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Hic conditur quod reliquum est
Qui res seu civiles, seu domesticas, ita egit,
Ut quam brevem esset habiturus præscire videretur ;
In senatu, regi patriæque
Vulgi obstrepentis contemptor animosus,
Consortes tumuli habet Rodolphum patrem, strenuum
Domus felix et opulenta, quam erexit
Et vicibus rerum humanarum perspectis,
699. Johnson's Epitaph on his Father, Mother, and Brother.
A few days before his death Johnson composed the following epitaph for his father, mother, and brother; and wrote to Mr. Green, of Lichfield, desiring that it might be " engraved on a stone, deep, massy, and
hard," laid on the exact place of interment, in the middle aisle of St. Michael's church; and hoped "it might be done while he was yet alive.” (1)
H. S. E.
Vir impavidus, constans, animosus, periculorum immemor, laborum patientissimus; fiducia christiana fortis, fervidusque, pater-familias apprime strenuus; bibliopola admodum peritus; mente et libris et negotiis exculta; animo ita firmo, ut, rebus adversis diu conflicatus, nec sibi nec suis defuerit: lingua sic temperata, ut ei nihil quod aures, vel pias, vel castas læsisset, aut dolor, vel voluptas unquam expresserit.
Natus Cubleiæ, in agro Derbiensi, Anno 1656.
Apposita est SAra, conjux.
Antiqua FORDORUM gente oriunda; quam domi sedulam, for paucis notam ; nulli molestam, mentis acumine et judicii subtilitate præcellentem; aliis multum, sibi parum indulgentem: Æternitati semper attentam, omne fere virtutis nomen commendavit.
Nata Nortoniæ Regis, in agro Varvicensi, Anno 1669;
Cum NATHANAELE illorum filio, qui natus 1712, cum vires et animi, et corporis multa pollicerentur, Anno 1737, vitam brevem pia morte finivit.
700. Busts of Johnson and Garrick in Lichfield Cathedral.
In the Dean's consistory court, adjoining the south transept of the cathedral church of Lichfield, a bust has been erected, with the following inscription :
(1) [See antè, Vol. VIII. p. 391.]
The Friends of SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.,
Erected this Monument,
As a tribute of respect to the memory of
A distinguished moral writer, and a sincere Christian.
Near it is a similar bust of Garrick, erected by his relict, after a design of the same artists, Wyatt, architect, and Westmacott, sculptor, with the following inscription, combining the desiderium chari conjugis, with Johnson's emphatic eulogy on the dramatic talents of his deceased friend ::
EVA MARIA, relict of DAVID GARRICK, Esq.
who died the 20th of January, 1779, aged 63 years.
as too well verified the observation of his friend,
701. Further Anecdotes of Johnson's Parents. Of Michael Johnson little is generally known, beyond the fact that he was a tradesman at Lichfield; and no attempt has hitherto been made to bring into one point the few particulars concerning him that lie scattered through various volumes. Yet this would appear to be a mark of respect due, if not to his own merit, to that of his admirable son; and in the hope that it may incite some one to undertake a more finished composition, the subjoined outline of a memoir has been compiled.
He was a native of Derbyshire; but of origin so obscure, that Dr. Johnson once said to Boswell, "I have great merit in being zealous for the honours of birth,
for I can hardly tell who was my grandfather." He married, at a somewhat advanced age, one Sarah Ford, by whom he had two sons; but the period of his settling at Lichfield is doubtful, though it certainly was some time prior to the close of the seventeenth century, as I find his name anno 1687, in a list of subscribers to a fund for recasting the bells of the Cathedral, towards which he contributed 10s. In 1709 he was sheriff of the city; and in the same year was born his celebrated son, whose baptism is thus recorded in the Register of St. Michael's Church :
"Sept. 17. 1709, Samuel, son of Michael Johnson, Gent. baptized."
One of his godfathers was Dr. Swinfen, a physician of the city. Three years after, the baptism of his brother is thus entered in the same Register :
"Oct. 14. 1712, Nathaniel, son of Mr. Michael Johnson, baptized."
The circumstances of Michael Johnson appear to have been for many years extremely narrow; but by untiring industry, he at length acquired some little property, which he lost by speculating in the manufacture of parchment, and became a bankrupt in 1731, while his son Samuel was at Oxford. The generous assistance which on this occasion he received from various quarters, seems to prove that his character was held in great esteem. Dr. Johnson told Sir John Hawkins that, amongst others, Mr. Innys, bookseller of St. Paul's Church-yard, was a material friend; "and this," said he, "I consider as an obligation on me to be grateful to his descendants," to whom he accordingly bequeathed 2001. Soon after his insolvency took place, Michael died, and the sum of 201. was all that his son received from the produce of his effects.
It is a fact but little known, and which escaped the
industrious inquiry of Boswell, that during the two years which he passed at home, before proceeding to Oxford, Dr. Johnson was engaged in learning his father's business. The "Short Account of Lichfield," 1819, says that "books of his binding are still extant in that city." It was at this period, I presume, that in a fit of pride he once refused obedience to his father, who desired him to attend the book-stall at Uttoxeter market; in contrition for which, towards the close of his life, (as he told the Rev. H. White,) he repaired to the spot, and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain, by way of expiatory penance.
Michael Johnson's practice of visiting the market towns of Staffordshire and the adjoining counties, to dispose of his books, has already been mentioned. (1) The house at the corner of Sadler Street, Lichfield, in which Michael Johnson resided, and in which Samuel was born, is still standing. Views of it occur in the Gentleman's Magazine, February, 1785; in the "Short Account of Lichfield," above mentioned; and in various other works. It was built by Michael Johnson on land belonging to the Corporation, in whose records there appears this entry, under date 13th July, 1708 :—
"Agreed that Mr. Michael Johnson, bookseller, have a lease of his encroachment of his house in Sadler Street and Women's Cheaping, for forty years, at 2s. 6d. per annum.'
Boswell has preserved the particulars of a proceeding, in which the bailiffs and citizens, to their great honour, on the expiration of a second lease in 1767, resolved that it should be renewed to Dr. Johnson for a further term of ninety years, at the old rent, and without payment of any fine.
After her husband's decease, Johnson's mother continued the business, though of course on a more con
(1) See Vol. I. p. 314.