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first by Garrick, his second by Colman, who was prevailed on at last by much solicitation, nay, a kind of force, to bring it on. His Vicar of Wakefield I myself did not think would have had much success. It was written and sold to a bookseller before his Traveller, but published after; so little expectation had the bookseller from it. Had it been sold after the Traveller, he might have had twice as much money for it, though sixty guineas was no mean price. The bookseller had the advantage of Goldsmith's reputation from the Traveller in the sale, though Goldsmith had it not in selling the copy.” SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. “The Beggar's Opera affords a proof how strangely people will differ in opinion about a literary performance. Burke thinks it has no merit." JOHNSON. “It was refused by one of the houses; but I should have thought it would succeed, not from any great excellence in the writing, but from the novelty, and the general spirit and gaiety of the piece, which keeps the audience always attentive, and dismisses them in good humour.”
We went to the drawing-room, where was a considerable increase of company. Several of us got round Dr. Johnson, and complained that he would not give us an exact catalogue of his works, that there might be a complete edition. He smiled, and evaded our entreaties. That he intended to do it I have no doubt, because I have heard him say so; and I have in my possession an imperfect list, fairly written out, which he entitles Historia Studiorum. I once got from one of his friends a list, which there was pretty good reason to suppose was accurate, for it was written down in his presence by this friend, who enumerated each article aloud, and had some of them mentioned to him by Mr. Levet, in concert with whom it was made out; and Johnson, who heard all this, did not contradict it. But when I showed a copy of this list to him, and mentioned the evidence for its exactness, he laughed, and said, “I was willing to let them go on as they pleased, and never interfered.” Upon which I read it to him, article by article, and got him positively to own
or refuse; and then, having obtained certainty so far, I got some other articles confirmed by him directly, and afterwards, from time to time, made additions under his sanction. His friend Edward Cave having been mentioned, he
• Cave used to sell ten thousand of the Gentleman's Magazine ; yet such was then his minute attention and anxiety that the sale should not suffer the smallest decrease, that he would name a particular person who he heard had talked of leaving off the magazine, and would say, · Let us have something good next month.""
It was observed, that avarice was inherent in some dispositions. Johnson. “No man was born a miser, because no man was born to possession. Every man is born cupidus—desirous of getting ; but not avarus—desirous of keeping.” Boswell. “I have heard old Mr. Sheridan maintain, with much ingenuity, that a complete miser is a happy man; a miser who gives himself wholly to the one passion of saving." JOHNSON, “ That is flying in the face of all the world, who have called an avaricious man a miser, because he is miserable. No, sir; a man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments."
The conversation baving turned on bon-mots, he quoted, from one of the Ana, an exquisite instance of flattery in a maid of honour in France, who being asked by the queen what o'clock it was, answered, “ What your majesty pleases.” He admitted that Mr. Burke's classical pun upon Mr. Wilkes's being carried on the shoulders of the
humerisque fertur Lege solutis, was admirable; and though he was strangely unwilling to allow to that extraordinary man the talent of wit, he also laughed with approbation at another of his playful conceits; which was, that “ Horace has in one line given a description of a good desirable manour:
a See this question fully investigated in the notes upon my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, edit. 3rd, p. 21, et seq. And here, as a lawyer mindful of the maxim, “Suum cuique tribuito,” I cannot forbear to mention, that the additional note, beginning with “ I find since the former edition,” is not mine, but was
Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines b; that is to say, a modus as to the tithes, and certain fines.”
He observed, " A man cannot with propriety speak of himself, except he relates simple facts; as, “I was at Richmond :' or what depends on mensuration; as, I am six feet high.' He is sure he has been at Richmond; he is sure he is six feet high: but he cannot be sure he is wise, or that he has any other excellence. Then, all censure of a man's self is oblique praise. It is in order to show how much he can spare.
It has all the invidiousness of selfpraise, and all the reproach of falsehood.” BOSWELL. “ Sometimes it may proceed from a man's strong consciousness of his faults being observed. He knows that others would throw him down, and therefore he had better lie down softly of his own accord.”
