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sation turned upon the tragedy of “Edipus." (") This was particularly interesting to me, as I was then employed in endeavouring to make such alterations in Dryden's play, as to make it suitable to a revival at Drury Lane Theatre. Johnson did not seem to think favourably of it; but I ventured to plead, that Sophocles wrote it expressly for the theatre, at the public cost, and that it was one of the most celebrated dramas of all antiquity. Johnson said,
Edipus was a poor miserable man, subjected to the greatest distress, without any degree of culpability of his
I urged, that Aristotle, as well as most of the Greek poets, were partial to this character ; that Addison considered that, as terror and pity were particularly excited, he was the properest
- here Johnson suddenly becoming loud, I paused, and rather apologised that it might not become me, perhaps, too strongly to contradict Dr. Johnson. “Nay, Sir," replied he, hastily, “if I had not wished to have heard your arguments, I should not have disputed with you at all.”
you at all.” All went on quite pleasantly afterwards. We sat late, and something being mentioned about my going to Bath, when taking leave, Johns un very graciously said, “I should have a pleasure in meeting you there."
Either Boswell or Davies immediately whispered to me, “ You ’re landed.”
360. Garrick. - Burke. — Goldsmith. The next time I had the pleasure of meeting him was at the Literary Club (*) dinner at the coffee-house in St. James's Street, to which I was introduced by my partial friend, Dr. Percy. Johnson that day was not in very good humour. We rather waited for dinner. Garrick came late, and apologised that he had been to the House of Lords, and Lord Camden insisted on conveying him
(1) [Boswell says it turned on Aristotle's opinion of the Greek tragedy in general; which may, however, have led to the subject of dipus, though he does not notice it. — C.]
(2) (Here seems to be a mistake. No stranger is ever invited to the Club. It is probable that Mr. Cradock mistook an occasional meeting at the St. James's coffee-house (such a one did really produce “ Retaliation”) for a meeting of the Club. Mr. Colman, in his “ Random Records,” makes the same mistake, and wonders at finding noticed in “ Retaliation" persons who did not belong to the Club. — C.]
in his carriage : Johnson said nothing, but he looked a volume. The party was numerous.
I sat next Mr. Burke at dinner. There was a beef-steak pie placed just before us; and I remarked to Mr. Burke that something smelt very disagreeable, and looked to see if there was not a dog under the table. Burke, with great good humour, said, “ I believe, Sir, I can tell you what is the cause ; it is some of my country butter in the crust that smells so disagreeably." Dr. Johnson just at that time, sitting opposite, desired one of us to send him some of the beefsteak pie. We sent but little, which he soon despatched, and then returned his plate for more. Johnson particularly disliked that any notice should be taken of what he eat, but Burke ventured to say he was glad to find that Dr. Johnson was anywise able to relish the beef-steak pie. Johnson, not perceiving what he alluded to, hastily exclaimed, “ Sir, there is a time of life when a man requires the repairs of the table !” The company rather talked for victory than social intercourse. I think it was in consequence of what passed that evening, that Dr. Goldsmith wrote his “ Retaliation.” Mr. Richard Burke (") was present, talked most, and seemed to be the most free and easy of any of the company. I had never met him before. Burke seemed desirous of bringing his relative forward. In Mr. Chalmers's account of Goldsmith, different sorts of liquor are offered as appropriate to each guest. To the two Burkes ale from Wicklow, and wine from Ferney to me : my name is in italics, as supposing I am a winebibber ; but the author's allusion to the wines of Ferney was meant for me, I rather think, from my having taken a plan of a tragedy from Voltaire.
361. Mrs. Percy. — Easton Mauduit. Mrs. Percy, afterwards nurse to the Duke of Kent, at Buckingham House, told me that Johnson once stayed near a month with them at their dull parsonage at Easton Mauduit (?); that Dr. Percy looked out all sorts of books
(1) [Mr. Richard Burke, collector, of Grenada, the brother, not the son, of Mr. Burke. — C.]
(2) [In the summer of 1764, Johnson paid a visit to Dr. Percy at his vicarage
to be ready for his amusement after breakfast, and that Johnson was so attentive and polite to her, that, when Dr. Percy mentioned the literature prepared in the study, he said, “ No, Sir, I shall first wait upon Mrs. Percy to feed the ducks.” But those halcyon days were about to change, — not as to Mrs. Percy, for to the last she remained a favourite with him. 362. Dr. Percy's Charity Sermon. — “ The Idler."
1 happened to be in London once when Dr. Percy returned from Northumberland, and found that he was expected to preach a charity sermon almost immediately. This had escaped his memory; and he said, that “ though much fatigued, he had been obliged to sit up very late to furnish out something from former discourses ; but, suddenly recollecting that Johnson's fourth • Idler' (1) was exactly suited to his purpose, he had freely engrałted the greatest part of it.” He preached, and his discourse was much admired; but being requested to print it, he most strenuously opposed the honour intended him, till he was assured by the governors, that it was absolutely necessary, as the annual contributions greatly depended on the account that was given in the appendix. In this dilemma, he earnestly requested that I would call upon Dr. Johnson, and state particulars. I assented, and endeavoured to introduce the subject with all due solemnity ; but Johnson was highly diverted with his recital, and, laughing, said, “ Pray, Sir, give my kind respects to Dr. Percy, and tell him, I desire he will do whatever he pleases in regard to my • Idler ;' it is entirely at his service.”
363. Gibbon. But these days of friendly communication were, from various causes, speedily to pass away, and worse than indifference to succeed : for, one morning Dr. Percy said to Mr. Cradock, “I have not seen Dr. Johnson for a long time. I believe I must just call upon him, and greatly wish that you would accompany me.
in Easton Mauduit, and spent parts of the months of June, July, and August with him.]
(1) (On Charities and Hospitals.]
I intend,” said he, “ to teaze him a little about Gibbon's pamphlet.” “I hope not, Dr. Percy,” was my reply.
- Indeed I shall, for I have a great pleasure in combating his narrow prejudices.” We went together ; and Dr. Percy opened with some anecdotes from Northumberland House ; mentioned some rare books that were in the library; and then threw out that the town rang with applause of Gibbon’s “ Reply to Davis ;" that the latter had written before he had read,” and that the two “confederate doctors,” as Mr. Gibbon termed them, “had fallen into some strange errors.” Johnson said, he knew nothing of Davis's pamphlet, nor would he give him any answer as to Gibbon ; but if the “ confederate doctors, as they were termed, had really made such mistakes as he alluded to, they were blockheads. Dr. Percy talked on in the most careless style possible, but in a very lofty tone; and Johnson appeared to be excessively angry. I only wished to get released : for if Dr. Percy had proceeded to inform him, that he had lately introduced Mr. Hume to dine at the King's chaplain's table, there must have been an explosion.
364. “ The Hermit of Warkworth.” With all my partiality for Johnson, I freely declare, that I think Dr. Percy received very great cause to take real offence at one, who, by a ludicrous parody on a stanza in the “Hermit of Warkworth,” had rendered him contemptible. It was urged, that Johnson only meant to attack the metre; but he certainly turned the whole poem into ridicule:
" I put my hat upon my head,
And walk'd into the Strand,
With his hat in his hand.”
Mr. Garrick, in a letter to me, soon afterwards asked me, « Whether I had seen Johnson's criticism on the Hermit?' it is already,” said he, "over half the town." Almost the last time that I ever saw Johnson, he said to me,