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Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad
. That is, from the four cardinal points; the word cardo, in Latin, moan ing “a hinge," upon which any thing turns.
+ Amice, a robe.
CXL. — THE FOLLY OF EXTRAVAGANT WISHES. AN
[SAMUEL JOHNSON was born in Lichfield, England, September 7, 1709, and died Decomber 13, 1784. Besides his great work, the Dictionary of the English Language, which occupied many laborious years, he wrote Irene, a tragedy; London, and The Vanity of Human Wishes, poems in imitation of Juvenal; Rasselas, a tale; the Ramdler, a periodical paper; a Tour to the Hebrides ; The Lives of the Poets; various other biographies; and many reviews, miscellanies, pamphlets, and contributions to periodical literature.
The peculiarities of Dr. Johnson's style are well known. It is artificial, elaborate, delighting in antithesis, and in words of Latin origin, and frequently pompous and heavy. In his hands, its defects are redeemed by essential vigor of mind; but it is very easily imitated; and when adopted by men of commonplace understanding, it is like Saul's armor upon the limbs of David. His diction grew simpler as he grew and his Lives of the Poets, his latest work, is also his best. His carefully poised periods, also, had a sensible effect upon the general structure of the language as it has since been written. Dr. Johnson's character was a singular compound of strength and weakness. He was very religious, but bigoted and superstitious. His judgment was generally sound, but he was full of the most unreasonable prejudices. He was charitable and benevolent, but impetuous and most impatient of contradiction. His conversation was rich in sense and wit, but his manners were so intolerable that we wonder that he ever went twice into the same house. He was capable of great application, though not habitually industrious. He was of a morbid temperament, and his spirit was often darkened by constitutional melancholy. For a long period, too, he had to struggle against poverty, and to live in a state of literary slavery most galling to his haughty and independent spirit.
Dr. Johnson's life and character have been painted to us - as those of no man of letters were ever before painted-in his biography by Boswell; a most instructive and delightful book, which has done quite as much for Johnson's fame as his own writings have done. Were Johnson's own works, and his life by Boswell, both thrown into the fire, a majority of readers would first save the latter. It is not merely a biograpoy of Johnson, but a record of the social and literary life of England, during the period on which it treats, such as is nowhere else to be found. Till the publication of Lockhart's Life of Scott, there was no other such work in the language; and these two are not proper subjects of comparison, but each stands alone in its peculiar and unrivalled excellence; both full of dramatic interest, possessing the highest charm of fiction, and yet richly freighted with the fruits of wisdom, observation, and experience.
Two of the greatest writers of our age - Macaulay and Carlyle - have written essays upon the life and writings of Johnson. Each is characteristic of its author, and they are therefore unlike; but both are excellent in their way, and deserve an atten. tive reading.
The following extract is a part of one of the papers in The Rambler.]
When the plains of India were burned up by a long continuance of drought, Hamet and Raschid, two neighboring shepherds, faint with thirst, stood at the common boundary of their grounds, with their flocks and herds panting round them, and in the extremity of their distress prayed for water. On a sudden, the air was becalmed, the birds ceased to chirp, and the flocks to bleat. They turned their eyes every way, and saw a being of mighty stature advancing through the valley, whom they knew, upon his nearer approach, to be the Genius of Distribution. In one hand he held the sheaves of plenty, and in the other the sabre of destruction. The shepherds stood trembling, and would have retired before him ; but he called to them with a voice gentle as the breeze that plays in the evening among the spices of Sabæa: "Fly not from your benefactor, children of the dust! I am come to offer you gifts which only your own folly can make vain. You here pray for water, and water I will bestow ; let me know with how much you will be satisfied ; speak not rashly; consider that, of whatever can be enjoyed by the body, excess is no less dangerous than scarcity. When you remember the pain of thirst, do not forget the danger of suffocation. Now, Hamet, tell me your request.”
"O, being kind and beneficent," says Hamet, “let thine eye pardon my confusion. I entreat a little brook, which in summer shall never be dry, and in winter never overflow.” "It is granted," replies the genius; and immediately he opened the ground with his sabre, and a fountain, bubbling up under their feet, scattered its rills over the meadows; the flowers renewed their fragrance, the trees spread a greener foliage, and the flocks and herds quenched their thirst.
Then turning to Raschid, the genius invited him likewise to offer his petition. “I request,” says Raschid, " that thou wilt turn the Ganges through my grounds, with all his waters, and all their inhabitants.” Hamet was struck with the greatness of his neighbor's sentiments, and secretly repined in his heart that he had not made the same petition before him; when the genius spoke: “Rash man, be not insatiable! Remember, to thee that is nothing which thou canst not use ; and how are thy wants greater than those of Hamet?” Raschid repeated his desire, and pleased himself with the mean appearance that Hamet would make in the presence of the proprietor of the Ganges. The genius then retired towards the river, and the two shepherds stood waiting the event. As Raschid was looking with contempt upon his neighbor, on a sudden was heard the roar of torrents, and they found by the mighty stream, that the mounds of the Ganges were broken. The flood rolled forward into the lands of Raschid, his plantations were torn up, his flocks overwhelmed; he was swept away before it, and a crocodile devoured him.
CXLI. - ODE TO LEVEN WATER.*
[TOBIAS GEORGE SMOLLETT was born near the village of Renton, in Dumbartonshire, Scotland, in 1721, and died in 1771. He led the life of a man of letters, when that profession was neither so well esteemed, nor so well paid, as it now is; and the inevitable trials of such a career were enhanced, in his case, by an irritable temper and an uncomfortable spirit. He wrote a History of England, and also a continuation of Hume, neither of which are of any valuo; Travels in Italy; and a number of novels, Which are the best of his prose writings, and, in some respects, have much literary merit. but they are needlessly and offensively coarse. He also wrote many small pooms, a few of which are spirited and fine.]
ON Leven's banks, while free to rove
• Leven Water is a stream about four miles long, which flows from Loch Lomond to the Firth of Clyde, at Dumbarton.
The springing trout, in speckled pride;
CXLII. - INDIAN DEATH SONG.
[This spirited poem is by MRS. HUNTER, (born 1742, died 1821,) wife of the celebrated Jurgeon and anatomist, John Hunter, whose poetical works were published in 1802.]
The sun sets at night, and the stars shun the day,
Remember the arrows he shot from his bow,
Remember the wood where in ambush we lay,