'MADNESS frequently discovers itself merely by unnecessary deviation from the usual modes of the world. My poor friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind by falling upon his knees and saying his prayers in the street, or in any other unusual place. Now although, rationally speaking, it is greater madness not to pray at all than to pray as Smart did, I am afraid there are so many who do not pray, that their understanding is not called in question.'
Concerning this unfortunate poet, Christopher Smart, who was confined in a mad-house, he had, at another time, the following conversation with Dr. Burney,
|BURNEY.||`How does poor Smart do, sir; is he likely to recover?'|
|JOHNSON.||`It seems as if his mind had ceased to struggle with the disease; for he grows fat upon it.'|
|BURNEY.||`Perhaps, sir, that may be from want of exercise.'|
|JOHNSON.||`No, sir; he has partly as much exercise as he used to have, for he digs in the garden. Indeed, before his confinement, he used for exercise to walk to the alehouse; but he was carried back again. I did not think he ought to be shut up. His infirmities were not noxious to society. He insisted on people praying with him; and I'd as lief pray with Kit Smart as anyone else...'|
From Boswell, Life of Johnson, i. 397.
|« NEXT »||« 18th Century Anecdotes »||« All Anecdotes »||« Humour »||« Library »|