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all the tenderness of filial affection, an instance of which appeared in his ordering the grave-stone and inscription over Elizabeth Blaney' to be substantially and carefully renewed.
To Mr. Henry White”, a young clergyman, with whom he now formed an intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son. “Once, indeed," said he, “I was dis
‘ obedient: I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago
. I desired to atone for this fault. I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bare-headed in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory :."
honour and pleasure of informing him, and that he was desired to accept it without paying any fine on the occasion ; which lease was afterwards granted, and the doctor died possessed of this property."_BoSWELL.
1 See vol. i. p. 8. -BosweLL. · [Sacrist and one of the vicars of Lichfield Cathedral, 1831.-MARKLAND.]
3 [The following account of this affair was communicated in MS. to the Editor, but he finds it is a transcript from Mr. Warner's “ Tour through the Northern Counties of England,” published in 1802, and has been quoted by Mr. Chalmers in his edition :-“During the last visit which the doctor made to Lichfield, the friends with whom he was staying missed him one morning at the breakfast.table. On inquiring after him of the servants, they understood he had set < ff from Lichfield at a very early hour, without mentioning to any of the family whither he was going. The day passed without the return of the illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account, when, just before the supper-hour, the door opened, and the doctor stalked into the
A solemn silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody daring to inquire the cause of his absence, which was at length relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following manner : •Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my departure from your house this morning, but I was constrained to it by my conscience. Fifty years ago, madam, on this day, I committed a breach of filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated. My father, you recollect, was a bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending
market, and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day. Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty years ago, to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place. But, madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my father a refusal. To do away the șin of this disobedience, I this day went in a post-chaise to —, and going into the market at the time of high business, uncovered my head, and stood with it bare an hour before the stall which my father had formerly used, exposed to the sneers of the standers-by and the inclemency of the weather; a penance by which I trust I have propitiated Heaven for this only instance, I believe, of contumacy toward my father.'"-ED.)
“ I told him," says Miss Seward, “in one of my latest visits to him, of a wonderful learned pig which I had seen at Nottingham; and which did all that we have observed exhibited by dogs and horses. The subject amused him. “Then,' said he, 'the pigs are a race unjustly calumniated. Pig has, it seems, not been wanting to man, but man to pig. We do not allow time for his education; we kill him at a year old.' Mr. Henry White, who was present, observed that if this instance had happened in or before Pope's time, he would not have been justified in instancing the swine as the lowest degree of grovelling instinct. Dr. Johnson seemed pleased with the observation, while the person who made it proceeded to remark, that great torture must have been employed, ere the indocility of the animal could have been subdued. Certainly,' said the Doctor; 'but,” turning to me, ' how old is your pig?' I told him, three years old. • Then,' said he, the pig has no cause to complain; he would have been killed the first year if he had not been educated, and protracted existence is a good recompense for very considerable degrees of torture.'” [“ TO DR. HEBERDEN, LONDON.
“ Lichfield, 13th October, 1784. “DEAR SIR,—Though I doubt not but Dr. Brocklesby would communicate to you any incident in the variation of my health which appeared either curious or important, yet I think it time to give you some account of myself.
“Not long after the first great efflux of the water, I attained so much vigour of limbs and freedom of breath, that without rest or intermission, I went with Dr. Brocklesby to the top of the painter's Academy. This was the greatest degree of health that I have obtained, and this, if it could continue, were per
[Communicated to the editor by Dr. Heberden, junior, through their common friend, Mr. Edward Hawke Locker.-Ed.] [“ Dr. Johnson being asked in his last íllness what physician he had sent for- Dr. Heberden,' replied he, • ultimus Romanorum-the last of our learned physicians.'”-Nichols's Anec. vol. vi. 598.-MARKLAND.] VOL, V.
haps sufficient; but my breath soon failed, and my body grew
, weak. “ At Oxford (in June) I was much distressed by shortness of
I breath, so much that I never attempted to scale the Library: the water gained upon me, but by the use of squills was in a great measure driven away.
“In July I went to Lichfield, and performed the journey with
very little fatigue in the common vehicle, but found no help from my native air. I then removed to Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, where for some time I was oppressed very heavily by the asthma; and the dropsy had advanced so far, that I could not without great difficulty button me at my knees.
(Here are omitted some minute medical details.)
“No hydropical humour has been lately visible. The relaxation of my breath has not continued as it was at first, but neither do I breathe with the same angustia and distress as before the remission. The summary my
state is this: “I am deprived, by weakness and the asthma, of the power of walking beyond a very short space.
