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Boswell becomes acquainted with Johnson.--Derrick.
Mr. Thomas Sheridan.- Mrs. Sheridan. -Mr. Thomas Davies. Mrs. Davies. · First Interview. His Dress. Johnson's Chambers in Temple Lane.
- Dr. Blair. - Dr. James Fordyce. — Ossian. Christopher Smart. - Thomas Johnson, the Equestrian. — Clifton's Eating House. The Mitre. Colley Cibber's Odes.-Gray.-- Belief in the Appearance of departed Spirits. Churchill. Cock-Lane Ghost. -Goldsmith. · Mallet's "Elvira. - Scotch Landlords. Plan of Study.
This is to me a memorable year ; for in it I had the happiness to obtain the acquaintance of that extraordinary man whose memoirs I am now writing ; an acquaintance which I shall ever esteem as one of the most fortunate circumstances in
life. Though then but two and twenty, I had for several years read his works with delight and instruction, and had the highest reverence for their author, which had grown up in my fancy into a kind of mysterious veneration, 'by figuring to myself a state of solemn elevated abstraction, in which I supposed him to live in the immense metropolis of London. Mr. Gentleman (1), a
(1) Francis Gentleman was born in 1728, and educated in Dublin. His father was an officer in the army, and he, at the age of fifteen, obtained a commission in the same regiment;
native of Ireland, who passed some years in Scotland as a player, and as an instructor in the English language, a man whose talents and worth were depressed by misfortunes, had given me a representation of the figure and manner of DICTIONARY Johnson! as he was then generally called ('); and during my first visit to London, which was for three months in 1760, Mr. Derrick the poet (2), who was Gentleman's friend and countryman, flattered me with hopes that he would introduce me to Johnson, an honour of which I was very ambitious. But he never found an opportunity ; which made me doubt that he had promised to do what was not in his power ; till Johnson some years afterwards told me, “ Derrick, Sir, might very well have introduced you. I had a kindness for Derrick, and am sorry he is dead.”
In the summer of 1761 Mr. Thomas Sheridan (3) was at Edinburgh, and delivered lectures upon the
on the reduction, at the peace of 1748, he lost this profession, and adopted that of the stage, both as an author and an actor; in neither of which did he attain any eminence. He died in December, 1784 ; having, in the later course of his life, experienced “all the hardships of a wandering actor, and all the disappointments of a friendless author.” - E.
(1) As great men of antiquity, such as Scipio Africanus, had an epithet added to their names, in consequence of some celebrated action, so my illustrious friend was often called DicTIONARY Johnson, from that wonderful achievement of genius and labour, his “ Dictionary of the English Language;" the merit of which I contemplate with more and more admiration. — B.
- Boswell himself was at one time anxious to be called Corsica Boswell. See post, September, 1769. — C.
(2) (See antè, Vol. I. p. 136.] (3) [Thomas Sheridan, son of the friend of Swift, and father of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was born at Quilca, in Ireland, in 1721, and died in 1788.]