11 JULY 1931, Page 18


We admire, with all the rest of the world, the powers of mind which distinguished Samuel Johnson : nevertheless, we are unable to join in the blind adulation with which he was honoured by his age. . .. Dr. Johnson was the god of commonplace ; Johnson had none of the sagacity of Bacon, of the patient thought and ready invention of Newton ; he had neither the facility nor the felicity of Addison ; Swift excelled him in versatility, shrewdness, and force ; and. with Pope he possesses no point of rivalry except in his satire on London. Among his contemporaries, he was neither eloquent like Burke, nor energetic like Fox - he had not the wit of Sheridan, nor the learning of Gibbon ;' in -what,- then, was he supereminent ? With a person that imposed by its awful mass, a voice of power, and a vast self- possession, he was enabled to put down modester men by means of a mighty machinery of commonplace.