Imágenes de páginas

a man should see so far to the right, who sees so short a way to the left. Burke is the only man whose common conversation corresponds, with the general fame which he has in the world. Take up whatever topic you please, he is ready to meet you.”?

Talking of the wonderful concealment of the author of the letters signed Junius, he said, " I. should have believed Burke to be Junius, because I know no man but Burke who is capable of writing these letters; but Burke spontaneously denied it to me. The case would have been dif. ferent had I asked him if he was the author; a man so questioned, as to an anonymous publication, may think he has a right to deny it."

* In a work lately published, the following account is given of this writer; who appears to have obtained much more celebrity than the temporary nature of his writings and his virulent'acri. mony entitled him to.

“ The bold assertions and keen invectives with which the papers of Junius abounded throughout contributed greatly to their popuJarity and fame. They were occasionally attributed to Lord Sackville, to the Right Hon. W. G. Hamilton, to the Right Hon. Edmund Burke, to John Dunning, Esq. and many others; but without the least ground or foundation in truth. It is to be observed of them, that all parties are attacked in them, except the Grenvilles. During their original publication, the writer lived in Norfolk-street, in the Strand, not in affluent circumstances; but he did not wiite for pecuniary ajd. He was a native of Ireland, of an honourable family, and of Trinity College, Dublin. He was at one time intended for the army, and at another for the bar; but private circumstances prevented either taking place. Perhaps

However Johnson may have casually talked of Young the poet, yet when he sat, as “ an ardent judge zealous to his trust, giving sentence” upon the excellent works of Young, he allowed them the high praise to which they are justly entitled. " The Universal Passion (says he) is indeed a very great performance, his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the sharpness of resistless truth.

In his Night Thoughts' he has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflec. tions and striking allusions; a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhime but with disad

no man possessed a stronger memory. He frequently attended Parliament, and the Courts in Westminster. Hall; and sometimes he committed to paper the speeches he had heard.When the contest concerning the Middlesex election had abated, he ceased 10 write, which was about the close of the year 1771. However, towards the end of the year 1779, he resumed his pen, and wrote a number of political essays, or letters, which he entitled The Whig. They were 'printed in one of the public papers of that time; they were in number 18; but they died with the other -papers of the day. In the year 1791, he went to Madras with Lord Macartney, to whom he had been known in Ireland, and there he died.”

The above account, however, we have been assured from authority is not to be relied on. The person alluded to was not the author of Junius.


vantage. Particular lines are not to be regarded, the power is in the whole, and in the whole there is a magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantation, the magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.”

Mr. Boswell goes on to remark, “But there is in this Poem not only all that Johnson -so well brings in view, but a power of the pathetick beyond almost any example that I have seen. He who does not feel his nerves shaken, and his heart pierced by many passages in this extraordinary work, particularly by that most affecting one which describes the gradual torment suffered by the contemplation of an object of affectionate attachment visibly and certainly decaying into dissolution, must be of a hard and obstinate frame. To all the other excellencies of · Night Thoughts' let me add the great and peculiar one, that they contain not only the noblest sentiments of virtue and contemplations on inmortality, but the Christian Sacrifice, the Divine. Propitiation, with all its interesting circumstances, and con solations to a wounded spirit, solemnly and poetically displayed in such imagery and language as cannot fail to exalt, animate, and soothe the truly pious. No book whatever can be recommended to young persons with better hopes of seasoning their minds with vital religion than Young's ' Night Thoughts,'

[ocr errors]

Johnson said, that the description of the temple, in “ The Mourning Bride,' was the finest poetical passage he had ever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it. “ But," said Garrick (who was present, all-alarmed for the God of his idolatry'), “ we know not the extent and variety of his powers. We are to suppose there are such passages in his works. Shakspeare must noť suffer from the badness of our memories."-Johnson), diverted by this enthusiastic jealousy, went on with greater ardour: 6. No, Sir ; Congreve has nature,(smiling on the tragick eagerness of Garrick); but composing himself, he added, “ Sir, this is not comparing Congreve on the whole, with Shakspeare on the whole ; but only maintaining that Congreve has one finer passage than any that can be found in Shakspeare. Sir, a man nay have no more than ten guineas in the world, but he may have those ten guineas in one piece; and so may have a finer piece than a man who has ten thousand pounds; but then he has only one ten-guinea piece. What I mean is, that you can shew me no passage where there is simply a description of material objects, without any intermixture of moral notions, which produces such an effect.” Mr. Murphy mentioned Shakspeare's description of the night before the battle of Agincourt;, but it was observed, it had men in it. Mr. Davies

"suggested the speech of Juliet, in which she figures herself awaking in the tomb of her ancestors. Some one mentioned the description of Dover Cliff.-JOHNSON. “ No, Sir; it should be all precipice, all vacuum. The crows impede your fall. The diminished appearance of the boats, and other circumstances, are all very good description; but do not impress the mind "at once with the horrible idea of immense height. The impression is divided; you pass on by computation from one stage of the tremendous space to another. Had the girl in 'The Mourning Bride' said she could not cast her shoe to the top of one of the pillars in the temple, it would not have aided the idea, but weakened it.” Again adverting to the passage in Congreve with high - commendation, he said, “Shakspeare never has six lines together without a fault. Perhaps you may find seven-; but it does not refute my general assertion. If I come to an orchard, and say there's no fruit here, and then comes a poring man who finds two apples and three pears, and tells me, ! Şir, you are mistaken, I have found both apples and pears,' I should laugh at him; what would that be to the purpose ?"

Talking of Shakspeare's witches, Johnson said, “ They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of malignity and meanness, without any abilities; and are quite different from the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »