio-Economic Group:

Professional / academic / merchant / farmer

Occupation:

writer and lawyer

Religion:

n/a

Country of Origin:

Scotland

Country of Experience:

England

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

Dr Johnson


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

William Dodd

Title:

Thoughts in Prison

Genre:

Poetry

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

read in situ
read at Dr Johnson's house


Source Information:

Record ID:

21802

Source:

Print

Author:

James Boswell

Editor:

R.W. Chapman

Title:

Life of Johnson

Place of Publication:

Oxford

Date of Publication:

1980

Vol:

n/a

Page:

930

Additional Comments:

n/a

Citation:

James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson, (Oxford, 1980), p. 930, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/record_details.php?id=21802, accessed: 04 March 2021


Additional Comments:

Originally published 1791. Dodd was a clergyman hanged for fraud, whom Johnson had tried to help.

   
   
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