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loda bends from high, like a formless meteor in clouds. He sends abroad the winds, and marks them with his signs. Starno foresaw that Morven's king was not to yield in war. He twice struck the tree in wrath. He rushed before his son. He hummed a surly song, and heard his hair in wind. Turned from one another, they stood, like two oaks, which different winds had bent; each hangs over his own loud rill, and shakes his boughs in the course of blasts. “Annir,” said Starno of lakes, “was a fire that consumed of old. He poured death from his eyes along the striving fields. His joy was in the fall of men. Blood to him was a summer stream, that brings joy to the withered vales, from its own mossy rock. He came forth to the lake Luth-cormo, to meet the tall Corman-trunar, he from Urlor of streams, dweller of battle's wing.” The chief of Urlor had come to Gormal with his dark-bosomed ships. He saw the daughter of Annir, white-armed Foina-bragal., He saw her | Nor careless rolled her eyes on the rider of stormy waves. She fled to his ship in darkness, like a moonbeam through a nightly veil. Annir pursued along the deep; he called the winds of heaven. Nor alone was the king ! Starno was by his side. Like U-thorno's young eagle, I turned my eyes on my father. We rushed into roaring Urlor. With his people came tall Corman-trunar. We fought; but the foe prevailed. In his wrath my father stood. He lopped the young trees with his sword. His eyes rolled red in his rage. I marked the soul of the king, and I retired in night. From the field I took a broken helmet; a shield that was pierced with steel; intless was the spear in my hand. I went to find the foe. On a rock sat tall Corman-trunar beside his burning oak; and near him beneath a tree, sat deep-bosomed Foina-bragal. I threw my broken shield before her. I spoke the words of peace. “Beside his rolling sea lies Annir of many lakes. The king was pierced in battle; and Starno is to raise his tomb. Me, a son of Loda, he sends to white-handed Foina, to bid her send a lock from her hair, to rest with her father in earth. And thou, king of roaring Urlor, let the battle cease, till Annir receive the shell from fiery-eyed Cruth-loda.” Bursting into tears, she rose, and tore a lock from her hair; a lock, which wandered in the blast, along her heaving breast. Cormantrunar gave the shell, and bade me rejoice before
him. I rested in the shade of night, and hid my face in my helmet deep. Sleep descended on the foe. I rose, like a stalking ghost. I pierced the side of Corman-trunar. Nor did Foina-bragal escape. She rolled her white bosom in blood. Why, then, daughter of heroes, didst thou wake my rage? Morning rose. The foe were fled, like the departure of mist. Annir struck his bossy shield. He called his dark-haired son. I came, streaked with wandering blood: thrice rose the shout of the king, like the bursting forth of a squall of wind from a cloud by night. We rejoiced three days above the dead, and called the hawks of heaven. They came from all their winds to feast on Annir's foes. Swaran, Fingal is alone in his hill of night. Let thy spear pierce the king in secret; like Annir, my soul shall rejoice, “Son of Annir,” said Swaran, “I shall not slay in shades: I move forth in light: the hawks rush from all their winds. They are wont to trace my course: it is not harmless through war.” Burning rose the rage of the king. He thrite raised his gleaming spear. But, starting, he spared his son, and rushed into the night By Turthor's stream, a cave is dark, the dwell. ing of Corban-cargla. There he laid the helmet of kings, and called the maid of Lulan; o she was distant far in Loda's resounding all. Swelling in his rage, he strode to who Fingal lay alone. The king was laid on his shield, on his own secret hill. Stern hunter of shaggy boars! no seek maid is laid before thee. No boy on his festy bed, by Turthor's murmuring stream. Ho is spread the couch of the mighty, from which they rise to deeds of death! Hunter of shaggy boars, awaken not the terrible ! Starno came murmuring on. in arms. “Who art thou, son of night'. Silent he threw the spear. They mixed tho. gloomy strife. The shield of Stárno sell, do in twain. He is bound to an oak. The early beam arose. It was then Fingal beheld to king. He rolled awhile his silent eyes. H. thought of other days, when white-bosomed Agandecca moved like the music of Songs. He loosed the thong from his hands, “Son’s Annir,” he said, “retire. Retire to Gormal of shells; a beam that was set returns. I remember thy white-bosomed daughter; dreadful king, away! Go to thy troubled dwelling, cloudy
foe of the lovely. Let the stranger shun thee, thou gloomy in the hall!” A tale of the times of old !
