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What is legally done should be legally recorded, that the state of things may be 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."
“ 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 same 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 often 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 slept 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,” said Mr. Dudley Long,' now North, “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 him. There are gradations in conduct;
1 This ingenious and pleasant gentleman died in 1829, at the age of eighty, after an illness which bad for some years secluded him from society.-Croker.
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-dressed man and a well-dressed woman: they will not perhaps admit a woman whom they see every night walking by their door, in the street. But a well-dressed man may lead in a well-dressed 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 sell silks to a woman of the town."
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 - lis 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 it 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 persons set apart for the sacred office of serving at the altar, and impressing the minds of men with the awful concerns of a future state, should be somewhat more serious than the generality of mankind, and have a suitable 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 lessens 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 that they should appear to advantage, by assuming the lax jollity of men of the world ; which, as it may be observed in similar
Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph. Croker.
cases, they carried to noisy excess. Johnson, who they expected would be entertained, sat grave and silent for some time; at last, turning to Beauclerk, he said, 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, justly animadverts upon this subject; and observes of a reverend fop, that he “can be but half 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 showed 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:
“ The Rev. Mr. Zachariah Mudge, prebendary of Exeter, and vicar of St. Andrew's, in Plymouth; a man equally eminent for his virtues and abilities, and at once beloved as a companion and reverenced as a pastor. He had that general curiosity to which no kind of knowledge is indifferent or superflous; and that general benevolence by which no order of men is hated or
“His principles both of thought and action were great and comprehensive. By a solicitous examination of objections, and judicious comparison of opposite arguments, he attained what inquiry never gives but to industry and perspicuity, a firm and unshaken settlement of conviction. But his firmness was without asperity ; for, knowing with how much difficulty truth was sometimes found, he did not wonder that many missed it.
“The general course of his life was determined by his profession; he studied the sacred volumes in the original languages; with what diligence and success his ‘Notes upon the Psalms' give sufficient evidence. He once endeavoured to add the knowledge of Arabic to that of Hebrew; but, finding his thoughts too much
diverted from other studies, after some time desisted from his purpose.
“His discharge of parochial duties was exemplary. How his Sermons were composed, may be learned from the excellent volume which he has given to the public; but how they were delivered, can be known only to those that heard them ; for, as he appeared in the pulpit, words will not easily describe him. His delivery, though unconstrained, was not negligent, and though forcible, was not turbulent; disdaining anxious nicety of emphasis, and laboured artifice of action, it captivated the hearer by its natural dignity; it roused the sluggish and fixed the volatile, and detained the mind upon the subject without directing it to the speaker.
“The grandeur and solemnity of the preacher did not intrude upon his general behaviour; at the table of his friends he was a companion communicative and attentive, of unaffected manners, of manly cheerfulness, willing to please, and easy to be pleased. His acquaintance was universally solicited, and his presence obstructed no enjoyment which religion did not forbid. Though studious, he was popular; though argumentative, he was modest; though inflexible, he was candid ; and though metaphysical, yet. orthodox." 1
On Friday, March 30, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the Earl of Charlemont, Sir Annesley Stewart, Mr. Eliot of Port-Eliot, Mr. Burke, Dean Marlay, Mr. Langton; a most agreeable day, of which I regret that every circumstance is not preserved: but it is unreasonable to require such a multiplication of felicity.
Mr. Eliot, with whom Dr. Walter Harte? had travelled, talked to us of his “ History of Gustavus Adolphus,” which he said was a very good book in the German translation. Johnson. “Harte was excessively vain. He put copies of his book in manuscript into the hands of Lord Chesterfield and Lord Granville, that they might revise it. Now how
i London Chronicle, May 2, 1769. This respectable man is there mentioned to have died on the 3rd of April, that year, at Coffeet [near Exeter), the seat of Thomas Veale, Esq., in his way to London.
2 Mr. Eliot, afterwards Lord Eliot, had accompanied Mr. Stanhope, the natural son of Lord Chesterfield, for whom the celebrated Letters were written, and is frequently mentioned in them. Mr. Harte was travelling tutor to both these young gentlemen.- Croker.
absurd was it to suppose that two such noblemen would revise so big a manuscript. Poor man! he left London the day of the publication of his book, that he might be out of the way of the great praise he was to receive; and he was ashamed to return, when he found how ill his book had succeeded. It was unlucky in coming out on the same day with Robertson’s ‘History of Scotland.' His husbandry, however, is good.” BOSWELL. “So he was fitter for that than heroic history: he did well when he turned his sword into a ploughshare.”
Mr. Eliot mentioned a curious liquor peculiar to his country, which the Cornish fishermen drink. They call it mahogany; and it is made of two parts gin and one part treacle, well beaten together. I begged to have some of it made, which was done with proper skill by Mr. Eliot. I thought it very good liquor; and said it was a counterpart of what is called Athol porridge in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a mixture of whisky and honey. Johnson said, “ that must be a better liquor than the Cornish, for both its component parts are better.” He also observed, “ Mahogany must be a modern name; for it is not long since the wood called mahogany was known in this country.” I mentioned his scale of liquors :-claret for boys,-port for men,-brandy for heroes. “Then,” said Mr. Burke, “ let me have claret: I love to be a boy ; to have the careless gaiety of boyish days.” JOHNSON. “I should drink claret too, if it would give me that; but it does not : it neither makes boys men, nor men boys. You'll be drowned by it before it has any effect upon you.”
I ventured to mention a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that Dr. Johnson was learning to dance of Vestris. Lord Charlemont, wishing to excite him to talk, proposed in a whisper, that he should be asked whether it was true. “ Shall I ask him ? ” said his lordship. We were, by a great majority, clear for the experiment. Upon which his lordship very gravely, and with a courteous air, said, “Pray, Sir, is it true that you are taking lessons of Vestris ?” This was risking a good deal, and required the boldness of a general of Irish volunteers to make the attempt. Johnson was at first startled, and in some heat answered, “How can your lordship ask so simple a ques