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Strahan, but had kept his coach several years sooner.”
Johnson. “ He was in the right; life is short: the sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better."
“ Although upon most occasions,” says Boswell, “I never heard a more strenuous advocate for the advantages of wealth than Dr. Johnson, he this day, I know not from what caprice, took the other side.
I have not observed,' said he, 'that men of very large fortunes enjoy any thing extraordinary that makes happiness. What has the duke of Bedford ? What has the duke of Devonshire? The only great iustance that I have ever known of the enjoyment of wealth was that of Jamaica Dawkins, who going to visit Palmyra, and hearing that the way was infested by robbers, hired a troop of Turkish horse to guard him.""
Talking of various enjoyments, Boswell argued, that a refinement of taste was a disadvantage, as they who have attained to it must be seldomer pleased than those who have no nice discrimination, and are therefore satisfied with every thing that comes in their way. JOHNSON. “ Nay, sir, that is a paltry notion : endeavour to be as perfect as you can ip erery respect.”.
He gave the following singular history of an ingenious acquaintance. “ He had practised physic in various situations with no great emolument. A West-India gentleman, whom he delighted by his conversation, gave him a bond for a handsome an. nuity during his life, on the condition of his accompanying him to the West-Indies, and living with him there for two years. He accordiugly embarked with the gentleman ; but upon the voyage fell in love with a young woman who happened to be one of the passengers, and married the wench. From the imprudence of his disposition he quarrelled with the gentleman, and declared he would have no connexion with him ; so he forfeited the annuity. He settled as a physician in one of the Leeward islands. A man was sent to him merely to compound his medicines. This fellow set up as a rival to him in his practice of physic, and got so much the better of him in the opinion of the people of the island, that he carried away all the business ; upon which he returned to England, and soon after died.”
On the subject of wealth, the proper use of it, and the effect of that art which is called economy, he observed, “ It is wonderful to think how men of very large estates not only spend their yearly incomes, but are often actually in want of money. It is clear they have not value for what they spend. Lord Shelburne told me, that a man of high rank, who looks into his own affairs, may have all that he ought to have, all that can be of any use, or appear with any advantage, for five thousand pounds a year : therefore a great proportion must go in waste; and, indeed, this is the case with most people, whatever their fortune is.” BOSWELL. “ I have no doubt, sir, of this; but how is it? What is waste ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, breaking bottles, and a thousand other things. Waste cannot be accurately told, though we are sensible how destructive it is. Ecopomy on the one hand, by which a certain income is made to maintain a man genteely, and waste on the other, by which, on the same income, another man
lives shabbily, cannot be defined. It is a very nice thing; as one man wears his coat out much sooner than another, we cannot tell how."
He advised Dr. Maxwell, if possible, to have a good orchard. “ He knew,” he said, a clergyman of small income, who brought up a family very reputably, which he chiefly fed with apple dumplings.”
He said, “ Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income. Always have something saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be more than your exports, and you'll never go far wrong.”
Of London, Johnson observed, “Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of the city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.” “ I have often amused myself,” adds Boswell, “ with thinking how different a place Loudon is to different people. They, whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its different departments; a grazier, as a vast market for cattle ; a mercantile man, as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon Change; a dramatic enthusiast, as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an assemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue : but the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is in. exhaustible."
Johnson had a little money when he came to London; and he knew how he could live in the cheapest manner. His first lodgings were at the house of Mr. Norris, a stay-maker, iu Exeter street, adjoin. ing Catherine street, in the Strand. “I dined," said he,“ very well, for eight-pence, with very good company, at the Pine-Apple in New-street, just by. Several of them had travelled: they expected to meet every day, but did not know one another's names. It used to cost the rest a shilling, for they drank wine: but I had a cut of meat for six-pence, and bread for a penny, and gave the waiter a penny; . so that I was quite well served, nay, better than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing
How Johnson employed hiinself-upon his first coming to London is not particularly known. A curious anecdote was communicated by himself to MIr. John Nichols. Mr. Wilson, the bookseller, on being informed by him that his intention was to get his livelihood as an author, eyed his robust frame attentively, and, with a significant look, said, “You had better buy a porter's knot." He however added, “ Wilson was one of my best friends.",
His Ofellus, in the Art of living in London, was an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham,
and, who had practised his own precepts of economy for several years in the British capital. He assured Johnson, who was then meditating to try his fortune in London, but was apprehensive of the expense, " that thirty pounds a year was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for clothes and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen-pence a week; few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they did, it was easy to say, 'Sir, I ani to be found at such a place. By spending three-pence in a coffee-house, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for sixpence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean-shirt-day he went abroad, and paid visits." He more than once talked of his frugal friend, whom he recollected with esteem and kindness, and did not like to have one smile at the recital. “ This man,” said he, gravely, “ was a very sensible man, who perfectly understood common affairs : a man of a great deal of knowledge of the world, fresh from life, not strained through books. He borrowed a horse and ten pounds at Birmingham. Finding himself master of so much money, he set off for West Chester, in order to get to Ireland. He returned the horse, and probably the ten pounds too, after he got home.”
Considering Johnson's narrow circumstances in the early part of his life, and particularly at the interesting æra of his launching into the ocean of London, it is not to be wondered at, that an actual instance, proved by experience, of the possibility of enjoying the intellectual luxury of social life upon a