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“I had no difficulty in speaking to him thus of my apprehensions. I could not help, on the other hand, entertaining hopes, but with these I did not like to trouble him, lest he should conceive that I thought it necessary to flatter him: he answered hastily, that he was sure I would not; and proceeded to make a compliment to the manliness of my mind, which, whether deserved or not, ought to be remembered, that it may be deserved.
“I then stated, that among other neglects was the omission of introducing of all topics the most important, the consequence of which particularly filled my mind at that moment, and in which I had often been desirous to know his opinions; the subjects I meant were, I said, natural and revealed religion. The wish thus generally stated was in part gratified on the instant. For revealed religion, he said, there was such historical evidence, as upon any subject not religious would have left no doubt. Had the facts recorded in the New Testament been mere civil occurrences, no one would have called in question the testimony by which they are established; but the importance annexed to them, amounting to nothing less than the salvation of mankind, raised a cloud in our minds, and created doubts unknown upon any other subject. Of proofs to be derived from history, one of the most cogent, he seemed to think, was the opinion so well authenticated, and so long entertained, of a deliverer that was to appear about that time. Among the typical representations, the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, in which no bone was to be broken, had early struck his mind. For the immediate life and miracles of Christ, such attestation as that of the apostles, who all, except St. John, confirmed their testimony with their blood—such belief as these witnesses procured from a people best furnished with the means of judging, and least disposed to judge favourably—such
an extension afterwards of that belief over all the Wind.
MSS. nations of the earth, though originating from a nation of all others most despised, would leave no doubt that the things witnessed were true, and were of a nature more than human. With respect to evidence, Dr. Johnson observed, that we had not such evidence that Cæsar died in the Capitol, as that Christ died in the manner related.
“ December 11th.-Went with Sir Joshua, whom I took up by the way, to see Dr. Johnson. Strahan and Langton there. No hopes; though a great discharge had taken place from the legs.
“ December 12th. At about half-past seven P. M. went to Dr. Johnson's, where I stayed, chiefly in the outer room, till past eleven. Strahan there during the whole time; during part Mr. Hoole; and latterly Mr. Cruikshanks and the apothecary. I only went in twice, for a few minutes each time: the first time I hinted only what they had before been urging, namely, that he would be prevailed upon to take some sustenance, and desisted upon his exclaiming, "'Tis all very childish ; let us hear no more of it.' The second time I came in, in consequence of a consultation with Mr. Cruikshanks and the apothecary, and addressed him formally, after premising, that I considered what I was going to say as matter of duty: I said that I hoped he would not suspect me of the weakness of importuning him to take nourishment for the purpose of prolonging his life for a few hours or days. I then stated what the reason was.
It was to secure that which I was persuaded that he was most anxious about, namely, that he might preserve his faculties entire to the last moment. Before I had quite stated my meaning, he interrupted me by saying, that he had refused no sustenance but inebriating sustenance; and proceeded to give instances where, in compliance with
Wind. the wishes of his physician, he had taken even a small
quantity of wine. I readily assented to any objections he might have to nourishment of that kind, and observing that milk was the only nourishment I intended, flattered myself that I had succeeded in my endeavours, when he recurred to his general refusal, and · begged that there might be an end of it.' I then said, that I hoped he would forgive my earnestness, or something to that effect, when he replied eagerly, that from me nothing could be necessary by way of apology; adding, with great fervour, in words which I shall, I hope, never forget, God bless you, my dear Windham, through Jesus Christ ;' and concluding with a wish that we might [share] in some humble portion of that happiness which God might finally vouchsafe to repentant sinners.' These were the last words I ever heard him speak. I hurried out of the room with tears in my eyes, and more affected than I had been on any former occasion.
“ December 13th.—In the morning meant to have met Mr. Cruikshanks in Bolt Court, but while I was deliberating about going, was sent for by Mr. Burke. Went to Bolt Court about half-past three, found that Dr. Johnson had been almost constantly asleep since nine in the morning, and heard from Mr. Desmoulins what passed in the night. He had compelled Frank to give him a lancet, and had besides concealed in the bed a pair of scissors, and, with one or the other of them, had scarified himself in three places, two of them in the leg. On Mr. Desmoulins making a difficulty in giving him the lancet, he said, “Don't, if you have any scruple; but I will compel Frank: and on Mr. Desmoulins attempting afterwards to prevent Frank from giving it to him, and at last to restrain his hand, he grew very outrageous, so as to call Frank scoundrel, and to threaten Mr. Desmou
lins that he would stab him'; he then made the three Wind. incisions above mentioned, two of which were not unskilfully made; but one of those in the leg was a deep and ugly wound, from which they suppose him to have lost at least eight ounces of blood.
“Upon Dr. Heberden expressing his fears about the scarification, Dr. Johnson told him he was timidorum timidissimus. A few days before his death, talking with Dr. Brocklesby, he said, “Now will you ascribe my death to my having taken eight grains of squills when you recommended only three? Dr. Heberden, to my having opened my left foot when nature was pointing out the discharge in the right?' The conversation was introduced by his quoting some lines, to the same purpose, from Swift's verses on his own death.
“It was within the same period, if I understood Dr. Brocklesby right, that he enjoined him, as an honest man and a physician, to inform him how long he thought he had to live. Dr. Brocklesby inquired, in return, whether he had firmness to bear the answer. Upon his replying that he had, and Dr.
[See ante, p. 314. The reader will judge whether Boswell's or Hawkins's account of this transaction is the juster; but that more importance may not be given to it than it deserves, it must be recollected, that Johnson fancied that his attendants were treating him with a timid leniency, merely to spare him pain, a notion which irritated, at once, his love of life, his animal courage, and his high moral principle. We have already seen (ante, p. 227) that when in health he had said, whoever is afraid of any thing is a scoundrel, and now in the same feeling, and the same words, he censures the cowardly, as he thought them, apprehensions of his attendants. It might be wished, that in such circumstances he had spoken and acted with less impatience; but let us not forget the excuses which may be drawn from the natural infirmity of his temper, ex. asperated by the peevishness of a long and painful disease. -Ed.]
? [" The doctors, tender of their fame,
Wisely on one lay all the blame:
Wind. Brocklesby limiting the time to a few weeks, he said,
that he then would trouble himself no more with
“In a conversation about what was practicable in
“ He insisted on the doctrine of an expiatory sacrifice as the condition without which there was no Christianity'; and urged in support the belief entertained in all ages, and by all nations, barbarous as well as polite. He recommended to Dr. Brocklesby, also, Clarke's Sermons, and repeated to him the passage which he had spoken of to me.
“While airing one day with Dr. Brocklesby, in passing and returning by St. Pancras church, he fell into prayer, and mentioned, upon Dr. Brocklesby's inquiring, why the Catholics chose that for their burying-place, that some Catholics, in Queen Elizabeth's time, had been burnt there?. Upon Dr. Brocklesby's asking him whether he did not feel the warmth of the sun, he quoted from Juvenal,
* Præterea minimus gelido jam in corpore sanguis
[This confirms the editor's opinion, ante, vol. iv. p. 41.-ED.]
The reader will be aware that other causes have been assigned for this preference, but I learn, from urquestionable authority, that it rests upon no foundation, and that mere prejudice exists amongst the Roman Catholics in favour of this church, as is the case with respect to other places of burial in various parts of the kingdom.-MARKLAND.]
3 [Ante, p. 272.-Ed.]