Page images

Feast on the arts and sciences, and learn
Sublimity from trifle to discern ;

With shells, and flies, and daises covered o'er,
Let pert Queen Fiddlefaddle rule no more:
Thus shall philosophy her suffrage yield,
Sir Joseph wear his hat, and hammer wield;
No more shall Wisdom on the Journals stare,
Nor Newton's image blush behind the chair.


DR. JOHNSON-mr. gibbon.....Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Johnson. No, Sir; Garrick's fame was prodigious, not only in England, but all over Europe; even in Russia, I have been told, he was a proverb. When any one had repeated well, he was called a second Garrick.

Gibbon. I think he had full as much reputation as he deserved.

J. I do not pretend to know, Sir, what your meaning may be, by saying he had as much reputation as he deserved. He deserved much, and he had much.

G. Why surely, Dr. Johnson, his merit was in small things only. He had none of those qualities that make a real great man.

J. Sir, I as little understand what your meaning may be, when you speak of the qualities that make a great man. It is a vague term. Garrick was no common man. A man above the common size may surely, without any great impropriety, be called a great man. No, Sir; it is undoubtedly true, that the same qualities united with virtue or vice, make a hero or a rogue; a great general or a highwayman. Now Garrick, we are sure, was never hanged, and in regard to his being a great man, you must take the whole man together. It must be considered in how many things Garrick excelled, in which every man desires to excel. ting aside his excellence as an actor, in which he is acknowledged to be unrivalled, as a man, as a poet, as a convivial companion, you will find but few his equals, none his superior. As a man he was kind, friendly, benevolent, and generous.


G. Of Garrick's generosity I never heard. I understood his character to be totally the reverse, and that he was eckoned to have loved money.

J. That he loved money nobody will dispute ;-who does not? But if you mean by loving money, that he was parsimonious to a fault, Sir, you have been misinformed. To Foote, and such scoundrels, who circulated those reports to such profligate spendthrifts, prudence is meanness, and economy is avarice. That Garrick in early youth was brought up in strict habits of economy, I believe; and that they were necessary, I have heard from himself. In regard to his generosity, which you seem to question, I shall only say, there is no man to whom I would apply, with more confidence of success, for a loan of two hundred pounds to assist a common friend, than to David; and this too with very little, if any, probability of its being repaid. G. You were going to say something of him as a writer. You don't rate him very high as a poet.

J. Sir, a man may be a respectable poet, without being a Homer; as a man may be a good player without being a Garrick. In the lighter kinds of poetry, in the appendages of the drama, he was, if not the first, in the very first class. He had a readiness and facility, a dexterity of mind, that appeared extraordinary even to men of experience, and who are not apt to wonder from ignorance.

G. Garrick had some flippancy of parts, to be sure, and was brisk and lively in company; and by help of mimickry and story-telling, made himself a pleasant companion: but here the whole world gave the superiority to Foote, and Garrick himself appears to have felt as if his genius was rebuked by the superior powers of Foote. It has often been observed, that Garrick never dared to enter into competition with him, but was content to act an underpart to bring Foote out.

J. That this conduct of Garrick might be interpreted by the gross minds of Foote, and his friends, as if he was afraid to encounter him, I cannot easily imagine. Of the natural superiority of Garrick over Foote, this conduct is an instance he disdained entering into competition with such a fellow, and made him the buffoon of the company; or, as you say, brought him out. No man, however high in rank, or literature, but was proud to know Garrick, and was glad to have him at his table; no man ever considered or treated Garrick as a player; he may be said to have stepped out of his own rank into an higher, and by raising himself, he raised the rank of his profession. At a convivial table his exhilarating powers were unrivalled. He was


lively, entertaining, quick in discerning the ridicule of life, and as ready in representing it; and on graver subjects there were few topicks in which he could not bear his part. It is injurious to the character of Garrick to be named in the same breath with Foote. That Foote was admitted sometimes into good company, (to do the man what credit I can) I will allow; but then it was merely to play tricks. His merriment was that of a buffoon, and Garrick's that of a gentleman.

