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will stand by the lines I have written on Shakspeare in my Prologue at the opening of your theatre.' Mr. Langton suggested that, in the line
And panting Time toil'd after him in vain,' Johnson might have had in his eye the passage in · The Tempest, where Prospero says of Miranda,
She will outstrip all praise,
And make it halt behind her.' Johnson said nothing. Garrick then ventured to observe, 'I do not think that the happiest line in the praise of Shakspeare.' Johnson exclaimed (smiling), ' Prosaical rogues ! next time I write I'll make both time and space pant.
“It is well known that there was formerly a rude custom for those who were sailing upon the Thames to accost each other as they passed in the most abusive language they could invent, generally, however, with as much satirical humour as they were capable of producing. Addison gives a specimen of this ribaldry, in number 383 of. The Spectator,' when Sir Roger de Coverly and he are going to Spring-garden. Johnson was once eminently successful in this species of contest; a fellow having attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus, ' Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy-house, is a receiver of stolen goods.' One evening when he and Mr. Burke and Mr. Langton were in company together, and the admirable scolding of Timon of Athens was mentioned, this instance of Johnson's was quoted, and thought to have at least equal excellence.'
“ As Johnson always allowed the extraordinary talents of Mr. Burke, so Mr. Burke was fully sensible of the wonderful powers of Johnson. Mr. Langton recollects having passed an evening with both of them, when Mr. Burke repeatedly entered upon topics which it was evident he would have illustrated with extensive knowledge and richness of expression ; but Johnson always seized upon the conversation, in which, however, he acquitted himself in a most masterly manner. As Mr. Burke and Mr. Langton were walking home, Mr. Burke observed that Johnson had been very great that night. Mr. Langton joined in
* I am sorry to see, in “The Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,” vol. ii. “ An Essay on the Character of Hamlet," written, I should suppose, by a very young man, though called “Reverend;" who speaks with presumptuous petulance of the first literary character of his age. Amidst a cloudy confusion of words (which hath of late too often passed in Scotland for Metaphysics), he thus ventures to criticise one of the noblest lines in our language :-Dr. Johnson has remarked, that time toiled after him in vain.' But I should apprehend, that this is entirely to mistake the character. Time toils after every great man, as well as after Shakspeare. The workings of an ordinary mind keep pace, indeed, with time; they move no faster; they have their beginning, their middle, and their end ; but superior natures can reduce these into a point. They do not, indeed suppress them; but they suspend, or they lock them up in the breast." The learned Society, under whose sanction such gabble is ushered into the world, would do well to offer a premium to any one who will discover its meaning.-Boswell.
this, but added, he could have wished to hear more from another person, plainly intimating that he meant Mr. Burke. “Oh, no,' said Mr. Burke, “it is enough for me to have rung the bell to him.
“Beauclerk having observed to him of one of their friends, that he was awkward at counting money, “Why, Sir,' said Johnson, 'I am likewise awkward at counting money. But then, Sir, the reason is plain: I have had very little money to count.'”
“He had an abhorrence of affectation. Talking of old Mr. Langton, of whom he said, ' Sir, you will seldom see such a gentleman, such are his stores of literature, such his knowledge in divinity, and such his exemplary life;' he added, “and, Sir, he has no grimace, no gesticulation, no bursts of admiration on trivial occasions ; he never embraces you with on overacted cordiality.""
“ Being in company with a gentleman who thought fit to maintain Dr. Berkeley's ingenious philosophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by some mind; when the gentleman was going away, Johnson said to him, .Pray, Sir, don't leave us ; for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and then you will cease to exist."1
Goldsmith, upon being visited by Johnson one day in the Temple, said to him, with a little jealousy of the appearance of his accommodation, 'I shall soon be in better chambers than these.' Johnson at the same time checked him, and paid him a handsome compliment, implying that a man of his talents should be above attention to such distinctions. 'Nay, Sir, never mind that. Nil te quæsiveris extra.'
“At the time when his pension was granted to him, he said, with a noble literary ambition, ‘Had this happened twenty years ago, I should have gone to Constantinople to learn Arabic, as Pococke? did.
“ As an instance of the niceness of his taste, though he praised West's translation of Pindar, he pointed out the following passages as faulty, by expressing a circumstance so minute as to detract from the general dignity which should prevail :
• Down, then, from thy glittering nail,
Take, O muse, thy Dorian lyre.'" “When Mr. Vesey' was proposed as a member of the Literary Club, Mr. Burke began by saying that he was a man of gentle manners. . Sir,' said Johnson, you need say no more. When you have said a man of gentle manners, you have said enough.
" The late Mr. Fitzherbert told Mr. Langton that Johnson said to him,
1 Dr. Berkeley was the Bishop of Cloyne, and a metaphysical writer of great celebrity, His bold hypothesis of the non-existence of material objects in Nature otherwise than in the mind, excited extraordinary attention at the time. Pope ascribed to him “ every virtue under heaven!" He was born at Kilerin, in Ireland, in 1684, and died in 1753.--Ed.
2 Dr. Edward Pococke was Hebrew Professor at Oxford, and a celebrated orientalist. He was born in 1604, and died in 1691.-Ed.
8 The Right Honourable Agmondesham Vesey was elected a member of the LITERARY CLUB in 1773, and died in 1784.—MALONE.
Sir, a man has no inore right to say an uncivil thing, than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down."
My dear friend Dr. Bathurst,” said he, with a warmth of approba. tion, declared, he was glad that his father, who was a West Indian planter, had left his affairs in total ruin, because having no estate he was not under the temptation of having slaves.'"
“Richardson had little conversation, except about his own works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad to have them introduced. Johnson, when he carried Mr. Langton to see him, professed that he could bring him out into conversation, and used this illusive expression, “Sir, I can make him rear.' But he failed ; for in that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the room a translation of his . Clarissa' into German.”
“Once when somebody produced a newspaper, in which there was a letter of stupid abuse of Sir Joshua Reynolds, of which Johnson himself came in for a share, ' Pray,' said he, let us have it read aloud from beginning to end ; which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestness, and not directing his look to any particular person, called out, 'Are we alive after all this satire ?''
“ He had a strong prejudice against the political character of Secker, one instance of which appeared at Oxford, where he expressed great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established toast, * Church and King.' 'The Archbishop of Canterbury,' said he (with an affected smooth smiling grimace), drinks Constitution in Church and State.' Being asked what difference there was between the two toasts, he said, “Why, Sir, you may be sure he meant something.' Yet when the life of that prelate, prefixed to his sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr. Stinton, his chaplains, first came out, he read it with the
1 A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristic anecdote of Richardson. One day at his country house at Northend, where a large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very flattering circumstance,—that he had seen his Clarissa lying on the king's brother's table. Richardson observing that part of the company were engaged in talking to each other, affected then not to attend to it. But by and by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman, “ I think, Sir, you were saying something about," pausing in-a high futter of expectation. The gentleman, provoked at his inordinate vanity, resolved not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of indifference answered, “A mere trifle, Sir, not worth repeating." The mortification of Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words more the whole day. Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy, it much.-BOSWELL.
2 Secker, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was originally educate with the view of becoming a dissenting minister,—his family and connexions being Dissenters; but from conscientious scruples he eventually conformed to the Church of England, took orders, and obtained rapid preferment. He was successively elevated to the Sees of Bristol in 1785, Oxford in 1737, and Canterbury in 1758, in which last situation he conducteck himself with great dignity and munificence. He was born at Sibthorpe, in Nottinghamshire, in 1693, and died in 1768. His Sermons, Charges, and other works have been published in 12 vols.-ED.
utmost avidity, and said, 'It is a life well written, and that well deserves to be recorded.'
“ Of a certain noble lord, he said, ' Respect him you could not ; for he had no mind of his own. Love him you could not; for that which you could do with him, every one else could.'
