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boat at sea in a tempestuous night, and, being theatre. The present writer well remembers anxious for his freight, suddenly started up, and being in conversation with Dr. Johnson near said his men would be drowned, for he had seen the side of the scenes during the tragedy of King them pass before him with wet garments and Lear: when Garrick came off the stage, he dripping locks. The event corresponded with said, “ You two talk so loud you destroy all my his disordered fancy. And thus," continues feelings." “ Prithee," replied Johnson, “ do Mr. Pennant, “a distempered imagination, not talk of feelings, Punch has no feelings." clouded with anxiety, may make an impression This seems to have been his settled opinion; on the spirits; as persons, restless and troubled admirable as Garrick's imitation of nature alwith indignation, see various forms and figures ways was, Johnson thought it no better than while they lie awake in bed.” This is what mere mimicry. Yet it is certain that he esDr. Johnson was not willing to reject. He teemed and loved Garrick ; that he dwe't with wished for some positive proof of communica- pleasure on his praise ; and used to declare, that tions with another world. His benevolence he deserved his great success, because on all apembraced the whole race of man, and yet was plications for charity he gave more than was tinctured with particular prejudices. He was asked. After Garrick's death he never talked pleased with the minister in the Isle of Sky, of him without a tear in his eye. He offered, and loved him so much that he began to wish if Mrs. Garrick would desire it of him, to be him not a Presbyterian. To that body of Dis- the editor of his works and the historian of his senters his zeal for the Established Church made life. * It has been mentioned, that on his him in some degree an adversary; and his at- death-bed he thought of writing a Latin intachment to a mixed and limited Monarchy led scription to the memory of his friend. Numhim to declare open war against what he called bers are still living who know these facts, and a sullen Republican. He would rather praise a still remember with gratitude the friendship man of Oxford thau of Cambridge. He dis- which he showed to them with unaltered affecliked a Whig, and loved a Tory. These were tion for a number of years. His humanity and the shades of his character, which it has been generosity, in proportion to his slender income, the business of certain party-writers to repre- were unbounded. It has been truly said, sent in the darkest colours.
that the lame, the blind, and the sorrowful, Since virtue, or moral goodness, consists in a found in his house a sure retreat. A strict just conformity of our actions to the relations in adherence to truth he considered as a sawhich we stand to the Supreme Being and to cred obligation, insomuch that, in relating the our fellow-creatures, where shall we find a man most minute anecdote, he would not allow himwho has been, or endeavoured to be, more dili. self the smallest addition to embellish his story. gent in the discharge of those essential duties? | The late Mr. Tyers, who knew Dr. Johnson His first prayer was composed in 1738; be con- intimately, observed, “ that he always talked as tinued those fervent ejaculations of piety to the if he was talking upon oath." end of his life. In his Meditations we see him After a long acquaintance with this excellent scrutinizing himself with severity, and aiming man, and an attentive retrospect to his whole at perfection unattainable by man. His duty to conduct, such is the light in which he appears to ais neighbour consisted in universal benevolence, the writer of this essay. The following lines of and a constant aim at the production of happi- Horace may be deemed his picture in miniature. Who was more sincere and steady in his
Iracundior est paulo, minus aptus acutis friendships? It has been said that there was no
Naribus horum hominum, rideri possit, eo quod real affection between him and Garrick. On
Rusticius tonso toga desluit, et male lazus the part of the latter, there might be some cor- In pede calceus hæret; at est bonus, ut melior vir rosions of jealousy. The character of Pros- Non alius quisquam : at tibi amicus, at ingerium ingens, PERO, in the Rambler, No. 200, was, beyond all
Inculto latet hoc sub corpore. question, occasioned by Garrick's ostentatious
“ Your friend is passionate, perhaps unfit display of furniture and Dresden china. It
For the brisk petulance of modern wit.
His hair ill-cut, his robe that awkward flows,
Or his large shoes, to raillery expose
A genius of extensive knowledge lies.”
FRANCIS' Hor. Book. i. Sat, 3. dramatic art as the rest of the world. The fact was, Johnson could not see the passions as they rose and chased one another in the varied
* 1: is to be regretted that he was not encouraged features of that expressive face; and by his own
in this undertaking. The assistance, however, which manner of reciting verses, which was wonder- he gave to Davies, in writing the Life of Garrick, fully impressive, he plainly showed that he has been acknowledged in general terms by that thought there was too much of artificial tone writer, and, from the evidence of style, appears to and measured cadence in the declamation of the hare been very considerable. C.
le remains to give a review of Johnson's , ham stabbed by Felton, Lord Strafford, Claren works; and this, it is imagined, will not be undon, Charles XII. of Sweden ; and for Tully welcome to the reader.
and Demosthenes, Lydiat, Galileo, and ArchLike Milton and Addison, he seems to have bishop Laud. It is owing to Johnson's delight been fond of his Latin poetry. Those composi- in biography that the name of Lydiat is called tions show that he was an early scholar; but forth from obscurity. It may, therefore, not be his verses have not the graceful ease that gave useless to tell, that Lydiat was a loarned divine 80 much suavity to the poems of Addison. The and mathematician in the beginning of the last translation of the Messiah labours under two century. He attacked the doctrine of Aristotle disadvantages; it is first to be compared with and Scaliger, and wrote a number of sermons on Pope's inimitable performance, and afterwards the harmony of the Evangelists. With all his with the Pollio of Virgil. It may appear merit, be lay in the prison of Bocardo at Oxtrifling to remark, that he has made the letter ford, till Bishop Usber, Laud, and others, paid o, in the word Virgo, long and short in the same his debts. He petitioned Charles I. to be sent line; Virgo, Virgo parit. But the translation to Ethiopia to procure manuscripts. Having has great merit, and some admirable lines. In spoken in favour of monarchy and bishops, he the odes there is a sweet flexibility, particularly, was plundered by the Puritans, and twice carTo his worthy friend Dr. Laurence; on him- ried away a prisoner from bis rectory. He died self at the theatre, March 8, 1771 ; tbe Ode in very poor in 1646. the Isle of Sky; and that to Mrs. Thrale from The tragedy of Irene is founded on a passage the same place.
in Knolles' History of the Turks; an author His English poetry is such as leaves room to highly commended in the Rambler, No. 122. think, if he had devoted himself to the Muses, An incident in the Life of Mahomet the Great,
hat he would have been the rival of Pope. His first emperor of the Turks, is the hinge on first production in this kind was London, a which the fable is made to move. The subpoem in imitation of the third satire of Juvenal. stance of the story is shortly this. In 1453 The vices of the metropolis are placed in the Mahomet laid siege to Constantinople, and room of ancient manners. The author had having reduced the place, became enamoured heated his mind with the ardour of Juvenal, of a fair Greek, whose name was Irene. and, having the skill to polish his numbers, he The sultan invited her to embrace the law of became a sharp accuser of the times. The the Prophet, and to grace his throne. Enragod Vanity of Human Wishes is an imitation of the at this intended marriage, the Janizaries forined tenth Satire of the same author. Though it is a conspiracy to dethrone the Emperor. То translated by Dryden, Johnson's imitation ap- avert the impending danger, Mahomet, in a full proaches nearest to the spirit of the original. assembly of the grandees, “catching with one The subject is taken from the Alcibiades of hand,” as Knolles relates it, “ the fair Greek Plato, and has an intermixture of the senti- by the hair of her head, and drawing his falchion ments of Socrates concerning the object of with the other, he, at one blow, struck off her prayers offered up to the Deity. The general head, to the great terror of them all ; and, havproposition is, that good and evil are so little ing so done, said unto them, Now, by this, judge understood by mankind, that their wishes when whether your emperor is able to bridle bis afgranted are always destructive. This is exem- fections or not.” The story is simple, and it plified in a variety of instances, such as riches, remained for the author to amplify it with prostate preferment, eloquence, military glory, long per episodes, and give it complication and valife, and the advantages of form and beauty. riety. The catastrophe is changed, and horror Juvenal's conclusion is worthy of a Christian gives place to terror and pity. But, after all, poet, and such a pen as Johnson's. “ Let us,” the fable is cold and languid. There is not, he says, “ leave it to the Gods to judge what is throughout the piece, a single situation to excite fittest for us. Man is dearer to his Creator curiosity, and raise a conflict of passions. The than to himself. If we must pray for special diction is nervous, rich, and elegant; but splenfavour, let it be for a sound mind in a sound did language, and melodious numbers, will body. Let us pray for fortitude, that we may make a fine poem, not a tragedy. The senti. think the labours of Hercules and all his suffer-ments are beautiful, always happily expressed, ings preferable to a life of luxury and the soft but seldom appropriated to the character, and repose of Sardanapalus. This is a blessing generally too philosophic. What Johnson has within the reach of every man ; this we can said of the tragedy of Cato may be applied to give ourselves. It is virtue, and virtue only, Irene: “ It is rather a poem in dialogue than a that can make us happy.” In the translation the drama ; rather a succession of just sentiments zeal of the Christian conspired with the warmth in elegant language, than a representation of naind energy of the poet ; but Juvenal is not tural affections. Nothing excites or assuages eclipsed.- For the various characters in the emotion. The events are expected without solioriginal, the reader is pleased, in the English citude, and are remembered without joy or sorpoein, to meet with Cardinal Wolsey, Bucking-row. Of the agents we have no caro; we OOR
sider not what they are doing, nor what they tation which went on increasing to the end of are suffering ; we wish only to know what they his days. The circulation of those periodical have to say. It is unaffecting elegance, and chill essays was not, at first, equal to their merit. philosophy.” The following speech, in the They had not, like the Spectators, the art of mouth of a Turk, who is supposed to have beard charming by variety; and indeed how could it of the British constitution, has been often se- be expected ? The wits of Queen Anne's reign lected from the numberless beauties with which sent their contributions to the Spectator; and Irene abounds :
Johnson stood alone. “ A stage-coach,” says
Sir Richard Steele, “must go forward on stated “ If there be any land, as fame reports, Where common laws restrain the prince and subject;
days, whether there are passengers or not.” So A happy land, where circulatiog power
it was with the Rambler, every Tuesday and Flows through each member of th' embodied state ; Saturday, for two years. In this collection Sure, not unconscious of the mighty blessing,
Johnson is the great moral teacher of his counHer grateful song shine bright with every virtue ; trymen ; his essays form a body of ethics ; the Untainted with the Lust of Innovation ;
observations on life and manners are acute and Sure all unite to hold her league of rule,
instructive ; and the papers, professedly critical, Unbroken as the sacred chain of nature,
serve to promote the cause of literature. It That links the jarring elements in peace.”
must, however, be ackuowledged, that a settled These are British sentiments. Above forty gloom bangs over the anthor's mind; and all years ago they found an echo in the breast of the essays, except eight or ten, coming from the applauding audiences; and to this hour they are same fountain-head, no wonder that they have the voice of the people, in defiance of the mela- the raciness of the soil from which they sprang. physics and the new lights of certain politicians, of this uniformity Johnson was sensible. He who would gladly find their private advantage used to say, that if he had joined a friend or in the disasters of their couniry; a race of men, two, who would have been able to intermix paquibus nulla ex honesto spies.
