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we should be virtuous. Now after consulting our own hearts all we can, and with all the helps we have, we find how few of us are virtuous. This is saying a thing which all inankind know not to be true.”
“ The Elements of Criticism,' (said he), is a pretty essay, and deserves to be held in some estimation, though much of it is chimerical.” He proceeded: “ The Scotchman has taken the right method in his ". Elements of Criticism. I do not mean that he has taught us any thing; but he has told us od things in a new way.”_MURPHY. “ He seems to have read a great deal of French criticism, and wants to make it his own; as if he had been for years anatomising the heart of man, and peeping into every cranny of it.”—GOLD.
“ It is easier to write that book, than to read it."-Johnson. “We have an example of true criticism in Burke's ' Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful;' and if I recollect there is also Du Bos; and Bouhours, who shews all beauty to depend on truth. There is no great merit in telling how many plays have ghosts in them, and how this ghost is better than that. You must shew how terror is impressed on the human heart. In the description of night in Macbeth, the beetle and the bat detract from the general idea of darkness,-inspissated gloom.”
Johnson told Mr. B. that he was glad that he
had by General Oglethorpe's means become acquainted with Dr. Shebbeare. Indeed (says Mr. B.) that gentleman, whatever objections were made to him, had knowledge and abilities much above the class of ordinary writers, and deserves to be remembered as a respectable name in literature, were it only for his admirable • Letters on the English Nation, under the name of · Battista Angeloni, a Jesuit.'
Johnson and Shebbeare were frequently named together, as baving in former reigns had no predilection for the family of Hanover. The author of the celebrated “Heroick Epistle to Sir William Chambers' introduces them in one line, in a list of those who “tasted the sweets of his present Majesty's reign." Such was Johnson's candid relish of the merit of that satire, that he allowed Dr. Goldsmith, as he told Mr. Boswell, to read it to him from beginning to end, and did not refuse his praise to its execution.
Mr. Boswell mentioned the very liberal payment which had been received for reviewing; and, as evidence of this, that it had been proved in a trial, that Dr. Shebbeare bad received six guineas a sheet for that kind of literary labour, -Johnson. “ Sir, he might get six guineas for a particular sheet, but not communibus sheetibus.". -Boswell.“ Pray, Sir, by a sheet of review is it meant that it shall be all of the writer's own
composition? or are extracts, made from the book reviewed, deducted ?"-J. “ No, Sic; it is a sheet, no matter of what."--B. 66. I think that is not reasonable."-J. “ Yes, Sir, it is. A man will more easily write a sheet all his own, than' read an octavo volume to get extracts.” To, one of Johnson's wonderful fertility of mind, perhaps writing was really easier than reading and extracting; but with ordinary men the case, is very different. A great deal, indeed, will depend upon the care and judgment with wbich the extracts are made. We can (observes Mr. · B.) suppose the operation to be tedious and difficult; but in many instances we must observe crude morsels cut out of books as if at random; and when a large extract is made from one place, it surely may be done with very little trouble. One might, I must' acknowledge, however, be led from the practice of Reviewers to suppose: that they take a pleasure in original writing ; for we often find, that instead of giving an accurate account of what has been done by the author whose work they are reviewing, which is surely the proper business of a literary journal, they produce some plausible and ingenious conceits of their own upon the topicks which have been discussed. Again talking of the Reviews, Johnson said, I think them very impartial: I do not know VOL, II.
an instance of partiality.”_" The Monthly Reviewers (said he) are not Deists ; but they are Christians with as little christianity as may be ; and are for pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers are for supporting the constitution both in Church and State. The Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books through; but lay hold of a topick, and write chiefly from their own minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men, and are glad to read the books through.” Sir Joshua Reynolds said, that he wondered to find so much good writing employed in them, when the authors were to remain unknown, and so could not have the motive of fame.-Johnson.“ Nay, Sir, those who write in them write well in order to be paid well.” He praised Signior Baretti.
“ His account of Italy (said he) is a very entertaining book; and, Sir, I know no man who carries his head higher in conversation than Baretti. There are strong powers in his mind: he has not, indeed, many hooks; but with what hooks he has he grapples very forcibly.”
Mr. B. censured a ludicrous fantastick dia. logue between two coach-horses, and other such stuff, which Baretti had lately published. Johnson joined and said, “ Nothing odd will do long. • Tristram Shandy' did not last.”-Mr. B. ex
pressed a desire to be acquainted with a lady who had been much talked of, and universally celebrated for extraordinary address and insinu. ation. Johnson said, “ Never believe extraordinary characters which you hear of people. Depend upon it, Sir, they are exaggerated. You do not see one man shoot a great deal higher than another.” - Mr. Burke was mentioned.' " Yes (said Johnson): Burke is an extraordinary man; bis stream of mind is perpetual.”—The Doctor's high estimation of the talents of this gentleman was uniform from their early acquaintance. When Mr. Burke was first elected a member of Parliament, and Sir John Hawkins expressed a wonder at his attaining a seat, Johnson said, " Now we who know Mr. Burke know that he will be one of the first men in this country.” And once when Johnson was ill, and unable to exert himself as much as usual without fatigue, Mr. Burke having been mentioned, he said, “ That fellow calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now it would kill me.” So much was he accustomed to consider conversation as a contest, and such was his notion of Burke as an opponent.
He used frequently to observe, that men might be very eminent in a profession without our perceiving any particular power of mind in them in conversation. “ It seems strange (said he) that