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which had long been 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 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, "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

e Mahomet was in fact played by Mr. Barry, and Demetrius by Mr. Garrick : but probably at this time the parts were not yet cast.-BOSWELL.

f The expression used by Dr. Adams was 'soothed.' I should rather think the audience was 'awed' by the extraordinary spirit and dignity of the following lines:

Be this at least his praise, be this his pride,
To force applause no modern arts are tried :
Should partial catcalls all his hopes confound,
He bids no trumpet quell the fatal sound;
Should welcome sleep relieve the weary wit,
He rolls no thunders o'er the drowsy pit;
No snares to captivate the judgement spreads,
Nor bribes your eyes, to prejudice your heads.
Unmov'd, though witlings sneer and rivals rail,
Studious to please, yet not asham'd to fail,

He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain,
With merit needless, and without it vain;
In reason, nature, truth, he dares to trust;

Ye fops be silent, and ye wits be just!

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 bowstring round her neck. The audience cried out Murder! Murders! 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. The epilogue, as Johnson informed me, was written by sir William Yonge. I know not how his play came to be thus graced by the pen of a person then so eminent in the political world h.

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 publick. Mr. Garrick's zeal carried it

And yet Rowe has made Moneses in Tamerlane die by the bowstring, without offence to the tender feelings of a British audience, whose taste has never been considered as decidedly averse to scenick slaughters. See the last act in Hamlet; and Spectator, No. 44.-ED.

h Boswell appears, by his expressions of surprise in this place at Johnson's acquaintance with sir William Yonge, to have forgotten that at an earlier period, when he published the Plan of his Dictionary, he was informed by that gentleman how he conceived the word great should be pronounced. Sir William said it should rhyme to seat, lord Chesterfield told him that it should rhyme to state. The anecdote may be found narrated in Johnson's own words in vol. ii. under the year 1772. But the Plan was published in 1747, two years before Irene was brought out; and the above fact implies sufficient intimacy to diminish surprise at sir W. Yonge's furnishing a prologue.-ED.

i I know not what sir John Hawkins means by the “ cold reception” of Irene. I was at the first representation, and most of the subsequent. It was much applauded the first night, particularly the speech on "to-morrow." It ran nine nights at least. It did not indeed become a stock play, but there was not the least opposition during the representation, except the first night in the last act, where Irene was to be strangled on the stage, which John could not bear, though a dramatick poet may stab or slay by hundreds. The bowstring was not a christian nor an ancient Greek or Roman death. But this offence was removed after the first night, and Irene went off the stage to be strangled.— Many stories were circulated at the time, of the author's being observed at the representation to be dissatisfied with some of the speeches and conduct of the play, himself; and, like la Fontaine, expressing his disapprobation aloud. BURNEY.

Mr. Murphy, in his Life of Johnson, says, "the amount of the three benefit

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 superiour excellence. Analysed 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

nights for the tragedy of Irene, it is to be feared, were not very considerable, as the profit, that stimulating motive, never invited the author to another dramatick attempt."

In a memorandum now before me, purchased at the Boswell sale in the spring of 1825, contained in a letter from Mr. Chalmers to the late Mr. Malone, the following account and observations by Mr. Isaac Reed are given : 3d night's receipt.


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In another place Mr. Murphy says, "Irene, was acted at Drury-lane on Monday, February the 6th, and from that time, without interruption, to Monday, February the 20th, being in all thirteen nights."

On this Isaac somewhat indignantly has written-"This is false. It was acted only nine nights, and never repeated afterwards. Mr. Murphy, in making the above calculation, includes both the Sundays and Lent-days."

The blunder, however, is that of the Monthly Reviewer, from whom Murphy took, without acknowledgment, the greater part of his essay. M. R. vol. lxxvii. p. 135.-Ed.

k Aaron Hill, (vol. ii. p. 355,) in a letter to Mr. Mallet, gives the following account of Irene after having seen it. "I was at the anomalous Mr. Johnson's benefit, and found the play his proper representative; strong sense ungraced by sweetness or decorum."-Boswell.

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 dramatick 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 publick to whom he appeals must, after all, be the judges of his pretensions."

On occasion of his play being brought upon the stage, Johnson had a fancy that, as a dramatick author, his dress should be more gay than what he ordinarily wore; he therefore appeared behind the scenes, and even in one of the side boxes in a scarlet waistcoat, with rich gold lace, and a gold-lace hat. He humorously observed to Mr. Langton, that when in that dress he could not treat people with the same ease as when in his usual plain clothes. Dress, indeed, we must allow, has more effect even upon strong minds than one should suppose, without having had. the experience of it. His necessary attendance while his play was in rehearsal, and during its performance, brought him acquainted with many of the performers of both sexes, which produced a more favourable opinion of their profession than he had harshly expressed in his Life of Savage. With some of them he kept up an acquaintance as long as he and they lived, and was ever ready to show them acts of kindness. He for a considerable time used to frequent



the green-room, and seemed to take delight in dissipating his gloom, by mixing in the sprightly chit-chat of the motley circle then to be found there. Mr. David Hume related to me from Mr. Garrick, that Johnson at last denied himself this amusement, from considerations of rigid virtue; saying, "I'll come no more behind your scenes, David; for the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite my amorous propensities."

In 1750 he came forth in the character for which he was eminently qualified, a majestick 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 has 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 m."


And also, but less ludicrously, Il Genio errante.'-ED.

m I have heard Dr. Warton mention, that he was at Mr. Robert Dodsley's with the late Mr. Moore, and several of his friends, considering what should be

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