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1777 : “Such a one's rerses are come out,” said I: “Yes (replied Johnson) and this frost has struck them in again. Here are some lines I have written to ridicule them: but remember that I love the fellow dearly, now—for all I laugh at him.

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When he parodied the verses of another eminent writer, it was done with more provocation, I believe, and with some merry malice. A serious translation of the same lines, which I think are from Euripides, may be found in Burney's “ History of Music.”—Here are the burlesque ones :

“ Err shall they not, who resolute explore
Times gloomy backward with judicious eyes;
And scanning right the practices of yore,
Shall deem our hoar progenitors unwise.

They to the dome where smoke with curling play
Announc'd the dinner to the regions round,
Summond the singer blythe, and harper gay,
And aided wine with dulcet-streaming sound.
“ The better use of notes, or sweet or shrill,
By quiv’ring string, or modulated wind;
Trumpet or lyre—to their harsh bosoms chill,
Admission ne'er had sought, or could not find.

“Oh! send them to the sullen mansions dun,
Her baleful eyes where Sorrow rolls around;
Where gloom-enamour'd Mischief loves to dwell,
And Murder, all blood-bolter'd, schemes the wound.

“ When cates luxuriant pile the spacious dish,
And purple nectar glads the festive hour;
The guest, without a want, without a wish,

Can yield no room to Music's soothing pow'r." Some of the old legendary stories put in verse by modern writers provoked him to caricature them thus one day at Streatham; but they are already well known, I am sure.

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“ The tender infant, meek and mild,

Fell down upon the stone ;,
The nurse took up the squealing child,

But still the child squeal'd on.'

A famous ballad also, beginning Rio verde, Rio verde, when I commended the translation of it, he said he could do it better himself—as thus :

“ Glassy water, glassy water,
Down wbose current clear and strong,
Chiefs confus'd in mutual slaughter,
Moor and Christian roll along."


“ But Sir,” said I,“ this is not ridiculous at all.” “ Why no (replied he), why should I always write ridiculously?-perhaps because I made these verses to imitate such a one, naming him :

"Hermit hoar, in solemn cell
Wearing out life's evening gray;
Strike thy bosom sage! and tell,
What is bliss, and which the way ?

5. Thus I spoke, and speaking sigh’d,
Scarce repress'd the starting tear,
When the hoary Sage reply'd,
Come, my lad, and drink some beer.'”

I could give another comical instance of caricatura imitation. Recollecting some day, when praising these verses of Lopez de


Se acquien los leones vence
Vence una muger hermosa
O el de flaco averguençe
O ella di ser mas furiosa,"

more than he thought they deserved, Mr. Johnson instantly observed, “ that they were founded on a trivial conceit; and that conceit ill-explained, and ill-expressed beside.

-The lady, we all know, does not conquer in the same manner as the lion does : 'Tis a mere play of words (added he), and you might as well say, that

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And this humour is of the same sort with which he answered the friend who commended the following line:

* Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free."

“ To be sure (said Dr. Johnson),

666 Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.""

This readiness of finding a parallel, or making one, was shewn by him perpetually in the course of conversation.—When the French verses of a certain pantomime were quoted thus,

« Je suis Cassandre descendüe des cieux,
Pour vous faire entendre, mesdames et messieurs,
Que je suis Cassandre descendüe des cieux ;

he cried out gaily and suddenly, almost in a moment,

“I am Cassandra come down from the sky,
To tell each by.stander what none can deny,
That I am Cassandra come down from the sky.?”

The pretty Italian verses too, at the end of Baretti's book, called “ Easy Phraseology,” he did all'improviso, in the same

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The famous distich too, of an Italian improvisatore, who, when the duke of Modena ran away from the comet in the year 1742 or 1743,

Se al venir vestro i principi sen' vanno
Deh venga ogni di

durate un anno ;

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“ which (said he) would do just as well in our language thus :


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“If at your coming princes disappear,

Comets! come every day—and stay a year.”
When some one in company commended the verses of M. de
Benserade à son Lit;

Theatre des ris et des pleurs,
Lit! ou je nais, et ou je meurs,
Tu nous fais voir comment voisins

Sont nos plaisirs, et nos chagrins."
To which he replied without hesitating,

“In bed we laugh, in bed we cry,
And born in bed, in bed we die;
The near approach a bed may shew
Of human bliss to human woe.'”

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The inscription on the collar of Sir Joseph Banks's goat which had been on two of his adventurous expeditions with him, and was then, by the humanity of her amiable master, turned out to graze in Kent, as a recompence for her utility and faithful service, was given me by Johnson in the year 1777 I think, and I have never yet seen it printed.

Perpetui, ambitâ bis terrâ, premia lactis

Hec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis.The epigram written at Lord Anson's house many years ago, “ where (says Mr. Johnson) I was well received and kindly treated, and with the true gratitude of a wit ridiculed the master of the house before I had left it an hour,” has been falsely printed in many papers since his death. I wrote it down from his own lips one evening in August 1772, not neglecting the little preface, accusing himself of making so graceless a return for the civilities shown him. He had, among other elegancies about the park and gardens, been made to observe a temple to the winds, when this thought naturally presented itself to a wit.

Gratum animum laudo; Qui debuit omnia ventis,
Quam bene ventorum surgere tenipla jubet !

A translation of Dryden's epigram too, I used to fancy I had to myself,

Quos laudet vates, Graius, Romanus, ct Anglus,
Tres tria temporibus secla dedere suis :

Sublime ingenium Graius,-Romanus habebat
Carmen grande sonans, Anglus utrumque tulit.
Nil majus natura capit; clarare priores
Quæ potuere duos, tertius unus habet : "

from the famous lines written under Milton's picture :

“ Three poets in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn :
The first in loftiness of thought surpast,
The next in majesty; in both the last.
The force of Nature could no further go,

To make a third she join’d the former two." One evening in the oratorio season of the year 1771, Mr. Johnson went with me to Covent-Garden theatre; and though he was for the most part an exceedingly bad playhouse companion, as his person drew people's eyes upon the box, and the loudness of his voice made it difficult for me to hear any body but himself; he sat surprisingly quiet, and I flattered myself that he was listening to the music. When we were got home however he repeated these verses, which he said he had made at the oratorio, and he bid me translate them.


6. Tertii verso quater orbe lustri
Quid thcatrales tibi crispe pompae!
Quam decet canos male literatos

Sera voluptas !
Tene mulceri fidibus canoris?
Tené cantorum modulis stupere?
Tene per pictas oculo elegante

Currere formas ?
" Inter equales sine felle liber,
Codices veri studiosus inter
Rectius vives, sua quisque carpat

Gaudia gratus.
Lusibus gaudet puer otiosis
Luxus ohlectat juvenem theatri,
At séni fluxo sapienter uti

Tempore restat.

I gave him the following lines in imitation, which he liked well enough, I think :

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