{\rtf1{\info{\title Minutes of a Meeting at the Mitre}{\author Robert F.

Young}} \ansi\ansicpg1252\deff0\deflang1033 {\fonttbl{\f0\froman\fprq2\fcharset128 Times New Roman;}{\f1\froman\fprq2\fchars et128 Times New Roman;}{\f2\fswiss\fprq2\fcharset128 Arial;}{\f3\fnil\fprq2\fcha rset128 Arial;}{\f4\fnil\fprq2\fcharset128 MS Mincho;}{\f5\fnil\fprq2\fcharset12 8 Tahoma;}{\f6\fnil\fprq0\fcharset128 Tahoma;}} {\stylesheet{\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\ fcs1 \af25\afs24\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \fs24\lang1033\langfe255\cgrid\langnp1033 \langfenp255 \snext0 Normal;} {\s1\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel0\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs32\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs32\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink21 heading 1;} {\s2\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel1\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\ai\af0\afs28\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\i\fs28\lan g1033\langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedo n15 \snext16 \slink22 heading 2;} {\s3\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel2\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs28\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs28\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink23 heading 3;} {\s4\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel3\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\ai\af0\afs23\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0\b\i\fs23\lang 1033\langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon 15 \snext16 \slink24 heading 4;} {\s5\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel4\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs23\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs23\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink25 heading 5;} {\s6\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel5\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs21\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs21\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink26 heading 6;}} {\i It is Samuel Johnson the conversationalist that we remember, not Johnson the}{ {\i writer. "A tavern chair," he said, "is the throne of human felicity"\u8212?and d uring the} {\i last third of his life, he sat enthroned, talking. His faithful recorder was Jam es}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ {\i Boswell, and in the story below, Robert F. Young} {\i draws upon one of their first}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ {\i meetings to give us another fine variation on a classic fantasy theme. }\par\par d\plain\hyphpar}{ {\b }\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{\s1 \afs32 {\b MINUTES OF A MEETING AT THE MITRE\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar }{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ by Robert F. Young\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ THE ORIGINAL OF THE FOLLOWing literary fragment was among the batch of Boswelli ana\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ recently found in the west tower of the castle of Cernach, County Cork, Ireland , and every indication points to its having been included in an earlier version of {\i The Life of Samuel Johnson. } Although the biographer's reasons for excluding it

" \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Johnson ordered the serving maid to bring more wine. justified in drawing the following tentative conclusions: (1) that upon rereading the passage in question. It happening to be a very rainy nigh t. decl ined a glass when it was proffered him. we a re. we chose a table next to the hearth. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Connaught on the Snithe\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ January 17. it was towar d Dr. subsided. with a pronounced chill in the air. duri ng the repast. I could not forbear commenting. I do not contend such to be the truth. but the better. as we have already seen. upo n his unhealthy appearance. and (3) that Boswell concluded it wo uld be better for all parties concerned if the public were to consider Johnson a s owing that to a Biographer. Johnson and Dr. which the intensity of his appetite had brought into being. then in spirit. Faust was not a happy man.from the final manuscript were buried with him and cannot be dug up again. sir (said he). (2) that Boswe ll simultaneously realized that there was a quality about Dr. is a state of mind. that you are used to a war mer and more consistent climate and have not as yet become accustomed to the idi osyncrasies of London weather?" \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ "I shall never become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of London weather (said he). "Can it be. dwindled to a faint film of moisture. few of which. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ As he had done on the preceding evening. Dr. the veins which. pale of skin. sir. however indirectly. owing to the unfavourable disposition of the weather. of which Johnson partook as e normously as he did of the wine which followed. countered with a smile of ridicule. there was an intense pallor present in his face. sir. a p allor made to seem all the more acute by the thinness of his cheeks and the burn ing quality of his eyes. Goldsmith attempted to maintain th at knowledge was undesirable on its own account because it is frequently a sourc e of unhappiness. is it your contention that the scullery maid who plucks the chicken is less happy than the cook who prepar es it for the table because the cook is better acquainted with the fowl's physic kal properties?" GOLDSMITH:\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ "No. sir (said I). and with dark. "Why. A tall. Johnson returned th e gaze." JOHNSON: "London. wher ein a small fire was being maintained on the grate for the physickal comfort of the patrons. London is not the worse for its climate. Dickens. 1988\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ On Saturday. although you endeavoured to cloak . Dr. He apologized for his proximity." DICKENS: "In that. who. the 2nd of July. Johnson's role in the affair that did not quite meet the eye. narrow of counte nance. grey-suited man of indeterminate age. were present. Johnson. no more than I shall ever become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of London lexicographers. disdained this attitude . I consider the idio syncrasies of both to be beyond reproach. where knowledge elevates the travel ler to lofty plateaus from which he views the world in all its petty imperfectio ns. "Sir (said he). although he of all those present seemed most in need of it." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Although it was toward myself that this observation was addressed. He introduced himself as Dr. however. Indeed." JOHNSON: "He was unhappy not because of his lore . Johnson that the pale man's burning gaze was directed. Gradually." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ This preliminary parley introduced a good supper. Goldsmith. I fear I cannot concur. glowing eyes. but because of the manner in which he came by it. Dickens. had swelled out on his forehead." DICKENS: "A most melancholy one. the influence of a moist at mosphere upon the human frame is much overemphasized in the world. and the perspiration. Boswell realized that Dr. 1763. for unhappiness resulting from knowledge comes only in the higher spheres. had in the meantime taken up a position before the hearth. if not in kind. but. Dickens h ad not specified exactly what kind of immortality he had in mind. nevertheless. I again supped at the {\i Mitre } with Dr. which Providence had enabled him to obtain for him self. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ JOHNSON (after our guest had seated himself): "Sir. whereupon Johnson bade him join us at our table. saying that he was extremely susceptible to the chill and was seeking to ward it off by the only m eans available.

