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scarcely tenable. Johnson's immense learning and judicial habit of mind and ingenuous interest in literature saved him from such a narrowness of insight and purpose. In his essays he makes a special study of English diction, though inclined unduly to favor the Latin. Simplicity of language was the feature that he most emphasized. "If an author writes to be admired," he says, "rather than to be understood, he counteracts the first end of writing." He calls it the "bugbear style, by which the most evident truths are made obscure." By way of justifying his own apparent violation of this law of clearness, he writes, "When common words were less pleasing to the ear or less distinct, I have familiarized terms of philosophy, applying them to popular ideas." In other words, he would say that his final purpose was clearness, and that there were times, and not infrequently, when the longer word was the better word, and the word of Latin origin better than the one of English. His notable "Dictionary of the English Language" (1755) should not be omitted in any estimate of his critical labors, as he deals, in his preface, with the history of the vernacular. It is here that he says that "our language for about a century has been deviating toward a Gallic struc

ture and phraseology from which it ought to be our endeavor to recall it." He indicates the true relation of native and foreign factors in English when he says, "I believe that whoever knows the English tongue in its present extent will be able to express his thoughts without further help from other nations."

This linguistic side of Johnson's training was an important feature in his critical work, in that it showed the true relation of language to literature; emphasized the fact that good diction, after all, lies at the basis of all good writing, and that English authors, if true to their lineage and advantages, would turn their eyes less and less backward to classical models and prove by example the sufficiency of their own mother tongue. At the middle of the eighteenth century this order of suggestion was eminently timely.

The most characteristic work of criticism from Doctor Johnson is his "Lives of the English Poets," a work distinctively literary, and the one in which he aimed to set forth his particular views on the poetic product of those whom he regarded as the chief versifiers of English letters, strangely including such secondary names as Denham, Rochester, and Sheffield, and even more strangely

omitting any discussion of Shakespeare, the greatest poetic personality of English literature. Among the most important papers are those on Milton, Dryden, Addison, Swift, and Pope, authors of national repute, and most of whom, as his contemporaries, were contesting with him for the literary honor of their time. Nowhere more than in these pages does he show himself to be the master of the literary history of England, even though, at times, he seems to interpret that history from the standpoint of personal prejudice. Absolute independence of judgment is his dominant characteristic as a critic, a deliverance of opinion in his own way quite irrespective of tradition or the concurrent conclusions of others.

A comparison of Macaulay's critiques of Milton and of Addison with those of Johnson will show how much farther the sage of Lichfield carried his independence than Macaulay did, never for a moment pausing to inquire what others had said on the subject. Of Milton's shorter poems he speaks in high terms, while of "Paradise Lost" he writes that "with respect to design, it may claim the first place, and, with respect to performance, the second place among the productions of mankind." In his paper on Dryden he empha

sizes the author's work in the line of literary criticism, "a kind of learning," he says, "then almost new in the English language." He calls Dryden "the father of English criticism, the writer who first taught us to determine in principles the merit of composition, his Essay on Dramatic Poetry being the first regular and valuable treatise on the art of writing." One of the most notable features of this critical review of Dryden by Johnson is his frequent and favorable reference to Shakespeare, whom he calls the greatest preceding dramatic poet of England, and whose enthusiastic eulogy by Dryden he thoroughly indorses, as "a perpetual model of encomiastic criticism." His failure to include Shakespeare in his "Lives" is thus all the more remarkable. In his paper on Addison he often comes to his defense when we would least expect it, as in his comments on "Cato" and the "Essays." 'Essays." Of his general style as an essayist, he writes, "His prose is the model of the middle style." It is in the closing words. of his critique that he uses the oft-quoted sentence, Whoever wishes to attain an English style familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison." Of Swift's character and work he

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speaks as charitably as justice will allow, rightly regarding simplicity as the governing quality of his style, and wondering how, under such adverse conditions of temperament and habit, he could have reached the eminence he did. His paper on Pope is full of interest, as he calls Pope's "Iliad " "a poetical wonder," speaks of his genius and good sense, while his elaborate comparison of Pope and Dryden is one of the most instructive in English letters. Of his "Essay on Criticism" he says that, "if he had written nothing else, it would have placed him among the first critics and poets."

In fine, Doctor Johnson, in these "Lives," has proved his right to be called our first great literary critic in the modern sense, as much in advance of Dryden as Dryden was of Sidney, improving on the critical methods hitherto prevailing and establishing new canons of critical procedure. It must be said, however, that Johnson's independence led him into some errors of judgment so radical and pervasive that their force will probably never be fully spent. We refer to his narrowness of view and his want of sympathy, after substituting his personal opinion for that of scholars in general, and cynically, and at times contemptuously, ex

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