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GIB. And that sensibility probably shortened his life. Johns. No, Sir, he died of a disorder of which
you or any other man may die, without being killed by too much sensibility.
Gib. But you will allow, however, that this sensibility, those fine feelings, made him the great actor he was.
Johns. This is all cant, fit only for kitchen wenches and chambermaids : Garrick's trade was to represent passion, not to feel it. Ask Reynolds whether he felt the distress of Count Hugolino when he drew it.
Gib. But surely he feels the passion at the moment he is representing it.
Johns. About as much as Punch feels. That Garrick himself gave into this foppery of feelings I can easily believe; but he knew at the same time that he lied. He might think it right, as far as I know, to have what fools imagined he ought to have ; but it is amazing that any one should be so ignorant as to think that an actor will risk his reputation by depending on the feelings that shall be excited in the presence of two hundred people, on the repetition of certain words which he has repeated two hundred times before in what actors call their study. No, Sir, Garrick left nothing to chance ; every gesture, every expression of countenance, and variation of voice, was settled in his closet before he set his foot upon the stage." ()
(1) [This is conformable with the opinion of Grimm and Diderot, and with the admission of Mr. Kemble; but it must not be understood too literally. A great actor prepares in his study, positions, attitudes, the particular mode of uttering certain passages, and even the tone which is to be adopted; and having once ascertained, both by thought and experience, what is best, he will naturally adhere to that, however often he may play the part; but it is equally certain, that there is a large portion of the merit of a great theatrical exhibition which is not reducible to any rule, and which depends, not only on the general powers of the performer, but on his health, his spirits, and other personal circumstances of the moment which may tend to encourage or restrain his powers. And it may be safely affirmed, that although no actor ever fancies himself Othello, or any actress Calista, yet that the unpremeditated emotions last alluded to constitute a great part of the charm which distinguishes on the stage excellence from mediocrity. C.)
ANECDOTES AND REMARKS,
BY MADAME D'ARBLAY. (')
412. Mr. Bewley. — Johnson's Hearth-broom. In 1760, Mr. Burney found an opportunity of paying his personal respects to Dr. Johnson ; who then resided in chambers in the Temple. While awaiting the appearance of his revered host, Mr. Burney recollected a supplication from Mr. Bewley, the philosopher of Massingham, to be indulged with some token, however trifling or common, of his friend's admission to the habitation of this great man. Vainly, however, Mr. Burney looked around the apartment for something that he might innoxiously purloin. Nothing but coarse and necessary furniture was in view; nothing portable — not even a wafer, the cover of a letter, or a split pen, was to be caught ; till, at length, he had the happiness to espy an old hearth-broom in the chimney
From this, with hasty glee, he cut off a bristly wisp, which he hurried into his pocket-book ; and afterwards formally folded in silver paper, and forwarded, in a frank to Lord Orford, for Mr. Bewley ; by whom the burlesque offering was hailed with good-humoured acclamation, and preserved through life.
413. Music. Dr. Johnson, who had no ear for music, had accustomed
(1) [Formerly, the celebrated Miss Fanny, Burney author of “ Evelina,” &c. ; from whose interesting Memoirs of her father, Dr. Burney, these anecdotes are taken.)
himself, like many other great writers who have had that same, and frequently sole, deficiency, to speak slightingly both of the art and of its professors : and it was not till after he had become intimately acquainted with Dr. Burney and his various merits, that he ceased to join in a jargon so unworthy of his liberal judgment, as that of excluding musicians and their art from celebrity. The first symptom that he showed of a tendency to conversion upon this subject, was upon hearing the following paragraph read, accidentally, aloud by Mrs. Thrale, from the preface to the History of Music, while it was yet in manuscript :“ The love of lengthened tones and modulated sounds, seems a passion implanted in human nature throughout the globe ; as we hear of no people, however wild and savage in other particulars, who have not music of some kind or other, with which they seem greatly delighted.
-“Sir,” cried Dr. Johnson, after a little pause, “this assertion I believe may be right.” And then, seesawing a minute or two on his chair, he forcibly added, “ All animated nature loves music - except myself !”