" \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ From the interior of his grey coat. } to have caused me to forsake my warm and cheerful fireside for this dismal fog bank you call London and this wretched grotto of gluttony you call the {\i Mitre. who. But that would not have been sufficie nt. "Can it be then ." DICKENS: "There is none other to whom I could be referring." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Johnson blew out his breath like a whale and swallowed three glasses of port. Dickens produced a document with a bright-r ed border and spread it out on the table before Dr. " Sir (said he). and bade her bring quill and ink. I perceive that I alone inspired it. and c ould not part with it even if {\i } he wanted to. } Only because your remark culminated your affronts to me was I forced to come. Johnson was right about that too: no court of law would ever uphold such a ridiculous agreement. Johnson was right. sir. the paradox inherent in the terms would invalidat e them." DICKENS. for a man who has been rendered immortal retains his soul forever. might it not be the better part of wisdom to permit me to act as your repr esentative in this matter?" JOHNSON (signing his name with a flurish): "No. He next called the serving maid." DICKENS: "You invoked me deliberately. sir. and you are going to sell it to me. you are the Devil." JOHNSON:\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ "And what shall I receive in return?" DICKENS: "Immortality. Johnson's notoriously poor eyes ight caused me to lean forward in an attempt to discern what was written on the paper. Johnson in so disrespectful a manner? " GOLDSMITH: "How dare you. how dare you address Dr. he smiled. I overlooked your writing `Hell' off in your spiteful lexicon as \u8216?t he place into which the taylor throws his shreds' and I overlooked your writing {\i me } off in the same outrageous lucubration as \u224?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ ludicrous term for mischief'. JOHNSON (with a roar of mocking laughter): "What\u8212?you do not want it signed in blood?" DICKENS: "Sir. sir. That line right there at the bottom. that you have come to bargain for my soul? If so. turned sideways so that his massive shoulder intervened between my eyes and the page. Where it says `signature of litt erateur'. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ ." JOHNSON:\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ "Then. BOSWELL: "Sir. and he had signed his name for no other reason than to get rid of this demented dolt who fancied himself to be none other than Old Nick himself. But I cannot and I will not overlook three exampl es of your cynical asperity in a row. What court of law wou ld ever uphold such a ludicrous negotiation?" DICKENS: "One of mine. And afterwa rd. "Sir (sai d I). therefore. sir. sir (said he). please. that I am the lexicographer to whom you specifically refer. no. bu t Dr. Then. When signed in ink." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ My indignation was of such magnitude that it was beyond my ability to repress i t. I am more than tha t: I am the first Whig. unexpectedly. there being in the British Isles at this time none of comparable reknown or of comparable as ininity. one of my contracts is as binding as one of yours i s. I suggest that you do myself and my companions the courtesy of unburden ing our good company with your uncivil presence. have you not presumed too much? I did not invoke you." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Both my legal instincts and my awareness of Dr. I was thwarted by none other than Johnson himself. of course. indeed!" DICKENS: "I both dare to and have done so." JOHNSO N (with a smile of triumph): "Very well. and as for the contract. Sir. sir." DICKENS: "Precisely. I will sell it to you. per {\i se. Johnson. I perceive you are a vile Whig." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Johnson blinked one of his eyes. and you know it. Let us be rid of this blockhead once and for all. and {\i } even were a court to do so. Boswell. and I must conclude. Yes: I have come to bargain for your soul. you w ould do well to pay less attention to old wives' tales and more to the world aro und you. almost a s though he did not want me to see the contents of the document. when you imputed Faust's {\i Weltschmerz } to the pact he made with me. In this." \par\pard\ plain\hyphpar}{ I did not like the expression of self-satisfaction on the man's countenance.your scurrilous remark in ambiguity.

he was gone." \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ It was shortly following this meeting at the {\i Mitre } that my mind began to be impregnated with what I have already referred t o. together with the various letters. It is not for what they write during their lifetimes that literary men are remembered by posterity. the 3rd of July. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ On Sunday. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ Dr. in retrospect. returned the document to the interior of his coat. I felt as though hot. arranging this pattern of thought and re-arranging that. Johnson. it was my pleasure to attend one of the {\i levees } for which Dr. I am not certain that I experienced it at all)." JOH NSON: "Pish. was\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ endeavouring to {\i shine. in making such a prognostication. for lack of a more scientifick term. which I have collected. who. my mind reeled. I found him sur\u8212? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ (Here the fragment ends. and stood up. This is manifestly untrue. and after a moment. Dickens lowered his gaze. who will ever know what they said if they were too i ndolent to write it down?" JOHNSON: "The wise man sees to it that it {\i is} written down. sir. &c. and when nex t I looked. for it. I have since had no cause to regr et my assiduousness in this matter." GOLDSMITH: " But in {\i Tom Jones } he penned a masterpiece that virtually ensures his immortality. Johnson was so famous at the time."} GOLDSMITH: "But sir. as us ual. The sensation did not last long (indeed. Johnson's wisdom and wit. but for what they {\i say. He st epped over to the hearth and resumed his position before the grate. had resumed his conversation with Goldsmith.Dickens. p apers. } and soon afterward I began committing to paper the exub erant variety of Dr. inv isible fingers were digging into my brain. meanwhile. had fixed me with a gaze of such inten sity that when I met his burning eyes. } JOHNSON: "Why.) \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{ \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}{\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } } . as {\i the Johnsonian aether. you are assuming Fielding to have been a literary giant. has enabled me to execute my labors with a fa cility which would otherwise have been impossible. seemingly divining my thoughts.

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