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Sappho; for the rural lays of a Theocritus SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D., or Bion; and for the sublime conceptions of a Sophocles or Homer. The same in prose.

one of the most eminent of English authors, Ilere Isocrates was enabled to display his

was born in 1709, at Lichfield, where his art, in all the accuracy of periods and the father was a bookseller, studied at Pembroke nice counterpoise of diction. IIere Demos- College, Oxford, 17:28 to 1731, and after an thenes found materials for that nervous

unsuccessful experiment of teaching school composition, that manly force of unaffected at Edial, near Lichfield, came to London in eloquence, which rushed like a torrent, too

1737, and from that year until his death, in impetuous to be withstood.

1784, may be considered as an author by Who were more different in exhibiting profession. In 1762 a pension of £300, contheir philosophy than Xenophon, Plato, and ferred by George III., placed him beyond his disciple Aristotle? Different, I say, in the reach of want. Among his works are : their character of composition ; 'for as to Life of Richard Savage, Lond., 1744, 8vo; their philosophy itself, it was in reality the Vanity of lluman Wishes, 1749; Irene, a Aristotle, strict, methodic, and or

Tragedy, Lond., 1749, 8vo; The Rambler, derly ; subtle in thought, sparing in orna- Lond., 1750-52, 2 vols. fol.; The Dictionary ment; with little address to the passions or

of the English Language, Lond., 1755, 2 imagination; but exhibiting the whole with yols, fol., last edit. by Todd and Latham, such a pregnant brevity that in every sen- Lond., 1870, 4 vols. 4to ; The Prince of tence we seem to read a page. How exqui- Abyssinia (Rasselas), Lond., 1759, 2 vols. sitely is this all performed in Greek! Let 18mo; The Idler, Lond., 1761, 2 vols. 12mo; those who imagine it may be done as well Preface to his Edition of Shakspeare (Lond., in another language, satisfy themselves, 1765, 8 vols. 8vo), Lond., 1705, 8vo, new either by attempting to translate him, or by edit., Lond., 1858, 8vo; A Journey to the perusing his translations already made by Western Islands of Scotland, Lond., 1775, inen of learning.

8vo; The Lives of the Most Eminent EngOn the contrary, when we read either lish Poets, with Critical Observations on Xenophon or Plato, nothing of this method their Works, Lond., 1779-81, 10 vols. 12mo and strict order appears. The formal and (being Prefaces to Bell's Poets, 75 vols. didactic is wholly dropt. Whatever they 12mo). See Johnson's Works, Oxf., 1825, inay teach, it is without professing to be 11 vols. 8vo; Poetical Works, Lond., 1785, teachers; a train of dialogue and truly po

cr. 8vo; Boswell's Life of Johnson, by lite address, in which, as in a mirror, we Croker, Lond., 1848, 8vo, or 10 vols. fp. behold human life adorned in all its colours 8vo. of sentiment and manners.

“ Had Johnson left nothing but his Dictionary And yet though these differ in this man- one might have traced there a great intellect, a ner from the Stagyrite, how different are genuine man. Looking to its clearness of defini. they likewise in character from each other! tion, its general solidity, bonesty, insight, and --Plato, copious, figurative, and majestic : Dictionaries. There is in it a kind of architec

successful method, it may be called the best of all intermixing at times the facetious and sa

tural nobleness; it stands there like a great solid tiric; enriching his works with tales and square-built edifice, finished, symmetrically.comfables, and the mystic theology of ancient plete: you judge that a true Builder did it.”— times. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect CARLYLE: Hero- Worship. simplicity; everywhere smooth, harmonious,

“ of the Prefaces to his own or other men's and pure; declining the figurative, the mar

works, it is not necessary to speak in detail. The vellous, and the mystic; ascending but rarely powerfully written, but promises more than it por

most ambitious is that to the Dictionary, which is into the sublime ; nor then so much trusting forms, when it professes to give a history of the to the colours of style as to the intrinsic dig- English language: for it does very little more than nity of the sentiment itself.

give a series of passages from the writings in the The language, in the mean time, in which Ånglo-Saxon and English tongues of different he and Plato wrote appears to suit so accu

The Dictionary itself, with all its faults, rately with the style of both, that when we

still keeps its ground, and has had no successor that could supplant it.

