[From the December 18, 1879, issue of the Centre College Courant]
On Friday last, the Seniors held a class meeting and decided that having worked to death Samuel Johnson, LL. D., the subject of their admirable essays, they had better bury him. Accordingly, a committee was appointed, funeral notices were struck and distributed through the town. Much surprise was created by this unexpected announcement. The old men wondered "what new trick those terrible boys had on foot. Who was this Samuel Johnson anyhow? They didn't remember." The old lady sighed and said, "Another good man gone; seems like more people die now than did in old times," and the business man growled, "It's a sell, I am sure; there's no telling what mischief they won't get into." Yet in spite of all comments the work went bravely on. At 10 o'clock Saturday morning the class assembled at Gilcher's and made all necessary arrangements. Each member represented one of Johnson's friends. At half-past ten the company started, all clothed in deep mourning (red calico). The body, one of the famous effigies, was carried on the monument - an elegant pine board, four of the most distinguished members of the class doing duty as pall-bearers. The procession moved slowly down the street, to the solemn strains of "The Old Ark's a Movin," which was exquisitely rendered by the College Band. Behind the pall-bearers came the sad band of mourners. Upon the arm of Goldsmith leaned Mrs. Thrale, whose sad beautiful face touched all beholders with pity. Frank Barbour, Johnson's faithful negro servant, brought up the rear. At length they arrived at the College and marched sadly up stairs into the chapel, while the band played alternately, "John Brown's Body," and "Where, Oh Where is My Little Dog Gone," in a most affecting manner. The body was placed tenderly on the platform, and the beautiful song, "Lauriger Horatius" was sung with deep feeling. The orator then arose and paid a beautiful tribute to the departed subject: "Friends, I come to bury Johnson, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones; so let it be with Johnson (sighs and groans). You all did love him once (loud weeping from Goldsmith, and wails from the negro), not without cause. What cause withholds you then to mourn for him? (Apparently None). O, judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. Bear with me: my heart is in the coffin there with Johnson; and I must pause till it come back to me. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now (whimper from Mrs. Thrale). You all do know this effigy (loud wailing.) Oh, now you weep; and I perceive you feel the dint of piety; these are gracious drops! Good friends! sweet friends! let me not stir you up to such a sudden flood of mutiny! For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, nor action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech to stir men's blood; I only speak right on. I tell you that which you yourselves do know; show you poor Johnson's effigy and bid it speak for me." ad infinitum. The song, "Johnson wrote a Dictionary," was now sung so pathetically that the audience were moved to tears - of laughter. The body was then taken to the grave, the "friends and acquaintances" were invited to come forward, and with "noise of weeping loud" the sad Seniors crowded round to take a last lingering look at their beloved effigy. The remains were then placed in the grave, and, while singing that sweet old song, "Old Sam is dead, that good old man," the Class threw upon him the title pages of their essays.
The dirt was thrown into the grave, the deep silence being broken only by the sound of the cannon fire cracker. The burial was over, and with the consciousness of having performed a noble deed, the Class departed, - not, however, before, in spite of their grief, Goldsmith and Barretti had become involved in a quarrel over the bewitching Madame Thrale. Luckily, it was all ended by Boswell, the biographer, who took advantage of the confusion to bear off the fair female. It was a sad and solemn scene, and the weeping, especially, was magnificent.