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LANGTON'S JOHNSONIANA-ANECDOTES OF Johnson, AND HIS OPINIONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS—THEOCRITUS - CALLIMACHUS - MAITTAIRE -ON EMPLOYING THE POOR -LOCKMAN – PHYSICAL AND MORAL TRUTH — HUGGINS — MRS. CLIVE— FARQUHAR -GARRICK-LANGLEY SPENCE — DR. FOSTER — Mrs. Lennox - BEAUCLERK LORD ELIBANK - Mr. DosSIE — TOLERATION — Johnson's MEMORY — DR. PARR MACHINERY OF PAGAn Poets-HOSPITALITY-Rev. DR. FARMER—Joshua BARNES
- DODSLEY'S" CLEONE "-GOLDSMITH'S IGNORANCE-ADAM SMITH-BURKE-Bishop BERKELEY - MR. VESEY- RICHARDSON - ARCHBISHOP SECKER - DR. BLAGDEN Johnson's RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS-DR. FRANCKLIN'S DEMONAX.
EING disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so
sate for this want by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to my worthy friend Mr. Langton, whose kind communications have been separately interwoven in many parts of this work. Very few articles of this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that habit ; which he regrets, and which those who know the numerous opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of Johnsonian wit and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversation with him, that a good store of “ Johnsoniana ” was treasured in his mind ; and I compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which, when dug, fully rewards the labour employed. The authenticity of every article is unquestionable. For the expression, I, who wrote them down in his presence, am partly answerable.
“Theocritus is not deserving of very high respect as a writer ; as to the pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superior. He wrote, when there had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in description, though living in a beautiful country : the manners painted are coarse and gross. Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of nature, and more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the king of that country ; which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it ; and the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumphant. Theocritus seems not to have seen that the brothers have the advantage in their argument over his Argonaut heroes. * The Sicilian Gossips' is a piece of merit.”
Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of ancient authors, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their writings.
“Maittaire's account of the Stephani, is a heavy book. He seems to have been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship, but with little geometry or logic in his head, without method, and possessed of little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called “ Senilia ;' in which he shows so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl. In matters of genealogy it is necessary to give the bare names as they are ; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection 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.”1
1 The name of Michael Maittaire, as a learned critic and bibliographer, has been so fully established, that these sweeping censures appear to be entirely uncalled for. His editions of the Greek and Latin classics, which are extremely numerous, are celebrated for their learning and accuracy; and his great work, “ The Annales Typographici ab Artis Inventione,“ still maintains itself as a valuable standard authority. He was born in France and educated at Christ Church, Oxford, of which college he became second master. He was born in 1668, and died in 1747.- Ed.
“ It may be questioned, whether there is not some mistake as to the methods of employing the poor, seemingly on a supposition that there is a certain portion of work left undone for want of persons to do it; but if that is otherwise, and all the materials we have are actually worked up, or all the manufactures we can use or dispose of are already executed, then what is given to the poor, who are to be set at work, must be taken from some who now have it ; as time must be taken for learning (according to Sir William Petty's observation), a certain part of those very materials that, as it is, are properly worked up, must be spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. We may apply to well-meaning but misjudging persons, in particulars of this nature, what Giannone said to a monk, who wanted what he called to convert him : 'Tu sei santo, ma tu non sei filosopho.' It is an unhappy circumstance that one might give away five hundred pounds in a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do any good.”
“There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity, than condescension; when he seenis to suppose his understanding too powerful for his company."
• Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.'
“ John Gilbert Cooper related, that soon after the publication of his Dictionary, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it, told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. 'Nay,' said Johnson, ‘ I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David.'
• Talking of expense, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. Whereas,' said he, you will hardly ever find a country gentleman, who is not a good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged to lay out ten pounds.''
“When in good humour, he would talk of his own writings with a wonderful frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton asked him how he liked that paper ; he shook his head, and answered, “Too wordy.' At another time, when one was reading. his tragedy of Irene,' to a company at a house in the country, he left the room ; and somebody having asked him the reason of this, he replied, “Sir, I thought it had been better.”
“Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosity of moral conduct, he said to Mr. Langton, “Men of harder minds than ours will do many