Графични страници
PDF файл

merly. I fancy they had less law long ago, and so were obliged to take to abuse to fill np the time. Now they have such a number of precedente, they have no occasion for abuse.” Johnson. “Nay, Sir, they had more law long ago than they have now. As to precedents, to be sure they will increase in course of time; but the more precedents there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is to say, the less occasion is there for investigating prin ciples.” Sir A. "I have been correcting several Scotch accents in my friend Boswell. I doubt, Sir, if any Scotchman everattaids to a perfect English pronunciation.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, few of them do, because they do not persevere after acquiring a certain degree of it. “But, Sir, there can be no doubt that they may attain to a perfect English pronunciation if they will. We find how near they come to it; and certainly, a man who conquers nineteen parts of the Scottish accent, may conquer the twentieth. But, Sir, when a man has got the better of ninetenths' he grows weary, he relaxes his diligence, he finds he has corrected his accident so far as not to be disagreeable, and he no longer desires his friends to tell liim when he is wrong; nor does he choose to be told. Sir, when people watch me narrowly, and I do not watch myself, they will find me out to be of a particular county. In the same manner, Dunning may be found out to be a Devonshire man. So most Scotchman may be found out. But, Sir, little aberrations are of no disadvantage. I never catched Mallet in a Scotch accent; and yet Mallet, I suppose, was past five-and-twenty before le came to London.

Upon another occasion I talked to him on this subject, having myself taken some pains to improve my pronunciatiur., by the aid of the late Mr. Love, of Drury Lane Theatre, when he was a player at Edinburgh, and also of old Mr. Sheridan. Johnson said to me, "Sir your pronunciation is not offensive." With this concession I was pretty well satisfied; and let me give my countrymen of North Britain an advice not to aim at absolute perfection in this respect; not to speak High English, as wo are apt to call what is far removed from the Scotch, but which is by no means yovil

· He was one of his executors. The large space which (thanks to Mr. Boswell) Dr. Johnson occupies in our estimate of the society of his day, makes it surprising that he should never have been in company with Lord Mansfield; but Boswell was disposed to over-rate the extent and rank of Johnson's acquaintance.-C.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

English, and makes the "fools who use it” truly ridiculous. Good English is plain, easy, and smooth in the mouth of an unaffected English gentleman. A studied and factitious pronunciation, which requires perpetual attention, and imposes perpetual constraint, is exceedingly disgusting. A small intermixture of provincial peculiarities may, perhaps, have an agreeable effect, as the notes of different birds concur in the harmony of the grove, and please more than if they were all exactly alike. I could name some gentlemen of Ireland,' to whom a slight proportion of the accent and recitative of that country is an advantage. The same observation will apply to the gentlemen of Scotland. I do not mean that we should speak as broad as a certain prosperous member of parliament from that country;" though it has been well obseved, that "it has been of no small use to him, as it rouses the attention of the House by its un commonness; and is equal to tropes and figures in a good English speaker.” I wonld give as an instance of what I meau to recommend to my countrymen, the pronunciation of the late Sir Gilbert Elliott ;) and may I presume to add that the present Earl of Marchmount,* who told me, with great good humour, that the master of a shop in London, where he was not known, said to him, “I suppose, Sir, you are an American.” “Why so, Sir?” said his Lordship. “Because, Sir," replied the shopkeeper, "you speak neither English nor Scotch, but something different from both, which I conclude is the language of Imerica.” BOSWELL. “ It

may be of use, Sir, to have a Dictionary to ascertain the pronunciation." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, my Diction

you the accent of words, if you can but remember them. BOSWELL. “But, Sir, we want marks to ascertain the pronunciation of the vowels. Sheridan, I believe, has finished such a work." JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, consider how much easier it is to learn a language by the ear, than by any marks.

ary shows

· Mr. Boswell probably included, in this observation, Mr. Burke; who, to the last, retained more of the Irish accent than was agreeable to less indulgent ears.-C. 2 Mr. Dundas

Sir Gilbert Elliot wrote the beautiful pastoral ballad quoted in the notes to the Lay of the Last Minstrel, “Why left Laminta !'' &c.

* Hugh, fourth Earl of Marchmont, the friend and executor of Pope, born in 1708, Lied in 1794.-C.

Sheridan's Dictionary may do very well ; but you cannot always carry it about with you : and, when you want the word, you have not the Dictionary. It is like a man who has a sword that will not draw. It is an admirable sword, to be sure: but while your enemy is cutting your throat, you are unable to use it. Besides, Sir, what entitles Sheridan to fix the pronunciation of English? He has, in the first place, the disadvantage of being an Irisbman ; and if he says he will fix it after the example of the best company, why, they differ among themselves. I remember an instance; when I published the plan for my Dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me that the word great should be pronounced so as to rhyme to state; and Sir William Yonge' sent me word that it should be pronounced so as to rhyme to seat, and that none but an Irishman would pronounce it grait. Now here were two men of the highest rank, the one, the best speaker in the House of Lords, the other the best speaker in the House of Commons, differing entirely."

