Slike strani
PDF
ePub

feeble as it may be, he thought himself performing the last human office to the memory of a friend, whom he loved, esteemed, and honoured:

"His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani
Munere."- -

The author of these memoirs has been anxious to give the features of the man, and the true character of the author. He has not suffered the hand of partiality to colour his excellencies with too much warmth; nor has he endeavoured to throw his singularities too much into the shade. Dr. Johnson's failings may well be forgiven, for the sake of his virtues. His defects were spots in the sun. His piety, his kind affections, and the goodness of his heart, present an example worthy of imitation. His works still remain a monument of genius and of learning. Had he written nothing but what is contained in this edition, the quantity shows a life spent in study and meditation. If to this be added, the labour of his Dictionary, and other various productions, it may be fairly allowed, as he used to say of himself, that he has written his share. In the volumes here presented to the public the reader will find a perpetual source of pleasure and instruction. With due precautions, authors may learn to grace their style with elegance, harmony, and precision; they may be taught to think with vigour and perspicuity; and, to crown the whole, by a diligent attention to these books, all may advance in virtue.

POEMS.

PREFATORY OBSERVATIONS

TO THE IMITATIONS OF THE

THIRD AND TENTH SATIRES OF JUVENAL.

WE will not examine here Johnson's poetical merits, since that discussion will more properly introduce his Lives of the Poets, but merely offer some few biographical remarks. In the poem of London, Mr. Boswell was of opinion, that Johnson did not allude to Savage, under the name of Thales, and adds, for his reason, that Johnson was not so much as acquainted with Savage when he wrote his London. About a month, however, before he published this poem, he addressed the following lines to him, through the Gentleman's Magazine, for April, 1738.

AD RICARDUM SAVAGE.

Humani studium generis cui pectore fervet
O colat humanum te, foveatque, genus!

We cannot certainly infer, from this, an intimacy with Savage, but it is more probable, that these lines flowed from a feeling of private friendship, than mere admiration of an author, in a public point of view; and they, at any rate, give credibility to the general opinion, that, under the name of Thales, the poet referred to the author of the Wanderer, who was, at this time, preparing for his retreat to Wales, whither he actually went in the ensuing year.

The names of Lydiat, Vane, and Sedley, which are brought forward in the poem on the Vanity of Human Wishes, as examples of inefficiency of either learning or beauty, to shield their

a

possessors from distress, have exercised inquiry. The following is the best account of them we can collect:

THOMAS LYDIAT was born in 1572. After passing through the studies of the university of Oxford, with applause, he was elected fellow of New college; but his defective utterance induced him to resign his fellowship, in order to avoid entering holy orders, and to live upon a small patrimony. He was highly esteemed by the accomplished and unfortunate prince Henry, son of James the first. But his hopes of provision in that quarter were blasted by that prince's premature death; and he then accompanied the celebrated Usher into Ireland. After two or three years, he returned to England, and poverty induced him now to accept the rectory of Okerton, near Banbury, which he had before declined. Here he imprudently became security for the debts of a relation, and, being unable to pay, was imprisoned for several years. He was released, at last, by his patron, Usher, sir W. Boswell, Dr. Pink, then warden of New college, and archbishop Laud, to whom he showed his gratitude by writing in defence of his measures of church-government. He now applied to Charles the first for his protection and encouragement to travel into the east, to collect MSS. but the embarrassed state of the king's affairs prevented his petition from receiving attention. Lastly, his well-known attachment to the royal cause drew upon him the repeated violence of the parliament troops, who plundered, imprisoned, and abused him, in the most cruel manner. He died in obscurity and indigence, in 1646. A stone was laid over his grave in Okerton church, in 1669, by the society of New college, who also erected an honorary monument to his memory in the cloisters of their college. We have dwelt thus long on Lydiat's name, because, when this poem was published, it was a subject of inquiry, who Lydiat was, though some of his contemporaries, both in England and on the continent, ranked him with lord Bacon, in mathematical and physical knowledge. For a more detailed account, see Chalmers' Biographical Dictionary, vol. xxi. whence the above facts have been extracted, and Gen

« PrejšnjaNaprej »