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again kindly received by Dr. Adams', who was pleased to give me the following account in one of his letters, (Feb. 17th, 1785): “ His last visit was, I believe, to my house, which he left, after a stay of four or five days. We had much serious talk together, for which I ought to be the better as long as I live. You will remember some discourse which we had in the summer upon the subject of prayer, and the difficulty of this sort of composition. He reminded me of this, and of my having wished him to try his hand, and to give us a specimen of the style and manner that he approved. He added that he was now in a right frame of mind, and as he could not possibly employ his time better, he would in earnest set about it. But I find upon inquiry, that no papers of this sort were left behind him, except a few short ejaculatory forms suitable to his present situation."
Dr. Adams had not then received accurate information on this subject : for (in the interval be- Ep. tween these two visits to Oxford, and indeed, within a very few days of the last, Dr. Johnson appears to have put to paper some preparatory notes on this subject. In Mr. Anderdon's MSS. is the following paper:
This amiable and excellent man survived Dr. Johnson about four years, having died in January, 1789, at Gloucester, where a monument is erected to his
memory with the following inscription : Sacred to the memory of WILLIAM ADAMS, D. D. Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, Prebendary of this Cathedral, and Archdeacon of Llandaff. Ingenious, learned, eloquent, he ably defended the truth of Christianity ; pious, benevolent, and charitable, he successfully inculcated its sacred precepts. Pure, and undeviating in his own conduct, he was tender and compassionate to the failings of others. Ever anxious for the welfare and happiness of mankind, he was on all occasions forward to encourage works of public utility and extensive beneficence. In the government of the college over which he presided, his vigilant attention was uniformly exerted to promote the important objects of the institution : whilst the mild dignity of his deportment, his gentleness of disposition and urbanity of manners, inspired esteem, gratitude, and affection. Full of days, and matured in virtue, he died Jan. 13th, 1786, aged 82.
A very just character of Dr. Adams may also be found in “The Gentleman's Magazine” for 1789, vol. lix. p. 214.-MALONE.
On the unexpected notice of the death of others. “ Prayer generally recommendatory; " To understand their prayers ; “ Under dread of death; “ Prayer commonly considered as a stated and temporary
duty-performed and forgotten-without any effect on
the following day.
“ SCEPTICISM CAUSED BY
“ 9. Sensuality and a vicious life.
The first part of these notes seems to be a classification of prayers; the two latter, hints for the discourse on prayer which he intended to prefix.]
It has since appeared that various prayers had been composed by him at different periods, which, intermingled with pious resolutions and some short notes of his life, were entitled by him “ Prayers and Meditations,” and have, in pursuance of his earnest requisition, in the hopes of doing good, been published, with a judicious well-written preface, by the Reverend Mr. Strahan, to whom he delivered them. This admirable collection, to which I have frequently
referred in the course of this work, evinces, beyond all his compositions for the publick, and all the eulogies of his friends and admirers, the sincere virtue and piety of 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 ofthe tenderness and benignity of his heart :
“Dr. Johnson, who came home last night, sends his respects to dear Dr. Burney and all the dear Burneys, little and great.”
6. TO MR. HECTOR, IN BIRMINGHAM.
“ London, 17th Nov. 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning and then I sent Francis to see the balloon fly, but could not go
[There are some errors in the foregoing statement relative to the Prayers and Meditations, which, considering the effect of that publication on Dr. John. son's character, and Mr. Boswell's zealous claims to accuracy in all such mat. ters, are rather strange. Indeed it seems as if Mr. Boswell had read either too hastily or not at all the preface to Dr. Strahan's book. In the first place, as has been already stated (ante, preface and vol. i. p. 213), this collection was not, as Mr. Boswell seems to suppose, made by Dr. Johnson himself; nor did he give it the designation of “ Prayers and Meditations ;” nor do the original papers bear any appearance of having been intended for the press quite the contrary! Dr. Strahan's preface indeed is not so clear on this point as it ought to have been; but even from it we learn that whatever Johnson's intentions were as to revising and collecting for publication his scattered prayers, he in fact did nothing but place a confused mass of papers in Dr. Strahan's hands, and from the inspection of the papers themselves it is quite evident that Dr. Strahan thought proper to weave into one work materials that were never intended to come together. This consideration is important, because, as has been before observed but cannot be too often repeated, the prayers are mixed up with notices and memo. randa of Dr. Johnson's conduct and thoughts (called by Dr. Strahan, “ Me. ditations”), which, affecting and edifying as they may be when read as the secret effusions of a good man's conscience, would have a very different cha. racter if they could be supposed to be left behind him ostentatiously prepared for publication._Ed.]
myself. I staid 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, so 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 every body glad enough to see me. On the 20th I came hither, and found a house half-built, of very uncomfortable appearance;
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 amusement 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,
| The Reverend Dr. Taylor.-BOSWELL.
2 [Dr. Johnson and others of Mr. Boswell's friends used to disbelieve and therefore ridicule his mental inquietudes--that “Jemmy Boswell” should be afflicted with melancholy was what none of his acquaintance could imagine, and as he seemed sometimes to make a parade of these miseries, they thought he was aping Dr. Johnson, who was admitted to be really a sufferer, though he endeavoured to conceal it. But after all, there can be no doubt that Mr. Boswell was liable to great inequalities of spirits, which will account for many of the peculiarities of his character, and should induce us to pity what his cotemporaries laughed at.-ED.]
* * * * * * *
“ 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
me, and sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other. My dear friend, life is
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, wrote to me again, giving me an account of his sufferings; after which he thus proceeds:
66 28th July. “ 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
******. Go steadily forwards with lawful business or honest diversions. ·Be,' as Temple says of the Dutchmen,' 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,