��had better ask for it at once, and so take your trifles with con sent. Oh, Sir ! replies the visitor, my master bid me have as much as I pleased, and was half angry when I talked to him about it. Then pray Sir (said I), teize me no more about such airy nothings I and was going on to be very angry, when I recollected that the fellow might be mad perhaps ; so I asked him, When he left the counting-house of an evening ? At seven o'clock, Sir. And when do you go to-bed, Sir? At twelve o'clock. Then (replied I) I have at least learned thus much by my new acquaintance ; that five hours of the four-and-twenty unemployed are enough for a man to go mad in ; so I would advise you Sir, to study algebra, if you are not an adept already in it 2 : your head would get less muddy 3 , and you will leave off tormenting your neighbours about paper and packthread, while we all live together in a world that is bursting with sin and sorrow. It is perhaps needless to add, that this visitor came no more.'
Mr. Johnson had indeed a real abhorrence of a person that had ever before him treated a little thing like a great one : and he quoted this scrupulous person with his packthread very often, ~m ridicule of a friend who, looking out on Streatham Common from our windows one day. lamented the enormous wickedness of the times, because some bird-catchers were busy there one fine Sunday morning. ' While half the Christian world is permitted (said he) to dance and sing, and celebrate Sunday as a day of festivity, how comes your puritanical spirit so offended with frivolous and empty deviations from exactness 4 ? Whoever
1 ' And as imagination bodies forth no doubt had arithmetic enough in
The forms of things unknown, the counting-house, and so was ad-
the poet's pen vised not to have recourse to it, but
Turns them to shape, and gives to algebra.
to airy nothing 3 ' Dost think I am so muddy, so
A local habitation and a name.' unsettled,
A Midsummer Nights Dream, To appoint myself in this vexa-
Act v. sc. I. tion?'
- 'When Mr. Johnson felt his fancy, The Winter's Tale, Act i. sc. 2.
or fancied he felt it, disordered, his See Life, ii. 362, n. 3.
constant recurrence was to the study 4 ' Dr. Johnson enforced the strict
of arithmetic.' Ante,p.2oo. The clerk observance of Sunday. "It should