Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

hr Murray 1536

very young peas. Are not they charming ?” said I to him, while he was eating them. — “Perhaps," said he, they would be so — to a pig.

27. Warton's Poems. When a well-known author published his poems in the year 1777,- Such a one's verses are come out, said I. “ Yes,” replied Johnson, “and this frost has struck them in again. Here are some lines I have written to ridicule them : but remember that I love the fellow dearly, now - for all I laugh at him :

- Wheresoe'er I turn my view,
All is strange, yet nothing new:
Endless labour all along,
Endless labour to be wrong ;
Phrase that Time has flung away ;
Uncouth words in disarray,
Trick'd in antique ruff and bonnet,
Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.” 1

28. Potter's Euripides. When he parodied the verses of another eminent writer?, it was done with more provocation, I believe, and with some merry malice.

A serious translation of the same lines, which I think are from Euripides, may be found in

Burney's History of Music.” Here are the burlesque ones :

“ Err shall they not, who resolute explore

Times gloomy backward with judicious eyes;
And scanning right the practices of yore,

Shall deem our hoar progenitors unwise.

“They to the dome where smoke with curling play

Announced the dinner to the regions round,
Summon'd the singer blithe, and harper gay,

And aided wine with dulcet-streaming sound.

! The metre of these lines was no doubt suggested by Warton's “ Crusade" and “ The Grave of King Arthur” (Works, vol. ii. pp. 38. 51.); but they are, otherwise, rather a criticism than a parody. — C.

2 Malone's MS. notes, communicated by Mr. Markland, state that this was “Robert Potter, the translator of Æschylus and Euripides, who wrote a pamphlet against Johnson, in consequence of his criticism on Gray." Potter died a prebendary of Norwich, in 1804, æt. eighty-three. — C.

- The better use of notes, or sweet or shrill,

By quiv'ring string, or modulated wind;
Trumpet or lyre — to their harsh bosoms chill,

Admission ne'er had sought, or could not find.

“Oh ! send them to the sullen mansion's dell,

Her baleful eyes where Sorrow rolls around;
Where gloom-enamoured Mischief loves to dwell,

And Murder, all blood-bolter'd, schemes the wound.
“ When cates luxuriant pile the spacious dish,

And purple nectar glads the festive hour;
The guests, without a want, without a wish,

Can yield no room to Music's soothing power.”

29. Legendary Stories. Bishop Percy. . Some of the old legendary stories put in verse by modern writers ', provoked him to caricature them thus one day at Streatham ; but they are already well known, I am sure.

“ The tender infant, meek and mild,

Fell down upon the stone ;
The nurse took up the squealing child,

But still the child squeald on.” A famous ballad, also, beginning “Rio verde, Rio verde,” when I commended the translation of it, he said he could do it better himself — as thus :

Glassy water, glassy water,

Down whose current, clear and strong,
Chiefs confused in mutual slaughter,

Moor and Christian, roll along.” But, Sir, said I, this is not ridiculous at all. Why, no," replied he; “why should I always write ridiculously? perhaps, because I made these verses to imitate such a one, naming him :

1 This alludes to Bishop Percy and his “ Hermit of Warkworth.” — C. 2 No doubt the translation by Bishop Percy : :

“ Gentle river, gentle river,

Lo, thy streams are stain'd with gore;
Many a brave and noble captain

Floats along thy willow'd shore." Neither of these pretended translations give any idea of the peculiar simplicity of the original. — C.

“Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,

Wearing out life's evening gray ;
Strike thy bosom, Sage! and tell,

What is bliss, and which the way?

“ Thus I spoke, and speaking sigh’d,

Scarce repress'd the starting tear,
When the hoary Sage replied,

Come, my lad, and drink some beer.” 1 30. Caricatura Imitation. Fat Oxen, &c. I could give another comical instance of caricatura imitation. Recollecting some day, when praising these verses of Lopez de Vega,

“ Se aquien los leones vence

Vence una muger hermosa ;
O el de flaco averguençe,

O ella de ser mas furiosa," more than he thought they deserved, Mr. Johnson instantly observed, “ that they were founded on a trivial conceit; and that conceit ill-explained, and ill-expressed beside. The lady, we all know, does not conquer in the same manner as the lion does : 't is a mere play of words,” added he, “and you might as well say, that

If the man who turnips cries,
Cries not when his father dies,
'T is a proof that he bad rather

Have a turnip than his father.” And this humour is of the same sort with which he answered the friend who commended the following line :

Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free.

“ To be sure,” said Dr. Johnson,

“ Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.” This readiness of finding a parallel, or making one, was shown by him perpetually in the course of conversation. When the French verses of a certain pantomime were quoted thus :

· See Boswell, vol. vi. p. 299.

« VorigeDoorgaan »