Study Guide

The Vanity of Human Wishes Stanza 20

By Samuel Johnson

Stanza 20

Lines 283-290

Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
Lay siege to life, and press the dire blockade;
But unextinguish'd Av'rice still remains,
And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;
He turns, with anxious heart and crippled hands,
His bonds of debt, and mortgages of lands;
Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,
Unlocks his gold, and counts it till he dies.

  • The old man's body is invaded by illnesses which threaten his life, but he's still greedy.Ā 
  • All his losses make things worse for him, and with his anxious heart and crippled hands he goes over his debt papers and land mortgages and counts his gold until he dies. On the plus side: he doesn't have to be so stinkin' depressed about everything anymore.

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