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no further than this: every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.'
"A man, he observed, should begin to write soon; for, if he waits till hi judgment is matured, his inability, through want of practice, to express his conceptions, will make the disproportion so great between what he sees, and what he can attain, that he will probably be discouraged from writing at all. As a proof of the justness of this remark, we may instance what is related of the great Lord Granville; that after he had written his letter giving an account of the battle of Dettingen, he said, 'Here is a letter, expressed in terms not good enough for a tallow chandler to have used.'
Talking of a court-martial that was sitting upon a very momentous public occasion, he expressed much doubt of an enlightened decision; and said, that perhaps there was not a member of it, who, in the whole course of his life, had ever spent an hour by himself in balancing probabilities."
"Goldsmith one day brought to the club a printed ode, which he, with others, had been hearing read by its author in a public room, at the rate of five shillings each for admission. One of the company having read it aloud, Dr. Johnson said, 'Bolder words and more timorous meaning, I think, never were brought together.'
"Talking of Gray's Odes, he said, 'They are forced plants, raised in a hotbed; and they are poor plants: they are but cucumbers after all.' A gentleman present, who had been running down ode-writing in general, as a bad species of poetry, unluckily said, 'Had they been literally cucumbers, they had been better things than odes.' 'Yes, Sir,' said Johnson, 'for a hog.' "His distinction of the different degrees of attainment of learning was thus marked upon two occasions. Of Queen Elizabeth he said 'She had learning enough to have given dignity to a bishop;' and of Mr. Thomas Davies he said, 'Sir, Davies has learning enough to give credit to a clergyman.'
"He used to quote, with great warmth, the saying of Aristotle recorded by Diogenes Laertius; that there was the same difference between one learned and unlearned, as between the living and the dead.
“It is very remarkable, that he retained in his memory very slight and trivial, as well as important things. As an instance of this, it seems that an inferior domestic of the Duke of Leeds had attempted to celebrate his Grace's marriage in such homely rhymes as he could make; and this curious composi tion having been sung to Dr. Johnson, he got it by heart, and used to repeat it in a very pleasant manner. Two of the stanzas were these:
'When the Duke of Leeds shall married be.
1 John, the first Earl Granville, who died January 2, 1763. - M.
"As Mr. Langton's anecdotes are not dated, it is not easy to determine what court-martial this was; probably-as Sir James Mackintosh suggests-Admiral Keppel's in 1780.-C.
How happy will that gentlewoman be
And ride in a coach to take the air.
To hear a man of the weight and dignity of Johnson repeating such humble attempts at poetry had a very amusing effect. He, however, seriously observed of the last stanza repeated by him, that it nearly comprised all the advantages that wealth can give.
"An eminent foreigner, when he was shown the British Museum, was very troublesome with many absurd inquiries. 'Now there, Sir,' said he, 'is the difference between an Englishman and a Frenchman. A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing, when he has nothing to say.'
"His unjust contempt for foreigners was, indeed, extreme. One evening at Old Slaughter's Coffee-house, when a number of them were talking loud about little matters, he said, 'Does not this confirm old Meynell's observation, For anything I see, foreigners are fools?'
"He said that once, when he had a violent toothach, a Frenchman accosted him thus: Ah, monsieur vous étudiez trop.
66 Having spent an evening at Mr. Langton's with the Reverend Dr. Parr, he was much pleased with the conversation of that learned gentleman; and, after he was gone, said to Mr. Langton, 'Sir, I am obliged to you for having asked me this evening. Parr is a fair man." I do not know when I have had an
1 The correspondent of the Gentleman's Magazine who subscribes himself Sciolus furnishes the following supplement: "A lady of my acquaintance remembers to have heard her uncle sing those homely stanzas more than forty-five years ago. He repeated the second thus :—
"She shall breed young lords and ladies fair,
And have a house," &c.
And remembered a third, which seems to have been the introductory one, and is believed to have been the only remaining one:
"When the Duke of Leeds shall have made his choice
Of a charming young lady that's beautiful and wise,
She'll be the happiest young gentlewoman under the skies,
It is with pleasure I add that this stanza could never be more truly applied than at this present time .-B. The Duke and Duchess of Leeds, to whom Mr. Boswell alludes in the latter part of this note, were Francis the fifth duke, who died in 1799, and his second wife Catherine Anguish, who still survives.-C.
