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ner and easiness of behaviour are acquired gradually and imperceptibly. No man can say, '1'll be genteel.' ,There are ten genteel women for one genteel man, because they are more restrained. A man without some degree of restraint is insufferable ; but we are all less restrained than women. Were a woman, sitting in company, to put out her legs before her as most men do, we should be tempted to kick them in." No man was a more attentive and pice observer of behaviour in the in whose company he happened to be, than Johnson; or, however strange it may seem to many, had a higher estimation of its refinements. Lord Eliot tells us, that one day when Johnson and he were at dinner in a gentleman's house in London, upon lord Chesterfield's Letters being mentioned, Johnson surprised the company by this sentence-"Every man of any education would rather be called a rascal, than accused of deficiency in the graces.” Mr. Gibbon, who was present, turned to a lady who knew Johnson well, and lived much with him, and in his quaint manner, tapping his box, addressed her thus : “Don't you think, madam, (looking towards Johnson) that among all your acquaintance you could find one exception?" The lady smiled, and seemed to acquiesce.
In a small party, Dr. Johnson, as usual, spoke contemptuously of Colley Cibber. “ It is wonderful that a man, who for forty years had lived with the great and the witty, should have acquired so ill the talents of conversation; and he had but half to fur
for one half of what he said was oaths.” He, however, allowed considerable merit to some of his comedies, and said there was no reason to believe
that the Careless Husband was not written by himself. Davies said, he was the first dramatic writer who iatroduced genteel ladies upon the stage. Johnson refuted his observation, .by instancing several such characters in comedies before his time. DAVIES—(trying to defend himself from a charge of ignorance.) “I mean genteel moral characters.” Hicky.“ I think gentility and morality are inseparable.” BosWELL.“ By no means, sir; the genteelest characters are often the most immoral. Does not lord Chesterfield give precepts for uniting wickedness and the graces ? A man, indeed, is not genteel when he gets druuk; but most vices may be committed very genteelly; a man may debauch his friend's wife genteelly; he may cheat at cards genteelly," HICKY. “ I do not think that is genteel.” BOSWELL.“ Sir, it may not be like a gentleman, but it may be geoteel.” Johnson. " You are ineaning two different things : one means exterior grace the other honoura. It is certain that a man may be very immoral with exterior grace. Lovelace, in Clarissa, is a very genteel and a very wicked character. Tom Hervey, who died t’other day, though a vicious man, was one of the genteelest men that ever lived." Tom Davies instanced Charles the Second. JOHNSON-(taking fire at any attack upon that prince, for whom he had an extraordinary partiality.) “ Charles the Second was li. centious in his practice; but he always had a reve. rence for what was good. Charles the Second knew his people, and rewarded merit. The church was at no time better filled than in his reign. He was the best king we have had from his time till the neign of his present majesty, except James the Se.
cond, who was a very good king—but unhappily believed that it was necessary, for the salvation of his subjects, that they should be Roman Catholics. He had the merit of endeavouring to do what he thought was for the salvation of the souls of his subjects, till he lost a great empire. We, who thought that we should not be saved if we were Romau Catholics, had the merit of maintaining our religion, at the expense of submitting ourselves to the government of king William, for it could not be done otherwise; to the government of one of the most worthless scoundrels that ever existed. No; Charles the Second was not such a man as (naming another king). He did not destroy his father's will. He took money, indeed, from France; but he did not betray those over whom he ruled : he did not let the French feet pass ours. George the First knew nothing, and desired to know nothing; did nothing, and desired to do vothing; and the only good thing that is told of him is, that he wished to restore the crown to its hereditary successor.” He roared with prodigious violence against George the Second. When he ceased, Moody interjected, in an Irish tone, and with a comic look, “Ah, poor George the Second !"
Dr. Johnson said that general Paoli had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen. He denied that military men were always the best bred
“ Perfect good breeding," he observed, consists in having no particular mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners : whereas, in a military man, you can commonly distinguish the brand of a soldier, l'homme d'epée."
Boswell started the question, whether duelling
was consistent with moral duty. The brave old general Oglethorpe fired at this, and said, with a lofty air, “ Undoubtedly, a man has a right to de. fend his honour." GOLDSMITII, turning to Boswell, “I ask you first, sir, what would you do if you were affronted ?" Boswell. “ I should think it necessary to fight.” GOLDSMITH. " Why, then, that solves the question.” JOHNSON: “ No, sir, it does not solve the question, that what a man would do is therefore right.” Boswell said, he wished to have it settled, whether duelling was contrary to the laws of Christianity. Johnson immediately entered on the subject, and treated it in a masterly manper; and so far as the narrator could recollect, his thoughts were these : “ Sir, as men become in a high degree refined, various causes of offence
which are considered to be of such import-' ance, that life must be staked to atone for them, though, in reality, they are not so. A body that has received a very fine polish may easily be hurt. Before meu arrive at this artificial refinement, if one tells his neighbour he lies, his neighbour tells him he lies; if one gives his neighbour a blow, his neighbour gives him a blow: but in a state of highly polished society, an affront is held to be a serious injury; it must therefore be resented-or rather a duel must be fought upon it; as men have agreed to banish from their society one who puts up with an affront without fighting a duel. Now, sir, it is never unlawful to fight in self-defence. He, then, who fights a duel, does not fight from passion against his antagonist, but out of self-defence; to avert the stigma of the world, and to prevent him.
self from being driven out of society. I could wish there was not that superfiuity of refinement; but while such notions prevail, no doubt a man may lawfully fight a duel.”
Let it be remembered, that this justification is applicable only to the person who receives an affront. All mankind inust condemn the aggressor.
The general told the company, that when he was a very young man, serving under prince Eugene of Savoy, he was sitting in a company at table with a prince of Wirtemberg: the prince took up a glass of wine, and, by a fillip, made some of it fly in Oglethorpe's face. Here was a nice dilemma; to have challenged him instantly, might have fixed a quarrelsome character upon the young soldier; to have taken no notice of it, might have been considered as cowardice. Oglethorpe, therefore, keeping his eye upon the prince, and smiling all the time, as if he took what his highness had done in jest, said in French, “My prince, that's a good joke; but we do it much better in England ;” and threw a whole glass of wine in the prince's face. An old general who sat by said, “ Il a bien fait, mon prince, vous l'avez commencé;" and thus all ended in good hu. nour.
Johnson another day again defended duelling, and put his argument upon what may be thought the most solid basis ; that, if public war be allowed to be consistent with morality, private war must be equally so. Indeed we may observe what strained arguments are used to reconcile war with the Christian religion. But it is exceedingly clear, that duelling, having better reasons for its barbarous violence,