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1784. The consideration of numerous papers of which he Ætat.
was possessed, seems to have struck Johnson's mind, with a sudden anxiety, and as they were in great con
revision. To Dr. William Scott, one of my Executors, the Dictionnaire de Com-
will to be in his hands, to grant and secure an annuity of seventy pounds payable during the life of me and my servant, Francis Barber, and the life of the survivor of us, to Mr. George Stubbs, in trust for us ; my mind and will is, that in case of my decease before the said agreement shall be perfected, the said sum of seven hundred and fifty pounds, and the bond for securing the said sum, shall go to the said Francis Barber ; and I hereby give and bequeath to him the same, in lieu of the bequest in his favour, contained in my said will
. And I hereby empower my Executors to deduct and retain all expences that shall or may be incurred in the execution of my said Will, or of this Codicil thereto, out of such estate and effects as I shall die possessed of. All the rest, residue, and remainder, of my estate and effects I give and bequeath to my said Executors, in trust for the said Francis Barber, his Executors, and Administrators. Witness my hand and seal, this ninth day of December, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON, (L. S.) “ Signed, sealed, published, declared and delivered, by the said Samuel John
son, as, and for a Codicil to his last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who, in his presence, and at his request, and also in the presence of each other, have hereto subscribed our names as witnesses.
“ John COPELY. « WILLIAM GIBSON.
“ HENRY Cole.” Upon these testamentary deeds it is proper to make a few observations.
His express declaration with his dying breath as a christian, as it had been often practised in such solemn writings, was of real consequence from this great man, for the conviction of a mind equally acute and strong, might well overbalance the doubts of others who were his contemporaries. The expression polluted, may, to some, convey an impression of more than ordinary contamination ; but that is not warranted by its genuine meaning, as appears from “ The Rambler," No. 42. The same word is used in the will of Dr. Sanderson, Bishop of Lincoln, who was piety itself.
His legacy of two hundred pounds to the representatives of Mr. Innys, bookseller, in St. Paul's Church-yard, proceeded from a very worthy motive. He told Sir John Hawkins, that his father having become a bankrupt, Mr. Innys had assisted him with money or credit to continue his business. « This, (said he) I consider as an obligation on me to be grateful to his descendants.”
The amount of his property proved to be considerably more than he had supe posed it to be. Sir John Hawkins estimates the bequest to Francis Barber at a sum little short of fifteen hundred pounds, including an annuity of seventy pounds to be paid to him by Mr. Langton, in consideration of seven hundred and fifty pounds, which Johnson had lent to that gentleman. Sir John seems not a little
fusion, it is much to be lamented that he had not en- 1784. trusted some faithful and discreet person with the care Ætat. and selection of them ; instead of which, he, in a pre- 75. cipitate manner, burnt large masses of them, with little regard, as I apprehend, to discrimination. Not that I suppose we have thus been deprived of any compositions which he had ever intended for the publick eye; but from what escaped the flames, I judge that many curious circumstances relating both to himself and other literary characters, have perished.
Two very valuable articles, I am sure, we have lost, which were two quarto volumes, containing a full, fair, and most particular account of his own life, from his earliest recollection. I owned to him, that having accidentally seen them, I had read a great deal in them; and apologizing for the liberty I had taken, asked him
angry at this bequest, and mutters “a caveat against ostentatious bounty and favour to negroes.” But surely when a man has money entirely of his own acquisition, especially when he has no near relations, he may, without blame, dispose of it as he pleases, and with great propriety to a faithful servant. Mr. Barber, by the recommendation of his master, retired to Lichfield, where he might pass the rest of his days in comfort
It has been objected that Johnson has omitted many of his best friends, when leaving books to several as tokens of his last remembrance. The names of Dr. Adams, Dr. Taylor, Dr. Burney, Mr. Hector, Mr. Murphy, the Authour of this work, and others who were intimate with him, are not to be found in his Will. This
may be accounted for by considering, that as he was very near his dissolution at the time, he probably mentioned such as happened to occur to him ; and that he may have recollected, that he had formerly shewn others such proofs of his regard, that it was not necessary to crowd his Will with their names. Mrs. Lucy Porter was much displeased that nothing was left to her ; but besides what I have now stated, she should have considered, that she had left nothing to Johnson by her Will, which was made during his life-time, as appeared at her decease.
