« PreviousContinue »
[Most persons of literary tastes and acquirements look with pleasure upon the well-executed portraits of men renowned and celebrated in the intellectual world, in the present or past ages. To gratify this very rational pleasure, we have reproduced a group of portraits of men whose fame has long shone brightly, like stars, in the literary firmament of the past. The results of their intellectual labors still enrich many public and private libraries in many lands. The plate illustrating the literary party at sir Joshua Reynolds', has been much admired and called for. We reproduce it to gratify our uumerous and rapidly increasing patrons who have never seen it in this form.]
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
age was now at an end. Of readers there
were still but few; the prices therefore This renowned man of letters and that booksellers could afford to pay to learning was the son of Michael Johnson, authors were necessarily small; and an a bookseller at Litchfield, England, and author, whatever were his talents or his was born September 18th, 1709. His industry, had great difficulty in keeping a education was commenced in his native shilling in his purse. The poverty and town, afterwards he attended school at neglected condition of his friend and broStourbridge; and in 1728, he was placed ther author, Savage, were the causes of at Pembroke College, Oxford. Young Johnson's writing his “ London,” an imiJohnson had early shown a vigorous un- tation of the third satire of Juvenal, for derstanding and an eagerness for know which Mr. Dodsley gave him ten guineas, ledge. He acquired a large fund of in- and by which he obtained a certain deformation at the University. But he was gree of reputation. We are told that subject to periodical attacks of morbid when Pope read it he said: “The author, melancholy. Necessity compelled him to whoever he is, will not be long concealed.” abandon the hope of taking a degree. No great advantage, however, immediateHis debts increased, and his remittances ly acorued to him. Again he sought to were insufficient, and he quitted college be a schoolmaster, again his scheme misand returned home. In December, 1731, carried, and he returned to his drudgery his father died in pecuniary distress, and in the service of Cave the bookseller, who young Johnson was glad to become an was his only patron. His pen was conusher in a school for support. While tinually at work, and his pamphlets, prethus employed he became acquainted faces, epitaphs, essays, and biographical with a family by the name of Porter, and memoirs, were continually published by after the death of Mr. Porter, he married Cave, either by themselves or in his pehis widow, to whom he was deeply at-riodical, the Gentleman's Magazine. tached, though she was more than twenty For many years his bread continued to years older than himself. She brought be earned by literary slavery; by slow him £800, which added to his means of degrees only did his great talents become living, with which he established a school, known, and the trust reposed in him by but his advertisements produced few scho- publishers increase. lars, the scheme failed, and he left Staf In 1740, and for more than two years fordshire with his pupil Garrick to seek afterwards, Johnson wrote the parliamenhis fortune in the metropolis.
tary speeches in the Gentleman's MagaHis prospects at this time must have zine. "In 1744 he published his “ Life been very gloomy; he had nothing but of Savage;" in the following year some literature to trust to for subsistence, and observations on Shakspeare, whose plays those were times when the condition of he proposed to edit; and in 1747 he comliterary men was most miserable and de- menced his “English Dictionary,” which graded. In the reigns of William, of he engaged to complete in three years for Anne, and George I., successful writers £1575, a small sum if we consider that were rewarded by private munificence the author agreed to bear the heavy exand public situations; but such patron- penses necessary for preparing a work of
such magnitude and importance. In 1749 society of a weekly club, of which Barke, appeared “ The Vanity of Human Wish- Goldsmith, and Sir Joshua Reynolds were es,” an imitation of the tenth satire of also members. He was introduced in the Juvenal ; and in the following year was following year to his biographer Boswell, printed the first paper of the “Rambler.” and we have from this date (1763) as full These are some of his most remarkable and minute account of him as has ever publications, for a complete list of which, been written of any individual. From and the dates at which they were pub- this time we are made as familiar as it is lished, we must refer to Boswell's “Life." in the power of writing to make us with For “The Vanity of Human Wishes,” 15 the character, the habits, and the appearguineas only were received from Mr. ance of Johnson, and the persons and Dodsley. We mention this because the things with which he was connected. frame and condition of Johnson's mind “Every thing about him,” says Macauand temper, his views of things and per- lay, “his coat, his wig, his figure, his face, sons, were probably influenced in no small his scrofula, his St. Vitus's dance, his rolldegree by the deficiency of his means. ing walk, his blinking eye, the outward He was now engaged in a steady course of signs which too clearly marked the apoccupation sufficient to employ his time probation of his dinner, his insatiable apfor several years; and so assiduous were petite for fish-sauce and veal-pie with his labors that, whilst preparing his “Dic-plums, his inextinguishable thirst for tea, tionary," he had an upper room at his re- his trick of touching the posts as he sidence in Gough Square fitted up like a walked, his mysterious practice of treacounting-house, in which several copyists suring up scraps of orange-peel, his mornsat, whom he supplied with continual em- ing slumbers, his midnight disputations, ployment.
