Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

With what devout and conscientious sentiments this paper was undertaken, is evidenced by the following prayer, which he composed and offered up on the occasion:

66

Almighty God, the giver of all good things, without whose help all labour is ineffectual, and without whose grace all wisdom is folly: grant, I beseech Thee, that in this undertaking thy Holy Spirit may not be withheld from me, but that I may promote thy glory, and the salvation of myself and others: grant this, O Lord, for the sake of thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen "."

The first paper of the Rambler was published on Tuesday, the 20th of March, 1749-50; and its author was enabled to continue it, without interruption, every Tuesday and Saturday, till Saturday, the 17th of March, 1752, on which day it closed. This is a strong confirmation of the truth of a remark of his, which I have had occasion to quote elsewhere P, that a man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it;" for, notwithstanding his constitutional indolence, his depression of spirits, and his labour in carrying on his Dictionary, he answered the stated calls of the press twice a week from the stores of his mind, during all that time; having received no assistance, except four billets in No. 10, by Miss Mulso, now Mrs. Chapone; No. 30, by Mrs. Catharine Talbot; No. 97, by Mr. Samuel Richardson, whom he describes in an introductory note as "An author who has enlarged the knowledge of human nature, and taught the passions to

the name of the periodical paper which Moore had undertaken. Garrick proposed the Salad, which, by a curious coincidence, was afterwards applied to himself by Goldsmith:

Our Garrick's a salad, for in him we see

Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree!

At last, the company having separated, without any thing of which they approved having been offered, Dodsley himself thought of the World.—Boswell. n Prayers and Meditations, vol. ix. p. 205.

[ocr errors]

Saturday was the fourteenth of March on the 17th Mrs. Johnson died. Boswell was probably led into this inaccuracy by the original folio edition of the Rambler, where the concluding paper is dated Saturday, March 17th. See Preface to Rambler, vol. ii. Johnson's Works.-Ed.

P Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3d edit. p. 28.

move at the command of virtue;" and Nos. 44 and 100, by Mrs. Elizabeth Carter.

Posterity will be astonished when they are told, upon the authority of Johnson himself, that many of these discourses, which we should suppose had been laboured with all the slow attention of literary leisure, were written in haste as the moment pressed, without even being read over by him before they were printed. It can be accounted for only in this way; that by reading and meditation, and a very close inspection of life, he had accumulated a great fund of miscellaneous knowledge, which, by a peculiar promptitude of mind, was ever ready at his call, and which he had constantly accustomed himself to clothe in the most apt and energetick expression. Sir Joshua Reynolds once asked him by what means he had attained his extraordinary accuracy and flow of language. He told him, that he had early laid it down as a fixed rule to do his best on every occasion, and in every company; to impart whatever he knew in the most forcible language he could put it in; and that by constant practice, and never suffering any careless expressions to escape him, or attempting to deliver his thoughts without arranging them in the clearest manner, it became habitual to him.

Yet he was not altogether unprepared as a periodical writer; for I have in my possession a small duodecimo volume, in which he has written, in the form of Mr. Locke's commonplace book, a variety of hints for essays on different subjects. He has marked upon the first blank leaf of it," To the 128th page, collections for the Rambler;" and in another place, "in 52 there were 17 provided; in 97-21; in 190-25." At a subsequent period (probably after the work was finished) he added, "In all, taken of provided materials, 30."

¶ The rule which Dr. Johnson observed, is sanctioned by the authority of two great writers of antiquity: "Ne id quidem tacendum est, quod eidem Ciceroni placet, nullum nostrum usquam negligentem esse sermonem: quicquid loquemur, ubicunque, sit pro sua scilicet portione perfectum." Quinctil. x. 7.— MALONE.

Sir John Hawkins, who is unlucky upon all occasions, tells us, that "this method of accumulating intelligence had been practised by Mr. Addison', and is humorously described in one of the Spectators, wherein he feigns to have dropped his paper of notanda, consisting of a diverting medley of broken sentences and loose hints, which he tells us he had collected, and meant to make use of. Much of the same kind is Johnson's Adversaria"." But the truth is, that there is no resemblance at all between them. Addison's note was a fiction, in which unconnected fragments of his lucubrations were purposely jumbled together, in as odd a manner as he could, in order to produce a laughable effect. Whereas Johnson's abbreviations are all distinct, and applicable to each subject of which the head is mentioned.

For instance, there is the following specimen:

Youth's Entry, etc.

"Baxter's account of things in which he had changed his mind as he grew up. Voluminous.-No wonder.-If every man was to tell, or mark, on how many subjects he has changed, it would make vols. but the changes not always observed by man's self.-From pleasure to bus. [business] to quiet; from thoughtfulness to reflect. to piety; from dissipation to domestick. by impercept. gradat. but the change is certain. Dial non progredi, progress. esse conspicimus. Look back, consider what was thought at some dist. period.

"Hope predom. in youth. Mind not willingly indulges unpleasing thoughts. The world lies all enamelled before him, as a distant prospect sun-gilt';-inequalities only

r Addison did in fact accumulate three folio volumes of matter for his Spectator before he published a number. But sir John Hawkins was misled by a mere jeu d'esprit. See Addisoniana, vol. i.—ED.

s Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 268.

This most beautiful image of the enchanting delusion of youthful prospect has not been used in any of Johnson's Essays.-Boswell.

found by coming to it. Love is to be all joy—children excellent-Fame to be constant-caresses of the greatapplauses of the learned-smiles of beauty.

"Fear of disgrace-Bashfulness-Finds things of less importance. Miscarriages forgot like excellencies;-if remembered, of no import. Danger of sinking into negligence of reputation;-lest the fear of disgrace destroy activity.

66

Confidence in himself. Long tract of life before him— No thought of sickness.-Embarrassment of affairs.Distraction of family.-Publick calamities.-No sense of the prevalence of bad habits.-Negligent of time-ready to undertake-careless to pursue-all changed by time.

66

Confident of others—unsuspecting as unexperienced— imagining himself secure against neglect, never imagines they will venture to treat him ill. Ready to trust; expecting to be trusted. Convinced by time of the selfishness, the meanness, the cowardice, the treachery of

men.

"Youth ambitious, as thinking honours easy to be had. “Different kinds of praise pursued at different periods. Of the gay in youth, dang. hurt, etc. despised.

"Of the fancy in manhood. Ambit.-stocks-bargains. Of the wise and sober in old age-seriousness— formality-maxims, but general-only of the rich, otherwise age is happy-but at last every thing referred to riches--no having fame, honour, influence, without subjection to caprice.

"Horace.

"Hard it would be if men entered life with the same views with which they leave it, or left as they enter it.No hope-no undertaking-no regard to benevolenceno fear of disgrace, etc.

"Youth to be taught the piety of age-age to retain the honour of youth."

This, it will be observed, is the sketch of No. 196 of the Rambler. I shall gratify my readers with another specimen :

Confederacies difficult; why.

"Seldom in war a match for single persons-nor in peace; therefore kings make themselves absolute. Confederacies in learning—every great work the work of one. Bruy. Scholars' friendship like ladies'. Scribebamus, etc. Mart". The apple of discord-the laurel of discord-the poverty of criticism. Swift's opinion of the power of six geniuses united. That union scarce possible. His remarks just;-man a social, not steady nature. Drawn to man by words, repelled by passions. Orb drawn by attraction, rep. [repelled] by centrifugal.

"Common danger unites by crushing other passions-but they return. Equality hinders compliance. Superiority produces insolence and envy. Too much regard in each to private interest;-too little.

"The mischiefs of private and exclusive societies. The fitness of social attraction diffused through the whole. The mischiefs of too partial love of our country. Contraction of moral duties—Οἱ φίλοι, οὐ φίλος.

Every man moves upon his own centre, and therefore repels others from too near a contact, though he may comply with some general laws.

"Of confederacy with superiours every one knows the inconvenience. With equals, no authority;-every man his own opinion-his own interest.

66

Man and wife hardly united;-scarce ever without children. Computation, if two to one against two, how many against five? If confederacies were easy-useless;many oppresses many.-If possible only to some, dangerous. Principum amicitias."

Here we see the embryo of No. 45 of the Adventurer; and it is a confirmation of what I shall presently have occasion to mention, that the papers in that collection marked T. were written by Johnson.

This scanty preparation of materials will not, however, much diminish our wonder at the extraordinary fertility of his mind; for the proportion which they bear to the num

" Lib. xii. 96. "In Tuccam æmulum omnium suorum studiorum."-MALONE.

« AnteriorContinuar »