« 이전계속 »
which is translated by Dr. Clarke thus:-"Ut semper fortissime rem gererem, et superior virtute essem aliis."
A proposition which had been agitated, that monuments to eminent persons should, for the time to come, be erected in St. Paul's church as well as in Westminster-abbey, was mentioned ; and it was asked, who should be honoured by having his monument first erected there. Somebody suggested Pope. JOHNSON. “Why, sir, as Pope was a Roman Catholic, I would not have his to be first. I think, Milton's rather should have the precedence. I think more highly of him now than I did at twenty. There is more thinking in him and in Butler, than in any of our poets.”
He spoke slightingly of Dyer's Fleece.-" The subject, sir, cannot be made poetical. How can a man write poetically of serges and druggets ? Yet you will hear many people talk to you gravely of that excellent poem, The Fleece.” Having talked of Grainger's Sugar Cave, Boswell mentioned to him Mr. Langton's having told him that this poem, being read in manuscript at sir Joshua Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits burst into a laugh, when, after much blank verse pomp, the poet begau a new paragraph thus :
Now, Muse, let's sing of rats.
And what increased the ridicule was, that one of the company, who slyly overlooked the reader, perceived that the word had been originally mice, and had been altered to rats, as more dignified.*
* Such is this little laughable incident, which has been often related, Dr. Percy, the bishop of Dromore, who was an intimate friend of Dr. Grainger, and has a particular regard for his memory, gave the following explanation :
This passage does not appear in the printed work; Dr. Grainger, or some of his friends, it should seem, having become sensible that introducing even ruts, in a grave poem, might be liable to banter. He however, could vot bring himself to relinquish the idea; for they are thus periphrastically exhibited in his poem, as it now stands :
Nor with less waste the whisker'd vermin race,
Johnson said, that Dr. Grainger was an agreeable man; a man who would do any good that was in his power. His translation of Tibullus, he thought, was very well done ; but The Sugar Cane, a poem, " What
“ The passage in question was originally not liable to such a perversion: for the author, having occasion in that part of his work to mention the havock made by rats and mice, had introduced the subject in a kind of mock heroic, and a parody of Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice, invoking the Muse of the old Grecian bard, in an elegant and well turned manner. In this state I had seen it; but after. wards, unknown to me and other friends, he had been persuaded, contrary to his own better judgment, to alter it, so is to produce the unlucky effect above mentioned.”
The above was written by the bishop when he had not the poem itself to recur to: and though the account given was true of it at one period, yet, as Dr. Grainger afterwards altered the passage in question, the remarks in the text do not now apply to the printed poem.
The bishop gives this character of Dr Grainger :-" He was not only a man of genius and learning, but had many excellent virtues ; being one of the most generous, friendly, and benevolent men I ever knew.".
did not please him ;* for he exclaimed, could he make of a sugar-cane ? One might as well write the Parsley-bed, a poem ; or, the Cabbagegarden, a poem.” BOSWELL. “ You must then pickle your cabbage with the sal Atticum." JohnSON. You know there is already the Hop-Garden, a poem ; and, I think, one could say a great deal about cabbage. The poem might begin with the ad. vantages of civilised society over a rude state, exemplified by the Scotch, who had no cabbages till Oliver Cromwell's soldiers introduced them; and one might thus show how arts are propagated by conquest, as they were by the Roman arms."
Sir Joshua Reynolds mentioned Mr. Cumberland's Odes, which were just published. JOHNSON.“ Why, sir, they would have been thought as good as odes commonly are; if Cumberland had not put his name to them; but a name immediately draws censure, unless it be a name that bears down every thing before it. Nay, Cumberland has made his odes subsidiary to the fame of another map. They might have run well enough by themselves; but he has not only loaded them with a name, but has made them carry double."
Johnson said of Chatterton, “ This is the most extraordinary young man that has encountered my knowledge. It is wonderful how the whelp has written such things."
• Dr. Johnson said to Boswell, “ Percy, sir, was angry with me for laughing at the Sugar-cane ; for he had a mind to make a great thing of Grainger's rats.”
The Beggar's Opera, and the common question, whether it was pernicious in its effects, having been introduced in conversation ;-Johnson. “ As to this inatter, which has been very much contested, I myself am of opinion, that more influence has been ascribed to The Beggar's Opera, than it, in reality, ever had ; for, I do not believe, that any man was ever made a rogue by being present at its representation. At the same time, I do not deny, that it may have some influence, by making the character of a rogue familiar, and in some degree pleasing."* Then, collecting himself, as it were, to give a heavy stroke-" There is in it such a labefactation of all principles, as may be injurious to morality.”
While he pronounced this response, the company sat in a comical sort of restraint, smothering a laugh
• A very eminent physician, whose discernment is as acute and penetrating in judging of the human character as it is in his own profession, remarked once at a club, that a lively young man, fond of pleasure, and without money, would hardly resist a solicitation from his mistress to go upon the highway, immediately after being present at the representation of the Beggar's Opera. It was observed by Mr. Gibbon, “ that the Beggar's Opera may, perhaps, have sometimes increased the number of highwaymen; but it has had a beneficial effect in refining that class of men, making them Jess ferocious, more polite; in short, more like gentlemen." Upon this, Mr. Courtenay said, that " Gay was the Orpheus of highwaymen."
which they were afraid might burst out. In his life of Gay, he has been still more decisive as to the inef. ficiency of the Beggar's Opera in corrupting society. Yet, the gaiety and heroism of Macheath are very captivating to a youthful imagination; while the arguments for adventurous depredation are so plausible, the allusions so lively, and the contrasts with the ordinary and more paivful modes of acquiring property are so artfully displayed, that it requires a cool and strong judgment to resist so imposing an aggregate. Still there is in it so much of real London life, so much brilliant wit, and such a variety of airs, which, from early association of ideas, engage, soothe, and enliven the mind, that it will always give pleasure on the stage ; and it contains so many sound, moral suggestions, that it may be found an improving, as well as agreeable companion in the closet.
The late “ worthy' duke of Queensbury, as Thomson, in his Seasons, justly characterizes hin, told Boswell, that when Gay showed him the Beggar's Opera, his grace's observation was, This is a very odd thing, Gay; I am satisfied that it is either a very good thing or a very bad thing." It proved the former, beyond the warmest expectations of the author or his friends. Mr. Cambridge, however, mentioned, that there was good reason enough to doubt concerning its success. He was told by Quin, that during the first night of its appearance it was long in a very dubious state; that there was a dis. position to damn it, and that it was saved by the song,
o, ponder well ! be not severe !