Title: Contemporary criticism of the works of Samuel Johnson ..
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Title: Contemporary criticism of the works of Samuel Johnson ..
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Creator: Morgan, Ira Lee, 1926-
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CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM

OF THE WORKS

OF SAMUELJOHNSON











B)
IRA LEE ,MORGAN










A DL44ERTATION PRE- ENTED !.- illC L(fi i.' il CCrl.'CI L OF
THE UNLp.'LP : Ii CF L'.illit'
IN PARTL l. FULFILMENT *'*F 1Hi PEY.iUIL L NT' FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF 'PH1LOiOPHlY










UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
August. 195-











ACKNOWLEDGE 'ENT


I should like to express my sine-re appreciation

to the members of my supervisory eOmaittee, Professor

Frederick W. Conner, Professor T. Walter Herbert,

Professor Ants Oras, Prefesser Thomas Pyles, and

Professor J. Stuart Johnson, for their sareul reading

of this dissertation and their helpful suggestions in

preparing it. To Profesoer J. E. Conrglton, who dirFOted

this study, I am especially indbted for his pati ae3

guidance, and encourage mnt.


ILM












TABLE OF COMNTMTS

Page

INTROUCTION. . . . . . ..... 1



Il THE POTRY. . . . . . . 9

II. THE RAMBLER and THE IDLMR . . . 34

III. TIE DICTIO URY ... . . . .. 84

IV. RASSL . . . . . .. 153

V. THE EDITION OF SIIAUESPEAHE. .. . 169

Vi. THE POLITICAL PAMPHLETS. . .. 231

VEI. A JOURNEY TO THE IRSTIMN ISLANDS OF
SCOTLAbD. .. . . . . 24

VIII. THE LIVaS OF THE POETS. .. . ... 91

IX. MISCELLANEOUS. . . . . 36

CONLUSION. . . . . ..... . . 39

BILIOQJAPNY. . . . .. . . . 487











INTRODUCTION


Dr. Johnson has long held a high position in English

literature. Unquestionably the man most responsible for

this regard is Jaaes Beawell, but scores of other writers,

critics, and literary historians have thought every vestige

of information about the great man worthy of preservation

and study. The most superficial investigation will disclose

that Johnsonian maholarship has not flagged. But it will

also reveal something else, namely that scholars have been

interested primarily in what Johnson said and what others

said about hin rather than in what he wrote. This is strik-

iagly illuatrated in James L. Clifford's Johnsoniaan Stataia

1887-1950. Of the 2078 books and articles on JophBon, only

685 are on his works; the other 1359 concern bibliography,

editions, Boswell, biography, Johnson's personal rilatiom-

ships, clubs and associations, hoaes and plaees, piCturea,

relies, etc. This has resulted, except in scholarly sad

literary circles, in Johnson's being kneen ehiefly as a

"oharaeber," a churehaa Tory, conversationalist, m ralist,

philanthropist, eempler of.bad table measUre, in shedt a

anything beeo ae an asepirst poet, l ofxi e~ogphw, taber8,

travels writer, biog apher, eriti, ant styll y1

This disargamr of Johameont ur tiag, wsn easaefaly










oamiderl is somewhat surprising; yet Johnson ii partly
rpmenble fsr it besssm hi saeem to have thought him-
elf 1rdly more twan a hlak writer an branied those who
did me rit r for mney %ibkime*id ." Walter Raleigh L
mis in the first deendo of the twentieth century, "A

hearty iairer of Johnson will not hesitate to express
sab oi. Indiffoernse to his writings. They hav their
IMtted plee mang english elassies, but a love for tbae

Li set a *rk of literary orthodoxy."1 The qesutiona i-
m lta17 wises, has this always been true? Are literary
taste at pointer e sm artm le that what wee elassis in

Sage will seetmely be mention in a smeo-eding age?
SIut Jeiiman the man Johason the personality,
t La 43Uay beMs a subject of interest is certainly tane.

Im tem ighAMa enh century almeet everyone with the

Wg# mOutr pretemien to literature either kept a journal
#M Si I i of hios sM jtters or eloe publisbed his meeirs.
gonre a mnry rften a ootspilneus figap in sueh writing.

m l Ml rey perliP i dala **M full of JelMWeedai witty
IuIIi ai umeIetIt. ant we also have it on geod mther-

ftL itt hld SItiLs a we midesred superior. In 1786
a ipv 6Md aJ ph Teom Missemtkin ainirter ant amisel-
1 t- iber with dameeWtioal aotionr, dolw:are

eIflrlM Ieih. Sit at an on Je*mes (Oaxfwt,
Wa)., P. Fra.










It is scarcely possible for any man, who has the
least taste for literary compoaitlon, to peruse the
writings of Johnson, without full conviction, that he
possessed uncommon powers of mind, and unooimmn ener-
gy of language. . As he attained to great emi-
nence by his superior talents as a writer, so as a
nan he was also distinguished by his virtues.2

The character of Johnson by Bishop Horne emphasizes the

sauce point.

The little stories of his oddities and his infir-
mities in eemaon life will, after a while, be over-
looked and forgotten; but his writings will live for
ever still more and more studied and admired, while
Britons shall continue to be characterized by a love
of elegance and sublimity, of good sense and virtue.5

Naturally, one would not expect to find Johnson a

popular author or personality in the Romantic Period, nor

were the Victorians (with the exception of Maeaulay) par-

ticularly interested in him. But with G. B. Hill's

Johnsonian studies in the last quarter ef the nineteenth

century began a revival of interest in Johnson the author.

This has grown slowly but surely until som of the out-

standing literary scholarship in the last half-aeatury has

been done in the Johnson field. The significcit Works of

David Nichol Smith, C. B. Tinker, Joeeph E. Brown, P. A.

Pettle, Donald Stauffer, L. F. Pwell, Jasme L. Cliffeot,

and W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., some immediately te mind. Mmiy


Jeosepj Tewers An Beay on the Life. GChhyemer
and Writings of Dr. Sumel -e&ao %Aamwap l7SPMI Fpsp C-is

Gaent3lema's MaKaziin LXX (JamIary 18M), 11.









ot U r oabetsddaig ritims and author, among them T. S.
Ell" rnd Allen Tke, have studied Johnson and the IMta-

ph kteala, Johakon's ooneept of wit, Johnson on Fielding
rm RAeawrdeen, on ahMebot Johnson's imagery, the rhyth-

tmeal features of his pFes, the structure of R*asBl1bs
niw aomutls of the Live of the Poets, and other aspects

at his wor*k Isa Jack, in reviewing Jean Hgastrum's

Sl Joml 9neta' l rerrry eriltei.. observed that it was
nrt uril 1952 that an attempt wee ade to consider
JohmasoO library eriticim as a whble.4
The neglect of Johnson as a witer, however, is

pperent teday if on eo mines the high sersol and college
pbmlet geoe of Maglih literature. Bewell on Johnson will

f a s utatbial mnmat of reading but Johnbon's own
predbJeiof will be brief or entirely misaiLg* There I1,

og r a h mrte i ag d welopment in this repeat. Thi
mt% r nt colleMg aMthologies are including mere of
JsMMOWl* ftiagie. GQe at thf beet of tbles, imler the

gaenml. editeoaip t Go. B. larr ies ineldwi twenty page

Soef J~ Mem's wrritinag than of Seewall*. Amuwthr new
Sw elW f Lt MaAf lUteaetare edited by Albert C. Bauh
am tOgf W. MSBlellUad reewgsle tMhi problem in the

WAe lasg oud-s *It is a nies queeston whtfl the

SnXII (3M5)a 374.










reputation of Dr. Johnson as a figure in English literature

does not owe more to the biography of him by Boswll than

to the permanent value of his writings."5 This quotation

shows that, though Johnson's rank in English literature

is apparently secure, some modern scholars are in doubt as

to whether it has resulted from his own intrinsic excel-

lence as a writer or the influence of his personality. And

Bertrand Bronson implies that Johnson's contemporaries ea-

phasized the power of his personality. "The last two dee-

ades of Johnson's life were passed in a blase of celebrity,

but his conversation, rather than any biographical events

or literary publications, was the chief agent of his in-

creasing fame."6
Is the revival of interest in Johnson's works

really not a revival, but something completely new? Did

his contemporary reputation actually rest on his senver-

sation and his personality? Or did his contemporaries,

friendly and unfriendly alike, regard him as the mest omi-

nent writer of his time?

One of the primary objects of this dissertation

will be to examine the contemporary eritieim of Jehaon's

5b4alish LiMtertuaL ed. Albert C. Bmagh and
Gerge Wm. McClelland (iew Yoek, 1964), p. 636.

MaQn British Writmr, ed. G. B. Harrison fe ag.
(Iaw York, I54T 11, 4,









weeor at attempt to answer thkse questions. To know how
Jounson's eontmperaries regarded his writings will also
shd light an a second--and perhaps more important--proble

eenwfLing him: that is his ieartanse as a bransitional .-
fLgare.
An opinion is current in any literary oclrele

that o.hnoen almost *siglehendely retarded the Romantic

lev-eme, that he was the Great Champion of neoelassieal )
parisiples in literture. To be sure, there is a great

diel of tawth in this eopnlea; however it mat have been
evitaf*a. to say eategorically that In eritlcism Joheuen

leaked baelma beth La principle and ppraties may be
ptbinga the *m e tee treagly. As Professor Pyles has
pointed ars, mar aepets eof Dr. Johnson's epidnem, at-

tMieft am& feeling were frwand-leekldg.7 True, in '/
latinLC fe wre hemy have lee1bd "eerS one lha&re years
ot mmiM clt sbawertir ans "Irnme ible floUs im" certain

it IS tat M WritMeal dltetees receive a awrmr reception

~au SeMtms fembnry w ribet aan seholars than they did
ffe thew S AW te stirteeh C century. Thie would sem to
bI UtS beMr- ee fekMuwela dom smlsenses In literature, L-

a ho Aid i& geuml in *at rneliesao. He was keenly aware

I -A W Prymles "t R Imatie Side of lr. Johnson,"
&L xX (IMe ), ;Mlt.









of what was natural and sincere, and the hyper-individu-

alism of the Romantiee, as well as the sentimentality of

many Victorians would have been disgusting to him. Despite

his avowed fondness for regulation and moderation in both

life and literature, Johnson was too independent to adhere

blindly and slavishly to a set of literary rule* whioh

might fetter genius and reduce creativity to a mere para-

phrase of the ancients. On numerous oooasions he expressed

a dislike of obsolete mythology, pastoral poetry, a~d,-I i-

tations in general, all of which were accepted in neoclas-

steical writing. In short, at times Dr. Johnson was no dabt

conservative; at other times, liberal. When ha inelined

to the left, or to the right, what did his orities say?

Though this study will be esneermed essentially

only with his works, it is virtually impossible to apeete

completely the oritieias of Johnson as a man and as an

author. His moralityy, his innate trend ef mind, and his

strong prejodisee leamd so large in his writing tht

eritiea wre hart pat to it te treat the weeks alone* Atn

so when a writer nneare johnson I eritietia of aray re

his account at EMl on's life, it is aleet certain that in

will mention seh irrlrevaniees as Jehhme*s ears* wMN-

rentable earelty, and einerehleal and preln Ueel bigeuy.

Likewise, theee who eowiteAa his style met avwo that th

man is aFregarmbs pmpeat, vitiaL epAmiemate and Me li1M1






8


Thus, the very thing the dissertation does not propose to

dimeus oritieim of Johnsra the man, is bound to creep

ir. Msmethelessl an attempt will be mad to keep this at

a alimm and to discover from the criticism what Johnson's

eemtemperarie thought of him am a writer and what his

peeltion as In relation to the appro bhing Romantic Period.











CHAPTER I


THE POETRY


An examination of the contemporary criticism of
Johnson's poetry brings Into focus two major questions.

First, was Johnson a poet or not? Second, if he was,

what kind was he? Though many critics cosented on

Johnson's poetry, their remarks usually pertain to one or

the other of these questions.

William Cooke, a member of the Essex Head Club who

published an anonymous Life of Johnson in 1785, had clearly

settled for himself the issue of whether or not Johnson was

a poet. He only regretted that Johnson wrote bso little:

The few specimens which Doctor Johnson has given
us of his poetry, are sufficient in quality, though
not perhaps in quantity, to give him a diltingd hed
situation amoagit the ons of Parnassus: indeea they
are all so highly finished in their kind sasma asksl
every mn who has read thev, wish he had written
more.1

Joseph Temrs also lamented the paucity of Johnson's

poems, observing that "'London' and 'The Vanity of iman

Wishes' are both pieces of great merit; and, inwded, all

the poetical pieces of Johnson are as eosellent that e


lAmenymous, The Life of *.. Jo5M.4 M ", D
tka BeoQsion rt 1 m on hie mri (yME.Ty,
pp.










naturally wish them to have been more mumrcus. *
Alxandoer Chalmnrs implied in 1810 that Johnson's
poea were iseldentall
What he aLght have produced, if he had devoted
hiamlf to the M ss, it iI net easy to dterurtne.
That he had not the esasentals of a poet in the
highest harder mst, I think, be allowed 5

In M1 general estimate of Johnsen's poetry, Chalmers eom-

-MA~s t e lesser pleel suah as various prologues, found

the a odl lefetive i imagery and description, and sailed
the pem en the death of Levt "ene of these patratie ap-

p al to the heart which are irresistible."
Writing for the 1Coadon Psok9t on December 22, 1775,
a iges GSemn Mai expresseLd a different opinion. He main-

lttl d that Jftfuen had the 6eeential qualifisations for a
pot ara that had he been inalined to devote hielf alre

to patry hl would ntlinly have been a Meat sim Gel-

-a dtplataLeOA
LDr J1lhnoi Le ee ialy a genius, but of a
etMIa.Qi r stimp. Hm is an exsellet eeasiesal
Ibam naW perhaps ee at tim best Lainista in
Mpje i = M osoefined is hiMallf two teltms
StfA times he iN both a goed glish anl
jliM S pl6s ml his inolilatol led Ma to have
lild with tsh fashionable worid (whter he was
=&"i iitCrei) ri Ma h bee a Movetr inLspetor
st ti tfllI*4 ma mi w of high life, he would


*aerr. p. **

be "a IL un "Wh~1P J re w.wth Pflt*ees
An- INL-461 amb11anIMASf V Vte Me aI l Jehneci. .
dJiK efal TA-ve by AlexanTer Chlmamre, F. S. A* (LonUSon
ISe)4 XTIY 570.










certainly have been called by the election of the
critics to the Poetical Chair, where Pope sat with-
out rival till his death; and then the Laurel, like
the kingdom of Macedonia, at the death of Alexander,
was divided among many. It must be owned that Dr.
Johnson's two Satiree in imitation of JTvenal, are
among the beet titles tha1 have been produced for
the poetical inheritance.

The volume of Johnson's poetry was really greater

than his oontaeiporaries realized. They supposed that

"London," "The Vanity of Human Wishes," the prologaes to

various dramas, and Irene comprised most of it. In aetu-

ality, however, Johnson's poems were fairly numerous. SMr.

Thrale had copied down in her diary many pieeee which he

would compose an the spur of the moment. Boewell did this

for the Latin poems written during their trip to the

Hebrides. In addition to these, there are translatiai ef

the Latin and Greek verse in the Ra1bler, the epitphe

recorded in Beewell's jifl, the aMnuaeripte of seh eolbo

poere and poems written for his eown mauement but never

offered to the public in his lifetime, and poems iiittaa

for the Tolume of Misa Williams. ach edition of his peOs

has gradually inereaesd the amount of his known veree,

until the latest edition by D. Niehol ASmih amr E. L.

MeAdam in 1941 pr6saumed what is preeme to be all, m at


*eirg CoLU 0 a
220 imm WIW 1 'LaM 3 "901% 7










340 itams.
Johnson began his literary career as a poet, and
his ealilet recognition resulted from his poetry. Richard
Omberland called attention to the fast that "As a poet his
tamalatioms of JuTemal gave him a name in the world, and

galind him the applause of Pope*.G
It was natural that mush a debut would evoke som

rapaure from Beaewll, who preelaimed:
But what firt displayed his traneendent powers,
and 'gae the weald asuraneo of the MA,' was his
ILONDON, a Pbm, in Imitation of the Third Satire of
Juvsmal0' wi4eh base out in May this year and bxurst
fowth with Nj)simior, the rays of whilh vill for ever
*mirele his nr-'T
Somhing of the ilItiatp popularity of "LoEdon" may be

gethiwed from Beaslls account of its finrt apearamee.
TR n Neers Dr. Daglea, now Bishap of Salisbury,
to hem I am 1 1ibt- f or soe obliging eommaa leations,
was then a student at Oarfrd, and remntberm well the
arffret m'iBn' peaftMe* Every body -m lighted
Lith t it at the being ao nam to it, the first bus
esf tir ite ry e1.relfa us 'here is an w*knewn pekt,
taer anm tmA PopE. *I And it is remsrded in the
A that yeau, tht It iaet be
inW1i aW n the smnsee of a week.

Ma4. David Nickel
Mod Ok and MMK "136PP. iuicinvi,
ThIa AnalidW Ieen-le aamibmbla to pemis by others,
=eeAo ed at ltkl dmnthUer4 fS Ung ir y o attributed to
tk tn, am t or =ma=llt 4 pm1s.
l-emi I EPlea&n, iu (Iear), I, 3 sZ1-36
211 ql e M| flege Birb e
I~~~ l~r










William Shaw, writing in 1785, simply would not

allow that Johnson was a poet. He admitted that something

might be said for Johnson's metrical ability but saw lit-

tle or nothing in the poetry as a whole.

