Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

552

The Literary Club.

(A.D. 1764

Langton complained of being sick, he insisted that they should go out and sit on the back of it in the open air, which they did. And being sensible how strange the appearance must be, observed, that a countryman whom they saw in a field, would probably be thinking, “If these two madmen should come down, what would become of me'?'

Soon after his return to London, which was in February, was founded that CLUB which existed long without a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral became distinguished by the title of The LITERARY CLUB', Sir Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first proposer of it”, to which Johnson acceded, and the original members were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beauclerk,

"Mr. Best (Memorials, p. 65) thus writes of a visit to Langton : *We walked to the top of a very steep hill behind the house. Mr. Langton said, “ Poor dear Dr. Johnson, when he came to this spot, turned back to look down the hill, and said he was determined to take a roll down. When we understood what he meant to do, we endeavoured to dissuade him; but he was resolute, saying, he had not had a roll for a long time; and taking out of his lesser pockets whatever might be in them, and laying himself parallel with the edge of the hill, he actually descended, turning himself over and over till he came to the bottom.” This story was told with such gravity, and with an air of such affectionate remembrance of a departed friend, that it was impossible to suppose this extraordinary freak an invention of Mr. Langton.' It must have been in the winter that he had this roll.

* Boswell himself so calls it in a letter to Temple written three or four months after Garrick's death. Letters of Boswell, p. 242. See also Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773.

* Malone says:— Reynolds was the original founder of our Literary Club about the year 1762, the first thought of which he started to Dr. Johnson at his own fireside.' Prior's Malone, p. 434. Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 122) says :—Johnson called Reynolds their Romulus, or said somebody else of the company called him so, which was more likely.' According to Hawkins (Life, p. 425) the Club was founded in the winter of 1763, i. e. 1763-4.

Dr. Nugent, a physician, was Burke's father-in-law. Macaulay (Essays, i. 407) says :—As we close Boswell's book, the club-room is before us, and the table on which stands the omelet for Nugent, and the lemons for Johnson.' It was from Mrs. Piozzi that Macaulay learnt of the omelet. Nugent was a Roman Catholic, and it was on

Mr.

3

Aetat. 55.)

The Literary Club.

553

Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier', and Sir John Hawkins'. They met at the Turk's Head, in Gerrard-street, Soho, one evening in every week, at seven, and generally continued their conversation till a pretty late hour'. This club

Friday that the Club before long came to meet. We may assume that he would not on that day eat meat. 'I fancy,' Mrs. Piozzi writes (Anec, p. 122), ‘Dr. Nugent ordered an omelet sometimes on a Friday or Saturday night; for I remember Mr. Johnson felt very painful sensations at the sight of that dish soon after his death, and cried :—“Ah my poor dear friend! I shall never eat omelet with thee again !" quite in an agony.' Dr. Nugent, in the imaginary college at St. Andrews, was to be the professor of physic. Boswell’s Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773.

'Mr. Andrew Chamier was of Huguenot descent, and had been a stock-broker. He was a man of liberal education. “He acquired such a fortune as enabled him, though young, to quit business, and become, what indeed he seemed by nature intended for, a gentleman.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 422. In 1764 he was Secretary in the War Office. In 1775 he was appointed Under Secretary of State. Forster's Goldsmith, i. 310. He was to be the professor of commercial politics in the imaginary college. Johnson passed one of his birthdays at his house : post, under Sept. 9, 1779, note.

* . It was Johnson's intention,' writes Hawkins (Life, p. 423), “that their number should not exceed nine.' Nine was the number of the Ivy Lane Club (ante, p. 220). Johnson, I suppose, looked upon nine as the most clubable number. It was intended,' says Dr. Percy, that if only two of these chanced to meet for the evening, they should be able to entertain each other.' Goldsmith's Misc. Works, i. 70. Hawkins adds that 'Mr. Dyer (post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection), a member of the Ivy Lane Club, who for some years had been abroad, made his appearance among us, and was cordially received.' According to Dr. Percy, by 1768 not only had Hawkins formally withdrawn, but Beauclerk had forsaken the club for more fashionable ones. Upon this the Club agreed to increase their number to twelve; every new member was to be elected by ballot, and one black ball was sufficient for exclusion. Mr. Beauclerk then desired to be restored to the Society, and the following new members were introduced on Monday, Feb. 15, 1768 : Sir R. Chambers, Dr. Percy and Mr. Colman,' Goldsmith's Misc. Works, i. 72. In the list in Croker's Boswell, ed. 1844, ii. 326, the election of Percy and Chambers is placed in 1765.

• Boswell wrote on April 4, 1775:-1 dine, Friday, at the Turk's Head. Gerrard-street, with our Club, Sir Joshua Reynolds, etc., who now dine once a month, and sup every Friday.' Letters of Boswell,

has

554

List of the members.

