Imatges de pÓgina


one, which was kept by Mr. Wilkins, and was the very next house to that in which Johnson was born and brought up, and which was still his own property. (') We had a comfortable supper, and got into high spirits. I felt all my toryism glow in this old capital of Staffordshire. I could have offered incense genio loci ; and I indulged in libations of that ale, which Boniface, in “ The Beaux Stratagem, recommends with such an eloquent jollity.

Next morning he introduced me to Mrs. Lucy Porter, his step-daughter. She was now an old maid, with much simplicity of manner.

She had never been in London. Her brother, a captain in the navy, had left her a fortune of ten thousand pounds; about a third of which she had laid out in building a stately house, and making a handsome garden, in an elevated situation in Lichfield. Johnson, when here by himself, used to live at her house. She reverenced him, and he had a parental tenderness for her.

We then visited Mr. Peter Garrick, who had that morning received a letter from his brother David, announcing our coming to Lichfield. He was engaged to dinner, but asked us to tea, and to sleep at his house. Johnson, however, would not quit his old acquaintance Wilkins of the Three Crowns. The family likeness of the Garricks was very striking; and Johnson thought that David's vivacity was not so peculiar to himself as was supposed. “ Sir," said

(1) I went through the house where my illustrious friend was born, with a reverence with which it doubtless will long be visited.

An engraved view of it, with the adjacent buildings, is in the “Gentlernan's Magazine" for February, 1785. [Ser: also the title-page of Vol. I. of this edition.]

TAT. 67.




he, “ I don't know but if Peter had cultivated all the arts of gaiety as much as David has done, he might have been as brisk and lively. Depend upon it, Sir, vivacity is much an art (1), and depends greatly on habit.” I believe there is a good deal of truth in this, notwithstanding a ludicrous story told me by a lady abroad, of a heavy German baron, who had lived much with the young English at Geneva, and was ambitious to be as lively as they ; with which view, he, with assiduous exertion, was jumping over the tables and chairs in his lodgings; and when the people of the house ran in and asked, with surprise, what was the matter, he answered, “ Sh' apprens t'être fif."

We dined at our inn, and had with us a Mr. Jackson (?), one of Johnson's schoolfellows, whom he treated with much kindness, though he seemed to be a low man, dull and untaught. He had a coarse gray coat, black waistcoat, greasy leather breeches, and a yellow uncurled wig ; and his countenance had the ruddiness which betokens one who is in no haste to “ leave his can.” He drank only ale. He had tried to be a cutler at Birmingham, but had not succeeded;

(1) It appears that quite a contrary conclusion might be drawn from the premises; for the liveliness of the Garrick family was obviously natural and hereditary, and (except perhaps in degree) independent of art or habit. The family was of French extraction, and preserved the vivacity of their original and now he lived poorly at home, and had some scheme of dressing leather in a better manner than common; to his indistinct account of which, Dr. Johnson listened with patient attention, that he might assist him with his advice. Here was an instance of genuine humanity and real kindness in this great man, who has been most unjustly represented as altogether harsh and destitute of tenderness. A thousand such instances might have been recorded in the course of his long life; though that his temper was warm and hasty, and his manner often rough, cannot be denied.

C. (2) This person's name was Henry. See post, Sept. 1. 1777. The scheme for dressing leather” renders it probable that he was related to the Thomas Jackson, mentioned, antè, Vol. I. p. 32., by Mr. Boswell as a servant, and by Mrs. Piozzi as a workman (in truth, probably, a partner) of old Mr. Johnson's, about the time when the failure of some scheme for dressing leather or parchment accelerated his bankruptcy.-C.


I saw here, for the first time, oat ale ; and oatcakes, not hard as in Scotland, but soft like a York shire cake, were served at breakfast. It was pleasant to me to find, that “ oats,” the “food of horses,” were so much used as the food of the people in Dr. Johnson's own town. He expatiated in praise of Lichfield and its inhabitants, who, he said, were “the most sober, decent people in England, the genteelest in proportion to their wealth, and spoke the purest English.” I doubted as to the last article of this eulogy; for they had several provincial sounds ; as, there, pronounced like fear, instead of like fair ; once pronounced woonse, instead of wunse or wonse. Johnson himself never got entirely free of those provincial accents. Garrick sometimes used to take him off, squeezing a lemon into a punch-bowl, with uncouth gesticulations, looking round the company, and calling out, “ Who's for poonsh" (1)?

(1) Garrick himself, like the Lichfieldians, always said, shupreme, shuperior.;-BURNEY. This is still the vulgar pro

ÆTAT. 67.



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Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found, however, two strange mantifactures 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.

He was a 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 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.”

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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.

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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 Lichfield 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 ;

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