Samuel Johnson

R. W. Chapman (ed.), The Letters of Samuel Johnson, with Mrs. Thrale's genuine letters to him, Vol. 1: 1719-1774; Letters 1-369

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Editor’s Note32.1. ⟨Su.⟩ 21 July (?) '51. John Levett (Lichfield).Address: To John Levet Esqr in Lichfield. Postmark: 21 IY.Adam.—R viii. 105.


It is not many weeks past the time that I promised you pg 37to pay the mortgage and I shall be obliged to you not to take advantage of so small a lapse

The account, I think, stands thus

for Principal and Interest


of which Mr Aston paid


I paid John Asbridge by your bill which I

  have by me


By Miss Porter



I have this day sent my Mother a Bank note of 100 L. so that you may easily settle the affair, which I am ⟨sorry to⟩ have so long and so uneasily protracted.

The money paid by Mr Aston was I am very confident three years interest, but if I was to declare upon oath, I would not go to the utmost. Ten pounds I could swear to. I suppose you do not think I would cheat you of ten or twelve pounds, nor do I believe you would require them unjustly of me.

Be so kind as to spare my Mother all the trouble you can, and the twelve pounds shall make no difference between us.

  • I am Sir Your very humble servant
  • Sam: Johnson

July 21. 1751

*Of this you know I have at present no proof, but I believe it may be got, from some Banker's books. I have set this down to my Mother certainly 10.

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Editor’s Note
32.1.—On the general question of the Levett mortgage see on 19. This letter has fresh problems of its own, and Mr. Reade is himself forced to conclude (viii. 106) that the whole business 'remains a puzzle'. Happily it is of small importance to most of us to know when J paid or promised to pay. For Aston see on 19. Mr. Adam and I were unable to satisfy ourselves about the date—whether 1751 or 1757. Mr. Reade tentatively favours '51, on the ground that JL gave a receipt for all moneys due on 27 June '57, so that J could not have been promising to pay in July (which is confirmed by the postmark) of that year. But this decision starts fresh difficulties, which Mr. R. sets out with his Rhadamanthine equity. One of them is of wider interest: 21 July '51 was a Sunday, and R. suggests the improbability of J's writing a letter of business on a Sunday (21 July '57 is an innocent Thursday). On the general question of J's Sunday letters see Appendix F.
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