(A.D. 1764

has been gradually increased to its present number, thirtyfive'. After about ten years, instead of supping weekly, it was resolved to dine together once a fortnight during the meeting of Parliament. Their original tavern having been converted into a private house, they moved first to Prince's in Sackville-street, then to Le Telier's in Dover-street, and now meet at Parsloe's, St. James's-street'. Between the time of its formation, and the time at which this work is passing through the press, (June 1792,)' the following persons, now dead, were members of it: Mr. Dunning, (afterwards Lord Ashburton,) Mr. Samuel Dyer, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Shipley Bishop of St. Asaph, Mr. Vesey, Mr. Thomas Warton and Dr. Adam Smith. The present members are,- Mr. Burke, Mr. Langton, Lord Charlemont, Sir Robert Chambers, Dr. Percy Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Barnard Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Marlay Bishop of Clonfert, Mr. Fox, Dr. George Fordyce, Sir William Scott, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Charles Bunbury, Mr. Windham of Norfolk, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Gibbon, Sir William Jones, Mr. Colman, Mr. Steevens, Dr. Burney, Dr. Joseph Warton, Mr. Malone, Lord Ossory, Lord Spencer,

p. 186. In 1766, Monday was the night of meeting. Post, May 10, 1766. In Dec. 1772 the night was changed to Friday. Goldsmith's Misc. Works, i. 72. Hawkins says (Life, pp. 424, 5) :—We seldom got together till nine; preparing supper took up till ten; and by the time that the table was cleared, it was near eleven. Our evening toast was the motto of Padre Paolo, Esto perpetua. Esto perpetua was not Padre Paolo's motto, but his dying prayer. “As his end evidently ap proached, the brethren of the convent came to pronounce the last prayers, with which he could only join in his thoughts, being able to pronounce no more than these words, “Esto perpetua," mayst thou last for ever; which was understood to be a prayer for the prosperity of his country.' Johnson's Works, vi. 269.

See post, March 14, 1777. "After 1783 it removed to Prince's, in Sackville-street, and on his house being soon afterwards shut up, it removed to Baxter's, which subsequently became Thomas's, in Dover-street. In January 1792 it removed to Parsloe's, in St. James's-street; and on February 26, 1799. to the Thatched house in the same street.' Forster's Goldsmith, i. 311. • The second edition is here spoken of. MALONE.

Lord

Aetat. 55.]

Garrick and the Literary Club.

555

Lord Lucan, Lord Palmerston, Lord Eliot, Lord Macartney, Mr. Richard Burke junior, Sir William Hamilton, Dr. Warren, Mr. Courtenay, Dr. Hinchcliffe Bishop of Peterborough, the Duke of Leeds, Dr. Douglas Bishop of Salisbury, and the writer of this account.

Sir John Hawkins' represents himself as a 'seceder' from this society, and assigns as the reason of his "withdrawing' himself from it, that its late hours were inconsistent with his domestick arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke, in so rude a manner, that all the company testified their displeasure; and at their next meeting his reception was such, that he never came again”.

He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr. Garrick, of whom he says, “he trusted that the least intimation of a desire to come among us, would procure him a ready admission; but in this he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed,—“He will disturb us by his buffoonery;"and afterwards so managed matters that he was never formally proposed, and, by consequence, never admitted'.'

· Life of Johnson, p. 425. BOSWELL.

* From Sir Joshua Reynolds. Boswell. The Knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supper, because he usually eat no supper at home, Johnson observed, “Sir John, Sir, is a very unclubable man.' BURNEY. Hawkins (Life, p. 231) says that • Mr. Dyer had contracted a fatal intimacy with some persons of desperate fortunes, who were dealers in India stock, at a time when the affairs of the company were in a state of fluctuation.' Malone, commenting on this passage, says that “under these words Mr. Burke is darkly alluded to, together with his cousin.' He adds that the character given of Dyer by Hawkins ‘is discoloured by the malignant prejudices of that shallow writer, who, having quarrelled with Mr. Burke, carried his enmity even to Mr. Burke's friends.' Prior's Malone, p. 419. See also ante, p. 31. Hawkins (Life, p. 420) said of Goldsmith:— As he wrote for the booksellers, we at the Club looked on him as a mere literary drudge, equal to the task of compiling and translating, but little capable of original, and still less of poetical composition.' Life of Johnson, p. 425. BOSWELL. Hawkins is 'equally inaccu

3

556

Garrick and the Literary Club.

(A.D. 1764.

In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, I think it necessary to rectify this mis-statement. The truth is, that not very long after the institution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. I like it much, (said he,) I think I shall be of you.' When Sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. 'He'll be of us, (said Johnson) how does he know we will permit him? The first Duke in England has no right to hold such language. However, when Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected, was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.

Mrs. Piozzi' has also given a similar misrepresentation of Johnson's treatment of Garrick in this particular, as if he had used these contemptuous expressions: “If Garrick does apply, I'll black-ball him. Surely, one ought to sit in a society like ours,

“Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or player"."' I am happy to be enabled by such unquestionable author. ity as that of Sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as from my own knowledge, to vindicate at once the heart of Johnson and the social merit of Garrick'.

1

rate' in saying 'that Johnson was so constant at our meetings as never to absent himself.' (16. p. 424.) See post, Johnson's letter to Langton of March 9, 1766, where he says :-Dyer is constant at the Club; Hawkins is remiss; I am not over diligent.'

Letters to and from Dr. Johnson. Vol. ii. p. 278 (387). BOSWELL. The passage is as follows :—““If he does apply." says our Doctor to Mr. Thrale, “I'll black-ball him." Who, Sir? Mr. Garrick, your friend, your companion, -- black-ball him !" "Why, Sir, I love my little David dearly, better than all or any of his flatterers do, but surely one ought, &c.”

· Pope's Moral Essays, iii. 242.

· Malone says that it was from him that Boswell had his account of Garrick's election, and that he had it from Reynolds. He adds that Johnson warmly supported Garrick, being in reality a very

« ElőzőTovább »