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JOHNSON.- FEAR OF DEATH.
On his fear of death : St. Paul himself was (in this sense) afraid, and Paschal died in terror if not of terror.
As to giving cup to laity: Oh certainly, besides when our Saviour said, “drink ye all of this,” He might mean merely the twelve apostles, who were all the people present.
Whiteford's suggestion of cross readings, “singularly happy.” (Boswell.)
Not singularly happy, because the same trick was played in Queen Anne's time. I have it in an old edition of the “ Tatler.” The signature however (Papyrius Cursor) is new, and pretty, and original.
On Johnson's doing penance at Worcester, 1784: Very like a Romanist, but we must all go to the old shop for something.
He, Johnson, was one of the first conversers, and dazzled his hearers till they believed whatever he wished them to do.
MARGINAL NOTES ON JOHNSON'S “ LIVES OF
“IN 1636 he (Cowley) was removed to Cambridge.” (Vol. ix. p. 4.)- Nothing does so reconcile one to the laxity of all college discipline in our day, as the reflexion how sincerely it disgusted both Milton and Cowley in past times. Schools and colleges now neither instruct the young folk, nor offend them; but as Sir Joshua Reynolds said of his pupils, “ They may
learn if they like; I throw every advantage in their way, and no hindrance.” So said he, and so may say the Dean of Christchurch.-1812.
“Of the verses on Oliver's death, of which Wood's narrative seems to imply something encomiastic, there has been no appearance. There is a discourse concerning his government, indeed, with verse intermixed." (Vol. ix. p. 42.) – It is a discourse of energetic satire, and Burke was busy with this performance when he racked his own invention raw to find abuse enough for Warren Hastings.
“ He (Cowley) composed in Latin several books on
* The references are to Murphy's edition of Johnson's Works, in 12 volumes octavo, 1821. The Lives of the Poets fill the 9th, 10th, and 11th volumes.
plants.” (Vol. ix. p. 13.) — And this was the Parent of Darwin's late Loves of the Plants.
On Cowley's letter to Sprat, from Chertsey (vol. ix. p. 17): Johnson has a “Rambler,” imitated from this. He loved to make retirement ridiculous.
“ Their conceits were sentiments slight and trifling.” (Vol. ix. p. 30.) — Perhaps the Academy being lodged in every man's mind, is the oddest of all those conceits : Wisdom standing for Master of the College, the Virtues for Fellows, and Reason and Holy Fears for the Proctors.
“In his (Cowley's) poem on the death of Hervey, there is much praise, but little passion.” (Vol. ix. p. 39.) — He does divert his sorrow by chusing incongruous images, but in this poem one may discern some truth of real concern. I think it is the parent of Lord Lyttelton's monody to his wife.
“Real mirth must always be natural, and nature is uniform. Men have been wise in very different modes, but they have always laughed the same way.” (Vol. ix. p. 42.)— I think not; I think national mirth a great discrimination of national character. Wisdom is dressed up alike by almost all
One way of being wise, I think, and a thousand of being merry
I felt naturalized in Italy many years after this note was written, when I could understand their jokes, and make them understand mine.
On verses quoted vol. ix. p. 48: Cowley had a right no other man has, of making Nature the postillion to Art. He always did place Art in the seat of honour,
and made poor Nature a helper merely. Scarce a postillion.
On the difficulties presented by subjects for poems taken from sacred history, vol. ix. p. 53 : Yet Milton got through them, and with amazing success. These difficulties were no difficulties to him.
(Vol. ix. p. 55.) -I think that's as well ; Virgil (full of his own Georgics) describes the agricultural use of the stone: Cowley feeling it would produce death, thinks of the monument.
“Round the whole earth his dreaded name shall sound,
(Vol. ix. p. 60.)
O’er the whole earth would be better; round and sound, and found, come too quick upon the ear to be sweet, and put one in mind of a man crying cherries.
“I have formerly read, without much reflection, of the multitude of Scotchmen that carried their wares to Poland.” (Vol. ix. p. 79.) —- I can remember when every pedlar was called a Scotchman by servants &c., probably by those of higher rank
We children used to jump for joy, and cry, There's a Scotchman a
, , coming, a Scotchman indeed, mamma.
“ Though with these streams he no resemblance hold,
On the Thames, vol. ix. p. 79.
Not less guilty, I think
For Pactolus, &c., were innocent of all the frauds which commerce carries
on upon the Thames, and their wealth was genuine too, his accidental.
“He (Milton) left the University alienated either by the injudicious severity of his governors, or his own captious perverseness.” (Vol. ix. p. 87.) - The first
— of these I fear it was They have never whipt a lad since, for fear of driving away a second Milton . There was no danger.
“ He (Milton) has sense enough to judge there was no danger.” (Vol. ix. p. 96.) - Of that I am not so confident: dear Dr. Johnson had never been at Rome, which was certainly no safe place for Puritanical opinions, even in 1740; what danger there was in 1640, Milton was right enough to shun. Handel, who was a Lutheran, not a Calvinist, found Italy a very troublesome residence on account of religion, tho’ the Italians quite adored his talents, and loved his person. With how much more difficulty Milton got thro', H. L. P. can readily imagine.—1802.
Voltaire tells a wild and unauthorised story of a farce seen by Milton in Italy, which opened thus: “Let the rainbow be the fiddle-stick of Heaven.” (Vol.ix. p. 127.)
A true one, I have no doubt. A bow puts an Italian in mind of a fiddle, directly. That is exceeding comical indee:1! and shews off national character to perfection. A ship in full sail puts an Englishman, Dryden, in mind that she may be fraught with all the riches of the rising sun, in one place; in another, it brings to his fancy a weaver and his loom When an Italian sees the rainbow, his imagination delights