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Sunday, September 26. I awaked at noon, with a severe headache. I was much vexed that I should have been guilty of such a riot, and afraid of a reproof from Dr. Johnson. I thought it very inconsistent with that conduct which I ought to maintain while the companion of the “Rambler." About one, he came into my room, and accosted me, “What, drunk yet?” His tone of voice was not that of severe upbraiding; so I was relieved a little. “Sir,” said I, “they kept me up.” He answered, “No, you kept them up, you drunken dog.” This he said with good-humored English pleasantry. Soon afterwards, Corrichatachin, Col, and other friends assembled round my bed. Corri had a brandy bottle and glass with him, and insisted I should take a dram. “Ay,” said Dr. Johnson, "fill him drunk again. Do it in the morning, that we may laugh at him all day. It is a poor thing for a fellow to get drunk at night, and skulk to bed, and let his friends have no sport.” Finding him thus jocular, I became quite easy; and when I offered to get up, he very good-naturedly said, “You need be in no such hurry now.” I took my host's advice, and drank some brandy, which I found an effectual cure for my headache. When I rose, I went into Dr. Johnson's room, and, taking up Mrs. Mackinnon's prayer-book, I opened it at the twentieth Sunday after Trinity, in the Epistle for which I read, And be not drunk with wine, wherein there is excess.” Some would have taken this as a divine interposition.

Monday, October 11. We had some days ago engaged the Campbelltown vessel to carry us to Mull, from the harbor where she lay. The morning was fine, and the wind fair and moderate; so we hoped at length to get away. Mrs. Macsweyn, who officiated as our landlady here, had never been on the mainland. On hearing this, Dr. Johnson said to me, before her, "That is rather being behindhand with life. I would at least go and see Glenelg." BOSWELL: "You yourself, sir, have never seen anything but your native island.” JOHNSON: “But, sir, by seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.” BOSWELL: “You have not seen Pekin.” JOHNSON: “What is Pekin? Ten thousand Londoners would drive all the people of Pekin; they would drive them like deer.”

.. The Sunday evening that we sat by ourselves at Aberdeen, I asked him several particulars of his life, from his early years, which he readily told me, and I wrote them down before him. This day I proceeded in my inquiries, also writing them in his presence. I have them on detached sheets. I shall collect authentic materials for The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.; and, if I survive him, I shall be one who will most faithfully do honor to his memory. I have now a vast treasure of his conversation, at different times, since the year 1762, when I first obtained his acquaintance; and by assiduous inquiry I can make up for not knowing him sooner.

... It may be objected by some persons, as it has been by one of my friends, that he who has the power of thus exhibiting an exact transcript of conversations is not a desirable member of society. I repeat the answer which I made to that friend: "Few, very few, need be afraid that their sayings will be recorded. Can it be imagined that I would take the trouble to gather what grows on every hedge, because I have collected such fruits as the Nonpareil and the Bon Chrétien?

On the other hand, how useful is such a faculty, if well exercised! To it we owe all those interesting apothegms and memorabilia of the ancients, which Plutarch, Xenophon, and Valerius Maximus have transmitted to us. To it we owe all those instructive and entertaining collections which the French have made under the title of Ana, affixed to some celebrated name. To it we owe the Table Talk of Selden, the Conversation between Ben Jonson and Drummond of Hawthornden, Spence's Anecdotes of Pope, and other valuable remains in our own language. How delighted should we have been if thus introduced into the company of Shakespeare and Dryden, of whom we know scarcely anything but their admirable writings! What pleasure would it have given us to have known their petty habits, their characteristic manners, their modes of composition, and their genuine opinion of preceding writers and of their contemporaries! All these are now irrecoverably lost. Considering how many of the strongest and most brilliant effusions of exalted intellect must have perished, how much is it to be regretted that all men of distinguished wisdom and wit have not been attended by friends of taste enough to relish, and abilities enough to register, their conversation.

Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Multi, sed omnes illacrymabiles
Urgentur, ignotique longa
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro."

They whose inferior exertions are recorded, as serving to explain or illustrate the sayings of such men, may be proud of being thus associated, and of their names being transmitted to posterity, by being appended to an illustrious character.

Before I conclude, I think it proper to say that I have suppressed everything which I thought could really hurt any one now living. Vanity and self-conceit indeed may sometimes suffer. With respect to what is related, I considered it my duty to “extenuate nothing, nor set down aught in malice”; and with those lighter strokes of Dr. Johnson's satire, proceeding from a warmth and quickness of imagination, not from any malevolence of heart, and which on account of their excellence could not be omitted, I trust that they who are the subject of them have good sense and good temper enough not to be displeased.

