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foolish affectation. Fear is one of the passions of human nature, of which it is impossible to divest it. You remember that the Emperour Charles V. when he read upon
the tomb-stone of a Spanish nobleman, Here lies one who never knew fear,' wittily said, • Then he never snuffed a candle with his fingers.””
He talked a few words of French to the General; but finding he did not do it with facility, he asked for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote the following note :
“ J'ai lu dans la geographie de Lucas de Linda un Pater-noster écrit dans une langue tout-à-fait differente de l'Italienne, et de toutes autres lesquelles se derivent du Latin. L'auteur l'appelle linguam Corsicæ rusticam; elle a peut-être passé, peu à peu ; mais elle a certainement prevalue autrefois dans les montagnes et dans la campagne. Le méme auteur dit la même chose en parlant de Sardaigne ; qu'il y a deux langues dans l'Isle, une des villes, l'autre de la campagne.
The General immediately informed him that the lingua rustica was only in Sardinia,
Dr. Johnson went home with me, and drank tea till late in the night. He said, "General Paoli had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen.” He denied that military men were always the best bred men. “ Perfect good breeding, he observed, consists in having no particular mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners; whereas, in a militai man, you can commonly distinguish the brand of a soldier, l'homme d'epée.” : Dr. Johnson shunned to-night any discussion of the perplexed question of fate and free-will, which I attempted to agitate : “Sir (said he), we know our will is free, and there's an end on't.” 4. He honoured me with his company at dinner on the .16th of October, at my lodgings in Old Bond-street, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, “ Come,
Mr. Murphy, Mr. Bickerstaff, and Mr. Thomas Davies. Garrick played round him with a fond vivacity, taking hold of the breasts of his coat, and looking up in his face with a lively archness, complimented him on the good health which he seemed then to enjoy; while the sage, shaking his head, beheld him with a gentle complacency. One of the company not being come at the appointed hour, I proposed, as usual upon such occasions, to order dinner to be served ; adding, “Ought six people to be kept waiting for one ?” “ Why, yes (answered Johnson, with a delicate humanity), if the one will suffer more by your sitting down, than the six will do by waiting." Goldsmith, to divert the tedious minutes, strutted about, bragging of his dress, and I believe was seriously vain of it, for his mind was wonderfully prone to such impressions. come (said Garrick), talk no more of that. You are, perhaps, the worst-eh, eh!"-Goldsmith was eagerly attempting to interrupt him, when Garrick went on, laughing ironically, “Nay, you will always look like a gentleman; but I am talking of being well or ill drest."
Well, let me tell you (said Goldsmith), when my tailor brought home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, “Sir, I have a favour, to beg of you. When any body asks you who made your clothes, be pleased to mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Water-lane.'” JOHNSON:
Why, Sir, that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how well he could make a coat even of so absurd a colour."
After dinner our conversation first turned upon Pope. Johnson said, his characters of men were admirably drawn, those of women not so well. He repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, the concluding lines of the Dunciad. While he was talking loudly in praise of those lines, one of the company
ventured to say, “Too fine for such a poem :-a poem on what?” JOHNSON (with a disdainful look), “Why, on dunces. It was worth while being a dunce then. Ah, Sir, hadst thou lived in those days! It is not worth while being a dunce now, when there are no wits.” Bickerstaff observed, as a peculiar circumstance, that Pope's fame was higher when he was alive than it was then. Johnson said, his Pastorals were poor things, though the versification was fine. He told us, with high satisfaction, the anecdote of Pope's inquiring who was the authour of his “ London,” and saying, he will be soon deterré.. He observed, that in Dryden's poetry there were passages drawn from a profundity which Pope could never reach. He repeated some fine lines on love, by the former (which I have now forgotten), and gave great applause to the character of Zimri. Goldsmith said, that Pope's character of Addison shewed a deep knowledge of the human heart. Johnson said, that the description of the temple, in “ The Mourning Bride," was the finest poetical passage he had ever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it.-—" But (said Garrick, all alarmed for the god of his idolatry'), we know not the extent and variety of his powers. We are to suppose there are such passages in his works. Shakspeare must not suffer from the badness of our memories." Johnson, diverted by this enthusiastick jealousy, went on with great ardour : “ No Sir; Congreve has nature" (smiling on the tragic eagerness of Garrick); but composing himself, he added, “ Sir, this is not comparing Congreve on the whole with Shakspeare on the whole; but only maintaining that Congreve has one finer passage than any that can be found in Shakspeare. Sir, a man may have no more than ten guineas in the world, but he may have those ten guineas in one piece; and
" [Act ii. sc. 3. M.]
