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in the King's-Bench-walk, and ultimately at No. 2, funeral of Mr. Garrick, became distinguished by in Brick-court. Here he had chambers in the first the title of the Literary Club. The members met floor, elegantly furnished, and here he was often and supped together one evening in every week, at visited by literary friends, distinguished alike by the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard street, Soho. Their their rank, talents, and acquirements. In the num- meetings commenced at seven; and by means of ber of those with whom he now associated, and the inexhaustible conversational powers of Johnson, could rank among his friends, he was able to ex- Burke, and Beauclerk, their sittings were generally hibit a list of the most eminent and conspicuous protracted till a pretty late hour. It was originally men of the time, among whom may be particu- intended that the number of members should be larized the names of Burke, Fox, Johnson, Percy, made up to twelve, but for the first three or four Reynolds, Garrick, Colman, Dyer, Jones, Boswell, years it never exceeded nine or ten; and it was unand Beauclerk, with the Lords Nugent and Charle- derstood that if even only two of these shouldchance mont. The mention of these names naturally calls to meet, they would be able to entertain one another up the recollection of the famous Literary Club of for the evening. which Goldsmith was one of the earliest members, About the beginning of 1768, the attending or and of which the conversational anecdotes, re-efficient members were reduced to eight; first by ported by Mr. Boswell, have contributed to give so the secession of Mr. Beauclerk, who became esmuch interest to the pages of that gentleman's bi-tranged by the gayer attractions of more fashionaography of Johnson. As our author continued a ble clubs, and next by the retirement of Sir John member of this select society from its foundation till Hawkins. his death, and shone as one of its most conspicuous Soon after this it was proposed by Dr. Johnson ornaments, some account of its institution, and a to elect a supply of new members, and to make up notice of the names of its members till the present their number to twelve, the election to be made by time, all of whom have more or less figured in the ballot, and one black ball to be sufficient for the exliterary or political world, may not be unacceptable clusion of a candidate. The doctor's proposal was to many of our readers.
immediately carried into effect by the election of Sir This literary association is said by Mr. Boswell Robert Chambers, Dr. Percy, and the late George to have been founded in 1764, but Dr. Percy is of Colman; and these three were introduced as new opinion that its institution was not so early. Sir members on Monday evening, February 15, 1768. Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first to Mr. Beauclerk having desired to be restored to the suggest it to Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke; and they society, was re-elected about the same time. having acceded to the proposal, the respective friends From this period till 1772 the club consisted of of these three were invited to join them. The ori- the same members, and its weekly meetings were ginal members, therefore, as they stand on the re- regularly continued every Monday evening till Decords of the society, were Sir Joshua Reynolds, * cember that year, when the night of meeting was Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent,t altered to Friday. Shortly afterwards there were Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. no less than four vacancies occasioned by death. Chamier, and Sir John Hawkins; and to this num- These were supplied, first by the Earl of Charleber there was added soon afterwards Mr. Samuel mont and David Garrick, who were elected on the Dyer. It existed long without a name, but at the 12th of March, 1773; and next by Mr. (afterwards
Sir William) Jones and Mr. Boswell, the former * Neither Sir Joshua nor Sir John Hawkins had then been of whom was elected on the 21, and the latter on knighted, nor had Johnson been presented with his diploma the 30th of April following. In adverting to the of LL D.; but both here and on other occasions the parties are election of Mr. Garrick, it may not be deemed imnoticed by their most common appellations.
