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Hermes, or, A philosophical inquiry…
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Hermes, or, A philosophical inquiry concerning language and universal…

by James Harris

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JOHNSON: ‘ Harris is a sound sullen scholar ; he does not like interlopers. Harris, however, is a prig, and a bad prig'. I looked into his book [Hermes], and thought he did not understand his own system.' BOSWELL: 'He says plain things in a formal and abstract way, to be sure : but his method is good : for to have clear notions upon any subject, we must have recourse to analytick arrangement.' JOHNSON: 'Sir, it is what every body does, whether they will or no. But sometimes things may be made darker by definition. I see a cow, I define her, Animal quadrupes fuminans cornutum. But a goat ruminates, and a cow may have no horns. Cow is plainer.' -- Boswell, Life of Johnson.

At Lord Monboddo’s, after the conversation upon the decrease of learning in England, his Lordship mentioned Hermes by Mr Harris of Salisbury, as the work of a living authour, for whom he had a great respect. Dr Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we were in our post-chaise, told me, he thought Harris ‘a coxcomb’. This he said of him, not as a man, but as an authour; and I give his opinions of men and books, faithfully, whether they agree with my own, or not. --Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides
  SamuelJohnsonLibrary | Mar 29, 2008 |
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