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dent spirit, inflamed him on some occasions above all bounds of moderation. Though not in the shade of academic bowers, he led a scholas. tic life; and the habit of pronouncing decisions to his friends and visitors gave him a dictatorial manner, which was much enforced by a voice naturally loud, and often overstretched. Metaphysical discussion, moral theory, systems of religion, and anecdotes of literature, were his favourite topics. General history had little of his regard. " Biography was his delight. The proper study of mankind is man. Sooner than hear of the Punic war, he would be rude to the person that introduced the subject.
Johnson was born a logician; one of those, to whom only books of logic are said to be of use. In consequence of his skill in that art, he loved argumentation. No man thought more profoundly, nor with such acute discernment. A fallacy could not stand before him ; it was sure to be refuted by strength of reasoning, and a precision both in idea and expression almost unequalled. When he chose by apt illustration to place the argument of his adversary in a ludicrous light, one was almost inclined to think ridicule the test of truth. He was sur. prized to be told, but it is certainly true, that, with great powers of mind, wit and humour were his shining talents. That he often argued for the sake of a triumph over his adversary, cannot be dissembled. Dr. Rose, of Chiswick, has been heard to tell of a friend of his, who hanked him for introducing him to Dr. John
1, as he had been convinced, in the course of a long dispute, that an opinion, which he had embraced as a settled truth, was no better than a vulgar error. This being reported to Johnson, “Nay,” said he,“ do not let him be thankful, for “ he was right, and I was wrong.” Like bis uncle Andrew, in the ring at Smithfield, Johnson, in a circle of disputants, was determined neither to be thrown nor conquered. Notwithstanding all his piety, self-government, or the comniand of his passions in conversation, does not seem to have been among his attainments. Whenever he thought the contention was for, the superiority, he has been known to break out with violence, and even ferocity. When the. fray was over, he generally softened into repentance, and, by conciliating measures, took care that no animosity should be left rankling in the breast of his antagonist. Of this defect he seems to have been conscious. In a letter to Mrs. Thrale, he says, “ Poor Baretti! do not " quarrel with him; to neglect him a little will " be sufficient. He means only to be frank and "manly, and independent, and, perhaps as you “say, a little wise. To be frank, he thinks, is “to be cynical; and to be independent, is to be “rude. Forgive him, dearest lady, the rather, " because of his misbehaviour [ am afraid he " learned part of me. I hope to set him here"after a better example.” For his own intolerant and overbearing spirit he apologized by observing, that it had done some good ; obscenity and impiety were repressed in his company.
mixing, otherwise than occasionally, with pôlite company. At Mr. Thrale's he saw a constant succession of well-accomplished visitors. In that society he began to wear off the rugged points of his own character. He saw the advantages of mutual civility, and endeavoured to profit by the models before him. He aimed at what has been called by Swift the lesser morals, and by Cicero minores virtutes. His endeavour, though new and late, gave pleasure to all his acquaintance. Men were glad to see that he was willing to be communicative on equal terms and reciprocal complacence. The time was then expected when he was to cease being what George Garrick, brother to the celebrated actor, called him the first time he heard him converse, “ A TREMENDOUS COMPANION.” He certainly wished to be polite, and even thought himself so ; but his civility still retained something uncouth and harsh. His manners took a milder tone, but the endeavour was too palpably seen. He laboured even in trifles. He was a giant gaining a purchase to lift a feather,
It is observed by the younger Pliny, that in the confines of virtue and great qualities there åre generally víces of an opposite nature. In Dr. Johnson not one ingredient can take the name of vice. From his attainments in literature grew the pride of knowledge; and from his powers of reasoning, the love of disputation and the vain-glory of superiour vigour. His piety, in some instances, bordered on superstition. He was willing to believe in preternatural agency, and thought it not more strange that there should be evil spirits than evil men. Even the question about second sight held him in suspense. “ Second sight," Mr. Pennant tells us, “is a power of seeing images impressed "on the organs of sight by the power of fancy, " or on the fancy by the disordered spirits ope" rating on the mind. It is the faculty of "seeing spectres or visions, which represent "an event actually passing at a distance, or "likely to happen at a future day. In 1771, a "gentleman, the last who was supposed to be " possessed of this faculty, had a boat at sea in "a tempestuous night, and, being anxious for "his freight, suddenly started up, and said his “men would be drowned, for he had seen them “pass before him with wet garments and drop"ping locks. The event corresponded with his "disordered fancy. And thus, continues Mr. Pennant, “ a distempered iinagination, clouded " with anxiety, may make an impression on “the spirits; as persons, restless and troubled "with indignation, see various forms and “figures while they lie awake in bed.” This is wbat Dr. Johnson was not willing to reject. He wished for some positive proof of communications with another world. His benevolence embraced the whole race of man, and yet was tinctured with particular prejudices. He was pleased with the minister in the Isle of Sky, and loved him so much that he began to to wish him not a Presbyterian. To that body of Dissenters his zeal for the Established Church made him in some degree an adversary; and his attachment to a mixed and Timited Monarchy led him to declare open war against what he called a sullen Republican. He would rather praise a man of Oxford than ' of Cambridge. He disliked a Whig, and loved
a Tory. These were the shades of his character, which it has been the business of certain party-writers to represent in the darkest colours.
Since virtue, or moral goodness, consists in a just conformity of our actions to the relations in which we stand to the Supreme Being and to our fellow-creatures, where shall we find a man who has been, or endeavoured to be, more diligent in the discharge of those essential duties? His first prayer was composed in 1738; he continued those fervent ejaculations of piety to the end of his life. In his, Meditations we see him scrutinizing himself with severity, and aiming at perfection unattainable by man. His duty to his neighbour consisted in universal benevolence, and a constant aim at the production of happiness. Who was more sincere and steady in his friendships? It has been said that there was no real affection between him and Garrick. On the part of the latter, there might be some corrosions of jealousy. The character of PROSPERO, ju the Rambler, No 200, was, beyond all question, occasioned by Garrick's ostentatious display of furniture and Dresden china. It was surely fair to take from this incident a bint for a moral essay; and; though no more was intended, Garrick, we are told, remembered it with uneasiness. He was also hurt that his