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Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found, however, two strange manufactures for so inland a place, sail-cloth and streamers for ships ; and I observed them making some saddlecloths, and dressing sheep-skins; but upon the whole, the busy hand of industry seemed to be quite slackened. “Surely, Sir,” said I, “ you are an idle set of people.” “ Sir,” said Johnson, “ we are a city of philosophers; we work with our heads, and make the boobies of Birmingham work for us with their hands.” There was at this time a company of players performing at Lichfield. The manager, Mr. Stanton, sent his compliments, and begged leave to wait on Dr. Johnson. Johnson received him very courteously, and he drank a glass of wine with us. plain, decent, well-behaved man, and expressed his gratitude to Dr. Johnson for having once got him permission from Dr. Taylor at Ashbourne to play there upon moderate terms. Garrick's name was soon introduced. Johnson. “Garrick's conversation is gay and grotesque. It is a dish of all sorts, but all good things. There is no solid meat in it: there is a want of sentiment in it. Not but that he has sentiment sometimes, and sentiment too very powerful and very pleasing: but it has not its full proportion in his conversation.”
He was a
nunciation of Ireland, where the pronunciation of the English language by those who have not expatriated is doubtless that which generally prevailed in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth. - M.- “ Shupreme” and “ shuperior" are incorrect; yet every one says “shure” and “shugar” for “sure” and sugar.” —C. VOL. VI.
When we were by ourselves he told me, “ Forty years ago, Sir, I was in love with an actress here, Mrs. Emmet, who acted Flora, in `Hob in a Well.'' What merit this lady had as an actress, or what was her figure, or her manner, I have not been informed; but, if we may believe Mr. Garrick, his old master's taste in theatrical merit was by no means refined ; he was not an elegans formarum spectator. Garrick used to tell, that Johnson said of an actor, who played Sir Harry Wildair at Lichfield, “ There is a courtly vivacity about the fellow;" when, in fact, according to Garrick's account, “he was the most vulgar ruffian that ever went upon boards.”
We had promised Mr. Stanton to be at his theatre on Monday. Dr. Johnson jocularly proposed to me to write a prologue for the occasion: “ A Prologue, by James Boswell, Esqr. from the Hebrides.” I was really inclined to take the hint. Methought, “ Prologue, spoken before Dr. Samuel Johnson, at Lichfield, 1776," would have sounded as well as “Prologue, spoken before the Duke of York at Oxford,” in Charles the Second's time. Much might have been said of what Lichfielt had done for Shakspeare, by producing Johnson and Garrick. But I found he was averse to it.
We went and viewed the museum of Mr. Richard Green, apothecary here, who told me he was proud of being a relation of Dr. Johnson's. It was, truly, a wonderful collection, both of antiquities and natural curiosities, and ingenious works of art. He had all the articles accurately arranged, with their names upon labels, printed at his own little press;
and on the staircase leading to it was a board, with the names of contributors marked in gold letters. A printed catalogue of the collection was to be had at a bookseller's. Johnson expressed his admiration of the activity and diligence and good fortune of Mr. Green, in getting together, in his situation, so great a variety of things ; and Mr. Green told me that Johnson once said to him, Sir, I should as soon have thought of building a man of war, as of collecting such a museum.” Mr. Green's obliging alacrity in showing it was very pleasing. His engraved portrait, with which he has favoured me, has a motto truly characteristical of his disposition, “ Nemo sibi vivat.”
A physician being mentioned who had lost his practice, because his whimsically changing his religion had made people distrustful of him, I maintained that this was unreasonable, as religion is unconnected with medical skill. Johnson. 6. Sir, it is not unreasonable ; for when people see a man absurd in what they understand, they may conclude the same of him in what they do not understand. If a physician were to take to eating of horseflesh, nobody would employ him ; though one may eat horseflesh, and be a very skilful physician. If a man were educated in an absurd religion, his continuing to profess it would not hurt him, though his changing to it would. (1) "
(1) Fothergill, a quaker, and Schomberg, a Jew, had the greatest practice of any two physicians of their time. Burney. Mr. D’Israeli thinks it possible, that Ralph Schomberg. (the second son of Dr. Meyer Schomberg, the person mentioned by Dr. Burney), was the person alluded to in the text. Ralph
We drank tea and coffee at Mr. Peter Garrick's. where was Mrs. Aston, one of the maiden sisters of Mrs. Walmesley, wife of Johnson's first friend, and sister also of the lady of whom Johnson used to speak with the warmest admiration, by the name of Molly Aston, who was afterwards married to Captain Brodie of the navy.
Schomberg was driven from practice and out of society, for some dishonest tampering with the funds of an hospital, with which he was connected. C.
Lichfield. Peter Garrick. Death of Mr. Thrale's only Son.-Shakspeare's Mulberry-tree. Lord Bute.
- Marriage. -Questioning. — Sir Fletcher Norton. -Ashbourne. Dr. Taylor.
" Old Men putting themselves to nurse. “Il Palmerino d'Inghilterra.” Ingratitude. Mr. Wedderburne.
.“ Marrying for Love." - Dr. James. — Melancholy.— Captain Cook. Omai. Character of a Soldier. - Good humour of ancient Philosophers.— Public Schools.English Universities. Libels on the Dead.
On Sunday, March 24., we breakfasted with Mrs. Cobb, a widow lady, who lived in an agreeable sequestered place close by the town, called the Friary, it having been formerly a religious house. She and her niece, Miss Adey, were great admirers of Dr. Johnson; and he behaved to them with a kindness and easy pleasantry, such as we see between old and intimate acquaintance. He accompanied Mrs. Cobb to St. Mary's Church, and I went to the cathedral, where I was very much delighted with the music, finding it to be peculiarly solemn, and accordant with the words of the service.
We dined at Mr. Peter Garrick's, who was in a very lively humour, and verified Johnson's sayings that if he had cultivated gaiety as much as his brother David, he might have equally excelled in it. He was to-day quite a London narrator, telling us a variety of anecdotes with that earnestness and at