Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

bodies in this country, "the tories were the most honest." As for the whigs, the doctor himself could not have hated them more cordially, but yet their motives were entirely different. They had denied preferment to the Irish dignitary, and persecuted his best friends: on the other hand, they were supposed, by the English philologist, " to have superadded hypocrisy to a factious spirit, by having constantly pledged themselves, when out of office, to what they never meant to perform when in power.”

With the entertaining biographer of Dr. Johnson, Mr. Tooke told me, he had had some trifling dispute, which was ended like those of two Celtic chiefs, in a trial of strength, more antiquowith this difference, however, that the beverage was not methlegin, or the vases out of which they drank their potations, the skulls of their enemies! Mr. Boswell, dining one day at Dolly's, along with a company of which Mr. Tooke constituted a part, some little altercation unfortunately ensued, and the former is said to have left the room because the latter happened to exclaim, "d-n it!"

This, to be sure, was indecorous, but not an unpardonable offence, in the eyes of a man possessed of so much good humour. Accordingly, happening to meet at a gentleman's house, soon

after, Mr. Boswell proposed to make up the breach on the express condition, however, that they should drink a bottle of wine each between the toasts! But Mr. Tooke would not give his assent, unless the liquor should be brandy. This was accordingly agreed to by both parties; and, by the time a quart had been. quaffed, the laird of Auchinleck was left sprawling on the floor!

I am unacquainted with the extent of human power in respect to trials of this kind, or the retentive capacity of any single man at a sitting, but I have heard a Kentish gentleman declare, in the presence of his friends and neighbours, who most readily concurred in the assertion, "that he had drank as much wine as would float a seventy-four-gun ship!"

Mr. Tooke once told me, that, after he had attained the age of fifty, the canals of the human body began to be clogged up, by the constant wear and tear of half a century. In allusion to this, he was accustomed to relate an anecdote of a man of fortune, who kept a fine carriage, nicely poised and adjusted for his friends, while he himself always rode in one without springs. Accordingly, he was a great advocate for a jolt, as, according to him, it tended not a little to remove obstructions. While residing in that neighbour

[ocr errors]

hood, Brentford presented ample opportunities for this indulgence, being, until lately, the worst paved town in Great Britiain; and even after his removal to Wimbledon, when he supposed himself to stand in need of a little jumbling, he was accustomed to pass along Putney Bridge in a post-chaise, and, on entering London, gave orders to the postillion to drive, for a couple of hours, up and down the roughest of the streets; after which he returned home, not a little invigorated and refreshed.

CHAPTER IX.

1812.

His Death and Character.

MR. Tooke had now attained an advanced age, and the fatal scene was about to close on him for ever. He still continued to bear his fate with undaunted resolution, and was never once heard to complain. His mind, indeed, seemed at times to be occupied with those cares incident to men who expect to live for many years; and when not overwhelmed with disease, he took a delight in planning future improve

ments.

But a few months before his death, he had determined to alter his whole establishment, and appeared busy in preparing for a long period of enjoyment. He accordingly raised his walls, repaired his stables, paved his yard, papered, and in part, actually furnished his house anew. He, at the same time, planned a coach-drive in

form of a semi-circle before his entrance door, with a handsome gate at each end.

A new arrangement also was to take place in his household. He intended to have a servant out of livery, to wait on himself; and when any thing happened not to be dressed exactly to his mind, he would threaten to have a French cook!

Indeed, he actually expended many hundred pounds in some of these projects, and had he lived but a year or two longer, it is more than probable, that he would have greatly injured his fortune. As he was unable to superintend his improvements, as formerly, in person, they were not always executed in the best manner, or on the most economical terms. The pavement leading to his house was so rough, that, in order to avoid encountering it, a regular footpath was formed on each side; and the visitors walked every where, "but along the path destined for them." No visible advantage was derived from heightening his garden wall; the coach-house was not destined to receive a carriage, as he never permitted any to stand there; and as for his stables, no horse but one, belonging to his nephew, ever entered them; and indeed, after they were fitted up, that gentleman's chaise was always sent to the inn. Even

« ÎnapoiContinuați »