There was an interesting meeting of the Johnson Society at
Pembroke College, Oxford, on Tuesday, Dr. Bartholomew There was an interesting meeting of the Johnson Society at Pembroke College, Oxford, on Tuesday, Dr. Bartholomew
Price, Master of the College, in the chair, but the Times'
report of it is so compressed that it only leaves us eager to know what was said by many of the speakers, especially by the Master, by Canon Ainger, and by Sir Mountetuart Grant Duff, all of whom must have spoken out of the fullness of their knowledge. The only fragment of the report which really reflects a distinct portrait of Johnson is Mr. Austin Dobson's charming epitaph on him, intended as a postscript to Goldsmith's delightful poem " Retaliation," of which the
Times quotes this much :— " Turn now to his Writings. 'Tis true in his tales
That he made little fishes talk vastly like whales, 'Tis true that his language was rather emphatic, Nay, even—to put it quite plainly—dogmatic. But read him for style—and dismiss from your thoughts
The crowd of compilers who copied his faults,—
Say, where is there English so full and so clear, So weighty, so dignified, mitnly, sincere So prompt to take colour from place and occasion, So rich in expression, conviction, persuasion ? So widely removed from the feeble, the tentative; So truly—and in the best sense—argumentative ? You may talk of your Burkes, and your Gibbons so clover, But I hark back to him with a 'Johnson for ever.'"
We should hardly have said even of Dr. Johnson's best prose writings—even of the " Lives of the Poets,"—" read him for style ; " for his style was often far too "dignified," even pedantic, though in the warmth of conversation his style was spurred into a kind of vigour which threw off all shadow of pedantry and filled the hearer with pure exultation. But no one can read "The Rambler" for style, and not wonder
that so great a converser could wrap himself up in such magniloquent verbiage.