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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 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,1 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 Reverend 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 the general curiosity to which no kind of knowledge is indifferent or superfluous; and that general benevolence by which no order of men is hated or despised.
"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
1 See vol. i. p. 246.-BOSWELL.
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 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 for 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
I "London Chronicle," May 2, 1769. This respectable man is there mentioned to have died on the 3rd of April, that year, at Cofflect, the seat of Thomas Veale, Esq., in his way to London.-BoswELL.
called Athol Porridge in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a mixture of whiskey 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.1 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 question?" But immediately recovering himself, whether from unwillingness to be deceived, or to appear deceived, or whether from real good humour, he kept up the joke: "Nay, but if anybody were to answer the paragraph, and contradict it, I'd have a reply, and would say, that he who contradicted it was no friend either to Vestris or me. For why should not Dr. Johnson add to his other powers a little corporeal agility? Socrates learned to dance at an advanced age, and Cato learned Greek at an advanced age. Then it might proceed to say, that this Johnson, not content with dancing on the ground, might dance on the rope; and they might introduce the elephant dancing on the rope. A nobleman2 wrote a play, called 'Love in a Hollow Tree.' He found out that it was a bad one, and therefore wished to buy up all the copies, and burn them. The Duchess of Marlborough had kept one; and when he was against her at an election, she had a new edition of it printed, and prefixed to it, as a frontispiece, an elephant dancing on a rope; to show, that his lordship's writing comedy was as awkward as an elephant dancing on a rope.
On Sunday, April 1, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, with Sir Philip Jenning Clerk and Mr. Perkins, who had the superintendence
1 This was Gaetano Apoline Balthazar Vestris, at that time a celebrated professor of the art of dancing. He was born at Florence in 1729, and was for many years at the head of his profession in the great capital of French gaiety. He died in 1808-ED.
2 William, the first Viscount Grimston.-BOSWELL. 8 See vol. ii. p. 185, n.-Boswell.
of Mr. Thrale's brewery, with a salary of five hundred pounds a year. Sir Philip had the appearance of a gentleman of ancient family, well advanced in life. He wore his own white hair in a bag of goodly size, a black velvet coat, with an embroidered waistcoat, and very rich laced ruffles; which Mrs. Thrale said were old fashioned, but which, for that reason, I thought the more respectable, more like a Tory; yet Sir Philip was then in Opposition in Parliament. Ah, Sir," said Johnson, "ancient ruffles and modern principles do not agree." Sir Philip defended the Opposition to the American war ably and with temper, and I joined him. He said, the majority of the nation was against the ministry. JOHNSON : I, Sir, am against the ministry; but it is for having too little of that, of which Opposition thinks they have too much. Were I minister, if any man wagged his finger against me, he should be turned out; for that which it is in the power of Government to give at pleasure to one or to another, should be given to the supporters of Government. If you will not oppose at the expense of losing your place, your opposition will not be honest, you will feel no serious grievance; and the present Opposition is only a contest to get what others have. Sir Robert Walpole acted as I would do. As to the American war, the sense of the nation is with the ministry. The majority of those who can understand is with it; the majority of those who can only hear, is against it; and as those who can only hear are more numerous than those who can understand, and Opposition is always loudest, a majority of the rabble will be for Opposition."
This boisterous vivacity entertained us; but the truth in my opinion was, that those who could understand the best were against the American war, as almost every man now is, when the question has been coolly considered.
Mrs. Thrale gave high praise to Mr. Dudley Long (now North). JOHNSON: "Nay, my dear lady, don't talk so. Mr. Long's character is very short. It is nothing. He fills a chair. He is a man of genteel appearance, and that is all.1 I know nobody who blasts by praise as you do for whenever there is exaggerated praise, everybody is set against a character. They are provoked to attack it. Now there is Pepys;2
1 Here Johnson condescended to play upon the words long and short. But little did he know that, owing to Mr. Long's reserve in his presence, he was talking thus of a gentleman distinguished amongst his acquaintance for acuteness of wit,-one to whom, I think, the French expression "Il petille d'esprit," is particularly suited. He has gratified me by mentioning that he heard Dr. Johnson say, " Sir, if I were to lose Boswell, it would be a limb amputated."-BOSWELL.
2 William Weller Pepys, Esq., one of the Masters in the High Court of Chancery, and well known in polite circles. My acquaintance with him is not sufficient to enable me to speak of him from my own judgment. But I know that both at Eton and Oxford he was the intimate friend of the late Sir James Macdonald, the Marcellus of Scotland, whose extraordinary talents, learning, and virtues, will ever be remembered with admira tion and regret.-BOSWELL.
you praised that man with such disproportion, that I was incited to lessen him, perhaps more than he deserves. His blood is upon your head. By the same principle, your malice defeats itself; for your censure is too violent. And yet," looking to her with a leering smile, "she is the first woman in the world, could she but restrain that wicked tongue of hers; she would be the only woman, could she but command that little whirligig."
Upon the subject of exaggerated praise I took the liberty to say, that I thought there might be very high praise given to a known character which deserved it, and therefore it would not be exaggerated. Thus, one might say of Mr. Edmund Burke, he is a very wonderful JOHNSON: "No, Sir, you would not be safe, if another man had a mind perversely to contradict. He might answer, 'Where is all the wonder? Burke is, to be sure, a man of uncommon abilities, with a great quantity of matter in his mind, and a great fluency of language in his mouth. But we are not to be stunned and astonished by him.' So you see, Sir, even Burke would suffer, not from any fault of his own, but from your folly."
Mrs. Thrale mentioned a gentleman who had acquired a fortune of £4000 a year in trade, but was absolutely miserable, because he could not talk in company; so miserable, that he was impelled to lament his situation in the street to, whom he hates, and who he knows despises him. "I am a most unhappy man," said he. "I am invited to conversations. I go to conversations; but, alas! I have no conversation. JOHNSON : "Man commonly cannot be successful in different ways. This gentleman has spent, in getting £4000 a year, the time in which he might have learnt to talk; and now he cannot talk.” Mr. Perkins made a shrewd and droll remark: "If he had got his £4000 a year as a mountebank, he might have learnt to talk at the same time that he was getting his fortune."
Some other gentlemen came in. The conversation concerning the person whose character Dr. Johnson had treated so slightingly, as he did not know his merit, was resumed. Mrs. Thrale said, You think so of him, Sir, because he is quiet, and does not exert himself with force. You'll be saying the same thing of Mr. there, who sits as quiet." This was not well bred; and Johnson did not let it pass without correction. Nay, Madam, what right have you to talk thus ? Both Mr. and I have reason to take it ill. You may talk so of Mr. -; but why do you make me do it? Have I said anything against Mr. -? You have set him, that I might shoot him; but I have not shot him."
One of the gentlemen said, he had seen three folio volumes of Dr. Johnson's sayings collected by me. "I must put you right, Sir," said I; "for I am very exact in authenticity. You could not see folio volumes, for I have none: you might have seen some in quarto and octavo. This