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that he should have been so prematurely removed from the sphere of literature, which he so highly adorned.

turned himself into a cook, and sold receipts for made dishes to all the savoury readers in the kingdom. 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 action 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 philosopher 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 exception, 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

complaint, the scars of which disfigured his otherwise strong and sensible countenance.

which eludes the most minute enquiry, though the effects are well known to be a weariness of life, an unconcern about those things which agitate the greater part of mankind, and a general sensation of gloomy wretchedness. From him tben his son inherited, with some other qualities, 'a vile melancholy,' which in his too strong expression of any disturbance of the mind made him mad all his life, at least not sober.'”_ BOSWELL.

“ One of the most curious and important chapters in the bistory of the human mind is still to be written, that of hereditary insanity. The symptomatic facts by which the disease may be traced, are generally either disregarded from ignorance of their real cause and character, or, when observed, carefully suppressed by domestic or professional delicacy. This is natural and even laudable; yet there are several important reasons why the obscurity in which such facts are usually buried, may be regretted. Morally, we should wish to know, as far as may be permitted to us, the nature of our own intellect, its powers and its weaknesses :-Medically, it might be possible, by early and systematic treatment, to avert or mitigate the disease, which, there is reason to suppose, is now often unknown or mistaken :-Legally, it would be desirable to have any additional means of discriminating between guilt and misfortune, and of ascertaining with more precision the nice bounds which divide moral guilt from physical errors; and in the highest and most important of all the springs of human thought or action, it would be consolatory and edifying to be able to distinguish with greater certainty, rational faith and judicious piety, from the enthusiastic contidence or the gloomy despondence of disordered imaginations. The memory of every man who has lived, not inattentively, in society, will furnish him with instances to which these considerations might have been usefully applied. But in reading the life of Dr Johnson, (who was conscious of the disease and of its cause, and of whose blood there remains no one whose feelings can now be offended, they should be kept constantly in view; not merely as a subject of general interest, but as elucidating and explaining many of the errors, peculiarities, and weaknesses of that extraordinary man."-CROKER.]

The indigence of his parents compelled him to leave College upon his father's death in 1731, when he gathered in a succession of eleven pounds sterling. In poverty, however, his learning and his probity secured him respect. He was received in the best society of his native place. His first literary attempt, the translation of Father Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia, appeared during this period, and probably led him, at a later period, to lay in that remote kingdom the scene of his philosophical tale, which follows this essay. About the same time, he married a wife considerably older than himself, and attempted to set up a school in the neighbourhood of Litchfield. The project proved unsuccessful; and in 1737, he set out to try to mend his fortunes in London, attended by David Garrick. Johnson had with him in manuscript his tragedy of Irene, and meant to commence dra. matic author ; Garrick was to be bred to the law Fate had different designs for both.

There is little doubt, that upon his outset in London, Johnson felt in full force the ills which assail the unprotected scholar, wbose parts are yet unknown to the public, and who must write at once for bread and for distinction. His splendid

ri[“ Who would say that Johnson himself would have been such a champion in literature—such a front-rank soldier in the fields of fame, if he had not been pressed into the service, and driven on to glory with the bayonet of sharp necessity pointed at his back? If fortune had turned him into a field of clover, he would have laid down and rolled in it. The mere manual labour of writing would not have allowed his lassitude and love of ease to have taken the pen out of the inkhorn, unless the cravings of bunger had reminded him that he

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