Saturday, December 28, 2013


Samuel Foote and William Gower

William Cooke, Memoirs of Samuel Foote, Esq. With a Collection of his Genuine Bon-Mots, Anecdotes, Opinions, &c., Vol. I (New York: Peter A. Mesier, 1806), pp. 14-15:
At another time, when Foote was enjoined to learn certain tasks in consequence of his idleness, he used to come forward with a large folio dictionary under his arm, and present himself before the doctor with great seeming gravity and submission. "Well, Sir, what do you want Sir, I am come to do away the imposition laid upon me."—"What do you mean by imposition? I would have you know, Sir, I impose upon nobody;"—" I am sure then, Sir, if you did not impose this duty upon me, I should never have taken a natural fancy to it."

Here the doctor usually growled, and desired him to go on, which the other generally did with a degree of talent and perspicuity that often confounded his examiner. After this, the doctor would read his pupil a lecture on idleness, and on the great danger of following the ebullitions of fancy in preference to the dictates of sober judgment; describing also the figure he might make in the world, if he took the proper course; and, on the contrary, the contempt and misery which must follow a life of inattention and dissipation.

The doctor, in delivering this lecture to his pupil, did it in a sour, dogmatical, pedantic manner, accompanied with a number of hard words and quaint phrases; the other, being prepared for these, immediately interrupted him, and after begging pardon, with great formality, would take his dictionary from under his arm, and pretending to find the meaning of the word, would say, "Very well, Sir; now please to go on."

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