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the art of using his mind; a certain continual power of seizing the useful substance of all that he knew, and exhibiting it in a clear and forcible manner ; si that knowledge, which we often see to be no better than lumber in men of dull understanding, was in him true, evident, and actual wisdom. His moral precepts are practical, for they are drawn from an intimate acquaintance with human nature. His maxims carry conviction : for they are founded on he basis of common sense, and a very attentive and minute survey of real life. His mind was so full of imagery that he might have been perpetually a poet; yet it is remarkable, that however rich his prose is in this respect, his poetical pieces in general have not much of that splendour, but are rather distinguished by strong sentiment and acute observation, conveyed in harmonious and energetic verse, particularly in heroic couplets. Though usually grave, and even awful in his deportment, he possessed uncommon and peculiar powers of wit and humour; he frequently indulged himself in colloquial pleasantry; and the heartiest merriment was often enjoyed in his company; with this great advantage, that, as it was entirely free from any poisonous tincture of vice or impiety, it was salutary to those who shared in it. He had accustomed himself to such accuracy in his common conversation ('), that he at all times
(1) Though a perfect resemblance of Johnson is not to be found in any age, parts of his character are admirably expressed by Clarendon, in drawing that of Lord Falkland, whom the noble and masterly historian describes at his seat near Oxford : “ Such an immenseness of wit, such a solidity of judgment, so infinite a fancy, bound in by a most logical ratiocination. His acquaintance was cultivated by the most polite and accurate
expressed his thoughts with great force, and an ile gant choice of language, the effect of which was aided by his having a loud voice, and a slow deliberate utterance. In him were united a most logical head with a most fertile imagination, which gave him an extraordinary advantage in arguing: for he could reason close or wide, as he saw best for the moment. Exulting in his intellectual strength and dexterity, he could, when he pleased, be the greatest sophist that ever contended in the list of declamation; and, from a spirit of contradiction, and a delight in showing his powers, he would often main
men; so that his house was an university in less volume, whither they came, not so much for repose as study, and to examine and refine those grosser propositions which laziness and consent made current in conversation.” Bayle's account of Menage may also be quoted as exceedingly applicable to the great subject of this work :
“ His illustrious friends erected a very glorious monument to him in the collection entitled ' Menagiana.' Those who judge of things right will con. fesu that this collection is very proper to show the extent of genius and learning which was the character of Menage. And I may be bold to say, that the excellent w published will not distinguish from other learned men so advantageously as this. To publish books of great learning, to make Greek and Latin verses exceedingly well turned, is not a common talent, I own; neither is it extremely rare. It is incomparably more dif. ficult to find men who can furnista discourse about an infinite number of things, and who can diversify them a hundred ways. How many authors are there who are admired for their works, on account of the vast learning that is displayed in them, who are not able to sustain a conversation. Those who know Menage only by his books might think he resembled those learned men; but if you show the Melagiana, you distinguish him from them, and make him known by a talent which is given to very few learned men. There it appears that he was a man who spoke off-hand a thousand good things. His memory extended to what was ancient and modern; to the court and to the city; to the dead and to the living languages; to things serious and things jocose ; in a word, to a thousand sorts of subjects. That which appeared a trifle to some readers of the Menagiana,' who did not consider circumstances, caused admiration in other readers, who minded the difference between what a man speaks without preparation and that which he prepares for the press. And, therefore, we cannot sufficiently commend the care which his illustrious friends took to erect a monument so capable of giving him immortal glory. They were not obliged to rectify what they had heard him say; for, in so doing, they had not been faithful historians of his conversation."
tain the wrong side with equal warmth aná ingenuity; so that, when there was an audience, his real opinions could seldom be gathered from his talk; though when he was in company with a single friend, he would discuss a subject with genuine fairness; but he was too conscientious to make error permanent and pernicious, by deliberately writing it; and, in all his numerous works, he earnestly inculcated what appeared to him to be the truth ; his piety being constant, and the ruling principle of all his conduct.
Such was SAMUEL JOHNSON; a man whose talents, acquirements, and virtues, were so extraordinary, that the more his character is considered, the more he will be regarded by the present age, and by posterity, with admiration and reverence.