Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

1778. mality, as to a stranger. But as soon as Edwards had Etat.

brought to his recollection their having been at Pem69. broke-College together nine-and-forty years ago,

seemed much pleased, asked where he lived, and said
he should be glad to see him in Bolt-court. EDWARDS.
“Ah, Sir ! we are old men now.” Johnson, (who never
liked to think of being old :) “Don't let us discourage
one another.” EDWARDS." Why, Doctor, you look

stout and hearty, I am happy to see you so; for the
newspapers told us you were very ill.” Johnson. " Ay,
Sir, they are always telling lies of us old fellows."

Wishing to be present at more of so singular a conver-
sation as that between two fellow-collegians, who had
lived forty years in London without ever having chanced
to meet, I whispered to Mr. Edwards that Dr. Johnson
was going home, and that he had better accompany
him now.

So Edwards walked along with us, I eagerly
assisting to keep up the conversation. Mr. Edwards in-
formed Dr. Johnson that he had practised long as a soli-
citor in Chancery, but that he now lived in the country
upon a little farm, about sixty acres, just by Stevenage
Hertfordshire, and that he came to London (to Barnard's
Inn, No. 6,) generally twice a week. Johnson appear-
ing to me in a reverie, Mr. Edwards addressed himself
to me, and expatiated on the pleasure of living in the
country. Boswell. “ I have no notion of this, Sir.

have to entertain you, is, I think,

is, I think, exhausted
in half an hour.” EDWARDS.“ What? don't you love
to have hope realized ? I see my grass, and my corn,
and my trees growing. Now, for instance, I am curi-
ous to see if this frost has not nipped my fruit-trees.”
JOHNSON, (who we did not imagine was attending :)
“ You find, Sir, you have fears as well as hopes.”—So
well did he see the whole, when another saw but the
half of a subject.

When we got to Dr. Johnson's house, and were seated in his library, the dialogue went on admirably. EDWARDS. “Sir, I remember you would not let us say prodigious at College. For even then, Sir, (turning to me, he was delicate in language, and we all


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

feared him.". JOHNSON, (to Edwards :) " From your 1778. having practised the law long, Sir, I presume you Ætat. must be rich.” EDWARDS." No, Sir; I got a good 69. deal of money ; but I had a number of poor relations to whom I gave a great part of it.” Johnson. “Sir,

1 you have been rich in the most valuable sense of the word.” EDWARDS. " But I shall not die rich.” Johnson. “Nay, sure, sir, it is better to live rich, than to die rich." EDWARDS. “ I wish I had continued at College.” JOHNSON. “Why do you wish that, Sir ?” EDWARDS. “ Because I think I should have had a much easier life than mine has been. I should have been a parson, and had a good living, like Bloxham and several others, and lived comfortably.” Johnson.“Sir, the life of a parson, of a conscientious clergyman, is not easy. I have always considered a clergyman as the father of a larger family than he is able to maintain. I would rather have Chancery suits upon my hands than the cure of souls. No, Sir, I do not envy a clergyman's life as an easy life, nor do I envy the clergyman who makes it an easy life.”—Here taking himself up all of a sudden, he exclaimed, “ O ! Mr. Edwards ! I'll convince you that I recollect you. Do you remember our

Ꭰ drinking together at an alehouse near Pembroke gate. At that time, you told me of the Eton boy, who, when verses on our Saviour's turning water into wine were prescribed as an exercise, brought up a single line, which was highly admired :

Vidit et erubuit lympha pudica Deum.'s

[ocr errors]

* Johnson said to me afterwards, “Sir, they respected me for literature ; and yet it was not great but by comparison. Sir, it is amazing how little literature there is in the world.” } [This line has frequently been attributed to Dryden, when a King's Scholar at

5 Westminster. But neither Eton nor Westminster have in truth any claim to it, the line being borrowed, with a slight change, (as Mr. Bindley has observed to me,) from an epigram by Crashaw, which was published in his EPIGRAMMATA Sacra, first printed at Cambridge without the author's name, in 1634, 8vo.The original is much more elegant than the copy, the water being personified, and the word on which the point of the Epigram turns, being reserved to the close of the line :

« Joann. 2.

Aquæ in vinum versæ.
« Vade rubor vestris et non sua purpura lymphis ?


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1778. and I told you of another fine line in Camden's Re

mains,' an eulogy upon one of our Kings, who was Ætat. 69. succeeded by his son, a prince of equal merit:

Mira cano, Sol occubuit, nox nulla secuta est.” EDWARDS. “ You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher ; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.”Mr. Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Malone, and, indeed, all the eminent men to whom I have mentioned this, have thought it an exquisite trait of character. The truth is, that philosophy, like religion, is too generally supposed to be hard and severe, at least so grave as to exclude all gaiety.

