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who, as has been already mentioned, his resentment, to depreciate Johnson, (110 thought slightingly of Sheridan's art, by characterising him as "A writer of upon hearing that he was also pen- [60 gigantic fame, in these days of little men;" sioned, exclaimed, “What! have they that very Johnson whom he once so given him a pension? Then it is time highly admired and venerated. for me to give up mine.” Whether this 1 This rupture with Sheridan deprived proceeded from a momentary indignation, Johnson of one of his most agreeable as if it were an affront to his exalted merit | resources for amusement in his lonely that a player should be awarded in the evenings; for Sheridan's well-informed, same manner with him, or was the sudden | animated, and bustling mind never sufeffect of a fit of peevishness, it was un fered conversation to stagnate; and (120 luckily said, and, indeed, cannot be justi Mrs. Sheridan was a most agreeable fied. Mr. Sheridan's pension was 170 companion to an intellectual man. She granted to him not as a player, but as a was sensible, ingenious, unassuming, yet sufferer in the cause of government, when communicative. I recollect, with satishe was manager of the Theatre Royal in faction, many pleasing hours which I Ireland, when parties ran high in 1753. passed with her under the hospitable roof And it must also be allowed that he was of her husband, who was to me a very a man of literature, and had considerably | kind friend. Her novel, entitled Memoirs improved the arts of reading and speaking of Miss Sydney Biddulph, contains an exwith distinctness and propriety.
cellent moral, while it inculcates a (130 future state of retribution; and what it
teaches is impressed upon the mind by a Johnson complained that a man who series of as deep distress as can affect disliked him repeated his sarcasm to (80 humanity, in the amiable and pious Mr. Sheridan, without telling him what heroine who goes to her grave unrelieved, followed, which was, that after a pause but resigned, and full of hope of “heaven's he added, “However, I am glad that mercy.” Johnson paid her this high Mr. Sheridan has a pension, for he is a compliment upon it:“I know not, Madam, very good man.” Sheridan could never that you have a right, upon moral prinforgive this hasty contemptuous expres ciples, to make your readers suffer so (140 sion. It rankled in his mind; and though much." I informed him of all that Johnson said, Mr. Thomas Davies the actor, who and that he would be very glad to meet | then kept a bookseller's shop in Russelhim amicably, he positively declined (90 street, Covent-garden, told me that repeated offers which I made, and once Johnson was very much his friend, and went off abruptly from a house where he came frequently to his house, where he and I were engaged to dine, because he more than once invited me to meet was told that Dr. Johnson was to be him; but by some unlucky accident or there. I have no sympathetic feeling other he was prevented from coming to with such persevering resentment. It is painful when there is a breach between Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good those who have lived together socially understanding and talents, with the adand cordially; and I wonder that there vantage of a liberal education. Though is not, in all such cases, a mutual (100 somewhat pompous, he was an entertainwish that it should be healed. I could ing companion; and his literary performperceive that Mr. Sheridan was by no ances have no inconsiderable share of means satisfied with Johnson's acknowl- merit. He was a friendly and very hosedging him to be a good man. That could pitable man. Both he and his wife (who not soothe his injured vanity. I could has been celebrated for her beauty), not but smile, at the same time that I | though upon the stage for many years, (100 was offended, to observe Sheridan in the maintained an uniform decency of charLife of Swift, which he afterwards pub-acter; and Johnson esteemed them, and lished, attempting, in the writhings of lived in as easy an intimacy with them
as with any family which he used to visit. many of your countrymen cannot help.” Mr. Davies recollected several of John This stroke stunned me a good deal; and son's remarkable sayings, and was one when we had sat down, I felt myself (220 of the best of the many imitators of his not a little embarrassed, and apprehenvoice and manner, while relating them. sive of what might come next. He then He increased my impatience more and addressed himself to Davies: “What do more to see the extraordinary man (170 you think of Garrick? He has refused me whose works I highly valued, and whose an order for the play for Miss Williams, conversation was reported to be so pe because he knows the house will be full, culiarly excellent.
