« ElőzőTovább »
seen an apparition can only be convinced himself; his authority will not convince another; and his conviction, if rational, must be founded on being told something which cannot be known but by supernatural means.”
He mentioned a thing as not unfrequent, of which I had never heard before,- being called, that is, hearing one's name pronounced by the voice of a known person at a great distance, far beyond the possibility of being reached by any sound uttered by human organs. “An acquaintance, on whose veracity I can depend, told me, that walking home one evening to Kilmarnock, he heard himself called from a wood, by the voice of a brother who had gone to America: and the next packet brought accounts of that brother's death. Macbean asserted that this inexplicable calling was a thing very well known. Dr. Johnson said, that one day at Oxford, as he was turning the key of. his chamber, he heard his mother distinctly call—Sam. She was then at Lichfield; but nothing ensued. This phenomenon is, I think, as wonderful as any other mysterious fact, which many people are very slow to believe, or rather, indeed, reject with an obstinate contempt.
Some time after this, upon his making a remark which escaped my attention, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Hall were both together striving to answer him. He grew angry, and called out loudly, “ Nay, when you both speak at once, it is intolerable.” But checking himself, and softening, he said, “ This one may say, though, you are ladies.” Then he brightened into gay humour, and addressed them in the words of one of the songs in “ The Beggar's Opera,"
“But two at a time there's no mortal can bear.” “What, Sir," said I, “are you going to turn Captain Macheath ?” There was something as pleasantly ludicrous in this scene as can be imagined. The contrast between Macheath, Polly, and Lucy-and Dr. Samuel Johnson, blind, peevish Mrs. Williams, and lean, lank, preaching Mrs. Hall, was exquisite.
I stole away to Coachmakers'-Hall, and heard the difficult text of which we had talked, discussed with great decency, and some intelligence, by several speakers. There was a difference of opinion as to the appearance of ghosts in
modern times, though the argument for it, supported by Mr. Addison's authority, preponderated. The immediate subject of debate was embarrassed by the bodies of the saints having been said to rise, and by the question what became of them afterwards :-did they return again to their graves ? or were they translated to heaven? Only one evangelist mentions the fact (Matthew, xxvii. 52, 53). and the commentators whom I have looked at do not make the passage clear. There is, however, no occasion for our understanding it further than to know that it was one of the extraordinary manifestations of divine power which accompanied the most important event that ever happened.
On Friday, April 20, I spent with him one of the happiest days that I remember to have enjoyed in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick, whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with her. The company was, Miss Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom she called her chaplain ; Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found ourselves very elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi, where I have passed many a pleasing hour with him “who gladdened life.” She looked well, talked of her husband with complacency, and while she cast her eyes on his portrait, which hung over the chimney-piece, said, that “death was now the most agreeable object to her.” The very semblance of David Garrick was cheering. Mr. Beauclerk, with happy propriety, inscribed under that fine portrait of him, which by Lady Diana's kindness is now the property of my friend Mr. Langton, the following passage from his beloved Shakspeare :
- A merrier man,
Garrick died Jan. 20, 1779.
For every object that the one doth catch
We were all in fine spirits; and I whispered to Mrs. Boscawen, “I believe this is as much as can be made of life.” In addition to a splendid entertainment, we were regaled with Lichfield ale, which had a peculiar appropriate value. Sir Joshua, and Dr. Burney, and I drank cordially of it to Dr. Johnson's health ; and though he would not join us, he as cordially answered, “ Gentlemen I wish you all as well as you do me."
The general effect of this day dwells upon my mind in fond remembrance; but I do not find much conversation recorded. What I have preserved shall be faithfully given.
One of the company mentioned Mr. Thomas Hollis, the strenuous Whig, who used to send over Europe presents of democratical books, with their boards stamped with daggers and caps of liberty. Mrs. Carter said, “ He was a bad man: he used to talk uncharitably." JOHNSON. “Poh! poh! Madam; who is the worse for being talked of very uncharitably? Besides, he was a dull poor creature as ever lived : and I believe he would not have done harm to a man whom he knew to be of very opposite principles to his own. I remember once at the Society of Arts, when an advertisement was to be drawn up, he pointed me out
Rosaline's character of Biron. Love's Labour's Lost, act ii. sc. 1.Croker.