EDWARDS. “ I have been twice married, Doctor. You, I suppose, have never known what it was to have a wife.” JOHNSON. “Sir, I have known what it was to have a wife, and in a solemn tender faltering tone) I have known what it was to lose a wife.It had almost broke my heart.”

EDWARDS. "“ How do you live, Sir ? For my part,
I must have my regular meals, and a glass of good
wine. I find I require it.” Johnson. " I now drink

no wine, Sir. Early in life I drank wine : for many years
I drank none. I then for some years drank a great
deal.” EDWARDS. “Some hogsheads, I warrant you."

Johnson. “I then had a severe illness, and left it off,
and I have never begun it again. I never felt any dif-
ference upon myself from eating one thing rather than
another, nor from one kind of weather rather than anoth-
er. There are people, I believe, who feel a difference ;
but I am not one of them. And as to regular meals, I
have fasted from the Sunday's dinner to the Tuesday's
dinner, without any inconvenience. I believe it is
best to eat just as one is hungry: but a man who is in
business, or a man who has a family, must have stated
I am a straggler. I may leave this town and

go to Grand Cairo, without being missed here or observ-


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ed there.” EDWARDS. “Don't

you eat supper,


Sir ?" 1778. JOHNSON. “No, Sir.” EDWARDS. “ For my part, now, Etat. I consider supper as a turnpike through which one 69. must pass, in order to get to bed.”

Johnson. “You are a lawyer, Mr. Edwards. Law. yers know life practically. A bookish man should always have them to converse with. They have what he wants." EDWARDS. “ I am grown old: I am sixtyfive.” Johnson. " I shall be sixty-eight next birthday. Come, Sir, drink water, and put in for a hundred.”

Mr. Edwards mentioned a gentleman who had left his whole fortune to Pembroke College. Johnson. “ Whether to leave one's whole fortune to a College be right, must depend upon circumstances. I would leave the interest of the fortune I bequeathed to a College to my relations or my friends, for their lives. It is the same thing to a College, which is a permanent society, whether it gets the money now or twenty years hence ; and I would wish to make my relations or friends feel the benefit of it."

This interview confirmed my opinion of Johnson's most humane and benevolent heart. His cordial and placid behaviour to an old fellow collegian, a man so different from himself; and his telling him that he would


down to his farm and visit him, shewed a kindness of disposition very rare at an advanced age. He observed, “ how wonderful it was that they had both been in London forty years, without having ever once met, and both walkers in the street too !” Mr. Edwards, when going away, again recurred to his consciousness of senility, and looking full in Johnson's face, said to him,

“ You'll find in Dr. Young, O my coevals ! remnants of yourselves." Johnson did not relish this at all; but shook his head with impatience. Edwards walked off seemingly highly pleased with the honour of having been thus noticed by Dr. Johnson. When he was gone, I said to John

* I am not absolutely sure but this was my own suggestion, though it is truly in the character of Edwards.


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


1778. son, I thought him but a weak man. Johnson. “Why
Ætat, yes, Sir. Here is a man who has passed through life
69. without experience: yet I would rather have him with

me than a more sensible man who will not talk readily.
This man is always willing to say what he has to say.
Yet Dr. Johnson had himself by no means that will.
ingness which he praised so much, and I think so just-
ly; for who has not felt the painful effect of the dreary
void, when there is a total silence in a company, for
any length of time ; or, which is as bad, or perhaps
worse, when the conversation is with difficulty kept up
by a perpetual effort ?

Johnson once observed to me, “ Tom Tyers de-
scribed me the best : Sir, (said he,) you are like a
ghost : you never speak till you are spoken to.”

The gentleman whom he thus familiarly mentioned,
was Mr. Thomas Tyers, son of Mr. Jonathan Tyers,
the founder of that excellent place of publick amuse-
ment, Vauxhall Gardens, which must ever be an estate
to its proprietor, as it is peculiarly adapted to the taste
of the English nation ; there being a mixture of curi-

ous shew,---gay exhibition,-musick, vocal and instru-
mental, not too refined for the general ear ;-for all
which only a shilling is paid ;; and, though last, not
least, good eating and drinking for those who choose to
purchase that regale. Mr. Thomas Tyers was bred to
the law ; but having a handsome fortune, vivacity of
temper, and eccentricity of mind, he could not confine
himself to the regularity of practice. He therefore ran
about the world with a pleasant carelessness, amusing
every body by his desultory conversation. He abound-
ed in anecdote, but was not sufficiently attentive to ac-
curacy. I therefore cannot venture to avail myself
much of a biographical sketch of Johnson which he pub-
lished, being one among the various persons ambitious of
appending their names to that of my illustrious friend.

? In summer 1792, additional and more expensive decoratiơns, having been introduced, the price of admission was raised to two shillings. I cannot approve of this. The company may be more select; but a number of the honest commonalty are, I fear, excluded from sharing in elegant and innocent entertainment. An attempt to abolish the one-shilling gallery at the playhouse has been very properly counteracted.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »