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those by whom the imposture was detected. The story had become so popular, that he thought it should be investigated. After the gentlemen who went and examined into the evidence were satisfied of its falsity, Johnson wrote in their presence an account of it, which was published in the news- 5 papers and Gentleman's Magazine, and undeceived the world.°

I mentioned Mallet's tragedy of "ELVIRA." JOHNSON. "You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables." 10 He proceeded: "Your going abroad, Sir, and breaking off idle habits, may be of great importance to you. I would go where there are courts and learned men. There is a good deal of Spain that has not been perambulated. A man of inferiour talents to yours may furnish us with useful observa- 15 tions upon that country.'

Dr. Oliver Goldsmith had sagacity enough to cultivate assiduously the acquaintance of Johnson, and his faculties were gradually enlarged by the contemplation of such a model. No man had the art of displaying with more advantage as 20 a writer, whatever literary acquisitions he made. "Nihil quod tetigit non ornavit." His mind resembled a fertile, but thin soil. There was a quick, but not a strong vegetation, of whatever chanced to be thrown upon it. No deep root could be struck. The oak of the forest did not grow there; but 25 the elegant shrubbery and the fragrant parterre appeared in gay succession. It has been generally circulated and believed that he was a mere fool in conversation, but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated. He had, no doubt, a more than common share of that hurry of ideas which we often 30 find in his countrymen, and which sometimes produces a laughable confusion in expressing them. He was very much what the French call un étourdi,° and from vanity and an eager desire of being conspicuous wherever he was, he frequently talked carelessly without knowledge of the subject, 35 or even without thought. His person was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar

awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those who were in any way distinguished, excited envy in him to so ridiculous an excess, that the instances of it are hardly credible. When accompanying two beautiful young ladies with their mother 5 on a tour in France, he was seriously angry that more attention was paid to them than to him; and once at the exhibition of the Fantoccini in London, when those who sat next him observed with what dexterity a puppet was made to toss a pike, he could not bear that it should have such praise, and 10 exclaimed with some warmth, "Pshaw! I can do it better myself." When he began to rise into notice, he said he had a brother who was Dean of Durham, a fiction so easily detected that it is wonderful how he should have been so inconsiderate as to hazard it. He told me that he had sold a 15 novel for four hundred pounds. This was his Vicar of Wakefield. But Johnson informed me, that he had made the bargain for Goldsmith, and the price was sixty pounds.

The history of Goldsmith's situation and Johnson's friendly interference, I shall give authentically from Johnson's own 20 exact narration:

"I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him 25 directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was drest, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired 30 he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty 35 pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill."

Goldsmith had increased my admiration of the goodness of Johnson's heart, by incidental remarks, such as, when I mentioned Mr. Levet, whom he entertained under his roof, "He is poor and honest, which is recommendation enough to Johnson;" and "He is now become miserable, and that insures the 5 protection of Johnson."

Bonnell Thornton had just published a burlesque "Ode on St. Cecilia's day, adapted to the ancient British musick, viz., the salt-box, the jews-harp, the marrow-bones and cleaver, the hum-strum or hurdy-gurdy, &c." Johnson praised its 10 humour, and seemed much diverted with it. He repeated the following passage:

"In strains more exalted the salt-box shall join,

And clattering and battering and clapping combine;
With a rap and a tap while the hollow side sounds,
Up and down leaps the flap, and with rattling rebounds."


At this time Miss Williams had so much of his attention, that he every night drank tea with her before he went home, however late it might be, and she always sat up for him. Dr. Goldsmith, being a privileged man, went with him this night, 20 strutting away, and calling to me with an air of superiority, like that of an esoterick over an exoterick disciple of a sage of antiquity, "I go to see Miss Williams.' I confess, I then envied him this mighty privilege, of which he seemed so proud; but it was not long before I obtained the same mark of distinction. 25 Talking of London, he observed, "Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of 30 human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.'

He was engaged to sup with me at my lodgings. But my landlord having behaved very rudely to me, I had resolved not to remain another night in his house. I went to Johnson 35 in the morning, and talked of it as of a serious distress. He laughed, and said, "Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will

appear a twelvemonth hence. There is nothing (continued he) in this mighty misfortune; nay, we shall be better at the Mitre. But, if your landlord could hold you to your bargain, and the lodgings should be yours for a year, you may 5 certainly use them as you think fit. So, Sir, you may quarter two life-guardsmen upon him; or you may send the greatest scoundrel you can find into your apartments; or you may say that you want to make some experiments in natural philosophy, and may burn a large quantity of assafoetida in his 10 house."

Goldsmith, as usual, endeavoured, with too much eagerness, to shine, and disputed very warmly with Johnson against the well known maxim of the British constitution, "the King can do no wrong." JOHNSON. "Sir, you are to consider, that 15 in our constitution, the King is the head, he is supreme: he is above every thing, and there is no power by which he can be tried. Redress is always to be had against oppression, by punishing the immediate agents. And then, Sir, there is this consideration, that if the abuse be enormous, Nature will rise 20 up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system."

"Great abilities (said he) are not requisite for an Historian; for in historical composition, all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent. He has facts ready to his 25 hand; so there is no exercise of invention. Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is used in the lower kinds of poetry. Some penetration, accuracy, and colouring, will fit a man for the task, if he can give the application which is necessary.


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Mr. Ogilvie observed, that Scotland had a great many noble wild prospects. JOHNSON. "I believe, Sir, you have a great many. Norway, too, has noble wild prospects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious noble wild prospects. But, Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotch35 man ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!" This unexpected and pointed sally produced a roar of applause.

It happening to be a very rainy night, I made some com

mon-place observations on the relaxation of nerves and depression of spirits which such weather occasioned; adding, however, that it was good for the vegetable creation. Johnson, who, as we have already seen, denied that the temperature of the air had any influence on the human frame, 5 answered, with a smile of ridicule, "Why, yes, Sir, it is good for vegetables, and for the animals who eat those vegetables, and for the animals who eat those animals." This observation of his aptly enough introduced a good supper.

He enlarged very convincingly upon the excellence of rhyme 10 over blank verse in English poetry. I mentioned to him that Dr. Adam Smith had maintained the same opinion strenuously. JOHNSON. "Sir, I was once in company with Smith, and we did not take to each other; but had I known that he loved rhyme as much as you tell me he does, I should have 15 HUGGED him."

He said, "It is always easy to be on the negative side. If a man were now to deny that there is salt upon the table, you could not reduce him to an absurdity. Come, let us try this a little further. I deny that Canada is taken, and I can sup- 20 port my denial by pretty good arguments. The French are a much more numerous people than we; and it is not likely that they would allow us to take it. 'But the ministry have assured us, in all the formality of the Gazette, that it is taken.'

Very true. But the ministry have put us to an enormous 25 expence by the war in America, and it is their interest to persuade us that we have got something for our money. - 'But the fact is confirmed by thousands of men who were at the taking of it.' — Ay, but these men have still more interest in deceiving us. They don't want that you should think the 30 French have beat them, but that they have beat the French. Now suppose you should go over and find that it really is taken, that would only satisfy yourself; for when you come home we will not believe you. We will say, you have been bribed. Yet, Sir, notwithstanding all these plausible objec- 35 tions, we have no doubt that Canada is really ours. Such is the weight of common testimony."

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