2 When the corporation of Norwich applied to Johnson to point out to them a proper master for their grammar-school, he recommended Da Parr, on his ceasing to be usher to Sum ner at Harrow.-BURNEY.
occasion of such free controversy. It is remarkable how much of a man's life may pass without meeting with any instance of this kind of open discussion.'
"We may fairly institute a criticism between Shakspeare and Corneille, as they both had, though in a different degree, the lights of a latter age. It is not so just between the Greek dramatic writers and Shakspeare. It may be applied to what is said by one of the remarkers on Shakspeare, that though Darius's shade had prescience, it does not necessarily follow that he had all past particulars revealed to him.
'Spanish plays, being wildly and improbably farcical, would please children here, as children are entertained with stories full of prodigies; their experience not being sufficient to cause them to be so readily startled at deviations from the natural course of life. The machinery of the pagans is uninteresting to us. When a goddess appears in Homer or Virgil we grow weary; still more so in the Grecian tragedies, as in that kind of composition a nearer approach to nature is intended. Yet there are good reasons for reading romances; as the fertility of invention, the beauty of style and expression, the curiosity of seeing with what kind of performances the age and country in which they were written was delighted: for it is to be apprehended, that at the time when very wild improbable tales were well received, the people were in a barbarous state, and so on the footing of children, as has been explained.
"It is evident enough that no one who writes now can use the pagan deities and mythology; the only, machinery, therefore, seems that of minister. ing spirits, the ghosts of the departed, witches and fairies; though these latter, as the vulgar superstition concerning them (which, while in its force, infected at least the imagination of those that had more advantage in education, though their reason set them free from it) is every day wearing out, seem likely to be of little further assistance in the machinery of poetry. As I recollect, Hammond introduces a hag or witch into one of his love-elegies, where the effect is unmeaning and disgusting.'
"The man who uses his talent of ridicule in creating or grossly exaggerating the instances he gives, who imputes absurdities that did not happen, or when a man was a little ridiculous, describes him as having been very much so, abuses his talents greatly. The great use of delineating absurdities is, that we may know how far human folly can go: the account therefore, ought of absolute necessity to be faithful. A certain character (naming the person), as to the general cast of it, is well described by Garrick; but a great deal of the phraseology he uses in it is quite his own, particularly in the proverbial comparisons, 'obstinate as a pig,' &c.: but I don't know whether it might not be true of Lord ," that from a too great eagerness of praise and popularity, and
'Not more so than the rest of the elegy (the fifth), which is certainly, in every point of view, the worst of all Hammond's productions. Johnson exposes the absurdity of mɔdein mythology very forcibly in his Life of Hammond.-C.
2 Perhaps Lord Corke.-C.
a politeness carried to a ridiculous excess, he was likely, after asserting a thing in general, to give it up again in parts. For instance, if he had said Reynolds was the first of painters, he was capable enough of giving up, as objections might happen to be severally made, first his outline,—then the grace in form;— then the colouring, and lastly, to have owned that he was such a mannerist, that the disposition of his pictures was all alike.
“For hospitality, as formerly practised, there is no longer the same reason, Heretofore the poorer people were more numerous, and from want of commerce, their means of getting a livelihood more difficult; therefore the supporting them was an act of great benevolence: now that the poor can find maintenance for themselves, and their labour is wanted, a general undiscerning hospitality tends to ill, by withdrawing them from their work to idleness and drunkenness. Then, formerly rents were received in kind, so that there was a great abundance of provisions in possession of the owners of the lands, which, since the plenty of money afforded by commerce, is no longer the
Hospitality to strangers and foreigners in our country is now almost at an end; since, from the increase of them that come to us, there have been a sufficient number of people that have found an interest in providing inns and proper accommodations, which is in general a more expedient method for the entertainment of travellers. Where the travellers and strangers are few, more of that hospitality subsists, as it has not been worth while to provide places of accommodation. In Ireland, there is still hospitality to strangers in some degree; in Hungary and Poland, probably more.
