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It is of essential consequence to keep in view that there was in this excellent man's conduct no false principle of commutation, no deliberate indulg ence in sin, in consideration of a counterbalance oi duty. His offending and his repenting were distinct and separate (1): and when we consider his almost unexampled attention to truth, his inflexiblt integrity, his constant piety, who will dare to “ a stone at him ?” Besides, let it never be forgotten. that he cannot be charged with any offence indicating badness of heart, any thing dishonest, base, or malignant; but that, on the contrary, he was charitable in an extraordinary degree : so that even in one of his own rigid judgments of himself (Eastereve, 1781), while he says, “I have corrected no external habits;" he is obliged to own, “I hope that since my last communion I have advanced, by pious reflections, in my submission to God, and my benevolence to man.” (p. 192.)
I am conscious that this is the most difficult and dangerous part of my biographical work, and I cannot but be very anxious concerning it. I trust that I have got through it, preserving at once my regard to truth, - to my friend, — and to the interests of virtue and religion. Nor can I apprehend that more harm can ensue from the knowledge of the irregularities of Johnson, guarded as I have stated it, than
(1) Dr. Johnson related, with very earnest approbation, a story of a gentleman, who, in an impulse of passion, overcame the virtue of a young woman.
When she said to him, “ I am afraid we have done wrong!” he answered, “ Yes, we have done wrong ; - for I woul | not debauch her mind."
from knowing that Addison and Parnell were in. temperate in the use of wine; which he himself, ir his Lives of those celebrated writers and pious me . has not forborne to record.
It is not my intention to give a very minute detail of the particulars of Johnson's remaining days of whom it was now evident that the crisis was fast approaching, when he must “ die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Yet it will be instructive, as well as gratifying to the curiosity of my readers, to record a few circumstances, on the authenticity of which they may perfectly rely, as I have been at the utmost pains to obtain an accurate account of his last illness, from the best authority.
Dr. Heberden, Dr. Brocklesby, Dr. Warren, and Dr. Butter, physicians, generously attended him, without accepting any fees, as did Mr. Cruikshank, surgeon; and all that could be done from professional skill and ability was tried, to prolong a life so truly valuable. He himself, indeed, having, on account of his very bad constitution, been perpetually applying himself to medical inquiries, united his own efforts with those of the gentlemen who attended him; and imagining that the dropsical collection of water which oppressed him might be drawn off by making incisions in his body, he, with his usual resolute defiance of pain, cut deep, when he thought that his surgeon had done it too tenderly. (1)
(1) This bold experiment Sir John Hawkins has related in such a manner as to suggest a charge against Johnson of intentionally hastening his end; a charge so very inconsistent with his character in every respect, that it is injurious even
About eight or ten days before his death, whe Dr. Brocklesby paid him his morning visit, he seeme very low and desponding, and said, “I have been as a dying man all night.” He then enphatically broke out in the words of Shakspeare,
“ Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased;
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;
Which weighs upon the heart?” To which Dr. Brocklesby readily answered from the same great poet,
Therein the patient Must minister to himself.” Johnson expressed himself much satisfied with the application.
On another day after this, when talking on the subject of prayer, Dr. Brocklesby repeated from Juvenal,
« Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano," and so on to the end of the tenth satire; but in running it quickly over, he happened, in the line,
“ Qui spatium vitæ extremum inter munera ponat (1),”
to refute it, as Sir John has thought it necessary to do. It is evident, that what Johnson did in hopes of relief indicated an extraordinary eagerness to retard his dissolution. — B. - If Sir J. Hawkins, whose account the reader will hereafter see (post, JOHNSONIANA), makes rather too much of this singular incident, surely Mr. Boswell treats too lightly the morbid impatience which induced Dr. Johnson to take the lancet into his own hands. - C.