I have only to add that I shall ever reflect with great pleasure on a tour which has been the means of preserving so much of the enlightened and instructive conversation of one whose virtues will, I hope, ever be an object of imitation, and whose powers of mind were so extraordinary that ages may revolve before such a man shall again appear.

THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.

1791

["IRENE” AND “THE RAMBLER"] GARRICK being now vested with theatrical power by being manager of Drury Lane Theatre, he-kindly and generously made use of it to bring out Johnson's tragedy, which had been long kept back for want of encouragement. But in this benevolent purpose he met with no small

difficulty from the temper of Johnson, which could not brook that a drama which he had formed with much study, and had been obliged to keep more than the nine years of Horace, should be revised and altered at

1 See note to page 464, above.

the pleasure of an actor. Yet Garrick knew well that without some alterations it would not be fit for the stage. A violent dispute having ensued between them, Garrick applied to the Reverend Dr. Taylor to interpose. Johnson was at first very obstinate. “Sir," said he, "the fellow wants me to make Mahomet run mad, that he may have an opportunity of tossing his hands and kicking his heels.” He was, however, at last with difficulty prevailed on to comply with Garrick's wishes, so as to allow of some changes; but still there were not enough.

Dr. Adams was present the first night of the representation of Irene, and gave me the following account. “Before the curtain drew up, there were catcalls whistling, which alarmed Johnson's friends. The Prologue, which was written by himself in a manly strain, soothed the audience, and the play went off tolerably, till it came to the conclusion, when Mrs. Pritchard, the heroine of the piece, was to be strangled upon the stage, and was to speak two lines with the bow-string round her neck. The audience cried out 'Murder! Murder!' She several times attempted to speak, but in vain. At last she was obliged to go off the stage alive.” This passage was afterwards struck out, and she was carried off to be put to death behind the scenes, as the play now has it.

Notwithstanding all the support of such performers as Garrick, Barry, Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Pritchard, and every advantage of dress and decoration, the tragedy of Irene did not please the public. Mr. Garrick's zeal carried it through for nine nights, so that the author had his three nights' profits; and from a receipt signed by him, now in the hands of Mr. James Dodsley, it appears that his friend Mr. Robert Dodsley gave him one hundred pounds for the copy, with his usual reservation of the right of one edition.

Irene, considered as a poem, is entitled to the praise of superior excellence. Analyzed into parts, it will furnish a rich store of noble sentiments, fine imagery, and beautiful language; but it is deficient in pathos, in that delicate power of touching the human feelings, which is the principal end of the drama. Indeed Garrick has complained to me that Johnson not only had not the faculty of producing the impressions of tragedy, but that he had not the sensibility to perceive them. His great friend Mr. Walmsley's prediction, that he would "turn out a

fine tragedy-writer," was therefore ill founded. Johnson was wise enough to be convinced that he had not the talents necessary to write successfully for the stage, and never made another attempt in that species of composition.

When asked how he felt upon the ill success of his tragedy, he replied, “Like the Monument"; meaning that he continued firm and unmoved as that column. And let it be remembered, as an admonition to the genus irritabile of dramatic writers, that this great man, instead of peevishly complaining of the bad taste of the town, submitted to its decision without a murmur. He had, indeed, upon all occasions, a great deference for the general opinion. “A man,” said he, “who writes a book, thinks himself wiser or wittier than the rest of mankind; he supposes that he can instruct or amuse them, and the public to whom he appeals must, after all, be the judges of his pretensions."

In 1750 he came forth in the character for which he was eminently qualified, a majestic teacher of moral and religious wisdom. The vehicle which he chose was that of a periodical paper, which he knew had been upon former occasions employed with great success. The Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian were the last of the kind published in England, which had stood the test of a long trial; and such an interval had now elapsed since their publication as made him justly think that, to many of his readers, this form of instruction would in some degree have the advantage of novelty. A few days before the first of his Essays came out, there started another competitor for fame in the same form, under the title of The Tatler Revived, which I believe was “born but to die.” Johnson was, I think, not very happy in the choice of his title, The Rambler, which certainly is not suited to a series of grave and moral discourses, which the Italians have literally, but ludicrously, translated by Il Vagabondo, and which had been lately assumed as the denomination of a vehicle of licentious tales, The Rambler's Magazine. He gave Sir Joshua Reynolds the following account of its getting this name. “What must be done, sir, will be done. When I was to begin publishing that paper, I was at a loss how to name it. I sat down at night upon my bedside, and resolved that I would not go to sleep till I had fixed its title. The Rambler seemed the best that occurred, and I took it.”

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