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tion are not imputed. We accuse him of having undertaken a work which, if not performed with strict accuracy, must be very much worse than useless, and of having performed it as if the difference between an accurate and an inaccurate statement was not worth the trouble of looking into the most common book of reference.
But we must proceed. These volumes conin mistakes more gross, if possible, than any that we have yet mentioned. Boswell has recorded some observations made by Johnson on the changes which took place in Gibbon's religious opinions. "It is said," cried the doctor, laughing, "that he has been a Mahometan." This sarcasm," says the editor, "probably alludes to the tenderness with which Gibbon's malevolence to Christianity induced him to treat Mahometanism in his history." Now the sarcasm was uttered in 1776, and that part of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which relates to Mahometanism was not published till 1788, twelve years after the date of this conversation, and nearly four years after the death of Johnson.
Macpherson's Ossian. "Many men," he said, "many women, and many children might have written Douglas." Mr. Croker conceives that he has detected an inaccuracy, and glories over poor Sir Joseph in a most characteristic manner. "I have quoted this anecdote solely with the view of showing to how little credit hearsay anecdotes are in general entitled. Here is a story published by Sir Joseph Mawbey, a member of the House of Commons, and a person every way worthy of credit, who says he had it from Garrick. Now mark:-Johnson's visit to Oxford, about the time of his doctor's degree, was in 1754, the first time he had been there since he left the university. But Douglas was not acted till 1756, and Ossian not published till 1760. All, therefore, that is new in Sir Joseph Mawbey's story is false. Assuredly we need not go far to find ample proof that a member of the House of Commons may commit a very gross error." Now mark, say we, in the language of Mr. Croker. The fact is, that Johnson took his Master's degree in 1754,† and his Doctor's degree in 1775. In the spring of 17765 he paid a visit to Oxford, and at this visit a conversation respecting the works of Home and Macpherson might have taken place, and in all probability did take place. The only real objection to the story Mr. Croker has missed. Boswell states, apparently on the best authority, that as early at least as the year 1763, Johnson, in conversation with Blair, used the same expressions respecting Ossian which Sir Joseph represents him as hav ing used respecting Douglas. Sir Joseph or Garrick confounded, we suspect, the two sto ries. But their error is venial compared with that of Mr. Croker.
"It was in the year 1761," says Mr. Croker, "that Goldsmith published his Vicar of Wakefield. This leads the editor to observe a more serious inaccuracy of Mrs. Piozzi than Mr. Boswell notices, when he says Johnson left her table to go and sell the Vicar of Wakefield for Goldsmith. Now Dr. Johnson was not acquainted with the Thrales till 1765, four years after the book had been published." Mr. Croker, in reprehending the fancied inaccuracy of Mrs. Thrale, has himself shown a degree of inaccuracy, or, to speak more properly, a degree of ignorance, hardly credible. The We will not multiply instances of this scan Traveller was not published till 1765; and it dalous inaccuracy. It is clear that a writer is a fact as notorious as any in literary his- who, even when warned by the text on which tory that the Vicar of Wakefield, though writ- he is commenting, falls into such mistakes as ten before the Traveller, was published after these, is entitled to no confidence whatever. it. It is a fact which Mr. Croker may find in Mr. Croker has committed an error of four any common life of Goldsmith; in that written years with respect to the publication of Goldby Mr. Chalmers, for example. It is a fact smith's nove'; an error of twelve years with which, as Boswell tells us, was distinctly respect to the publication of Gibbon's history; stated by Johnson in a conversation with Sir an error of twenty-one years with respect to Joshua Reynolds. It is therefore quite possi- one of the most remarkable events of Johnble and probable that the celebrated scene of son's life. Two of these three errors he has the landlady, the sheriff's officer, and the bottle committed while ostentatiously displaying his of Madeira, may have taken place in 1765. | own accuracy, and correcting what he repreNow Mrs. Thrale expressly says that it was sents as the loose assertions of others. How can near the beginning of her acquaintance with his readers take on trust his statements concernJohnson, in 1765, or at all events not later than ing the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths 1766, that he left her table to succour his friend. of a crowd of people whose names are scarceHer accuracy is therefore completely vindi-ly known to this generation? It is not likely cated. that a person who is ignorant of what almost The very page which contains this mon- everybody knows can know that of which alstrous blunder contains another blunder, if most everybody is ignorant. We did not open possible, more monstrous still. Sir Joseph this book with any wish to find blemishes in Mawbey, a foolish member of Parliament, at it. We have made no curious researches. whose speeches and whose pig-styes the wits The work itself, and a very common knowof Brookes's were fifty years ago in the habit ledge of literary and political history, have enof laughing most unmercifully, stated, on the abled us to detect the mistakes which we have authority of Garrick, that Johnson, while sit-pointed out, and many other mistakes of the ting in a coffee-house at Oxford about the time same kind. We must say, and we say it with of his doctor's degree, used some contemptu- regret, that we do not consider the authority ous expressius respecting Home's play and of Mr. Croker, unsupported by other evidence,
+ IV. 180.
