페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

in that; one would choose to go a fishing in this lake, the other in that; or, perhaps, one would choose to go a hunting, when the other would choose to go a fishing ; and so they would part. Besides, Sir, a savage man and a savage woman meet by chance : and when the man sees another woman that pleases him better, he will leave the first.”

We then fell into a disquisition, whether there is any beauty independent of utility. The General maintained there was not. Dr. Johnson maintained that there was ; and he instanced a coffee cup which he held in his hand, the painting of which was of no real use, as the cup would hold the coffee equally well if plain ; yet the painting was beautiful.

We talked of the strange custom of swearing in conversation. The General said, that all barbarous nations swore from a certain violence of temper, that could not be confined to earth, but was always reaching at the powers above. He said, too, that there was greater variety of swearing, in proportion as there was a greater variety of religious ceremonies.

Dr. Johnson went home with me to my lodgings in Conduit Street and drank tea, previous to our going to the Pantheon, which neither of us had seen before.

He said, “ Goldsmith's Life of Parnell is poor ; not that it is poorly written, but that he had poor materials ; for nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.”

I said, that if it was not troublesome and presuming too much, I would request him to tell me all

the little circumstances of his life ; what schools he attended, when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, &c. &c. He did not disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars ; but said, “ They'll come out by degrees, as we talk together.” (1)

He censured Ruffhead's Life of Pope (?); and said, “ he knew nothing of Pope, and nothing of poetry.” He praised Dr. Joseph Warton's Essay on Pope; but said, “he supposed we should have no more of it, as

(1) When, on the 18th of July, 1773, I happened to allude to his future biographer, “ And who will be my biographer,'' said he, “ do you think?” “Goldsmith, no doubt,” replied Í, 4 and he will do it the best among us."-" The dog would write it best, to be sure,” replied he; but his particular malice towards me, and general disregard for truth, would make the book useless to all, and injurious to my character.”—“Oh! as to that,” said I, “we should all fasten upon him, and force him to do you justice; but the worst is, the Doctor does not know your life ; nor can I tell, indeed, who does, except Dr. Taylor of Ashbourne.”—“ Why, Taylor,” said he, “is better acquainted with my heart than any man or woman now alive ; and the history of my Oxford exploits lies all between him and Adams; but Dr. James knows my very early days better than he. After my coming to London to drive the world about a little, you must all go to Jack Hawkesworth for anecdotes: I lived in great familiarity with him (though I think there was not much affection) from the year 1753 till the time Mr. Thrale and you took me up. I intend, however, to disappoint the rogues, and either make you write the Life, with Taylor's intelligence; or, which is better, do it myself, after outliving you all. I am now," added he, “keeping a diary, in hopes of using it for that purpose some time.” – Piozzi.

This (as well as the story of the shoes, antè, Vol. I. p. 79.) seems inconsistent with the inference drawn from the books of Pembroke College, that Johnson had left Oxford before Taylor came thither. I can attempt to reconcile these discrepancies only by supposing that Johnson, though he had left Pembroke College, continued in Oxford, living, perhaps, with Taylor, as companion or private tutor. — C.

(2) [Owen Ruff head was born in 1723, and died in 1769; in which year his “ Life of Pope” was published. The materials were supplied by Dr. Warburton, who corrected the proof sheets.]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the author had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he did.” BOSWELL. “Why, Sir, should that prevent him from continuing his work ? He is an ingenious counsel, who has made the most of his cause : he is not obliged to gain it.” JOHNSON. “But, Sir, there is a difference, when the cause is of a man's own making."

We talked of the proper use of riches. Johnson. “ If I were a man of a great estate, I would drive all the rascals whom I did not like out of the county, at an election.” .

