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One of his most likable traits was his overflowing generosity. He carried small pieces of money with him so as to give to the London waifs and vagabonds. When receiving a pension of £300 a year he allowed himself but £100 and gave away the rest, though the Thrales thought he usually gave away all but £70 or £80.

His house became the refuge for a miscellaneous assortment of humanity whom he treated with a consideration that wins our admiration. Among the inmates was a Miss Willianis, a blind lady whose occasional outbursts of temper never altered Johnson's uniform kindness. Another inmate and sharer of Johnson's hospitality was Robert Levett, formerly a waiter in a Paris coffeehouse and later practicing “physic amongst the lower classes " in London. Then there was Mrs. Desmoulins, the daughter of a Lichfield physician whom Johnson disliked. To her and a daughter he gave houseroom and an allowance amounting to the twelfth part of his pension. A Miss Carmichael and Francis Barber, a negro manservant, for whom he provided abundantly in his will, completed this miscellaneous household. Our impression of Johnson as a gruff, argumentative, domineering bully must be supplemented by the Johnson who was ready to give all he had to the needy, who loved little children, who provided a home for the homeless, and whose great heart included in its love stray cats and hungry dogs.

Last Days. — Although Johnson lived into his seventy-sixth year, he was never a perfectly well man. Scrofulous, nervous, depressed by melancholy, and irregular in habits of eating and sleeping, nothing but a most rugged constitution can account for his survival of so many of his contemporaries. During the last two years of his life, when dropsy and asthma afflicted him, he needed all of his fortitude and native good sense to face the final dissolution which he had always dreaded. In the last year of his life he wrote to Lucy Porter, “Death, my dear, is very dreadful.” When Dr. Adams intimated that hell might not be a place of positive suffering, Johnson replied, “I am afraid I may be one of those who may be damned,” “What do you mean by


damned?” “Sent to hell, sir, and punished everlastingly," replied Johnson vehemently.

It is pleasant to record that when the hour of death came, Johnson met it like a man. Upon being told by his physician, whom he had requested to tell the truth, that nothing short of a miracle would restore his health, Johnson said, “Then I will take no more physic, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul unclouded."

From a brother of Boswell we have the following letter concerning the last hours of Johnson:

“The Doctor from the time that he was certain his death was near, appeared to be perfectly resigned, was seldom or never fretful or out of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, who gave me this account, 'Attend, Francis, to the salvation of your soul, which is the object of greatest importance': he also explained to him passages in the Scripture, and seemed to have pleasure in talking on religious subjects.

On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss Morris, daughter to a particular friend of his, called, and said to Francis, that she be permitted to see the Doctor, that she might earnestly request him to give her his blessing. Francis went into the room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message. The Doctor turned himself in the bed and said, “ God bless you, my dear!” These were the last words he spoke.”

A week later he was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the foot of the Shakspere monument and close to the grave of David Garrick. Writes Leslie Stephen:


“In visiting that strange gathering of departed heroes there are many whose words and deeds have a far greater influence upon our imaginations; but there are very few whom, when all has been said, we can love so heartily as Samuel Johnson.”

“Th which we feel for Johnson is due to the fact that the pivots upon which his life turned are invariably noble motives, and not mere obedience to custom. It is as rare as it is refreshing to find a man who can stand on his own legs and be conscious of his own feelings, who is sturdy enough to react as well as to transmit action, and lofty enough to raise himself above the hurrying crowd and have some distinct belief as to whence it is coming and whither it is going.”



Life of Johnson. BOSWELL.
Life of Johnson. GRANT.
Life of Johnson. STEPHEN.

Life and Writings of Johnson. PAGE.

Dr. Johnson at Lichfield. MABIE. Outl., vol. 90, p. 193.
Early Life. BoSWELL. Liv. Age, vol. 57, p. 593.
Johnson without Boswell. CYPLES. Liv. Age, vol. 138, p. 541.
Samuel Johnson. MACAULAY. Harper, vol. 14, p. 483.
The Johnson Club. Hill. Atl., vol. 77, p. 18.
Last Days of Dr. Johnson. Ecl. M., vol. 62, p. 199.
Rambles in Johnson-land. FITZGERALD. Ecl. M., vol. 121, p. 356.
Samuel Johnson and his Age. Liv. Age, vol. 165, p. 323.
Dr. Johnson's Favorites. Liv. Age, vol. 180, p. 281.
Dr. Johnson's Style. Hill. Liv. Age, vol. 176, p. 288.
Do we Really Know Dr. Johnson? BIRRELL. Outl., vol 69, p. 907.
Dr. Johnson as a Radical. HILL. Contemp., vol. 55, p. 888.



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E love Burns, and we pity him; and love and pity are

prone to magnify,” is the saying of that man of genius who has written so eloquently about his brother Scot. Carlyle's words were penned about a generation after the death of Burns, since then other generations, loving and pitying and magnifying, have come and gone, until today Burns ranks as one of the greatest masters of song. The word song is used advisedly, for it is as the writer of short flights of song that he has won a permanent and prominent place in the palace of art. His poetic material, compared with the quantity and range of a Milton or a Browning, seems meager and scant, but scant and meager as it is this genuine and passionate outpouring of a ploughman's heart, borne on the wings of simple melody, has touched the tens of thousands to whom Milton and Browning are but names.

Birth and Parentage. - Robert Burns was born about two miles from the town of Ayr on the 25th of January, 1759. His parents were of the Scotch yeomanry, living in a clay-built cottage, the “auld clay bigging" still standing and visited by many thousands who annually pay homage to the genius who came into the world under the most humble conditions. When the child was but a few days old a storm blew down the gable of the cottage and the mother and child were carried to a neighbor's place until the damage could be repaired. In after years the poet said, “No wonder that one ushered into the world amid such a tempest should be the victim of stormy passions.”

Although his parents were in humble circumstances, they were people of character. The father, William Burness, or Burnes, for this is the earlier spelling, was living on seven acres of rented land near the Brig o' Doon. He was a man of the strictest integrity and piety, although not without a strong temper.

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Robert's tribute to his father is found in The Cotter's Saturday
Night -

“Then, kneeling down to heaven's eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:

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The mother, who had been an Ayrshire lass, Agnes Brown, is described as a bright-eyed and sagacious young woman, not beautiful, but of pleasing manners and attractive personality. It is interesting to read that she had a memory full of old songs and ballads which she liked to sing and tell to her children.

Early Homes. — The three places that are early associated with the name of the poet as his homes are Mount Oliphant, Lochlea, and Mossgiel. Robert was in his seventh year when the family moved to Mount Oliphant; he was in his eighteenth when the lease expired. The lot of the family was a hard one during the years of the poet's boyhood. Robert afterwards writes of this period as combining "the cheerless gloom of a hermit with the unceasing moil of a galley-slave.” And again he writes, “The farm proved a ruinous bargain. I was the eldest of seven children, and my father, worn out by early hardship, was unfit for labor. His spirit was soon irritated, but not easily broken.”

Our sources of information concerning this period are Robert and Gilbert, the two oldest boys, and a Mr. Murdoch, a teacher of unusual ability. Of the two boys Gilbert seemed the more attractive, having a more sunny disposition. “All the mirth and liveliness," said Murdoch, “were with Gilbert. Robert's countenance at that time wore generally a grave and thoughtful look.” Under the tuition of Mr. Murdoch they learned reading, spelling, and writing; they also were instructed in English grammar,

were taught to turn verse into prose, to substitute synonymous expressions for poetical words, and to supply ellipses.” He had little success in teaching them music; Robert who became the greatest of song writers had no ear for music, at least so it seemed at that time. When Murdoch left that community, the father took up the task of directing the education of his boys.

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