Johnson fortunately for his reputation was soon
satisfied that his forte did not lie in making veree.
His poetry, though no- any where loaded with epithets,
is destitute of animation. The strong sense, the
biting sarenam, the deep solemnity, which mark his
genius, no where assume that union, symmetry, or eel-
lected energy, which is necessary to produce a general
effect. We are now and then struck with a fine thought,
a fine line, or a fine passage, but little interested
by the whole. His mode of versifying, which is an
imitation of Pope, may bear analisation, but after
reading his best pieces once, few are desirous of
reading them again.9

Robert Potter, clergyman, poet, and translator of

the Greek tragedies, in his Art of Critilim gave an unu-

sually severe verdict on Johnson's writings as a whole.

The poetry he labeled "Inconsiderable."10

Robert Anderson did not feel that Johnson was a

poet of the first order. He was not willing to deny him

the title of poet, but he implied that most of his praise

in this realm would arise from the metriaol aspeet of the

verse. In his 1" of Johnson, first published in 1796,

he deelard:




:lNbof Peotter s uW ac * A'
fied in I0% eAMs A rU Ro O n la
FS to










AS a ptl the mrit of Johnson, though eonider-
able, yet als far short of that which he has dis-
played in these provinees of literature in which we
hin alreatf survyed him. As far as strength of
eprMlasion fruitfulness of inve nion, and abundance
of imaryry, soeatitete poetry, h is meh more of a
poet in a prpee wnr, than in his etriecal ocapo-

Willian Mauffrd, in a study of Johnron's moral

witifga, published in 1802, gave perhaps the harshest

verd&i o his poetry. "Landon" and "The Yanity," said

MiMtwl8, add nothing to Johnson's fan and would probably

hav been for Fett hlad he witten nothing else. He poe-
sestMe little tiat seoul dignffy poetry: ne "daring

anllIitied whish giv energy to hieription"; and no
*g *Le pgawe wrhsh relleVe attentionn" Though his know-

lodge of le amge mvw let him be without an appropriate

aIfl or pOeOitont, there Is, nevertheless, a monmtenous

qualiatf dull and unpleasin, in him versifleation.
DeepLte thesM se e e oritlelms of Johnson's

pletry at a Whoel kamforL eontmrtainod a eonsiderably
hi e optainion of "le YVanity of ImIan Wisheo" than of

%ellna' ant quOta a pfe so from tew fewer which ha

Alagm %JA la e b e me diegrme to tho pen of Pope

a tflmagB' 1b ales 0ios9 the opinion of some eIrltis

tM itf Jrro n bad *iailtated petry, he woulA tave

lm ElLA

WN v P% 1096-










equalled the former author in his verification, and in

his language." Muaford reveals that he considered Johnson

an Augustan in poetry, for he suggests that these who

regard poetry as "mechanical" may believe that Johnson

would have equaled Pope, but those who regard it as "intui-

tive and not to be acquired" will not aequiesee in this

belief.

Mumford concluded that Johnson's claim to poetry

was doubtful. "He was too uich given te reasoning and

deolamation ever to attain tnose heights of sublimity

which astonish and delight. If he seldom offends by his

harshness he as setdua exhilarates by his vivaeity"j so,

while he did not detract from poetie dignity, he added

nothing to it. "As his refleetions were always melancholy,

so his writings have the seme east." His images were not

varied, and analogous ideas were excited by dissimilar

eventaS12

To thee opinions, which reveal a retieesee te

overpraise Johnson and in some ea*es almeet a Aental of

his poetical ability may be opposed the opiniseM oa

literary figure equally well and perhaps better kn-Ae whe9

in general, think more highly of Johneen's petea & Artkmu


^120l i iof D m iJ A Crmk i#Ln a 3 S I i J.k ta









aurWy wrobe 2earding JohnSon's 1749 reputation that the
two mi.tationa of Juemal were thought to rival the eojel-
Ies ef yepe15 eand in a later part of his m y after

ea--i ting a Johnson's Latin peetry, said, "His english

peetry is m sh as leaves room to think if he had devoted
himeIf t the Maea., that be would have been the rival of

Poyer1
BZbell had oaid that Pop himself was struck with

kfieaas" eah4d who the author ms, and on being informed

that it as same a bsee peraeo observed, "He will meen

be kA rer*,l Jia Courteasy petised the account of
Pape'a prnlae anA added ome of his own:
Bit hark) he slaug 1 tae strain ev'a Pope admires;
LauId .L VflAa br n ber inspire.;
FAlb a amr ft ao he pears his laysr
AM ltbh Sf Iama shares oagenial peAise.1
The se hW l tao e up their miads that Nohrson was

a poet el pe9tty msarlt tWht kitL Ie was. U=st of his

pntie qualbla% tllW arned reveal his umeseassi tend-
iMe. eI.fa3 tn" u emrlisL t of Jolason's meh-praised

aiLkttEi m esaml ed tL offering opinion amag the

-S u0tA= LRLr Am n It


Ap. p. 148.

4ISh sz lNeass.
mp0










commentators. Thesaa Gray, for example, arguing with

Horace Walpole in 1751, diseerned in "London" something

more than an ordinary imitation: "(I am sorry to differ

with you, but) 'London' Is to me one of those few imi-

tations that have all the ease and all the spirit of an

original."17

Although he recorded that "Lendonj with all its

merit," did not appear to have been treated with mush

respect, Shaw called it an elegant and masterly produetio.18

This is hard to reconcile with the statement which Bewall

quoted from the Gentleman's Magazine, unless, of oeurse,

Shaw is referring to the reluetanme of the booksellers to

buy it. Boswell also mentioned General Oglethorpe's ware

appreelation of the poem and Johnson's gratefulness for his
patronage o1

Anna Seward apparently never let her animosity

toward Jehnson affect her eritieLan of his potry. In a

letter te T. S. Whalley on January 3, 1785, she er lesed a

"hearsetew" of Johnson, whioh she had sent to the ,ErM a

Evening PgjW. This eeerpt from that "eharbwer" shews

that she *emad&ere Jehnemn a one of the best ueamplaes

of neoelassisal poetry.

17The Wrks of s 0.V ad Pree m t .
Bdnuid Goes* (Ld, l.1854, I ,

19IJ& .I. 127.










sie 'London' is a very nervous and brilliant
sakirie po0m and his "Vanity of aman Wishes' ap-
pears to im a mh finer satire than the boet of
Pape'., Its poeti beuwty is not easesedd by any
empesltia in kheret rhyme whieh our country can
beost. wieh as m h is in that speoles of writing.20

Uaotver be the mawure of truth in this eritiaism, it is

almet impossible to doubt the honesty of Miss Seward's
sBnwsltion, for it is ineooneivable that, deboeting Johnson

as iGh dia, she should beotow such praise on his poetry if

she did not really believe it .e dGeerving. Another of her
qw btioes substantiatto this sene "In professed satire,

a have a A t l and an Heree in Churehill and Johnson;

iLi though the foerr was Johnson's modal the polished

elegame a him verse is Heratias."21
Tewre observed that tkere were somw very imperfect

r iml in "Lonaoa," whith mould not have stood tkht mare at

eritiLm inCtr etwmrt by Jaoh on himself in his biogra hial

pey,*Camtw well admitei this a logitimabo aejleies

tbt i4 wr in pease of the pesm as a whelm.
Thai in this justly-~elbbi6 peew mA be faEtw
a fo nlyi whik v the e riwti aL pnwie ion of English
peser f t kthi day would aiellM eonet be dealdd;
tbrt w*th this fmEll iwmSWfMtf tAtdIh in the gmeal
b&ise of its nellwo it net perseived, till the



"I be


To 9V










mind has subsided into eool attention, it is,
undoubtedly, one of the noblest productions in our
language, both for sentiment and expression. .
The whole of the poem is eminently excellent, a m
there are in it such proofs of a knowledge of the
world, and of a mature acquaintance with life, as
cannot be contemplated without wonder, when we
consider that he was then only in his twenty-ninth
year, an had yet been so little in the 'busy haunts
of men.o'

Boswell also complimented Johnson's satiric ability

in "London" by referring to him as England's Juvenal:

But we have seen that the worthy, modest, and
ingenious &. Robert Dodaley had taste enough to
perceive L"London's1a uneomon merit, an thought it
creditable to have a share in it. .LI/ was published
in May, 1738; and it is remarkable, thaW it ease out
on the same morning with Pope's satire, entitled '1738'1
so that Egland hadat onee its Juvenal and Horace as
poetical monitors.e

Nor did "The Vanity of Buian Wished" laee for con-

mentatorms As both it and "London" were of the same type,

many writers found it convenient to eritieise them together.

George Celman, writing for the London Paeltt called atten-

tinl on Deceemer 22, 1885, to the fact that Johnson's

temperament fitted him espeelally for moral and didatile

peetry.

Indood his mrals and mamnnrs are so ill suited
with leose opinions, and thoughtlees diseiption. thit
it is no wonder be was soos disgusted with wbat he sa
and Ieard, and which he so well painted and felt in
his LONDON.-Hia smeeoed Satire (the teafh f JAonl)


Igjar. I, 1o89-1ao.

kSM4. 1S2-127.









though mitten with geat fare and awwam yet sees
mg the fruit of study trha abserretiona.
Sir Jeoh Meakins single out the oanlauding lines
af "ae T aity at Wmin Wiihee" for special praise, son-
t atie that "fte dignity of ireatimL t, for pious inrtrue-
tefL, ain purity of style'" they "re hardly to be equalled
Sbyr &W Ime ,r lalpalge.""'
Seaell pointed out the salient ifeturea of
weaMn'" and "The Vianty by comparing them. Again the
mea l anA etiLel qualities m*k Johnson's elleHn asoci-
atil peftti1ly7 Wth thl first part of the w ntury.
Hei 'Vanity f Meman Wishme' bha less of enaM
lit but me oat a phileeophaek dignity thn his
riT.=3 *I M nm eadW twhrefeno will be delighted
arth tht pointed spirit of 'Lenden. than with the
"to retfletiomn f lThe Vanity oat MBma Wishas.'
Gaer4tl far inetiam, abeervwd in him sprightly
manmW, with mre vivwity than regard to just diserim-
imatilg as is a al with wLta t 'E.llm Johanso lived
m twash l.h tw Mairve~ a and aw a ged "elI of what as
peastLg i lit% he awte hIs I ill eas' whifh is lively
an seW. Whn he beeams Woru i3re, he gave ur his
*Valit tf 1lag 1iWM&t whish is as hard as r i..
Ild ho pl i am be Lata@ anet~hr satire it would hba
1bp e hd a as DhNhOW f
in Ta*ld.ty f ma n WileMes l is i th opinion
at the beet jWdgWn as Uhgh uan atrrt thiek poetry
iA ap llaga r ean si&e. Set lIetamMe of variety Ca
dslsa J mAI are shomm a a Jtad.aeiosely, and painted
s thati T MrtWemafm twy aret read they
ioi Ito e Wry tahLnking umL a Mat of the
L wt hove ftwPi;a aet the toe exgia aspe-
iawts *f s wt a an audt&leM elm., that uoeSf the

Alag, I, -.-.


(ffHlt.J S ZZ M











warrior, Charles of Sweden, is, I think, as highly
finished a picture as can possibly be soncelvede
Were all the other excellencios of this peem
annihilated, it must ever have our grateful rever-
ones from Its noble conclusion; in which we are
consoled with the assurance that happiness mga be
attained, if we 'apply our hearts' to piety.

Anderson also made use of a comparison to comment

on the poems. He found "London" to possess "the genuine

fire of poetry, in the liveliness of its correspondent

allusions, the energy of its expressions, and the fre-

quency of its apostrophes"; whereas "The Vanity" was a

"more grave moral, sententious, and stately" poem. To

Anderson, Johnson's thoughts seemed not as compressed or

as energetically expressed as Juvenal's, but his diction

was smoother and eaueely less eloquent, and in the

"Chriatianizing" of the Epieurean infidelity, he felt that

Johnson had given it the air of an original."
On February 14, 1796, Anna Seward *rte a letter

to a Mr. Laugh, mentioning a Augustan characteristic ef

"The Vanity" and according the poem the praise of being

more than a satire.

The Vanity of Humia Wishes. is an ejqui itb
ethle peeo, for I san hardly term it a satine me
gracefully does it beae to co'iserate the pre-
sumptuous desires and rash pursuits of mare-lit4


39MAP 1I 191-195.

2ll tpp. P243-7.

nerest- IVv 1i8. Mias Seward hers dvames an
Interesting ildj both from the ataadpoint ef Jehnson's










JAderson emphasized the fast that reason was so

latgral a part of Johnson's being that it prevented his
giving went to emotions and feelings as really great poets

mat da. All of Johnson's poetie attributes which Anderson

took noties of--ratioeination, didaetie or satirio were,

ad preeLsI versifeiation-~shew that Johnson looked bask

to the t guetans rlathe than forward to the Romantics.
Metaphor, to th merit of which he waa blind rand
uashraltdblos is mo w a the soul and Meseneo of poetry,
that without It rkIm and meter are vain. . Ratio-
sination prevailed in Johnson moh more than seniL-
bility. He has no daring sbli atieM, nor gentle
Preas; be never glow with enthusiasm of the god, or
kintres a sympathetie action in the bosom of his
marde".. His poems are the plain and sensible effusis
of a min a e r hurried beyond itself, to which the use
of hlyes a*ds me beauty, and from whih the use of
prFnm would dAtruat no foree. his vertifeation is
Maet, flowian, and unzretraaied; but his pauses ar

mO poetr an? his ortl ism in the LI M. It is that
Johniee's frantration at becoming a as poet (he should
nt eolipse Pope, and rw failed) ansed him to hate
pets- By pek;Qg ofrJai o a's hating poets, it may be
ftely Latrret that Miss B3eard i referring to his harsh
Witlideia of Oura and other pets who were preoursors of
tie Rlaena s Ieimmnt. She is Fprbbly net referring to
WIh alenie but *lse to e smria e* ierwationa in whish
aeiwea ma m ro-on these poets. In eonnettion with this
Last sure of C itieism W. B. 0 Wthldi makes an inter-
wtin" peiLft xLn Mi besk JaM Iat Brif tr P r bstwt
Ve 1666)#o 4 MS), ri St 1hough
TISne hao t amd hlself to peok and write with great
aderiML iReerthoMr I ma of Ms critical die4a woer
uttered in irritation or Adabat off hastily for a 10 .
a* ttIt i hm ban bold t spousible for many eOpanlon glTh v
Sa a peVLeh Seperr. We mwq writers Unerestimate this
fast. Trw are tUres deep-seated persa al trait et
rimola'* whl Ir iemp orta to an appretistion of his
ptatAtm his dislike of imitatioam his abstlnate par-
GIDALIII in a Inalleragd epialno anad his detoerttiaR of
&AmagtS.ted prfisO.










not sufficiently varied, to raaen him from the im-
putation of monotony. He seems never at a loss for
rhyme, or destitute of a proper expression; and the
manner of his verse appears admirably adapted to
didaetie or satiric poetry, for whishhis pers were
equally, and perhaps alone qualified.

Chalmers, mentioning qualities which would place

Johnson in the neoelassical school said that

his acknowledged pieces stand in a very high rank.
Like Pope, he preferred reason to fancy, and his
two imitation of Juvenal are not only equal to arn
thing that writer has produced, in the happy delire-
ation of living manners, ana in elegance of versifi-
cation, but are perhaps super ior to any compositions
of the kind in the language. 1

Johnson's dramatei poetry is represented entirely

by Irene. The bulk of the contemporary criticism treated

Irene as a dram rather than as a poem, but somenta on

its poetical merit or lack of merit are not eating They

show that in dramatic poetry also Johnson has kept to

ne-olaesieal principles: strict adherence to the unities8

situations addreeaed to the head and not the heart, ele-

gant language* an strong meral tone.

Beewll reerted that during the time of I t e'

eomqeettion (1757) Jeonson showed parts of it et Gilbwr

Walmaley, his old friend, who "was wll pleased with t"s

proet of Johnson's abilities as a dramatie tiiter," and

who wrote a letter be a Mr*k Oe&sen, reesammeSdg dhuawo

3 f.I PP.* l8M.a l.

3wbs eat the ain"&s P1MS. xTI, ins.










as "a vwry good meholar and poet" and expressing his hepes
that bh would "turn out a fine tragEdy-wrlter.o32 Walm-

wl*7's approbation of Irm. is uaderstandable: he was at

this tie- fifty-osevn years old4 an Oaford man, schooled
in the tradtion of the herol drua and the attendant

neeolamsieal rules of art and literature, .omfortbly

haLtted in a provincial towa and more conversant with
the d&m of the classroom than with that of the LoIone.-
thebtr He did not realize that a drama which did not

adhe veTry closely to the rules of the anelents had made

its adsia in the fis of the m"bwrgeois" tragedy, the

demetie tvrgedy and the mntimnntal comedy and had subse-

quaftly gained wiaft ppulrwity.
An em.MRLation of the eritieim of Irepa will reveal

that tU pie had s emn derble merit am a pm but mu

jateemlay Aiti isat in drmtle appel. In 1749, Sheastime
wbe eft t Pe plw to ELay LaBe is r and feiWaus fault with

the mteriesl aspect:

It haft I th~ir ma Be afttesI in it, & 7
ltrlnophl oIrfwig eO** . The Fal. .as I
thjk hia t ee pt aalformu'ty in slelin y Sense
at ~ at a Id a Se Oasi9A &e~f a thing in his
P141t 1 5 tat al*teenthM p31eMI Mn.

