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The following anecdote is given as a fact. When his Royal Highness the D. of Cwas at Portsmouth Dock, viewing the ruins caused by the late dreadful fire there, an old fellow, a labourer in the yard, who had been a sailor, carelessly sung the following verse of a well-known song, at the same time eyeing the
D askance, and with a tar-like archness :--
“ As to you, Sir, do your duty,-
(Oh! was I but young again,) I'd not linger after beauty,
But go play my part with Spain.” It is said, the humour of the man did not escape his Royal Highness's observation.
Character of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Dr. Samuel Johnson's character, religious, moral, political, and literary, nay, his figure and manner, are, I believe, more generally known than those of almost any man; yet it may not be superfluous here to attempt a sketch of him, Let my readers then remember, that he was a sincere and zealous Christian, of High Church of England and monarchical principles, which he would not suffer tamely to be questioned ; steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations of piety and virtue, both from a regard to the order of society, and from a veneration for the Great
Source of all order; correct, nay stern in his taste; hard to please, and easily offended; impetuous and irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent heart ; having a mind stored with a vast and various collection of learning and knowledge, which he communicated with peculiar perspicuity and force, in rich and choice expression.
He united a most logical head with a most fertile imagination, which gave him an extraordinary advantage in arguing ; for he could reason close or wide, as he saw best for the moment. He could, when he chose it, be the greatest sophist that ever wielded a weapon in the schools of declamation ; but he indulged this only in conversation, for he owned he sometimes talked for victory. He was too conscientious to make error permanent and pernicious, by deliberately writing it. He was conscious of his superiority. He loved praise when it was brought to him, but was too proud to seek for it. He was somewhat susceptible of flattery. His mind was so full of imagery, that he might have been perpetually a poet. It has been often remarked, that in his poetical pieces, which it is to be regretted are so few, because so excellent, his style is easier than in his prose. There is deception in this; it is not easier, but better suited to the dignity of verse ; as one may dance with grace, whose motions in ordinary walking, in the common step, are aukward.
He had a constitutional melancholy, the cloud
of which darkened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a gloomy cast to his whole course of thinking; yet, though grave and awful in his deportment, when he thought it necessary and proper, he frequently indulged himself in pleasantry and sportive sallies. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy. He had a loud voice, and a slow deliberate utterance, which no doubt gave some additional weight to the sterling metal of his conversation.
Lord Pembroke said once to me at Wilton, with a happy pleasantry and some truth, “ Dr. Johnson's sayings would not appear so extraordinary, were it not for his bow-wow way.” But I admit the truth of this only on some occasions. The Messiah played upon the Canterbury organ, is more sublime than when played upon an inferior instrument; but very slight music will seem grand, when conveyed to the ear through that majestic medium. While, therefore, Dr. Johnson's sayings are read, let his manner be taken along. Let it, however, be observed, that the sayings are generally great; that he, though he might be an ordinary composer at times, was for the most part an Handel.
His person was large, robust, I may say approaching to the gigantic, and grown unwieldy from corpulency. His countenance was naturally of the cast of an ancient statue, but somewhat
disfigured by the scars of that evil, which it was formerly imagined the royal touch could cure. He was now in his 64th year; he was become a little dull of hearing; his sight had always been somewhat weak, yet so much does the mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his perceptions were uncommonly quick and accurate. His head, and sometimes also his body shook with a kind of motion like the effect of a palsy; he was frequently disturbed by cramps, or convulsive contractions, of the nature of that distemper called St. Vitus's dance. He wore' a full suit of plain brown clothes, with twisted hair buttons of the same colour, a large bushy greyish wig, a plain shirt, black worsted stockings, and silver buckles. Upon his tour (to the Hebrides, or Western Islands of Scotland,) when journeying, he wore boots, and a very wide brown cloth great coat, with pockets which might have almost held the two volumes of his folio dictionary, and he carried in his hand a large English oak stick. Let. me not be censured for mentioning such minute particulars; every thing relative to so great a man is worth observing. I remember Dr. Adam Smith, in his rhetorical lectures at Glasgow, told us he was glad to know that Milton wore latches in his shoe, instead of buckles. When I mention. the stick, it is but letting Hercules have his club, and by and by my readers will find the stick will bud, and produce a good joke. to · His prejudice against Scotland was announced almost as soon as he began to appear in the world = VOL. I.
of letters. In his London, a poem, are the following nervous lines : For who would leave, unbrib’d, Hibernia's land; Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand ? There none are swept by sudden fate away, But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.
The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself to look upon all nations but his own as Barbarians; not only Hibernia, but Spain, Italy, and France are attacked in the same poem. If he was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit, and because he could not but see in them that nationality which I think no liberal-minded Scotsman will deny. He was, indeed, if I may be allowed the phrase, at bottom much of a John Bull.
--- Prayers and Meditations. BY THE LATE DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. Easter Eve, 1761. Almighty and most merciful Father, look down upon my misery with pity; strengthen me that I may overcome all sinful habits; grant that I may, with effectual faith, commemorate the death of thy Son Jesus Christ, so that all corrupt desires may be extinguished, and all vain thoughts may be dispelled. Enlighten me with true knowledge, animate me with rea