Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

upon here.

scarcer than any “liber rarissimus” which tice of Johnson's Dictionary. The want tantalizes the belluo librorum” in the

of a good dictionary, before Johnson's “choice catalogue of Thomas Thorpe.” made its appearance, need not be enlarged " THE LITERARY MAGAZINE, OR UNI

Those who are versed in VERSAL REVIEW” made its first appear philology will not need our learning upon ance May, 1756, and its last, July, 1758. the subject; and those who have no taste For this periodical Johnson wrote five for it, would vote us a bore. So we resist essays and some twenty-five reviews. the temptation of a vast parade of learning, We have adverted, heretofore, to the temp which would be about as profound as tation under which a reviewer lies, to abuse much smattering we meet with in this his position to personal, and often un day of universal scholarship. Cooper worthy, ends. Candor compels us to ad says, somewhere, that an American would mit that, even our stern moralist was consider himself as ignorant, indeed, if he not proof against what has so often se did not feel competent to talk upon any duced the fidelity of smaller men.

subject, whatsoever; so our “clever young Jonas Hanway, a man with more than men,” range, at will, from “Shakespeare ordinary pretensions to the character of a

and the musical glasses,” to the Greek philanthropist, as his introduction of um particle; and from “ Toilettecritiques, brellas into Britain demonstrates,-a man to the differential calculus. To show who had heretofore ranked as a decent, how reviewers worked in those days, alwell-deserving, "highly respectable” citi though the dictionary was published only zen,-actually had the hardihood, malig on the 15th of the month, the review of nity and effrontery, to publish a violent thirty-two pages (principally quotations, attack upon- what think you, gentle indeed) was ready for the press by the reader ? public morality, or private char 24th. It is much to the credit of the acter ? neither, but an attack upon

Tea “Monthly Review,” that, notwithstanding Drinking." Whether he forgot the its Whig principles, Johnson was always Doctor's propensity, or was ignorant of treated with a marked consideration ; his being a reviewer, or was determined which in days of excited party spirit, is to brave the matter out in his zeal for the not often accorded to political opponents. public good, does not appear. To suppose In regard to lexicography, all literary that our Doctor would tamely bear this men, Whig and Tory, were ready to hail terrific attack upon his favorite beverage, with gratitude one who should promise was reckoning without his host.

order and certainty where there reigned came down with such sledge-hammer obscurity and confusion. English scholars blows upon Jonas, that the latter rea had to endure in silence the sarcasm of lized that, now, at least, if never when in the Abbé le Blanc, who declares that, Russia, he had “caught a Tartar.” John such was the passion for the English son describes himself as “a hardened and tongue that the French had made it one shameless tea-drinker ; who for many of the learned languages, and that even years diluted his meals only with the in their women studied it; and yet that fusion of this fascinating plant; whose there was not so much as a good dictionkettle has hardly time to cool ; who with ary, or hardly a tolerable grammar. The tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces Reviewer foresees a brighter state of the inidnight; and with tea welcomes the affairs, since the valiant doctor had come to morning.” Tyens parodied the last phrase the rescue :—"But these reproaches, we "te veniente die—te decedente." Imagine hope, will in a great measure be removed, the stupefaction of horror into which the as well as the acquiring a competent zealous Jonas was thrown, by this un knowledge of the genius of our tongue, blushing avowal of unrepented profligacy! facilitated by the work before us; á He girded on his sword afresh, and at work that has been much wanted, and no tacked the Tea-monster with all the zeal less eagerly expected, especially by those of a true imitator of Saint George. The who are acquainted with Mr. Johnson's great dragon, in this instance, however, literary abilities.”

