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to him, or associated in his mind with interests that he durst not explain. If so, it would be an additional reason for my liking him; and I would give something to have seen him seated in the tent with the youthful Majesty of Britain, and penning the Proclamation to all true subjects and adherents of the legitimate Government."
“I thought,” said A-, turning short round upon B—-," that you of the Lake School did not like Pope?"
-“ Not like Pope! My dear sir, you must be under a mistake-I can read him over and over for ever!”_" Why certainly, the Essay on Man must be allowed to be a master-piece."-" It may be so, but I seldom look into it."“Oh! then it's his Satires you admire?”—“No, not his Satires, but his friendly Epistles and his compliments."-" Compliments! I did not know he ever made any.”—“ The finest,” said B-, “that were ever paid by the wit of man. Each of them is worth an estate for life—nay, is an immortality. There is that superb one to Lord Cornbury:
* Despise low joys, low gains :
“ Was there ever more artful insinuation of idolatrous praise? And then that noble apotheosis of his friend Lord Mansfield (however little deserved), when, speaking of the House of Lords, he adds
“Conspicuous scene! another yet is nigh,
(More silent far) where kings and poets lie;
" And with what a fine turn of indignant Aattery he addresses Lord Bolingbroke
Why rail they then, if but one wreath of mine,
“Or turn,” continued B -, with a slight hectic on his cheek and his eye glistening, “ to his list of early friends :
* But why then publish ? Granville the polite,
Here his voice totally failed him, and throwing down the book, he said, “Do you think I would not wish to have been friends with such a man as this?”
“What say you to Dryden?"-" He rather made a show of himself, and courted popularity in that lowest temple of Fame, a coffee-house, so as in some measure to vulgarize one's idea of him. Pope, on the contrary, reached the very beau ideal of what a poet's life should be; and his fame while living seemed to be an emanation from that which was to circle his name after death. He was so far enviable (and one would feel proud to have witnessed the rare spectacle in him) that he was almost the only poet and man of genius who met with his reward on this side of the tomb, who realized in friends, fortune, the esteem of the world, the most sanguine hopes of a youthful ambition, and who found that sort of patronage from the great during his lifetime which they would be thought anxious to bestow upon him after his death. Read Gay's verses to him on his supposed return from Greece, after his translation of Homer was finished, and say if you would not gladly join the bright procession that welcomed him home, or see it once more land at Whitehall-stairs.”—“ Still,” said Miss
D-, “I would rather have seen him talking with Patty Blount, or riding by in a coronet-coach with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu!
E--, who was deep in a game of piquet at the other end of the room, whispered to M. C. to ask if Junius would not be a fit person to invoke from the dead. “Yes," said B—,"provided he would agree to lay aside his mask.”
We were now at a stand for a short time, when Fielding was mentioned as a candidate: only one, however, seconded the proposition. “Richardson?"-" By all means, but only to look at him through the glass-door of his back-shop, hard at work upon one of his novels (the most extraordinary contrast that ever was presented between an author and his works), but not to let him come behind his counter lest he should want you to turn customer, nor to go upstairs with him, lest he should offer to read the first manuscript of Sir Charles Grandison, which was originally written in eight and twenty volumes octavo, or get out the letters of his female correspondents, to prove that Joseph Andrews was low.”
There was but one statesman in the whole of English history that any one expressed the least desire to seeOliver Cromwell, with his fine, frank, rough, pimply face, and wily policy; and one enthusiast, John Bunyan, the immortal author of the Pilgrim's Progress. It seemed that if he came into the room, dreams would follow him, and that each person would nod under his golden cloud, "nighsphered in Heaven," a canopy as strange and stately as any in Homer.
Of all persons near our own time, Garrick's name was received with the greatest enthusiasm, who was proposed by J. F— He presently superseded both Hogarth and Handel, who had been talked of, but then it was on condition that he should act in tragedy and comedy, in the
play and the farce, Lear and Wildair and Abel Drugger. What a sight for sore eyes that would be! Who would not part with a year's income at least, almost with a year of his natural life, to be present at it? Besides, as he could not act alone, and recitations are unsatisfactory things, what a troop he must bring with him—the silver-tongued Barry, and Quin, and Shuter and Weston, and Mrs. Clive and Mrs. Pritchard, of whom I have heard my father speak as so great a favourite when he was young! This would indeed be a revival of the dead, the restoring of art; and so much the more desirable, as such is the lurking scepticism mingled with our overstrained admiration of past excellence, that though we have the speeches of Burke, the portraits of Reynolds, the writings of Goldsmith, and the . conversation of Johnson, to show what people could do at that period, and to confirm the universal testimony to the merits of Garrick; yet, as it was before our time, we have our misgivings, as if he was probably after all little better than a Bartlemy-fair actor, dressed out to play Macbeth in a scarlet coat and laced cocked-hat. For one, I should like to have seen and heard with my own eyes and ears. Certainly, by all accounts, if any one was ever moved by the true histrionic æstus, it was Garrick. When he followed the Ghost in Hamlet, he did not drop the sword as most actors do behind the scenes, but kept the point raised the whole way round, so fully was he possessed with the idea, or so anxious not to lose sight of his part for a moment. Once at a splendid dinner-party at Lord ——'s, they suddenly missed Garrick, and could not imagine what was become of him, till they were drawn to the window by the convulsive screams and peals of laughter of a young negroboy, who was rolling on the ground in an ecstasy of delight to see Garrick mimicking a turkey-cock in the court-yard, with his coat-tail stuck out behind, and in a seeming futter
of feathered rage and pride. Of our party only two persons present had seen the British Roscius; and they seemed as willing as the rest to renew their acquaintance with their old favourite.
We were interrupted in the hey-day and mid-career of this fanciful speculation, by a grumbler in a corner, who declared it was a shame to make all this rout about a mere player and farce-writer, to the neglect and exclusion of the fine old dramatists, the contemporaries and rivals of Shakspeare. B— said he had anticipated this objection when he had named the author of Mustapha and Alaham; and out of caprice insisted upon keeping him to represent the set, in preference to the wild hair-brained enthusiast Kit Marlowe; to the sexton of St. Ann's, Webster, with his melancholy yew-trees and death's-heads; to Deckar, who was but a garrulous proser; to the voluminous Heywood; and even to Beaumont and Fletcher, whom we might offend by complimenting the wrong author on their joint productions. Lord Brook, on the contrary, stood quite by himself, or in Cowley's words, was “a vast species alone.” Some one hinted at the circumstance of his being a lord, which rather startled B-, but he said a ghost would perhaps dispense with strict etiquette, on being regularly addressed by his title. Ben Jonson divided our suffrages pretty equally. Some were afraid he would begin to traduce Shakspeare, who was not present to defend himself. “If he grows disagreeable," it was whispered aloud, "there is G— can match him.” At length his romantic visit to Drummond of Hawthornden was mentioned, and turned the scale in his favour.
B-- inquired if there was any one that was hanged that I would choose to mention ? And I answered, Eugene Aram.* The name of the “ Admirable Crichton” was sud
* See Newgate Calendar for 1758.