Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

say of those of his own country, that they did more good to mankind, without a prospect of reward, than any profession of men whatever.

207. Romantic Virtue. Dr. Johnson said, he always mistrusted romantic virtue, as thinking it founded on no fixed principle.

208. Schoolmasters. Speaking of schoolmasters, he used to say they were worse than the Egyptian taskmasters of old.

“ No boy," says he, “is sure any day he goes to school to escape a whipping. How can the schoolmaster tell what the boy has really forgotten, and what he has neglected to learn ; what he has had no opportunities of learning, and what he has taken no pains to get at the knowledge of ? yet, for any of these, however difficult they may be, the boy is obnoxious to punishment.”

209. Mystery. He used to say that where secrecy or mystery began, vice or roguery was not far off.

210. Derange.He would not allow the verb derange, a word at present much in use, to be an English word. Sir," said a gentleman who had some pretensions to literature, “I have seen it in a book." « Not in a bound book," said Johnson ; disarrange is the word we ought to use instead of it.”

211. Hugh Kelly. When some one asked him whether they should introduce Hugh Kelly, the author, to him “

No, Sir," says he, “ I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read : " yet when his play was acted for the benefit of his widow, Johnson furnished a prologue.

1 [Even so late as the year 1795, a writer in the British Critic censured, as a gallicism, Mr. Burke's use of derange for disarrange. - C.]

212. The Early Puritans. Of the early Puritans, he thought their want of learning was atoned for by their skill in the Scriptures, and the holiness of their lives ; and to justify his opinion of them and their writings, he once cited to me a saying of Howell, in one of his letters, that to make a man a complete Christian, he must have the works of a Papist, the words of a Puritan, and the faith of a Protestant.

213. Happiness. He thought the happiest life was that of a man of business, with some literary pursuits for his amusement; and that, in general, no one could be virtuous or happy that was not completely employed.

214. George Psalmanazar. He had never, he said, seen the close of the life of any one that he wished so much his own to resemble, as that of Psalmanazar' for its purity and devotion. He told many anecdotes of him ; and said he was supposed, by his accent, to have been a Gascon ; but that he spoke English with the city accent, and coarse enough.

He for some years spent his evenings at a public-house near Old Street, where

many persons went to talk with him. When Dr. Johnson was asked whether he ever contradicted Psalmanazar, “ I should as soon,” said he, “ have thought of contradicting a bishop :” so high did he hold his character in the latter part of his life. When he was asked whether he ever mentioned Formosa before him, he said, “ he was afraid to mention even China."

215. Improvement. Johnson was in the habit of visiting Psalmanazar, and would frequently adjourn with him from his lodgings to a neighbouring alehouse, and, in the common room, converse with him on subjects of importance. In one of these conversations, Johnson took occasion to remark on the human mind, that it had a necessary tendency to improvement,

1 (See antè, p. 55.]

[ocr errors]

erroneous.

[ocr errors]

and that it would frequently anticipate instruction, and enable ingenious minds to acquire knowledge. Sir,” said a stranger that overheard him, “ that I deny: I am a tailor, and have had many apprentices, but never one that could make a coat, till I had taken great pains in teaching him.”

216. Garrick's Enunciation. He assumed a right of correcting Garrick's enunciation, and, by an instance, convinced him that it was sometimes

“ You often,” said Johnson, “ mistake the emphatical word of a sentence.” “Give me an instance," said Garrick. “I cannot,” answered Johnson, “recollect one ; but repeat the Seventh Commandment.” Garrick pronounced it — “ Thou shalt not commit adultery." “ You are wrong,” said Johnson : “it is a negative precept, and ought to be pronounced, • Thou shalt not commit adultery.'

217. Warburton. When a Scotsman was talking against Warburton, Johnson said he had more literature than had been imported from Scotland since the days of Buchanan. Upon his mentioning other eminent writers of the Scots “ These will not do,” said Johnson ; “ let us have some more of your northern lights; these are mere farthing candles.”

To a person who asked “ whether he had ever been in company with Dr. Warburton,” he answered, “I never saw him till one evening, about a week ago, at the Bishop of St. Asaph's : at first he looked surlily at me; but after we had been jostled into conversation, he took me to a window, asked me some questions, and before we parted was so well pleased with me that he patted me.” always, Sir, preserved a respect for him ?” “ Yes, and justly; when as yet I was in no favour with the world, he spoke well of me?, and I hope I never forgot the obligation.”

6. You

[ocr errors][merged small]

! (See Croker, vol. i. p. 144.]

[? In his Preface to Shakspeare.]

GHSS Artan

175ch.

Le Adamo Will: Theaftone
Sten Blackstine Shigheid
Wilfuttric An Colon
Rydelig Jet Dodílen

Malle
Dear Saord

Yoserafft Brother
21
1776 "Pitts Gamik

Car ímile: it Futiniojies
Allar sati rijthi yigishe Festa

« VorigeDoorgaan »