His enumerating several persons in one group, and leaving them “ each a book at their election,” might possibly have given occasion to a curious question as to the order of choice, had they not luckily fixed on different books. His library, though by no means handsome in its appearance, was sold by Mr. Christie, for two hundred and forty-seven pounds, nine shillings ; many people being desirous to have a book which had belonged to Johnson. In many of them he had written little notes : sometimes tender memorials of his departed wife ; as,“ This was dear Tetty's book :” sometimes occasional remarks of different sorts. sons, of Clifford's Inn, has favoured me with the two following :
In “Holy Rules and Helps to Devotions, by Bryan Duppa, Lord Bishop of Winton,” « Preces quidam videtur diligenter tractasse ; spero non inauditus."
In “ The Rossicrucian infallible Axiomata, by John Heydon, Gent.” prefixed co which are some verses addressed to the authour, signed Ambr. Waters, A. M. Coll. Ex. Oxon. “ These Latin verses were written to Hobbes by Batburst, upon bis Treatise on Human Nature, and have no rántion to the book. -An odd fraud."
(Francis Barber, Dr. Johnson's principal legatee, died in the infirmary at Stafford, after undergoing a painful operation, Feb. 13, 1801. M} VOL. III.
1784. if I could help it. He placidly answered, “ Why, Sir, Ætat.
I do not think you could have helped it.” I said that 75. I had, for once in my life, felt half an inclination to
commit theft. It had come into my mind to carry off those two volumes, and never see him more. Upon my enquiring how this would have affected him, “Sir, (said he,) I believe I should have gone mad.”s
During his last illness, Johnson experienced the steady and kind attachment of his numerous friends. Mr. Hoole has drawn up a narrative of what passed in the visits which he paid him during that time, from the 10th of November to the 13th of December, the day of his death, inclusive, and has favoured me with a perusal of it, with permission to make extracts, which I have done. Nobody was more attentive to him than Mr. Langton,' to whom he tenderly said, Te teneam moriens deficiente manu. And I think it highly to the honour of Mr. Windham, that his important occupations as an active statesman did not prevent him from paying assiduous respect to the dying Sage whom he revered. Mr. Langton informs me, that, “ one day he found Mr. Burke and four or five more friends sitting with Johnson. Mr. Burke said to him, “I am afraid, Sir, such a number of us may be oppressive to you.'
No, Sir, (said Johnson,) it is not so ; and I must be in a wretched state, indeed, when your company would not be a delight to me.' Mr. Burke, in a tremulous
: One of these volumes, Sir John Hawkins informs us, he put into his pocket; for which the excuse he states is, that he meant to preserve it from falling into the hands of a person whom he describes so as to make it sufficiently clear who is meant ; “ having strong reasons, (said he,) to suspect that this man might find and make an ill use of the book.” Why Sir John should suppose that the gentleman alluded to would act in this manner, he has not thought fit to explain. But what he did was not approved of by Johnson ; who, upon being acquainted of it without delay by a friend, expressed great indignation, and warmly insisted on the book being delivered up ; and, afterwards, in the supposition of his missing it, without knowing by whom it had been taken, he said, “ Sir, I should have gone out of the world distrusting half mankind.” Sir John next day wrote a letter to Johnson, assigning reasons for his conduct ; upon which Johnson observed to Mr. Langton, “ Bishop Sanderson could not have dictated a better letter. I could almost say, Melius est sic penituisse quam non errâsse.” The agitation into which Johnson was thrown by this incident, probably made him hastily burn those precious records which must ever be regretted.
' [Mr. Langton, whose name so often occurs in these volumes, survived Johnson several years. He died at Southampton, Dec. 18, 1801. M.]
voice, expressive of being very tenderly affected, re- 1784. plied, My dear Sir, you have always been too good to Ætat. mé.' . Immediately afterwards he went away. was the last circumstance in the acquaintance of these two eminent men.”
