Imágenes de páginas

and a religious being, far 'above common


[ocr errors]

Johnson esteemed Burke above all men : he said, he was a perpetual stream of mind.

Burke is the only man whose common conversation corresponds with the general fame he has in the world. Take up whatever topic you please, he is ready to me you. As Johnson always praised the wonderful genius of Burke, Burke allowed the extraordinary talents of Johnson. One evening that they spent in company with Mr. Langton, Johnson happened to take most of the conversation. On their way home, Burke observed to Langton, that Johnson had been very great that night. Langton admitting this, added, “ he wished he had heard more from another person.' • Oh, no,' said Burke, it is enough for me to have rung the bell to him.' This observation arose from Burke's modesty: had he appreciated with impartiality his own powers, he would have reflected that Johnson or no man was his superior in genius and acquirements. That was, indeed, Johnson's own opinion. He one day quoted, as a very high compliment, an eulogium on his journey to the Western Islands.

• Mr. Jackson,' he said, “told me, there was more good sense upon trade in it, than he should hear in the House of Commons in a year, except from Burke. Burke, who, as well as his friend Johnson, delighted most in exhibitions of human nature, preferred those parts of the tour that describe the inhabitants to those which merely paint the face of the country.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Burke was one of the chief mourners at the funeral of his illustrious friend ; the others were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Hawkins, Mr. Coleman, and the deceased's faithful black servant. These were present, besides Dr. Horsley, General Paoli, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Malone, and many other distinguished persons. Burke, in the ardour of his feeling for the loss of Johnson, uttered the following sentence:– He has made a chasm which not only nothing can fill up,

but which nothing has a tendency to fill up-Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best.-There is nobody.-No man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson. If Burke's own mind had been uniformly directed to literature and philosophy, as Johnson's was, and not interrupted by party politics, he would have been even greater than Johnson.

Although, except Burke, there was no man whose literary powers were equal to those of Johnson, there were still some men of

very great talents, and many of considerable abilities. Robertson, from the publication of his American History, had rested on his shield. Gibbon had now given to the world a great portion of his able and operose work; a work of which the pious men may disrelish some parts, on account of the anti-christian tendency; acute reasoners may alledge, that to promote his favourite notions, he often makes assertions without proof; yet every reader of judgment, comprehension, philosophical and political knowledge, must allow, that it is a most illustrious monument of industry and genius. Another history had just appeared, embracing periods much better known ; but, though reciting transactions with which every literary man was well acquainted, exhibiting new and profound views of the character of the agents, and unfolding moral and political causes ; marking their operation and effects. The philosophical pen of Fergusson rendered Roman affairs the ground-work of the deepest and most expanded moral and political science. Reid was applying to the subtle subjects of pneue matology the Baconic organ,-induction, much more invariably, and consequently more successfully, than any preceding metaphysicians. Horsley was defending our religious articles and establishments against the theories and operations of misemployed genius and learning. Watson was exhibiting the best doctrines and models of divinity; attending to ESSENTIALS, REASON AND TRUTH, in the learning brought forward, rather than to adventitious considerations in

the sector condition of its teachers. Blair was promoting practical religion and morality, by making taste the auxiliary of just sentiment and reasoning; and was dissemi-' nating the love of elegant literature, by simplifying to common capacities the rules for the various branches of composition : performances of a lighter cast contain the appropriate excellence. The Rolliad and Birth-day Odes were very happy effusions of wit and satire. Miss Burney redeemed novels from the disrepute into which they had fallen.

Burke was at this time engaged about no literary production; his attention, though partly devoted to the temporary subjects of parliamentary discussion, such as the Scrutiny and Irish Propositions, was chiefly employed about Indian affairs. From the year, 1772 he had kept a watchful eye over the conduct of the Company's servants. He had accurately investigated the circumstances and causes of Lord Pigot's imprisonment in 1776, and has been one of the principal

« AnteriorContinuar »