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THE MEMOIRS OF GRAY'S LIFE.
Mr. Murphy said, that The Memoirs of Gray's Life set him much higher in his estimation than his poems did ; for you there saw a man constantly at work in literature.' Johnson acquiesced in this; but depreciated the book, I thought, very unreasonably. For he said, 'I forced myself to read it, only because it was a common topick of conversation. I found it mighty dull; and, as to the style, it is fit for the second table'.' Why he thought so
of it, and who bore a respectable uous combustion of papers, which character
Johnson I think rashly executed, We have been induced to enter when moribundus.' BOSWELL. Mr. thus circumstantially into the fore. Croker, quoting a letter by Griffiths going detail of facts relating to The the publisher, says :— ‘The question Lives of the Poets, compiled by is now decided by this letter in Messrs. Cibber and Shiels, from a opposition to Dr. Johnson's assersincere regard to that sacred prin tion.' Croker's Boswell, p. 818. The ciple of Truth, to which Dr. Johnson evidence of such an infamous fellow so rigidly adhered, according to the as Griffiths is worthless. (For his best of his knowledge ; and which character see Forster's Goldsmith, i. we believe, no consideration would 161.) As the Monthly Review was have prevailed on him to violate. his property, the passage quoted by In regard to the matter, which we Boswell was, no doubt, written by now dismiss, he had, no doubt, been his direction. D’Israeli (Curiosities of misled by partial and wrong inform Literature, ed. 1834, vi. 375) says that ation: Shiels the Doctor's Oldys (ante, i. 175) made annotations amanuensis ; he had quarrelled with on a copy of Langbaine's Dramatic Cibber; it is natural to suppose Poets. “This Langbaine, with adthat he told his story in his own
ditions by Coxeter, was bought by way; and it is certain that he was Theophilus Cibber; on the strength not “ a very sturdy moralist.” [The of these notes he prefixed his name quotation is from Johnson's Works, to the first collection of the Lives ix. 116.) This explanation appears
of Our Poets, written chiefly by very satisfactory.
Shiels. however, to be observed, that the
Mason's Memoirs of Gray's Life story told by Johnson does not was published in 1775. Johnson, in his rest solely upon my record of his Life of Gray(Works, viii. 476), praises conversation ; for he himself has Gray's portion of the book :— They published it in his Life of Ham [Gray and Horace Walpole] wanmond (ib. viii. 90], where he says, dered through France into Italy ; " the manuscript of Shiels is now and Gray's Letters contain a very in my possession.” Very probably pleasing account of many parts of he had trusted to Shiels's word, and their journey.' 'The style of Manever looked at it so as to compare
dame de Sévigné,' wrote Mackintosh it with The Lives of the Poets, as (Life, ii. 221), ‘is evidently copied, published under Mr. Cibber's name. not only by her worshipper Walpole, What became of that manuscript I but even by Gray ; notwithstanding know not. I should have liked much the extraordinary merits of his matto examine it. I suppose it was ter, he has the double stiffness of an thrown into the fire in that impet imitator and of a college recluse.'
The MONTHLY and CRITICAL REVIEWS. (A.D. 1776.
I was at a loss to conceive. He now gave it as his opinion, that 'Akenside' was a superiour poet both to Gray and Mason.'
Talking of the Reviews, Johnson said, 'I think them very impartial: I do not know an instance of partiality?' He mentioned what had passed upon the subject of the Monthly and Critical Reviews, in the conversation with which his Majesty had honoured him? He expatiated a little more on them this evening. “The Monthly Reviewers (said he) are not Deists; but they are Christians with as little christianity as may be ; and are for pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers are for supporting the constitution both in church and state". The Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books through ; but lay hold of a topick, and write chiefly from their own minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men, and are glad to read the books through.'
He talked of Lord Lyttelton's extreme anxiety as an authour; observing, that ‘he was thirty years in preparing his History', and that he employed a man to point it for him; as if (laughing) another man could point his sense better than himself 5.'
· See ante, ii. 164.
* This impartiality is very unlikely. In 1757 Griffiths, the owner of the Monthly, aiming a blow at Smollett, the editor of the Critical, said that The Monthly Review was not written by “physicians without practice, authors without learning, men without decency, gentlemen without manners, and critics without judgment.' Smollett retorted :- The Critical Review is not written by a parcel of obscure hirelings, under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who presume to revise, alter, and amend the articles occasionally. The principal writers in the Critical Review are unconnected with booksellers, unawed by old women, and independent of each other. Forster's Goldsmith, i. 100. A fourth share in The Monthly Review was sold in 1761 for £755.' A Bookseller of the Last Century, p. 19.
3 See ante, ii. 39.
* Horace Walpole writes :—'The scope of the Critical Review was to decry any work that appeared favourable to the principles of the Revolution. Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 260.
5 “The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole book was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression ; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expense of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him at least a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in 1764, and the conclusion in 1771. Andrew Reid undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himhimself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation ; and, as fear
Mr. Murphy said, he understood his history was kept back several years for fear of Smollet". JOHNSON. *This seems strange to Murphy and me, who never felt that anxiety, but sent what we wrote to the press, and let it take its chance.' MRS. THRALE. «The time has been, Sir, when you felt it.' JOHNSON. 'Why really, Madam, I do not recollect a time when that was the case.'
