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enthusiastically imitated, and at the same time so violently censured, as the style of Dr. Johnson. Nervous, yet precise, dignified, and yet subtle, he astonishes by the greatness of his conceptions, delights by the fertility of his illustrations, captivates by the ease of propriety, and charms by the measured falls of musical rotundity. The heaviest charges against him are, that he has innovated upon the pure idiom of the language by an excessive adaptation of sounding Latinisms; that he is rich to satiety, and melodious to sameness. To discuss these points would require an essay of no brief extent; and, after all, the better way, perhaps, would be to read Johnson, and determine the advantages of his style by the effect which it produces. The English is a language so confusedly, composed of different tongues, as well modern as antient, that it seems rather inconsistent to condemn a writer for pursuing the means from which our speech has derived its characteristic beauties. The scholar will moreover recollect that a happy renovation of obsolete terms, and a perspicuous introduction of new phrases, is a meritorious feature in composition advised by Horace, and disputed by no commentator.
Such is the foundation of Johnson's fame with posterity; but amongst his cotemporaries, he had another resource for distinction, such as no other man ever availed himself of so powerfully. This was his conversational ability: no man at all approached to 'an equality with him as a talker. His memory was singularly retentive, his imagination keen, his perception quick and penetrating, and though he read with greater rapidity than system, he had a most extraordinary facility of extemporaneously methodising his thoughts or attainments, however diffusely gathered, or variously retained. From his earliest years he had accustomed himself to such accuracy in the manner in which he expressed himself even upon the commonest occasions, that he at all times delivered himself with a force and elegance that defied rivalry. The confidence of habit, and a didactic style, in which he most rejoiced, imparted such an effect to all he uttered, that Goldsmith declared it was impossible to argue with him; for if his pistol missed fire, like the man in Cibber's play, he knocked you down with the butt end of it.
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
The memory of Sir William Jones is preserved in St. Paul's Cathedral, by a good statue from the chisel of Bacon, R.A. which stands against the south-west great pier of the dome. He is represented in an attitude of composition, with a pen in one hand, a scroll in the other, and his right arm supported by some volumes, which are introdueed upon a pedestal, hieroglyphically engraved, and are understood to mean the Institutes of Menu. The pedestal is wrought on one side with an insipid allegory of Study and Genius, opening out Oriental Knowledge, and on another with this plain inscription:
To the Memory
one of the Judges
This Statue was erected
William Jones, for whom some Cambrian genealogists have traced a descent from Welsh Kings, was born in London, on Michaelmas-eve, 1746. When only three years old, his father
died, in the possession of a moderate property, and some reputation as a mathematician. Through this loss the cares of his earliest education devolved upon his mother, a lady of marked sense and virtue, who was the daughter of a cabinet-maker, named Nix, and is commended by her son's biographers for a proficiency in some such unfeminine branches of science, as Algebra, Trigonometry, and the theory of Navigation.
Two serious accidents, however, had nearly deprived her of the honour of rearing an illustrious son: for being left alone one day in a room, he amused himself by scraping the soot from the chimney, and fell into the fire, from which he was only saved after a severe burning, by a servant, whom his cries had alarmed. Soon after this escape, he quarrelled with the maid who was dressing him, and in his peevish struggles fastened one of the hooks of his coat in his eye. A dangerous wound was thus inflicted, which, though healed by the skill of Doctor Mead, left the sight ever after imperfect.
Being placed at Harrow School, in his seventh year, he continued remarkable for application, until, after a sojourn of two years, he had the misfortune to break his thigh-bone in a scholastic scramble. A twelvemonth's suspension of his studies was thus occasioned; but so favourable was the opinion entertained of his ability, that upon his return to school, he was placed in the class to which he would have risen had no interruption impeded his proficiency. Naturally enough he was then far behind his school-fellows; but the deficiency was soon supplied, for his master, Dr. Thackery, flogged him up to par with a severe earnestness, which Jones never ceased to reprobate. In his twelfth year he was promoted to a form in the upper-school; and from that period the peculiar industry of his character, and the various subjects which his talents were able concurrently to embrace, became superiorly manifested. Various anecdotes are told to prove the powerful comprehensibility of his mind; but it must here suffice to observe, that he now translated, of his own accord, the Epistles of Ovid, the Pastorals of Virgil, wrote a dramatic piece on the story of Meleager, which was acted by his companions, and that before his fifteenth year, in which he left the school, he had acquired, by private assiduity, a knowledge of French, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic; had composed a Greek