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institutions to all livings or Church preferments, during this his disability to do it himself. In this time of his retirement he longed for his dissolution; and when some that loved him prayed for his recovery, if he at any time found any amendment, he seemed to be displeased, by saying, "His friends said their prayers backward for him: and that it was not his desire to live a useless life, and by filling up a place keep another out of it, that might do God and his Church service." He would often with much joy and thankfulness mention, "That during his being a housekeeper — which was more than forty years—there had not been one buried out of his family, and that he was now like to be the first." He would also often mention with thankfulness, "That till he was threescore years of age, he had never spent five shillings in law, nor upon himself so much in wine: and rejoiced much that he had so lived as never to cause an hour's sorrow to his good father; and hoped he should die without an enemy.
He, in his retirement, had the Church prayers read in his chamber twice every day; and at nine at night, some prayers read to him and a part of his family out of The Whole Duty of Man. As he was remarkably punctual and regular in all his studies and actions, so he used himself to be for his meals. And his dinner being appointed to be constantly ready at the ending of prayers, and he expecting and calling for it, was answered, "It would be ready in a quarter of an hour." To which his reply was, A quarter of an hour! Is a quarter of an hour nothing to a man that probably has not many hours to live?" And though he did live many hours after this, yet he lived not many days; for the day after which was three days before his death become so weak and weary of either motion or sitting, that he was content, or forced, to keep his bed: in which I desire he may rest, till I have given some account of his behaviour there and immediately before it.
The day before he took his bed,—which was three days before his death, he, that he might receive a new assurance for the pardon of his sins past, and be strengthened in his way to the New Jerusalem, took the blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of his and our blessed Jesus, from the hands of his chaplain, Mr. Pullin, accompanied with his wife, children, and a friend, in as awful,
humble, and ardent a manner as outward reverence could express. After the praise and thanksgiving for it was ended, he spake to this purpose: "Thou, O God! tookest me out of my mother's womb, and hast been the powerful protector of me to this present moment of my life: Thou hast neither forsaken me now I am. become grey-headed, nor suffered me to forsake thee in the late days of temptation, and sacrifice my conscience for the preservation of my liberty or estate. It was by grace that I have stood, when others have fallen under my trials: and these mercies I now remember with joy and thankfulness; and my hope and desire is, that I may die praising thee."
The frequent repetition of the Psalms of David hath been noted to a great part of the devotion of the primitive Christians; the Psalms having in them not only prayers and holy instructions, but such commemorations of God's mercies as may preserve, comfort, and confirm our dependence on the power, and providence, and mercy of our Creator. And this is mentioned in order to telling, that as the holy Psalmist said, that his eyes should prevent both the dawning of the day and night watches, by meditating on God's word (Psal. cxix. 147), so it was Dr. Sanderson's constant practice every morning to entertain his first waking thoughts with a repetition of those very psalms that the Church hath appointed to be constantly read in the daily morning service: and having at night laid him in his bed, he as constantly closed his eyes with a repetition of those appointed for the service of the evening, remembering and repeating the very Psalms appointed for every day; and as the month had formerly ended and began again, so did this exercise of his devotion. And if his first waking thoughts were of the world, or what concerned it, he would arraign and condemn himself for it. Thus he began that work on earth, which is now his employment in heaven.
After his taking his bed, and about a day before his death, he desired his chaplain, Mr. Pullin, to give him absolution: and at his performing that office, he pulled off his cap, that Mr. Pullin might lay his hand upon his bare head. After this desire of his was satisfied, his body seemed to be at more ease, and his mind more cheerful; and he said, "Lord, forsake me not now my strength faileth me; but continue thy mercy, and, let my mouth be filled
with thy praise." He continued the remaining night and day very patient, and thankful for any of the little offices that were performed for his ease and refreshment: and during that time did often say the 103rd Psalm to himself, and very often these words, "My heart is fixed, O God! my heart is fixed where true joy is to be found." His thoughts seemed now to be wholly of death, for which he was so prepared, that the King of Terrors could not surprise him as a thief in the night; for he had often said, he was prepared, and longed for it. And as this desire seemed to come from heaven, so it left him not till his soul ascended to that region of blessed spirits, whose employments are to join in concert with him, and sing praise and glory to that God, who hath brought them to that place, into which sin and sorrow cannot enter.
Thus this pattern of meekness and primitive innocence changed this for a better life. 'Tis now too late to wish that my life may be like his; for I am in the eighty-fifth year of my age: but I humbly beseech Almighty God, that my death may: and do as earnestly beg of every reader, to say, Amen.
Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile, Psal. xxxii. 2.
THE LIFE OF POPE
[From The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, 1779-1781. Corrected Edition, London, 1800.
