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Mr. Thrale in whose house he had enjoyed the most comfortable hours of his life...
About the middle of june 1783 his constitution sustained a severer shock than it had ever before felt by a stroke of the palsy, so sudden and so violent that it awakened him out of a sound sleep, and rendered him for a short time speechless. As usual, his recourse under this affliction was to piety, which in him was constant, sincere, and fervent. He tried to repeat the Lord's prayer first in English, then in Latin, and afterwards in Greek, but succeeded only in the last attempt; immediately after which he was again deprived of the power of articulation. From this alarming attack he recovered with wonderful quickness, but it left behind it some presages of an hydropic affection; and he was soon afterwards seized with a spasmodic asthma of such violence that he was confined to the house in great pain, while his dropsy increased notwithstanding all the efforts of the most eminent physicians in London and Edinburgh. He had, however, such an interval of ease as enabled him in the summer 1784 to visit his friends at Oxford, Litchfield, and Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
His constant dread of death was so great that it astonished all who had access to know the picty of his mind and the virtues of his life. Attempts have been made to account for it in various ways; but doubtless that is the true account which is given in the Olla Podrida by an elegant and pious writer who now adorns a high station in the church of England: “That he should not be conscious of the abilities, with which Providence had blessed him, was impossible. He felt his own powers; he felt what he was capable of having performed; and he saw how little, comparatively speaking, he had performed. Hence his apprehension on the near prospect of the account to be made, viewed through the medium of constitutional and morbid melancholy, which often excluded from his sight the hright beams of divine mercy.” This, however, was the case only while death was approaching from some distance. From the time that he was certain it was near, all his fears were calmed; and he died on the 13th of december 1784 full of resignation, strengthened by faith, and joyful in hope.
For a just character of this great man our limits afford not room : we must therefore content ourselves with laying before our readers a very short sketch. His stature was tall, his limbs were large, his strength was more than common, and his activity in early life had been greater than such a form gave reason to expect : but he was subject to an infirmity of the convulsive kind resembling the distemper called St. Vitus's dance; and he had the seeds of so many diseases sown in his constitution that a short time before his death he declared that he hardly remembered to have passed one day wholly free from pain. He possessed very extraordinary powers of understanding which were much cultivated by reading, and still more by meditation and reflection. His memory was remarkably retentive, his imagination uncommonly vigorous, and
his judgment keen and penetrating. He read with great rapidity, retained with wonderful exactness what he so easily collected, and possessed the power of reducing to order and system the scattered hints on any subject which he had gathered from different books. It would not perhaps be safe to claim for him the highest place among his contemporaries in any single department of literature ; but, to use one of his own expressions, he brought more inind to every subject, and had a greater variety of knowledge ready for all occasions than any other man that could be easily named Though prone to superstition, he was in all other respects so remarkably incredulous, that Hogarth said, while Johnson firmly believed the Bible, he seemed determined to believe nothing but the Bible. Of the importance of religion he had a strong sense, and his zeal for its interests were always awake, so that profaneness of every kind was abashed in his presence–The same energy which was displayed in his literary productions was exhibited also in his conversation, which was various, striking, and instructive : like the sage in Rasselas, he spoke, and attention watched his lips; he reasoned, and conviction closed his periods. When he pleased, he could be the greatest sophist that ever contended in the lists of declamation ; and perhaps no man ever equalled him in nervous and pointed repartees. His veracity, from the most trivial to the most solemn occasions, was strict even to severity : he scorned to embellish a story with fictitious circumstances; for what is not a representation of reality, he used to say, is not worthy of our attention. As his purse and his house were ever open to the indigent, so was his heart tender to those who wanted relief, and his soul was susceptible of gratitude and every kind inipression. He had a roughness in his manner which subdued the saucy and terrified the meek : but it was only in his manner; for no man was more loved than Johnson was by those who knew him: and his works will be read with veneration for their author as long as the language in which they are written shall be understood.
COWLEY. ABRAHAM COWLEY was born in the year 1618. He very early took delight in reading “ Spenser's Fairy Queen,” and, thus feeling the charnis of verse, became, as he himself tells us, “irrecoverably a poet. ” On his mother's solicitation he was admitted into Westminster-School, where he soon distinguished himself, and published a volume of Poems in his thirteenth year, containing, among other compositions, “ The Tragical History of Pyramus and 1 hisbe,” written when he was ten years old; and Constantia and Philetus,” written two years after.
While at school, he also produced a comedy called “ Love's Riddle,” though this was not pub, lished till he had been some time at Cambridge, to which place he was removed in 1636, and where he continued his studies with great intenseness; for he is said to have written, while a young student, the greater part of his “ Davideis,” a work which proves him to have possessed a niind of the greatest vigour and activity.
Two years after his settlement at Cambridge, he