Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

deal of the phraseology he uses in it is quite his own, particularly in the proverbial comparisons,

obstinate as a pig,' &c.; but I don't know whether it might not be true of Lord that from a too great eagerness for praise and popularity, and a politeness carried to a ridiculous excess, he was likely, after asserting a thing in general, to give it up again in parts. For instance, if he had said Reynolds was the first of painters, he was capable enough of giving up, as objections might happen to be severally made, first, his outline,then the grace in form,—then the colouring, — and lastly, to have owned that he was such a mannerist, that the disposition of his pictures were all alike.”

A gentleman, by no means deficient in literature, having discovered less acquaintance with one of the classics than Johnson expected, when the gentleman left the room, he observed, “ You see, now, how little any body reads.”—Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good deal in Clenardus's Greek Grammar, “ Why, Sir (said he), who is there in this town that knows any thing of Clenardus but you and I?” And upon Mr. Langton's mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that Grammar as a praxis, “ Sir (said he), I never made such an effort to attain Greek,”

[ocr errors]

He had a strong prejudice against the political character of Secker, one instance of which appeared at Oxford, when he expressed great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established toast, ' Church and King.'-" The Archbishop of Canterbury, said he (with an affected smooth smiling grimace), drinks,- Constitution in Church and State.' Being asked what difference there was between the two toasts, he said, Why, Sir, you may be sure he meant something.' Yet when the life of that prelate, prefixed to his sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr. Stinton, his chaplains, first came out, he read it with the utmost avidity, and said, “ It is a life well writ ten, and that well deserves to be recorded.”

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

Once when somebody produced a newspaper in which there was a letter of stupid abuse of Sir Joshua Reynolds, in which Johnson himself came.. in for a share,-“ Pray (said he) let us have it read aloud from beginning to end;" which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestness, and not directing his look to any particular person, called

" Are we alive after all this satire!” Talking of the difference between the mode of education at Oxford, and that in those Colleges where instruction is chiefly conveyed by lectures,

out,

66 But yet,

" You

Johnson observed, “ Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back as you do upon a book.” Dr. Scott agreed with him. Dr. Scott (said Mr. B.), you yourself gave leetures at Oxford.” The Doctor smiled. laughed then (said Mr. B.) at those who came to you."

Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physic, Johnson said, “ Taylor was the most ignorant man I ever knew, but sprightly. Ward the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him: (laughing). I quoted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of my own speech. He said a few words well enough."-BEAUCLERK. “ I remember, Sir, you said that Taylor was an instance how far impudence could carry ignorance.” Mr. Beauclerk told a number of short stories in a lively elegant manner, and with that air of the world which has a sort of impressive effect, as if there were something more than is expressed, or than perhaps we could perfectly understand. As Johnson accompanied Sir Joshua Reynolds home in his coach, he said, “ There is in Beauclerk a predominance over his

company that one does not like. But he is man who has lived so much in the world, that he

has a short story on every occasion; he is always ready to talk, and is never exhausted.”

His affection, however, for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when that gentleman was labouring under the severe illness which at last occasioned his death, Johnson said (with a voice faultering with emotion), “Sir, I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk.”

Mr. Beauclerk's great library was after his death sold in London by auction. Mr. Wilkes said, he wondered to find in it such a numerous collection of sermons, seeming to think it strange that a gentleman of Mr. Beauclerk's character in the gay world should have chosen to have many compositions of that kind." Why, Sir (said Johnson), you are to consider, that sermons. make a considerable branch of English literature; so that a library must be very imperfect if it has. not a numerous collection of sermons; and in all collections, Sir, the desire of augmenting it grows stronger in proportion to the advance in acquisition; as motion is accelerated by the continuance of the impetus. Besides, Sir (looking at Mr. Wilkes with a placid but significant smile), a man may collect sermons with intention of making himself better by them. I hope Mr. Beauclerk intended, that some time or other that should be the case with him."

Sir John Pringle had expressed a wish to have Dr. Johnson's opinion what were the best English sermons for style. Mr. B. one day took an opportunity of mentioning several to him. Atterbury?—Johnson. “ Yes, Sir, one of the best.” -Boswell.Tillotson?J. “ Why not now. I should not advise a preacher at this day to imitate Tillotson's style; though I don't know; I should be cautious of objecting to what has been applauded by so many suffrages.-South is one of the best, if you except his peculiarities, and his violence, and sometimes coarseness of language. Seed has a very fine style; but he is not very theological.-Jortin's sermons are very elegant.--Sherlock's style too is very elegant, though' he has not made it his principal study. And you may add Smallridge. All the latter preachers have a good style. Indeed, nobody now talks much of style: every body composes pretty well. There are no such unharmonious periods as there were a hundred years ago. I should recommend Dr. Clarke's sermons, were he orthodox. However, it is very well known where he was not orthodox, which was upon the doctrine of the Trinity, as to which he is a cor. demned heretic; so one is aware of it."-B. I ljke Ogden’s sermons on prayer very much, both for neatness of style and subtilty of reasoning.” -J. "I should like to read all that Ogden has

« AnteriorContinuar »