Talking of The Spectator, he said, 'It is wonderful that there is such a proportion of bad papers, in the half of the work which was not written by Addison ; for there was all the world to write that half, yet not a half of that half is good. One of the finest pieces in the English language is the paper on Novelty', yet we do not hear it talked of. It was written by Grove, a dissenting teacher.' He would not, I perceived, call him a clergyman, though he was candid enough to allow very great merit to his composition. Mr. Murphy said, he remembered when there were several people alive in London, who enjoyed a considerable reputation merely from having written a paper in The Spectator. He mentioned particularly Mr. Ince, who used to frequent Tom's coffee-house. “But (said Johnson,) you must consider how highly Steele speaks of Mr. Ince?' He begets credulity, he was employed, I ing paragraph :-'The words of Abbot know not at what price, to point Suger, in his life of Lewis le Gros, the pages of Henry the Second. concerning this prince are very reWhen time brought the History to a markable,' he thus corrects, “after third edition, Reid was either dead prince a comma is wanting. See or discarded ; and the superintend- ante, ii. 37. ence of typography and punctuation According to Horace Walpole, was committed to a man originally Lyttelton had angered Smollett by a comb-maker, but then known by declining to recommend to the the style of Doctor. Something un stage'a comedy of his. 'He procommon was probably expected, and mised,' Walpole continues, 'if it something imcommon was at last should be acted, to do all the service done ; for to the Doctor's edition is in his power for the author. Smolappended, what the world had hardly lett's return was drawing an abusive seen before, a list of errors in nine portrait of Lord Lyttelton in Rodteen pages.' Johnson's Works, viii. erick Random.' Memoirs of the 492. In the first edition of The Lives Reign of George II, iii. 259. of the Poets 'the Doctor' is called Dr. Spectator, No. 626. Saunders. So ambitious was Lord 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection, Lyttelton's accuracy that in the near the end. second edition he gave a list of' false 3 When Steele brought The Specstops which hurt the sense.' For in tator to the close of its first period, stance, the punctuation of the follow he acknowledged in the final number VOL. III.
Dr. Barry's System of Physick.
would not allow that the paper' on carrying a boy to travel, signed Philip Homebred, which was reported to be written by the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, had merit. He said, it was quite vulgar, and had nothing luminous.'
Johnson mentioned Dr. Barry's? System of Physick. He was a man (said he, who had acquired a high reputation in Dublin, came over to England, and brought his reputation with him, but had not great success.
His notion was, that pulsation occasions death by attrition; and that, therefore, the way to preserve life is to retard pulsation?. But we know that pulsation is strongest in infants, and that we increase in growth while it operates in its regular course; so it cannot be the cause of destruction.' Soon after this, he said something very flattering to Mrs. Thrale, which I do not recollect; but it concluded with wishing her long life. "Sir, (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,
(No. 555) his obligation to his as easily granted, can be easily refused. sistants. In a postscript to the later Some of the apartments are now editions he says :—' It had not come vacant in which I am encouraged to to my knowledge, when I left off The hope that by application to your Spectator, that I owe several excel lordship I may obtain a residence. lent sentiments and agreeable pieces Such a grant would be considered in this work to Mr. Ince, of Gray's by me as a great favour ; and I hope Inn. Mr. Ince died in 1758. Gent. that to a man who has had the Mag. 1758, p. 504.
honour of vindicating his Majesty's Spectator, No. 364.
Government, a retreat in one of his Sir Edward Barry, Baronet. Bos houses may not be improperly or
unworthily allowed. I therefore re3. "We form our words with the
quest that your lordship will be breath of our nostrils, we have the pleased to grant such rooms in less to live upon for every word we Hampton Court as shall seem prospeak.' Jeremy Taylor's Holy Dying, ch. i. sec. I.
My Lord, * On this day Johnson sent the *Your lordship's most obedient following application for rooms in
and most faithful humble Hampton Court to the Lord Cham
servant, berlain :
'SAM. JOHNSON.' * MY LORD, Being wholly unknown 'April 11, 1776. to your lordship, I have only this Indorsed. "Mr. Saml. Johnson to apology to make for presuming to the Earl of Hertford, requesting trouble you with a request, that a apartments at Hampton Court. 11th stranger's petition, if it cannot be May, 1776.' And within, a memo
Garrick in low characters.
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 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
randum of the answer :-'Lord C. Cooke, in his Memoirs of Macklin, presents his compliments to Mr. John p. 110, says that a Lichfield grocer, son, and is sorry he cannot obey his who came to London with a letter of commands, having already on his introduction to Garrick from Peter hands many engagements unsatis Garrick, saw him act Abel Drugger, fied.' Prior's Malone, p. 337. The and returned without calling on him. endorsement does not, it will be He said to Peter Garrick : I saw seen, agree in date with the letter. enough of him on the stage. He Lord C. stands for the Lord Cham may be rich, as I dare say any man berlain.
who lives like him must be ; but by · Hogarth saw Garrick in Richard G-d, though he is your brother, Mr. III, and on the following night Garrick, he is one of the shabbiest, in Abel Drugger; he was so struck, meanest, most pitiful hounds I ever that he said to him, “You are in
saw in the wl
course of my life.' your element when you are begrimed Abel Drugger is a character in Ben with dirt, or up to your elbows in Jonson's Alchemist. blood. Murphy's Garrick, p. 21. . See post, under Sept. 30, 1783. D 2