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has not been preserved. The letter was brought to Dr. Taylor, at his house in the Cloysters, Westminster, about three in the morning; and as it signified an earnest desire to see him, he got up, and went to Johnson us soon as he was dressed, and found him in tears nnd in extreme agitation. Afser being a little while together, Johnson requested him to join with him in prayer. He then prayed extempore, as did Dr. Taylor; and thus by means of that piety which was ever his primary object, his troubled mind was, in some degree, soothed aud composed. The next day he wrote as follows:
"To The Reverend Dr. Taylor. "Dear Sir,
"Let me have your company and instruction. Do not live away from me. My distress is great.
"Pray desire Mrs. Taylor to inform me what mourning I should buy for my mother and Miss Porter, and bring a note in writing with you.
"Remember me in your prayers, for vain is the help of man.
"I am, dear Sir, &c.
"March 18, 1752. "Sam. Johnson.'*
That his sufferings upon the death of his wife were severe, beyond what are commonly endured, I have no doubt, from the information of many who were then about him, to none of whom I give more credit than to Mr. Francis Barber, his faithful negro servant,* who came into his family about a fortnight after the dismal event. These sufferings were aggravated by the melancholy inherent in his constitution; and although he probably was not oftener in the wrong than she was, in the little disagreements which sometimes troubled his married state, during which, he owned to me, that the gloomy irritability of his existence was more painful to him than ever, he might very naturally, after her death, be tenderly disposed to charge himself with slight omissions and offences, the sense of which would give him much uneasiness. Accordingly we find, about a year after her decease, that he thus addressed the Supreme Being; "O Lord, who givest the grace of repentance, and hearestthe prayers of the penitent, grant that by true contrition I may obtain forgiveness of all the sins committed, and of all duties neglected, in my union with the wife whom thou hast taken from me; for the neglect of
'Francis Barber was born in Jamaica, and was brought to England in 1750 by Colonel Bathurst, father of Johnson's very intimate friend, Dr. Bathurstlie was sent, for some time, to the Reverend Mr. Jackson's school, at Barton, in Yorkshire. The Colonel, by his will, left him his freedom, and Dr.Bathurst was willing that he should enter into Johnson's service, in which he continued from 1758 till Johnson's death, with the exception of two intervals; in one of which, upon some difference with his master, he went and served an apothecary in Cheapside, but still visited Dr. Johnson occasionally; in another, he took a fancy to go to sea. Part of the time, indeed, lie was, by the kindness of hi* master, at a school in Northamptonshire, that be might have the advantage of some learning. So early, and so latting a connection was there between Dr. Johnson and this humble friend.
joint devotion, patient exhortation, and mild instruction." The kindness of his heart, notwithstanding the impetnosity of his temper, is well known to his friends; and I cannot trace the smallest foundation for the following dark and uncharitable assertion by Sir John Hawkins: "The apparition of his departed wife was altogether ot the terrific kind, and hardly afforded him a hope that she was in a state of huppiness." That he, in conformity with the opinion of many of the most able, learned, and pious Christians in all ages, supposed that there was a middle state after death, previous to the time at which departed souls are finally received to eternal felicity, appears, I think, unqnestionably from his devotions: " And, O Loed, So far as it may be lawful in me, 1 commend to thy fatherly goodness the soul of my departed wife; beseeching thee to grant her whatever is best in her present state, wad finalltfto receive her to eternal happiness." But this state has not been looked upon with horror, but only as less gracious.
He deposited the remains of Mrs. Johnson in the church of Bromley in Kent, to which he was probably led by the residence of his friend Hawkesworth at that place. The funeral sermon which he composed for her, which was never preached, but having been given to Dr. Taylor, has been published since his death, is a performance of uncommon excellence, and full of rational and pious comfort to such as are depressed by that severe affliction which Johnson felt when he wrote it. When it . is considered that it was written in such an agitation of mind, and in the short interval between her death and burial, it cannot be read without wonder.
