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his end. (1)] His end, whatever was the cause, was now approaching
“ In the Hermit, the [composition] narrative, as it is less airy, is less pleasing.”
In the Life of BLACKMORE, we find that writer's reputation generously cleared by Johnson from the cloud of prejudice which the malignity of contemporary wits had raised around it. In the spirited exertion of justice, he has been imitated by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his praise of the architecture of Vanburgh.
We trace Johnson's own character in his observations on Blackmore's “ magnanimity as an author.” “ The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself.” Johnson, I recollect, once told me, laughing heartily, that he understood it has been said of him, “ He appears not to feel ; but when he is alone, depend upon it, he suffers sadly.' I am as certain as I can be of any man's real sentiments, that he enjoyed the perpetual shower of little hostile arrows, as evidences of his fame.
Various Readings in the Life of BLACKMORE. “ To [set] engage poetry (on the side] in the cause of virtue.
(1) I should have thought that Johnson, who had felt the severe affliction from which Parnell never recovered, would have preserved this passage. He omitted it, doubtless, because he afterwards learned, that however he might have lamented his wife, his end was hastened by other means. — M. - The common story combines both these causes; for it is said, that the loss of his wife led poor Parnell into such intemperanre as shorka ened his life. - C.
“ He likewise [established] enforced the truth of Revelati vn.
[Kindness] benevolence was ashamed to favour. “ His practice, which was once [very extensive] invidiously great.
“ There is scarcely any distemper of dreadful name [of] which he has not [shown] taught his reader how (it is to be opposed] to oppose. “ Of this (contemptuous] indecent arrogance.
[He wrote] but produced likewise a work of a different kind.
“ At least (written] compiled with integrity.
« Faults which many tongues [were desirous] would have made haste to publish.
“ But though he [had not] could not boast of much critical knowledge.
“ He [used] waited for no felicities of fancy.
“ Or had ever elated his (mind] views to that ideal perfection which every [mind] genius born to excel is condemned always to pursue and never to overtake.
“ The (first great] fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.”
Various Readings in the Life of PHILIPS.
They [have not often much] are not loaded with thought.
“ In his translation from Pindar, he [will not be denied to have reached] found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard."
Various Readings in the Life of CONGREVE. “ Congreve's conversation must surely have been at least equally pleasing with his writings.
“ It apparently [requires] presupposes a similar knowledge of many characters.
“ Reciprocation of (similes] conceits.
“ The dialogue is (quick und various] sparkling.
“Love for Love ; a comedy [more drawn from life] of nearer alliance to life.
“ The general character of his miscellanies is, that they show little wit and [no] little virtue.
[Perhaps] certainly he had not the fire requisite for the higher species of lyric poetry.”
Various Readings in the Life of TICKELL. “ [Longed] long wished to peruse it. “At the [accession] arrival of King George.
Fiction (unnaturally] unskilfully compounded of Grecian deities and Gothic fairies.”
Various Readings in the Life of AKENSIDE. ~ For [another] a different purpose.
[A furious] an unnecessary and outrageous zeal.
[Something which] what he called and thought liberty.
“ [A favourer of innovation] lover of contradiction, “ Warburton's [censure] objections. “ His rage [for liberty] of patriotism. “ Mr. Dyson with [a zeal] an ardour of friendship.”
In the Life of LYTTELTON, Johnson seems to have been not favourably disposed towards that nobleman. Mrs. Thrale suggests that he was offended by Molly Aston's preference of his lordship to him. (1) I can by no means join in the censure
(1) Let not my readers smile to think of Johnson's being a candidate for female favour; Mr. Peter Garrick assured me that he was told by a lady, that, in her opinion, Johnson was
a very seducing man." Bisadvantages of person and manner may be forgotten, where intellectual pleasure is communicated to a susceptible mind; and that Johnson was capable of feeling the most delicate and disinterested attachment appears from the following letter, which is published by Mrs. Thrale, with some
bestowed by Johnson on his lordship, whom he calls
poor Lyttelton,” for returning thanks to the critical reviewers, for having “ kindly commended” his “Dialogues of the Dead." Such“ acknowledgments," says my friend, “ never can be proper, since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice.” In my opinion, the most upright man, who has been tried on a false accusation, may, when he is acquitted, make a bow to his jury. And when those, who are so much the arbiters of literary merit, as in a considerable degree to influence the public opinion, review an author's work, placido lumine, when I am afraid mankind in general are better pleased with severity, he may surely express a grateful sense of their civility.
Various Readings in the Life of LYTTELTON. “ He solaced [himself] his grief by writing a long poem to her memory.
“ The production rather [of a mind that means well, than thinks vigorously) as it seems of leisure than of study, rather effusions than compositions.
others to the same person, of which the excellence is not so apparent:
« TO MISS BOOTHBY. LETTER 391.
“ January, 1755. “DEAREST MADAM, - Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my congratulations on the new year; and to declare my wishes that your years to come may be many and happy. In this wish, indeed, I include myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes; yet surely I wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest, dearest Madam, your, &c.
SAM, JOHNSON." -B. There is here a slight mistake in the text. It was not Molly Aston, but Hill Boothby, for whose affections Johnson and Lord Lyttelton were rival candidates. - M. -- [See post, JOHN SONIANA?
“ His last literary [work] production.
[Found the way] undertook to persuade." As the introduction to his critical examination of the genius and writings of Young, he did Mr. Herbert Croft, then a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, now a clergyman (), the honour to adopt a Life of Young, written by that gentleman, who was the friend of Dr. Young's son, and wished to vindicate him from some very erroneous remarks to his prejudice. Mr. Croft's performance was subjected to the revision of Dr. Johnson, as appears from the following note to Mr. John Nichols():
“ This Life of Dr. Young was written by a friend of his son.
What is crossed with black is expunged by the author, what is crossed with red is expunged by
If you find any thing more that can be well omitted, I shall not be sorry to see it yet shorter.”
It has always appeared to me to have a considerable share of merit, and to display a pretty successful tion of Johnson's style. When I mentioned this to a very eminent literary character (3), he op. posed me vehemently, exclaiming, “ No, no, it is not a good imitation of Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength.” This was an image so happy, that one might have thought he would have been satisfied with it; but he was not. And setting his mind again to work, he added, with exquisite
(1) Afterwards Sir Herbert Croft, bart. He died at Paris, April 27. 1816. See Gent. Mag. for May, 1816. C.
(2) Gentleman's Magazine, vol. lv. p. 10. (8) Mr. Burke.