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466

Blacklock's poetry.

(A.D 1763

man dissatisfied with all the rest of the passengers,

who
gave

him no more than his due. This was a just reprimand; for in whatever way a man may indulge his generosity or his vanity in spending his money, for the sake of others he ought not to raise the price of any article for which there is a constant demand.

He talked of Mr. Blacklock's poetry, so far as it was descriptive of visible objects; and observed, that'as its authour had the misfortune to be blind, we may be absolutely sure that such passages are combinations of what he has remembered of the works of other writers who could see. That foolish fellow, Spence, has laboured to explain philosophically how Blacklock may have done, by means of his own faculties, what it is impossible he should do'. The solution, as I have given it, is plain. Suppose, I know a man to be so lame that he is absolutely incapable to move himself, and I find him in a different room from that in which I left him; shall I puzzle myself with idle conjectures, that, perhaps, his nerves have by some unknown change all at once become effective? No, Sir; it it clear how he got into a different room: he was carried.'

Having stopped a night at Colchester”, Johnson talked of that town with veneration, for having stood a siege for Charles the First. The Dutchman alone now remained with us. He spoke English tolerably well; and thinking to recommend himself to us by expatiating on the superiority of the criminal jurisprudence of this country over that of Holland, he inveighed against the barbarity of putting an accused person to the torture, in order to

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Johnson wrote on Aug. 17, 1773: This morning I saw at breakfast Dr. Blacklock, the blind poet, who does not remember to have seen light, and is read to by a poor scholar in Latin, Greek, and French. He was originally a poor scholar himself. I looked him with reverence.' Piozzi Letters, i. See also Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 17, 1773. Spence published an ACcount of Blacklock, in which he meanly omitted any mention of Hume's great generosity to the blind poet. J. H. Burton's Hume, i. 392.

Hume asked Blacklock whether he connected colour and sound. He answered, that as he met so often with the terms expressing colours, he had formed some false associations, but that they were of the intellectual kind. The illumination of the sun, for instance, he supposed to resemble the presence of a friend.' Ib.

on

IIO.

P. 389.

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They left London early and yet they travelled only 51 miles that day. The whole distance to Harwich is 71 miles.

Paterson's Itinerary, i. 323.

force

Aetat. 54.]

Torture in Holland.

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For my

force a confession'. But Johnson was as ready for this, as for the Inquisition. Why, Sir, you do not, I find, understand the law of your own country. The torture in Holland is considered as a favour to an accused person; for no man is put to the torture there, unless there is as much evidence against him as would amount to conviction in England. An accused person among you, therefore, has one chance more to escape punishment, than those who are tried among us.'

At supper this night he talked of good eating with uncommon satisfaction. Some people (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 mind his belly will hardly mind anything else?' He now appeared to me Jean Bull

i Mackintosh (Life, ii. 162) writing n'avez aucune de ces distractions!' of the time of William III, says that Voltaire's Works, xxvi. 332. John'torture was legal in Scotland, and son, two years before Voltaire thus familiar in every country of Europe wrote, had been shown la chambre but England. Was there a single de question-the torture-chamberwriter at that time who had objected in Paris. Post, Oct. 17, 1775. It to torture? I think not.' In the was not till the Revolution that torGent. Mag. for 1742 (p. 660) it is ture was abolished in France. One stated that 'the King of Prussia has of the Scotch judges in 1793, at the forbid the use of torture in his trial of Messrs. Palmer and Muir for dominions. In 1747 (p. 298) we sedition (post, June 3, 1781, note), read that Dr. Blackwell, an English asserted that now the torture was physician, had been put to the tor banished, there was no adequate ture in Sweden. Montesquieu in punishment for sedition. Parl. Hist. the Esprit des Lois, vi. 17, published xxx. 1569. in 1748, writing of 'la question ou ? 'A cheerful and good heart will torture contre les criminels,' says : have a care of his meat and drink.' "Nous voyons aujourd'hui une nation Ecclesiasticus, xxx. 25. très-bien policée (la nation anglaise] . Verecundari neminem apud menla rejeter sans inconvénient. Elle n'est

sam decet, donc pas nécessaire par sa nature.' Nam ibi de divinis atque humaBoswell in 1765 found that Paoli nis cernitur.' tortured a criminal with fire. Corsica,

Trinummus, act 2, sc. 4. P. 158. Voltaire, in 1777, after tell Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 149) records ing how innocent men had been put that 'Johnson often said, that to death with torture in the reign of wherever the dinner is ill got, there Lewis XIV, continues — Mais un is poverty, or there is avarice, or roi a-t-il le temps de songer à ces there is stupidity; in short, the menus détails d'horreurs au milieu family is somehow grossly wrong ; de ses fêtes, de ses conquêtes, et de for," continued he, “a man seldom ses maîtresses ? Daignez vous en thinks with more earnestness of anyoccuper, Ô Louis XVI, vous qui thing than he does of his dinner ;

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philosophe,

468

Johnson's relish for good eating.