From Mr. Francis Barber I have had the following authentic and artlcfs account of the situation in which he found him recently after his wife's death: "He was Jn great affliction. Mrs. Williams was then living in his house, which was in Cough-square. He was busy with the Dictionary. Mr. Shiels and some others of the gentlemen who had formerly written for him, used to come about him. He had then little for himself, but freqnently sent money to Mr. Shiels when in distress. The friends who visited him at that time, were chiefly Dr. Bathurst,* and Mr. Diamond, an apothecary in Cork-street, Burlington-gardens, with whom he and Mrs. Williams generally dined every Sunday. There was a talk of his going to Iceland with him, which would probably have happened, had he lived. There was also Mr. Cave, Dr. Hawkesworth, Mr. Ryland, merchant on Tower-hill, Mrs. Masters, the poetess, who lived with Mr. Cave, Mrs. Carter, and sometimes Mrs. Macaulay; also,
• Dr. Bathurst, though a physician of no inconsiderable merit, had not the good fortune to get much practice in London. He was, therefore, willing to accept of employment abroad, and, to the regret of all who knew him, fell a sacrifice to the destructive climate, in the expedition against the Havannah. Mr. Langton recollects the following passage in a letter from Dr. Johnson to Mr. Beanclerk: "The Havannah is taken ;—a conquest too dearly obtained; for, Bathnrst died before it.
"Viz Priamis tanti totaane Trojn fail."
No. 2. P
Mrs. Gardiner, wife of a tallow-chandler on Snow-hill, not in the learned way, but a worthy good woman; Mr. (now Sir Joshua) Reynolds; Mr. Miller, Mr. Dodsley, Mr. Bouquet, Mr. Payne, of Paternoster-row, booksellers; Mr. Strahan, the printer; the Earl of Orrery, Lord Southwell, Mr. Garrick."
Many are, no doubt, omitted in this catalogue of his friends, and in particular, his humble friend Mr. Robert Levet, an obscure practiser in physic amongst the lower people, his fees being sometimes very small sums, sometimes whatever provisions his patients could afford him; but of such extensive practice in that way, that Mrs. Williams has told me, his walk was from Houndsditch to Mary bone. It appears from Johnson's diary, that their acquaintance commenced about the year 1746; and such was Johnson's predilection for him, and fanciful estimation of his moderate abilities, that I have heard him soy he should not be satisfied, though attended by all the College of Physicians; unless he had Mr. Levet with him. Ever since I was acquainted with Dr. Johnson, aud many years before, I have been assured by those who knew him earlier, Mr. Levet had an apartment in his house, or his chambers, and waited Upon him every morning, through the whole course of his late and tedious breakfast. He was of a strauge grotesque appearance, stiff and formal in his manner, and seldom said a word while any company was present.
The circle of his friends, indeed, at this time was extensive and various, far beyond what has been generally imagined. To trace his acquaintance with each particular person, if it could be done, would be a task, of which the labour would not be repaid by the advantage. But exceptions are to be made; one of which must be a friend so eminent as Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was truly his dulce dims, and with whom he maintained an uninterrupted intimacy to the last hour of his life. When Johnson lived in Castle-street, Cavendsih-square, he used frequently to visit two ladies who lived opposite to him, Miss Cotterells, daughters of Admiral Cotterell. Reynolds used also to visit there, and thus they met. Mr. Reynolds, as I have observed above, had, from the first reading of his Life of Savage, conceived a very high admiration of Johnson's powers of writing. His conversation no less delighted him ; and he cultivated his acquaintance with the laudable zeal of one who was ambitious of general improvement. Sir Joshua, indeed, was lucky enough at their very first meeting to make a remark, which was so much above the common-place style of conversation, that Johnson at once perceived that Reynolds had the habit of thinking for himself. The ladies were regretting the death of a friend, to whom they owed great obligations; upou which Reynolds observed, " You have, however, the comfort of being relieved from a burthen of gratitude." They were shocked a little at this alleviating suggestion, as too selfish; Johnson defended it in his clear and forcible maimer, and was much pleased w,ith the mind, the fair view of human nature, which it exhibited, like some of the reflections of Rochefnucault. The consequence was, that he went home with Reynolds, and supped with him.
Sir Joshua told me a pleasant characteristical anecdote of Johnson about the time of their first acquaintance. When they were one evening together at the Miss Cotterells', the then Duchess of Argy le and another lady of high rank came in. Johnson thinking that the Miss Cotterells were too much engrossed by them, and that he and his friend were neglected, as low company of whom they were somewhat ashamed, grew angry; and resolving to shock their supposed pride, by making their great visitors imagine that his friend and he were low indeed, he addressed himself in a loud tone to Mr. Keynolds, saying, " How much do you think you and I could get in a week, if we were to work as hard as we could ?"—as if they had been common mechanics.
