Garrick in low characters.

[A.D. 1776.

(said I,) if Dr. Barry's system be true, you have now shortened Mrs. Thrale's life, perhaps, some minutes, by accelerating her pulsation.'

On Thursday, April 11', I dined with him at General Paoli's, in whose house I now resided, and where I had ever afterwards the honour of being entertained with the kindest attention as his constant guest, while I was in London, till I had a house of my own there. I mentioned my having that morning 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

'On this day Johnson sent the following application for rooms in Hampton Court to the Lord Chamberlain :

'MY LORD, Being wholly unknown to your lordship, I have only this apology to make for presuming to trouble you with a request, that a stranger's petition, if it cannot be easily granted, can be easily refused. Some of the apartments are now vacant in which I am encouraged to hope that by application to your lordship I may obtain a residence. Such a grant would be considered by me as a great favour; and I hope that to a man who has had the honour of vindicating his Majesty's Government, a retreat in one of his houses may not be improperly or unworthily allowed. I therefore request that your lordship will be pleased to grant such rooms in Hampton Court as shall seem proper to

'My Lord,

'Your lordship's most obedient and most faithful humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON.'

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'April 11, 1776.' Indorsed. 'Mr. Saml. Johnson to the Earl of Hertford, requesting apartments at Hampton Court. 11th May, 1776.' And within, a memorandum of the answer :-'Lord C. presents his compliments to Mr. Johnson, and is sorry he cannot obey his commands, having already on his hands many engagements unsatisfied.' Prior's Malone, p. 337. The endorsement does not, it will be seen, agree in date with the letter. Lord C. stands for the Lord Chamberlain.


Hogarth saw Garrick in Richard III, and on the following night in Abel Drugger; he was so struck, that he said to him, 'You are in your element when you are begrimed with dirt, or up to your elbows in blood.' Murphy's Garrick, p. 21. Cooke, in his Memoirs of Macklin, p. 110, says that a Lichfield grocer, who came to London with a letter of introduction to Garrick from Peter Garrick, saw him act Abel


Aetat. 67.]

Garrick in low characters.


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 Monsieur 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 I observed, 'Sir, you would be in the wrong; for your great excellence is your variety of playing, your representing so well, characters so very different.' JOHNSON. Garrick, Sir, was not in earnest in what he said; for, to be sure, his peculiar excellence is his variety': 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 said the same thing, probably, twenty times before.'

Of a nobleman raised at a very early period to high office, he said, 'His parts, Sir, are pretty well for a Lord; but would not be distinguished in a man who had nothing else but his parts'.'

A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts'. He said, ‘A

Drugger, and returned without calling on him. He said to Peter Garrick: 'I saw enough of him on the stage. He may be rich, as I dare say any man who lives like him must be; but by G-d, though he is your brother, Mr. Garrick, he is one of the shabbiest, meanest, most pitiful hounds I ever saw in the whole course of my life.' Abel Drugger is a character in Ben Jonson's Alchemist.

'See post, under Sept. 30, 1783.

'Lord Shelburne in 1766, at the age of twenty-nine, was appointed Secretary of State in Lord Chatham's ministry. Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, ii. 1. Jeremy Bentham said of him :-' His head was not clear. He felt the want of clearness. He had had a most wretched education.' Ib. p. 175.

' He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:-' I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy, but seventy-one. . . . But what if I am seventy-two; I remember Sulpitius says of Saint Martin (now that's above your reading), Est animus victor annorum et senec



The shores of the Mediterranean. [A.D. 1776.

man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great Empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman.-All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediterranean.' The General observed, that 'THE MEDITERRANEAN would be a noble subject for a poem'.'

We talked of translation. I said, I could not define it, nor could I think of a similitude to illustrate it; but that it appeared to me the translation of poetry could be only imitation. JOHNSON. 'You may translate books of science exactly. You may also translate history, in so far as it is not embellished with oratory', which is poetical. Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language, if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language.'

A gentleman maintained that the art of printing had hurt real learning, by disseminating idle writings.—JOHNSON. ‘Sir, if it had not been for the art of printing, we should now have

tuti cedere nescius. Match me that among your young folks.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

1Lady Hesketh, taking up apparently a thought which Paoli, as reported by Boswell, had thrown out in conversation, proposed to Cowper the Mediterranean for a topic. He replied, "Unless I were a better historian than I am, there would be no proportion between the theme and my ability. It seems, indeed, not to be so properly a subject for one poem, as for a dozen."' Southey's Cowper, iii. 15, and vii. 44.