(1) Mr. Boswell has omitted to notice the line, for the sake of which Dr. Brocklesby probably introduced the quotation,
« Fortem posce animuni et mortis terrore carentem !
to pronounce supremum for extremum ; at which Johnson's critical ear instantly took offence, and discoursing vehemently on the unmetrical effect of such a lapse, he showed himself as full as ever of the spirit of the grammarian.
Having no other relations (1), it had been for some time Johnson's intention to make a liberal provision for his faithful servant, Mr. Francis Barber, whom he looked upon as particularly under his protection, and whom he had all along treated truly as an humble friend. Having asked Dr. Brocklesby what would be a proper annuity to a favourite servant, and being answered that it must depend on the circumstances of the master; and that in the case of a nobleman fifty pounds a year was considered as an adequate reward for many years'
(1) The author in a former page has shown the injustice of Sir John Hawkins's charge against Johnson, with respect to a person of the name of Heely, whom he has inaccurately represented as a relation of Johnson's. See p. 376. That Johnson was anxious to discover whether any of his relations were living, is evinced by the following letter, written not long before he made his will :
“ TO THE REV. DR. VYSE
“ Bolt Court, Nov. 29. 1784. “SIR, -I am desirous to know whether Charles Scrimshaw, of Woodscase (I think), in your father's neighbourhood, be now living: what is his con. dition, and where he may be found. If you can conveniently make any inquiry about him, and can do it without delay, it will be an act of great kindness to me, he being very nearly related to me. I beg (you] to pardon this trouble, I am, &c.
SAM, JOHNSON.” În conformity to the wish expressed in the preceding letter, an inquiry was made; but no descendants of Charles Scrimshaw, or of his sisters, were discovered to be living. Dr. Vyse informis me, that Dr. Johnson told him," he was disappointed in the inquiries he had made after his relations." There is therefore no ground whatsoever for supposing that he was unmindful of them, or neglected them. VOL. VIII.
faithful service; “ Then,” said Johnson, “shall I be nobilissimus, for I mean to leave Frank seventy pounds a year, and I desire you to tell him so.” It is strange, however, to think, that Johnson was not free from that general weakness of being averse to execute a will, so that he delayed it from time to time; and had it not been for Sir John Hawkins's repeatedly urging it, I think it is probable that his kind resolution would not have been fulfilled. After making one, which, as Sir John Hawkins informs us, extended no further than the promised annuity, Johnson's final disposition of his property was established by a Will and Codicil, of which copies are subjoined. ( )
(1) “ In the name of God. Amen. I, Samuel Johnson, being in full possession of my faculties, but fearing this night may put an end to my lite, do ordain this my last will and testament. I bequeath to God a soul polluted by many sins, but I hope purified by Jesus Christ. I leave seven liundred and fifty pounds in the hands of Bennet Langton, Esq. ; three hundred pounds in the hands of Mr. Barclay and Mr. Perkins, brewers; one hundred and fifty pounds in the hands of Dr. Percy, bishop of Dro. more; one thousand pounds, three per cent, annuities in the public funds; and one hundred pounds now lying by me in ready money: all these before mentioned sums and property leave, I say, to Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, of Doctor's Commons, in trust, for the following uses :- That is to say, to pay to the representatives of the late William Jnnys, bookseller, in St. Paul's Churchyard, the sum of two hundred pounds; to Mrs. White, my female servant, one hundred pounds stock in the three per cent. annuities aforesaid. The rest of the aforesaid sums of money and property, together with my books, plate, and household furniture, I leave to the before-mentioned Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, also in trust, to be applied, after paying my debts, to the use of Francis Barber, my man servant, a negro, in such manner as they shall judge most fit and available to his benefit. And I appoint the aforesaid Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, sole executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments whatever. In witness whereot I hereunto subscribe my name, and affix my seal, this eighth day of December, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON, (L. S.) “Signed, sealed, published, declared, and delivered, by the said
testator, as his last will aná testament, in the presence of us,
“ GEORGE STRAHAN.
“ By way of codicil to my last will and testament, I, Sam jel Johnson, give, devise, and bequeath, my nessuage or tenement situate at Lichfield