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1773. Goldsmith, however, was often very fortunate in his witty contests, even:
Ærat. 6. when he entered the lists with Johnson himself. Sir Joshua Reynolds was in

company with them one day, when Goldsmith said, that he thought he could
write a good fable, mentioned the simplicity which that kind of composition
requires, and observed, that in most fables the animals introduced seldom talk
in character. “ For instance, (said he,) the fable of the little fishes, who saw
birds fly over their heads, and envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be changed
into birds. The skill (continued he,) consists in making them talk like little
fishes.” While he indulged himself in this fanciful reverie, he observed
Johnson shaking his sides, and laughing. Upon which he smartly proceeded,
“Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy as you seem to think ; for if you
were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like WHALES.”

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-worm lying in the garden saw a candle in a neighbouring palace, and complained of the littleness of his own light ;-another observed—wait a little ;— soon dark ;-have outlasted on [many] of these glaring lights which only are 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 not 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.


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You may do it in my stable if you will.” Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, I would 1773

not have him prove it. 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 Nightingly 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.” GOLDSMITH. “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 ensure 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. Goldfimith'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 pattery ;-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 it flatter ever so extravagantly, is formular. It has always been formular to flatter Kings and Queens ; so much so, that even in our church-service we have our most religious King,' used indiscriminately, whoever is King. Nay, they even flatter themselves;— we have been graciously pleased to grant.?- No modern flattery, however, is so gross as that of the Augustan age, where the Emperour was deified. * Præsens Divus habebitur. Augustus.' And as to meanness, (rising into warmth,) how is it mean in a player,—a showman,-a fellow who exhibits himself for a shilling, to fatter his Queen? The attempt, indeed, was dangerous ; for if it had missed, what became of Garrick, and what became of the Queen? As Sir William Temple says of a great General, it is necessary not only that his designs should be formed in a masterly manner, but that they should be attended with success. Sir, it is right, at a time when the Royal Family is not generally liked, to let it be seen that the people like at least one of them.” SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. “ I do not perceive why the profession of a


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player should be despised; for the great and ultimate end of all the employÆtat. 74. ments of mankind is to produce amusement. Garrick produces more amuse

ment than any body.” Boswell. “ You say, Dr. Johnson, that Garrick exhibits himself for a shilling. In this respect he is only on a footing with a lawyer who exhibits himself for his fee, and even will maintain any nonsense or absurdity, if the case requires it. Garrick refuses a play or a part which he does not like; a lawyer never refuses.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, what does this prove? only that a lawyer is worse. Bofwell is now like Jack in 'The Tale of a Tub,' who, when he is puzzled by an argument, hangs himself. He thinks I shall cut him down, but I'll let him hang,” (laughing vociferously.) Sir Joshua Reynolds. “Mr. Boswell thinks that the profession of a lawyer being unquestionably honourable, if he can shew 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 members of the Literary Club, whom he had obligingly invited to meet me, as I was this evening to be balloted 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.“ It is 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; aye, 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 historian! My dear Sir, you surely will not rank his compilation of the Roman History with the works of other historians of this age?” Johnson. “ Why, who are before him?" Boswell. “Hume,-Robertson,-Lord Lyttelton.” Johnson. (His antipathy to the Scotch beginning to rise,) “ I have not read Hume; but, doubtless, Goldsmith's History is better than the verbiage of Robertson, or the foppery of Dalrymple.” Boswell, “Will you not admit the superiority of Robertson,


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in whose History we find such penetration,—such painting ?” Johnson.
“Sir, you must consider how that penetration and that painting are employed. Ærat. 64.
It is not history, it is imagination. He who describes what he never saw,
draws from fancy. Robertson paints minds as Sir Joshua paints faces in a
history-piece: he imagines an heroick countenance.

You must look upon
Robertson's work as romance, and try it by that standard. History it is

Besides, Sir, it is the great excellence of a writer to put into his book
as much as his book will hold. Goldsmith has done this in his History. Now
Robertson might have put twice as much into his book. Robertson is like a
man who has packed gold in wool : the wool takes up more room than the
gold. No, Sir; I always thought Robertson would be crushed by his own
weight,-would be buried under his own ornaments.

Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want to know: Robertson detains you a great deal too long. No man will read Robertson's cumbrous detail a second time; but Goldsmith's plain narrative will please again and again. I would say to Robertson what an old tutor of a College said to one of his pupils : 'Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' Goldsmith's abridgement is better than that of Lucius Florus or Eutropius; and I will venture to say, that if you compare him with Vertot, in the same places of the Roman History, you will find that he excels Vertot. Sir, he has the art of compiling, and of saying every thing he has to say in a pleasing manner. He is now writing a Natural History, and will make it as entertaining as, a Persian Tale."

I cannot dismiss the present topick without observing, that it is probable
that Dr. Johnson, who owned that he often “ talked for victory,” rather urged
plausible objections to Dr. Robertson's excellent historical works, in the ardour
of contest, than expressed his real and decided opinion ; for it is not easy to
fuppofe, that he should so widely differ from the rest of the literary world.

Johnson. “ I remember once being with Goldsmith in Westminster-abbey..
While we surveyed the Poets' Corner, I said to him,

Forstan et noftrum nomen miscebitur iftis ?
When we got to Temple-bar he stopped me, pointed to the heads upon it,
and Nily whispered me,

Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis 8.”

7 Ovid, de Art. Amand. l. iii. v, 13.
* In allufion to Dr. Johnson's supposed political principles, and perhaps his own.


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1773. Johnson praised John Bunyan highly. “ His · Pilgrim's Progress' has Ætat. 64. great merit, both for invention, imagination, and the conduct of the story;

and it has had the best evidence of its merit, the general and continued approbation of mankind. Few books, I believe, have had a more extensive sale. It is remarkable, that it begins very much like the poem of Dante; yet there was no translation of Dante when Bunyan wrote. There is reason to think that he had read Spencer."

A proposition which had been agitated, that monuments to eminent persons should, for the time to come, be erected in St. Paul's church as well as in Westminster-abbey, was mentioned; and it was asked, who should be honoured by having his monument first erected there. Somebody suggested Pope. . Johnson. “ Why, Sir, as Pope was a Roman Catholick, I would not have his to be first. I think Milton's rather should have the precedence. I think more highly of him now than I did at twenty. There is more thinking in him and in Butler than in any of our poets.'

Some of the company expressed a wonder why the authour of so excellent a book as “ The whole Duty of Man" should conceal himself. Johnson. “ There may be different reasons assigned for this, any one of which would be very sufficient. He may have been a clergyman, and may have thought that his religious counsels would have less weight when known to come from a man whose profession was Theology. He may have been a man whose practice was not suitable to his principles ; so that his character might injure the effect of his book, which he had written in a season of penitence. Or he may have been a man of rigid self-denial, so that he would have no reward for his pious labours while in this world, but refer it all to a future state.”

The gentlemen went away to their club, and I was left at Beauclerk's till the fate of my election should be announced to me. In a short time I received the agreeable intelligence that I was chosen. I hastened to the place of meeting, and was introduced to such a society as can seldom be found. Mr. Edmund Burke, whom I then saw for the first time, and whose splendid talents had long made me ardently wish for his acquaintance ; Dr. Nugent, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. (now Sir William,) Jones, and the company with whom I had dined. Upon my entrance, Johnson placed himself behind a chair, on which he leaned as on a desk or pulpit, and with humorous formality gave me a Charge, pointing out the conduct expected from me as a good member of this club.

Goldsmith produced some very absurd verses which had been publickly recited to an audience for money. Johnson. “I can match this nonsense.


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