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forward enabled him to keep his station in society, and cultivate the Cumb. friendship of many eminent persons, who, whilst they smiled at his Mem.
vol. i. eccentricities, esteemed him for his genius and good qualities.
“Garrick was followed to the Abbey by a long extended train of friends, illustrious for their rank and genius. I saw old Samuel Johnson standing beside his grave, at the foot of Shakspeare's monument, and bathed in tears. A few succeeding years laid him in earth; and though the marble shall preserve for ages the exact resemblance of his form and features, his own strong pen has pictured out a transcript of his mind, that shall outlive that and the very language which he laboured to perpetuate. Johnson's best days were dark; when his life was far in the decline, he enjoyed a gleam of fortune long withheld. Compare him with his countryman and contemporary last mentioned, and it will be one instance among many, that the man who only brings the muse's bantlings into the world has a better lot in it than he who has the credit of begetting them.
Shortly after Garrick's death, Dr. Johnson was told in a large company, “You are recent from your Lives of the Poets: why not add your
friend Garrick to the number ?' Johnson's answer was, “I do not like to be officious; but if Mrs. Garrick will desire me to do
; it, I shall be very willing to pay that last tribute to the memory
of the man I loved. This sentiment was conveyed to Mrs. G. but no answer was ever received. expanse
of matter which Johnson had found room for in his intellectual storehouse, the correctness with which he had assorted it, and the readiness with which he could turn to any article that he wanted to make present use of, were the properties in him which I contemplated with the most admiration. Some have called him a savage; they were only so far right in the resemblance, as that, like the savage, he never came into suspicious company without his spear in his hand and his bow and quiver at his back.
“ As a poet, his translations of Juvenal gave him
name in the world, and gained him the applause of Pope. He was a writer of tragedy, but his Irene gives him no conspicuous rank in that department. As an essayist he merits more consideration : his Ramblers are in every body's hands; about them opinions vary, and I rather believe the style of these essays is not now considered as a good model ; this he corrected in his more advanced age, as may be seen in his Lives of the Poets, where his diction, though occasionally elaborate and highly metaphorical, is not nearly so inflated and ponderous as in the Ramblers. He was an acute and able critic; the enthusiastic admirers of Milton and the friends of Gray will have something to
1 [Here followed the passage introduced antc, vol. v. p. 301, n.-Ed.]
Cumb. complain of, but criticism is a task which no man executeś to all Mem.
men's satisfaction. His selection of a certain passage in the Mourning Bride of Congreve, which he extols so rapturously, is certainly a most unfortunate sample; but unless the oversights of a critic are less pardonable than those of other men, we may pass this over in a work of merit, which abounds in beauties far more prominent than its defects, and much more pleasing to contemplate. In works professedly of fancy he is not very copious; yet in his Rasselas we have much to admire, and enough to make us wish for more. It is the work of an illuminated mind, and offers many wise and deep reflections, clothed in beautiful and harmonious diction We are not indeed familiar with such personages as Johnson has imagined for the characters of his fable, but if we are not exceedingly interested in their story, we are infinitely gratified with their conversation and remarks. In conclusion, Johnson's era was not wanting in men to be distinguished for their talents, yet if one was to be selected out as the first great literary character of the time, I believe all voices would concur in naming him. Let me here insert the following lines, descriptive of his character, though not long since written by me, and to be found in a public print:
" ON SAMUEL JOHNSON.
“Herculean strength and a Stentorian voice,
Of wit a fund, of words a countless choice :
Lord Chedworth, in his Letters to the Rev. Mr. Crompton, relates the
“When I was last in town I dined in company with the eminent Mr. C. ' of whom I did not form a high opinion. He asserted that Dr. Johnson originally intended to abuse Paradise Lost, but being
· [Mr. Crompton informs the editor, that this was the Rev. William Coxe, who had recently published his travels.Ed.]
informed that the nation would not bear it, he produced the critique Ched. which now stands in the Life of Milton, and which he admitted to be Letters, excellent. I contended that Dr. Johnson had there expressed his real opinion, which no man was less afraid of delivering than Dr. Johnson, that the critique was written con amore, and that the work was praised with such a glow of fondness, and the grounds of that praise were so fully and satisfactorily unfolded, that it was impossible Dr. Johnson should not have felt the value of the work, which he had so liberally and rationally commended. It came out afterwards that Dr. Johnson had disgusted Mr. C[oxe]. He had supped at Thrale's one night when he sat near the upper end of the table, and Dr. Johnson near the lower end; and having related a long story which had very much delighted the company, in the pleasure resulting from which relation Dr. Johnson had not (from his deafness and the distance at which he sat) participated, Mrs. Thrale desired him to retell it to the doctor. C[oxe] complied, and going down to the bottom of the table, bawled it over again in Dr. Johnson's ear: when he had finished, Johnson replied, “So, sir, and this you relate as a good thing:' at which C[oxe] fired. He added to us, 'Now it was a good thing, because it was about the King of Poland.' Of the value of the story, as he did not relate it, I cannot judge; but I am sure you will concur with me that it was not therefore necessarily a good thing because it was about a king. I think Johnson's behaviour was indefensibly rude, but from the sample I had of C[oxe]'s conversation, I am led to suspect that Johnson's censure was not unfounded.”
