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1784. Johnson having thus in his mind the true ChrisÆlat. 75.
tian scheme, at once rational and consolatory, uniting justice and mercy in the Divinity, with the improvement of human nature, previous to his receiving the Holy Sacrament in his apartment, composed and fervently uttered this prayer:*
“ Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now as to human eyes it 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 thy mercy; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration 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 Christ 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 thy Holy Spirit, in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death; and receive me, at my death, to everlàsting happiness, for the sake of Jesus CHRIST. 1784. Amen."
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 Chrisrian Religion. I recommended 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."
The Reverend Mr. Strahan took care to have it preserved, and has inserted it in “ Prayers and Meditations," p. 216.
Ætat. 75. Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and gth 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.
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 particu. lar 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 his room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message. The Doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, 'God 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
1784. that the noise he made in breathing had ceased, went
to the bed, and found he was dead. Ætat. 75.
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.
66 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 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 enquired 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.' master.' Cawston
says, man could appear more collected, more devout, or
5 Servant to the Right Honourable William Windham,
less terrified at the thoughts of the approaching 1784. minute.
Ætat, 75. “ This account, which is so much more agreeable than, and somewhạt 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 hope.”
A few days before his death, he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of his executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered, “ Doubtless, in Westminster-Abbey,” seemed to feel a satisfaction, very natural to a Poet; and indeed in my opinion very natural to every man of any imagination, who has no family sepulchre in which he can be laid with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave was placed a large blue flag-stone, with this inscription :
His funeral was attended by a respectable number of his friends, particularly such of the members of The LITERARY CLUB as were then in town; and was also honoured with the presence of several of the Reverend Chapter of Westminster. Mr. Burke Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Windhain, Mr. Langton, Sir Charles Bunbury, and Mr. Colman, bore his pall.
1784. His school-fellow, Dr. Taylor, performed the mourn
ful office of reading the burial service. Ætat. 75.
I trust, I shall not be accused of affectation, when I declare, that I find myself unable to express all that I felt upon the loss of such a “ Guide, Philosopher, and Friend.”
I shall, therefore, not say one word of my own, but adopt those of an eminent friend,which he uttered with an abrupt felicity, superior to all studied compositions:—“ He has inade a chasm, which not only nothing can
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
On the subject of Johnson I may adopt the words of Sir John Harrington, concerning his venerable Tutor and Diocesan, Dr. John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells ; "who hath given me some “helps, more hopes, all encouragements in my best studies : to “ whom I yever came but I grew more religious; from whom I
never went, but I parted better instructed. Of him therefore, my acquaintance, my friend, my instructor, if I speak much, i were not to be marvelled; if I speak frankly, it is not to be
blamed; and though I speak partially, it were to be pardoned." Nugæ Antiquæ, Vol. I. p. 136. There is one circumstance in Sir John's character of Bishop Still, which is peculiarly applicable to Johnsou : “ He became so famous a disputer, that the learnedest
were even afraid to dispute with him: and he finding his own
strength, could not stick to warn them in their arguments to “ take heed to their answers, like a perfect fencer that will tell " aforehand in which button he will give the venew, or like a “ cunning chess-player that will appoint aforehand with which
pawn and in what place he will give the mate." Ibid.
?[The late Right Hon. William Gerrard Hamilton, who bad been intimately acquainted with Dr. Johnson near thirty years. He died in London, July 16, 1796, in his 69th or 70th year. M.]