Slike strani

mind by a series of as deep, distress as can portrait of him painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds affect humanity, in the amiable and pious soon after he had published his Dictionary, in heroine, who goes to her grave unrelieved, but the attitude of sitting in his easy chair in resigned, and full of hope of “heaven's deep meditation; which was the first picture mercy." Johnson paid her this high com his friend did for him, which Sir Joshua very pliment upon it: “I know not, Madam, that kindly presented to me, and from which an you have a right, upon moral principles, to engraving has been made for this work. Mr. make your readers suffer so much."

Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully Mr. Thomas Davies the actor, who then kept introduced me to him. I was much agitated'; a bookseller's shop in Russell-Street, Covent and recollecting his prejudice against the Garden', told me that Johnson was very Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to much his friend, and came frequently to his Davies," Don't tell where I come from.” house, where he more than once invited me to “ From Scotland,” cried Davies, roguishly. meet him ; but by some unlucky accident or “ Mr. Johnson," said I, “I do indeed come other he was prevented from coming to us. from Scotland, but I cannot help it.” I am

Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good willing to flatter myself that I meant this as understanding and talents, with the advantage light pleasantry to soothe and conciliate him, of a liberal education. Though somewhat and not as an humiliating abasement at the pompous, he was an entertaining companion ; expense of my country. But however that and his literary performances have no incon- might be, this speech was somewhat unlucky; siderable share of merit. He was a friendly for with that quickness of wit for which he and very hospitable man. Both he and his was so remarkable, he seized the expression wife (who : has been celebrated ? for her come from Scotland," which I used in the beauty), though upon the stage for many sense of being of that country; and, as if I years, maintained an uniform decency of cha- had said that I had come away from it, or left racter; and Johnson esteemed them, and lived it, retorted, " That, Sir, I find, is what a very in as easy an intimacy with them as with any great many of your countrymen cannot help. family which he used to visit. Mr. Davies This stroke stunned me a good deal; and recollected several of Johnson's remarkable when we had sat down, I felt myself not a sayings, and was one of the best of the many little embarrassed, and apprehensive of what imitators of his voice and manner, while might come next. He then addressed himself relating them. He increased my impatience to Davies: “What do you think of Garrick ? more and more to see the extraordinary man He has refused me an order for the play for whose works I highly valued, and whose Miss Williams, because he knows the house will conversation was reported to be so peculiarly be full, and that an order would be worth excellent:

three shillings." Eager to take any opening to At last, on Monday, the 16th of May, when get into conversation with him, I'ventured to I was sittirg in Mr. Davies's back parlour, say, “O Sir, I cannot think Mr. Garrick after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. would grudge such a trifle to you." Sir,” Davies, Johnson unexpectedly came into the said he, with a stern look, “I have known shops; and Mr. Davies having perceived him David Garrick longer than you have done: through the glass-door in the room in which and I know no right you have to talk to me we were sitting, advancing toward us, he on the subject.” Perhaps I deserved this announced his awful approach to me, somewhat check; for it was rather presumptuous in me, in the manner of an actor in the part of Ho- an entire stranger, to express any doubt of the ratio, when he addresses Hamlet on the ap- justice of his animadversion pearance of his father's ghost, “Look, my acquaintance and pupil. I now felt myself ford, it comes!” I found that I had a very much mortified, and began to think that the perfect idea of Johnson's figure, from the hope which I had long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted. And, in truth, It is, however, but just to record, that some had not my ardour been uncommonly strong, years afterwards, when I reminded him of this and my resolution uncommonly persevering, sarcasm, he said, “Well, but Derrick has now so rough a reception might have deterred me got a character that he need not run away from." for ever from making any further attempts. I was highly pleased with the extraordinary Fortunately, however, I remained upon the vigour of his conversation, and regretted that field not wholly discomfited; and was soon I was drawn away from it by an engagement rewarded by hearing some of his conversation, at another place. I had, for a part of the of which Í preserved the following short evening, been left alone with him, and had minute, without marking the questions and ventured to make an observation now and observations by which it was produced. then, which he received very civilly : so that

upon his old

ment. Had he not been nursed in nonconformity, he probably would not have been tainted with those heresies (as I sincerely, and on no slight investigation, think them) both in religion and politics, which, while I read, I am sure, with Candour, I cannot read without offence. --- Boswell. One wonders that with these feelings he thought it worth while to incrude, with so little excuse for it, Mr. Belsham's very common-place remarks. - CROKER.

I No.$. - The very place where I was fortunate enough
to be introduced to the illustrious subject of this work, de-
serves to be particularly marked. I never pass by it without
feeling reverence and regret. - BOSWELL.
2 By Churchill, in the Rosciad.
* With him came mighty Davies : on my life,

That Davies has a very pretty wife.
Statesman all over - in plots famous grown -

He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone."
This sarcasm drove, it is said, (post, April 7. 1778) poor
Davies from the stage. - CROKER.

3 Mr. Murphy, in his “Essay on the Life and Genius of Dr. Johnson, (first published after the first edition of this work,) has given an account of this meeting considerably different from mine.. I am persuaded without any consciousness of error. His inemory, at the end of near thirty years, has undoubtedly deceived him, and he supposes himself to have been present at a scene which he has probably heard inaccurately described by others. In my note taken on the very day, in which I am confident I marked every thing material ihat passed, no mention is made of this gentleman; and I am sure that I should not have omitted one so well known in the literary world. It may easily be imagined that this my first interview with Dr. Johnson, with all its circumstances, made a strong impression on my mind, and would be registered with peculiar attention. -BOSWELL.

4 That this was a momentary sally against Garrick there can be no doubt ; for at Johnson's desire he had, some years before, given a benefit-night at his theatre to this very person, by which she had got two hundred pounds. Johnson, indeed, upon all other occasions, when I was in his company, praised the very liberal charity of Garrick. I once mentioned to

“People," he remarked, “ may be taken in I was satisfied that though there was a roughonce, who imagine that an author is greater in ness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in private life than other men. Uncommon parts his disposition. Davies followed me to the require uncommon opportunities for their door, and when I complained to him a little of exertion."

the hard blows which the great man had given “In barbarous society, superiority of parts me, he kindly took upon him to console me by is of real consequence. Great strength or saying, “Don't be uneasy, I can see he likes great wisdom

of much value to an indi- you very well.” vidual. But in more polished times there are A few days afterwards I called on Davies, people to do every thing for money; and then and asked him if he thought I might take the there are a number of other superiorities, such liberty of waiting on Mr. Johnson at his as those of birth, and fortune, and rank, that chambers in the Temple. He said I certainly dissipate men's attention, and leave no extra- might, and that Mr. Johnson would take it as ordinary share of respect for personal and a compliment. So upon Tuesday the 24th of intellectual superiority. This is wisely ordered May, after having been enlivened by the witty by Providence, to preserve some equality sallies of Messieurs Thornton" Wilkes,

Churchill, and Lloyd, with whom I had passed Sir, this book ("The Elements of Cri- the morning, I boldly repaired to Johnson. ticism; '? which he had taken up) is a pretty His chambers were on the first floor of No. 1. essay, and deserves to be held in some estima- Inner Temple Lane, and I entered them with tion, though much of it is chimerical.” an impression given me by the Rev. Dr. Blair

Speaking of one ? who with more than of Edinburgh, who had been introduced to me ordinary boldness attacked public measures not long before, and described his having and the royal family, he said, “ I think he is “ found the Giant in his den ;' an expression safe from the law, but he is an abusive which, when I came to be pretty well acscoundrel; and instead of applying to my quainted with Johnson, I repeated to him, Lord Chief Justice to punish hin, I would and he was diverted at this picturesque acsend half a dozen footmen and have him well count of himself. Dr. Blair 5 had been presented ducked.”

to him by Dr. James Fordyce. At this time “ The notion of liberty amuses the people of the controversy concerning the pieces published England, and helps to keep off the tædium vite. by Mr. James Macpherson, as translations of When a butcher tells you that his heart bleeds Ossian, was at its height. Johnson had all for his country, he has, in fact, no uneasy along denied their authenticity; and, what feeling."

