Sunday, December 13, 2009

Iam Moriturus

"I who am about to die." reads the translation of today's title. Samuel Johnson was quotable up to his last days. As 2009 is the 300th anniversary of Johnson's birth, two new biographies were published this year. This entry will focus on his last days. Johnson's most famous biographer James Boswell stated "My feeling was just one large expanse of Stupor...I could not believe it. My imagination was not convinced." Author Fanny Burney visited him near the end. He traveled to George Strahan's home to die. He seems to have been most comfortable with his friend Bennet Langton, who cared for him most closely during his final days.

Samuel Johnson died December 13, 1784. He was buried at Westminster Abbey on December 20th. Johnson's influence on writing, and his (and Boswell's) travels, have served as fodder for this blog. Scott published a fond "memoir" of Johnson, prefixed to the Novelists' Library edition of Rasselas in 1823. Scott commented that he "had more pleasure in reading "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" than any other poetical composition he could mention.

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