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for his opinion :-"He is the most inexplicable man to me that I ever knew. Can you explain him, Sir ? He is, I really believe, noble-minded, generous, and princely. But his most intimate friends may be separated from him for years, without his ever asking a question concerning them. He will meet them with a formality, a coldness, a stately indifference ; but when they come close to him, and fairly engage him in conversation, they find him as easy, pleasant, and kind as they could wish. One then supposes that what is so agreeable will soon be renewed ; but stay away from him for half a year, and he will neither call on you, nor send to inquire about you.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, I cannot ascertain his character exactly, as I do not know him ; but I should not like to have such a man for my friend. He may love study, and wish not to be interrupted by his friends ; Amici fures temporis. He may be a frivolous man, and be so much occupied with petty pursuits that he may not want friends. Or he may have a notion that there is dignity in appearing indifferent, while he in fact may not be more indifferent at his heart than another.”
We went to evening prayers at St. Clement's, at seven, and then parted.
1 The reader will recollect that in the year 1775, when Dr. Johnson visited France, he was kindly entertained by the English Benedictine monks at Paris (Vol. III. p. 157). One of that body, the Rev. James Compton, in the course of some conversation with him at that time, asked him, if any of them should become converts to the protestant faith, and should visit England, whether they might hope for a friendly reception from him: to which he warmly replied, “that he should receive such a convert most cordially.” In consequence of this conversation, Mr. Compton, a few years afterwards, having some doubts concerning the religion in which he had been bred, was induced, by reading the 10th Number of “The Rambler," (on REPENTANCE), to consider the subject more deeply; and the result of his inquiries was, a determination to become a protestant. With this view, in the summer of 1782, he returned to his native country, frojn whence he had been absent from his sixth to his thirty-fifth year; and on his arrival in London, very scantily provided with the means of subsistence, he immediately repaired to Bolt Court, to visit Dr. Johnson; and having informed him of his desire to be admitted into the Church of England, for this purpose solicited his aid to procure for him an introduction to the bishop of London, Dr. Lowth. At the time of his first visit, Johnson was so much indisposed, that he could allow him only a short conversation of a few minutes; but he desired him to call again in the course of the following week. When Mr. Compton visited him a second time, he was perfectly recovered from his indisposition; re. ceived him with the utmost cordiality; and not only undertook the management of the busi. ness in which his friendly interposition had been requested, but with great kiadness exerted himself in this gentleman's favour, with a view to his future subsistence, and immediately supplied him with the means of present support.
Finding that the proposed introduction to the bishop of London had from some accidental
causes been deferred, lest Mr. Compton, who then lodged at Highgate, should suppose himself neglected, he wrote him the following note :
“ October 6, 1782. “SIR, -I have directed Dr. Vyse's letter to be sent to you, that you may know the situation of your business. Delays are incident to all affairs; but there appears nothing in your case of either superciliousness or neglect. Dr. Vyse seems to wish you well. I am, &c.,
“ SAM. JOHNSON." Mr. Compton having, by Johnson's advice, quitted Highgate, and settled in London, had now more frequent opportunities of visiting his friend, and profiting by his conversation and advice. Still, however, his means of subsistence being very scanty, Dr. Johnson kindly promised to afford him a decent maintenance, until by his own exertions he should be able to obtain a livelihood; which benevolent offer he accepted, and lived entirely at Johnson's expense till the end of January, 1783; in which month, having previously been introduced to Bishop Lowth, he was received into our communion in St. James's parish church. In the fol. lowing April, the place of under-master of St. Paul's school having become vacant, his friendly protector did him a more essential service, by writing the following letter in his favour, to the Mercer's Company, in whom the appointment of the under-master lay :
“Bolt Court, Meet-street, April 19, 1783. “GENTLEMEN,~At the request of the Reverend Mr. James Compton, who now solicits your votes to be elected under-master of St. Paul's school, I testify with great sincerity, that he is, in my opinion, a man of abilities sufficient, and more than sufficient, for the duties of the office for which he is a candidate. I am, &c.,
SAM. JOHNSON." Though this testimony in Mr. Compton's favour was not attended with immediate success, yet Johnson's kindness was not without effect; for his letter procured Mr. Compton so many well-wishers in the respectable company of Mercers, that he was honoured, by the favour of several of its members, with more applications to teach Latin and French than he could find time to attend to. In 1796, the Rev. Mr. Gilbert, one of his majesty's French chaplains, having accepted a living in Guernsey, nominated Mr. Compton as his substitute at the French chapel of St. James's ; which appointment, in April, 1811, he relinquished for a cetter in the French chapel at Bethnal Green. By the favour of Dr. Porteus, the late excellent Bishop of London, he was also appointed in 1802, chaplain of the Dutch chapel at St. James's; a station which he still holds.-M.
Population of London-Natural Affection-Self-defence-Duelling-Corpulency-Government
of India—Reviewers-Horace-Sickuess-Liberty of Teaching—“Alias "_Virgil-CantHospitality–Miss Burney–Barry's Pictures-Baxter's Works—Devotion-Johnson attacked with a Stroke of the Palsy-Recovery-Visit to Langton at Rochester.
