life 1, so no writer in this nation ever had such an accumulation of literary honours after his death. A sermon upon

1 Beside the Dedications to him by Dr. Goldsmith, the Reverend Dr. Francklin, and the Reverend Mr. Wilson, which I have mentioned according to their dates, there was one by a lady, of a versification of Aningait and Ajut, and one by the ingenious Mr. Walker of his Rhetorical Grammar. I have introduced into this work several compliments paid to him in the writings of his contemporaries; but the number of them is so great, that we may fairly say that there was almost a general tribute.

Let me not be forgetful of the honour done to him by Colonel Myddleton, of Gwaynynog, near Denbigh; who, on the banks of a rivulet in his park, where Johnson delighted to stand and repeat verses, erected an urn with the following inscription:

This spot was often dignified by the presence of

Whose moral writings, exactly conformable to the precepts of


Gave ardour to Virtue and confidence to Truth.'

As no inconsiderable circumstance of his fame, we must reckon the extraordinary zeal of the artists to extend and perpetuate his image. I can enumerate a bust by Mr. Nollekens, and the many casts which are made from it; several pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds, from one of which, in the possession of the Duke of Dorset, Mr. Humphry executed a beautiful miniature in enamel; one by Mrs. Frances Reynolds, Sir Joshua's sister; one by Mr. Zoffani; and one by Mr. Opie; and the following engravings of his portrait: 1. One by Cooke, from Sir Joshua, for the Proprietors' edition of his folio Dictionary.-2. One from ditto, by ditto, for their quarto edition.-3. One from Opie, by Heath, for Harrison's edition of his Dictionary.-4. One from Nollekens' bust of him, by Bartolozzi, for Fielding's quarto edition of his Dictionary.5. One small, from Harding, by Trotter, for his Beauties.-6. One small, from Sir Joshua, by Trotter, for his Lives of the Poets.-7. One small, from Sir Joshua, by Hall, for The Rambler.-8. One small, from an original drawing, in the possession of Mr. John Simco, etched by Trotter, for another edition of his Lives of the Poets.-9. One small, no painter's name, etched by Taylor, for his Johnsoniana.-10. One folio wholelength, with his oak-stick, as described in Boswell's Tour, drawn and etched by Trotter.-11. One large mezzotinto, from Sir Joshua, by Doughty.-12. One large Roman head, from Sir Joshua, by Marchi.— 13. One octavo, holding a book to his eye, from Sir Joshua, by Hall, for his Works.-14. One small, from a drawing from the life, and engraved by Trotter, for his Life published by Kearsley.-15. One large, from Opie, by Mr. Townley, (brother of Mr. Townley, of the Commons,) an ingenious artist, who resided some time at Berlin, and has the honour of being engraver to his Majesty the King of Prussia. This is one of the finest mezzotintos that ever was executed; and what renders it of extraordinary value, the plate was destroyed after four or five impressions only were taken off. One of them is in the possession of Sir William Scott. Mr. Townley has lately been prevailed with to execute and pub. lish another of the same, that it may be more generally circulated among



[1784 that event was preached in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, before the University, by the Reverend Mr. Agutter, of Magdalen College'. The Lives, the Memoirs, the Essays, both in prose and verse, which have been published concerning him, would make many volumes. The numerous attacks too upon him, I consider as part of his consequence, upon the principle which he himself so well knew and asserted. Many who trembled at his presence, were forward in assault, when they no longer apprehended danger. When one of his little pragmatical foes was invidiously snarling at his fame, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's table, the Reverend Dr. Parr exclaimed, with his usual bold animation, 'Ay, now that the old lion is dead, every ass thinks he may kick at him.' A monument for him, in Westminster Abbey, was resolved upon soon after his death, and was supported by a most respectable contribution; but the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having come to a resolution of admitting monuments there, upon a liberal and magnificent plan, that Cathedral was afterwards fixed on, as the place in which a cenotaph should be erected to his memory and in the cathedral of his native city of Lichfield, a smaller one is to be erected. compose his epitaph, could not but excite the warmest competition of genius. If laudari à laudato viro be praise which is highly estimable, I should not forgive myself were I to the admirers of Dr. Johnson.-16. One large, from Sir Joshua's first picture of him, by Heath, for this work, in quarto.-17. One octavo, by Baker, for the octavo edition.-18. And one for Lavater's Essay on Physiognomy, in which Johnson's countenance is analysed upon the principles of that fanciful writer.-There are also several seals with his head cut on them, particularly a very fine one by that eminent artist, Edward Burch, Esq. R.A., in the possession of the younger Dr. Charles Burney.


Let me add, as a proof of the popularity of his character, that there are copper pieces struck at Birmingham, with his head impressed on them, which pass current as half-pence there, and in the neighbouring parts of the country.

It is not yet published.-In a letter to me, Mr. Agutter says, 'My sermon before the University was more engaged with Dr. Johnson's moral than his intellectual character. It particularly examined his fear of death, and suggested several reasons for the apprehension of the good, and the indifference of the infidel in their last hours; this was illustrated by contrasting the death of Dr. Johnson and Mr. Hume: the text was Job xxi. 22-26.'

