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with Mrs. Williams till he came home. I found in the “ London Chronicle,” Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the public for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph 1 in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his; but when he came home, he soon undeceived us. When he said to Mrs. Williams, “ Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper;" I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith. JOHNSON. “Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do any thing else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had he shown it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a. foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the public." BOSWELL. “I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat, he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.”
I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's “Memoirs of Great
1 The offence given was a long abusive letter in the London Packet. A particular account of this transaction, and Goldsmith's Vindication (for such it was, rather than an Apology), may be found in the Life of that poet, prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works. --Malone.
See also Forster's Life of Goldsmith, vol. ii., p. 347, et seqq.-Editor.
2 Mr. Chalmers, in the article “Goldsmith," in the Biog. Dict., states, on the authority of Evans, that he had beaten Goldsmith, and not Goldsmith him: and Mr. Prior, who seldom concedes anything to Goldsmith's disparagement, produces the recollections of Harris the bookseller, late of St. Paul's Church Yard, who was Evans's shopman, and present at the fray, which gave Goldsmith rather the worst of it. Goldsmith alleged in defence of his proceeding, that the article was disrespectful to a young lady—one of the Miss Hornecks; but the allusion to her was very slight, and hardly disrespectful. Goldsmith was obliged to compromise the assault by paying £50 to a Welsh charity.- Croker.
he was a bad joker. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, thus much I can say upon the subject. One day he and a few more agreed to go and dine in the country, and each of them was to bring a friend in his carriage with him. Charles Townshend asked Fitzherbert to go with him, but told him, • You must find somebody to bring you back; I can only carry you there.'
Fitzherbert did not much like this arrangement. He huwever consented, observing sarcastically, It will do very well; for then the same jokes will serve you in returning as in going.' ''
An eminent public character being mentioned: Johnson. “I remember being present when he showed himself to be so corrupted, or at least something so different from what I think right, as to maintain, that a member of parliament should go along with his party, right or wrong. Now, Sir, this is so remote from native virtue, from scholastic virtue, that a good man must have undergone a great change before he can reconcile himself to such a doctrine. It is maintaining that you may lie to the public; for you lie when you call that right which you think wrong, or the
A friend of ours, who is too much an echo of that gentleman, observed, that a man who does not stick uniformly to a party, is only waiting to be bought. Why then, said I, he is only waiting to be what that gentleman is already
We talked of the king's coming to see Goldsmith's new
by Horace Walpole and immortalized by Burke. He died September 4, 1767.- Croker.
1 “This is an instance," as Sir James Mackintosha observed to me, “which proves that the task of elucidating Boswell has not been undertaken too soon.” Sir James, Lord Wellesley, Mr. Chalmers, and I doubted, at first, whether the “ eminent public character," was not Mr. Fox, and the friend of Johnson's, “ too much the echo" of the former, Mr. Burke; but we finally agreed that Mr. Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds were meant; the designation of eminent public character was, in 1773, more appropriate to Burke than to Fox. Mr. Fox, too, had lately changed his party, while Burke always maintained (see post, 15th August, 1773), and was, indeed, the first who, in his Thoughts on the Present Discontents, openly avowed and advocated the principle of inviolable adherence to political connections,“putting,” as Mr. Prior says, “ to silence the hitherto common reproach applied to most public characters of being party-men.” Life of Burke, vol. i., p. 232. This supposition being correct, the other was no doubt Sir Joshua Reynolds.-Croker.
were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his lordship’s saying of Lord Tyrawley - and himself, when both very old and infirm: “Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.”
He talked with approbation of an intended edition of “The Spectator," with notes; two volumes of which had been prepared by a gentleman eminent in the literary world, and the materials which he had collected for the remainder had been transferred to another hand. He observed, that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw light upon “ The Spectator.” He said, “Addison had made his Sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments; but that he had thought better, and made amends by making him found an hospital for decayed farmers.” He called for the volume of “ The Spectator" in which that account is contained, and read it aloud to us.” He read it so well, that every thing acquired additional weight and grace from his utterance.
The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads, and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that ridicule which he always displayed when that subject was mentioned.
He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse. This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.
On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he was very silent. He said, “Burnet's
History of his own Times' is very entertaining. The style, indeed, is mere chit-chat. I do not believe that
! James O'Hara, Lord Tyrawley, a general officer, was born in 1690, and died July 13, 1773.-Croker.
2 No. 549.
Burnet intentionally lied; but he was so much prejudiced, that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch; but will not inquire whether the watch is right or not."
Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave him ; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock, he cried, “What's that to you and me?” and ordered Frank to tell Mrs. Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. It was settled that we should go to church together next day.
On the 9th of April, being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns; Doctor Levett, as Frank called him, making the tea. He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had his seat; and his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly devout. I never shall forget the tremulous earnestness with which he pronounced the awful petition in the Litany: “In the hour of death, and at the day of judgment, good Lord deliver us.”
We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval between the two services we did not dine; but he read in the Greek New Testament, and I turned over several of his books.
In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read to Dr. Johnson :
“ 1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince Charles,' at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally of many things with his attendants. Among other things he said, that if he were necessitated to take any particular profession of life, he could not be a lawyer, adding his reasons :: 'I cannot,' saith he, 'defend a bad, nor yield in a good cause.'”
JOHNSON. “Sir, this is false reasoning ; because every cause has a bad side: and a lawyer is not overcome, though the cause which he has endeavoured to support be determined against him.”
I told him that Goldsmith had said to me a few days before, “ As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the tailor, so I take my religion from the priest.”
1 Afterwards Charles I.
I regretted this loose way of talking. JOHNSON. “Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about nothing."
To my great surprise he asked me to dine with him on Easter Day. I never supposed that he had a dinner at his house; for I had not then heard of any one of his friends having been entertained at his table. He told me, “I generally have a meat pie on Sunday: it is baked at a public oven, which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress dinners."
April 11, being Easter Sunday, after having attended divine service at St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with JEAN JAQUES ROUSSEAU, while he lived in the wilds of Neufchâtel: I had as great a curiosity to dine with DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in the dusky recess of a court in Fleet Street. I supposed we should scarcely have knives and forks, and only some strange, uncouth, ill-drest dish: but I found every thing in very good order. We had no other company but Mrs. Williams and a young woman whom I did not know. As a dinner here was considered as a singular phenomenon, and as I was frequently interrogated on the subject, my readers may perhaps be desirous to know our bill of fare. Foote, I remember, in allusion to Francis, the negro, was willing to suppose that our repast was black broth. But the fact was, that we had a very good soup, a boiled leg of lamb and spinach, a veal pie, and a rice pudding.
Of Dr. John Campbell, the author, he said, “He is a very inquisitive and a very able man, and a man of good religious principles, though I am afraid he has been deficient in practice. Campbell is radically right; and we may hope that in time there will be good practice.”
He owned that he thought Hawkesworth was one of his imitators, but he did not think Goldsmith was. Goldsmith, he said, had great merit. BoSWELL. “But, Sir, he is much indebted to you for his getting so high in the public estimation.” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, he has, perhaps, got 80oner to it by his intimacy with me.”
Goldsmith, though his vanity often excited him to occa sional competition, had a very high regard for Johnson, which he had at this time expressed in the strongest