On Sunday, April 20, being Easter-day, after attending solemn service at St. Paul's, I came to Dr. Johnson, and found Mr. Lowe, the painter, sitting with him. Mr. Lowe mentioned the great number of new buildings of late in London, yet that Dr. Johnson had observed that the number of inhabitants was not increased. JOHNson. “Why, Sir, the bills of mortality prove that no more people die now than formerly; so it is plain no more live. The register of births proves nothing, for not one-tenth of the people of London are born there." BOSWELL. “I believe, Sir, a great many of the children born in London die early.” Johnson. “Why, yes, Sir." BoswELL. “But those who do live are as stout and strong people as any. Dr. Price says, they must be naturally strong to get through.” Johnson. “That is system, Sir. A great traveller observes, that it is said that there are no weak or deformed people among the Indians; but he, with much sagacity, assigns the reason of this, which is, that the hardship of their life as hunters and fishers does not allow weak or diseased children to grow up. Now, had I been an Indian, I must have died early ; my eyes would not have served me to get food. I, indeed, now could fish, give me English tackle ; but had I been an Indian, I must have starved, or they would have knocked me on the head, when they saw I could do nothing." BOSWELL. “Perhaps, they would have taken care of you ; we are told they are fond of oratory,—you would have talked to them." Johnson. “Nay, Sir, I should not have lived long
enough to be fit to talk ; I should have been dead before I was ten years old. Depend upon it, Sir, a savage, when he is hungry, will not carry about with him a looby of nine years old, who cannot help himself. They have no affection, Sir.” BOSWELL. "I believe natural affection, of which we hear so much, is very small.” JOHN
Sir, natural affection is nothing ; but affection from principle and established duty is sometimes wonderfully strong." LOWE. “A hen, Sir, will feed her chickens in preference to herself." JOHN
“But we don't know that the hen is hungry; let the hen be fairly hungry, and I'll warrant she'll peck the corn herself. A cock, I believe, will feed hens instead of himself : but we don't know that the cock is hungry." BOSWELL. “And that, Sir, is not from affection, but gallantry. But some of the Indians have affection.” Johnson. "
Sir, that they help some of their children is plain ; for some of them live, which they could not do without being helped."
I dined with him ; the company were Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Desmoulins, and Mr. Lowe. He seemed not to be well, talked little, grew drowsy soon after dinner, and retired ; upon which I went away.
Having next day gone to Mr. Burke's seat in the country, from whence I was recalled by an express, that a near relation of mine had killed his antagonist in a duel, and was himself dangerously wounded, I saw little of Dr. Johnson till Monday, April 28, when I spent a considerable part of the day with him, and introduced the subject which then chiefly occupied my mind. Johnson. “I do not see, Sir, that fighting is absolutely forbidden in Scripture ; I see revenge forbidden, but not self-defence.” BOSWELL. “The Quakers
• Unto him that smiteth thee on one cheek, offer him also the other.” Johnson. “But stay, Sir ; the text is meant only to have the effect of moderating passion ; it is plain that we are not to take it in a literal sense. We see this from the context, where there are other recommendations; which, I warrant you, the quaker will zot take literally : as, for instance, 'From him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away. Let a man whose credit is bad come to a quaker, and say, 'Well, Sir, lend me a hundred pounds; he'll find him as unwilling as any other man. No, Sir ; a man may shoot the man who invades his character, as he may shoot him who
say it is.
attempts to break into his house.' So, in 1745, my friend, Tom Cumming, the quaker, said he would not fight, but he would drive an ammunition cart; and we know that the quakers have sent flannel waistcoats to our soldiers, to enable them to fight better.” BOSWELL. “When a man is the aggressor, and by ill-usage forces on a duel by which he is killed, have we not little ground to hope that he is gone to a state of happiness ?" JOHNSON. “Sir, we are not to judge determinately of the state in which a man leaves this life. He may in a moment have repented effectually, and it is possible may have been accepted of God. There is in ‘Camden's Remains' an epitaph upon a very wicked man, who was killed by a fall from his horse in which he is supposed to say,
' Between the stirrup and the ground,
mercy ask'd, I mercy found.'”?
Boswell. “Is not the expression in the burial-service,-' in the sure and certain bope of a blessed resurrection'—too strong to be used indiscriminately, and, indeed, sometimes when those over whose bodies it is said have been notoriously profane ?" JOHNSON. “It is sure and certain hope, Sir, not belief.” I did not insist further ; but cannot help thinking that less positive words would be more proper.:
' I think it necessary to caution my readers against concluding that, in this or any other conversation of Dr. Johnson, they have his serious and deliberate opinion on the subject of duelling. In my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, third edit. p. 386, it appears that ho made this frank confession: “Nobody, at times, talks more laxly than I do ;" and ibid. p. 231, “ He fairly owned he could not explain the rationality of duelling.” We may, therefore, infer that he could not think that justifiable, which seems so inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel. At the same time, it must be confessed, that, from the prevalent notions of honour, a gentleman who receives a challenge is reduced to a dreadful alternative. A remarkable instance of this is furnished by a clause in the will of the late Colonel Thomas, of the Guards, written the night before he fell in a duel, September 3, 1783 : "In the first place, I commit my soul to Almighty God, in hopes of his mercy and pardon for the irreligious stop I now (in compliance with the unwarrantable customs of this wicked world) put myself under the necessity of taking."-B. (Colonel Thomas was shot in a duel by Colonel Cosmo Gordon, See Gent. Mag., 1783, p. 801.] ? In repeating this epitaph, Johnson improved it. The original runs thus :
“ Betriæt the stirrup and the ground,
Mercy I ask'd, mercy I found.”—M. 8 Upon this objection the Rev. Mr. Ralph Churton, fellow of Brazennose College, Oxford, has favoured me with the following satisfactory observation :
“ The passage in the burial-service does not mean the resurrection of the person interre