페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

2

been fancied: he was not killed; he died only because others were to die, and because his death afforded an opportunity to Addison of some very fine writing. We have the example of Cervantes making Don Quixote die. I never could see why sir Roger is represented as a little cracked. It appears to me, that the story of the widow was intended to have something superinduced upon it; but the superstructure did not come.”

Talking of the eminent writers in queen Anne's reign, he observed, “ I think Dr. Arbuthnot the first man among them : he was the most universal genius; being an excellent physician, a man of deep learning, and a man of much humour. Mr. Addison was, to be sure, a great man: his learning was not profound; but his morality, his humour, and his elegance of writing, set him very high.”

“ Addison wrote Budgell's papers in the Spectator, at least mended them so much, that he made them almost his own ; and Draper, Tonson's partner, assured Mrs. Johnson, that the much admired epilogue to the Distressed Mother, which came out in Budgell's name, was in reality written by Addison."

He recommended Dr. Cheyne's books. Boswell said, he thought Cheyne had been reckoned whim. sical. Johnson. “ So he was in some things; but there is no end of objections. There are few books to which some objection or other may not be made." He added, “ I would not have you read any thing else of Cheyne, but his book on Health, and his English Malady.”

Fielding being mentioned, Johnson exclaimed, “ He was a blockhead;" and, upon Boswell's ex

[ocr errors]

pressing his astonishment at so strange an assertion; he said, “ What I mean by being a blockhead is, that he was a barren rascal.” BOSWELL, “ Will you not allow, sir, that he draws very natural pictures of human life?” Johnson.“ Why, sir, it is of very low life. Richardson used to say, that had he not known who Fielding was, he should have believed he was an ostler. Sir, there is more kuowledge of the heart in one letter of Richardson's, than in all Tom Jones.* I, indeed, never read Joseph Andrews." ERSKINE. Surely, sir, Richardson is very tedious." JOHNSON. “

Why, sir, if you were to read Richard son for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted, that you would hang yourself: but, you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment."

A book of travels, lately published under the title of Coriat Junior, and written by Mr. Paterson, was mentioned. Johnson said, this book was in imitation of Sterne, and not of Coriat, whose name Paterson had chosen as a whimsical one. Coriat,” said he, “ was a humourist about the court of James the First. He had a mixture of learning, of wit, and of buffoonery. He first travelled through Europe, and published his travels : he afterwards travelled on foot through Asia, and had made many remarks; but he died at Mandoa, and his remarks were lost.”

66 Tom

“ Johnson's severity against Fielding did not arise from any viciousness in his style, but from his loose life, and the profligacy of almost all his male characters. Who would venture to read one of his novels aloud to modest women! His novels are male amusements, and very amusing they certainly are. Fielding's conversation was coarse, and so tinctured with the rank weeds of the Garden, that it would now be thought only fit for a brothel."-Burney.

Talking of the Irish clergy, he said, “ Swift was a inan of great parts, and the instrument of much good to his country; Berkeley was a profound seholar, as well as a man of fine imagination; but Usher was the great luminary of the Irish church; and a greater no church could boast of, at least, in modern times.”

Speaking of Mr. Harte, canon of Windsor, and writer of the History of Gustavus Adolphus, he much commended him as a scholar, and a man of the most companionable talents he had ever known. He said, the defects in his history proceeded not from imbecillity, but from foppery.

He loved, he said, the old black letter books; they were rich in matter, though their style was inelegant; wonderfully so, considering how conversant the writers were with the best models of antiquity.

Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.

He frequently exhorted Dr. Maxwell to set about writing a history of Ireland, and archly remarked, there had been some good Irish writers, and that one Irishman might at least aspire to be equal to another.

Of Dr. John Campbell, the author, he said, " He is a very inquisitive and a very able man, and a man of good religious principles, though I am afraid he has been deficient in practice. Campbell is radically right; and we may hope that in time there will be good practice.”

was.

He owned, that he thought Hawkesworth was: one of his imitators, but he did not think Goldsmith

“ Goldsmith,” he said, “ has great merit.” BOSWELL.“ But, sir, he is much indebted to you for his getting so high in the public estimation.”. Johnson. “ Why, sir, he has, perhaps, got sooner to it by his intimacy with me.”

No. III.

POETRY,

Op making verses, Johnson observed, “ The great difficulty is to know when you have made good ones. When composing, I have generally had them in my mind, perhaps fifty at a time, walkiug up and down in my room; and then I have written them down, and often, from laziness, have written only half lines. I have written a hundred lines in a day. I remember, I wrote a hundred lines of the Vanity of Human Wishes in a day. Doctor, (turning to Goldsmith,) I am not quite idle; I made one line t'other day, but I made no more.” GOLDSMITH. "Let us hear it; we'll put a bad one to it.” JOHN

No, sir, I have forgot it.” He said, “ I have not been troubled for a long time with authors desiring my opinion of their ; works. I used once to be sadly plagued with a man who wrote verses, but who literally had no other notion of a verse but that it consisted of ten sylla. bles. Lay your knife and your fork across your plate, was to him a verse :

Lay your knife and your förk across plåte.

SON.

As he wrote a great number of verses, lie sometimes by chance made good ones, though he did not know it."

He was no admirer of blank verse, and said, “ it always, fails, unless sustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank verse, the language suffers more distortion, to keep it out of prose, than any inconvenience or limitation to be apprehended from the shackles and circumspection of rhyme.”

Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were put into her vase at Batheaston villa, near Bath, in competition for honorary prizes, being mentioned, he held them very cheap : Bouts rimés,” said he,“ is a mere conceit, and an old conceit now; I wonder how people were persuaded to write in that manner for this lady.” Boswell named a gentleman of his acquaintance, who wrote for the vase. JOHNSON. “He was a blockhead for his pains.” Boswell. “The duchess of Northumberland wrote.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, the duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases; nobody will say any thing to a lady of her high rank : but, I should be apt to throw ******'s verses in his face."

Mr. Murphy mentioned Dr. Johnson's having a design to publish an edition of Cowley. Johnson said, he did not know but he should ; and he expressed his disapprobation of Dr. Hurd, for having published a mutilated edition under the title of Select Works of Abraham Cowley. Mr. Murphy thought it a bad precedent ; observing, that any author might be used in the same manner; and that it was pleasing to see the variety of an author's com.' positions at different periods.

« 이전계속 »