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How few distinguish'd of the studious train At the
gay board their empire can maintain ! In their own books intomb’d their wisdom lies ; Too dull for talk, their slow conceptions rise : Yet the mute author, of his writings proud, For wit unshown claims homage from the crowd; As thread-bare misers, by mean avarice school’d, Expect obeisance from their hidden gold.In converse quick, impetuous Johnson press'd His weighty logick, or sarcastick jest : Strong in the chase, and nimble in the turns', For victory still his fervid spirit burns ; Subtle when wrong, invincible when right, Arm’d at all points, and glorying in his might, Gladiator-like, he traverses the field, And strength and skill compel the foe to yield. -Yet have I seen him, with a milder air, Encircled by the witty and the fair, Even in old age with placid mien rejoice At beauty's smile, and beauty's flattering voice.With Reynolds' pencil, vivid, bold, and true, So fervent Boswell gives him to our view. In every trait we see his mind expand; The master rises by the pupil's hand; We love the writer, praise his happy vein, Graced with the naiveté of the sage Montaigne. Hence not alone are brighter parts display'd, But even the specks of character portray’d: We see the Rambler with fastidious smile Mark the lone tree, and note the heath-clad isle ; But when the heroick tale of Flora charms, Deck’d in a kilt, he wields a chieftain's arms : The tuneful piper sounds a martial strain, And Samuel sings, “ The king shall have his ain :" Two Georges in his loyal zeal are slurr'd', A gracious pension only saves the third !
1“ A good continued speech (says Bacon in his “Essays') without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course, are yet nimblest in their turn ; as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare.” If this observation be just, Dr. Johnson is an exception to the rule ; for he was certainly as strong “in the course, as nimble in the turn;" as ready in “ reply,” as in “a settled speech.”—COURTENAY. (See ante, vol. ii. p. 127. 11. Lord St. Helens has since informed the editor, that his father, Mr. Fitzherbert, had confirmed to him the account of Johnson's failure at the Society of Arts.--Ed.]
3 The celebrated Flora Macdonald, See Boswell's Tour.-COURTENAY. 3 See note 1, p. 450.-COURTENAY.
By nature's gifts ordain'd mankind to rule, He, like a Titian, form’d his brilliant school; And taught congenial spirits to excel, While from his lips impressive wisdom fell. Our boasted Goldsmith felt the sovereign sway; To him we owe his sweet yet nervous lay. To fame's proud cliff he bade our Raphael rise ; Hence Reynolds? pen with Reynolds' pencil vies. With Johnson's flame melodious Burney glows', While the grand strain in smoother cadence flows. And thou, Malone, to critic learning dear, Correct and elegant, refined, though clear, By studying him, first form'd that classick taste, Which high in Shakspeare's fane thy statue placed. Near Johnson, Steevens stands, on scenick ground, Acute, laborious, fertile, and profound. Ingenious Hawkesworth to this school we owe, And scarce the pupil from the tutor know. Here early parts? accomplish'd Jones sublimes, And science blends with Asia's lofty rhymes : Harmonious Jones! who in his splendid strains Sings Camdeo's sports on Agra's flowery plains ; In Hindu fictions while we fondly trace
ove and the Muses, deck'd with Attick grace S. Amid these names can Boswell be forgot, Scarce by North Britons now esteem'd a Scot? Who to the sage devoted from his youth, Imbibed from him the sacred love of truth; The keen rese
search, the exercise of mind, And that best art, the art to know mankind.
bed, First o’er the neighbouring meads majestick spread; 1 Dr. Burney's “ History of Musick” is equally distinguished for elegance and perspicuity of style, and for scientific knowledge. -COURTENAY.
? Sir William Jones produced that learned and ingenious work, “ Poeseos Asiaticæ Commentarii,” at a very early age. -COURTENAY.
3 «The Hindu God, to whom the following poem is addressed, appears evidently the same with the Grecian Eros and the Roman Cupido. His favourite place of resort is a large tract of country round Agra, and principally the plains of Matra, where Krishen also and the nine Gopia, who are clearly the Apollo and Muses of the Greeks, usually spend the night with music and dance." Preface to the Hymn to Camdeo, translated from the Hindu language into Persian, and re-translated by Sir William Jones. There can be little doubt, considering the antiquity and early civilization of Hindostan, that both the philosophy and beautiful mythology of the Greeks were drawn from that part of Asia. -COURTENAY.
Till gathering force, they more and more expand,
Thus sings the Muse, to Johnson's memory just,
Yet learning's sons, who o'er his foibles mourn,
· When Dr. Johnson repeated to Mr. Boswell Goldsmith's beautiful eulogium on the English nation, his eyes filled with tears. See the Dissertation on the Bravery of the English common Soldiers, at the end of the “ Idler.”_COURTENAY.