JAMES BOSWELL (1740–1795)
THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. CHAPTER XIII (1763)
As Dr. Oliver Goldsmith will frequently appear in this narrative, I shall endeavour to make my readers in some degree acquainted with his singular character. He was a native of Ireland, and a contemporary with Mr. Burke, at Trinity College, Dublin, but did not then give much promise of future celebrity. He, however, observed to Mr. Malone, that “though he made no great figure in mathematics, which was a study in much repute there, he could turn an Ode of Horace into English better than any of them.” He afterwards studied physic at Edinburgh, and upon the Continent; and, I have been informed, was enabled to pursue his travels on foot, partly by demanding, at Universities, to enter the lists as a disputant, by which, according to the custom of many of them, he was entitled to the premium of a crown, when, luckily, for him, his challenge was not accepted; so that, as I once observed to Dr. Johnson, he disputed his passage through Europe. He then came to England, and was employed successively in the capacities of an usher to an academy, a corrector of the press, a reviewer, and a writer for a newspaper. He had sagacity enough to cultivate assiduously the acquaintance of Johnson, and his faculties, were gradually enlarged by the contemplation of such a model. To me and many others it appeared that he studiously copied the manner of Johnson, though, indeed, upon a smaller scale.
At this time I think he had published nothing with his name, though it was pretty generally known that one Dr. Goldsmith was the author of “An Inquiry into the present State of Polite Learning in Europe,” and of “The Citizen of the World,” a series of letters supposed to be written from London by a Chinese. No man had the art of displaying with more advantage, as a writer, whatever literary acquisitions he made. “Nihil quod tetigit non ornavit.”. His mind resembled a fertile but thin soil. There
"There was nothing he touched that he did not adorn.
was a quick, but not a strong, vegetation, of whatever chanced to be thrown upon it. No deep root could be struck. The oak of the forest did not grow there; but the elegant shrubbery and the fragrant parterre appeared in gay succession. It has been generally circulated and believed that he was a mere fool in conversation; but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated. He had, no doubt, a more than common share of that hurry of ideas which we often find in his countrymen, and which sometimes produces a laughable confusion, in expressing them. He was very much what the french call un élourdi, and from vanity and an eager desire of being conspicuous wherever he was, he frequently talked carelessly without knowledge of the subject, or even without thought. His person was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of . a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those who were in any way distinguished, excited envy in him to so ridiculous an excess, that the instances of it are hardly credible. When accompanying two beautiful young ladies, with their mother, on a tour in France, he was seriously angry that more attention was paid to them than to him; and once at the exhibition of the Fantoccini in London, when those who sat next him observed with what dexterity a puppet was made to toss a pike, he could not bear that it should have such praise, and exclaimed, with some warmth, “Pshaw! I can do it better myself.” He, I am afraid, had no settled system of any sort, so that his conduct must not be strictly scrutinised; but his affections were social and generous, and when he had money he gave it away very liberally. His desire of imaginary consequence predominated over his attention to truth. When he began to rise into notice, he said he had a brother who was Dean of Durham, a fiction so easily detected, that it is wonderful how he should have been so inconsiderate as to hazard it. He boasted to me at this time of the power of his pen in commanding money, which I believe was true in a certain degree, though in the instance he gave he was by no means correct. He told me that he had sold a novel for four hundred pounds. This was his “Vicar of Wakefield.” But Johnson informed me that he had made the bargain for Goldsmith, and the price was sixty pounds. “And, Sir,” said he, “a sufficient price too, when it was sold; for then the fame of Goldsmith had not been elevated, as it afterwards was, by his ‘Traveller’; and the bookseller