The Reverend Dr. Parr, on being requested to undertake it, thus expressed himself in a letter to William Seward, Esq. :




omit the following sepulchral verses on the authour of THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY, written by the Right Honourable Henry Flood:

'No need of Latin or of Greek to grace

Our JOHNSON's memory, or inscribe his grave;
His native language claims this mournful space,
To pay the Immortality he gave.'

'I leave this mighty task to some hardier and some abler writer. The variety and splendour of Johnson's attainments, the peculiarities of his character, his private virtues, and his literary publications, fill me with confusion and dismay, when I reflect upon the confined and difficult species of composition, in which alone they can be expressed, with propriety, upon his monument.'

But I understand that this great scholar, and warm admirer of Johnson, has yielded to repeated solicitations, and executed the very difficult undertaking. [Dr. Johnson's Monument, consisting of a colossal figure leaning against a column, has since the death of our authour been placed in St. Paul's Cathedral. The Epitaph was written by the Rev. Dr. Parr, and is as follows:

[ocr errors]






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

On a scroll in his hand are the following words:



The Subscription for this monument, which cost eleven hundred guineas, was begun by the LITERARY CLUB.-M.]

To prevent any misconception on this subject, Mr. Malone, by whom these lines were obligingly communicated, requests me to add the follow. ing remark :



[1784 The character of SAMUEL JOHNSON has, I trust, been so developed in the course of this work, that they who have honoured it with a perusal, may be considered as well acquainted with him. As, however, it may be expected that I should collect into one view the capital and distinguishing features of this extraordinary man, I shall endeavour to acquit myself of that part of my biographical undertaking 1, however difficult it may be to do that which many of my readers will do better for themselves.

His figure was large and well formed, and his countenance of the cast of an ancient statue; yet his appearance was rendered strange and somewhat uncouth, by convulsive cramps, by the scars of that distemper which it was once imagined the royal touch could cure, and by a slovenly mode of dress. He had the use only of one eye; yet so much does mind govern and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his visual perceptions, as far as they extended, were uncommonly quick and accurate. So morbid was his temperament, that he never knew the natural joy of a free and vigorous use of his limbs: when he walked, it was like the struggling gait of one in fetters; when he rode, he had no command or direction of his horse, but was carried as if in a balloon. That with his constitution and habits of life he should have lived seventy-five years, is a proof that an in

'In justice to the late Mr. Flood, now himself wanting, and highly meriting, an epitaph from his country, to which his transcendent talents did the highest honour, as well as the most important service; it should be observed that these lines were by no means intended as a regular monumental inscription for Dr. Johnson. Had he undertaken to write an appropriated and discriminative epitaph for that excellent and extraordinary man, those who knew Mr. Flood's vigour of mind, will have no doubt that he would have produced one worthy of his illustrious subject. But the fact was merely this: In Dec. 1789, after a large subscription had been made for Dr. Johnson's monument, to which Mr. Flood liberally contributed, Mr. Malone happened to call on him at his house, in Bernersstreet, and the conversation turning on the proposed monument, Mr. Malone maintained that the epitaph, by whomsoever it should be written, ought to be in Latin. Mr. Flood thought differently. The next morning, in the postscript to a note on another subject, he mentioned that he continued of the same opinion as on the preceding day, and subjoined the lines above given.'

1 As I do not see any reason to give a different character of my illus. trious friend now, from what I formerly gave, the greatest part of the sketch of him in my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, is here adopted.




herent vivida vis is a powerful preservative of the human frame.

Man is, in general, made up of contradictory qualities; and these will ever shew themselves in strange succession, where a consistency in appearance at least, if not in reality, has not been attained by long habits of philosophical discipline. In proportion to the native vigour of the mind, the contradictory qualities will be the more prominent, and more difficult to be adjusted; and, therefore, we are not to wonder, that Johnson exhibited an eminent example of this remark which I have made upon human nature. At different times, he seemed a different man, in some respects; not, however, in any great or essential article, upon which he had fully employed his mind, and settled certain principles of duty, but only in his manners, and in the display of argument and fancy in his talk. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy. He was a sincere and zealous Christian, of high Church-of-England and monarchical principles, which he would not tamely suffer to be questioned; and had, perhaps, at an early period, narrowed his mind somewhat too much, both as to religion and politicks. His being impressed with the danger of extreme latitude in either, though he was of a very independent spirit, occasioned his appearing somewhat unfavourable to the prevalence of that noble freedom of sentiment which is the best possession of man. Nor can it be denied, that he had many prejudices; which, however, frequently suggested many of his pointed sayings, that rather shew a playfulness of fancy than any settled malignity. He was steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations of religion and morality; both from a regard for the order of society, and from a veneration for the GREAT SOURCE of all order; correct, nay stern in his taste; hard to please, and easily offended; impetuous and irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent heart', which shewed

In the Olla Podrida, a collection of Essays published at Oxford, there is an admirable paper upon the character of Johnson, written by the Reverend Dr. Horne, the last excellent Bishop of Norwich. The following passage is eminently happy: To reject wisdom, because the person

« ElőzőTovább »