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55. 690. storms. This literal sense of the verb is rare. 692. See Milton's Hymn Nat. 160
693. sconce. Comp. Dryden:
"Golden sconces hang upon the walls
According to Wedgwood this word = Low Latin absconsa (scil. candela), a hidden light, a dark lantern.
Comp. Hom. Od. xxii. 239, of Pallas watching the final struggle of Ulysses with
695. Comp. Virg. Æn. ix. 229.
56. 697. press. See St. Mark's Gospel, ii. 4, &c. ; Shakspere's Julius Cæsar, I. ii. 14, &c. [What does flies mean here?]
699. [a Beau and Witling. Is the omission of the art. with Witling correct?]
700. [What is meant here by dying in metaphor?]
701. [Which dies in metaphor, which in song? Where is the metaphor ?]
704. These are among the words of a song in the opera of Camilla.
"Sic ubi fata vocant, udis abjectus in herbis,
Ad vada Mæandri concinit albus olor."
711. Comp. Hom. Iliad, viii. 69-73; Virg. Æn. xii. 725-7; Milton's Paradise Lost,
scale and shell probably are radically connected.
712. [What is the force of against here?]
723. [What is meant by the Gnomes being to ev'ry atome just?]
731. Comp. the account of the sceptre, Iliad, ii. 100-8.
[Is there not a generation passed over?]
57. 745. See Othello, III. iii.
746. Observe the hint of ridicule in Roar'd.
748. [What old fable is there, where a like result befalls two combatants?]
753. the Lunar sphere. See Ariosto, cant. xxxiv. (Pope.) Milton assails this old belief, which held the moon to be the place where the earth's rubbish was shot. See Paradise Lost, iii. 459-62. He makes that place to be the skirts of the earth. See ii. 418-97.
757. death-bed alms. Comp. Eloisa to Abelard, where Eloisa speaks of the founding of "these hallowed walls," from within which she writes:
"No silver saints, by dying misers giv❜n,
758. riband. The forms ribband and ribbon also are common. Comp. French ruban, Old French riban.
759. courtier's promises.
Comp. Shakspere, Cymb. V. iv. 135.
762. Dry'd butterflies. Pope seems here, and elsewhere, not to assign their proper value to entomological and other scientific studies.
tomes of casuistry the works of the Schoolmen. 705. See Livy, 1. 16; Ovid, Fast. ii. 481-512, esp. 503-4:
"Pulcher et humano major trabeaque decorus
766. [What is the meaning of confess'd here?]
768. Like a comet. The original meaning of the word comet is "the long-haired one."
57. 769. See Class. Dict. Callimachus wrote a poem on this subject, of which a translation by Catullus is yet extant.
770. dishevel'd means etymologically "with hair disordered,” = dis-chevelled (French chevel; Latin, capillus).
771. kindling. So Isaiah xliii. 2: "Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Comp. uses of burn, &c.
773. the Mall. The upper side of St. James's Park was a favourite place for evening
776. Rosamonda's lake, filled up in 1770, was near where now stand the Wellington Barracks. It was "of oblong shape, and overhung by the trees of the Long Avenue." "It occurs as a place of assignation in the comedies of Otway, Congreve, Farquhar, Southern, and Colley Cibber;" comp. the present text. (Timbs' Curiosities of London.) Swift writes to Stella Jan. 31, 17: "We are here in as smart a frost for the time as I have seen; delicate walking weather. and the Canal and Rosamond's Pond full of the rabble sliding, and with skaits, if you know what those are." See a print of this pond in Old England, engraving No. 2,397. For the name, it is "referred to the frequency of suicides committed here." (Timbs.) "Beneath the print in the Pennant Collection we read: 'The south-west corner of St. James' Park was enriched with this romantic scene. The irregularity of the trees, the rise of the ground, and the venerable Abbey, afforded great entertainment to the contemplative eye. This spot was often the receptacle of many unhappy persons, who in the stillness of an evening plunged themselves into eternity.'" (Old England.) But one can scarcely think that the water derived its name from this ghastly use of it. Rather it was so called because its banks were the haunts of lovers. The name occurs, according to Timbs, but we do not know on what authority he speaks, in "a grant of Henry VIII."
