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these words occur. It is enough that they mean to denote even a very small possession, provided it be a man's own:
'Est aliquid, quocunque loco, quocunque recessT,
This season, there was a whimsical fashion in the newspapers of applying Shakespeare's words to describe living persons well known in the world; which was done under the title of ' Modern Characters from Shakespeare,' many of which were admirably adapted. The fancy took so much, that they were afterwards collected into a pamphlet. Somebody said to Johnson, across the table, that he had not been in those characters. 'Yes (said he), I have. I should have been sorry to be left out.' He then repeated what had been applied to him,
'You must borrow me Garagantua's mouth.'
Miss Reynolds not perceiving at once the meaning of this, he was obliged to explain it to her, which had something of an awkward and ludicrous effect. Why, madam, it has a reference to me, as using big words, which require the mouth of a giant to pronounce them. Garagantua is the name of a giant in Rabelais.' BOSWELL: But, sir, there is another amongst them for you:
"He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
JOHNSON: "There is nothing marked in that. No, sir, Garagantua is the best.' Notwithstanding this
1 Sat. iii. 230. VOL. IV.
ease and good humour, when I, a little while afterwards, repeated his sarcasm on Kenrick,1 which was received with applause, he asked, 'Who said that?' and on my suddenly answering Garagantua, he looked serious, which was a sufficient indication that he did not wish it to be kept up.
When we went to the drawing-room, there was a rich assemblage. Besides the company who had been at dinner, there were Mr. Garrick, Mr. Harris of Salisbury, Dr. Percy, Dr. Burney, the Honourable Mrs. Cholmondeley, Miss Hannah More, etc. etc.
After wandering about in a kind of pleasing distraction for some time, I got into a corner with Johnson, Garrick, and Harris. GARRICK (to Harris): 'Pray, sir, have you read Potter's Eschylus?' HARRIS: 'Yes; and think it pretty.' GARRICK (to Johnson):
And what think you, sir, of it?' JOHNSON: 'I thought what I read of it verbiage; but upon Mr. Harris's recommendation I will read a play. (To Mr. Harris.) Don't prescribe two.' Mr. Harris suggested one, I do not remember which. JOHNSON: 'We must try its effect as an English poem; that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation: translations are, in general, for people who cannot read the original.' I mentioned the vulgar saying, that Pope's Homer was not a good representation of the original. JOHNSON: 'Sir, it is the greatest work of the kind that has ever been produced.' BOSWELL: 'The truth is, it is impossible perfectly to translate poetry. In a different language it may be the same tune, but it has not the same tone. Homer plays it on a bassoon; Pope on
1 See vol. ii. p. 157.
a flageolet.' HARRIS: 'I think heroic poetry is best in blank verse; yet it appears that rhyme is essential to English poetry, from our deficiency in metrical quantities. In my opinion, the chief excellence of our language is numerous prose.' JOHNSON: Sir William Temple was the first writer who gave cadence to English prose.1 Before his time they were careless of arrangement, and did not mind whether a sentence ended with an important word or an insignificant word, or with what part of speech it was concluded.' Mr. Langton, who now had joined us, commended Clarendon. JOHNSON: 'He is objected to for his parentheses, his involved clauses, and his want of harmony. But he is supported by his matter. It is, indeed, owing to a plethory of matter that his style is so faulty: every substance (smiling to Mr. Harris), has so many accidents. To be distinct, we must talk analytically. If we analyse language, we must speak of it grammati
1 [The author, in vol. i. p. 176, says, that Johnson once told him, "that he had formed his style upon that of Sir William Temple, and upon Chambers's Proposal for his Dictionary. He certainly was mistaken; or, if he imagined at first that he was imitating Temple, he was very unsuccessful, for nothing can be more unlike than the simplicity of Temple and the richness of Johnson.'
