« AnteriorContinuar »
said of it, told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. “Nay (said Johnson), I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David.”
Johnson on some occasion observed, “ Garrick's conversation is gay and grotesque. It is a dish of all sorts, but all good things. There is no solid meat in it; there is a want of sentiment in it. Not but that he has sentiment sometimes, and sentiment too very powerful and very pleasing; but it has not its full proportion in his conversation.”
Mr. B. complained that he had not mentioned Garrick in bis Preface to Shakspeare; and asked him if he did not admire him.-J. “ Yes, as 'a poor player, who frets and struts his hour upon the stage'-as a shadow."--B. “ But has he not brought Shakspeare into notice?"-J " Sir, to allow that would be to lampoon the age. Many of Shakspeare's plays are the worse for being acted, Macbeth, for instance."-B. Sir, is nothing gained by decoration and action? Indeed, I do wish that you had mentioned Gar. rick."-J. “My dear Sir, had I mentioned biu. I must have mentioned many more: Mrs. Prit. chard, Mrs. Cibber-nay, and Mr. Cibber too; he too altered Shakspeare."-B.“ You have read his
apology, Sir?"-J.“ Yes, it is very entertaining. But as for Cibber himself, taking from his conversation all that he ought not to have said, he
a poor creature. I remember when he brought me one of his Odes to have my opinion of it, I could not bear such nonsense, and would not let him read it to the end ; so little respect had I for that great man! (laughing). Yet I remember Richardson wondering that I could treat him with familiarity."
Garrick (he observed) does not play the part of Archer in 'The Beaux Stratagem' well. The gentleman should break out through the footman, which is not the case as he does it.”
Mr. Boswell, dining with Johnson at Mr. Beauclerk's one day with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Jones (afterwards Sir William), Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise, and Dr. Higgins, me.itioned that Mr. Wilkes bad attacked Garrick to him, as a man who had no friend. JOHNSON. “ I believe he is right, Sir. Os pinos ou pinos.-He has friends, but no friend. Garrick was so dif. fused, he had no man to whom he wished to un. bosom himself. He found people always ready to applaud him, and that always for the same thing; so he saw life with great uniformity.” Boswell.“ Garrick did not need a friend, as he got from every body all he wanted. What is a friend? One who supports you, and comforts
while others do not. Friendship, you know, Sir, is the cordial drop,' ito make the nauseous draught of life go down;' but if the draught be not nauseous, if it be all sweet, there is no occasion for that drop.”—JOHNSON.
Many men would not be content to live so. I hope I should not. They would wish to have an intimate friend, with whom they might compare minds, and cherish private virtues.” One of the company mentioned Lord Chesterfield, as a man who had no friend.-J.
66 There were more materials to make friendship in Garrick, had he not been so diffused.”—B. “ Garrick was pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf. Lord Chesterfield was tinsel.”—J. “ Garrick was a very good man, the cheerfullest man of his age; a decent liver in a profession which is supposed to give indulgence to licentiousness; and a man who gave away freely money acquired by himself. He began the world with a great hunger for money; the son of a half-pay officer, bred in a. family whose study was to make four-pence do as much as others made four-pence half-penny do; but, when he had got money, he was very liberal." Mr. Boswell animadverted on his. . eulogy on Garrick, in his “Lives of the Poets.' “ You say, Sir, his death eclipsed the gaiety of nations.”—J. “ I could not have said more nor less. It is the truth; eclipsed, not extinguished; and his death did eclipse; it was like a storm."
B." But why nations? Did his gaiety extend farther than his own nation?"-J. “Why, Sir, some exaggeration must be allowed. Besides, nations
be said if we allow the Scotch to be a nation, and to have gaiety, which they have not. You are an exception though. Come, gentlemen, let us candidly admit that there is one Scotchman who is cheerful.”-BEAUCLERK. “ But he is a very unnatural Scotchman.” I however (says Mr. B.) continued to think the compliment to Garrick hyperbolically untrue. His acting had ceased some time before his death; at any rate he had acted in Ireland but a short time, at an early period of his life, and never in Scotland. I objected also to what ap. pears an anticlimax of praise, when contrasted with the preceding panegyric—and diminished the public stock of harmless pleasure! “Is not harmless pleasure very tame?"-J. “Nay, Sir, harmless pleasure is the highest praise. Pleasure is a word of dubious import; pleasure is in general dangerous and pernicious to virtue; to be able therefore to furnish Pleasure that is harmless, pleasure pure and unalloyed, is as great a power as man can possess.” This was, perhaps, as ingenious a defence as could be made: still, however, (says Mr. B.) I was not satisfied.
His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could not have so much in
tercourse as Mr. Garrick 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 said one evening, “ I met David coming off the stage, drest in a woman's riding-hood, when he acted in "The Wonder;' I came full upon him, and I believe he was not pleased.”
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 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, Jobnson stood forth in defence of his friend. “ Nay, Gentlemen (said he), Dr. Goldsmith is in the right. A nobleman ought to have made