"His [Johnson's] knowledge of the literary history of England since the Restoration was unrivalled. That knowledge he had derived partly from books, and partly from sources which had long been closed; from old Grub Street traditions; from the talk of forgotten poetasters and pamphleteers who had long been lying in parish vaults; from the recollections of such men as Gilbert Walmesley, who had conversed with the wits of Button's; Cibber, who had mutilated the plays of two generation of dramatists; Orrery, who had been admitted to the society of Swift; and Savage, who had rendered services of no very honourable kind to Pope. The biographer therefore sate down to his task with a mind full of matter. He had at first intended to give only a paragraph to every minor poet, and only four or five pages to the greatest name. But the flood of anecdote and criticism overflowed the narrow channel. The work, which was originally meant to consist only of a few sheets, swelled into ten volumes, small volumes, it is true, and not closely printed. The first four appeared in 1779, the remaining six in 1781.
"The Lives of the Poets are, on the whole, the best of Johnson's works. The narratives are as entertaining as any novel. The remarks on life and on human nature are eminently shrewd and profound. The criticisms are often excellent, and, even when grossly and provokingly unjust, well deserve to be studied. For, however erroneous they may be, they are never silly. They are the judgments of a mind trammelled by prejudice and deficient in sensibility, but vigorous and acute. They therefore generally contain a portion of valuable truth which deserves to be separated from the alloy; and, at the very worst, they mean something, a praise to which much of what is called criticism in our time has no pretensions.
"Savage's Life Johnson reprinted nearly as it had appeared in 1744. Whoever, after reading that life, will turn to the other lives will be struck by the difference of style. Since Johnson had been at ease in his circumstances he had written little and had talked much. When, therefore, he, after the lapse of years, resumed his pen, the mannerism which he had contracted while he was in the constant habit of elaborate composition was less perceptible than formerly; and his diction frequently had a colloquial ease which it had formerly wanted." — THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, "The Life of Samuel Johnson," 1856, in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays.]
Alexander Pope was born in London, May 22, 1688, of parents whose rank or station was never ascertained: we are informed that they were of gentle blood; that his father was of a family of which the Earl of Downe was the head, and that his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esquire, of York, who had likewise three sons, one of whom had the honour of being killed, and the other of dying, in the service of Charles the First; the third was made a general officer in Spain, from whom the sister inherited what sequestrations and forfeitures had left in the family.
This, and this only, is told by Pope; who is more willing, as I have heard observed, to shew what his father was not, than what he was. It is allowed that he grew rich by trade; but whether in a shop or on the Exchange was never discovered, till Mr. Tyers told, on the authority of Mrs. Racket, that he was a linen-draper in the Strand. Both parents were papists.
Pope was from his birth of a constitution tender and delicate; but is said to have shewn remarkable gentleness and sweetness of disposition. The weakness of his body continued through his life, but the mildness of his mind perhaps ended with his childhood. His voice, when he was young, was so pleasing, that he was called in fondness the little Nightingale.
Being not sent early to school, he was taught to read by an aunt; and when he was seven or eight years old, became a lover of books,
He first learned to write by imitating printed books; a species of penmanship in which he retained great excellence through his whole life, though his ordinary hand was not elegant.
When he was about eight, he was placed in Hampshire under Taverner, a Romish priest, who, by a method very rarely practised, taught him the Greek and Latin rudiments together. He was now first regularly initiated in poetry by the persual of Ogylby's Homer, and Sandys's Ovid: Ogylby's assistance he never repaid with any praise; but of Sandys he declared, in his notes to the Iliad, that English poetry owed much of its present beauty to his translations. Sandys very rarely attempted original compositions.
From the care of Taverner, under whom his proficiency was considerable, he was removed to a school at Twyford near Winchester, and again to another school about Hyde-park Corner; from which he used sometimes to stroll to the playhouse, and was so delighted with theatrical exhibitions, that he formed a kind of play from Ogylby's Iliad, with some verses of his own intermixed, which he persuaded his school-fellows to act, with the addition of his master's gardener, who personated Ajax.
At the two last schools he used to represent himself as having lost part of what Taverner had taught him, and on his master at Twyford he had already exercised his poetry in a lampoon. Yet under those masters he translated more than a fourth part of the Metamorphoses. If he kept the same proportion in his other exercises, it cannot be thought that his loss was great.
He tells of himself, in his poems, that he lisp'd in numbers; and used to say that he could not remember the time when he began to make verses. In the style of fiction it might have been said of him as of Pindar, that when he lay in his cradle, the bees swarmed about his mouth.
About the time of the Revolution his father, who was undoubtedly disappointed by the sudden blast of popish prosperity, quitted his trade, and retired to Binfield in Windsor Forest, with about twenty thousand pounds; for which, being conscientiously determined not to entrust it to the government, he found no better use than that of locking it up in a chest, and taking from it what his expenses required; and his life was long enough to consume a great part of it, before his son came to the inheritance.