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tive powers of the medical art. Previous to his dissolution he burnt indiscriminately large masses of paper, and amongst the rest two 4to volumes, containing a full and most particular account of his own life, the loss of which is much to be regretted. He expired on the 13th December, 1785, in the seventyfifth year of his age, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the foot of Shakespeare's monument, and close to the coffin of his friend Garrick. Agreeable to his own request, a lare blue flag-stone was placed over his grave, with this inscription.
SAMUEL JOHNSON, L. L. D.
ÆTATIS SUÆ LXXV. Having no near relations, he left the bulk of his property, amounting to L. 1500, to his faithful ser. vant Francis Barber, whom he looked upon as partieularly under his protection, and whom he had long treated as an humble friend. He appointed Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr (Sir William) Scott his executors. His death attracted the public atteution in an uncommon degree, and was followed by an unprecedented accumulation of literary honours, in the various forms of sermons, elegies, memoirs, lives, essays, and anecdotes.
Johnson's figure was large, robust, and unwieldy, from corpulency.
His appearance was rendered strange and somewhat uncouth by sudden emotions, which appeared to a common observer to be invo
luntary and convulsive. But in the opinion of Sir Joshua Reynolds, they were the consequence of a depraved habit of accompanying his thoughts with çertain untoward actions, which seemed as if they were meant to reprobate some part of his past conduct. He had the use only of one eye ; yet so much does the mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his visual perceptions, as far as they extended, were uncommonly quick and accurate. So morbid was his temperament, that he never enjoyed the free and vigorous use of his limbs; and when he walked, it was like the straggling gait of one in fetters; and wben . he rode he had no command nor direction of his horse. That with such a constitution and habits of life, he should have lived seventy-five years, is, as Mr Boswell remarks, a proof that an inherent vivida vis is a powerful preservative of the human frame. In his dress he was singular and rather slovenly, and though he improved in some degree under the lectures of Mrs Thrale, during his long residence in the family, yet he never could be said to have completely surmounted particularity.
He was fond of good company and good living, and to the last he knew of no method of regulating his appetite, but absolute restraint, or unlimited indulgence. Many a day,” says Mr Boswell, “ did he fast, many a year refrain from wine ; but when he did eat, it was voraciously, when he did drink, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance. In conversation, it was generally admitted that he was rude, intemperate, overbearing,
and impatient of contradiction. Addicted to argument, and ambitious of victory, he was equally regardless of truth and fair reasoning in his approaches to conquest. “ There is no arguing with him," said Goldsmith, alluding to a speech in one of Cibber's plays, “ for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.”
He had accustomed himself to such accuracy in common conversation, that he at all times delivered him. self with a force, choice and elegance of expression, the effect of which was aided by his having a loud voice, and a slow and deliberate utterance. Though usually grave in his deportment, he possessed much wit and humour, and often indulged in colloquial pleasantry. Mrs Piozzi says, that “ if poetry was talked of, his quotations were the readiest, and had he not been eminent for more solid and brilliant qualities, mankind would have united to extol his extraordinary memory.”
Though the vigour of his mind was almost beyond parallel, yet from early prejudices, which all his learning and philosophy could never overcome, zealous high-church-man ; in his political sentiments a rank Tory ; and till his present Majesty's accession to the throne, a violent jacobite. His attachment to the University of Oxford, to which in his youth he owed do great obligations, led him unjustly to depreciate the merit of every person who had studed at that of Cambridge. His aversion to whigs, dissenters and presbyterians was unconquerable, and his religious bigotry was such, that when at Edinburgh, as Dr Towers mentions,
he was a
in his essay on his life, &c. he would not go to hear Dr Robertson preach, because he would not be present at a presbyterian assembly; though he with the learned world in general admitted that that eminent historiographer was a great ornament to literature, and thereby entitled to universal respect.
These mental distempers are justly attributed to his melancholic temperament, and were fostered by solitary contemplation, till they had laid fetters upon the imagination too strong for reason to burst through. This at least seems to have been his own opinion of the progress of these diseases, as appears from his history of the Mad Astronomer in Rasselas, the description of whose mind he seems to have intended as a representation of his own.
But with all these defects, from a review of his life, it appears beyond a doubt that he possessed many virtues. To the warm active benevolence of his heart, all his friends have borne testimony. “ He had nothing,” says Goldsmith, “ of the bear but his skin.” Misfortune had only to form her claim, in order to found her right to the use of his purse, or the exercise of his talents. His house was an asylum for the unhappy, beyond what a regard to personal convenience would have allowed, and his income was distributed the support of his inmates, to an extent greater than general prudence would have permitted. Mrs Piozzi, in her anecdotes, remarks ; that “ as his purse was ever open to alms-giving, so was his heart tender to those who wanted relief, and his soul susceptible of gratitude, and every kind impression.”