pers of a sprightly turn, the collection would The prologue to Irene is written with ele- have been more miscellaneous, and by consegauce, and, in a peculiar style, shows the literary quence more agreeable to the generality of readpride and lofty spirit of the author. The epi-ers. This he used to illustrate by repeating two logue, we are told in a late publication, was beautiful stanzas from his own Ode to Cave, or written by Sir William Young. This is a new Sylvanus Urban ; discovery, but by no means probable. When
Non ulla Musis pagiva gratior, the appendages to a dramatic performance are
Quam quæ severis ludicra jungere not assigned to a friend, or an unknown band,
Novit, fatigatamque nugis or a person of fashion, they are always supposed
Utilibus recreare mentem. to be written by the author of the play. It is
Texente nymphis serta Lycoride, to be wished, however, that the epilogie in
Rosæ ruborem sic viola adjuvat question could be transferred to any other
Immista, sic Iris refulget writer. It is the worst jeu d'esprit that ever fell
Ætbereis variata fucis from Jobnson's pen."
An account of the various pieces contained in It is remarkable, that the pomp of diction, this edition, such as miscellaneous tracts, and which has been objected to Jobnson, was first philological dissertations, would lead beyond the assumed in the Rambler. His Dictionary was intended limits of this essay. It will suffice to going on at the same time, and, in the course of say, that they are the productions of a man who that work, as he grew familiar with technical never wanted decorations of language, and al- and scholastic words, he thought that the bulk ways taught his readers to think. The life of of his readers were equally learned ; or at least the late king of Prussia, as far as it extends, is would admire the splendour and dignity of the a model of the biographical style. The Review style. And yet it is well known that he praised of the Origin of Evil was, perhaps, written with in Cowley the easy and unaffected structure of asperity ; but the angry epitaph which it pro- the sentences. Cowley may be placed at the voked from Soame Jenyns, was an ill-timed re- head of those who cultivated a clear and natural Hentment, unworthy of the genius of that ami- style. Dryden, Tillotson, and Sir William able author.
Temple, followed. Addison, Swift, and Pope, The Rambler may be considered as Johnson's with more correctness, carried our language great work. It was the basis of that bigh repu-well migh to perfection. Of Addison, Johnson
was used to say, He is the Raphael of Essay
Writers. How he differed so widely from such • Dr. Johnson informed Mr. Boswell that this Epi- elegant models is a problem not to be solved, logue was written by Sir William Young. See Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. i. p. 166-70. 850. edit.
unless it be true that he took an early tincture 1904. The internal evidence that it is not Johnson's
from the writers of the last century, particularly is very strong, particularly in the line, “ But, how Sir Thomas Browne. Hence the peculiarities the devil," &c.
of bis style, new combinations, sentences of an unusual structure, and words derived from the phrase, to be o'er-inform’d with meam learned languages. His own account of the his words do not appear to himself adequ matter is, “ When common words were less his conception. He moves in state, ana pleasing to the ear, or less distinct in their signi- periods are always harmonious. His Orien fication, I familiarized the terms of philosophy, | Tales are in the true style of Eastern magnit by applying them to popular ideas.” But he cence, and yet none of them are so much adforgot the observation of Dryden: If too many mired as the Visions of Mirza. In matters of foreign words are poured in upon us, it looks as if criticism, Johnson is never the echo of precedthey were designed, not to assist the natives, but to ing writers. He thinks and decides for himcunquer them.
