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Langton believed Dr. Johnson did not hear him), ' Then the
proper expression should have been, Sir, if you don't lie, you ’re a rascal.'
“His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his death, Johnson said (with a voice faltering with emotion), “Sir, I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk.'
“One night at the Club he produced a translation of an epitaph which Lord Elibank had written in English for his lady, and requested of Johnson to turn it into Latin for him. Having read Domina de North et Gray', he said to Dyer ?, · You see, sir, what barbarisms we are compelled to make use of, when modern titles are to be specifically mentioned in Latin inscriptions. When he had read it once aloud, and there had been a general approbation expressed by the company, he addressed himself to Mr. Dyer in particular, and said, “Sir, I beg to have your judgment, for I know your nicety.' Dyer then very properly desired to read it over again ; which having done, he pointed out an incongruity in one of the sentences. Johnson immediately assented to the observation, and said, 'Sir, this is owing to an alteration of a part of the sentence from the form in which I had first written it; and I believe, sir, you may have remarked, that the making a partial change, without a due regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent cause of errour in composition.'
' [Lord Elibank married a Dutch lady, Maria Margaret de Yonge, the widow of Lord North and Gray. Mr. Langton mistook the phrase, which is, in the epitaph, applied to the husband, Domino North et Gray, and not to the lady, Domina de North et Gray; see “Douglas's Peerage,” art. Elibank ; where, however, there is no mention of the inscription having been translated into Latin
Johnson. - Ed.] * See ante, vol. jí. p. 4.-MALONE.
3 [See post, a similar observation quoted in reference to Johnson's alterations in the “ Lives of the Poets."-Ed.]
[The endowments of Dyer were of a most valuable Hawk. kind : keen penetration and deep erudition were the qualities that so distinguished his character, that, in some instances, Johnson might almost be said to have looked up to him. Dyer was a divine, a linguist, a mathematician, a metaphysician, a natural philosopher, a classical scholar, and a critic: this Johnson saw and felt, and never, but in defence of some fundamental and important truth, would he contradict him.]
“ Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, Langton author of a Treatise on Agriculture'; and said of him, “ Sir, of the objects which the Society of Arts have chiefly in view, the chymical effects of bodies operating upon other bodies, he knows more than almost any man.' Johnson, in order to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of this society, paid up an arrear which had run on for two years. On this occasion he mentioned a circumstance, as characteristick of the Scotch. • One of that nation,' said he, 'who had been a candidate, against whom I had voted, came up to me with a civil salutation. Now, sir, this is their way. An Englishman would have stomached it and been sulky, and never have taken further notice of you ; but a Scotchman, sir, though you vote nineteen times against him, will accost you with equal complaisance after each time, and the twentieth time, sir, he will get your vote.'
• Talking on the subject of toleration, one day when some friends were with him in his study, he made his usual remark, that the state has a right to regulate the religion of the people, who are the children of the state. A clergyman having readily ac
[Dossie also published, in two vols. 8vo., what was then a very useful work, entitled “ The Handmaid to the Arts,” dedicated to the Society for the Encou. ragement of Arts, &c.—Hall.)
Langton quiesced in this, Johnson, who loved discussion, ob
served, “ But, sir, you must go round to other states than our own.
You do not know what a Bramin has to say for himself". In short, sir, I have got no further than this : every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.'
“A man, he observed, should begin to write soon; for, if he waits till his judgment is matured, his inability, through want of practice to express his conceptions, will make the disproportion so great between what he sees, and what he can attain, that he will probably be discouraged from writing at all. As a proof of the justness of this remark, we may instance what is related of the great Lord Granville; that after he had written his letter giving an account of the battle of Dettingen, he said, ' Here is a letter, expressed in terms not good enough for a tallowchandler to have used.'
Talking of a court-martial that was sitting upon a very momentous publick occasion, he expressed much doubt of an enlightened decision ; and said, that perhaps there was not a member of it, who, in the whole course of his life, had ever spent an hour by himself in balancing probabilities .
Goldsmith one day brought to the Club a printed ode, which he, with others, had been hearing read by its author in a publick room, at the rate of five shillings each for admission. One of the company
1 Here Lord Macartney remarks, “ A Bramin, or any cast of the Hindoos, will neither admit you to be of their ruligion, nor be converted to yours :- a thing which struck the Portuguese with the greatest astonishment when they first discovered the East Indies.”_BoswELL.
2 John, the first Earl Granville, who died Jan. 2, 1763.-MALONE.
3 [As Mr. La on's anecdotes are not dated, it is not easy to determine what court-martial this was ; probably- y—as Sir James Mackintosh suggests-Admiral Keppel's, in 1780,-ED.)
having read it aloud, Dr. Johnson said, “Bolder Langton words and more timorous meaning, I think, never were brought together.'
Talking of Gray's Odes, he said, “They are forced plants, raised in a hotbed ; and they are poor plants: they are but cucumbers after all.' A gentleman present, who had been running down odewriting in general, as a bad species of poetry, unluckily said, “Had they been literally cucumbers, they had been better things than odes. 'Yes, sir,' said Johnson, 'for a hog.'
[At Sir Robert Cotton's, at Lleweny, one day at Piozzi, dinner, Mrs. Thrale meaning to please Dr. Johnson particularly with a dish of very young peas, said, while he was eating them, “ Are not they charming?” “ Perhaps,” replied he, they would be so—to a pig!."
The Lincolnshire lady ?, who showed him a grotto p. 157. she had been making, came off no better. “Would it not be a pretty cool habitation in summer,” said she, “ Dr. Johnson ?” “ I think it would, madam,” replied he, "for a toad."]
“ His distinction of the different degrees of at- Langton tainment of learning was thus marked upon two occasions. Of Queen Elizabeth he said, She had learning enough to have given dignity to a bishop;' and of Mr. Thomas Davies he said, “Sir, Davies has learning enough to give credit to a clergyman.'
“ He used to quote, with great warmth, the saying of Aristotle recorded by Diogenes Laertius; that
[See ante, vol. iii. p. 143. It should be observed that this answer was not, as is often erroneously stated, made to the lady of the house, but was a reproach (too rude, it must be admitted) to Mrs. Thrale for her rudeness in supposing him so great a glutton as to be charmed with a dish of green peas.-ED.)
(Mrs. Langton, mother of his friend.-Malone MŠ. notes. This was not meant as rudeness to the lady ; but Johnson hated grottos, and thought, as he has said in his Life of Pope, that they were “not often the wish or pleasure of an Englishman, who has more frequent need to solicit than to exclude the sun." Ante, p. 341 n.-Ed.]
Langton there was the same difference between one learned
and unlearned, as between the living and the dead.
“ It is very remarkable, that he retained in his memory very slight and trivial, as well as important, things. As an instance of this, it seems that an inferiour domestick of the Duke of Leeds had attempted to celebrate his grace's marriage in such homely rhymes as he could make; and this curious composition having been sung to Dr. Johnson, he got it by heart, and used to repeat it in a very pleasant manner. Two of the stanzas were these :
When the Duke of Leeds hall married be
"She shall have all that's fine and fair,
To hear a man of the weight and dignity of Johnson repeating such humble attempts at poetry had a very amusing effect. He, however, seriously observed of
· The correspondent of the Gentleman's Magazine who subscribes himself Sciolus furnishes the following supplement: “ A lady of my acquaintance re. members to have heard her uncle sing those homely stanzas more than forty-five years ago. He repeated the second thus :
“She shall breed young lords and ladies fair,
And have a house,' &c.
• When the Duke of Leeds shall have made his choice
And how happy shall,'” &c.