was still more provoking to their admirers, “Sheridan will not succeed at Bath with maintained that they had no merit. The his oratory. Ridicule has gone down before subject having been introduced by Dr. him, and, 1 doubt, Derrick is his enemy." 3 Fordyce, Dr. Blair, relying on the internal

“ Derrick may do very well, as long as he evidence of their antiquity, asked Dr. Johnson can outrun his character; but the moment his whether he thought any man of a modern age character gets up with him, it is all over.” could have written such poems ? Johnson

among mankind.”


him, " It is observed, Sir, that you attack Garrick yourself, but will suffer nobody else to do it.” Johnson (smiling): “Why, Sir, that is true."- BOSWELL.

These sallies are of too frequent recurrence to allow us to receive Boswell's apologetical assertion that they were momentary; and too many circumstances of his conduct towards both Garrick and Sheridan remind us of Davies's admission, in his Life of Garrick, that Johnson was but too susceptible of the feeling of envy. "I never," he says,

knew any man but one - Doctor Johnson - who had the honesty and courage to confess that he had a tincture of enry in him." ii. 380. It is creditable to the candour both of Davies and Johnson, that this passage was read by Johnson before its publication. See also a somewhat similar confession from Boswell himself, posl, sub 17th April, 1778. - CROKER.

lleury Home, Lord Kames ; published in 1762. — CROKER.

2 Mr. Wilkes, no doubt. Boswell was a friend and, personally, an admirer of Wilkes, and therefore very properly (Wilkes being still alive) suppressed the name. CROKER.

3 Mr. Sheridan was then reading lectures upon Oratory at Bath, v here Derrick was Master of the Ceremonies; or, as the phrase is, King. -- BOSWELL.

4 Boswell had a passion for getting acquainted with all the notorieties of the day, and these were then reigning wits. - CROKER.

5 Dr. Hugh Blair, the celebrated professor and minister of Edinburgh ; born in 1718, died in 1800. The Doctor's * Dissertation on Ossian" appeared in 1762. – WRIGHT.

6 Dr. James Fordyce, author of " Sermons to Young Women," &c., was born at Aberdeen in 1720, and died at Bath in 1796. - WRIGIIT.


replied, “Yes, Sir, many men, many women, but he was carried back again. I did not and many children.” Johnson, at this time, think he ought to be shut up. His infirmities did not know that Dr. Blair had just pub- were not noxious to society. He insisted on lished a Dissertation, not only defending their people praying with him; and I'd as lief pray authenticity, but seriously ranking them with with Kit Smart as any one else. Another the poems of Homer and Virgil ; and when he charge was, that he did not love clean linen : was afterwards informed of this circumstance, and I have no passion for it.”. he expressed some displeasure at Dr. Fordyce's Johnson continued. “ Mankind have a great having suggested the topic, and said, “ I am aversion to intellectual labour”; but even not sorry that they got thus much for their supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, pains. Sir, it was like leading one to talk of more people would be content to be ignorant a book when the author is concealed behind than would take even a little trouble to acthe door."

quire it." He received me very courteously ; but it “The morality of an action depends on the must be confessed, that his apartment, and notive from which we act. If I fling half a furniture, and morning dress, were sufficiently crown to a beggar with intention to break his uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked head, and he picks it up and buys victuals very rusty; he had on a little old shrivelled with it, the physical effect is good ; but, with unpowdered wig, which was too small for his respect to me, the action is very wrong. So, head; his shirt-neck and knees of his breeches religious exercises, if not performed with an were loose; his black worsted stockings ill intention to please God, avail us nothing. As drawn up; and he had a pair of unbuckled our Saviour "says of those who perform them shoes by way of slippers. But all these from other motives, “Verily they have their slovenly particularities were forgotten the reward.' moment that he began to talk. Some gentle- “ The Christian religion has very strong men, whom I do not recollect, were sitting evidences. It, indeed, appears in some degree with him; and when they went away, I also strange to reason ; but in History we have rose; but he said to me,“ Nay, don't go." undoubted facts, against which, in reasoning “Sir," said I, “I am afraid that I intrude upon à priori, we have more arguments than we you. It is benevolent to allow me to sit and have for them: but then, testimony has great hear you." He seemed pleased with this com- weight, and casts the balance.

