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ened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a gloomy cast to his whole course of thinking: yet, though grave and awful in his deportment, when he thought it necessary or proper, he frequently indulged himself in pleasantry and sportive sallies. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy. He had a loud voice, and a slow, deliberate utterance, which no doubt gave some additional weight to the sterling metal of his conversation. Lord Pembroke said once to me at Wilton, with a happy pleasantry, and some truth, that "Dr. Johnson's sayings would not appear so extraordinary, were it not for his bow-wow way." But I admit the truth of this, only on some occasions. The Messiah played upon the Canterbury organ is more sublime than when played on an inferior instrument; but very slight music will seem grand, when conveyed to the ear through that majestic medium. While, therefore, Dr. Johnson's sayings are read, let his manner be taken along with them. Let it, however, be observed, that the sayings themselves are generally great; that, though he might be an ordinary composer at times, he was for the most part a Handel.
His person was large, robust, I may say approaching to the gigantic, and grown unwieldy from corpulency. His countenance was naturally of the cast of an ancient statue, but somewhat disfigured by the scars of that evil, which, it was formerly imagined, the royal touch could cure. He was now
in his sixty-fourth year, and was become a little dull of hearing. His sight had always been somewhat weak; yet, so much does mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his per ceptions were uncommonly quick and accurate. His head, and sometimes also his body, shook with a kind of motion like the effect of a palsy: he appeared to be frequently disturbed by cramps, or convulsive contractions (1), of the nature of that distemper called St. Vitus's dance. He wore a full suit of plain brown clothes, with twisted hair-buttons of the same colour, a large bushy greyish wig, a plain shirt, black worsted stockings, and silver buckles. Upon this tour, when journeying, he wore boots, and a very wide brown cloth great coat, with pockets which might have almost held the two volumes of his folio Dictionary; and he carried in his hand a large English oak stick. Let me not be censured for mentioning such minute particulars: every thing relative to so great a man is worth abserving. I remember Dr. Adam Smith, in his rhetorical lectures at Glasgow, told us he was glad to know that Milton wore latchets in his shoes instead of buckles. (2) When I mention the oak stick,
(1) Such they appeared to me; but, since the first edition, Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, that "Dr. Johnson's extraordinary gestures were only habits, in which he indulged himself at certain times. When in company, where he was not free, or when engaged earnestly in conversation, he never gave way to such habits, which proves that they were not involuntary." I still, however, think, that these gestures were involuntary; for surely, had not that been the case, he would have restrained them in the public streets. B. See antè, Vol. 1. p. 161, Sir Joshua's reasoning at large. C.
(2) This was no great discovery; the fashion of shoe-buckles was long posterior to Milton's day. — C.
it is but letting Hercules have his club; and, byand-by, my readers will find this stick will bud, and produce a good joke.
This imperfect sketch of "the combination and the form" of that wonderful man, whom I venerated and loved while in this world, and after whom I gaze with humble hope, now that it has pleased Almighty God to call him to a better world, will serve to introduce to the fancy of my readers the capital object of the following journal, in the course of which I trust they will attain, to a considerable degree of acquaintance with him.
His prejudice against Scotland was announced almost as soon as he began to appear in the world of letters. In his "London," a poem, are the fol lowing nervous lines:.
"For who could leave, unbribed, Hibernia's land?
The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself to look upon all nations but his own as barbarians: not only Hibernia and Scotland, but Spain, Italy, and France, are attacked in the same poem. If he was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit; and because he could not but see in them that nationality which I believe no liberal-minded Scotsman will deny. He was, indeed, if I may be allowed the phrase, at bottom much of a John Bull; much of a blunt true-born Englishman. There was