The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Monday, March 13, 2006


In the course of my customarily desultory reading yesterday, I was glancing at a few pages in a volume of Oliver Goldsmith's I purchased in the summer ('tis a hardcover with the original sleeve from the 60s, and ad 9 dollars CDN, a steal). I happened upon Samuel Johnson's epitaph for him, originally written in Latin, which sounded awfully familiar to me (most likely one of those things I read some time ago but simply forgot). I won't quote the entire piece, but merely these important three lines, of which the last is simply grand:

A Poet, Naturalist, and Historian,
Who left scarcely any style of writing untouched,
And touched nothing that he did not adorn.

Qui nullum fere scribendi genus
Non tetigit,
Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit

What a wonferful thing to say of anyone. Reminds me of Augustus' (?) praise of Vitruvius, the Roman architect, which Johnson not only knew but translated (in his life of Dryden):

He found it stone, and left it marble

Lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit


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