Some time later, when Dr. Burney perceived that he was generally gaining ground in the house, he said to Mrs. Thrale, who had civilly been listening to some favourite air that he had been playing, “I have yet hopes, Madam, with the assistance of my pupil, to see yours become a musical family. Nay, I even hope, Sir,” turning to Dr. Johnson, “ I shall some time or other make you, also, sensible of the power of my art.” “ Sir, ” answered the Doctor, smiling, “ I shall be very glad to have a new sense put into me!”
414. Dr. Burney. The Tour to the Hebrides being then in hand, Dr. Burney inquired of what size and form the book would be. « Sir," he replied, with a little bow, “ you are my model !” Impelled by the same kindness, when my father lamented the disappointment of the public in Hawkesworth's Voyages, —“Sir,” he cried, “the public is always disappointed in books of travels ;--- except yours.” And afterwards, he said, that he had hardly ever read any book quite through in his life ; but added, “ Chamier and I, Sir, however, read all your travels through ; except, perhaps, the description of the great pipes in the organs
of Germany and the Netherlands."
415. Streatham Library. Mr. Thrale had lately fitted up a rational, readable, well-chosen library. It were superfluous to say, that he had neither authors for show, nor bindings for vanity, when it is known, that while it was forming, he placed merely one hundred pounds in Dr. Johnson's hands for its completion ; though such was his liberality, and such his opinion of the wisdom as well as knowledge of the Doctor in literary matters, that he would not for a moment have hesitated to subscribe to the highest estimate that the Doctor might have proposed. One hundred pounds, according to the expensive habits of the present day, of decorating books like courtiers and coxcombs, rather than like students and philosophers, would scarcely purchase a single row for a book-case of the length of Mr. Thrale's at Streatham ; though, under such guidance as that of Dr. Johnson, to whom all finery seemed foppery, and all foppery futility, that sum, added to the books naturally inherited, or already collected, amply sufficed for the unsophisticated reader, where no peculiar pursuit, or unlimited spirit of research, demanded a collection for reference rather than for instruction and enjoyment.
416. Streatham Gallery. This was no sooner accomplished, than Mr. Thrale resolved to surmount these treasures for the mind by a similar regale for the eyes, in selecting the persons he most loved to contemplate, from amongst his friends and favourites, to preside over the literature that stood highest in his estimation. And, that his portrait painter might go hand in hand in judgment with his collector of books, he fixed upon
the matchless Sir Joshua Reynolds to add living excellence to dead perfection, by giving him the personal resemblance of the following elected set; every one of which occasionally made a part of the brilliant society of Streatham. Mrs. Thrale and her eldest daughter were in one piece, over the fire-place, at full length. The rest of the pictures were all three-quarters. Mr. Thrale was over the door leading to his study. The general collection then began by Lord Sandys and Lord Westcote, two early noble friends of Mr. Thrale. Then followed Dr. Johnson, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Baretti, Sir Robert Chambers, and Sir Joshua Reynolds himself. All painted in the highest style of the great master ; who much delighted in this his Streatham gallery. There was place left but for one more frame, when the acquaintance with Dr. Burney began at Streatham ; and the charm of his conversation and manners, joined to his celebrity in letters, so quickly won upon the master as well as the mistress of the mansion, that he was presently selected for the honour of filling up this last chasm in the chain of Streatham worthies. To this flattering distinction, which Dr. Burney always recognised with pleasure, the public owe the engraving of Bartolozzi, which is prefixed to the History of Music.
417. Johnson's Kindness of Heart. The friendship and kindness of heart of Dr. Johnson were promptly brought into play by this renewed inter
Richard, the youngest son of Dr. Burney, born of the second marriage, was then preparing for Winchester School, whither his father purposed conveying him in per
This design was no sooner known at Streatham, where Richard, at that time a beautiful as well as clever boy, was in great favour with Mrs. Thrale, than Dr. Johnson volunteered an offer to accompany the father to Winchester ; that he might himself present the son to Dr. Warton, the then celebrated master of that ancient receptacle for the study of youth. Dr. Burney, enchanted by such a mark of regard, gratefully accepted the proposal; and they set out together for Winchester, where Dr. Warton expected them with ardent hospitality.