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is never happy for the present, but when he is drunk; will you not add or when driving rapidly in a post-chaise ?' JOHNSON. 'No, sir, you are driving rapidly from something, or to something.'”
Even in London, to which he was so much at. tached, he could say, “ That man is never happy for the present is so true, that all his relief from unhappiness is only forgetting himself a little while. Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment." And one day, enlarging upon Pope's melancholy remark,
• Man never is, but always to be blest,'
he asserted, that the present was never a happy state to any human being; but that, as every part of life, of which we are conscious, was at some point of time a period yet to come, in which felicity was expected, there was some happiness produced by hope. Being pressed upon this subject, and asked if he really was of opinion, that though, in general, happiness was very rare in human life, a inan was not sometimes happy in the moment that was present, he answered, “ Never, but when he is drunk."
Dining at an excellent inn at Chapel House, after a ride through Blenheim park, he expatiated on the felicity of England in its taverns and inns, and triumphed over the French for not having, in any perfection, the tavern life. " There is no private house," said he, “ in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that every body should be easy ; in the nature
of things it cannot be : there must always be some degree of care and auxiety. The master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no inan, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house as if it were his own : whereas, at a tavern, there is a general freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome : and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are. No servant will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please. No, sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”* He then repeated, with great emotion, Shenstone's lines
" Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
The warmest welcome at an inn,"
Another time, at supper, he talked of good eating with uncommon satisfaction.
“ Some people,"
* Sir John Hawkins has preserved very few Memorabilia of Johnson. There is, however, to be found in his bulky tome, a very excellent one upon this subject.
* In contradiction to those who, having a wife and children, prefer domestic enjoyments to those which a tavern affords, I have heard him assert, 'that a tavern chair was the throne of human felicity.' As soon,' said he, as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude: when I am seated, I find the master cours
said he,“ have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not miud his belly will hardly mind any thing else." Boswell adds, “ 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 twenty-sixth 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 kuew any man relish good eating as he did. When at table he was totally absorbed in the business of the moment; his looks seemed rivetted 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
teous, and the servants obsequious to my call; anxious to know, and ready to supply my wants : wine there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation, and an interchange of discourse with those whom I most love: I dogmatise, and am contradicted ; and in this conflict of opinion and sentiments I find delight.'"
must be owned, that Johnson, though he could be rigidly abstemious, was not a temperate man either in eating or drinking. He could refrain, but he could not use moderately. 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 oc. casions when his dinner was to his taste, could not easily conceive what he must have meant by hun. ger; 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. As for Maclaurin's imitation of a made dish, it was a wretched attempt. He, about the same time, was so inuch 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 : '1, madam, who live at a 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 cau 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, bis 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.'
He said, “ Many things which are false are transinitted from book to buok, and gain credit in the world. One of these is the cry against the evil of luxury. Now the truth is, that luxury produces much good. Take the luxury of buildings in Lon. don; does it not produce real advantage in the conveniency and elegance of accommodation, and this all from the exertion of industry? People will tell you, with a melancholy face, how many builders are in gaol. It is plain they are in gaol, not for building, for rents are not fallen. A man gives halfa-guinea for a dish of green pease : how much gardeuing does this occasion! how inany labourers must the competition to have such things early in the market keep in employment! You will hear it said, very gravely, ' Why was not the half guinea, thus spent in luxury, given to the poor? To how many might it have afforded a good meal! Alas ! has it not gone to the industrious poor, whom it is better to support than the idle poor? You are much surer that you are doing good when you pay money