The Life of Johnson HTML version

1751: AETAT. 42.]--In 1751 we are to consider him as carrying on both his Dictionary
and Rambler.
Though Johnson's circumstances were at this time far from being easy, his humane and
charitable disposition was constantly exerting itself. Mrs. Anna Williams, daughter of a
very ingenious Welsh physician, and a woman of more than ordinary talents and
literature, having come to London in hopes of being cured of a cataract in both her eyes,
which afterwards ended in total blindness, was kindly received as a constant visitor at his
house while Mrs. Johnson lived; and after her death, having come under his roof in order
to have an operation upon her eyes performed with more comfort to her than in lodgings,
she had an apartment from him during the rest of her life, at all times when he had a
1752: AETAT. 43.]--In 1752 he was almost entirely occupied with his Dictionary. The
last paper of his Rambler was published March 2, this year; after which, there was a
cessation for some time of any exertion of his talents as an essayist. But, in the same year,
Dr. Hawkesworth, who was his warm admirer, and a studious imitator of his style, and
then lived in great intimacy with him, began a periodical paper, entitled The Adventurer,
in connection with other gentlemen, one of whom was Johnson's much-beloved friend,
Dr. Bathurst; and, without doubt, they received many valuable hints from his
conversation, most of his friends having been so assisted in the course of their works.
That there should be a suspension of his literary labours during a part of the year 1752,
will not seem strange, when it is considered that soon after closing his Rambler, he
suffered a loss which, there can be no doubt, affected him with the deepest distress. For
on the 17th of March, O.S., his wife died.
The following very solemn and affecting prayer was found after Dr. Johnson's decease,
by his servant, Mr. Francis Barber, who delivered it to my worthy friend the Reverend
Mr. Strahan, Vicar of Islington, who at my earnest request has obligingly favoured me
with a copy of it, which he and I compared with the original:
'April 26, 1752, being after 12 at Night of the 25th.
'O Lord! Governour of heaven and earth, in whose hands are embodied and departed
Spirits, if thou hast ordained the Souls of the Dead to minister to the Living, and
appointed my departed Wife to have care of me, grant that I may enjoy the good effects
of her attention and ministration, whether exercised by appearance, impulses, dreams or
in any other manner agreeable to thy Government. Forgive my presumption, enlighten
my ignorance, and however meaner agents are employed, grant me the blessed influences
of thy holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'