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as they are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inHection given to them. His book of the Dialects is a sad heap of.confusion ; the only way to write on them is to tabulate them with Notes, added at the bottom of the page, and references.”
Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom Mr. Warton, in his “ Observations on Spencer's Fairy Queen, gave some account, which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, " I will militate no longer against his nescience.” Huggins was master of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant. Johnson said, " It appears 'to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder without ball."
Johnson used at one time to go occasionally to the Green-room of Drury Lane Theatre, where he was much regarded by the players, and was very easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's comic powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He said, “ Clive, sir, is a good thing to sit by, she always understands what you say;" and she said of him, " I love to sit by Dr. Johnson, he always entertains me." One night, when “ The Recruiting Officer” was acted, he said to Mr. Holland, who had been expressing an apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar; “ No, sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit.” Talking of the farce of “ High Life Below Stairs,” he said, “ Here is a farce, which is really very diverting when you see it acted; and yet one may read it, and not know that one has been reading any thing at all.”
Johnson, who had done liberal justice to Warburton in his edition of Shakspeare, which was published during the life of that powerful writer, with still greater liberality took an opportunity, in the Life of Pope, of paying the tribute due to him, when he was no longer in “ high place,” but numbered with the dead.
Speaking of Boetius, who was the favourite writer of the middle ages, he said, it was very surprising, that upon such a subject, and in such a situation, he should be magis philosophus quàm Christianus.
“ Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy' (said Johnson) is a valuable work. It is, perhaps, overloaded with quotation. But there is great spirit and great power in what Burton says, when he writes from his own mind.” He observed, that it was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.
Books of Travels having been mentioned, Johnson praised Pennant very highly. Dr. Percy (who was present), knowing himself to be the heir male of the ancient Percies, and having the warmest attachment to the noble House of Northumberland, could not sit quietly and hear a man praised, who had spoken disrespectfully of Alnwick-Castle, and the Duke's pleasure-grounds, especially as he thought meanly of his Travels. He therefore opposed Johnson eagerly.--John
Pennant, in what he has said of Alnwick, has done what he intended; he has made you
very angry."- Percy. “He has said the garden is trim, which is representing it like a citizen's parterre, when the truth is, there is a very large extent of fine turf and gravel walks.”—J.“ ACcording to your own account, sir, Pennant is right. It is trim. Here is grass cut close, and gravel rolled smooth. Is not that trim? The extent is nothing against that; a mile may be as trim as a square yard. Your extent puts me in mind of the citizen's enlarged dinner, two pieces of roast-beef, and two puddings. There is no variety, no mind exerted in laying out the ground, no trees."-Percy. “ He pretends to give the natural history of Northumberland, and yet takes no notice of the immense number of trees planted there of late."-J. “That, sir, has nothing to do with the natural history: that is civil history. A man who gives the natural history of the oak, is not to tell how many oaks have been planted in this place or that. A man who gives the natural history of the cow, is not to tell how many cows are milked at Islington. The animal is the same, whether milked in the Park or ät Islington.”---P. “Pennant does not describe well; a carrier who goes along the side of Lochmond would describe it better."-J. " I think he describes very well.”---P.“ I travelled after him.”-J. " And I travelled after him."-P. “ But, my good friend, you are shortsighted, and do not see so well as I do.” The company wondered at Dr. Percy's venturing thus. Dr. Johnson said nothing at the time; but inflammable particles were collecting for a cloud to burst. In a little while Dr. Percy said something more in disparagement of Pennant. J. (pointedly) “ This is the resentment of a narrow mind, because he did not find every thing in Northumberland.”—P. (feeling the stroke) “Sir, you may be as rude as you please."---J.
Hold, sir ! Don't talk of rudeness; remember, sir, you told me (puffing hard with passion struggling for a vent) I was short-sighted. We have done with civility. We are to be as rude as we please.”—P. “Upon my honour, sir, I did not mean to be uncivil.”—J. “I cannot say so, sir, I did mean to be uncivil, thinking you had been uncivil.” Dr. Percy rose, ran up to him, and taking him by the hand, assured him affectionately that his meaning had been misunderstood; upon which, a reconciliation immediately took place.-J. “My dear sir, I am willing you shall hang Pennant."-P.(resuming the former subject)“ Pennant complains that the helmet is not hung out to invite to the hall of hospitality. Now I never heard that it was the custom to hang out a helmet.”—J. “ Hang him up, hang him up."- Boswell. (humouring the joke) “ Hang out his skull instead of a helmet, and you may drink ale out of it in your hall of Odin, as he is your enemy; that will be truly ancient. There will be Northern Antiquities.' - J.“ He's a Whig, sir, a sad dog (smiling at his own violent expressions, merely for political difference of opinion). But he's the best traveller I ever read; he observes more things than any one else does.”
He gave much praise to his friend Dr. Burney's elegant and entertaining Travels, and told Mr. Seward, that he had them in his eye, when writing his “ Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.”
Dr. Dodd's poem entitled, “ Thoughts in a Prison,” appearing an extraordinary effort by a man who was in Newgate for a capital crime, Mr. Boswell was desirous to hear Johnson's opinion of it. To my surprise (says Mr. B.) he told me he had not read a line of it. I took up the book, and read a passage to him.---Johnson. “ Pretty well, if you are previously disposed to like them.” I read another passage, with which he was better pleased. He then took the book into his own hands, and having looked at the prayer at the end of it, he said, " What evidence is there that this was composed the night before he suffered ? I do not believe it.” He then read aloud where he prays for the King, &c. and observed,
think that a man the night before he is to be hanged, cares for the succession of a royal family? Though he may have composed this prayer then. A man who has been canting all his life, may cant to the last; and yet a man who has been refused a pardon after so much petitioning, would hardly be praying thus fervently for the King.
Mr. Boswell one day asked, “ Was not Dr. John Campbell a very inaccurate man in his narrative, sir ? He once told me, that he drank thirteen bottles of port at a sitting.”---Johnson.
Why, sir, I do not know that Campbell ever lied with pen and ink; but you could not entirely depend on any thing he told you in conversation, if there was fact mixed with it. However, I loved Campbell : he was a solid orthodox man; he had a reverence for religion. Though defective in practice, he was religious in prin. ciple; and he did nothing grossly wrong that I have heard."