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Christianity as a noble scheme of government, skeptical as to the good or evil tendency of tending to promote the happiness and to elevate any form of polity. His passions, on the conthe moral nature of man. The horror which trary, were violent even to slaying against all the sectaries felt for cards, Christmas ale, plum- who leaned to Whiggish principles. The well porridge, mince-pies, and dancing-bears, ex- known lines which he inserted in Goldsmith's cited his contempt. To the arguments urged Traveller express what seems to have been by some very worthy people against showy his deliberate judgment:dress, he replied with admirable sense and
“How small, of all that human hearts enduire, Spirit, “Let us not be found, when our Master
That part which kings or laws can cause or cure." calls us, stripping the lace off our waistcoats, but the spirit of contention from our souls and He had previously put expressions very simitongues. Alas! sir, a man who cannot get to lar into the mouth of Rasselas. It is amusing heaven in a green coat, will not find his way to contrast these passages with the torrents of thither the sooner in a gray one." Yet he was raving abuse which he poured forth against himself under the tyranny of scruples as un- the Long Parliament and the American Conreasonable as those of Hudibras or Ralpho; gress. In one of the conversations reported and carried his zeal for ceremonies and for by Boswell, this strange inconsistency displays ecclesiastical dignities to lengths altogether itself in the most ludicrous manner. inconsistent with reason, or with Christian “Sir Adam Ferguson,” says Boswell, “sug. charity. He has gravely noted down in his gested that luxury corrupts a people and dediary, that he once committed the sin of drink- stroys the spirit of liberty.”—Johnson. “Sir, ing coffee on Good Friday. In Scotland, he that is all visionary, I would not give half a thought it his duty to pass several months guinea to live under one form of government without joining in public worship, solely be- rather than another. It is of no moment to cause the ministers of the kirk had not been the happiness of an individual. Sir, the dan. ordained by bishops. His mode of estimating ger of the abuse of power is nothing to a prithe piety of his neighbours was somewhat vate man. What Frenchman is prevented singular. Campbell,” said he, “is a good from passing his life as he pleases ?"-Sie man-a pious man. I am afraid he has not Adam. “Bui, sir, in the British constitution been in the inside of a church for many years; it is surely of importance to keep up a spirit but he never passes a church without pulling in the people, so as to preserve a balance off his hat; this shows he has good principles.” against the crown."-Johnson. "Sir, I perSpain and Sicily must surely contain many ceive you are a vile Whig. Why all this pious robbers and well-principled assassins. childish jealousy of the power of the crown? Johnson could easily see that a Roundhead, The crown has not power enough.” who named all his children after Solomon's One of the old philosophers, Lord Bacon tells singers, and talked in the House of Commons us, used to say that life and death were just the about seeking the Lord, might be an unprin- same to him. “Why, then," said an objector, cipled villain, whose religious mummeries “ do you not kill yourself?" The philosopher only aggravated his guilt. But a man who answered, “ Because it is just the same." It took off his hat when he passed a church the difference between two forms of governepiscopally consecrated, must be a good man, ment be not worth half a guinea, it is not easy a pious man, a man of good principles. John- to see how Whiggism can be viler than Toryson could easily see that those persons who ism, or how the crown can have too little looked on a dance or a laced waistcoat, as sin- power. If private men suffer nothing from poful, deemed most ignobly of the attributes of litical abuses, zeal for liberty is doubtiess ridiGod, and of the ends of revelation. But with culous. But zeal for monarchy must be equally what a storm of invective he would have over- No person would have been more quickwhelmed any man who had blamed him for sighted than Johnson to such a contradiction celebrating the close of Lent with sugarless as this in the logic of an antagonist. tea and butterless bunns.