Colman, in a note on his translation of Terence, talking of Shakspeare's learning, asks, 'What says Farmer to this? What says Johnson?' Upon this he observed, 'Sir, let Farmer answer for himself; I never engaged in this controversy. I always said Shakspeare had Latin enough to grammaticise his English.'
"A clergyman, whom he characterised as one who loved to say little oddities, was affecting one day, at a bishop's table, a sort of sliness and freedom not in character, and repeated, as if part of 'The Old Man Wish,' a song by Dr. Walter Pope, a verse bordering on licentiousness. Johnson rebuked him in the finest manner, by first showing him that he did not know the passage he was aiming at, and thus humbling him: 'Sir, that is not the song: it is thus.' And he gave it right. Then, looking steadfastly on him, 'Sir, there is a part of that song which I should wish to exemplify in my own life :
"May I govern my passions with absolute sway !" '
"Being asked if Barnes knew a good deal of Greek, he answered, I doubt, Sir, he was unoculus inter cæcos.'
1 Johnson, in his Life of Milton, after mentioning that great poet's extraordinary fancy, that the world was in its decay, and that his book was to be written in an age too late for
"He used frequently to observe, that men might be very emineut in a profession, without our perceiving any particular power of mind in them in conver sation. 'It seems strange,' said he, that a man should see so far to the right, who sees so short a way to the left. Burke is the only man whose common conversation corresponds with the general fame which he has in the world, Take up whatever topic you please, he is ready to meet you."
“A gentleman, by no means deficient in literature, having discovered less acquaintance with one of the classics than Johnson expected, when the gentleman left the room, he observed, 'You see, now, how little anybody reads. Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good deal in Clenardus's Greek Grammar, Why, Sir,' said he, 'who is there in this town who knows anything of Clenardus but you and I?' And upon Mr. Langton's mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that grammar as a praxis, 'Sir,' said he, 'I never made such an effort to attain Greek.'
"Of Dodsley's 'Public Virtue, a poem,' he said 'It was fine blank' (meaning to express his usual contempt for blank verse): however, this miserable poem did not sell, and my poor friend Doddy said Public Virtue was not a subject to interest the age.
"Mr. Langton, when a very young man, read Dodsley's 'Cleone, a Tragedy,' to him, not aware of his extreme impatience to be read to. As it went on, he turned his face to the back of his chair, and put himself into various attitudes, which marked his uneasiness. At the end of an act, however, he said, 'Come, let's have some more; let's go into the slaughter-house again, Lanky. But I am afraid there is more blood than brains.' Yet he afterwards said, 'When I heard you read it, I thought higher of its power of language; when I read it myself, I was more sensible of its pathetic effect; and then he paid it a compliment which many will think very extravagant. 'Sir,' said he, 'if Otway hac written this play, no other of his pieces would have been remembered.' Dodsley himself, upon this being repeated to him, said, 'It was too much.' It must be remembered, that Johnson always appeared not to be sufficiently sensible of the merit of Otway.3
heroic poesy, thus concludes: "However inferior to the heroes who were born in better ages, he might still be great among his contemporaries, with the hope of growing every day greater in the dwindle of posterity; he might still be a giant among the pigmies, the one-eyea march of the blind."-J. BOSWELL, Jun.
! Nicholas Clenard, who was born in Brabant, and died at Grenada in 1542, was a great traveller and linguist. Besides his Greek Grammar (of which an improved edition was published by Vossius at Amsterdam in 1626), he wrote a Hebrew Grammar. and an account of his travels in various countries, in Latin EPISTOLARUM LIBRI DUO, 8vo. 1556)—a very rare work, of which there is a copy in the Bodleian Library. His Latin (says the author of NOUVEAU DICTIONNAIRE HISTORIQUE, 1789) would have been more pure, if he had not known so many languages.-M.
? Mr. Langton, as has been already observed, was very studious of Greek literature.--C. This assertion concerning Johnson's insensibility to the pathetic powers of Otway is too