After copious quotaheld with feline tenacity to life; and con tions, the reviewer thus proceeds: "Such tinued to toss off his dozen or twenty cups

is Mr. Johnson's account of what he has of “bohea,” or "young hyson,” without endeavored; and barely to say that he caring a rush for Jonas Hanway and his has well performed his task, would be too caustic strictures.

frigid a commendation of a performance The "Monthly Review” for April

, 1755, that will be received with gratitude, by was enlarged "four pages extraordinary,” those who are sincerely zealous for the and, even at that, the usual" catalogue” reputation of English literature: neveromitted, to make room for a copious no theless, lavish as we might, justly, be in

Не

its praise, we are not blind to its imper the dictionary had never seen the light. fections; for some we have observed, even The author commenced with a good stock in the short time allowed us for the in of confidence. When Dr. Adams started spection of this large work, nor are all of back aghast at the stupendous character them equally unimportant. Some may, of the scheme, exclaiming, “This is a perhaps, expect that we should point out great work, sir. How are you to get all what appear to us defects; but this we the etymologies ?-Johnson. Why, sir, decline, because most of them will be ob here is a shelf with Junius and Skinner, vious to the judicious and inquisitive and others; and there is a Welsh gentlereader; nor are we inclinable to feed the man who has published a collection of malevolence of little or lazy critics : be Welsh proverbs, who will help me with sides which, our assiduous and ingenious the Welsh.—ADAMs. But, sir, how can compiler, has, in a great measure, antici you do this in three years ?—Johnson. pated all censure by his apologetical ac Sir, I have no doubt that I can do it in knowledgments. Upon the whole, if the three years. — Adams. But the French prodigious extent of this undertaking, and Academy, which consists of forty members, the numerous difficulties necessarily at took forty years to compile their Dictiontending it, be duly considered ; also that ary:-Johnson. Sir, thus it is. This is it is the labor of one single person (who the proportion. As three to sixteen hunhimself tells us it was written with little dred, so is the proportion of an Englishassistance of the learned, and without the man to a Frenchman.” patronage of the great; not in the soft The history of Lord Chesterfield's conobscurities of retirement, nor under the nection with Johnson's first philological shelter of academic bowers, but amidst in aspirations; the tardy, patronship, and convenience and distraction, in sickness the severe epistle to his Lordship are and in sorrow), instead of affording matter well known. Although a bigoted Johnfor envy or malignancy to prey upon, it sonite, we consider that the lexicographer must excite wonder and admiration to see was not free from fault in this business. how greatly he has succeeded.” The re We have no space to spare, however, for viewer proceeds: “ His grammar is con any argumentation upon the point. The cise, yet far from being obscure; several Earl's suggestions upon the prospectus of his remarks are uncommon, if not new, were all adopted by the author. and all of them deserving particular at The Doctor displayed no little ingenuity tention. The prosody is treated with an in the preliminary arrangement of his accuracy we do not remember to have material. Bishop Percy tells us : met with in other grammarians; and the well's account of the manner in which whole appears to us well calculated to Johnson compiled his Dictionary, is conserve its professed purpose, which is, that fused and erroneous. He began his task the English language may be learned, if (as he himself expressly described to me) the reader be acquainted with grammati- by devoting his first care to a diligent cal terms, or taught by a master to those perusal of all such English writers as who are more ignorant.”

were most correct in their language, and The Doctor, with his usual foresight, under every sentence which he meant to had adopted an excellent mode of dis- quote, he drew a line, and noted in the couraging all adverse criticism, by admit margin the first letter of the word under ting in his preface, that, a few wild blun which it was to occur. He then delivered ders and risible absurdities might for a these books to his clerks, who transtime furnish folly with laughter, and scribed each sentence on a separate slip harden ignorance into contempt. Now as of paper, and arranged the same under no reviewer is particularly desirous of the word referred to. By these means, being considered either a fool, or an igno he collected the several words and their ramus, we may suppose that the Jeffreys different significations; and when the of the day were contented to praise where whole arrangement was alphabetically they could, and be silent where they dis formed, he gave the definitions of their approved.

meanings, and collected their etymologies Thomas Warton, in a letter to his from Skinner, Junius, and other writers brother, after admitting that “the preface on the subject." was noble and the history of the language Andrew Millar's exclamations of delight pretty full,” complains that, “strokes of at the reception of the last sheet, was less laxity and indolence” were plainly to be reverent than Johnson's pious rejoinder. perceived. “Laxity and indolence there We do not wonder at Millar's impatience... will always be in the work of man; but The “three years," proved to be more vigor and industry also there were, else than seven ; and the copy-right money

[ocr errors]

