페이지 이미지
[ocr errors]



Etat. 74.


“ Mr. Lowe's exclusion from the exhibition gives him more trouble than you and the other gentlemen of the Council could imagine or intend, He considers disgrace and ruin as the inevitable consequence of your determination.

He says, that some pictures have been received after rejection ; and if there be any such precedent, , I earnestly intreat that you will use your interest in his favour. Of his work I can say nothing; I pretend not to judge of painting ; and this picture I never saw: but I conceive it extremely hard to shut out any man from the possibility of success; and therefore I repeat my request that you will propose the re-consideration of Mr. Lowe's case; and if there be any among the Council with whom my name can have any weight, be pleased to communicate to them the desire of, Sir,

Your most humble servant,
April 12, 1783.

“ Sam. JOHNSON."

Such intercession was too powerful to be resisted ; and Mr. Lowe's performance was admitted at Somerset Place. The subject, as I recollect, was the Deluge, at that point of time when the water was verging to the top of the last uncovered mountain. Near to the spot was seen the last of the antediluvian race, exclusive of those who were saved in the ark of Noah. This was one of those giants, then the inhabitants of the earth, who had still strength to swim, and with one of his hands held aloft his infant child. Upon the small remaining dry spot appeared a famished 1783. lion, ready to spring at the child and devour it. Mr.

Ætat. 74. Lowe told me that Johnson said to him, “ 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. 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." JOHNSON. “ That, Sir, is the good of counting It brings every thing to a certainty, which before floated in the mind indefinitely.” Bos

“But Omne ignotum pro magnifico est: one is sorry to have this diminished.” Johnson. “Sir, you should not allow yourself to be delighted with errour.” Boswell. “ Three a day seer but few.”

“ Were I a country


poor would

1783. JOHNSON. “ Nay, Sir, he who entertains three a Æat. 74. day, does very liberally. And if there is a large fami

ly, the poor entertain those three, for they eat what the

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 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 any thing 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.

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 Newgatestreet, 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 flagrant. The oil 1783. does not fly off in the drying."

6 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 Col, Jection, where it appears that he recommended “ dried oranges peel, finely powdered," as a medicine.

Ætat. 74. Boswell.“ I wish to have a good walled garden.” Johnson. " I don't think it would be worth the expence to you. We compute in England, a parkwall 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 only have forty-four square yards, which is very little ; for two hundred pounds, you may 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, Sir, such contention with Nature is not worth while. I would plant an orchard, and have plenty of such fruit 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." --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 have a thing merely to shew 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

Etat. 74. WELL,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1783. 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 hot-house is a certain thing; I may have that.” JOHNSON. " A hot-house is pretty certain ; but you must first build it, 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 shew clearly how this great man,
whose mind could grasp such large and extensive
subjects, as he has shewn in his literary labours, 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. John-
SON. “ 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? Bos-
" Will

you not allow, Şir, that a man may be taught to read well ?” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, so far


« 이전계속 »