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“December 13th.–Forty-five minutes past ten Wind. P.M. While writing the preceding articles, I received the fatal account, so long dreaded, that Dr. Johnson was no more!
May those prayers which he incessantly poured from a heart fraught with the deepest devotion find their acceptance with Him to whom they were addressed ; which piety, so humble and so fervent, may seem to promise!”]
[The following Journal, by Sir J. Hawkins, of the Ed. last fortnight of Dr. Johnson's life, though it must necessarily repeat some facts already stated, cannot be either omitted or curtailed.
Sunday 28th. I saw him about noon; he was Hawk. dozing; but waking, he found himself in a circle of P. 583. his friends. Upon opening his eyes, he said that the prospect of his dissolution was very terrible to him, and addressed himself to us all, in nearly these words: “You see the state in which I am; conflicting with bodily pain and mental distraction: while you are in health and strength, labour to do good, and avoid evil, if ever you hope to escape the distress that now oppresses me.' A little while after, ‘I had very early in my life the seeds of goodness in me: I had a love of virtue, and a reverence for religion; and these, I trust, have brought forth in me fruits meet for repentance'; and if I have repented as I ought, I am forgiven. I have, at times, entertained a loathing of sin and of myelf, particularly at the beginning of this year, when I had the prospect of death before me; and this has not abated when my fears of death have been less; and, at these times, I have had such rays of hope shot into my soul, as have almost persuaded me that I am in a state of reconciliation with God.'
[“ Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance.”-St. Luke, char. iii. v. 8.-Ed.]
“ 29th. Mr. Langton, who had spent the evening with him, reported, that his hopes were increased, and that he was much cheered upon being reminded of the general tendency of his writings, and of his example.
“ 30th. I saw him in the evening, and found him cheerful. Was informed that he had, for his dinner, eaten heartily of a French duck pie and a pheasant.
“ Dec. 1. He was busied in destroying papers. Gave to Mr. Langton and another person', to fair copy, some translations of the Greek epigrams, which he had made in the preceding nights, and transcribed the next morning, and they began to work on them.
“ 3d. Finding his legs continue to swell, he signified to his physicians a strong desire to have them scarified, but they, unwilling to put him to pain, and fearing a mortification, declined advising it. He afterwards consulted his surgeon, and he performed the operation on one leg.
“ 4th. I visited him: the scarification made yesterday in his leg appeared to have had little effect. He said to me, that he was easier in his mind, and as fit to die at that instant as he could be a year hence. He requested me to receive the sacrament with him on Sunday, the next day. Complained of great weakness, and of phantoms that haunted his imagination.
“ 5th. Being Sunday, I communicated with him and Mr. Langton, and other of his friends, as many as nearly filled the room. Mr. Strahan, who was constant in his attendance on him throughout his illness, performed the office. Previous to reading the exhortation, Johnson knelt, and, with a degree of fervour that I had never been witness to before,
(Young Mr. Desmoulins. ED.)
uttered the following most eloquent and energetic Hawk. prayer:
Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now, as to human
seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of thy son Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer. Grant, O Lord, that my whole hope and confidence may be in his merits and in thy mercy: forgive and accept my late conversion; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration of him available to the confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the enlargement of my charity; and make the death of thy son Jesus effectual to my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude of my offences. Bless my friends, have mercy upon all men. Support me by the grace of thy holy spirit in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death, and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ.-Amen.'
Upon rising from his knees, after the office was p. 585. concluded, he said, that he dreaded to meet God in a state of idiocy, or with opium in his head; and that having now communicated with the effects of a dose upon him, he doubted if his exertions were the genuine operations of his mind, and repeated from bishop Taylor this sentiment, · That little that has been omitted in health can be done to any purpose in sickness."
