Thus far Mr Derwent's papers.
With the farewell on the Cumberland moor Alastair Maclean is lost to us in the mist. Of the nature of Ramoth-Gilead let history tell; it is too sad a tale for the romancer. But one is relieved to know that he did not fall at Culloden, or swing like so many on Haribee outside the walls of Carlisle. For the Editor has been so fortunate as to discover a further document, after a second search among Mr Derwent's archives, a document in the handwriting of Mr Samuel Johnson himself; and there seems to be the strongest presumption that it was addressed to Alastair at some town in France, for there is a mention of hospitality shown one Alan Maclean who had crossed the Channel with a message and was on the eve of returning. There is no superscription, the letter begins "My dear Sir," and the end is lost; but since it is headed "Gough Square," and contains a reference to the writer's beginning work on his great dictionary, the date may be conjectured to be 1748. Unfortunately the paper is much torn and discoloured, and only one passage can be given with any certainty of correctness. I transcribe it as a memorial of a friendship which was to colour the thoughts of a great man to his dying day and which, we may be assured, left an impress no less indelible upon the mind of the young Highlander.
"… I send by your kinsman the second moiety of the loan which you made me at our last meeting, for I assume that, like so many of your race and politics now in France, you are somewhat in straits for money. I do assure you that I can well afford to make the repayment, for I have concluded a profitable arrangement with the booksellers for the publication of an English dictionary, and have already received a considerable sum in advance… .
"I will confess to you, my dear sir, that often in moments of leisure and in quiet places, my memory traverses our brief Odyssey, and I am moved again with fear and hope and the sadness of renunciation. You say, and I welcome your generosity, that from me you acquired something of philosophy; from you I am bound to reply that I learned weighty lessons in the conduct of our mortal life. You taught me that a man can be gay and yet most resolute, and that a Christian is not less capable of fortitude than an ancient Stoic. The recollection of that which we encountered together lives in me to warm my heart when it is cold, and to restore in dark seasons my trust in my fellow men. The end was a proof, if proof were wanted, of the vanity of human wishes, but sorrow does not imply failure, and my memory of it will not fade till the hour of death and the day of judgment… .
"I have been at some pains to collect from my friends in Oxford news of my lady N—. You will rejoice to hear that she does well. Her husband, who has now a better name in the shire, is an ensample of marital decorum and treats her kindly, and she has been lately blessed with a male child. That, I am confident, is the tidings which you desire to hear, for your affection for that lady has long been purged of any taint of selfishness, and you can rejoice in her welfare as in that of a sister. But I do not forget that you have buried your heart in that monument to domestic felicity. Our Master did not place us in this world to win even honest happiness, but to shape and purify our immortal souls, and sorrow must be the companion of the noblest endeavour. Like the shepherd in Virgil you grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks… ."