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“Sir, your picture is noble and probable.” “A compliment, indeed," said Mr. Lowe, “ from a man who cannot lie, and cannot be mistaken."
About this time he wrote to Mrs. Lucy Porter, mentioning his bad health, and that he intended a visit to Lichfield. “ It is,” says he, " with no great expectation of amendment that I make every year a journey into the country; but it is pleasant to visit those whose kindness has been often experienced.”
On April 18 (being Good Friday), I found him at breakfast, in his usual manner upon that day, drinking tea without milk, and eating a cross bun to prevent faintness; we went to St. Clement's church as formerly. When we came home from church, he placed himself on one of the stone seats at his garden door, and I took the other, and thus in the open air, and in a placid frame of mind, he talked away very easily. Johnson. “Were I a country gentleman I should not be very hospitable; I should not have crowds in my house." BoswELL. “Sir Alexander Dick tells me that he remembers having a thousand people in a year to dine at his house; that is, reckoning each person as one, each time that he dined there.” JOHNSON. “That, Sir, is about three a day.” BOSWELL. How your statement lessens the idea 1” Johnson. "That, Sir, is the good of counting. It brings everything to a certainty, which before floated in the mind indefinitely.” Boswell." But Omne ignotum pro magnifico est : one is sorry to have this diminished.” Johnson. “Sir, you should not allow yourself to be delighted with error." BOSWELL. “Three a day seem but few." JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir, he who entertains three a day does very liberally. And if there is a large family, the poor entertain those three, for they eat what the poor would get : there must be superfluous meat; it must be given to the poor, or thrown out.” BosWELL. “I observe in London, that the poor go about and gather bones, which I understand are manufactured.” JOHNSON. “Yes, Sir; they boil them, and extract a grease from them for greasing wheels and other purposes. Of the best pieces they make a mock ivory, which is used for hafts to knives, and various other things; the coarser pieces they burn and
1 Mauritius Lowe died in 1793. See an account of him in “ Northcote's Memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds."-CHALMERS.
pound, and sell the ashes.” BOSWELL. For what purpose, Sir ?” Johnson. “Why, Sir, for making a furnace for the chemists for melting iron. A paste made of burnt bones will stand a stronger heat than anything else. Consider, Sir, if you are to melt iron, you cannot line your pot with brass, because it is softer than iron, and would melt sooner; nor with iron, for though malleable iron is harder than cast-iron, yet it would not do; but a paste of burnt bones will not melt.” BOSWELL. “Do you know, Sir, I have discovered a manufacture to a great extent, of what you only piddle at-scraping and drying the peel of oranges ?' At a place in Newgate Street there is a prodigious quantity prepared, which they sell to the distillers." JOHNSON. “Sir, I believe they make a higher thing out of them than a spirit; they make what is called orange-butter, the oil of the orange inspissated, which they mix perhaps with common pomatum, and make it fragrant. The oil does not fly off in the drying."
BOSWELL. “I wish to have a good walled garden.” JOHNSON. "I don't think it would be worth the expense to you. We compute, in England, a park-wall at a thousand pounds a mile ; now a garden wall must cost at least as much. You intend your trees should grow higher than a deer will leap. Now let us see ; for a hundred pounds you could have only forty-four square yards," which is very little ; for two hundred pounds you could have eighty-four square yards which is very well. But when will you get the value of two hundred pounds of walls, in fruit, in your climate ? No,
such contention with nature is not worth while. I would plant an orchard, and have plenty of such fruits as ripen well in your country. My friend, Dr. Madden, of Ireland, said, that In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot upon the ground. Cherries are an early fruit ; you may have them; and you may have the early apples and pears.” BoswELL. “We cannot have nonpareils.”
1 It is suggested to me by an anonymous annotator on my work, that the reason why Dr. Johnson collected the peels of squeezed oranges may be found in the 358th Letter in Mrs. Piozzi's Collection, where it appears that he recommended “dried orange-peel, finely powdered," as a medicine.-B.
2 The Bishop of Ferns observes, that Mr. Boswell here mistakes forty-four square yards for forty-four yards square, and thus makes Johnson talk nonsense.-C.
Johnson. Sir, you can no more have nonpareils than you can have grapes.” BOSWELL. “ We have them, Sir ; but they are very bad.” Johnson. “Nay, Sir, never try to bave a thing merely to show that you cannot have it. From ground that would let for forty shillings you may have a large orchard : and you see it costs you only forty shillings. Nay, you may graze the ground when the trees are grown up ; you cannot, while they are young.” BOSWELL. “Is not a good garden a very common thing in England, Sir ?” Johnson. "Not so common, Sir, as you imagine. In Lincolnshire there is hardly an orchard : in Staffordshire very little fruit.” Bos
“ Has Langton no orchard ?” Johnson. No, Sir.” BosWELL. “How so, Sir ?" Johnson. "Why, Sir, from the general negligence of the county. He has it not, because nobody else has it.” BoswELL. A hothouse is a certain thing ;
have that." Johnson. “A hothouse is pretty certain ; but you must first build it, and then you must keep fires in it, and you must have a gardener to take care of it.” BosweLL. “But if I have a gardener at any rate ?" Johnson. “Why, yes.” Boswell. “I'd have it near my house : there is no need to have it in the orchard.” Johnson. “ Yes, I'd have it near my house. I would plant a great many currants; the fruit is good, and they make a pretty sweetmeat.”