The following particulars of his conversation within a few days of his death, 1 give on the authority of Mr. John Nichols :
· On the same undoubted authority, I give a few articles, which should have been inserted in chronological order ; but which, now that they are before me, I should be sorry to omit :
“In 1736, Dr. Johnson had a particular inclination to have been engaged as an assistant to the Reverend Mr. Budworth, then head master of the Grammar-school, at Brewood, in Staffordshire, an excellent person, who possessed every talent of a perfect instructor of youth, in a degree which, (to use the words of one of the : brightest ornaments of literature, the Reverend Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester,) has been rarely found in any of that profession since the days of Quintilian.” Mr. Budworth, who was less known in his life-time, from that obscure situation to which the caprice of fortune oft condemns the most accomplished characters, than his highest merit deserved,' had been bred under Mr. Blackwell, at market Bosworth, where Johnson was some time an usher ; which might naturally lead to the application. Mr. Budworth was certainly no stranger to the learning or abilities of Johnson, as he more than once lamented his having been under the necessity of declining the engagement, from an apprehension that the paralytick affection, under which our great Philologist laboured through life, might become the object of imitation or of ridicule, among his pupils.”—Captain Budworth, his grandson, has confirmed to me this anecdote.
Among the early associates of Johnson, at St. John's Gate, was Samuel Boyce, well known by his ingenious productions ; and not less noted for his imprudence. It was not unusual for Boyce to be a customer to the pawnbroker. On one of these occasions, Dr. Johnson collected a sum of money to redeem his friend's clothes, which in two days after were pawned again. The sum, (said Johnson,) was collected by sixpences, at a time when to me sixpence was a serious consideration.'
Speaking one day of a person for whom he had a real friendship, but in whom vanity was somewhat too predominant, he observed, that. Kelly was so fond of displaying on his side-board the plate which he possessed, that he added to it his spurs. For my part (said he,) I never was master of a pair of spurs, but once ; and they are now at the bottom of the ocean. By the carelessness of Boswell's servant, they were dropped from the end of the boat, on our return from the Isle of Sky.'
The late Reverend Mr. Samuel Badcock, having been introduced to Dr. Johnson, by Mr. Nichols, some years before his death, thus expressed himself in a letter to that gentleman :
“How much I am obliged to you for the favour you did me in introducing me to Dr. Johnson ! Tantùm vidi Virgilium. But to have seen him, and to have received a testimony of respect from him, was enough. I recollect all the conversation and shall never forget one of his expressions-Speaking of Dr. P*******, (whose writings, I saw, he estimated at a low rate,) he said, You have proved him as deficient in probity as he is in learning.'-I called him an · Index-scholar ;' but he was not willing to allow him a claim even to that merit. He said, that he borrowed from those who had been borrowers themselves, and did not know that the mistakes he adopted had been answered by others.'-I often think of our short, but precious, visit to this great man.
I shall consider it as a kind of an era in my life.
1784. “ He said, that the Parliamentary Debates were the Ætat only part of his writings which then gave him any com75. punction : but that at the time he wrote them, he had
no conception he was imposing upon the world, though they were frequently written from very slender materials, and often, from none at all,—the mere coinage of his own imagination. He never wrote any part of his works with equal velocity.
Three columns of the Magazine, in an hour, was no uncommon effort, which was faster than most persons could have transcribed that quantity.”
- Of his friend Cave, he always spoke with great affection. Yet, (said he,) Cave, (who never looked out of his window, but with a view to the Gentleman's Magazine,) was a penurious pay-master ; he would contract for lines by the hundred, and expect the long hundred; but he was a good man, and always delighted to have his friends at his table.”
" When talking of a regular edition of his own works, he said, that he had power, [from the booksellers,] to print such an edition, if his health admitted it; but had no power to assign over any edition, unless he could add notes, and so alter them as to make them new works; which his state of health forbade him to think of. I may possibly live, (said he,) or rather breathe, three days, or perhaps three weeks; but find myself daily and gradually weaker."
“ He said at another time, three or four days only before his death, speaking of the little fear he had of undergoing a chirurgical operation, I would give one of these legs for a year more of life, I mean of comfortable life, not such as that which I now suffer ; --and lamented much his inability to read during his hours of restlessness. I used formerly, (he added,) when sleepless in bed, to read like a Turk.”
" Whilst confined by his last illness, it was his regular practice to have the church-service read to him, by some attentive and friendly Divine. The Rev. Mr. Hoole performed this kind office in my presence for the last time, when, by his own desire, no more than the litany was read ; in which his responses were in