pertinent to notice an error on the part of Sir Jolin This gentleman was a physician, father of Mr. Burke's wife; not the Dr. Nugent who published some volumes of tra
Hawkins, in his “Life of Johnson.” Speaking vels, and several philosophical works, for whom he has been of that gentleman's wish to become a member of sometimes mistaken. The above Dr. Nugent was a very the club, "Garrick,” says the knight, “trusted that amiable man, and highly respected by his contemporaries. the least intimation of a desire to come among us
* This gentleman was one of the intimate friends of Mr. would procure him a ready admission; but in this Burke, who inserted in the public papers the following character of him at the time of his death, which happened on
he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; Monday, September 14, 1772:
"On Monday evening died at his lodgings in Castle-street, those few who had the happiness of knowing intimately that Leicester Fields, Samuel Dyer, Esq., Fellow of the Royal So- valuable unostentatious man; and his death is to them a loss ciety. He was a man of profound and general erudition; and irreparable.” his sagacity and judgment were fully equal to the extent of his Mr. Dyer was held in high estimation for his erudition by learning. His mind was candid, sincere, benevolent; his Dr. Johnson, but we know not of any literary work in which friendship disinterested and unalterable. The modesty, sim- he was concerned, except that he corrected and improved the plicity, and sweetness of his manners, rendered his conversa. translation of Plutarch's Lives, by Dryden and others, when tion as amiable as it was instructive, and endeared him to lit was revived by Tonson.
and when I could find no objection to receiving surely a considerable man.' Sheridan had accordhim, exclaimed, "he will disturb us by his buf- ingly the honour to be elected. The importance foonery!" and afterwards so managed matters, that thus attached by its members to this celebrated he was never formally proposed, and by conse- club, seems justified by time and public opinion. quence never admitted.
No association of a like kind has existed, and reIn justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, tained its original high character, for so long a peMr. Boswell has rectified this mis-statement. "Theriod; and none has ever been composed of men so truth is,” says he, “that not very long after the in- remarkable for extraordinary talent. stitation of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was In 1774, an accession of new members was addspeaking of it to Garrick: 'I like it much (said the ed by the election of the Hon. Charles James Fox, latter); I think I shall be of you.' When Sir Sir Charles Bunbury, Dr. George Fordyce, and Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was George Steevens, Esq.; and this brings the annals much displeased with the actor's conceit. 'He'll of the club down to the death of Goldsmith. Either be of us (said Johnson), how does he know we will then, or soon after, the number of the members was permit him? The first duke in England has no increased to thirty; and, in 1776, instead of supright to hold such language.' However, when ping once a week, they resolved to dine together Garrick was regularly proposed some time after- once a-fortnight during the sitting of Parliament; wards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary and now the meetings take place every other Tuesoffence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly sup- day at Parsloe's, in St. James's-street. It is believported him; and he was accordingly elected, was a ed, that this increase in the number of the memmost agreeable member, and continued to attend bers, originally limited to twelve, took place in conour meetings to the time of his death.” This state- sequence of a suggestion on the part of our author. ment, while it corrects the inaccuracy of Sir John, (Conversing with Johnson and Sir Joshua Reyaflords also a proof of the estimation in which the nolds one day, Goldsmith remarked, " that he wish. Literary Club was held by its own members, and the ed for some additional members to the Literary nicety that might be opposed to the admission of a Club, to give it an agreeable variety; for (said he) candidate. The founders appear to have been there can be nothing new among us; we have trasomewhat vain of the institution, both as unique in velled over one another's minds." Johnson, howits kind, and as distinguished by the learning and ever, did not like the idea that his mind could be talent of its members. Dr. Johnson, in particular, travelled over or exhausted, and seemed rather diskems to have had a sort of paternal anxiety for its pleased; but Sir Joshua thought Goldsmith in the prosperity and perpetuation, and on many occasions right
, observing, that “where people have lived a exhibited almost as jealous a care of its purity and great deal together, they know what each of them reputation as of his own. Talking of a certain will say on every subject. A new understanding, lord one day, a man of coarse manners, but a man therefore, is desirable; because, though it may only of abilities and information, "I don't say,” con- furnish the same sense upon a question which tinued Johnson, “he is a man I would set at the would have been furnished by those with whom we head of a nation, though perhaps he may be as are accustomed to live, yet this sense will have a good as the next prime minister that comes : but he different colouring, and colouring is of much effect is a man to be at the head of a club, I don't say our in every thing else as well as painting." club, for there is no such club." On another occasion, when it was mentioned to him by Mr.
*From the institution of the Literary Club to the present Beauclerk that Dr. Dodd had once wished to be a time, it is believed that the following is a correct list of the member of the club, Johnson observed, “I should be sorry indeed if any of our club were hanged," and added, jocularly, “I will not say but some of Lord Ashburton (Dunning.) Dr. Douglas, Bishop of Salis.
bury. them deserve it," alluding to their politics and re
Sir Joseph Banks.
* Mr. Dyer. ligion , which were frequently in opposition to his : Marquis of Bath.
* Dr. Barnard, Bishop of KilaOW.. But the high regard in which the doctor held this association was most strikingly evinced in Mr. Topham Beauclerk. * Dr. George Fordyce. the election of Mr. Sheridan. In return for some
Sir Charles Blagden. 'Right Hon. C. J. Fox.
Mr. Boswell. literary civilities received from that gentleman while
• Sir Charles Bunbury, he had as yet only figured as a dramatist, Johnson · Right Hon. Edmund Burke. * Dr. Goldsmith. thought the finest compliment he could bestow would. Richard Burke (his son.) be to procure his election to the Literary Club. Dr. Burney.
Sir John Hawkins. When the ballot was proposed, therefore, he ex
* Dr. Hinchliffe, Bishop of Pe.
terborough. erted his influence, and concluded his recommenda
• Dr. Johnson tion of the candidate by remarking, that “he who has written the two best comedies of his age, is! Mr. Courtney.
• Mr. Langton
* Lord Elliot.
. David Garrick.
* Sir William Hamilton.
Sir Robert Chambers.
• Sir William Jones,
In a society thus composed of men distinguished self is very true, he always gets the better when he for genius, learning, and rank, where the chief ob-argues alone: meaning, that he is master of a subject of the institution was social and literary enjoy-ject in his study, and can write well upon it; but ment, it is certainly interesting to know what kind when he comes into company grows confused, and of intellectual sauce was usually served up to give a unable to talk. Take him as a poet, his "Travelzest to their periodical suppers. Happily, Mr. ler" is a very fine performance; ay, and so is his Boswell has supplied such a desideratum; and as a "Deserted Village,” were it not sometimes too fair specimen of the numerous conversations which much the echo of his "Traveller.” Whether, inhe has reported of the members, it may not be un-deed, we take him as a poet, as a comic writer, or amusing to our readers to be presented with part of as a historian, he stands in the first class.' Boswell, the discussion which took place at the time of his ' A historian! my dear sir, you will not surely rank own election in April, 1773, and a full report of his compilation of the Roman History with the the sitting of the club on the 24th of March, 1775. works of other historians of this age?” Johnson,
This we do with the more pleasure, on account of 'Why, who is before him?' Boswell, Hume, Ro the first discussion being in some sort illustrative of bertson, Lord Lyttleton, Johnson (his antipathy the character and writings of our author.
to the Scotch beginning to rise,) 'I have not read "On Friday, April 30,” says Mr. Boswell, "I Hume; but, doubtless, Goldsmith's History is betdined with Dr. Johnson at Mr. Beauclerk's, where ter than the verbiage of Robertson, or the foppery were Lord Charlemont, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of Dalrymple.' Boswell, Will you not admit the some more members of the Literary Club, whom he superiority of Robertson, in whose History we find had obligingly invited to meet me, as I was this such penetration, such painting?" Johnson, 'Sir, evening to be balloted for as candidate for admission you must consider how that penetration and that into that distinguished society. Johnson had done painting are employed. It is not history; it is ima. me the honour to propose me, and Beauclerk was gination. He who describes what he never saw, very zealous for me.
draws from fancy. Robertson paints minds as "Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson said, 'It Sir Joshua paints faces in a history-piece: he imais amazing how little Goldsmith knows. He sel-gines a heroic countenance. You must look upon dom comes where he is not more ignorant than any Robertson's work as romance, and try it by that one else,' Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘Yet there is no standard. History it is not. Besides, sir, it is the man whose company is more liked.' Johnson, "To great excellence of a writer to put into his book as be sure, sir. When people find a man, of the most much as his book will hold. Goldsmith has done distinguished abilities as a writer, their inferior this in his History. Now Robertson might have while he is with them, it must be highly gratifying put twice as much into his book. Robertson is to them. What Goldsmith comically says of him- like a man who has packed gold in wool: the wool
takes up more room than the gold. No, sir, I alDuke of Leeds.
ways thought Robertson would be crushed by his Dr. French Lawrence.
own weight-would be buried under his own ornaEarl Macartney.
