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sions ; “ I question,
question,” said he, “whether, in his calmest and most dispassionate moments, he would allow me the high theatrical merit which the public have been so generous as to attribute to me.” I told him, that I would take an early opportunity to make the trial, and that I would not fail to inform him of the result of my experiment. As I had rather an active curiosity to put Johnson's disinterested generosity fairly to the test, on this apposite subject, I took an early opportunity of waiting on him, to hear his verdict on Garrick's pretensions to his great and universal fame. I found him in very good and social humour ; and I began a conversation which naturally led to the mention of Garrick. I said something particular on his excellence as an actor ; and I added, “ But Dr. Johnson, do you really think that he deserves that illustrious theatrical character, and that prodigious fame, which he has acquired ?” “Oh, Sir," said he, “he deserves every thing that he has acquired, for having seized the very soul of Shakspeare ; for having embodied it in himself; and for having extended its glory over the world.” I was not slow in communicating to Garrick the answer of the Delphic oracle. The tear started in his eye -- “ Oh! Stockdale,” said he, “ such a praise from such a man! - this atones for all that has
550. Intoxication. I called on Dr. Johnson one morning, when Mrs. Williams, the blind lady, was conversing with him. She was telling him where she had dined the day before. “ There were several gentlemen there,” said she, “and when some of them came to the tea-table, I found that there had been a good deal of hard drinking.” She closed this observation with a common and trite moral reflection; which, indeed, is very ill-founded, and does great injustice to animals — “I wonder what pleasure men can take in making beasts of themselves !” “I wonder, Madam, replied the Doctor, “ that you have not penetration enough to see the strong inducement to this excess ; for he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
551. Mrs. Bruce. Mrs. Bruce, an old Scotch lady, the widow of Captain Bruce, who had been for many years an officer in the Russian service, drank tea with me one afternoon at my lodgings in Bolt Court, when Johnson was one of the company. She spoke very broad Scotch ; and this alarmed me for her present social situation.
6 Dr. Johnson, ” said she, "you tell us, in your Dictionary, that in England oats are given to horses ; but that in Scotland they support the people. Now, Sir, I can assure you, that in Scotland we give oats to our horses, as well as you do to yours in England.” I almost trembled for the widow of the Russian hero ; I never saw a more contemptuous leer than that which Johnson threw at Mrs. Bruce. However, he deigned her an answer, — “ I am very glad, Madam, to find that you treat your horses as well as you treat yourselves.” I was delivered from my panic, and I wondered that she was so gently set down.
BY MISS HAWKINS. (1)
552. Johnson's Person and Dress. When first I remember Johnson, I used to see him sometimes at a little distance from the house, coming to call on my father ; his look directed downwards, or rather in such abstraction as to have no direction. His walk was heavy, but he got on at a great rate, his left arm always placed across his breast, so as to bring the hand under his chin; and he walked wide, as if to support his weight. Got out of a hackney coach, which had set him down in Fleet Street, my brother Henry says, he made his way up Bolt Court in the zig-zag direction of a blast of lightning ; submitting his course only to the deflections imposed by the impossibility of going further to right or left.
His clothes hung loose, and the pocket on the right hand swung violently, the lining of his coat being always visible. I can now call to mind his brown hand, his metal sleevebuttons, and my surprise at seeing him with plain wristbands, when all gentlemen wore ruffles ; his coat-sleeve being very wide, showed his linen almost to his elbow. (?)
(1) (From “Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts, and Opinions, collected by Letitia Matilda Hawkins ” (daughter of Sir John), 2 vols. 12mo. 1824. ]
(2) [The accompanying whole-length portrait of Johnson, from an original painting in the possession of Mr. Archdeacon Cambridge, the son of the Doctor's friend, Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq. of Twickenham, “ was considered,” says the proprietor," by all who knew him, to be an exact representation of his figure,