had such faint hopes of profit by his bargain, that he kept the manuscript by him a long time, and did not publish it till after the “Traveller' had appeared. Then, to be sure, it was accidentally worth more money.” Mrs. Piozzi and Sir John Hawkins have strangely mis-stated the history of Goldsmith's situation and Johnson's friendly interference, when this novel was sold. I shall give it authentically from Johnson's own exact narration: “I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return; and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.” My next meeting with Johnson was on Friday, the 1st of July, when he and I and Dr. Goldsmith supped at the Mitre. I was before this time pretty well acquainted with Goldsmith, who was one of the brightest ornaments of the Johnsonian school. Goldsmith's respectful attachment to Johnson was then at its height; for his own literary reputation had not yet distinguished him so much as to excite a vain desire of competition with his great Master. He had increased my admiration of the goodness of Johnson's heart, by incidental remarks in the course of conversation, such as, when I mentioned Mr. Levett, whom he entertained under his roof, “He is poor and honest, which is recommendation enough to Johnson;” and when I wondered that he was very kind to a man of whom I had heard a very bad character, “He is now become miserable, and that insures the protection of Johnson.”. Goldsmith attempting this evening to maintain, I suppose from an affectation of paradox, “that knowledge was not desirable on its own
ing it.” Dr. John Campbell, the celebrated political and biographical writer, being mentioned, Johnson said, “Campbell is a man of much knowledge, and has a good share of imagi. nation. His ‘Hermippus Redivivus' is very entertaining, as an account of the Hermetic philosophy, and as furnishing a curious history of the extravagancies of the human mind. If it were merely imaginary, it would be nothing at all. Campbell is not always rigidly careful of truth in his conversation; but I do not be: lieve there is anything of this carelessness in his books. Campbell is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not been in the in side of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without pulling off his hat. This shows that he has good principles. I used to go pretty often to Campbell's on a Sunday evening, till I began to consider that the shoals of Scotchmen who flocked about him might probably say, when anything of mine was well done, ‘Ay, ay, he has learned this of Cawmell !’” He talked very contemptuously of Churchill's poetry, observing, that “it had a temporary currency, only from its audacity of abuse, and being filled with living names, and that it would sink into oblivion.” I ventured to hint that he was not quite a fair judge, as Churchill had attacked him violently. Johnson: “Nay, Sir, I am a very fair judgé. He did not attack me violently till he found I did not like his poetry; and his attack on me shall not prevent me from continuing to say what I think of him, from an apprehension that it may be ascribed to resentment. No, Sir, I called the fellow a blockhead at first, and I will call him a block. head still. However, I will acknowledge that I have a better opinion of him now than 1 once had; for he has shown more fertility than I expected. To be sure, he is a tree that cannot produce good fruit: he only bea. crabs. But, Sir, a tree that produces a great many crabs, is better than a tree which Pro duces only a few.” In this depreciation of Churchill's poetry, I could not agree with him. It is very true that the greatest part of it is upon the top”
of the day, on which account, as it brought him great fame and profit at the time, it must proportionably slide out of the public attention, as other occasional objects succeed. But Churchill had extraordinary vigour both of thought and expression. His portraits of the players will ever be valuable to the true lovers of the drama; and his strong caricatures of several eminent men of his age, will not be forgotten by the curious. Let me add, that there are in his works many passages which are of a general nature; and his “Prophecy of Famine” is a poem of no ordinary merit. It is, indeed, falsely injurious to Scotland; but therefore, may be allowed a greater share of lnvention.
Bonnell Thornton had just published a burlesque “Ode on St. Cecília's day,” adapted to the ancient British music, viz., the salt-box, the Jew's-harp, the marrow bones and cleaver, the hum-strum, or hurdy-gurdy, etc. John. son praised its humour, and seemed much diverted with it. He repeated the following passage:
"In strains more exalted the salt-box shall join,
I mentioned the periodical paper called “The Connoisseur.” He said it wanted matter. - No doubt it had not the deep thinking of Johnson's writings. But surely it has just views of the surface of life, and a very sprightly manner. — His opinion of “The World,” was not much higher than of “The Connoisseur.”
Let me here apologise for the imperfect manner in which I am obliged to exhibit Johnson's conversation at this period. In the early part of my acquaintance with him, I was so wrapt in admiration of his extraordinary colloquial talents, and so little accustomed to his peculiar mode of expression, that I found it extremely difficult to recollect and record his conversation with its genuine Vogour and vivacity. In progress of time, when my mind was, as it were, strongly impregnated with the Johnsonian ather, I could with much more facility and exactness, carry in my memoy and commit to paper the exuberant variety of his wisdom and wit.