2 Hannah More records remarks made by Johnson, which seemed to have escaped the recollection of Boswell. • Johnson was in full song, and I quarrelled with him sadly. I accused him of not having done justice to the Allegro and Penseroso. He spoke disparagingly of both. I praised Lycidas, which he absolutely abused, adding, if Milton had not written the Paradise Lost, he would have only ranked among the minor poets : he was a Phidias that could cut a 'Colossus out of a rock, but could not cut heads out of cherry stones.'" Memoirs, vol. i., p. 212.- Editor
as the man who could do it best. This, you will observe, was kindness to me. I however slipt away, and escaped
Mrs. Carter having said of the same person, “I doubt he was an atheist:"-Johnson. “I don't know that. He might, perhaps, have become one, if he had had time to ripen (smiling). He might have exuberated into an atheist.”
Sir Joshua Reynolds praised “Mudge's Sermons.” JOHNSON. “Mudge's Sermons are good, but not practical. He grasps more sense than he can hold; he takes more corn than he can make into meal; he opens a wide prospect, but it is so distant, it is indistinct. I love · Blair's Sermons.' Though the dog is a Scotchman, and a presby. terian, and every thing he should not be, I was the first to praise them. Such was my candour ” (smiling). MRS. BOSCAWEN. “Such his great merit, to get the better of all your prejudices.” JOHNSON. “ Why, Madam, let us compound the matter; let us ascribe it to my candour, and his merit.”
In the evening we had a large company in the drawing. room ; several ladies, the Bishop of Killaloe (Dr. Barnard), Dr. Percy, Mr. Chamberlayne of the Treasury, &c. &c. Somebody said, the life of a mere literary man could not be very entertaining. JOHNSON. “But it certainly may. This is a remark which has been made, and repeated, with. out justice. Why should the life of a literary man be less entertaining than the life of any other man? Are there not as interesting varieties in such a life? As a literary life it may be very entertaining.” BOSWELL. “But it must be better surely when it is diversified with a little active variety—such as his having gone to Jamaica ;-or-his having gone to the Hebrides.” Johnson was not displeased at this.
Talking of a very respectable author, he told us a curious circumstance in his life, which was, that he had married a printer's devil. REYNOLDS. “A printer's devil, Sir! why, I thought a printer's devil was a creature with a black face
There is a long and painful account of his suicide in Hannah More's Memoirs, vol. i., pp. 245-246.-Editor.
and in rags." JOHNSON. “Yes, Sir. But I suppose he had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her.” Then, looking very serious, and very earnest. “And she did not disgrace him ;--the woman had a bottom of good sense." The word bottom thus introduced was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slily hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should excite ridicule, when he did not intend it: he therefore resolved to assume and exercise despotic power, glanced sternly around, and called out in a strong tone, “Where's the merriment?” Then collecting himself, and looking awful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly pronounced, “I say the woman was fundamentally sensible;" as if he had said, Hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as at a funeral.
He and I walked away together: we stopped a little while by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to him with some emotion, that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost, who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. “Ay, Sir, (said he, tenderly) and two such friends as cannot be supplied.”
For some time after this day I did not see him very often, and of the conversation which I did enjoy, I am sorry to find I have preserved but little. I was at this time engaged in a variety of other matters which required exertion and assiduity, and necessarily occupied almost all my time.
One day, having spoken very freely of those who were then in power, he said to me, “ Between ourselves, Sir, I do not like to give Opposition the satisfaction of knowing how much I disapprove of the ministry." And when I mentioned that Mr. Burke had boasted how quiet the nation was in George the Second's reign, when whigs were in power, compared the present reign, when tories governed ;