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he gave me at different times since, have contributed to the formation of this work.
Dr. Johnson said to me in the morning, “ You will see, Sir, at Mr. Hector's, his sister, Mrs. Careless, a clergyman's widow. She was the first woman with whom I was in love. It dropped out of my head imperceptibly; but she and I shall always have a kindness for each other.” He laughed at the notion that a man can never be really in love but once, and considered it as a mere romantic fancy.
On our return from Mr. Boulton's, Mr. Hector took me to his house, where we found Johnson sitting placidly at tea, with his first love; who, though now advanced in years, was a genteel woman, very agreeable and well-bred.
Johnson lamented to Mr. Hector the state of one of their schoolfellows, Mr. Charles Congreve, a clergyman, which he thus described : “ He ob. tained, I believe, considerable preferment in Ireland, but now lives in London, quite as a valetudinarian, afraid to go into any house but his own. He takes a short airing in his postchaise every day. He has an elderly woman, whom he calls cousin, who lives with him, and jogs his elbow when his glass has stood too long empty, and encourages him in drinking, in which he is very willing to be encouraged; not that he gets drunk, for he is a very pious man, but he is always muddy. He confesses to one bottle of port every day, and he probably drinks
He is quite unsocial; his conversation is quite monosyllabical; and when, at my last visit, I asked him what o'clock it was ? that signal of my
you are not
departure had so pleasing an effect on him, that he sprung up to look at his watch, like a greyhound bounding at a hare.” When Johnson took leave of Mr. Hector, he said, “ Don't grow like Congreve; nor let me grow like him, when you are near me.”
When he again talked of Mrs. Careless to-night, he seemed to have his affection revived; for he said, “ If I had married her, it might have been as happy for me." Boswell. “
Pray, Sir, do you not suppose that there are fifty women in the world, with any one of whom a man may be as happy, as with any one woman in particular?” JOHNSON. “Ay, Sir, fifty thousand.” BOSWELL. “ Then, Sir,
opinion with some who imagine that certain men and certain women are made for each other; and that they cannot be happy if they miss their counterparts.” Johnson. “ To be sure not, Sir. I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made by the lord chancellor, upon a due consideration of the characters and circumstances, without the parties having any choice in the matter." (1)
I wished to have staid at Birmingham to-night, to have talked more with Mr. Hector; but my
friend impatient to reach his native city; so we drove on that stage in the dark, and were long pensive and silent. When we came within the focus of the Lichfield lamps, “ Now,” said he, “ we are getting out of a state of death.” We put up at the Three Crowns, not one of the great inns, but a good old-fashioned
(1) Yet see antè, Vol. III. p. 119.- C.
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. (1) 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 “Gentleman's Magazine” for February, 1785. [Set: also the title-page of Vol. I. of this edition. ]
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 ('), and depends greatly on habit.” 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 (2), 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 race. — 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.
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.
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) Garrick himself, like the Lichfieldians, always said, shupreme, shuperior.;- BURNEY. - This is still the vulgar pro