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much distressed by the fear of death, but as being now uniformly placid, and contemplating his dissolution without any perturbation.-" Sir (said Johnson), this is only a disordered imagination taking a different turn."
To Mrs. Williams, a little before her death, he said, “ Oh! my friend, the approach of death is
I am afraid to think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is in vain to look round and round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy that be who has lived to-day may live to-morrow. But let us learn to derive our hope only from God.”
Mr. Boswell and Johnson having one day fallen into a very serious frame of mind, in which mutual expressions of kindness passed between them, the former talked with regret of the sad inevitable certainty that one of them must survive the other." Yes, Sir (said Johnson), that is an affecting consideration. I remember Swift, in one of his letters to Pope, says, 'I intend to come over, that we may meet once more; and when we must part, it is what happens to all human beings.'”—B.“ The hope that we shall see our departed friends again must support the mind."-J. “ Why yes, Sir.”-B. “ There is a strange unwillingness to part with life, independent of serious fears as to futurity. A reverend friend of ours (naming him) tells me, that he feels
än uneasiness at the thoughts of leaving his house, his study, his books."-J.“ This is foolish in
A man need not be uneasy on these grounds; for, as he will retain bis consciousness, he may say with the philosopher, Omnia mea mecum porto."
The horror of death which had always been observable in Dr. Johnson appeared remarkably strong one evening. “I ventured to tell him (says Mr. B.) that I had been, for moments of my life, not afraid of death; therefore I could suppose another man in that state of mind for a considerable space of time. He said, he never had a moment in which death was not terrible to him. He added, that it had been observed, that scarcely any man dies in public but with apparent resolution, from that desire of praise which never quits us." It was observed, that Dr. Dodd seemed to be willing to die, and full of hopes and happiness. “Sir (said he), Dr. Dodd would have given both his hands and both his legs to have lived. The better a man is, the more afraid is he of death, having a clearer view of infinite purity.” He owned, that our being in an unhappy uncertainty as to our salvation, was mysterious; and said, “ Ah! we must wait till we are in another state of being, to have many things explained to us.”—Even the powerful mind of Johnson seemed foiled by futurity. But
I thought (adds Mr. Boswell) that the gloom of uncertainty in solemn religious speculation, being mingled with hope, was yet more consolatory than the emptiness of infidelity. A man can live in thick air, but perishes in an exhausted receiver."
Dr. Johnson was once much pleased with a remark made by General Paoli:-. That it is impossible not to be afraid of death; and that those who at the time of dying are not afraid, are not thinking of death, but of applause, or something else, which keeps death out of their sight: so that all men are equally afraid of death when they see it; only some have a power of turning their sight away from it better than others."
Johnson's own account of his views of futurity will appear truly rational; and may, perhaps, impress the unthinking with seriousness :
“I never thought confidence with respect to futurity any part of the character of a brave, a wise, or a good man. Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing; wisdom impresses strongly the consciousness of those faults, of which it is, perhaps, itself an aggravation; and goodness, always wishing to be better, and imputing every deficiency to criminal negligence, and every fault to voluntary corruption, never dares to suppose the condition of forgiveness ful
filled, nor what is wanting in the crime supplied by penitence.
" This is the state of the best; but what must be the condition of him whose heart will not suffer him to rank himself among the best, or among the good? Such must be his dread of the approaching trial, as will leave him little at-, tention to the opinion of those whom he is leaving for ever; and the serenity that is not felt, it can be no virtue to feign.”
The subject of grief for the loss of relations and friends being one day introduced, Mr. B, observed, that it was strange to consider how soon it in general wears away. Dr. Taylor mentioned a gentleman of the neighbourhood as the only instance he had ever known of a person who had endeavoured to retain grief.--He told Dr. Taylor, that after his Lady's death, which affected him deeply, he resolved that the grief, which he : cherished with a kind of sacred fondness, should be lasting; but that he found he could not keep it long.-"All grief (said Johnson) for what cannot in the course of nature be helped, soon wears away; in some sooner, indeed, in some later; but it never continues very long, unless where there is madness, such as will make a man have pride so fixed in his mind, as to imagine himself a king, or any other passion in an unreasonable way: for all unnecessary grief is unwise,
and therefore will not be long retained by a sound mind. If, indeed, the cause of our grief is occasioned by our own misconduct, if grief is mingled with remorse of conscience, it should be Jasting."--B.“ But, Sir, we do not approve of a man who very soon forgets the loss of a wife or a friend.”-J. “Sir, we disapprove of him, not because he soon forgets his grief; for the sooner it is forgotten the better; but because we suppose, that if he forgets his wife or his friend soon, he has not had much affection for them."
To one who had recently lost a wife, Johnson observed, “ The loss which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past, or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.