Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

use moderately. (1) He told me, that he had fasted two days without inconvenience, and that he had never been hungry but once. They who beheld with wonder how much he eat upon all occasions, when his dinner was to his taste, could not easily conceive what he must have meant by hunger; and not only was he remarkable for the extraordinary quantity which he eat, but he was, or affected to be, a man of very nice discernment in the science of cookery. He used to descant critically on the dishes which had been at table where he had dined or supped, and to recollect very minutely what he had liked. I remember when he was in Scotland, his praising Gordon's palates (a dish of palates at the Honourable Alexander Gordon's) with a warmth of expression which might have done honour to more important subjects.() “ As for Maclaurin's imitation of a made dish, it was a wretched attempt.” He about the same time was so much displeased with the performances of a nobleman's French cook, that he exclaimed with vehemence, “I'd throw such a rascal into the river ;” and he then proceeded to alarm a lady at whose house he was to sup, by the following manifesto of his skill: “I, Madam, who live at a

(1) [This illustrates the truth of Ogden's valuable advice quoted by Paley (Moral Philosophy, i. 291.): “The most easy, as well as the most excellent, way of being virtuous, is to be so entirely.” (OGDEN, Sermons, xvi.)— MARKLAND.]

(2) On returning to Edinburgh, after the tour to the Hebrides, he dined one day at Mr. Maclaurin's, and supped at the Honourable Alexander Gordon's: the former was son of the celebrated mathematician, and, in 1787, became a Lord of Session, by the title of Lord Dreghorn; the latter was third son of the second Earl of Aberdeen, and, in 1788, he also was made a Lord of Session, and took the title of Lord Rockville.-C.

variety of good tables, am a much better judge of ookery, than any person who has a very tolerable cook, but lives much at home; for his palate is gradually adapted to the taste of his cook; whereas, Madam, in trying by a wider range, I can more exquisitely judge.” When invited to dine, even with an intimate friend, he was not pleased if something better than a plain dinner was not prepared for him. I have heard him say on such an occasion, “ This was a good dinner enough, to be sure; but it was not a dinner to ask a man to." On the other hand, he was wont to express, with great glee, his satisfaction when he had been entertained quite to his mind. One day when he had dined with his neighbour and landlord in Bolt Court, Mr. Allen ( ), the printer, whose old housekeeper had studied his taste in every thing, he pronounced this eulogy: “Sir, we could not have had a better dinner, had there been a Synod of Cooks.()

(1) [Edward Allen was a very excellent printer in Bolt Court. His office united to Johnson's dwelling. He died in 1780. Nichols.]

(2) Johnson's notions about eating, however, were nothing less than delicate: a leg of pork boiled till it dropped from the bone, a veal pie with plums and sugar, or the outside cut of a salt buttock of beef, were his favourite dainties : with regard to drink, his liking was for the strongest, as it was not the flavour, but the effect he sought for, and professed to desire; and when I first knew him, he used to pour capillaire into his port wine. For the last twelve years, however, he left off all fermented liquors. To make himself some amends, indeed, he took his chocolate liberally, pouring in large quantities of cream, or even melted butter; and was so fond of fruit, that though he would eat seven or eight large peaches of a morning before breakfast began, and treated them with proportionate attention after dinner again, yet I have heard him protest, that he never had quite as much as he wished of wall-fruit, except

While we were left by ourselves, after the Dutchman had gone to bed, Dr. Johnson talked of that studied behaviour which many have recommended and practised. He disapproved of it; and said, “I never considered whether I should be a grave man, or a merry man, but just let inclination, for the time, have its course.”

He flattered me with some hopes that he would, in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.

I teased him with fanciful apprehensions of unhappiness. A moth having futtered round the candle, and burnt itself, he laid hold of this little incident to admonish me; saying, with a sly look, and in a solemn but a quiet tone, “That creature was its own tormentor, and I believe its name was Boswell.'

once in his life, and that was when we were all together at Ombersley, the seat of my Lord Sandys; and yet, when his Irish friend Grierson, hearing him enumerate the qualities necessary to the formation of a poet, began a comical parody upon his ornamented harangue in praise of a cook, concluding with this observation, that he who dressed a good dinner was a more excellent and a more useful member of soc.ety than he who wrote a good poem. “ And in this opinion,” said Mr. Johnson, in reply, “all the dogs in the town will join you.”. He loved his dinner exceedingly, and has often said in my hearing, perhaps for my edification, “that wherever the dinner is ill got up there is poverty, or there is avarice, or there is stupidity; in short, the family is somehow grossly wrong: for," continued he, “a man seldom thinks with more earnestness of any thing than he does of his dinner; and if he cannot get that well dressed, he should be suspected of inaccuracy in other things.” One day, when he was speaking upon the subject, 1 asked him, if he ever huffed his wife about his dinner?' “So often," replied he, “that at last she called to me, when about to say grace, and said, "Nay, hold, Mr. Johnson, and do not make a farce of thanking God for a dinner which, in a few minutes, you will pronounce not eatable.”” Piozzi.

.

Next day we got to Harwich to dinner; and my passage in the packet-boat to Helvoetsluys being secured, and my baggage put on board, we dined at our inn by ourselves. I happened to say, it would be terrible if he should not find a speedy opportunity of returning to London, and be confined in so dull a place. Johnson. “Don't, Sir, accustom yourself to use big words for little matters. (1) It would not be terrible, though I were to be detained some time here.” The practice of using words of disproportionate magnitude is, no doubt, too frequent every where; but, I think, most remarkable among the French, of which, all who have travelled in France must have been struck with innumerable instances.

We went and looked at the church, and having gone into it and walked up to the altar, Johnson, whose piety was constant and fervent, sent me to my knees, saying, “ Now that you are going to leave your native country, recommend yourself to the protection of your CREATOR and REDEEMER.”

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's

(1) This advice comes drolly from the writer, who makes a young lady talk of “ the cosmetic discipline," "a regular lustration with bean-flower water, and the use of a pommade to discuss pimples and clear discoloration” (Rambler, No. 130.); while a young gentleman tells us of “the flaccid sides of a foot ball having swelled out into stiffness and extension." ( No. 117.) And it is equally amusing to find Mr. Boswell, after his various defences of Johnson's grandiloquence, attacking the little inAlations of French conversation; straining at a gnat, after having swallowed a camel. - C.

Ætat. 54. BERKELEY - REFUTED.”-BURKE.

263

ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “I refute it thus.(1) This was a stout exemplification of the first truths of Père Bouffier, or the original principles of Reid and of Beattie ; without admitting which, we can no more argue in metaphysics, than we can argue in mathematics without axioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by pure reasoning; but I know that the nice and difficult task was to have been undertaken by one of the most luminous minds (2) of the present age, had not politics “ turned him from calm philosophy aside.” What an admirable display of subtlety, united with brilliance, might his contending with Berkeley have afforded us! How must we, when we reflect on the loss of such an intellectual feast, regret that he should be characterised as the man,

(1) Dr. Johnson seems to have been imperfectly acquainted with Berkeley's doctrine; as his experiment only proves that we have the sensation of solidity, which Berkeley did not deny. He admitted that we had sensations or ideas that are usually called sensible qualities, one of which is solidity: he only denied the existence of matter, i. e. an inert senseless substance, in which they are supposed to subsist. Johnson's exemplification concurs with the vulgar notion, that solidity is matter. — KEARNEY. [When Zeno argued, that there was no such thing as motion, Diogenes walked across the room. Johnson's argu. ment is in the same style, but not so satisfactory.- FONNEREAU.) (9) Mr. Burke.-C.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »