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moral science, his excellence is unrivalled. His acute penetration was constantly alive to “ catch the manners living as they rise," and but few follies or peculiarities could escape his observation.
The habitual weaknesses of his mind form a striking and melancholy contrast to the vigour of his understanding. His opinions were tainted with prejudices almost too coarse and childish for the vulgar to imbibe. His attachment to the university of Oxford, to which in his youth he owed no great obligations, led him unjustly to depreciate the merit of every person who had studied at that of Cambridge. His averfion to Whigs, Dissenters, and Presbyterians, and his dislike to Scotland, and many more extravagancies of opinion, that it would be painful to enumerate, inflamed his conversation, and influenced his conduct. He was so prone to superstition as to make it a rule that a particular foot should constantly make the first actual movement, when he came close to the threshold of any door or paffage, which he was about to enter, or to quit. So deeply was he infected upon this subject, that Mr. Boswell relates that he has often seen him “ when he had neglected or gone wrong in this sort of magical movement, go back again, put himself in a proper posture to begin the ceremony, and having gone through it, break from his abstraction, walk briskly on, and join his companion.” He took off his hat in token of reverence, when he approached the places on which Popish churches had formerly stood; and bowed before the monastic vestiges. He was solicitous to give authenticity to stories of apparitions, and eager to credit the existence of a second-light, while he appeared scrupulous and sceptical as to particular facts. These mental distempers were
the offspring of his melancholic temperament, and were fostered by folitary contemplation, till they had laid fetters upon the imagination too strong for reason to burst through. We see it exerted in different circumstances, and expanding its gloomy influence, till at last it terminated little short of insanity. To this state we": must attribute his mentioning secret transgressions, his constant fear of death, and his religious terrors, not very consistent with his strength of mind, or his conviction of the goodness of God. This, at leaft, seems to have been his own opinion of the progress of these diseases, as appears from his history of the Mad Astronomer in Rasselas, the description of whose mind he seems to have intended as a representation of his own.
But let us turn from these foibles and singularities, which show him weaker than the generality of his fellow men, and point
to those perfections of mind, which prove him to have been of a rank so much above them.
As an author, Johnson has distinguished himself as a philologist, a biographer, a critic, a moralift, a novelist, a political writer, and a poet.
On his Dictionary of the English Language, it is unnecessary to enlarge. It is in every body's hands ; its utility is universally acknowledged ; and its popularity is its best eulogium. The etymologies, though they exhibit learning and judgment, are not entitled to unqualified praise. The definitions exhibit astonishing proofs of acutenefs of intellect, and precision of language. A few of them must be admitted to be erroneous. Thus, Windward and Leeward, though directly of opposite meaning, are defined identically the same way. The definition of Net-work has been often quoted with sportive malignity, as obscuring
a thing in itself very plain. His introducing his own opinions, and even prejudices, under general definitions of words, as Tory, Whig, Pension, Oats, Excise, and a few more, must be placed to the account of capricious and humourous indulgence. To his list of technical and provincial words, nine thousand have been added by Mr. Herbert Croft, in his “ Dictionary of the English Language;" the publication of which is delayed for want of suitable encouragement. • As a biographer, his merit is of the highest kind. His narration in general is vigorous, connected, and perspicuous; and his reflections numerous, apposite, and moral. But it must be owned that he neither dwells with pleasure or success upon those minuter anecdotes of life which oftener fhow .the genuine man, than actions of greater importance. Sometimes, also, his colourings receive a tinge from preju