his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntThe efforts of his mind were the utmost ings, his puffings; his vigorous, acute, it could bear; and when it was subdued and ready eloquence; his sarcastic wit, by grief at the death of his wife, (1752) his vehemence, his insolence, his fits of he relinquished the “Rambler.” Bad as tempestuous rage, his queer inmateshis circumstances were, still they were old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, somewhat more easy than they had been; the cat Hodge and the negro Frank-all the number of his acquaintances had in- are as familiar to us as the objects by creased; the “ Dictionary,” which occu- which we have been surrounded from pied eight instead of the promised three childhood.” years, was nearly complete; and he found In 1765 the University of Dublin sent leisure (in 1754) to make an excursion to over a diploma creating him a doctor of Oxford for the purpose of consulting its laws, but he did not assume the title of libraries. This was his first emancipation doctor until eight or ten years afterwards, from necessary labor. He soon returned when the University of Oxford conferred to London, to increase the number of re- the same honor upon him. views and essays which flowed continually In 1766 his constitution seemed to be from his pen. Thus occupied, an offer of rapidly giving way, and he was depressed a living was made to him if he would take with a melancholy. In this condition his orders; but though he was a firm believer friend Mr. Thrale received him into his in revelation, and a somewhat rigid moral house at Streatham; an apartment was ist, he could not overcome his scruples re- fitted up for him, companions were invited specting the fitness of his temper and from London, and he became a constant habits for the duties that would be re- resident in the family. His celebrity atquired of him, and the offer was rejected. tracted the notice of the King, to whom He continued therefore to write for his he was introduced by the librarian of bread; and it was not until he was fifty- Buckingham House. We are not told three years old, and had for thirty years that politics had in any way led to this been toiling with his pen, that any certain introduction, but it is not impossible that source of income was opened to him. In the opinions that Johnson entertained May, 1762, George III., through his mit- upon the principal questions of the day ister Lord Bute, granted Johnson a pen- might have reached the King's ears. For sion of £300 a year, and the days of his several years he occasionally published penury were at an end. Happy, in a political pamphlets. In the autumn of state of independence, he enjoyed the 1773 he made a tour, in company with
Mr. Boswell, to the Western Islands of and soon became the most prominent Scotland, of which he published an ac- painter of the capital. In 1768, when the count. Two years afterwards he made a Royal Academy was established, Rey. short excursion to Paris. The last of his nolds was unanimously elected president literary labors was “ The Lives of the at the first meeting of the members, DePoets, which were completed in 1781. cember 14th of that year, and he was We now take leave of him as an author, knighted by George III. in consequence. and have only to record the few domestic In 1784 he succeeded Allan Ramsay as occurrences which took place before the principal painter in ordinary to the King; close of his long life. These are for the and after an unrivaled career as a portrait most part melancholy. His friends Mr. painter, died at his house in Leicester Thrale and Mrs. Williams preceded him Square, February 23, 1792. He was to the grave. In June, 1783, he had a buried with great pomp in St. Paul's Caparalytic stroke, and in the following No-thedral, where a fine statue by Flaxman vember was greatly swollen with the is placed immediately below the dome, in dropsy. During a journey to Derbyshire honor of his memory. His large fortune, he felt a temporary relief; but in 1784 about £80,000, was inherited by his niece, he suffered both from dropsy and from Miss Palmer, who became afterwards asthma. His diseases were evidently irre Marchioness of Thomond. His collection mediable; and the thought of death in- of works of art sold for nearly £17,000. creased his constitutional melancholy. Sir Joshua Reynolds, notwithstanding his On Monday, the 13th of December, 1784, careless and feeble drawing, was indis. he expired in his house in Bolt Court; putably a great painter ; some of his poron the 20th of the month his remains, with traits are among the first masterpieces due solemnity and a numerous attendance of the art, whether as simple portraits, or of his friends were buried in Westminster as fancy pieces, as for instance, “Lord Abbey, near the foot of Shakspeare's mon Heathfield,” in the National Gallery, of ument, and close to the grave of Garrick. the former class, and “Mrs. Siddons as
the Tragic Muse,” at Dulwich, of the lat
ter. His pictures are necessarily very Sır Joshua REYNOLDS.