» [This imputation is very unjust. Dr. Johnson never “ seemed to hope" for the restoration of papal authority or the advance of the Roman catholic religion, though he very naturally and properly respected the latter, as one of the great classes of christianity.--Ed.]
3 It is observable, that Dr. Johnson did not prefix a dedication to any one of his various works.—COURTENAY. [“ His character lifted him into so much consequence, that it occasioned several respectable writers to dedicate their works to him. This was to receive more reverence than he paid.” Tyers. Gent. Mag. Feb. 1785, p. 86.-ED.)
• The papers in the “ Adventurer,” signed with the letter T, are commonly atiri. buted to one of Dr. Johnson's earliest and most intimate friends, Mr. Bathurst; but there is good reason to believe that they were written by Dr. Johnson, and given by him to his friend. At that time Dr. Johnson was himself engaged in writing the “Rambler," and could ill afford to make a present of his labours. The various other pieces that he gave away have bestowed fame, and probably fortune, on several persons. To the great disgrace of some of his clerical friends, forty sermons, which he himself tells us he wrote, have not yet been deterrés.-COURTENAY. [See on both the points alluded to in this note ante, vol. i. p. 211; vol. iv. p. 531; vol. i. p. 307; and vol. iv. pp. 32 and 170.Ed.]
5“Who noble ends by noble means obtains.”--Pope.
Whose ardent hope, intensely fix'd on high,
The sculptured trophy, and imperial bust,
[CHARACTER of DR. JOHNSON, by DR. HORNE, Bishop of Norwich, published in the Olla Podrida, and referred to in vol. v. p. 359.]
“ When a friend told Johnson that he was much blamed for having anveiled the weakness of Pope, 'Sir,' said he, if one man undertake to write the life of another, he undertakes to exhibit his true and real character; but this can be done only by a faithful and accurate delineation of the particulars which discriminate that character.'
“The biographers of this great man seem conscientiously to have followed the rule thus laid down by him, and have very fairly communicated all they knew, whether to his advantage, or otherwise. Much concern, disquietude, and offence have been occasioned by this their conduct in the minds of many, who apprehend that the cause in which he stood forth will suffer by the infirmities of the advocate being thus 'exposed to the prying and malignant eye of the world.
“ But did these persons then ever suppose, or did they imagine that the world ever supposed, Dr. Johnson to have been a perfect character ? Alas! no: we all know how that matter stands, if we ever look into our own hearts, and duly watch the current of our own thoughts, works, words, and actions. Johnson was honest, and kept a faithful diary of these, which is before the public. Let any man do the same for a fortnight, and publish it; and if, after that, he should find himself so disposed, let him 'cast a stone.' At that
hour when the failings of all shall be made manifest, the attention of each individual will be confined to his own. “ It is not merely the name of Johnson that is to do service to any
It is his genius, his learning, his good sense, the strength of his reasonings, and the happiness of his illustrations. These all are precisely what they were; once good, and always good. His arguments in favour of self-denial do not lose their force because he fasted, nor those in favour of devotion because he said his prayers. Grant his failings were, if possible, still greater than these ; will a man refuse to be guided by the sound opinion of a counsel, or resist the salutary prescription of a physician, because they who give them are not without their faults ?
A man may do so, but he will never be accounted a wise man for doing it. “ Johnson, it is said, was superstitious. But who shall exactly
, ascertain to us what superstition is? The Romanist is charged with it by the church of England man; the churchman by the presbyterian, the presbyterian by the independent, all by the deist, and the deist by the atheist. With some it is superstitious to pray; with others to receive the sacrament; with others to believe in God. In some minds it springs from the most amiable disposition in the world
- a pious awe, and fear to have offended ;' a wish rather to do too much than too little. Such a disposition one loves, and wishes always to find in a friend ; and it cannot be disagreeable in the sight of him who made us. It argues a sensibility of heart, a tenderness of conscience, and the fear of God. Let him who finds it not in himself beware, lest in flying from superstition he fall into irreligion and profaneness.
“ That persons of eminent talents and attainments in literature have been often complained of as dogmatical, boisterous, and inattentive to the rules of good breeding, is well known. But let us not expect every thing from any man. There was no occasion that Johnson should teach us to dance, to make bows or turn compliments; he could teach us better things. To reject wisdom because the person of him who communicates it is uncouth, and his manners are inelegant,--what is it but to throw away a pineapple, and assign for a reason the roughness of its coat ? Who quarrels with a botanist for not being an astronomer? or with a moralist for not being a mathematician? As it is said, in concerns of a much higher nature, ' Every man hath his gift-one after this manner, and another after that. It is our business to profit by all, and to learn of each that in which each is best qualified to instruct us.
“ That Johnson was generous and charitable, none can deny. But he was not always judicious in the selection of his objects : distress was a sufficient recommendation; and he did not scrutinize into the failings of the distressed. May it be always my lot to have such a