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).