Slike strani

Aetat. 69.1 Lord Camden's neglect of Goldsmith.


Yet no man had a higher notion of the dignity of literature than Johnson, or was more determined in maintaining the respect which he justly considered as due to it. Of this, besides the general tenor of his conduct in society, some characteristical instances may be mentioned.

He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, that once when he dined in a numerous company of booksellers, where the room being small, the head of the table, at which he sat, was almost close to the fire, he persevered in suffering a great deal of inconvenience from the heat, rather than quit his place, and let one of them sit above him.

Goldsmith, in his diverting simplicity, complained one day, in a mixed company, of Lord Camden. I met him (said) he) at Lord Clare's house' in the country, and he took no more notice of me than if I had been an ordinary man.' The company having laughed heartily, Johnson stood forth in defence of his friend. Nay, Gentlemen, (said he,) Dr. Goldsmith is in the right. A nobleman ought to have made up to such a man as Goldsmith; and I think it is much against Lord Camden that he neglected him'.'

[ocr errors]

situation so much more splendid than that to which he himself had attained, he did not mean to express that he thought it a disproportionate prosperity; but while he, as a philosopher, asserted an exemption from envy, non equidem invideo, he went on in the words of the poet miror magis; thereby signifying, either that he was occupied in admiring what he was glad to see; or, perhaps, that considering the general lot of men of superiour abilities, he wondered that Fortune, who is represented as blind, should, in this instance, have been so just.' BOSWELL. Johnson in his youth had translated

'Non equidem invideo; miror magis'

(Virgil, Eclogues, i. 11) by

My admiration only I exprest,

(No spark of envy harbours in my breast).' Ante, i. 59. 1 See ante, ii. 157.

This neglect was avenged a few years after Goldsmith's death, when Lord Camden sought to enter The Literary Club and was blackballed. 'I am sorry to add,' wrote Mr. [Sir William] Jones in 1780, 'that Lord Camden and the Bishop of Chester were rejected. When Bishops and Chancellors honour us by offering to dine with us at a 1.-23 Nor

III. 23


Garrick the property of Johnson. [A.D. 1778.

Nor could he patiently endure to hear that such respect as he thought due only to higher intellectual qualities, should be bestowed on men of slighter, though perhaps more amusing talents. I told him, that one morning, when I went to breakfast with Garrick, who was very vain of his intimacy with Lord Camden', he accosted me thus:- Pray now, did you did you meet a little lawyer turning the corner, eh? No, Sir, (said I). Pray what do you mean by the question? Why, (replied Garrick, with an affected indifference, yet as if standing on tip-toe,) Lord Camden has this moment left me. We have had a long walk together.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, Garrick talked very properly. Lord Camden was a little lawyer to be associating so familiarly with a player.'

Sir Joshua Reynolds observed, with great truth, that Johnson considered Garrick to be as it were his property. He would allow no man either to blame or to praise Garrick in his presence, without contradicting him2.

Having fallen into a very serious frame of mind, in which mutual expressions of kindness passed between us, such as would be thought too vain in me to repeat, I talked with regret of the sad inevitable certainty that one of us must survive the other. JOHNSON. Yes, Sir, that is an affecting

tavern, it seems very extraordinary that we should reject such an offer; but there is no reasoning on the caprice of men.' Life of Sir W. Jones, p. 240.

' Cradock (Memoirs, i. 229) was dining with The Literary Club, when Garrick arrived very late, full-dressed. He made many apologies; he had been unexpectedly detained at the House of Lords, and Lord Camden had insisted upon setting him down at the door of the hotel in his own carriage. Johnson said nothing, but he looked a volume.'

[ocr errors]

2 Miss Burney records this year (1778) that Mrs. Thrale said to Johnson, "Garrick is one of those whom you suffer nobody to abuse but yourself; for if any other person speaks against him, you browbeat him in a minute." 'Why, madam," answered he, “they don't know when to abuse him, and when to praise him; I will allow no man to speak ill of David that he does not deserve."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 65. See ante, i. 454, note 2.


