drunken,-nay, drunken is a coarse word, none of those vinous flights." --Sir Joshua. “Because you have fat by, quite sober, and felt an envy of the happiness of those who were drinking.”-). “ Perhaps, contempt : And, Sir, it is not necessary to be drunk one's felf, to relish the wit of drunkenness. Do we not judge of the drunken wit of the dialogue between Iago and Cassio, the most excellent in it's kind, when we are quite sober? Wit is wit, by whatever means it is produced ; and, if good, will appear so at all times. I admit, that the spirits are raised by drinking, as by the common participation of any pleasure : cock-fighting, or bear-baiting, will raise the spirits of a company, as drinking does, though surely they will not improve conversation. I also admit, that there are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking ; as there are fruits which are not good till they are rotten. There are such men, but they are medlars. I indeed allow that there have been a very few men of talents who were improved by drinking ; but I maintain that I am right as to the effects of drinking in general ; and let it be considered, that there is no position, however false in its universality, which is not true of some particular man.”—Sir William Forbes said, “ Might not a man warmed with wine

[ocr errors]

be like a bottle of beer, which is made brösker by being set before the fire ?”—“ Nay (faid Johnson, laughing), I cannot answer thatthat is too much for me."--Mr. Boswell observed, “ that wine did some people harm, by inflaming, confusing, and irritating their minds; but that the experience of mankind had declared in favour of modcrate drinking."-5. “ Sir, I do not say it is wrong to producc felf-complacency by drinking ; I only deny that it improves the mind. When I drank wine, I scorned to drink it when in company. I have drunk many a bottle by myself; in the first place, because I had need of it to raise my spirits ; in the fccond place, because I would have nobody to witness its effects upon me.”

On another occasion, talking of the effects of drinking, he said, Drinking may be practised with great prudence; a man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated has not the art of getting drunk; a fober man, who happens occasionally to get drunk, readily enough goes into a new company, which a man who has been drinking should never do. Such a man will undertake any thing; he is without skill in inebriation. I used to sink home when I had drunk too much. A man accustomed to self-examination will be con


[ocr errors]

fcious when he is drunk, though an habitual drunkard will not be conscious of it. I knew a physician who for twenty years was not sober ; yet in a pamphlet which hc wrote upon fevers he appealed to Garrick and me for his vindication from a charge of drunkenness. A bookseller (naming him) who got a large fortune by trade, was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more fober at one time than another.”

He once gave the following very judicious practical advice upon the subject : “A man who has been drinking wine at all freely should never go into a new company. With those who have partaken of wine with him, he may be pretty well in unison ; but he will probably be offensive, or appear ridiculous, to other people.”

At another time being at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, Johnson harangued upon the qualities of different liquors; and spoke with great contempt of claret, as so weak, “ that a man would be drowned by it before it made him drunk.” He was persuaded to drink one glass of it, that he might judge, not from recollection, which might be dim, but from immediate fenfation. He shook his head, and said, * Poor stuff! No, Sir, claret is the liquor

for boys ; port for men ; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy. In. the first place, the flavour of brandy is most grateful to the palate ; and then brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking can do for him. There are, indeed, few who are able to drink brandy. That is a power rather to be wished for than attained. And yet (proceeded he) as in all pleasure hope is a considerable part, I know not but fruition comes too quick by brandy. Florence wine I think the worst; it is wine only to the eye; it is wine neither while you are drinking it, nor after you have drunk it ; it neither pleases the taste, nor exhilarates the spirit.” “I reminded him (says Mr. B.) how heartily he and I used to drink wine together when we were first acquainted , and how I used to have a head-ache after fitting up with him. He did not like to have this recalled, or perhaps, thinking that I boasted improperly, resolved to have a witty stroke at me :"Nay, Sir, it was not the wine that made your head ache, but the sense that I put into it.”—B. What, Sir, will sense make the head ache ?”-J. Sir (with a smile), when it is not used to it.” “ No man (adds Mr. B.) who has a true relish of pleasantry could be offended at this ; especially if Johnson in a long intimacy:


- Yes,

had given him repeated proofs, of his regard and good estimation. I used to say, that as he had given me a thousand pounds in praise, he had a good right now and then to take a guinea from

me.”-). I require, wine only when I am alone. I have then often wished for it, and often taken it." “ What, (faid Mr. Spottiswoode, the Solicitor, who was present) by way of a companion, Sir ?"—4. “ To get rid of myself, to send myself away. Wine gives great pleasure ; and every pleasure is of itself a good. It is a good, unless counterbalanced by evil. A man may have a strong reason not to drink wine ; and that

and that may be greater than the pleasure. Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others. Sometimes it does. But the danger is, that while a man grows better pleased with himself, he may be growing less pleasing to others. Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; 'it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what has been locked up in frost. But this may be good, or it may be bad.” -SPOTTISWOODE. “So, Sir, wine is a key which opens a box; but this box may be either full or empty.”—John


[ocr errors]


« VorigeDoorgaan »