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Dr Johnson Again

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The good doctor evidently lived up to his reputation as a tea-drinker at all times and places. Cumberland, the dramatist, in his memoirs gives a story illustrative of the doctor’s tea-drinking powers: “I remember when Sir Joshua Reynolds, at my home, reminded Dr. Johnson that he had drunk eleven cups of tea. ‘Sir,’ he replied, ‘I did not count your glasses of wine; why should you number my cups of tea?'”

At another time a certain Lady Macleod, after pouring out sixteen cups for him, ventured mildly to ask whether a basin would not save him trouble and be more convenient. “I wonder, madam,” he replied, roughly, “why all ladies ask such questions?” “It is to save yourself trouble, not me,” was the tactful answer of his hostess.

A Cup of Tea

From St. Nicholas, December, 1899.

Now Grietje from her window sees the leafless poplars lean
Against a windy sunset sky with streaks of golden green;
The still canal is touched with light from that wild, wintry sky,
And, dark and gaunt, the windmill flings its bony arms on high.
“It’s growing late; it’s growing cold; I’m all alone,” says she;
“I’ll put the little kettle on, to make a cup of tea!”

Mild radiance from the porcelain stove reflects on shining tiles;
The kettle beams, so red and bright that Grietje thinks it smiles;
The kettle sings–so soft and low it seems as in a dream–
The song that’s like a lullaby, the pleasant song of steam:
“The summer’s gone; the storks are flown; I’m always here, you see,
To sing and sing, and shine, and shine, and make a cup of tea!”

The blue delft plates and dishes gleam, all ranged upon the shelf;
The tall Dutch clock tick-ticks away, just talking to itself;
The brindled pussy cuddles down, and basks and blinks and purrs;
And rosy, sleepy Grietje droops that snow-white cap of hers.
“I do like winter after all; I’m very glad,” says she,
“I put–my–little–kettle–on–to make–a cup–of–tea!”

Helen Gray Cone