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properly called, are merely minutes ; at one time of resolutions for his future conduct, and at another, in the style of a diary or journal. Neither of them deserve the commendation which has been bestowed uponi the Prayers. They are full of frivolous minuteneffes, and feminine weakness, beyond any thing of which an abstract defcription can suggest the idea. They tell us, that Johnson,in fpite of all the contemptuous ridicule with which he has treated that delicate frame, which depends for its composure on the clouds and the winds, was himself not exempt from languor, fluggishness, and procrastination ; that he was full of the most pitiable religious crem dulity, and that his attention was often engrossed by things in the last degree frivolous, futile, and unimportant. But if these observations are rather disadvantageous to Johnson, it is no less unquestionable that he displays a sensibility and a
humane benovolence of heart, that have rarely been equalsed. Mr. Strahan's apology for Johnson's seeming to pray for his deceased wife, is supported by his opinion, respecting purgatory, recorded by Mr. . Boswell. In his cooler moments he did not think such prayers proper, except with the limitations there expressed; but his morbid melancholy did not always allow him to be cool; there were many moments when his language countenanced a very different opinion. The struggle in a breast, constituted as his was, between the severe principles of Protestantism, and the genuine undisciplinable feelings of the heart, illustrates the kindness of his nature more than it could be illustrated by any other circumstance.
His Sermons, published under the name of Dr. Taylor, are not unworthy of the author of the Rambler, and afford additional proof of his ardour in the cause of
piety, and every moral duty. The last discourse in the collection was intended to be delivered by Dr. Taylor, at the funeral of Johnson's wife, but he declined" the office, because, as he told Mr. Hayes, the praise of the deceased was too much amplified. He who reads the discourse, will find it a beautiful moral lesson, written with temper, and no where overcharged with ambitious ornaments. The rest of the discourses were the fund which Dr. Taylor, from time to time, carried with him to the pulpit.
The style of his prose writings has been too often criticised, to need being noticed here. It has been censured, applauded, and imitated, to extremes equally dangerous to the purity of the English tongue. That he has innovated upon our language by his adoption of Latin derivatives and
his preference o abstract to concrete terms, · cannot be denied. But the danger from
his innovation would be trifling, if those alone would copy him who can think with equal precision ; for few passages can be pointed out from his works, in which his meaning could be as accurately expressed by such words as are in more familiar use. His comprehension of mind was the mould for his language. Had his comprehension been 'narrower, his expression would have been easier. His fentences have a dignified march, fuitable to the elevation of his sentiments, and the pomp of his sonorous phraseology. And it is to be remembered, that while he has added harmony and dignity to our language, he has neither vitiated it by the insertion of foreign idioms, or the affectation of anomaly in the construction of his fentences. While the flowers of poetic imagination luxuriantly adorn his style, it is never enfeebled by their plentitude. It is close without obtenebration, perspicuous without languor, and strong without im
petuofity. No periods are so harmonious ; none so nervous. He has laboured his style with the greatest attention ; perhaps its elaborateness is too apparent. It has, perhaps, too unwieldy and too uniform a dignity. He seems to have been particularly studious of the glitter of an antithesis between the epithet and the substantive. This strikes while it is new; but to the more experienced reader, though it may seem sometimes forcible, yet it will often prove tiresome. It is remarkable that Johnson's early performances bear few. marks of the style which he adopted in his Rambler. In his Life of Savage, the Ityle is elegant, but not oftentatious. His sentences are naturally arranged, and mufical without artifice. He affects not the measuring of clauses, and the balancing of periods. He aims not at splendid, glowing diction. He seeks not pointed phrases, and elaborate contrasts. It is al