« VorigeDoorgaan »
PostSCRIPT. As Mr. Boswell's Journal has afforded such universal pleasure by the relation of minute incidents, and the great moralist's opinion of men and things, during his northern tour; it will be adding greatly to the anecdotical treasury, as well as making Mr. B. happy, to communicate part of a Dialogue that took place between Dr. Johnson and the author of this Congratulatory Epistle, a few months before the Doctor paid the great debt of nature. The Doctor was very cheerful on that day; had on a black coat and waistcoat, a black plush pair of breeches, and black worsted stockings; a handsome grey wig, a shirt, a muslin neckcloth, a black pair of buttons in his shirt sleeves, a pair of shoes ornamented with the very identical little buckles that accompanied the philosopher to the Hebrides ; his nails were very neatly pared, and his beard fresh shaved with a razor fabricated by the ingenious Mr. Savigny.
P. P. Pray, Doctor, what is your opinion of Mr. Boswell's literary powers ?
Johnson. Sir, my opinion is, that whenever Bozzy expires, he will create no vacuum in the region of literature — he seems strongly affected by the cacoethes scribendi ; wishes to be thought a rara avis ; and in truth so he is — your knowledge in ornithology, Sir, will easily discover to what species of bird I allude. [Here the Doctor shook his head and laughed.]
P. P. What think you, Sir, of his account of Corsica ? of his character of Paoli ?
Johnson. Sir, he hath made a mountain of a wart. But Paoli has virtues. The account is a farrago of disgusting egotism and pompous inanity.
P. P. I have heard it whispered, Doctor, that, should you die before him, Mr. B. means to write your life.
Johnson. Sir, he cannot mean me so irreparable an injury. – Which of us shall die first, is only known to the Great Disposer of events ; but were I sure that James Boswell would write my life, I do not know whether I would not anticipate the measure by taking his.
[Here he made three or four strides across the room, and returned to his chair with violent emotion.]
P. P. I am afraid that he means to do you the favour.
Johnson. He dares not — he would make a scarecrow of me. I give him liberty to fire his blunderbuss in his own face, but not to murder me. Sir, I heed not his avrog spa.—Boswell write my life! why the fellow possesses not abilities for writing the life of an ephemeron.
No. V. - BOZZY AND PIOZZI ; OR THE BRITISH
A PAIR OF TOWN ECLOGUES.
By PETER PINDAR, Esq.
- Arcades ambo,
THE ARGUMENT. [Mr. Boswell and Madame Piozzi, the hero and heroine of our Eclogues, are
supposed to have in contemplation the Life of Johnson; and, to prove their biographical abilities, appeal to Sir John Hawkins for his decision on their respective merits, by quotations from their printed anecdotes of the Doctor. Sir John hears them with uncommon patience, and determines very properly on the pretensions of the contending parties. ]
Who (cried the world) can match his prose or rhyme ?
A mighty Atlas, whose aspiring head
Strong, 'midst the Rambler's cronies, was the rag.
At length rushed forth two candidates for fame,
Forth rushed to light their books but who should say Which bore the palm of anecdote away? This to decide the rival wits agreed, Before Sir John their tales and jokes to read, And let the knight's opinion in the strife Declare the properest pen to write Sam's life. Sir John, renowned for musical palavers The prince, the king, the emperor of quavers ! Sharp in solfeggi, as the sharpest needle, Great in the noble art of tweedle-tweedle ; Whose volume, though it here and there offends, Boasts German merit — makes by bulk amends. Like schoolboys, lo! before a two-armed chair, That held the knight wise judging, stood the pair ; Or like two ponies on the sporting ground, Prepared to gallop when the drum should sound; The couple ranged for victory both as keen As for a tottering bishopric a dean, Or patriot Burke for giving glorious bastinge To that intolerable fellow Hastings.
Thus with their songs contended Virgil's swains,
“ Alternately, in anecdotes, go on ;
MADAME Piozzi. (')
MADAME Prozži. (3)
(1) [“ Michael Johnson, the father of Samuel, was a bookseller of Lichfield; a very pious and worthy man, but wrong-headed, positive, and afflicted with melancholy. When his shop had fallen half down, for want of money to repair it, he locked the door every night, though any body might walk in at the back part."- Anecdotes.]
(2) (“My wife took care that our great guest should not be deficient. We gave him for dinner our Scotch muir-fowl, or grouse.]
(3) (“ Mr. Johnson was conversant in boxing, which science he had learned from his uncle Andrew, who kept the ring in Smithfield a whole year.")
(4) [" At supper witchcraft was introduced. Mr. Crosbie said, he thought it blasphemy to suppose evil spirits counteracting the Deity, and raising storms to destroy his creatures : Johnson answered, your arguments will not overturn the belief of witchcraft.”]
But Johnson answered him, “ There might be witches
MADAME PIOZZI. (1)
At Ulinish, our friend, to pass the time,
MADAME PIOZZI. (3)
(1) [“ Because he saw Mr. Thrale one day leap over a stool, to show that he was not tired after a chace of fifty miles or more, he jumped over it too."]
(2) [" His variety of information is surprising. He showed that he knew something of butchery. Different animals, said he, are killed differently. An ox is knocked down, and a calf stunned; but a sheep has its throat cut. The butchers have no view to the ease of the animal, but only to make them quiet, for their own safety and convenience.'"]
(3) (“ Dr. Johnson first learned to read of his mother and her old maid Catharine, in whose lap he well remembered sitting while she explained to him the story of St. George and the Dragon."]
(4) [" When Foote broke his leg, I observed that it would make him fitter for taking off George Faulkner as Peter Paragraph, poor George having a wooden leg. Dr. Johnson said, George will rejoice at the depeditation of