G. I have been told, on the contrary, that Garrick in company had not the easy manners of a gentleman.

J. Sir, I don't know what you may have been told, or what your ideas may be of the manners of gentlemen. Garrick had no vulgarity in his manners. It is true, Garrick had not the airiness of a fop; nor did he assume an affected indifference to what was passing. He did not lounge from the table to the window, and from thence to the fire; or whilst you were addressing your discourse to him, turn from you and talk to his next neighbour; or give any indication that he was tired of his company. If such manners form your ideas of a fine gentleman, Garrick had them not.

G. I mean that Garrick was more overawed by the presence of the great, and more obsequious to rank, than Foote, who considered himself as their equal, and treated them with the same familiarity as they treated each other. J. He did so, and what did the fellow get by it? The grossness of his mind prevented him from seeing that this familiarity was merely suffered, as they would play with a dog. Garrick, by paying due respect to rank, respected himself. What he gave was returned; and what was returned was kept for ever. His advancement was on firm ground-he was recognized in public, as well as respected in private; and as no man was ever more courted, and better received by the public, so no man was ever less spoiled by its flattery.

G. But you must allow, Dr. Johnson, that Garrick was too much a slave to fame, or rather to the mean ambition of living with the great-terribly afraid of making himself cheap even with them; by which he debarred himself of much pleasant society. Employing so much attention, and so much management upon little things, implies, I think, a little mind. It was observed by his friend Colman, that he never went into company but with a plot how to get out of

it. He was every minute called out, and went off or returned, as there was or was not a probability of his shining.

J. In regard to his mean ambition, as you call it, of living with the great, what was the boast of Pope, and is every man's wish, can be no reproach to Garrick. He who says he despises it, knows he lies. That Garrick husbanded his fame, the fame which he had justly acquired both at the theatre and at the table, is not denied; but where is the blame either in the one case or the other, of leaving as little as he could to chance? Besides, sir, consider what you have said. You first deny Garrick's pretensions to fame, and then accuse him of too great an attention to preserve what he never possessed.

G. I don't understand

J. I can't help that.

G. Well, but Dr. Johnson, you will not vindicate him in his over and above attention to his fame; his ordinate desire to exhibit himself to new men; like a coquette ever seeking after conquests, to the total neglect of old friends and admirers.

"He threw off his friends like a huntsman his pack,”always looking out for new game.

Goldsmith, you ought "He knew when Which implies at

J. When you quoted the line from in fairness to have given what followed. he pleas'd he could whistle them back." least that he possessed a power over other men's minds approaching to fascination.

G. But Garrick was not only excluded by this means from real friendship, but accused of treating those whom he called his friends with insincerity and double dealing.

J. Sir, it is not true. His character in that respect is misunderstood. Garrick was, to be sure, very ready in promising; but he intended at that time to fulfil his promise. He intended no deceit. His politeness, or his good nature, call it which you will, made him unwilling to deny. He wanted the courage to say no, even to unreasonable demands. This was the great error of his life. His friends became his enemies; and those having been fostered in his bosom, well knew his sensibility to reproach, and they took care that he should be amply supplied with such bitter portions as they were capable of administering. Their impotent efforts he ought to have despised; but he felt them : nor did he affect insensibility.

G. And that sensibility probably shortened his life.


dark forests, through which evented s dismal and terrifying sound,

whose first prompting is to destroy, re know that disease must be the ab their untried exposure? If the ad victims, will famine stay its know how slowly the forest Do they realize how long, how will be, to their little group, beand security obtained? Can ily, to encounter all these unagiven up their native land, their friends, their kindred, the comcivilized and polished life! Is ctionate solicitude of husbands, of parents, or the sad measure of disWerefore are they come? What did dear, what do they expect, or hope,c HERE, and to become the watch

« PreviousContinue »