On Tuesday, April 28th, he was engaged to dine at general Paoli's, where, as I have already observed, I was still entertained in elegant hospitality, and with all the ease and comfort of a home, I called on him, and accompanied him in a hackney coach. We stopped first at the bottom of Hedge-lane, into which he went to leave a letter, “ with good news for a poor man in distress," as he told
I did not question him particularly as to this. He bimself often resembled lady Bolingbroke's lively description of Pope: that “ he was un politique aux choux et aux raves."
ohligingly furnished by Mr. Malone, who was so kind as to superintend the press while I was in Scotland, and the first part of the second edition was printing. He would not allow me to ascribe it to its proper author ; but, as it is exquisitely acute and elegant, I take this opportunity, without his knowledge, to do him justice.—Boswell.
b This, as both Mr. Bindley and Dr. Kearney have observed to me, is the motto to an Enquiry into Customary Estates and Tenants' Rights, etc.-with some considerations for restraining excessive fines. By Everard Fleetwood, esq. 8vo. 1731. But it is, probably, a mere coincidence. Mr. Burke perhaps never saw that pamphlet.--MALONE.
He would say, “ I dine to-day in Grosvenorsquare;" this might be with a duke: or, perhaps, “ I dine to-day at the other end of the town:” or, " A gentleman of great eminence called on me yesterday.”—He loved thus to keep things floating in conjecture: “ Omne ignotum pro magnifico est." I believe I ventured to dissipate the cloud, to unveil the mystery, more freely and frequently than any of his friends. We stopped again at Wirgman's, the well-known toy-shop, in St. James's-street, at the corner of St. James's-place, to which he had been directed, but not clearly, for he searched about some time, and could not find it at first; and said, “ To direct one only to a corner shop is toying with one.” I suppose meant this as a play upon the word toy: it was the first time that I knew him stoop to such sport. After he had been some time in the shop, he sent for me to come out of the coach, and help him to choose a pair of silver buckles, as those he had were too small. Probably this alteration in dress had been suggested by Mrs. Thrale, by associating with whom his external appearance was much improved. He got better clothes; and the dark colour, from which he never deviated, was enlivened by metal buttons. His wigs, too, were much better; and during their travels in France, he was furnished with a Paris-made wig, of handsome construction. This choosing of silver buckles was a negociation : “Sir," said he, “ I will not have the ridiculous large ones now in fashion ; and I will give no more than a guinea for a pair.” Such were the principles of the business; and, after some examination, he was fitted. As we drove along, I found him in a talking humour, of which I availed myself. Boswell. “I was this morning in Ridley's shop, sir; and was told, that the collection called Johnsoniana had sold very much.” Johnson. “ Yet the Journey to the Hebrides has not had a great sale." Boswell. “ That is strange." Johnson. “ Yes, sir; for in that book I have told the world a great deal that they did not know before."
c Here he either was mistaken, or had a different notion of an extensive sale from what is generally entertained ; for the fact is, that four thousand copies of that excellent work were sold very quickly. A new edition has been printed since his death, besides that in the collection of his works.—Boswell.
Another edition has been printed since Mr. Boswell wrote the above, besides repeated editions in the general collection of his works during the last twenty years.—Malone.
BosWELL. “I drank chocolate, sir, this morning with Mr. Eld; and, to my no small surprise, found him to be a Staffordshire whig, a being which I did not believe had existed.” JOHNSON. Sir, there are rascals in all countries." BOSWELL. “ Eld said, a tory was a creature generated between a nonjuring parson and one's grandmother." JOHNSON. “And I have always said, the first whig was the devil.” BOSWELL. “ He certainly was, sir. The devil was impatient of subordination; he was the first who re
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” At general Paoli's were sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Marchese Gherardi of Lombardy, and Mr. John Spottiswoode the younger, of Spottiswooded the solicitor. At this time fears of an invasion were circulated ; to obviate which, Mr. Spottiswoode observed, that Mr. Fraser the engineer, who had lately come from Dunkirk, said, that the French had the same fears of us. JOHNSON. It is thus that mutual cowardice keeps us in peace. Were one half of mankind brave and one half cowards, the brave would be always beating the cowards. Were all brave, they would lead a very uneasy life; all would be continually fighting: but being all cowards, we go on very well.”
We talked of drinking wine. JOHNSON. “I require wine only when I am alone. I have then often wished for it, and often taken it.” SPOTTISWoode.
d In the phraseology of Scotland, I should have said, “ Mr. John Spottis- . woode the younger, of that ilk.” Johnson knew that sense of the word very well, and has thus explained it in his Dictionary, voce Ilk—" It also signifies
the same;' as, Mackintosh of that ilk, denotes a gentleman whose surname and the title of his estate are the same."-Boswell.