**Of Dr. Goldsmith, he said, “No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had.'
“He told, in his lively manner, the following literary anecdote : Green and Guthrie, an Irishman and a Scotchman, undertook a translation of Duhalde's History of China. Green said of Guthrie, that he knew no English, and Guthrie of Green, that he knew no French; and these two undertook to translate Duhalde's History of China. In this translation there was found “ the twenty-sixth day of the new moon.” Now, as the whole age of the moon is but twenty-eight days, the moon, instead of being new, was nearly as old as it could be. The blunder arose from their mistaking the word neuvième (ninth) for nouvelle or neuve (new).'
“Talking of Dr. Blagden's copiousness and precision of communication, Dr. Johnson said, “Blagden, Sir, is a delightful fellow.''
“ On occasion of Dr. Johnson's publishing his pamphlet of The False Alarm,' there came out a very angry answer (by many supposed to be by Mr. Wilkes). Dr. Johnson determined on not answering it; but, in conversation with Mr. Langton, mentioned a particular or two, which, if he had replied to it, he might perhaps have inserted. In the answerer's pamphlet, it had been said with solemnity, • Do you consider, Sir, that a House of Commons is to the people as a creature is to its Creator ?' .To this question,' said Dr. Johnson, 'I could have replied that, in the first place, the idea of a Creator must be such as that he has a power to unmake or annihilate his creature.'
“ Then it cannot be conceived that a creature can make laws for its Creator.'”1
“* Depend upon it,' said he, that if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery, there never is any recourse to the mention of it.
“A man must be a poor beast, that should read no more in quantity than he could utter aloud.”
“Imlac in ‘Rasselas,' I spelt with a c at the end, because it is less like English, which should always have the Saxon k added to the c.
“Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life
1 His profound adoration of the Great FIRST Cause was such as to sei him above that “ Philosophy and vain deceit,” with which men of narrow conceptions have been infected. I have heard him strongly maintain that " what is right is not so from any natural fitness, but because God wills it to be right;" and it is certainly so, because he has predisposed the relations of things so as that which he wills must be right.--BOSWELL,
without having it perceived ; for example, a madness has seized a person of supposing himself obliged literally to pray continually; had the madness turned the opposite way, and the person thought it a crime ever to pray, it might not improbably have continued unobserved.'
“ He apprehended that the delineation of characters in the end of the first book of “The Retreat of the Ten Thousand,' was the first instance of the kind that was known.”
Supposing,' said he,' a wife to be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome ; for instance, if a woman should continually dwell upon the subject of the Arian heresy.
“No man speaks concerning another, even suppose it be in his praise, if he thinks he does not hear him, exactly as he would if he thought he was within hearing.'
"The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.' This he said to me with great earnestness of manner, very near the time of his decease, on occasion of having desired me to read a letter addressed to him from some person in the north of England, which, when I had done, and he asked me what the contents were, as I thought being particular upon it might fatigue him, it being of great length, I only told him in general that it was highly in his praise; and then he expressed himself as above.'
“He mentioned with an air of satisfaction what Baretti had told him, that, meeting in the course of his studying English, with an ex cellent paper in "The Spectator,' one of four that were written by the respectable dissenting minister, Mr. Grove, of Taunton, and observing the genius and energy of mind that it exhibits, it greatly quickened his curiosity to visit our country; as he thought, if such were the lighter periodical essays of our authors, their productions on more weighty occasions must be wonderful indeed.”
“He observed once, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, that a beggar in the street will more readily ask alms from a man, though there should be no marks of wealth in his appearance, than from even a well-dressed woman ;1 which he accounted for from the great degree of carefulness as to money that is to be found in women ; saying farther upon it, that the opportunities in general that they possess of improving their condition are much fewer than men have; and adding, as he looked round the company, which consisted of men only, “There is not one of us who does not think he might be richer, if he would use his endeavour.'
He thus characterised an ingenious writer of his acquaintance:“Sir, he is an enthusiast by rule.' 'He may hold
ир that SHIELD against all his enemies,' was an observation on Homer, in reference to his description of the shield of Achilles, made by Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife to his friend Mr. Fitzherbert,
1 Sterne is of a direct contrary opinion. See his “ Sentimental Journey," Article, The Mystery.--Boswell.