His acquaintance with Bennet Langton, Esq. of Langton, in Lincolnshire, another much valued friend, commenced soon after the conclusion of his Rambler; which that gentleman, then a youth, had read with so much admiration, that he came to London chiefly with a view of endeavouring to be introduced to its author. By a fortunate'chance he happened to take lodgings in a house where Mr. Levet frequently visited; and having mentioned his wish to his landlady, she introduced him to Mr. Levet, who readily obtained Johnson's permission to bring Mr. Langton to him; as, indeed, Johnson, during the whole course of his life, had no shyness, real or affected, but was easy of access to nil who were properly recommended, and even wished to see numbers at his levee, as his morning circle of company might, with strict propriety, be called. Mr. Langton was exceedingly surprised when the sage first appeared. He bad not received the smallest intimation of his figure, dr«ss, or manner. From perusing his writings, he fancied he should see a decent, well-drest, in short, a remarkably decorous philosopher. Instead of which, down from his bedchamber, about noon, came, as newly risen, a huge uncouth figure, with a little dark wig which scarcely covered his head, and his clothes hanging loose about him. But his conversation was so rich, so animated, and so forcible, and his religious and political notions so congenial with those in which Langton had been educated, that he conceived for him that veneration and attachment which he ever preserved. Johnson was not the less ready to love Mr. Langton, for his being of a very ancient family; for I have heard him say, with pleasure. "Lftngton, Sir, has a grant of free warren from Henry the Second; and Cardinal Stephen Langton, in King John's reign, was of this family."
Mr. Langton afterwards went to pursue his studies at Trinity College, Oxford, where he formed an acquaintance with his fellow student, Mr. Topham Beauclerk; who though their opinions and modes of life were so different, that it seemed utterly improbable that they .should at all agree, had so ardent a love of literature, so acute an understanding, such elegance of manners, and so well discerned the excellent qualities 4f Mr. Langton, a gentleman eminent not only for worth and learning, but lor an inexhaustible fund of entertaining conversation, that they became intimate friends
Johnson, soon after this acquaintance began, passed a considerable time at Oxford. He at first thought it strange that Langton should associate so much with one who had the chaiacter of being loose, both in his principles and practice; but, by degrees, he himself was fuscinated. Mr. Beauclerk'i being of the St. Alban's family, and having in some particulars, a resemblance to Charles the Second, contributed, in Johnson's imagination, to throw a lustre upon his other qualities: and in a short time, the moral, pious Johnson, and the gay, dissipated Beauclerk, were companions. "What a coalition ! (said Garrick, when he heard of this:) I shall have my old friend to bail out of the Round-house." But I can bear testimony that it was a very agreeable association. Beauclerk was too polite, and valued learning and wit too much, to offend Johnson by sallies of infidelity or licentiousness; and Johnson delighted in the good qualities of Beauclerk, and hoped to correct the evil. Innumerable were the scenes in which Johnson was amused by the young men. Beauclerk could take more liberty with him, than any body with whom I ever saw him; but, on the other hand, Beauclerk was not spared by his respectable companion, when reproof was proper. Beaucler.k had such a propensity to satire, that at one time Johnson said to him, "You never open your mouth but with intention to give pain; and you have often given me pain, not from the power of what you said, but from seeing your intention." At another time applying to him, with a slight alteration, a line of Pope, he said.
"Thy love of folly, and thy scorn of fools— Every thing thou dost shews the one, and every thing thou say'st the other." At another time he said to him, "Thy body is all vice, and thy mind all virtue." Beauclerk not seeming to relish the compliment, Johnson said, " Nay, Sir, Alexander the Great, marching in triumph into Babylon, could not have desired to have had more said to him."
Johnson was some time with Beauclerk at his house at Windsor, where he was entertained with experiments in natural philosophy. One Sunday, when the weather was very line, Beauclerk enticed hini, insensibly, to saunter about all the morning. They went into a church-yard, in the time of divine service, and Johnson laid himself down at his ease upon one of the tomb-stones. "Now, Sir, (said Beauclerk) you are like Hogarth's Idle Apprentice." When Johnson got his pension, Beauclerk said to him, in the humourous phrase of Falstaff, " 1 hope yon'll now purge and live cleanly, like a gentleman."
One night when Beauclerk and Langton had supped at a tavern ia London, and sat till about three in the morning, it came into their heads to go and knock up Johnson, and see if they could prevail on him to join them in a ramble. They rapped violently at the door of his chambers in the Temple, till at last he appeared in Ins shirt, with his little black wig on the top of his head, instead of a nightcap, and a poker ia bis hand, imagining, probably, that some ruffians were coming to attack