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to his relations. His answer was, “I care not what Hawk. becomes of the residue.' A few days after, it appeared that he had executed the draft, the blanks remaining, with all the solemnities of a real will. I could get him no farther, and thus, for some time, the matter rested.
“ His complaints still increasing, I continued pressing him to make a will; but he still procrastinated that business. On the 27th of November, in the morning, I went to his house, with a purpose still farther to urge him not to give occasion, by dying intestate, for litigation among his relations; but finding that he was gone to pass the day with the Rev. Mr. Strahan, at Islington, I followed him thither, and found there our old friend Mr. Ryland, and Mr. Hoole. Upon my sitting down, he said, that the prospect of the change he was about to undergo, and the thought of meeting his Saviour, troubled him, but that he had hope that he would not reject him. I then began to discourse with him about his will, and the provision for Frank, till he grew angry. He told me that he had signed and sealed the paper I left him; but that, said I, had blanks in it, which, as it seems, you have not filled up with the names of the executors. • You should have filled them up yourself,' answered he. I replied that such an act would have looked as if I meant to prevent his choice of a fitter person. “Sir,' said he, these minor
• virtues are not to be exercised in matters of such importance as this.' At length, he said, that on his return home he would send for a clerk, and dictate a will to him. You will then, said I, be inops consilii; rather do it now.
With Mr. Strahan's permission I will be his guest at dinner; and, if Mr. Hoole will please to hold the pen, I will, in a few words, make such a disposition of your estate as you
Hawk. shall direct. To this he assented; but such a pap.580.
roxysm of the asthma seized him as prevented our going on. As the fire burned up he found himself relieved, and grew cheerful. • The fit,' said he, ' was very sharp; but I am now easy.' After I had dictated a few lines, I told him that the ancient form of wills contained a profession of the faith of the testator; and that he being a man of eminence for learning and parts, it would afford an illustrious example, and well become him, to make such an explicit declaration of his belief as might obviate all suspicions that he was any other than a Christian. He thanked me for the hint, and, calling for paper, wrote on a slip, that I had in my hand and gave him, the following words :— I humbly commit to the infinite and eternal goodness of Almighty God my soul polluted with many sins; but, as I hope, purified by repentance, and redeemed, as I trust, by the death of Jesus Christ ^;' and, returning it to me, said, “This I commit to your custody.'
“Upon my calling on him for directions to proceed, he told me that his father, in the course of his trade of a bookseller, had become bankrupt, and that Mr. William Innys had assisted him with money or credit to continue his business—This,' said he, 'I consider as an obligation on me to be grateful to his descendants, and I therefore mean to give 2001. to his representative. He then meditated a devise of his house at Lichfield to the corporation of that city for a charitable use; but, it being freehold, he said, 'I cannot live a twelvemonth, and the last statute of
· [The will of the other great luminary of that age, Mr. Burke, is throughout strikingly characteristick, and was no doubt chiefly drawn up by himself. Those who revere his memory will read with satisfaction the opening declaration. “First, according to the ancient, good, and laudable custom, of which my heart and understanding recognize the propriety, I bequeath my soul to God, hoping for his mercy through the only merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”-MARKLAND.]
mortmain stands in the way: I must, therefore, think Hawk. of some other disposition of it. His next consi
' deration was a provision for Frank, concerning the amount whereof I found he had been consulting Dr. Brocklesby, to whom he had put this question, “What would be a proper annuity to bequeath to a favourite servant?' The doctor answered that the circumstances of the master were the truest measure, and that, in the case of a nobleman, 501, a year was deemed an adequate reward for many years' faithful service. Then shall 1,' said Johnson, be nobilissimus ; for I mean to leave Frank 701. a year, and I desire you to tell him so.' And now, at the making of the will, a devise, equivalent to such a provision, was therein inserted. The residue of his estate and effects, which took in, though he intended it not, the house at Lichfield, he bequeathed to his executors, in trust for a religious association, which it is needless to describe. “Having executed the will with the necessary
formalities, he would have come home, but being pressed by Mr. and Mrs. Strahan to stay, he consented, and we all dined together. Towards the evening he grew cheerful, and I having promised to take him in my coach, Mr. Strahan and Mr. Ryland would accompany him home.
In the way thither he appeared much at ease, and told stories. At eight I set him down, and Mr. Strahan and Mr. Ryland betook themselves to their respective homes.”]
The consideration of numerous papers of which he was possessed seems to have struck Johnson's mind with a sudden anxiety, and as they were in great confusion, it is much to be lamented that he had not intrusted some faithful and discreet person with the care and selection of them; instead of which he, in a precipitate manner, burnt large
masses of them, with little regard, as I apprehend, to discrimination. Not that I suppose we have thus been deprived of any compositions which he had ever intended for the publick eye; but from what escaped the flames I judge that many curious circumstances, relating both to himself and other literary characters, have perished.
Two very valuable articles, I am sure, we have lost, which were two quarto volumes', containing a full, fair, and most particular account of his own life, from his earliest recollection. I owned to him, that having accidentally seen them, I had read a great deal in them; and apologising for the liberty I had taken, asked him if I could help it. He placidly answered, “ Why, sir, I do not think you could have helped it.” I said that I had, for once in my life, felt half an inclination to commit theft. It had come into my mind to carry off those two volumes, and never see him more. Upon my inquiring how this would have affected him, “ Sir,” said he, “I believe I should have gone mado.”
· [There can be little doubt that these two quarto volumes were of the same
if they were not actually transcripts of, the various little diaries which fell into the hands of Dr. Strahan and others ; the strong expression, that he would have gone mad” had they been purloined, confirms the editor's belief, that Dr. Johnson never could have intended that these diaries should have been pub. lished. The editor is confident that they were given to Dr. Strahan inadvertently, Johnson meaning to give the prayers alone, and he suspects that it was by accident only they escaped destruction on the 1st December.-En.)
? One of these volumes, Sir John Hawkins informs us, he put into his pocket; for which the excuse he states is, that he meant to preserve it from falling into the hands of a person whom he describes so as to make it sufficiently clear who is meant [Mr. George Stevens): “ having strong reasons,” said he, “ to suspect that this man might find and make an ill use of the book.” Why Sir John should suppose that the gentleman alluded to would act in this manner, he has not thought fit to explain. But what he did was not approved of by Johnson; who, upon being acquainted of it without delay by a friend, expressed great indignation, and warmly insisted on the book being delivered up; and, afterwards, in the supposition of his missing it, without knowing by whom it had been taken, he said, “Sir, I should have gone out of the world distrusting half mankind.” Sir John next day wrote a letter to Johnson, assigning reasons for his conduct; upon which Johnson observed to Mr. Langton, “ Bishop Sanderson could not have dictated a better letter. I could almost say, Melius est sic penituisse quam non errâsse.” The agitation into which Johnson was thrown by this incident probably made him hastily burn those precious records which must ever be regretted.-Boswell. [We shall see presently, in Ilawkins's diary (1st and 5th December), more on
During his last illness Johnson experienced the steady and kind attachment of his numerous friends. Mr. Hoole has drawn up a narrative of what passed in the visits which he paid him during that time, from the 10th of November to the 13th of December, the day of his death, inclusive, and has favoured me with a perusal of it, with permission to make extracts, which I have done.
Nobody was more attentive to him than Mr. Langton?, to whom he tenderly said, Te teneam moriens deficiente manu. And I think it highly to the honour of Mr. Windham, that his important occupations as an active statesman did not prevent him from paying assiduous respect to the dying sage whom he revered.
Mr. Langton informs me, that “one day he found Mr. Burke and four or five more friends sitting with Johnson. Mr. Burke said to him, I am afraid, sir, such a number of us may be oppressive to you.'No, sir,' said Johnson, it is not so; and I must be in a wretched state indeed when your company would not be a delight to me.' Mr. Burke, in a tremulous voice, expressive of being very tenderly affected, replied, “ My dear sir, you have always been too good to me.' Immediately afterwards he went away. This was the last circumstance in the acquaintance of these two eminent men."
The following particulars of his conversation within
the subject : but it is not certain that the volume which Hawkins took was one of these two quartos; and it is certain that a destruction of papers took place a day or two before that event. Johnson had really some reason for “distrusting mankind,” when, of two dear friends, he found one half-inclined to commit a theft, and another more than half-committing it.-Ed.]
· [This journal has been since printed at length in the European Magazine for September, 1799. As it could not be introduced in this place without dislocating Mr. Boswell's extracts and wholly deranging his narrative, the editor has thought it better to reserve it for the Appendix. It will be read with interest.- ED.]
2 Mr. Langton, whose name so often occurs in these volumes, survived John. son several years. He died at Southampton, December 18, 1801, aged sixtyfive.-MALONE.
3 [About the same time, death withdrew from the world Mr. Burke's old acquaintance, Dr. Johnson, from whom, in the vicissitudes of twenty-seven years, no estrangement occurred to intercept their mutual admiration and regard. He