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he gained his point. An animated dispute immediately. arose, in which, according to Boswell's report, Johnson monopolized the greater part of the conversation ; not always treating the dissenting clergymen with the greatest courtesy, and even once wounding the feelings of the mild and amiable Bennet Langton by his harshness.
Goldsmith mingled a little in the dispute and with some advantage, but was cut short by flat contradictions when most in the right.
He sat for a time silent but impatient under such overbearing dogmatism, though Boswell, with his usual misinterpretation, attributes his "restless agitation” to a wish to get in and shine. Finding himself excluded,” continues Boswell, “ he had taken his hat to go away, but remained for a time with it in his hand, like a gamester who at the end of a long night lingers for a little while to see if he can have a favorable opportunity to finish with success." Once he was beginning to speak, when he was overpowered by the loud voice of Johnson, who was at the opposite end of the table, and did not perceive his attempt; whereupon he threw down, as it were, his hat and his argument, and, darting an angry glance at Johnson, exclaimed in a bitter tone, “ Take it."
Just then one of the disputants was beginning to speak, when Johnson uttering some sound, as if about to interrupt him, Goldsmith, according to Boswell, seized the opportunity to vent his own envy and spleen under pretext of supporting an
Sir,” said he to Johnson, “the gentleman has heard you patiently for an hour ;
INTERMEDDLING OF BOSWELL.
pray allow us now to hear him.” It was a reproof in the lexicographer's own style, and he may have felt that he merited it; but he was not accustomed to be reproved. “Sir," said he, sternly, "I was
“ , not interrupting the gentleman ; I was only giving him a signal of my attention. Sir, you are imperlinent." Goldsmith made no reply, but after some time went away, having another engagement.
That evening, as Boswell was on the way with Johnson and Langton to the club, he seized the occasion to make some disparaging remarks on Goldsmith, which he thought would just then be acceptable to the great lexicographer. pity,” he said, “ that Goldsmith would on every occasion endeavor to shine, by which he so often exposed himself.” Langton contrasted him with Addison, who, content with the fame of his writings, acknowledged himself unfit for conversation ; and on being taxed by a lady with silence in company, replied, “ Madam, I have but ninepence in ready money, but I can draw for a thousand pounds.” To this Boswell rejoined that Goldsmith had a great deal of gold in his cabinet, but was always taking out his purse. “Yes, sir," chuckled Johnson, “ and that so often an empty
“ It was a
By the time Johnson arrived at the club, however, his angry feelings had subsided, and his native generosity and sense of justice had got the uppermost. He found Goldsmith in company with Burke, Garrick, and other members, but sitting silent and apart,“ brooding,” as Boswell says, "over the reprimand he had received.” Johnson's
away as usual.”
good heart yearned towards him; and knowing his placable nature, “I'll make Goldsmith forgive me,” whispered he ; then, with a loud voice, “ Dr. Goldsmith,” said he, “ something passed today where you and I dined, - I ask your pardon." The ire of the poet was extinguished in an instant, and his grateful affection for the magnanimous though sometimes overbearing moralist rushed to his heart. “ It must be much from you, sir," said he, “ that I take ill!” “ And so,” adds Boswell, “ the difference was over, and they were on as easy terms as ever, and Goldsmith rattled
We do not think these stories tell to the poet's disadvantage, even though related by Boswell.
Goldsmith, with all his modesty, could not be ignorant of his proper merit, and must have felt annoyed at times at being undervalued and elbowed aside by light-minded or dull men, in their blind and exclusive homage to the literary autocrat. It was a fine reproof he gave to Boswell on one occasion, for talking of Johnson as entitled to the honor of exclusive superiority. Sir, you are for making a monarchy what should be a republic.” On another occasion, when he was conversing in company with great vivacity, and apparently to the satisfaction of those around him, an honest Swiss who sat near, one George Michael Moser, keeper of the Royal Academy, perceiving Dr. Johnson rolling himself as if about to speak, exclaimed, “ Stay, stay! Toctor Shonson is going to say something." “ And are you sure, sir,” replied Goldsmith, sharply, “ that you can comprehend what he says ?”
DOCTORS MAJOR AND MINOR.
This clever rebuke, which gives the main zest to the anecdote, is omitted by Boswell, who probably did not perceive the point of it.
He relates another anecdote of the kind on the authority of Johnson himself. The latter and Goldsmith were one evening in company with the Rev. George Graham, a master of Eton, who, notwithstanding the sobriety of his cloth, had got intoxicated “to about the pitch of looking at one man and talking to another.” Doctor," he, in an ecstasy of devotion and good-will, but goggling by mistake upon Goldsmith, “I should be glad to see you at Eton.” I shall be glad to wait upon you," replied Goldsmith. no!” cried the other, eagerly ; “ 't is not you
I mean, Doctor Minor, 't is Doctor Major there." “ You may easily conceive,” said Johnson, in re. lating the anecdote, “what effect this had upon Goldsmith, who was irascible as a hornet." The only comment, however, which he is said to have made, partakes more of quaint and dry humor than bitterness. “ That Graham,” said he, “ is enough to make one commit suicide.” What more could be said to express the intolerable nuisance of a consummate bore ?
We have now given the last scenes between Goldsmith and Johnson which stand recorded by Boswell. The latter called on the poet, a few days after the dinner at Dilly's, to take leave of him prior to departing for Scotland ; yet, even in this last interview, he contrives to get up a charge of “ jealousy and envy.” Goldsmith, he would fain persuade us, is very angry that Johnson is going to travel with him in Scotland, and endeavors to persuade him that he will be a dead weight “to lug along through the Highlands and Hebrides." Any one else, knowing the character and habits of Johnson, would have thought the same ; and no one but Boswell would have sup. posed his office of bear-leader to the ursa major a thing to be envied.*
* One of Peter Pindar's (Dr. Wolcot) most amusing jeua d'esprit is his congratulatory epistle to Boswell on this tour of which we subjoin a few lines.
O Boswell, Bozzy, Bruce, whate'er thy name,
Bless'd be thy labors, most adventurous Bozzy,