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the Classicks than Johnson expected, when the gen. 1780. tleman left the room, he observed, “You see, now, how little any body reads. Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good deal in Clenardus's Greek Grammar, Why, Sir, (said he,) who is there in this town who knows any thing of Clenardus but you and I?' And upon Mr. Langa ton's mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that Grammar as a praxis, “Sir, (said he,) I never made such an effort to attain Greek.”
“Of Dodsley's “Publick Virtue, a Poem,' he said, "It was fine blank; (meaning to express his usual contempt for blank verse:) however, this miserable poem did not sell, and my poor friend Doddy said, Publick Virtue was not a subject to interest the
“ Mr. Langton, when a very young man, read Dodsley's, Cleone, a Tragedy,' to him, not aware of his extreme impatience to be read to. As it went on he turned his face to the back of his chair, and put himself into various attitudes, which marked his uneasiness. At the end of an act, however, he said,
Come, let's have some more, let's go into the slaughter-house again, Lanky. But I am afraid there is more blood than brains.' Yet he afterwards said, • When I heard you read it I thought higher of its power of language: when I read it myself, I was more sensible of its pathetick effect;' and then he paid it a compliment which many will think very extravagant. “Sir, (said he,) if Otway had written this play, no other of his pieces would have been remembered. Dodsley himself, upon this being repeated to him, said, It was too much;' it must be
1780. remembered, that Johnson always appeared not to
be sufficiently sensible of the merit of Otway."4
- Snatches of reading (said he) will not make a Bentley or a Clarke. They are, however, in a certain degree advantageous. I would put a child into a library (where no unfit books are) and let him read at his choice. A child should not be discouraged from reading any thing that he takes a liking to, from a notion that it is above his reach. If that be the case, the child will soon find it out and desist; if not, he of course gains the instruction; which is so much the more likely to come, from the inclination with which he takes up the study.”
6 Though he used to censure carelessness with great vehemence, he owned, that he once, to avoid the trouble of locking up five guineas, hid them, he forgot where, so that he could not find them.”
“A gentleman who introduced his brother to Dr. Johnson, was earnest to recommend him to the Doctor's notice, which he did by saying, "When we have sat together some time, you'll find my brother grow very entertaining.'—Sir, (said Johnson,) I can
“ When the rumour was strong that we should have a war, because the French would assist the Americans, he rebuked a friend with some asperity for supposing it, saying, "No, Sir, national faith is not yet sunk so low."
“ In the latter part of his life, in order to satisfy himself whether his mental faculties were impaired,
• This assertion concerning Johnson's insensibility to the pathetick powers of Otway, is too round. I once asked him, whether he did not think Otway frequently tender: when he answered, “ Sir, he is all tenderness." B.)
he resolved that he would try to learn a new lan- -1780. guage, and fixed upon the Low Dutch, for that pur-)
at pur. Ætat. 71. pose, and this he continued till he had read about one half of Thomas à Kempis;' and finding that there appeared no abatement of his power of acquisition, he then desisted, as thinking the experiment had been duly tried. Mr. Burke justly observed, that. this was not the most vigorous trial, Low Dutch being a language so near to our own; had it been one of the languages entirely different, he might have been very soon satisfied.”
“ Mr. Langton and he having gone to see a Free. mason's funeral procession, when they were at Rochester, and some solemn musick 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 me , lancholy kind.' Mr. Langton saying, that this effect was a fine one.--Johnson. “Yes, if it softens the mind so as to prepare it for the reception of salutary feelings, it may be good: but inasmuch as it is melancholy per se, it is bad.
« Goldsmith had long a visionary project, 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 be, of any 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
s [The French horn, however, is so far from being melancholy per se, that when the strain is light, and in the field, there is nothing so cheerful! It was the funeral occasion, and probably the solemnity of the strain, that produced the plaintive effect here mentioned.”. B.].
111780. out upon such an enquiry; for he is utterly ignorant Ætat. 71.
of such arts as we already possess, and consequently could not know what would be accessions to our pre. sent 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 furnished a wonderful jinprovement."
“Greek, Sir, (said he) is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he can.”6 :55 When Lord Charles Hay, after his return from America, was preparing his defence to be offered to the Court-martial which he had demanded, 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. Langton having mentioned it to Johnson, he very kindly and readily agreed ; and being presented by Mr. Langton to his Lordship, while under arrest, he saw him several times; upon one of which occasions Lord Charles read to him what he had prepared, which Johnson signified his approbation of, saying, • It is a very good soldierly defence.' Johnson said, that he had advised his Lordship, that as it was in vain to contend with those who were in possession of power, if they would offer hin the rank of LieutenantGeneral, 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. Bentley's verses in Dodsley's Collection, which he re
[It should be remembered, that this was said twenty-five or thirty years ago, when lace was very generally worn. M.]
? Dr. Jobinson, in his Life of Cowley, says, that these are “ the
cited with his usual energy. Dr. Adam Smith, who 1780. was present, 'observed in his decisive professorial
a. Ætat. 71. only English verses which Bentley is known to have written." I shall here insert them, and hope my readers will apply them.
" Who strives to mount Parnassus' hill
“ And thence poetick laurels bring,
“ Must Äy with swan's or eagle's wing.
“Her mysteries and arcana know; " Must high as lofty Newton soar,
“ Must stoop as delving Woodward low.
“ Who studies ancient laws and rites,
“ Tongues, arts, and arms, and history;
“ And in the endless labour die.
“ Who travels in religious jars,
“ (Truth mixt with errour, shades with rays,) “ Like Whiston, wanting pyx or stars,
“ In ocean wide or sinks or strays.
“ But grant our hero's hope, long toil
“ And comprehensive genius crown, “ All sciences, all arts his spoil,
“ Yet what reward, or what renown? “ Envy, innate in vulgar souls,
“Envy steps in and stops his rise ; “ Envy with poison'd tarnish fouls
“His lustre, and his worth decries.
“ He lives inglorious or in want,
" To college and old books contin'd;
“ Dunces advanc'd, he's left behind :
“ Great without patron, rich without South Sea,"
[A different and probably a more accurate copy of these spirited