777. Partridge. Partridge, an almanack-maker of the day, was a favourite joke with the wits. Swift seems first to have selected him as the representative of the astrological fraternity. See The Bickerstaff Papers. In his Predictions for the Year 1708, he says: "I have consulted the star of his [Partridge's] nativity by my own rules, and find he will infallibly die on the 29th of March next about eleven at night of a raging fever; therefore I advise him to consider of it, and settle his affairs in time." There appeared presently: "The accomplishment of the first of Mr. Bickerstaff's predictions, being an account of the death of Mr. Partridge, the almanack-maker, upon the 29th instant." Partridge protested he was not dead, but it was no use: see the other papers.
778. Galileo's eyes. Telescopes are said to have been first made-not perhaps first invented--by one Metius, at Alkmaer, and about the same time by Jansen, of Middleburg," about 1590-1609. "Galileo imitated their invention by its description, and made three in succession, one of which magnified a thousand times, 1630. With these he discovered Jupiter's moons and the phases of Venus." (Haydn's Dict. of Dates.) See Paradise Lost, i. 287-91.
779. wizard. See note on Hymn Nat. 23.
782. shining sphere. All the spheres or planets were anciently believed to be contained in one greater sphere. Hence the word sphere came to be used generally for the heavens. [With what word is the negative here to be connected? What other connexion might it have, if only the words, not the sense, were considered? What would be the difference in meaning?]
58. 784. draw attract. [What is the literal meaning of attract ?]
786. after millions slain. This is the Latin idiom. Comp. "post urbem conditam," "ante Christum natum," &c.
Dr Johnson's life may be divided into four parts: (i) 1709-1731, (ii) 1731—1737, (ii) 1737-1762, (iv) 1762—1784.
(i) 1709-1731. He was born at Lichfield (commonly then spelt Litchfield), Sept. 18, 1709, the son of a bookseller and stationer. Both his father and mother seem to have been of superior intelligence and aims. They taught him something themselves, and presently sent him to various schools; then two years were spent at home, his father's book-stock providing him with abundant mental food; then, through the kindness of some friend or relative, he was entered a commoner at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he kept terms for about three years.
(ii) 1731-1737. His career at Oxford, all along made distressing by his extreme poverty, was at last cut short by it. He returned home in great gloom in 1731. Fresh pecuniary troubles came with his father's death. Life, not easy before, now grew terribly hard. For some thirty years he was involved in perpetual straits and difficulties. He was an usher at Market Bosworth in Leicestershire; he essayed journalism and literature at Birmingham; he issued proposals for an edition of Politian from Lichfield; he set up a school, his wife, the widow of a Birmingham "mercer," having brought him some £800. All these ways and means failed dismally.
(iii] 1737-1762. At last, accompanied by David Garrick, one of his very few pupils, at this time as destitute as his master, he set off for London, with three acts of a play (Irene) in his pocket. For some time but little is known of his course in London; but it is certain that he had to endure the bitterest distresses. He bore them nobly, somewhat hardened and roughened externally, no doubt, but still always with a high fortitude and an inward spirit that never forgot to be truly gentle and tender. He slowly fought his way to fame. In 1738 appeared London, which won him the praise of Pope, and first made him generally known. Then he "reported" the House of Commons' debates in such way as was permitted in George II.'s reign, for the Gentleman's Magazine, at that time newly started. The Life of Savage (Savage and he had walked the streets starving together), The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749); The Rambler (March 20, 1750-March 14, 1752); The Dictionary (published in 1755), The Idler, Rasselas (1759), and other works gradually secured for him the foremost literary position of the day. His wife died in 1752, his mother in 1759.
