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ed, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea."
After having on some occasion made observations upon the similarity between! Rasselas' and • Candide,' he said, Candide' he thought had more power in it than any thing that Voltaire had written.
Of Horace he observed, that his lyrick poetry could never be perfectly translated; so much of the excellence is in the numbers and the expres. sion. “ Francis (said he) has done it the best; I'll take his, five out of six, against them all."
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."."
Of Mr. Longley at Rochester, a gentleman of very considerable learning, whom Dr. Johnson met there, he said, “My heart warms towards him. I was surprised to find in him such a nice acquaintance with the metre in the learned languages; though I was somewhat mortified that I had it not so much to myself, as I should have thought."
He once observed, " A man should begin to *write soon; for if he waits till his judgment is matured, his inability, through want of practice, to express his conceptions, will make the dispro
portion so great between what he sees and what he can attain, that he will probably be discou. raged from writing at all. As a proof of the justness of this reinark, we may instance what is related of the great Lord Granville; that after he had written his letter, giving an account of the battle of Dettingen, he said, “Here is a letter, expressed in terms not good enough for a tallow-chandler to have used.'"
Having spent one evening at Mr. Langton's with the Rev. Dr. Parr, he was much pleased with the conversation of that learned gentleman; and, after he was gone, said to Mr. Langton, “Sir, I am obliged to you for having asked me this evening. Parr is a fair man. I do not know when I have had an occasion of such free controversy. It is remarkable how much of a man's life may pass without meeting with any instance of this kind of open discussion."
He thought we might fairly institute a criticism between Shakspeare and Corneille, as they both had, though in a different degree, the lights of a latter age. “It is not so just between the Greek dramatic writers and Shakspeare. It may be replied to what is said by one of the remarkers on Shakspeare, that though Darius's shade had
prescience, it does not necessarily follow that he had all past particulars revealed to him.”
He once told in his lively manner the follow.
ing literary anecdote: “ Green and Guthrie, an Irishman and a Scotchman, undertook a translation of Duhalde's History of China. Green said of Guthrie, that he knew no English; and Guthrie of Green, that he knew no French; and these two undertook to translate Duhalde's
History of China.' In this translation there was found the twenty-sixth day of the new moon.' Now as the whole age of the moon is but twenty-eight days, the moon, instead of being new, was nearly as old as it could be. Their blunder arose from their mistaking the word neuviéme ninth, for nouvelle or neuve new.”
Of Guthrie, however, Johnson said, “ He is a man of parts. He has no great regular fund of knowledge; but by reading so long, and writing so long, he no doubt has picked up a good deal.”
Talking of Dr. Blagden's copiousness and precision of communication, Dr. Johnson said, “ Blagden, Sir, is a delightful fellow."
Johnson praised the Earl of Carlisle's Poems, which his Lordship had published with his name, as not disdaining to be a candidate for literary fame. He was of opinion, that when a man of rank appeared in that character, he deserved to have his merit handsomely allowed. In this he was more liberal than Mr. William Whitehead, in his Elegy to Lord Villiers,' in which, under
the pretext of " superior toils demanding all their care,” he discovers a jealousy of the great paying their court to the Muses :
to the chosen few
“ Exalt;--but be thyself what they record.”
The subject of quotation being once introduced, Mr. Wilkes (who was present) censured it as pedantry. Johnson said, “ No, Sir, it is a good thing; there is a community of mind in it. Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world."-WILKES. “ Upon the continent they all quote the vulgate Bible. Shak. speare is chiefly quoted here; and we quote also Pope, Prior, Butler, Waller, and sometimes Cowley."
Johnson one day gave an entertaining account of Bet Flint, a woman of the town, who, with some eccentrick talents and much effrontery, forced herself upon his acquaintance. « Bet (said he) wrote her own Life in verse * which she brought to me, wishing that I would furnish her
* The Doctor, whose memory was wonderfully retentive, tes membered the first four lines of this curious production to be
“ When first I drew my vital breath,
And then I came from a dark abode,
with a preface to it (laughing). I used to say
of her that she was generally, slut and drunkard; occasionally, prostitute and thief.
She had, however, genteel lodgings, a spinnet on which she played, and a boy that walked before her chair. · Poor Bet was taken up on a charge of stealing a counterpane, and tried at the Old Bailey. Chief Justice ***** who loved a Wench, summed up favourably, and she was acquitted. After which, Bet said, with a gay and satisfied air, “ Now that the counterpane is my own, I shall make a petticoat of it.”
Speaking of Homer, whom he venerated as the prince of poets, Johnson remarked, that the advice given to Diomed by his father, when he șent him to the Trojan war, was the noblest exhortation that could be instanced in any heathen writer, and comprised in a single line:
Αιεν αριστεύειν και υπειροχον εμμεναι αλλων,
which is translated by Dr. Clarke thus: semper: appetere præstantissima, & omnibus aliis antecellere.
On the licence jocularly allowed to historians as to the truth of their relations, Johnson said, “ There are inexcusable lies, and consecrated lies. For instance, we are told that on the arrival of the news of the unfortunate battle of