Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Aetat. 71.] Mr. Longley, Recorder of Rochester.

9

used to profess an anxious wish that there should be'. There might, indeed, be something in the contemptuous severity as to the merit of acting, which his old preceptor nourished in himself, that would mortify Garrick after the great applause which he received from the audience. For though Johnson said of him, “Sir, a man who has a nation to admire him every night, may well be expected to be somewhat elated’;" yet he would treat theatrical matters with a ludicrous slight. He mentioned one evening, “I met David coming off the stage, drest in a woman's ridinghood, when he acted in The Wonder*; I came full upon him, and I believe he was not pleased.

• Once he asked Tom Davies, whom he saw drest in a fine suit of clothes, “ And what art thou to-night?” Tom answered, “ The Thane of Ross';" (which it will be recollected is a very inconsiderable character.) “O bravc !" said Johnson.'

*Of Mr. Longley, at Rochester, a gentleman of very considerable learning, whom Dr. Johnson met there, he said, “My heart warms towards him. I was surprised to find in him such a nice acquaintance with the metre in the learned languages; though I was somewhat mortified that I had it not so much to myself, as I should have thought."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3

· In a letter written by Johnson to a friend in 1742-43, he says :'I never see Garrick.' MALONE. ? See ante, ii. 260.

The Wonder! A Woman keeps a Secret, by Mrs. Centlivre. Acted at Drury Lane in 1714. Revived by Garrick in 1757. Reed's Biog. Dram. iii. 420.

4 In Macbeth.

• Mr. Longley was Recorder of Rochester, and father of Archbishop Longley. To the kindness of his grand-daughter, Mrs. Newton Smart, I owe the following extract from his manuscript Autobiography :‘Dr. Johnson and General Paoli came down to visit Mr. Langton, and I was asked to meet them, when the conversation took place mentioned by Boswell, in which Johnson gave me more credit for knowledge of the Greek metres than I deserved. There was some questic about anapæstics, concerning which I happened to remember what Foster used to tell us at Eton, that the whole line to the Basis

• Talking

IO

Spence and Pope.

[A.D. 1780.

*Talking of the minuteness with which people will record the sayings of eminent persons, a story was told, that when Pope was on a visit to Spence at Oxford, as they looked from the window they saw a Gentleman Commoner, who was just come in from riding, amusing himself with whipping at a post. Pope took occasion to say, “That young gentleman seems to have little to do.” Mr. Beauclerk observed, “ Then, to be sure, Spence turned round and wrote that down;" and went on to say to Dr. Johnson, “ Pope, Sir, would have said the same of you, if he had seen you distilling?” JOHNSON. “Sir, if Pope had told me of my distilling, I would have told him of his grotto®.”.

Anapæstica was considered but as one verse, however divided in the printing, and consequently the syllables at the end of each line were not common, as in other metres. This observation was new to Johnson, and struck him. Had he examined me farther, I fear he would have found me ignorant. Langton was a very good Greek scholar, much superior to Johnson, to whom nevertheless he paid profound deference, sometimes indeed I thought more than he deserved. The next day I dined at Langton's with Johnson, I remember Lady Rothes [Langton's wife] spoke of the advantage children now derived from the little books published purposely for their instruction. Johnson controverted it, asserting that at an early age it was better to gratify curiosity with wonders than to attempt planting truth, before the mind was prepared to receive it, and that therefore, Jack the GiantKiller, Parisonus and Parismenus, and The Scven Champions of Christendom were fitter for them than Mrs. Barbauld and Mrs. Trimmer.' Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 16) says :— Dr. Johnson used to condemn me for putting Newbery's books into children's hands. “Babies do not want,” said he,“ to hear about babies; they like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little minds.” When I would urge the numerous editions of Tommy Prudent or Goody Two Shoes ;“ Remember always,” said he, “that the parents buy the books, and that the children never read them."' For Johnson's visit to Rochester, see post, July, 1783.

· See post, beginning of 1781, after The Life of Swift, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 15. ? See ante, under Sept. 9, 1779.

Johnson wrote of this grotto (Works, viii. 270) :— It may be frequently remarked of the studious and speculative that they are proud of trifles, and that their amusements seem frivolous and childish.'

He

[ocr errors]

Aetat. 71.]

Idleness.

II

[ocr errors]

"He would allow no settled indulgence of idleness upon principle, and always repelled every attempt to urge excuses for it. A friend one day suggested, that it was not wholesome to study soon after dinner. JOHNSON. “Ah, Sir, don't give way to such a fancy. At one time of my life I had taken it into my head that it was not wholesome to study between breakfast and dinner!.""

'Mr. Beauclerk one day repeated to Dr. Johnson Pope's lines,

“Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
Ten metropolitans in preaching well :" ?

Then asked the Doctor, “Why did Pope say this?" JOHN-
SON. “Sir, he hoped it would vex somebody."

Dr. Goldsmith, upon occasion of Mrs. Lennox's bringing out a play', said to Dr. Johnson at the CLUB, that a

[ocr errors]

2

See ante, i. 384.

Epilogue to the Satires, i. 131. Dr. James Foster, the Nonconformist preacher. Johnson mentions'the reputation which he had gained by his proper delivery. Works, viii. 384. In The Conversations of Northcote, p. 88, it is stated that “ Foster first became popular from the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke stopping in the porch of his chapel in the Old Jewry out of a shower of rain : and thinking he might as well hear what was going on he went in, and was so well pleased that he sent all the great folks to hear him, and he was run after as much as Irving has been in our time.' Dr. T. Campbell (Diary, p. 34) recorded in 1775, that when Mrs. Thrale quoted something from Foster's Sermons, Johnson flew in a passion, and said that Foster was a man of mean ability, and of no original thinking. Gibbon (111isc. Works, v. 300) wrote of Foster :-:Wonderful! a divine preferring reason to faith, and more afraid of vice than of heresy.'

• It is believed to have been her play of The Sister, brought out in 1769. “The audience expressed their disapprobation of it with so much appearance of prejudice that she would not suffer an attempt to exhibit it a second time.' Gent. Mag. xxxix. 199. It is strange, however, if Goldsmith was asked to hiss a play for which he wrote the epilogue. Goldsmith's Asisc. Works, ii. 80. Johnson wrote on Oct. 28, 1779 (Piozzi Letters, ii. 72):—C— L- accuses **** of making a party against her play. I always hissed away the charge, supposing him a man of honour; but I shall now defend him with less

person

[ocr errors]

I 2

Johnson's affection for Beauclerk.

[A.D. 1780.

person had advised him to go and hiss it, because she had attacked Shakspeare in her book called Shakspeare Illustrated'. JOHNSON. “And did not you tell him he was a rascal”?" GOLDSMITH. “No, Sir, I did not. Perhaps he might not mean what he said." JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir, if he lied, it is a different thing.” Colman slily said, (but it is believed Dr. Johnson did not hear him,) “ Then the proper expression should have been,-Sir, if you don't lie, you're a rascal."

* His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his death, Johnson said, (with a voice faultering with emotion,) “Sir, I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk.”'

One night at the CLUB he produced a translation of an Epitaph which Lord Elibank had written in English, for his Lady, and requested of Johnson to turn into Latin for him. Having read Domina de North et Gray, he said to Dyer, "You see, Sir, what barbarisms we are compelled to make use of, when modern titles are to be specifically mentioned in Latin inscriptions." When he had read it once aloud, and there had been a general approbation expressed by the company, he addressed himself to Mr. Dyer in particular, and said, “Sir, I beg to have your judgement, for I know

6

confidence.' Baretti, in a marginal note, says that C- L- is • Charlotte Lennox. Perhaps **** stands for Cumberland. Miss Burney said that “Mr. Cumberland is notorious for hating and envying and spiting all authors in the dramatic line.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 272.

See ante, i. 296. • In The Rambler, No. 195, Johnson describes rascals such as this man. “They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity and denunciations against a man whose name they had never heard, and a performance which they could not understand; for they were resolved to judge for themselves, and would not suffer the town to be imposed upon by scribblers. In the pit they exerted themselves with great spirit and vivacity; called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked loudly at intervals of Shakespeare and Jonson,' &c. s See ante, ii. 537.

your

Aetat. 71.]

Mr. Samuel Dyer.

13

your nicety'.” Dyer then very properly desired to read it over again; which having done, he pointed out an incongruity in one of the sentences. Johnson immediately assented to the observation, and said, “Sir, this is owing to an alteration of a part of the sentence, from the form in which I had first written it; and I believe, Sir, you may have remarked, that the making a partial change, without a due regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent cause of errour in composition.

‘Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, authour of a treatise on Agriculture”; and said of him, “Sir, of the objects which the Society of Arts have chiefly in view, the chymical effects of bodies operating upon other bodies, he knows more than almost any man.” Johnson, in order to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of this Society, paid up an arrear which had run on for two years. On this occasion he mentioned a circumstance as characteristick

| Dr. Percy told Malone ‘that they all at the Club had such a high opinion of Mr. Dyer's knowledge and respect for his judgment as to appeal to him constantly, and that his sentence was final.' Malone adds that ‘he was so modest and reserved, that he frequently sat silent in company for an hour, and seldom spoke unless appealed to. Goldsmith, who used to rattle away upon all subjects, had been talking somewhat loosely relative to music. Some one wished for Mr. Dyer's opinion, which he gave with his usual strength and accuracy. • Why,” said Goldsmith, turning round to Dyer, whom he had scarcely noticed before," you seem to know a good deal of this matter.”

If I had not,” replied Dyer, “I should not, in this company, have said a word upon the subject.

Burke described him as a man of profound and general erudition; his sagacity and judgment were fully equal to the extent of his learning. Prior's Malone, pp. 419, 424. Malone in his Life of Dryden, p. 181, says that Dyer was Junius. Johnson speaks of him as “the late learned Mr. Dyer.' Works, viii. 385. Had he been alive he was to have been the professor of mathematics in the imaginary college at St. Andrews. Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25. Many years after his death, Johnson bought his portrait to hang in a little room that he was fitting up with prints.' Croker's Boswell, p. 639.

* Memoirs of Agriculture and other Economical Arts, 3 vols., by Robert Dossie, London, 1768–82.

of

« AnteriorContinuar »