Saturday, December 02, 2006

Samuel Johnson on the Madness of Kit Smart

All this talk about Edith Sitwell set me to remembering:
Concerning this unfortunate poet, Christopher Smart, who was confined in a madhouse, 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 is 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 ale-house; 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 life lief pray with Kit Smart as anyone else. Another charge was, that he did not love clean linen; and I have no passion for it.”--
James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LLD

2 comments:

rabcarian said...

Correction:

Dr. Johnson said, I’d as LIEF pray with Kit Smart as anyone else.

Buce said...

Thanks. You're a lief saver.