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English, yet I much doubt if, with an oppositionist, for he preferred out that spur, he would ever have to talk against the tide. He would put his Pegasus into action ; no, indubitably have been no member if he had been rich, the world of the Whig Club, no partisan of would have been poorer than it is Wilkes, no friend of Hume, no by the loss of all the treasures of believer in Macpherson ; he would his genius and the contributions have put up prayers for early risof his pen.
ing, and laid in bed all day, and
with the most active resolutions Who will say that Johnson him, possible been the most indolent self would have been such a cham- mortal living. He was a good pion in literature, such a front, man by nature, a great man by rank soldier in the fields of fame, genius ; we are now to inquire if he had not been pressed into the what he was by compulsion. service, and driven on to glory Johnson's first style was natu. with the bayonet of sharp neces- rally energetick, his middle style sity pointed at his back ? If for was turgid to a fault, his latter tune had turned him into a field style was softened down and har. of clover, he would have laid monized into periods, more tunedown and rolled in it. The mere ful and more intelligible. His ex. manual labour of writing would ecution was rapid, yet his mind not have allowed his lassitude and was not easily provoked into exlove of ease to have taken the pen ertion ; the variety we find in his out of the inkhorn, unless the writings was not the variety of cravings of hunger had reminded choice arising from the impulse him that he must fill the sheet be- of his proper genius, but tasks im. fore he saw the table-cloth. He posed upon him by the dealers in might indeed have knocked down ink, and contracts on his part subOsbourne for a blockhead, but he mitted to in satisfaction of the would not have knocked him down pressing calls of hungry want ; with a folio of his own writing for, painful as it is to relate, I have He would perhaps have been the heard that illustrious scholar as, dictator of a club, and wherever sert (and he never varied from the he sate down to conversation, there truth of fact) that he subsisted must have been that splash of himself for a considerable space strong, bold thought about him, of time upon the scanty pittance that we might seill have had a col- of four-pence half-penny per day. lectanea after his death ; but of How melancholy to reflect that his prose I guess not much, of works vast trunk and stimulating appeof labour none, of fancy perhaps tite were to be supported by what something more, especially of po- will barely feed the weaned inetry, which under favour I con- fant ! Less, much less, than masceive was not his tower of strength. ter Betty has earned in one night, I think we should have had his would have cheered the mighty Rasselas at all events, for he was mind, and maintained the athletlikely enough to have written at ick body of Samuel Johnson in Voltaire, and brought the question comfort and abundance for a to the test, if infidelity is any aid twelvemonth. Alas! I am not to wit. An orator he must have fit to to paint his character : nor been ; not improbably a parlia- is there need of it ; Etiam mortuus mentarian, and, if such, certainly loguitur ; Every man, who can buy a book, has bought a Boswell ; in perfect good humour, he added Johnson is known to all the read. "Sir, I should have released the ing world. I also knew him well, lady from any further trouble, if respected him highly, loved him it had not been for your remark ; sincerely: it was never my chance but you have reminded me that I to see him in those moments of, want one of the dozen, and I must moroseness and ill humour, which request Mrs. Cumberland to round are imputed to him, perhaps with up my number" When he truth, for who would slander him? saw the readiness and complacenBut I am not warranted by any ex- cy, with which my wife obeyed perience of those humours to speak his call, he turned a kind and of him otherwise than of a friend, cheerful look upon her, and said who always met me with kindness, “ Madam, I must tell you for your and from whom I never separated comfort, you have escaped much without regret. When I sought better than a certain lady did a. his company he had no capricious while ago, upon whose patience I excuses for withholding it, but intruded greatly, more than I have lent himself to every invitation done on yours ; but the lady askwith cordiality, and brought good ed me for no other purpose but humour with him, that gave life to make a Zany of me, and set me to the circle he was in. He pre- gabbling to a parcel of people I sented himself always in his fash- knew nothing of ; so, madam, I ion of apparel ; a brown coat with had my revenge of her : for I metal buttons, black waistcoat and swallowed five and twenty cups of worsted stockings, with a flowing her tea, and did not treat her with bob wig, was the style of his as many words-" I can only wardrobe, but they were in per- say my wife would have made tea fectly good trim, and with the la- for him as long as the New River dies, which he generally met, he could have supplied her with water. had nothing of the slovenly phi. It was on such occasions he was losopher about him ; he fed bear to be seen in his happiest motily, but not voraciously, and was ments, when animated by the extremely courteous in his com- cheering attention of friends whom mendations of any dish that pleas- he liked, he would give full scope ed his palate ; he suffered his to those talents for narration, in next neighbour to squeeze the which I verily think he was unriChina oranges into his wine glass valled, both in the brilliancy of his after dinner, which else perchance wit, the flow of his humour, and had gone aside, and trickled into the energy of his language. Anhis shoes, for the good man had ecdotes of times past, scenes of neither straight sight nor steady his own life, and characters of hunerves.