I asked him, how far he thought wealth should be employed in hospitality. JOHNSON. “You are to consider that ancient hospitality, of which we hear so much, was in an uncommercial country, when men being idle, were glad to be entertained at rich men's tables. But in a commercial country, a busy country, time becomes precious, and therefore hospitality is not so much valued. No doubt there is still room for a certain degree of it; and a man has a satisfaction in seeing his friends eating and drinking around him. But promiscuous hospitality is not the way to gain real influence. You must help some people at table before others; you must ask some people how they like their wine oftener than others. You therefore offend more people than you please. You are like the French statesman (1), who said, when he granted a favour, J'ai fait dix mécontents et un ingrat. Besides, Sir, being entertained ever so well at a man's table, impresses no lasting regard or esteem.

(1) [This “ French statesman” was Louis XIV.]

No, Sir, the way to make sure of power and influence is, by lending money confidentially to your neighbours at a small interest, or perhaps at no interest at all, and having their bonds in your possession.” BOSWELL, “May not a man, Sir, employ his riches to advantage, in educating young men of merit ?” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir, if they fall in your way ; but if it be understood that you patronise young men of merit, you will be harassed with solicitations. You will have numbers forced upon you, who have no merit; some will force them upon you from mistaken partiality; and some from downright interested motives, without scruple; and you will be disgraced.”

“ Were I a rich man, I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow in the open air. A greenhouse is childish. I would introduce foreign animals into the country; for instance, the rein-deer.” (1)

The conversation now turned on critical subjects. JOHNSON. “ Bayes, in • The Rehearsal,' is a mighty silly character. If it was intended to be like a particular man, it could only be diverting while that man was remembered. But I question whether it was meant for Dryden, as has been reported; for we know some of the passages said to be ridiculed, were written since the Rehearsal : at least a passage mentioned in the Preface is of a later date.”(2) I main

(1) This project has since been realised. Sir Henry Liddel, who made a spirited tour into Lapland, brought two rein-deer to his estate in Northumberland, where they bred; but the race has unfortunately perished.

(2) Dr. Johnson did not know, it appears, that several additions were made to the “ The Rehearsal," after the first edition. The ridicule on the passages here alluded to is found among

ÆTAT. 63. ' RANELAGH AND THE PANTHEON.

201

tained that it had merit as a general satire on the selfimportance of dramatic authors. But even in this light he held it very cheap.

We then walked to the Pantheon. The first view of it did not strike us so much as Ranelagh (1), of which he said, the “ coup 'oeil was the finest thing he had ever seen.” The truth is, Ranelagh is of a more beautiful form ; more of it, or rather indeed the whole rotunda, appears at once, and it is better lighted. However, as Johnson observed, we saw the Pantheon in time of mourning, when there was a dull uniformity; whereas we had seen Ranelagh, when the view was enlivened with a gay profusion of co

those additions.-M.–Bayes may have been originally sketched for Sir Robert Howard, but there is no doubt that the finished picture was meant for Dryden - he himself complains bitterly that it was so; and Johnson, better informed when he came to write Dryden's Life, expressly says, that “ he was characterised under the name of Bayes in The Rehearsal.'” - C.

(1) Ranelagh, so called because its site was that of a villa of Viscount Ranelagh, near Chelsea, was a place of entertainment, of which the principal room was an oval of great dimensions, with an orchestra in the centre, and tiers of boxes all round. The chief amusement was promenading, as it was called, round and round the circular area below, and taking refreshments in the boxes, while the orchestra executed different pieces of music. The Pantheon, in Oxford Street, was built in 1772, after Wyatt's designs, as a kind of town Ranelagh, but partook more of the shape of a theatre (to the purposes of which it was sometimes applied). Both these places had a considerable vogue for a time, but are now almost forgotten: the last appearance (if one may use the expression) of Ranelagh was when the installation ball of the Knights of the Bath, in 1802, was given there. It has since been razed to the ground, and no vestige of that once fairy palace remains. The original Pantheon was burned down, but was rebuilt on a more moderate scale, and used to be heard of, as the scene of an occasional masquerade or concert; but it has not been opened, it is believed, for the last twenty years. - C. [In 1834, the building was converted into a bazaar.]

« 이전계속 »