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New College, 301-"Writes very well for a Gentleman," 302-Dies July
with Horace Walpole, 496-Returns to England and Retires to Cam-
judgment cultivated," 499-His Poetry, 499-The Country Churchyard,
(From: Sir Walter Scott's "Lives of the Novelists.")
F all the men distinguished in this or any other age, Dr. Johnson has left upon posterity the strongest and most vivid impression, so far as person, manners, disposition, and conversation are concerned. We do but name him, or open a book which he has written, and the sound and action recall to the imagination at once his form, his merits, his peculiarities, nay, the very uncouthness of his gestures, and the deep impressive tone of his voice. We learn not only what he said, but form an idea how he said it; and have, at the same time, a shrewd guess of the secret motive why he did so, and whether he spoke in sport or in anger, in the desire of conviction, or for the love of debate. It was said of a noted wag, that his bon-mots did not give full satisfaction when published because he could not print his face. But with respect to Dr. Johnson, this has been in some degree accomplished; and, although the greater part of the present generation never saw him, yet he is, in our mind's eye, a personification as lively as that of Siddons in Lady Macbeth, or Kemble in Cardinal Wolsey.1
All this, as the world well knows, arises from Johnson having found in James Boswell such a biographer, as no man but himself ever had, or ever deserved to have. The performance, which chiefly resembles it in structure, is the life of the philosopher Demophon in Lucian; but that slight sketch is far inferior in detail and in vivacity to Boswell's "Life of Johnson," which, considering the eminent persons to whom it relates, the quantity of miscel laneous information and entertaining gossip which it brings together, may be termed, without exception, the best parlour-window book that ever was written. Accordingly, such has been the reputation which it has enjoyed, that it renders useless even the form of an abridgement, which is the less necessary in this work, as the great Lexicographer only stands connected with the department of fictitious narrative by the brief tale of "Rasselas." A few dates and facts may be shortly recalled, for the sake of uniformity of plan, after which we will venture to offer a few remarks upon "Rasselas," and the character of its great author.
SAMUEL JOHNSON was born and educated in Lichfield, where his father was a country bookseller of some eminence, 3 since he belonged to its magistracy. He was born 18th September, 1709. His school-days were spent in his native city, and his education completed at Pembroke College, Oxford. Of gigantic strength of body, and mighty powers of mind, he was afflicted with that nameless disease on the spirits, which often rendered the latter useless; and externally deformed by a scrofulous complaint, the scars of which disfigured his otherwise strong and sensible countenance.
The indigence of his parents compelled him to leave College upon his father's death in 1731, when he gathered in a succession of eleven pounds sterling. In poverty, however, his learning and his probity secured him respect. He was received in the best society of his native place. His first literary attempt, the translation of "Father Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia,"