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But let us try to help one another. If there be a wrong twist, it may be set right. It is not probable that two people can be wrong the same way.'
"Of the preface to Capel's Shakspeare, he said, 'If the man would have come to me, I would have endeavoured to "endow his purposes with words;" for as it is, he doth "gabble monstrously."'l
"He related that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him. 'Now,' said he, 'one may mark here the effect of sleep in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my judgment failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own character.'
"One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the professors of a foreign university. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there was too much ostentation, said, 'I never receive any of these tributes of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign publication, in which mention is made of l'illustre Lockman '2
"Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, 'Sir, I know no man who has passed through life with more observation than Reynolds.'
"He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our Saviour's gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalene,' 'H TIOTIS, σε σέσωκέ σε· πορεύου εἰς εἰρήγην. ‘Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.’ (Luke, vii. 50.)3 He said, 'The manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting.'
"He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth: 'Physical truth is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral truth is, when you tell a thing sincerely and precisely as it appears to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so, I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been mistaken, I told a moral truth.*
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 Spenser'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
1 " When wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes with words."-Tempest, act i. sc. 2.-C.
2 Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit.-B. He was an indefatigable translator for the booksellers, "having acquired a knowledge of the languages, as Dr. Johnson told Sir J. Hawkins, by living at coffee-houses frequented by foreigners."-C.
9 It does not appear that the woman forgiven was Mary Magdalene.-KEARNEY.
* This account of the difference between moral and physical truth is in Locke's "Essay on Tuman Understanding," and many other books.—Kearney.
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.'
"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 anything at all.'
"He 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.'
"His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could not have so much intercourse as Mr. Garrrck used to profess an anxious wish that there should be. There might indeed be something in the contemptuous severity as to the merit of acting, which his old preceptor nourished in himself, that would mortify Garrick after the great applause which he received from the audience. For though Johnson said of him, 'Sir, a man who has a nation to admire him every night may well be expected to be somewhat elated;' yet he would treat theatrical matters with a ludicrous slight. He mentioned one evening, 'I met David coming off the stage, dressed in a woman's riding-hood, when he acted in The Wonder; I came full upon him, and I believe he was not pleased.'
"Once he asked Tom Davies, whom he saw dressed in a fine suit of clothes, 'And what art thou to-night?' Tom answered, 'The Thane of Ross;' which it will be recollected is a very inconsiderable character. O, brave!' said Johnson.
"Of Mr. Longley, at Rochester, a gentleman of considerable learning, whom Dr. Johnson met there, he said, 'My heart warms towards him. I was sursurprised to find in him such a nice acquaintance with the metre in the learned languages; though I was somewhat mortified that I had it not so much to myself as I should have thought.'
"Talking of the minuteness with which people will record the sayings of eminent persons, a story was told, that when Pope was on a visit to Spence at Oxford, as they looked from the window they saw a gentleman commoner, who
1 In a letter written by Johnson to a friend in Jan. 1742-8, he says, "I never see Garrick."-M.
A barrister-Recorder of Rochester, father of the present Master of Harrow. He died In 1822.-0.
was just come in from riding, amusing himself with whipping at a post. Pope took occasion to say, 'That young gentleman seems to have little to do.' Mr. Beauclerk observed, 'Then, to be sure, Spence turned round and wrote that down;' and went on to say to Dr. Johnson, 'Pope, Sir, would have said the same of you, if he had seen you distilling.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if Pope had told me of my distilling, I would have told him of his grotto."1
"He would allow no settled indulgence of idleness upon principle, and always repelled every attempt to urge excuses for it. A friend one day suggested, that it was not wholesome to study soon after dinner. JOHNSON. Ah, Sir, don't give way to such a fancy. At one time of my life I had taken it into my head that it was not wholesome to study between breakfast and dinner.'
"Mr. Beauclerk one day repeated to Dr. Johnson Pope's lines,
'Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
then asked the doctor, 'Why did Pope say this?' JOHNSON. 'Sir he hoped it would vex somebody,' 2
"Dr. Goldsmith, upon occasion of Mrs. Lennox's bringing out a play,' said to Dr. Johnson at the club, that a person had advised him to go and hiss it, because she had attacked Shakspeare in her book called " Shakspeare Illustrated.' JOHNSON. And did not you tell him that he was a rascal?' GOLDSMITH. 'No Sir, I did not. Perhaps he might not mean what he said.' JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, if he lied, it is a different thing.' Colman slily said (but it is believed Dr. Johnson did not hear him), 'Then the proper expression should have been,-Sir, if you don't lie, you're a rascal.'
