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Garrick had re- Ætat.04.
Johnson's own superlative powers of wit set him 1773. above any risk of such uneasiness. Garrick had remarked to me of him, a few days before, “ Rabelais and all other wits are nothing compared with him. You may be diverted by them; but Johnson gives you a forcible hug, and shakes laughter out of you, whether
Johnson, though remarkable for his great variety of composition, never exercised his talents in fable, except we allow his beautiful tale published in Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies to be of that species. I have however, found among his manuscript collections the following sketch of one:
« Glow-worin lying in the garden saw a candle
[It has already been observed, that one of his first Essays was
1773. in a neighbouring palace,--and complained of the
littleness of his own light ;--another observed-wait Etat. 64.
a little ;---soon dark,—have outlasted tona [many] of these glaring lights which are only brighter as they haste to nothing."
On Thursday, April 29, I dined with him at General Oglethorpe's, where were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, and Mr. Thrale. I was very desirous to get Dr. Johnson absolutely fixed in his resolution to go with me to the Hebrides this year ; and I told him that I had received a letter from Dr. Robertson the historian, upon the subject, with which he was much pleased, and now talked in such a manner of his long intended tour, that I was satisfied he meant to fulfil his engagement.
The custom of eating dogs at Otaheite being mentioned, Goldsmith observed, that this was also a custom in China ; that a dog-butcher is as common there as any other butcher; and that when he walks abroad all the dogs fall on him. JOHNSON. “ That is rot owing to his killing dogs, Sir. I remember a butcher at Lichfield, whom a dog that was in the house where I lived, always attacked. It is the smell of carnage which provokes this, let the animals he has killed be what they may.” GOLDSMITH.
“ Yes there is a general abhorrence in animals at the signs of massacre. If you put a tub full of blood into a stable, the horses are like to go mad.” Johnson.“ I doubt that.” GOLDSMITH. “ Nay, Sir, it is a fact well authenticated.” THRALE. “ You had better prove it before you put it into your book on natural history. You may do it in my stable if
a Latin Poem on a glow-worm ; but whether it be any where extant, has not been ascertained. M.]
Johnson.“ Nay, Sir, I would not have him prove it. 1773. If he is content to take his information from others,
Ætat. 64. he may get through his book with little trouble, and without much endangering his reputation. But if he makes experiments for so comprehensive a book as his, there would be no end to them ; his erroneous assertions would then fall upon himself; and he might be blamed for not having made experiments as to every particular.”
The character of Mallet having been introduced, and spoken of slightingly by Goldsmith ; Johnson. " Why, Sir, Mallet had talents enough to keep his literary reputation alive as long as he himself lived ; and that, let me tell you, is a good deal.” GOLD
“ But I cannot agree that it was so. His literary reputation was dead long before his natural death. I consider an authour's literary reputation to be alive only while his name will insure a good price for his copy from the booksellers. I will get you (to Johnson,) a hundred guineas for any thing whatever that you shall write, if you put your name to it."
Dr. Goldsmith's new play, “ She Stoops to Conquer," being mentioned; Johnson. “ I know of no comedy for many years that has so much exhilarated an audience, that has answered so much the great end of comedy--making an audience merry. ”
Goldsmith having said, that Garrick's compliment to the Queen, which he introduced into the play of - The Chances,' which he had altered and revised this year, was mean and gross flattery ;-Johnson.
Why, Sir, I would not write, I would not give solemnly under my hand, a character beyond what I thought really true; but a speech on the stage, let
1773. it flatter ever so extravagantly, is formular. It has
always been formular to flatter Kings and Queens ; Ætat. 64.
so much so, that even in our church-service we have
66 It is
an argument, hangs himself. He thinks I shall cut
1773. him down, but I'll let him hang." (laughing vocifer
Ætat. 64. ously:) Sir Joshua REYNOLDS. " Mr. Boswell thinks that the profession of a lawyer being unquestionably honourable, if he can show the profession of a player to be more honourable, he proves his argument."
On Friday, April 30, I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, where were Lord Charlemont, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and some more inembers of the LITERARY Club, whom he had obligingly invited to ineet me, as I was this evening to be ballotted for as candidate for admission into that distinguished society. Johnson had done me the honour to propose me, and Beauclerk was very zealous for me.
Goldsmith being mentioned ; JOHNSON. amazing how little Goldsmith knows. He seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than any one else." SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. " Yet there is no man whose company is more liked.” Johnson. “To be sure, Sir. When people find a man of the most distinguished abilities as a writer, their inferiour while he is with them, it must be highly gratifying to them. What Goldsmith comically says of himself is very true, -he always gets the better when he argues alone; meaning, that he is master of a subject in his study, and can write well upon it; but when he comes into company, grows confused, and unable to talk. Take him as a poet, his ' Traveller' is a very fine performance ; ay, and so is his · Deserted Village,' were it not sometimes too much the echo of his · Traveller.' Whether, indeed, we take him as a poet,--as a comick writer,-or as an historian, he stands in the first class." BOSWELL. " An histo