* V. 409. † 1. 262. III. 205.
111. 326. M 2
Mr. Croker shows almost as much ignorance and heedlessness in his criticisms as in his statements concerning facts. Dr. Johnson said, very reasonably as it appears to us, that some of the satires of Juvenal are too gross for imitation. Mr. Croker, who, by the way, is angry with Johnson for defending Prior's tales against the charge of indecency, resents this aspersion on Juvenal, and indeed refuses to believe that the doctor can have said any thing so absurd. He probably said-some passages of them-word for there are none of Juvenal's satires to which the same objection may be made as to one of Horace's, that it is altogether gross and licentious." Surely Mr. Croker can never have read the second and ninth satires of Juvenal.
as sufficient to justify any writer who may fol- | happy term to express the paternal and kindly low him, in relating a single anecdote, or in as- authority of the head of the clan?" The signing a date to a single event. composition of this eminent Latinist, short as it is, contains several words that are just as much Coptic as Latin, to say nothing of the incorrect structure of the sentence. The word Philarchus, even if it were a happy term expressing a paternal and kindly authority, would prove nothing for the minister's Latin, whatever it might prove for his Greek. But it is clear that the word Philarchus means, not a man who rules by love, but a man who loves rule. The Attic writers of the best age use the pages in the sense which we assign to it. Wouid Mr. Croker translate coopus, a man who acquires wisdom by means of love; or pics, 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 favoured us with some Greek of his own. "At the altar," says Dr. Johnson, “I recommend my S. ." These letters," says the editor, "(which Dr. Strahan seems not to have understood,) probably mean
a pa, departed friends."† Johnson was not a first-rate Greek scholar; but he knew more Greek than most boys when they leave school; and no schoolboy could venture to use the word to in the sense which Mr. Croker ascribes to it without imminent danger of a flogging.
Indeed, the decisions of this editor on points of classical learning, though pronounced in a very authoritative tone, are generally such, that if a schoolboy under our care were to utter | them, our soul assuredly should not spare for his crying. It is no disgrace to a gentleman, who has been engaged during nearly thirty years in political life, that he has forgotten his Greek and Latin. But he becomes justly ridiculous, if, when no longer able to construe a plain sentence, he affects to sit in judgment on the most delicate questions of style and metre. From one blunder, a blunder which no good scholar would have made, Mr. Croker was saved, as he informs us, Sir Robert Mr. Croker has also given us a specimen of Peel, who quoted a passage exactly in point his skill in translating Latin. Johnson wrote from Horace. We heartily wish that Sir Ro- a note in which he consulted his friend, Dr. bert, whose classical attainments are well Lawrence, on the propriety of losing some known, had been more frequently consulted. blood. The note contains these words :-"Si Unhappily he was not always at his friend's per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me elbow, and we have therefore a rich abundance deducere." Johnson should rather have writof the strangest errors. Boswell has preserved | ten “imperatum est." But the meaning of the a poor epigram by Johnson, inscribed "Adwords is perfectly clear. “If you say yes, thẻ Lauram parituram." Mr. Croker censures messenger has orders to bring Holder to me." the poet for applying the word puella to a lady Mr. Croker translates the words as follows: in Laura's situation, and for talking of the "If you consent, pray tell the messenger to beauty of Lucina. "Lucina," he says, "was bring Holder to me." If Mr. Croker is re never famed for her beauty." If Sir Robert solved to write on points of classical learning, Peel had seen this note, he probably would we would advise him to begin by giving an have again refuted Mr. Croker's criticisms by hour every morning to our old friend Cordean appeal to Horace. In the secular ode, Lu- rius. cina is used as one of the names of Diana, and the beauty of Diana is extolled by all the most orthodox doctors of the ancient mythology, from Homer, in his Odyssey, to Claudian, in his Rape of Proserpine. In another ode, Horace describes Diana as the goddess who assists the "laborantes utero puellas." But we are ashamed to detain our readers with this fourth-form learning.