(£1575, equal perhaps to $15,000 in our wrote it, and I think, I found it full as day) had long been in the hands of the often better, as worse, than I expected.” lexicographer. Here was an opportunity, “The world,” he tells Mr. Bagshaw, “must in the pages of a work of general refer at present take it as it is.” ence, too good to be lost, of giving vent to Mrs. Piozzi tells a curious anecdote some of the strong prejudices which the upon this point. “As he was walking Doctor adhered to with a pertinacity along the Strand, a gentleman stepped out worthy of a worthy cause; accordingly of some neighboring tavern, with his napwe have some curious definitions:

kin in his hand, and no hat, and stopping “Oats. A grain which, in England, is him as civilly as he could, — "I beg your generally given to horses, but in Scotland, pardon, sir; but you are Dr. Johnson, I supports the people.”

believe.” “Yes, sir.” “We have a wager " Whic. The name of a faction."

depending on your reply : pray, sir, is it "PENSION. An allowance made to any irréparable or irreparable that one should one without an equivalent. In England, say?”. “The last, I think, sir," answered it is generally understood to mean, pay Dr. Johnson, “ for the adverb [adjective] given to a state hireling, for treason to his ought to follow the verb; but you had country.”

better consult my Dictionary than me; for We may be sure that the last definition that was the result of more thought than was not forgotten by the lexicographer's you will now give me time for." No, friends, or enemies, when a pension of no," replied the gentleman gayly, “the £300 was graciously bestowed upon the book I have no certainty at all of; but author of the “Rambler," by George here is the author to whom I referred : I Third. Nor did Johnson hiraself forget have won my twenty guineas quite fairly, his unhappy definition; for he consulted and am much obliged to you, sir,” so shakSir Joshua Reynolds, as to the proprietying Dr. Johnson kindly by the hand, he of the author of such a sweeping attack went back to finish his dinner, or dessert.” upon pensioners becoming one himself. Croker comments: - The Dictionary gives,

The Dictionary sold well; for a second and rightly, a contrary decision.” folio edition was published within a year. Robert Dodsley is entitled to our gratiThis was a triumph for the author; who tude, for suggesting the publication of a declared that, of all his acquaintancesDictionary to Johnson; although the latter there were only two who, upon the publi declares that he had long thought of it. cation of the work, did not endeavor to Boswell one day ventured one of his usual depress him with threats of censure from sapient remarks: “You did not know the public, or with objections learned what you were undertaking." Johnson. from those who had learned them from Yes, sir, I knew very well what I was his own preface.

undertaking, and very well how to do it, He complains, in 1771, that, “my and have done it very well.” When summer wanderings are now over, and I Johnson asked Garrick, what people said am engaging in a very great work, the of the new book, he replied, that it was revision of my Dictionary; from whích, I objected to as citing authorities which know not at present how to get loose.” were beneath the dignity of such a work ; In the next year, the work had reached Richardson, for example. “Nay,” said the its fourth edition, but was much the same lexicographer, “I have done worse than as when first published; for he tells Bos that: I have cited thee, David.” well: "A new edition of my great Diction But all did not find fault. Sheridan ary is printed from a copy which I was paid a compliment to the author, in his persuaded to revise; but having made no prologue to Savage's tragedy of "Sir preparation, I was able to do very little. Thomas Overbury,” worthy of both the Some superfluities I have expunged, and donor and the recipientsome faults I have corrected, and here and

“So pleads the tale that gives to future times there have scattered a remark; but the The son's misfortunes and the parent's crimos; main fabric of the work remains as it was. There shall his famo (if own'd to-night) survive; I had looked very little into it since I Fix'd by the hand that bids our language live."

[ocr errors]

THE TWO ANGELS.

TWO
WO angels, one of Life and one of Death,

Passed o'er the village as the morning broke;
The dawn was on their faces, and beneath,

The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke.

Their attitude and aspect were the same,

Alike their features and their robes of white; But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame,

And one with asphodels, like flakes of light.

I saw them pause on their celestial way;

Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed : “Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray

The place where thy beloved are at rest!”

And he, who wore the crown of asphodels,

Descending, at my door began to knock, And my soul sank within me, as in wells

The waters sink before an earthquake's shock.

