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indeed, I must acknowledge, may be considered as casting the balance of his different opinions upon this subject : for I never knew any man who relished good eating more than he did. When at table, he was totally absorbed in the business of the moment; his looks seemed riveted to his plate; nor would he, unless when in very high company, say one word, or even pay the least attention to what was said by others, till he had satisfied his appetite; which was so fierce, and indulged with such intenseness, that while in the act of eating, the veins of his forehead swelled, and generally a strong perspiration was visible. To those whose sensations were delicate, this could not but be disgusting'; and it was doubtless not very suitable to the character of a philosopher, who should be distinguished by self-command. But it must be owned, that Johnson, though he could be rigidly abstemious, was not a temperate man either in eating or drinking. He could refraino, but he could not use moderately. 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
[See ante, p. 255. 1.-ED.)
(If hypercritically examined, refrain is not, perhaps, the word which exactly gives Mr. Boswell's meaning. The late Mr. Richard Warton, Secretary of the Treasury, and author of the poem of Roncesvalles, used to express the idea with more verbal accuracy, by saying that he would abstain, but found it hard to refrain.-ED.]
praising “ Gordon's palates” (a dish of palates at
[Johnson's notions about eating, however, were no- Piozzi, thing less than delicate; a leg of pork boiled till it
[On returning to Edinburgh, after the tour to the Hebrides, he diñed 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. Ed.] VOL. I.
Piozzi, dropped from the bone, a veal pie with plums and p. 78,79.
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 Mrs. Piozzi 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 he has been heard to protest, that he never had quite as much as he wished of wallfruit, except once in his life, and that was when he and
the Thrales were all together at Ombersley, the seat of Piozzi, Lord Sandys; and yet when his Irish friend Grierson, p.89,90.
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 more useful member of society than he who wrote a good poem. “And in this opinion,” said Dr. Johnson, in reply, “ all the dogs
in the town will join you." Piozzi, Mrs. Piozzi also relates that he used often to say in
her hearing, perhaps for her 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, Mrs. Piozzi asked him, if he ever Piozzi
, 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.'”]
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 fluttered 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.”.
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?. It would not be
· [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.”—Ramb. No. 130: while a young gentleman tells us of “ the flaccid sides of a football 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
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 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!.” 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 metaphysicks, than we can argue in mathematicks 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
the little inflations of French conversation ; straining at a gnat, after having swallowed a camel.-ED.)
· 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.
(Mr. Burke. Ed.]