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vehemence of the bitterest anguish. It is by pictures of life, and profound moral reflection that expectation is engaged and gratified throughout the work. The History of the Mad Astronomer, who imagines that, for five years, he possessed the regulation of the weather, and that the sun passed from tropic to tropic by his direction, represents in striking colours the sad effects of a distempered imagination. It becomes the more affecting when we recollect that it proceeds from one who lived in fear of the same dreadful visitation ; from one who says emphatically, “ OF “ the uncertainties in our present state, the “ most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain “ continuance of reason.” The enquiry into the cause of madness, and the dangerous prevalence of imagination, till, in time, some particular train of ideas fixes the attention, and the mind recurs constantly to the favourite conception, is carried on in a strain of acute observation; but it leaves us room to think that the author was transcribing from his own apprehensions. The discourse on the nature of the soul gives us all that philosophy knows, not without a tincture of superstition. It is remarkable that the vanity of human pursuits was, about the same time, the subject that employed both Johnson and Voltaire; but Candide is the work of a lively imagination, and Rasselas, with all its splendour of eloquence, exhibits a gloomy picture. It should, however, be remembered, that the
world has known the WÉEPING as well as the LAUGHING philosopher.
The Dictionary does not, properly fall within the province of this essay. The preface, however, will be found in this edition. He who reads the close of it, without acknowledging the force of the pathetic and sublime, must have more insensibility in his composition than usually falls to the share of a man. The work itself, though in some in stances abuse has been loud, and in others malice has endeavoured to undermine its fame, still remains the Mount Atlas of English Literature.
Though storms and tempests thunder on its brow,
That Johnson was eminently qualified for the office of a commentator on Shakspeare, no man can doubt; but it was an office which he never cordially embraced. The publick expected more than he had diligence to perform ; and yet his edition has been the ground on which every subsequent commentator has chosen to build. One note for its singularity, may be thought worthy of notice in this place. Hamlet 'says, For if the sun breed maggots in a deud dog, being a God-kissing earrion. In this Warburton discovered the origin of evil. Hamlet, he says, breaks off in the middle of the sentence; but the learned commentator knows what he was going to
say, and, being unwilling to keep the secret, he goes on in a train of philosophical reasoning that leaves the reader in astonishment. Johnson, with true piety, adopts the fanciful hypothesis, declaring it to be a noble emendation, which almost sets the critic on a level with the author. The general observations at the end of the several plays, and the preface, will be found in this edition. The former, with great elegance and precision, give a summary view of each drama. The preface is a tract of great erudition and philosophical criticism.
Johnson's political pamphlets, whatever was his motive for writing them, whether gratitude for his pension, or the solicitation of men in power, did not support the cause for which they were undertaken. They are written in a style truly harmonious, and with his usual dignity of language. When it is said that he advanced positions repugnant to the common rights of mankind, the virulence of party may be suspected. It is, perhaps, true that in the clamour raised throughout the kingdom Johnson over-heated his mind; but he was a friend to the rights of man, and he was greatly superior to the littleness of spirit that might incline him to advance what he did not think and firmly believe. In the False Alarm, though many of the most eminent men in the kingdom concurred in petitions to the throne, yet Johnson, having well surveyed the mass of the people, has given, with great hunour and no less truth, what may be called, the birth, parentage, and education of a remonstrance. On the subject of Falkland's islands, the fine dissuasive from too hastily involving the world in the calamities of war, must extort applause even from the party that wished, at that time, for scenes of tumult and commotion. It was in the same pamphlet that Johnson offered battle to JUNIUS; a writer, who, by the uncommon elegance of his style, charmed every reader, though his object was to inflame the nation in favour of a faction. Junius fought in the dark; he saw his enemy and had his full blow; while he himself remained safe in obscurity. But let us not, said Johnson, mistake the venom of the shaft for the vigour of the bow. The keen invective which he published on that occasion, promised a paper war between two combatants, who knew the use of their weapons. A battle between them was as eagerly expected as between Mendoza and Big Ben. But Junius, whatever was his reason, never returned to the field. He laid down his arms, and has, ever since, remained as secret as the MAN IN THE MASK in Voltaire's History.
The account of his journey to the Hebrides, or Western Isles of Scotland, is a model for such as shall hereafter relate their travels. The author did not visit that part of the world in the character of an Antiquary, to ainuse us with wonders taken from the dark and fabulous ages; nor as a Mathematician, to measure a degree, and setile the longitude and latitude of the several islands. Those, who expected such information, expected what was never intended. In every work regard the writer's end. Johnson went to see men and manners, modes of life, and the progress of civilization. His remarks are so artfully blended with the rapidity and elegance of his narrative, that the reader is inclined to wish, as Johnson did with regard to GRAY, that to travel, and to tell his travels, had been more of his employment.
As to Johnson's Parliamentary Debates, nothing with propriety can be said in this place. They are collected in two volumes by Mr. Stockdale, and the flow of eloquence which runs through the several speeches is sufficiently known.
. It will not be useless to mention two more volumes, which may form a proper supplement to this edition. They contain a set of Sermons left for publication by John Taylor, LL.D. The Reverend Mr. Hayes, who ushered these Discourses into the world, has not given them as the composition of Dr. Taylor All he could say for his departed friend was, that he left them in silence among his papers. Mr. Hayes knew them to be the production of a superior mind; and the writer of these Memoirs owes it to the candour of that elegant scholar, that he is now warranted to give an additional proof of Johnson's 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 that Re