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Johnson. It proves with unquestionable authenticity, that amidst all his constitutional infirmities, his earnestness to conform his practice to the precepts of Christianity was unceasing, and that he habitually endeavoured to refer every transaction of his life to the will of the Supreme Being.
He arrived in London on the 16th of November, and next day sent to Dr. Burney the following note, which I insert as the last token of his remembrance of that ingenious and amiable man, and as another of the many proofs of the tenderness and benignity of his heart :
“Mr. Johnson, who came home last night, sends his respects to dear Dr. Burney, and all the dear Burneys, little and great.”
"TO MR. HECTOR, IN BIRMINGHAM.
London, Nov. 17, 1784.
"I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning, and then I sent Francis to see the balloon fly, but could not go myself. I stayed at Oxford till Tuesday, and then came in the common vehicle easily to London. I am as I was, and having seen Dr. Brocklesby, am to ply the squills; but, whatever be their efficacy, this world must soon pass away. Let us think seriously on our duty.-I send my kindest respects to dear Mrs. Careless: let me have the prayers of both. We have all lived long, and must soon part. GOD have mercy on us, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. I am, &c., "SAM. JOHNSON."
His correspondence with me, after his letter on the subject of my settling in London, shall now, as far as is proper, be produced in one series.
July 26, he wrote to me from Ashbourne:—
"On the 14th I came to Lichfield, and found everybody glad enough to see On the 20th, I came hither, and found a house half-built, of very uncom
Pious, Benevolent, and Charitable,
He successfully inculcated its sacred Precepts.
He was tender and compassionate to the Failings of others.
To promote the important Objects of the institution;
His gentleness of Disposition, and urbanity of Manners,
He died Jan. 13th, 1789, aged 82.
A very just character of Dr. Adams may also be found in "The Gentleman's Maga. zine" for 1789, vol. lix. p. 214. His only daughter (see p. 200) was married, in July, 1788, to B. Hyatt, Esq., of Painswick in Gloucestershire.-MALONE.
fortable appearance; but my own room has not been altered. That a man worn with diseases, in his seventy-second or third year, should condemn part of his remaining life to pass among ruins and rubbish, and that no inconsiderable part, appears to me very strange.—I know that your kindness makes you impatient to know the state of my health, in which I cannot boast of much improvement. I came through the journey without much inconvenience, but when I attempt self-motion I find my legs weak, and my breath very short; this day I have been much disordered. I have no company; the Doctor is busy in his fields, and goes to bed at nine, and his whole system is so different from mine, that we seem formed for different elements; I have, therefore, all my amusements to seek within myself."
Having written to him in bad spirits, a letter filled with dejection and fretfulness, and at the same time expressing anxious apprehensions concerning him, on account of a dream which had disturbed me; his answer was chiefly in terms of reproach, for a supposed charge of affecting discontent, and indulging the vanity of complaint." It, however, proceeded
"Write to me often, and write like a man. I consider your fidelity and tenderness as a great part of the comforts which are yet left me, and sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other.-*** My dear friend, life is
very short and very uncertain; let us spend it as well as we can. My worthy neighbour, Allen, is dead. Love me as well as you can. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell. Nothing ailed me at that time; let your superstition at last have an end.”
Feeling very soon, that the manner in which he had written might hurt me, he two days afterwards, July 28, wrote to me again, giving me an account of his sufferings; after which, he thus proceeds :
"Before this letter, you will have had one which I hope you will not take amiss; for it contains only truth, and that truth kindly intended. Spartam quam nactus es orna; make the most and best of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you, but with the multitudes which are below you. Go steadily forwards with lawful business or honest diversions. 'Be (as Temple says of the Dutchman) well when you are not ill, and pleased when you are not angry.' This may seem but an ill return for your tenderness; but I mean it well, for I love you with great ardour and sincerity. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell, and teach the young ones to love me."