"His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his death,
1 This would have been a very inadequate retort, for Johnson's chemistry was a mere pastime, while Pope's grotto was, although ornamented, a useful, and even necessary work. Johnson has explained his views of this point very copiously in his Life of Pope: where he says, "that being under the necessity of making a subterraneous passage to a garden on the other side of the road, Pope adorned it with fossil bodies, and dignified it with the title of a grotto-a .ace of silence and retreat from which he endeavoured to persuade his friends and himself nat care and passions could be excluded. A grotto is not often the wish or pleasure of an Englishman, who has more frequent need to solicit than to exclude the sun; Put Pope's excavation was requisite as an entrance to his garden; and as some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage.”—C.
2 Dr. James Foster was an eminent preacher among the dissenters: and Pope professes to prefer his merit in so humble a station to the more splendid ministry of the metropolitans. Pope's object certainly was to vex the clergy; but Mr. Beauclerk probably meant to askwhat is by no means so clear-how these two lines bear on the general design and argu ment.-C.
* Probably "The Sisters," a comedy performed one night only, at Covent Garden, in 1769 Dr. Goldsmith wrote an excellent epilogue to it.-M.
Johnson said (with a voice faltering with emotion), 'Sir, I would walk t tàẻ extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk.'
"One night at the club he produced a translation of an epitaph which Lord Elibank had written in English for his lady, and requested of Johnson to turn it into Latin for him. Having read Domina de North et Gray, he said to Dyer, 'You see, Sir, what barbarisms we are compelled to make use of, when modern titles are to be specifically mentioned in Latin inscriptions.' When he had read it once aloud, and there had been a general approbation expressed by the company, he addressed himself to Mr. Dyer in particular, and said, 'Sir, I beg to have your judgment, for I know your nicety.' Dyer then very properly desired to read it over again; which having done, he pointed out an incongruity in one of the sentences. Johnson immediately assented to the observation, and said, 'Sir, this is owing to an alteration of a part of the sentence from the form in which I had first written it; and I believe, Sir, you may have remarked, that the making a partial change, without a due regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent cause of error in composition.'
"Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, author of a Treatise on Agriculture; and said of him, 'Sir, of the objects which the Society of Arts have chiefly in view, the chymical effects of bodies operating upon other bodies, he knows more than almost any man.' Johnson in order to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of this society, paid up an arrear which had run on for two years. On this occasion he mentioned a circumstance, as characteristic of the Scotch. One of that nation,' said he, 'who had been a candidate, against whom I had voted, came up to me with a civil salutation. Now, Sir, this is their way. An Englishman would have stomached it and been sulky, and never have taken further notice of you; but a Scotchman, Sir, though you vote nineteen times against him, will accost you with equal complaisance after each time, and the twentieth time, Sir, he will get your vote.'
Talking on the subject of toleration, one day when some friends were with him in his study, he made his usual remark, that the state has a right to regulate the religion of the people, who are the children of the state. A clergyman having readily acquiesced in this, Johnson, who loved discussion, observed, 'But, Sir, you must go round to other states than our own. You do not know what a Bramin has to say for himself. In short, Sir, I have got
1 Lord Elibank married a Dutch lady, Maria Margaret de Yonge, the widow of Lord North and Gray. Mr. Langton mistook the phrase, which is, in the epitaph, applied to the husband, Domino North et Gray, and not to the lady, Domina de North et Gray.-C.
2 Dossie also published, in two vols. 8vo., what was then a very useful work, entitled "The Handmaid to the Arts," dedicated to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c.-HALL.
3 Here Lord Macartney remarks, "A Bramin, or any caste of the Hindoos, will neither admit you to be of their religion, nor be converted to yours :-a thing which struck the Por tuguese with the greatest astonishment when they first discovered the East Indies."
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
“A man, he observed, should begin to write soon; for, if he waits till his 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.2
"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 composition 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.
John, the first Earl Granville, who died January 2, 1763.-M.
2 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.