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HIS RELIGIOUS LIFE
THE AUTHOR OF “DR. HOOKWELL," " THE PRIMITIVE
CHURCH IN ITS EPISCOPACY,” &c.
“As for Johnson, I have always considered him to be, by nature, one of
PREFACE TO THE READER.
When Doctor Johnson died, it was said of him by one who had been intimately acquainted with him nearly thirty years,—"He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best : there is nobody: no man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson. And does not this observation hold on to the present day? We have had a Southey, a pure writer, and most noble genius, a man too of independence and struggling in life, but not a JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson had his defamers, open and mean defamers. One of these latter ceased not to snarl after the great man's death, and to the face of this one did the Rev. Dr. Parr boldly say, “Ay, now that the old lion is dead, every ass thinks he may kick at him.” But the longer the lion has been dead, so much the larger has that lion become. And where shall we now find the ass!
Politically speaking, it must be expected that there should be many who will not agree with Dr. Johnson. But these hold him dear in memory. Leigh Hunt, in one of his interesting and entertaining works, * when excusing Johnson's pompous manner, says,—“At all events, one is willing to think the best of what was accompanied by so much excellence. Affectation it was not: for nobody despised pretension of any kind more than he did. Johnson was a sort of born bishop in his way, with high judgments and cathedral notions lording it in his mind, and ex cathedrá he accordingly spoke.” This “ born bishop” is a felicitous term. He advanced,” says Leigh Hunt again,“ by the
by the power of his conversation, the strictness of his veracity, and the respect he exacted towards his presence, ,
be called the personal dignity of literature.
The consequence has been not exactly what he expected, but certainly what the great interests of knowledge require; and Johnson has assisted men with whom he little thought of co-operating, in stating the claims of Truth and BENEFICENCE above all others !” These latter words may be claimed as the text of some discourse in this book.
* “ The Town," by Leigh Hunt: 2 vols. Smith & Elder.
Dr. Johnson truly had no affectation ; no sham eccentricities about him. He was one of Carlyle's “ noble silent men, scattered here and there : silently thinking ; silently working ; whom no morning newspaper makes mention of.” Yes, Johnson, with all his conversation, was not of the noisy inanity of the world ; no words of little meaning, no actions of little worth, were found in him. “Old Samuel Johnson,” exclaims Carlyle, * “ the greatest soul in England in his day, was not ambitious. · Corsica Boswell' flaunted at public shows with printed ribbons round his hat; but the great Old Samuel stayed at home. The world-wide soul, wrapt up in its thoughts, in its sorrows-what could paradings and ribbons in the hat do for it?” Let us not, however, decry Boswell, for his very failings have been of valuable service to men who have the greatest relish for literature. He esteemed Johnson, and Johnson esteemed him; and that should be enough for us : whether it be true or not
* "Heroes and Hero Worship,”