Sunday, September 27, 2015

Selections from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary: “T”

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D.,Assistant Professor of Turgid Classics, Assistant Faro Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Tempestuous Tutoress; the Olney Community College Press.

Artwork personally supervised by rhoda penmarq (pencils, inks, colors and layout by roy dismas; lettering by eddie el greco); a Bob’s Bowery Bar™ Production in association with rhoda penmarq™ hyper-artistic enterprises, ltd.

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Tabefaction.The act of wasting away.


Tachygraphy.  The art or practice of quick writing.


To Tantalize.  [from Tantalus, whose punishment was to starve among fruits and water which he could not touch.]  To torment by the shew of pleasures which cannot be reached.


Tarantula.  An insect whose bite is only cured by musick.

This word, lover, did no less pierce poor Pyrocles than the right tune of musick toucheth him that is sick of the tarantula. Sidney.


Tarragon. A plant called herb-dragon.


To Teh-he.  To laugh with a loud and more insolent kind of cachinnation; to titter.


Tempest.  The utmost violence of the wind; the names by which the wind is called according to the gradual encrease of its force seems to be, a breeze; a gale; a gust; a storm; a tempest.

I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds

Have riv'd the knotty oaks.  Shakesp. Julius Cæsar.


Temple.  A place appropriated to acts of religion.

Here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but hornbeasts.  Shakespeare's As you like it.


Tenebricose.  Dark; gloomy.


Testudineous.   Resembling the shell of a tortoise.


Tree.  A large vegetable rising, with one woody stem, to a considerable height.

Trees shoot up in one great stem, and at a good distance from the earth, spread into branches: thus gooseberries are shrubs, and oaks are trees. Locke.


Turtle.  It is used among sailors and gluttons for a tortoise.


Tush.  [Of this word I can find no credible etymology.] An expression of contempt.


Tutsan.   A plant.


Tympany.   A kind of obstructed flatulence that swells the body like a drum.

The air is so rarified in this kind of dropsical tumour as makes it hard and tight like a drum, and from thence it is called a tympany. Arbuthnot.


Tyro.  One yet not master of his art; one in his rudiments.

There stands a structure on a rising hill,

Where tyro's take their freedom out to kill. Garth's Disp.


(Our illustrated adaptation of Boswell’s Life of Johnson will resume next week. Classix Comix is made possible through the continuing support of the Bob’s Bowery Bar™ Fund for the Uncommercial Arts: “Allow me to recommend Bob’s Bowery Bar’s new ‘Autumn Menu’, including a particular personal favorite: ‘Bob’s Mom’s Mulligan Stew’, a tasty mélange of ‘available’ free-range meats and organic vegetables and roots, slow-cooked in Bob’s justly-renowned basement-brewed house bock,

served with your choice of Uneeda biscuits or home-baked hardtack. At a buck a bowl this nutritious and filling repast is ideal for those recently cast into near-penury by the recent stock market fluctuations!” – Horace P. Sternwall, host of Bob’s Bowery Bar Presents Horace P. Sternwall’s Celebrity Kaffeeklatsch, exclusively on the Dumont Television Network, Sundays at 3pm (EST). This week’s guests: Percy Helton, Beverly Michaels, Cleo Moore, and Hugo Haas.)



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 94

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D, Associate Professor of Adult Comic Book Studies, Assistant Rugby Union Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Bad Good Friday, the Olney Community College Press.

Artwork and layout personally supervised by "rhoda penmarq (pencils, inks, coloring by eddie el greco; lettering by" roy dismas); a “rhoda penmarq™ internationale”/danny thomas co-production.

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On the 9th of April, being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns; Doctor Levet, as Frank called him, making the tea. He carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had his seat; and his behaviour was, as I had imaged to myself, solemnly devout. I never shall forget the tremulous earnestness with which he pronounced the awful petition in the Litany: 

'In the hour of death, and at the day of judgement, good LORD deliver us.'

We went to church both in the morning and evening. In the interval between the two services we did not dine; but he read in the Greek New Testament, and I turned over several of his books.

In Archbishop Laud's Diary, I found the following passage, which I read to Dr. Johnson:—

'1623. February 1, Sunday. I stood by the most illustrious Prince Charles, at dinner. He was then very merry, and talked occasionally of many things with his attendants. Among other things, he said, that if he were necessitated to take any particular profession of life, he could not be a lawyer, adding his reasons: 

"I cannot (saith he,) defend a bad, nor yield in a good cause."'

JOHNSON. 'Sir, this is false reasoning; because every cause has a bad side.'

I told him that Goldsmith had said to me a few days before, 

'As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the taylor, so I take my religion from the priest.' 

I regretted this loose way of talking.

JOHNSON. 'Sir, he knows nothing.'

To my great surprize he asked me to dine with him on Easter-day. I never supposed that he had a dinner at his house; for I had not then heard of any one of his friends having been entertained at his table.

He told me, 'I generally have a meat pye on Sunday: it is baked at a publick oven, which is very properly allowed, because one man can attend it; and thus the advantage is obtained of not keeping servants from church to dress dinners.’ 

April 11, being Easter-Sunday, after having attended Divine Service at St. Paul's, I repaired to Dr. Johnson's. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with JEAN JAQUES ROUSSEAU, while he lived in the wilds of Neufchatel: I had as great a curiosity to dine with DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, in the dusky recess of a court in Fleet-street. 

I supposed we should scarcely have knives and forks, and only some strange, uncouth, ill-drest dish: but I found every thing in very good order. 

We had no other company but Mrs. Williams and a young woman whom I did not know. As a dinner here was considered as a singular phenomenon, and as I was frequently interrogated on the subject, my readers may perhaps be desirous to know our bill of fare. 

Foote, I remember, in allusion to Francis, the negro, was willing to suppose that our repast was black broth. But the fact was, that we had a very good soup, a boiled leg of lamb and spinach, a veal pye, and a rice pudding.

He owned that he thought Hawkesworth was one of his imitators, but he did not think Goldsmith was. Goldsmith, he said, had great merit. 

BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, he is much indebted to you for his getting so high in the publick estimation.' 

JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, he has perhaps got sooner to it by his intimacy with me.'

I put a question to him upon a fact in common life, which he could not answer, nor have I found any one else who could.

What is the reason that women servants, though obliged to be at the expense of purchasing their own clothes, have much lower wages than men servants, to whom a great proportion of that article is furnished, and when in fact our female house servants work much harder than the male?

He told me that he had twelve or fourteen times attempted to keep a journal of his life, but never could persevere. He advised me to do it.

'The great thing to be recorded, (said he), is the state of your own mind; and you should write down every thing that you remember, for you cannot judge at first what is good or bad; and write immediately while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same a week afterwards.'

I again solicited him to communicate to me the particulars of his early life.

He said, 'You shall have them all for twopence. I hope you shall know a great deal more of me before you write my Life.'

He mentioned to me this day many circumstances, which I wrote down when I went home, and have interwoven in the former part of this narrative.

On Tuesday, April 13, he and Dr. Goldsmith and I dined at General Oglethorpe's.

Goldsmith expatiated on the common topick, that the race of our people was degenerated, and that this was owing to luxury.

JOHNSON. 'Sir, in the first place, I doubt the fact. I believe there are as many tall men in England now, as ever there were. But, secondly, supposing the stature of our people to be diminished, that is not owing to luxury; for, Sir, consider to how very small a proportion of our people luxury can reach. Our soldiery, surely, are not luxurious, who live on six-pence a day; and the same remark will apply to almost all the other classes. Luxury, so far as it reaches the poor, will do good to the race of people; it will strengthen and multiply them.

Sir, no nation was ever hurt by luxury; for, as I said before, it can reach but to a very few.

‘I admit that the great increase of commerce and manufactures hurts the military spirit of a people; because it produces a competition for something else than martial honours,— a competition for riches. It also hurts the bodies of the people; for you will observe, there is no man who works at any particular trade, but you may know him from his appearance to do so. One part or other of his body being more used than the rest, he is in some degree deformed: but, Sir, that is not luxury. A tailor sits cross-legged; but that is not luxury.'

GOLDSMITH. 'Come, you're just going to the same place by another road.'

JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir , I say that is not luxury. Let us take a walk from Charing-cross to White-chapel, through, I suppose, the greatest series of shops in the world; what is there in any of these shops (if you except gin-shops,) that can do any human being any harm?'

GOLDSMITH. 'Well, Sir, I'll accept your challenge. The very next shop to Northumberland-house is a pickle-shop.' 

JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir: do we not know that a maid can in one afternoon make pickles sufficient to serve a whole family for a year? nay, that five pickle-shops can serve all the kingdom? 

‘Besides, Sir, there is no harm done to any body by the making of pickles, or the eating of pickles.'

"(To be continued. This week’s episode of Boswell’s Life of Johnson was brought to you by Bob’s Bowery Bar™, “in easy stumbling distance from the subway”, at Bleecker and the Bowery: “Entertaining guests from out of town, but just a little short of the ‘do-re-mi’? Allow me to recommend Bob’s Bowery Bar’s prix-fixe ‘Back Room Smörgåsbord’, featuring a rotating array of delicacies such as pickled trotters and pigeon eggs, charbroiled duck skin,

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part 95

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Boswell’s Life of Johnson: 93

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D, Assistant Professor of Unread Classics, Assistant Hurling Team Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Mysterious Packet from Philadelphia, the Olney Community College Press.

Artwork and layout by rhoda penmarq (assisted by eddie el greco {pencils, inks, colors} and roy dismas {lettering}) for “rhoda penmarq professional™ productions” in association with Angus Strongbow Productions, Ltd.

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While a former edition of my work was passing through the press, I was unexpectedly favoured with a packet from Philadelphia, from Mr. James Abercrombie, a gentleman of that country, who is pleased to honour me with very high praise of my Life of Dr. Johnson. To have the fame of my illustrious friend, and his faithful biographer, echoed from the New World is extremely flattering; and my grateful acknowledgements shall be wafted across the Atlantick.

Mr. Abercrombie has politely conferred on me a considerable additional obligation, by transmitting to me copies of two letters from Dr. Johnson to American gentlemen.

'Gladly, Sir, (says he,) would I have sent you the originals; but being the only relicks of the kind in America, they are considered by the possessors of such inestimable value, that no possible consideration would induce them to part with them. In some future publication of yours relative to that great and good man, they may perhaps be thought worthy of insertion.'

'To MR. B—-D. 


'That in the hurry of a sudden departure you should yet find leisure to consult my convenience, is a degree of kindness, and an instance of regard, not only beyond my claims, but above my expectation. You are not mistaken in supposing that I set a high value on my American friends, and that you should confer a very valuable favour upon me by giving me an opportunity of keeping myself in their memory.

'I have taken the liberty of troubling you with a packet, to which I wish a safe and speedy conveyance, because I wish a safe and speedy voyage to him that conveys it. I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, Johnson's-court, 
Fleet street, March 4, 1773.'



'Your kindness for your friends accompanies you across the Atlantick. It was long since observed by Horace, that no ship could leave care behind; you have been attended in your voyage by other powers,— by benevolence and constancy; and I hope care did not often shew her face in their company. 

'I received the copy of Rasselas. The impression is not magnificent, but it flatters an authour, because the printer seems to have expected that it would be scattered among the people. The little book has been well received, and is translated into Italian, French, German, and Dutch. It has now one honour more by an American edition.

'Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent-Garden, to which the manager predicts ill success. I hope he will be mistaken. I think it deserves a very kind reception. 

'I shall soon publish a new edition of my large Dictionary; I have been persuaded to revise it, and have mended some faults, but added little to its usefulness.

'Thus have I written, only to tell you how little I have to tell. Of myself I can only add, that having been afflicted many weeks with a very troublesome cough, I am now recovered.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,  


'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, London, March 4, 1773.'

On Saturday, April 3, the day after my arrival in London this year, I went to his house late in the evening, and sat with Mrs. Williams till he came home.

I found in the London Chronicle, Dr. Goldsmith's apology to the publick for beating Evans, a bookseller, on account of a paragraph in a newspaper published by him, which Goldsmith thought impertinent to him and to a lady of his acquaintance. The apology was written so much in Dr. Johnson's manner, that both Mrs. Williams and I supposed it to be his; but when he came home, he soon undeceived us.

When he said to Mrs. Williams, 'Well, Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper;' I asked him if Dr. Goldsmith had written it, with an air that made him see I suspected it was his, though subscribed by Goldsmith.

JOHNSON. 'Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do anything else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerned him must be of importance to the publick.'

BOSWELL. 'I fancy, Sir, this is the first time that he has been engaged in such an adventure.'

JOHNSON. 'Why , Sir, I believe it is the first time he has beat; he may have been beaten before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.'

I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great-Britain and Ireland, and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russel and Algernon Sydney.

JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals.'

BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, may not those discoveries be true without their being rascals?'

JOHNSON. 'Consider, Sir; would any of them have been willing to have had it known that they intrigued with France? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid should be known, has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing, it is the mere bouncing of a school-boy.'

I could not agree with him in this criticism; for though Sir John Dalrymple's style is not regularly formed in any respect, and one cannot help smiling sometimes at his affected grandiloquence, there is in his writing a pointed vivacity, and much of a gentlemanly spirit.

At Mr . Thrale's, in the evening, he repeated his usual paradoxical declamation against action in publick speaking.

'Action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. It may augment noise, but it never can enforce argument. If you speak to a dog, you use action; you hold up your hand thus, because he is a brute; and in proportion as men are removed from brutes, action will have the less influence upon them.'

MRS. THRALE. 'What then, Sir, becomes of Demosthenes's saying? "Action, action, action!"'

JOHNSON. 'Demosthenes, Madam, spoke to an assembly of brutes; to a barbarous people.'

I thought it extraordinary, that he should deny the power of rhetorical action upon human nature, when it is proved by innumerable facts in all stages of society. Reasonable beings are not solely reasonable. They have fancies which may be pleased, passions which may be roused.

Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of that celebrated nobleman's witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship's saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both very old and infirm:

'Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known.'

He talked with approbation of an intended edition of The Spectator, with notes. He observed, that all works which describe manners, require notes in sixty or seventy years, or less; and told us, he had communicated all he knew that could throw light upon The Spectator.

The conversation having turned on modern imitations of ancient ballads, and some one having praised their simplicity, he treated them with that ridicule which he always displayed when that subject was mentioned.

He disapproved of introducing scripture phrases into secular discourse. This seemed to me a question of some difficulty. A scripture expression may be used, like a highly classical phrase, to produce an instantaneous strong impression; and it may be done without being at all improper. Yet I own there is danger, that applying the language of our sacred book to ordinary subjects may tend to lessen our reverence for it. If therefore it be introduced at all, it should be with very great caution.

On Thursday, April 8, I sat a good part of the evening with him, but he was very silent.

He said, 'Burnet's History of his own times is very entertaining. The style, indeed, is mere chitchat. I do not believe that Burnet intentionally lyed; but he was so much prejudiced, that he took no pains to find out the truth. He was like a man who resolves to regulate his time by a certain watch; but will not inquire whether the watch is right or not.’

Though he was not disposed to talk, he was unwilling that I should leave him; and when I looked at my watch, and told him it was twelve o'clock, he cried, 'What's that to you and me?' and ordered Frank to tell Mrs. Williams that we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did.

It was settled that we should go to church together next day.

(To be continued. This week’s chapter has been sponsored by Bob’s Bowery Bar™, conveniently located at Bleecker and the Bowery: “Allow me to recommend Bob’s Bowery Bar’s famous ‘Hangover Brunch Special’: Bob’s Mom’s house-cured bacon, homemade blood pudding, fried groatcakes, eggs ‘any style’ and your choice of airy brioche or hearty dense black-bread toast:

wash it all down with lashings of fresh-brewed Assam tea and you’ll soon be ready for that first restorative schooner of Bob’s justly-renowned basement-brewed house bock!” – Horace P. Sternwall, host of Bob’s Bowery Bar Presents Horace P. Sternwall’s Tales of the French Foreign Legion, Thursdays at 9pm (EST), exclusively on the Dumont Television Network.)

part 94