The Preface to his read either of the two, we cannot help think- Shakspeare, certainly, is far superior to his other ing that it is he alone who has hit its char- introductory discourses, both fuller of matter an 1 acter, and that it could not have appeared more elaborate. His remarks on the great draso elegant in any other manner.

matist are, generally speaking, sound and judiAnd this is the Greek tongue, from its cious; many of them may even, on a subject suffipropriety and universality made for all

that ciently hackneyed, be deemed original.”—LORD is great and all that is beautiful, in every

BROUGHAM: Men of Letters Time of George III. subject and under every form of writing:

He was certainly unskilled in the knowledge

of obsolete customs and expressions. IIis explanaGraiis ingenium Graiis dedit ore rotundo tory notes, therefore, are, generally speaking, the Musa loqui.

most controvertible of any; but no future editor


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will discharge his duty to the public who shall mischievous and comprehensive innovation :
omit a single sentence of this writer's masterly single words may enter by thousands, and
preface, or of his sound and tasteful characters the fabric of the tongue continue the same;
of the text of Shakspeare.”—Douce: Illust. of but new phraseology changes much at once ;
Shakep., Preface.
One of his most pleasing as well as most

it alters not the single stones of the build

popular works, The Lives of the British Poets, which he ing, but the order of the columns. If an executed with a degree of critical force and talent academy should be established for the culwhich has seldom been concentrated.”—Sir Wal- tivation of our style—which I, who can Ter Scott: Life of Samuel Johnson,

never wish to see dependence multiplied, “* Johnson decided literary questions like a law, hope the spirit of English liberty will binyer, not like a legislator. He never examined der or destroy-let them, instead of comfoundations where a point was already ruled. His whole code of criticisin rested on pure assumption, piling grammars and dictionaries, endeavfor which he sometimes quoted a precedent or our, with all their influence, to stop the authority, but rarely troubled himself to give a license of translators, whose idleness and reason drawn from the nature of things.”—Lord ignorance, if it be suffered to proceed, will MACAULAY: Edin. Rev., Sept. 1831, and in his reduce us to babble a dialect of France. Essays. LEXICOGRAPHY.

If the changes that we fear be thus irre

sistible, what remains but to acquiesce with It is the fate of those who toil at the lower silence, as in the other insurmountable disemployments of life to be rather driven by tresses of humanity. It remains that we the fear of evil than attracted by the pros- retard what we cannot repel, that we palpect of good ; to be exposed to censure with liate what we cannot cure. Life may be out hope of praise; to be disgraced by mis- lengthened by care, though death cannot carriage, or punished for neglect, where be ultimately defeated; tongues, like govsuccess would have been without applause, erninents, have a natural tendency to deand diligence without reward.

generation : we have long preserved our Among these unhappy mortals is the constitution, let us make some struggles for writer of dictionaries; whom mankind have our language. considered not as the pupil, but the slave of In hope of giving longevity to that which science, the pioneer of literature, doomed its own nature forbids to be immortal, I only to remove rubbish and clear obstruc-have devoted this book, the labour of years, tions from the paths through which learning to the honour of my country, that we may and genius press forward to conquest and no longer yield the palm of philology, withglory, without bestowing a smile on the out a contest, to the nations of the contihumble drudge that facilitates their pro

The chief glory of every people arises gress. Every other author may aspire to from its authors: whether I shall add anypraise; the lexicographer can only hope to thing by my own writings to the reputation escape reproach, and even this negative of English literature must be left to time: recompense has yet been granted to very much of my life has been lost by the pressfew.

ure of disease; much has been trifled away; [We venture to inquire-Who have been much has always been spent in provision more commended for their labours than for the day that was passing over me; but I lexicographers ?—E.g.: Da Cange, Hickes, shall not think my employment useless or igRaynouard, Soinner, Suidas, Stephens, be- noble, if by my assistance, foreign nations and fore Johnson, Adelung, Bopp, the Grimms, distant ages gain access to the propagators of Latham, Littre, Passow, Roquefort, Todd, knowledge, and understand the teachers of Webster, Worcester, since Johnson? To truth; if my labours afford light to the reposwhat, next to Boswell's pages, does Johnson itories of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, himself owe most of his reputation? Un- to Hooker, to Milton, and to Boyle. doubtedly to his Dictionary.-S. A. A.] When I am animated by this wish, I look

