Samuel Rogers (1763-1855)
From 18th Century Literary Anecdotes

MY friend Maltby and I, when we were very young men, had a strong desire to see Dr. Johnson; and we determined to call upon him and introduce ourselves. We accordingly proceeded to his house in Bolt Court; and I had my hand on the knocker, when our courage failed us, and we retreated. Many years afterwards, I mentioned this circumstance to Boswell, who said, `What a pity you did not go boldly in! he would have received you with all kindness.'

Rogers, Table Talk, pp. 5-6.

Mr. Rogers told me that when the Pleasures of Memory was first published, one of those busy gentlemen who are vain of knowing everybody came up to him at a party, and said, `Lady — is dying to be introduced to the author of the Pleasures of Memory.'—Pray let her live', said Rogers, and with difficulty they made their way through the crowd to the lady. —'Mr. Rogers, madam, author of the Pleasures of Memory.'—'Pleasures of what?'—`I felt for my friend', said Rogers.

C. R. Leslie, Autobiographical Recollections (1860), i. 254.

His wit was perhaps in higher repute than any in his time, except that of Sydney Smith; but while Sydney's wit was genial and good-humoured, and even his mockeries gave no offence, that of Rogers was sarcastic and bitter; and the plea which I have heard him advance for its bitterness was, in itself, a satire:

`They tell me I say ill-natured things', he observed in his slow, quiet, deliberate way; `I have a weak voice; if I did not say ill-natured things, no one would hear what I said.'

Taylor, Autobiography, i. 321.

Rogers was aghast at the rapidity with which the Scotts, Byrons, and Moores poured out their works; and even Campbell was too quick for him —he, with all his leisure, and being always at it, producing to the amount of two octavo volumes in his whole life. The charge of haste and incompleteness alleged against his Columbus in the Edinburgh Review, forty years since, was very exasperating to him; and so absurd that one cannot but suspect Sydney Smith of being the author of it, for the sake of contrast with his conversational description of Rogers's method of composition. Somebody asked one day whether Rogers had written anything lately. `Only a couplet', was the reply — (the couplet being his celebrated epigram on Lord Dudley). `Only a couplet!' exclaimed Sydney Smith. `Why, what would you have? When Rogers produces a couplet, be goes to bed, and the knocker is tied —and straw is laid down —and caudle is made —and the answer to inquiries is that Mr. Rogers is as well as can be expected.'

Harriet Martineau, Biographical Sketches, (1869), p. 371.

ON a certain day we went to call at Mrs. Procter's with our father. We found an old man standing in the middle of the room, taking leave of his hostess, nodding his head —he was a little like a Chinese mandarin with an ivory face. His expression never changed but seemed quite fixed. He knew my father and spoke to him and to us too, still in this odd fixed way. Then he looked at my sister. `My little girl,' he said to her, `will you come and live with me? You shall be as happy as the day is long; you shall have a white pony to ride, and feed upon red-currant jelly.' This prospect was so alarming and unexpected that the poor little girl suddenly blushed up and burst into tears. The old man was Mr. Samuel Rogers, but happily he did not see her cry, for he was already on his way to the door.

Lady Ritchie, Chapters, p. 69.

« NEXT » « 18th Century Anecdotes » « All Anecdotes » « Humour » « Library »