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a photograph, -accurate in every line and descending to the minutest details of his person and his habits. Having spoken thus far of the man, we shall shortly sum up the chief events of his closing life, and leave the full story to be gathered from the pages of Boswell's marvellous book.

His degree of LL.D., conferred in 1765 by the University of Dublin, was confirmed some years later by his own Alma Mater. In 1765 he published his edition of Shakspere, the preface to which is one of the best specimens of his prose we have. In the autumn of 1773 he made a tour through eastern Scotland and the Hebrides; and from his Letters to Mrs. Thrale he afterwards constructed his Journey to the Hebrides. In 1775 he visited Paris.

The Lives of the Poets, finished in 1781, formed the last of his important works. Beginning with Cowley, he writes of the leading poets down to his own day. His unfair view of Milton has been already noticed. In truth, Johnson seems never to have felt the full meaning of the word “poet.” He was himself a master of pentameter rhymes, smooth, lofty, full-sounding; and we strongly suspect that the skilful manufacture of such appeared to him the highest flight of poetic genius. If he had any poetic fancy at all, it must have been of the clumsiest and palest kind, grey with London smoke and smothered in Latin polysyllables. Let no young reader take his knowledge of the English poets from Johnson's Lives, if he would know the true proportions of our bards. Some of his dwarfs are giants; many of his giants have dwindled into dwarfs.

Burke, Garrick, Gibbon, Reynolds, Goldsmith, and many others of the first men in London, were the constant associates of great King Samuel. Of these, Garrick was the only man who had known him almost from the first. The Thrales—à rich brewer and his wife-opened their hospitable house to the Doctor in his declining years. Streatham became more his home than the lonely chambers in Bolt Court. Here he drank countless cups of tea, had his friends from London out to see him, and was, in fact, a second master of the house. But the end was creeping on. One friend after another dropped into the grave. And after two years of complicated disorders—paralysis, dropsy, asthma, and the old melancholy




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he joined the company of illustrious dead that sleep in silence under the stones of Westminster Abbey. On Monday the 13th of December 1784 his last breath was drawn, at his own house in London.

Dr. Johnson's English style demands a few words. So peculiar is it, and such a swarm of imitators grew up during the half century of his greatest fame, that a special name-Johnsonese—has been often used to denote the march of its ponderous classic words. Yet it was not original, and not a many-toned style. There were in our literature, earlier than Dr. Johnson's day, writers who far outdid their Fleet Street disciple in recruiting our native ranks with heavy-armed warriors from the Greek phalanx and the Latin legion. Of these writers Sir Thomas Browne was perhaps the chief. Goldy, as the great Samuel loved to call the author of the “Deserted Village,” got many a sore blow from the Doctor's conversational sledge-hammer; but he certainly contrived to get within the Doctor's guard and hit him home, when he said, “ If you were to write a fable about little fishes, Doctor, you would make the little fishes talk like whales.” Macaulay tells us that when Johnson wrote for publication, he did his sentences out of English into Johnsonese. His Letters from the Hebrides to Mrs. Thrale are the original of that work, of which the

Journey to the Hebrides” is a translation; and it is amusing to compare the two versions. “ When we were taken up stairs,” says be in one of his letters, “ à dirty fellow bounced out of the bed on which one of us was to lie.” This incident is recorded in the Journey as follows: “Out of one of the beds, on which we were to repose, started up, at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from the forge." Sometimes Johnson translated aloud. Rehearsal,” he said, very unjustly, “has not wit enough to keep it sweet." Then, after a pause, “ It has, not vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction."

One of the most natural pieces of English that ever came from Johnson's pen, was his letter to Lord Chesterfield, written in a proud and angry mood to reject the offered patronage of that nobleman. We subjoin it, in preference to heavier specimens of Johnson's style.



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February 7th, 1786. MY LORD,

I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of the World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the public, were written by your Lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive or in what terms to acknowledge.

When, with some slight encouragement, I first visited your Lordship, I w's overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre,—that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged that neither pride for modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lord. ship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

Seven years, my Lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of cncouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before. The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks. Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when lie has reached ground, encunibers him with help?

The notice you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had Leen kind ; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity, not to confess obligations when to benefit has been received; or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.

Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less ; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation,

My Lord,
Your Lordship’s most humble, most obedient Servant,



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WILLIAM SHENSTONE, born in 1714, at Leasowes in Shropshire, after receiving his higher education at Pembroke College, Oxford, retired to spend his days upon those acres, of which his father's death had left him master. His chief works are the Schoolmistress, “à descriptive sketch, after the manner of Spenser;" and the Pastoral Ballad, which is considered the finest English specimen of its class. Shenstone died at Leasowes in 1763.

WILLIAM COLLINS, one of our finest writers of the Ode, was the son of a hätter at Chichester, and was born there in 1721. He enjoyed the advantage of a classical education at Winchester, and at Magdalen College, Oxford. The Passions, and his Odes to Liberty and Evening, are his finest lyrical pieces. His Oriental Eclogues, written at college, afford a specimen of his powers in another style—that of descriptive writing. After a short life, clouded with many disappointments, Collins sank into a nervous weakness, which continued until his death in 1759.

MARK AKENSIDE wrote the Pleasures of Imagination. the son of a butcher'at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he was born in 1721. In 1744 he took his degree of M.D. at Leyden.

His great poem had already appeared. He enjoyed some practice as a

He was




physician; but his chief support was derived from the liberality of a friend. Akenside died somewhat suddenly in 1770 of putrid sore throat.

The WARTONS, a father and two sons, were poets and poetical critics during part of the last century. The father was Professor of Poetry at Oxford,--an office which was also held by his second son, Thomas, (1728–1790.) Thomas Warton's chief poem was The Pleasures of Melancholy, published when he was only nineteen; but his greatest work was his History of English Poetry. He became poet-laureate in 1785. An elder brother, Joseph, who was head-master of Winchester School and afterwards a prebend of St. Paul's, also wrote poems, but of inferior merit. His Ode to Fancy may be considered a favourable specimen of his style.

JOHN HOME, a well-known dramatist, was born at Leith in 1722. He became minister of Athelstaneford, but when he wrote the tragedy of Douglas, he had to resign his living. Lord Bute having conferred on him a sinecure office and a pension, together worth about £600 a year, on this comfortable income he enjoyed the best literary society of the Scottish capital. Of all his works, Douglas alone has lived. Home died in 1808.

WILLIAM MASON, born in Yorkshire in 1725, was a close friend of the poet Gray, whose acquaintance he made at Cambridge. Mason wrote many odes and dramas; but The English Garden, a blank-verse

poem in four books, was his chief composition. After the death of Gray he edited the Poems, and published the Life and Letters of his friend. Mason died in 1797.

THOMAS PERCY, Bishop of Dromore, deserves our gratitude for his collection of ballads, published in 1765 under the title of Reliques of English Poetry. These old songs, revived and often supplemented by the collector, gave a strong impulse to the genius of Scott and other poets. Percy, a Shropshire man, lived from 1728 until 1811. Before obtaining the bishopric of Dromore he was Dean of Carlisle.

ERASMUS DARWIN, the poet-laureate of botany, was born in 1731, at Elston near Newark. Having received his education

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