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Ætat. 72.

« SIR,

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,


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.


“ 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.

SAM. Johnson.”

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



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march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner, in a short 1781.
Life 8 of him published by Kearsley, very soon after his death: “When he Ærat. 72.
walked the streets, what with the constant roll of his head, and the con-
comitant motion of his body, he appeared to make his way by that motion,
independent of his feet.” That he was often much stared at while he
advanced in this manner, may easily be believed; but it was not safe to make
sport of one so robust as he was. Mr. Langton saw him one day, in a fit of
absence, by a sudden start, drive the load off a porter's back, and walk
forward briskly, without being conscious of what he had done. The porter
was very angry, but stood still, and eyed the huge figure with much earnest-
ness, till he was satisfied that his wifest course was to be quiet, and take up

burthen again.

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
manuscript of his “ Lives of the Poets," which he had preserved for me.

I found that his friend, Mr. Thrale, was now very ill, and had removed,
I suppose by the solicitation of Mrs. Thrale, to a house in Grosvenor-square.
I was sorry to find him fadly changed in his appearance.

He told me I might now have the pleasure to see Dr. Johnson drink wine
again, for he had lately returned to it. When I mentioned this to Johnson,
he said, “ I drink it now sometimes, but not socially.” The first evening that I
was with him at Thrale's, I observed he poured a quantity of it into a large glass,
and swallowed it greedily. Every thing about his character and manners was
forcible and violent; there never was any moderation ; many a day did he
faft, many a year did he refrain from wine; but when he did eat, it was
voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise
abstinence, but not temperance.

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8 With this well-chosen motto:

From his cradle
“ He was a SCHOLAR, and a ripe and good one:
" And to add greater honours to his age
Than man could give him, he died fearing Heaven.” SHAXSPPARE.
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Elat. 726

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

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9 Shakspeare makes Hamlet thus describe his father :

“ See what a grace was feated on this brow,
“ Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command,
" A station like the herald, Mercury,
“ New lighted on a Heaven-killing hill :
5. A coinbination and a form indeed,
" Where every god did seem to set his feal,

" To give the world assurance of a man."
Milton thus pourtrays our first parent, Adam:
His fair.large front and eye

sublime declar'a
Absolute rule; and hyacinthin locks
" Round from his parted forelock manly hung
" Cluft'ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad."


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known, and that wherever evidence is requisite, evidence may be had. For
this reason, the obligation to frame and establish a legal register is enforced
by a legal penalty, which penalty is the want of that perfection and plenitude
of right which a register would give. Thence it follows, that this is not
an objection merely legal; for the reason on which the law stands being
equitable, makes it an equitable objection.”

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This (said he) you must enlarge on, when speaking to the Committee.
You must not argue there, as if you were arguing in the schools ; close reasoning
will not fix their attention; you must say the faine thing over and over again,
in different words. If you say it but once, they miss it in a moment of

inattention. It is unjust, Sir, to censure lawyers for multiplying words when
they argue; it is necessary for them to multiply words.”

His notion of the duty of a member of Parliament, sitting upon an election
committee was very high; and when he was told of a gentleman upon one
of those committees, who read the newspapers part of the time, and sept
the rest, while the merits of a vote were examined by the counsel, and as an
excuse, when challenged by the chairman for such behaviour, bluntly answered,
“ I had made up my mind upon that case.” Johnson, with an indignant
contempt, said, “ If he was such a rogue as to make up his mind upon a
case without hearing it, he should not have been such a fool as to tell it.”-
“I think (faid Mr. Dudiey Long) the Doctor has pretty plainly made him
out to be both rogue and fool.”

Johnson's profound reverence for the Hierarchy made him expect from
Bishops the highest degree of decorum; he was offended even at their going
to taverns ; “ A bishop (said he) has nothing to do at a tippling-house. It is
not indeed immoral in him to go to a tavern; neither would it be immoral in
him to whip a top in Grosvenor-square. But, if he did, I hope the boys
would fall upon him and apply the whip to bin. There are gradations in
conduct; there is morality-decency—propriety. None of these should be
violated by a bishop. A bishop should not go to a house where he may
meet a young fellow leading out a wench.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, every
tavern does not admit women.” Johnson. “ Depend upon it, Sir, any

tavern will admit a well-drest man and a well-drest woman; they will not
perhaps admit a woman whom they see every night walking by their door, in
the street. But a well-drest man may lead in a well-drest woman to any :
tavern in London. Taverns sell meat and drink, and will sell them to any
body who can eat and can drink. You may as well say that a mercer will
not feh filks to a woman of the town.”


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He also disapproved of bishops going to routs, at least of their staying at
them longer than their presence commanded respect. He mentioned a
particular bishop. “ Poh (said Mrs. Thrale) the Bishop of

never minded at a rout.” Boswell.“ When a Bishop places himself in a
situation where he has no distinct character, and is of no consequence, he
degrades the dignity of his order.” Johnson. “Mr. Boswell, Madam, has
said it as correctly as could be.”

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

“ offensive."

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:


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