The judgments which Johnson passed on Nobody spoke more contemptuously of the books were in his own time regarded with sucant of patriotism. Nobody saw more clearly perstitious veneration; and in our time are the error of those who represented liberty, not generally treated with indiscriminate contempt. as a means, but as an end; and who proposed They are the judgments of a strong but ento themselves, as the object of their pursuit, slaved understanding. The mind of the critic the prosperity of the state as distinct from the was hedged round by an uninterrupted fence prosperity of the individuals who compose the of prejudices and superstitions. Within his state. His calm and settled opinion seems to narrow limits he displayed a vigour and an have been that forms of government have little activity which ought to have enabled him to or no influence on the happiness of society. clear the barrier that confined him. This opinion, erroneous as it is, ought at least How it chanced that a man who reasoned to have preserved him from all intemperance on his premises so ably should assume his on political questions. It did not, however, premises so foolishly, is one of the great mys preserve him from the lowest, fiercest, and teries of human nature. The same inconsist mosi absurd extravagance of party spirit-ency may be observed in the schoolmen of the from rants which, in every thing but the dic- middle ages. Those writers show so much tion, resembled those of Squire Western. He acuteness and force of mind in argung on was, as a politician, half ice and half fire-on their wretched data, that a modern reader ta the side of lis intellect a mere Pococurante- perpetually at a loss to comprehend how such
superstructure of the theory which they are tion-of commendation much colder than what rearing escapes their vigilance. Yet they are he has bestowed on the Creation of that porblind to the obvious unsoundness of the found. tentous bore, Sir Richard Blackmore. Gray ation. It is the same with some eminent law. was, in his dialect, a barren rascal. Churchill yers. Their legal arguments are intellectual was a blockhead. The contempt which he felt prodigies, abounding with the happiest analo- for the trash of Macpherson was indeed just; gies and the most refined distinctions. The but it was, we suspect, just by chance. He principles of their arbitrary science being once despised the Fingal for the very reason which admitted, the statute-book and the reports be- led many men of genius to admire it. He deing once assumed as the foundations of juris- spised it, not because it was essentially com. prudence, these men must be allowed to be monplace, but because it had a superficial air perfect masters of logic. But if a question of originality. arises as to the postulates on which their whole He was undoubtedly an excellent judge of system rests, if they are called upon to vindi- compositions fashioned on his own principles cate the fundamental maxims of that system But when a deeper philosophy was requiredwhich they have passed their lives in study- when he undertook to pronounce judgment ca ing, these very men often talk the language of the works of those great minds which “yield savages or of children. Those who have list- homage only to eternal laws"-his failure was ened to a man of this class in his own court, ignominious. He criticised Pope's Epitaphs exand who have witnessed the skill with which cellently. But his observations on Shakspeare's he analyzes and digests a vast mass of evi-plays and Milton's poems seem to us as wretchdence, or reconciles a crowd of precedents ed as if they had been written by Rymer him. which at first sight seem contradictory, scarce- self, whom we take to have been the worst crily know hiin again when, a few hours later, tic that ever lived. they hear him speaking on the other side of Some of Johnson's whims on literary subWestminster Hall in his capacity of legisla-jects can be compared only to that strange, tor. They can scarcely believe that the paltry nervous feeling which made him uneasy if he quirks which are faintly heard through a storm had not touched every post between the Mitre of coughing, and which cannot impose on the tavern and his own lodgings. His preference plainest country gentleman, can proceed from of Latin epitaphs to English epitaphs is an in. the same sharp and vigorous intellect which stance. An English epitaph, he said, would had excited their admiration under the same disgrace Smollett. He declared that he would roof and on the same day.
