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Johnson and Shebbeare? were frequently named together, as having in former reigns had no predilection for the family of Hanover. The author of the celebrated “ Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers ” introduced them in one line in a list of those “ who tasted the sweets of his present majesty's reign.” Such was Johnson's candid relish of the merit of that satire, that he allowed Dr. Goldsmith, as he told me, to read it to him from beginning to end, and did not refuse his praise to its execution.
Goldsmith could sometimes take adventurous liberties with him, and escape unpunished. Beauclerk told me, that when Goldsmith talked of a project for having a third theatre in London solely for the exhibition of new plays, in order to deliver authors from the supposed tyranny of managers, Johnson treated it slightingly; upon which Goldsmith said, “Ay, ay, this may be nothing to you, who can now shelter yourself behind the corner of a pension;" and Johnson bore this with good humour.
Johnson praised the Earl of Carlisle's poems, which his lordship had published with his name, as not disdaining to be a candidate for literary fame. My friend was of opinion that when a man of rank appeared in that character, he deserved to have his merit handsomely allowed.”
1 I recollect a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that the king had pensioned both a He-bear and a She-bear.
2 Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle, born in 1748; died in 1825.Croker.
The kinsman and guardian of Byron, to whom Byron dedicated the second edition of his Hours of Idleness.-Editor.
3 Men of rank and fortune, however, should be pretty well assured of having a real claim to the approbation of the public, as writers, before they venture to stand forth. Dryden, in his preface to “ All for Love," thus expresses himself : “Men of pleasant conversation (at least esteemed so) and endued with a trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out by a smattering of Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of gentlemen by their poetry:
Rarus enim fermè sensus communis in illa
Fortuna.'- Juv. viii. 72. And is not this a wretched affectation, not to be contented with what fortune has done for them, and sit down quietly with their estates, but they must call their wits in question, and needlessly expose their nakedness to public view ? Not considering that they are not to expect the same approbation from sober men which they have found from their flatterers after the third bottle: if a little glittering in discourse has
In this I think he was more liberal than Mr. William Whitehead, in his “ Elegy to Lord Villiers,” in which, under the pretext of “superior toils, demanding all their care,” he discovers a jealousy of the great paying their court to the Muses :
" - - to the chosen few
Who dare excel, thy fost'ring aid afford;
Exalt ;-—but be thyself what they record.” Johnson had called twice on the Bishop of Killaloe before his lordship set out for Ireland, having missed him the first time. He said, “It would have hung heavy on my heart if I had not seen him. No man ever paid more attention to another than he has done to me;' and I have neglected him, not wilfully, but from being otherwise occupied. Always, Sir, set a high value on spontaneous
passed them on us for witty men, where was the necessity of undeceiving the world ? would a man who has an ill title to an estate, but yet is in possession of it-would he bring it out of his own accord to be tried at Westminster? We who write, if we want the talents, yet have the excuse that we do it for a poor subsistence; but what can be urged in their defence, who, not having the vocation of poverty to scribble, out of mere wantonness take pains to make themselves ridiculous ? Horace was certainly in the right where he said, “That no man is satisfied with his own condition. A poet is not pleased because he is not rich; and the rich are discontented because the poets will not admit them of their number.” I, " This gave me very great pleasure, for there had been once a pretty of part altercation between Dr. Barnard and him, upon a question,
ti ther a man could improve himself after the age of forty-five; when
102,şon in a hasty humour expressed himself in a manner not quite “Sir,” Dr. Barnard made it the subject of a copy of pleasant verses, in system (e supposed himself to learn different perfections from different
He tokey concluded with delicate irony : Oglethorpe's “ Johnson shall teach me how to place beare. Inde In fairest light each borrow'd grace : made to him,
From him I'll learn to write,
Copy his clear familiar style, class of ordii And, by the roughness of his file, as a respecta Grow, like himself, polite.” admirable “twhether Johnson ever saw the poem, but I had occasion name of “ Bat Dr. Barnard and he knew each other better, their mutual
i The Rid. (See Johnsoniana, p. 338-9.]
kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord, will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.!!
Johnson told me that he was once much pleased to find that a carpenter, who lived near him, was very ready to show him some things in his business which he wished to see; “ It was paying,” said he,“ respect to literature.”