I have, notwithstanding this discourage- with pleasure on my book, however defecment, attempted a dictionary of the English tive, and deliver it to the world with the language, which, while it was employed in spirit of a man that has endeavoured well. the cultivation of every species of literature, That it will immediately become popular, I has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered have not promised to myself: a few wild to sprend, under the direction of chance, blunders and risible absurdities, from which into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyr- no work of such multiplicity was ever free, anny of time and fashion; and exposed to

may for a time furnish folly with laughter, the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices and harden ignorance into contempt; but of innovation.

useful diligence will at last prevail, and No book was ever turned from one lan- there never can be wanting soine who disguage into another without imparting some tinguish desert, who will consider that no thing of its native idiom ; this is the most dictionary of a living tongue ever can be


perfect, since, while it is hastening to pub

SHAKESPEARE. lication, some words are budding and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be Shakespeare is, above all writers, at least spent upon syntax and etymology, and that above all modern writers, the poet of nature; even a whole life would not be sufficient; the poet that holds up to his readers a faiththat he whose design includes whatever lan- ful mirror of manners and of life. His charguage can express, must often speak of what acters are not modified by the customs of he does not understand; that a writer will particular places, unpractised by the rest of sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the the world ; by the peculiarities of studies or end, and sometimes faint with weariness professions, which can operate but upon under a task which Scaliger compares to the small numbers; or by the accidents of tranlabours of the anvil and the mine; that what sient fashions or temporary opinions : they is obvious is not always known, and what is are the genuine progeny of common humanknown is not always present; that sudden ity, such as the world will always supply, fits of inadvertency will surprise vigilance, and observation will always find. Ilis perslight avocations will reduce attention, and sons act and think by the influence of those casual eclipses of the mind will darken general passions and principles by which all learning; and that the writer shall often in minds are agitated, and the whole system of vain trace his memory at the moment of life is continued in motion. In the writings need for that which yesterday he knew with of other poets a character is too often an intuitive readiness, and which will come individual ; in those of Shakespeare it is uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow. commonly a species.

In this work, when it shall be found that It is from this wide extension of design much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that that so much instruction is derived. It is much likewise is performed; and though no

this which fills the plays of Shakespeare book was ever spared out of tenderness to with practical axioms and domestic wisdom. the author, and the world is little solicitous It was said of Euripides that every verse to know whence proceeded the faults of that was a precept; and it may be said of Shakewhich it condemns, yet it may gratify curi- speare that from his works may be collected osity to inform it, that the English dictionary a system of civil and economical prudence. was written with little assistance of the Yet his real power is not shown in the learned, and without any patronage of the splendour of particular passages, but by the great; not in the soft obscurities of retire- progress of his fable and the tenour of his ment,' or under the shelter of academic dialogue; and he that tries to recommend bowers, but amid inconvenience and dis- him by select quotations will succeed like the traction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered repress the triumph of malignant criticism his house to sale, carried a brick in his to observe, that if our language is not here pocket as a specimen. fully displayed, I have only failed in an at- It will not easily be imagined how much tempt which no human powers have hith- Shakespeare excels in accommodating his erto completed. If the lexicons of ancient sentiments to real life, but by comparing tongues, now immutably fixed, and com- him with other authors. It was observed prised in a few volumes, be yet, after the of the ancient schools of declamation, that toil of successive ages, inadequate and de- the more diligently they were frequented lusive; if the aggregated knowledge and the more was the student disqualified for co-operating diligence of the Italian acade- the world, because he found nothing there micians did not secure them from the cen- which he should ever meet in any other sure of Beni; if the embodied critics of place. The same remark may be applied to France, when fifty years had been spent upon every stage but that of Shakespeare. The their work, were obliged to change its econ- | theatre, when it is under any other direcomy, and give their second edition another tion, is peopled by such characters as wero form, I may surely be contented without the never seen, conversing in a language which praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain was never heard, upon topics which will in this gloom of solitude, what would it never arise in the commerce of mankind. avail me? I have protracted my work till But the dialogue of this author is often so most of those whom I wished to please have evidently determined by the incident which sunk into the grave, and success and mis- produces it, and is pursued with so much carriage are empty sounds. I therefore ease and simplicity, that it seems scarcely to dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having claim the merit of fiction, but to have been little to fear or hope from censure or from gleaned by diligent selection out of common praise.