not pollute the walls of Westminster Abbey Johnson decided literary questions like a with an English epitaph on Goldsmith. What lawyer, not like a legislator. He never exa- reason there can be for celebrating a British mined foundations where a point was already writer in Latin which there was not for coverruled. His whole code of criticism rested on ing the Roman arches of triumph with Greek pure assumption, for which he sometimes gave inscriptions, or for commemorating the deed a precedent or an authority, but rarely troubled of the heroes of Thermopylæ in Egyptian hiehimself to give a reason drawn from the na- roglyphics, we are utterly unable to imagine. ture of things. He took it for granted that the On men and manners—at least, on the men kind of poetry which flourished in his own and manners of a particular place and a partime, which he had been accustomed to hear ticular age-Johnson had certainly looked with praised from his childhood, and which he had a most observant and discriminating eye. His himself written with success, was the best kind remarks on the education of children, on marof poetry. In his biographical work he has riage, on the economy of families, on the rules repeatedly laid it down as an undeniable pro- of society, are always striking, and generally position that, during the latter part of the seven- sound. In his writings, indeed, the knowledge teenth century and the earlier part of the eight- of life which he possessed in an eminent deeenth, English poetry had been in a constant gree is very imperfectly exhibited. Like those progress of improvement. Waller, Denham, unfortunate chiefs of the middle ages, who Dryden, and Pope had been, according to him, were suffocated by their own chainmail and the great reformers. He judged of all works cloth of gold, his maxims perish under that of the imagination by the standard established load of words, which was designed for their among his own contemporaries. Though he ornament and their defence. But it is clear, allowed Homer to have been a greater man from the remains of his conversation, that he than Virgil, he seems to have thought the had more of that homely wisdom which noÆneid a greater poem than the Iliad. Indeed thing but experience and observation can give, he well might have thought so, for he preferred that any writer since the time of Swift. if he Pope's Iliad to Homer's. He pronounced that, had been content to write as he talked, he after Hoole's translation of Tasso, Fairfax's might have left books on the practical art of would hardly be reprinted. He could see no living superior to the Directions to Servants. merit in our fine old English ballads, and al- Yet even his remarks on society, like his re ways spoke with the most provoking contempt marks on literature, indicate a mind at least as of Percy's fondness for them. Of all the great remarkable for narrowness as for strength.“ vriginal works which appeared during his time He was no master of the great science of huRichardson's novels alone excited his admira- man nature. He had studied, not the genus :on. He could see little or no merit in Tom man, but the species - Londoner. Nobody was Jones, in Gulliver's Travels, or in Tristram ever so thoroughly conversant with all the ShandyTo Thomson's Castle of Indolence forms of life, and all the shades of moral and be Tuulusafed only line of cold commenda- intellectual charavici, Phich were to be seen
from Islington to the Thames, and from Hyde- over him in conversation. He pronounced Park corner to Mile-end green. But his phi. them, also, to be an indelicate people, because losophy stopped at the first turnpike gate. a French footman touched the sugar with his Of the rural life of England he knew nothing; fingers. That ingenious and amusing traveland he took it for granted that everybody who ler, M. Simond, has defended his countrymen lived in the country was either stupid or mise- very successfully against Johnson's accusarable. “Country gentlemen,” said he, “must tion, and has pointed out some English prac. be unhappy; for they have not enough to keep tices, which, to an impartial spectator, would their lives in motion.” As if all those peculiar seem at least as inconsistent with physical habits and associations, which made Fleet cleanliness and social decorum as those which Street and Charing Cross the finest views in Johnson so bitterly reprehended. To the sage, the world to himself, had been essential parts as Boswell loves to call him, it never occurred of human nature. of remote countries and to doubt that there must be something eternally past times he talked with wild and ignorant and immutably good in the usages to which he presumption. “The Athenians of the age of had been accustomed. In fact, Johnson's re. Demosthenes,” he said to Mrs. Thrale, “ were marks on society beyond the bills of mortality, a people of brutes, a barbarous people.” In are generally of much the same kind with conversation with Sir Adam Ferguson he used those of honest Tom Dawson, the English footsimilar language. “The boasted Athenians," man of Dr. Moore's Zeluco. “Suppose the he said, “ were barbarians. The inass of every King of France has no sons, but only a daughpeople must be barbarous, where there is no ter, then, when the king dies, this here daughprinting.” The fact was this: he saw that a ter, according to that there law, cannot be made Londoner who could not read was a very stupid queen, but the next near relative, provided he and brutal fellow: he saw that great refine- is a man, is made king, and not the last king's ment of taste and activity of intellect were daughter, which, to be sure, is very unjust. rarely found in a Londoner who had not read The French footguards