Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Samuel Johnson Climbs A Tree

I have previously noted Samuel Johnson's antic side, suggesting that we should not forget this often-neglected aspect of his personality.  Thus far, we have seen that Johnson was a runner of foot-races, as well as a man who was wont to roll sideways down a tempting hill.  ("Samuel Johnson Runs A Foot-Race": June 10, 2010; "Ludwig Wittgenstein Pretends To Be The Moon. Samuel Johnson Rolls Down A Hill": May 8, 2010.)  But Johnson did not confine himself to those two activities: 

One day, as he was walking in Gunisbury Park (or Paddock) with some gentlemen and ladies, who were admiring the extraordinary size of some of the trees, one of the gentlemen said that, when he was a boy, he made nothing of climbing (swarming, I think, was the phrase) the largest there.  'Why, I can swarm it now,' replied Dr. Johnson, which excited a hearty laugh -- (he was then, I believe, between fifty and sixty); on which he ran to the tree, clung round the trunk, and ascended to the branches, and, I believe, would have gone in amongst them, had he not been very earnestly entreated to descend; and down he came with a triumphant air, seeming to make nothing of it.

"Recollections of Dr. Johnson by Miss Reynolds," Johnsonian Miscellanies, Volume II (edited by George Birkbeck Hill) (1897).

              Harry Epworth Allen (1894-1958), "Linlithgow, Sheffield"


Murgatroyd said...

Another delicious blog entry Mr Pentz. I do enjoy reading your blog and thank you for the introduction to the painting above which I hadn't seen before.

Stephen Pentz said...

Murgatroyd: Thank you very much for visiting, and for your kind words.

I'm pleased that you like the painting by Harry Epworth Allen. I wasn't aware of him until a year or so ago, and I was delighted to discover his work. As you can tell from my posts, I am fond of certain British artists from the early- to mid-20th century -- John Nash, Stanley Spencer, Eric Ravilious, Robin Tanner, George Mackley, etc. Epworth Allen shares many of their qualities, I think.

Thank you again.

PAL said...

I'd like to second Mugatroyd's comments. I'd never heard of this artist before. What a vivid depiction of trees, and wonderful composition. I see there's a web site, apparently set up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death (link from Wikipedia entry 'H E Allen').

One continues to click on to this site with a sense of pleasurable anticipation.

Murgatroyd said...

I, too, am a fan of many of those artists and will happily keep coming back for more!

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you for the very kind words, PAL. As always, it is a pleasure to have you visit.

I am pleased to find that you like Epworth Allen's painting as well. There was a style in British landscape painting during the early and middle part of the 20th century that I like a great deal -- as I suggested in my response to Murgatroyd's comment, I think one sees it in John Nash (Paul Nash as well), the Spencer brothers, Ravilious, and Epworth Allen (my list is not all-inclusive). I think that the same style can be found in some of the Canadian Group of Seven artists -- particularly Lawren Harris and A. J. Casson.

Thank you again, PAL.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you, Murgatroyd. Having visited Serge & Tweed, as well as your links to Ravilious, Spencer, and others, I thought that we shared some common enthusiasms.