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1776. old acquaintance Wilkins, of the Three Crowns. Ætat. 67.
The family likeness of the Garricks was very striking; and Johnson thought that David's vivacity was not so peculiar to himself as was supposed.
“ Sir, (said he) I don't know but if Peter had cultivated all the arts of gaiety as much as David has done, he might have been as brisk and lively. Depend upon it, Sir, vivacity is much an art, and depends greatly on habit.” I believe there is a good deal of truth in this, notwithstanding a ludicrous story told me by a lady abroad, of a heavy German baron, who had lived much with the young English at Geneva, and was ambitious to be as lively as they ; with which view, he, with assiduous exertion, was jumping over the tables and chairs in his lodgings; and when the people of the house ran in and asked, with surprize, what was the matter, he answered, “ Sk'apprens t'etre fif.
We dined at our inn, and had with us a Mr. Jackson, one of Johnson's schoolfellows, whom he treated with much kindness, though he seemed to be a low man, dull and untaught. He had a coarse grey coat, black waistcoat, greasy leather breeches, and a yellow uncurled wig ; and his countenance had the ruddiness which betokens one who is in no haste to “ leave his can.” He drank only ale. tried to be a cutler at Birmingham, but had not suicceeded; and now he lived poorly at home, and had some scheme of dressing leather in a better manner than common; to his indistinct account of which, Dr. Johnson listened with patient attention, that he might assist him with his advice. Here was an instance of genuine humanity and real kindness in this great man, who has been most unjustly represented as altogether harsk and lestitute of tenderness. A
thousand such instances might have been recorded 1776. in the course of his long life; though that his tem
Ætat. 67. per was warm and hasty, and his manner often rough, cannot be denied.
I saw here, for the first time, oat ale ; and oat cake, not hard as in Scotland, but soft like a York, shire cake, were served at breakfast. It was plesant to me to find, that “ Oats,” the “ food of horses," were so much used as the food of the people in Dr. Johnson's own town. He expatiated in praise of Lichfield and its inhabitants, who, he said, were “the most sober, decent people in England, the genteelest in proportion to their wealth, and spoke the purest English." I doubted as to the last article of this eulogy: for they had several provincial sounds; as there, pronounced like fear, instead of like fair; once pronounced woonse, instead of wunse, or wonse. Johnson himself never got entirely free of those
provincial accents. Garrick sometimes used to take him off, squeezing a Lemon into a punch-bowl, with uncouth' gesticulations, looking round the company, and calling out, “Who's for poonsh ?"4
Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found however two strange manu. factures for so inland a place, sail-cloth and streamers for ships; and I observed them making some saddlecloths, and dressing sheepskins: but upon the whole, the busy hand of industry seemed to be quite slackened. “Surely, Sir, (said I,) you are an idle set of
* [Garrick himself, like the Lickfieldians, always said-shupreme, shuperior. B.] This is still the vulgar pronunciation of Ireland, where the pro
. nunciation of the English language is doubtless that which generally prevailed in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth. M.]
1776. people." Sir, (said Johnson,) we are a city of phiÆtac. 67. losophers, we work with our heads, and make thebos
bies of Birmingham work for us with their hands."
There was at this time a company of players performing at Lichfield. The manager, Mr. Stanton, sent his compliments, and begged leave to wait on Dr. Johnson. Johnson received him very courteously, and he drank a glass of wine with us. He was a plain decent well-behaved man, and expressed his gratitude to Dr. Johnson for having once got him permission from Dr. Taylor at Ashbourne to play there upon
moderate terms. Garrick's name was soon introduced. JOHNSON. " Garrick's conversation is gay and grotesque. It is a dish of all sorts, but all good things. There is no solid meat in it: there is a want of sentiment in it. Not but that he has sen. timent sometimes, and sentiment too very powerful and very pleasing : but it has not its full proportion in his conversation."
When we were by ourselves he told me, years ago, Sir, I was in love with an actress here, Mrs. Emmet, who acted Flora, in Hob in the Well.” What merit this lady had as an actress, or what was her figure, or her manner, I have not been informed ; but, if we may believe Mr. Garrick, his old master's taste in theatrical merit was by no means refined ; he was not an elegans formarum spectator. Garrick used to tell, that' Johnson said of an actor, who played Sir Harry Wildair at Lichfield, « There is a courtly vivacity about the fellow;" when in fact according to Garrick's account, “ he was the most vulgar ruffian that ever went upon boards."
We had promised Mr. Stanton to be at his theatre on Monday. Dr. Johnson jocularly proposed me to write a Prologue for the occasion :-“ A Prologue, by
ct Forty James Boswell, Esq. from the Hebrides." I was 1776. really inclined to take the hint. Methought, « Pro
Ætat. 67. logue, spoken before Dr. Samuel Johnson, at Lichfield, 1776;" would have sounded as well as, “ Prologue, spoken before the Duke of York, at Oxford," in Charles the Second's time. Much might have been said of what Lichfield had done for Shakspeare, by producing Johnson and Garrick. But I found he was averse to it.
We went and viewed the museum of Mr. Richard Green, apothecary here, who told me he was proud of being a relation of Dr. Johnson's. It was, truely; a wonderful collection, both of antiquities and natu. ral curiosities, and ingenious works of art. He had all the articles accurately arranged, with their names upon labels, printed at his own little press; and on the staircase leading to it was a board, with the names of contributors marked in gold letters. A printed catalogue of the collection was to be had at a bookseller's. Johnson expressed his admiration of the activity and diligence and good fortune of Mr. Green; in getting together, in his situation, so great a variety of things ; and Mr. Green told me that Johnson once said to him, “Sir, I should as soon have thought of building a man of war, as of collecting such a museum.” Mr. Green's obliging alacrity in shewing it was very pleasing. His engraved portrait, with which he has favoured me, has a motto truely characteristical of his disposition, “ Nemo sibi vivat."
A physician being mentioned who had lost his practice, because his whimsically changing his religion had made people distrustful of him, I maintained that this was unreasonable, as religion is unconnected with medical skill. Johnson. “ Sir, it is not unreasonable; for when people see a man absurd in
1776. what they understand, they may conclude the same
of him in what they do not understand. If a physiÆtat. 67.
cian were to take to eating of horse-flesh, nobody would employ him; though one may eat horse-flesh, and be a very skilful physician. If a man were educated in an absurd religion, his continuing to profess it would not hurt him, though his changing to it would."
We drank tea and coffee at Mr. Peter Garrick's, where was Mrs. Aston, one of the maiden sisters of Mrs. Walmsley, wife of Johnson's first friend, and sister also of the lady of whom Johnson used to speak with the warmest admiration, by the name of Molly Aston, who was afterwards married to Captain Brodie of the navy,
On Sunday, March 24, we breakfasted with Mrs, Cobb, a widow lady, who lived in an agreeable sequestered place close by the town, called the Friary, it having been formerly a religious house. She and her niece, Miss Adey, 'were great admirers of Dr. Johnson; and he behaved to them with a kindness and easy pleasantry, such as we see between old and intimate acquaintance. He accompanied Mrs. Cobb to St. Mary's church, and I went to the cathedral, where I was very much delighted with the musick, finding it to be peculiarly solemn, and accordant with the words of the service,
We dined at Mr. Peter Garrick's, who was in a very lively humour, and verified Johnson's saying, that if he had cultivated gaiety as much as his brother David, he might have equally excelled in it. He was to day quite a London narrator, telling
(Fothergill a Quaker, and Schomberg a Jew, had the greatest practice of any two physicians of their time. B.]