are dressed in blue, much ; and because it was by means of and all the marching regiments in white, which books that people acquired almost all their has a very foolish appearance for soldiers; knowledge in the society with which he was and as for blue regimentals, it is only fit for acquainted, he concluded, in defiance of the the blue horse or the artillery." strongest and clearest evidence, that the human Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced mind can be cultivated by means of books him to a state of society completely new to alone. An Athenian citizen might possess him: and a salutary suspicion of his own devery few volumes; and even the largest library ficiencies seems on that occasion to have to which he had access might be much less crossed his mind for the first time. He convaluable than Johnson's bookcase in Bolt fessed, in the last paragraph of his Journey, Court. But the Athenian might pass every that his thoughts on national manners were the morning in conversation with Socrates, and thoughts of one who had seen but little; of might hear Pericles speak four or five times one who had passed his time almost wholly in every month. He saw the plays of Sophocles cities. This feeling, however, soon passed and Aristophanes; he walked amidst the away. It is remarkable, that to the last he enfriezes of Phidias and the paintings of Zeuxis ; tertained a fixed contempt for all those modes he knew by heart the choruses of Æschylus; of life and those studies, which lead to eman. he heard the rhapsodist at the corner of the cipate the mind from the prejudices of a par. street reciting the Shield of Achilles, or the ticular age or a particular nation. Of foreign Death of Argus; he was a legislator conver- | travel and of history he spoke with the fierce sant with high questions of alliance, revenue, and boisterous contempt of ignorance. “What and war; he was a soldier, trained under a does a man learn by travelling? Is Beauclerk liberal and generous discipline; he was a the better for travelling? What did Lord judge, compelled every day to weigh the ef-Charlemont learn in his travels, except that fect of opposite arguments. These things were there was a snake in one of the pyramids of in themselves an education; an education Egypt?” History was, in his opinion, to use eminently fitted, not indeed, to form exact or the fine expression of Lord Plunkett, an old profound thinkers, but to give quickness to the almanac: historians could, as he conceived, perceptions, delicacy to the taste, fluency to claim no higher dignity than that of almanacthe expression, and politeness to the manners. makers; and his favourite historians were But this Johnson vever considered. An Athe- those who, like Lord Hailes, aspired to no nian who did not improve his mind by read- higher dignity. He always spoke with coning, was, in his opinion, much such a person tempt of Robertson. Hume he would not even as a Cockney who made his mark; much such read. He affronted one of his friends for talk a person as black Frank before he went to ing to him about Catiline's conspiracy, and school, and far inferior to a parish-clerk or a declared that he never desired to hear of the printer's devil.
Punic War again as long as he lived. His friends have allowed that he carried to Assuredly one fact, which does not directly a ridiculous extreme his unjust contempt for affect our own interests, considered in itseli, is foreigners. He pronounced the French to be no better worth knowing than another facu. a very silly people—much behind us--stupid, The fact that there is a snake in a pyramid, ignorant creatures. And this judgment he or the fact that Hannibal crossed the Alps by formed after having been at Paris about a the Great St. Bernard, are in themselves as un. month, during which he would not tall: French, profitable to us as the fact that there is a green for fear of giving the natives au timiage blind in a particular house in Threadnepale
street, or the fact that a Mr. Smith comes into of those strong plain words, Anglo-Saxon or the city every morning on the top of one of the Norman French, of which the roots lie in the Blackwall stages. But it is certain that those inmost depths of our language; and that he who will not crack the shell of history will felt a vicious partiality for terms which, long never get at the kernel. Johnson, with hasty after our own speech had been fixed, were arrogance, pronounced the kernel worthless, borrowed from the Greek and Latin, and because he saw no value in the shell. The which, therefore, even when lawfully naturalreal use of travelling to distant countries, and ized, must be considered as born aliens, not of studying the annals of past times, is to pre-entitled to rank with the king's English. His serve men from the contraction of mind which constant practice of padding out a sentence those can hardly escape, whose whole com- with useless epithets, till it became as stiff as munion is with one generation and one neigh- the bust of an exquisite; his antithetical forms bourhood, who arrive at conclusions by means of expression, constantly employed even where of an induction not sufficiently copious, and there is no opposition in the ideas expressed; who therefore constantly confound exceptions his big words wasted on little things; his harsh with rules, and accidents with essential pro- inversions, so widely different from those perties. In short, the real use of travelling, graceful and easy inversions which give vaand of studying history, is to keep men from riety, spirit, and sweetness to the expression being what Tom Dawson was in fiction, and of our great old writers—all these peculiarities Samuel Johnson in reality.
