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were burned' by the candle down to the very net-work. Mr. Thrale's valet de-chambre, for that reason, kept one always in his own hands, with which he met him at the parlour door when the bell had called him down to dinner, and as he went up stairs to sleep in the afternoon, the same man constantly followed him with another.
No man conversed so well as he on every subject; no man so acutely discerned the reason of every fact, the motive of every action, the end of every design. He was indeed often pained by the ignorance or causeless wonder of those who knew less than himself, though he seldom drove them away with apparent scorn, unless he thought they added presumption to stupidity.
I saw Mr. Johnson in none but a tranquil uniform state, passing the evening of his life among friends, who loved, honoured, and admired hin: I saw none of the things he did, except such acts of charity as have been often mentioned in this book, and such writings as are universally known. What he said is all I can relate; and from what he said, those who think it worth while to read these Anecdotes, must be contented to gather his character. Mine is a mere candle-light picture of his latter days, where every thing falls in dark shadow except the face, the index of the mind; but even that is seen unfavourably, and with a paleness beyond what nature gave it.
He had a strong aversion to four-footed favourites, notwithstanding he had for many years a cat which he called Hodge, that kept always in his room at Flectstreet; but so exact was he not to offend the human species, by superfluous attention to brutes, that when the creature was grown sick and old, and could eat nothing but oysters, Mr. Johnson always went out himself to buy Hodge's dinner, that Francis, the Black's delicacy might not be hurt at seeing himself employed for the conveniency of a quadruped.
No one was indeed so attentive not to offend in all such sort of things as Dr. Johnson; nor so careful to maintain the ceremonies of life and though he told Mr. Thrale once, that he had never sought to please till past thirty years old, considering the matter as hope
less, he had been always studious not to make enemies, by apparent preference of himself. It happened very comically, that the moment this curious conversation passed, of which I was a silent auditress, was in the coach, in some distant province, either Shropshire or Derbyshire, I believe, and as soon as it was over, Mr. Johnson took out of his pocket a little book and read, while a gentleman of no small distinction for his birth and elegance suddenly rode up to the carriage, and paying us all his proper compliments, was desirous not to neglect Dr. Johnson; but observing that he did not see him, tapped him gently on the shoulder-'Tis Mr. Ch--Im--ley, says my husband;" Well, Sir! and what if it is Mr. Ch--lm--ley ?" says the other sternly, just lifting his eyes a moment from his book, and returning to it again with renewed avidity,
I enquired of him concerning his account of the state of literature in Scotland, which was repeated up and down at one time by every body" How knowledge was divided among the Scots, like bread in a besieged town, to every man a mouthful, to no man a bellyful." This story he likewise acknowledged, and said besides, that some officious friend had carried it to Lord Bute, who only answered-Well, well! never mind what he says he will have the pension all one."
Another famous reply to a Scotchman, who commended the beauty and dignity of Glasgow, till Mr. Johnson stopped him by observing, "that he probably had never yet seen Brentford," was one of the jokes he owned and said himself," that when a gentleman of that country once mentioned the lovely prospects common in this nation, he could not help telling him, that the view of the London road was the prospect in which every Scotchman most naturally and most rationally delighted."
He loved the sight of fine forest trees, however, and detested Brigthelmstone Downs, "because, it was a country so truly desolate (he said) that if one had a mind to hang one's self for desperation at being obliged to live there, it would be difficult to find a tree on which to fasten the rope." -Walking in a wood when it rained, was, I think, the only rural image he pleased his fancy
with; "for (says he) after one has gathered the apples in an orchard, one wishes them well baked, and removed to a London eating-house for enjoyment."
With such notions, who can wonder he passed his time uncomfortably enough with us, whom he often complained of for living so much in the country; feeding the chickens (as he said I did) till I starved my own understanding. Get, however (said he) a book about gardening, and study it hard, since you will pass your life with birds and flowers, and learn to raise the largest turnips, and to breed the biggest fowls. It was in vain to assure him that the goodness of such dishes did not depend on their size; he laughed at the people, who covered their canals with foreign fowls, when (says he) our own geese and ganders are twice as large if we fetched better animals from distant nations, ere might be some sense in the preference; but to get cows from Alderney, or water-fowl from China, only to see nature degenerating round one, is a poor ambition indeed!”
When ill he conjured me solemnly to tell him what I thought: Sir Richard Jebb was perpetually on the road to Streatham, and Mr. Johnson seemed to think himself neglected if the physician left him for an hour only; I made him a steady, but as I thought a very gentle harangue, in which I confirmed all that the Doctor had been saying, how no present danger could be expected; but that his age and continued ill health must naturally accelerate the arrival of that hour which can be escaped by none: "And this (says Johnson, rising in great anger) is the voice of female friendship I suppose, when the hand of the, hangman would be
I commended a young lady for her beauty and pretty behaviour one day, however, to whom I thought no ob jections could have been made. "I saw her (says Dr. Johnson) take a pair of scissars in her left hand though; and for all her father is now become a nobleman, and as you say excessively rich, I should, were I a youth of quality ten years hence, hesitate between a girl so neglected, and a négro.”
It really surprised me to see the victory he gained over. a lady little accustomed to contradiction, who had dressed herself for church at Streatham one Sunday morning, in a manner he did not approve, and to whom he said such sharp and pungent things concerning her hat, her gown, &c. that she hastened to change them, and returning quite another figure received his applause, and thanked him for his reproofs, much to the amazementof her husband, who could scarcely believe his own ears.
All these exactnesses in a man who was nothing less than exact himself, made him extremely impracticable as an inmate, though most instructive as a companion, and useful as a friend. Mr. Thrale, too, could sometimes over-rule his rigidity, by saying coldly, There, there, now we have had enough for one lecture, Dr. Johnson: we will not be upon education' any more till after dinner, if you please—or some such speech; but when there was nobody to restrain his dislikes, it was extremely difficult to find any body with whom he could converse, without living always on the verge of a quarrel, or of something too like a quarrel to be pleasing.
This disposition occurred too often, and I was forced to take advantage of my lost law suit, and plead inability of purse to remain longer in London or its vicinage. I had been crossed in my intentions of going abroad, and found it convenient, for every reason of health, peace, and pecuniary circumstances, to retire to Bath, where I knew Mr. Johnson would not follow me, and where I could for that reason command some little portion of time for my own use; a thing impossible while I remained at Streatham, or at London, as my hours, carriage, and servants had long been at his command, who would not rise in the morning till twelve o'clock perhaps, and oblige me to make breakfast for him till the bell rung for dinner, though much displeased if the toilet was neglected, and though much of the time we passed together was spent in blaming or deriding, very justly, my neglect of economy, and waste of that money which might make many families happy. The original reason of our connection, his particularly disordered health and spirits, had been long at an end, and
and he had no other ailments than old age and general infirmity, which every professor of medicine was ardently zealous and generally attentive to palliate, and to contribute all in their power for the prolongation of a life so valuable. Veneration for his virtue, reverence for his talents, delight in his conversation, and habitual endurance of a yoke my husband first put upon me, and of which he contentedly bore his share for sixteen or seventeen years, made me go on so long with Mr. Johnson; but the perpetual confinement, I will own to have been terrifying in the first years of our friendship, and irksome in the last: nor could I pretend to support it without help, when my coadjutor was no more. To the assistance we gave him, the shelter our house afforded to his uneasy fancies, and to the pains we took to sooth or repress them, the world perhaps is indebted for the three political pamphlets, the new edition and correction of his Dictionary, and for the Poets' Lives, which he would scarce have lived, I think, and kept his faculties entire, to have written, had not incessant care been exerted at the time of his first coming to be our constant guest in the country; and several times after that, when he found himself particularly oppressed with diseases incident to the most vivid and fervent imaginations. I shall for ever consider it as the greatest honour which could be conferred on any one, to have been the confidential friend of Dr. Johnson's health, and to have, in some measure, with Mr. Thrale's assistance, saved from distress at least, if not from worse, a mind great beyond the comprehension of common mortals, and good beyond all hope of imitation from perishable beings.
It is usual, I know not why, when a character is given, to begin with a description of the person; that which contained the soul of Mr. Johnson, deserves to be particularly described. His stature was remarkably high, and his limbs exceedingly large; his strength was more than common I believe, and his activity had been greater, I have heard, than such a form gave one reason to expect: his features were strongly marked, and his countenance particularly rugged; though the original complexion had certainly been fair, a cirCumstance