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pronounce them. Garagantua is the name of a giant in Rabelais.” BoswELL. “
BOSWELL. “But, sir, there is another amongst them for you :
• He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for his power to thunder.'”
JOHNSON. “ There is nothing marked in that. No. Sir, Garagantua is the best.” Notwithstanding this ease and good humour, when I, a little while afterwards, repeated his sarcasm on Kenrick', 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 Piozzi, he did not wish it to be kept up. [Previous however
to this some newspaper had described Johnson and Goldsmith as the pedant and his flatterer in Love's Labour Lost. Goldsmith came to his friend, fretting and foaming, and vowing vengeance against the printer, &c. till Dr. Johnson, tired of the bustle, and desirous to think of something else, cried out at last,
Why, what wouldest thou have, dear doctor ? who the plague is hurt with all this nonsense ? and how is a man the worse I wonder in his health, purse, or character, for being called Holofernes ?” “ I do not know," replies the other, “ how you may relish being called Holofernes, but I do not like at least to play Goodman Dull.”]
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, &c. &c.
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).
See vol. i. p. 517.
“ Pray, sir, have you read Potter's Æschylus ?" HARRIS. “ Yes; and think it pretty.” GARRICK (to Johnson). “And what think you, sir, of it?” JOHNSON. “ I thought what I read of it rerbiage : 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 a flagelet.” Harris. “ I think, heroick 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'. Before his time they were careless
The author in vol. i. p. 196, 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 of our author, 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 pub. lished in 1737, relative to his second edition, entitled “ ('onsiderations," &c.), 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 froin Chambers, compactness, strength, and precision (in opposition to the laxity of style which had long prevailed); from Sir Thomas Browne (who was certainly one of his archetypes), pondcra verborum, vigour and energy of expression ; and from Temple, harmonious arrangement, VOL. IV.
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 grammatically; 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. I 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 himno.” 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
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.-MALONE.
[See ante, vol. i. p. 186.-Ed.)
His brother-in-law, Strahan, sent him a subscription of fifty pounds, and said he would send him fifty more, if he would not publish.” GARRICK. “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 authour as you talked to Elphinston ; you, who have been so long the manager of a theatre, rejecting the plays of poor authours. 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-1 - said, first concoction." 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 af
It was called “ The Siege of Aleppo.” Mr. Hawkins, the authour of it, was formerly professor of poetry at Oxford. It is printed in his " Miscellanies," 3 vols. 8vo.-BOSWELL.
· Garrick had high authority for this expression. Dryden uses it in his preface to “Edipus." -Malone. (And surely “concoction" alone was as good as “Birst concoction,” which latter phrase Johnson was willing to adnit.-Ed.)
fair. 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 terrours, 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 yesterday. He put me in mind of some of it which had escaped my memory, and enabled me to record it more perfectly than I otherwise could have done. He was much pleased with my paying so great attention to his recommendation in 1763, the period when our acquaintance began, that I should keep a journal; and I could perceive he was secretly pleased to find so much of the fruit of his mind preserved; and as he had been used to imagine and say that he always laboured when he said a good thing,—it delighted him, on a review, to find that his conversation teemed with point and imagery.
I said to him, “You were, yesterday, sir, in remarkably good humour; but there was nothing to offend you, nothing to produce irritation or violence. There was no bold offender. There was not one capital conviction. It was a maiden assize. You had on your white gloves '.
He found fault with our friend Langton for having been too silent.
“Sir," said I, "you will recollect that he very properly took up Sir Joshua for being glad that Charles Fox had praised Goldsmith's • Traveller,' and you joined him.” Johnson. “Yes, sir, I knocked Fox on the head, without ceremony.
(At an assize, where there has been no capital conviction, the judge receives a pair of white gloves.-Ed.)