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LANGTON AND BEAU CLERC.
picture given of him by Boswell on one occasion when Beauclerc and Langton, having supped together at a tavern, determined to give Johnson a rouse at three o'clock in the morning. They. accordingly rapped violently at the door of his chambers in the Temple. The indignant sage sallied forth in his shirt, poker in hand, and a little black wig on the top of his head, instead of helmet; prepared to wreak vengeance on the assailants of his castle ; but when his two young friends Lankey and Beau, as he used to call them, presented themselves, summoning him forth to a morning ramble, his whole manner changed. . “ What, is it you, ye dogs ?” cried he.
“ Faith, I'll have a frisk with you !
So said so done. They sallied forth together into Covent Garden ; figured among the greengrocers and fruit-women, just come in from the country with their hampers ; repaired to a neighboring tavern, where Johnson brewed a bowl of bishop, a favorite beverage with him, grew merry over his cups, and anathematized sleep•in two lines, from Lord Lansdowne's drinking-song:
“Short, very short, be then thy reign,
They then took boat again, rowed to Billingsgate, and Johnson and Beauclerc determined, like “ mad wags,” to “keep it up” for the rest of the day.
Langton, however, the most soberminded of the three, pleaded an engagement to breakfast with some young ladies ; whereupon the great moralist reproached him with "leaving
his social friends to go and sit with a set of wretched un-idea'd girls.”
This madcap freak of the great lexicographer made a sensation, as may well be supposed, among his intimates.
“ I heard of your frolic tother night,” said Garrick to him ; “ in the · Chronicle." He uttered worse forebod. ings to others. “I shall have my old friend to bail out of the round-house,” said he. Johnson, however, valued himself upon having thus enacted a chapter in the “ Rake's Progress," and crowed over Garrick on the occasion. “ He durst not do such a thing !” chuckled he; “ his wife would not let him !”
When these two young men entered the club, Langton was about twenty-two, and Beauclerc about twenty-four years of age, and both were launched on London life. Langton, however, was still the mild, enthusiastic scholar, steeped to the lips in Greek, with fine conversational powers, and an invaluable talent for listening. He was upwards of six feet high, and very spare.
“Oh! that we could sketch him,” exclaims Miss Hawkins, in her “ Memoirs,” “ with his mild countenance, his elegant features, and his sweet smile, sitting with one leg twisted round the other, as if fearing to occupy more space
than was equitable; his person inclining forward, as if wanting strength to support his weight, and his arms crossed over his bosom, or his hands locked together on his knee.” Beauclerc, on such occasions, sportively compared him to a stork in Raphael's Cartoons, standing on one leg. Beauclerc was more a “man
TOPHAM BEAU CLERC.
upon town," a lounger in St. James's Street, an associate with George Selwyn, with Walpole, and other aristocratic wits; a man of fashion at court; a casual frequenter of the gaming-table ; yet, with all this, he alternated in the easiest and happiest manner the scholar and the man of letters ; lounged into the club with the most perfect self-possession, bringing with him the careless grace and polished wit of high-bred society, but making himself cordially at home among his learned fellow-members.
The gay yet lettered rake maintained his sway over Johnson, who was fascinated by that air of the world, that ineffable tone of good society in which he felt himself deficient, especially as the possessor of it always paid homage to his superior talent. “ Beauclerc,” he would say, using à quotation from Pope, " has a love of folly, but a scorn of fools; everything he does shows the one, and everything he says, the other.” Beauclerc delighted in rallying the stern moralist of whom others stood in awe, and no one, according to Boswell, could take equal liberty with him with impunity. Johnson, it is well known, was often shabby and negligent in his dress, and not overcleanly in his person. On receiving a pension from the crown, his friends vied with each other in respectful congratulations. Beauclerc simply scanned his person with a whimsical glance, and hoped that, like Falstaff, “ he'd in future purge and live cleanly like a gentleman.” Johnson took the hint with unexpected good-humor, and profited
Still Beauclerc's satirical vein, which darted shafts on every side, was not always tolerated by Johnson. “Sir,” said he on one occasion, “you never open your mouth but with intention to give pain ; and you have often given me pain, not from the power of what you have said, but from seeing your intention.”
When it was at first proposed to enroll Goldsmith among the members of this association, there seems to have been some demur; at least so says the pompous Hawkins.
“ As he wrote for the booksellers, we of the club looked on him as a mere literary drudge, equal to the task of compiling and translating, but little capable of original and still less of poetical composition."
Even for some time after his admission he continued to be regarded in a dubious light by some of the members. Johnson and Reynolds, of course, were well aware of his merits, nor was Burke a stranger to them; but to the others he was as yet a sealed book, and the outside was not prepossessing. His ungainly person and awkward manners were against him with men accustomed to the graces of society, and he was not sufficiently at home to give play to his humor and to that bonhommie which won the hearts of all who knew him. He felt strange and out of place in this new sphere; he felt at times the cool satirical eye of the courtly Beauclerc scanning him, and the more he attempted to appear at his ease, the more awkward he became.
Johnson a Monitor to Goldsmith; Finds him in Distress with
his Landlady; Relieved by the Vicar of Wakefield. — The Oratorio.- Poem of the Traveller.— The Poet and his Dog. Success of the Poem. — Astonishment of the Club. – Observations on the Poem.
SOHNSON had now become one of Gold
smith's best friends and advisers. He
knew all the weak points of his character, but he knew also his merits; and while he would rebuke him like a child, and rail at his errors and follies, he would suffer no one else to undervalue him. Goldsmith knew the soundness of his judgment and his practical benevolence, and often sought his counsel and aid amid the difficulties into which his heedlessness was continually plunging him.
“I received one morning," says Johnson, “a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion : I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had a bottle of Madeira