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by Lord Chesterfield. After the incident of Colley Cibber, Johnson never repeated his visits. In his high and decisive tone, he has been often heard to say, 'Lord Chesterfield is a Wit among Lords, and a Lord among Wits '.'

In the course of the year 1747, Garrick, in conjunction with Lacy, became patentee of Drury-lane Playhouse 2. For the opening of the theatre, at the usual time, Johnson wrote for his friend the well-known prologue 3, which, to say no more of it, may at least be placed on a level with Pope's to the tragedy of Cato. The play-house being now under Garrick's direction,

prospect of making the proposals to a woman of sense, and who knew the world, than to a gentleman whom she honoured with the appellation of Hottentot.'

Horace Walpole, writing of 'theatric genius,' says:-'In Southern it seemed a genuine ray of nature and Shakspeare, but falling on an age still more Hottentot was stifled in those gross and barbarous productions, tragi-comedies. Quoted in Warton's Pope's Works, iv. 198.

'The young men of this day are quite Hottentots,' wrote in 1797 the author of the Life of G. M. Berkeley. Berkeley's Poems, p. 313.

A Hottentot was a good deal lower than a Goth.

I 'This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords!' Life, i. 266.

2 The partnership lasted till 1773. Davies's Life of Garrick, i. 100; ii. 289.

Yet bards like these aspir'd to

lasting praise,

And proudly hoped to pimp in future days.'

He concludes :

'Bid scenick virtue form the rising age, And truth diffuse her radiance from

the stage.'

This contrasts oddly with an attempt made by Garrick only two years later. Johnson says that Otway's Friendship in Fashion 'was, upon its revival at Drury Lane in 1749, hissed off the stage for immorality and obscenity.' Works, vii. 174.

'The wits of Charles' is perhaps borrowed from The Spectator, No. 5, where Addison writes of 'the wits of King Charles's time.'

The Prologue, writes Hawkins (p. 198), 'failed in a great measure of its effect; the town, it is true, submitted to the revival of Shakespeare's plays, recommended, as they were, by the exquisite acting of Mr. Garrick; but in a few winters they discovered an impatience for pantomimes and ballad-farces. Mr. Garrick gave up the hope of correcting the public 'Themselves they studied, as they taste, and became so indifferent

3 Life, i. 181; Works, i. 23.

In this Prologue Johnson, speaking of 'the wits of Charles,' says :

felt they writ,

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about it, that he once told me that, if the town required him to exhibit the Pilgrim's Progress in a drama, he would do it.'


Johnson thought the opportunity fair to think of his tragedy of Irene, which was his whole stock on his first arrival in town, in the year 1737. That play was accordingly put into rehearsal in January 1749. As a precursor to prepare the way, and awaken the public attention, The Vanity of Human Wishes, a Poem in Imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, by the Author of London, was published in the same month. In the Gentleman's Magazine, for February, 1749, we find that the tragedy of Irene was acted at Drury-lane, on Monday, February the 6th, and from that time, without interruption, to Monday, February the 20th, being in all thirteen nights. Since that time. it has not been exhibited on any stage. Irene may be added to some other plays in our language, which have lost their place in the theatre, but continue to please in the closet. During the representation of this piece, Johnson attended every night behind the scenes. Conceiving that his character, as an author, required some ornament for his person, he chose, upon that occasion, to decorate himself with a handsome waistcoat, and a gold-laced hat. The late Mr. Topham Beauclerc, who had had a great deal of that humour which pleases the more for sceming undesigned3, used to give a pleasant description of this Green-room finery, as related by the author himself; 'But,' said

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Irene and Tom Jones are announced in the Gentleman's Magazine for February, p. 96.

2 In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1749, p. 76, it is stated that 'Irene was acted from Monday, Feb. 6, to Monday, Feb. 20, inclusive.' According to Boswell and Hawkins, it was only acted nine nights. Life, i. 197; Hawkins, p. 199.

Gibbon, in a note to the Decline and Fall, ed. 1802, xii. 223, attacks 'the extravagance of the rant' in one of Mahomet's speeches. 'His passion soars above sense and reason.'

The winter season was a trying time for a new play, as is shown in

Cibber's Lives of the Poets, v. 339, where it is stated that 'George Lillo rather chose George Barnwell should take its fate in the summer than run the more hazardous fate of encountering the winter criticks.'

3 Johnson, speaking of Beauclerk, said, that no man ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a look that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look that expressed that it had come.' Life, iii. 425.

Another time he said: Everything comes from him so easily. It appears to me that I labour when I say a good thing.' Ib. v. 76.


Johnson, with great gravity, 'I soon laid aside my gold-laced hat, lest it should make me proud '.' The amount of the three benefit nights for the tragedy of Irene, it is to be feared, was not very considerable, as the profit, that stimulating motive, never invited the author to another dramatic attempt 2. Some years afterwards, when the present writer was intimate with Garrick, and knew Johnson to be in distress, he asked the manager why he did not produce another tragedy for his Lichfield friend? Garrick's answer was remarkable: When Johnson writes. tragedy, declamation roars, and passion sleeps3: when Shakspeare wrote, he dipped his pen in his own heart.'

There may, perhaps, be a degree of sameness in this regular way of tracing an author from one work to another, and the reader may feel the effect of a tedious monotony; but in the life of Johnson there are no other landmarks. He was now forty years old, and had mixed but little with the world. He followed no profession, transacted no business, and was a stranger to what is called a town-life. We are now arrived at the brightest period he had hitherto known. His name broke out upon mankind with a degree of lustre that promised a triumph over all his difficulties. The Life of Savage was admired as

'He humourously observed to Mr. Langton, "that when in that dress he could not treat people with the same ease as when in his usual plain clothes." Life, i. 200.

