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minal jurisdiction, the result of which was his having sentenced four convicts to transportation. Johnson, in an agony of impatience to get rid of such a companion, exclaimed, “I heartily wish, Sir, that I were a fifth.”
At another time, having argued at some length with a pertinacious gentleman, his opponent, who had talked in a very puzzling manner, happened to say, "I don't understand you, Sir;" upon which Johnson observed, “ Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding."
He used to say, that he made it a constant rule to talk as well as he could, both as to sentiment and expression; by which means, what had been originally effort became familiar and easy.
Mr. Boswell being about to embark for Holland, and taking leave of Johnson at Harwich, happened to say that it would be terrible if he should not find a speedy opportunity of returning to London, and be confined to so dull a place.-JOHNSON. “ Don't, Sir, accustom yourself to use big words for little matters. It would not be terrible though I were to be detained some time here."
He found fault with one for using the phrase to make money. “ Don't you see (said he) the impropriety of it? To make money is to coin it: you should say get money." The phrase, however, is pretty current. But Johnson was at all times jealous of infractions upon the genuine English language, and prompt to repress colloquial barbarisms; such as pledging myself for undertaking ; line for department, or branch, as the civil line, the banking line. He was particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word idea in the sense of notion or opinion, when it is clear that idea can only signify something of which an image can be formed in the mind. We may have an idea or image of a mountain, a tree, a building; but we cannot surely have an idea or image of an argument or proposition. Yet we hear the sages of the law “ delivering their ideas upon the question under consideration;" and the first speakers in parliament “ entirely coinciding in the idea which has been ably stated by an honourable member;" or " reprobating an idea unconstitutional, and fraught with the most dangerous consequences to a great and free country." Johnson called this “ modern cant.” - He pronounced the word heard as if spelt with a double e, heerd, instead of sounding it herd, as it is most usually done. He said his reason was, that if it was pronounced herd, there would be a single exception from the English pronunciation of the syllable ear, and he thought it better not to have that exception.
Sir Joshua Reynolds having one day said, that he took the altitude of a man's taste by his stories and his wit, and of his understanding by the remarks which he repeated; being always sure that he must be a weak man who quotes common things with an emphasis as if they were oracles; Johnson agreed with him, and Sir Joshua having also observed, that the real character of a man was found out by his amusements, Johnson added, “ Yes, Sir; no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.".
Johnson had a kind of general aversion to a pun. “ He once, however (says Mr. B.), endured one of mine. When we were talking of a numerous company in which he had distinguished himself highly, I said, “Sir, you were a Con surrounded by smelts. Is not this enough for you? at a time too. when you were not fishing for a compliment?' He laughed at this with a complacent approbation. Old Mr. Sheridan observed, upon my mentioning it to him, ' He liked your compliment so well, he was willing to take it with pun sauce.' For my own part (adds Mr. B.), I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry, should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.”
The reader will probably be surprised to hear, that the great Dr. Johnson could amuse himself with so slight and playful a species of composi
tion as a Charade. The following, however, he made on Dr. Barnard, now Lord Bishop of Killaloe.
" My first shuts out thieves from your house or your room,
INDULGENCE IN WINE.
Mr. Boswell one evening ventured to undertake the defence of convivial indulgence in wine. After urging the common plausible topicks, he at last had recourse to the maxim, in vino veritas; a man who is well warmed with wine will speak truth. “Why, Sir (said Johnson), that may be an argument for drinking, if you suppose men in general to be liars. But, Sir, I would not keep company with a fellow who lies as long as he is sober, and whom you must make drunk before you can get a word of truth out of him,"
He said, few people had intellectual resources sufficient to forego the pleasures of wine. They
could not otherwise contrive how to fill the interval between dinner and supper.'
A gentleman having to some of the usual arguments for drinking added this: “ You know, Sir, drinking drives away care, and makes us forget whatever is disagreeable. Would not you allow a man to drink for that reason?"_" Yes, Sir (said Johnson, with perhaps unnecessary severity), if he sat next you.”
In a party at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, the question was discussed, whether drinking improved conversation and benevolence. Sir Joshua maintained it did.-J. “No, Sir: before dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who are conscious of their inferiority have the modesty not to talk. When they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous: but he is not improved; he is only not sensible of his defects.” Sir Joshua said, the Doctor was talking of the effects of excess in wine; but that a moderate glass enlivened the mind, by giving a proper circulation to the blood. “I am (said he) in very good spirits when I get up in the morning. By dinner-time I am exhausted; wine puts the in the same state as when I got up; and I am sure that moderate drinking makes people talk better.”—J.“ No, Sir; wine gives not light, gay, ideal hilarity; but tumultuous, noisy, clamor