I would repliment, which I sincerely paid him, and commend to every man whose faith is yet answered, “Sir, I am obliged to any man who unsettled, Grotius, Dr. Pearson, and Dr. visits me.” – I have preserved the following Clarke.” short minute of what passed this day.

Talking of Garrick, he said, “ He is the “ Madness frequently discovers itself merely first man in the world for sprightly conby unnecessary deviation from the usual versation." modes of the world. My poor friend Smart When I rose a second time, he again pressed showed the disturbance of his mind by falling me to stay, which I did. upon his knees and saying his prayers in the He told me, that he generally went abroad street, or in any other unusual place. Now, at four in the afternoon, and seldom came although, rationally speaking, it is greater home till two in the morning. I took the madness not to pray at all, than to pray as liberty to ask if he did not think it wrong Smart did, I am afraid there are so many who to live thus, and not make more use of his do not pray, that their understanding is not great talents. He owned it was a bad habit. called in question."

On reviewing, at the distance of many years, Concerning this unfortunate poet, Christo- my journal of this period, I wonder how, at pher Smart, who was confined in a mad- my first visit, I ventured to talk to him so house ?, he had, at another time, the following freely, and that he bore it with so much conversation with Dr. Burney. Burney. indulgence. “ How does poor Smart do, Sir? is he likely Before we parted, he was so good as to to recover ? JOHNSON. “ It seems as if his promise to favour me with his company one mind had ceased to struggle with the disease; evening at my lodgings; and, as I took my for he grows fat upon it.” BURNEY. "Perhaps, leave, shook me cordially by the hand. It is Sir, that may be from want of exercise.” almost needless to add, that I felt no little Johnson. No, Sir; he has partly as much elation at having now so happily established exercise as he used to have, for he digs in the an acquaintance of which I had been so long garden. Indeed, before his confinement, he ambitious. used for exercise to walk to the ale-house ; My readers will, I trust, excuse me for


It has been wondered why Johnson, who obtained a place may have been some difficulty about the copyright of his in the edition of British Poets for Yalden, Pomfret, Watts, poems, as there was, we know, about those of Goldsmith and Blackmore, did not do as much for his friend Smart, a See post, sub July 9. 1770. Smart's are to be found, with be ter poet than any of them, and not less pious. Perhaps a Life, in Anderson's Poets. Smart died in 1770, æt. 70.he was deterred by the irregularity of poor Smart's mind CROKER. and life, in connection with which he probably thought that 2 See post, July 30. 1763, an opinion somewhat different.-his pious poems would rather scandalise than edify: or there CROKER.

being thus minutely circumstantial, when it that our next meeting was not till Saturday, is considered that the acquaintance of Dr. June 25th, when, happening to dine at Clifton's Johnson was to me a most valuable acquisi- eating-house, in Butcher Row?, I was surprised tion, and laid the foundation of whatever to perceive Johnson come in and take his seat instruction and entertainment they may re- at another table. The mode of dining, or ceive from my collections concerning the great rather being fed, at such houses in on, is subject of the work which they are now pe- well known to many to be particularly unrusing:

social, as there is no Ordinary, or united I did not visit him again till Monday, company, but each person has his own mess, June 13th, at which time I recollect no part and is under no obligation to hold any interof his conversation, except that when I told course with any one. A liberal and full-minded him I had been to see Johnson ride upon man, however, who loves to talk, will break three horses, he said, “Such a man, Sir, through this churlish and unsocial restraint. should be encouraged; for his performances Jobnson and an Irish gentleman got into a show the extent of the human powers in one dispute concerning the cause of some part of instance, and thus tend to raise our opinion mankind being black. “Why, Sir," said of the faculties of man. He shows what may Johnson, "it has been accounted for in three be attained by persevering application ; so that ways: either by supposing that they are the every man may hope, that by giving as much posterity of Ham, who was cursed, or that application, although perhaps he may never GOD at first created two kinds of men, one ride three horses at a time, or dance upon a black and another white; or that by the wire, yet he may be equally expert in what- heat of the sun the skin is scorched, and so ever profession he has chosen to pursue.”ı acquires a sooty hue. This matter has been