I recognized the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain, That ost before had filled and haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength again.

The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice; And knowing whatsoe'er he sent was best,

Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,

“My errand is not Death, but Life," he said; And ere I answered, passing out of sight

On his celestial embassy he sped.

'Twas at thy door, O friend ! and not at mine,

The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin;
And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.

All is of God! If He but wave his hand

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud, Till with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! he looks back from the departing cloud.

Angels of Life and Death alike are His;

Without his leave they pass no threshold o'er; Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,

Against his messengers to shut the door?

OF FITNESS IN ORATORY.

'is

who guide and govern social life: and Lethical law, that in undertaking to act from such an example as theirs we must upon others, we must pay attention to the take our start, in order to form a lively circumstances under which our attempts idea of the distinctive features of the oraare made. These circumstances are noth

tor.

On the contrary there are men ing else than our relations, which again enough who are ever ready and anxious are determined by the personal character to accomplish some good end, but who, of men and by our influence upon that because they always bring forward their character. But now every one requires plans at an unsuitable season, and because that his personality be respected, and if he they are not capable of adapting them to the admits that it can and must undergo peculiarities of those with whom they deal, changes, yet he demands that this shall be are perpetually baffled in their plans and brought to pass, not in suppressing. but in undertakings; good men, if you will, yet ennobling and expanding his existing na men who, beyond a doubt, stand in need ture. Since this is a universal demand, and of a higher moral cultivation. These are since it is a moral law to adjust our de the genuine unrhetorical natures, well mands so that they can consist with the adapted to illustrate in the clearest mandemands of the other party, we are sub ner, what the orator may not be. jected by this law to the duty of respect As it applies to all moral activity, so ing their personality; that is, of adapting docs this law of propriety, hold good in our mode of procedure to relations and rhetoric, and imparts to the rhetoric which circumstances. For in the effort to put an is framed in accordance with it, certain idea into practice, we assert our own per characteristics which are of ethical origin, sonality ; but in order that this may not and which, at the same time, may be retake place at the expense and through the garded as the best means of moving the suppression of the personality of others, we hearer's heart. inust endeavor by a most thorough ad In the first place, a discourse constructjustment thereto, to extenuate and to make ed in accordance with existing relations, amends for the preponderance we strive to will be so adapted to the capacity of the gain. Hence arose the first duty to make hearer, that it will neither tax it too seour ideas consort with theirs ; hence arises verely nor leave it too little employed. For now the second duty, in asserting our per the capacity is dependent upon the knowsonality to acknowledge theirs and to ap ledge and mental culture of the hearer; proach every thing which belongs to it forming a very important part of his perwith the greatest care. Since now, accord sonality, which the orator is bound to reing to our previous position, the highest spect, and which he will unpardonably virtue is also the highest prudence, it fol offend if he wearies him with excessive lows that this moral propriety or appro obscurity or excessive simplicity in his priateness in action, will be the surest discourse. And as a very complete acmeans and the indispensable condition of quaintance with his public is necessary in success. It is this by which the practical order to avoid both these errors, it is obliman (in the higher and better sense of the gatory upon the orator to use all diligence word) distinguishes himself; and if his in acquiring a knowledge of the same. conduct always exhibits this feature, and Otherwise he will subject himself to the he is by that means invariably successful, reproach of one who has undertaken a yet we should not simply ascribe to him business, and has neglected to obtain the prudence and forget the moral power of information necessary in the case. It is this quality. There are men of this sort, true indeed that among the same class of who inspire confidence at the first look, hearers the degree of culture attained will and for this reason; because while main vary in each individual case; yet a middle taining their own personality with dignity course is not difficult to be found, and acand with emphasis, they do not forget that cordingly a fictitious general or normal modesty which yields to the personality hearer may be imagined, which may be of every other individual its fullest rights. kept constantly in view, and to which Scarcely have these men undertaken to

every thing may be addressed; by which conduct a difficult matter, when difficulties device one may escape error in either of disappear and opposition vanishes, because the directions adverted to. every one who observes their proceedings When an orator is not in a position is convinced that his own interests will be rightly to judge of his public, or is incaadvanced thereby. These are the men pable of engaging its attention in a suitable

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »