Dr Johnson pp 60-61 | Cite as

‘His intellectual storehouse’

  • Richard Cumberland
Part of the Interviews and Recollections book series (IR)


It was on such occasions he was to be seen in his happiest moments; when animated by the cheering attention of friends, whom he liked, he would give full scope to those talents for narration, in which I verily think he was unrivalled both in the brilliancy of his wit, the flow of his humour, and the energy of his language. Anecdotes of times past, scenes of his own life, and characters of humourists, enthusiasts, crack-brained projectors and a variety of strange beings, that he had chanced upon, when detailed by him at length, and garnished with those episodical remarks, sometimes comic, sometimes grave, which he would throw in with infinite fertility of fancy, were a treat, which though not always to be purchased by five and twenty cups of tea, I have often had the happiness to enjoy for less than half the number. He was easily led into topics; it was not easy to turn him from them; but who would wish it? If a man wanted to show himself off by getting up and riding upon him, he was sure to run restive and kick him off; you might as safely have backed Bucephalus, before Alexander had lunged him. Neither did he always like to be over-fondled; when a certain gentleman out-acted his part in this way, he is said to have demanded of him ‘What provokes your risibility, Sir? Have I said anything that you understand? Then I ask pardon of the rest of the company.’ But this is Henderson’s1 anecdote of him, and I will not swear he did not make it himself.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1987

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  • Richard Cumberland

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