페이지 이미지

became of Garrick, and what became of the qneen ? As sir Wiliam Temple says of a great general, it is necessary not only that his designs 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.”

Talking on prologue-writing, he observed, “ Dryden has written prologues superior to any that *David Garrick has written ; but David Garrick has written more good prologues than Dryden has done. It is wonderful, that he has been able to write such variety of them.”

Boswell observing that Garrick, who was about to quit the stage, would soon have an easier life. JOHNSON. “ I doubt that, sir.” Boswell.“ Why, sir, he will be Atlas with the burthen off his back." JOHNSON. “ But I know not, sir, if he will be so steady without his load. However, he should never play any more, but be entirely the gentleman, and not partly the player : he should no longer subject himself to be hissed by a mob, or to be insolently treated by performers, whom he used to rule with a high hand, and who would gladly retaliate." Boswell. “ I think he should play once a year for the benefit of decayed actors, as it has been said he means to do." JOHNSON.“ Alas, sir!, he will soon be a decayed actor himself.”

Boswell mentioned his having introduced to Mr. Garrick count Neni, a Flemish nobleman of great rank and fortune, to whom Garrick talked of Abel Drugger as a small part; and related, with pleasant vanity, that a Frenchman, who had seen him in one of his low characters, exclaimed, “ Comment! je ne le crois pas. Ce n'est pas Mousieur Garrick, ce grand homme!" Garrick added, with an appearance of grave recollection, “ If I were to begin life again, I think I should not play those low characters.” Upon which Boswell observed, Sir, you would be in the wrong; for your great excel. lence is your variety of playing—your representing 80 well characters so very different.” JOHNSON.

Garrick, sir, was not in carnest in what he said ; for, to be sure, his peculiar excellence is his va. riety; and perhaps there is not any one character, which has not been as well acted by somebody else, as he could do it.” Boswell. “Why then, sir, did he talk so ?" JOHNSON.“ Why, sir to make you answer as you did.” Boswell, “ I don't know, sir; he seemed to dip deep into his mind for the reflection.” Johnson. “ He had not far to dip, sir; he had said the same thing, probably, twenty times before."

“ Garrick," he observed,“ does not play the part of Archer, in The Beaux Stratagem, well. The gentleman should break out through the footman, which is not the case as he does it."

Mrs. Pritchard being mentioned, he said, “ Her playing was quite mechanical. It is wonderful how little mind she had. Sir, she had never read the tragedy of Macbeth all through. She io inore thought of the play out of which her part was taken, than a shoemaker thinks of the skin, out of which he makes shoes.”.

He thus gave his opinion upon the merits of some of the principal performers, whom he remembered to have seen upon the stage.

“ Mrs. Porter, in the vehemence of rage, and Mrs. Clive, in the sprightliness of humour, I have never seen equalled.

What Clive did best, she did better than Garrick ; but she could not do half so many things well ; she was a better romp than any I ever saw in naturePritchard, in common life, was a vulgar idiot ; she would talk of her gownnd; but, when she appeared upon the stage, seemed to be inspired by gentility and understanding. I once talked with Colley Cibber, and thought him ignorant of the priuciples of his art. Garrick, madam, was no declaimer: there was not one of his own scene-shifters who could not have spoken To be, or not to be, better than he did; yet he was the only actor I ever saw, whom I could call a master both in tragedy and comedy; though I liked him best in comedy. A true conception of character, and natural expression of it, were his distinguished excellences.” Having expatiated, with his usual force and eloquence, on Mr. Garrick's extraordinary eminence as an actor, he concluded with this compliment to his social talents : And after all, madam, I thought him less to be envied on the stage than at the head of a table."

Johnson, indeed, had thought more upon the subject of acting than might be generally supposed. Talking of it one day to Mr. Kemble, he said, “ Are you, sir, one of those enthusiasts, who believe yourself transformed into the very character you represent ?" Upon Mr. Kemble's answering, that he had never felt so strong a persuasion himself: “ To be sure not, sir,” said Johnson;

“ the thing is impossible. And if Garrick really believed himself to be that monster, Richard the Third, he deserved to be hanged every time he performed it.” · SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. “ I do not perceive why the profession of a player should be despised; for the great and ultimate end of all the employments of mankind is to produce amusement. Garrick produces more amusement 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 hinıself for his fee, and even will maintain 'any nonsense or absurdity, if the case require 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. Boswell is pow 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 Rer

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.”


No. VI.


TALKING of history, Johnson said, “ We may koow historical facts to be true, as we may know facts in common life to be true. Motives are geperally known. We cannot trust to the characters we find in history, uuless when they are drawn by those who knew the persons; as those, for instance, by Sallust and by lord Clarendon.”

Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland," he remarked, “ hare not that painted form which is the taste of this age, but it is a book which will always sell; it has such a stability of dates, such a certainty of facts, and such a punctuality of citation. I nerer before read Scotch history with certainty."

“Great abilities,” said he, “ are not requisite for av historian; for in historical composition all the great powers of the human mind are quiescent. He haş facts ready to his 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 man for the task, if he can give the application which is necessary."

Mr. Kristrom, a Swede, who was tutor to some young gentleman in the city, told Boswell, that there was a very good History of Sweden, by Daline. Having at that time an intention of writing a history of that country, Boswell asked Dr. Johnson, whether one might write a history of Sweden, without going thither. “ Yes, sir," said he, one for common use."

At a dinner party at general Paoli's, an animated debate took place, whether Martinelli should con. tinue his History of England. Johnson. “ No, sir, he would give great offence. He would have to tell of almost all the living great what they do not wish told." GOLDSMITH. “ It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be more cautious; but a foreigner, who comes among us without prejudice, may be considered as holding the place of a judge, and may speak his mind freely.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the error

« 이전계속 »