Boswell found, in his tour to the Hebrides, an inscription written by a Scotch minister. It runs tnus: "Joannes Macleod, &c., gentis suæ Philarchus, &c., Flora Macdonald matrimoniali vinculo conjugatus turrem hanc Beganodunensem proævorum habitaculum longe vetustissimum, diu penitus labefactatam, anno æræ vulgaris MDCLXXXVI., instauravit."—"The minister," says Mr. Croker, "seems to have been no contemptible Latinist. Is not Philarchus a very t-1. 133.
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 Pro gress," which appears in the last volume of the Spectator, was written on the accession of George I. The word "arrival" was afterwards substituted for "accession." "The reader will observe," 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
II. 458. + IV. 251. + V. 17.
word arrival was used in the Life of Tickell of the old physiologists. Dryden made a simifor the simplest of all reasons. It was used lar allusion to the dogma before Johnson was because the subject of the "Royal Progress "born. Mr. Croker, however, is unable to underwas the arrival of the king, and not his acces- stand it. "The expression," he says, "seems sion, which took place nearly two months be- not quite clear." And he proceeds to talk føre his arrival. 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 portion 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 reflectionsreflections 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 pencilled by sempstresses and apothecaries' boys on the dog-eared margins of novels borrowed from circulating libraries-"How beautiful!"— "cursed prosy"-"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.
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 any thing of Latinity knows that, in genealogical tables, Joannes Baro de Carteret, or Vicecomes 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 Estichs 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,
We cannot speak more favourably of the manner in which the notes are written, than of the matter of which they consist. We find in The second couplet puzzles Mr. Croker every page words used in wrong senses, and strangely. "Sir William," says he, "has constructions which violate the plainest rules shortened his day to twenty-three hours, and of grammar. We have the low vulgarism of the general advice of all to heaven,' destroys" mutual friend," for "common friend." We the peculiar appropriation of a certain period have "fallacy" used as synonymous with to religious exercise."t Now, we did not "falsehood," or "misstatement." We have think that it was in human dulness to miss the many such inextricable labyrinths of pronouns meaning of the lines so completely. Sir Wil- as that which follows: "Lord Erskine was fiam distributes twenty-three hours among va- fond of this anecdote; he told it to the editor rious employments. One hour is thus left for the first time that he had the honour of being devotion. The reader expects that the verse in his company." Lastly, we have a plentiful will end with "and one to heaven." The supply of sentences resembling those which whole point of the lines consist in the unex- we subjoin. "Markland, who, with Jartin and pected substitution of "all" for "one." The Thirlby, Johnson calls three contemporaries conceit is wretched enough; but it is perfectly of great eminence." "Warburton himself did intelligible, and never, we will venture to say, not feel, as Mr. Boswell was disposed to think perplexed man, woman, or child before. 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."I 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
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 + V.233.
IV. 323. III. 228. IV. 377. 1V. 415. II. 461.
"Six hours to law, to soothing slumbers seven, Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven."
editor have between them made the book so bad, that we do not well see how it could have been worse.
crease would have been discernible.
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 expurgation, it would be desirable to begin by expurgating the morning and evening lessons. Mr. Croker has performed the delicate office which he has undertaken in the most capricious manner. A strong, old-fashioned, English word, familiar to all who read their Bibles, is exchanged for a softer synonyme in some passages, and suffered to stand unaltered in others. In one place, a faint allusion made by Johnson to an indelicate subject-an allusion so faint that, till Mr. Croker's note pointed it out to us, we had never noticed it, and of which we are quite sure that the meaning would never be discovered by any of those for whose sake books are expurgated-is altogether omitted. In another place, a coarse and stupid jest of Doctor Taylor, on the same subject, expressed in the broadest language-it; almost the only passage, as far as we remember, in all Boswell's book, which we should have been inclined to leave out-is suffered to remain.
