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To the fame.
Jan. 9, 1781. “ AMIDST the importance and multiplicity of affairs in which your great office engages you, I take the liberty of recalling your attention for a moment to literature, and will not prolong the interruption by an apology, which your character makes needless.
“ Mr. Hoole, a gentleman long known, and long esteemed in the IndiaHouse, after having translated Taso, has undertaken Ariosto. How well he is qualified for his undertaking he has already shewn. He is desirous, Sir, of
your favour in promoting his proposals, and flatters me by supposing that my testimony may advance his interest.
“ It is a new thing for a clerk of the India-House to translate poets--it is new for a Governour of Bengal to patronize learning. That he may find his ingenuity rewarded, and that learning may Aourish under your protection, is the wish of, Sir,
" Your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
I wrote to him in February, complaining of having been troubled by a recurrence of the perplexing question of Liberty and Necessity—and mencioning that I hoped soon to meet him again in London.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, Ejq. “ DEAR Sir,
“ I hoped you had got rid of all this hypocrisy of misery. What have you to do with Liberty and Necesity? Or what more than to hold your tongue about it? Do not doubt but I shall be most heartily glad to see you here again, for I love every part about you but your affectation of distress.
“ I have at last finished my Lives, and have laid up for you a load of copy, all out of order, so that it will amuse you a long time to set it right. Come to me, my dear Bozzy, and let us be as happy as we can. We will go again to the Mitre, and talk old times over. I am, dear Sir,
“ Yours, affectionately, “ March 14, 1781.
On Monday, March 19, I arrived in London, and on Tuesday, the 20th, met him in Fleet-street, walking, or rather indeed moving along; for his 6
march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner, in a short 1781.
Our accidental meeting in the street after a long separation was a pleasing surprize to us both. He stepped aside with me into Falcon-court, and made kind inquiries about my family, and as we were in a hurry going different ways, I promised to call on him next day; he said he was engaged to go out in the morning. " Early, Sir.” said I. Johnson. “Why, Sir, a London morning does not go with the fun.”
I waited on him next evening, and he gave me a quantity of his original
I found that his friend, Mr. Thrale, was now very ill, and had removed,
He told me I might now have the pleasure to see Dr. Johnson drink wine
8 With this well-chosen motto:
From his cradle
Mrs. Thrale and I had a dispute, whether Shakspeare or Milton had drawn the most admirable picture of a man'. I was for Shakspeare; Mrs. Thrale for Milton; and upon a fair hearing, Johnson decided for my opinion.
I told him of one of Mr. Burke's playful fallies upon Dean Marlay. “I don't like the Deanery of Ferns, it sounds so like a barren title.”—“Dr. Heath, should have it;” said I. Johnson laughed, and condescending to trifle in the same mode of conceit, suggested Dr. Moss.
He said, “Mrs. Montagu has dropt me. Now, Sir, there are people. whom one should like very well to drop, but would not wish to be dropped. by.”
He certainly was vain of the society of ladies, and could make himself very agreeable to them when he chose it; Sir Joshua Reynolds agreed with me that he could. Mr. Gibbon, with his usual sneer, controverted it, perhaps. in resentment of Johnson's having talked with some disgust of his ugliness, which one should think a philosopher would not mind. Dean Marlay wittily observed, “A lady may be vain when she can turn a wolf-dog into a lap-. dog."
The election for Ayrshire, my own county, was this spring tried upon a: petition, before a Committee of the House of Commons. I was one of the Counsel for the fitting member, and took the liberty of previously stating different points to Johnson, who never failed to see them clearly, and to supply me with some good hints. He dictated to me the following note upon the registration of deeds :
« All laws are made for the convenience of the community; what is legally done, should be legally recorded, that the state of things may be
9 Shakspeare makes Hamlet thus describe his father :
“ See what a grace was feated on this brow,
" To give the world assurance of a man."
known, and that wherever evidence is requisite, evidence may be had. For
“ This (said he) you must enlarge on, when speaking to the Committee.
His notion of the duty of a member of Parliament, sitting upon an election
Johnson's profound reverence for the Hierarchy made him expect from
LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON.
Nor was it only in the dignitaries of the Church that Johnson required a particular decorum and delicacy of behaviour; he justly considered that the clergy, as men set apart for the sacred office of serving at the altar, and impressing the minds of men with the aweful concerns of a future state, hould be fomewhat more serious than the generality of mankind, and have a luitable composure of manners. A due sense of the dignity of their profession, independent of higher motives, will ever prevent them from losing their distinction in an indiscriminate sociality; and did such as affect this, know how much it lesens them in the eyes of those whom they think to please by it, they would feel themselves much mortified.
Johnson, and his friend, Beauclerk, were once together in company with several clergymen, who thought they should appear to advantage, by assuming the lax jollity of men of the world; which, as it may be observed in similar cases, they carried to noisy excess. Johnson, who they expected would be entertained, fate grave and silent for some time; at last, turning to Beauclerk, he faid, by no means in a whisper, “ This merriment of parsons is mighty
Even the dress of a clergyman should be in character, and nothing can be more despicable than conceited attempts at avoiding the appearance of the clerical order; attempts, which are as ineffectual as they are pitiful. Dr. Porteus, now Bishop of London, in his excellent charge when presiding over the diocese of Chester, juftly animadverts upon this subject; and observes of a reverend fop, that he “ can be but ba'f a beau."
Addison, in “ The Spectator,” has given us a fine portrait of a clergyman, who is supposed to be a member of his Club; and Johnson has exhibited a model, in the character of Mr. Mudge', which has escaped the collectors of his works, but which he owned to me, and which indeed he Thewed to Sir Joshua Reynolds at the time when it was written. It bears the genuine marks of Johnson's best manner, and is as follows: