Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Frgere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis

And you, Malone, to critic leaming dear, Costinget, dabiturque licentia sumpta pudenter: Correct and elegant, refined though clear, El nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidem, si By studying him, acquired that classic taste, Graco fonte cadant, parcè detorta. Quid autem Which high in Shakspeare's fane thy statue placed Cecilio Plastoque dabit Romanus, ademptum Near Johnson Steevens stands, on scenick ground, Virgilio Varioque ? Ego cur, acquirere pauca Acute, laborious, fertile, and profound. Si posam, invideor; cum lingua Catonis et Enni Ingenious Hawkesworth to this school we owe, Sumodem patrium ditaverit, et nova rerum And scarce the pupil from the tutor know. Noauna protulerit? Licuit, semperque licebit Here early parts accomplish'd Jones sublin.es, signatura przsente notà producere nomen. And science blends with Asia's lofty rhymes:

De Arte Poetica. Harmonious Jones! who in his splendid strains Yet Johnson assured me, that he had not In Hindu fictions, while we fondly trace

Sings Camdeo's sports, on Agra's flowery plains, taken upon him to add more that four or Love and the Muses, deck'd with Attick grace. five words to the English language, of his Amid these names can Boswell be forgot, own formation; and he was very much of- Scarce by North Britons now esteem'd a Scot?; fended at the general licence by no means Who to the sage devoted from his youth, “modestly taken” in his time, not only to Imbibed from himn the sacred love of truth; enin new words, but to use many words in The keen research, the exercise of mind, senses quite different from their established and that best art, the art to know mankind. meaning, and those frequently very fantas- Nor was his energy confined alone tical.

To friends around his philosophick throne; Sir Thomas Browne, whose Life John- its influence wide improved our letter'd isle, Sou wrote, was remarkably fond of Anglo- And lucid vigour mark'd the general style: Latin diction; and to his example we are to As Nile's proud waves, swoln from their oozy bed, 2xribe Johnson's sometimes indulging him- First o’er the neighbouring meads majestick spread; self in this kind of phraseology. John- Till gathering force, they more and more expand, Sna's comprehenson of mind was the mould And with new virtue fertilise the land.” for his language. Had his conceptions been Johnson's language, however, must be barruwer, his expression would have been allowed to be too masculine for the delicate Easier. His sentences have a dignified gentleness of female writing. His ladies, mareb; and it is certain, that his example therefore, seem strangely formal, even to has given a general elevation to the lan- ridicule; and are well denominated by the guage of his country, for many of our best names which he has given them, as Misella, writers have approached very near to him; Zozima, Properantia, Rhodoclia 3. and, from the influence which he has had It has of late been the fashion to compare uma our composition, scarcely any thing the style of Addison and Johnson, and to is wriilen now that is not better expressed depreciate 4, I think, very unjustly, the style than was usual before he appeared to lead the national taste.

? The following observation in Mr. Boswell's This circumstance, the truth of which Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides may suffiasi strike every crítical reader, has been ciently account for that gentleman's being“

happriy enforced by Mr. Courtenay, in scarcely esteemed a Scoi” by many of his counhis Moral and Literary Character of Dr. trymen: “If he (Dr. Johnson) was particularly Johas on,” that I cannot prevail on myself prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they

were more in his way; because he thought their to withhold it, notwithstanding his, perhaps,

success in England rather exceeded the due protoo great partiality for one of his friends:

portion of their real merit; and because he could * By nature's gifts ordain'd mankind to rule, not but see in them that nationality, which, I H., like a Tirian, form'd his brilliant school;

believe, no liberal-minded Scotchman will deAsd saugtu congenial spirits to excel,

ny.” Mr. Boswell, indeed, is so free from naWie from his lips impressive wisdom fell.

tional prejudices, that he might with equal pro(ar losted Goldsmith felt the sovereign sway;

priety have been described asFres him derived the sweet, yet nervous lay.

“ Scarce by South Britons now esteemed a Scot." To Fume's prood cliff he bade our Raffaelle rise: Hence Reynolds' pen with Reynolds' pencil vies. [Mr. Burke said pleasantly, that “ his ladies Wab Johnson's fame melodions Burney glows,

were all Johnsons in petticoats.Mr. Murphy Wule the grand strain in smoother cadence flows. (Life, p. 159) seems to pass somewhat of the

same censure on the letter in the 12th Rambler, • The observation of his having imitated Sir from a young woman that wants a place: yelThom Browne has been made by many peo- such is the uncertainty of criticism—this is the phe, and lately it has been insisted on, and illus- paper quoted by Mr. Chalmers, as an example of tassed by vanety of quotations from Browne, such ease and familiarity of style, which made

one of the popular Essays written by the Rev. him almost doubt whether it was Johnson's M. Kei, master of Tunbridge-school, whom I Brit. Ess. vol. xix. p. 44.—Ed.] bere xes down in my list of those who have some- * [Where did Mr. Boswell discover this, extos not unsuccessfully imitated Dr. Johnson's cept in Sir J. Hawkins, who says (p. 270), with ayle_BoswILL

more than usual absurdity and bad taste, " I find

now

COURTENAY.

3

p. 133.

man.

P. 45.

of Addison as nerveless and feeble, because | attain an English style, familiar but not it has not the strength and energy of that coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, of Johnson. Their prose may be balanced must give his days and nights to the volumes like the poetry of Dryden and Pope. Both of Addison 2.” are excellent, though in different ways. [His manner of criticising and

Piotzi, Addison writes with the ease of a gentle-commending Addison's prose was

His readers fancy that a wise and the same in conversation as we read accomplished companion is talking to them; it in his printed strictures, and niany of so that he insinuates his sentimients and the expressions used have been heard to taste into their minds by an imperceptible fall from him on common occasions. It was influence. Johnson writes like a teacher. notwithstanding observable enough (or He dictates to his readers as if from an ac- Mrs. Piozzi fancied so), that he never liked, adernical chair. They attend with awe though he always thought fit, to praise it; and admiration; and his precepts are im- and his praises resembled those of a man pressed upon them by his commanding elo- who extols the superiour elegance of high quence. Addison's style, like a light wine, painted porcelain, while he himself always pleases every body from the first. John- chooses to eat of plate. She told him so son's, like a liquor of more body, seems too one day, and he neither denied it nor appearstrong at first, but, by degrees, is highly ed displeased. relished; and such is the melody of his But his opinion of Steele's essays

Piori, periods, so much do they captivate the ear, was not so lavourable.“ They are and seize upon the attention, that there is too thin (said he) for an Englishscarcely any writer, however inconsidera- man's taste; mere superficial observations ble, who does not aim, in some degree, at on life and manners, without erudition the same species of excellence. But let us enough to make them keep, like the light not ungratefully undervalue that beautiful French wines, which turn sour with standstyle, which has pleasingly conveyed to ing awhile, for want of body, as we call us much instruction and entertainment. it 3.”] Though comparatively weak, opposed to Though the Rambler was not concluded Johnson's Herculean vigour, let us not call till the year 1752, I shall, under this year, it positively feeble. Let us remember the say all that I have to observe upon it. character of his style, as given by Johnson Some of the translations of the mottos, hy himself: “What he attempted he perform- himself, are admirably done. He acknowed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish ledges to have received “elegant translato be energetick; he is never rapid, and he tions” of many of them from Mr James never stagnates. His sentences have nei. Elphinston; and some are very happily ther studied amplitude, nor affected brevity; translated by a Mr. F. Lewis, of whom I his periods, though not diligently rounded, never heard more, except that Johnson thus are voluble and easyl. Whoever wishes to described him to Mr. Malone: “ Sir, he liv

ed in London, and hung loose upon sociean opinion gaining ground, not much to the ad-ty 4.” The concluding paper of his Ramvantage of Mr. Addison's style, the characteristics of which are feebleness and inanity-I speak sible. But a Rambler, Adventurer, or Idler, of of that alone, for his sentiments are excellent Johnson, would fall into any classical or Europeand his humour exquisite.” What the worthy an language, as easily as if it had been originally knight meant by inanity, as applied to Addison's conceived in it.—BURNEY. style, is not worth inquiring.--Ep.)

I shall probably, in another work, maintain 1 When Johnson showed me a proof-sheet of the merit of Addison's poetry, which has been the character of Addison, in which he so highly very unjustly depreciated.-BOSWELL. [Mr. extols his style, I could not help observing, that Boswell never, that the editor knows of, executed it had not been his own model, as no two styles this intention.—Ep.] could differ more from each other. “Sir, Addi- [This illustration (which Mr. Boswell has op. son had his style, and I have mine.” When I plied to Addison and Johnson) seems, in this inventured to ask him, whether the difference did stance, not very happy, and still less just. Steele's not consist in this, that Addison's style was full Essays have outlived a century, and are certainly of idioms, colloquial phrases, and proverbs ; and not yet sour to any good taste. -Ed.] his own more strictly grammatical and free from * In the Gentleman's Magazine for Octosuch phraseology and modes of speech as can ber, 1752, p. 468, he is styled “the Rev. Frannever be literally translated or understood by for- cis Lewis, of Chiswick." The late Lord Maeigners ; he allowed the discrimination to be just. cartney, while he resided at Chiswick, at my reLet any one who doubts it, try to translate one quest, made some inquiry concerning him at that of Addison's Spectators into Latin, French, or place, but no intelligence was obtained. Italian ; and though so easy, fanıiliar, and ele- The translations of the mottos supplied by Mr. gant, to an Englishman, as to give the intellect no Elphinston appeared first in the Edinburgh edi. trouble ; yet he would find the transfusion into tion of the Rambler, and in some instances were another language extremely difficult, if not impos-revised and improved, probably by Johnson, be

2

3

bler is at once dignified and pathetick. I not only wrote a Prologue, which was spocannot, however, but wish that he had not ken by Mr. Garrick before the acting of ended it with an unnecessary Greek verse, Comus at Drury-lane theatre, for the benetranslated also into an English couplet: fit of Milton's grand-daughter, but took a Ανται και μακαρον ανταξιος είη αμοιβη. .

very zealous interest in the success of the Celestial powers! that piety regard,

charity. On the day preceding the performFrom you my labours wait their last reward.” ance, he published the following letter in

the - General Advertiser," addressed to It is too much like the conceit of those the printer of that paper: dramatick poets, who used to conclude each act with a rhyme; and the expression in “Sir,—That a certain degree of reputathe first line of his couplet, “ Celestial tion is acquired merely by approving the porers,” though proper in Pagan poetry, works of genius, and testifying a regard to is id suited to Christianity, with "a con- the memory of authours, is a truth too eviformity” to which he consoles himself. dent to be denied; and therefore to ensure a How much better would it have been to participation of fame with a celebrated poet, have ended with the prose sentence," I shall many, who would, perhaps, have contribever envy the honours which wit and learn- buted to starve him when alive, have heaping obtain in any other cause, if I can be ed expensive pageants upon his grave 3. Dumbered anong the writers who have “It must, indeed, be confessed, that this given ardour to virtue, and confidence to method of becoming known to posterity truth."

with honour is peculiar to the great, or at His friend Dr. Birch being now engaged least to the wealthy; but an opportunity in preparing an edition of Ralegh's smaller now offers for almost every individual to pieces, Dr. Johnson wrote the following secure the praise of paying a just regard to better to that gentleman:

the illustrious dead, united with the plea

sure of doing good to the living. To assist “TO DR. BIRCH.

industrious indigence, struggling with dis“Gough Square, May 12, 1750. tress, and debilitated by age, is a display of “ SIR,-Knowing that you are now pre- virtue, and an acquisition of happiness and paring to favour the publick with a new edi-honour. tion of Ralegh's miscellaneous pieces, I have “Whoever, then, would be thought cataken the liberty to send you a manuscript, pable of pleasure in reading the works of which fell by chance within my notice.“ Í our incomparable Milton, and not so destiperceive no proofs of forgery in my exami- tute of gratitude as to refuse to lay out a nation of it; and the owner tells me, that, as trifle in rational and elegant entertainment, he has heard, the handwriting is Sir Wal- for the benefit of his living remains, for the ters. If you should find reason to conclude exercise of their own virtue, the increase of it geninne, it will be a kindness to the owner, their reputation, and the pleasing consciousa blind persono, to recommend it to the book-ness of doing good, should appear at Drurysellez3.' I am, sir, your most humble ser- lane theatre to-morrow, April 5, when vant, “ Sam. Johnson."

Comus will be performed for the benefit of

Mrs Elizabeth Foster, grand-daughter to His just abhorrence of Milton's political the authour“, and the only surviving branch Doanne was ever strong. But this did not of his family. prevent his warm admiration of Milton's “ N. B. There will be a new prologue on great melical merit, to which he has done the occasion, written by the authour of illustrious justice, beyond all who have writ-Irene, and spoken by Mr. Garrick; and, by ten upon the subject. And this year he particular desire, there will be added to the

Masque a dramatick satire, called Lethe, in fore they were inserted in the London octavo edi- which Mr. Garrick will perform.”

The translations of the mottos affixed to De first thirty numbers of the Rambler were pub

In 1751 we are to consider him as carryinted, from the Edinburgh edition, in the Gentle-ing on both his Dictionary and Rambler. asa' Magazine for September, 1750, before But he also wrote “ The Life of Cheynel*,” the work was collected into volumes... MALONE: in the miscellany called “ The Student;” [Three of the next twenty-seven numbers, marked with the initials of the translators, are to be fred in the same magazine for October, 1752, 3 Alluding probably to Mr. Auditor Benson, #th two admirable improvements of the former (who erected a monument to Milton in Westtranslation of the mottos to Nos. 7 and 11, one minster Abbey.-Ed.] See the Dunciad, b. iv. of which is already quoted, ante, p. 54.-Ed.] -MALONE.

! Sot in the original edition, in folio.- * [She survived this benefit but three years, S. LOXE.

and died without issue. It is remarkable that * Mr Williaras is probably the person meant. none of our great, and few of our second-rate po- BOSWELL

ets have left posterity.-Ed.)

and the Rev. Dr. Douglas having with un- to collect them into a pamphlet, entit common acuteness clearly detected a gross “ An Essay on Milton's Use and Imitat forgery and imposition upon the publick hy of the Moderns in his Paradise Lost.” William Lauder, a Scotch schoolmaster, this pamphlet Johnson wrote a Preface who had, with equal impudence and ingen- full persuasion of Lauder's honesty, an uity, represented Milton as a plagiary from Postscript recommending, in the most certain modern Latin poets, Johnson, who suasive terms, a subscription for the re had been so far imposed upon as to furnish of the grand-daughter of Milton, of wh a Preface and Postscript to his work, now he thus speaks: “ It is yet in the power dictated a letter for Lauder, addressed to a great people to reward the poet wh Dr. Douglas, acknowledging his fraud in name they boast, and from their alliance terms of suitable contrition 1

whose genius they claim some kind of This extraordinary attempt of Lauder periority to every other nation of the eai was no sudden effort. He had brooded over that poet, whose works may possibly be r it for many years: and to this hour it is un- when every other monument of Brit certain what his principal motive was, un- greatness shall be obliterated; to rew less it were vain notion of his superiority, him, not with pictures or with medals, whi in being able, by whatever means, to de- if he sees, he sees with contempt, but w ceive mankind. To effect this, he produced tokens of gratitude, which he, perhaps, n certain passages from Grotius, Masenius, even now consider as not unworthy the and others, which had a faint resemblance gard of an immortal spirit.” Surely thi to some parts of the “ Paradise Lost.” In inconsistent with “enmity towards Milto these he interpolated some fragments of which Sir John Hawkins imputes to Jo Hog's Latin translation of that poem, alleg-son upon this occasion, adding, “ I could ing that the mass thus fabricated was the along observe that Johnson seemed to archetype from which Milton copied. These prove not only of the design, but of the fabrications he published from time to time gument; and seemed to exult in a pers in the Gentleman's Magazine; and exulting sion, that the reputation of Milton was 1 in his fancied success, he in 1750 ventured ly to suffer by this discovery. That he

not privy to the imposture, I am well } Lest there should be any person, at any fu- suaded; that he wished well to the ar ture period, absurd enough to suspect that John- ment, may be inferred from the preface, wl son was a partaker in Lauder's fraud, or had any indubitably was written by Johnson.” knowledge of it, when he assisted him with his it possible for any man of clear judgem masterly pen, it is proper here to quote the words of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury; at the praised the poetical excellence of Milton

to suppose that Johnson, who so no time when he detected the imposition. be hoped, nay it is expected, that the elegant

a postscript to this very discovery,” as and nervous writer, whose judicious sentiments then supposed it, could, at the same ti aud inimitable style point out the author of exult in a persuasion that the great poet's Lauder's Preface and Postscript, will no longer putation was likely to suffer by it! Thisi allow one to plume himself with his feathers, inconsistency of which Johnson was inca who appeareth so little to deserve assistance : an ble; nor can any thing more be fairly in assistance which I am persuaded would never red from the Preface, than that Johns have been communicated, had there been the who was alike distinguished for ardent c least suspicion of those facts which I have been osity and love of truth”, was pleased w the instrument of conveying to the world in these an investigation by which both were gi sheets.". Milton no Plagiary, 2d edit. p. 78. fied. That he was actuated by these And his lordship has been pleased now to author- tives, and certainly by no unworthy de ise me to say, in the strongest manner, that there to depreciate our great epick poet, is evil is no ground whatever for any unfavourable re- from his own words; for, after mention flection against Dr. Johnson, who expressed the the general zeal of men of genius and strongest indignation against Lauder. --BOSWELL. rature, “ to advance the honour, and dis [See, however, note in p. 95.—Ep.]

(In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1754, is guish the beauties of Paradise Lost," a short account of a renewed attack by Lauder says, “ Among the inquiries to which on Milton's character, in a pamphlei entitled “The Grand Imposter detected, or Milton con (But is it not extraordinary that John victed of Forgery against King Charles I.”—Mr. who had himself meditated a history of mo Chalmers thinks that this review was probably Latin poetry (see ante, p. 32), should not written by Johnson ; but it is, on every account, shown his curiosity and love of truth by very unlikely. The article is trivial, and seems least, comparing Lauder's quotations with to be written neither in the style nor sentiments original authors ? It was, we might say, his of Johnson.-Ed.]

ty to have done so, before he so far pronou Lauder afterwards went to Barbadoes, where his judgment as to assist Lauder ; and had he he died very miserably about the year 1771. tempted but to verify a single quotation, he MALONE.

have immediately discovered the fraud. -Ed.

is

2

[ocr errors]

ardour of criticism has naturally given oc- of Harriot Stuart,” which in the spring of casion, none is more obscure in itself, or 1751 was ready for publication. One evenmore worthy of rational curiosity, than a ing at the [Ivy-lane) club, Johnson proposretrospect of the progress of this mighty ed the celebrating the birth of Mrs. Lenox's genius in the construction of his work; a first literary child, as he called her book, by view of the fabrick gradually rising, perhaps, a whole night spent in festivity. Upon his from small beginnings, till its foundation mentioning it to Sir J. Hawkins, he told him rests in the centre, and its turrets sparkle he had never sat up a whole night in his life; in the skies; to trace back the structure but Johnson continuing to press him, and through all its varieties, to the simplicity of saying, that he should find great delight in its first plan; to find what was first project it, he, as did all the rest of our company, ei, whence the scheme was taken, how it consented. The place appointed was the was improved, by what assistance it was Devil tavern, and there, about the hour of executed, and from what stores the mate- eight, Mrs. Lenox and her husband, and a tials were collected; whether its founder dug lady of her acquaintance, still [1785) living, them from the quarries of Nature, or demol- as also the club, and friends to the number ished other buildings to embellish his own!," of near twenty, assembled. The supper - Is this the language of one who wishes was elegant, and Johnson had directed that to blast the laurels of Milton?

a magnificent hot apple-pie should make a [Mrs. Lenox?, a lady now well part of it, and this he would have stuck with p. 235-7. known in the literary world, had bay leaves, because, forsooth, Mrs. Lenox written a novel entitled “ The Life was an authoress, and had written verses;

and further, he had prepared for her a crown Proposals (written evidently by Johnson) of laurel, with which, but not till he had infor printing the Adamus Exul of Grotius, with voked the muses by some ceremonies of his - Translation and Notes by Wm. Lauder, A. M.” | own invention, he encircled her brows. Grnt. Mag. 1747. vol. 17, p. 404.—Malone. The night passed, as must be imagined, in

' [Mrs Charlotte Lenox was born in 1720. pleasant conversation and harmless mirth, Her father, Colonel Ramsay, Lieutenant Gov- intermingled at different periods with the error of New York, sent her over to England at refreshments of coffee and tea. About five, the age of fifteen ; but, unfortunately, the relative Johnson's face shone with meridian splento whose care she was consigned was either dead dour, though his drink had been only lemonor in a state of insanity on Miss Ramsay's arrival. ade; but the far greater part of the comA lady who heard of, and pitied so extraordinary pany had deserted the colours of Bacchus, a disappointment, interested Lady Rockingham and were with difficulty rallied to partake in the fate of Miss Ramsay; and the result was, of a second refreshinent of coffee, which that she was received into her ladyship's family, where she remained till she fancied that a gen- dawn.

was scarcely ended when the day began to

This phenomenon began to put deman who visited at the house had become eaumoured of her ; though she is said to have them in mind of the reckoning; but the beca very plain in her person. This fancied pas- waiters were all so overcome with sleep, sa led her into some extravagances of vanity and that it was two hours before a bill could be losy, which terminated her residence with had, and it was not till near eight that the ixy Rockingham. Her moral character, how- creaking of the street door gave the signal eter, was never impeached, and she obtained some of departure.] Doentenance and protection from the Duchess of Newcastle ; but was chiefly dependant for a live

[“ TO MR. RICHARDSON. liteod on ber own literary exertions. In 1747,

v.5. p. 281, stae published a volume of poems, and became, DEAR SIR,—Though Clarissa wants no prutably about that time, known to Mr. Strahan, help from external splendour, I was glad to its printer, in consequence of which she became see her improved in her appearance, but soluzinted with and married a Mr. Lenox, who more glad to find that she was now got above To Mr. Straluan's employ, bat in what capaci- all fears of prolixity, and confident enough ty is not known. She next published, in 1751, be sove of Harriot Stuart, mentioned in the text, ced to great distress. Besides her acquaintance auch it is supposed she gave her own history. with Dr. Johnson (who was always extremely The Duchess of Newcastle honoured her by stand-kind to her), and other literary characters, she ra gimother to her first child, who was called had the good fortune to become acquainted, at Horietta Holles, and did her the more substantial Mr. Strahan's, with the late Right Hon. George As of procuring for Mr. Lenox the place of Rose, who liberally assisted her in the latter years densiter in the customs, and for herself an of her life, particularly in her last illness, and partment in Somerset-house. Nothing more is was at the expense of her burial in the beginning reinabered of Mr. Lenox, except that he, at a of January, 1804. bue period of life, put forward some claim to a For most of the foregoing details, the editor is Looth peerage. Mrs. Lenox lost her apart- indebted to his friend the Right Hon. Sir George 23 by the pulling down of Somerset-house ; Rose, whose venerable mother still rememberg nd, in the latter part of her life, was redu- | Mrs. Lenox.-Ed.]

Rich. Cor.

" March 9, 1750-1.

« ZurückWeiter »