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fulness of mind, and the thought seems to expand with the sound of the words. Determined to discard colloquial barbarisms and licentious idioms, he forgot the elegant simplicity that distinguishes the writings of Addison. He had what Locke calls a round-about view of his subject; and, though he never was tainted, like many modern wits, with the ambition of shining in paradox, he may be fairly called an ORIGINAL THINKER. His reading was extensive. He treasured in bis mind whatever was worthy of notice, but he added to it from his own meditation. He collected, que reconderet, auctaque promeret. Addison was not so profound a thinker. He was born to write, converse, and live with ease; and he found an early patron in Lord Somers. He depended, however, more upon a fine taste than the vigour of his mind. His Latin Poetry shews, that he relished, with a just selection, all the refined and delicate beauties of the Roman classics; and, when he cultivated his native language, no wonder that he formed that graceful style, which has been so justly admired; simple, yet elegant; adorned, yet never over-wrought; rich in allusion, yet pure and perspicuous; correct, without labour; and though sometimes deficient in strength, yet always musical. His essays, in general, are on the surface of life; if ever original, it was in pieces of humour. Sir Roger de Coverly, and the Tory Fox-hunter, need not to be mentioned. Johnson had a fund of humour, but he did not know it; por was he willing to descend to the familiar idiom
and the variety of diction which that mode of composition required. The letter, in the Rambler, No 12, from a young girl that wants a place, will illustrate this observation. Addison possessed an unclouded imagination, alive to the first objects of nature and of art. He reaches the sublime without any apparent effort. When he tells us, “ If we consider “ the fixed stars as so many oceans of flame, " that are each of them attended with a dif“ ferent set of planets; if we still discover new “ firmaments and new lights that are sunk “ further in those unfathomable depths of “ æther; we are lost in a labyrinth of suns " and worlds, and confounded with the mag“nificence and immensity of nature ;” the ease, with which this passage rises to unaffected grandeur, is the secret charm that captivates the reader. Johnson is always lofty ; he seems, to use Dryden's phrase, to be o'erinform’d with meaning, and his words do not appear to himself adequate to his conception. He moves in state, and his periods are always harmonious. His Oriental Tales are in the true style of Eastern magnificence, and yet none of them are so much admired as the Visions of Mirza. In matters of criticism, Johnson is never the echo of preceding writers. He thinks and decides for himself. If we except the Essays on the Pleasures of Imagination, Addison cannot be called a philosophical critic. His moral Essays are beautiful: but in that province nothing can exceed the Rambler, though Johnson used to say, that the Essay on
The burthens of mankind (in the Spectator, N° 558) was the most exquisite he had ever read. Talking of himself, Johnson said, “ Topham Beauclerk has wit, and every thing “comes from him with ease; but when I say a “good thing, I seem to labour.” When we compare him with Addison, the contrast is still stronger. Addison lends grace and ornament to truth : Johnson gives it force and energy, Addison makes virtue amiable; Johnson represents it as an awful duty. Addison insinuates himself with an air of modesty; Johnson commands like a dictator; but a dictator in his splendid robes, not labouring at the plough. Addison is the Jupiter of Virgil, with placid serenity talking to Venus:
• Vultu, quo cælum tempestatesque serenat."
Johnson is JUPITER TONANS: he darts his lightning, and rolls his thunder, in the cause of virtue and piety. The language seems to fall short of his ideas; he pours along, familiarizing the terms of philosophy, with bold inversions, and sonorous periods; but we may apply to him what Pope has said of Homer: “ It is the sentiment that swells and fills out " the diction, which rises with it, and forms “ itself about it; like glass in the furnace, ” wbicli grov's to a greater magnitude, as the “ breath within is more powerful, and the heat « more intense.”
It is not the design of this comparison to decide between these two eminent writers. VOL. I.
In matters of taste every reader will chuse for himself. Johnson is always profound, and of course gives the fatigue of thinking. Addison charıns while he instructs; and writing, as he always does, a pure, an elegant, and idiomatic style, he may be pronounced the safest model for imitation.
The essays written by Johnson in the Adventurer may be called a continuation of the Ranbler. The IDLER, in order to be consistent with the assumed character, is written with abated viguur, in a style of ease and unlaboured elegance. It is the Odyssey after the Iliad. Intense thinking would not become the IDLER. The first number presents a well-drawn portrait of an Idler, and froin that character no deviation could be made, Accordingly, Johnson forgets his austere manner, and plays us into sense. He still continues his lectures on human life, but he adverts to common occurrencies, and is often content with the topic of the day. An advertisement in the beginning of the first volume informs us, that twelve entire essays were a contribution froin different hands. One of these, No 83, is the journal of a Senior Fellow at Cainbridge, but, as Johnson, being bimself an originál thinker, always revoited from sergile imitation, he has printed the piece, with an apology, importing that the journal of a citizen in the Spectator almost precluded the attempt of any subsequent writer, This account of the Idler may be closed, after observing, that the author's mother being buried
on the 23d of January, 1759, there is an admirable paper occasioned by that event, on Saturday the 27th of the same month, No 41. The reader, if he pleases, may compare it with another fine paper in the Rambler, No 54, on the conviction that rushes on the mind at the bed of a dying friend.
“ Rasselas,” says Sir John Hawkins, “ is a specimen of our language scarcely to be paralleled; it is written in a style refined to a degree of immaculate purity, and displays the whole force of turgid eloquence.” One can: not but smile at this encomium. Rasselas is undoubtedly both elegant and sublime. It is a view of human life, displayed, it must be owned, in gloomy colours. The author's natural melancholy, depressed, at the time, by the approaching dissolution of his mother, darkened the picture. A tale, that should keep curiosity awake by the artifice of unexpected incidents, was not the design of a mind pregnant with better things. He, who reads the heads of the chapters, will find, that it is not a course of adventures that invites him forward, but a discussion of interesting ques. tions; Reflections on Human Life; the His. tory of Imlac, the Man of Learning; a Disa sertation upon Poetry; the Character of a wise and happy Man, who discourses with energy on the government of the passions, and on a sudden, when Death deprives him of his daughter, forgets all his maxims of wisdom and the eloquence that adorned them, yielding to the stroke of affliction with all the