• Dr. Horsley, Bishop of S.. • Mr. Malone.
ments. Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want Dr. Marlay, Bishop of Clon. Henry Vaughan, M. D.
to know; Robertson detains you a great deal too Mr. George Steevens. long. No man will read Robertson's cumbrous deDr. Nugent.
* Mr. Agmendesham Vesey. tail a second time; but Goldsmith's plain narrative Hon. Frederick North (now 'Dr. Warren. Earl of Guilford.)
will please again and again. I would say to Ro
* Dr. Joseph Warton. * Earl of Upper Ossory. Rev. Thomas Warton.
bertson what an old tutor of a college said to one of Viscount Palmerston. 'Right Hon. William Wind. his pupils: “Read over your compositions and •Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dro. ham.
wherever you meet with a passage which you think
Right Hon. George Canning. is particularly fine, strike it out." Goldsmith's Major Rennel. Sir Joshua Reynolds.
abridgment is better than that of Lucius Florus or
Right Hon. J. H. Frere. Sir W. Scott (now Lord Sto- Right Hon. Thos. Grenville. Eutropius: and I will venture to say, that if you well)
* Rev. Dr. Vincent, Dean of compare him with Vertot, in the same places of the MR. B. Sheridan.
Roman History, you will find that he excels Vertot. * Dr. Shipley, Bishop of Sl. Right Hon. Sir William Sir, he has the art of compiling, and of saying every Asaph.
Grant, Master of the Rolls. . Dr. Adam Smith.
Sir George Staunton.
thing he has to say in a pleasing manner. He is Earl Spencer.
now writing a Natural History, and will make it as William Lock, jun
Right Hon. William Drum. entertaining as a Persian Tale.' Mr. George Ellis.
“I can not dismiss the present topic (continues The members whose names are distinguished by an asterisk
Mr. Boswell) without observing, that Dr. Johnson, in the foregoing list have all paid the debt of nature. Among who owned that he often talked for victory, rather those who survive, it is generally understood that the spirit of urged plausible objections to Dr. Robertson's exthe original association is still preserved.
cellent historical works in the ardour of contest,
* Earl Lucan.
Mr. Charles Wilkins.
than espressed his real and decided opinion; for| Boswell
, is of the discussion which took place at it is not easy to suppose, that he should so widely the meeting of 24th March, 1775. "Before Johndiffer from the rest of the literary world. son came in, we talked of his ‘Journey to the Wes
"Johnson, 'I remember once being with Gold- tern Islands,' and of his coming away 'willing to smith in Westminster Abbey. While we sur- believe the second sight,' which seemed to excite reyed the Poet's-Corner, I said to him,
some ridicule. I was then so impressed with the Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis, '
truth of many of the stories of which I had been
told, that I avowed my conviction, saying 'He is When we got to Temple-Bar he stopped me, only willing to believe; I do believe. The evidence pointed to the heads upon it, and slily whispered is enough for me, though not for his great mind. me,
What will not fill a quart bottle will fill a pint botForsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.'t tle. I am filled with belief.' 'Are you,' said Col"Johnson praised John Bunyan highly. 'His man, 'then cork it up.' "Pilgrim's Progress" has great merit, both for in- "I found his 'Journey the common topic of vention, imagination, and the conduct of the story; conversation in London at this time, wherever I and it has had the best evidence of its merits, the happened to be. At one of Lord Mansfield's forgeneral and continued approbation of mankind. mal Sunday evening conversations, strangely callFew books, I believe, have had a more extensive ed levees, his Lordship addressed me, 'We have sale. It is remarkable, that it begins very much all been reading your Travels, Mr. Boswell.' I an. like the poem of Dante; yet there was no trans- swered, 'I was but the humble attendant of Dr. lation of Dante when Bunyan wrote. There is Johnson.' The Chief-Justice replied, with that reason to think that he had read Spenser.” air and manner which none who ever heard or
