End of Boswell’s Life of Johnson

Amidst the melancholy clouds which hung over the dying Johnson, his characteristical manner shewed itself on different occasions. When Dr. Warren, in the usual style, hoped that he was better; his answer was, ‘No, Sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I advance towards death.’

Mr. Windham having placed a pillow conveniently to support him, he thanked him for his kindness, and said, ‘That will do, —all that a pillow can do.’

Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst all his bodily distress and mental sufferings, never forsook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby, as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could recover. ‘Give me (said he,) a direct answer.’ The Doctor having first asked him if he could hear the whole truth, which way soever 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 physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.’

Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and 9th of December, and settled all his worldly affairs, he languished till Monday, the 13th of that month, when he expired, about seven o’clock in the evening, with so little apparent pain that his attendants hardly perceived when his dissolution took place.

A few days before his death, he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of his executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered, ‘Doubtless, in Westminster-Abbey,’ seemed to feel a satisfaction, very natural to a Poet; and indeed in my opinion very natural to every man of any imagination, who has no family sepulchre in which he can be laid with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave was placed a large blue flag-stone, with this inscription: –‘SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. Obiit XIII die Decembris, Anno Domini M.DCC.LXXXIV. Aetatis suae LXXV.’

Tunes on the fiddle

In the evening our gentleman-farmer, and two others, entertained themselves and the company with a great number of tunes on the fiddle. Johnson desired to have ‘Let ambition fire thy mind,’ played over again, and appeared to give a patient attention to it; though he owned to me that he was very insensible to the power of musick. I told him, that it affected me to such a degree, as often to agitate my nerves painfully, producing in my mind alternate sensations of pathetick dejection, so that I was ready to shed tears; and of daring resolution, so that I was inclined to rush into the thickest part of the battle. ‘Sir, (said he,) I should never hear it, if it made me such a fool.’

Boswell, Life of Johnson.