Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/128

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114
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

to him. For even in his very dingy and distorting mirror we should have caught sight of a grotesque, but impressive figure, an uncouth Dominie Sampson, who, without Boswell, would indeed be puzzling but would still show touches of the familiar qualities. Hawkins was dimly aware, for example, though he cannot give proofs, that Johnson could be humorous, and tells one anecdote of the 'high jinks' which, by Boswell's era, had become impossible. When Mrs. Lennox published one of her immortal novels in 1751, Johnson induced Hawkins—with a shudder—to 'spend a whole night in festivity.' A party of twenty sat up at the Devil's Tavern: where there was a 'magnificent hot apple-pye' stuck with bay leaves—'because, forsooth, Mrs. Lennox had written verses'—nay, 'Johnson encircled her brows' with laurel, and performed ceremonies of his own invention, and kept it up till morning. At the dawn of day, his face 'still shone with meridian splendour'—reminding us of a famous performance of Socrates, though Johnson supported his spirits by lemonade instead of wine, and the conversation was more proper than that at the Platonic Symposium, if hardly so brilliant. Poor Hawkins, however, slunk off about eight