« 이전계속 »
minute. I remember Chamier,' after talking with him some time, said, “Well, I do believe he wrote this poem himself: and let me tell you, that is believing
Chamier once asked him what he meant by slow, the last word in the first line of • The Traveller,
• Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,'
a great deal.
Did he mean tardiness of locomotion? Goldsmith, who would say something without consideration, answered, “Yes. I was sitting by, and said, “No, sir; you do not mean tardiness of locomotion; you mean, that sluggishness of mind which comes upon a man in solitude. Chamier believed then that I had written the line, as much as if he had seen me write it. Goldsmith, however, was a man, who, whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do. He deserved a place in Westminster-Abbey; and every year he lived, would have deserved it better. He had, indeed, been at no pains to fill liis mind with knowledge. He transplanted it from one place to another; and it did not settle in his mind; so he could not tell what was in his own books."
We talked of living in the country. Johnson. “ No wise man will go to live in the country, unless he has something to do which can be better done in the country. For instance: if he is to shut himself up for a year to study a science, it is better to look out to the fields, than to an opposite wall. Then, if a man walks out in the country, there is nobody to keep him from walking in again ; but if a man walks out in London, he is not sure when he shall walk in again. A great city is, to be sure, the school for
1 (Anthony Chamier, Esq. a member of the LITERARY CLUB, and Under-Secretary of State. He died Oct. 12, 1780. M.]
studying life; and “ The proper study of mankind is man,' as Pope observes.” Boswell. “I fancy London is the best place for society; though I have heard that the very first society of Paris is still beyond any thing that we have here." Johnson. “
question if in Paris such a company as is sitting round this table could be got together in less than half a year. They talk in France of the felicity of men and women living together: the truth is, that there the men are not higher than the women, they know no more than the women do, and they are not held down in their conversation by the presence of women.” RAMSAY..“ Literature is upon the growth, it is in its spring in France : here it is rather passée.” Johnson. “ Literature was in France long before we had it. Paris was the second city for the revival of letters: Italy had it first, to be sure. What have we done for literature, equal to what was done by the Stephani and others in France ? Our literature came to us through France. Caxton printed only two books, Chaucer, and Gower, that were not translations from the French ; and Chaucer, we know, took much from the Italians. No, sir, if literature be in its spring in France, it is a second spring; it is after a winter. We are now before the French in literature; but we had it long after them. In England, any man who wears a sword and a powdered wig, is ashamed to be illiterate. I believe it is not so in France. Yet there is, probably, a great deal of learning in France, because they have such a number of religious establishments ; so many men who have nothing else to do but to study. I do not know this; but I take it upon the common principles of chance. Where there are many shooters, some will hit.”
We talked of old age. Johnson (now in his seventieth year) said, “It is a man's own fault, it is from want of use, if his mind grows torpid in old age.”
The Bishop asked, if an old man does not lose faster than he gets. JOHNSON. “ I think not, my Lord, if he exerts himself.” One of the company rashly observed, that he thought it was happy for an old man that insensibility comes upon him. JOHNSON, (with a noble elevation and disdain). “No, sir, I should never be happy by being less rational.” Bishop OF ST. Asaph. “ Your wish then, sir, is, γηρασκειν,
διδασκοMevos." JOHNSON. “ Yes, my Lord.”
His Lordship mentioned a charitable establishment in Wales, where people were maintained, and supplied with every thing, upon the condition of their contributing the weekly produce of their labour ; and he said, they grew quite torpid for want of property. JOHNSON. “ They have no object for hope. Their condition cannot be better. It is rowing without a port.”
One of the company asked him the meaning of the expression in Juvenal, unius lacerte. Johnson. “I think it clear enough; as much ground as one may have a chance to find a lizard upon.”
Commentators have differed as to the exact meaning of the expression by which the Poet intended to enforce the sentiment contained in the
where these words occur. It is enough that they mean to denote even a very small possession, provided it be a man's own:
“ Est aliquid, quocunque loco quocunque recessu,
Unius sese dominum fecisse lacertu.” This season, there was a whimsical fashion in the news-papers of applying Shakspeare's words to describe living persons well known in the world; which was done under the title of “ Modern Characters from Shakspeare ;” many of which were admirably adapted. The fancy took so much, that they were afterwards collected into a pamphlet. Somebody said to Johnson, across the table, that he had not been in those characters. Yes (said he), I have. I should have been sorry to be left out.” He then repeated what had been applied to him,
“ You must borrow me GARAGANTUA's mouth.”
Miss Reynolds not perceiving at once the meaning of this, he was obliged to explain it to her, which had something of an awkward and ludicrous effect. “Why, madam, it has a reference to me, as using big words, which require the mouth of a giant to pronounce them. Garagantua is the name of a giant in Rabelais.” Boswell. · But, sir, there is another amongst them for
JOHNSON. “ There is nothing marked in that. No, sir, Garagantua is the best." Notwithstanding this ease and good humour, when I, a little while afterwards, repeated his sarcasm on Kenrick,' which was received with applause, he asked, “Who said that?" and on my suddenly answering Garagantua, he looked serious, which was a sufficient indication that he did not wish it to be kept up.
When we went to the drawing-room, there was a rich assemblage. Besides the company who had been at dinner, there were Mr. Garrick, Mr. Harris of Salisbury, Dr. Percy, Dr. Burney, the Honourable Mrs. Cholmondeley, Miss Hannah More, &c. &c.
After wandering about in a kind of pleasing distraction for some time, I got into a corner, with Johnson, Garrick, and Harris. GARRICK, (to Harris). “ Pray, sir, have you read Potter's Æschylus?" Harris. « Yes; and think it pretty." GARRICK, (to Johnson). “ And what think you, sir, of it?" Johnson. “ I thought what I read of it verbiage: but upon Mr. Harris's recommendation, I will read a play. (To Mr. Harris). Don't prescribe two." Mr. Harris suggested one ; I do not remember which. Johnson. “ We must try its effect as an English poem; that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation. Translations are, in general, for people who cannot read the original.” I mentioned the vulgar saying, that Pope's Homer was not a good representation of the original. JOHNSÓN. “Sir, it is the greatest work of the kind that has ever been produced.” Boswell. “ The truth is, it is impossible perfectly to translate poetry. In a different language it may
1 See Vol. II. p. 98.
be the same tune, but it has not the same tone. Homer plays it on a bassoon ; Pope on a flagelet." HARRIS. “ I think heroick poetry is best in blank verse; yet it appears that rhyme is essential to English poetry, from our deficiency in metrical quantities. In my opinion, the chief excellence of our language is numerous prose.” Johnson. William Temple was the first writer who gave
cadence to English prose.'
Before his time they were care
i [The authour, in vol. i. p. 172, says, that Johnson once told him, “ that he had formed his style upon that of Sir William Temple, and upon Chambers's Proposal for his Dictionary. He certainly was mistaken; or, if he imagined at first that he was imitating Temple, he was very unsuccessful, for nothing can be more unlike than the simplicity of Temple and the richness of Johnson."
This observation, on the first view, seems perfectly just; but on a closer examination, it will, I think, appear to have been founded on a misapprehension. Mr. Boswell understood Johnson too literally. He did not, I conceive, mean, that he endeavoured to imitate Temple's style in all its parts; but that he formed his style on him and Chambers (perhaps the paper published in 1737, relative to his second edition, entitled CONSIDERATIONS, &c.) taking from each what was most worthy of imitation. The passage before us, I think, shews, that he learned from Temple to