(A.D. 1763.

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 206th 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 knew any man who relished good eating more than 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 visibles. To those whose sensations were delicate, this could not but be disgusting; and it was doubt. less not very suitable to the character of a philosopher, who should be distinguished by self-command. But it 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 moderatelyt. He told me, that he

and if he cannot get that well dressed, he should be suspected of inaccuracy in other things." Yet he used to say that a man who rode out for an appetite consulted but little the dignity of human nature.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 204.

This essay is more against the practices of the parasite than gulosity. It is entitled The art of living at the cost of others. Johnson wrote to one of Mrs. Thrale's children :-Gluttony is, I think, less common among women than among men. Women commonly eat more sparingly, and are less curious in the choice of meat; but if once you find a

woman gluttonous, expect from her very little virtue. Her mind is enslaved to the lowest and grossest temptation.' Piozzi Letters, ji. 298.

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• Hawkins (Life, p. 355) mentions 'the greediness with which he ate, his total inattention to those among whom he was seated, and his profound silence at the moment of refection.

3 Cumberland (Memoirs, i. 357) says :—'He fed heartily, but not voraciously, and was extremely courteous in his commendations of any dish that pleased his palate.'

Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on July 10, 1780 :- Last week I saw flesh but twice and I think fish once; the rest was pease. You are afraid, you say, lest I extenuate myself too fast, and are an enemy to violence ; but did you never hear nor read, dear Madam, that every man has his genius, and that the great rule by which all excellence is attained and all success procured, is to follow

had

Aetat. 54.)

A critick of cookery.

469

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 occasions when his dinner was to his taste, could not easily conceive what he must have meant by hunger; 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 attempts. He about the same time was so much 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: ‘I, 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,

very kind ?

genius; and have you not observed in all our conversations that my genius is always in extremes; that I am very noisy or very silent; very gloomy or very merry ; very sour or

And would you have me cross my genius when it leads me sometimes to voracity and sometimes to abstinence?' Piozzi Letters, ii. 166.

: "This,' he told Boswell, 'was no intentional fasting, but happened just in the course of a literary life.' Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 4, 1773. See post, April 17, 1778.

* In the last year of his life, when he knew that his appetite was diseased, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:. I have now an inclination to luxury which even your table did not excite; for till now my lalk was more about

the dishes than my thoughts. I remember you commended me for seeming pleased with my dinners when you had reduced your table ; I am able to tell you with great veracity, that I never knew when the reduction began, nor should have known that it was made, had not you told me. I now think and consult to-day what I shall eat tomorrow. This disease will, I hope, be cured. Piozzi Letters, ii. 362.

* Johnson's visit to Gordon and Maclaurin are just mentioned in Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 11, 1773

* The only nobleman with whom he dined about the same time' was Lord Elibank. After dining with him, “he supped,' says Boswell, 'with my wife and myself. Ib.

Madam,

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Studied behaviour.

(A.D. 1763.

Madam, in trying by a wider range, I can 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, his satisfaction when he had been entertained quite to his mind. One day when we 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?'

While we were left by ourselves, after the Dutchman had gone to bed, Dr. Johnson talked of that studied behaviour which many have recommended and practised. He disapproved of it; and said, “I never considered whether I should be a grave man, or a merry man, but just let inclination, for the time, have its course?'

He flattered me with some hopes that he would, in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.

I teized him with fanciful apprehensions of unhappiness. A moth having fluttered round the candle, and burnt itself, he laid hold of this little incident to admonish me; saying, with a sly look, and in a solemn but quiet tone, 'That creature was its own tormentor, and I believe its name was BOSWELL.'

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See post, April 15, 1778. - Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 102) says, 'Johnson's own notions about eating were nothing less than delicate ; a leg of pork boiled till it dropped from the bone, a veal-pie with plums and sugar, or the outside cut of a salt buttock of beef were his favourite dainties.' Cradock saw Burke at a tavern dinner send Johnson a very small piece of a pie, the crust of which was made with bad butter. Johnson soon returned his plate for more. Burke exclaimed :“I am glad that you are able so well to relish this pie.” Johnson, not at

all pleased that what he ate should ever be noticed, retorted :—“There is a time of life, Sir, when a man re. quires the repairs of a table." Cradock's Memoirs, i. 229. A passage in Baretti's Italy, ií. 316, seems to show that English eating in general was not delicate. I once heard a Frenchman swear,' he writes, that he hated the English, “parce qu'ils versent du beurre fondu sur leur veau rôti.”'

3 'He had an abhorrence of affectation,' said Mr. Langton. Post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

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