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1780. it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture."
John Gilbert Cooper related, that soon after the publication of his Dictionary, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it, told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. Nay, (said Johnson,) I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David."
"Talking of expence, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. Whereas (said he) you will hardly ever find a country gentleman, who is not a good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged to lay out ten pounds."
"When in good humour, he would talk of his own. writings with a wonderful frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton asked him, how he liked that paper; he shook his head, and answered, too wordy.' At another time, when one was reading his tragedy of "Irene,' to a company at a house in the country, he left the room and somebody having asked him the reason of this, he replied, Sir, I thought it had been better."
"Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosity of moral conduct, he said to Mr. Langton, Men of
harder minds than ours will do many things from 1780. which and I would shrink; yet, Sir, they will, Etat.71. perhaps do more good in life than we.
But let us
try to help one another. If there be a wrong twist, may be set right. It is not probable that two people can be wrong the same way."
"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
"He related, that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him. 6 Now, (said he,) one may mark here the effect of sleep in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my judgement failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own character."
"One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the Professors of a Foreign University. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there was too much ostentation, said, 'I never receive any of these tributes of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign publication, in which mention is made of l'illustre Lockman.'
"Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, 'Sir, I know no man who has passed through life with more observation than Reynolds."
1 Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit.
"He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our SAVIOUR's gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalen, 'H TIGTIS σε σέσωκε σε πορεύου εις ειρηνην. “ Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. He said, the manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting."
"He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth: Physical truth, is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral truth, is, when you tell a thing sincerely and precisely as it appears to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so, I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been mistaken, I told a moral truth."4
Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom Mr. Warton, on his Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen,' gave some account which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, 'I will militate no longer against his nescience.' Huggins was master of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant. Johnson said, It appears to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder without ball."
"Talking of the Farce of High Life below Stairs,' he said, 'Here is a Farce, which is really very diverting, when you see it acted; and yet one
[It does not appear that the woman forgiven was Mary Magdalen. K.]
3 Luke vii. 50.
4 [This account of the difference between moral and physical truth is in Locke's "Essay on Human Understanding," and many other books. K.]
read it, and not know that one has been read- 1780. ing any thing at all.”
"He used at one time to go occasionally to the green-room of Drury-lane Theatre, where he was much regarded by the players, and was very easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's comick powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He said, Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands what you say.' And she said of him, I love to sit by Dr. Johnson; he always entertains me.' One night, when The Recruiting Officer' was acted, he said to Mr. Holland, who had been expressing an apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar; No, Sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit."
"His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could not have so much intercourse as Mr. Garrick used to profess an anxious wish that there should be.' There might, indeed, be something in the contemptuous severity as to the merit of acting, which his old preceptor nourished in himself, that would mortify Garrick after the great applause which he received from the audience. For though Johnson said of him, Sir, a man who has a nation to admire him every night, may well be expected to be somewhat elated;' yet he would treat theatrical matters with a ludicrous slight. He mentioned one evening, I met David coming off the stage, drest in a woman's riding hood, when he acted in The Wonder; I came full upon him, and I believe he was not pleased,"
' [In a letter written by Johnson to a friend in Jan. 1742—3, he "I never see Garrick." M.]
"Once he asked Tom Davies, whom he saw drest in a fine suit of clothes, And what art thou tonight?' Tom answered, The Thane of Ross;' (which it will be recollected is a very inconsiderable character.) "O brave!' said Johnson."
"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."
"Talking of the minuteness with which people will record the sayings of eminent persons, a story was told, that when Pope was on a visit to Spence at Oxford, as they looked from the window they saw a Gentleman Commoner, who was just come in from riding, amusing himself with whipping at a post. Pope took occasion to say, That young gentleman seems to have little to do.' Mr. Beauclerk observed, Then, to be sure, Spence turned round and wrote that down' and went on to say to Dr. Johnson, Pope, Sir, would have said the same of you, if he had seen you distilling.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if Pope, had told me of my distilling, I would have told him of his grotto."
"He would allow no settled indulgence of idleness upon principle, and always repelled every attempt to urge excuses for it. A friend one day suggested, that it was not wholesome to study soon after dinner. JOHNSON. Ah, Sir, don't give way to such a fancy. At one time of my life I had taken it into my head that it was not wholesome to study between breakfast and dinner."