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if he could bear the whole truth, which way soerer it might lead, and being answered, that he could, declared, that, in his opinion, he could not recover without a miracle. Then," said Johnson, “I will take no more physic, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.” In this resolution he persevered, and, at the same time, used only the weakest kind of sustenance. Being pressed by Mr. Windhain to take somewhat more generous nourishment, lest too low a diet should have the very effect which he dreaded, by debilitating his mind, he said, “ I will take any thing but inebriating sustenance.”
As he opened a note which his servant brought to him, he said, “ An odd thought strikes me :-we shall receive no letters in the grave."
While Johnson and Boswell were at Lichfield, as they sat at breakfast one day, the doctor received a letter by the post, which seemed to agitate him very much. When he had read it, he exclaimed, “ One of the most dreadful things that has happened in my time.” The phrase, my time, like the word age, is usually understood to refer to an event of a public or general nature. Boswell imagined something like an assassination of the king-like a gunpowder plot carried into execution or like another fire of London. When asked, “ What is it, sir?” he answered, “ Mr. Thrale has lost his only son!” This was, no doubt, a very great affiction to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, which their friends would consider accordingly; but from the manner in which the intelligence of it was communicated by Johnson, it appeared for the moment to be comparatively small. Boswell, however, soon felt a sincere concern, and was curious to observe how Dr. John.'
son would be affected. He said, “ This is a total extinction to their family, as much as if they were sold into captivity.” Upon mentioning, that Mr. Thrale had daughters, who might inherit his wealth “ Daughters !” said Johuson, warmly, “ he'll no more value his daughters than Boswell was going to speak. “Sir," said he,“ don't you know how you yourself think? Sir, he wishes to propagate his name. In short, male succession was strong in his mind, even where there was no vame, no family, of any long standing. Boswell said, it was lucky he was not present when this misfortune happened. Johnson. “ It is lucky for me : people in distress never think that you feel enough.” Boswell.“ And, sir, they will have the hope of seeing you, which will be a relief, in the mean time; and when you get to them, the pain will be so far abated, that they will be capable of being consoled by you, which, in the first violence of it, I believe, would not be the case.” JOHNSON. “ No, sir; violeñit pain of mind, like violent pain of body, must be severely felt.” Boswell.“ I own, sir, I have not so much feeling for the distress of others, as some people have, or pretend to have; but I know this, that I would do all in my power to relieve them.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, it is affectation to pretend to feel the distress of others as much as they do themselves : it is equally so, as if one should pretend to feel as much pain while a friend's leg is cutting off, as he does. No, sir; you have expressed the rational and just nature of sympathy. I would have gone to the extremity of the earth to have preserved this boy.”
He was soon quite calm. The letter was from Mr. Thrale's clerk, and concluded, “ I need not say
how much they wish to see you in London." He said, “ We shall hasten back to Taylor's.”
Boswell adds, “ After dinner, Dr. Johnson wrote a letter to Mrs. Thrale, on the death of her son. I said, it would be very distressing to Thrale, but she would soon forget it, as she had so many things to think of. Johnsox. “No, sir, Thrale will forget it first: she has many things that she may think of; he has many things that he must think of.' This was a very just remark upou the different effects of those light pursuits, which occupy a vacant and easy mind, and those serious engagements, which arrest attention, and keep us from brooding over grief.
“ In the evening, we went to the Town-hall, which was courerted into a temporary theatre, and saw Theodosius, with The Stratford Jubilee. I was happy to see Dr. Johnson sitting in a conspicuous part of the pit, and receiving affectionale homage from all his acquaintance. We were quite gay and merry. I afterwards mentioned uz bim, that I condemped myself for being so, when poor Mr. and Mrs. Thrale were in such distress. JOHNSON, " You are wrong, sir; twenty years hence Mr. and Mrs. Thrale will not suffer much pain from the death of their son. Now, sir, you are to consider, that distance of place, as well as distance of time, operates upon the human feelings: I would not have you be gay in the presence of the distressed, because it would shock them ; but you may be gay at a distance. Pain for the loss of a friend, or of a relation whom we love, is occasioned by the want which we feel : in time, the vacuity is filled with something else; or sometimes the vacuity closes up of itselt;'"
XIX. Future State.- Death
Printed by T. Davison, Whitefriars.