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he said he had composed some years before, on occasion of a rich, extravagant young gentleman's coming of age: saying he had never repeated it but once since he composed it, and had given but one copy of it. That copy was given to Mrs. Thrale, now Piozzi, who has published it in a Book which she entitles “ British Synonimy,” but which is truly a collection of entertaining remarks and stories, no matter whether accurate or not. Being a piece of exquisite satire, conveyed in a strain of pointed vivacity and humour, and in a manner of which no other instance is to be found in Johnson's writings, I shall here insert it:
Ling'ring year, at length is flown;
Great *******, are now your own.
Free to mortgage or to sell,
Bid the sons of thrift farewell.
All the names that banish care;
Shew the spirit of an heir.
Joy to see their quarry fly:
There the lender, grave and sly.
? [In 1730. See his Letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated August 8, 1780. “ You have heard in the papers how *** is come to age: I have enclosed a short song of congratulation, which you must not shew to any body. It is odd that it should come into any body's head. I hope you will read it with candour; it is, I believe, one of the authour's first essays in that way of writing, and a beginner is always to be treated with tendernesy." Malone.]
Wealth, my lad, was made to wander,
Let it wander as it will;
Bid them come and take their fill.
Pockets full, and spirits high-
Only dirt, or wet or dry.
Tell the woes of wilful waste:
You can hang or drown at last. As he opened a note which his servant brought to him, he said, “ An odd thought strikes me :-we shall receive no letters in the
He requested three things of Sir Joshua Reynolds :To forgive him thirty pounds which he had borrowed of him ;—to read the Bible;—and never to use his pencil on a Sunday. Sir Joshua readily acquiesced.
Indeed he shewed the greatest anxiety for the religious improvement of his friends, to whom he discoursed of its infinite consequence. He begged of Mr. Hoole to think of what he had said, and to commit it to writing; and, upon being afterwards assured that this was done, pressed his hands, and in an earnest tone thanked him. Dr. Brocklesby having attended him with the utmost assiduity and kindness as his physician and friend, he was peculiarly desirous that this gentleman should not entertain any loose speculative notions, but be confirmed in the truths of Christianity, and insisted on his writing down in his presence, as nearly as he could collect it, the import of what passed on the subject : and Dr. Brocklesby having complied with the request, he made him sign the paper, and urged him to keep it in his own custody as long as he lived.
Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst
all his bodily distress and mental sufferings, never for sook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby, as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could recover. “ Give me (said he) a direct answer.” The Doctor having first asked him if he could bear the whole truth, which way soever it might lead, and being answered that he could, declared that, in his opinion, he could not recover without a miracle. “ Then (said Johnson,) I will take no more physick, not even my opiates : for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.” In this resolution he persevered, and, at the same time, used only the weakest kinds of sustenance. Being pressed by Mr. Windham to take somewhat more generous nourishment, lest too low a diet should have the very effect which he dreaded, by debilitating his mind, he said, “ I will take any thing but inebriating sustenance.”
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 contri. buting 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.
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 :
“ 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
3 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 sen
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 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.
Son JESUS CHRIST effectual to my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude of my offences. Bless
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 everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen."
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.
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 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