We complain, however, much more of the additions than of the omissions. We have half of Mrs. Thrale's book, scraps of Mr. Tyers, scraps of Mr. Murphy, scraps of Mr. Cradock, long prosings of Sir John Hawkins, and connecting observations by Mr. Croker himself, inserted into the midst of Boswell's text. To this practice we most decidedly object. An editor might as well publish Thucydides with extracts from Diodorus interspersed, or incorporate the Lives of Suetonius with the History and Annals of Tacitus, Mr. Croker tells us, indeed, that he has done only what Boswell wished to do, and was prevented from doing by the law of copyright. We doubt this greatly. Boswell has studiously abstained from availing himself of the information contained in the works of his rivals, on many occasions on which he might have done so without subjecting himself to the charge of piracy. Mr. Croker has himself, on one occasion, remarked very justly that Boswell was very reluctant to owe any obligations to Hawkins. But be this as it may, if Boswell had quoted from Sir John and from Mrs. Thrale, he would have been guided by his own taste and judgment in selecting his quotations. On what he quoted, he would have commented with perfect freedom, and the borrowed passages, so selected, and accompanied by such comments, would have become original. They would have dovetailed into the work: no hitch, no
This is not the case with Mr. Croker's insertions, They are not chosen as Boswell would have chosen them. They are not introduced as Boswell would have introduced them. They differ from the quotations scattered through the original Life of Johnson, as a withered bough stuck in the ground differs from a tree skilfully transplanted, with all its life about it.
Not only do these anecdotes disfigure Boswell's book; they are themselves disfigured by being inserted in his book. The charm ot Mrs. Thrale's little volume is utterly destroyed. The feminine quickness of observation, the feminine softness of heart, the colloquial incorrectness and vivacity of style, the little amuse ing airs of a half-learned lady, the delightful garrulity, the "dear Doctor Johnson," the "it was so comical," all disappear in Mr. Croker's quotations. The lady ceases to speak in the first person; and her anecdotes, in the process. of transfusion, become as flat as champagne in decanters, or Herodotus in Beloe's version. Sir John Hawkins, it is true, loses nothing; and for the best of reasons. Sir John had nothing to lose.
The course which Mr. Croker ought to have taken is quite clear. He should have reprinted Boswell's narrative precisely as Boswell wrote
and in the notes or the appendix he should have placed any anecdotes which he might have thought it advisable to quote from other writers. This would have been a much more convenient course for the reader, who has now constantly to keep his eye on the margin in order to see whether he is perusing Boswell, Mrs. Thrale, Murphy, Hawkins, Tyers, Cradock, or Mr. Croker. We greatly doubt whether even the Tour to the Hebrides ought to have been inserted in the midst of the Life. There is one marked distinction between the two works. Most of the Tour was seen by Johnson in manuscript. It does not appear that he ever saw any part of the Life.
We love, we own, to read the great productions of the human mind as they were written. We have this feeling even about scientific: treatises; though we know that the sciences are always in a state of progression, and thas the alterations made by a modern editor in an old book on any branch of natural or political philosophy are likely to be improvements. Many errors have been detected by writers of this generation in the speculations of Adam Smith. A short cut has been made to much knowledge, at which Sir Isaac Newton arrived through arduous and circuitous paths. Yet we still look with peculiar veneration on the Wealth of Nations and on the Principia, and should regret to see either of those great works garbled even by the ablest hands. But in works which owe much of their interest to the character and situation of the writers, the case. is infinitely stronger. What man of taste and feeling can endure harmonies, rifacimentos abridgments, expurgated editions? Who ever
read: a stage-copy of a play, when he can procure the original? Who ever cut open Mrs. Siddons's Milton? Who ever got through ten pages of Mr. Gilpin's translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim into modern English? Who would lose, in the confusion of a diatesseron, the peculiar charm which belongs to the narrative of the disciple whom Jesus loved? The feeling of a reader who has become intimate with any great original work, is that which Adam expressed towards his bride:
