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Etat. 75.

Johnson's affection for his departed relations seemed to grow warmer as he approached nearer to the time when he might hope to see them again. It probably appeared to him that he should upbraid himself with unkind inattentior, were he to leave the world, without having paid a tribute of respect to their memery.

To Mr. GREEN, Apothecary, at Lichfield.

“ I HAVE enclosed the Epitapho for my Father, Mother, and Brother, to be all engraved on the large size, and laid in the middle aile in St. Michael's church, which I request the clergyman and church-wardens to permit.

“ The first care must be to find the exact place of interment, that the stone may protect the bodies. Then let the stone be deep, masly, and hard; and do not let the difference of ten pounds, or more, defeat our purpose.

« I have enclosed ten pounds, and Mrs. Porter will pay you ten more, which I gave her for the fame purpose. What more is wanted shall be sent ; and I beg that all possible haste may be made, for I wish to have it done while I am yet alive. Let me know, dear Sir, that you receive this. I , am, Sir, your most humble servant, s6 Dec. 2, 1784.


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To Mrs. Lucy PORTER, in Lichfield. " DEAR MADAM,

“I am very ill, and desire your prayers. I have sent Mr. Green the Epitaph, and a power to call on you for ten pounds.

" I laid this summer a stone over Tetty, in the chapel of Bromley in Kent. The inscription is in Latin, of which this is the English. [Here a translation.]

« That this is done, I thought it fit that you should know. What care will be taken of us, who can tell ? May God pardon and bless us, for JESUS Christ's sake. I am, &c. « Dec. 2, 1784.

Sam. Johnson."

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6 No man understood that species of composition better than Johnson. I should have mentioned in 1773, his Epitaph on Mrs. Bell, wife of his friend John BELL, Erg. It is printed in his Works, as well as the above,


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My readers are now at last to behold SAMUEL JOHNSON preparing himself

1784. for that doom from which the most exalted powers afford no exemption to Atat. 75,

Death had always been to him an object of terrour; fo that though by no means happy, he still clung to life with an eagerness at which many have wondered. At any time when he was ill, he was very much pleased to be told that he looked better. An ingenious member of the Eumelion Club? informs me, that upon one occasion when he faid to him that he saw health returning to his cheek, Johnson seized him by the hand and exclaimed, “Sir, you are one of the kindest friends I ever had.”

His own state of his views of futurity will appear truly rational, and may perhaps impress the unthinking with seriousness.

“ You know (says he) I never thought confidence with respect to futurity any part of the character of a brave, a wise, or a good man. Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing; wisdom impreiles strongly the conscious ness of those faults, of which it is perhaps itself an aggravation; and goodness, always wishing to be better, and imputing every deficience to criminal negligence, and every fault to voluntary corruption, never dares to suppose the condition of forgiveness fulfilled, nor what is wanting in the crime supplied by penitence.

“ This is the state of the best; but what must be the condition of him whose heart will not suffer him to rank himself among the best, or among the good ? Such must be his dread of the approaching trial, as will leave him little attention to the opinion of those whom he is leaving for ever; and the serenity that is not felt, it can be no virtue to feign.”

His great fear of death, and the strange dark manner in which Sir John Hawkins imparts the uneasiness which he expressed on account of offences with which he charged himself, may give occasion to injurious suspicions, as if there had been fornething of more than ordinary criminality weighing upon his conscience. . On that account, therefore, as well as from the regard to truth which he inculcated', I am to mention, (with all possible respect and

? A Club in London, founded by the learned and ingenious physician, Dr. Alh, in honour of
whose name it was called Eumelian, from the Greek Eupéasces; though it was warmly contended,
and even put to a vote, that it should have the more obvious appellation of Fraxinean, from the

8 “ Letters to Mrs. Thrale," Vol. II. p. 350.
9. See what he said to Mr. Malone, p. 356 of this volume..


Zitat. 75

1784. delicacy however,) that his conduct after he came to London, and had

associated with Savage and others, was not fo strictly virtuous, in one respect, as when he was a younger man.

It was well known, that his amorous inclinations were uncommonly strong and impetuous. He owned to many of his friends, that he used to take women of the town to taverns, and hear them relate their history.--In short, it must not be concealed, that like many other good and pious men, amongst whom we may place the Apostle Paul, upon his own authority, Johnson was not free from propensities which were ever “ warring against the law of his mind,”—and that in his combats with them, he was sometimes overcome.

Here let the profane and licentious pause ;-let them not thoughtlessly say that Johnson was an hypocrite, or that his principles were not firm, because his practice was not uniformly conformable to what he professed.