We sitear seomurM writbte taertly after the play



"^ efci *- 3lmm himn










was produced present somewhat varying views. The following

passage, a footnote from Boswell's L14e, illustrates that

in the drama, as in other literary genres, Johnson's common

sense was always in the ascendancy:

Aaron Hill (Vol. ii, p. 355), in a letter to Mr.
Mallet, gives the following account of Irene after
having seen it: 'I was at the anomalous Mr. Johnson's
benefit, and found the play his proper representative;
strong sa e ungraeed by sweetness or decorum.'
BOSWELL.-54

With Johnson (and with other Augustans) conmon sense and

morality were inextriesbly bound together, and so it is that

the morality in Irene attracted the attention of many com-

mentators. A reviewer in the Gentleman's Magazine for

February 1749 praised the high moral tone of Irene cited the

strength and beauty of certain lengthy passages, and remark-

ed the delicate and striking linesa35 Also in 1749, the

anonymous author of An Essay on Tragedy, with a CritisaJ

Examen of Mahomet qnd Irene called Irene

'a heap of splendid materials, rather than a regular
structure. .whatever may be its faults, as its sole
tendency is warmly to promote, and earnestly to en-
courage the praeties of virtue g i religion, it
deserves the highest applause,0e6

Irene'.s laek of interest as a drama wae nt long

in impressing itself upon produeere, audieemas, and erities.


34lae, I, 198 n. 4.
38IX, 76 ff.

teezwell#, UOi& I, 538.










Garrisk realized that without som alterations Iren would
not be fit for the stage, but it as with the greatest dif-

fieu1ty tht. he prevailed on Johnson to allow any, and those
that wee allowed were nao enough."
GoClu touched on Johnb n's diction as a sturmling

block be te appreciation of Irsw and reierated what so

maM ot the orities bad notioea the lack of pathos in the
play.
His peculiarity of diction has given the Pfllick
a suspicion that he eould not sueoeed-in Dramatick
Gempoiltlon. His Traedy of Iree is a wsrk of great
and Jlut sentiumt, of Peetieal, though not Drumatiek
Laagegas fine imagery, md of the Osa m u
btt the very soul of ftkaedy, fh~a witLiigi d
Without that, thengh kmal admire, our hearts will
slep in our boeeems--
Ramma Mweb in writing be Mrs. Beeeawa in 1780,

mrltioned that Jehnsoa's eritiion-.f Cate might be ap-
plLed to s mf : e*al ed a ntime-nts haernious wree, and
pellshked style but nothing that appeals to the passions

or afletionas.
fa DaTvie miniaise the failure of Iryaw and

implied that *nly fartaiteem iURumteame pf*lented ibt

having a pesrt and mere s Mrtaid pOpalaritye
Sife the dsp at gA no tregem hlt been


If& *&, 19-97o.
*iHs3. II 99.
i is Ra ml oa t 1h 4f* A and Gar-
rwglist of ar& *t mh nffi re n i54J,1, 114e










acted, which was so justly admired for beauty of
diction, energy or sentiment, harmony of versifi-
cation, and purity of moral, as Irene. . But
Irene was not treated with the candour which its
merit deserved. And though no play, I will venture
to assert, would draw together a larger audience
than this tragedy, not only from its intrinsic merit,
but the great love and veneration which the public
bear to the author; yet it has never been once
revived sinee its first representation. .it was
greatly admired by a number of judicious lReetators,
who supported it in a run of nine nights.qw

Davies' favorable account must not be entirely disregarded,

however, for according to Boawell, Dr. Adams wrote that

there wnre catcalla and whistling before the curtain went

up but that the prologue "soothed" the audience and that

there were no more interruptions until the end, when Irew

was to be strangled upon the stage.41 Dr. Burney, pro-

feasing not to know what Hawkins meant by the "cold

reception" of Irene aeerted that it was ~ueh applauded

the first night.4* Despite these testimonies and the

efforts of some of the meat fameua a ltors and metreases

of the period--Garriek, Barry, Mrs. Ciber, and Mrs.

Pritchard--jlae did net please the pDble.3
William Shaw used the failure of Irene t 11-

lustrate the decline or deterioration of Bglibh dramatic

taste.

eThSmfl Dafls, !eIuAL tk frE tIfl~
riee a6 (Loads, 1780), 1, 15 S-il.-

4U1AM& I, 196-197.
42 .e* 19I n 5.
I*bM.,kv 1W).










The plet. ,the thoughts, and the diction. .
ae allowed to be beautiful and maftolly. But he is
sparing of that biatole and incident, wbich atone for
the wran of every exzelle2se with a Lndon audionee.
A perfrmnaes which exemplifled the pr.osriptlons of
an AjiFsttle, was not likely to please a nation
t aeoed in this arbareous taste. It does not abound
La doggerl madrigals or opiggrumatin rodemontbte. It
dagraces not menes of dignified distress with the
PentewiLm of Harlequin, t-h goasippinge of gibberish
of ypiles, or the ribaldry and buffoonery of clowns.
It is wittin only to imprewe te heart,. to elucidate
and rfine the passions, to earneet the interests of
MMManity iih thO dictates of reon, and ti reoteor
the union of taste and virtue.44
Willia Cooke had a high regard for Irem but

thugMt Ita failmrn a blesnlg in disguise as it oaued

Jau~i a to write in gene where his talents eould be

displayed to better ad*tntage. He reasoned that although

the play was allowed by the beat Jutdge to peaseso
flia seioneast and elegant languagap and that th
nmal hkld up the ernse of truth and virtne; yet the
itaidemtn and astttile wre not reelened abrong
snl igh to prfaMI thbat kind of iffeet, whiet, from
hlbfll an Mhglih sadiuame gasmrlly expect. a .
Ae ill snae esf atthi Play busled the Auther's
aOtWa Rea from the Dramante line, which With all
ef enme to Mi C mat bilitLs, I think was not his
M t b0t khas the fnt it of fine eapeeitiesai
sat stilliW W In te o elwee, Whilst refined
mmtnue a lea weed wMeiptiey Ol n have an at-
iMetaen. Its failr% hoin, r was Inkr-oaetry of
gaStar talUeIIs -s it predbC ly predd ew hs *ffM*-
reaMing thl AntLbuht t in a t e re for fame at im-
mnalliWty upa m-re sessmIetl ground; and who will
Say he W IMe fievm it In iL twoe ubsequoa weks--
hMfc* and the aIT t aBge but those 4n3
eE es ,sllesL tlo i SF- ftig of knowledge,
mrl e t2S7mpbit of OM e o vIu&S s.


41SHAz. 3na4W nafM. ftAda tly a lstteks in type-
*"ta SAW t faster n to sa aetWieuse.










The comments of Towera and Hawkins point up

several neoclassic tendencies in Irene. Towers stated:

IRENE is written with an exact regard to the
unities, and the language of it is elegant and ner-
vous. . There may, possibly, in Dr. Johnson's
tragedy, be too mneh of this 'inactive declamation.'
It is not, in a high degree interesting, and perhaps
we may may of it, nearly in his own language, that
'its hopes and fears communicate little vibration to
the heart.' Such however, was the general merit of
the piece, that it certainly deserved a better recep-
tion than it met with. But, perhaps the reason that
it had no greater success in the representation was,
that it was addressed more to the head than to the
heart; and abounded more in strong and just senti-
ments, than in pathetic incidents, or interesting
situations.46

Sir John agreed in the main but gave a slightly

more detailed recital of the play's imperfections.

Never. .were fine moral sentiments more
strongly enforced by correct and energetic utterance
and just action, than in the representation of this
laboured tragedy; but the diction of the piece was
cold and philosophical; it eame from the head of the
writer, sad reached not the hearts of the hearerse
The coneequenee whereof was, that it was received
with sold applause. . The world soon formed an
opinion of the merit of Irene which has never flun-
buated: a representation during nine night, was a
mush as a tragedy which excited rn passion could
claim; for, however excellent its premepts9 and how-
ever sorreet its language, that it wnt. these indi*-
peasable qualities in the draea, iferest and pathos,
cannot be denied. We read it, admit eisry petition
it adva aee, someend it, lay it by7 and forget it:
our attention is net wakemed by any eminent beauties1
for its merit is Unifeor throughout: all the pereoen
ages, good or bad are philoepbWyss those e he easeaft
and those who issue the orders talk the Sm laange ges


r405~ T~t. a -5l.









the ohaSwee s aeumse n anaMety, for the virtuous
aos superior to all miral ealaUty, and the vicious
bemeatth our ears. *the morality, .it is needless to
say of Jehnson's spentaneous productions, is exoel-
lta but how were Umimpapaioaed preepta to make
thMr way alone, where variety, business and plet are
always eopetead? where lively znsnonsen and pathetic
ilbeeility aftemn weseed against the conviction of
ramen? Qr how seald it be hoped, that frigid virtue
aiMl! attjet thone who suffer their pity to be easily
I ed either by the hare or the villain If he has the
addrMes first to engage their passion.
The est o mplebely heatile oritieim of Irne is

that of Wllim Mason, who denice it ay merit whatever.
In emmrnting ?at he differenee bbween drmatie wvere and
werse eed in narrative o1 pr septive poetry Mason asserted:
Yet this differeinl was so little known to our
latb A arl -Witi that whan he wrote his Irone, (which
as r either at first or afterwards used, would make
rrm eft either an the mtage or in the slaose) h
badly eve LaLtmediur a saigle pase in the middle of
a liite ei p% inised when t he spech happened to
end in ~e lMs atish. This it is (eseluaive of other
fLee*ts) whitA ueh i it so tetally unfit fot Selmatian,
rad w iLrmffswble to a good sw In private reading.
And yet, if yeo einam the lines separately, you shall
fain thin LiSbiAUy just aew duly asecused But this,
as I hae alerdy atL&. annra eeRetitute heuawmy in
bleakt vyeN, thow n h am smeete it mys go twardst
It Is s~itAl Ia te fme, the tars r over r eults
f re ItMt- but pWo i and t ase of very uaequal
ntatltm Zi the Ilatte, it s Iwally, as in Pepe's
vM eafieti sm .~.m. t L a rla eSo plet, or (s .
semUilna t is y **) &n the tW of MW thAp; line.
Yot in m ap sMn Se bla va wrs this lisme (if
tet i & ba-uy nmq be Mlled o*) is uso even by
his e iCw gly. U A WAl I annt help mpp iag
tjen lOMsW, twhrmgh ifa AWn lfMlranSt ims* Thanr
-ieen mwa Zm sI ill ti he diA in thti eppiels of
tLuttm3s T -m apt to thimS that he was thaneM


sag 19af0.










led to deery blank verse in the lump.48

The oritlcism of Joseph Cradook, Anderesn, Murphy,

Chalaers, and Bouell on Irene is essentially the same as

that already quoted: IreRe contains fine sentiments,

eloquently expressed, but it is neither interesting nor

moving. In facts most of the oriticisr of Irene may be

reduced to two basis ideas it is a good poem, whose

author is a man of genius; it is a poor dram by an sxeel-

lent author, who was not, however, aceieding to prevalent

taste a good draastist. The implication of mreh of the

eriticlam is that, had Ieng, appeared a few years earlier,

when that type of dream was in vogue, it might wll have

have been popular.

In eenelusion, then, what ean be said of the een-

temporary criticism of the poetry of Samuel Johnson? Was

he a poet or net? On this point, although opinion is

divided, the majority of erities felt that he wasi They

usually regret that he did not write more than he did; bwt

they arej for the most part. emphatic in praising the

quality of his poem and hopefully disposed in spealatLng

on what he might heae produced "if he had devata himself f

to the MRSte" The ariti6e tho deny that Jh.Mnlb was a


ofwll !%11 P I, AM U










pet (sad they represent a slim minority) simply charge a
laek of poetie qualities In his verse, the absence of

.ani mtiorn a general offset, or anything that could dig-

ifty peray.
An an y ous contribution to the Gentleman's

AMMIaw for February 1794 expressed what is perhaps a
fairly representative contemporary opinion of Johnson's
petry:
Fhs bulwark of jLehnson'7 literary fam does net
exist in his poetry; whish, perhaps, would have been
better had it been mwe arnamented with a little of
that peetical luarianee which we meet with in his
paroes The few things in poetry (esoparatively
speaking) which have app' red in his name, do not
artdbliah his reputatioec.'

F..m the cities who answered this first question

in tie affL~matlv *eme a uamtimous reply to a second

qmeetleni Wat kind of a poet was Johnson? He uaqestieu-

ably btaanm to the first part of the Mentury. The cem-
Mil.wfers who fwvor M praise his noeelassie qualities:
The oral5 ethieal, and didaetie aspeets of Is poetry;

the precMse vwsfietion; and tel strong tones of satire
a e retion.lattlen as riterietis qualities. RThse who
emanMl h petia up thse same asalaasleal properties

a IheftS and mention btsiets the want of sublimity,

wlvatL., and eoerlptre power,

aILz.I in.









One aspect of the contemporary criticism of

Johnson's poetry is ineseapables the very significant

fact that practically all of the critics compare Johnson

with Pope. It is not necessary to write at length of

Pope's place in English literature, or, what would be

more to the point here, his rank among eighteenth century

poets. Suffice it to may that regarding the latter, it

is of the highest. They never compared him with a lesser

writer, never with any of the shoals of writers who were

using the heroic couplet. They always compared him with

Pope, and he rarely loses any credit in the comparison.

The following quotation reflects what is easily the

majority opinion ef Johnson as a peer of the greatest of

neoclassical poets. When George Celman was oememnting ae

Joeeph Warton's advice to use blank verse in turaslating

the satires and epistles of HReass, he asked, "but after

the models left by DRYDEN and POPE, and in the fate of

the living example of JOHNSON, who shall venture to

reject rhyme in the province of Satire and Bpsiatbl?80


*Zzalrc nII 41.











CHAPTER II


THE RAWIJR AND THE IULER

The R llle r was Jehason's moat notable attempt at
4Iea:naitiang Modeled on the classic example of Addisoa
and Sbeels, it had as its chief aim the inoulcation of

w~le4 and piety. Johnson's method, bwevr, was different
tiv tkat fa the earlier esasyists.
5eun when the first AfeltI was published in 1750,
the popularity ea the periodical essay ma greatly waned,
and the IPal ri fer rnly tw yearn. The rapid growth
of new pappe and magetinas ndobtedly was partly respom-
able for this alkthetgh the GritiC l ReVIor had aaethor
empi satiLn. It saggetee that the eaelleae of Addisom
&ad Ste5aM itiniaLted writeft in this ge=e.1 TIM first
of tbihn rffae with the atteSaant Surtallant of profit
pr.baly esed Jobhaon to give up tU M l.mr for it

sheald be sumeMlb that k1 Mei, "Ne ma but a bleehbead
ur wrete, eVe*pt for meql**l
rhe g & mBI n t*" %th tb l a ALtt 5 jM.qA#
a i tmhe MMris se e w*e wkheh JoTianuen's

1SmitAAAAAliaif aIII ASrii 179Y), a31.
Bs 3 a I II. 1S.










literary reputation rest. Opinions about it, as about

his other works, are varied. Contemporary eritisism of

the Rambler usually dealt with style and/or content.

Some of the critics were interested primarily in only one

of these. For example, Archibald Campbell wrote chiefly

about Johnson's language; William Mumford discussed his

morality; others, like Boswell, divided their comments

about equally between the two. It is criticism of the

Rambler that first takes notice of Johnson's style, its

beauties and its defects.

A bit of general praise of the Rambler appeared

in the Gentleman's Magasine for October 1750 in the form

of a poem entitled "To the Author of the rAAMLER. On

reading his ALLEGORIES."

FOR thee, by whoa their hostile hands were join'd,
Learning and Wit have all their powers eoabin'ds
Wit wing for wie the Graces frme the skies,
Te Virtues, Learning for thy aid supplies.
EBah filial seienoe follows in the train,
And Tuhs rt'l~dar'dau; r visits earth against
Again her tSo daffue more than day,
And latent brit sparkles in the ray.
W&apt in the gleas that vanish from its light,
Cogoit and lutia urge an hasty flight:
Cotifrled Fj Il~ rn the Saste design,
And bands hr pencil by a faultless line.
0 bern without a patron to be great,
And nr t designed to ~py but 1raiA,
Still sell new worlds, new beings into birth,
And bid a.tarian times return on earth.


3XXa 46G.









In revilewin a book of essays called The Connois-

S by Mr. "wn, the CritiJal Review for April 1757
Adellare that essays as good as Addison and Steel*e wre
being wtten thean It went on to speak of the Rublert
In the R bler e meet with so msh manly sense,
mieh deep jat well-fwatted refleetieMn, and such
leaoee- s advise in regard to private earnmet, as will
sIMys entitle it be a plane in th esteem as well as
in ti 1laerie of every fried b otate and virtue.4

the father of the review also eproessed the opinion that

ue glod sinays have appeared sines the Spetator than
fwew o re published in it.
In 1762 BeeS l recorded in his journal that three

pe miest literry fglwne had f med a bad opinion of
leameeo s Ityler
I wamne help differing from My Lsod Kae, r.
A tht Dr. Bla.ir and m em oethoer whom I have the
nitur to sell y Iear ed friends, with reg ed be
the Mthe of Nt Agh* They will allow him
nMs l~ but Kntrg -~iWOaknei and affieeted P -dan-
try. 1 here in my Spbinu M. Johnson is a man of
maCh Philosophy, extmesim rtaditge ad real knw-
Ree of umma lifre I ean produce samarlea papes
La the very sWat which has led e e amine his
*hnfler, is preas of what I have asserted. He hs
&Lrt oW seatimel s a gleelames of thought at a Cyni-
eat Aasrbrity ad as eo *s long insared in a Col-
lgs at Merbad at fr seme tiem albmr that as
empIfLr i n teehing a seameh he as meh **
eatn&mA to te Rman lamme as almost to thlU
in it, whisk is the oeAbien of h s be ig sometius
ralfl -n an inflated RtbmUaity eaI tunified
LOtini.y d Letiemu t aMe em tim I ave
etineor admired him fw a fiemery at propriety of

*II aLS.










Expression. That the people of Britian should have
received so grave a Work with uncommon Approbation
is surprising, considering the Age of effeminate
literary taste in whichh we live. Yet this is a
certain fact.0

It is true that ultimately the Rambler was well received

by the public; however, this was not the case at first.

