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short but lively description of it :-"Our distinguished visiter shone gloriously in his style of dissertation on a great variety of subjects. I recollect his condescending to as earnest a care of the animal as of the intellectual man, and, after doing all justice to my College bill of fare, and without neglecting the glass after dinner, he drank sixteen dishes of tea. I was idly curious enough to count them, from what I had remarked, and heard Levett mention of his extraordinary devotion to the teapot."
On this subject Boswell observes, that "Johnson's nerves must have been uncommonly strong, not to have been extremely relaxed by such an intemperate use of the infusion of this fragrant leaf. He assured me that he never felt the least inconvenience from it." It is remarkable, that the only controversy Johnson ever was engaged in, was with the truly amiable Jonas Hanway, about his Essay on Tea. I have several times met with that eminently good, which is better than great, man, Mr. Hanway, at the house of Mrs. Penny, or Penné, in Bloomsbury Square, a lady who, in 1771, dedicated to him a volume of Poetry, calling him "The second Man of Ross." Once he was unluckily introduced in the very midst of a large tea-drinking party, which made the Philanthropist look grave, and rather disconcerted our elegant and accomplished hostess. At the same house, too, I once heard him
mention Johnson and his criticism with a warmth that I did not expect from the meek and gentle Hanway. "The man, said he, "abuses my work upon tea; and he sits in this manner," mimicking the shaking of the Doctor's hands and head, "and then he wonders what I can mean by writing against so wholesome a beverage; while, as he is unable to keep a nerve of him still, he is all the while slopping half of it upon his breeches' knees." When I told this anecdote to Dr. Percy, he was much diverted, and observed, "Ay, ay; and yet, in spite of all his tea-bibbing, the gigantic Johnson could have seized with both hands upon the puny Hanway, and discerped him."
Before I close my account of the Sidney dinner, let me observe, that though my friend could not recollect any of the
Doctor's bon-mots at that time, yet the inquiry brought to his mind a former one of our literary hero, so well authenticated, and, perhaps, so little known, that, though it has no reference to our present story, I shall take this opportunity of recording it. From the year 1768 to 1771, my friend was Chaplain to his Majesty's Minister at the court of Denmark, Sir R. Gunning, and tutor to his children. One of the latter, a very accomplished young lady, became in process of time the Hon. Mrs. Digby, who related to her former tutor the following anecdote. This lady was present at the introduction of Dr. Johnson at one of the late Mrs. Montagu's literary parties, when Mrs. Digby herself, with several still younger ladies, almost immediately surrounded our Colossus of literature (an odd figure sure enough) with more wonder than politeness, and while contemplating him, as if he had been some monster from the deserts of Africa, Johnson said to them" Ladies, I am tame; you may stroke me.”—“A happier, or more deserved reproof," Mrs. D. said, "could not have been, given ! "
I now hasten to redeem my pledge by describing the first meeting of our two great luminaries, Johnson and Farmer. On Monday morning I met the former at Sidney, with the view of conducting him to the latter at Emmanuel. As the Doctor. was a stranger at Cambridge, we took a circuitous route to give him a cursory glimpse of some of the colleges. We passed through Trinity, which he admired in course, and then said to me, "And what is this next?"-Trinity Hall.”—I like that college." Why so, Doctor?"-" Because I like the science that they study there." Hence he walked, or rather, perhaps, rolled or waddled, in a manner not much unlike Pope's idea of
either by or through Clare Hall, King's College, Catherine Hall, Queen's, Pembroke, Peterhouse, to the place of our destination.
The long-wished-for interview of these unknown friends was uncommonly joyous on both sides. After the salutations, said
Johnson: "Mr. Farmer, I understand you have a large collection of very rare and curious books." FARMER. "Why yes, Sir, to be sure I have plenty of all such reading as was never read." JOHNSON. "Will you favour me with a specimen, Sir?" Farmer, considering for a moment, reached down "Markham's Booke of Armorie," and turning to a particular page, presented it to the Doctor, who, with rolling head, attentively perused it. The passage having been previously pointed out to myself, I am luckily enabled to lay it before the reader, because I find it quoted, totidem verbis, as a great curiosity, which it certainly is, at line 101. of the first part of "The Pursuits of Literature." The words in question are said to be the conclusion of the first chapter of " Markham's Booke," entitled, "The difference between Churles and Gentlemen," and is as follows::-"From the offspring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and the Prophets, &c. &c.; and also the king of the right line of Mary, of whom that only absolute gentleman Jesus was born, Gentleman by his mother Mary, Princesse of Coat Armorie," &c. Towards the conclusion of which unaccountable and almost incredible folly, the Doctor's features began most forcibly to remind me of Homer's μειδιοων βλοσυροισι προσωπασι; and if you can conceive a cast of countenance expressive at once of both pleasantry and horror, that was the one which our sage assumed when he exclaimed, "Now I am shocked, Sir-now I am shocked!”—which was only answered by Farmer with his usual ha! ha! ha! for even blasphemy, where it is unintentional, may be so thoroughly ridiculous as merely to excite the laugh of pity!
