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yield to superior numbers, and kept them all at bay, until the watch came up and carried him and his antagonists to the watchhouse. In his dress he was singular and flovenly ; and though he improved somewhat under the lectures of Mrs. Thrale, during his long residence at Streatham, yet he was never able completely. to surmount particularity. He never wore a watch till he was fixty years of age, and then caused one to be made for him by Mudge and Dutton, which cost him feventeen guineas, with this inscription on the dial-plate, “ For the night cometh.” He was fond of good company, and of good living; and, to the last, he knew of no method of regulating his appetites, but absolute restraint or unlimited indulgence.“ Many a day," says Mr. Bofwell, “ did he fast; many a year refrain from wine: but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abftinence, but not temperance.” In conversation, he was rude, intemperate, overbearing, and impatient of contradiction. Addicted to argument, and greedy of victory, he was equally regardless of truth and fair reasoning in his approaches to conqueft.“ There is no arguing with him,” said Goldsmith, alluding to a speech in one of Cibber's plays; “ for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.” In the early part of his life, he had been too much depressed; in his latter years, too lavishly indulged. His temper had at first been soured by disappointment and penury, and his petulance was afterwards flattered by universal submission. In his conveis sation and goodness of heart, his friends met with a recompense for that submission which the fovereignty of his genius challenged, and his temper exacted from them to the uttermost. To great powers, he united a perpetual and ardent desire to ex
cel; and even in an argument on the most indifferent subject, he generally engaged with the whole force and energy of his great abilities. Of his conversation, it is true, all that has been retained by Mr. Boswell, does not seem to be worth recording. Judging of it most favourably, it is not much distinguished by the flashes of wit, or the strokes of humour. Where he appears serious, we are not always sure that he speaks the sentiments of his conviction. Mr. Bofwell allows that he often talked for victory, and sometimes took up the weaker side, as the most ingenious things could be said on it. Truth, and the ablest defences of truth, are mixed with error, and the most ingenious glosses which ingenuity fcould invent, or address enforce. Authors are exalted, or depreciated, as the moment of hilarity or gloom was connected with the subject, or as the opinion of the speaker was adverse; and the whole is given as the sen
timent of Johnson. But for the inferiority of his conversation, to our opinion of the man, he has himself made a prophetic apology, in his first interview with his biographer, who was destined to retail it. “ People may be taken in once, who imagine that an author is greater in private life than another man. Uncommon parts require uncommon opportunities for their exertions."
With these defects, there was, however, scarcely a virtue of which he was not in principle pofseffed. He was humane, charitable, affectionate, and generous. His most intemperate fallies were the effects of an irrritable habit; he offended only to repent. To the warm and active benevolence of his heart, all his friends have borne teftimony. “ He had nothing,” says Goldsmith,“ of the bear, but his skin.” Misfortune had only to form her claim, in order to found her right to the use of his
purse, or the exercise of his talents. His house was an asylum for the unhappy, beyond what a regard to personal convenience would have allowed ; and his income was distributed in the support of his inmates, to an extent greater than general prudence would have permitted. The most honourable testimony to his moral and social character, is the cordial esteem of his friends and acquaintances. He was known by no man by whom his loss was not regretted. Another great feature of his mind, was the love of independence. While he felt the strength of his own powers, he despised, except in one instance, pecuniary aid. His penfion has been often mentioned, and subjected him to severe imputations. But let those, who, like Johnson, had no patrimony, who were not always willing to labour, and felt the constant recurrence of necessities, reject, without an adequate reason, an independent income,