Hawkins, Burney, Shaw, Murphy, and Towers all indicate

that it was at first not very popular and that its cir-

culation was small. They hasten to add that its great

merit was finally acknowledged. By PFbruary 1763 its

reputation wa so high as to cause Anna Seward, writing

to a friend, to refer to "the illustrious author of the

Ras ler." And speaking of Gilbert Walasley, she expres-

sed the hope that the memories of his two pupils would

live forever:

While Johnson and Garriek are remembered, their
first patron will net be forgotten. Who is there of
a soul so grovelling, as would not yish for their
memories an honourable immortality?X
This rhetorical question certainly implies that JohnAon

was then famous. While meh of the fame reted en the

Dieti aryT, it dees not seem illogical to suppeee that

some of it rested on the RaNter, especially sinee Mes

sprkvate Pgas of m mcs e0"a1&naM

ofrey a A.Po e
70.

ThX Poetial Wore of s*uh 3@0oW *ad. Walter
Seott (Bdinburgh, 1S10), 1& ix1i-nxii.









Semart mmde particular mention of that work.
Shesatorn expremed his opinion of the Rabler

in t lettemw, in which he especially eommened the style.
liting be Richard Grav on February 9, 1760, he said:
I have lateol been reading one or two volumes
of "The Re~ler;" who, *meepting against some few
havmtese in hit smanne an the want of more
samples to enliven, iL one of the meet nervous,
wet MIaF& 2ul a meei t consist, mest harmonious
pre*i-epsri I o w. A learned diction improver
by tim.

t ftlmas Pewro he wek on PubErary 15 of the sme year:
As be reading, I hawe, for the first time,
pems'd a Tolt er two of y* rartl~r, & I think for
J t& ipt & peepi pfty he eq ais *an writer I ever
reS, & for 4 eelSk of wllturn'd Periods, I de
irt knew his equal. For I a hardly eatlify'd with
way n- in y* ngi Leanmgu e, beside Hi..
Anna Swarmd, whe alway speaks in the highest bier

of Jfohmon's works, the Mm aespt*d, compared the

llM& r to the mot beautiful poetry in rather letter
dated MPsnry 18966
Tom a y4a knew mMy who pretads to admire the
RwsIWle, amd y ft 6als wr agalis pewtry. 'Tie
vwy l11Ali; Ws fally of )th pretemem Is mnarcuss
baut be assured the iMeapeaht of eemprobeading the
eMllrUSikM *a JO inrea Msy ast be ineitabie
to th4ea Ohe have m MA e tn poetry.
It is at ii o Wmes lr as besMus of pe td wflteb
are eitwhr umintelliQsle r w sClwting be the tribe
at tbi pemreal but it it the Lmtary, whew itiagth
t pMSO tpY am is ae peruwedW tha tiny em

.AtL&. p. 3K.

Iplian !** ***










discern the beauty of Raphael's, or the force of
Michael Angelo's figures. It is the resemblance
between objects, which, when shadowed forth in
metaphor, they cannot trace; it is these which
puzzle, and make them say, with truth to the poet:

'Thou se'st a form I cannot see,
Which hurries thee away.'
How, no poetry is more lavish in the use of imagery
and metaphor than the prose of Samuel Johnson. . .
Neither of Ciilton's or Johnson'al writings contain
any of that universally acceptable ingredient, humar.
Their pens always remain in the higher latitudes of
abstract ideas, of ornamented and figurative lan-
guage. The comprehension of the prosers have neither
respiration nor inspiration on those mental heights..

Even Shakespeare, said Miss Seward, was more easily com-

prehended by the "prosers" than Milton or Johnson was

because Shakespeare had humor. The opinion that Johnson's

prose borders on poetry in the highest sense of that tem

occurs again and again in Miss Seward's writing. On July

15, 1787, she wrote to William Hayley:

I think it possible to make fine poems of naet
the Ramblersa were they put into equally good verse
with Johnson's Vanity of HRan Wishes; yet I know
not if verse could improve them. Tes are conseieus
how war. an admirer I have ever been of his best
style in preee; that, for Abatraet disquisition, I
think it not only nervous, but graceful and harmeniae
in the first degree; and that even the meet bmautifal
poetry is not more gratifying to mw ear than UCqrrie
and finely-rouened periods of Johnson's essays.-

One of the earliest atbeeks on the Rolier, and

perhaps the eest virulent, was Archibald Capbtel14


Pe Ai.i Wrtks. I, Ixiiv-lxT.e

IntHtarbl 306.









hijmasr 1767. This satire is in the form of a dialogue
iaLtates free Lsisn. Johnson Is made to be one of the

oakenal the others are a Critic and som Physiciansr The
amwrial plan of ItDJa is am follow: Lexiphanos

(Jiahen) and a Critile met. Johnson rehearses is Rhap-

l ad, a rant about Hilfrity and a Garret; Oreenoko's ad-
vulntui with a soldier; his oem journey to Righgate and

a*PWabwru there and on the read; his return to London and

Liadit about his hose; his walk to Chelsea, where he

plays at skittlsa; his being frightened by a calf on his
ietuean, whith a w attakes for the Cook-la Ghost; and

his mase and disappoieatmnts at a Ba nio. All this is,

of eO"efl the meet ritilulems bambast. The Oritie here

Nmerrupt him, setnsir his hard style, thinks him mad,
mAt applies to the first Phyisisa (Mark Akeaside, ironilal-

1g Stilad by 6Bmaphll *the British rIentlus"). He, hew

nve, I i t4 be as JMumon, so the Critie disaibe him and

oemIles an the. They dtisseu Joh Son's case and other

a Seta seemafnrtu taole d witiag. They makm Jeaeson

aUVinw a jsein wihih eounss him to threw up mWr of his

hlut wees a* Crite then talla him how te meat his
U livUa Me 11 read aething aern emeept by anthers

Xo Onib I A


(hes silo X(










whose taste was formed in the foragolng reign; peruse the

best old writers; read Swift; leave off ensuring good

writers; study the subject before writing; and use a

simple style.12
Campbell appended a postscript which purported te

be a letter in broken English from an immigrant Preneh

hairdresser, who tried to learn English from Johnson's

Dictionary but only aueceeded in getting beaten, kicked,

etc. for quoting the definitions of excise, gazetteer,

pension, and oats to the wrong people.13
Campbell's chief target was Johnson's style. In

his introduction he said that he had tried but could not

read Johnson's works through because he beeame disgusted

at the pedantry and affectation in every page. He did,

however, during a voyage, read the Rambler through with

great attention and found that the style in it was the

same as the bombastio style of Luelan's pedant, Lexiphanes.

The terrible thing was that although this style was thought

the best model of writing by nine out of ten Englisima,

yet it was but a barbarous jargon, which tad ed English

terminations to Latin words; abounded in quaint urwseming

phrases, hard werds, sent weds, and affected phrase; ad

..bLd., pp. 134-141.

1533d., pp. 175-190.









diaplared in general a false glitter. If such a style
wre bo boeee fashionabol, it would bring on a decline,
a seruptels, or even a total alteration of the english
luagemag
cedbsll affected to disaeent the composition of

thes QDfl4M by saying that the classie writers of the
ages had att ten without Aietioonu res or groamars and that
the par fet dictionary was sueh a monumental task that it
as-rlike the Philosopher's Stone, which Johnson'r Diqtion-
n fell far shert of.15
In the dialogue proper Johnson uner the L lplsanie

style whihe is pure fliran. Capbeoll departed from hi.
anol, Lielan in the eharaeter of Lexiphanes Luiean's
Ltteipbana w a per, eeneaied fop; Campbell made Johnson
a gate. beLm s, affoote pebaft and aeeeamb.1e hm Critic
samrvme Johm onfs practise of ending a sentense with three
pkbfeaml Many o the words -pt inte Johnseau mouth by
flaphll afe frna th BSMlr. the er RB tasselep. Wartes'

MBKr s afti M h Amuwit'as "Pleasures of the Imagimatiomn"
planes' 5flhRF ret I&e*f lla Hute I&' at o S credon's
JIflaI d iaeewag's "Ogi bioughts." AlMWisaegh aseording



Jb p. ii4 n i.
me31~i~1. ma iuli~auf.
~jlJ~9qJ 'F n
L~~;~P~P;P;~ P~~t- p.r1










to Campbell there was no humor or wit in any of Johnson's
writings where it should be, there was an abundance of

these qualities in the Dictionary, where it had no business

to be.18 Johnson's writing as a whole, CaRpbell asserted,
was nothing but trash, perverse terms, and absurd phrase.

Johnson thought that he had done learning a seorvie when he

brought in a hard word without considering whether it was
proper to the subject, suited to the capacity of the

readers, or even whether it was an English word or not.

He was the unfittest person in the world to compose a
dictionary. He was wholly ignorant of the choice of words,

which makes the chiefest ezcellence of style.19 If aglish
should ever be studied as a dead language, and Johnenm'e

works should reach peaterity, he would be reekoned eiLhe

the first eorrupter of that tongue or an author in the

most barbarous ag*0

Campbell gave Johnaon advios on hew te eewreet his

faults as an author and concluded by saying:

If ycu do not allow my adviSj, but rebast 11i
the dog to your TSt, and like thF swinae be wellow
in the mire and filth of your bard eerds and "Scna
phrases, I ean only say, that I have acted the poa
of a friend tewerde yaou and that yea will halel rM
body to blame bVt yourself. But whatever eoarat yog
follow, be asauie that it is impsaible you sheihu

1I1b_._ pp. 9S-4".
1A9~~ pp. o70.

a;elA pp. 132-133.









write woree than you have hithertc.21
A review of es.~fpeam occurred in the Critical

hgftA for April 1767. After observing that few books have
been mua applauded or admired than the Ruabler, the author
siabed tr main features of Campbell's book. He concluded
that Sampbell was ineoreiea le for unfair representations

med illiEtral tratmant of Jtohnon.82 This opinion seem.
Justified Wte achieve a code effect and to make his

pefnt Cawbell emagerated, often beyond the bounds of

pfopretys Although tbhe arious issue of the Ra0lear
1seimsa l m log end hard words, they are by no means
aneatdbloe e iampbell would imply. Campbell was walking

a i9e vallA ariticia lhen hle eenewid the lack of wit and

humr in the ikr*. wny other esomentaters wre to
rerfm this laemb among them BreewllO who freeol admitted

that by a Iniftre by of tomRturo, the abs.aM lest the
hame of aflet*. The aspersions of pedanter, insinority,
af tM libke wiekh Gampbell eet on Johnecn's personal
hIasw r *'it the skrge of illiberal tweaownt.

Shwtiy aiter Dr Jolhnmn's doath Anna Bewrd wrote

a Igtb t be S valley, enLtaising this paragraph o
Mt t Lte CN the I alLjg aS imae14tally sorrderatting

Stw FhWflWB amumts on th% sillarity of Johnson's



"NEflfl aSws7L.










conversation and his style in the Rambler:

Dr. Johnson's learning and knowledge were deep
and universal. His conception was so clear, and his
intellectual stores were marshalled with suoh preci-
sion, that his style in common conversation equalled
that of his moral Essays. Whatever charges of
pedantic stiffness may have been brought against
those essays by prejudice or personal resentment,
they are certainly net less superior to all English
composition of that species, in the fertility and
efflorescenee of imagination, harmony of period, and
luminous arrangement of ideas, than they are in
strength of expression and free of argument. His
Latinisms, for which he has been muoh censured, have
extended the limits of our native dialeet, besides
enriching its sounds with that sonorous sweetness,
which the intermixture of words from a more harmonious
language mast necessarily produce; I mean in general,
for it cannot be denied that they sometimes deform
the2 ohnsonian page, though they much oftener adorn
it.3

A few years later, in 1788, she wrote to Thomas Christie

and spoke of the "grand sombre mirror" of Johnson's moral

philosophy. Of his essays in particular she says that1

although they are energetic and have finelyrounded peried,

the uncomfortable gloom of his sentiments, and asmetiumI

pedantry, numbers his magnificent style.~

Murphy ineladed this melaaehely tone in hts lidt

of oheraeteristies of the Rfraalr, declaring that

a settled glam hang over the author's a.nd; asd all
the essays emeept eight er tern esoing fre h Nm
feuntainBrted n wonder that they have the raseineS ef
the siel frao whist they sprang. . .

fha y Jm rnls and Carrnespndgagse I, 415-416.

klaine, ii is.









It is remarkable that the pomp of diction,
which has been object ~jo Johnson, was first
amamn d in the Rambler.
Willim Goo~e, while agreeing that there was an
element of trath in Campbell's criticism of the Rambler's
styles nevertkelees saw fit to emeuse Johnson on certain
grounds.
The style, though elassi ally correct, has been
thewght by mom to be befdering rather on the turgid;
and perhaps there oae some linstanice which might
s1tify tita opiniem. In oa use for this it; Aould
be easoJelre4, that the Author asm at the same time,
pdeply si l in exploring and ranging the rte
asIlh uod &WN&AMC of WOrO : and it was almost
aEm an ihat the busiress of the
en Unst, in em degree, incorporate with the

'fM opinion that Jemean formed his style on writers of the

bhtwaal-akth enurA y was held by a mmebr of eriiee. Al-
I qilgh alemie, for example, in 1785 spoeL of the Tiger oad
elWr of the gler he alse eonte*n ed that it nu dis-

tiwtHiljad by 'Iekm artificial nieness in the oeamtruetion
a t Wiieabfm.m a a t* Mfwdm"s of phbseelegy." He
ilogiMnt Lthat JW*ham had formed his style an Heater, Sir

-omin r -- s t lEd tbln atthoi of the aUft aL Pt.l .
ftaioI I*S aelsaed this *enjeolkas
hTe fl|J f is a peatr task for ane person to


pp. 1S85-164


,tgsm fiefrt Wle of r. -.i kag gm p (London,
13fg) A PP. M'4LO4f.










accomplish singlehanded. . There is indeed too
much Latin in Johnson'l7 English. He sees to have
caught the infectious language of Sir Thomas Brown,
whose works he read, in order to wite his life. . .
His style, as he says of Pope, becma smoothed by the
scythe, and levelled by the roller.e

Murphy, too, observed that work on the Dictionar was going

on at the same time that the Rambler essays were being

written and that as Johnson grew more familiar with techni-

cal and scholastic words, he assumed that the bulk of his

readers were equally learned; yet he praised an easy and

unaffected sentence structure and a cloar and natural

style.29 Robert Anderson also commented upon the simi-

larity of Johnson's style to that of the seventeenth cea-

tury writers:

In the Rajbjer J/ohnson's periods arc longer, and
his meaning more condensed; e is more fond of abstract
term, and ambitioua of sesquipedalian words. But this
work was written while he was occupied in collecting
authorities for him Dictiona=; at a time when Brrone
and Hooker, Bacon and Hakewell, were continually before
him; men whom it was difficult to re,, and remain
free from the temptation to imitate.A0

Murphy detected a certain pempousness in the Rae.mb r:

There is, it mat be admitted, a swell of lan-
guage, often out of all proportion to the sentiment;
but there is, in general, a fullnres of mind, and tha
thought eamms to expand with the sound of the words.-

28ent. Ng., LIV, 905.

PsoMJ~ pp. 156-157. W. K. Wiueett Jr., hea
investigeatd hla problem thrpeughly in hi Ilk.
Words A Stu of So y At Maning tl tu3 O
oti a am.
Wt -.V. 29D.
31kl T pp. 156-158.









Aeeerding to Murphy, Johnson forgot the "elegant simplic-
ity" of Aadison in his determination to discard "colloquial

barbarSiam and "licentious idiome." Murp" continued:
Jehnson had a fund of humour, but he did not know
it, nor was he willing to deseend to te familiar
idisa and the variety of diction wai h that mods of
muapaition required. . Johnson 1 always lofty;
he sms, to use Dryden's phrase, to be o'erinformod
with meaning, and his wrds do net appear to himself
im.aem4ate to his coneeptiom. He moves in state, and
his perioa4 are always haorpenous. His Orientj Tales
ar in the trwe style of Eastern magnifieeneen
John Co rt nay in 1786 took noties of Johnson's

Latin-Baglish style and the unrelieved elevation of his

writing:
Yet to the mine though the rich oin he trace,
no current marks hbi early assays gre.e;
For in sesh page we find a massy store
o B slilah bullion mix'd with Latin ore:
In *olmn ppemp with pedantry oomain'd,
He vents the marbid sanesns of hia mind;
In seientifik phrase affeete to smile,
Pom'ud an Brea's turgid Latin-Bnglish style;
Where aft the dabatret in stiff state presides,
And measure t mbvres, mearai' portidl guiteas
but all prMpriFet hia Remblera ek@,
MiWn Stlty peatoe fr oetn and froa Leeke;
hen me diversity we vee btwwen
The lefty morliat and gay fifteeas.-3
GeagO GelMe man bested to this uaiforatty of lan-

Wgnae in the M L and t 6e anra sqwr itappropriatenes
of msak of it. poimrtirn oat taNt


51MAda pp. 1s-1l0.

'ESJMILJMUt ^ iS fL. 14s6.










did /7ohnson'sg pen convey his discoveries in char-
acteristick language, he would be equal to the best
writers--but here he fails. In his Ramblers and
Idlers whenever he introduces characters, their
actions, department, and thoughts, have a most as-
curate, and minute resemblance to nature, but they
all talk one language, and that language is Dr.
Johnson's. Words are the vehicles of our thoughts,
as coaches are of our persons; the state-equipage
should not be drawn forth but upon solemn occasions

David Huse, who mentioned the Rambler with respect,

doubtless had some of these stylistic features in mind

when he "regretted there should be so much cant and so

much pedantry, in a performance replete with taste, eru-

dition, and genius."35 In his edition of Pope's works,
Joseph Warton spoke of "the perpetual pompousnaes, and the

uninterrupted elaboration, of the over-ornamented style of

the Rambler."36

Hawkins recorded objections to the Rambler's style:

new and original combinations of werds; sentences of un-

usual form; words derived from other languages, though

accommodated to the genius of English. lie stated that

Johnson owed his exeellenee as a writer to the divines

and others of the last century, such as Hooeeer Braewe,

Taylor, and Cowley. He defended the Rambler against the

charge. of tumidity by answering that not all is ttamdity


"Proe II, 98-09.

