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11. Next pass’d a delicate form, in whose deep eyes
Beam'd the tranquillity of wedded Love;
Did like a spirit of the breezes move.
12. And then came one, the Fairy of the Hills,
With open brow and laughter-loving eye,
Gushing at summer-noon refreshingly.
A grave-eyed maiden of most gentle mien, Whose looks, elate with triumph, seem'd to claim, · Not for herself, the glory of the scene, But for some honour'd friend.-As on she pass’d Rose three bright forms—the loveliest and the last.
14. One was array'd in the last splendid gleam
Of parting Childhood; on the verge she stood
Dissolves into the dawn of Womanhood.
And yet scarce woman; restless was her eye, And never, never hath on poet smiled
A look more full of youthful ecstasy. It seem'd those wandering orbs could scarce repress The springing tears of the soul's happiness.
16. But who is She, the last of that fair band ?
Methinks the room grows bright as she advances, As from the touch of an enchanter's wand ;
And oh! what aspect can endure the glances,
Of such sweet music, that my garland bent
And panted in that sudden ravishment,
The might, and gentleness, and majesty,
And, in my dream, I hasten'd joyfully
A DINNER AT THE JOHNSON'S HEAD, BOLT-COURT,
FLEET-STREET. There is, perhaps, no situation in which a man of genial temperament may be more resolved to be happy, than when he has the good fortune to form one of a party that is assembled, at the summons of some common friend, to a tavern dinner. We are not thinking of those mere provocatives to gluttony—those stupifying conspiracies for turbot-swallowing and nut-cracking, when Tomkins meets for the first time with Jenkins, and they cultivate a most delicious acquaintance in a discussion on the quality of new hops, or the price of the last arrival of Russian tallow. The dinners we mean are those which approach to the glory of old Ben's description of his carousals at the Boar's Head, when the wine acquired a sublime and ethereal character, not as the provocative to in-, toxication, but as the stimulus to wit; and the flame of genius might be seen hovering round the decanters, ready to leap from one to another of the guests, like the lambent up-shootings of a Christmas snap-dragon. These are dinners which convey with them their own apology; if apology indeed be necessary to any other than those unhappy ascetics, whose worldliness shews itself in a thousand modes of mere selfish enjoyment, and whose "other-worldliness' is ever on the look out to 'cabin, crib, confine,' the bubbling-over delights of the more sensible portion of mankind.
Of the most apt number for good fellowship we have some
doubts. Two can certainly not aspire to the dignity of a party. Two, that are disposed to be happy, should take a quiet walk into the fields-or trust themselves for half a dozen miles to a canal boat-or venture upon the more perilous undertaking of a voyage to Greenwich. They will then have earned the privilege to be joyous-not at a tavern, over a pair of soles and a chop,—but in the clean-sanded parlour of a village alehouse, where the woodbine and the musk-rose come flaunting in at the lattice, and the landlady informs you she has no spirit license, if you ask for port. We have known a party of three, and a very happy party. It is not, however, quite the thing. The bottle makes short dodgës across the table, as if it were eternally hunted by the toast ; and the wittiest have such repeated calls upon them for a sentiment, that by some unhappy chance they may be precipitated into the bathos of more friends and less need of them. And then, if a discus. sion arise, and the house divide, in what an unhappy plight is the gentleman in the minority. We should trust ourselves with more confidence to four. There is a mathematical beauty in four which is very agreeable. You look square and well-set for the labours that are before you. The President and the Vice do the honours with admirable precision; and the two favoured guests apply themselves with no less earnestness to the dissection of the oranges. There is a beautiful uncertainty, too, in the issue of every argument. The President, of course, will take care to side with the weakest ; and you may thus dispute in a circle, over the four-cornered mahogany, till—the waiter brings the bill. But we like five. With five, we could sit till midnight-with G., and H., and S., and W._: with G., whose mouth is the land of Canaan, and from whose lips there is a rivulet of wit eternally trickling, which goes leaping up and down in the sunshine of conviviality, equally sparkling and transparent in its depths and its shallows ;-with H., who says the pleasantest things with the gravest face in the world, and deals so well with a syllogism that you fancy it better than a jest;with S., the very prince of good temper, who says the gravest things with the pleasantest face in the world, and whose discussions over the sixth bottle are truly edifying and tranquillizing ;-and lastly with W., whose plump face and pinky eyne' are a predestination of enjoyment, if you can but keep him awake, and who slides into every gratification that can make a man happy, with a momentum of tasteful self-abandonment which must infallibly draw all his friends into the vortex. We will think of no larger party-better there can be none. Let W. be the Symposiarch.
But now, methinks, we hear a pair or two of the prettiest lips imaginable, perking themselves up into a delicate con
sciousness of their own dignity, exclaim What, no arrangements for a few ladies ? Is it to be endured that four or five gentlemen, and young gentlemen too, should talk of enjoyment át a tavern, where, if they have grace enough to call for tea, the bread and butter is cut by a loutish waiter, and the due admixture of hyson and bohea depends upon their own bachelor-affecting inexperience ? «Sweet lady, we cry you 'mercy. We are sinners, but not habitual ones. Even the gods sometimes left their nectar to taste the small wine of mortals. We will take our ease in our inn thrice-nay, do not frown,--twice--in a year—but in the other 363 days thou shalt be present--thou and thy fairest compeers, if as fair there can be ;-and we will duly sit an hour over our gooseberry, and laugh at the champagne-bibbers; and the oranges shall have a double sweetness when thou hast peeled them and the biscuits shall be twice as crisp where thou hast touched them and we will drink, not to the dreary remembrances of fighting men and politicians, but to the trúest lover and the sweetest bard ; and the south-wind shall find an entrance at our undraperied casements, and shall dally with those locks which we dare but look upon; and when the time of tea approaches, thou shalt not, with a hesitating glance of suspicious reproach, retire to the chill formality of the drawing. room, but the hissing urn shall take the place of the sparkling decanter and when that half-hour of sweet reflection is past, the piano shall be delicately touched to the honour of Mozart and Rossini-and the moments shall glide away, till the white lettuces, and a moon-lit walk after, close the evening_and thus thou shalt " live with me and be my love." But I must dine at a tavern twice in a year, especially when W. sum- mons me.'
Behold us, then, at the Johnson's Head, in Bolt-court. There is a pleasure in being very tired, when we are sure the exhaustion will be followed by the most delightful of repletions. What a world of kind invitations there are in that snowy diaper. What a foretaste of sparkling things in the polished knives. How soberly the duly-set glasses wait in patient expectation of that blissful alliance which the sherry or the claret is preparing for them. How those dear things are yet hidden from our gaze, like the blushing bride that leaves not her chamber till the revellers are ready. The landlord enters with the first dish. What a touch of refined policy is there in that custom. What a delightful association is there, ever after, between that portly person and his delectable burthen, incense-offering Mr. Indicator, will you take some salmon ?
A dinner at the Johnson's Head is very like a dinner at an
other tavern. Where W. presides, there must be the flow of soul,' as well as the passing of port. But Bolt-court is a place to be poetical in. We are out of the hubbub of hackneys and the growl of watchmen. We hear nothing of the busy town, but the bells of St. Bride's, which come upon the ear as cheerily as if they were tuned by the side of some babbling brook, in any old ivied turret where the owlet and the sparrow have their nests. Gentlemen, we will drink to the memory of Dr. Johnson.
We are no great admirers of the Ursa Major of literature; but there was something fine about him in his way. As a critic, he would cut up into half a dozen Giffords ; as an essayist, he is nearly as good as Hazlitt. “Waiter, is there not, in this house, a chair in which Johnson used to sit, over his mug of porter ?” 6. Yes, sir; but we never remove it from its corner by the fire-place." By no means; we will step down."
“And_this, then, is Johnson's chair! Perhaps Burke, perhaps Barry, have stood about it. This is a true presidency. What a nap-inducing, round-backed, substantial, vital, all-enduring, stiff-in-the-legs, seat it is ! It has only been once re-covered, and it looks as if it would last out three generations of lexicographers. It will last, at any rate, as long as Bolt-court possesses any attraction for ramblers. How vermicularly the legs are turned! It was a happy effusion of the lathe. Its shape is the very line of decision and pertinacity. It has wine-stains upon it, as if to shew us the happy union of good learning and good living ; while the reticulated cane, of which the seat is composed, twines in and out with its beautiful interlacery—the perfect exemplar of true wit, in its amalgation of solidity and lightness. Rest thou ever there, thou honoured sedes, thou bearer-up of wisdom !and may the very tap-boy, who wonders at thy solitary grandeur, lose the next toss for a mutton-pie, for not having the instinct to know that thou hast something to do with talent."
W. “Mr. Indicator, that was a capital oration ;-will you honour our friends with an extemporaneous address to Johnson's bust?"-(Hear, hear, hear!)
“ Thou bit of frowning plaster !
Thou head of the proud master