The backbone of these years was his friendship with Henry and Hester Thrale, in whose houses he found comfort and a family in whose affairs he could interest himself. The conviviality of this part of his life, however - reflected in his friendships with men and women like James Boswell, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Oliver Goldsmith, Fanny Burney - masked a fear of solitude and mental anguish.
His last years were sad, being characterised by illness, the death of his close friends, and the breakdown of his friendship with Hester Thrale. Although a profoundly religious man, he was fearful of his fate in the afterlife, and only on his death bed did he start to come to terms with his death. He died a national celebrity, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.