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Mr. Langton and he having gone to see a Free-mason's funeral procession, when they were at Rochester, and some solemn music being played on French-horns, he said, This is the first time that I have ever been affected by musical sounds ; adding, that the impression made upon him was of a melancholy kind. Mr. Langton saying, that this effect was a five one.--Johnson. Yes, if it softens the mind so as to prepare it for the reception of salutary ferlings, it may be good; but inasmuch as it is melancholy per se, it is bad.
Goldsmith had long a visionary prospect, that some time or other when his circumstances should be easier, he would go to Aleppo, in order to acquire a knowledge, as far as might he, of uny arts peculiar to the East, and introduce them into Britain. When this was talked of in Dr. Johnson's company, he said, Of all men Goldsmith is the most unfit to go out upon such an enquiry; he is utterly ignorant of such arts as we already possess, and consequently could not know what would be accessions to our present stock of mechanical knowledge. Sir, he would bring home a grinding-barrow, which you see in every street in London, and think that he had furoished a wonderful improvement.
Greek, Sir, said he, is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he
When Lord Charles Hay, after his return from America, was preparing his defence to be offered to the Court-Martial which he had deinanded, having heard Mr. Langton as high in expressions of admiration of Johnson, as he usually was, he requested that Dr. Johnson might be introduced to him: and Mr. Langtoo having mentioned it to Johnson, he very kindly and readily agreed; and being presented by Mr. Langton to luis Lordship, while under arrest, he saw hiin several times ; upon one of which occasions Lord Charles read to him what he had prepared, wlich Johnson signified his approbation of, saying, It is a very good soldiery defence. Johnson said, that he had advised his Lordship, that as it was in vain to contend with those in power, if they would offer him the rank of Lieutenant-General, and a government, it would be better judged to desist from urging his complaints. It is well known that his Lordship died before the sentence was made known.
Johnson one day gave high praise to Dr. Bently's verses in Dodsley's Collection, which he recited with his usual energy. Dr. Adam Smith, who was present, observed in his decisive professorial manner, Very well, -very well. Johnson however added, Yes, they are very well, Sir, but you may observe in what manner they are well. They are the force ible verses of a man of a strong mind, but not accustomed to write verse : for there is some uncouthness in the expression.
Drinking tea one day at Garrick's with Mr. Langton, he was questioned if he was not somewhat of a heretic as to Shakspeare; said Garrick, I doubt he is a little of an infidel. -Sir, said Johnson, I 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 tvil'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,
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 produciog. Addison gives a specimen of this ribaldry, in Number 383 of “ The Spectator," when Sir Roger de Coverly and he were going to Spring-garden. Jobnson was once eminently successful in this species of contest ; a fellow having attacked bim with some coarse railery, Johnson answered him thus, Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a baredy-house, is a receiver of stolen goods. One evening when be 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 extraordiuary talents of Mr. Burke, so Mr. Burke was fully sensible of the wonderful powers of Dr. Johnson, Mr. Langtoo 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 Johuson had been very great that night; Mr. Langton joined in this, but added, he could have wished to hear more from another person; (plainly intimating that he meant Mr. Burke.) 0, no, said Mr. Burke, it is enough for me to havę rung the bell to him,
Beauclerk having observed to hiin of one of their friends, that he was aukward at counting money, Why, Sir, said Johnson, I am likewise aukward 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 an overacted cordiality.
Being in company with a gentleman who thought fit to maintain Dr. Berkley's 'ingenious philosophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by No. 10.
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.
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 bim a handsome compliment, implying that a man of his talents should be above attention to such distinctions,-Nay, Sır, never mind that; Nil tè 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, tly Dorian jyre, When Mr. Vesey was proposed as a member of the Literary Club, Mr, Burke began by saying, that he was a man of gentle mamiers. 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 bien, Sir, a man has no more 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 approbation) declared, be was glad that bis father, who was a West Indian planter, had left his affairs in total ruin, because having no estate, he was not upder the temptation of having slaves.
Richardson had little couversation, except about his own works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad to have them introduced. Johuson, when he carried Mr. Langton to see him, professed that he could bring him out into conversation, and used this allusive expression, Sir, I can make him rear. But be failed; for is 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 Jobnson himself came ju for a share,--Pray, said he, let us have it read aloud from beginning to end; which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestoess, and not din recting 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 expresved great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established toast, “Church and King."
The Arehbishop of Canterbury, said he, (with an affected smooth suniliog grimace) drinks Constitution in Church and state.' Being asked what differepce 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 bis sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr. Stipton, bis chaplains, first came out, he read it with the 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 be 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 ancedote : 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 Dubalde's history of China. In this transa lution there was found," the twenty-sixth day of the new moon." Now, as the whole age of the inoon is but twenty-eight days, the moong 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 copionsness and precision of communio eation, 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.-lo 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 cannol be conceived that a creature can make laws for its CREATOR.
Depend upon it, said he, that if a man talks of bis misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is oothing 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 thau he could utter aloud.
Imlac in “ Rasselas,” | spelt with a c at the end because it is less like English, which should always have the Saxon k added to the e.
Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life witbout 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 troublesonie ; for iostance,--if a woman should continually dwell upon the subject of the Ariau 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 earnestuess 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 Eugland; 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 iu general that it was highly in his praise ;-and then he expressed hiinself as above.
He mentioned with an air of satisfaction what Baretti had told him ; that, meeting, in the course of his studyiog English, with an excellent 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 Reynold'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; which he accounted for from the great degree of carefuloess 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 rouud 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 characterized an ingenious writer of his acquaintance : Sir, be is an enthusiast by rule.
He may hold up that shield against all his enemies ;-was an observae tion ou Homer, in reference to his description of the shield of Achilles, made by Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife to his frieod Mr. Fitzherbert of Derbyshire, and represented by Dr. Johnson as a very fine one. He had in general a very high opinion of that lady's understanding.
Au observation of Bathurst's may be meutioned, which Johnson sepeated, appearing to acknowledge it to be well founded; nanely, it