intellect. Johnson described him as a fellow who had missed his only chance of immortality, by not having been alive when the Dauciad was written. Beauclerk used his name as a proverbial expression for a bore. He was the laughing-stock of the whole of that brilliant society which has owed to him the greater part of its fame. He was always laying himself at the feet of some eminent man, and begging to be spit upon and trampled upon. He was always earning some ridiculous nickname, and then "binding it as a crown unto him," -not merely in metaphor, but literally. He exhibited himself at the Shakspeare Jubilee, to all the crowd which filled Stafford-on-Avon, with a placard around his hat bearing the inscription of Corsica Boswell. In his Tour, he proclaimed to all the world, that at Edinburgh he was known by the appellation of Paoli Bos well. Servile and impertinent-shallow and pedantic-a bigot and a sot-bloated with family pride, and eternally blustering about the dignity of a born gentleman, yet stooping to be
The reasons which Mr. Croker has given for incorporating passages from Sir John Hawkins and Mrs. Thrale with the narrative of Boswell, would vindicate the adulteration of half the classical works in the language. If Pepys's Diary and Mrs. Hutchinson's Me-a talebearer, an eavesdropper, a common butt moirs had been published a hundred years ago, in the taverns of London-so curious to know no human being can doubt that Mr. Hume everybody who was talked about, that, Tory and would have made great use of those books in High Churchman as he was, he manœuvred, his History of England. But would it, on that we have been told, for an introduction to account, be judicious in a writer of our times Tom Paine-so vain of the most childish disto publish an edition of Hume's History of tinctions, that, when he had been to court, he England, in which large additions from Pepys drove to the office where his book was being and Mrs. Hutchinson should be incorporated printed without changing his clothes, and sumwith the original text? Surely not. Hume's moned all the printer's devils to admire his history, be its faults what they may, is now new ruffles and sword;-such was this man: one great entire work-the production of one and such he was content and proud to be. vigorous mind, working on such materials Every thing which another man would have as were within its reach. Additions made by hidden-every thing, the publication of which another hand may supply a particular defi- would have made another man hang himself, ciency, but would grievously injure the gene- was matter of gay and clamorous exultation ral effect. With Boswell's book the case is to his weak and diseased mind. What silly stronger. There is scarcely, in the whole things he said-what bitter retorts he provoked compass of literature, a book which bears in--how at one place he was troubled with evil terpolation so ill. We know no production presentiments which came to nothing-how at of the human mind which has so much of another place, on waking from a drunken doze, what may be called the race, so much of the he read the Prayer-book, and took a hair of the peculiar flavour of the soil from which it dog that had bitten him-how he went to see sprang. The work could never have been men hanged, and came away maudlin-how written, if the writer had not been precisely he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of what he was. His character is displayed in one of his babies, because she was not frightevery page, and this display of character gives ened at Johnson's ugly face-how he was a delightful interest to many passages which frightened out of his wits at sea-and how the have no other interest. sailors quieted him as they would have quieted The life of Johnson is assuredly a great, à a child-how tipsy he was at Lady Cork's one very great work. Homer is not more decided- evening, and how much his merriment annoyed ly the first of heroic poets, Shakspeare is not the ladies-how impertinent he was to the Duchmore decidedly the first of dramatists, Demos-ess of Argyle, and with what stately contempt thenes is not more decidedly the first of ora- she put down his impertinence-how Colonel tors, than Boswell is the first of biographers. Macleod sneered to his face at his impudent ob He has no second. He has distanced all his trusiveness-how his father and the very wif competitors so decidedly, that it is not worth of his bosom laughed and fretted at his fooleries while to place them. Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere.
"Should God create another Eve, and I
No substitute, however exquisitely formed, will fill the void left by the original. The second beauty may be equal or superior to the first; but still it is not she.
We are not sure that there is in the whole history of the human intellect so strange a phenomenon as this book. Many of the greatest men that ever lived have written biography. Boswell was one of the smallest men that ever lived; and he has beaten them all. He was, if we are to give any credit to his own account, or to the united testimony of all who knew him, a man of the meanest and feeblest
all these things he proclaimed to all the world, as if they had been subjects for pride and ostentatious rejoicing. All the caprices of his tem per, all the illusions of his vanity, all the hypo chondriac whimsies, all his castles in the air, he displayed with a cool self-complacency, a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself, to which it is impossible to find a parallel in the whole history of mankind. He has used many people ill, but assuredly he has used nobody so ill as himself