« ElőzőTovább »
think a philosopher would not mind. Dean Marlay 1787. wittily observed, “A lady may be vain, when she
Ætat.72. 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 sitting 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 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,
1781. sitting upon an election-committee was very high;
and when he was told of a gentleman upon one of Ætat. 72.
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; 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 welldrest 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 welldrest 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. 1781. You may as well say, that'a mercer will not sell silks S ad
IKS Ætat:72. 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 partia cular bishop. “ Poh! (said Mrs. Thrale) the Bishop of is 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 aweful 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 so. ciality; 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 to. gether 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
1781. be entertained, sat grave and silent for some time; at For 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 charàcter, 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 shewed 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 Ply. mouth; 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 curio. sity to which no kind of knowledge is indifferent on 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 examina
3. See Vol. I. p. 357.
tion of objections, and judicious comparison of opp. 1781. site arguments, lie attained what enquiry never gives
gives Ætati 72. 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 Ara. bick 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 publick; 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 de. scribe 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