have been imitated by his admirers, and paroJohnson, as Mr. Burke most justly observed, died by his assailants, till the public has beappears far greater in Boswell's books than in come sick of the subject. his own. His conversation appears to have Goldsmith said to him, very wittily and very been quite equal to his writings in matter, and justly, “If you were to write a fable about far superior to them in manner. When he little fishes, doctor, you would make the little talked, he clothed his wit and his sense in for- fishes talk like whales." No man surely ever cible and natural expressions. As soon as he had so little talent for personation as Johnson. took his pen in his hand to write for the pub- Whether he wrote in the character of a dis. lic, his style became systematically vicious. appointed legacy-hunter or an empty town fop, All his books are written in a learned lan- of a crazy virtuoso or a flippant coquette, he guage—in a language which nobody hears wrote in the same pompous and unbending from his mother or his nurse-in a language style. His speech, like Sir Piercy Shafton's in which nobody ever quarrels, or drives bar- Euphuistic eloquence, bewrayed him under gains, or makes love-in a language in which every disguise. "Euphelia and Rhodoclia talk nobody ever thinks. It is clear, that Johnson as finely as Imlac the poet, or Seged, Emperor himself did not think in the dialect in which of Ethiopia. The gay Cornelia describes her he wrote. The expressions which came first reception at the country-house of her relations to his tongue were simple, energetic, and pic- in such terms as these : “I was surprised, after turesque. When he wrote for publication, he the civilities of my first reception, to find, in did his sentences out of English into John- stead of the leisure and tranquillity which a sonese. His letters from the Hebrides to Mrs. rural life always promises, and, if well conThrale are the original of that work of which ducted, might always afford, a confused wildthe Journey to the Hebrides is the translation; ness of care, and a tumultuous hurry of and it is amusing to compare the two versions. diligence, by which every face was clouded, "When we were taken up stairs," says he in and every motion agitated." The gentle Tranone of his letters, “ a dirty fellow bounced out quilla informs us, that she “had not passed of the bed on which one of us was to lie.” the earlier part of life without the flattery of This incident is recorded in the Journey as courtship and the joys of triumph; but had follows: “Out of one of the beds on which we danced the round of gayety amidst the murwere to repose, started up, at our entrance, a murs of envy and the gratulations of applause; inan black as a Cyclops from the forge.” had been attended from pleasure to pleasure Sometimes Johnson translated aloud. "The by the great, the sprightly, and the vain; and Rehearsal,” he said, very unjustly, “has not had seen her regard solicited by the obsequiwit enough to keep it sweet;" then, after a ousness of gallantry, the gayety of wit, and the pause, “it has not vitality enough to preserve timidity of love." Surely Sir John Falstaff it from putrefaction.”
himself did not wear his petticoats with a Mannerism is pardonable, and is sometimes worse grace. The reader may well cry out even agreeable, when the manner, though vi- with honest Sir Hugh Evans, “I like not when cious, is natural. Few readers, for example, a 'oman has a great peard : I spy a great peard would be willing to part with the mannerism under her muffler.” of Milton or of Burke. But a mannerism We had something more to say. But our which does not sit easy on the mannerist, which article is already too long; and we must close has been adopted on principle, and which can it. We would fain part in good humour from le sustained only by constant effort, is always the hero, from the biographer, and even from offensive. And such is the mannerism of the editor, who, ill as he has performed his Johnson.
task, has at least this claim to our gratitude, The characteristic faults of his style are so that he has induced us to read Boswell's book familiar to all our readers, and have been so again. As we close it, the club-room is before often burlesqued, that it is almost superfluous ' us, and the table on which stands the omelet lo point them out. It is well known that he for Nugent and the lemons for Johnson. There ma de less use than any other eminent are as embled those heads which live foreve!
on the canvass of Reynolds. There are the. What a singular destiny has been that of spectacles of Burke and the tall thin form of this remarkable man! To be regarded in his Langton; the courtly sneer of Beauclerk and own age as a classic, and in ours as a compathe beaming smile of Garrick; Gibbon tapping nion-to receive from his contemporaries that his snufl-box, and Sir Joshua with his trumpet full homage which men of genius have in in his ear.
