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Dr. Heberden, Dr. Warren, Dr. Brocklesby, Dr. Butter, and Mr. Cruikshank, the eminent surgeon'. Eternity presented to his mind an aweful prospect, and, with as much virtue as perhaps ever is the lot of man, he shuddered at the thought of his dissolution. His friends awakened the comfortable reflection of a well-spent life; and, as his end drew near, they had the satisfaction of seeing him composed, and even chearful3, insomuch that he was able, in the course of his restless nights, to make translations of Greek epigrams from the Anthologia*; and to compose a Latin epitaph for his father, his mother, and his brother Nathaniel. He meditated, at the same time, a Latin inscription to the memory of Garrick, but his vigour was exhausted".

His love of Literature was a passion that stuck to his last sand'. Seven days before his death he wrote the following letter to his friend Mr. Nichols.



'The late learned Mr. Swinton of Oxford having one day remarked that one man, meaning, I suppose, no man but himself, could assign all the parts of the Ancient Universal History to their proper authors, at the request of Sir Robert Chambers, or

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" Hawkins (p. 584) records on November 29:-' Mr. Langton, who had spent the evening with him, reported that his hopes were increased, and that he was much cheered upon being reminded of the general tendency of his writings and of his example.' See Life, iv. 414, n. 2.

3 November 30, I saw him in the evening and found him chearful.' Hawkins, p. 584.

On April 19 he had borrowed from Mrs. Thrale's library the Greek Anthology. When I lay sleepless,' he wrote, 'I used to drive the night along by turning Greek epigrams into Latin. I know not if I have not turned a hundred.' Letters, ii. 391.

On December 1, Hawkins re

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myself, gave the account which I now transmit to you in his own hand, being willing that of so great a work the history should be known, and that each writer should receive his due proportion of praise from posterity.

'I recommend to you to preserve this scrap of literary intelligence in Mr. Swinton's own hand, or to deposit it in the Museum', that the veracity of this account may never be doubted.

Dec. 6, 1784.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


On the morning of Dec. 7, Dr. Johnson requested to see Mr. Nichols 3. A few days before, he had borrowed some of the early volumes of the Magazine, with a professed intention to point out the pieces which he had written in that collection. The books lay on the table, with many leaves doubled down, and in particular those which contained his share in the Parliamentary Debates. Such was the goodness of Johnson's heart, that he then declared, that' those debates were the only parts of his writings which gave him any compunction; but that at the time he wrote them he had no conception that he was imposing upon the world, though they were frequently written from very slender materials, and often from none at all, the mere coinage of his own imagination.' He added, 'that he never wrote any part of his work with equal velocity. Three columns of the Magazine in an hour,' he said, 'was no uncommon effort; which was faster than most persons could have transcribed that quantity.

'It is there deposited. J. N. [Note he inserts particulars which Murphy by Murphy.] has omitted. Life, iv. 407.


Life, iv. 381. In note I on Letters, ii. 431, I wrongly state that this letter was first published in Malone's Boswell. It appeared earlier in Murphy's Essay.

The list of authors which I omit will be found in Letters, ii. 432.

3 Boswell gives part of what follows but not all; on the other hand

Ib. i. 501. Nichols, in the Preface to the Gentleman's Magazine for 1784, says :-'It must indeed be owned that the Debates in Parliament, since they have been retailed genuine day after day in the newspapers, have become much less interesting than when formerly fabricated by "Dr. Johnson in his garret."

In one day in particular, and that not a very long one, he wrote twelve pages, more in quantity than he ever wrote at any other time, except in the Life of Savage, of which forty-eight pages in octavo were the production of one long day, including a part of the night'.'

In the course of the conversation, he asked, whether any of the family of Faden the printer were living. Being told that the geographer near Charing-cross was Faden's son, he said, after a short pause, 'I borrowed a guinea of his father near thirty years ago; be so good as to take this, and pay it for me?.'

Wishing to discharge every duty, and every obligation, Johnson recollected another debt of ten pounds, which he had borrowed from his friend Mr. Hamilton 3 the printer, about twenty years before. He sent the money to Mr. Hamilton at his house in Bedford Row, with an apology for the length of time. The Reverend Mr. Strahan was the bearer of the message, about four or five days before Johnson breathed his last.