conversation and common occurrences, From the Preface to The Dictionary of the Upon every other stage the universal agent English Language.

is love, by whose power all good and evil is

distributed, and every action quickened or who has mazed his imagination, in following
retarded. To bring a lover, a lady, and a the phantoms which other writers raise up
rival into the fable; to entangle them in before him, may here be cured of his deliri-
contradictory obligations, perplex them with ous ecstacies, by reading human sentiments
oppositions of interest, and harass them with in human language, by scenes from which a
violence of desires inconsistent with each hermit may estimate the transactions of the
other; to make them meet in rapture, and world, and a confessor predict the progress
part in agony; to fill their mouths with hy of the passions.
perbolical joy and outrageous sorrow; to His adherence to general nature has ex-
distress them as nothing human ever was dis- posed him to the censure of critics who
tressed; to deliver them as nothing human form their judgments upon narrower prin-
ever was delivered; is the business of a ciples. Dennis and Rymer think his Romans
modern dramatist. For this, probability is not sufficiently Roman; and Voltaire cen-
violated, life is misrepresented, and language sures his kings as not completely royal.
is depraved. But love is only one of many Dennis is offended that Menenius, a senator
passions; and as it has no greater influence of Rome, should play the buffoon; and Vol-
upon the sum of life, it has little operation taire perhaps thinks decency violated when
in the dramas of a poet who caught his ideas the Danish usurper is represented as a
from the living world. and exhibited only drunkard. But Shakespeare always makes
what he saw before him. He knew that nature predominate over accident; and if he
any other passion, as it was regular or exor- preserves the essential character is not very
bitant, was a cause of happiness or calamity. careful of distinctions superinduced and ad-

Characters thus ample and general were ventitious. His story requires Romans or not easily discriminated and preserved ; yet Kings, but he thinks only on men. He perhaps no poet ever kept his personages knew that Rome, like every other city, had more distinct from each other. I will not men of all dispositions; and wanting a bufsay with Pope, that every speech may be as- foon, he went into the senate-house for that signed to the proper speaker, because many which the senate-house would certainly have speeches there are which have nothing char- afforded him. lle was inclined to show an acteristical : but, perhaps, though some may usurper and a murderer not only odious but be equally adapted to every person, it will despicable; he therefore added drunkenness be difficult to find any that can be properly to his other qualities, knowing that kings transferred from the present possessor to love wine like other men, and that wine another claimant. The choice is right, when exerts its natural power over kings. These there is reason for choice.

are the petty cavils of petty minds: a poet Other dramatists can only gain attention overlooks the casual distinction of country by hyperbolical or aggravated characters, þy and condition, as a painter, satisfied with the fabulous and unexampled excellence or de figure, neglects the drapery, pravity, as the writers of barbarous romances The censure which he has incurred by invigorated the reader by a giant and adwarf; mixing comic and tragic scenes, as it extends and he that should form his expectations of to all his works, deserves more considerahuman affairs from the play, or from the tale, tion. Let the fact be first stated, and then would be equally deceived.

examined. Shakespeare has no heroes; his scenes Shakespeare's plays are not, in the rigorare occupied only by men who act and speak ous and critical sense, either tragedies or as the reader thinks that he should himself comedies, but compositions of a distinct have spoken or acted on the same occasion : kind: exhibiting the real state of sublunary even where the agency is supernatural, the nature, which partakes of good and evil, dialogue is level with life. Other writers joy and sorrow. mingled with endless vadisguise the most natural passions and most riety of proportion, and innumerable modes frequent incidents ; so that he who contem- of combination ; and expressing the course plates them in the book will not know them in of the world, in which the loss of one is the the world : Shakespeare approximates the re- gain of another: in which, at the same time, mote, and familiarizes the wonderful: the the reveller is hastening to his wine, and the event which he represents will not happen ; mourner burying his friend : in which the but, if it were possible, its effects would malignity of one is sometimes defeated by the probably be such as he has assigned ; and it ! frolic of another; and many mischiefs and may be said that he has not only shown many benefits are done and hindered without human nature as it acts in real exigencies, design. but as it would be found in trials to which Out of this chaos of mingled purposes it cannot be exposed.

and casualties the ancient poets, according This therefore is the praise of Shakespeare: to the laws which custom had prescribed, that his drama is the mirror of life; that he selected some the crimes of men, and some

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their absurdities ; some the momentous vicis- it was totally unknown to the inhabitants situdes of life, and some the lighter occur- of Greece. They had no resource to the barrences; some the terrors of distress, and some barians for poetical beauties, but sought for the gaieties of prosperity. Thus rose the everything in Homer, where, indeed, there two modes of imitation, known by the names is but little which they might not find. The of tragedy and comedy, compositions intended Italians have been very diligent translators; to promote different ends by contrary means, but I can hear of no version, unless perhaps and considered as so little allied, that I do Anguillara's Ovid may be excepted, which not recollect among the Greeks or Romans a is read with eagerness. The Iliad of Salsingle writer who attempted both.

vini every reader may discover to be puncShakespeare has united the powers of ex- tiliously exact; but it seems to be the work citing laughter and sorrow, not only in one of a linguist skilfully pedantic; and his mind, but in one composition. Almost all countrymen, the proper judges of its power his plays are divided between serious and to please, reject it with disgust. Their preludicrous characters; and in the successive decessors, the Romans, have left some specievolutions of the design, sometimes produce mens of translation behind them, and that seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes levity employment must have had some credit in and laughter.

which Tully and Germanicus engaged ; but That this is a practice contrary to the unless we suppose, what is perhaps true, that rules of criticism will be readily allowed; the plays of Terence were versions of Mebut there is always an appeal open from nander, nothing translated seems ever to criticism to nature. The end of writing is have risen to high reputation. The French, to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct in the meridian hour of their learning, were by pleasing. That the mingled drama may very laudably industrious to enrich their own convey all the instruction of tragedy or language with the wisdom of the ancients; comedy cannot be denied, because it in- but found themselves reduced, by whatever cludes both in its alternations of exhibi. necessity, to turn the Greek and Roman tion, and approaches nearer than either to poetry into prose. Whoever could read an the appearance of life, by showing how great author could translate him. From such machinations and slender designs may pro- rivals little can be feared. mote or obviate one another, and the high The chief help of Pope in this audacious and low co-operate in the general system by undertaking was drawn from the versions of unavoidable concatenation. It is objected, Dryden. Virgil had borrowed much of his that by this change of scenes the passions imagery from Homer; and part of the debt are interrupted in their progression, and was now paid back by the translator. Pope that the principal event, being not advanced searched the pages of Dryden for happy by a due graduation of preparatory incidents, combinations of heroic diction ; but it will wants at least the power to move, which con- not be denied that he added much to what stitutes the perfection of dramatic poetry. he found. He cultivated our language with This reasoning is so specious that it is re- so much diligence and art that he has left ceived as true even by those who in daily in his “ Ilomer" a treasure of poetical eleexperience feel it to be false. The inter- gancies to posterity: Ilis version may be changes of mingled scenes seldom fail to said to have tuned the English tongue; for produce the intended vicissitudes of passion. since its appearance no writer, however deFiction cannot move so much but that the ficient in other powers, has wanted melody. attention may be easily transferred ; and Such a series of lines, so elaborately corthough it must be allowed that pleasing rected, and so sweetly modulated, took pusmelancholy be sometimes interrupted by un- session of the public ear; the vulgar was welcome levity, yet let it be considered that enamoured of the poem, and the learned melancholy is often not pleasing, and that wondered at the translation. But in the the disturbance of one man may be the re- most general applause discordant voices will lief of another; that different auditors have always be heard. It has been objected by different habitudes; and that upon the whole, some, who wish to be numbered ainong the all pleasure consists in variety.

sons of learning, that Pope's version of Preface to Johnson's edition of Shake Homer is not Homerical; that it exhibits

no resemblance of the original and charPope's TRANSLATION OF HOMER.

acteristic manner of the Father of Poetry,

as it wants his artless grandeur, his unafThe train of my disquisition has now con- fected majesty. ducted me to that poetical wonder, the trans- (Bentley was one of these. lIe and Pope. lation of the “Iliad”; a performance which soon after the publication of Homer, met at no age nor nation can pretend to equal. To Dr. Mead's at dinner; when Pope, desirous the Greeks translation was almost unknown; l of his opinion of the translation, addressed

speare, 1765.

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