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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1878)
J I 483
HOSWKI.I.'S I.IKK OK JOHNSON.
wisdom, wit, or goodness; but Carlylo
claims that it was not vanity that led him
to, thus, do homage to Johnson for to bo
envied is the chiel aim of vanity, and lios
well received little else than ridicule for
his devotion. The same writer speaks of
this same devotion as follows: "His
mighty constellation or sun round whom
he, as satellite, gyrated was for the mass
of men, but a huge ill snufiod, tallow-light
and ho a weak night moth circling fool
ishly, dangerously about it not knowing
what he wanted." It is also claimed that
his recognition of the genius of .fohnson
was proof of a "celestial spark " of good
ness and that his feeling was not one of
servility, but of revoranco.
Hoswoll's fame is great and immortal,
out as lias been saiil, it striK 'ly resem
bles infancy, lie delighted in telling to
the world all his caprices, hyprochondi iac
whimsies, hih vanity and indeed each and
every fault was paraded before the public
eye with the coolest of self complacency.
Yet while all join in ridiculing and des.
pising the man, no one denies that as an
author he has given to the world the most
complete, fascinating, and pi-rfccl biogra
phythal has ever been written.
Hoswells life of Johnson is, without ox
caption, conceded to be one of the most
highly instructive, interesting, unique and
original production of the eighteenth cen
tury. Macaulay sa-,s, "Homer was the
first Heroic poet; Shakespeare, the first
dramatist; Dcmosthones, the first ora or;
and Uoswolljho Hm biographer. He bus
distaned all competitors so decidedly that
it is not worth while to place them.
Eclipse is first and the rest no where."
In this work the author gives a vivid,
truthful, and iaithful record of tho life
and sayings of his idol, together with an
account of the conversations and discus,
sions of that renowned club that claimed
among its members, the illustrious names
of Uariiok, Goldsmith, IJurko, Reynolds,
Gibbon, Percy and Homicide It has giv.
en to us a thousand precious anecdotal
memorials of the state of the arts, man.
ners, policy, and intellectual society of
the day. The life like portraiture of per
sons and events, is one of the principal
charms of this work. How ividly one
sees the old tavern in Fleet street, the
strange dependents upon Johnson's boun
ty, the blind poetess Anna Williams, Mr.
Levitt, tin negro Frank, the Cat Hodge,
and, towering above all, the gigantic un
wioldy form of Johnson. His invari
able brown coat, great wig, blinking eye.
face, figure, kings evil, St. Vitus dance,
his trick of touching posts, his strange
fashion of preserving opingo pool, his
morning slumbers and mid. night conlro.
vorsics, his puffings and blowings, his
ready eloquence, quick wit and veheino
ence, his voracity, thirst for tea, his ill
manners and insolence, each and all are
undo, through this book, so familiar to
one that they are never forgotten.
Nightly Hoswell chronicles all that has
come to his knowledge, and finally pro
duces a work of which Carlylc speaks as
follows: "A more fiee, perfect, sunlit, ami
spirit speaking likeness than for many
centuries had been drawn by man of
man," and still futher in bis enthusiasm
ho says, " Scarcely since ihe days of Ho
mer has 'he foal been equalled. This ul-o
is a heroic poem. The fit Odyssey of our
iiiiheroic ago was to be written not sung;
of a thinker not of a tightei."
This work is truly national, and pos
sesses peculiar characteristics of the soil
from which it sprang. Its charm is con
tained in its reality, it tiutli to it uatuic,
and it is said that this work disregaids
the law, which insists that tho actual
must be ennobled into tho ideal, for as
time of its own accord invests with an in
finitude, an idealncss whatsoever it Ins
touched so time has done and is doing for
this work more than art could ever have
The value of tho subject matter of this
work is due almost, if not entirely, to the
quick observation and retentive memory
of Boswell, for there is not a single re
mark of his on literature, politics, telig-
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