In the foreground is that strange general received only from posterity—to be figure which is as familiar to us as the figures more intimately known to posterity than other of those among whom we have been brought men are known to their contemporaries! That up—the gigantic body, the huge massy face, kind of fame which is commonly the most seamed with the scars of disease; the brown transient, is, in his case, the most durable. coal, the black worsted stockings, the gray The reputation of those writings, which he wig with a scorched foretop; the dirty hands, probably expected to be immortal, is every day the nails bitten and pared to the quick. We fading; while those peculiarities of manner, see the eyes and mouth moving with convul- and that careless table-talk, the memory of sive twitches; we see the heavy form roiling; which, he probably thought, would die with we hear it puffing; and then comes the “Why, him, are likely to be remembered as long as the sir!" and the “What then, sir ?" and the “No, English language is spoken in any quarter of sir !" and the “You dont see your way through the globe. the question, sir!"
LORD NUGENT'S MEMORIALS OF HAMPDEN.*
[EDINBURGH Review, 1831.]
We have read this book with great pleasure, moirs must be considered as Memoirs of the though not exactly with that kind of pleasure history of England; and, as such, they well which we had expected. We had hoped that deserve to be attentively perused. They conLord Nugent would have been able to collect, tain some curious facts, which, to us at least, from family papers and local traditions, much are new, much spirited narrative, many judinew and interesting information respecting the cious remarks, and much eloquent declamalife and character of the renowned leader of tion. the Long Parliament, the first of those great We are not sure that even the want of inEnglish commoners, whose plain addition of formation respecting the private character of Mister, has, to our ears, a more majestic sound Hampden is not in itself a circumstance as than the proudest of the feudal titles. In this strikingly characteristic as any which the hope we have been disappointed; but assuredly most minute chronicler-O'Meara, Las Cases, not from any want of zeal or diligence on the Mrs. Thrale, or Boswell himself-ever recordpart of the noble biographer. Even at Hamp-ed concerning their heroes. The celebrated den, there are, it seems, no important papers Puritan leader is an almost solitary instance relative to the most illustrious proprietor of of a great man who neither sought nor shunned that ancient domain. The most valuable me- greatness; who found glory only because glory morials of him which still exist, belong to the lay in the plain path of duty. During more family of his friend, Sir John Eliot. Lord than forty years, he was known to his country Eliot has furnished the portrait which is en neighbours as a gentleman of cultivated mind, graved for this work, together with some of high principles, of polished address, happy very interesting letters. The portrait is un- in his family, and active in the discharge of doubtedly an original, and probably the only local duties; to political men, as an honest, original now in existence. The intellectual industrious, and sensible member of Parlia forehead, the mild penetration of the eye, and ment, not eager to display his talents, stanch the inflexible resolution expressed by the lines to his party, and attentive to the interests on of the mouth, sufficiently guaranty the like- his constituents. A great and terrible crisis
We shall probably make some extracts came. A direct attack was made, by an arbifrom the letters. They contain almost all the trary government, on a sacred right of Eng. new information that Lord Nugent has been lishmen, on a right which was the chief secu. able to procure, respecting the private pursuits rity for all their other rights. The nation of the great man whose memory he worships looked round for a defender. Calmly and unwith an enthusiastic, but not an extravagant, ostentatiously the plain Buckinghamshire Es veneration.
quire placed himself at the head of his counThe public life of Hampden is surrounded trymen, and right before the face, and across by no obscurity. His history, more particu- the path of tyranny. The tines grew darker larly from the beginning of the year 1640 to his and more troubled. Public service, perilous, : death, is the history of England. These me arduous, delicate, was required; and to every
service, the intellect and the courage of this * Some Memorials of John Hampden, his Party, and his wonderful man were found fully equal. lle
Ry LORD Nugent. 2 vols. Svo, London. 1831. became a debater of the first order, a on?