I asked him if he was not dissatisfied with having so small a share of wealth, and none of those distinctions in the state which are the objects of ambition. He had only a pension of three hundred a year. Why was he not in such circumstances as to keep bis coach ? Why had be not some considerable office ? JOHNSON. “Sir, I have never complained of the world ; nor do I think that I have reason to complain. It is rather to be wondered at that I have so much. My pension is more out of the usual course of things than any instance that I have known. Here, Sir, was a man avowedly no friend to government at the time, who got a pension without asking for it. I never courted the great; they sent for me; but I think they now give me up. They are satisfied: they have seen enough of me.” Upon my observing that I could not believe this, for they must certainly be highly pleased by his conversation; conscious of his own superiority, he answered, “No, Sir; great lords and great ladies don't love to have their mouths stopped.” This was very expressive of the effect which the force of his understanding and brilliancy of his fancy could not but produce; and, to be sure, they must have found themselves strangely diminished in his company. When I warmly declared how happy I was at all times to hear him, _“Yes, Sir," said he; “but if you were lord chancellor it would not be so: you would then consider your own dignity.”
There was much truth and knowledge of human nature in this remark. But certainly one should think that in whatever elevated state of life a man who knew the value of the conversation of Johnson might be placed, though he might prudently avoid a situation in which he might appear lessened by comparison, yet he would frequently gratify himself in private with the participation of the rich intellectual entertainment which Johnson could fur. nish. Strange, however, is it to consider how few of the great sought his society; so that if one were disposed to take occasion for satire on that account, very conspicuous objects present themselves. His noble friend, Lord Elibank, well observed, that if a great man procured an interview with Johnson, and did not wish to see him more, it showed a mere idle curiosity, and a wretched want of relish for extraordinary powers of mind. Mrs. Thrale justly and wittily accounted for such conduct by saying, that Johnson's conversation was much too strong for a person accustomed to obsequiousness and flattery ; it was mustard in a young child's mouth!
One day, when I told him that I was a zealous Tory, but not enough “according to knowledge," and should be obliged to him for “a reason,” he was so candid, and expressed himself so well, that I begged of him to repeat what he had said, and I wrote down as follows:
• Of Tory and Whig. "A wise Tory and a wise Whig, I believe, will agree. Their principles are the same, though their modes of thinking are different. A high Tory makes government unintelligible; it is lost in the clouds. A violent Whig makes it impracticable: he is for allowing so much liberty to every man, that there is not power enough to govern any man. The prejudice of the Tory is for establishment, the prejudice of the Whig is for innovation. A Tory does not wish to give more real power to government; but that government should have more reverence, Then they differ as to the church. The Tory is not for giving more legal power to the clergy, but wishes they should have a considerable influence, founded on the opinion of mankind : the Whig is for limiting and watching them with a narrow jealousy.”
TO MR. PERKINS...
“ June 2, 1781.
“However often I have seen you, I have hitherto forgotten the note; but I have now sent it, with my good wishes
for the prosperity of you and your partner,' of whom, from our short conversation, I could not judge otherwise than favourably. I am, Sir, your most humble servant, “Sam. Johnson."
On Saturday, June 2, I set out for Scotland, and had promised to pay a visit, in my way, as I sometimes did, at Southill, in Bedfordshire, at the hospitable mansion of Squire Dilly, the elder brother of my worthy friends, the booksellers, in the Poultry. Dr. Johnson agreed to be of the party this year, with Mr. Charles Dilly and me, and to go and see Lord Bute's seat at Luton Hoe. He talked little to us in the carriage, being chiefly occupied in reading Dr. Watson's second volume of “ Chemical Essays,” which he liked very well, and his own “ Prince of Abyssinia,” on which he seemed to be intensely fixed; having told us, that he had not looked at it since it was first finished. I happened to take it out of my pocket this day, and he seized upon it with avidity. He pointed out to me the following remarkable passage:
“By what means (said the prince) are the Europeans thus powerful ? or why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or conquest, cannot the Asiatics and Africans invade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, and give laws to their natural princes? The saine wind that carried them back would bring us thither.” “They are more powerful, Sir, than we (answered Imlae), because they are wiser. Knowledge will always predominate over ignorance, as man governs the other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not what reason can be given but the unsearchable will of the Supreme Being."
1 Mr. Barclay, a descendant of Robert Barclay, of Ury, the celebrated apologist of the people called Quakers, and remarkable for maintaining the principles of his venerable progenitor, with as much of elegance of modern manners as is consistent with primitive simplicity.
Dird in 1831,-Croker.
2 Now Bishop of Llandaff, one of the poorest bishoprics in this kingdom. His lordship has written with much zeal to show the pr: priety of equalising the revenues of bishops. He has informed us that he has burnt all his chemical papers. The friends of our excellent constitution, now assailed on every side by innovators and levellers, would have less regretted the suppression of sume of his lordship’s other writings.