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642. “ Honest Whigs. The following scrap is picked out of Cole's voluminous collections in the British Museum. It appears in the shape of a note to his transcript of a Tour through England, in 1735, written by John Whaley, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Mr. Whaley says: “October 3., being the day of swearing in the mayor of Shrewsbury, we were invited by Sir Richard Corbet, the new mayor, to dine; which we did with much pleasure, as finding a large collection of honest Whigs met together in Shropshire.” Cole writes on this :-“A very extraordinary meeting truly! I was told by Mr. Farmer, the present master of Emanuel College, that he, being in London last year (1774) with Mr. Arnold, tutor in St. John's Col lege, was desired to introduce the latter, who had been bred a Whig, to the acquaintance of the very learned and sensible Dr. Samuel Johnson. They had not been long together, before the conversation leading to it) the Doctor, addressing himself to Mr. Arnold, said, “ Sir ! you are a young man, but I have seen a great deal of the world, and take it upon my word and experience, that where you see a Whig, you see a rascal !” “Mr. Farmer said, he was startled, and rather uneasy that the Doctor had expressed himself so bluntly, and was apprehensive that Mr. Arnold might be shocked and take it ill. But they laughed it off, and were very good company. I have lived all my life among this faction, and am in general much disposed to subscribe to the Doctor's opinion. Whatever this honest collection of Salopian Whigs may have been on the whole, I am as well satisfied, as of any thing I know, that there was one rascal, duly and truly, in the company.-W. Cole, June 26. 1775."
643. Johnson's Recitation of Poetry. (') Dr. Johnson read serious and sublime poetry with great gravity and feeling. In the recital of prayers and religious poems he was awfully impressive, and his memory
(1) [This and the two following are from Cooke's “Life of Foote," 3 vols. 12mo. 1805.]
served him upon those occasions with great readiness. One night at the club, a person quoting the nineteenth psalm, the Doctor caught fire ; and, instantly taking off his hat, began with great solemnity, — “ The spacious firmament on high,” &c., and went through that beautiful hymn. Those who were acquainted with the Doctor, knew how harsh his features in general were ; but upon this occasion, to use the language of Scripture, “his face was almost as if it had been the face of an angel."
641. Johnson in Garrick's Library. On Garrick's showing Johnson a magnificent library full of books in most elegant bindings, the Doctor began running over the volumes in his usual rough and negligent manner; which was, by opening the book so wide as almost to break the back of it, and then flung them down one by one on the floor with contempt. “ Zounds !” said Garrick, “why, what are you about ? you'll spoil all my books.” “No, Sir,” replied Johnson, “I have done nothing but treat a pack of silly plays in fops' dresses just as they deserve ; but I see no books.”
645. Johnson at Dovedale. (1) “Dovedale is a place that deserves a visit. The river is small, the rocks are grand. Reynard's Hall is a cave very high in the rock. To the left is a small opening, through which I crept, and found another cavern, perhaps four yards square. I was in a cave yet higher, called Reynard's Kitchen. There is a rock called the Church, in which I saw no resemblance that could justify the name. Dovedale is about two miles long. We walked towards the head of the Dove, which is said to rise about five miles above two caves called the Dog-holes, at the foot of Dovedale. I
I propose to build an arch from rock to rock over the stream, with a summer-house upon it. The water murmured pleasantly among the stones.
He that has seen Dovedale, has no need to visit the Highlands.” (1)
(1) (FromJohnson's MS. Diary of his Welsh Tour in 1774, now in the possession of the Rev. Archdeacon Butler, of Shrewsbury.]
646. Johnson at Langton in 1764. (') In early life (says Mr. Best) I knew Bennet Langton, of that ilk, as the Scotch say.
With great personal claims to the respect of the public, he is known to that public chiefly as a friend of Johnson. He was a very tall
, meagre, long-visaged man, much resembling a stork standing on one leg, near the shore, in Raphael's cartoon of the miraculous draught of fishes. His manners were in the highest degree polished ; his conversation mild, equable, and always pleasing. I formed an intimacy with his son, and went to pay him a visit at Langton. After breakfast we walked to the top of a very steep hill behind the house. When we arrived at the summit, Mr. Langton said, “Poor dear Dr. Johnson, when he came to this spot, turned to look down the hill, and said he was determined to take a roll down.' When we understood wbat he meant to do, we endeavoured to dissuade him ; but he was resolute, saying, he had not had a roll for a long time;' and taking out of his lesser pockets whatever might be in them— keys, pencil, purse, or pen-knife— and laying himself parallel with the edge of the hill, he actually descended, turning himself over and over till he came to the bottom." The story was told with such gravity, and with an air of such affectionate remembrance of a departed friend, that it was impossible to suppose this extraordinary freak of the great lexicographer to have been a fiction or invention of Mr. Langton. (4)
647. Dr. Dodd. (3) Miss Seward, her father (the editor of Beaumont and Fletcher, &c.), the Rev. R. G. Robinson, of Lichfield, and Dr. Johnson, were passing the day at the palace at Lichfield, of which Mr. Seward was the occupier. The conversation turned upon Dr. Dodd, who had been recently executed for forgery. (4) It proceeded as follows:
(1) [From “ Personal and Literary Memorials," 8vo. 1829.) (2) (Johnson at the time of his visit to Langton was in his fifty-fifth year.)
(3) [This and the following have been communicated by the Rev. Hastings Robinson, Rector of Great Worley, Essex.]
(4) (Dr. Dodd was executed June 27. 1777; and Dr. Johnson left town for Lichfield at the latter end of the following month.]