« AnteriorContinuar »
the metropolis. His poems are replete with fine moral sentiments, and bespeak a great dignity of mind; yet he had no sense of the shame, nor dread of the evils, of poverty. - Haw
Colonel O'Moore, of Cloghan Castle in Ireland, told me an amusing instance of the mingled vanity and simplicity of Goldsmith, which (though, perhaps, coloured a little, as anecdotes too often are) is characteristic at least of the opinion which his best friends entertained of Goldsmith. One afternoon, as Colonel O’Moore and Mr. Burke were going to dine with Sir Joshua Reynolds, they observed Goldsmith (also on his way to Sir Joshua's) standing near a crowd of people, who were staring and shouting at some foreign women in the windows of one of the houses in Leicester-square. “ Observe Goldsmith," said Mr. Burke to O’Moore, “and mark what passes between him and me by-and-by at Sir Joshua's.” They passed on, and arrived before Goldsmith, who came soon after, and Mr. Burke affected to receive him very coolly. This seemed to vex poor Goldsmith, who begged Mr. Burke would tell him how he had had the misfortune to offend him. Burke appeared very reluctant to speak; but, after a good deal of pressing, said, “ that he was really ashamed to keep up an intimacy with one who could be guilty of such monstrous indiscretions as Goldsmith had just exhibited in the square. " Goldsmith, with great earnestness, protested he was unconscious of what was meant. “Why,” said Burke, "did
you not exclaim, as you were looking up at those women, what stupid beasts the crowd must be for staring with such admiration at those painted jezebels ; while a man of your talents passed by unnoticed?” Goldsmith was horror-struck, and said, " Surely, surely, my dear friend, I did not say so ?” replied Burke, if you had not said so, how should I have known it?” “ That's true,” answered Goldsmith, with great humility: “I am very sorry - it was very foolish: I do recollect that something of the kind passed through my mind, but I did not think I had uttered it." CROKER,
London. — Miss Porter's Legacy. - Boswell and his Landlord. — Suppers at the Mitre.
“ The King can do no Wrong." - Historical Composition. Bayle. Arbuthnot. · The noblest Prospect in Scotland. Jacobitism. Lord Hailes. · Keeping a Journal. The King of Prussia's Poetry. Johnson's Library.
“ Not at Home.” – Pity. — Style of Hume. Inequality of Mankind. Constitutional Goodness. Miracles. Acquaintance Oy Young People. — Hard Reading. - Melancholy. Mrs. Macaulay. – Warton's Essay on Pope. - Sir James Macdonald. — Projected Tour to the Hebrides,
On Tuesday the 5th of July, I again visited Johnson. He told me he had looked into the poems of a pretty voluminous writer, Mr. (now Dr.) John Ogilvie, one of the Presbyterian ministers of
land, which had lately come out, but could find nothing in them. Boswell. “ Is there not imagination in them, Sir?" Johnson. “Why, Sir, there is in them, what was imagination, but it is no more imagination in him, than sound is sound in the echo. And his diction, too, is not his own. We have long ago seen white-robed innocence, and flower-bespangled meads."
Talking of London, he observed, “Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its grea
streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists." - I have often amused myself with thinking how different a place London is to different people. They, whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its different departments ; a grazier, as a vast market for cattle ; a mercantile man, as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatic enthusiast, as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an assemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue. But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.
LETTER 85. TO MISS LUCY PORTER.
July 5. 1763. “MY DEAREST DEAR,—I am extremely glad that so much prudence and virtue as yours is at last awarded with so large a fortune (1), and doubt not but that the excellence which you have shown in circumstances of difficulty will continue the same in the convenience of wealth.
“ I have not written to you sooner, having nothing to say, which you would not easily suppose — nothing,
(1) Miss Porter had just received a legacy of ten thousand pounds, by the death of her brother.-C.
but that I love you and wish you happy, of which you may be always assured, whether I write or not.
as I have had an inflammation in my eyes ; but it is much better, and will be I hope, soon quite well.
“Be so good as to let me know whether you design to stay at Lichfield this summer; if you do, I purpose to come down. I shall bring Frank with me; so that Kitty must contrive to make two beds, or get a servant's bed at the Three Crowns, which may be as well. As I
suppose she may want sheets and table-linen, and such things, I have sent ten pounds, which she may lay out in conveniences. I will pay her for her board what you think proper; I think a guinea a week for me and the boy.
“Be pleased to give my love to Kitty. I am, my dearest love, your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON." On Wednesday, July 6., he was engaged to sup with me at my lodgings in Downing-street, Westminster. But on the preceding night my landlord having behaved very rudely to me and some company who were with me, I had resolved not to remain another night in his house. I was exceedingly uneasy at the awkward appearance I supposed I should make to Johnson and the other gentlemen whom I had invited, not being able to receive them at home, and being obliged to order supper at the Mitre. I went to Johnson in the morning, and talked of it as of a serious distress. He laughed, and said, “Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence.” Were this consideration to be applied to most of the little vexatious incidents of life, by which our quiet is too often disturbed, it would prevent many painful
sensations. I have tried it frequently with good effect. “ There is nothing," continued he, “ in this mighty misfortune; nay, we shall be better at the Mitre." I told him that I had been at Sir John Fielding's office, complaining of my landlord, and had been informed that, though I had taken my lodgings for a year, I might, upon proof of his bad behaviour, quit them when I pleased, without being under an obligation to pay rent for any longer time than while I possessed them. The fertility of Johnson's mind could shew itself even upon so small a matter as this. “ Why, Sir," said he, “I supposé this must be the law, since you have been told so in Bow-street. But, if your landlord could hold you to your bargain, and the lodgings should be yours for a year, you may certainly use them as you think fit. (1) So, Sir, you may quarter two life-guardmen upon him ; or you may send the greatest scoundrel you can find into your apartments; or you may say that you want to make some experiments in natural philosophy, and may burn a large quantity of assafætida in his house."
I had as my guests this evening at the Mitre tavern, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Thomas Davies, Mr.Eccles (2), an Irish gentleman, for whose
(1) Certainly not; you must use them according to the contract, expressed or implied, under which you have hired them. If a landlord breaks his part of the contract, the law will relieve the other party; but the latter is not at liberty to take such violent and illegal steps as Johnson suggests. — C.
(1) Isaac Ambrose Eccles, Esq., of Cronroe, in the county of Wicklow: he published one or two plays of Sbakspeare, with notes.-C.