He again shook me by the hand at part- much canvassed among naturalists, but has ing, and asked me why I did not come oftener never been brought to any certain issue." to him. Trusting that I was now in his good What the Irishman said is totally obliterated graces, I answered, that he had not given me from my mind; but I remember that he much encouragement, and reminded him of became very warm and intemperate in his the check I had received from him at our expressions : upon which Johnson rose, and first interview. “ Poh poh!” said he, with quietly walked away. When he had retired, a complacent smile, “ never mind these things. his antagonist took his revenge, as he thought, Come to me as often as you can. I shall be by saying, “ He has a most ungainly figure, glad to see you."

and an affectation of pomposity, unworthy of I had learnt that his place of frequent a man of genius." resort was the Mitre Tavern in Fleet Street, Johnson had not observed that I was in the where he loved to sit up late, and I begged I room. I followed him, however, and he agreed might be allowed to pass an evening with him to meet me in the evening at the Mitre. I there soon, which he promised I should. A called on him, and we went thither at nine. few days afterwards I met him near Temple We had a good supper, and port wine, of Bar, about one o'clock in the morning, and which he then sometimes drank a bottle. The asked if he would then go to the Mitre. orthodox high-church sound of the MITRE, “Sir," said he, “it is too late ; they won't let the figure and manner of the celebrated us in. But I'll go with you another night with SAMUEL JOHNSON, - the extraordinary power all my heart.”

and precision of his conversation, and the A revolution of some 'importance in my pride arising from finding myself admitted as plan of life had just taken place; for instead his companion, produced a variety of sensaof procuring a commission in the foot-guards, tions, and a pleasing elevation of mind, beyond which was my own inclination, I had, in com- what I had ever before experienced. I find in pliance with my father's wishes, agreed to my Journal the following minute of our constudy the law, and was soon to set out for versation, which, though it will give but a Utrecht, to hear the lectures of an excellent very faint notion of what passed, is, in some civilian in that University, and then to pro- degree, a valuable record; and it will be cuceed on my travels. Though very desirous rious in this view, as showing how habitual to of obtaining Dr. Johnson's advice and instruc- his mind were some opinions which appear in tions on the mode of pursuing my studies, I his works. was at this time so occupied, shall I call it ? or “ Colley Cibber 3, Sir, was by no means a so dissipated, by the amusements of London, blockhead: but by arrogating to himself too

1 “In the year 1762 one Johnson, an Irishman, exhibited 3 Colley Cibber was born in 1671, bore arms in favour of many feats of activity in horsemanship, and was, it is be- the revolution, and soon after went on the stage as an actor. lieved, the first performer, at that time, in or about London. In 1695 he appeared as a writer of comedies with great and He was an active clever fellow in his way.' Prior's Life of deserved success. He quitted the stage in 1730, on being Burke, vol. i. p. 124. - CROKER.

appointed poet laureate, and died in 1757. His Memoirs ot 2 A row of tenements in the Strand, between Wych Street his own Lile, under the modest title of an Apology, is not and Temple Bar, and “so called from the butchers' shambles only a very amusing collection of theatrical anecdotes, but on the south side." (Strype, B. iv. p. 118.) Butcher Row shows considerable power of observation and delineation of was pulled down in 1813, and the present Pickett Street character, - CROKER. erected in its stead.-P. CUNNINGHAM.

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much, he was in danger of losing that degree • Though fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing, of estimation to which he was entitled. His They mock the air with idle state. friends gave out that he intended his birth-day Odes should be bad: but that was not the opinion of Gray's poetry was widely different

Here let it be observed, that although his case, Sir ; for he kept them many months by from mine, and, I believe, from that of most him, and a few years before he died he showed me one of them, with great solicitude to render admired, there is certainly much absurdity in

men of taste, by whom it is with justice highly it as perfect as might be, and I made some the clamour which has been raised, as if he corrections, to which he was not very willing had been culpably injurious to the merit of to submit. I remember the following couplet that bard, and had been actuated by envy; in allusion to the King and himself:

Alas! ye little short-sighted critics, could • Perch'd on the eagle's soaring wing, Johnson be envious of the talents of any of The lowly linnet loves to sing.'

his contemporaries ? That his opinion on Sir, he had heard something of the fabulous this subject was what in private and in public tale of the wren sitting upon the eagle's wing, others might think, we may wonder, and

he uniformly expressed, regardless of what and he had applied it to a linnet. Cibber's familiar style, however, was better than that perhaps regret ; but it is shallow and unjust which Whitehead has assumed.

