Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

means of love ; or giãoxepdis, a man who makes money by means of love ? In fact, it requires no Bentley or Casaubon to perceive, that Philarchus is merely a false spelling for Phylarchus, the chief of a tribe.

Mr. Croker has favored us with some Greek of his own. At the altar,' says Dr. Johnson, ' I recommended my 9. .' • These letters,' says the editor, ' ( which Dr. Strahan seems not to have understood,) probably mean evitoi oiloi, departed friends."* Johnson was not a firstrate Greek scholar; but he knew more Greek than most boys when they leave school ; and no schoolboy could venture to use the word Ivrtoi in the sense which Mr. Croker ascribes to it without imminent danger of a flogging.

Mr. Croker has also given us a specimen of his skill in translating Latin. Johnson wrote a note in which he consulted his friend, Dr. Lawrence, on the propriety of losing some blood. The note contains these words : te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.' Johnson should rather have written “imperatum est.' But the meaning of the words is perfectly clear. If you say yes, the messenger has orders to bring Holder to me.' Mr. Croker translates the words as follows: If you consent, pray tell the messenger to bring Holder to me.'t If Mr. Croker is resolved to write on points of classical learning, we would advise him to begin by giving an hour every morning to our old friend Corderius.

Indeed we cannot open any volume of this work in any place, and turn it over for two minutes in any direction, without lighting on a blunder. Johnson, in his Life of Tickell, stated that the poem entitled “The Royal Progress,' which appears in the last volume of the Spectator, was written on the accession of George I. The word ' arrival was

- Si per

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* IV. 251.

# V. 17.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

afterwards substituted for 'accession.' · The reader will ob. serve,' says Mr. Croker, that the Whig term accession, which might imply legality, was altered into a statement of the simple fact of King George's arrival.'* Now Johnson, though a bigoted Tory, was not quite such a fool as Mr. Croker here represents him to be. In the life of Granville, Lord Lansdowne, which stands next to the Life of Tickell, mention is made of the accession of Anne, and of the accession of George I. The word arrival was used in the Life of Tickell, for the simplest of all reasons. It was used because the subject of the Royal Progress' was the arrival of the king, and not his accession, which took place nearly two months before his arrival.

The editor's want of perspicacity is indeed very amusing. He is perpetually telling us that he cannot understand something in the text which is as plain as language can make it.

Mattaire,' said Dr. Johnson, 'wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called Senilia, in which he shows so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl.'+ Hereupon we have this note : “The editor does not understand this objection, nor the following observation. The following observation which Mr. Croker cannot understand is simply this: 'In matters of genealogy,' says Johnson, it is necessary to give the bare names as they are. But in poetry, and in

prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them.' If Mr. Croker had told Johnson that this was unintelligible, the doctor would probably have replied, as he replied on another occasion, 'I have found you a reason, sir ; I am not bound to find you an understanding.' Everybody who knows anything of Latinity knows that, in genealogical tables, Joannes Baro de Carteret, or Vice-comes

6

*IV. 425.

# IV. 335.

6

de Carteret, may be tolerated, but that in compositions which pretend to elegance, Carteretus, or some other form which admits of inflection, ought to be used.

All our readers have doubtless seen the two distichs of Sir William Jones, respecting the division of the time of a lawyer. One of the distichs is translated from some old Latin lines, the other is original. The former runs thus :

«Six hours to sleep, to law's grave study six,

Four spend in prayer, the rest on nature fix.' Rather,' says Sir William Jones,

«Six hours to law, to soothing slumbers seven,

Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven.' The second couplet puzzles Mr. Croker strangely. 'Sir William,' says he, has shortened his day to twenty-three hours, and the general advice of “all to heaven,” destroys the peculiar appropriation of a certain period to religious exercise.' + Now, we did not think that it was in human dulness to miss the meaning of the lines so completely. Sir William distributes twenty-three hours among various employments. One hour is thus left for devotion. The reader expects that the verse will end with — and one to heaven.' The whole point of the lines consists in the unexpected substitution of all ' for one.' The conceit is wretched enough ; but it is perfectly intelligible, and never, we will venture to say, perplexed man, woman, or child be. fore.

Poor Tom Davies, after failing in business, tried to live by his pen. Johnson called him an author generated by the corruption of a bookseller.' This is a very obvious, and even a commonplace allusion to the famous dogma of the old physiologists. Dryden made a similar allusion to that dogma before Johnson was born. Mr. Croker, how

6

ܪܐ

[ocr errors]

+ V. 233.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ever, is unable to understand it. “The expression,' he says,

seems not quite clear.' And he proceeds to talk about the generation of insects, about bursting into gaudier life, and Heaven knows what. *

There is a still stranger instance of the editor's talent for finding out difficulty in what is perfectly plain. No man,'

“ said Johnson, 'can now be made a bishop for his learning and piety.' 'From this too just observation,' says Boswell, there are some eminent exceptions.' Mr. Croker is puzzled by Boswell's very natural and simple language. That a general observation should be pronounced too just, by the very person who admits that it is not universally just, is not a little odd.'

A very large proportion of the two thousand five hundred notes, which the editor boasts of having added to those of Boswell and Malone, consists of the flattest and poorest reflections, - reflections such as the least intelligent reader is quite competent to make for himself, and such as no intelligent reader would think it worth while to utter aloud. They remind us of nothing so much as of those profound and interesting annotations which are pencilied by sempstresses and apothecaries' boys on the dog-eared margins of novels bor. rowed from circulating libraries — “How beautiful!'.

-'cur'-'I don't like Sir Reginald Malcolm at all.'– • I think Pelham is a sad dandy.' Mr. Croker is perpetually stopping us in our progress through the most delightful narrative in the language, to observe, that really Dr. Johnson was very rude ; that he talked more for victory than for truth; that his taste for port wine with capillaire in it was very odd; that Boswell was impertinent; that it was foolish in Mrs. Thrale to marry the music-master; and other merderies of the same kind, to borrow the energetic word of Rabelais.

S

sed prosy

[blocks in formation]

mar.

6

We cannot speak more favorably of the manner in which the notes are written, ihan of the matter of which they consist. We find in every page words used in wrong senses, and constructions which violate the plainest rules of gram

We have the low vulgarism of mutual friend,' for common friend.' We have • fallacy,' used as synonymous with "falsehood,' or mistatement. We have many such inextricable labyrinths of pronouns as that which follows: • Lord Erskine was fond of this anecdote; he told it to the editor the first time that he had the honor of being in his company. Lastly, we have a plentiful supply of sentences resembling those which we subjoin. Markland, who, with Jortin and Thirlby, Johnson calls three contemporaries of great eminence.' *

• Warburton himself did not feel, as Mr. Boswell was disposed to think he did, kindly or gratefully of Johnson.' + 'It was him that Horace Walpole called a man who never made a bad figure but as an author.' | We must add that the printer has done his best to fill both the text and notes with all sorts of blunders ; and he and the editor have between them made the book so bad, that we do not well see how it could have been worse.

When we turn from the commentary of Mr. Croker to the work of our old friend Boswell, we find it not only worse printed than in any other edition with which we are acquainted, but mangled in the most wanton manner. Much that Boswell inserted in his narrative is, without the shadow of a reason, degraded to the appendix. The editor has also taken upon

himself to alter or omit passages which he considers as indecorous. This prudery is quite unintelligible to us. There is nothing immoral in Boswell's book, - nothing which tends to inflame the passions. He sometimes uses plain words. But if this be a taint which requires expurga

* IV. 377.

+ IV. 415.

# II. 461.

« ZurückWeiter »