Monday, January 23, 2006

Elegant extracts

I have grown very fond of blogging, and when I have once or twice tried to explain its appeal to the non-blogger I have said it's like having pet fish--you just have to remember to put some food in the tank occasionally, but it's a high rate of return for low maintenance. (For some reason I also always imagine putting coins in a parking meter as a good analogy.) At any rate, here are a few pellets (an inelegant phrase) from Boswell's Life of Johnson, just little funny things that caught my eye but don't have anything to do with the real stuff I'm writing about:

I talked of the difficulty of rising in the morning. Dr. Johnson told me, 'that the learned Mrs. Carter, at that period when she was eager in study, did not awake as early as she wished, and she therefore had a contrivance, that, at a certain hour, her chamber-light should burn a string to which a heavy weight was suspended, which then fell with a strong sudden noise: this roused her from sleep, and then she had no difficulty in getting up.' But I said THAT was my difficulty; and wished there could be some medicine invented which would make one rise without pain, which I never did, unless after lying in bed a very long time. Perhaps there may be something in the stores of Nature which could do this. I have thought of a pulley to raise me gradually; but that would give me pain, as it would counteract my internal inclination.

Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, 'Sir, among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.'

Mr. Eliot mentioned a curious liquor peculiar to his country, which the Cornish fishermen drink. They call it MAHOGANY; and it is made of two parts gin, and one part treacle, well beaten together. I begged to have some of it made, which was done with proper skill by Mr. Eliot. I thought it very good liquor; and said it was a counterpart of what is called ATHOL PORRIDGE in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a mixture of whisky and honey. Johnson said, 'that muse be a better liquor than the Cornish, for both its component parts are better.' He also observed, 'MAHOGANY must be a modern name; for it is not long since the wood called mahogany was known in this country.'

I shall never forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying 'why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'

1 comment:

  1. Aha! You're one of us now. :)

    Be careful, Jenny. It starts off with innocuous post a day and it transmutes into a five or six daily minimum.