2 Burke said: 'I do not know how it has happened, that orators have hitherto fared worse in the hands of the translators than even the poets; I never could bear to read a translation of Cicero.' Life of Sir W. Jones, p. 196.

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Aetat. 67.]

A diffusion of knowledge.

43 no learning at all; for books would have perished faster than they could have been transcribed.' This observation seems not just, considering for how many ages books were preserved by writing alone.

The same gentleman maintained, that a general diffusion of knowledge among a people was a disadvantage; for it made the vulgar rise above their humble sphere. JOHNSON. 'Sir, while knowledge is a distinction, those who are possessed of it will naturally rise above those who are not. Merely to read and write was a distinction at first; but we see when reading and writing have become general, the common people keep their stations. And so, were higher attainments to become general the effect would be the same'.'

He was

'Goldsmith (he said,) referred every thing to vanity; his virtues, and his vices too, were from that motive. not a social man. He never exchanged mind with you.'

We spent the evening at Mr. Hoole's. Mr. Mickle, the excellent translator of The Lusiad, was there. I have preserved little of the conversation of this evening3. Dr. Johnson said, 'Thomson had a true poetical genius, the power of viewing every thing in a poetical light. His fault is such a cloud of words sometimes, that the sense can hardly peep through. Shiels, who compiled Cibber's Lives of the Poets", was one day sitting with me. I took down Thomson, and read aloud a large portion of him, and then asked,—Is not this fine? Shiels having expressed the highest admiration. Well, Sir, (said I,) I have omitted every other line".'

I related a dispute between Goldsmith and Mr. Robert

1 See ante, ii. 216.

'See ante, ii. 209.

'See post, under date of Dec. 24, 1783, where mention seems to be made of this evening.

• See ante, p. 34, note 3. BOSWELL.

'Thomson's diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts "both their lustre and their shade;" such as invest them with splendour, through which, perhaps, they are not always easily discerned.' Johnson's Works, viii. 378. See ante, i. 524, and ii. 72.



Goldsmith and Dodsley.

[A.D. 1776. Dodsley, one day when they and I were dining at Tom Davies's, in 1762. Goldsmith asserted, that there was no poetry produced in this age. Dodsley appealed to his own Collection', and maintained, that though you could not find a palace like Dryden's Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, you had villages composed of very pretty houses; and he mentioned particularly The Spleen. JOHNSON. I think Dodsley gave up the question. He and Goldsmith said the same thing; only he said it in a softer manner than Goldsmith did; for he acknowledged that there was no poetry, nothing that towered above the common mark. You may find wit and humour in verse, and yet no poetry. Hudibras has a profusion of these; yet it is not to be reckoned a poem. The Spleen, in Dodsley's Collection, on which you say he chiefly rested, is not poetry'.' BOSWELL. Does not Gray's poetry, Sir, tower above the common mark?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but we must attend to the difference between what men in general cannot do if they would, and what every man may do if he would. Sixteen-string Jack' towered above the common mark.' BOSWELL. Then, Sir, what is poetry?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is.'

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On Friday, April 12, I dined with him at our friend Tom Davies's, where we met Mr. Cradock, of Leicestershire, authour of Zobeide, a tragedy; a very pleasing gentleman, to

1 A Collection of Poems in six volumes by several hands, 1758.

2 Ib. i. 116.

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3 Mr. Nicholls says, The Spleen was a great favourite with Gray for its wit and originality.' Gray's Works, v. 36. where Johnson quotes two lines from it. giant dies,' is another line that is not unknown.

See post, Oct. 10, 1779, Fling but a stone, the

* A noted highwayman, who after having been several times tried and acquitted, was at last hanged. He was remarkable for foppery in his dress, and particularly for wearing a bunch of sixteen strings at the knees of his breeches. BOSWELL.

'Goldsmith wrote a prologue for it. Horace Walpole wrote on Dec. 14, 1771 (Letters, v. 356) :—'There is a new tragedy at Covent


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