mourists, enthusiasts, crack-brainAt the tea-table he had consid- ed projectors, and a variety of erable demands upon his favourite strange beings, that he had chanbeverage, and I remember when ced upon, when detailed by him Sir Joshua Reynolds, at my house, at length, and garnished with those reminded him that he had drank episodical remarks, sometimes eleven cups, he replied Sir, I comick, sometimes grave, which did not count your glasses of wine, he would throw in with infinite why should you number up my fertility of fancy, were a treat, cups of tea ?” And then laughing which, though not always to be purchased by five and twenty cups and applauded in its manuscript by of tea, I have often had the happi- Edmund Burke, and the circle in ness to enjov for less than half the which he then lived and moved : number. He was easily led into under such patronage it came with topicks ; it was not easy to turn those testimonials to the director him from them ; but who would of Covent Garden theatre, as could wish it? If a man wanted to shew not fail to open all the avenues to himself off, by getting up and rid- the stage, and bespeak all the faing upon him, he was sure to run tour and attention from the perrestive and kick him off: you formers and the publick, that the might as safely have backed Buce- applauding voice of him, whose phalus, before Alexander had luno applause was fame itself, could ged him. Neither did he always give it. This comedy has enough like to be over-fondled; when a to justify the good opinion of its certain gentleman out-acted his literary patron, and secure its aupart in this way, he is said to have thor against any loss of reputation, demanded of him_ What pro- for it has the stamp of a man of vokes your risibility, Sir ? Have talents upon it, though its popuI said any thing that you under- larity with the audience did not stand ?-Then I ask pardon of the quite keep pace with the expectarest of the company-” But this tions, that were grounded on the is Henderson's anecdote of him, fiat it had antecedently been honand I won't swear he did not make oured with. It was a first effort it himself. The following apology, however, and did not discourage however, I myself drew from him, its ingenious author from invok. when speaking of his tour, I observ- ing his Muse a second time. It ed to him upon some passages as was now, whilst his labours were rather too sharp upon a country in projection, that I first met him and people, who had entertained at the British Coffee-house, as I him so handsomely- Do you have already related somewhat think so, Cumbey ?” he replied, out of place. He dined with us as 6 Then I give you leave to say, and a visitor, introduced as I think by you may quote me for it, that there sir Joshua Reynolds, and we held are more gentlemen in Scotland a consultation upon the naming than there are shoes."
of his comedy, which some of the company had read, and which he
detailed to the rest after his manOliver Goldsmith began at this ner with a great deal of good hutime to write for the stage, and it mour. Somebody suggested is to be lamented that he did not She Stoops to Conquer—and that begin at an earlier period of life to title was agreed upon. When I turn bis genius to dramatick com- perceived an embarrassment in positions, and much more to be his manner towards me, which I lamented, that, after he had begun, could readily account for, I lost no the succeeding period of his life time to put him at his ease, and I was so soon cut off. There is no flatter myself I was successful. doubt but his genius, when more As my heart was ever warm tofamiliarised to the business, would wards my contemporaries, I did have inspired him to accomplish not counterfeit, but really felt a great things. His first comedy of cordial interest in his behalf, and I The Good-natured Man was read had soon the pleasure to perceive
that he credited me for my sin. would have done any day, or every cerity . You and I," said he, day of his life. In the mean time “ have very different motives for we did not forget our duty, and resorting to the stage. I write though we had a better comedy for money, and care little about going, in which Johnson was chief fame." I was touched by this actor, we betook ourselves in good melancholy confession, and from time to our separate and allotted that moment busied myself assi. posts, and waited the awful drawing duously amongst all my connex- up of the curtain. As our stations ions in his cause. The whole were pre-concerted, so were our company pledged themselves to signals for plaudits arranged and the support of the ingenuous poet, determined upon in a manner, that and faithfully kept their promise gave every one his cue where to to him. In fact he needed all look for them, and how to follow that could be done for him, as Mr. them up. Colman, then manager of Covent We had amongst us a very Garden theatre, protested against worthy and efficient member, long the comedy, when as yet he had since lost to his friends and the not struck upon a name for it. world at large, Adam Drummond, Johnson at length stood forth in of amiable memory, who was giftall his terrours as champion for the ed by nature with the most sonopiece, and backed by us his clients rous, and at the same time the and retainers demanded a fair most contagious, laugh, that ever trial. Colman again protested, echoed from the human lungs. but, with that salvo for his own The neighing of the horse of the reputation, liberally lent his stage son of Hystaspes was a whisper to to one of the most eccentrick pro- it ; the whole thunder of the theaductions that ever found its way to tre could not drown it. This kind it, and She Stoops to Conquer was and ingenuous friend fairly foreput into rehearsal.
warned us that he knew no more We were not over-sanguine of when to give his fire, than the cansuccess, but perfectly determined non did that was planted on a batto struggle hard for our author : tery. He desired therefore to have we accordingly assembled our a flapper at his elbow, and I had strength at the Shakspeare Tavern the honour to be deputed to that in a considerable body for an ear office. I planted him in an upper ly dinner, where Samuel Johnson box, pretty nearly over the stages took the chair at the head of a in full view of the pit and galleries, long table, and was the life and and perfectly well situated to give soul of the corps : the poet took the echo all its play through the post silently by his side with the hollows and recesses of the theatre. Burkes, sir Joshua Reynolds, Fitz. The success of our maneuvres herbert, Caleb Whitefoord and a was complete. All eyes were phalanx of North-British pre upon Johnson, who sate in a front determined applauders, under the row of a side box, and when he banner of Major Mills, all good laughed every body thought themmen and true. Our illustrious selves warranted to roar. In the president was in inimitable glee, mean time my friend followed sig. and poor Goldsmith that day took nals with a rattle so irresistibly all his raillery as patiently and comick, that, when he had repeatcomplacently as my friend Boswell ed it several times, the attention
Vol. III. No. 7. 2W
of the spectators was so engrossed the first in jest, as he proved to be by his person and performances, in reality, that we committed to that the progress of the play seem- the grave. The dean also gave ed likely to become a secondary him an epitaph, and sir Joshua ilobject, and I found it prudent to luminated the dean's verses with a insinuate to him that he might halt sketch of his bust in pen and ink, his musick without any prejudice inimitably caricatured. Neither to the author ; but alas, it was Johnson nor Burke wrote any thing, now too late to rein him in; he and when I perceived Oliver was had laughed upon my signal where rather sore, and seemed to watch he found no joke, and now unluck me with that kind of attention, ily he fancied that he found a joke which indicated his expectation of in almost every thing that was something in the same kind of bursaid ; so that nothing in nature lesque as their's, I thought it time could be more mal-a-propos than to press the joke no further, and some of his bursts every now and wrote a few couplets at a side-table, then were. These were dangerous which when I had finished and was moments, for the pit began to take called upon by the company to ex. umbrage ; but we carried our play hibit, Goldsmith with much agitathrough, and triumphed not only tion besought me to spare him, over Colman's judgment, but our and I was about to tear thein,when own.
Johnson wrested them out of my As the life of poor Oliver Gold- hand, and in a loud voice read smith was now fast approaching them at the table. I have now lost to its period, I concinde my ac- all recollection of them, and in fact count of him with gratitude for the they were little worth rememberepitaph he bestowed on me in his ing ; but as they were serious and poem callect Retaliation. It was complimentary, the effect they had upon a proposal started by Edmund upenGoldsmith was the more pleasBurke, that a party of friends who ing for being so entirely unexpected. had dined together at sir Joshua The concluding line, which is the Reynolds's and my house, should only one I can call to mind, was meet at the St. James's Coffee House, which accordingly took
“All mourn the poet, I lament the man," place, and was occasionally repeat. This I recollect, because he reed with much festivity and good peated it several times, and seemfellowship. Dr. Bernard, Dean of ed much gratified by it. At our Derry, a very anriable and old next meeting he produced his epi. friend of mine, Dr. Douglas, since taphs as they stand in the little Bishop of Salisbury, Johnson, Da- posthumous poem above mentionvid Garrick, sir Joshua Reynolds, ed, and this was the last time he ever Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund and enjoyed the company of his friends. Richard Burke, Hickcy, with two As he had served up the comor three others constituted our pany under the similitude of vaparty. At one of these meetings rious sorts of meat, I had in the an idea was suggested of extempo. mean time figured them under rary epitaphs upon the parties that of liquors, which little poem present ; pen and ink were called I rather think was printed, but of for, and Garrick off hand wrote an this Lam not sure. Goldsmith epitaph with a good deal of humour sickened and died, and we had one upon poor Goldsmith, who was concluding meeting at my house,