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truth with safety. - Johnson. Why, Sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. But, besides, a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him than one truth which he does not wish should be told«. Goldsmith. For my part, I'd tell truth, and shame the devil«. Johnson. Yes, Sir; but the devil will be angry. I wish to shame the devil as much as you do, but I should choose to be out of the reach of his claws«<. Goldsmith. »His claws can do you no harm when you have the shield of truth«.
5. We talked of the king's coming to see Goldsmith's new play: ->I wish he would«, said Goldsmith, adding however, with an affected indifference, Not, that it would do me the least good<<. Johnson. Well then, Sir, let us say it would do him good (laughing). No, Sir, this affectation will not pass; it is mighty idle. In such a state as ours, who would not wish to please the chief magistrate?<«< Goldsmith. »I do wish to please him. I remember a line in Dryden, And every poet is the monarch's friend. It ought to be reversed<«<. lines in Dryden on this subject:
Johnson. »Nay, there are finer
For colleges on bounteous kings depend,
9. We talked of Lady Tavistock, who grieved herself to death for the loss of her husband. Johnson. »She was rich and wanted employment, so she cried till she lost all power of constraining her tears: other women are forced to outlive their husbands, who were just as much beloved, depend on it; but they have no time for grief: and I doubt not, if we had put my Lady Tavistock into a small chandler's shop, and given her a nurse-child to tend, her life would have been saved. The poor and the busy have no leisure for sentimental sorrow «. I mentioned an event, which, if it had happened, would greatly have injured Mr. Thrale and his family and then, dear Sir«, said I, how sorry you would have been! Johnson (after a long pause): »I hope, I should have been very sorry; but remember Rochefoucault's maxim«. 6. Mr. Ogilvie observed, that Scotland had a great many noble wild prospects. Johnson. I believe, Sir, you have a great many. Norway, too, has noble wild prospects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious noble wild prospects. But, Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England «.
8. We spoke of Rolt, to whose 'Dictionary of Commerce' Dr. Johnson wrote the preface. Johnson. »Old Gardener, the bookseller, employed Rolt and Smart to write a monthly miscellany, called 'The Universal Visitor'. There was a formal written contract, which Allen the printer saw. They were bound to write nothing else; they were to have, I think, a third of the profits of his sixpenny pamphlet; and the contract was for ninetynine years <. Davies, zealous for the honour of the trade, said Gardener was not properly a bookseller. Johnson. »Nay, Sir; he certainly was a bookseller. He had served his time regularly, was a member of the Stationer's Company, kept a shop in the face of mankind, purchased copyright, and was a bibliopole, Sir, in every sense. I wrote for some months in The Universal Visitor' for poor Smart, while he was mad, not then knowing the terms on which he was engaged to write, and thinking I was doing him good. I hoped his wits would soon return to him. Mine returned to me, and I wrote in 'The Universal Visitor' no longer <.
7. On one occasion, when Boswell had been for some time persisting in questioning him with, »What did you do, Sir?<< >> What did you say, Sir« &c., Johnson at last lost all patience, and exclaimed, »I will not be put to the question, Sir! Do you not consider, Sir, that these are not the manners of a gentleman? I will not be baited with what and why. What is this? What is that? Why is a cow's tail long? Why is a fox's tail bushy?<«< Boswell. »Why, Sir, you are so good that I venture to trouble you«. Johnson. >>Sir, my being so good is no reason why you should be so ill«.
10. Dining one day with General Paoli, and talking of his [Johnson's] projected journey to Italy, »A man«, said Johnson, who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of all travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediter
Thomas Gray var født i London 1716. Han fik sin Uddannelse i Eton og Cambridge; paa det sidste Sted tilbragte han det meste af sit Liv, læsende, studerende, drømmende, i en halv klosterlig Ensomhed. Han blev tilbudt Posten som poet laureate (efter Cibber's Død 1757), men denne Bestilling var paa den Tid i meget liden Anseelse, og han afslog den. Han døde 1771. Gray har ikke skrevet meget, og hans Ry som Digter hviler fornemmelig paa et enkelt lidet Arbeide: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, som han atter og atter omarbeidede. Det første Udkast var gjort 1742, og Digtet blev færdigt først i 1749. Da det udkom (i 1750), gjorde det megen Lykke og blev oversat i de fleste baade nyere og gamle Sprog, saaledes foruden paa Latin og Græsk endog paa Hebraisk.
Digtet nyder i England en usædvanlig Anseelse; en engelsk Kritiker siger: „Gray's Elegy in a Conuntry Churchyard is perhaps faultless". Mere nøgternt dømme Andre, saaledes som Bulwer-Lytton (s. ndfr. under denne Forfatter), der navnlig dadler den kunstlede og altfor meget udbroderede Stil, hvilket ogsaa er det, som nordiske Læsere mindst ville forsone sig med. Den danske Præst C. A. Lunds Digt „Landsbykirkegaarden" (som første Gang stod at læse i en Nytaarsgave for 1785) er en fri Bearbeidelse af Grays Elegi. Til Sammenligning med Originalen hidsættes Digtets første Strofe:
Høit lyder Bedeklokkens Slag
Og Bonden fra en møisom Dag
Til Hvile stunder hen;
Den muntre Fugl har Øiet lukt,
Kun Aftenbakkens lette Flugt
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save, that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse em from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud! impute to these the fault,
If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The applause of listening senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined! Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.