Let the question be considered independent of moral and religious association; and no man will deny that thousands, in many instances, act against conviction. Is a prodigal, for example, an hypocrite, when he owns he is satisfied that his extravagance will bring him to ruin and misery? We are sure he believes it; but immediate inclination, strengthened by indulgence, prevails over that belief in influencing his conduct. Why then shall credit be refused to the fincerity of those who acknowledge their persuasion of moral and religious duty, yet sometimes fail of living as it requires ? I heard Dr. Johnson once observe, “ There is something noble in publishing truth, though it condemns one's self'.”. And one who said in his presence, “he had no notion of people being in earnest in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them,” was thus reprimanded by him :-“Sir, are you so grossly ignorant of human nature as not to know that a man may be very sincere in good principles, without having good practice??”

But let no man encourage or soothe himself in " presumptuous sin,” from knowing that Johnson was fometimes hurried into indulgences which he thought criminal. I have exhibited this circumstance as a shade in so great a character, both from my sacred love of truth, and to thew that he was not so weakly scrupulous as he has been represented by those who imagine that the sins of which a deep sense was upon his mind, were merely such little venial trifles as pouring milk into his tea on Good-Friday. His under

Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," 3d edit. p. 209.

Ibid. p. 374.



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{tanding will be defended by my statement, if his consistency of conduct 1784. be in some degree impaired. But what wise man would, for momentary grati- Atat. 75. fications, deliberately subject himself to suffer fuch uneasiness as we find was experienced by Johnson in reviewing his conduct as compared with his notion of the ethicks of the gospel? Let the following passages be kept in remembrance :-"O God, giver and preserver of all life, by whose power I was created, and by whose providence I am sustained, look down upon me with tenderness and mercy; grant that I may not have been created to be finally destroyed ; that I may not be preserved to add wickedness to wickedness 3.” O Lord, let me not sink into total depravity ; look down upon me, and rescue me at last from the captivity of sin 4.” Almighty and most merciful Father, who hast continued my life from year to year, grant that by longer life I may become less desirous of sinful pleasures, and more careful of eternal happinesss.”—“Let not my years be multiplied to increase my guilt; but as my age advances, let me become more pure in my thoughts, more regular in my desires, and more obedient to thy laws 6."-" Forgive, o merciful

LORD, whatever I have done contrary to thy laws. Give me such a sense of my wickedness as may produce true contrition and effectual repentance; so that when I shall be called into another state, I may be received among the sinners to whom sorrow and reformation have obtained pardon, for Jesus Christ's fake. Amen."

Such was the distress of mind, such the penitence of Johnson in his hours of privacy, and in his devout approaches to his Maker. His fincerity therefore must appear to every candid mind unquestionable.

It is of essential consequence to keep in view, that there was in this excellent man's conduct no false principle of corvmutation, no deliberate indulgence in sin, in consideration of a counterbalance of duty. His offending, and his repenting, were distinct and separate 8 ; and when we consider his almost unexampled attention to truth, his inflexible integrity, his constant piety, who will dare to “ cast a stone” at him? Besides, let it never be forgotten, that he cannot be charged with any offence indicating badness of heart, any

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3 « Prayers and Meditations,” p. 47. 4 Ibid. p. 68. s Ibid. 84.

6 Ibid. 1200 7 Ibid. p. 1300 * Dr. Johnson related, with an earnestness of approbation, a story of a gentleman, who, in an impulse of passion, overcame the virtue of a young woman. When the said to him, “ I am afraid we have done wrong!” he answered, Yes, we have done wrong ;--for I would not debauch her mind." VOL. II.


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Atat. 75.

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
judgements of himself, (Easter-eve, 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 mano.”
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 irregularity of Johnson, guarded as I have stated it, than from knowing that Addison and Parnell were intemperate in the use of wine; which Johnson himself, in his Lives of those celebrated writers, and pious men, 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 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 them from the best authority.

Dr. Heberden, Dr. Brocklesby, Dr. Warren, and Dr. Butter, physicians, generously attended him, without accepting of 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'.

9 « Prayers and Meditations," p. 192.

· This bold experiment, Sir John Hawkins has related in such a manner as to fuggest a charge against Johnson of intentionally hastening his end; a charge fo very inconsistent with his character in every respect, that it is injurious even to refute it, as Sir John has thought it necefsary to do. It is evident, that what Johnson did in hopes of relief indicated an extraordinary cagerness to retard his diffolution,


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