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criticism, and wants to make it his own ; as if he had been for years anatomising the heart of man, and peeping into every cranny of it.” GOLDSMITH,. " It is easier to write that book than to read it." JOHNSON. “ We have an example of true criticisin in Burke's Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful; and if I recollect, there is also Du Bos; and Bouhours, who shows all beauty to depend on truth. There is no great merit in telling how many plays have ghosts in them, and how this ghost is better than that. You must show how terror is impressed on the human heart.-In the description of night in Macbeth, the beetle and the bat detract from the general idea of darkness,-inspissated gloom.”
Johnson spoke unfavourably of a certain pretty voluminous author, saying, “ He used to write anonymous books, and then other books commend. ing those books, in which there was somethirrg of rascality.”
He said, “I am very unwilling to read the manuscripts of authors, and give them my opinion. If the authors who apply to me have money, I bid them boldly print without a name; if they have written in order to get money, I tell them to go to the booksellers, and make the best bargain they can.” BOSWELL. “ But, sir, if a bookseller should bring you a manuscript to look at ?” Johnson. “ Why, sir, I would desire the bookseller to take it away.”
He talked with approbation of an intended edition of the Spectator, with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared by a gentleman eminent in the literary world, and the materials which he had collected for the remainder had been trausfer.
red to another hand. He observed, that all works, which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw.light upon the Spectator. He said, Addison had made his sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious seuiiments; but that he had thought better, and made amends by making him found an hospital for decayed farmers. He called for the volume of the Spectator, in which that account is contained, and read it aloud to the company: he read so well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his utterance.
“ What an expense, sir,” said Boswell to him, “ do you put us to, in buying books to which you have written prefaces or dedications !” JOHNSON.
Why I have dedicated to the royal family all round; that is to say, to the last generation of the royal family." GOLDSMITH. “ And, perhaps, sir, not one sentence of wit in a whole dedication." Johnson. “Perhaps not, sir.” Boswell. “What then is the reason for applying to a particular person to do that which any one may do as well ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, one man has greater readiness at doing it than another."
Mr. Andrew Stuart's elegant and plausible Letters to lord Mansfield, a copy of which had been sent by the author to Dr. Johnson, were mentioned. Johnson. “ They have not answered the end : they have not been talked of; I have never heard of them. This is owing to their not being sold : people seldom read a book which is given to them, and few are given. The way to spread a work is to sell it at a low price : no man will send to buy a thing that costs even sixpence, without an intention to read it."
The character of Mallet having been introdaced, and spoken of slightingly by Goldsmith : JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, Mallet had talents enough to keep his literary reputation alive as long as he himself lived; and that, let me tell you, is a good deal. GOLDSMITH, “ But I cannot agree that it was so : his literary reputation was dead long before his natural death. I consider an author's literary reputation to be . alive only while his name will insure a good price for bis copy from the booksellers. I will get you (to Johnson) a hundred guineas for any thing whatever that you shall write, if you put your name to it."
Speaking of Rolt, to whose Dictionary of Commerce Dr. Johnson wrote the preface. JOHNSON. " Old Gardner 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 panphlet; and the contract was for ninety-nine years. I wish I had thought of giving this to Thurlow, in the cause about literary property : what an excellent instance would it have been of the oppression of booksellers towards poor authors !" (smiling) Davies, zealous for the honour of the trade, said, Gardner was not properly a bookseller. Johnson.
Nay, sir ; he certainly was a bookseller : he had served his time regularly, was a member of the sta. tioners' company, kept a shop in the face of man.
kind, purchased copy-right, 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 be 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 Uni. versal Visitor no longer.”
Johnsou nobly said, when Boswell talked to him of the feeble, though shrill outcry, that had been raised against his Lives of the Poets, “ Sir, I considered myself as entrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my opinion sincerely-let them show where they think me wrong."
Boswell censured some ludicrous fantastic dialogues between two coach horses, and other such stuff, which Baretti had lately published. Johnson joined with Boswell, and said, “ Nothing odd will do long : Tristram Shandy did not last." :
Boswell mentioned Dr. Adam Smith's book on the Wealth of Nations, which was just published; and that sir John Pringle had observed to him, that Dr. Smith, who had never been in trade, could not be expected to write well on that subject, any more than a lawyer upon physic. Johnson. “ He is mistaken, sir : a man who has never been engaged in trade himself may undoubtedly write well upon trade ; and there is nothing which requires more to be illustrated by philosophy, than trade does. As to mere wealth, that is to say, money, it is clear, that one nation or one individual cannot increase its store but by making another poorer : but trade procures what is more valuable, the reciprocation of the peculiar advantages of different countries
21 A merchant seldom thinks but of his own particular trade. To write a good book upon it, a man must have extensive views. It is not necessary to have practised, to write well upon a subject." Boswell. “ Law is a subject, on which no man
write well without practice.” JOHNSON. Why, sir, in England, where so much money is to be got by the practice of the law, most of our writers upon it have been in practice ; though Blackstone had not been much in practice when he published his Commentaries; but upon the contivent, the great writers on law have not all been in practice : Grotius indeed was; but Puffendorf was not; Burlamaqui was not."
In 1745, Johnson published a pamphlet, entitled “ Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, with Remarks on sir T. H.'s (sir 'Thomas Hanmer's) Edition of Shakspeare;” to which he affixed proposals for a new edition of that poet. This pamphlet was highly esteemed, and was fortunate enough to obtain the approbation even of the supercilious Warburtov himself, who, in the preface to his Shakspeare, published two years afterwards, thus mentioned it : “ As to all those things which have been published under the titles of Essays, Remarks, Observations, &c. on Shakspeare, if you except some Critical Notes on Macbeth, given as á specimen of a projected edition, and written,