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“CHARACTERS FROM SHAKESPEARE”
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. JohnSON : “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 be the same tune, but it has not the same tone. Homer plays it on a bassoon; Pope on a flageolet.
mezzotint engraving by William Wood, A.R.A., after a painting by Sir Joshua HARRIS: “I think
Reynolds, R.A. heroic poetry is
ANTHONY CHAMIER (b. 1725, d. 1780) best in blank M.P. for Tamworth and Under-Secretary of State from 1775 until his death.
He was one of the original members of the Literary Club. 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: “Sir William Temple was the first writer who gave cadence to English prose.* Before his time they were careless of arrangement, and did not mind
[The author, p. 128, 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, etc."), taking from each what was most worthy of imitation. The passage before us, I think, shows that he learned from Temple to modulate his periods, and, in that respect only, made him his pattern. In this view of the subject, there is no difficulty. He
whether a sentence ended with an important word or an insignificant word, or with what part of speech it was concluded.” Mr. Langton, who now had joined us, commended Clarendon. JOHNSON : “ He is objected to for his parentheses, his involved clauses, and his want of harmony. But he is supported by his matter. It is, indeed, owing to a plethory of matter that his style is so faulty: every substance (smiling to Mr. Harris) has so many accidents. To be distinct, we must talk analytically. If we analyse language, we must speak of it grammatically ; if we analyse argument, we must speak of it logically.” GARRICK :
GARRICK: “Of all tlid translations that ever were attempted, I think Elphinston's Martial' the most extraordinary. He consulted me upon it, who am a little of an epigrammatist myself, you know. I told him freely, “ You don't seem to have that turn. I asked him if he was serious ; and finding he was, I advised him against publishing. Why his translation is more difficult to understand than the original. I thought him man of some talents ; but he seems crazy in this." JOHNSON : “Sir, you have don what I had not courage to do. But he did not ask my advice, and I did not foru it upon him, to make him angry with me. GARRICK : But as a friend, Sir—| JOHNSON : “Why, such a friend as I am with him-no." GARRICK : “ But if yo see a friend going to tumble over a precipice ? ” JOHNSON : “ That is an extravagan case, Sir. You are sure a friend will thank you for hindering him from tumblin over a precipice : but, in the other case, I should hurt his vanity and do him n good. He would not take my advice. His brother-in-law, Strahan, sent him subscription of £50, and said he would send him £50 more, if he would not publish GARRICK : “What! eh! is Strahan a good judge of an epigram? Is not he rathe an obtuse man, eh ?” JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, he may not be a judge of an epigram but you see he is a judge of what is not an epigram. BOSWELL: “It is easy to you, Mr. Garrick, to talk to an author as you talked to Elphinston ; you, who hay been so long the manager of a theatre, rejecting the plays of poor authors. Yol are an old judge, who have often pronounced sentence of death. You are a practise surgeon, who have often amputated limbs ; and though this may have been fi the good of your patients, they cannot like you. Those who have undergone dreadful operation, are not very fond of seeing the operator again.” GARRICH “Yes, I know enough of that. There was a reverend gentleman (Mr. Hawkins who wrote a tragedy, the SIEGE of something,* which I refused.” HARRIS : "S the siege was raised.” JOHNSON : “Ay, he came to me and complained; an told me that Garrick said his play was wrong in the concoction. Now, what is t concoction of a play?” (Here Garrick started, and twisted himself, and seem sorely vexed; for Johnson told me he believed the story was true.) GARRICH “I-1-1-said, first concoction.” † JOHNSON (smiling) : “Well he left out fir: And Rich, he said, refused him in false English : he could show it under his hand GARRICK : “ He wrote to me in violent wrath for having refused his play : S This is growing a very serious and terrible affair ; I am resolved to publish my pla I will appeal to the world ; and how will your judgment appear! I answere
might learn from Chambers, compactness, strength, and precision, (in opposition to the laxity of si which had long prevailed); from Sir Thomas Browne (who was also certainly one of his archetyp: pondera verborum, vigour and energy of expression; and from Temple, harmonious arrangement, t due collocation of words, and the other arts and graces of composition here enumerated : and ! after all, his style might bear no striking resemblance to that of any of these writers, though it i: profited by each. M.]
* It was called “ The Siege of Aleppo." Mr. Hawkins, the author of it, was formerly Professor Poetry at Oxford. It is printed in his “ Miscellanies," 3 vols. octavo.
† [Garrick had high authority for this expression. Dryden uses it in one of his critical essays
Sir, notwithstanding all the seriousness, and all the terrors, I have no objection to your publishing your play; and as you live at a great distance (Devonshire, I believe), if you will send it to me, I will convey it to the press.' I never heard more of it, ha! ha! ha!
On Friday, April 10, I found Johnson at home in the morning. We resumed the conversation of yesterday. He put me in mind of some of it which had escaped my memory, and enabled me to record it more perfectly than I otherwise could have done. He was much pleased with my paying so great attention to his recommendation in 1763, the period when our acquaintance began, that I should keep a journal ; and I could perceive he was secretly pleased to find so much of the fruit of his mind preserved : and as he had been used to imagine and say that he always laboured when he said a good thing—it delighted him, on a review, to find that his conversation teemed with point and imagery.
I said to him, “ You were yesterday, Sir, in remarkably good humour ; but there was nothing to offend you, nothing to produce irritation or violence. There was no bold offender. There was not one capital conviction. It was a maiden assize. You had on your white gloves."
He found fault with our friend Langton for having been too silent. “Sir (said I), you will recollect that he very properly took up Sir Joshua for being glad that Charles Fox had praised Goldsmith's Traveller,' and you joined him.”
JOHNSON : “ Yes, Sir, I knocked Fox on the head without ceremony. Reynolds is too much under Fox and Burke at present. He is under the Fox star, and the Irish constellation. He is always under some planet. BOSWELL: “ There is no Fox star." JOHNSON: “But there is a Dog star.” BOSWELL: “ They say, indeed, a fox and a dog are the same animal."
[Hannah More has given a sketch of this evening : "I dined with the Garricks on Thursday; he went with me in the evening to Sir Joshua's, where I was engaged to pass the evening. I was not a little proud of being the means of bringing such a beau into such a party. We found Gibbon, Johnson, Hermes Harris, Burney, Chambers, Ramsay, the Bishop of St. Asaph. Boswell, Langton, etc., and scarce an expletive man or woman amongst them. Garrick put Johnson into such good spirits, that I never knew him so entertaining or more instructive. He was as brilliant as himself, and as good-humoured as any one clse,"_" More's Life," Vol. i, p. 146.]
From an engraving by Reading
DR. JONATHAN SHIPLEY (6. (?) 1714, d. 1788) graduated at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1749 he was appointed Canon of Christ Church, and in 1780 Dean of Winchester. He later became Bishop of Llandaff, and in 1769 he was translated to St. Asaph. As Chaplain to the Duke of Cumberland, Dr. Shipley was present at the battle of Lafeldt, fought July 20th, 1747. He was one of the
members of the Literary Club.