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2 Mr. Croker says that 'it appears by a MS. note in Isaac Reed's copy of Murphy's Life, that the receipts of the third, sixth, and ninth nights, after deducting sixty guineas a night. for the expenses of the house, amounted to £195 17s.: Johnson cleared therefore, with the copyright, very nearly £300.'

By his London and Vanity of Human Wishes he only made twentyfive guineas. Life, i. 124, 193, n.

3 From bard to bard the frigid caution crept,

Till declamation roared whilst passion slept.' Johnson's Prologue on the Opening of Drury Lane Theatre.

Boswell, writing of this time, says:-'Nothing can be more erroneous than the notion which some persons have entertained, that Johnson was then a retired authour, ignorant of the world; and, of consequence, that he wrote only from his imagination when he described characters and manners. He said to me, that before he wrote that work [The Rambler], he had been "running about the world," as he expressed it, more than almost any body.' Life, i. 215.

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a beautiful and instructive piece of biography. The two Imitations of Juvenal were thought to rival even the excellence of Pope; and the tragedy of Irene, though uninteresting on the stage, was universally admired in the closet, for the propriety of the sentiments, the richness of the language, and the general harmony of the whole composition. His fame was widely diffused; and he had made his agreement with the booksellers for his English Dictionary at the sum of fifteen hundred guineas; part of which was to be, from time to time, advanced in proportion to the progress of the work'. This was a certain fund for his support, without being obliged to write fugitive pieces for the petty supplies of the day. Accordingly we find that, in 1749, he established a club, consisting of ten in number, at Horseman's, in Ivy-lane, on every Tuesday evening 2. This is the first scene of social life to which Johnson can be traced out of his own house. The members of this little society were, Samuel Johnson; Dr. Salter3 (father of the late Master of the Charter-house); Dr. Hawkesworth'; Mr. Ryland, a merchant; Mr. Payne,


Post, p. 406; Life, i. 183, 304; Letters, i. 25, 27.


Life, i. 190; Letters, ii. 359, 363-4; 388, 390; Hawkins, pp. 219-235, 250-259. Thither,' says Hawkins (p. 219), 'he constantly resorted, and with a disposition to please and be pleased would pass those hours in a free and unrestrained interchange of sentiments which otherwise had been spent at home in painful reflection.' 'It required,' Hawkins adds (p. 250), 'on the part of us who considered ourselves as his disciples some degree of compliance with his political prejudices; the greater part of our company were Whigs, and I was not a Tory, and we all saw the prudence of avoiding to call the then late adventurer in Scotland, or his adherents, by those names which others hesitated not to give them, or to bring to remembrance what had passed a few years before on Tower Hill.'

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a bookseller, in Paternoster row; Mr. Samuel Dyer, a learned young man ; Dr. William M'Ghie', a Scotch physician; Dr. Edmund Barker, a young physician; Dr. Bathurst, another young physician; and Sir John Hawkins. This list is given by Sir John, as it should seem, with no other view than to draw a spiteful and malevolent character of almost every one of them. Mr. Dyer, whom Sir John says he loved with the affection of a brother 3, meets with the harshest treatment, because it was his maxim, that to live in peace with mankind, and in a temper to do good offices, was the most essential part of our duty. That notion of moral goodness gave umbrage to Sir John Hawkins, and drew down upon the memory of his friend the bitterest

Ryland and Payne were among the four survivors of the old Club who dined together a few times in 1783-4. Letters, ii. 358, 363, 388, 390.

I M'Ghie had served as a volunteer on the side of government in 1745. 'He was a learned, ingenious and modest man, and one of those few of his country whom Johnson could endure. To say the truth, he treated him with great civility, and may almost be said to have loved him.' Hawkins, p. 233.

2 Barker, like Dyer, had studied at Leyden. 'He was an excellent classical scholar, a deep metaphysician, and had read the Italian poets; but he was a thoughtless young man, and in all his habits of dress and appearance so slovenly as made him the jest of all his companions. Physicians in his time were used to be fuil dressed; and in his garb of a full suit, a brown tye-wig with a knot over one shoulder, and a long yellow-hilted sword, and his hat under his arm he was a caricature. In his religious principles he professed himself an Unitarian, for which Johnson so often snubbed him, that his visits to us became less and less frequent.' Ib. p. 233.

3 Hawkins writes (p. 230), whom I once loved with the affection of a brother.'

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Hawkins is malignant enough, but Murphy does not quote him fairly. He had described how Dyer, who had been brought up for the dissenting ministry, had sunk into sloth and materialism. He came at last to think that those mistook their interest and shewed their ignorance of human life who abstained from any pleasure that disturbed not the quiet of families or the order of society; that natural appetites required gratification; that the indulgence of the irascible passions alone was vice; and that to live in peace with all mankind, &c.,' p. 230.

Hawkins, in this character of Dyer, according to Malone (Prior's Life of Malone, p. 419) aims a stab at the two Burkes. Dyer, he says, lost his fortune by contracting a fatal intimacy with some persons of desperate fortunes who were dealers in India stock.' These persons, says Malone, were Edmund Burke and his cousin. Dyer met Edmund Burke at the Literary Club, of which they were both members. Life, i. 478.


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