This observation, on the first view, seems perfectly just; but on a closer examination, it will, I think, appear to have been founded on a misapprehension. Mr. Boswell understood Johnson too literally. He did not, I conceive, mean that he endeavoured to imitate Temple's style in all its parts; but that he formed his style on him and Chambers (perhaps the paper published in 1737, relative to his second edition, entitled 'Considerations,' etc.), taking from each what was most worthy of imitation. The passage before us, I think, shows that he learned from Temple to modulate his periods, and, in that respect only, made him his pattern. In this view of the subject there is no difficulty. He might learn from Chambers, compactness, strength, and precision (in opposition to the laxity of style which had long prevailed); from Sir Thomas Browne (who was also certainly one of his archetypes), pondera verborum, vigour and energy of expression; and from Temple, harmonious arrangement, the due collocation of words, and the other arts and graces of composition here enumerated; and yet, after all, his style might bear no striking resemblance to that of any of these writers, though it had profited by each.-M.]
cally; if we analyse argument, we must speak of it logically.' GARRICK: 'Of all the translations that ever were attempted, I think Elphinston's Martial the most extraordinary. He consulted me upon it, who am a little of an epigrammatist myself, you know. told him freely, "You don't seem to have that turn." I asked him if he was serious; and finding he was, I advised him against publishing. Why, his translation is more difficult to understand than the original. I thought him a man of some talents; but he seems crazy in this.' JOHNSON: 'Sir, you have done what I had not courage to do. But he did not ask my advice, and I did not force it upon him, to make him angry with me.' GARRICK: 'But as a friend, sir.' JOHNSON: 'Why, such a friend as I am with him-no.' GARRICK: 'But if you see a friend going to tumble over a precipice?' JOHNSON: 'That is an extravagant case, sir. You are sure a friend will thank you for hindering him from tumbling over a precipice; but, in the other case, I should hurt his vanity and do him no good. He would not take my advice. His brotherin-law, Strahan, sent him a subscription of £50, and said he would send him £50 more, if he would not publish.' GARRIGK: 'What! eh! is Strahan a good judge of an epigram? Is not he rather an obtuse man, eh?' JOHNSON: 'Why, sir, he may not be a judge of an epigram: but you see he is a judge of what is not an epigram.' BOSWELL: 'It is easy for you, Mr. Garrick, to talk to an author as you talked to Elphinston; you, who have been so long the manager of a theatre, rejecting the plays of poor authors. You are an old judge, who have often pronounced sentence of death. You are a practised surgeon, who have often
amputated limbs; and though this may have been for the good of your patients, they cannot like you.' Those who have undergone a dreadful operation, are not very fond of seeing the operator again.' GARRICK: 'Yes, I know enough of that. There was a reverend gentleman (Mr. Hawkins), who wrote a tragedy, the SIEGE of something,' which I refused.' HARRIS: 'So, the siege was raised.' JOHNSON: 'Ay, he came to me and complained; and told me that Garrick said his play was wrong in the concoction. Now, what is the concoction of a play?' (Here Garrick started, and twisted himself, and seemed sorely vexed; for Johnson told me, he believed the story was true.) GARRICK: 'I—I—I—said, first concoction.' '2 JOHNSON (smiling): 'Well, he left out first. And Rich, he said, refused him in false English: he could show it under his hand.' GARRICK: 'He wrote to me in violent wrath, for having refused his play: "Sir, this is growing a very serious and terrible affair. I am resolved to publish my play. I will appeal to the world; and how will your judgment appear!" I answered, "Sir, notwithstanding all the seriousness, and all the terrors, I have no objection to your publishing your play; and as you live at a great distance (Devonshire, I believe), if you will send it to me, I will convey it to the press." I never heard more of it, ha! ha! ha!'
On Friday, April 10, I found Johnson at home in the morning. We resumed the conversation of yester
1 It was called The Siege of Aleppo. Mr. Hawkins, the author of it, was formerly professor of poetry at Oxford. It is printed in his Miscellanies, 3 vols. octavo.
2 [Garrick had high authority for this expression. Dryden uses it in one of his critical essays.-M.]