I unfortunately was so much indisposed during a considerable part of the year, that it was not, or at least I thought it was not, in my power to write to my illustrious friend as formerly, or without expressing such complaints as offended him. Having conjured him not to do me the injustice of charging me with affectation, I was with much regret long silent. His last letter to me then came, and affected me very tenderly.
The Rev. Dr. Taylor.-BoswELL.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
Lichfield, Nov. 5, 1784. "I have this summer sometimes amended, and sometimes relapsed, but upon the whole, have lost ground very much. My legs are extremely weak, and my breath very short, and the water is now increasing upon me. In this uncomfortable state your letters used to relieve; what is the reason that I have them no longer? Are you sick, or are you sullen? Whatever be the reason, if it be less than necessity, drive it away; and of the short life that we have, make the best use for yourself and for your friends.
I am sometimes afraid that your omission to write has some real cause, and shall be glad to know that you are not sick, and that nothing ill has befallen dear Mrs. Boswell, or any of your family. I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
Yet it was not a little painful to me to find, that in a paragraph of this letter, which I have omitted, he still persevered in arraigning me as before, which was strange in him who had so much experience of what I suffered. I, however, wrote to him two as kind letters as I could; the last of which came too late to be read by him, for his illness increased more rapidly upon him than I had apprehended; but I had the consolation of being informed that he spoke of me on his death-bed with affection, and I look forward with humble hope of renewing our friendship in a better world.
I now relieve the readers of this work from any farther personal notice of its author; who, if he should be thought to have obtruded himself too much upon their attention, requests them to consider the peculiar plan of his biographical undertaking.
Soon after Johnson's return to the metropolis, both the asthma and dropsy became more violent and distressful. He had for some time kept
a journal in Latin of the state of his illness, and the remedies which he used, under the title of Ægri Ephemeris, which he began on the 6th of July, but continued it no longer than the 8th of November; finding, I suppose, that it was a mournful and unavailing register. It is in my possession; and is written with great care and accuracy.
Still his love of literature did not fail.1 A very few days before his
It is truly wonderful to consider the extent and constancy of Johnson's literary ardour, notwithstanding the melancholy which clouded and embittered his existence. Besides the numerous and various works which he executed, he had, at different times, formed schemes of a great many more, of which the following catalogue was given by him to Mr. Langton, and by that gentleman presented to his Majesty:
"A small book of precepts and directions for piety: the hint taken from the direc. tions in Morton's exercise.
"PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, AND LITERATURE IN GENERAL. "History of Criticism, as it relates to judging of authors, from Aristotle to the pre
death he transmitted to his friend Mr. John Nichols, a list of the
sent age. An account of the rise and improvements of that art; of the different opinions of authors, ancient and modern.
"Translation of the History of Herodian.
"New edition of Fairfax's Translation of Tasso, with notes, glossary, &c.
"Chaucer, a new edition of him, from manuscripts and old editions, with various readings, conjectures, remarks on his language, and the changes it had undergone from the earliest times to his age, and from his to the present; with notes explanatory of customs, &c., and reference to Boccace, and other authors from whom he has borrowed, with an account of the liberties he has taken in telling the stories; his life, and an exact etymological glossary.
"Aristotle's Rhetoric, a translation of it into English.
"A collection of Letters, translated from the modern writers, with some account of the several authors.
"Oldham's Poems, with notes, historical and critical.
"Roscommon's Poems, with notes.
"Lives of the Philosophers, written with a polite air, in such a manner as may divert, as well as instruct.
"History of the Heathen Mythology, with an explication of the fables, both allegorical and historical; with references to the poets.
"History of the State of Venice, in a compendious manner.
"Aristotle's Ethics, an English translation of them, with notes.
Geographical Dictionary, from the French.
"Hierocles upon Pythagoras, translated into English, perhaps with notes. This is done by Norris.
"A book of Letters, upon all kind of subjects.
"Claudian, a new edition of his works, cum notis variorum, in the manner of Burman.
Tully's Tusculan Questions, a translation of them.
Tully's De Naturâ Deorum, a translation of those books.
Benzo's New History of the New World, to be translated.
"Machiavel's History of Florence, to be translated.
"History of the Revival of Learning in Europe, containing an account of whatever contributed to the restoration of literature; such as controversies, printing, the destruction of the Greek empire, the encouragement of great men, with the lives of the most eminent patrons, and most eminent early professors of all kinds of learning in different countries. "A Body of Chronology, in verse, with historical notes.
"A Table of the Spectators, Tatlers, and Guardians, distinguished by figures into six degrees of value, with notes, giving the reasons of preference or degradation.
"A Collection of Letters from English authors, with a preface giving some account of the writers; with reasons for selection, and criticism upon styles; remarks on each letter, if needful.
"A Collection of Proverbs from various languages. Jan. 6.-53.
"A Dictionary to the Common Prayer, in imitation of Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible. March,-52.
"A Collection of Stories and Examples, like those of Valerius Maximus. Jan. 10,-53.
"From Ælian, a volume of select Stories, perhaps from others. Jan. 28,-53,
"Collection of Travels, Voyages, Adventures, and Descriptions of Countries.
Dictionary of Ancient History and Mythology.
"Treatise on the Study of Polite Literature, containing the history of learning, directions for editions, commentaries, &c.
"Maxims, Characters, and Sentiments, after the manner of Bruyere, collected out of ancient authors, particularly the Greek with Apophthegms.
"Classical Miscellanies, Select Translations from ancient Greek and Latin authors. "Lives of Illustrious Persons, as well of the active as the learned, in imitation of Plutarch.
authors of the Universal History, mentioning their several shares in that work. It has, according to his direction, been deposited in the
"Considerations upon the present state of London.
"Collection of Epigrams, with notes and observations.
"Observations on the English language, relating to words, phrases, and modes of
"Minutiæ Literariæ, Miscellaneous reflections, criticisms, emendations, notes, "History of the Constitution.
Comparison of Philosophical and Christian Morality, by sentences collected from the moralists and fathers.
Johnson's extraordinary facility of composition, when he shook off his constitutional indolence, and resolutely sat down to write, is admirably described by Mr. Courtenay, in his "Poetical Review," which I have several times quoted :
"While through life's maze he sent a piercing view,
With various stores of erudition fraught,
Touch'd by the pointed steel, the lightning flows,
We shall in vain endeavour to know with exact precision every production of Johnson's pen. He owned to me that he had written about forty sermons; but as I understood that he had given or sold them to different persons, who were to preach them as their own, he did not consider himself at liberty to acknowledge them. Would those who were thus aided by him, who are still alive, and the friends of those who are dead, fairly inform the world, it would be obligingly gratifying a reasonable curiosity, to which there should, I think, now be no objection. Two volumes of them, published since his death, are sufficiently ascertained; see vol. iii. p. 173. I have before me, in his hand-writing, a fragment of twenty quarto leaves, of a translation into English of Sallust, De Bello Catilinario. When it was done I have no notion; but it seems to have no very superior merit to mark it as his. Besides the publications heretofore mentioned, I am satisfied, from internal evidence, to admit also as genuine the following, which, notwithstanding all my chronological care, escaped me in the course of this work :
"Considerations on the Case of Dr. Trapp's Sermons," published in 1739, in "The Gentleman's Magazine." It is a very ingenious defence of the right of abridging an author's work, without being held as infringing his property. This is one of the nicest questions in the Law of Literature; and I cannot help thinking that the indulgence of abridging is often exceedingly injurious to authors and booksellers, and should in very few cases be permitted. At any rate, to prevent difficult and uncertain discussion, and give an absolute security to authors in the property of their labours, no abridgment whatever should be permitted, till after the expiration of such a number of years as the Legislature be pleased to fix.
But, though it has been confidently ascribed to him, I cannot allow that he wrote a Dedication to both Houses of Parliament of a book entitled "The Evangelical History