3ehaw, MNaLr pp. 103-104.

Warto We(fig 6iM Pope. IM ed. Joseph
Warton (Me 171TTTI no









which Am of little and oonfined reading are pleased to

sell &0"
Beswll was aetapoken in his defense of Johnson's
style in the RabfLel.
The style of this week has been consure by
somas hallew eritiel as inmelved and turgid, and
dwasbtuin with anmtquabtd and hard word. So ill-
fiMated is the first part of this abjeetion, that I
will halloeng all who may honour this book with a
porusal to paint out any english writer whom lan-
Page ennysr his meaning with equal foror and per-
spiaitr. It must iaed, be allowed, that the
taeuetren of his sentoemse is expand, and often
hjm scoMswat of the Invrsion of Latinl and that he
~eklghtta to empress familiar thoughts in philo-
mophlbal eangige. .. Johneon's eoeprehension
of i Ld was the moulA for his language. Had his
easeeptione been narrower, his Oupr sion would
ktr been easier. Ris sentoees have a dignified
mweig and it is sertein that his example has given
a geormrl eleVitiem to the lnguge of his e ontry,
for mam of ter bt Witoes have approaehMt very
rne to him; mde from the influmne which he has
ad vupsa or empnitiaml, aseeeely y thing is
w nitt meo teat is not better expressed than as
sanl before e appeaed to load the national
tetlle *
Jbha' an's 1qpage, heawlr mest be allowed to be
to meunlinm for the dellcato t w genil of female
wntdM. IMs ladiasw, !fer* sfm. rsMMreualy fer-
mal, e"n te PA4 ,tze
Or fet which oeght to reflect meathing of t he

fstwta in whta Joismon a* held a an Messayit is that

p-haLnt of rs eoities to aompere him with Addison. This
4htg S4ma was equally no" an the basis of some aspect of


MI .pF A.M3.i
w WIT-Mr.










style. One of tho earliest com:ientators to do this was

Anna Seward, who wrote in a letter dated January 17641

And so., my gentle Emma, you stood rebuked in
the presence of two divines, for your preference of
the Ramblers to the Spectators, which, it seem,
they told you as little to be expected from the
delicacy of female taste. Had I been present, they
would have found me saucy enough to observe to thea,
that, if Johnson had, instead of being now alive,
been dead as many years as Addison, they would thea-
selves, with the whole literary world, have joined
you in this preference. .
We will. .unite in pondering at the inascuracy
of general opinion, concerning the writings of our
illustrious Liehfieldian. They are allowed to abound
in matter, and to have great force, but are deemed
rough and inharmonious. We hear mush of the eleganee
and mellifluent construction of Addison's language,
and of the hard, unmanageable style of Samuel John-
son.
Now, that his long and uncommon words, derived
from the dead languages, and so lavishly Interwoven
with his own have sometimes an unhappy, and even
ridiculous effect upon the flow of his periods, must
be granted; but that they, in general, give them .
added grase and wreetness, is no less true. Greek
and Latin being so mash higher voweled than aBnlish,
a liberal intermixture of words, springing from their
roots, must surely render the style more graceful
and swopouPU . .
LAddisoja frequently finishes his asmbeamn with
ineignifileant werda, such ase fl*I -I ,--q m, -*
agaJiaba &., which produce the same offset pea the
ear, as the eye preeeives from a jerk, or sudden
stop in motion. SuCh a paltry termination euts the
sentence off in a sharp angle, and utterly preeludes
that roundness, that majestic weep at sound, ai
whieh the Joh~kenian periods so generally aleee
periods that my ear find of sueh full ant Satiafying
harmony, as met te need either rhyme r smosioi to
add mnre saaiMtes.* In truth, rhme and m isu.1 are
but the body of poetry, not its spirit, and its
spirit breathes tkwhugh all the pages of the Rambles.
I am tempted toe ite a pasagen from esh fe theme
eeleblatld wterli, as speeimene of their dif tflre
style, still farther te confirm your convietion lhe
trarnge the proejulee which induces people ko ia au










that the supaisority, in point of elegance, remains
with Addison..4

WillLm Cooke, in more subdued tones, expressed a

similar opinion, stating that

Sthe wDale, the produce of this single genius
JhxwoWo proved at least equal, if not superior,
In ams partioulars, to that of the club of first-
veto Wits whe were eonsernod in tkoes eclabrated
wlorks-the Tatler and Spectataor.0

Johnson and the Riablr certainly lost nothing in

ahsrpyt's ompariecon of them with Addison and his essays:

ilddivon'V moral essays are beatiful; but in
that previnme neahing easn eawed the Rambler. .
Addisen lands rae e ad oranament to truth; Johnson
gives it feree and energy. Addison make virtue
stable; Johnson represents it as an awful duty.
Addise isimntea himself with an air of modesty;
Jo nmon ameemmd like a diotater; but a dictator
in his spleudid robes, net learuring at the pleghb.
Addism is the J ier of Virgil, with placid ser-
enity talking tom eas. . Jhnson is JUPITER TOINAl:
he d rts his lightening and rolls his tlnrder, in
the uome of virtue and piety. The language **s
to fall short of his ideas; he pes along, famil-
loriaing thA times of philoeephy, with bold inveaions,
and e Anaens perejp4.. .JehnonI is alrys prefeamad
an~ of oursem gives the fatigue of thLiidag. Addisem
chalm whlle ie Ln srusta and writing as he alrys
eaq, a pure, an elegant, and dianitie style, he
ma be pron~wrt the safest model rte imitation.4L

willt Momtoe who ritleised ertaLn aspeets of

tl meral writings in t Raibhr with the tmeet severity,

1fe in his accant of t~e general aearasteriftiu of


WlDliL ,NWMI I, -loxtit i mi.

*IMfisb a- 41'.
d. usin










Addison and Johnson, compressed yet informative, and on

the whole favorably disposed toward Johnson.

Indeed they will hardly admit of comparison.
Johnson possessed powers unattainable by Addison;
and Addison moved in a circle where Johnson could
not approach. Addison is gay and lively; Johnson
grave and sententious. Addison is sometimes trifling;
Johnson is always uniform. Addison is seldom more
than pleasing; Johnson is often sublime; the language
of Addison is pure and simple; that of Johnson's is
nervous and elegant; Addison's is equable, and never
offends by its harshness; Johnson's is sometimes
rugged and pdeantic; Addison is never affecting;
Johnson is often highly pathetic; Addison displays
ne irregular flights, no sudden inspirations; John-
son rises with his subject, and frequently towers
into sublimity; Addison exhibits more learning than
Johnson; Johnson manifests more natural vigour of
intellect; finally, the writings of Addison are less
read and less remembered than those of Johnson, whig
are in every body's hands, and are for ever quoted."

Boswell's description of the essays of Addison and

Johnson may almost be taken as an answer to the foregoing

criticism. For all Beswell's affection for Johnson, there

is an impartiality and insight in his literary eritieism

which is uzaistakable.

It has of late been the fashion to oampare the
style of Addison and Jehobase and to depreeiate, I
think very unjustly, the style of Addison as nerve-
lees and feeble, beeause it has not the strength and
energy of that of Johnson. Their prees may be bel-
armed like the poetry of Dryden and Pep*. Beth are
eneellent, though in different ways. Addison ritea
with the ease of a gentlemn. His readers faney that
a wise and aeeamplisehd eompanioe is talking to tbhm;
se that he insimaate his sentiments and tate into
their minds by an impereeptible influenre. Jewheon


'Clitl Ea!bgulry. pp. 61-62.










wites like a teacher. He dietates to his readers
a if from an asedemical ehair. They attend with
amd admiration; amA his precepts are Impromsed
*ups the. by his samemding oloquaRee. Addison's
styl% like a light wine, plasee every body from
the fFirst. Joteson's, like a liquor of more body,
semn too Alrong at fi t, but, by degrees, is
Mihl relishid; amn suc is the melody of his
peioae so nmah ds they empWiatet the ear, and
eNLe ap~a the attefmtion that then is oeareely
My mlter, however ineensiderble, who does nt
Ale in ame groeo, at he *sa species of eMsel-
Laea. But let ie not ungrtefully undervalue that
bemtital style, lhrh has pleasingly eaoneyed to us
ah intwuestim smad ontertaimnent. Though esa Lar-
Sa1Wlr' weas, when opposed to Johnson's Heroulgaan
elag bt asi set eall it positively feeble.5
The te *fnts of the B jef3r reoeied no less

critical ateatiao than the style* Among lltero y mI

wo wewr rway iaelined toward orsality, the eonte n

had well nigh unvee sal appeal. The ecurtly Bearet
~toben as a ywuth nred the BPagA with smo mah admire.

Mst that he ame to London mainly to meet Jeabonj44 it

IteWftad Ute sftlar disselite young Bewoll;T* and the

P tlm Peek WIabter was mua h influeo6ed by it.4
A m--t vitapeemtive pamphlet attfeking EkMewn,

imbWng was published in 1T8 by Jms- Gallemldw a

ei iof the pewt Themoa. It Mealt mainly with the
EAAAm .bae* mot of Jobese's w s me in fr at




gEeIp.. l aS.


Sof f Iei. @ eaVY Re. Warel
(NMM VON%-i N~- | y -










large share of the invective, and the uambler was no ex-

ception. Callender's method of criticizing the Ramler

was to ferret out single sentences which were susceptible

of ab.iguity and attempt from these to slow Johnson in a

bad light. For example, he began by quoting a sentence

from Rambler No. 150:

'The highest pleasure which nature has indulged
to sensitive perception is that of rest after fatigue.'
And sensitive is defined 'having genae or perception;
but not reaioa.' If I understand the meaning of this
passage, it ia, that no pleasure eommunieated though
any of the organs of sense is equal to that of rest.
This assertion leads to the most absurd consequences.
In man, to separate sensitive from rational per-
eeption appears to be simply .impossible. Even rest
is not in mtrit language any pleasure. It is merely
a mitigation of pain.4*

Callender next examined a sentence from Rambler No. 9:

'Physicians and lawyers are no friends to
religion, and many conjectures have been formed to
dissever the rm on of sueh a esoeblaftio between
men who agree in nothing e, and wh sm to be
less affected in their wtn province by religious
opinions than any other part of the ecamanity..' He
then proeeed in the tone of an author, who has made
a diseevery to inform as of the sause. 'They have
all seen a parson, seen his in a habit different frao
their own, and therefore %inaed mwar against him.'
But thj ecan be as motive for peaTliLr antipathy to
persons*. allowing such antipathy te liast; for in
habit all other lasses differ no lose from the
elear, than the lsWer and physician. Dut the
remark iteelf is frivolous and fal se. Beetheav
and Hale wre men of e aemr piety Physiieas ad
lawyers have as maeb regard for their religile as any


4LJ s The aman Callende/4 De t ,
ps 51. e









ether people generally han. Their agreeing In
ptg igl qlsA is another of the bluaners erowdod
Inkt this passage. . The eons cturei, the
Sf*atWii and the deq IlaKlol 1 Wa existt no
Sbu n he Doeetr's paeraSn He was at
a less what to say and the petition is only to be
iaPrd. & se a t *urbl1d ill3tl of. arl2phibol esl
lansity. But whll wm i tu it with l ou thing
which is ridiculous in every page, we are not to
target *ven for a moment, Itat we have often heard,
mad what is ost iaquestisambly truj Tis. That Dr.
John-on is the father et Brltiish lTerature, capital
aMbhsr of his age, mad the greatest man in irepe 11 A

CallwAer deeried Johnson's statement in Radr!s No. 160

that men are divided by edBweti*n, eeuapation, and habits
of life almost into different spe ele, who regard one

another with seorn and malignity. He felt that this was
an imlalt an the sharaeters of makind. He called John-
son's *xamplee especiallyy that of soldiers versu sail-

are) false illeaeatisae. In this same nmbe r Johnson
said that be raise esteeua wse mt benefit others. Cal-

leaer peSatte at iitha this is not always tree, for w

oten erbet as ainemw
In every peint a iew this mexia is 'tbe base
lwe fabriet of a Tilsa.'I And what had so far
#ahzaIA the Rambber's pes a of .f o fl J3t2
it ia i a tr ge ne.* . The Niher ot SA-
i k lilmature has in ftTy other pllse eontra-
aliebli his n weeds. He bha prew6d that eaten is
,liY a-ery, anLd that benefit do not always prone

Callanu e a' final diagreemant was witrh ltys Wo.. 45,

66A.. pp. S5-3A.
CIa. ~pp. 35-36.










which stated, "'Wives and husbands are, indeed, inces-

santly oomplaining of each other.'"50

Johnson himself once remarked to a friend, "'My

other works are wine and water; but my Rambler is pure

wine.'" This opinion is recorded in Samuel Rogers' Table

Talk and is followed by a remark from that author, "The

world now thinks differently."51 No date for this can be
given; Rogers lived until 1855, but from the great rnuter

of contemporary somnendatory oommenta, it can only be sur-

mised that this opinion was given in the second decade of

the nineteenth century or after. For all his own high

opinion of the Rmubler, Johnson did not think it would be

popular with the public Thomas Tyers said that Johnson

told him "that he had no expectation" that the Ramblers

would have met with so mech success, and been so
mueh read and admired. What was anneement to him,
is instruction to others. Goldsmith declared, that
a system of morals might be drawn from these Essays:
this idea is taken up and executed by a pjlieation
in an alphabetical series of meral maximi.
When William Shaw was writing of the sold reception

of the Rl.p r. he called It "one of the maot materly and

elegant 6erforameaus in the language."53


oel,. P. 85*
S I nl eimn of t T .e T alT. TSf.A gi, Re.
to which i ,_Pspol (aew Yowk, 18561), p. 3.0


p. 102.









Millism Seelo felt the the outstanding feature
eo the gabtlb wa its eeatent, which he considered pro-
found and admirebloe
The principal merit of this work consists in dim-
eminMaing philooephie and moral tratm with peculiar
former and onerg; aided by a rish and varlgated im-
agiation, particularly in his Elatern Taes; some of
whid a"r the boet models of tbat species of writing
in our laguastge.4

Ooeee went on to remark that by order of the Empress of
R asi&, the ~RAubF was translated into Russian, and that
the Bpress settled a handsoe pension on Johnson.56 The

first of these statements was, in Jhnson's own day, goner-

ally believed to be true; hwewer, the Hill-Powell edition
of Bw all'o L s abates that no Russian translation of the

flA.l is knan ,M Nothing is said of such a pension in
this edition. Coaeb also mentioed that upon the great

repute af the ~MAL&P the University of DEblin presented
JIchr sa with an KE A. and an LL. D. and that Oxford soon

foellewed this emwuplfe.

A Calleader-lie evritiism of the fobler appeared

lt an amoapwous artiQ44 in the Bn)4tAgs's tu lasx for
Sapele r 17T4 The erile book two eolases ("weier is
e lhibref stftef of igneraec" and "igaeroiee may be the

t p.e 4t'.

pp. 44, ags,

pp% v 5.e










effect of wonder") and questioned the logic of thea.

Lohnaon'l7 manner of elucidating this postulate,
evidently, in my apprehension, ahsew the Dr. had pus-
zled himself. Contradiction seems a leading feature
in the Dr.'s character. His ardent pursuit of novelty
in sentiment often led him unintentionally to sacri-
flee truth at the shrine of originality. What but a
love of contradiction to received notions could have
drawn him into the solecistical assertion, that wonder
is both the parent and the child of ignoranme?eO

Joseph Toers, though by no means insensible to

style in writing, was more communicative on the matter of

the Rambler. He gave the following account in his Essay:

THE RAMLER. .began to be published. .in the
year 1750; and it is to this adairable performoane
that he owes much of his reputation. It was not,
however, on its first publication, very popular, nor
very generally read. . But the great merit of
this work was at length generally acknowledge- . .
In the RAMBLER, indeed, the finest sentiments of
morality and of piety are rendered delightful, by the
harmony and splendour of the language. In his Lives
of the Poets, as well as in asse of his other we ks,
there are no inconsiderable number of exeeptionable
passage; but his 9.1gi, are alecLt uniformly
entitled to applause. The morality inculcated Is pure,
and the piety in general rational; and the ariticines,
and obse eatios on life and manners, are acute and
instructive. It is eat of them works whieh may
repeatedly be read, and which will repeatedly delight.

As the RIl are less oleoulated for general
reading than at tr they have nevr been
equally popular; int, perhaps they are more interesting
to literary mamm as entaining a greater variety ef
acute and orlgial observations relative to Ms par-
ticelar Leaws, sentiment, and purmuite of men of
letters.w


lVI, Va.

"%Wi 1pp. 38-34.










Towers pointed out the rmnbers of the Raftber which ap-
peSe t particularly good to him.

AMONM the best papers in the RAMBLER, are thors
on retirement, on the regulation of the thoughts, the
frequent senteaplation of alath, the importano of
the early ahois of a profession, the neoesslty of
attending to the duties of comon life, the history
of lIwbuln, on the ineonTeniendee of somfidence and
preeila tAtio the disquisitlen on the value of fame,
on the requiits e true friendship, on a man's hap-
plnae or miry being chiefly to be found at hooe,
on the inattention of man to the shortness of human
life, the story of Oupidue, the voyage of life, on
the suffieLaney of life to all purp es if well
employed, o repentarnes on the neessity of reviewing
li~e,. the visi of Seretinus to the place of his no-
liity2~ on the issefHity of labour to exeellenee, on
the fallatiosioees of the hepee of youth, and on the
prespFett of fWlbrity. The eastern tales, and some
of his allegeriaI have also great merit; aU the
last Armer is a very masterly composition.

Thwagh he feoma fault with the style of the

aInJgbg Csirtmeay paliesd the content and in doing so
tethedl on tin elemantb of bMumnie in it:

Yet geniua still breaks through the eeeumbering

UIS tar we e nmauur, but the work we praies
UkflW learning boanm with fuaM's brilliant dyes,
Til las 1 t that gild the northern skins;
Man's emples Meart he baree to open day,
01e as te priwm mate ls the blended rays
The pietiae from him mist resumes the he.,
Tl shu la t tee darkl bet the Adeign still true.1

SPRO 3pp4, 54 23te WvMbers of thees isnes
of aeml awe 1 ar fell2e. ,: 8. 17 19, 4, 36 27
4, 71, 7. 10 l 11, 15, 16, 16, 1,

arl.Mal arfta. PP. 15-44.










Sir John Hawkins gave in his character of the

Rambler more attention to content than to style. He said

that as a censor of manners, Johnson endeavored to improve

the conduct of human life by gentle exhortation, sober

reproof, wit, and ridicule. He observed that the recep-

tion of the Rambler was at first cool and its progress

slow but that the world was too wise to suffer it to sink

into oblivion. It was fraught with the soundest precepts

of economical wisdom.68 Regarding the fewness of non-John-

son Rambler papers, Hawkins asked

how great must its merit be, when wanting the charm of
variety and that diversity of characters, which, by
the writers of them, was thought necessary to keep at-
tention awake, it could support itself to the end, and
make instruction a substitute for amustmentI

Johnson, when he wanted to, declared Sir John, eould delight

as well as instruct and did so by fictitious characters,

fancied portraits, ironical sarcaams, and strokes of wit

and humor. Hawkins, while lamenting that Johnson did net

write more critical essays in the Rambler, pointed out

that he did display literary criticism in its utmoet luetre

in the Lives.64 Johnson's reason for diseontinuing the

Rambler, which abouded with such original and noble smetl-

menta, in the dawn of its reputation, perplexed Mawkins,


6Lfe p. S29.
68 Ibd., p. 241.
3Ibid.










who wondered whether it was melancholy or mental exertion.
Ha concluded that

the merits of the Rasbler were of a kind not likely
to reeemend it to those who read chiefly for anuse-
mem, and of readers, this elass will ever be by
moh the met numerous: the sabjeets therein dis-
eused are chiefly the weightiest and most important,
respecting more our eternal than temporal happineea.
0 MIuh might be said in commendation of this
excellent work; but such suffrage as those here
mentioned et it almost above praise. . With
bhat success these endeaveur of hils to refie the
langag by various meang7 have been attended is
best amown to those who have made eloquenee their
teudy; and it may go far towards the stamping a
lasting aharaeter of purity, elegance, and strength
an the style of Johnsen, to say, that some of the
mest popular srators of this country new living,
have not only proposed it to theeelves as a model
for spakinga but for the purpose of requiring the
eadtnee and flow of his periods, have actualy got-
ten whole essays from the Rambler by heart.

The most detailed (and prebobly the best) diaeus-

sion of the Rambler's content eocurs in Besell, who also

inlated mush interesting information about its compooi-

tin.

In 1960 he su e forth in the sharaLter for which

he as eminsenly qualified, a mjeostiek teacher of moral

a.d religious te tem. The vehiAsl which he shese was that

of a periodical paper. Bowell thought the Rambler not

Ok..ao, pp. 256-39. The "Nuffroge" to which
Heifli Lta E wri.g are the tern e*Ation of the lSisi
in Jobhil-mn' lifetime and the smppose Ruessan t lreat&on.
ELis I, 01.










a happy choice for the title of a series of grave and

moral discourses. Johnson undertook this paper with de-

vout and conscientious sentiments, evidenced by his prayer

composed for the occasion. Posterity, said Boswell, would

be astonished to learn that these papers, apparently the

work of long and tedious study, were composed hastily. He

explained that

by reading and meditation, and a very close inspec-
tion of life, LJohnso7 had accumulated a great fund
of miscellaneous knowledge, which, by a peculiar
promptitude of mind, was ever ready at his call, and
which he had constantly accustomed himself bo clothe
in the most apt and energetic expression.

Anderson disagreed with tells statement. He maintained that

the essays in the Rambler were too strong and perfect not

to have been "matured, fashioned, and polished by sedulous

reflection." He conjectured that Johnson must have

sketched most of them during sleepless nights and "ab-

straction from eompany."N A short panegyric on Johnson

and the Rambler from Mrs. Thrale's diary (DecSeber 1777),

however, will support Boswell's statement. Mrs. Thrale

believed

that Benefieenee whieh during his Life inereeed
the sea arts of so many, may after his Death be
ungratefully forgotten; but that Piety whiah
dictated the serious Papers in the Rambler will be
for ever remembered, for ever I think--evered.


67ITi., pp. 2a0-9l4.

Lifge, pp. 85-87.









hat ample Repository of religious Truth, moral
Wl:maa & oseurate Criticism breathes indeed the
geaiafe Emanations of its Author's Mind; expresa'd
tee in a Style so natural to him, & So much like
his season Mode of conversing, that I was myself
net msh astonished when he told me, that he had
sareely read over one of those inimitable Bssays
before teny were seat to the Press.

Regarding Johnson's brief notes for possible

AMAIaIr papers, Boewell wrote
This meanty preparation of materials will net,
hkever, maeh diminish our wonder at the extra-
erdi aryl fertility of his mind; for the proportion
whlch they beer to the number of essays which he
wrete, is very small; and it is remarkable, that
then for whish he had made no preparation# are as
rish and as highly finished, as those for which the
hints were lying by him. It is also to be observed,
that the papers forred from his hits are worked up
with sach strength and elegaseo, that we almost lose
sight of thi hints, which become like 'drops in the
basket'. . *
As the Rabler was entirely the work of one man,
there me, ot esarse such a uniformity in its ten-
tbura as vey meek to exclude the eoalr of variety;
and the grve and eft n solemn east of thinking,
whikh distingp ahed it from other periodical paper,
ma*e it, for sme time, net generally like. . .
i tm very soon after its eumnm n, there ere
thbse wIh felt and smknowledged its Munooie m easel-
lemee. Veares in its prise appeared in the new-
paperi aind the 1itber of the aatilailn's asaine
mbeiaaLe, La GQtaber, his having reslved U lli2lV
letters te the same purpose from the learned.

)a, I iaa, ed. Kafstrine C. Bal stlbon (OIxfrd,

OMLiL I 0Q7-09* A ftotnete on this passage
qu e w fri Riihardtee to Cave Agaset 9, 1750,
f te frty"-ee mumfer of the iIa lF had appeared.
"I hepe the wrid tastes thm the RBI p /; for
S eamn ta, I hope thoe world ttee thel T author I
eta only WUi at.* There is but oae am, I thiinlk, that
NW tMMk*." GOme replied, "'Mm. JohMaea is the
I & M. ita bring ryea rve the only man who ean
ZM ai Wiie amh papers In a m*1a be idel s his great but-
Ww* Z ht the /.'"










Boswell was here referring to an Introduction to a brief

excerpt from "The Student, or Oxford and Cambridge Misoel-

lany," in wnich, so he tells us, Bonnell Thornton and

George Colman were the principal writers.71

We beg leave to return our acknowledgments, for
the noble and rational entertainments he has given
us, to the admirable author of the RAMBLER, a work
that exceeds any thing of the kind ever published in
this kingdom, some of the SPECTATORS excepted--if
indeed they may be excepted. We own ourselves
unequal to the task of commending aueh a work up to
its merits--where the diction is the most high-
wrought imaginable, and yet, like the brilliancy of
a diamond, exceeding perspicuous in its richness--
where the sentiments ennoble the style, and the style
familiarizes the sentimenta--where every thing is
easy and natural, yet every thing is masterly and
strong. May the public favours crown his merit.e,
and may not the EnAllh under the auspicious reign
of GEORGE the second, neglect a man, who, had he
lived in the first century, would haze been one of
the greatest favourites of AUGUSTUS.

Beoswell continued:

The Rabler has increased in fame as in age.
Soon after its first folio edition was eonelude it
was published in six due-deieio volumes; and its
author lived to see ten numerous editions of it in
London, besides those of Ireland and Seetland.
I profess myself to have ever entertained a
profound veemratin for the astonishing foree and
vivacity of mind, which the Ramler exhibit. T2t
Jebnsea had penetration enough to see, and seeing
would net diagaLse the general misery of man in this
state ef being may have given rise to the nuperfi-
cial notion of his being too stern a philosopbha .
But men of reflection will be sensible that he has
given a tree reprweentation of miaa eaiaetesee and
that he khan at the sane time, with a generous



7Te2S akfyl, XX, 665.









b4aeveleree, displayed every consolation which our
state affords us; not only arising from the hopes
of futurity, but mush as may be attained in the ia-
mediate progress through life. He has not depressed
the soul to despendensy and indiffeenos. He has
every taers ineuleatkd study, labour, and exertion.
Nay, he has shewn, in a very odious light, a man whose
pre iie is to go bout darukning the vies of others,
by perpetual complaints of evil, and awakening those
eemeittertioms of danger and distress, whiah are, for
the meet part, lulled into a quiet oblivion.7'

Baelo stated that it would take too msnh apace to point
sat all the sutjeets which the Raabler treated of "with
a dtirnty aad perspicuity" found nowhere else, and that

ewes the maet condensed and brilliant sentences form a

buLM velame entitled TU Bepaties ao the Rabler. While

speekiug Of the heavy intelleetual content of the Rambler,

Bowell acknowledged its lighter side.

The Rutaler furnLshee such an assemblage of
diaeuurse an paestial religion and aeral duty,
fa eritihal izWvea egatioan, and allegorical and
eamvtaal tales that no mind ean be thought very
defL list that has, by constant study and meditation,
amelmilatea to i&telf all that may be find there.

I will veait re to say, that in en writings what-
evet san 0e f d mals b ek and llel for the mind
if I my use th eMpeslon; men that an bra4e and
invig rte every manly and noble sentiment. .
Thwa iAetrustion be the predominant purpose of
SthB y~ t it i| onivened with a considerable
pelE ont aiseAment.
MMiwell awided the eriticita that eJoneaa was a retired

eundrH a knowing nothing of th world. It would have been


'mfL,, alal215.
"Akhi, 214..iLB,










impossible for such a writer to have drawn the life-like

characters in the Rambler and to have the knowledge of

the world in general. Then, too, Johnson claimed to have

"run about the world" more than almost anybody. Boswell

cited various Ramblers to illustrate these assertions and

then snowed how the work was tinged with Johnson's learning

and wisdom.

Every page of the Rambler shows a mind teeming
with classical allueioar and poetical imagery: il-
lustrations from other writers are, upon all occasions,
so ready, and mingle so easily in his periods, at
the whole appears of one uniform vivid texture.'

Arthur Murphy thought the Rambler Johnson' out-

standing literary accomplishment. He spoke primarily of the

content.

The Rambler my be considered as Johnson's
great work. It was the basis of that high reputation
which went on increasing to the end of his days. The
circulation of these periodical essays was not, at
first, equal to their merit. They had not, like the
Spectator, the art of charming by variety. . .
In this collection, Johnson is the great moral teacher
of his countrymen; his essays form a body of ethiew;
the observations on life and manner are acute and
instructive; and the papers, professedly citiaal,
serve to promote the eause of literature.'6

Robart Anderson's description of Johnson as a

moralist is at the same time a description of the iabler.

Anderson felt that the correction of minor faults and


75 d., 215-217.

76E__qj p. 155.










foibles was not in Johnson's province.

As a a li.pa4 his periodical papers are distin-
guished from those of other writers, who have derived
seoLebrty from similar publications. He has neither
the wit nor the graceful ease of Addison; nor does
he shine with the humnmlr and classic suavity of Gold-
smith Hi powers are of a mere grave, energetic, and
ainlfled kind., than any of his competitors; and If he
ertalis us less, he lnstruets us more. He shows
MimIelf master of all the reeasese of the human mind,
ble to deteeb vice, when disguised in her most
speaems fotm, and equally possessed of a corrosive
te* *eAieate, or a lenitive to assuage the follies and
sorrrow of the heart. Virtuous in his object, just
in his eoneeptions, strong in hia argusmnts, and power-
fat in his exhortations, he arrests the attention of
levity by the luxurianee of his imagery, and grand-
ileqemese of his dielion; while he awes detected
guilt into submission by the majesty of his declamation,
and the sterling weiht of his opinions. But his gen-
ins L only formed te chastise graver faults, which
require to be touched with an heavier hand. ie could
net sh b away such lighter foibles as buss in our ears
in solety* and fret the feelings of our less important
hours. Hia gigantiL pwers wre able to prepare the
1--mtma path to heavn, but could net stop to decorate
ar amnsee with these lesser gramesp which make life
adiabl. Jeohnon, at suah a task, was Ieeulee at the
aietaffp a lion corins of a meaoe, or an eagle
steepiag at a fly.

uM of the meet detailed, as well a oae of the

must paiM dWllea analyses of the BJllAr's content is

thmmt t illiam Maifeed Ma ford wroee that upon first

letIing hmoJe~ 's weas te he as enrapted by tha, but thit

r later fell away frea thoi. his reatiRo was largely

the WMea of his finding meting there agreeing with life;

MMH e i tisaly semeine4 thm false. A minte emminatian

pp. rn-ac.










of Johnson's writings revealed that they were replete with

the most dangerous consequences to society An unvaried

strain of gloomy speculation pervaded them. They were

calculated from the falseness of their delineations to

precipitate mankind into a chain of reasoning destructive

of all confidence between man and man, and subversive of

all the social affections. !Mumford said if he had erred

In his opinions, he would welcome correction. He went on

to say that Johnson's misanthropy and prejudice were emi-

nently manifest in the Rambler. Johnson taught the hap-

pinees of virtue and di4layed the miseries of vice with

peculiar energy, but when he attempted to support man

"against the contingencies of existence," his mind dark-

ened with "clouds of prejudice," and his arguments degen-

erated into sophisticall deelamation." He was constantly

preventing any pleasure by warning of imminent doom. A

young mind reading the Rambler "would coneeive the meet

melancholy ideas of human nature and human events. .un-

attended with any alleviation but religion and unrisited

by any hope but that of futurity and a KMRCIFUL CREAtSB."

Thus the utility of the Ramble as a moral werk is 3 mes-

tionable. That "which tends to ebstrust the sltivity of

man, and erush well-foande hopes on this life. ,amribe

reprehension." Joraoee's representations of life le-

pressed industry, sheked enterprise, supprmeeed Pational










wishes filled the mind with a hateful distrust of society,
mad festewed the most pernisioua prejudises. They wre

salo capable of repressing other generous sentiments of
the mAind, ish form the meet important links of human
e*mastion.78

The Rpibler papers relating to life were fit only
to disturb the happiness of others, to lessen the
little eomferts, and to shorten the short pleasures
of our oeadition, by painfr l remembrances of the
past or mlaneholy pronaewties of the future; their
enly aii is to erush the rising hope, to damp the
kindling transport, and alley the golden hours of
gaiety with the hateful dress of grief and suspicion.'

amferd quoted passages from the Rambler to illustrate

theie charges: No. 2 dissuaded the rising generation from

ealtifvalBi kAawledge; No. 16 showed the wetchedness of
literary eminene; So. 36 exhibited the ineseapeblemeos of

imellisity; No. 144 pointed the series of athaerhip; and

Ne* 196 gave am imridious maa oaleal eampalrison between

yem&h and tago.

Jeounsen' argamoler wre specious in their attempt

fte m6w teat riehem are imnapabl of affording their pe-

&n ar may eothr gntifie ien Wtan that of the mind. All

this oald IuA e cue be say, "ewu bad verfthinI in the
vrAd iAJ" Mumford asked the*e rhetorical qestioine


Tqritial BaJis,. Up. vi-xi, 2-0.

IallAlJ. rr*--~










whore shall we seek friendship, where all arc false?

where repose griefs, where none are virtuous? A youth

captivated by Johnson's eloquence would be inclined "to

treat mankind as a band of robbers, or of mercenaries; as

a society of fawning, cringing, false and malevolent

wretches. .beings devoid of principle, of humanity, or

of justice." Johnson's writings would lead men to become

misanthropes in order to avoid the infection of mankind.

A student reading Johnson would despair of continuing his

studies and would lapse into lethargy and inactivity.

Johnson displayed all the miseries of life, but never the

felicities.80

In such a blanket condemnation of a piece of

literature, a condemnation concerned almost entirely with

content, it would seen almost impossible that anything

complimentary could be said. Yet this is not the case.

So far is it from being true that it is difficult to be-

lieve the following criticism could have been written by

the same author who said Johneon's writings were false and

so shot through with melancholy as to be destructive of all

goodness and progress

A noble effusion of Johnson's mind is the sevnUM
Ramaler, and wtefk, perhaps is not exceeded* by any he
atferewa~ d artte* It eentaiAn masy just and pem-
trating remrksI grent sublimity of seniment, and

_jb*d., pp. 19-36.










energy of language, originality of speculation,
and a eet pioum and worthy end. Johnson will
peflaps sever be esoelled by any writer on religion.
All hia papers on that aubjest breathe a spirit of
the meet elevated piety. The solaraity of his lan-
gage, the mltiplicity of his ideas, the vigour of
him intelleet, end the sineerity of his heart, all
onspire to give an awful dignity to his religious
writing, which san hardlyy fail of awakening the
set sbducate mind. A

Iauford said that Ramlear No. 11, which illua-

teated the folly of anger, was written with foree and

novelty; that its arguments were "jut and apposite" and

applieble upon innumerbh useaeasiona; and that it gave a

vigorous, comprehensive and faithful picture of the mis-

orile of the old age of a passionate an. Johnson's al-

legeoiea wre always juet, theagh perhaps inferior to Ad-

diso 's in strength and invention. N.o 22, the Allegory

of Wit and Leearnlg em& m ed any the English language ecud

prerWn It eahibited "all the powers of invention," del-

itab wits, aad "Learning guided by judgment." The al-

Legory was complete; the language "pure ead nervous.8o
1e rd. insulated e the high paetie value of this piece.

fTis alone would have aeno rrbd the title of
poet upon Jok nem had his imitations of Juvenal
mlMf beo w rtben adt I do t whether he does not
stbh'r merit L ftr this and his ether allegeriee
tMmn fem all the rhyme he ever published. This,
tea*Mi was tea opinleo ef MLa friend and onempe-
etJ,. Dr. 9edmt6he %sin Oderved that he was mre

8___ p. 40.

pp. 64*46.










a poet in his prose than in his imitations, and
his authority must be allowed to have some weight
even though my own opinions should be rejected. .
it is that power of invention, that strength of
imagery, and that vigour and variety of combination,
which confer that glorious title* No reader of John-
son can be ignorant of the eminent degree in whish he
possesses all these qualities, and which he adorns
and illustrates with all the strength of reason, all
the peqrr of eloquence, and all the harmony of lan-
guage. 3
After quoting a passage from the Allegory of Wit and

Learning, Mumford commented rapturously:

Ie is needless to may how far this transcends
all eilogy, which would scarcely be adequate, were
we to exhaust all the arts of flattery, and all the
modes of praise. We oan only read, and silently
admire the stupendous genius which was capable of
exhibiting such a perfect picture. .. He that
shall despair to possess the genius of Johnson, let
him endeavour to imitate his virtues, and if he ean-
not equal him as a writer, which is very doubtful,
and at best but indifferent, let him aspire to his
piety and goodases whish is always attainable and
always beneficial.M

Mamford lauded Johnson in comparing him with Addison. He

elaborated the differences in Johnson's and Addison's

method of eradicating vice:

Johnson never employs ridicule against any vie.
he would extirpate; he always ehuses the more solam
and effieasious powers of reason and arguimet. He
does no& strive to legh you out of your fillies op
your errors, but be eeanstrates with perspleaity
wherela it is waeg, and where it degradee yenu tr
your station as a rational being; and then having
awakened the mind to a senre of its hqpropriLe r h


Babidb., Pp. 49-47.

_asfl pp 01.









displays, with inlldtable majesty and fore*, the
eieequeneS they lead to; and in a moral estimation,
hew l.ealy th7y eall fr repression and extinction.
Th 1 It is whieh gives that peouliar eaergy to his
wr~ftgs, and whiaa readrs them far more valuable
than these of Addimon, whe, by adopting rideoule for
hims ap4em often maSB ed pnlj there he intended to
Lmtebrust and his precepta mawe frequently forgotten
mid the general hilarity, which the gaiety of his
eesau predueed; heIne. where the latter is onsa
mtiraen4 the foam r is quoted perhaps a hundred
t me, oan count that his writings being totally
di*veste eC that umseasonible airth, the mind is
anver dividd by laughter an seriousness, but the
offset being unifoir they make a constant ad equable
iimpressin, and rarely fade off the memory.to

Reowrding Ik z r Kn. 77 virtuouss indignation against is-

morallty in suters), Mumfert wastes

The ntive V t ir of Jehnsen's mind is finally
display lain this oesay. What he censures he seItures
itk dgulnty;, and ever deg neWates into that vulgar-
It of' a .le, whklh sometimes eharaeerisea the meet
wiublo prod~neione.. he in lefty and Utbli a; and he
appeals to the heart IthLout editingg the passions.
H Mtadaliet the meaeomm of eontrewermial epithets,
and always mitains an innate grlaneur of thought and
esprnrwLan waLk fhaLia the attent an of the reeder,
and fTeelbly impresses cenvi tion.*
Aftr reemediemdg Is. 846 88, snd 90 of the R-able as

elfgam *peimunas of eritieinm of Milten mims the ill

*thrf at Jheuonm's Ife fL MtUfemi A Mmfort wemt -m to
gar
e th RIfbler oany m lojeftia man be preferred,
aMl tUa in eed is rather a mighty om. The pieture.


sj., pp. se.e .


8qJe kr p. ...










of life which it contains are always false. They are
the monstrous distortions of prejudice, which bear no
resemblance to any thing existing; they are the phan-
toms of a morbid mind, exhibiting no traces of reality.
This, in my opinion, greatly disqualifies the work for
the hands of youth. . In short, considered as a
moral production, and as a system of ethics by which
we ought to regulate our actions, and estimate their
rectitude or obliquity, it is an Ineetimable work, bat
if considered as a faithful picture of life and manner,
and an impartial examination of the felicity and infe-
licity of existence, it will be found abundant in er-
ror, clouded with prejudice, and in a great degree
visionary and declamatory; and henee a most unfit book
to be put in the hands of contemplative youth, unless
first weeded of these impurities.0o

In a footnote to this passage, Mumferd quoted the British

Magazine I, 219, which observed that though Johnson's con-

stitutional melancholy may not diminish his talents and

unoeemon sagacity, it does introduce a doubt as to the

utility of his moral writings.89 Muafrd concluded that

"the Rambler only requires a judicious correction of some

parts, and expulsion of others, to be rendered the most

inestimable book which the English language can beasts90

Richard Cumberland, who was not ordinarily pica-

yunish when criticizing Johnson's works, found his Greek

in the Rambler defeative:

When I would have consulted him upon certain
points of literature, whilst I was making my oel-
lections from the Greek dramatists for am essays


881bsi.. pp. 83-5.
89Ibid., p. 65 n.

...id., p. 1.4,










in The TaObYrer he candidly acknowlsdged that his
student had not lain amgs4t then, and certain it
LA thee is very little show of litrature In his
MAlJoer, .s in the pease, here he quebes
A~t et.LE No. 15 he nhaot correctly
given the m Lng f thse rrignal.
eorh Wefster was mah i presoed by the Raeler.

WitingL to Thmas Dawes, Jr., an Deeeoo r 0S, 1806, ho
epAt of bhe time whom be had just finished college and

ane read to begin life penniless and unassisted by

rfaily or friends.
In this situation I read Johnson's ~g. aw with
unmnal i"lreat and with a visible effect upon my
mw el opiaioei, for then I aleied tbe last volume,
I fmiad a firm rmeelutitn to areue a eouree of
vivti thesrgh life and to perform all moral and
seLal da&ieS with uerupaleu exetaneei, a Pwo-
oftile which I have emnaasered to Ia Ltain, though
edoaNtle not without any failures.
Thi gMj which ram from 1758-80, was Johebon's

dtemI t iat mrittii ee a in a lighter vwin. Contemprary

ertilelm of it was enftP r than that of the Rmblmr. and

howb fS Janes smeei-edi amy be gessed at from the*e
frv from vas&oeM ear banatewo The c -A i ReAM
tmi-Mt ae did lee aameet.

We at ot theb pMleoeepheo opi nien that the
mubash of tlle mLoa.erl*lane pLeees mas ner tM.
A& thman In he as 11u lnt e tB mI to hia oamly-t-
amg in weekly paper, Cmin the appellatiot of the
Idam. They pesese a fn t atows refla*Itap


"naM I. s# .
AUW S9 noe.










fine imagery, and original sentiment; though we must
confess the collection hath not the double property
of exciting laughter, and inspiring wisdom, agreeable
to the motto which the author hath unfortunately
chosen. We perused the whole with satisfaction, with-
out feeling one impulse to risibility. As the public
hath long since stamped these papers with approbation,
it would be unnecessary to extend our remarks. *.w
Callender followed his usual procedure in criti-

cizing the Idler; that is, to pick out single details which

are faulty and dwell at great length on them. The result

is that for the Idler we have not so much of a general

criticism as an attack on one idea in one Idler.

Beauty is 'that assemblage of graces which
pleases the eye.' But in the Idler, /Zohnsof displays
his true idea of beauty; and it is a very lame piece
of philosophy. Judge from a few samples: 'If a man,
born blind, was to recover his sight, and the most
beautiful woman was to be brought before him, he could
not determine whether she was handsome or not. Nor if
the most handsome and most deformed were produced,
could he any better determine to which he should give
the preference, having seen only these two.' And
again, 'as we are then more accustomed to beauty than
deformity, we may conclude that to be the reason why
we approve and admire it.' -rFeover, 'though habit
and custom cannot be said to be the eauss of beauty,
IT is certainly the cause of our liking it. I have
no doubt, but that, if we were more used to deformity
than beauty, deformity would then lose the idea new
annexed to it, and take that of beauty; as if the whole
world should agree that yea and jj should change their
meanings, a would then deny, aU no would affirm.'
This is such a perfection of nonsense, that the reeder
will, perhaps, think it a forgery; but he will find it
verbatim et litteratim, and the whole number is in the
sam stile.


5XII (Desember 1761), 481.

"Def-aities. p. 16.









Willis Shaw praised the elegance and instruction

whisL weec to be found in the lIUay but he rltlicised
hashly two essays, one mo the epitaphs of Pope, and the
other on the war-like haraeter of the English soldiers,
which he said sounded like the boasting of a pothouse

politician.95
William Cooke ranked the Idler below the Rambler
The asaays in this work are in general of a lighter
kind than the Remblers--but wIour was not the Doeter's
tr f it was rther and pointed, than qxMJ
i in short, t igl pitakl of the
B xlts of second part--lhe efforts of a
agmLed fanry and judgment. In saying this, I do not
geurllry oadnn the werk--its allegoriLe and moral
es*aye all carry tie hand of a great master, nor are
sem of the lighter pie*na defective in fany--I only
ma to pay it is net the twin brother of the R lo.
amA a m a has met the sam elain to celebrity.
Josep Tw eft exprse d a similar opinioal
THE IDLERe. .has, perhaps, hardly yet obtained the
repubatim which it &earveen. It is not equal to the
Rblewr; but it 1s, upsn the whole, a very pleasing
eells tin of eenalrhand thee are some papers in it
of great enm lle ma
Me then listed sam of the beet IALpg,
Sir JStin akine ree ihedt the base similarity of
the te and the l while at the wsme tim noting

the pa ficuL ar aMmateb tiles of the latter.
A'h plan and eandut of t e Iale rese mble so


tmlu. p. 12 -.

-amE, pp. 3-34.
"sagmg pp's 48-43.










nearly that of the Rambler and the Adventurer, that
what has been said of each of those publications,
might serve for a character of this, saving, that in
this latter, admission is given to a greater number
of papers, calculated to entertain the mind with
pleasing fictions, humorous characters, and varied
representations of familiar life, than is to be
found in either of the two former, the general effect
whereof is. delight, too soon interrupted by their
shortness."8

Here follows a short passage on the content of various

Idlers, the profits from them, etc., after which Sir John

declared:

Of these essays. .little remains to be remarked,
except that, notwithstanding the depth of thinking
which they display, and the nervous and elegant style
in which they are penned, they wmre extemporaneous
compositions, and hardly ever underwent a revision
before they were sent to the preas.99

Hawkins also said that in the portraits of individual

characters in the Idler, the painting was so strong and

lively, that some living persons charged Johnson with

rendering them ridiculous. Johnson assured them he had

not done this but that he had drawn his material from

archetypes, whieh he had observed and which his imagine

action had imprvetd.100

Bemwell did not dwell at length on the Idlere

The IDLER iA evidently the oek of the sam mind
whiah produced the RAMBLER, but has less body iad noe


9QLfea, p. 337.
id., p. 338.

LIbia., p. a38-369.










spirit. It has more variety of real life and greater
facility of language. He describes the miseries of
idlemess, with the lively sensations of one who has
felt them. .. Many of thkee excellent essays were
written as hastily as an ordinary letter. .
Yet there are in the Idler several papers which
skew as Imuh profundity of thought and labour of
language, as any of this great man's writings. No.
14, 'Robbery of time' No. 24, 'Thinking;' No. 41,
'Death of a friend;' No. 43, 'Flight of time;' No.
l1, 'Daseetick greatness unattainable;' No. 52,
'Self-denial;' Ne. 58, 'Aetual, hew far short of
faneisd, ereellenee;' No. 80, 'Physlcal evil moral
good;' and his concluding paper on 'The horror of
the last will prove this assertion. . In this
series of says he exhibits admirable instances of
grave humour, of which he had an uneomron share.101
Arthkr lMaphy mentioned the Idler's "abated

igour," easy style, and "unlaboured execllene*."l10

MaI ar found the Idler more pleasing and less

exseptioenble than the Rapl.r. In it he said Johnson
areppe his usual severity and sought to imitate Addison.

His wit, h 7wefr, was "without ease, and his laughter with-

out ga ety." GrIve haIur was no his talent; "he was
formed rather to instruct than to please." His jocularity

surprised rather tian delighted his readra. "He was too
pemp~a to be eaey aa t ee vieleat to be mIsiang." He

ipa with a e Ofiden that iafte betrayed him into dog-

matnSia T ,1.lr' general esracter was that of "fil
Sality and eame." It had few of the blesiabas which ab-

sred t*e IfmlBim but alse had as few of its siblimitese.

Ia16ia 1a-3e2 .

1St w )p. 182.











There were.not many laborious speculations on moral

inquiries which would be incompatible with the assumed

character, which was admirably supported throughout the

whole. Johnson's reflections on life were in the Idler

moe natural than those in the Rambler. He was, in the

Idler "less inclined to querulous exaggeration, and lees

attached to the enlargement of mournful truths." He dis-

played "more candour in his delineations, and more verac-

ity in his assertions and more impartially estimated the

motives and consequences of human action and their moral

rectitude and obliquity."103

Regarding the idea that the aeaaona have an effect

on the activities of a literary mind, Mumford found John-

son contradicting himself. In the Rambler he had main-

tained that this idea was true, in the Idler that it was

false. The Idler was, upon the whole, more entertaining

than the REbler; for it embraced a greater variety of

subjects, the leading idea was more original, the thoughts

more natural, and the language more easy. Yet it was net

to be preferred to the Rapbler, for it wax a less valuable

performanee.104
Johnasn'a contemporaries, on the whole, thought

10Scritieal eguiry, pp. 106-109.

104Ibid., pp. 109-111, 125-126.










highly ef him as an essayist, and they expressed their
opinion fairly frequently during the eighteenth century.

HEI style in the HRm lr was a feature widely discussed.

Sall of the eitime thetma down h frh judgments, men-
tioning in particular the large nmebr of iLtinims, the

imjaved meoIenee strueture the pempeusaess, and the

pe~amtr. On the other hand, equally as many omentattors

hapa the highest praiAe on the style of the Rambler
amWring that Johason's Latiniams had extended the limits

of Mglish; tht the style was "olassially correct," graee-
t~l, and hearmmiuusl; sad that the luminouss arrangement of

1ae**, the %retagth of expression," and the "fore of

argument" wer mg the Ramlerl'ls chief qualities.
Oa signiflieent aspect of the riticism is that

Johamn's style is the MObla was sften oeamprnd with

A&JddL m'. hile a fwv ef the tarties speak of Addison's

"ibegamb s Lpliity," many mera of te rate Johnson's

tyle eupperier. The gist of heir eribtirie is that Ad-
AilT. is light, s heein, ra e6nt*ertaining but that John-

fa L premed, ran inspiria anmI ma&gitesial. Several
of ts seemnehmf osu r aeleaed that lbheon's style was

M4l!0 poeise, being laviw h in te use of itarr and

1faSLtp Amebwr tIheme wJIah run thraagh thie ontouppe-
my itt*iLem & the eejoetmre that Je aon fP re his

Si*b aO *ittre of tfhe sewimeabu manMLry oobeer,











Browne, and Bacon.

The content of the Rambler, like the style, had

its admirers and its detractors. The morality, the piety,

the keen insight into human nature, and the learning and

wisdom in the Rambler evoked the approval of almost all

of the critics. Perhaps the most notable exceptions to

this statement are the very few who picked at the logic

in certain numbers of the Rambler, when Johnson had ap-

parently contradicted himself, and Williae Mumford, who

denounced the teachings in the Rambler as pessimistic,

false, and harmful to the whole social structure of civi-

lization by virtue of their tendency "to obstruct the

activity of man."

Although sublimity in poetry was denied Johnson,

it was accorded to him in the Rambler on the grounds of

both style and *ontentj and some writers asserbtd that

the Rasiler was Johnson's greatest work, the foundation

of his reputation, "which went on increasing to the end

of his days."

The DIler was generally thought to be eareefalknig,

though it was usually allowed that the light, humoa nas

touch was not native to Johnson and that tMssa essays did

not always achieve the desired effect; nneque~ily eOir

inferiority to the bob p pepeas was alimet unvt ta~fl

asknewtengee.











CHAPTER III


THE DICTIONARY

CritiaLsm of Jonson's D.etsLamp y begin as early

as 1747. The comen-altoer themselves represent various
prafeesins and baskgrounds-peers, msholari, painters,

muricianz dramatists, aetera, philologiitL, lexicographers,

and h&eberiamns The faet that all these people with such

varying b~egr.ands feel qualified to oriticise Johnson's

work seoe to indicate either that interest in laxico-

graphy wag more prevalent among cultivated people in the
eighteenth century than today or that highly teehnLeal and

scientific apperaedhe to lingulutie problems were so lit-

tle developed that ame litera person felt he had as much

rightl to speak n lexiasrlphy as the nest.

It M ld pprbly be serreet be say that it fas

aneehLam6en of these toe feebea p Vs one more. Lxteo-

gwqapy was a fairly mw ieold. It mn proved to be a
maful one. By tbh* tbei Jahe.oRn's aPfAigy ea about,

diesiiOmar ee had in tkh wordt of Itones aid Noyes,

lIag offered their seieas to 'all those who desire
toe MateLwebamt t they IWseS' ami the growing reading
pdbli neiw 11be bi t take Wl U at tweir wtrd. Impree*
live sales of rVal weeM indImete many emn~e and at
Ltast some habitbual aee of the dietimamry, and the
84










constant and animated fire of reviews and contro-
versies proves that there has also sprung up a super-
race of critics of dictionaries. Johnson's work in-
deed precipitated an avalanche of criticism, as the
public turned increasingly from its preoccupation
with the academic question of a perfect English lan-
guage to the more specific and practical question ef
the perfect English dictionary.'