so may have a finer piece than a man who has ten thousand pound: but then he has only one ten-guinea piece.-What I mean is, that you can shew me no passage where there is simply a description of material objects, without any intermixture of moral notions, which produces such an effect.” Mr. Murphy mentioned Shakspeare's description of the night before the battle of Agincourt; but it was observed it had men in it. Mr. Davies suggested the speech of Juliet, in which she figures herself awaking in the tomb of her ancestors. Some one mentioned the description of Dover Cliff. JOHNSON : “No, Sir; it should be all precipice,-all vacuum. The crows impede your fall. The diminished appearance of the boats, and other circumstances, are all very good description; but do not impress the mind at once with the horrible idea of immense height. The impression is divided; you pass on by computation, from one stage of the tremendous space to another. Had the girl in “The Mourning Bride' said, she could not cast her shoe to the top of one of the pillars in the temple, it would not have aided the idea, but weakened it.”
Talking of a Barrister who had a bad utterance, some one (to rouse Johnson) wickedly said, that he was unfortunate in not having been taught oratory by Sheridan. JOHNSON: “ Nay, Sir, if he had been taught by Sheridan, he would have cleared the room. GARRICK : “ Sheridan has too much vanity to be a good man.”—We shall now see Johnson's mode of defending a man; taking him into his own hands, and discriminating. JOHNSON : No, Sir. There is, to
in Sheridan, something to reprehend and every • [In Congreve's description there seems to be an intermirture of moral notions; as the affecting power of the passage arises from the vivid impression of the described objects on the mind of the speaker : " And shoots a chillness,” &c. K.]
thing to laugh at; but, Sir, he is not a bad man. No, Sir; were mankind to be divided into good and bad, he would stand considerably within the ranks of good. And, Sir, it must be allowed that Sheridan excels in plain declamation, though he can exhibit no character.
I should, perhaps, have suppressed this disquisition concerning a person of whose merit and worth I think with respect, had he not attacked Johnson so outrageously in his Life of Swift, and, at the same time, treated us his admirers as a set of pigmies. He who has provoked the lash of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it.
Mrs. Montague, a lady distinguished for having written an Essay on Shakspeare, being mentioned ;REYNOLDS: “I think that essay does her honour.” JOHNSON: “Yes, Sir; it does her honour, but it would do nobody else honour. I have, indeed, not read it all. But when I take up the end of a web, and find it packthread, I do not expect, by looking farther, to find embroidery. Sir, I will venture to say, there is not one sentence of true criticism in her book.” GARRICK : “But, Sir, surely it shews how much Voltaire has mistaken Shakspeare, which nobody else has done.” JOHNSON: Sir, nobody else has thought it worth while. And what merit is there in that? You may as well praise a schoolmaster for whipping a boy who has construed ill. No, Sir, there is no real criticism in it: none shewing the beauty of thought, as formed on the workings of the human heart.”
The admirers of this Essayé may be offended at the
+ Of whom I acknowledge myself to be one, considering it as a piece of the secondary or comparative species of criticism; and not of that profound species which alone Dr. Johnson would allow to be“ real criticism." It is, besides, clearly and elegantly expressed, and has done effectually what it professed to do, namely, vindicated Shakspeare from the misrepresentations of Voltaire; and considering how many young people were misled by his witty, though false