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to the list. He scorned to enter Scotland as a spy ; though Hawkins, his biographer, and the professing defender of his fame, allowed himself leave to represent him in that ignoble character. He went into Scotland to survey men and manners. Antiquities, fossils, and minerals, were not within his province. He did not visit that country to settle the station of Roman camps, or the spot where Galgacus fought the last battle for publick liberty. The people, their customs, and the progress of literature, were his objects. The civilities which he received in the course of his tour have been repaid with grateful acknowledgement, and, generally, with great elegance of expression. His crime is, that he found the country bare of trees, and he has stated the fact. This, Mr. Boswell, in his Tour to the Hebrides, has told us, was resented by his countrymen with anger inflamed to rancour; but he admits that there are few trees on the east side of Scotland. Mr. Pennant, in his Tour, says, that in some parts of the eastern side of the country, he saw several large plantations of pine planted by gentlemen near their seats; and in this respect such a laudable

o spirit spirit prevails, that, in another half century, it never shall be said, “To spy the nakedness of the land are you come.” Johnson could not wait for that half century, and therefore mentioned things as he found them. If in any thing he has been mistaken, he has made a fair apology in the last paragraph of his book, avowing with candour, “ That he “ may have been surprised by modes of life, “ and appearances of nature, that are fami“ liar to men of wider survey, and more va“ried conversation. Novelty and ignorance “ must always be reciprocal ; and he is con“scious that his thoughts on national man“ ners are the thoughts of one who has seen “ but little,” *

The Poems of Ossian made a part of Johnson's enquiry during his residence in Scotland, and the Hebrides. On his return to England, November 1773, a storm seemed to be gathering over his head; but the cloud never burst, and the thunder never fell.— Ossian, it is well known, was presented to the publick as a translation from the Earse; but that this was a fraud, Johnson declared without hesitation. “ The Earse,” he says, \ ** was

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was always oral only, and never a written language. The Welch and the Irish were more cultivated. In Earse there was not in the world a single manuscript a hundred years old. Martin, who in the last century published an Account of the Western Islands, mentions Irish, but never Earse manuscripts, to be found in the islands in his time. The bards could not read; if they could, they might probably have written. But the bard was a barbarian among barbarians, and, knowing nothing himself, lived with others that knew no more. If there is a manuscript from which the translation was made, in what age was it written, and where is it? If it was collected from oral recitation, it could only be in detached parts and scattered fragments: the whole is too long to be remembered. Who put it together in its present form P' For these, and such like

reasons, Johnson calls the whole an imposture. , He adds, “ The editor, or author, never

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could show the original, nor can it be shewn by any other. To revenge reason

“able incredulity, by refusing evidence, is


a degree of insolenge with which the world

Vol. I. I • “ is

“is not yet acquainted ; and stubborn au“ dacity is the last refuge of guilt.” This reasoning carries with it great weight. It roused the resentment of Mr. Macpherson. He sent a threatening letter to the author; and Johnson answered him in the rough phrase of stern defiance. The two heroes frowned at a distance, but never came to action.

In the year 1777, the misfortunes of Dr. Dodd excited his compassion. He wrote a speech for that unhappy man, when called up to receive judgment of death; besides two petitions, one to the King, and another to the Queen ; and a sermon to be preached by Dodd to the convicts in Newgate. It may appear trifling to add, that about the same time he wrote a prologue to the comedy of a Word to the Wise, written by Hugh Kelly. The play, some years before, had been damned by a party on the first night. It was revived for the benefit of the author's widow. Mrs. Piozzi relates, that when Johnson was rallied for these exertions, so close to one another, his answer was, When they come to me with a dying - * Parson, Parson, and a dead Stay-maker what can a

man do? o We come now to the last of his literary labours. At the request of the Booksellers he undertook the Lives of the Poets. The first publication was in 1779, and the whole was completed in 1781. In a memorandum of that year he says, some time in March he finished the Lives of the Poets, which he wrote in his usual way, dilatorily and hastily, unwilling to work, yet working with vigour and haste. In another place, he hopes they are written in such a manner as may tend to the promotion of piety. That the history of so many men, who in their different degrees, made themselves conspicuous in their time, was not written recently after their deaths, seems to be an omission that does no honour to the Republic of Letters. Their contemporaries in general looked on with calm indifference, and suffered Wit and Genius to vanish out of the world in total silence, unregardèd, and unlamented. Was there no friend to pay the tribute of a tear? No just observer of life, to record the virtues of the deceased? Was even Envy silent? It seemed to have been agreed, that if an so I 2 author's

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