"A proposition which had been agitated, that saw him can forget, 'He speaks ill of nobody but monuments to eminent persons should, for the Ossian.' time to come, be erected in St. Paul's Church as “Johnson was in high spirits this evening at well as in the Westminster Abbey, was mention- the club, and talked with great animation and ed; and it was asked, who should be honoured by success. He attacked Swift, as he used to do upon having his monument first erected? Somebody all occasions: "The Tale of a Tub” is so much susuggested Pope. Johnson, "Why, sir, as Pope was perior to his other writings, that we can hardly a Roman Catholic, I would not have his to be believe he was the author of it: there is in it such first. I think Milton's rather should have the pre- a vigour of mind, such a swarm of thoughts, so cedence. I think more highly of him now than 1 much of nature, and art, and life. I wondered to did at twenty. There is more thinking in him hear him say of Gulliver's Travels," "When and Butler than in any one of our poets.' once you have thought of big and little men, it is
*The gentlemen (continues Mr. Boswell) now very easy to do all the rest. I endeavoured to went away to their club, and I was left at Beau- make a stand for Swift, and tried to rouse those cerk's till the fate of my election should be an- who were much more able to defend him; but in nounced to me. I sat in a state of anxiety, which vain. Johnson at last, of his own accord, allowed Even the charming conversation of Lady Di very great merit to the inventory of articles found Beauclerk could not entirely dissipate. In a short in the pocket of 'the Man Mountain,' particulartime I received the agreeable intelligence that I ly the description of his watch, which it was conwas chosen. I hastened to the place of meeting, jectured was his god, as he consulted it upon all and was introduced to such a society as can sel- occasions. He observed, that 'Swift put his name dom be found. Mr. Edmund Burke, whom I but to two things (after he had a name to put), then saw for the first time, and whose splendid ta- the "Plan of the Improvement of the English lents had long made me ardently wish for his ac- Language," and the last “Drapier's Letters." ; quaintance; Dr. Nugent, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Gold- "From Swift there was an easy transition to smith, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Jones, and the Mr. Thomas Sheridan. Johnson, “Sheridan is a company with whom I had dined. Upon my en- wonderful admirer of the tragedy of Douglas, and trance, Johnson placed himself behind a chair, on presented its author with a gold medal. Some which lie leaned as on a desk or pulpit, and, years ago, at a Coffee-house in Oxford, I called to with humourous formality, gave me a charge, him “Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Sheridan, how came you pointing out the conduct expected from me as a to give a gold medal to Home, for writing that member of this club."
foolish play?” This, you see, was wanton and inThe next conversational specimen given by Mr. solent; but I meant to be wanton and insolent.
A medal has no value but as a stamp of merit. 'Ovid. de Art Amand. 1. iii. 5. 13.
And was Sheridan to assume to himself the right of In allusion to Dr. Johnson's supposed political principles, giving that stamp? If Sheridan was magnificerit and perhaps his own
enough to bestow a gold medal as an honorary re
ward of dramatic excellence, he should have re- how much may be done, without the aid of extraquested one of the universities to choose the per- vagant incident, to excite the imagination and inson on whom it should be conferred. Sheridan terest the feelings. Few productions of the kind had no right to give a stamp of merit: it was afford greater amusement in the perusal, and still counterfeiting Apollo's coin."