(iv) 1762—1784. His pecuniary troubles, which had by no means ceased with his obscurity, were at last happily ended by the bestowal upon him by the Crown of a well-deserved pension of £300 a year During this fourth period of his life he was a very literary and social king; no greater ever reigned either in literature or literary society. His private life was replete with benevolences. "His house was filled with dependants, whose perverse tempers frequently drove him out of it, yet nothing of this kind could induce him to relieve himself at their expence. His noble expression was, 'If I dismiss them, who will receive them?'” (Chalmers). His edition of Shakspere, certain political pamphlets, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, The Lives of the Poets now successively appeared. In 1784, Dec. 13th, full of years as of glory, he died at his house in Johnson's Court, Fleet Street. "On the 20th, his body was interred with great solemnity in Westminster Abbey, close to the grave of his friend Garrick. Of the other honours paid to his memory, it may suffice to say that they were more in number and in quality than were ever paid to any man of literature." (Chalmers).
Of Johnson as an author the estimate commonly formed now widely differs from that of his contemporaries. For his style, it abounded in Latinisms both in its vocabulary and in its structure. Perhaps of all English writers he is the least Teutonic, which is as much as to say
the least idiomatic. But there is no denying that in his own way he is a great master. If he takes a very low place amongst our idiomatic writers, he deserves a very high one amongst the Latinistic. In his own language he can express whatever he wishes to express with the utmost vigour and with consummate nicety. That language was deliberately adopted in his works in preference to a more truly native tongue. He could and did speak-no doubt he thought-in thoroughly idiomatic English; but out of a false taste, as surely it was, he for the most part in his writings translated the vernacular into something utterly different. An author's conversational style always of course differs from the style of his books: but in Johnson's case there were two separate languages. In the present age, when the Teutonism of our national tongue is certainly more and more prevailing to the complete subordination of all secondary influences, "Johnsonese" is liable perhaps to receive less appreciation than it really deserves. Though highly artificial, and balanced and counter-balanced, epithet for epithet, and verb for verb, to a wearisome degree, yet it was certainly a very potent and effective vehicle of thought. As a critic, there are few dicta of Dr Johnson's which later judgments do not modify or reverse. His critical code is conventional and narrow. In this respect he was the spokesman of his time. There is in him but little of what is called spiritual criticism; he knows not "art" in that modern sense the Germans have taught the world. He seems scarcely to distinguish between an artistic and a moral purpose; he criticizes always from the moralist's point of view. Of style he is a somewhat severe critic; the value of his remarks must of course depend upon his knowledge of the language; and it may be safely said that his knowledge of the English language was but circumscribed and limited (see the Dictionary, passim). His strong Latinistic predilections somewhat disqualified him for this office of criticism. Yet in him as a critic his natural acuteness and power are perpetually manifested; they are, it may be, perverted, but they are there. As an essayist, the character of his style is highly detrimental. Such a style is indeed incompatible with success in what was called essay-writing in the last century. It cannot relax, or trifle, or toy Johnson as a writer is always in full dress, and full dress of the stiffest and most unrelenting description. Perhaps even the skilfullest trainer could not make an elephant waltz. To use Goldsmith's figure, Johnson cannot but make even little fishes talk like whales. As a dramatist his Irene contains some noble sentiments; so do many of the Ramblers and the Idlers. It is wanting in characterization, in grace, in music, in interest, in humanity. The moral overbears everything else; the persona are but ethical puppets As a political pamphleteer, Johnson failed even in the estimate of his own prepossessed time. His political views were mostly obstructive or retrograde. He was a Tory, a Jacobite, a fierce opposer of American independence. His poetry is but a small part of his works. He may perhaps be defined as more of a rhetorician than a poet. He can declaim finely, and with power. He might have produced vigorous satires, had not Providence designed him for something better; but verse is not his natural form of expression. lexicographer, he deserves the gratitude of all English posterity, not for the final excellence of his compilation, but for the splendid beginning it made. Defective as his Dictionary is, however grotesque in etymologies, however chaotic the order of its definitions, yet it made an epoch in its department. By this work Johnson was the greatest benefactor of his native language. Many of the definitions are in themselves admirable; the collection of illustrating quotations is most valuable; there is everywhere strong sense, if not always assisted by competent learning.
After all, Johnson's greatest works are his conversations as so happily preserved by Boswell, his most assiduous and faithful retainer. His wide information, his acuteness, his power of language, his trenchant wit, his noble nature show more clearly and brilliantly in them than in any of his more formal productions. Had he but written more as he talked, he would have filled a greater place in our literature than can now be conceded him; he would still and always come home to many who will never know him in his strange literary disguise.
The greatest non-literary service he did his day and all following days was the freeing the profession of literature from the slavery of patronage. He too was in his sphere a Washington, with whatever eyes he regarded that famous leader; he too waged and won a
war of independence; he manfully took his stand upon the dignity of Letters, and made his age and country acknowledge that illustrious power. Authors by profession were no longer forced to be parasites. It is true that the time was rife for this emancipation; so Teutonic Europe was ripe for the Reformation; so the Colonies for the Declaration of Independence; but we thank and praise Martin Luther and George Washington; therefore must we thank and praise Samuel Johnson.
London was published in 1738, on the same morning with Pope's Satire named after that It bears evident marks of that period of Johnson's life, in which it was written; see Life. It is pervaded by a bitterness, almost inseparable from his then circumstances. For the style, it belongs to Johnson's earlier manner. He had not yet formed that style which especially characterizes him, though many symptoms of it may be detected.
Satires were the height of the literary fashion about the time Johnson came up to London. The master poets of the two preceding ages had given their best energies-one was still doing so-to that form of composition. A young poet in the reign of George the Second wrote a Satire as naturally as one of the time of James I. wrote a play.
London is a free imitation of Juvenal's Third Satire. This Satire had previously been so treated by Oldham, as well as vigorously translated by Dryden.
[Make a short abstract of this poem. Into how many parts would you divide it? Read the original poem side by side with it.]
59. 2. Thales. Juvenal calls his friend Umbricius. Probably enough Johnson is thinking of Savage. Somewhat in the spirit of Thales here did Savage actually leave London for Wales in 1739, fulfilling then a scheme formed some time previously. As to Savage's "injuries," see Johnson's Life of him. Perhaps the most grievous were those inflicted by
4. I praise the hermit. The Doctor was wiser in 1759, when Prince Rasselas and his sister visit such an one in their search for happiness, "I have indeed lived fifteen years in solitude,' said the hermit, but have no desire that my example should gain any imitators... ... The life of a solitary man will be certainly miserable, but not certainly devout."" (Rasselas, chap. xxi.). See the following note. From the sentiment there mentioned arose a tendency to believe, or at least affect belief, in hermits and hermitages.
5. From vice and London far. A belief in the iniquity of towns and the innocence of country life was one of the besetting delusions of the last century of the time of Rousseau and his fellows. In Rasselas, written and published in 1759, Johnson speaks more wisely. 7. Cambria. The old Roman names for the various countries of Western Europe were much used by poets at this time. According to the poetic creed of the day they were supposed to be more "poetical." Thus England and Wales are superseded by Britannia and Cambria. So Hibernia in 1. 9. See Gray's Bard, Thomson's famous song Rule, Britannia, in his masque of Alfred, &c.
8. St David. David, who succeeded Dubritius (him who crowned and married Arthur; see Tennyson's Coming of Arthur), removed the see from Caerleon to Menapia, which name was presently superseded by his own.
9. Many were doing so at this very time. Smollett arrived in London in 1739, Burke in 1750, Goldsmith in 1756.
woud. From this spelling it seems that would was once in danger of being corrupted by coud, just as coud has actually been corrupted by would; for the l in could is probably due to a mistaken assimilation of the proper form to would, where of course the is a root-letter.