ANECDOTES OF DR. JOHNSON
BY MR. WICKINS, OF LICHFIELD.
(From the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xciii. p. 389.)
[Dr. Harwood informs the Editor, that Mr. Wickins was a respectable
draper in Lichfield. It is very true that Dr. Johnson was accustomed to call on him during his visits to his native town. The garden attached to his house was ornamented in the manner he describes, and no doubt was ever entertained of the exactness of his anecdotes. ]
“Walking one day with him in my garden at Lichfield, we entered a small meandering shrubbery, whose · Vista not lengthened to the sight,' gave promise of a larger extent. I observed that he might perhaps conceive that he was entering an extensive labyrinth, but that it would prove a deception, though I hoped not an unpardonable
• Sir,' said he, don't tell me of deception ; a lie, sir, is a lie, whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.'
Passing on we came to an urn which I had erected to the me
Wick. mory of a deceased friend. I asked him how he liked that urn-it Anec.
was of the true Tuscan order. Sir,' said he, "I hate them'; they are nothing, they mean nothing, convey no ideas but ideas of horror -would they were beaten to pieces to pave our streets !
“We then came to a cold bath. I expatiated upon its salubrity. Sir,' said he, “how do you do?' “Very well, I thank you,
doctor.' • Then, sir, let well enough alone, and be content. I hate immersion.' Truly, as Falstaff says, the doctor 'would have a sort of alacrity at sinking
Upon the margin stood the Venus de Medicis.
"So stands the statue that enchants the world.'
• Throw her,' said he, “into the pond to hide her nakedness, and to cool her lasciviousness.'
“ He then, with some difficulty, squeezed himself into a root house, when his eye caught the following lines from Parnell :
“Go search among your idle dreams,
“ The doctor, however, not possessing any silvan ideas, seemed not to admit that heaven could be an Arcadia.
" I then observed him with Herculean strength tugging at a nail which he was endeavouring to extract from the bark of a plum tree; and having accomplished it, he exclaimed, “There, sir, I have done some good to-day; the tree might have festered. I make a rule, sir, to do some good every day of my life.'
“ Returning through the house, he stepped into a small study or book-room. The first book he laid his hands upon was Harwood's S
· Liberal Translation of the New Testament.' The passage which St.John, first caught his eye was from that sublime apostrophe in St. John, xi. 35.
upon the raising of Lazarus, - Jesus wept;' which Harwood had
Yes, doctor; I read Sherlock, Tillotson, Beveridge, and others.' * Ay, sir, there you drink the cup of salvation to the bottom; here you have merely the froth from the surface.'
[See a similar sentiment on the occasion of Mr. Myddleton's urn to himself, v. iv. p. 2.-ED.)
» [A mistake; he was a good swimmer. See ante, vol. iii. p. 456.-ED.]
3 | The reader must bear in mind that this Doctor Edward Harwood, the same mentioned by Mr. Cradock, and who has been dead many years, is not to be confounded with Dr. Thomas Harwood, of Lichfield, who is now alive, and whose information is quoted at the head of this article. -Ed.]
- Within this room stood the Shakspearean mulberry vase, a pe- Wick.
Anecd. destal given by me to Mr. Garrick, and which was recently sold, with Mr. Garrick's gems, at Mrs. Garrick's sale at Hampton. The doctor read the inscription :
SACRED TO SHAKSPEARE,
And in honour of
Of the British Stage.'
“Ay, sir; Davy, Davy loves flattery, but here indeed you have flattered him as he deserves, paying a just tribute to his merit.''
“In Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson,” says another correspondent G.W.L. of the Gentleman's Magazine, “her relates, that Garrick being asked Gent.
. by Johnson what people said of his Dictionary, told him, that
V. xciv. among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities p. 386. which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. "Nay,' said Johnson, 'I have done worse than that; I have cited thee, David.' This anecdote induced me to turn over the leaves of his Dictionary, that I might note the citations from each writer. Two only I found from Garrick, viz.
The quotations from Richardson are at least eighty in number; almost all of which are from his Clarissa.”
V. xcii. p. 592.
“ Dr. Brocklesby", a few days before the death of Dr. Johnson, Green, found on the table Dr. Kippis's account of the Disputes of the Royal Society. Dr. J. inquired of his physician if he had read it, who answered in the negative. “You are at no loss, sir. It is poor stuff, indeed, a sad unscholar-like performance. I could not have believed that that man would have written so ill.'
“He then said, “Dr. Brocklesby, do you think there is a possibility that I should recover?' What nature may do I cannot say, but art has done her utmost.' How long do you
live ?' I cannot precisely say, perhaps a few days.' That is honest and friendly. Do
you think I can live a week?' 'No.' 'Do you think I can live
[It was Mr. Langton who related it, on the authority of J. G. Cooper. See ante, vol. iv. p. 336..Ed.)
? [This and the four following anecdotes are told by Mr. Green of Lichfield. See ante, v. iii. p. 353.-ED.]