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Aetat. 67.]

Mr. Peter Garrick.

529

Next morning he introduced me to Mrs. Lucy Porter, his step-daughter. She was now an old maid, with much simplicity of manner. She had never been in London. Her brother, a Captain in the navy, had left her a fortnne of ten thousand pounds; about a third of which she had laid out in building a stately house, and making a handsome garden, in an elevated situation in Lichfield. Johnson, when here by himself, used to live at her house. She reverenced him, and he had a parental tenderness for her'.

We then visited Mr. Peter Garrick, who had that morning received a letter from his brother David, announcing our coming to Lichfield. He was engaged to dinner, but asked us to tea, and to sleep at his house. Johnson, however, would not quit his old acquaintance Wilkins, of the Three Crowns. The family likeness of the Garricks was very striking'; and Johnson thought that David's vivacity was

'Aimwell. I have heard your town of Lichfield much famed for ale; I think I'll taste that.

'Boniface. Sir, I have now in my cellar ten tun of the best ale in Staffordshire; 'tis smooth as oil, sweet as milk, clear as amber, and strong as brandy; and will be just fourteen year old the fifth day of next March, old style.' Act i. sc. I. See post, April 20, 1781.

Though his letters to her are very affectionate, yet what he wrote of her to Mrs. Thrale shews that her love for him was not strong. Thus he writes:-'July 20, 1767. Miss Lucy is more kind and civil than I expected.' Piozzi Letters, i. 4. July 17, 1771. Lucy is a philosopher, and considers me as one of the external and accidental things that are to be taken and left without emotion. If I could learn of Lucy, would it be better? Will you teach me?' Ib. p. 46. 'Aug. 1, 1775. This was to have been my last letter from this place, but Lucy says I must not go this week. Fits of tenderness with Mrs. Lucy are not common, but she seems now to have a little paroxysm, and I was not willing to counteract it.' Ib. p. 293. 'Oct. 27, 1781, Poor Lucy's illness has left her very deaf, and I think, very inarticulate. . . . But she seems to like me better than she did.' Ib. ii. 208. 'Oct. 31, 1781. Poor Lucy's health is very much broken.... Her mental powers are not impaired, and her social virtues seem to increase. She never was so civil to me before.' Ib. p. 211. On his mother's death he had written to her:-'Every heart must lean to somebody, and I have nobody but you.' See ante, i. 597.

2 See ante, ii. 355.

II.-34

not

Mr. Jackson, Johnson's schoolfellow. [A.D. 1776.

530 not so peculiar to himself as was supposed. 'Sir, (said he,) I don't know but if Peter had cultivated all the arts of gaiety as much as David has done, he might have been as brisk and lively. Depend upon it, Sir, vivacity is much an art, and depends greatly on habit.' I believe there is a good deal of truth in this, notwithstanding a ludicrous story told me by a lady abroad, of a heavy German baron, who had lived much with the young English at Geneva, and was ambitious to be as lively as they; with which view, he, with assiduous exertion, was jumping over the tables and chairs in his lodgings; and when the people of the house ran in and asked, with surprize, what was the matter, he answered,' Sh' apprens t'etre fif.'

We dined at our inn, and had with us a Mr. Jackson', one of Johnson's schoolfellows, whom he treated with much kindness, though he seemed to be a low man, dull and untaught. He had a coarse grey coat, black waistcoat, greasy leather breeches, and a yellow uncurled wig; and his countenance had the ruddiness which betokens one who is in no haste to 'leave his can.' He drank only ale. He had tried to be a cutler at Birmingham, but had not succeeded; and now he lived poorly at home, and had some scheme of dressing leather in a better manner than common; to his indistinct account of which, Dr. Johnson listened with patient attention, that he might assist him with his advice. Here was an instance of genuine humanity and real kindness in this great man, who has been most unjustly represented as altogether harsh and destitute of tenderness. A thousand such instances might have been recorded in the course of his long life; though that his temper was warm and hasty, and his manner often rough, cannot be denied.

I saw here, for the first time, oat ale; and oat cakes not hard as in Scotland, but soft like a Yorkshire cake, were served at breakfast. It was pleasant to me to find, that Oats, the food of horses, were so much used as the food

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Aetat. 67.]

Johnson's provincial accents.

531

of the people in Dr. Johnson's own town. He expatiated in praise of Lichfield and its inhabitants, who, he said, were the most sober, decent people' in England, the genteelest in proportion to their wealth, and spoke the purest English'.' I doubted as to the last article of this eulogy: for they had several provincial sounds; as there, pronounced like fear, instead of like fair; once pronounced woonse, instead of wunse, or wonse. Johnson himself never got entirely free of those provincial accents'. Garrick sometimes used to take him off, squeezing a lemon into a punch-bowl, with uncouth gesticulations, looking round the company, and calling out, Who's for poonsh?"'

Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found however two strange manufactures for so inland a place, sail-cloth and streamers for ships; and I observed them making some saddle cloths, and dressing sheepskins: but upon the whole, the busy hand of industry seemed to be quite slackened. Surely, Sir, (said I,) you are an idle set of people.' 'Sir, (said Johnson,) we are a city of philosophers, we work with our heads, and make the boobies of Birmingham' work for us with their hands.'

England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.' See ante, i. 341, note 3.

1

"I remember," said Dr. Johnson, "when all the decent people in Lichfield got drunk every night."' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 19. See post, iii. 89.

He had to allow that in literature they were behind the age. Nearly four years after the publication of Evelina, he wrote:- Whatever Burney [by Burney he meant Miss Burney] may think of the celerity of fame, the name of Evelina had never been heard at Lichfield till I brought it. I am afraid my dear townsmen will be mentioned in future days as the last part of this nation that was civilised. But the days of darkness are soon to be at an end; the reading society ordered it to be procured this week.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 221. See ante, ii. 182.

Garrick himself, like the Lichfieldians, always said-shupreme, shuperior. BURNEY.

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Johnson did not always speak so disrespectfully of Birmingham. In his Taxation no Tyranny (Works, vi. 228), he wrote: The traders of Birmingham have rescued themselves from all imputation of nar

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