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which they were undertaken They are written in a style truly harmonious, and with his usual dignity of language. When it is said that he advanced positions repugnant to the common rights of mankind, the virulence of party may be suspected. It is, perhaps, true that in the clamour raised throughout the kingdom Johnson over-heated his mind; but he was a friend to the rights of man, and he was greatly superiour to the littleness of spirit that might incline him to advance what he did not think and firmly believe. In the False Alarm, though many of the most eminent men in the kingdom concurred in petitions to the throne, yet Johnson, having well surveyed the mass of the people, has given, with great humour and no less truth, what may be called, the birth, parentage, and education of a Remonstrance. On the subject of Falkland's islands, the fine dissuasive from too hastily involving the world in the calamities of War, must extort applause even from the party that wished, at that time, for scenes of tumult and commotion. It was in the same pamphlet that Johnson offered battle to Ju NIts; a writer, who, by the uncommon elegance of his style, charmed every reader, though his
object object was to inflame the nation in iavour of a faction. Junius fought in the dark; he saw his enemy, and had his full blow ; while he himself remained safe in obscurity. But let us not, said Johnson, mistake the venom of the shaft for the vigour of the bow. The keen invective which he published on that occasion, promised a paper war between two combatants, who knew the use of their weapons. A battle between them was as eagerly expected as between Mendoza and Big Ben. But Junius, whatever was his reason, never returned to the field. He laid down his arms, and has, ever since, remained as secret as the MAN IN THE MAs K in Voltaire's History.
The account of his journey to the Hebrides, or Western Isles of Scotland, is a model for such as shall hereafter relate their travels. The author did not visit that part of the world in the character of an Antiquary, to amuse us with wonders taken from the dark and fabulous ages; nor as a Mathematician, to measure a degree, and settle the longitude and latitude of the several islands. Those, who expected such information, expected what was never intended. In every work regard the
the writer's end. Johnson went to see men and manners, modes of life, and the progress of civilization. His remarks are so artfully blended with the rapidity and elegance of his narrative, that the reader is inclined to wish, as Johnson did with regard to GRAY, that to travel and to tell his travels, had been more of his employment.
As to Johnson's Parliamentary Debates, nothing with propriety can be said in this place. They are collected in two volumes by Mr. Stockdale; and the flow of eloquence which runs through the several speeches is sufficiently known. •"
It will not be useless to mention two more volumes, which may form a proper supplement to this edition. They contain a set of Sermons left for publication by John Taylor, LL.D. The Reverend Mr. Hayes, who ushered these Discourses into the world, has not given them as the composition of Dr. Taylor. All he could say for his departed friend was, that he left them in silence among his papers. Mr. Hayes knew them to be the production of a superiour mind; and the writer
of these Memoirs owes it to the candour of that elegant scholar, that he is now warranted to give an additional proof of Johnson's ardour in the cause of piety, and every moral duty. The last discourse in the collection was intended to be delivered by Dr. Taylor at the funeral of Johnson's wife; but that Reverend gentleman declined the office, because, as he told Mr. Hayes, the praise of the deceased was too much amplified. He, who reads the piece, will find it a beautiful moral lesson, written with temper, and no where over-charged with ambitious ornaments. The rest of the discourses were the fund, which Dr. Taylor, from time to time, carried with him to his pulpit. He had the LARGEST BULL * in England, and some of the best Sermons.
We come now to the Lives of the Poets, a work undertaken at the age of seventy, yet the most brilliant, and certainly the most popular, of all our Author's writings. For this performance he needed little preparation. Attentive always to the history of letters, and by his own natural bias fond of biography, he was the more willing to embrace the proposition of the Booksellers. He was versed in the whole body of English Poetry, and his rules of criticism were settled with precision. The dissertation, in the Life of Cowley, on the metaphysical Poets of the last century, has the attraction of novelty as well as sound observation. The writers who followed Dr. Donne went in quest of something better than truth and nature. As Sancho says in Don Quixote, they wanted better bread than is made with wheat. They took pains to bewilder themselves, and were ingenious for no other purpose than to err. In Johnson's review of Cowley's works, false wit is detected in all its shapes, and the Gothic taste for glittering conceits, and far-fetched allusions, is exploded, never, it is hoped, to revive again.
* See Johnson's Letters from Ashbourne, in Vol. XII. of his edition. Attentive