fewer inculcate more impressive lessons of moraliNow that Goldsmith had acquired fame as a ty. Though wit and humour abr und in every poet of the first rank, and was associated with page, yet in the whole volume there is not one the wit and talent that belonged to this cele- thought injurious in its tendency, nor one sentibrated club, his publisher, Mr. Newberry, thought ment that can offend the chastest ear. Its language, he might venture to give the “Vicar of Wakefield" in the words of an elegant writer, is what "angels to the world. It was accordingly brought out in might have heard and virgins told.” In the deli1766, and not only proved a most lucrative specu- neation of his characters, in the conduct of his falation for the bookseller, but brought a fresh ac- ble, and in the moral of the piece, the genius of the cession of literary celebrity to its author. Notwith- author is equally conspicuous. The hero displays standing the striking merit of this work, it is a with unaffected simplicity the most striking virtues fact not less singular than true, that the literary that can adorn social life: sincere in his professions, friends to whom Goldsmith submitted it for criti- humane and generous in his disposition, he is him. cism, before publication, were divided in opinion as self a pattern of the character he represents. The to the probability of its success; and it is still more other personages are drawn with similar discrimisingular that Dr. Johnson himself should have en- nation. Each is distinguished by some peculiar tertained doubts on the subject. It has been as- feature; and the general grouping of the whole has serted, that the publisher put it to press in the this particular excellence, that not one could be crude state in which he found it, when the bar- wanted without injuring the unity and beauty of gain was made with Johnson for the manuscript; the design. The drama of the tale is also managed but such a conclusion is obviously erroneous. with equal skill and effect. There are no extraGoldsmith was at that time on the best terms with vagant incidents, and no forced or improbable situNewberry, and engaged in the completion of vari- ations; one event rises out of another in the same ous minor pieces for him; and as the fame of the easy and natural manner as flows the language of one as well as the profit of the other were equally the narration; the interest never flags, and is kept at stake on the success of the performance, it is ex- up to the last by the expedient of concealing the ceedingly improbable that both author and pub- real character of Burchell. But it is the moral of lisher should be regardless of such revisal and cor- the work which entitles the author to the praise of rection as was clearly for the benefit of both. supereminent merit in this species of writing. No That Goldsmith did alter and revise this work be- writer has arrived more successfully at the great fore publication, may be gathered from a conversa- ends of a moralist. By the finest examples, he intion which took place between Johnson and Mr. culcates the practice of benevolence, patience in Boswell. “Talking of a friend of ours,” says the suffering, and reliance on the providence of God. latter, "who associated with persons of very dis- A short time after the publication of the “Vicar cordant principles and characters, I said he was a of Wakefield," Goldsmith printed his beautiful very universal man, quite a man of the world.” ballad of the “Hermit.” His friend Dr. Percy “Yes, sir,” said Johnson, “but one may be so had published, in the same year, “Reliques of Anmuch a man of the world, as to be nothing in the cient English Poetry;" and as the "Hermit” was world. I remember a passage in Goldsmith's 'Vi- found to bear some resemblance to a tale in that car of Wakefield,' which he was afterwards fool collection, entitled "The Friar of Orders Gray," enough to expunge; 'I do not love a man who is the scribblers of the time availed themselves of the zealous for nothing." Boswell, “That was a fine circumstance to tax him with plagiarism. Irritated passage." Johnson, “Yes, sir; there was another at the charge, he published a letter in the St. fine passage which he struck out: 'When I was a James's Chronicle, vindicating the priority of his young man, being anxious to distinguish my own poem, and asserting that the plan of the other self, I was perpetuully starting new propositions; must have been taken from his. It is probable, but I soon gate this over; for I found that gener- however, that both poems were taken from a very ally what was new was false.""
ancient ballad in the same collection, beginning The "Vicar of Wakefield” has long been con- "Gentle Heardsman.” Our author had seen and sidered one of the most interesting tales in our admired this ancient poem, in the possession of language. It is seldom that a story presenting Dr. Percy, long before it was printed; and some of merely a picture of common life, and a detail of the stanzas he appears, perhaps undesignedly, to domestic events, so powerfully affects the reader. have imitated in the "Hermit,” as the reader will The irresistible charm this novel possesses, evinces perceive on examining the following specimens: