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fictitious composition on which the human mind was ever employed. The principal character, that of the simple Pastor himself, with all the worth and excellency which ought to distinguish the ambassador of God to man, and yet with just so much of pedantry and literary vanity as serves to show that he is made of mortal mould, and subject to human failings, is one of the best and most pleasing pictures ever designed. It is perhaps impossible to place frail humanity before us in an attitude of more simple dignity than the Vicar, in his character of pastor, of parent, and of husband. His excellent helpmate, with all her motherly cunning, and housewifely prudence, loving and respecting her husband, but counterplotting his wisest schemes, at the dictates of maternal vanity, forms an excellent counterpart. Both, with their children around them, their quiet labour and domestic happiness, compose a fireside picture of such a perfect kind, as perhaps is nowhere else equalled. It is sketched indeed from common life, and is a strong contrast to the exaggerated and extraordinary characters and incidents which are the resource of those authors, who, like Bayes, make it their business to elevate and surprise ; but the very simplicity of this charming book renders the pleasure it affords more permanent. We read
?["I have found, however, one point where the German (Schlegel) is right-it is about the Vicar of Wakefield. Of all romances in miniature (and perhaps this is the best shape in which romance can appear) the Vicar of Wakefield is, I think, the most exquisite :' He thinks !_he might be sure."Byron, vol. V., p. 93.]
the Vicar of Wakefield in youth and in age-We return to it again and again, and bless the memory of an author who contrives so well to reconcile us to human nature. Whether we choose the pathetic and distressing incidents of the fire, the scenes at the jail, or the lighter and humorous parts of the story, we find the best and truest sentiments enforced in the most beautiful language ; and perhaps there are few characters of purer dignity have been described than that of the excellent pastor, rising above sorrow and oppression, and labouring for the conversion of those felons, into whose company he had been thrust by his villanous creditor. In too many works of this class, the critics must apologize for or censure particular passages in the narrative, as unfit to be perused by youth and innocence. But the wreath of Goldsmith is unsullied; he wrote to exalt virtue and expose vice; and he accomplished his task in a manner which raises him to the highest rank among British authors. We close his volume, with a sigh that such an author should have written so little from the stores of his own genius, and that he should have been so prematurely removed from the sphere of literature, which he so highly adorned.
1[Mr Cumberland says, “ Distress drove Goldsmith upon undertakings, neither congenial with his studies, nor worthy of his talents. I remember him, when, in his chamber in the Temple, he showed me the beginning of his Animated Nature ; it was with a sigh, such as genius draws when hard necessity diverts it from its bent to drudge for bread, and talk of birds and beasts and creeping things, which Pidcock's showman would have done as well. Poor fellow, he hardly knew an ass from a mule, nor a turkey from a goose, but when he saw it on the table. But publishers hate poetry, and PaternosterRow is not Parnassus. Even the mighty Dr Hill, who was not a very delicate feeder, could not make a dinner out of the press, till by a happy transformation into Hannah Glass, he
turned himself into a cook, and sold receipts for made dishes to all the savoury readers in the kirgdom. Then, indeed, the press acknowledged him second in fame only to John Bunyan
-his feasts kept pace in sale with Nelson's fasts; and when his own name was fairly written out of credit, he wrote himself into an immortality under an alias. Now, though necessity, or, I should rather say, the desire of finding money for a masquerade, drove Oliver Goldsmith upon abridging histories, and turning Buffon into English, yet I much doubt if without that spur he would ever have put his Pegasus into action; no, if he had been rich the world would have been poorer than it is, by the loss of all the treasures of his genius and the contributions of his pen."-Memoirs, vol. i., p. 352. )
Of all the men distinguished in this or any other age, Dr Johnson has left upon posterity the strongest and most vivid impression, so far as person, manners, disposition, and conversation, are concerned. We do but name him, or open a book which he has written, and the sound and actica recall to the imagination at once, his form, his merits, his peculiarities, nay, the very uncouthness of his gestures, and the deep impressive tone of his voice. We learn not only what he said, but form an idea how he said it; and have, at the same time, a shrewd guess of the secret motive why he did so, and whether he spoke in sport or in anger, in the desire of conviction, or for the love of debate. It was said of a noted wag, that his bonmots did not give full satisfaction when published, because he could not print his face. But with respect to Dr Johnson, this has been in some degree accomplished ; and, although the greater part of the present generation never saw him, yet he is, in our mind's eye, a personification as lively as that of Siddons in Lady Macbeth, or Kemble in Cardinal Wolsey.
All this, as the world well knows, arises from Johnson having found in James Boswell such a biographer, as no man but himself ever had, or ever deserved to have. The performance, which chiefly resembles it in structure, is the life of the philoso pher Demophon, in Lucian; but that slight sketch is far inferior in detail and in vivacity to Boswell's Life of Johnson, which, considering the eminent persons to whom it relates, the quantity of miscellaneous information and entertaining gossip which it brings together, may be termed, without excepa tion, the best parlour-window book that ever was written. Accordingly, such has been the reputation which it has enjoyed, that it renders useless even the form of an abridgement, which is the less necessary in this work, as the great Lexicographer only stands connected with the department of fictitious narrative by the brief tale of Rasselas.
A few dates and facts may be shortly recalled, for the sake of uniformity of plan, after which we will venture to offer a few remarks upon Rasselas, and the character of its great author.
Samuel Johnson was born and educated in Litchfield, where his father was a country bookseller of some eminence, since he belonged to its magistracy. He was born 18th September, 1709. His schooldays were spent in his native city, and his education completed at Pembroke College, Oxford. Of gigantic strength of body, and mighty powers of mind, he was afflicted with that nameless disease. on the spirits, which often rendered the latter useless ;? and externally deformed by a scrofulous
? [" Mr Michael Johnson was a man of a large and robust body, and of a strong and active mind; yet, as in the most solid rocks, veins of unsound substance are often discovered, there was in him a mixture of that disease, the nature of