One of the earliest statements about the Dictionary

occurs in a letter from the Earl of Orrery to Dr. Birch,

December 30, 1747, the year when Dr. Johnson published his

"Plan." This is, of course, eight years before the Die-

tionary itself was published and has to do with a specimen

of it.

I have Just new seen the specimen of Mr. Johnoen's
Dictionary, addressed to Lord Chesterfield. I am meek
pleased with the plan, and I think the specimen is one
of the best I have ever reed. Meet specimen disgust,
rather than prejudice us in favour of the work to fol-
low; but the language of Mr. Johnson's is good, and
the arguments are properly and modestly expressed.
However, some expressions may be cavilled at, but theg
are trifles. I'll mention one. The bj Laurel.
The laurel is net barren in any sernMei ver; it
bears fruits and fleeors. Sd bae aunt nugaet and I
have great expectations from the pierforinete"

The early opinion of Johnmen's Dictieaaa in the

universities may perhaps be illustrated from the following

aneedote. In 1754 the Reverend Franeis Wise, Fellow of

Trinity College and Radelivian librarian at Okfeed, -rged


DO Witt T. Stamrnes and Gertrude E. No7MSH


LA.L I, 185.









Thma WetEon to have the degree of Master of Arts eon-
ferred an Johnson before the Diet3oiary was published.
He Eaids

It is in truth doing ourselves more honour than
himn to have such a work done by an Oxford hand, and
so able a one too, and will Ahew that we have not lost
all regard for good letters, p has ben too often
imputed to us by our enemies.

Lar Chesterfield, to whom the "Plan" of the

%&SIBni was addressed, had alienated Johnson by his
*tianLe negleet while the Dietionary as being eooplled.

lheter cheaterfield attempted to conciliate Johnson is a

aet queatien; nonetheless he wete two papers in the

jf g petising the DP~iaSflaE and Johnson highly. The fol-

le ing passage from the one written November 88, 1754,

shen Ithat Chetertield was an authoritalian In linauistio
atht and that he espedet Ja hion would ozxeute his

pMtLtp ag oan utefi r ria principles.
I think the public in gewral, and the republic
of letter in particular, greatly obliged be Mr.
Iehnien for having u~mbtakm enat esse red *e geat
mad desirable a wsrk. P few ties is not te *e ex-
piaed frn ann but if are bto jdge by the var-
iMs works of Mr. Ihasona already published we have
goat steus to believe Sta ae will bring thls a
aper b perhf tien as a sqm mn soeald de. fIt plan
of it, whith he publimbed sen yeaws age, seen be me
be be a pesof of It UfItI g arn be mWre rationally
Lnrm 9ek ews a6bouseily and elegantly- eaqLsset.
. It me bie fet that ar language is at


akefal 275 n2.











present in a state of anarchy. . The time for
discrimination seems to be now come. Toleration,
adoption and naturalization have run their lengths.
Good order and authority are now necessary. . .
We mast have recourse to the old Roman expedient in
times of confusion, and chuse a dictator. Upon this
principle I give my vote for Mr. Johnson to fill that
great and arduous posted

What is known of Lord Chesterfield's character does not

induce inquirers to believe that he would have cared to

have his name connected with a shAddy piece of scholarship,

much less a compendium of pedantry, which is what many

critics thought the Dictionary was. It may be observed

here that his Lordship differed from Johnson on his over-

all view of grammar and lexicography. He wished for an

absolute standard of correctness and looked to Johnson for

it. Johnson at first (in the "Plan") adhered to a similar

idea. His object was to "fix" the language: to settle

its pronunciation, to safeguard its purity, to ascertain

its use, to lengthen its duration, to preserve the antceir

writers, and to improve the modern ones.5 This objet he

saw later was impossible, and he confessed in the "Preface"

to the Dictionary the futility of such an uaertaking.

Those who have been persuaded to think well at
my design, will require that it should fix our la-


2Adam Fits-Aamit-Aa The War3d (ndon, 1755), III,
264-266.

5 Th of %=1el Jelhnonr LL. D,. with
Elsa on a I MM D-.
(LUnon, 1796), IA B-B










guae, and put a atop to those alterations which
time and ahanen have hitherto been suffered to make
in it without appo ition. With this soneequmee I
will oenfsee that I flattered myself for a while;
but new begin to fear that I indulged expectation
which neither reason nor experience can justify.
len we see mn gprw old and die at a certain time
nm after another, from century to setury, we laugh
It the elixir that proaises to prolong life to a
thiouand ryars; and with equal justice may the lexi-
eferapr be deidod, who being able to produce no
enawpl of a nation that has preserved their werds
and phrases fro amtability, shall imagine that his
dietionary ean embalm his langngee, and secure it
from corruptionn and e ay, that it is in his power
to ohage ablunary nature, and clear the world at
oue from folly, vanity, and affeetation.
Th immediate reaction of the Ditionary was

gCrrally an of approval. That Johnson's creative abil-
itie were at this early date held in high esteem by lit-

memy man is evidence by this letter from Dr. Thomas
BLVe, tUi histari~ and biographer, who thought Johnsonm'

gemits wati have bo n better eahibited in a literary than

a aethwafit preuaMiior. He stated in 17M6
The part of your Dietiaonry which yea have
fthlewrd ma with tbH sight C hil given me such an
ida at iu te whol th at I ost sinswely ongratulate
the pbliek upon the aqa sitie of a work long
nrtL an nA erw aseted with an intlntry, aeraamy,
ad lgm mI equal to the impertane f of the subject.
eaMu M ft, pe6hape have sheen oene in which your
gmLAn. would haIe ap aed to mear advantage; but you
falt met have fAixd um any fter in which your
I1doue would han Vdone d Muh baM-atnal seriee* to
the peseet ae and be pfettitr. 1 am glad that
yaw h balth ha su pofd the appleation neeeasary
to te peattm vB i t of a nvat a ibeta and an


%D*. *6.











undertake to promise you as one (though perhaps the
only) reward of it, the approbation and thanks of
every jell-wisher to the honour of the English lan-
guage.

Most of the early comments on the Dictionary In-

volve letters expressing approbation, verses written in

honor of it, favorable reviews, etc. Johnson's "Plan" nad

"Preface" had impressed most readers, and the Dictionary

itself, imposing in two large volumes, was no doubt an

improvement over earlier attempts at dictionary-writing.

The philologists and professional critics had net yet had

time to examine the Dictionary in every detail. Then, too,

in 1755, although he was respected in certain literary

circles, Johnson had by no means achieved the reputation

which made petty, ctoping critics twenty, thirty, and

forty years later write long, detailed criticiSma, most of

which dealt as much with his personality as with his lin-

guistic abilities.

One aspect of the composition of the Dia.tionary

which never failed to awe even hostile orities wa the

fact that Johnson did his work singlelandedly in lees then

ten years while sosmprable compositions in other languM es

took learned aiedmies forty years and more. David GCwriek

published a eeapliumtny epigram in the GenttiarlniAp Me

asine for April 1715, entitled "On Johnson's Dieftemry,"


7 It, oa.










in twhih he celebrated this achieTemant.
Talk of war with a Briton, he'll boldly advance,
That me English soldier will beat ten of Franee;
Would we alter the booat froe the sword to the pen,
GOr ss ware still gre aer, still greater our en:
In the deep lines of seieneo though Frenchmen may

Gma their strength be compared to Looea, Newton,
mid Boyle?
lt thi rally their herees, send forth all their

Their vm o-men an preol-men, then match them
with ouv l
FIrst S hmrepeare and Miltose like gdas in the
fighbe
Heoe pet their thole drama and piek to flight;
la satire episotles, and odes, would they eese,
thir sm s e retweIt before Drydrn and Pope;
And Johnseemo fa.l 6e'd like a he. of yire,
tae beat fa ty Frenhb and will beat forty mre.8
Grish al s repertd to Jkohanmo shortly after the publi-

atitm of Uthe MI i that a eeen eritieism of it was
that he had alted authelities beneath the dignity of eush

a weef and meabioned Riebhason as an sample. Johnson

arweSmia 'e*y. *I have AIn weroe thin thta I hve
eitAd Rll awkldi*'

-e yaemw ant edit meats atfe the jPit.lMSrr

peeedi lsenOm IoMOs to r. W *ewn y wanking him for
pu2tivt I the fM "lh ll In tshi llte Jetenson said he

XXV IS. MI.m Dr. A aM M 4tW Johanson how be
puis @Is to i a s ir e y Ams badn Lust tamn forty in**Wr
s- imu Rmb er f jt y yeYwM nt amena replied: L"nts
Ut tOWhe pepel e ft 5M ftlaty I.1 hi-
1fa l SaeWAt. AAs le gep to 1ms0 ee ituJ so is tNO P-
SllrnU of an ngamuiis ka uremen. UI(I ft I, 1b)

'91&be I. 46










was especially grateful for Burney's praise because praise

from his friends (he felt) was slow in coming.10 The fa-

vorable reviews which the Dictionary got in the monthly

periodicals should have made up to some extent for the

scarcity of letters from his friends. The Monthly Review

for April 1755 points out that

barely to say that Johnsog has well performed his
tazk, would be too frigid a conamndation of a per-
formanee that will be received with gratitude, by
thee who are sincerely zealous for the reputation
of English literature: nevertheless, lavish as we
might, justly, be in its praise we arb not blind to
its imperfeetions- for some we have observed, even
in the short time allowed us for the Inspection of
this large work, nor are all of them equally unim-
portant. Some may, perhaps, expect, that we should
point out, what appear to us as defects; but this we
decline, because moet of them will be obvious to the
judicious and inquisitive reader; nor are we inclin-
able to feed the malevolenee of little or lamy oritiems
besides whiohe our assiduous and ingenius compiler has,
in a great measure, anticipated all censure by his
apologetical acknowledgments.--Upon the whole, if the
prodigious extent of this undertaking, and the mer-
ous diflieultiea necessarily attending it, be duly
eaonidered; also that it is the labour of one single
person. .instead of affording matter for envy and
malignancy to prey upon, it muat excite wonder and
admiration to see hew greatly he has sueeeeded. ...
His grasar is concise, yet far from being ob-
seure; several of his remarks are anoummea, if net
mew, and all ef them deserving particalem attention.
The Uopsea is treated with an aeaoraey ge do net
rembe-1 io ha me with in other greme tueas ad
the tiole appears te us well calculated te erve its
professed purpose, which is, that 'the Eglish lme
guage may be feared, if the reader be sequaitned
with gramtisal beas, or taught by a mnatr t

102b1,., I, n8 ni.









%boo a C -ili **I *f "No an eno aq*e
IS sok am at No *mut m*Ltews .l tUm b fLerito aMA



m S Magg Ifi It L m&"nu esIIo I M. S i em Ijate


I inS ajLI ^asjt C ma a1, yea
jelpe IMaM isW W SanMO bet Lbo in i "RiMt Wa
I" WbpeISeI Uhas 1st ~Ia M Lupsfuta, fme it ill
ma %as An gt ai e WItS a e.IaeA meegemsA


f stm a gfha oi wews pi3 t ptiea lJly ins



Wlan IY we s o %l
Smoot %s" t SatartsaSIIw% V" Balt. e
f e -S....eg W -%ISaumeafle an.a '

san moswn Y nies LA#a soe as s snm a Me Ia
a a a maeut aman senames a'm n** pebm






0ag as Sg dowg sMam amt soni a use S.


|pr iNM-pMMN|| *1--| --" MINA.- Is ^ ^ Y
H S ww e











essay "Considerations ooneerning the first Formation of

Languages and the different Genius of original and oom-

pounded Languages." As early as 1802 that issue of the

Edinburgh Review which contained Smith's review of the

Dictionary had become so rare that an anonymous contri-

butor12 to the European Magazine for April sent a copy of

the review to be reprinted in order that readers could see

"the opinion of so great a man on a subject he had so well

considered, and was so perfect a master of." The contri-

butor goes on to speak briefly of Smith's other philolo-

gical writings, then gives Smith's review.13
'A Dictionary of the English Language, however
useful, or rather neeessary, has never been hitherto
attempted with the least degree of aessee. To ex-
plain hard words and terms of art seems to have been
the chief purpose of all the formr coympsitions whieh
have borne the title of English dictionaries. Mr.
Jolunon has extended his views much farther, and has
made a very full collection of all the different
meanings of each Engliah word justified by example
from authors of good reputation. When we compare this
book with other dietionaries, the merit of its autih
appears ve3y ectra rdinary. Those whieh in modern
languages have gained the most esteem, are that of
the Freneh Aees@l and that of the Academy Della
Creea. Both het e were coeposed by a Iamewnu

12This contributor believed that it a Smith awh
had published in 1761 e Philological Miseella~e, eon-
aisting of Seleet Bsays from the homeia of the Aeseay
of Bellee Leete4s at Paris and other foreign Aaeedmil**
translated into English; with origaial pieces by the moet
eminent WIters of er own Caautry."

I- eee" this rare nuber of the EMiFe Rev
was not available, the hsFlpAn .aAlx* is-L qauote or
study.










seelety of learned mn, and took up a longer time
In the sempeitiaR than the life of a single person
eould well have afforded. The Dictionary of the
English Language is the work of a single person, and
exposed in a period of time very inconsiderable,
when compared with the extent ef the work. The aol-
leetieM of words appear t be very accurate, and
m-; be allowed to be very ample. Meet words, we
belhtve are to be found in the Dictionary that ever
wer almost suspected to be English; but we cannot
help wishing, that the Author had trusted less to
tw J~adgmnt ef these who may consult him, and had
eftemer passed his own ensure upon those words which
are met ef approved use, though sometimes to be met
with in aubhaer of o mean name. Where a work is ad-
mitted to be highly useful and the execution of it
entitled to praise; the addia, that it might have
been more useful, can scarcely, we hope, be deemed
a oonure of it. The merit of Mr. Johnson.'s Diction-
any is so great, that it canmist detraet from it to
tabe notie of some defeatO 'he supplying which
wault, in our jBdgQ nt, add a considerable share of
merit to that whish it already poesecrse. The e
defects consist chiefly in the plan, which appears
to us ano to be sufficiently grrammtial.. The dif-
feret signifiations of a wrd are ineed oolleeted;
but thry we se**6m digested inte general olasses, or
rsma dt waer the meaning which the word principally
eqpsm.es. And nufe ieint care has net been l en to
distingulsh th werd apparently syaonymous
It W be seen tem this eaeerpt that if SmIh was net so

eespelen as Lard Chets field in Searing "Bteleation,

alwptieo, and raburalisatina" and longing for a linguistei
difster, he wee no ess an adherent to awtheriteri a
primeLplea In mtters lingulatii. be tae interested in

esrl~fit weIr which a net of appred use" and in

agSftfing to authority raher tk usage* At this point

tIM a.WR .aa 13&, 8S4.










in his review he inserts the words but and humour with all

their meanings and illustrations from Johnson's Dictionary,

then gives them in the manner which he wished Johnson had

followed. He concluded his review by saying:

'It can import no reflection on Mr. Johnson's
Dictionary that the subject has been viewed in a
different light by others; and it is at least a
matter of curiosity to consider the different views
in which it appears. Any man who was about to com-
pose a dictionary or rather a grammar of the English
language, must acknowledge himself indebted to Mr.
Johnson for abridging at least one half of his labour.
All those who are under any difficulty with respect te
a particular word or phrase are in the same situations
The Dictionary presents them a full solleetion of
examples; from whence indeed they are left to deter-
mine, but by which the determination is rendered easy.
In this country LScotland7, the usefulness of it will
be soon felt, as there is no standard of correct lan-
guage in conversation; if our recommendation could in
any degree incite to the perusal of it, we would
earnestly recommend it to all those who are desirous
to improve and earreet their language, frequently te
consult the Dietionary. Its merit must be determined
by the frequent rea rt that is had to it. This is the
meet unerring test of its value: criticisms may be
false, private judgments ill-fouaded; but if a work
of this nature be much in uses it ha received the
sanction of the public apprdbation.'s

Smith's prescriptive tendencies in gramnar and lexicography

continue to alert themselves in hiA declaration of the

usefulness of the DltS&onag in providing a standardd of

correct language," and his ~resmeianation of it oe "Rth'

who are desirous to impfr and eerreft their language."

Several other instamees of early critiSem iees


1 ii. s6-a64.










eatensive than these two review may be oited to Illus-
trate the immediate reaction. Themas Warton told his

bebrlee in 1755 that
the prefae is noble. . There is a graarmr
preflud, aad the history of the language is
pAtty full} but you Wa perceive atrokes of
UrltAy j mL indoelee. . I fear his prefae
i&11 Alag et by the expwessiemo of his eon~eious ss
@C masuiority, aS ao his eentept of patronage,16
BvL t as this eritilci is, it may be seen that the strio-

twes bring it Joaiusn's peIwenality Jeoh Wilkbe in the

BMEMmtea tn o. 12, Angast 12, 1762, is another ease in .
point. WIlkes oha rge that Johnson's definitions ef

PLagS1L. p1agAa. sand fol are erronsoeue but fully
n bhalf at the paper ata*sks Ith iroey and marvae John-

*on ts peUltlal behavior as ineonsistent with his A0*c

B eM= i his dtfiaitIMon.11
iBn Beewll es i& Lelpsig during his Grand Tour

is ITY4 he semtrdMl tlhiGs uNsy in his Ioara*l:
I then fMnt and aellea ea S Protfeaser Gelehed
oi- o thlw met iaftinwtlbaeod Liamesti in this eeuntry
. Zi said t e Prea te Jo asm's Diatloawry
4lw of th bw*s Pal ee In eve rwa. saiA hs,



f a --, OL




3jjjfmu IIII Il




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