There is, it must be admitted, a self. If we except the Essays on the Pleasures swell of language, often out of all proportion to of Imagination, Addison cannot be called a the sentiment; but there is, in general, a fulness philosophical critic. His moral Essays are of mind, and the thought seems to expand with beautiful: but in that province nothing can the sound of the words. Determined to discard exceed the Rambler, though Johnson used to colloquial barbarisms and licentious idioms, he say, that the Essay on The burthens of mankind forgot the elegant simplicity that distinguishes in the Spectator, No. 558) was the most exquithe writings of Addison. He had wbat Locke site he had ever read. Talking of himself, calls a round-about view of his subject; and Johnson said, “ Topham Beauclerk has wit, though he was never tainted, like many mo- and every thing comes from him with ease; dern wits, with the ambition of shining in but when I say a good thing I seem to labour.” paradox, he may be fairly called an Original When we compare him with Addison, the THINKER. His reading was extensive. He contrast is still stronger. Addison lends grace treasured in his mind whatever was worthy of and ornament to truth : Johnson gives it force notice, but he added to it from his own medita- and energy. Addison makes virtue amiable; tion. He collected, quæ reconderet, auctaque pro- Johnson represents it as an awful duty. Admeret. Addison was not so profound a thinker. dison insinuates himself with an air of modesty; He was born to write, converse, and live with ease ; Johnson commands like a dictator; but a dictaand he found an early patron in Lord Somers. tor in his splendid robes, not labouring at the He depended, however, more upon a fine taste plough. Addison is the Jupiter of Virgil, with than the vigour of his mind. His Latin poetry placid serenity talking to Venus : shows, that he relished, with a just selection, all “ Vultu, quo cælum tempestatesque serenat." the refined and delicate beauties of the Roman Johnson is Jupiter tonans: he darts his lightclassics; and when he cultivated his native lan- ning, and rolls his thunder, in the cause of guage, no wonder that he formed that graceful virtue and piety. The language seems to fall style, which has been so justly admired ; simple, short of ideas; be pours along, familiarizing the yet elegant; adorned, yet never over-wrought; terms of philosophy, with bold inversions, and rich in allusion, yet pure and perspicuous; cor- sonorous periods; but we may apply to him rect, without labour; and though sometimes defi- what Pope has said of Homer : “ It is the sencient in strength, yet always musical. His essays, timent that swells and fills out the diction, in general, are on the surface of life ; if ever ori- which rises with it, and forms itself about it; ginal, it was in pieces of humour. Sir Roger de like glass in the furnace, wbich grows to a Coverly, and the Tory Fox-hunter, need not to greater magnitude, as the breath within is more be mentioned. Johnson had a fund of humour, powerful, and the heat more intense." but he did not know it: nor was he willing to It is not the design of this comparison to dedescend to the familiar idiom and the variety of cide between these two eminent writers. In diction which that mode of composition requir- matters of taste every reader will choose for ed. The letter, in the Rambler, No. 12, from himself. Johnson is always profound, and of a young girl that wants a place, will illustrate course gives the fatigue of thinking. Addison this observation. Addison possessed an un- charms while be instructs; and writing, as he clouded imagination, alive to the first objects of always does, a pure, an elegant and idiomatic nature and of art. He reaches the sublime / style, he may be pronounced the safest model without any apparent effort. When he tells us, for imitation. * If we consider the fixed stars as so many The essays written hy Johnson in the Advenoceans of flame, that are each of them attended turer may be called a continuation of the Ramwith a different set of planets ; if we still dis- bler. The Idler, in order to be consistent with cover new firmaments and new lights that are the assumed character, is written with abated sunk further in those unfathomable depths of vigour, in a style of ease and unlaboured eleBether, we are lost in a labyrinth of suns and gance. It is the Odyssey after the Iliad. In. worlds, and confounded with the magnificeuce tense thinking would not become the Idler, and immensity of nature;" the ease with which | The first number presents a well-drawn porthis passage rises to unaffected grandeur, is the trait of an Idler, and from that character no secret charm that captivates the reader. John- deviation could be made. Accordingly, Johnson son-is always lofty; he seems, to use Dryden's / farrotx his awetere manner, and mlave ne into
sense. He still continues his lectures on human | madness, and the dangerous prevalence of smalife, but he adverts to common occurrences, and gination, till in time some particular train of is often content with the topic of the day. An ideas fixes the attention, and the mind recurs advertisement in the beginning of the first constantly to the favourite conception, is carried volume informs us, that twelve entire essays on in a strain of acute observation; but it leaves were a contribution from different hands. One us room to think that the author was transcribof these, No. 33, is the journal of a Senior ing from his own apprehensions. The discourse Fellow at Cambridge, but as Johnson, being on the nature of the soul gives us all that philohimself an original thinker, always revolted from sophy knows, not without a tincture of superservile imitation, he has printed the piece, with stition. It is remarkable that the vanity of an apology, importing that the journal of a human pursuits was, about the same time, the citizen in the Spectator almost precluded the at- subject that employed both Johnson and Voltempt of any subsequent writer. This account taire : but Candide is the work of a lively imaof the Idler may be closed, after observing, that gination; and Rasselas, with all its splendour the author's mother being buried on the 23d of of eloquence, exhibits a gloomy picture. It January, 1959, there is an admirable paper oc- should, however, be remembered, that the world casioned by that event, on Saturday the 27th of has known the weeping as well as the laughing the same month, No. 41. The reader, if he philosopher. pleases, may compare it with another fine paper The Dictionary does not properly fall within in the Rambler, No. 54, on the conviction that the province of this essay. The preface, howrushes on the mind at the bed of a dying friend. ever, will be found in this edition. He who
“ Rasselas," says Sir John Hawkins, “is a reads the close of it, without acknowledging the specimen of our language scarcely to be paral-force of the pathetic and sublime, must have leled; it is written in a style refined to a degree more insensibility in his composition than usualof immaculrte purity, and displays the whole ly falls to the share of a man. The work itself, force of turgid eloquence.” One cannot but though in some instances abuse has been loud, smile at this encomium. -Rasselas is undoubt- and in others malice has endeavoured to underedly both elegant and sublime. It is a view of mine its fame, still remains the Mount ATLAS human life, displayed, it must be owned, in of English Literature. gloomy colours. The author's natural melancholy, depressed, at the time, by the approach
Though storins and tempests thunder on its brow,
And oceans brak their billows at its feet, ing dissolution of his mother, darkened the pic
It stand, unmoved, and glories in its height. ture. A tale, that should keep curiosity awake by the artifice of unexpected incidents, was not
That Johnson was eminently qualified for the che design of a mind pregnant with better office of a commentator on Sbakspeare, no man chings. He, who reads the heads of the chap- can doubt ; but it was an office which he never rers, will find, that it is not a course of adven- cordially embraced. The public expected more tures that invites him forward, but a discussion than he had diligence to perform; and yet his of interesting questions; Reflections on Human edition has been the ground on which every subLife; the History of Imlac, the Man of Learn- sequent commentator has chosen to build. One ing ;. a Dissertation upon Poetry; the Charac- note for its singularity, may be thought worthy ter of a wise and happy Man, who discourses of notice in this place. Hamlet says ; “ For if with energy on the government of the passions, the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a and on a sudden, when Death deprives him of God-kissing carrion.” In this Warburton dishis daughter, forgets all his maxims of wisdom covered the origin of evil. Hamlet, he says, and the eloquence that adorned them, yielding breaks off in the middle of the sentence; but to the stroke of affliction with all the vehemence the learned commentator knows what he was of the bitterest anguish. It is by pictures of 1 going to say, and being unwilling to keep the life, and profound moral reflection, that expec- secret, he goes on in a train of philosophical tation is engaged and gratified throughout the reasoning that leaves the reader in astonishment. work. The History of the Mad Astronomer, Johnson, with true piety, adopts the fanciful who imagines that, for five years, he possessed hypothesis, declaring it to be a noble emendathe regulation of the weather, and that the sun tion, which almost sets the critic on a level with passed from tropic to tropic by his directiou, re- the author. The general observations at the presents in striking colours the sad effect of a end of the several plays, and the preface, will be distempered imagination. It becomes the more found in this edition. The former, with great affecting when we recollect that it proceeds from elegance and precision, give a summary view of one who lived in fear of the same dreadful visi- each drama. The preface is a tract of great tation; from one who says emphatically, “ Of erudition and philosophical criticism. the uncertainties in our present state, the most Johnson's political pamphlets, whatever was dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continu- his motive for writing them, whether gratitudo ance of reason.” The inquiry into the cause of for his pension, or the solicitation of men in