Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

PART IX.

ANECDOTES,

BY MR. WICKINS OF LICHFIELD. (')

371. Deception. Walking one day with him in my garden at Lichfield, we entered a small meandering shrubbery, whose “ vista not lengthened to the sight,” gave promise of a larger extent. I observed, that he might perhaps conceive that he was entering an extensive labyrinth, but that it would prove a deception, though I hoped not an unpardonable one. “Sir,” said he, “ don't tell me of deception; a lie, Sir, is a lie, whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.”

372. Urns. Passing on we came to an urn which I had erected to the memory of a deceased friend. I asked him how he liked that urn - it was of the true Tuscan order. “ Sir," said he, “ I hate urns; they are nothing, they mean nothing, they convey no ideas but ideas of horror--would they were beaten to pieces to pave our streets !

373. Cold Baths. We then came to a cold bath. I expatiated upon its salubrity. “ Sir,” said he, “ how do you do?” is

Very

(1) [Dr. Harwood informs me that Mr. Wickins was a respectable draper in Lichfield. It is very true that Dr. Johnson was accustomed to call on him during his visits to his native town. The garden attached to his house was ornamented in the manner he describes, and no doubt was ever entertained of the exactness of his anecdotes. — C.]

رو

well, I thank you, Doctor.” “ Then, Sir, let well enough alone, and be content. I hate immersion.” Truly, as Falstaff says, the Doctor “ would have a sort of alacrity at sinking." (0)

374. The Venus de' Medicis. Upon the margin stood the Venus de' Medicis

" So stands the statue that enchants the world." “ Throw her,” said he, “ into the pond to hide her nakedness, and to cool her lasciviousness.'

375. Arcadia. He then, with some difficulty, squeezed himself into a root-house, when his eye caught the following lines from Parnell :

Go search among your idle dreams,

Your busy, or your vain extremes,
And find a life of equal bliss,

Or own the next began in this.” The Doctor, however, not possessing any sylvan ideas, seemed not to admit that heaven could be an Arcadia.

[ocr errors]

376. Doing Good. I then observed him with Herculean strength tugging at a nail which he was endeavouring to extract from the bark of a plum-tree ; and having accomplished it, he exclaimed, “ There, Sir, I have done some good to-day; the tree might have festered. I make a rule, Sir, to do some good every day of my

life.”

377. Sterne's Sermons, Returning through the house, he stepped into a small study or book-room. The first book he laid his hands upon was Harwood's (*) “ Liberal Translation of the

(1) (A mistake · be was a good swimmer. See Boswell, vol. vi. p. 218. - C.]

(2) [The reader must hear in mind that this Doctor Edward Harwood, the same mentioned by Mr. Cradock, and who has been dead many years, is not to be confounded with Dr. Thomas Harwood, of Lichfield, who is now alive, and whose information is quoted at the beginning of this article. - C.]

New Testament.” The passage which first caught his eye was from that sublime apostrophe in St. John, upon the raising of Lazarus, “ Jesus wept;" which Harwood had conceitedly rendered “and Jesus, the Saviour of the world, burst into a flood of tears.” He contemptuously threw the book aside, exclaiming, “ Puppy!” I then showed him Sterne's Sermons. “ Sir," said he,“ do you ever read any others ?” “ Yes, Doctor; I read Sherlock, Tillotson, Beveridge, and others.” Ay, Sir, there you drink the

cup

of salvation to the bottom; here you have merely the froth from the surface."

378. Shakspeare's Mulberry Vase. Garrick. Within this room stood the Shakspearean mulberry vase, a pedestal given by me to Mr. Garrick, and which was recently sold, with Mr. Garrick's gems, at Mrs. Garrick's sale at Hampton. The Doctor read the inscription :

6 SACRED TO SHAKSPEARE,

And in honour of
David GARRICK, Esq.
The Ornament- the Reformer

Of the British Stage.” (1) Ay, Sir ; Davy, Davy loves flattery; but here, indeed, you have flattered him as he deserves, paying a just tribute to his merit."

(1) [This vase is now in the rich collection of Thomas Hill, Esq., of the Adelphi. New Monthly Mag., v. xliv.]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

379. Dr. Kippis. Royal Society. Dr. BROCKLESBY, a few days before the death of Dr. Johnson, found on the table Dr. Kippis's account of the Disputes of the Royal Society. Dr. Johnson inquired of his physician if he had read it, who answered in the negative. “ You have sustained no loss, Sir. It is poor stuff, indeed, a sad unscholar-like performance. I could not have believed that that man would have written

so ill."

380. Dr. Warren. Being desired to call in Dr. Warren, he said, they might call in any body they pleased; and Warren was called. At his going away, “ You have come in,” said Dr. Johnson, “ at the eleventh hour ; but you shall be paid the same with your fellow-labourers. Francis, put into Dr. Warren's coach a copy of the English Poets.””

381. Fear of Death. Some years before, some person in a company at Salisbury, of which Dr. Johnson was one, vouched for the company, that there was nobody in it afraid of death Speak for yourself, Sir,” said Johnson, “ for indeed I

“I did not say of dying,replied the other ; "but of death, meaning its consequences.

" And so I mean,' rejoined the Doctor ; “ I am very seriously afraid of the consequences.

am.

Q

PART XI.

ANECDOTES,

BY THE REV. MR. PARKER.("Y

382. Stow-Hill, Dr. Johnson's friendship for Mrs. Elizabeth Aston commenced at the palace in Lichfield, the residence of Mr. Walmesley: with Mrs. Gastrel he became acquainted in London, at the house of her brother-in-law, Mr. Hervey. During the Doctor's annual visits to his daughter-in-law, Lucy Porter, he spent much of his time at Stow-Hill, where Mrs. Gastrel and Mrs. Elizabeth Aston resided. They were the daughters of Sir Thomas Aston, of Aston Hall in Cheshire, of whom it is said, that being applied to for some account of his family, to illustrate the history of Cheshire, he replied, that the title and estate had descended from father to son for thirty generations, and that he believed they were neither much richer nor much poorer than they were at first.”

383. Dr. Hunter. - Miss Seward. He used to say of Dr. Hunter, master of the free grammar school, Lichfield, that he never taught a boy in his life— he whipped and they learned. Hunter was a pompous man, and never entered the school without his gown and cassock, and his wig full dressed. He had a remarkably stern look, and Dr. Johnson said, he could tremble at the sight of Miss Seward, she was so like her grandfather.

(1) The following anecdotes are told by Mr. Parker, from the relation of Mrs. Aston and her sister.

« VorigeDoorgaan »