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the plates, of the Herculaneum Antiquities. JOHNSON. "They don't know what they have undertaken; the engravers will drive them mad, Sir." And this, perhaps, with other reasons, might prevent their executing more than one volume. At another time, he said, "that Mr. Farmer, of your College, is a very clever man, indeed, Sir." And on my asking him whether he knew the fact with respect to the learning of Shakspeare, before that gentleman's publication? JOHNSON. "Why, yes, Sir, I knew in general that the fact was as he represents it; but I did not know it, as Mr. Farmer has now taught it me, by detail, Sir." I was several times the bearer of messages between them; and my suggesting and expressing a hope that we should some time or other have the pleasure of seeing him at Cambridge, when I should be most happy to introduce them to each other, might somewhat conduce to his taking the journey I am about to describe.
The last time I called upon him was long after the Cambridge visit, and I found with him Mr. Strahan, his son the Vicar of Islington, and two or three other gentlemen, one of whom was upon his legs taking leave, and saying, “Well, Doctor, as you know I shall set off to-morrow, what shall I say for you to Mrs. Thrale, when I see her?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, you may tell her how I am: but no, Sir, no, she knows that already; and so when you see Mrs. Thrale, you will say to her what it is predestined that you are to say to her, Sir." Amidst the general laugh occasioned by this sally, the gentleman retired; and the Doctor, joining in the merriment, proceeded, "for you know, Sir, when a person has said or done any thing, it was plainly predestinated that he was to say or do that particular thing, Sir." I recollect but one more interview with him in town; but to describe that would lead me so far out of my way at present, that I believe I must defer this to some future communication.
Of the journey I principally intended to describe, there is, as I observed, a short account, by Dr. Sharp, in the Gentleman's Magazine for March, 1785, in which he there addresses his friend, "I have had Johnson in the chair in which I am
now writing. He came down on Saturday with a Mr. Beauelerk, who has a friend at Trinity (a Mr. Lester, or Leicester). Caliban, you may be sure, was not roused from his lair till next day noon. He was not heard of till Monday afternoon, when I was sent for home to two gentlemen unknown. He drank his large potations of tea with me, interrupted by many an indignant contradiction, and many a noble sentiment, &c. He had a better wig than usual, but one whose curls were not, like Sir Cloudesley's, formed for 'eternal buckle.' He went to town next morning; but as it began to be known that he was in the University, several persons got into his company the last evening at Trinity." And then his conclusion is equally foolish and indecent: "where about twelve he began to be very great, stripped poor Mrs. Macaulay to the skin, then gave her for a toast, and drank her in two bumpers." Who these several persons were, will appear in the sequel.
When I mentioned a wish to introduce him to our common friend Farmer, the Doctor did not seem disinclined to the proposal; and it was on a Saturday in the beginning of March, 1765, that, having accepted the offer of Topham Beauclerk, Esq. to drive him down in his phaeton, they arrived at the Rose Inn, Cambridge. My friend, of Sidney, had the honour to be the only gownsman sent for by the great man to spend the first evening with him, though Mr. Beauclerk had probably also his friend from Trinity. Next morning, though Caliban, as Sharp saucily calls him, might have been time enough out of his lair, yet I admire his prudence and good sense in not appearing that day at St. Mary's, to be the general gaze during the whole service. Such an appearance at such a time and place might have turned, as it were, a Christian church into an idol temple; but vanity consorts not with real excellence. He was, however, heard of that day, for he was with the above party, with the addition, perhaps, of another friend of his, our respectable Greek Professor, Dr. Lort; but whether or not I was myself of my friend's Sunday party, we can neither of us clearly recollect. To my inquiries concerning this Sidney symposium, my friend has returned the following
short but lively description of it:—“Our distinguished visiter shone gloriously in his style of dissertation on a great variety of subjects. I recollect his condescending to as earnest a care of the animal as of the intellectual man, and, after doing all justice to my College bill of fare, and without neglecting the glass after dinner, he drank sixteen dishes of tea. I was idly curious enough to count them, from what I had remarked, and heard Levett mention of his extraordinary devotion to the teapot."