“I draw my breath with difficulty upon the least effort, but not with suffocation or pain.
“ The dropsy still threatens, but gives way to medicine.
My appetite is, I think, less keen than it was, but not so abated as that its decline can be observed by any but
myself. “Be pleased to think on me sometimes. I am, sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, “Sam. JOHNSON.")
[From Lichfield he also wrote several letters to Sir J. Hawkins, in a tone which announced serious danger. The concluding paragraph of the last of them was as follows:
Hawk. p. 576.
“7th November, 1784. “I am relapsing into the dropsy very fast, and shall make such haste to town that it will be useless to write to me; but when I come,
let me have the benefit of your advice, and the consolation of your company."]
As Johnson had now very faint hopes of recovery, and as Mrs. Thrale was no longer devoted to him, it
înight have been supposed that he would naturally have chosen to remain in the comfortable house of his beloved wife's daughter, and end his life where he began it. But there was in him an animated and lofty spirit, and however complicated diseases might depress ordinary mortals, all who saw him beheld and acknowledged the invictum animum Catonis. Such was his intellectual ardour even at this time, that he said to one friend, “Sir, I look upon every day to be lost in which I do not make a new acquaintance;" and to another, when talking of his illness, “ I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.” And such was his love of London, so high a relish had he of its magnificent extent and variety of intellectual entertainment, that he languished when absent from it, his mind having become quite luxurious from the long habit of enjoying the metropolis ; and, therefore, although at Lichfield, surrounded with friends who loved and revered him, and for whom he had a very sincere affection, he still found that such conversation as London affords could be found nowhere else. These feelings, joined probably to some flattering hopes of aid from the eminent physicians and surgeons in London, who kindly and generously attended him without accepting fees, made him resolve to return to the capital.
? (Why? Miss Porter respected Dr. Johnson, but could have felt for him nothing like filial devotion. She was nearly as old, almost as infirm, and more helpless than Johnson, and it is scarcely possible to imagine any arrangement less "natural" or less likely to be agreeable to either of the parties, and especially to Dr. Johnson, than that partnership in disease which Mr. Boswell suggests. -ED.)
2 Mr. Burke suggested to me, as applicable to Johnson, what Cicero, in his “ Cato Major," says of Appius : “ Intentum enim animum, tanquam arcum, habebat, nec languescens succumbebat senectuti;" repeating, at the same time, the following noble words in the same passage:
“ Ita enim senectus honesta est, si seipsa defendit, si jus suum retinet, si nemini emancipata est, si usque ad extreinum vitæ spiritum vindicet jus suuni."-BOSWELL.
3 Atrocem animum Catonis are Horace's words, and it may be doubted whether atrox is used by any other original writer in the same sense. Stubborn is perhaps the most correct translation of this epithet.-MALONE.
From Lichfield he came to Birmingham, where he passed a few days with his worthy old schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, who thus writes to me: “He was very solicitous with me to recollect some of our most early transactions, and transmit them to him, for 1 perceived nothing gave him greater pleasure than calling to mind those days of our innocence. I complied with his request, and he only received them a few days before his death. I have transcribed for your inspection exactly the minutes I wrote to him.” This paper having been found in his repositories after his death, Sir John Hawkins has inserted it entire, and I have made occasional use of it and other communications from Mr. Hector in the course of this work. I have both visited and corresponded with him since Dr. Johnson's death, and by my inquiries concerning a great variety of particulars have obtained additional information. I followed the same mode with the Reverend Dr. Taylor, in whose presence I wrote down a good deal of what he could tell ; and he, at my request, signed his name, to give it authenticity. It is very rare to find any person who is able to give a distinct account of the life even of one whom he has known intimately, without questions being put to them. My friend Dr. Kippis has told me, that on this account it is a practice with him to draw out a biographical catechism.
Johnson then proceeded to Oxford, where he was
1 It is a most agreeable circumstance attending the publication of this work, that Mr. Hector has survived his illustrious school-fellow so many years; that he still retains his health and spirits; and has gratified me with the following acknowledgment: “I thank you, most sincerely thank you, for the great and long-continued entertainment your Life of Dr. Johnson has afforded me, and others of my particular friends.” Mr. Hector, besides setting me right as to the verses on a Sprig of Myrtle, (see vol. i. p. 62, note) has favoured me with two English odes, written by Dr. Johnson at an early period of his life, which will appear in my edition of his poems.-BOSWELL. This early and worthy friend of Johnson died at Birmingham, 20 September, 1794.-MALONE.