Aetat. 69.] The unwillingness to part with life.


consideration. I remember Swift, in one of his letters to Pope, says, "I intend to come over, that we may meet once more; and when we must part, it is what happens to all human beings'."' BOSWELL. The hope that we shall see our departed friends' again must support the mind.' JOHNSON. Why yes, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'There is a strange unwillingness to part with life, independent of serious fears as to futurity. A reverend friend of ours (naming him) tells me, that he feels an uneasiness at the thoughts of leaving his house, his study, his books.' JOHNSON. This is foolish in *****3. A man need not be uneasy on these grounds; for, as he will retain his consciousness, he may say with the philosopher, Omnia mea mecum porto'. BOSWELL. True, Sir: we may carry our books in our heads; but still there is something painful in the thought of leaving for ever what has given us pleasure. I remember, many years ago, when my imagination was warm, and I happened to be in a melancholy mood, it distressed me to think of going into a state of being in which Shakspeare's poetry did not exist. A lady whom I then much admired, a very amiable woman, humoured my fancy, and relieved me by saying, "The first thing you will meet in the other world, will be an elegant copy of Shakspeare's works presented to you."' Dr. Johnson smiled benignantly at this, and did not appear to disapprove of the notion.

We went to St. Clement's church again in the afternoon,

The passage is in a letter dated Dublin, Oct. 12, 1727. 'Here is my maintenance,' wrote Swift, and here my convenience. If it pleases God to restore me to my health, I shall readily make a third journey; if not we must part, as all human creatures have parted.' He never made the third journey. Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xvii. 154.

[ocr errors]

* See ante, ii. 186.

3 No doubt Percy.

• The philosopher was Bias. Cicero, Paradoxa, i.

'Johnson recorded of this day (Pr. and Med. p. 164) :—'

'We sat till

the time of worship in the afternoon, and then came again late, at the Psalms. Not easily, I think, hearing the sermon, or not being attentive, I fell asleep.'



A book on agriculture.

[A.D. 1778.

and then returned and drank tea and coffee in Mrs. Williams's room; Mrs. Desmoulins doing the honours of the tea-table. I observed that he would not even look at a proof-sheet of his Life of Waller on Good-Friday.

Mr. Allen, the printer, brought a book on agriculture, which was printed, and was soon to be published'. It was a very strange performance, the authour having mixed in it his own thoughts upon various topicks, along with his remarks on ploughing, sowing, and other farming operations. He seemed to be an absurd profane fellow, and had introduced in his book many sneers at religion, with equal ignorance and conceit. Dr. Johnson permitted me to read some passages aloud. One was, that he resolved to work on Sunday, and did work, but he owned he felt some weak compunction; and he had this very curious reflection:-'I was born in the wilds of Christianity, and the briars and thorns still hang about me.' Dr. Johnson could not help laughing at this ridiculous image, yet was very angry at the fellow's impiety. However, (said he,) the Reviewers will make him hang himself.' He, however, observed, 'that formerly there might have been a dispensation obtained for working on Sunday in the time of harvest'.' Indeed in ritual

1 Marshall's Minutes of Agriculture.

[ocr errors]

It was only in hay-time and harvest that Marshall approved of Sunday work. He had seen in the wet harvest of 1775 so much corn wasted that he was ambitious to set the patriotic example' of Sunday labour. One Sunday he 'promised every man who would work two shillings, as much roast beef and plumb pudding as he would eat, with as much ale as it might be fit for him to drink.' Nine men and three boys came. In a note in the edition of 1779, he says:-‘The Author has been informed that an old law exists (mentioned by Dugdale), which tolerates husbandmen in working on Sunday in harvest; and that, in proof thereof, a gentleman in the north has uniformly carried one load every year on a Sunday.' He adds:- Jan. 1799. The particulars of this note were furnished by the late Dr. Samuel Johnson; at whose request some considerable part of what was originally written and printed on this subject was cancelled. That which was published and which is now offered again to the public is, in effect, what Dr. Johnson approved; or, let me put it in the most cautious observances,

[graphic][merged small]

From the original painting in the possession of Mr. Archdeacon Cambridge.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »