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he said, but, by the thundering sonorousness of their pronounciation, had a confiderable effect upon the auricular organs of his scholars. Hence proceeded his domineering infolence in company, which in him was no affectation ; his lexiphanic differtations; and his bow-wow manner of speaking, which, according to Lord Pembroke, contributed so much to his success in the world.
Having given these openings into his character, with more penetration and good sense than any of his biographers, Mrs. Piozzi relates a variety of stories and anecdotes concerning him, including no less than twenty years of his life. For the better instruction of the reader we will select a few from this promiscuous mass, that illustrate his character with regard to his religion, his taste, his humanity and friendship, and his wit or convivial hilarity. • With regard to his religion, our fair biographer informs us (p. 220) That he was lowly towards God; docile towards the church, and implicit in his belief of the gospel.” He did not however attain at once to the superlative merit of implicit faith, for at ten years of age (p. 7) he was disturbed by scruples of infidelity.” After a diligent but fruitless fearch for evidence on this mysterious subject, he recollected to have seen a book in his father's Thop, De Veritate Religionis Chriftianæ. He seized the book in a fit of remorse, and read it with avidity; but finding that he could not understand it, as it was written in Latin, he gave up any further inquiry, and began to follow his pleasures. But, from the pain which his conduct gave him, by one of the boldest inferences that ever was made, ne deduced the immortality of the soul, which was the point that his belief stopped at; and from that moment, resolving to be a Christian, he became one of the most zealous Church of England saints which this nation has produced. Notwithstanding of this extraordinary conversion, he did not all at once get the better of the old man, “ for corruption at an early period entered into his heart by a dream.”. When our elegant historiographer interrogated him concerning this nocturnal corruption; “Do not ask me," replied he with much violence, and walked away in apparent agitation. Thus, to the irreparable loss of the learned world, this dream hath gone the same way with Nebuchad. nezzar's, and there is no Daniel to divine and interpret! His faith in the immortality of the foul seems now to have acquired a tolerable degree of thickness and consistency, and to have extended to purgatory as well as heaven and hell. Having got the play of Hamlet in his hand, he was reading it quietly in his father's kitchen, and kept on steadily enough, till coming to the ghost scene, he suddenly hurried up stairs to the street-door, that he might see people about him. He continued long to be
afraid of spirits, and we think with some reason, for he told Dr. Lawrence (p. 192) “ That many years after his mother's death he heard her voice call to him Sam !” So very
zealous was he in the faith of the Church of England, that he could not hear of an infidel's name with patience, and never quoted the authority of an infidel writer in his dictionary. For the same reason, when asked, “ Who was the best man he had ever known?” he answered, “ George Pfalmanazzar,” a notorious cheat and profligate impostor, who, after having studied and difgraced all religions, died of the Church of England.
We come now to some particulars that discover and dif. play his taste. It is very justly observed by Dr. Armstrong, that there is an analogy between the organization of the body and that of the mind, and that there is hardly an instance of a person of a robust and vulgar make who has an elegant mind. An elegant man discovers his taste in the pleasures of the table. Dr. Johnson's notions about eating, says Mrs. Piozzi, (p. 104) were nothing less than delicate. A leg of pork boiled till it dropped from the bone, a veal pye with plumś and sugar, or the outside cut of a falt buttock of beef, were his favourite dainties : with regard to drink; his liking was for the strongest; as it was not the flavour, but the effect he fought for; and when I first knew him he used to pour capillaire into his port-wine. He poured large quantities of cream or even melted butter into his chocolate.
A high enjoyment of fine scenes, delightful landscapes, and the beauties of nature, has generally been found to characterise a man of tafte. Dr. Johnson knew none of these sensual pleasures. When Mr. Íhrale pointed out a fine landscape to him, “ Never heed such nonsense, (said he) a blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another.” He hated to hear about prospects and views, and taste in gardening. “ That is the best garden (he faid), (p. 264) which produces most roots and fruits; and that water most to be prized which contains most fish.” He used to laugh most unmercifully at Shenstone for not caring whether there was any thing good to eat in his streams," as if (fays Dr. Johnson) one could fill one's belly with hearing soft murmurs, or looking at rough cascades." He derided the people who covered their canals with foreign fowls, “ when (says he) our own geese and ganders are twice as large." The following story not only shews his taste in painting, but the delicacy of his raillery. He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of his most respected friends, that it grieved him to see so much mind laid out upon such perishable materials: “ Why do you not paint on copper ?" Sir Joshua urged the difficulty of procuring a plate large enough for historical subjects: “ What toppith obitacles are these! (exENG. Rev. Vol. VI. April 3786. R
claims Dr. Johnson.) Here is Thrale who has a thousand tun of copper, you may paint it all round if you will, and I suppose it will serve to brew in afterwards; will it not, Sir ?"
Another mark of the peculiarity of his tafte was (fays Signora Piozzi, p. 257) that strong aversion felt by all the vulgar towards four-footed companions. Belle, Mr. Thrale's bitch, one day stole their toast and butter. Fye Belle, faid I, you used to be upon honour, Yes, said he, but Belle grows old. His reason for hating the dog was, that she was a profeffed favourite, and because her lady ordered her from time to time to be washed and combed, an assumption of superiority, (faid he) that one's nature revolts it. So great was his ambition to be the favourite of the family, that he could not even bear a fourfooted rival !
With this degree of taste, which would have done honour to a Hottentot, we need not be surprised that he quarrelled with his wife, for her perpetual reverence for cleanlines, and attention to sweep the house!
His general humanity and the delicacy of his fiiendship are a little fingular, but strongly marked in his character. Dr, Johnson professed to despife Swift for hating whole focieties of men and loving individuals; and yet, without loving individuals, he hated whole societies of men. "He hated Cambridge, because the university was infected with whiggism, and had produced Mason and Gray. He hated the Scotch, because they were Presbyterians, and because many repectable authors in the reigns of George the 2d and 3d were born north of the Tweed. He hated the French because they were the most enlightened and refined nation of Europe, and because their authors and their language circulated round the world. When a French author was mentioned with approbation, he flew into a rage : “ What can be expected, says he, from fellows that live on frogs?”
His private friendship was of a piece with his general character. Lord Anson invited him to his house. "I was well received, (says he) and kindly treated, and with the true gratitude of a wit ridiculed the maiter of the house before I had left it an hour.” To Garrick he was highly indebted for his suc. cess and reputation in the world, and with a lively resentment of such favours he made it his constant object to turn him into ridicule at his own table. We have seen how he treated Sir Joshua Reynolds. He professed to love his mother, One day she called
· Pray,” says this dutiful and loving son, “ do you know what they call a puppy's mother?" To Mrs. Thrale he owed the highest obligations that one human being can owe to another, As an admirer the flattered him; as a friend the foothed him; as a nurse the watched him. She faved him from disease, from melancholy, from madness, and from death. One
him a puppy:
day she lamented the loss of a firft cousin killed in America: “Prithee, (faid he) have done with canting; how would the world be worse, if all your relations were at once spitted like larks and roasted for Presto's supper ?” Presto was the dog that lay under the table.
With regard to his wit we shall say little, as his bon mots are so well known. Talking in company, says Mrs. Thrale, was his chief employment and fole pleasure. He knew he could not shine by elegant wit and polished manners, and therefore cultivated the easier graces of the vulgar, ill nature, infolence, rufticity, and barbarity. All his efforts at wit are tinctured with malignity and expressed with brus tality. Indeed, in the whole collection of what are called his bon mots, we recollect few for which a boy would not have been whipped; for which a gentleman would not have been expelled from society, and perhaps run through the body; and for which a Christian, on account of the dispositions from which they fow, is not threatened with the highest punilhments of his religion.
From this account of Dr. Johnson, different conclusions may be drawn. One is given us by Mrs. Piozzi; “ that he was the wiseft and best man she had ever known.” The other by himself;" that he was ready to become a rascal, and with a little more spoiling would grow a complete scoundrel.”
To which of these the preference is to be given, we fhall leave to the determination of the reader.
Such was the man! With regard to the author, his repútation with the public is such, that it has not been injured or affected by the indiscreet and dishonourable conduct of his profefed friends and admirers, in exposing to the ridicule of the world all the absurdities and follies which fell from his tongue, in his weak, wicked, and mad moments. Of these we have had enough. A distinguished character may be allowed some peculiarities and oddities, but there is no occasion to transfer them to the list of his virtues. An orthodox tartar may possess a sufficient degree of veneration for the Delai Lama, without either worshipping or eating his excrements.
ART. III. The Philosophical Dictionary: or, the Opinions of Modern Phi.
losophers on Metaphysical, Moral, and Political Subje&ts. In Four Volumes, 12mo, 125. sewed. Robinsons, 1786. London. THE present fashion of publishing truths and opinions under
the form of dictionaries, cyclopedies, and in other compilations with other names, is inimical to the improvement of science. A Thesaurus Lingua Grece, or Lingua Latina, is very
proper. These languages are dead and fixed, and admit not of progress or variation. It is otherwise with science, which is in its nature progressive, and with opinions, which are ever changing. It is better to lead on a young mind to discover truth itself, than to present to its view a collection of the opinions of other men. And a division of the objects of truth or knowledge ought to be made in a scientific manner; either according to the leading powers of the mind, imagination, memory, and judgment, which is the comprehensive arrangement followed by Lord Bacon in his Augmentis Scientiarum, or some other division, if any such division can be found equally philofophical. The mind, in all general views of knowledge, should be led into the great cabinet of truth and nature, by such steps and views, as those that we find in “ Institutes of Moral Philosophy, for the Use of Students, by Doctor Adam Ferguson.” On these principles, we hold this Philosophical Dictionary in very flight estimation, considered, as its title bears, as a philosophical publication. But the compiler, in a preface, tells us that
• The following work is compiled from the writings of the most cminent philosophers in Europe. "It was originally undertaken with no other view but to serve as a common-place book for private use. If the publication of it can add to the amusement of travelers who carry few books with them, or satisfy the curiosity of those who cannot pure chase many books, or have little time to read them, it will answer every purpose the editor could expect.
• There are some articles in it which have been the subject of controversy amongst ancient as well as modern philolophers : on these subječts the arguments on both sides of the question are, in general, extracted for the fatisfaction of the reader. If the work meet the approbation of the public, the defects of it may be amended in a supplement or future edition.
• A love of truth and warm wishes for its diffufion, under respectable authorities, were the sole objects of the editor in this publication.'
From the writings of Locke, Hume, Helvetius, Smith, Montesquieu, Bolingbroke, Franklin, Burke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Ferguson, Hartley, Raynal, D'Alembert, Beccaria, &c. &c. it was an easy matter to form a very fenfible, entertaining, and philosophical miscellany; and our author has formed one that merits this character,
We could have wished that our compiler had not introduced together with the great names just recited, others of very inferior merit and reputation; and some who aspire to distinction and fame by joining though with feeble voice, in the hue and çry against the, Christian religion, and the adminiftration of Providence. Our compiler seems fond of joining the pack and re-echoing the cries. May God of his infinite mercy pily, as