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a man for the task, if he can give the application which is necessary.'
After remarking that, “ There are few writers who have gained any reputation by recording their own actions," he observed,
:“ We may reduce the Egotists to four classes. In the first we have Julius Cæsar; he relates his own transactions, but he relates them with peculiar force and dignity, and his narrative is supported by the greatness of his character and atchievements. In the second class we have Marcus Antoninus; this writer has given us a series of reflections on his own life; but his sentiments are so noble, his morality so sublime, that his meditations are universally admired. In the third class we have some others of tolerable credit, who have given importance to their own private history by an intermixture of literary anecdotes, and the occurrences of their own times; the celebrated Huetius has published an entertaining volume upon this plan, ' De rebus ad eum pertinentibus.' In the fourth class we have the journalists, temporal and spiritual; Elias Ashmole, William Lilly, George Whitfield, John Wesley, and a thousand other old women and fanatick writers of memoirs and meditations."
« Lord Hailes's ? Annals of Scotland' (said he) have not that painted form which is the taste of
this age; but it is a book which will always sell, it has such a stability of dates, such a certainty of facts, and such a punctuality of citation. I never before read Scotch history with certainty."
Talking of antiquarian researches, Johnson said, “ All that is really known of the ancient state of Britain is contained in a few pages. We can know no more than what the old writers have told us; yet what large books have we upon it, the whole of which, excepting such parts as are taken from those old writers, is all a dream, such as Whitaker's Manchester,' . I have heard Henry's ' History of Britain' well spoken of; I am told it is carried on in separate divisions, as the civil, the military, the religious history; I wish much to have one branch well done, and that is the history of manners; of common life."--Dr. Robertson observed, “ Henry should have applied his attention to that alone, which is enough for any man; and he might have found a great deal scattered in various books, had he read solely with that view. Henry erred in not selling his first volume at a moderate price to the booksellers, that they might have pushed hiin on till he had got reputation. I sold my * History of Scotland' at a moderate price, as a work by which the booksellers might either gain or not; and Cadell has told me that Millar and he have got six thousand pounds by it. I after
wards received a much higher price for my writings. An author should sell his work for what the booksellers will give, till it shall appear whether he is an author of merit, or, which is the same thing as to purchase-money, an author who pleases the public."
On a question whether Martinelli should continue his History of England to the present day, Goldsmith said, “To be sure he should.”— JOHNSON. “ No, Sir; he would give great offence. He would have to tell of almost all the Jiving great what they do not wish told.”—GOLD
“ It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be more cautious; but a foreigner, who comes among us without prejudice, may be considered as holding the place of a judge, and may speak his mind freely.”—J. “Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the error and mistaken enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to be.”—G. “Sir, he wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest, the other a laudable motive."-J. “Sir, they are both laudable motives. It is Jaudable in a man to wish to live by his labours; but he should write so as he may live by them, not so as he may be knocked on the head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he pub.
lishes his history of the present age. A foreigner, who attaches himself to a political party in this country, is in the worst state that can be imagined; he is looked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest." Boswell. “Or principle.”—G. “ There are people who tell a hundred political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely then one may tell truth with safety.”-J.“ Why, Sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. But besides; a man had rather have a hundred lies told of him, than one truth which he does not wish should be told." -G. “ For my part, I'd tell truth, and shame the devil.”-, “ Yes, Sir; but the devil will be angry. I wish to shame the devil as much as you do, but I should choose to be out of the reach of his claws.”—G. 66 His claws can do you no harm, when you have the shield of truth.”
Talking of letter-writing, Johnson observed, " It is now become so much the fashion to publish letters, that in order to avoid it, I put as little into mine as I can.”'_“ Do what you will, (said Mr. Boswell), you cannot avoid it. Should you even write as ill as you can, your letters would be published as curiosities:
• Behold a miracle! instead of wit,
See two dull lines with Stanhope's pencil writ,?.
Johnson's attention to precision and clearness in expression was very remarkable. He disapproved of parentheses; and perhaps in all his voluminous writings not half a dozen of them will be found. He never used the phrases the former and the latter, having observed that they often occasioned obscurity; he therefore contrived to construct his sentences so as not to have occasion for them, and would even rather repeat
the words in order to avoid them. 'Nothing is more common than to mistake sirnames when we hear them carelessly uttered for the first time. To prevent this, he used not only to pronounce them slowly and distinctly, but to take the trouble of spelling them.
He was no admirer of blank verse, and said it always failed, unless sustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank verse, he said, the language suffered more distortion to keep it out of prose, that any inconvenience or limitation to be apprehended from the shackles and circumspection of rhyme.
Johnson one day, for sport perhaps, or from the spirit of contradiction, eagerly maintained, that Derrick had merit as a writer. Mr. Morgan argued with him in vain. At length he had recourse to this device: “ Pray, Sir (said he), do you reckon Derrick or Srnart the best poet?” Johnson at once felt himself roused; and answer,