Slike strani

Authours cited in the Dictionary. (A.D. 1780.


is, are properly worked up, must be spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. We may apply to well-meaning, but misjudging persons in particulars of this nature, what Giannone' said to a monk, who wanted what he called to convert him: “Tu sei santo, ma tu non sei filosofo.” — It is an unhappy circumstance that one might give away five hundred pounds in a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do any good'.'

* There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity than condescension; when he seems to suppose his understanding too powerful for his company'.'

• Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, “Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture."

* John Gilbert Cooper related, that soon after the publication of his Dictionary, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it, told him, that among other

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· Giannone, an Italian historian, born 1676, died 1748. When he published his History of the Kingdom of Naples, a friend congratulating him on its success, said :— Mon ami, vous vous êtes mis une couronne sur la tête, mais une couronne d'épines.' His attacks on the Church led to persecution. In the end he made a retractation, but nevertheless he died in prison. Nouv. Biog. Gen. xx. 422.

? See ante, ii. 137, note 2.

s .There is no kind of impertinence more justly censurable than his who is always labouring to level thoughts to intellects higher than his own; who apologises for every word which his own narrowness of converse inclines him to think unusual; keeps the exuberance of his faculties under visible restraint; is solicitous to anticipate inquiries by needless explanations; and endeavours to shade his own abilities lest weak eyes should be dazzled with their lustre.' The Rambler, No. 173.

• Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines Anfractuousness as Fulness of windings and turnings. Anfractuosity is not given. Lord Macaulay, in the last sentence in his Biography of Johnson, alludes to this passage. 6 See ante, iii. 169, note 1.


Aetat. 71.] Johnson criticises his own writings.


animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. “Nay, (said Johnson,) I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David'."

* Talking of expence, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. “Whereas, (said he,) you will hardly ever find a country gentleman who is not a good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged to lay out ten pounds”.”

When in good humour he would talk of his own writings with a wonderful frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton asked him, how he liked that paper; he shook his head, and answered, “too wordy.” At another time, when one was reading his tragedy of Irene to a company at a house in the country, he left the room; and somebody having asked him


"My purpose was to admit no testimony of living authors, that I might not be misled by partiality, and that none of my contemporaries might have reason to complain; nor have I departed from this resolution, but when some performance of uncommon excellence excited my veneration, when my memory supplied me from late books with an example that was wanting, or when my heart, in the tenderness of friendship, solicited admission for a favourite name.' Johnson's Works, v. 39. He cites himself under important, Mrs. Lennox under talent, Garrick under giggler; from Richardson's Clarissa, he makes frequent quotations. In the fourth edition, published in 1773 (ante, ii. 233), he often quotes Reynolds; for instance, under vulgarism, which word is not in the previous editions. Beattie he quotes under weak, and Gray under bosom. He introduces also many quotations from Law, and Young. In the earlier editions, in his quotations from Clarissa, he very rarely gives the author's name; in the fourth edition I have found it rarely omitted.

• In one of his Hypochondriacks (London Mag. 1782, p. 233) Boswell writes :—'I have heard it remarked by one, of whom more remarks deserve to be remembered than of any person I ever knew, that a man is often as narrow as he is prodigal for want of counting.'

the 6


(A.D. 1780.

than we.

the reason of this, he replied, Sir, I thought it had been better'.'

‘Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosityø of moral conduct, he said to Mr. Langton, “Men of harder minds than ours will do many things from which you and I would shrink; yet, Sir, they will perhaps do more good in life

But let us try to help one another. If there be a wrong twist it may be set right. It is not probable that two people can be wrong the same way.'

Of the Preface to Capel's Shakspeare, he said, “If the man would have come to me, I would have endeavoured to endow his purposes with words; for as it is, he doth gabble monstrously."

• He related, that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him. “Now, (said he, one may mark here the effect of sleep


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i Sept. 1778. We began talking of Irene, and Mrs. Thrale made Dr. Johnson read some passages which I had been remarking as uncommonly applicable to the present time. He read several speeches, and told us he had not ever read so much of it before since it was first printed.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 96. •I was told,' wrote Sir Walter Scott,“that a gentleman called Pot, or some such name, was introduced to him as a particular admirer of his. The Doctor growled and took no further notice. “He admires in especial your Irene as the finest tragedy of modern times;" to which the Doctor replied, If Pot says so, Pot lies!" and relapsed into his reverie.' Croker Corres. ii. 32. * Scrupulosity was a word that Boswell had caught up from John

Sir W. Jones (Life, i. 177) wrote in 1776:– You will be able to examine with the minutest scrupulosity, as Johnson would call it.' Johnson describes Addison's prose as ‘pure without scrupulosity.' Works, vii. 472. 'Swift,' he says, “washed himself with oriental scrupulosity. 16. viii. 222. Boswell (Hebrides, Aug. 15) writes of 'scrupulosity of conscience.'

· When thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endow'd thy purposes
With words that made them known.'

The Tempest, act i. sc. 2.


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Aetat. 71.]

Physical and moral truth.


in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my judgement failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own character.”

One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the Professors of a foreign University. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there was too much ostentation, said, “I never receive any of these tributes of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign publication, in which mention is made of l'illustre Lockman'."

Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, “Sir, I know no man who has passed through life with more observation than Reynolds."?

"He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our Saviour's gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalen, “Η πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε: Tropeúov eis eipńvnu. “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace'.” He said, “the manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting.

*He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth; “Physical truth, is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral truth, is, when you tell a thing sincerely and precisely as it appears to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so, I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been mistaken, I told a moral truth.”'

*Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom Mr. Warton in his

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'Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit. BosWELL. See ante, i. 133, note. Lockman was known in France as the translator of Voltaire's La Henriade. See Marmontel's Preface. Voltaire's Works, ed. 1819, viii. 18. Luke vii. 50. BOSWELL.

Observations 8

The green room of Drury Lane. [A. D. 1780.


Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen, gave some account, which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, I will militate no longer against his nescience.Huggins was master of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant'. Johnson said, “ It appears to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder without ball.”'

• Talking of the Farce of High Life below Stairs, he said, “Here is a Farce, which is really very diverting when you see it acted; and yet one may read it, and not know that one has been reading any thing at all."

• He used at one time to go occasionally to the green room of Drury-lane Theatre', where he was much regarded by the players, and was very easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's comick powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He said, “ Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands what you say.” And she said of him, “I love to sit by Dr. Johnson; he always entertains me.” One night, when The Recruiting Officer was acted, he said to Mr. Holland', who had been expressing an apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar; “No, Sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit."

• His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could not have so much intercourse as Mr. Garrick

· Miss Burney, describing him in 1783, says :- He looks unformed in his manners and awkward in his gestures. He joined not one word in the general talk.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 237. See ante, ii. 47, note.

By Garrick. • See ante, i. 233. * See post, under Sept. 30, 1783.

• The actor. Churchill introduces him in The Rosciad (Poems, i. 16):

• Next Holland came. With truly tragic stalk,
He creeps, he flies. Hero should not walk.'


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