Grand non

to charge him with expressing what he did not

think. sense is insupportable. Whitehead is but a little man to inscribe verses to players."

Finding him in a placid humour, and wishing I did not presume to controvert this censure, fortunately had of consulting a sage, to hear

to avail myself of the opportunity which I which was tinctured with his prejudice against whose wisdom, I conceived, in the ardour of players; but I could not help thinking that dramatic poet might with propriety pay a com

youthful imagination, that men filled with a pliment to an eminent performer, as White- noble enthusiasm for intellectual improvement head has very happily done in his verses to would gladly have resorted from distant lands,

I Mr. Garrick.

opened my mind to him ingenuously, and “Sir, I do not think Gray a first-rate poet, he was pleased to listen with great attention.

gave him a little sketch of my life, to which He has not a bold imagination, nor much command of words. The obscurity in which

I acknowledged, that though educated very he has involved himself will not persuade us

strictly in the principles of religion, I had for that he is sublime. His Elegy in a Churchyard some time been misled into a certain degree of has a happy selection of images ?, but I don't infidelity; but that I was come now to a better like what are called his great things. His ode way of thinking, and was fully satisfied of the which begins —

truth of the Christian revelation, though I

was not clear as to every point considered to • Ruin seize thee, ruthless King,

be orthodox. Being at all times a curious Confusion on thy banners wait!'

examiner of the human mind, and pleased has been celebrated for its abruptness, and with an undisguised display of what had plunging into the subject all at once. But

passed in it, he called to me with warmth, such arts as these have no merit, unless when

“Give me your hand; I have taken a liking they are original. We admire them only once force of testimony, and the little we could

to you.” He then began to descant upon the and this abruptness has nothing new in it. We have had it often before. Nay, we have know of final causes ; so that the objections it in the old song of Johnny Armstrong:

of, Why was it so ? or, Why was it not so ?

ought not to disturb us: adding, that he him• Is there ever a man in all Scotland,

self had at one period been guilty of a tempoFrom the highest estate to the lowest degree,' &c. rary neglect of religion ; but that it was not And then, Sir,

the result of argument, but mere absence of

thought. · Yes, there is a man in Westmorland,

After having given credit to reports of his And Johnny Armstrong they do him call.'

bigotry, I was agreeably surprised when he There, now, you plunge at once into the sub- expressed the following very liberal sentiment, ject. You have no previous narration to lead which has the additional value of obviating an

The two next lines in that Ode objection to our holy religion, founded upon are, I think, very good :

the discordant tenets of Christians themselves :

you to it.

This was a sneer aimed, it is to be feared, more at Gar- p. 127. n. 2) says, “ Gray disliked Johnson and declined his rick (to whom the verses were inscribed) than at Whitehead. acquaintance, though he respected his understanding, and As to Whitehead, see antė, p. 56. n. 2. — CROKER.

still more his goodness of heart." - CROKER. 3. And surely a happy selection of expressions. What

does 3 My friend, Mr. Malone, in his valuable comments on it then want? As to the criticism and quotations which fol- Shakspeare, bas traced in that great poet disjecta membra of low, they might be pardonable in loose conversation ; but these lines. -- BOSWELL. A piece of unnecessary, trouble. Johnson, unluckily for his own reputation, has preserved Gray had already pointed out his obligation to Shakspeare's thern in bis criticism on Gray in the Lives of the Poets. King John, in his notes to the poem. - P. CUNNINGHAM. There seems to have been some kind of personal pique 4 Perhaps not of their talents, but sometimes, it may be between Johnson and Gray, for Mr. Norton Nicholls (antè, feared, of their success. See antè, p. 133. n. 4. - CROKER.

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