I again visited him at night. Finding him in a very good bumour, I ventured to lead him to the subject of our situation in a future state, having much curiosity to know his notions on that point. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, the happiness of an unembodied spirit will consist in a consciousness of the favour of God, in the contemplation of truth, and in the possession of felicitating ideas.” BOSWELL. “But, Sir, is there any harm in our forming to ourselves conjectures as to the particulars of our happiness, though the Scripture has said but very little on the subject? 'We know not what we shall be.'” JOHNSON. “Sir, there is no harm. What philosophy suggests to us on this topic is probable : but what Scripture tells us is certain. Dr. Henry More? has carried it as far as philosophy can. You may buy both his theological and philosophical works in two volumes folio, for about eight shillings.” BOSWELL. “One of the most pleasing thoughts is, that we shall see our friends again.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, sir ; but you must consider, that when we are

1 Sir William Yonge, Secretary at War in Sir Robert Walpole's administration, and therefore very odious to Pope, who makes frequent depreciating allusions to him. He died in 1755.-C.

? Called the Platonist on account of his voluminous efforts to blend the Platonic philosophy with Christianity.

Ærat. 72.



become purely rational, many of our friendships will be cut off. Many friendships are formed by a community of sensual pleasures; all these will be cut off. We form many friendships with bad men because they have agreeable qualities, and they can be useful to us; but after death they can no longer be of use to us. We form many friendships by mistake, imagining people to be different from what they really are. After death we shall see every one in a true light. Then, Sir, they talk of our meeting our relations ; but then all relationship is dissolved ; and we shall have no regard for one person more than another, but for their real value. However, we shall either have the satisfaction of meeting our friends, or be satisfied without meeting them.” BOSWELL. “Yet, Sir, we see in Scripture that Dives still retained an anxious concern about his brethren.” JOHNSON. “Why, sir, we must suppose that passage to be metaphorical, or hold, with many divines, and all the Purgatorians, that departed souls do not all at once arrive at the utmost perfection of which they are capable.” BOSWELL. “I think, Sir, that is a very rational supposition." JOHNSON. Why, yes, sir ; but we do not know it is a true one. There is no harm in believing it; but you you must not compel others to make it m article of faith ; for it is not revealed.” BOSWELL. “Do you think, Sir, it is wrong in a man who holds the doctrine of Purgatory, to pray for the souls of his deceased friends?" JOHNSON. “Why, no, sir.” BOSWELL. “I have been told, that in the liturgy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, there was a form of prayer for the dead.” Johnson. it is not in the liturgy which Laud framed for the Episcopal Church of Scotland ; if there is a liturgy older than that, I should be glad to see it.” BOSWELL. “As to our employment in a future state, the sacred writings say little. The Revelation, however, of St John gives us many ideas, and particulary mentions music.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, ideas must be given you by means of something which you know; and as to music, there are some philosophers and divines who have maintained that we shall not be spiritualized to such a degree, but that something of matter,


Bishop Hall. In his Epistle, discoursing of the different degrees of heavenly glory, and of our mutual knowledge of each other above," holds the affirmative on both these questions. - M

very much refined, will remain.

In that case,



make a part of our future felicity.' BOSWELL. “I do not know whether there are any well attested stories of the appearance of ghosts. You know there is a famous story of the appeaaance of Mrs. Veal, prefixed to ‘Dreli court on Death.'" Johnson

“I believe, Sir, that is given up : I believe the woman cleclared up her death-bed that it was a lie.”l BOSWELL. “This objection is made against the truth of ghosts appearing : that if they are in a state of happiness, it would be a punishment for them to return to this world; and if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, as the happiness or misery of disembodied spirits does not depend upon place, but is intellectual, we cannot say they are less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth."

We went down between twelve and one to Mrs. William's room and drank tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. Gray, in prose and verse, published by Mr. Mason. Johnson. “I think we have had enough of Gray. I see they have published a splendid edition of Akenside's works. One bad ode may be suffered ; but a number of them together makes one sick.” BOSWELL.

BOSWELL. “Akenside's distinguished poem is his pleasures of imagination; but for my part I never could admire it so much as most people do.” JOHNSON. “Sir, I could not read it through.” BOSWELL. “I have read it through ; but I did not find any great power in it.”

I mentioned Elwal, the heretic, whose trial? Sir Jol n Pringle had given me to read. Johnson. "Sir, Mr. Elwal was, I think, an ironmonger at Wolverhampton; and he had a mind to make himself famous, by being the founder of a new sect, which he wished much should be called Elwallians. H held, that everything in the Old Testament that was not typical, was to be of perpetual observance ; and so he wore a riband in the plaits of his coat, and he also wore a beard. I remember I had this honour of dining in company with Mr. Elwal. There was one

This fiction is known to have been invented by Daniel Defoe, and was added to the second edition of the English translation of Drelincourt's work (which was originally written in French). to make it sell. The first edition had it not.-M.

2" Thê Triomph of Truth; being an Account of the Trial of E. Elwal for Heresy and Blasphemy," 8vo, Lond

« ПредишнаНапред »