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mind disdains to hold any thing by courtesy, and therefore never usurps what a lawful claimant may take away. He that encroaches on another's dignity puts himself in his power; he is either repelled with helpless indignity, or endured by clemency and condescension."
At another time he said, “ Swift has a higher reputation than he deserves. His excellence is strong sense; for his humour, though very well, is not remarkably good. I doubt whether the "Tale of the Tub, be his; for he never owned it, and it is much above his usual manner.” A
person praised Swift's. ' Conduct of the Allies;' Johnson called it a performance of very little ability. “ Surely, Sir (said Dr. Douglas), you must allow it has strong facts.”—Johnson. “ Why yes, Sir; but what is that to the merit of the composition? In the Sessions-paper of the Old Bailey there are strong facts. Housebreaking is a strong fact; robbery is a strong fact; and murder is a mighty strong fact: but is great praise due to the historian of those strong facts No, Sir; Swift has told what he had to tell distinctly enough, but that is all. He had to count ten, and he has.counted it right. Why, Sir, Tom Davies (who was present) might have written the conduct of the Allies."
He praised Delaney's “ Observations Swift;' said that his book and Lord Orrery's
might both be true, though one viewed Swift more, and the other less favourably; and that between both we might have a complete notion of Swift.
The Beggar's Opera, and the common question, whether it was pernicious in its effects, having been introduced, Johnson said, “ As to this matter, which has been very much contested, I myself am of opinion, that more influence has. been ascribed to · The Beggar's Opera' than it in reality ever had; for I do not believe that any man was ever made a rogue by being present at its representation. At the same time I do not deny that it may have some influence by making the character of a rogue familiar, and in some degree pleasing
Of Hoole's · Cleonice' he said, “ The plot is, well framed, the intricacy artful, the disentanglement easy, the suspense affecting, and the pasșionate parts properly interposed.”
* A very eminent physician, whose discernment is as acute and penetrating in judging of the human character as it is in his own profession, remarked once, that a lively young man, fond of pleasure, and without money, would hardly resist a solicitation, from his mistress to go upon the highway, immediately after being present at the representation of 'The Beggar's Opera. An ingenious observation was made by Mr. Gibbon, that “The Bege gar's Opera may, perhaps, have sometimes increased the number, of highwaymen; but it has had a beneficial effect in refining that class of men, making them less ferocious.”
Buchanan, he said, was a very fine poet; arid: was the first who complimented a lady, by, ascribing to her the different perfections of the heathen goddesses; but that Johnston, improved upon this, by making his lady, at the same time, free from their defects.
He dwelt upon Buchanan's elegant verses to Mary Queen of Scots, Nympha Caledonie, &c. and spoke with enthusiasm of the beauty of Latin
6. All the modern languages (said he) cannot furnish so melodious a line as
6 Formosain resonare doces Amarillida silvas."
“ Buchanan (he observed) has fewer centos than any modern Latin poet. He not only has great knowledge of the Latin language, but was a great poetical genius. Both the Scaligers praise him.”
Mrs. Thrale once disputed with Johnson on the merit of Prior. He attacked him powerfully; said he wrote of love like a man who had never felt it: his love verses were college verses; and he repeated the song · Alexis shunn'd his Fellow Swains," &c. in so ludicrous a manner, as to make all the
wonder how any one could have been pleased with such fantastical stuff. Mrs. Thrale stood to her guns with great courage, in defence of amorous ditties, which Johnson despised, till he at last silenced her by
saying, “ My dear Lady, talk no more of this. Nonsense can be defended but by nonsense.”
A proposition which had been agitated, that monuments to eminent persons should, for the time to come, be erected in St. Paul's church as well as in Westminster Abbey, was mentioned; and it was asked, who should be honoured by having his monument first erected there. Somebody suggested Pope. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, as Pope was a Roman Catholic, I would not have his to be first. I think Milton's rather should have the precedence. I think more highly of him now than I did at twenty. There is more thinking in him and in Butler, than in any of our poets.”
It was a lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had expressed a wonder that the poet who had written 'Paradise Lost' should write such poor Sonnets: “ Milton, Madam, was a genius that could cut a Colossus from a rock; but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones.” He censured Ruffbead's life of Pope; and
“ he knew nothing of Pope, and nothing of poetry.” He praised Dr. Joseph Warton's Essay on Pope; but said, he supposed we should have no more of it, as the author had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he did.-Boswell." Why, Sir, should that prevent him from continuing his work? He is
an ingenious Counsel, who has made the most of his cause; he is not obliged to gain it.”-JOHNson. “But, Sir, there is a difference when the cause is of a man's own making."
Mr. Boswell told Johnson, that Pope and Dryden had been thus distinguished by a foreign writer: " Pope drives a handsome chariot, with a couple of neat trim nags; Dryden a coach, and six stately horses.”—J. “ Why, Sir, the truth is, they both drive coaches and six; but Dryden's horses are either galloping or stumbling: Pope's go at a steady even trot.”
Johnson said, Pope's characters of men were admirably drawn, those of women not so well. He repeated, in his forcible melodious manner, the concluding lines of the Dunciad.-While he was talking loudly in praise of those lines, one of the company ventured to say, " Too fine for such a poem: a poem on what?"-JOHNSON (with a disdainful look). " Why, on dunces. It was worth while being a dunce then. Ah, Sir, hadst thou lived in those days! It is not worth while being a dunce now, when there are no wits." Bickerstaff observed, as a peculiar circumstance, that Pope's fame was higher when he was alive than it was then. Johnson said, his Pastorals were poor things, though the versification was fine. He told us, with high satisfaction, the anecdote of Pope's inquiring who was the