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ever heroic an undaunted death may appear, it is not what we should pray for. As Johnson lived the life of the righteous, his end was that of a Christian; he strictly fulfilled the injunction of the apostle, to work out his salvation with fear and trembling; and though his doubts and scruples were certainly very distressing to himself, they give his friends a pious hope, that he, who added to almost all the virtues of christianity, that religious humility which its great teacher inculcated, will, in the fulness of time, receive the reward promised to a patient continuance in welldoing.”]
Of his last moments, my brother, Thomas David, has furnished me with the following particulars:
“ The doctor, from the time that he was certain his death was near, appeared to be perfectly resigned, was seldom or never fretful or out of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, who gave me this account, 'Attend, Francis, to the salvation of your soul, which is the object of greatest importance:' he also explained to him passages in the scripture, and seemed to have pleasure in talking upon religious subjects.
“On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss Morris“, daughter to a particular friend of his, called, and said to Francis, that she begged to be permitted to see the doctor, that she might earnestly request him to give her his blessing. Francis went into the room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message. The doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, 'God
1 [See ante, vol. iv. P. 321.-ED.]
* (She was the sister of a lady of the same name who appeared on the stage at Covent-garden as Juliet, in 1768, and died next year. She was a relation of Mr. Corbyn Morris, commissioner of the customs. European Magazine, Sept. 1799, p. 158.Ed.]
bless you, my dear! These were the last words he spoke. His difficulty of breathing increased till about seven o'clock in the evening, when Mr. Barber and Mrs. Desmoulins, who were sitting in the room, observing that the noise he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and found he was dead.”
[The following letter, written with an agitated hand, from the very chamber of death, by the amiable Mr. Langton, and obviously interrupted by his feelings, will not unaptly close the story of so long a friendship. The letter is not addressed, but Mr. Langton's family believe it was intended for Mr. Boswell,
MY DEAR SIR,—After many conflicting hopes and fears respecting the event of this heavy return of illness which has assailed our honoured friend, Dr. Johnson, since his arrival from Lichfield, about four days ago the appearances grew-more and more awful, and this afternoon at eight o'clock, when I arrived at his house to see how he should be going on, I was acquainted at the door, that about three quarters of an hour before, he had breathed his last. I am now writing in the room where his venerable remains exhibit a spectacle, the interesting solemnity of which, difficult as it would be in any sort to find terms to express, so to you, my dear sir, whose own sensations will paint it so strongly, it would be of all men the most superfluous to attempt to ..]
The Reverend Mr. Strahan, who was the son of his friend, and had been always one of his great favourites, had, during his last illness, the satisfaction of contributing to soothe and comfort him. That gentleman's house at Islington, of which he is vicar, afforded Johnson, occasionally and easily, an agreeable change of place and fresh air; and he attended also upon him in town in the discharge of the sacred offices of his profession.
Mr. Strahan has given me the agreeable assurance,
that after being in much agitation, Johnson became quite composed, and continued so till his death.
Dr. Brocklesby, who will not be suspected of fanaticism, obliged me with the following accounts:
“For some time before his death, all his fears were calmed and absorbed by the prevalence of his faith, and his trust in the merits and propitiation of Jesus Christ.
“ He talked often to me about the necessity of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, as necessary beyond all good works whatever for the salvation of mankind.
“ He pressed me to study Dr. Clarke and to read his sermons. I asked him why he pressed Dr. Clarke, an Arian? Because,' said he, he is fullest on the propitiatory sacrifice.”
About two days after his death, the following very agreeable account was communicated to Mr. Malone, in a letter by the Honourable John Byng, to whom I am much obliged for granting me permission to introduce it in my work.
“ DEAR SIR,—Since I saw you, I have had a long conversation with Cawston”, who sat up with Dr. Johnson, from nine o'clock on Sunday evening, till ten o'clock on Monday morning. And, from what I can gather from him, it should seem, that Dr. Johnson was perfectly composed, steady in hope, and resigned to death. At the interval of each hour, they assisted him to sit up in his bed, and move his legs, which were in much pain; when he regularly addressed himself to fervent prayer; and
1 The change of his sentiments with regard to Dr. Clarke is thus mentioned to me in a letter from the late Dr. Adams, master of Pembroke college, Oxford. -“ The doctor's prejudices were the strongest, and certainly in another sense the weakest, that ever possessed a sensible man. You know his extreme zeal for orthodoxy. But did you ever hear what he told me himself? that he had made it a rule not to admit Dr. Clarke's name in his Dictionary. This, however, wore off. At some distance of time he advised with me what books he should read in defence of the christian religion. I recɔmmended Clarke's Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, as the best of the kind ; and I find in what is called his · Prayers and Meditations,' that he was frequently employed in the latter part of his time in reading Clarke's Sermons.". Boswell.
? Servant to the Right Honourable William Windham.-BoSWELL.
though, sometimes, his voice failed him, his sense never did, during that time. The only sustenance he received was cyder and water. He said his mind was prepared, and the time to his dissolution seemed long. At six in the morning, he inquired the hour, and, on being informed, said, that all went on regularly, and he felt he had but a few hours to live.
“At ten o'clock in the morning, he parted from Cawston, saying, “You should not detain Mr. Windham's servant:-I thank you; bear
my remembrance to your master.' Cawston says, that no man could appear more collected, more devout, or less terrified at the thoughts of the approaching minute.
“ This account, which is so much more agreeable than, and somewhat different from, yours, has given us the satisfaction of thinking that that great man died as he lived, full of resignation, strengthened in faith, and joyful in hopel."
After making one will, which, as Sir John Hawkins informs us, extended no further than the promised annuity”, Johnson's final disposition of his property was established by a will and codicil, of which copies are subjoined.
“ In the name of God. Amen. I, Samuel Johnson, being in full possession of my faculties, but fearing this night may put an end to my life, do ordain this my last will and testament. I bequeath to God a soul polluted by many sins, but I hope purified by Jesus Christ. I leave seven hundred and fifty pounds in the hands of Bennet Langton, Esq.; three hundred pounds in the hands of Mr. Barclay and Mr. Perkins, brewers; one hundred and fifty pounds in the hands of Dr. Percy, bishop of Dromore3; one thousand pounds, three per cent. annuities in the publick funds; and one hundred pounds now lying by me in ready money: all these before-mentioned sums and
property I leave, I say, to Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, of Doctor's Commons, in trust, for the
· [The quantity of evidence now brought together as to the state of Dr. Johnson's mind with regard to religion in general, and his own salvation in particular, dispenses the editor from making any observations on the subject; but those who may wish to see a commentary on the facts, may turn to the remarks in the Chris, tian Observer for October and November, 1827.-ED.]
[See ante, p. 299.-ED.)
3 [The following receipt, all in Johnson's writing, was found in Doctor Percy's papers by Mr. Shaw Mason.
<< Memorandum. I have received one year's interest of one hundred and fifty pounds lent in to Dr. Percy “ April 26, 1782.”
“ SAM. Johnson.",-ED.]
following uses:-That is to say, to pay to the representatives of the late William Innys, bookseller, in St. Paul's Churchyard, the sum of two hundred pounds; to Mrs. White, my female servant, one hundred pounds stock in the three per cent. annuities aforesaid. The rest of the aforesaid sums of money and property, together with my books, plate, and household furniture, I leave to the before-mentioned Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, also in trust, to be applied, after paying my debts, to the use of Francis Barber, my man-servant, a negro, in such manner as they shall judge most fit and available to his benefit. And I appoint the aforesaid Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. William Scott, sole executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments whatever. In witness whereof I hereunto subscribe my name, and affix my seal, this eighth day of December, 1784.
“ Sam. JOHNSON, (L.S.)
the said testator, as his last will and testament, in
of us, the word two being first inserted in the opposite page.
“ By way of codicil to my last will and testament, I, Samuel Johnson, give, devise, and bequeath, my messuage or tenement situate at Lichfield, in the courty of Stafford, with the appurtenances in the tenure and occupation of Mrs. Bond, of Lichfield, aforesaid, or of Mr. Hinchman, her under-tenant, to my executors, in trust, to sell and dispose of the same; and the money arising from such sale I give and bequeath as follows, viz. to Thomas and Benjamin, the sons of Fisher Johnson, late of Leicester, and Whiting, daughter of Thomas Johnson, late of Coventry,and the grand-daughter of the said Thomas Johnson, one full and equal fourth part each; but in case there shall be more grand-daughters than one of the said Thomas Johnson, living at the time of my decease, I give and bequeath the part or share of that one to and equally between such granddaughters.. I give and bequeath to the Rev. Mr. Rogers, of Berkley, near Froom, in the county of Somerset, the sum of one hundred pounds, requesting him to apply the same towards the maintenance of Elizabeth Herne, a lunatick. I also give and bequeath to my god-children, the son and daughter of Mauritius Lowe, painter, each of them one hundred pounds of