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world well. He had often in his mouth this line of Pope :
“ The proper study of mankind is man.”
He was desirous of surveying life in all its modes and forms, and in all climates. He once offered to attend his friend Vansittart (o) to India, who was invited there to make a fortune ; but it did not take place. He talked much of travelling into Poland, to observe the life of the Palatines, the account of which struck his curiosity very much,
302. Johnson's Benevolence.
His benevolence to mankind was known to all who knew him. Though so declared a friend to the church of England, and even a friend to the convocation, it assuredly was not in his wish to persecute for speculative notions. He used to say, he had no quarrel with any order of men, unless they disbelieved in revelation and a future state. He would, indeed, have sided with Sacheverell against Daniel Burgess, if he thought the church was in danger. His hand and his heart were always open to charity. The objects under his own roof were only a few of the subjects for relief. He was ever at the head of subscription in cases of distress. His guinea, as he said of another man of a bountiful disposition, was always ready. He wrote an exhortation to public bounty. He drew up a paper to recommend the French prisoners, in the last war but one, to the English benevolence ; which was of service. He implored the hand of benevolence for others, even when he alınost seemed a proper object of it himself.
(1) [Dr. Johnson had some thoughts of going to India with another friend (Mr. Fowke; but this proposition as to Mr. Vansittart, is nowhere else, that I have seen, alluded to. Dr. Vansittart, of Oxford, was a great friend of Johnson's, and it is possible that he may have been invited by his younger brother, Mr. Henry Vansittart, when governor of Bengal, to join him in India, and Dr. Vansittart might perhaps have had some idea of including Johnson in the arrangement.-C.)
303. Johnson's Eyesight. His eyesight was not good ; but he never wore spectacles; not on account of such a ridiculous vow as Swift made not to use them, but because he was assured they would be of no service to him. He once declared that he “ never saw the human face divine.” He saw better with one eye than the other. (') Latterly, perhaps, he meant to save his eyes, and did not read so much as he otherwise would.
301. Tour to Italy. - Dr. Brocklesby. - Lord Thurlow.
Johnson, in 1783, meditated a tour into Italy or Portugal, for the sake of the climate. But Dr. Brocklesby, his friend and physician, conjured him, by every argument in his power, not to go abroad in the state of his health ; but, if he was resolved on the first, and wished for something additional to his income, desired he would permit him to accommodate him out of his fortune with one hundred pounds a year, during his travels. The reply to this generosity was to this effect :- “ That he would not be obliged to any person's liberality, but to his king's.” The continuance of this desire to go abroad occasioned the application for an increase of pension, that is so honourable to those who applied for it, and to the lord chancellor, who gave him leave to draw on his banker for
At last he said, “If I am worse, I cannot go; if I am better, I need not go ; but if I continue neither better nor worse, I am as well where I am.”
305. Johnson's Death. Johnson was all his life preparing himself for death : but particularly in the last stage of his asthma and dropsy.
(1) ["' Mr. Tyers informs us” (says a writer in the Gent. Mag. v. liv. p. 998., probably Mr. Steevens), “ that Dr. Johnson saw better with one eye than the other, but forbears to account for this unequal ability in his organs of sight. I beg therefore at once to supply his deficiency, and confirm his valuable anecdote, by assuring him his late friend had, for many years, lost one of his eyes, and consequently could only see with its companion. He himself did not recollect the exact period when he became acquainted with this visual defect, which, as it happened through no external violence, might, for some time, have escaped even his own observation."]
“ Take care of your soul — don't live such a life as I have done — don't let your business or dissipation make you neglect your sabbath” — were now his constant inculcations. Private and public prayer, when his visitors were his audience, were his constant exercises. He died by “ a quiet and silent expiration,” to use his own words on Milton, and his funeral was splendidly and numerously attended. The friends of the Doctor were happy on his easy departure, for they apprehended he might have died hard. At the end of this sketch, it may be hinted, that Johnson told me — for he saw I always had my eye and my ear upon him — that, at some time or other, I might be called upon to assist in a posthumous account of him.
BY J. HOOLE, ESQ. (1)
336. Johnson's Last Miness. SATURDAY, Nov. 20. 1784. - This evening, about eight o'clock, I paid a visit to my dear friend Dr. Johnson, whom I found very ill and in great dejection of spirits. We had a most affecting conversation on the subject of religion, in which he exhorted me, with the greatest warmth of kindness, to attend closely to every religious duty, and particularly enforced the obligation of private prayer and receiving the sacrament. He desired me to stay that night and join in prayer with him ; adding, that he always went to prayer every night with his man Francis. He conjured me to read and meditate upon the Bible, and not to throw it aside for a play or a novel. He said he had himself lived in great negligence of religion and worship for forty years ; that he had neglected to read his Bible, and had often reflected what he could hereafter say when he should be asked why he had not read it. He begged me repeatedly to let his present situation have due effect upon me; and advised me, when I got home, to note down in writing what had passed between us, adding, that what a man writes in that manner dwells upon his mind. He said many things that I cannot now recollect, but all delivered with the utmost
(1) (Mr. Hoole was a clerk in the India House, but devoted his leisure to literature. He published translations of Tasso's Jerusalem and Ariosto's Orlando.
He died in 1803. — C.]