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word of my own, but adopt those of an eminent friend', which he uttered with an abrupt felicity, superiour to all studied compositions :—“ He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up.—Johnson is dead.-Let us go to the next best : there is nobody; no man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson,"
As Johnson had abundant homage paid to him during his life", so no writer in this nation ever had such an accumulation of literary honours after his death. A sermon upon that event was preached in St. Mary's church, Oxford, before the University, by the Rev. Mr. Agutter, of Magdalen College'. The Lives, the Memoirs, the Essays, both in prose and verse, which have been published concerning him, would make many volumes. The numerous attacks too upon him I consider as part of his consequence, upon the principle which he himself so well knew and asserted. Many who trembled at his presence were forward in assault, when they no. longer apprehended danger. When one of his little pragmatical foes was invidiously snarling at his fame,
· The late Right Honourable William Gerrard Hamilton, who had been in. timately acquainted with Dr. Johnson near thirty years. He died in London, July 16, 1796, in his sixty-eighth year.-MALONE.
2 Beside the Dedications to him by Dr. Goldsmith, the Reverend Dr. Frank. lin, and the Reverend Mr. Wilson, which I have mentioned according to their dates, there was one by a lady, of a versification of “ Aningait and Ajut,” and one by the ingenious Áfr. Walker, of his “ Rhetorical Grammar.” I have introduced into this work several compliments paid to him in the writings of his contemporaries ; but the number of them is so great, that we may fairly say that there was almost a general tribute. Let me not be forgetful of the honour done to him by Colonel Myddleton, of Gwaynynog, near Denbigh; who, on the banks of a rivulet in his park, where Johnson delighted to stand and repeat verses, erected an urn with the inscription given ante, vol. iii. p. 153.—BOSWELL.
[Here followed an account of the various portraits of Dr. Johnson, which is transferred to the appendix.-ED.)
3 It is not yet published. In a letter to me, Mr. Agutter says, “My sermon before the university was more engaged with Dr. Johnson's moral than his intellectual character. It particularly examined his fear of death, and suggested several reasons for the apprehensions of the good, and the indifference of the infidel, in their last hours; this was illustrated by contrasting the death of Dr, Johnson and Mr. Hume: the text was, Job, xxi. 22–26."- BOSWELL. VOL. V.
at Sir Joshua Reynolds's table, the Reverend Dr. Parr exclaimed, with his usual bold animation, “ Ay, now that the old lion is dead, every ass thinks he may kick at him.”
A monument for him, in Westminster Abbey, was resolved upon soon after his death, and was supported by a most respectable contribution; but the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having come to a resolution of admitting monuments there, upon a liberal and magnificent plan, that cathedral was afterwards fixed on, as the place in which a cenotaph should be erected to his memory: and in the cathedral of his native city of Lichfield, a smaller one is to be erected'. To compose his epitaph, could not but excite the warmest competition of genius. If laudari à laudato viro be praise which is highly estimable, I should not for give myself were I to omit the following sepulchral verses on the authour of THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY, written by the Right Honourable Henry Flood”:
“ No need of Latin or of Greek to grace
Our Johnson's memory, or inscribe his grave;
To pay the immortality he gave.”
1 This monument has been since erected. It consists of a medallion, with a tablet beneath, on which is this inscription :
“ The friends of SAMUEL Johnson, LL. D.
A Native of Lichfield,
As a tribute of respect
He died Dec. 13, 1784, aged 75."--MALONE. 2 To prevent any misconception on this subject, Mr. Malone, by whom these lines were obligingly communicated, requests me to add the following remark :
“ In justice to the late Mr. Flood, now himself wanting, and highly meriting, an epitaph from his country, to which his transcendent talents did the highest honour, as well as the most important service, it should be observed, that these lines were by no means intended as a regular monumental inscription for Dr. Johnson. Had he undertaken to write an appropriate and discriminative epitaph for that excellent and extraordinary man, those who knew Mr. Flood's vigour of mind will have no doubt that he would have produced one worthy of his illustrious subject. But the fact was merely this : In December, 1789, after a large subscription had been made for Dr. Johnson's monument, to which Mr. Flood liberally contributed, Mr. Malone happened to call on him at his house in Ber. ners-street, and the conversation turning on the proposed monument, Mr. Malone
The Reverend Dr. Parr, on being requested to undertake the inscription for the monument, thus expressed himself in a letter to William Seward, Esq. : “I leave this mighty task to some hardier and some abler writer. The variety and splendour of Johnson's attainments, the peculiarities of his character, his private virtues, and his literary publications, fill me with confusion and dismay, when I reflect upon the confined and difficult species of composition, in which alone they can be expressed, with propriety, upon his monument.” But I understand that this great scholar, and warm admirer of Johnson, has yielded to repeated solicitations, and executed the very difficult undertaking.