On this subject Boswell observes, that " Johnson's nerves must have been uncommonly strong, not to have been extremely relaxed by such an intemperate use of the infusion of this fragrant leaf. He assured me that he never felt the least inconvenience from it." It is remarkable, that the only controversy Johnson ever was engaged in, was with the truly amiable Jonas Hanway, about his Essay on Tea. I have several times met with that eminently good, which is better than great, man, Mr. Hanway, at the house of Mrs. Penny, or Penné, in Bloomsbury Square, a lady who, in 1771, dedicated to him a volume of Poetry, calling him "The second Man of Ross." Once he was unluckily introduced in the very midst of a large tea-drinking party, which made the Philanthropist look grave, and rather disconcerted our elegant and accomplished hostess. At the same house, too, I once heard him mention Johnson and his criticism with a warmth that I did not expect from the meek and gentle Hanway. "The man,"
said he, "abuses my work upon tea; and he sits in this manner," mimicking the shaking of the Doctor's hands and head, "and then he wonders what I can mean by writing against so wholesome a beverage; while, as he is unable to keep a nerve of him still, he is all the while slopping half of it upon his breeches' knees." When I told this anecdote to Dr. Percy, he was much diverted, and observed, "Ay, ay; and yet, in spite of all his tea-bibbing, the gigantic Johnson could have seized with both hands upon the puny Hanway, and discerped him."
Before I close my account. of the Sidney dinner, let me observe, that though my friend could not recollect any of the
Doctor's bon-mots at that time, yet the inquiry brought to his mind a former one of our literary hero, so well authenticated, and, perhaps, so little known, that, though it has no reference to our present story, I shall take this opportunity of recording it. From the year 1768 to 1771, my friend was Chaplain to his Majesty's Minister at the court of Denmark, Sir R. Gunning, and tutor to his children. One of the latter, a very accomplished young lady, became in process of time the Hon. Mrs. Digby, who related to her former tutor the following anecdote. This lady was present at the introduction of Dr. Johnson at one of the late Mrs. Montagu's literary parties, when Mrs. Digby herself, with several still younger ladies, almost immediately surrounded our Colossus of literature (an odd figure sure enough) with more wonder than politeness, and while contemplating him, as if he had been some monster from the deserts of Africa, Johnson said to them—“ Ladies, I am tame; you may stroke me."—"A happier, or more deserved reproof," Mrs. D. said, "could not have been given!"
I now hasten to redeem my pledge by describing the first meeting of our two great luminaries, Johnson and Farmer. On Monday morning I met the former at Sidney, with the view of conducting him to the latter at Emmanuel. As the Doctor was a stranger at Cambridge, we took a circuitous route to give him a cursory glimpse of some of the colleges. We passed through Trinity, which he admired in course, and then said to me, "And what is this next?"-Trinity Hall."— I like that college."- 66 Why so, Doctor?"-"Because I like the science that they study there." Hence he walked, or rather, perhaps, rolled or waddled, in a manner not much unlike Pope's idea of 66 a dabchick waddling through the copse,"
either by or through Clare Hall, King's College, Catherine Hall, Queen's, Pembroke, Peterhouse, to the place of our destination.
The long-wished-for interview of these unknown friends was uncommonly joyous on both sides. After the salutations, said
Johnson: "Mr. Farmer, I understand you have a large collection of very rare and curious books." "Why yes, Sir, to be sure I have plenty of all such reading as was never read." JOHNSON. "Will you favour me with a specimen, Sir?" Farmer, considering for a moment, reached down "Markham's Booke of Armorie," and turning to a particular page, presented it to the Doctor, who, with rolling head, attentively perused it. The passage having been previously pointed out to myself, I am luckily enabled to lay it before the reader, because I find it quoted, totidem verbis, as a great curiosity, which it certainly is, at line 101. of the first part of "The Pursuits of Literature." The words in question are said to be the conclusion of the first chapter of " Markham's Booke," entitled, "The difference between Churles and Gentlemen," and is as follows:-" From the offspring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and the Prophets, &c. &c.; and also the king of the right line of Mary, of whom that only absolute gentleman Jesus was born, Gentleman by his mother Mary, Princesse of Coat Armorie," &c. Towards the conclusion of which unaccountable and almost incredible folly, the Doctor's features began most forcibly to remind me of Homer's μειδιόων βλοσυροισι προσωπασι; and if you can conceive a cast of countenance expressive at once of both pleasantry and horror, that was the one which our sage assumed when he exclaimed, "Now I am shocked, Sir-now I am shocked!"—which was only answered by Farmer with his usual ha! ha! ha! for even blasphemy, where it is unintentional, may be so thoroughly ridiculous as merely to excite the laugh of pity!
What I have next to relate occurred during the visit, but at what period of it is uncertain. If the great man left us a Tuesday morning, as Sharp asserts, and I think correctly, it must have been on Sunday afternoon, which will prove aat I was of the Sidney party, and went with the rest, conducted by Mr. Leicester, into Trinity library. On our first entering, Johnson took up, on the right-hand side, not far from the door, a folio, which proved to be the Polyhistor of Morhof, a German genius of great celebrity in the 17th century. On