Imatges de pÓgina
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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.'

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"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 paper; he shook his head, and answered, too wordy.' At another time, when one was reading his tragedy of Irene,' to a company at a house in the country, he left the room; and somebody having asked him the reason of this, he replied, Sir, I thought it had been better.'

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"Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosity of moral conduct, he said to Mr. Langton, Men of harder minds than ours will do many things from which you and I would shrink; yet, Sir, they will, perhaps, do more good in life than we. But let us try to help one another. If there be a wrong twist, it may be set right. It is not probable that two people can be wrong the same way.

"Of the preface to Capel's Shakspeare, he said, ' If the man would have come to me, I would have endeavoured to " endow his purposes with words; for as it is, he doth" gabble monstrously."' (1)

"He related that he had once in a dream a contest

(1) "When thou wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish, 1 endowed thy purposes with words.”—Tempest, act i. sc. 2 C

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of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him. 'Now,' said he, one may mark here. the effect of sleep in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my judgment failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own character."

"One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the professors of a foreign university. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there was too much ostentation, said, ' I never receive any of these tributes of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign publication, in which mention is made of l'illustre Lockman.(1)

"Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, 'Sir, I know no man who has passed through life with more observation than Reynolds.'

"He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our Saviour's gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalene (2), 'H Tís σ8 σέσωκέ σε πορεύου εἰς εἰρήνην. Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke, vii. 50.) (2) He said, The manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting.'

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"He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth: Physical truth is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral truth is, when you tell a

(1) Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit. — B. — He was an indefatigable translator for the booksellers, "having acquired a knowledge of the languages, as Dr. Johnson told Sir J. Hawkins, by living at coffee-houses frequented by foreigners." — C.

(2) It does not appear that the woman forgiven was Mary Magdalene. KEARNEY.

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thing sincerely and precisely as it appears to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so, I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been mistaken, I told a moral truth. (1)

"Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom Mr. Warton, in his 'Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen,' gave some account which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, 'I will militate no longer against his nescience.' Huggins was master of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant. Johnson said, 'It appears to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder without ball.'

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"Talking of the farce of High Life below Stairs,' he said, Here is a farce which is really very diverting when you see it acted, and yet one may read it and not know that one has been reading any thing at all.'

"He used at one time to go occasionally to the green-room of Drury-lane theatre, where he was much regarded by the players, and was very easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's comic powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He said, Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands what you say. And she said of him, 'I love to sit by Dr. Johnson; he always entertains me.' One night, when 'The Recruiting Officer' was acted, he said to Mr. Holland, who had been expressing an apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar, 'No, Sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit.'

(1) This account of the difference between moral and physical truth is in Locke's "Essay on Human Understanding," and many other books. KEARNEY.

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