numerous, their chief excellence is their
natural grace, fullness of expression, subThis eminent painter and artist at whose stantial character, and frequently a charmmansion assembled the group of celebrities ing richness of color and light and shade. represented in the engraved plate, which His eulogium can not be better expressed embellishes our present Number, was con- than in the words of Burke: “ He was sidered the founder of the English school the first Englishman who added the praise of painting as regards its special charac- of the elegant arts to the other glories of teristics. He was born at Plympton in his country;" “The loss of no man of his Devonshire, where his father was rector, time can be felt with more sincere, geneJuly 16, 1723. He was intended for the ral, and unmixed sorrow.” Sir Joshua medical profession, but was induced by has bequeathed to posterity besides his, the perusal of Richardson's Essays on paintings, fifteen elegant and valuable Painting, etc., to take up painting as a " Discourses,” of which a magnificent ediprofession. A handsome edition of these tion by John Burnet, was published by essays was in 1773 dedicated to Sir Joshua James Carpenter in 1842. There is a full by Richardson's son, comprising — The life of Reynolds by Northcote, two vols. Theory of Painting, Essays on the Art 8vo, London, 1819. of Criticism, and The Science of a Connoisseur. Reynolds' first master was Hudson, the portrait-painter, with whom
JAMES BOSWELL. he was placed in 1741. He first set up as a portrait-painter at Davenport, but in This renowned biographer of Dr. John1746 settled in London in St. Martin's son, was born at Edinburgh, October 29, Lane. In 1749 he accompanied Commo- 1740. His father was Alexander Boswell. dore Keppel in the Centurion to the Me- His mother was Euphemia Erskine, greatditerranean, and remained altogether grand-daughter of John, the twenty-third about three years in Italy. He com- Earl of Mar, who was lord high-treasurer menced business again in London in 1752, of Scotland from 1615 to 1630. After
having studied law at the universities of great friend Johnson died towards the Edinburgh and Glasgow, Boswell visited end of this year; and in 1785 he published London for the first time in 1760, and the first and not the least remarkable made many acquaintances both in the sample of his Johnsoniana, in a "Journal fashionable world and among the literary of the Tour to the Hebrides.” It appeared men of the day. In 1762 he made, as far at Edinburgh in an octavo volume. Beas is known, his first essay in authorship. coming now ambitious to make a figure In 1763 he published a small volume of in the political world, he made various “Letters,” which had passed between unsuccessful attempts to obtain a seat in himself and the honorable Andrew Ers- Parliament. At the general election in kine. This is a very characteristic volume, 1790 he stood for the county of Ayr, but sufficiently prognosticating, by its style of was defeated after an expensive contest. frank exposure and good-natured self-com- Before the close of the same year appeared placency, the most remarkable qualities in two volumes quarto the work which of the author's subsequent productions. has made his name universally known, With his father's consent be determined his “Life of Johnson.” The sensation to make the tour of the Continent before excited by this extraordinary production being called to the bar; and accordingly was very great; and if it be an evidence he set out early in 1763. While passing of superior talent to do any thing whatthrough London he was introduced to ever better than it has ever been done Dr. Johnson, on the 16th of May in that before, the work undoubtedly deserved year, in the back-shop of Mr. Thomas all the immediate success it met with, and Davies, the bookseller, in Russell-street, also the celebrity it has ever since enjoyed; Covent Garden. He proceeded in the for whatever may be thought of the cha first instance to Utrecht, where he spent racter of either the intellectual or the the winter in attending the law classes at moral qualities which its composition de the university. After visiting various manded, it can not be disputed that the places in the Netherlands, he continued same qualities had never before been half his route, in company with his friend the so skillfully or felicitously exerted. Nor Earl Marischal, through Germany, Swit- has any work of the same kind since zerland, and Italy. With his passion for appeared that can for a moment be commaking the acquaintance of remarkable pared with Boswell's. The best editions persons, he bad, while in the neighbor- of this celebrated work are that in 10 hood of Geneva, visited both Rousseau vols. duodecimo, edited by Mr. Croker, and Voltaire; and he now crossed over and a carefully revised reprint of the same to Corsica, and introduced himself by edition in a single volume royal octavo. means of a letter from Rousseau to General Both these editions contain Boswell's Paoli, then in the height of his celebrity “Journal of the Tour to the Hebrides," as the leader of his countrymen in their and also many other pieces relating to resistance to the Genoese. Returning Jobnson never before incorporated with horne by the way of Paris, in 1766, he passed the present books. Boswell is said to as advocate in July of that year. In 1768 have contributed a series of papers, enhe published at Glasgow “ An Account titled the “Hypochondriac,” to the first of Corsica, with Memoirs of General sixty-two numbers of the “London MagPaoli,”
azine,” (from 1777 to 1782,) which are In November, 1769, he married his said to be of very little merit; and a series cousin, Miss Margaret Montgomery of of his “Epistolary Correspondence and Lainshaw. About the same time his inti- Conversations with many Eminent Permacy with his literary friends in London, sons,” appeared in two volumes quarto and especially with Dr. Johnson, was 1791, and again in three volumes octavo drawn closer by another visit to the in 1793. He was preparing a second edi. metropolis. In 1773 he accompanied tion of his “Life of Johnson” at the time Johnson on his journey to the Western of his death, May 19th, 1795. He left Islands of Scotland. In 1782, on his two sons and three daughters. father's death, he succeeded to the family estate, and soon after removing to Lon
DAVID GARRICK. don entered himself at the English bar. In 1784 he published a pamphlet in sup David Garrick was the most respected port of the new ministry of Mr. Pitt. His actor that ever trod the English stage.