At this time Miss Williams, as she was then called, though she did not reside with him in the Temple under his roof, but had lodgings
in Bolt-court, Fleet-street, had so much of his attention, that he every night drank tea with her before he went home, however late it might be, and she always sat up for him. This it may be fairly conjectured, was not alone a proof of his regard for her, but of his own unwillingness to go into solitude, before that unseasonable hour at which he had habituated himself to expect the oblivion of repose. Dr. Goldsmith, being a privileged man, went with him this night, strutting away, and calling to me with an air of superiority, like that of an esoteric over an exoteric disciple of a sage of antiquity, “I go to Miss Williams.” I confess, I then envied him this mighty privi. lege, of which he seemed so proud; but it was not long before I obtained the same mark of distinction. On Tuesday, the 5th of July, I again visited Johnson. He told me he had looked into the poems of a pretty voluminous writer, Mr. (now Dr.) John Ogilvie, one of the Presby. terian ministers of Scotland, which had lately come out, but could find no thinking in them. Boswell: “Is there not imagination in them, Sir?” Johnson: “Why, Sir, there is in them what was imagination, but it is no more imagination in him, than sound is sound in the echo. And his diction too is not his own. We have long ago seen white-robed innocence and flower-bespangled meads.” Talking of London, he observed, “Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magni. tude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.” – I have often amused myself with thinking how different a place London is to different people. They, whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its different departments; a grazier, as a vast market for cattle; a mercantile man, as a place where a pro. digious deal of business is done upon ‘Change; a dramatic enthusiast, as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an assemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue. But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.
On Wednesday, July 6, he was engaged to sup with me at my lodgings in Downing-street, Westminster. But on the preceding night my landlord having behaved very rudely to me and some company who were with me, I had resolved not to remain another night in his house. I was exceedingly uneasy at the awkward appearance I supposed I should make to Johnson and the other gentlemen whom I had invited, not being able to receive them at home, and being obliged to order supper at the Mitre. I went to Johnson in the morning, and talked of it as of a serious distress. He laughed, and said, “Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence.” Were this consideration to be applied to most of the little vexatious incidents of life, by which our quiet is too often disturbed, it would prevent many painful sensations. I have tried it frequently with good effect. “There is nothing,” continued he, “in this mighty misfortune; nay, we shall be better at the Mitre.” I told him that I had been at Sir John Fielding's office, complaining of my landlord, and had been informed that though I had taken my lodgings for a year, I might, upon proof of his bad behaviour, quit them when I pleased, without being under an obligation to pay rent for any longer time than while I possessed them. The fertility of Johnson's mind could show itself even upon so small a matter as this. “Why, Sir,” said he, “I suppose this must be the law, since you have been told so in Bow-street. But if your landlord could hold you to your bargain, and the lodgings should be yours for a year, you may certainly use them as you think fit. So, Sir, you may quarter two life-guardsmen upon him; or you may send the greatest scoundrel you can find into your apartments; or you may say that you want to make some experiments in natural philosophy, and may burn a large quantity of asafoetida in his house.”
I had as my guests this evening at the Mitre Tavern, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Thomas Davies, Mr. Eccles, an Irish gentleman, for whose agreeable company, I was obliged to Mr. Davies, and the Rev. Mr. John Ogilvie, who was desirous of being in company with my illustrious friend, while I, in my turn, was proud to have the honour of showing one of my countrymen upon what easy terms Johnson permitted me to live with him.
• Goldsmith, as usual, endeavoured with too much eagerness to shine and disputed very warmly with Johnson against the well-known maxim of the British constitution, “the king can do no wrong;” affirming, that “what was morally false could not be politically true; and as the king might, in the exercise of his regal power, command and cause the doing of what was wrong, it certainly might be said, in sense and in reason, that he could do wrong.” Johnson: “Sir, you are to consider that in our constitution, according to its true principles, the king is the head, he is supreme; he is above everything, and there is no power by which he can be tried. Therefore, it is, Sir, that we hold the king can do no wrong; that whatever may happen to be wrong in government may not be above our reach by being ascribed to majesty. Redress is always to be had against oppression by punishing the immediate agents. The king, though he should command, cannot force a judge to condemn a man unjustly; therefore it is the |. whom we prosecute and punish. Poitical institutions are formed upon the consideration of what will most frequently tend to the good of the whole, although now and then exceptions may occur. Thus it is better in general that a nation should have a supreme legislative power, although it may at times be abused. And then, Sir, there is this consideration, that if the abuse be enormous nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system.” I mark this animated sentence with peculiar pleasure, as a noble instance of that truly dignified spirit of freedom which ever glowed in his heart, though he was charged with slavish tenets by superficial observers, because he was at all times indignant against that false patriotism, that pretended love of freedom, that unruly restlessness which is inconsistent with the stable authority of any good government. This generous sentiment, which he uttered with great fervour, struck me exceedingly, and stirred my blood to that pitch of fancied resistance, the possibility of which I am glad to keep in mind, but to which I trust I never shall be forced. “Great abilities,” said he, “are not requisite for an historian; for in historical composition all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent. He has facts ready to his hand, so there is no exercise of invention. Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is used in the lower kinds