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had contrived a very pretty piece of gallantry. We spent the day and evening at his house. After dinner, Johnson begged to conduct me to see the college ; he would let no one show me it but himself. “ This was my room ; this Shenstone's.” Then, after pointing out all the rooms of the poets who had been of his college, “ In short,” said he, we were a nest of singing birds."
we walked, there we played at cricket.”
at cricket.” He ran over with pleasure the history of the juvenile days he passed there. When we came into the common hall
, we spied a fine large print of Johnson, framed and hung up that
very morning, with this motto, “And is not Johnson ours, himself a host ? ” Under which stared you in the face, “ From Miss More's • Sensibility.' This little incident amused us ; — but, alas! Johnson looks very ill indeed spiritless and wan. (June 13. 1782.)
469. Jesuits and Jansenists. Saturday, I went to Mrs. Reynolds's, to meet Sir Joshua and Dr. Johnson. Our conversation ran very much upon religious opinions, chiefly those of the Roman Catholics. He took the part of the Jesuits, and I declared myself a Jansenist. He was very angry,
because I quoted Boileau's bon-mot upon the Jesuits, that they had lengthened the Creed and shortened the Decalogue; but I continued sturdily to vindicate my old friends of the Port Royal. He looked so dreadfully that it quite grieved
He is more mild and complacent than he used to be. His sickness seems to have softened his mind, without having at all weakened it. I was struck with the mild radiance of this setting sun. (1783.)
470. “The Bas Bleu." I went to see Dr. Johnson. He received me with the greatest kindness and affection ; and as to the Bas Bleu, all the flattery I ever received from every body together would not make up the sum. He said, — but I seriously insist you
do not tell any body, for I am ashamed of writing it even to you ; — he said, there was no name in poetry
that might not be glad to own it. You cannot imagine how I stared : all this from Johnson, the parsimonious praiser ! I told him I was quite delighted at his approbation : he answered quite characteristically, “And so you may; for I give you the opinion of a man who does not rate his judgment on these things very low, I can tell you. (April, 1781.)
471. Johnson's last Illness. Poor dear Johnson ! he is past all hope. I have, however, the comfort to hear that his dread of dying is in a great measure subsided ; and now he says “the bitterness of death is past.” He sent the other day for Sir Joshua Reynolds; and after much serious conversation told him he had three favours to beg of him, and he hoped he would not refuse a dying friend, be they what they would. Sir Joshua promised. The first was, that he would never paint on a Sunday; the second, that he would forgive him thirty pounds that he had lent him, as he wanted to leave them to a distressed family; the third was, that he would read the Bible whenever he had an opportunity, and that he would never omit it on a Sunday. There was no difficulty but upon the first point ; but at length Sir Joshua promised to gratify him in all. How delighted should I be to hear the dying discourse of this great and good man, especially now that faith has subdued bis fears!
Mr. Pepys wrote me a very kind letter on the death of Johnson, thinking I should be impatient to hear something relating to his last hours. Dr. Brocklesby, his physician, was with him : he said to him a little before he died, “ Doctor, you are a worthy man, and my friend, but I am afraid you are not a Christian ! What can I do better for you than offer up, in your presence, a prayer to the great God, that you may become a Christian in my sense of the word ?” Instantly he fell on his knees, and put up a fervent prayer : when he got up he caught hold of his hand with great eagerness, and cried, “ Doctor! you do not say, Amen!” The doctor looked foolish ; but after a pause, cried, Amen! Johnson said, “My dear doctor, believe a
dying man, there is no salvation but in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Go home, write down my prayer, and every word I have said, and bring it me to-morrow.” Brocklesby did so.
A friend desired he would make his will; and as Hume, in his last moments, had made an impious declaration of his opinions, he thought it might tend to counteract the poison, if Johnson would make a public confession of his faith in his will. He said he would, seized the
with great earnestness, and asked, what was the usual form of beginning a will? His friend told him. After the usual forms he wrote, “I offer up my soul to the great and merciful God; I offer it full of pollution, but in full assurance that it will be cleansed in the blood of my Redeemer.” And for some time he wrote on with the same vigour and spirit as if he had been in perfect health. When he expressed some of his former dread of dying, Sir John said, you,
Doctor, have these fears, what is to become of others ?” « Oh ! Sir,” said he, “I have written piously, it is true ; but I have lived too much like other men. It was a consolation to him, however, in his last hours, that he had never written in derogation of religion or virtue. He talked of his death and funeral, at times, with great composure. On the Monday following, December the 13th, he fell into a sound sleep, and continued in that state for twelve hours, and then died without a groan.
No action of his life became him like the leaving it. His death makes a kind of era in literature : piety and goodness will not easily find a more able defender; and it is delightful to see him set, as it were, his dying seal to the professions of his life, and to the truth of Christianity.
472. Abbé Raynal. Sabbath-breakers. I now recollect, with melancholy pleasure, two little anecdotes of Dr. Johnson, indicating a zeal for religion which one cannot but admire, however characteristically rough. When the Abbé Raynal was introduced to him, upon the Abbé's advancing to shake his hand, the Doctor drew back, and put his hands behind him, and afterwards replied to the expostulation of a friend — “Sir, I will not