and that an order would be worth three At last, on Monday the 16th of May, shillings.” Eager to take any opening when I was sitting in Mr. Davies's back to get into conversation with him, I venparlor, after having drunk tea with him tured to say, “Oh, Sir, I cannot think (230 and Mrs. Davies, Johnson unexpectedly Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to came into the shop; and Mr. Davies hav you.” “Sir, (said he, with a stern look,) ing perceived him through the glass-door Í have known David Garrick longer than in the room in which we were sitting, (180 you have done: and I know no right you advancing towards us,-he announced have to talk to me on the subject." Perhis awful approach to me, somewhat in haps I deserved this check; for it was the manner of an actor in the part of į rather presumptuous in me, an entire Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on stranger, to express any doubt of the the appearance of his father's ghost: justice of his animadversion upon his “Look, my Lord, it comes." I found old acquaintance and pupil. I now (240 that I had a very perfect idea of Johnson's | felt myself much mortified, and began to figure, from the portrait of him painted think that the hope which I had long by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had indulged of obtaining his acquaintance published his Dictionary, in the (190 was blasted. And, in truth, had not attitude of sitting in his easy chair in | my ardor been uncommonly strong, and deep meditation; which was the first pic my resolution uncommonly persevering, ture his friend did for him, which Sir so rough a reception might have deterred Joshua very kindly presented to me, me for ever from making any further and from which an engraving has been attempts. Fortunately, however, I remade for this work. Mr. Davies men mained upon the field not wholly dis- (250 tioned my name, and respectfully intro comfited; and was soon rewarded by duced me to him. I was much agitated; | hearing some of his conversation. and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I (200 said to Davies, “Don't tell where I come I was highly pleased with the extraorfrom.”-“From Scotland,” cried Davies, | dinary vigor of his conversation, and re
ishly. “Mr. Johnson (said I), I do gretted that I was drawn away from it indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot by an engagement at another place. I help it.” I am willing to flatter myself | had, for a part of the evening, been left that I meant this as light pleasantry to l alone with him, and had ventured to soothe and conciliate him, and not as an make an observation now and then, humiliating abasement at the expense of which he received very civilly; so 1260 my country. But however that might | that I was satisfied that though there be, this speech was somewhat un- (210 was a roughness in his manner, there was lucky; for with that quickness of wit for no ill-nature in his disposition. Davies which he was so remarkable, he seized followed me to the door, and when I the expression “come from Scotland," complained to him a little of the hard which I used in the sense of being of that blows which the great man had given country; and, as if I had said that I had me, he kindly took upon him to console come away from it, or left it, retorted, | me by saying, “Don't be uneasy. I can "That, Sir, I find, is what a very great see he likes you very well.”
A few days afterwards I called on [270 suit of clothes looked very rusty; he had Davies, and asked him if he thought I | on a little old shrivelled unpowdered wig, might take the liberty of waiting on Mr. which was too small for his head; his shirtJohnson at his chambers in the Temple. neck and knees of his breeches were loose; He said I certainly might, and that Mr. his black worsted stockings ill drawn up; Johnson would take it as a compliment. and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by So on Tuesday the 24th of May, after way of slippers. But all these slovenly (330 having been enlivened by the witty sallies particularities were forgotten the moment of Messieurs Thornton, Wilkes, Churchill, that he began to talk. Some gentlemen, and Lloyd, with whom I had passed the whom I do not recollect, were sitting morning, I boldly repaired to Johnson. (280 | with him; and when they went away, I His chambers were on the first floor of also rose; but he said to me, “Nay, don't No. I, Inner-Temple-lane, and I entered go.”—“Sir (said I), I am afraid that I them with an impression given me by the intrude upon you. It is benevolent to Reverend Dr. Blair, of Edinburgh, who allow me to sit and hear you.” He seemed had been introduced to him not long pleased with this compliment, which I before, and described his having "found sincerely paid him, and answered, 1340 the Giant in his den;" an expression | “Sir, I am obliged to any man who which, when I came to be pretty well | visits me.”