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« I have received a benefit which men like you are
I ain, my Lord,
Most grateful, i
. S. JOHNSON.”
- Sept. 1784.
The Doctor was at Litchfield when he wrote this let- -' ter, on his return from Derbyshire, in tolerable good health. However, on his arrival in town in October, Providence thought fit to make all pecuniary as well as, medical application unnecessary. The dropsy returned in his legs, which swelled to such a thickness that his physicians had no hopes of his recovery. They, how-, eyer, continued to visit him, and prescribe such 'medicines as were best calculated to compose and quiet his pains. He was likewise occasionally, visited by several of his friends, and, at intervals, possessed his usual, spirits, and flow of conversation.
His constant friend, as well as physician, Dr. Brocklesby, calling upon him one morning, after a night of much pain and restlessness, he suddenly repeated these lines from Macbeth':
« Which weighs upon the heart?”
" Therein the patient : « Muit minister unto himlelf."..
He exclaimed, “ well applied,--that's true, that's more than poetically true.”
On the Thursday before his death, finding himself grow worse, he insisted on knowing from Dr. B- , whether there were any hopes of his recovery?, The Doctor at first waved the question ; but he repeating it with great eagerness, the other told him, “ that from the complication of disorders he laboured under, and the advanced state of life he was in, there was but little hopes," He received his fate with firmness; thanked him, and said he would endeavour to compose himself for the approaching scene. | The next day a friend of his hearing the alarming sentence, and anxious to have every possible means tried for his recovery, brought Dr. Warren to him ;' but he would take no prescription; he said, “ he felt, it too late, the soul then wanted medicine and not the. body." Upon the Doctor's taking his leave, he told him, “ he must not go till he had given him his fee,” and then presenting him with a copy of his Lives of the Poets, begged his acceptance of it, assuring him, “ that was all the fee he had ever given his other two physicians.”.
For some wecks before he died, he received the sa- , crament two or three times in each week. An intimate friend of his coming into the room one day after this ceremony, the Doctor exclaimed, “Oh! my friend, I owe you many obligations through life; but they will ... all be more than amply repaid by your taking this most , important advice, BE A GOOD CHRISTIAN.”. .
The next night he was at intervals delirious; and in a one of those fits, seeing a friend at his bed-side, he exa': claimed, “What, will that fellow never, have done in talking poetry to me?" He recovered his senses. before, morning, but spoke little after this. His heart however, i was not unemployed, as by his fixed attention, and the motion of his lips, it was çvident he was pouring out his soul in prayer. He languished in this manner till seven ::.1 o'clock on Monday, evening, the 13th of Decernber, 1784, and then expired without a groan, in the 75th ..? year of his age.
Dr. Brucklesby, who will not be suspected of fanaticism, obliged Mr. Boswell with the following account of Dr. Johnson's death:
Ó* For some time before his death all his fears were calmed and absorbed by the prevalence of his faith, and his“ trust in the merits and propitiation of Jesus Christ.
“ He talked often to me about the necessity of faith in the sacrifice of: Jesus, as necessary, beyond all good works whatever, for the salvation of mankind...
“ He pressed me to study Dr. Clarke, and to read his sermons. I asked him why he pressed Dr. Clarke, an Arian. “ Because (said he) he is fullest on the propitiatory sacrifice."
“ Johnson having thus in his mind the true Christian scheme, at once rational and consolatory, uniting justice and mercy in the Divinity, with the improveincnt of human nature, while the Holy Sacrament was celebrated in his apartment, fervently uttered this prayer :
" Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now, as to human eyes it seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of thy Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.. Grant, O Lord, that my whole hope and confidence may be in his merits and thy mercy; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration available to the confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the enlargement of my charity; and make the death of thy Son Jesus Christ effectual to my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude of my offences, Bless my friends ; have mercy upon all men. Support me, by thy Holy Spirit, in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death; and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“ The Doctor, from the time that he was certain his death was near, appeared to be perfectly resigned, was seldom or never fretful or out of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, “ Altend, Francis, to the
salvation of your soul, which is the object of the greatest importance!” he also explained to him pas- ; sages in the scripture, and scenied to have pleasure in talking upon religious subjects. fin
" On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss Morris, daughter to a particu- . dar friend of his, called, and said to Francis, that she begged to be permittod to see the Doctor, that she might earnestly request him to give'ler his bicșsingFrancis went into the room followed by the young': lady, and delivered the message. The Doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, “ God bless you, my dear !” These were the last words he spoke. His diffi-". 1 culty of breathing increased till about seven o'cloek in : the evening, when Mr. Barber and Mrs. Des Moulins, who were sitting in the room, observed that the noise.' he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and + found he was dead."
About two days after his death, the following very agreeable account was communicated to Mr. Malone, in a letter, by the Honourable Mír. Byng : ? 3
« Dear Sir, “SINCE I saw you, I have had a long conversation with Cawston*, who sat up with Dr. Johnson froin nine o'clock on Sunday evening till'ten o'clock on Monday morning; and from what I can gather from him, it i should seem, that Dr. Johnson was perfectly composed steady in hope, and resigned to death. At the interval so of each hour, they assisted him to sit up in his bed, and , *: move his legs, which were in much pain ;, when he Ik-an!. gularly addressed himself to fervent prayer; and thoughts sometimes' his voice failed him, his senses never did, '! during that"time. The only sustenance he received: si was cyder and water. He said his mind was prepared, ' and the time to his dissolution seemed long. At six, .. in the morning he enquired the hour, and on being :? inforined, said that all went on regularly, andıhe felt i he had but'a few hours, to live.co su on inil .'Prol * A servant to the Right Hon. W. Wrieham. :,:!'.' E 2
“At ten in the morning he parted froin Cawston, saying, "" You should not detain Mr. Wyndham's ser-, vantI thank you ; bear my remembrance to your master.". Cawston says, that no man could appear more collected, more devout, or less terrified at the approaching minute.
This account, which is so much more agreeable than, and somewhat different from yours, has given us the satisfaction of thinking that that great man died as he lived, full of resignation, strengthened in faith, and joyful in hope.".
A few days before his death he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of his. executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered, “ Doubtless in Westminster Abbey," seemed to feel a satisfaction very natural to a poet, and indeed very natural to every man of any imagination, who has no, family sepulchre in which he can be laid with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave was placed a large blue flag stone, with this inscription : . . .
' SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D. Obit xır. Die Decembris. ' , ,
M. DCC. LXXXIV. : . :
:: His funeral was attended by a respectable number of his friends, particularly by many of the members of the Literary Club, who were then 'in town; and was also honoured by the presence of several of the Reverend'Chanter of Westminster. "His schoolfellow, Dr., Taylor, performed the mournful office of reading the service.“,441 . ) wit
As Johnson had abundant homage paid to him during lite, iso no writer in this "nation every had such an acs cumulation of literary honours after his death. A sermon upon that event was preached in St. Mary's Church,.. Oxford, before the University,' by the Reverend Mr. Agutter, of Magdalen College. :::... ba?