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Seward saw him presented to the Archbishop of York, and described his bow to an Archbishop as such a studied elaboration of homage, such an extension of limb, such a flexion of body, as have seldom or ever been equalled. The lay nobility were not equally grateful, although his deference for the peerage was extreme. Except in Scotland or on his travels, he is seldom found dining with a nobleman.

It is therefore hardly an exaggeration to say that he owed more social enjoyment to the Thrales than to all the rest of his acquaintance put together. Holland House alone, and in its best days, would convey to persons living in our time an adequate conception of the Streatham circle, when it comprised Burke, Reynolds, Garrick, Goldsmith, Boswell, Murphy, Dr. Burney and his daughter, Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Crewe, Lord Loughborough, Dunning (afterwards Lord Ashburton), Lord Mulgrave, Lord Westcote, Sir Lucas and Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Pepys, Major Holroyd afterwards Lord Sheffield, the Bishop of London and Mrs. Porteous, the Bishop of Peterborough and Mrs. Hinchcliffe, Miss Gregory, Miss Streatfield, &c. As at Holland House, the chief scene of warm colloquial contest or quiet interchange of mind was the library, a large and handsome room, which the pencil of Reynolds gradually enriched with portraits of all the principal persons who had conversed or studied in it. To supply any deficiencies on the shelves, a hundred pounds, Madame D'Arblay states, was placed at Johnson's disposal to expend in books; and we may take it for

granted that any new publication suggested by him was ordered at once. But a bookish couple, surrounded by a literary set, were surely not exclusively dependent on him for this description of help, nor laid under any extraordinary obligation by reason of it. Whilst the "Lives of the Poets was in progress, Dr. Johnson "would frequently produce one of the proof sheets to embellish the breakfast table, which was always in the library, and was certainly the most sprightly and agreeable meeting of the day." "These proof sheets Mrs. Thrale was permitted to read aloud, and the discussions to which they led were in the highest degree entertaining."

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It was mainly owing to his domestication with the Thrales that he began to frequent drawing-rooms at an age when the arm-chair at home or at the club has an irresistible charm for most men of sedentary pursuits. It must be admitted that the evening parties in which he was seen, afforded a chance of something better than the "unidead chatter of girls," with an undue fondness for which he reproached Langton; for the Blue Stocking clubs had just come into fashion, so called from a casual allusion to the blue stockings of an habitué, Mr. Stillingfleet.† Their founders were Mrs. Vesey and

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* "Memoirs of Dr. Burney," &c., by his daughter, Madame D'Arblay. In three volumes, 1832. Vol. ii. p. 173–178.

The first of these was then (about 1768) in the meridian of its lustre, but had been instituted many years previously at Bath. It owed its name to an apology made by Mr. Stillingfleet in declining to accept an invitation to a literary meeting at Mrs. Vesey's, from not being, he said, in the habit of displaying a proper equip

Mrs. Montagu; but according to Madame D'Arblay,


more bland and more gleeful than that of either of them, was the personal celebrity of Mrs. Thrale. Mrs. Vesey, indeed, gentle and diffident, dreamed not of any competition, but Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Thrale had long been set up as rival candidates for colloquial eminence, and each of them thought the other alone worthy to be her peer. Openly therefore when they met, they combated for precedence of admiration, with placid though high-strained intellectual exertion on the one side, and an exuberant pleasantry or classical allusion or quotation on the other; without the smallest malice in either."

ment for an evening assembly. "Pho, pho," said she, "don't mind dress. Come in your blue stockings." With which words, humorously repeating them as he entered the apartment of the chosen coterie, Mr. Stillingfleet claimed permission for entering according to order. And these words, ever after, were fixed, in playful stigma, upon Mrs. Vesey's associations. (Madame D'Arblay.) Boswell also traces the term to Stillingfleet's blue stockings; and Hannah More's "Bas-Bleu " gave it a permanent place in literature.

A different account of the origin of Bluestocking parties was given by Lady Crewe to a lady who has allowed me to copy her note of the conversation, made at the time (1816):

"Lady Crewe told me that her mother (Mrs. Greville), the Duchess of Portland, and Mrs. Montagu were the first who began the conversation parties in imitation of the noted ones, temp. Madame de Sevigné, at Rue St. Honoré. Madame de Polignac, one of the first guests, came in blue silk stockings, then the newest fashion in Paris. Mrs. Greville and all the lady members of Mrs. Montagu's club, adopted the mode. A foreign gentleman, after spending an evening at Mrs. Montagu's soirée, wrote to tell a friend of the charming intellectual party, who had one rule; 'they wear blue stockings as a distinction."-"

Wraxall, who makes the same comparison, remarks: "Mrs. Thrale always appeared to me to possess at least as much information, a mind as cultivated, and more brilliancy of intellect than Mrs. Montagu, but she did not descend among men from such an eminence, and she talked much more, as well as more unguardedly, on every subject. She was the provider and conductress of Johnson, who lived almost constantly under her roof, or more properly under that of Mr. Thrale, both in Town and at Streatham. He did not, however, spare her more than other women in his attacks if she courted and provoked his animadversions."

Although he seldom appeared to greater advantage than when under the combined spell of feminine influence and rank, his demeanour varied with his mood. On Miss Monkton's (afterwards Countess of Cork) insisting, one evening, that Sterne's writings were very pathetic, Johnson bluntly denied it. "I am sure," she rejoined, "they have affected me." "Why," said Johnson, smiling and rolling himself about, "that is because, dearest, you're a dunce." When she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said, with equal truth and politeness, "Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said it."

He did not come off so well on another occasion, when the presence of women he respected might be expected to operate as a cheek. Talking, at Mrs. Garrick's, of a very respectable author, he told us, says Boswell," a curious circumstance in his life, which was that he had married a printer's devil. Reynolds.

'A printer's devil, Sir! why, I thought a printer's devil was a creature with a black face and in rags.' Johnson. Yes, Sir. But I suppose he had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her.' Then, looking very serious, and very earnest. And she did not

disgrace him; -the woman had a bottom of good sense.' The word bottom thus introduced was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slily hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should excite ridicule, when he did not intend it: he therefore resolved to assume and exercise despotic power, glanced sternly around, and called out in a strong tone, Where's the merriment?' Then collecting himself, and looking awful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly pronounced, 'I say the woman was fundamentally sensible;' as if he had said, Hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as at a funeral."

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This resembles the influence exercised by the "great commoner" over the House of Commons. An instance being mentioned of his throwing an adversary into irretrievable confusion by an arrogant expression of contempt, the late Mr. Charles Butler asked the relator, an eye-witness, whether the House did not laugh at the ridiculous figure of the poor member. "No,

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