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upon the force of testimony, and the little we could know of final causes; so that the objections of, why was it so ? or why was it not so ? ought not to disturb 15: adding, that he himself had at one period been guilty of a temporary neglect of religion, but that it was not the result of argument, but mere absence of thought.
After having given credit to reports of bis bigotry, I was agreeably surprized when he expressed the following very liberal sentiment, which has the additional value of obviating an objection to our holy religion, founded upon the discordant tenets of Christians themselves : “ For my part, Sir, I think all Christians, whether Papists or Protestants, agree in the essential articles, and that their differences are trivial, and rather political than religious."
We talked of belief in ghosts. He said, “ Sir, I make a distinction between what a man may experience by the miere strength of bis imagipation, and what imagination cannot possibly produce. Thus, suppose I should think that I saw a form, and heard a voice cry, · Johnson, you are a very wicked fellow, and unless you repent you will certainly be punished ;' my own voworthiness is eo deeply impressed upon my mind, that I might imagine I thus saw and heard, and therefore I should not believe that an external communication had been made to me. But if a form should appear, and a voice should tell me that a particular man had died at a particular place, and a particular hour, a fact which I had no apprehension of, nor any means of knowing, and this fact with all its circumstances, should afterwards be unquestionably proved, I should, in that case, be persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence imparted to me.”
Our conversation proceeded.” “Sir, (said he,) I am a friend to subor. dination, as most conducive to the happiness of society. There is a reciprocal pleasure in governing and being governed.”
“ Dr. Goldsmith is one of the first men we now have as an author, and he is a very worthy man too. He has been loose in his principles, but he is coming right.”
I mentioned Mallet's tragedy of “ Elvira," which had been acted the preceding winter at Drury-lane, and that the Honourable Andrew Erskine, Mr. Dempster, and myself, had joined in writing a pamphlet, entitled “ Critical Strictures," against it. That the mildness of Dempster's disposition had, however, relented ; and he had candidly said, “ We have hardly a right to abuse this tragedy for bad as it is, how valu should either of us be to write one not near as good." JOHNSON. “ Why, no, Sir; this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to inake tables."
When I talked to him of the paternal estate to which I was heir, he said, “Sir, let me tell yon, that to be a Scotch landlord, where you have a number of families dependent upon you, and attached to you, is, pera haps, as high a situation as humanity can arrive at. A merchant opon the 'Change of London, with a hundred thousand pounds, is nothing: he has no tenants who consider themselves as under his patriarchal care, and who will follow him to the field upon an emergency."
His notion of the dignity of a Scotch landlord had been formed upon what he had heard of the Highland Chiefs; for it is tong since a lowland Jandlord has been so curtailed in his feudal authority, that he has little more influence over his tenants than an English landlord : and of late years most of the Highland Chiefs have destroyed, by means too well known, the princely power which they once enjoyed.
He proceeded : “ Your going abroad, Sir, and breaking off idle habits, may be of great importance to you. I would go where there are courts and learned men. There is a good deal of Spain that has not been perambulated. I would have you go thither. A man of inferiour talents to yours may furnish us with useful observations upon that country.” His supposing me, at that period of life, capable of writing an account of my travels that would deserve to be read, elaled me not a little.
I complained to him that I had not yet acquired much knowledge, and asked his advice as to my studies. He said, “ Don't talk of study now. I will give you a plan; but it will require some time to consider of it.” “ It is very good in you (I replied,) to allow me to be with you thus. Had it been foretold to me some years ago that I should pass an evening with the author of the RAMBLER, how should I have exulted !” What I then expressed, was sincerely from the heart. He was satisfied that it was, and cordially answered, “ Sir, I am glad we have met. I hope we shall pass many evenings and mornings too, together.” We finished a couple of bottles of port, and sat till between one and two in the morniog.
He wrote this year in the Critical Review the account of “Telemachus, a Mask,” by the Reverend George Graham, of Eton College. The subject of this beautiful poern was particularly interesting to Johnson, who had much experience of the conflict of opposite principles,” which he describes as “ The contention between pleasure and virtue, a struggle which will always be continued while the present system of nature shall subsist ; nor can history or poetry exbibit more than pleasure triumphing over virtue, and virtue subjugativg pleasure.”
As Dr. Oliver Goldsmith will frequently appear in this narrative, I shall endeavour to make my readers in some degree acquainted with his singular character. He was a native of Ireland, and a contemporary with Mr. Burke, at Trinity College, Dublin, but did not then give much promise of future celebrity. I He, however, observed to Mr. Malone, that “though he made no great figure in mathematics, which was a study in much repute there, he could turn an ode of Horace into English better than any of them.” He afterwards studied physic at Edinburgh, and upon the Continent: and I have been informed, was
1 Goldsmith got a premium at a Christmas examination in Trinity College, Dublin, which I have seen.
enabled to pursue his travels on foot, partly by demanding at Universities to enter the lists as a disputant, by which, according to the custom of many of them, he was entitled to the premium of a crown, when luckily for him his challenge was not accepted; so that, as I once observed to Dr. Johoson, he disputed his passage through Europe. He then çame to England, and was employed successively in the capacities of an usher to an academy, a corrector of the press, a reviewer, and a writer for a news-paper. He had sagacity enough to cultivate assiduously the acquaintance of Johnson, and his faculties were gradually enlarged by the contemplation of such a model. To me and many others it appeared that he studiously copied the manner of Jobusoj, though, indeed, upon a smaller scale.
At this time I think he had published nothing with his name, though it was pretty generally known that one Dr. Goldsmith was the author of “ Av Enquiry into the present State of Polite Learning in Earope," and of “ The Citizen of the World,” a series of letters supposed to be written from London by a Chinese. No man bad the art of displaying with more advantage as a writer, whatever literary acquisitions he made. “ Nihil quod tetigit non ornavit."| His mind resembled a fertile, but thin soil. There was a quick, but not a strong vegetation of whatever chanced to be thrown upon it. No deep root could be struck. The oak of the forest did not grow there; but the elegant shrubbery and the fragrant parterre appeared in gay succession. It has been generally cir. culated and believed that he was a mere fool in conversation ; but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated. He had, no doubt, a more than common share of that hurry of ideas which we often find in his countrymen, and which sometimes produces a laughable confusion in expressing them. He was very much what the French call un etourdi, and froin vanity and an eager desire of being conspicuous wherever be was, he frequently talked carelessly without knowledge of the subject, or even without thought. His person was short, his countenance course and
He had also published in 1759, “ Tae Bee, being Essays on the most interesting subjects." || See his Epitaph in Westminster Abbey, written by Dr. Johnson.
$ In allusion to this, Mr. Horace Walpole, who admired bis writings, said he was “ an inspired ideot;" and Garrick described him as one
for shortness call’d Noll, “Who wrote like an angel, and talk'd like poor Poll," Sir Joshua Reynolds mentioned to me that he frequently beard Goldsmith talk warmly of the pleasure of being liked, and observe how hard it would be if literary excellence should preclude a man from that satisfaction, which he perceived it often did, from the envy which attended it; and therefore Sir Joshua was convinced that he was intentionally more absurd in order to lessen himself in social intercourse, trusting that his character would be sufficiently supported by his works. If it indeed was his intention to appear absurd in company, he was often very successful. But with due deference to Sir Joshua's ingenuity, I think the conjecture too refined.
vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those who were in any way distinguished, excited envy in him to so ridiculous an excess, that the instances of it are hardly credible. When accompanying two beautiful young ladies with their mother on a tour in France, he was seriously angry that more attention was paid to them than to him; and once at the exhibition of the Fantoccini in London, when those who sat next him observed with what dexterity a puppet was made to toss a pike, he could not bear that it should have such praise, and exclaimed with some warmth “ Pshaw! I can do it better myself."lI
He, I am afraid, had no settled system of any sort, so that his conduct must not be strictly scrutinized; but his affections were social and generous, aud when he had money he gave it away very liberally. His desire of imaginary consequence predominated over bis attention to truth. When he began to rise into notice, he said he had a brother who was Dean of Durham, Ş a fiction so easily detected, that it is wonderful how he should have been so ioconsiderate as to hazard it. He boasted to me at this time of the power of his pen in companding money, which I believe was true in a certain degree, though in the instance he gave he was by no means correct. He told me that he had sold a novel for four hundred pounds. This was his “ Vicar of Wakefield.” But Johnson informed me, that he had made the bargain for Goldsmith, and the price was sixty pounds, “ And, Sir, (said he,) a sufficient price too, when it was sold; for then the fame of Goldsmith had not been elevated, as it afterwards was, by his · Traveller ;' and the bookseller had such faiot hopes of profit by his bargain, that he kept the manuscript by him a long time, and did not publish it till after • The Traveller' had appeared. Then, to be sure, it was accidentally worth more money."
Mrs. Piozzi and Sir John Hawkins have strangely mis-stated the history of Goldsmith's situation and Jobuson's friendly interference, when this novel was sold. I shall give it authentically from Johnson's own exact narration :
“I received one morning a unessage from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to bim as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly wept as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before
I Miss Hornecks, one of whom is now married to Henry Bunbury, Esq. and the other to Colonel Owyn.
|| He went home with Mr. Burke to supper; and broke his shin by attempting to exhibit to the company how much better he could jump over a stick than the puppets.
$I am willing to hope that there may have been some mistake as to this anecdote, though I had it from a Dignitary of the church. Dr. Isaac Goldsmith, his near relation, was Dean of Cloyne, in 1747. No. 3.
him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged bis rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill."
My next meeting with Johnson was on Friday the 1st of July, when he and I and Dr. Goldsmith supped at the Mitre. I was before tbis time pretty well acquainted with Goldsmith, who was one of the brightest ornaments of the Johnsonian school. Goldsmith's respectful attachment to Johnson was then at its height; for his own literary reputation had not yet distinguished him so diuch as to excite a vain desire of competition with his great Master. He had increased my admiration of the goodness of Johnson's heart, by incidental remarks in the course of conversation, such as, when I mentioned Mr. Levet, whom he entertaioed under his roof, “ He is poor and honest, which is recommendation enough to Johnson ;” and when I wondered that he was very kind to a men of whom I had heard a very bad character, “ He is now become miserable, and that insures the protection of Jobuson."
Goldsmith attempting this evening to majotain, I suppose from an affectation of paradox, “that kuowledge was not desirable on its own account, for it often was a source of unhappiness.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, that knowledge may in some cases produce unhappiness, I allow. But, upon the whole, knowledge, per se, is certainly an object which every man would wish to attain, although, perhaps, he may not take the trouble necessary for attaining it.”
Dr. John Campbell, the celebrated political and biographical writer, being mentioned, Johnson said, “ Campbell is a man of much knowledge, and has a good share of imagination. His · Hermippus Redivivus' is very entertaining, as an account of the Hermetic philosophy, and as furnishing a curious history of the extravagancies of the human mind. If it were merely imaginary, it would be nothing at all. Campbell is not always rigidly careful of truth in his conversation ; but I do not believe there is any thing of this carelessness in his books. Campbell is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years ; # but he never passes a church without pulling off his
I am inclined to think that he was misinformed as to this circumstance. I own I am jealous for my worthy friend Dr. John Campbell. For though Milton could without remorse absent himself from public worship, I cannot, On the contrary, I have the same habitual impressions upon my mind, with those of a truly venerable Judge, who said to Mr. Langton, “ Friend Langton, if I have not been at church on Sunday, I do not feel myself easy.” Dr. Campbell was a sincerely religious man. Lord Macartney, who is eminent for his variety of knowledge, and attention to men of talents, and knew him well, told me, that when he called on him in a morning, he found him reading a chapter in the Greek New Testament, wbịch he informed his Lordship was his