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1780. manner, Very well-Very well.' Johnson how
ever added, “Yes, they are very well, Sir; but you Ætat, 71.
may observe in what manner they are well. They are the forcible 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 heretick 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 toil'd after himn in vain;'
verses is to be found in “ The Grove, or a Collection of Original Poems and Translations," &c. 1721. In this miscellany the last stanza, which in Dodsley's copy is unquestionably uncouth, is thus exhibited :
" Inglorious or by wants inthrall’d,
“ To college and old books confind,
J. B.-O.) * The difference between Johnson and Smith is apparent even in this slight instance. Smith was a man of extraordinary application, and had his mind crowded with all manner of subjects ; but the force, acuteness,' and vivacity of Johnson were not to be found there. He had book-making so much in his thoughts, and was so chary of what might be turned to account in that way, that he once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that he made it a rule when in company, never to talk of what he understood. Beauclerk had for a short time a pretty high opinion of Smith's conversation, Garrick after listening to him for a while, as to one of whom his expectations had been raised, turned slyly to a friend, and whispered him, “ What say you to this?-eh? flabby, I think."
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 Shak speare.' Johnson exclaimed (smiling,) • Prosaical rogues ! next time I write, I'll make both time and space pant."9
" 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 producing. Addison gives a specimen of this ribaldry, in Number 383 of · The Spectator,' when Sir Roger de Coverly and he are going to Springgarden. Johnson was once eminently successful in
9 I am sorry to see in the “ Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,” Vol. II. “ An Essay on the Character of Hamlet,“ written, I should suppose, by a very young man, though called “ Reverend ;" who speaks with presumptuous petulance of the first literary character of his age. Amidst a cloudy confusion of words, (which hath of late too often passed in Scotland for Metaphysicks,) he thus ventures to criticise one of the noblest lines in our language:-Dr. Johnson has remarked, that time toiled after him in vain.' But I should apprehend, that this is entirely to mistake the character. Time toils after every great man, as well as after Shakspeare. The workings of an ordinary mind keep pace, indeed, with time; they move no faster ; they have their beginning, their middle, and their end; but superiour natures can reduce these into a point. They do not, indeed, suppress them ; but they suspend, or they lock them up in the breast.” The learned Society, under whose sanction such gabble is ushered into the world, would do well to offer a premium to any one who will discover its meaning.
1780. this species of contest; a fellow having attacked him Er with some coarse railery, Johnson answered him thus,
“Sir, your wife under pretence of keeping a bawdyhouse, is a receiver of stolen goods.” One evening when he 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.
6 As Johnson always allowed the extraordinary talents of Mr. Burke, so Mr. Burke was fully sensie ble of the wonderful powers of Johnson. Mr. Langton récollects having passed an evening with both of them, when Mr. Burke repeatedly entered upon topicks 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 hoine, Mr. Burke observed that Johnson 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 have rung the bell to him."
“ Beauclerk having observed to him 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 1780. grimace, no gesticulation, no bursts of admiration on 1 trivial occasions ; he never embraces you with an overacted cordiality.”
6 Being in company with a gentleman who thought fit to inaintain Dr. Berkeley's ingenious phi. losophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by 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 him a handsome compliment, implying that a man of his talents should be above attention to such distinctions, Nay, Sir, never mind that. Nil te 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 Arabick, 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,
" When Mr. Vesey' was proposed as a member of
* [The Right Honourable Agmondesham Vesey was elected a member of the LITERARY CLUB in 1773, and died in 1784. M.]
1780. the LiTERARY CLUB, Mr. Burke began by saying
that he was a man of gentle manners. "Sir, said Ætat. 71.
Johnson, you need say no more. When you have sạid a man of gentle manners; you have said enough."
“The late Mr. Fitzherbert told Mr. Langton, that Johnson said to him, 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 anúther than to knock him down."
“ My dear friend Dr. Bathurst, (said he with a warmth of approbation) declared, he was glad that his father, who was a West-Indian planter, had left his affairs in total ruin, because having no estate, he was not under the temptation of having slaves."
“ Richardson had little conversation, except about his own works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad to have them introduced. Johnson when he carried Mr. Langton to see him, professed that he could bring hiin out into conversation, and used this allusive expression,
Sir, I can make him rear.' But he failed; for in that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the room a translation of his Clarissa into German.”
• A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristick anecdote of Richardson. One day at his country-house at Northend, where a large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very flattering circumstance, that he had seen his Clarissa lying on the King's brother's table. Richardson observing that part of the company were engaged in talking to each other, affected then not to attend to it. But by and by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman,' I think, Şir, you were saying something about,-pausing in a high flutter