Page images

fusion." JOHNSON. " The result is, that order cannot be had but by subordination."

On Friday, April 16th, I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantick jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the favourite of a nobleman Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what passed, and particularly with his prayer for the mercy of heaven. He said, in a solemn fervid tone, “I hope he shall find mercy.”

This day a violent altercation arose between Johnson and Beauclerk, which having made much noise at the time, I think it proper, in order to prevent any future misrepresentation, to give a minute account of it.

In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued, as judge Blackstone bad done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, “No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself, took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once.


-'s cook shot himself with one pistol, and lived ten days in great

who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself; and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast, before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion : he had two charged pistols; one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the other."--" Well," said Johnson, with an air of triumph, you see here one pistol was sufficient.” Beauclerk replied smartly, " Because it happened to kill him.” And, either then or a very little afterwards, being piqued at Johnson's triumphant remark, added, “ This is what you don't know, and I do." There was then a cessation of the dispute ; and some minutes intervened, during which dinner and the glass went on cheerfully; when Johnson suddenly and abruptly exclaimed, “ Mr. Beauclerk, how came you to talk so petulantly to me, as . This is what you don't know, but what I know? One thing I know, which you don't seem to know, that you are very uncivil.” BEAUCLERK. “ Because you began by being uncivil, (which you always are.") The words in parentheses were, I believe, not heard by Dr. Johnson. Here again there was a cessation of arms. Johnson told me, that the reason why he waited at first some time without taking any notice of what Mr. Beauclerk said, was because he was thinking whether he should resent it. But when he considered that there were present a young lord and an eminent traveller, two men of the world, with whom he had never dined before, he was apprehensive that they might think they had a right to take such liberties with him as Beauclerk did, and therefore resolved he would not let it pass; adding, that “ he would not appear a coward.” A little while after this, the conversation turned on the violence of Hackman's temper. Johnson then said, “ It was his business to command his temper, as my friend Mr. Beauclerk should have done some time ago.” BEAUCLERK. I should learn of you, sir.” Johnson. “Sir, you have given me opportunities enough of learning, when I have been in your company.

agony. Mr.

o Lord Sandwich.

No man loves to be treated with contempt.” BEAUCLERK, (with a polite inclination towards Johnson.) “Sir, you have known me twenty years, and however I may have treated others, you may be sure I could never treat you with contempt." JOHNSON. “ Sir, you have said more than was necessary.” Thus it ended : and Beauclerk's coach not having come for him till very late, Dr. Johnson and another gentleman sat with him a long time after the rest of the company were gone; and he and I dined at Beauclerk's on the Saturday se'nnight following:

After this tempest had subsided, I recollect the following particulars of his conversation.

“I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any

English book which happens to engage bis attention; because you have done a great deal, when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He'll get better books afterwards."

Mallet, I believe, never wrote a single line of his projected life of the duke of Marlborough. He groped for materials; and thought of it, till he had exhausted his mind. Thus it sometimes happens that men entangle themselves in their own schemes.”

To be contradicted, in order to force you to talk, is mighty unpleasing. You shine, indeed; but it is by being ground."

Of a gentleman who made some figure among the literati of his time, (Mr. Fitzherbert,) he said, “ What eminence he had was by a felicity of manner: he had no more learning than what he could not help.”

On Saturday, April 24th, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, with sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Jones, (afterwards sir William,) Mr. Langton, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise, and Dr. Higgins. I mentioned that Mr. Wilkes had attacked Garrick to me, as a man who had no friend. Johnson. “I believe he is right, sir. Oi pinos, oủ pirosHe had friends, but no friend P. Garrick was so diffused, he had no man to whom he wished to unbosom himself. He found people always ready to applaud him, and that always for the same thing; so he saw life with great uniformity.” I took upon me, for once, to fight with Goliath's weapons, and play the sophist.-“ 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 you, while others do not. Friendship, you know, sir, is the cordial drop, ' to 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. JOHNSON. “There were more materials to make friendship in Garrick, had he not been so diffused." BOSWELL. “ Garrick was pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf. Lord Chesterfield was tinsel.” JOHNSON. “Garrick was a very good man; the cheerfulest 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 fourpence do as much as others made fourpencehalfpenny do. But when he had got money, he was very liberal.” I presumed to animadvert on his eulogy on Garrick, in his Lives of the Poets. “ You say, sir, his death eclipsed the gaiety of nations." JOHNSON. “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.” BOSWELL. “ But why nations ? Did bis gaiety extend farther than his own nation ?" JOHNSON.

p See vol. i. p. 151.

JOHNSON. “Why, sir, some exaggeration must be allowed. Besides, nations may 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, 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 appears an anticlimax of praise, when contrasted with the preceding panegyrick, -" and diminished the publick stock of harmless pleasure.”—“ Is not harmless pleasure very tame?" · JOHN

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, there

SON. "

fore, 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, I was not satisfied.

A celebrated wit being mentioned, he said, “One may say of him as was said of a French wit, ' Il n'a de l'esprit que contre Dieu.' I have been several times in company with him, but never perceived any strong power of wit. He produces a general effect by various means; he has a cheerful countenance and a gay voice. Besides, his trade is wit. It would be as wild in him to come into company without merriment, as for a highwayman to take the road without his pistols."

Talking of the effects of drinking, he said, " Drinking may be practised with great prudence: a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk; a sober man, who happens occasionally to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing: he is without skill in inebriation. I used to slink home when I had drunk too much. A man accustomed to self-examination will be conscious when he is drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be conscious of it. I knew a physician who for twenty years was not sober; yet, in a pamphlet which he wrote upon fevers, he appealed to Garrick and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness. A bookseller (naming bim) who got a large fortune by trade, was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more sober at one time than another."

Talking of celebrated and successful irregular practisers in physick, he said, “ Taylor' was the most ignorant man I ever knew, but sprightly; Ward, the dullest. Taylor challenged me once to talk Latin with him, (laughing.) I quoted some of Horace, which he took to be a part of

I The chevalier Taylor, the celebrated oculist.--MALONE.

« PreviousContinue »