[Dr. Johnson's monument, consisting of a colossal Malone. figure leaning against a column (but not very strongly resembling him), has since the death of Mr. Boswell been placed in St. Paul's cathedral, having been first opened to publick view, February 23, 1796. The epitaph was written by the Rev. Dr. Parr, and is as follows:
GRAMMATICO . ET · CRITICO
POETAE · LVMINIBVS · SENTENTIARVM
MAGISTRO · VIRTVTIS · GRAVISSIMO
QVI · VIXIT. ANN · LXXV • MENS · 11. • DIEB · xul.
PECVNIA · CONLATA
maintained that the epitaph, by whomsoever it should be written, ought to be in Latin. Mr. Flood thought differently. The next morning, in a postscript to a note on another subject, he mentioned that he continued of the same opinion as on the preceding day, and subjoined the lines above given.”-BOSWELI.
On a scroll in his hand are the following words:
[It is to be regretted that the committee for erecting this monument did not adhere to the principles of the Round Robin, on the subject of Goldsmith's epitaph, (ante, vol. iii. p. 448), and insist on having the epitaph to Johnson written in the language to which he had been so great and so very peculiar a benefactor. The committee of subscribers, called curators, were Lord Stowell, Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Metcalf, Mr. Boswell, and Mr. Malone. Mr. Metcalf, Mr. Burke, and Sir Joseph had signed the Round Robin ; but it may be presumed that Dr. Johnson's preference of a Latin epitaph, so positively prmounced on that occasion, operated on their minds as an expression of what his wishes would have been as to his own. It seems, however, to the editor the height of bad taste and absurdity to exhibit Dr. Johnson in St. Paul's cathedral in the masquerade of a half naked Roman, with such pedantic, and, to the passing public, unintelligible inscriptions as the above. The following is a close translation :
Alpha. R Omega.
A grammarian and critic
And the weight of his words;
A most effective teacher of virtue;
Who lived 75 years, 2 months, 14 days.
Was buried in the church of St. Peter's, Westminster,
His literary friends and companions,
By a collection of money,
Caused this monument to be made. The reader will not of course attribute to the original all the awkwardness of this almost literal version ; but he will not fail to observe the tedious and confused mode of marking the numerals, the unnecessary repetition of them, and the introduction of nones and ides, all of which are, even on the principles of the Lapidarian scholars themselves, clumsy, and on the principles of common sense, contemptible. Thirty-four letters and numerals (nearly a tenth part of the whole inscription) are, for instance, expended in letting posterity know that Dr. Johnson was buried in the same month of the same year in which he died.
The Greek words, so pedantically jumbled together on the scroll, are an alteration by Dr. Parr of a line of Dionysius, the geographer, with which Johnson has closed the Rambler. See ante, vol. i. p. 203. It seems that in deference to some apprehensions that the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's might think the Aúrūs εκ μακάρων αντάξιος είη αμοιβή --from the blessed gods may he receive his merited reward-somewhat heathenish, Dr. Parr was persuaded to convert the line into 'Εν μακάρεσσι πόνων αντάξιος είη αμοιβή-–-may he receive amongst the blessed the merited reward of his labours. The reader who is curious about the pompous inanities of literature will find at the end of the fourth volume of Dr. Parr's works, ed. 1828, a long correspondence between Parr, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Malone, and other friends of Dr. Johnson, on the subject of this epitaph.
Club, and completed by the aid of Dr. Johnson's Malone. other friends and admirers.]
The character of SAMUEL JOHNSON has, I trust, been so developed in the course of this work, that they who have honoured it with a perusal may considered as well acquainted with him. As however it may be expected that I should collect into one view the capital and distinguishing features of this extraordinary man, I shall endeavour to acquit myself of that part of my biographical undertakingo, however difficult it may be to do that which many of my readers will do better for themselves.
His figure was large and well formed, and his countenance of the cast of an ancient statue; yet his appearance was rendered strange and somewhat uncouth, by convulsive cramps, by the scars of that distemper which it was once imagined the royal touch could cure, and by a slovenly mode of dress. He had the use only of one eye; yet so much does mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his visual per, ceptions, as far as they extended, were uncommonly quick and accurate. So morbid was his temperament, that he never knew the natural joy of a free and vigorous use of his limbs: when he walked, it was like the struggling gait of one in fetters; when he rode, he had no command or direction of his horse, but was carried as if in a balloon. That with his constitution
He will be amused at the burlesque importance which Parr attaches to epitaph. writing, the tenacity with which he endeavoured to describe Dr. Johnson, with reference to his poetical character as poeta probabilis, and his candid avowal, that in the composition he was thinking more of his own character than Dr. Johnson's.-Ed.]
1 (After much delay and very great difficulty, as appears by many reproachful notices and complaints in the Gentleman's Magazine.-Ed.]
9 As I do not see any reason to give a different character of my illustrious friend now from what I formerly gave, the greatest part of the sketch of him in my “Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides” is here adopted.-BOSWELL.