“He very much admired, and often in the course of his illness recited, from the conclusion of old Isaac Walton's life of Bishop Sanderson, the following
· [Mr. Boswell in quoting this prayer, which was preserved by Mr. Strahan and inserted in his publication, introduces it with the following words : “ Johnson having thus in his mind the true Christian scheme, at once rational and consolatory, uniting justice and mercy in the Divinity, and the improvement of human nature, previous to his receiving the Holy Sacrament in his apartment, composed and fervently uttered this prayer;" and follows it with an account of Dr. Johnson's dissolution, which, to prevent tautology in the text and yet to preserve every word of Mr. Boswell's work, the editor subjoins here. “Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and 9th of December, and settled all his worldly affairs, he languished till Monday, the 13th of that month, when he expired, about seven o'clock in the evening, with so little apparent pain, that his attendants hardly perceived when his dissolution took place." These two passages and the prayer occupy the space in the original edition which in this is taken up with Hawkins's diary..Ed.]
Hawk pathetick request: Thus this pattern of meekness
and primitive innocence changed this for a better life :-'tis now too late to wish that mine may be like his; for I am in the eighty-fifth year of my age, and God knows it hath not; but, I most humbly beseech Almighty God, that my death may; and I do as earnestly beg, that if any reader shall receive any satisfaction from this very plain, and, as true relation, he will be so charitable as to say, Amen.'
“While he was dressing and preparing for this solemnity, an accident happened which went very near to disarrange his mind. He had mislaid, and was very anxious to find a paper that contained private instructions to his executors; and myself, Mr. Strahan, Mr. Langton, Mr. Hoole, Frank, and I believe some others that were about him, went into his bed-chamber to seek it. In our search, I laid my hands on a parchment-covered book, into which I imagined it might have been slipped. Upon opening the book, I found it to be meditations and reflections, in Johnson's own hand-writing; and having been told a day or two before by Frank, that a person' formerly intimately connected with his master, a joint proprietor of a newspaper, well known among the booksellers, and of whom Mrs. Williams once told me she had often cautioned him to beware; I say, having been told that this person had lately
very importunate to get access to him, indeed to such a degree as that, when he was told that the doctor was not to be seen, he would push his way up stairs; and having stronger reasons than I need here mention to suspect that this man might find and make an ill use of the book, I put it, and a less of the same kind, into my pocket; at the same time
1 [Mr. George Steevens. See ante, p. 316.MED.]
telling those around me, and particularly Mr. Lang- Hawk,
p. 587. ton and Mr. Strahan, that I had got both, with reasons for thus securing them. After the ceremony was over, Johnson took me aside, and told me that I had a book of his in my pocket; I answered that I had two, and that to prevent their falling into the hands of a person who had attempted to force his way into the house, I had done as I conceived a friendly act, but not without telling his friends of it, and also my reasons.
He then asked me what ground I had for my suspicion of the man I mentioned : I told him his great importunity to get admittance; and farther, that immediately after a visit which he made me, in the year 1775, I missed a paper of a public nature, and of great importance ; and that a day or two after, and before it could be put to its intended use, I saw it in the newspapers'.
“At the mention of this circumstance, Johnson paused; but recovering himself, said, “You should not have laid hands on the book; for had I missed it, and not known you had it, I should have roared for my
book, as Othello did for his handkerchief, and probably have run mad.'
“I gave him time, till the next day, to compose himself, and then wrote him a letter, apologizing, and assigning at large the reasons for my conduct; and received a verbal answer by Mr. Langton, which,
1 " As I take no pleasure in the disgrace of others, I regret the necessity I am under of mentioning these particulars : my reason for it is, that the transaction which so disturbed him may possibly be better known than the motives that actuated me at the time."-HAWKINS. [Miss Hawkins's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 264, tells this story in the same way, supplies Steevens's name, and insists on the same justification, which would be quite inconclusive, even if the fact on which the suspicion against Steevens was grounded were true, for the purloined paper was only a copy of an address from the Middlesex magistrates to the king (which was, from its very nature, destined for publication). And after all, there was no other proof that Steevens had taken this paper than that it appeared in the St. James's Chronicle the day after Steevens had made a visit at Sir John's. Hawkins's act was unjustifiable, and the defence frivolous. It is observable, that there was no allusion to these circumstances in the first edition of Hawkins's work -ED.]