He was born at Hereford, and was bap. After a visit to Dublin, Garrick returned tized in the church of All Saints February to London, and acted at Drury, having 28, 1716. At ten years of age he was en- entered into an engagement with Fleettered at the grammar school at Lichfield. wood, the manager, for five hundred At eleven he formed the project of get- pounds a year. One merit claimed for ting a play acted by young gentleman him is the restoration of “Macbeth,” and and ladies. The trial was made with other Shakspearian dramas, with a closer “The Recruiting Officer.” One of his adherence to the text than was then ususisters played the part of the chamber- al. The chief complaint against him was maid ; he himself undertook Serjeant Kite. his conduct towards living authors; and The after celebrated Doctor, Samuel it must be confessed, that in him was conJohnson, his boy-friend, was applied to firmed that usurpation of the poet's rights for the prologue, which, however, he neg- by the actor from which the stage is hardlected to write. Not long after, Garrick ly yet emerging. Davies, his biographer, went to Lisbon at the request of an uncle, observes on this point that: “ The time bea wine-merchant there, and was acquaint- stowed in rehearsing the piece, and the ed with the unfortunate Duke d'Aveixo. expense of new scenes, dresses, music, and On his return to England he, in 1736, be- other decorations, made it often very incame one of Johnson's scholars at Lich- eligible to a director of a theater to accept field; but the latter growing tired of a new play, especially when it is considered teaching the classics to two or three pu- that the revival of a good old play will anpils, resolved on trying his fortune in swer his end of profit, and reputation too, London, and thither Garrick accompanied perhaps as well. The actor-manager, as him. Here the latter lost no time in get- the representative and inheritor of the ting introduced to theatrical managers, wealth of all dead poets, proves too powand in 1741 obtained an engagement at erful a competitor for the living dramatist. Ipswich, and met with much success, under In this way tragic actors find Shakspeare the assumed name of Lyddal. , In the a tower of strength, and are by this means winter of the same year Garrick ventured enabled to suppress the proofs of living on the London stage. On the 19th of genius. Garrick had strong reasons for the October, 1741, he made his débût in Stratford jubilee in 1769, by which he Richard' the Third at the playhouse in gained increased celebrity and power. Goodman's Fields, and with his novel and This pageant he afterwards transferred to natural style, startled the critics and the the stage, where it ran for one hundred reigning actors. Quin, in particular, was nights. Mr. Garrick was also the founder much annoyed, saying: "If the young of the Drury Lane Fund for decayed perfellow was right, he and the rest of the formers. A thoroughly successful man in players had been all wrong.” Being told life, he was equally prudent and benevothat Goodman's Fields theater was lent. He lived generously, kept the best crowded every night to see the new actor, society, made lavish gifts to his friends he said: “That Garrick was a new reli- and neighbors, and basked, till his death, gion; Whitefield was followed for a time; in the sun of popular favor. He died but they would all come to church again." 20th January, 1779, and was magnifiWhereupon Garrick wrote this epigram: cently interred in Westminster Abbey,
being attended to his grave by persons “Pope Quin, who damns all churches but his illustrious for their genius and rank. In own,
the opinion of his admirers he was the Complains that heresy infects the town, greatest actor that ever graced the stage That Whitefield-Garrick has misled the age, He was certainly the most exemplary as And taints the sound religion of the stage: a man and moralist ; and preserved, if he Schism, he cries, has turned the nation's did not originate, the dignity of his probrain;
fession. He was also the author of seveBut eyes will open, and to church again! Thou great infallible, forbear to roar,
ral dramatic pieces, some of which disThy bulls and errors are revered no more ; played considerable humor, and of many When doctrines meet with gen'ral approba- brief poems, prologues, and epilogues, tion,
abounding in wit, and in allusions to the It is not heresy, but reformation.” measures of his time.