Mr. Sastres (whom Dr. Johnson esteemed and mentioned in his will*) entered the room during his illness. Dr. Johnson, as soon as he saw him, stretched forth his hand, and, in a tone of lamentation, called out, JAM MORITURUS! But the love of life

I 'I wrote forty-eight of the printed octavo pages of the Life of Savage at a sitting; but then I sat up all night. I have also written six sheets in a day of translation from the French.' Life, v. 67. Six sheets would be ninety-six octavo pages.

2 Ib. iv. 440; Nichols's Lit. Anec., ii. 554. Faden the printer was the editor of The Literary Magazine, for which Johnson wrote in 1756. Hawkins, p. 252.

Ante, p. 412.

4 'To Mr. Sastres, the Italian master, the sum of five pounds to be laid out in books of piety for his own use.' Life, iv. 402, n. 2.

5 Hawkins records on December

13 (p. 590):-'At eight in the evening word was brought me by Mr. Sastres, to whom in his last moments he uttered these words, “Jam moriturus," that at a quarter past seven he had without a groan, or the least sign of pain or uneasiness, yielded his last breath.'

According to the account which Boswell had received, the last words he uttered were to a young lady, who asked his blessing. He turned himself in his bed and said, "God bless you, my dear." Life, iv. 418. That his words to her were not quite his last words is shown by Mr. Hoole's account. Croker's Boswell, ix. 191.


was still an active principle. Feeling himself swelled with the dropsy, he conceived that, by incisions in his legs, the water might be discharged. Mr. Cruikshank apprehended that a mortification might be the consequence; but, to appease a distempered fancy, he gently lanced the surface. Johnson cried out, Deeper, deeper; I want length of life, and you are afraid of giving me pain, which I do not value '.'

On the 8th of December, the Reverend Mr. Strahan drew his will, by which, after a few legacies, the residue, amounting to about fifteen hundred pounds, was bequeathed to Frank, the Black servant, formerly consigned to the testator by his friend Dr. Bathurst 3.

The history of a death-bed is painful. Mr. Strahan informs us, that the strength of religion prevailed against the infirmity of nature; and his foreboding dread of the Divine Justice subsided into a pious trust and humble hope of mercy at the Throne of Grace. On Monday the 13th day of December (the last of his existence on this side the grave), the desire of life returned with all its former vehemence. He still imagined, that, by puncturing his legs relief might be obtained. At eight in the morning he tried the experiment, but no water followed. In an hour or two after, he fell into a doze, and about seven in the evening, expired without a groan.

On the 20th of the month his remains, with due solemnities, and a numerous attendance of his friends, were buried in Westminster Abbey, near the foot of Shakspeare's monument,

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and close to the grave of the late Mr. Garrick'. The funeral service was read by his friend Dr. Taylor 2.

A black marble over his grave has the following inscription:

obiit XIII die Decembris,
Anno Domini


Etatis suæ LXXV.

If we now look back, as from an eminence, to view the scenes of life, and the literary labours in which Dr. Johnson was engaged, we may be able to delineate the features of the man, and to form an estimate of his genius.

As a man, Dr. Johnson stands displayed in open day-light. Nothing remains undiscovered 3. Whatever he said is known; and without allowing him the usual privilege of hazarding

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Life, iv. 419; Letters, ii. 434.

Close to Johnson's grave is one to Sir Archibald Campbell, who, among other distinctions, was 'heretable usher of the white rod.' In Chester's Westminster Abbey Registry, p. 438, the entry next before Johnson's interment is, 'Dec. 18 Elizabeth Broughton, wife of John Broughton the celebrated pugilist.' buried in the cloisters. The pugilist himself was buried there a few years later. In 1750 he had been beaten in 'a grand boxingmatch by Slack the butcher of Norwich.' Gentleman's Magazine, 1750, p. 184.

She was

" In a note on Johnson's last letter to Taylor dated October 23, 1784 (Letters, ii. 426), I quote Taylor's endorsement :-'My answer . . . he resented extremely.' I add Mrs. Piozzi's statement that on account of this answer, 'Dr. Johnson quarVOL. I.

relled with his truest friend, Dr. Taylor.' The quarrel had been made up. See post, in Mr. Hoole's Anecdotes.

'A dissatisfaction was expressed in the public papers that he was not buried with all possible funeral rites and honours. The executors did not think themselves justified in doing more than they did. For only a little cathedral service, accompanied with light and music, would have raised the price of interment. In this matter fees run high. His funeral expenses amounted to more than £200.' Gentleman's Magazine, 1785, p. 86.


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