Page images
PDF
EPUB

72

CHAPTER III.

1781

Dinner at Mrs. Garrick's. Miss Hannah More.

Mudge's Sermons." A Printer's Devil. Quo-
tation. Letter-writing. Bet Flint. Oratory. -
Beauclerk's Library. English Sermons. Blue-
Stocking Clubs. Miss Monckton. Talking for
Victory. - A Cui Bono Man. Heroic Epistle.

Lord Carlisle's Poems. Dr. Barnard.
Tory and Whig.Visit to Welwyn. Dr. Young

Trusting to Impressions. Original Sin.
Ancient Egyptians.

Wealth. Memory and Recollection.-Marrying a pretty Woman. Thrale's Brewery. - Mr. Bewley. Johnson's Hearth-broom.

Dr. Patten. Visit to Ashbourne and Lichfield.

[ocr errors]

On Friday, April 20., I spent with him one of the happiest days that I remember to have enjoyec in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick, whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with her. The company was, Miss Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom she called her chaplain; Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found ourselves very elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi, where 1

[ocr errors]

have passed many a pleasing hour with him “ who gladdened life."

She looked well, talked of her husband with complacency, and while she cast her eyes on his portrait, which hung over the chimney piece, said, that “death was now the most agreeable object to her." The very semblance of David Garrick was cheering. Mr. Beauclerk, with happy propriety, inscribed under that fine portrait of him, which by Lady Diana's kindness is now the property of my friend Mr. Langton, the following passage from his beloved Shakspeare :

A merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal.
His eye begets occasion for his wit;
For every object that the one doth catch
The other turns to a mirth-moving jest;
Which his fair tongue (Conceit's expositor)
Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
That aged ears play truant at his tales,
And younger hearings are quite ravished;

So sweet and voluble is his discourse." (")
We were all in fine spirits ; and I whispered to
Mrs. Boscawen,

66 I believe this is as much as can be made of life.” In addition to a splendid enter. ainment, we were regaled with Lichfield ale, which had a peculiar appropriate value. Sir Joshua, and Dr. Burney, and I, drank cordially of it to Dr. Johnson's health ; and though he would not join us, he as cordially answered, “Gentlemen, I wish you all as well as you do me.

The general effect of this day dwells upon my (1) Rosaline's character of Biron. Love's Labour's Lox, act 2. sc. 1.-C.

mind in fɔnd remembrance; but I do not find much conversation recorded. What I have preserved shall be faithfully given.

One of the company mentioned Mr. Thomas Hollis, the strenuous Whig, who used to send over Europe presents of democratical books, with their boards stamped with daggers and caps of liberty. Mrs. Carter said, “ He was a bad man: he used to talk uncharitably.” Johnson. “ Poh! poh! madam; who is the worse for being talked of very uncharitably ? Besides, he was a dull

poor creature as ever lived : and I believe he would not have done harm to a man whom he knew to be of very opposite principles to his own. I remember once at the Society of Arts, when an advertisement was to be drawn up, he pointed me out as the man who could do it best. This, you will observe, was kindness to me. I however slipt away and escaped it.”

Mrs. Carter having said of the same person, doubt he was an atheist : Johnson. “I don't know that. He might, perhaps, have become one, if he had had time to ripen (smiling). He might have exuberated into an atheist."

Sir Joshua Reynolds praised “Mudge's (1) Sermons.” JOHNSON. “Mudge's Sermons are good, but not practical. He grasps more sense than he can hold; he takes more corn than he can make into meal; he opens a wide prospect, but it is so distant, it is indistinct. I love · Blair's Sermons.' Though the dog is a Scotchman, and a presbyterian, and every thing he should not be, I was the first to praise

(1) See antè, p. 51. - C.

[ocr errors]

them. Such was my candour,” (smiling). Mrs. BoscAWEN. “ Such his great merit, to get the better of all your prejudices.” JOHNSON.

" Why, Madam, let us compound the matter; let us ascribe it to my candour, and his merit.”

In the evening we had a large company in the drawing-room; several ladies, the Bishop of Killaloe (Dr. Barnard), Dr. Percy, Mr. Chamberlayn: of the treasury, &c. &c. Somebody said, the life of a mere literary man could not be very entertaining JOHNSON. “ But it certainly may. This is a remark which has been made, and repeated, without justice. Why should the life of a literary man be less entertaining than the life of any other man? Are there not as interesting varieties in such a life? As a literary life it may

be
very

entertaining." BOSWELL. “But it must be better surely when it is diversified with a little active variety such as his having gone to Jamaica ; - his having gone to the Hebrides." Johnson was not displeased at this.

Talking of a very respectable author, he told us a curious circumstance in his life, which was, that he had married a printer's devil. REYNOLDS. “A printer's devil, Sir! why, I thought a printer's devil was a creature with a black face and in rags.” JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir. But I suppose he had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her.” Then, looking very serious, and very earnest.

“ And she did not disgrace him ; the woman had a bottom of good sense." The word bottom thus introduced was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity

or

that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing ; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slyly hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should excite ridicule, when he did not intend it: he therefore resolved to assume and exercise despotic power, glanced sternly around, and called out in a strong tone, “Where's the merriment?” Then collecting himself, and looking awful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly pronounced, "I

say the woman was fundamentally sensible ; as if he had said, Hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as at a funeral.

He and I walked away together: we stopped a little while by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to him with some emotion, that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost, who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. “Ay, Sir," said he, tenderly, " and two such friends as cannot be supplied.”

For some time after this day I did not see him very often, and of the conversation which I did enjoy, I am sorry to find I have preserved but little. I was at this time engaged in a variety of other matters which required exertion and assiduity, and necessarily occupied almost all my time.

One day, having spoken very freely of those who were then in power, he said to me,

6 Between our

« PreviousContinue »