—I have preserved the folacquainted with Johnson, I repeated to lowing short minute of what passed this him, and he was diverted at this pic- (290 day: turesque account of himself. Dr. Blair | “Madness frequently discovers itself had been presented to him by Dr. James | merely by unnecessary deviation from Fordyce. At this time the controversy the usual modes of the world. My poor concerning the pieces published by Mr. friend Smart showed the disturbance of · James Macpherson, as translations of his mind, by falling upon his knees, and Ossian, was at its height. Johnson had saying his prayers in the street, or in (350 all along denied their authenticity; and, any other unusual place. Now although, what was still more provoking to their rationally speaking, it is greater madness admirers, maintained that they had no not to pray at all, than to pray as Smart merit. The subject having been in- (300 did, I am afraid there are so many who troduced by Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Blair, do not pray, that their understanding is relying on the internal evidence of their not called in question.” antiquity, asked Dr. Johnson whether he Concerning this unfortunate poet, Christhought any man of a modern age could topher Smart, who was confined in a madhave written such poems? Johnson re house, he had, at another time, the followplied, “Yes, Sir; many men, many women, ing conversation with Dr. Burney:- 1360 and many children.” Johnson at this BURNEY. “How does poor Smart do, time, did not know that Dr. Blair had Sir; is he likely to recover?” JOHNSON. just published a Dissertation, not only “It seems as if his mind had ceased to defending their authenticity, but seri- (310 struggle with the disease; for he grows ously ranking them with the poems of fat upon it.” BURNEY. “Perhaps, Sir, Homer and Virgil; and when he was that may be from want of exercise." afterwards informed of this circumstance, JOHNSON. “No, Sir; he has partly as he expressed some displeasure at Dr. much exercise as he used to have, for he Fordyce's having suggested the topic, digs in the garden. Indeed, before his and said, “I am not sorry that they got confinement, he used for exercise to (370 thus much for their pains. Sir, it was walk to the alehouse; but he was carried like leading one to talk of a book, when back again.. I did not think he ought to the author is concealed behind the door.” be shut up. His infirmities were not
He received me very courteously: (320 noxious to society. He insisted on people but, it must be confessed, that his apart praying with him; and I'd as lief pray ment, and furniture, and morning dress, with Kit Smart as any one else. Another were sufficiently uncouth. His brown charge was, that he did not love clean linen; and I have no passion for it.” | when it is considered that the acquaintance Johnson continued. “Mankind have a of Dr. Johnson was to me a most valuable great aversion to intellectual labor; (380 acquisition, and laid the foundation of but even supposing knowledge to be easily whatever instruction and entertainment attainable, more people would be content | they may receive from my collections to be ignorant than would take even a concerning the great subject of the work little trouble to acquire it.
which they are now perusing. "The morality of an action depends on I did not visit him again till Monday, the motive from which we act. If I fling | June 13, at which time I recollect (440 half a crown to a beggar with intention no part of his conversation, except that to break his head, and he picks it up and | when I told him I had been to see Johnson buys victuals with it, the physical effect ride upon three horses, he said, “Such a is good; but, with respect to me, the [390 man, Sir, should be encouraged; for his action is very wrong. So, religious exer performances show the extent of the cises, if not performed with an intention human power in one instance, and thus to please God, avail us nothing. As our tend to raise our opinion of the faculties of Savior says of those who perform them man. He shows what may be attained from other motives, Verily they have by persevering application; so that every their reward.'
man may hope, that by giving as (450 "The Christian religion has very strong much application, although perhaps he evidences. It, indeed, appears in some | may never ride three horses at a time, degree strange to reason; but in History or dance upon a wire, yet he may be we have undoubted facts, against [400 equally expert in whatever profession he which, in reasoning a priori, we have has chosen to pursue.” more arguments than we have for them; He again shook me by the hand at but then, testimony has great weight, and parting, and asked me why I did not casts the balance." ...
come oftener to him. Trusting that I Talking of Garrick, he said, “He is was now in his good graces, I answered, the first man in the world for sprightly that he had not given me much [460 conversation."
encouragement, and reminded him of When I rose a second time, he again the check I had received from him at pressed me to stay, which I did.
our first interview. “Poh, poh! (said He told me, that he generally went (410 he, with a complacent smile,) never abroad at four in the afternoon, and sel-mind these things. Come to me as dom came home till two in the morning. often as you can. I shall be glad to see I took the liberty to ask if he did not think you." it wrong to live thus, and not make more · I had learned that his place of frequent use of his great talents. He owned it was resort was the Mitre tavern in Fleeta bad habit. On reviewing, at the dis- street, where he loved to sit up late, [470 tance of many years, my journal of this and I begged I might be allowed to pass period, I wonder how, at my first visit, I | an evening with him there soon, which ventured to talk to him so freely, and he promised I should. A few days afterthat he bore it with so much indul- [420 wards I met him near Temple-bar, about gence.
one o'clock in the morning, and asked Before we parted, he was so good as him if he would then go to the Mitre. to promise to favor me with his company “Sir (said he), it is too late; they won't one evening at my lodgings: and, as I took let us in. But I'll go with you another my leave, shook me cordially by the hand night with all my heart." It is almost needless to add, that I felt | A revolution of some importance (480 no little elation at having now so happily in my plan of life had just taken place; established an acquaintance of which I for instead of procuring a commission in had been so long ambitious.
the foot-guards, which was my own inMy readers will, I trust, excuse me (430 clination, I had, in compliance with my for being thus minutely circumstantial, | father's wishes, agreed to study the law,
shall I call it. f Londonurday, June
and was soon to set out for Utrecht, to high-church sound of the MITRE,- (540 hear the lectures of an excellent Civilian | the figure and manner of the celebrated in that University, and then to proceed | SAMUEL JOHNSON,—the extraordinary on my travels. Though very desirous of power and precision of his conversation, obtaining Dr. Johnson's advice and [490 and the pride arising from finding myself instructions on the mode of pursuing my admitted as his companion, produced a studies, I was at this time so occupied, variety of sensations, and a pleasing eleshall I call it? or so dissipated, by the vation of mind beyond what I had ever amusements of London, that our next before experienced. I find in my Journal meeting was not till Saturday, June 25, the following minute of our conversation, when happening to dine at Clifton's which, though it will give but a very 1550 eating-house, in Butcher-row, I was sur- faint notion of what passed, is, in some prised to perceive Johnson come in and degree a valuable record; and it will be take his seat at another table. The curious in this view, as showing how mode of dining, or rather being fed, (500 habitual to his mind were some opinions at such houses in London, is well known which appear in his works. to many to be particularly unsocial, as “Colley Cibber, Sir, was by no means a there is no Ordinary, or united company, blockhead; but by arrogating to himself but each person has his own mess, and is too much, he was in danger of losing that under no obligation to hold any inter- degree of estimation to which he was course with any one. A liberal and full entitled. His friends gave out that [560 minded man, however, who loves to talk, he intended his birth-day Odes should be will break through this churlish and un- bad: but that was not the case, Sir; for social restraint. Johnson and an Irish he kept them many months by him, and gentleman got into a dispute concern- [510 a few years before he died he showed me ing the cause of some part of mankind one of them, with great solicitude to being black. “Why, Sir" (said Johnson), render it as perfect as might be, and I it has been accounted for in three ways: made some corrections, to which he was either by supposing that they are the pos not very willing to submit. I remember terity of Ham, who was cursed; or that the following couplet in allusion to the God at first created two kinds of men, King and himself: one black and another white; or that by
'Perched on the eagle's soaring wing, the heat of the sun the skin is scorched, and so acquires a sooty hue. This matter
The lowly linnet loves to sing.' has been much canvassed among (520 Sir, he had heard something of the fabunaturalists, but has never been brought | lous tale of the wren sitting upon the to any certain issue.” What the Irish eagle's wing, and he had applied it to a man said is totally obliterated from my linnet. Cibber's familiar style, however, mind; but I remember that he became was better than that which Whitehead very warm and intemperate in his ex has assumed. Grand nonsense is insuppressions: upon which Johnson rose, and portable. Whitehead is but a little man quietly walked away. When he had to inscribe verses to players.” [580 retired, his antagonist took his revenge, I did not presume to controvert this as he thought, by saying, “He has a most censure, which was tinctured with his ungainly figure, and an affectation (530 prejudice against players, but I could not of pomposity, unworthy of a man of help thinking that a dramatic poet might genius."
with propriety pay a compliment to an Johnson had not observed that I was eminent performer, as Whitehead has in the room. I followed him, however, very happily done in his verses to Mr. and he agreed to meet me in the evening | Garrick. at the Mitre. I called on him, and we “Sir, I do not think Gray a first-rate went thither at nine. We had a good poet. He has not a bold imagination, 1590 supper, and port wine, of which he then nor much command of words. The obsometimes drank a bottle. The orthodox / scurity in which he has involved himself