I record this minute detail which some may think trifling, in order to show clearly how this great man, whose mind could grasp such large and extensive subjects, as he has shown in his literary labors, was yet well-informed in the common affairs of life, and loved to illustrate them.
Mr. Walker, the celebrated master of elocution,' came in, and then we went up stairs into the study. I asked him if he had taught many clergymen. Johnson. “I hope not." WALKER. “I have taught only one, and he is the best reader I ever heard, not by my teaching, but by his own natural talents.” Johnson. “ Were he the best reader in the world, I would not have it told that he was taught.” Here was one of his peculiar prejudices. Could it be any disadvantage to the clergyman to have it known that he was taught an easy and graceful delivery? BOSWELL.
I He published several works on elocution and pronunciation, and died August 1, 1807, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.-C.
“ Will you not allow, Sir, that a man may be taught to read well ?” Johnson. "Why, Sir, so far as to read better than he might do without being taught, yes. Formerly it was supposed that there was no difference in reading, but that one read as well as another.” BOSWELL. “It is wonderful to see old Sheridan as enthusiastic about oratory as ever.” WALKER. “His enthusiasm as to what oratory will do, may be too great; but be reads well.” Johnson. “He reads well, but he reads low ; and you know it is much easier to read low than to read high ; for when you read high, you are much more limited, your loudest note can be but one, and so the variety is less in proportion to the loudness. Now some people have occasion to speak to an extensive audience, and must speak loud to be heard."
“ The art is to read strong, though low.”
Talking of the origin of language :-Johnson. " It must have come by inspiration. A thousand, nay a million of children could not invent a language. While the organs are pliable, there is not understanding enough to form a language ; by the time that there is understanding enough, the organs are become stiff. We know that after a certain age we cannot learn to pronounce a new language. No foreigner, who comes to England when advanced in life, ever pronounces English tolerably well ; at least, such instances are very rare.
When I maintain that language must have come by inspiration, I do not mean that inspiration is required for rhetorick, and all the beauties of language ; for when once man has language, we can conceive that he may gradually form modifications of it. I mean only that inspiration seems to me to be necessary to give man the faculty of speech; to inform him that he may have specch; which I think he could no more find out without inspiration, than cows or hogs would think of such a faculty." WALKER. “Do you think, Sir, there are any perfect synonymes in any language ?” JOHNSON. “ Originally there were not; but by using words negligently, or in poetry, one word comes to be confounded with another.”
He talked of Dr. Dodd. “A friend of mine," said he, came to me and told me, that a lady' wished to have Dr. Dodd's picture in
1 I have been told that the lady was Dr. Dodd's relict; but if this were so, Dr. Johnson
a bracelet, and asked me for a motto. I said, I could think of no better than Currat Lex. I was very willing to have him pardoned, that is, to have the sentence changed to transportation ; but, when he was once hanged, I did not wish he should be made a saint."
Mrs. Burney, wife of his friend, Dr. Burney, came in, and he seemed to be entertained with her conversation.
Garrick's funeral was talked of as extravagantly expensive. Johnson, from his dislike to exaggeration, would not allow that it was distinguished by an extraordinary pomp. “Were there not six horses to each coach ?" said Mrs. Burney. Johnson. “Madam, there were no more six horses than six phenixes."
Mrs. Burney wondered that some very beautiful new buildings [Finsbury Square) should be erected in Moorfields, in so shocking a situation as between Bedlam and St. Luke's Hospital ; and said she could not live there. Johnson. “Nay, madam, you see nothing there to hurt you. You no more think of madness by having windows that look to Bedlam, than you think of death by having windows that look to a churchyard.” Mrs. BURNEY. “We may look to a churchyard, Sir ; for it is right that we should be kept in mind of death." Johnson. “Nay, Madam, if you go to that, it is right that we should be kept in mind of madness, which is occasioned by too much indulgence of imagination. I think a very moral use may be made of these new buildings; I would have those who have heated imaginations live there, and take warning.” MRS. BURNEY. “But, Sir, many of the poor people that are mad have become so from disease, or from distressing events. therefore, not their fault, but their misfortune ; and, therefore, to think of them is a melancholy consideration."
Time passed on in conversation till it was too late for the service of the church at three o'clock. I took a walk, and left him alone for some time; then returned, and we had coffee and conversation again by ourselves.
I stated the character of a noble friend of mine as a curious case
could not have been aware of it, as he could hardly have disapproved of her wearing his picture, and would surely not have insulted her by such an answer.-C.
1 Johnson, who attended the funeral, ought to have known: but, blind as he was, and in such circumstances, he probably did not observe very accurately; for the other authorities say that there were six horses, --C.