ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Malone. Mr. Macbean was, however, on Lord Thurlow's

nomination, admitted into the Chartreux in April, 1781 ; on which occasion Dr. Johnson, with that benevolence by which he was uniformly actuated, wrote the following letter, which, for the sake of connexion, may properly be introduced here:

“ TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.

“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 10th April, 1781. “ Rev, sir,—The bearer is one of my old friends, a man of great learning, whom the chancellor has been pleased to nominate to the Chartreux. He attends his grace the archbishop, to take the oath required; and being a modest scholar, will escape

embarrassment, if you are so kind as to introduce him, by which

you

will do a kindness to man of great merit, and add another to those favours, which have already been conferred by you on, sir, your most humble servant, “SAM. JOHNSON.”

“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.

“ 17th Oct. 1780. “DEAR SIR,_I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.

“Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election'; he is now going to Brighthelmstone, and expects me to go with him; and how long I shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall go and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness, and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.

“I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would be glad to love all that love you, and that

[“Mrs. Thrale felt this very acutely. When, after Mr. Thrale's death, a friend of Mr. Henry Thornton, then a candidate for Southwark, canvassed Mrs. Thrale for her interest, she replied, " I wish your friend success, and think he will have it ;-he may probably come in for two parliaments, but if he tries for a third, were he an angel from heaven, the people of Southwark would cry, Not this man, but Barabbas.'”- Miss Hawkins's Mem. vol. i. p. 66.-Ed.]

you love; and I have love very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.

“I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father received him kindly, but not fondly: however, you seem to have lived well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as you can.

You lately told me of your health : I can tell you in return, that my health has been for more than a year past better than it has been for many years before. Perhaps it may please God to give us some time together before we are parted. I am, dear sir, yours, most affectionately,

“Sam. JOHNSON.”

“TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.

“ 30th Dec. 1780. “SIR, I hope you will forgive the liberty I take, in soliciting your interposition with his grace the archbishop: my first petition was successful, and I therefore venture on a second.

“ The matron of the Chartreux is about to resign her place, and Mrs. Desmoulins, a daughter of the late Dr. Swinfen', who was well known to your father, is desirous of succeeding her. She has been accustomed by keeping a boarding-school to the care of children, and I think is very likely to discharge her duty. She is in great distress, and therefore may properly receive the benefit of a charitable foundation. If you wish to see her, she will be willing to give an account of herself.

“If you shall be pleased, sir, to mention her favourably to his grace, you will do a great act of kindness to, sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, “ Sam. Johnson.”

Being disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so that I could hear none of his admirable sayings, I shall compensate for this want by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to my worthy friend Mr. Langton, whose kind communications have been separately interwoven in many parts of this work. Very few articles of this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that habit; which he regrets, and which those

Sce vol. i p. 52.-MALONE.

who know the numerous opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of Johnsonian wit and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversation with him, that a good store of JOHNSONIANA was treasured in his mind; and I compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which, when dug, fully rewards the labourer employed. The authenticity of every article is unquestionable. For the expression, I, who wrote them down in his pre

sence, am partly answerable. Langton

“ Theocritus is not deserving of very high respect as a writer; as to the pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superiour. He wrote, when there had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in description, though living in a beautiful country: the manners painted are coarse and gross. Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of nature, and more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the king of that country : which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it; and the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumpbant. Theocritus seems not to have seen that the brothers have their advantage in their argument over his Argonaut heroes. “The Sicilian Gossips' is a piece of merit.

“ Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of Langton ancient authours, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their writings.

“ Mattaire's account of the Stephani is a heavy book. He seems to have been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship, but with little geometry or logick in his head, without method, and possessed of little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called · Senilia;' in which he shows so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl '. In matters of genealogy it is necessary to give the bare names as they are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them. His book of the Dialects is a sad heap of confusion; the only way to write on them is to tabulate them with notes, added at the bottom of the page, and references.

“ It may be questioned, whether there is not some mistake as to the methods of employing the poor, seemingly on a supposition that there is a certain portion of work left undone for want of persons to do it; but if that is otherwise, and all the materials we have are actually worked up, or all the manufactures we can use or dispose of are already executed, then what is given to the poor, who are to be set at work, must be taken from some who now have it: as time must be taken for learning (according to Sir William Petty's observation), a certain part of those very materials that, as it is, are properly worked up, must be spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. apply to well-meaning, but misjudging persons in particulars of this nature, what Giannone said to a monk, who wanted what he called to convert him:

We may

[The Editor does not understand this objection, nor the following observation.-ED.]

Langton · Tu sei santo, ma tu non sei filosopho. It is an

unhappy circumstance that one might give away five hundred pounds a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do any good.

“ There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity than condescension, when he seems to suppose his understanding too powerful for his company.

“ Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, 'Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.'

“ John Gilbert Cooper related, that soon after the publication of his Dictionary, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it, told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. “Nay,' said Johnson, I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David.'

* Talking of expense, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. “Whereas,' said he, you will hardly ever find a country gentleman, who is not a good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged to lay out ten pounds.'

“ When in good humour, he would talk of his own writings with a wonderful frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton asked him, how he liked that

« 前へ次へ »