What I have next to relate occurred during the visit, but at what period of it is uncertain. If the great man left us Tuesday morning, as Sharp asserts, and I think correctly, it must have been on Sunday afternoon, which will prove at I was of the Sidney party, and went with the rest, conducted by Mr. Leicester, into Trinity library. On our first entering, Johnson took up, on the right-hand side, not far from the door, a folio, which proved to be the Polyhistor of Morhof, a German genius of great celebrity in the 17th century. On
opening this he exclaimed, "Here is the book upon which all my fame was originally founded: when I had read this book I could teach my tutors!"—" And now that you have acquired such fame, Doctor," said Mr. Leicester, "you must feel exquisite delight in your own mind." JOHNSON. Why no, Sir, no, I have no such feeling on that account, as you have attributed to me, Sir." Whether the sincerity of Johnson's declaration be allowed or not, the anecdote may, perhaps, supply a useful hint to future aspiring geniuses ambitious of emulating so great a man.
Monday, then, we may say, was probably that last evening on which the symposium took place, of which Sharp has attempted to give so ridiculous an account. That some strangers crowded about him was the absurd notion of Sharp; but the plain truth that on this last evening there was assembled at the chambers of Mr. Leicester, in Nevell's Court, Trinity College, the very same company as before; viz. Mr. L. the entertainer, Mr. Beauclerk, Drs. Johnson and Lort, my friend, and myself, with the addition only of Farmer, on whose account principally the journey was undertaken.
During our conviviality nothing occurred that was at all like an indignant contradiction, though the Doctor was himself sometimes purposely contradicted to elicit the sparks of his genius by collision. There was, however, no lack of noble sentiments; and on any subject being started, he would instantly give a sort of treatise upon it in miniature. Long before 12 o'clock our hero began to be very great; for on his entering the room, having a pain in his face he bent it down to the fire, archly observing, with a smile, “ This minority cheek of mine is warring against the general constitution."—" Nay, Doctor," said Beauclerk, who well knew how to manage him, "you mustn't talk against the minority, for they tell you, you know, that they are your friends, and wish to support your liberties, and save you from oppression." JOHNSON. Why yes, Sir, just as wisely, and just as necessarily as if they were to build up the interstices of the cloisters at the bottom of this court, for fear the library should fall upon our heads, Sir."
He was brilliant, therefore, from the very first and might not the above be accepted as a lively and decisive answer to minority politics in general, during the whole of the present reign?
Kit Smart happening to be mentioned, and that he had broken out of a house of confinement: " He was a fool for that," said Beauclerk, "for within two days they meant to have released him." JOHNSON. "Whenever poor Kit could make his escape, Sir, it would always have been within two days of his intended liberation." He then proceeded to speak highly of the parts and scholarship of poor Kit; and, to our great surprise, recited a number of lines out of one of Smart's Latin Triposes; and added, "Kit Smart was mad, Sir." BEAUCLERK. "What do you mean by mad, Doctor?" JOHN"Why, Sir, he could not walk the streets without the boys running after him." Soon after this, on Johnson's leaving the room, Beauclerk said to us, What he says of Smart is true of himself;" which well agrees with my observations during the walk I took with him that very morning. Beauclerk also took the same opportunity to tell us of that most astonishing, and scarcely credible effort of genius, his writing Rasselas in two days and a night, and then travelling down with the price to support his sick mother! But Boswell says this was done after her decease, to pay her debts and funeral In either case, what parts!- what piety!
expenses. On the Doctor's return, Beauclerk said to him, "Doctor, why do you keep that blind woman in your house?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, she was a friend to my poor wife, and was in the house with her when she died. And so, Sir, as I could not find in my heart to desire her to quit my house, poor thing! she has remained in it ever since, Sir." It appears, however, that the friendship and conversation of the intelligent Anna Williams proved in general highly gratifying to him, and he feelingly lamented her loss, in 1783.
A question was then asked him respecting Sterne. JOHN"In a company where I lately was, Tristram Shandy introduced himself; and Tristram Shandy had scarcely sat