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ing his money, for the sake of others he ought not to raise the price of any article for which there is a constant demand.
He talked of Mr. Blacklock's (1) poetry, so far as it was descriptive of visible objects; and observed, that, as its author had the misfortune to be blind, we may be absolutely sure that such passages are combinations of what he has remembered of the works of other writers who could see. That foolish fellow, Spence, has laboured to explain philosophically how Blacklock may have done, by means of his own faculties, what it is impossible he should do. The solution, as I have given it, is plain. Suppose, I know a man to be so lame that he is absolutely incapable to move himself, and I find him in a different room from that in which I left him; shall I puzzle myself with idle conjectures, that, perhaps, his nerves have by some unknown change all at once become effective? No, Sir, it is clear how he got into a different room; he was carried."
Having stopped a night at Colchester, Johnson talked of that town with veneration, for having stood
(1) Dr. Thomas Blacklock was born in 1721 : he totally lost his sight by the small-pox at the age of six years, but was, nevertheless, a descriptive poet. He died in 1791. "We may conclude," says his biographer, "with Denina, in his Discorso della Letteratura,' that Blacklock will appear to posterity a fable, as to us he is a prodigy. It will be thought a fiction, that a man blind from his infancy, besides having made himself master of various foreign languages, should be a great poet in his own, and without having hardly seen the light, should be so remarkably happy in description." ." Johnson, no doubt, gives the true solution of Blacklock's power, which was memory and not miracle; and, mark the result! who now quotes, nay, who reads a line of Blacklock?-C.
a siege for Charles the First. The Dutchman alone now remained with us. He spoke English tolerably well; and, thinking to recommend himself to us by expatiating on the superiority of the criminal jurisprudence of this country over that of Holland, he inveighed against the barbarity of putting an accused person to the torture, in order to force a confession. But Johnson was as ready for this, as for the inquisition. "Why, Sir, you do not, I find, understand the law of your own country. To torture in Holland is considered as a favour to an accused person; for no man is put to the torture there, unless there is as much evidence against him as would amount to conviction in England. An accused person among you, therefore, has one chance more to escape punishment, than those who are tried among us." (1)
At supper this night he talked of good eating with uncommon satisfaction. "Some people," said he, "have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look
(1) ["By a law of Holland, the criminal's confession is essential to a capital punishment; no other evidence being held sufficient, and yet if he insists on his innocence, he is tortured till he pronounces the words of confession."- KAMES'S Hist. of Man, b. iii. sec. 12.
It has, in several systems of law, been the practice not to execute a criminal, till his confession was obtained in some way or other. It was so with the inquisition; and it is remarked, I think, in Ellis's Collection of Letters, that almost all those who were executed in Henry VIII.'s reign, acknowledged on the scaffold the justice of their sentences. We trace the remains of this in the silly practice now in use, of endeavouring to prevail on convicts to confess, --a practice which, as long as the least hope of pardon remains, is productive of nothing but accumulated falsehood. — FONNEREAU.]
upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind any thing else." He now appeared to me Jean Bull philosophe, and he was for the moment, not only serious, but vehement. Yet I have heard him, upon other occasions, talk with great contempt of people who were anxious to gratify their palates; and the 206th number of his Rambler is a masterly essay against gulosity. His practice, 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 refrain (1), but he could not
(1) 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 could abstain, but found it hard to refrain.-C.-[The most simple expression is the most forcible: "Abstinence is easier than temperance."FONNEREAU.]
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.(2) "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 cookery, 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." (2)
(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