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Romish church, I am happy in this opportunity of recording his friendship with the Reverend Thomas Hussey, D. D.', his catholick majesty's chaplain of embassy at the court of London, that very respectable man, eminent not only for his powerful eloquence as a preacher, but for his various abilities and acquisitions. Nay, though Johnson loved a Presbyterian the least of all, this did not prevent his having a long and uninterrupted social connexion with the Reverend Dr. James Fordyce, who, since his death, hath gratefully celebrated him in a warm strain of devotional composition.
Amidst the melancholy clouds which hung over the dying Johnson, his characteristical manner showed itself on different occasions.
When Dr. Warren, in his usual style, hoped that he was better, his answer was, “ No, sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I advance towards death.”
A man whom he had never seen before was employed one night to sit up with him. Being asked next morning how he liked his attendant, his answer was, “Not at all, sir : the fellow 's an idiot; he is as awkward as a turnspit when first put into the wheel, and as sleepy as a dormouse.”
He repeated with great spirit a poem, consisting of several stanzas, in four lines, in alternate rhyme, which he said he had composed some years before”,
[No doubt the gentleman who is so conspicuous in Mr. Cumberland's Me. moirs. He was subsequently first master of the Roman Catholic college at Maynooth, and titular bishop of Waterford, in Ireland, in which latter capacity he published, in 1797, a pastoral charge, which excited a good deal of observation. -En.]
2 In 1780. See his letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated August 8th, 1780. “You have heard in the papers how [Lade] is come to age : I have enclosed a short song of congratulation, which you must not show to any body. It is odd that it shoul come into any body's head. I hope you will read it with candour; it is, Į believe, one of the authour's first essays in that way of writing, and a beginner is always to be treated with tenderness.”—MALONE.
on occasion of a rich, extravagant young gentleman's coming of age': saying he had never repeated it but once since he composed it, and had given but one copy of it. That copy was given to Mrs. Thrale, now Piozzi, who has published it in a book which she entitles “ British Synonimy,” but which is truly a collection of entertaining remarks and stories, no matter whether accurate or not. Being a piece of exquisite satire, conveyed in a strain of pointed vivacity and humour, and in a manner of which no other instance is to be found in Johnson's writings, I shall here insert it.
“ Long-expected one-and-twenty,
Ling'ring year, at length is flown ;
Great [Sir John), are now your own.
Free to mortgage or to sell,
Bid the sons of thrift farewell.
All the names that banish care ;
Show the spirit of an heir.
Joy to see their quarry fly:
There the lender, grave and sly.
Let it wander as it will ;
Bid them come and take their fill.
Pockets full, and spirits high-
Only dirt, or wet or dry.
Tell the woes of wilful waste :
You can hang or drown at last.”
· [Sir John Lade. See ante, vol. iv. p. 19.-ED.)
? [ Thoughts of the same class had already struck Jeremy Taylor :-“What servants shall we have to wait on us in the grave ? What friends to visit us?
He requested three things of Sir Joshua Reynolds:-To forgive him thirty pounds which he had borrowed of him ;-to read the Bible;—and never to use his pencil on a Sunday. Sir Joshua readily acquiesced.
Indeed he showed the greatest anxiety for the religious improvement of his friends, to whom he discoursed of its infinite consequence. He begged of Mr. Hoole to think of what he had said, and to com. mit it to writing; and, upon being afterwards assured that this was done, pressed his hands, and in an earnest tone thanked him. Dr. Brocklesby having attended him with the utmost assiduity and kindness as his physician and friend, he was peculiarly desirous that this gentleman should not entertain any loose speculative notions, but be confirmed in the truths of Christianity, and insisted on his writing down in his presence, as nearly as he could collect it, the import of what passed on the subject : and Dr. Brocklesby having complied with the request, he made him sign the paper, and urged him to keep it in his own custody as long as he lived.
Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst all his bodily distress and mental sufferings, never forsook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby, as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could recover. “Give me," said he, “a direct answer.” The Doctor having first asked him if he could bear the whole truth, which way soever it might lead, and being answered that he could, declared that, in his opinion, he could not recover without a miracle.
Then,” said Johnson, “I will take no more physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I
What officious people to cleanse away the moist and unwholesome cloud reflected on our faces from the sides of the weeping vaults, which are the longest weepers at our funeral !”-Holy Dying, chap. i. 2.--Ep.]
may render up my soul to God unclouded.” In this resolution he persevered, and, at the same time, used only the weakest kinds of sustenance. Being pressed by Mr. Windham to take somewhat more generous nourishment, lest too low a diet should have the very effect which he dreaded, by debilitating his mind, he said, “ I will take any thing but inebriating sustenance."
Mr. Windham having placed a pillow conveniently to support him, he thanked him for his kindness, and said, “That will do,—all that a pillow can do."
[The following extract from a private journal kept by Mr. Windham will be read with interest.
“ Tuesday, December 7, 1784.
Ten minutes past 2, P.M. “ After waiting some short time in the adjoining room, I was admitted to Dr. Johnson in his bedchamber, where, after placing me next him in the chair (he sitting in his usual place, on the east side of the room, and I on his right hand), he put into my hands two small volumes (an edition of the New Testament, as he afterwards told me), saying, 'Extremum hoc munus morientis habeto.'
“ He then proceeded to observe that I was entering
Virg. Ecl. viii.
"[The following is an instance of a similar spirit:-“ Maria Theresa, queen of Hungary and Bohemia, who died about 1780, was a woman of great strength of mind, united with other estimable qualities. A short time before her death, one of the ladies near her person, in reply to an inquiry made respecting the state of the empress, answered, that her majesty seemed to be asleep. No,' replied she, “I could sleep if I would indulge repose, but I am sensible of the near approach of death, and I will not allow myself to be surprised by him in my sleep. I wish to meet my dissolution awake.' There is nothing transmitted to us by antiquity finer than this answer, which is divested of all ostentation.”Wraxall's Historical Memoirs of his own Time, vol. i. p. 365.--MARKLAND.]
2 [Understanding that a journal kept by the late Mr. Windham contained some particulars relative to Dr. Johnson, the editor applied to his friend, Admiral Windham, that gentleman's nephew and heir, for permission to see the journal, which the admiral most readily granted; but a gentleman to whose care the papers had been previously consigned with a view to his writing a life of Mr. Windham, declined to favour the editor with the desired information. From another quarter, however, he is enabled to present the reader with this extract made from the original journal before it had received its present destination
upon a life which would lead me deeply into all the Wind. business of the world : that he did not condemn civil employment, but that it was a state of great danger, and that he had therefore one piece of advice earnestly to impress upon me, that I would set apart every seventh day for the care of my soul. That one day, the seventh, should be employed in repenting what was amiss in the six preceding, and fortifying my virtue for the six to come. That such a portion of time was surely little enough for the meditation of eternity.
“He then told me that he had a request to make to me, namely, that I would allow his servant Frank to look up to me as his friend, adviser, and protector, in all difficulties which his own weakness and imprudence, or the force or fraud of others, might bring him into. He said that he had left him what he considered an ample provision, viz. seventy pounds per annum; but that even that sum might not place him above the want of a protector, and to me, therefore, he recommended him as to one who had will, and power, and activity to protect him. ,
. Having obtained my assent to this, he proposed that Frank should be called in; and desiring me to take him by the hand in token of the promise, repeated before him the recommendation he had just made of him, and the promise I had given to attend to it.
“ I then took occasion to say how much I feltwhat I had long foreseen that I should feel-regret at having spent so little of my life in his company. I stated this as an instance where resolutions are deferred till the occasions are past. For some time past I had determined that such an occasion of self-reproach should not subsist, and had built upon the hope of passing in his society the chief part of my time, at the moment when it was to be apprehended we were about to lose hinn for ever.