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Mr. Langton and he were driving together in a coach, and Mr. Langton complained of being sick, he insisted that they should go out, and sit on the back of it in the open air, which they did. And being sensible how strange the appearance must be, observed, that a countryman whom they saw in a field would probably be thinking,
“ If these two madmen should come down, what would become of
Soon after his return to London, which was in February, was founded that Club which existed long without a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral became distinguished by the title of THE LITERARY
CLUB. Sir Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being Piozzi, the first proposer of it, to which Johnson (who called
Sir Joshua their Romulus] acceded; and the original members were, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beau
clerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier, Hawk. and Sir John Hawkins. [It was Johnson's original p. 423,
intention, that the number of this club should not exceed nine, but Mr. Dyer, a member of that in Ivylane before spoken of, and who for some years had been abroad, made his appearance among them, and was cordially received.
The hours which Johnson spent in this society seemed to be the happiest of his life. He would often applaud his own sagacity in the selection of it, and was so constant at its meetings as never to absent himself. It is true he came late, but then he stayed late, for, as has been already said of him, he little regarded hours. The evening toast was the motto of Padre Paolo, “ Esto perpetua.” A lady', distinguished by her beauty, and taste for literature, invited the club twice to a dinner at her house, which
'[Probably Mrs. Montagu. Ed.]
Hawkins alone was hindered from accepting. Curiosity was her motive, and possibly a desire of intermingling with their conversation the charms of her own. She affected to consider them as a set of literary men, and perhaps gave the first occasion for distinguishing the society by the name of the Literary Club, an appellation which it never assumed to itself.
At these meetings, Johnson, as indeed he did every where, led the conversation, yet was he far from arrogating to himself that superiority, which, some years before, he was disposed to contend for. He had seen enough of the world to know, that respect was not to be extorted, and began now to be satisfied with that degree of eminence to which his writings had exalted him. This change in his behaviour was remarked by those who were best acquainted with his character, and it rendered him an easy and delightful companion. The discourse was miscellaneous, but chiefly literary. Politics were alone excluded.] They met at the Turk's-head, in Gerrard-street, Soho, one evening in every week, at seven, and generally continued their conversation till a pretty late hour. [It was a supper-meeting then, on a Friday Piozzi, night, and Dr. Nugent, (who was a Roman Catholic,] p. 94. would sometimes order an omelet; and Johnson felt very painful sensations at the sight of that dish soon after Nugent's death, and cried, “Ah, my poor dear friend, I shall never eat omelet with thee again !" quite in an agony.. The truth is, nobody suffered more from pungent sorrow at a friend's death than Johnson, though he would suffer no one to complain of their losses in the same way. “ For,” said he,“ we must either outlive our friends, you know, or our friends
(This association of the omelet and the agony, so gravely told, is too characteristic, and, at all events, too droll to be omitted.-ĚD.]
? (See, however, post, 28th March, 1776.- Ev.]
Piozzi, must outlive us: and I see no man that would hesi
tate about the choice.”] This club has been gradually increased to its present number, thirty-five. After about ten years, instead of supping weekly, it was resolved to dine together once a fortnight during the meeting of parliament. Their original tavern having been converted into a private house, they moved first to Prince's in Sackville-street, then to Le Telier's in Dover-street, and now meet at Parsloe's,
St. James's-street'. Hawk. Sir John Hawkins represents himself as a " seceder”
from this society, and assigns as the reason of his
withdrawing” himself from it, that its late hours were inconsistent with his domestick arrangements. In this he is not accurate; for the fact was, that he one evening attacked Mr. Burke in so rude a manner, that all the company testified their displeasure; and at their next meeting his reception was such that he never came again.
He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr. P. 425. Garrick, of whom he says, “he trusted that the least
intimation of a desire to come among us would procure him a ready admission;" but in this he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed, " He will disturb us by his buffoonery;"—and afterwards so managed matters, that he was never formally proposed, and, by consequence, never admitted?.
1 The Club, some years after Mr. Boswell's death, removed (in 1799) from Parsloe's to the Thatched-house in St. James's-street, where they still continue to meet.—MALONE. (A paragraph of Mr. Boswell's text and a long note of Mr. Malone's, giving lists of the Club at several periods, are here omitted, as a full list of all its members, from its foundation to the present time, will be given in the appendix. -ED.)
? From Sir Joshua Reynolds.-BOSWELL. The knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supper, because he usually eat 10 supper at home, Johnson observed, “Sir John, sir, is a very unclubable man." BURNEY. [Here is some mistake. Hawkins was not knighted till long after he had left the club.--Ed.]
3 [Hawkins probably meant "never" while he himself belonged to the Club. But surely Mr. Boswell must have been conscious that his own words__" when
In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, I think it necessary to rectify this mis-statement. The truth is, that not very long after the institution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. “I like it much," said he; “I think I shall be of you.” When Sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. “ He'll be of us,” said Johnson; “ how does he know we will permit him ? the first duke in England has no right to hold such language.” However, when Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected, was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.
Mrs. Piozzi has also given a similar misrepresentation of Johnson's treatment of Garrick in this particular, as if he had avowed it [to Mr. Thrale] in these contemptuous expressions : “If Garrick does apply, I'll black-ball him.” [“Who, sir ? Mr. Garrick ? Letters, Your friend, your companion-black-ballhim!” “Why, p. 387. sir, I love my little David dearly, better than all or any of his flatterers do ;] but, surely, one ought to sit in a society like ours,
“Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or player.'” I am happy to be enabled by such unquestionable authority as that of Sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as
Garrick was regularly proposed some time after, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence," &c.-do not give a fair account of the matter; for it was not till near ten years after the foundation of the Club that Garrick was admitted, and, as he died in the beginning of 1779, the Club enjoyed but for five years that agreeable society which, but for Johnson's opposition, they would probably have enjoyed for fourteen or fifteen.--Ed.)
[It does not appear how Sir Joshua Reynolds' authority can be made available in this case. The expression is stated to have been used to Mr. Thrale ; and the fact, that Garrick was for near ten years excluded from the club, and the numberless occasions in which, according to Mr. Boswell's own account, Johnson spoke in the most contemptuous manner of Garrick, seem to give but too much colour to this sad story. -Ed.]
from my own knowledge, to vindicate at once the heart of Johnson and the social merit of Garrick.
In this year, except what he may have done in revising Shakspeare, we do not find that he laboured much in literature. He wrote a review of Granger's
Sugar Cane,” a poem, in the London Chronicle. He told me, that Dr. Percy wrote the greatest part of this review; but, I imagine, he did not recollect it distinctly, for it appears to be mostly, if not altogether, his own.
He also wrote in the Critical Review an account t of Goldsmith's excellent poem, "The Traveller.”
The ease and independence to which he had at last attained by royal munificence increased his natural indolence. In his Meditations, he thus accuses him
self: Prayers “ Good Friday, April 20, 1764. I have made no reforma& Med. tion; I have lived totally useless, more sensual in thought, and
more addicted to wine and meat."
And next morning he thus feelingly complains : P. 50.
“My indolence, since my last reception of the sacrament, has sunk into grosser sluggishness, and my dissipation spread into wilder negligence. My thoughts have been clouded with sensuality; and, except that from the beginning of this year I have, in some measure, forborne excess of strong drink, my appetites have predominated over my reason. A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perce
and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression.” He then solemnly says,
“ This is not the life to which heaven is promised;"
and he earnestly resolves an amendment. P.52-54. [Easter-day, 22d April, 1764.-"Having, before I went to
bed, composed the foregoing meditation, and the following prayer; I tried to compose myself, but slept unquietly. I rose, took tea, and prayed for resolution and perseverance. Thought on Tetty, dear poor Tetty, with my eyes full.