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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 a 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. Clements, at seven, and then parted.
INCREASE OF LONDON, AND ITS POPULATION — NATURAL AFFECTIONS DUEL BETWEEN RIDDELL AND CUNNINGHAM - ON CORPULENCY — GOVERNMENT OF INDIA - DR. SHEBBEARE — PAYMENT FOR REVIEWING - RELIGIOUS DISBELIEF LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE MALLET'S FIRST ESSAY - ON READING VIRGIL AND HOMER-CANT-HOSPITALITY — SHERIDAN — FRIENDSHIP - BARRY'S PICTURES-CHRISTIAN DEVOTION RICHARD BAXTER — Miss PHILIPS CORRESPONDENCEJOHNSON ATTACKED BY PARALYSIS - MR. Davies—JOHNSON's RecoVERY-VISITS ROCHESTER AND HEAL. DEATH OF Mrs. WILLIAMS - MISCELLANEOUS CONVERSATION.
N Sunday, April 20, being Easter-day, after attending solemn serthe 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 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 huuters 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.” JOHNSON : “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.” JOHNSON: “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 say it is ; '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. this from the context, where there are other recommendations, which I warrant you the Quaker will not 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 will 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 attempts to break into his house."
So in 1745, my 1 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.
“Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," s cdit. p. 386, it appears that he made this frank confession: “Nobody at times talks mote 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 80 inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel. At the same time, it must be confessed
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 in 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,
I mercy asked, I mercy found.'”i BOSWELL : “Is not the expression in the Burial-service, ‘in the sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection,' too strong to be used indiscrimi. nately, 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 farther ; but cannot help thinking that less positive words would be more proper.
Talking of a man who was grown very fat, so as to be incommoded with corpulency; he said, “ He eats too much, Sir.” BOSWELL: “I don't know, Sir; you will see one man fat who eats moderately, and another lean who eats a great deal.” JOHNSON : “Nay, Sir, whatever may be the quantity that a man eats, it is plain that if he is too fat, he has eaten more than he should have done. One man may have a digestion that consumes food better than common; but it is certain that solidity is increased by putting something to it.” BOSWELL: “ But may not solids swell and be distended ?” JOHNSON : Yes, Sir, they may swell and be distended ; but that is not fat.”
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 Gos, in hopes of his mercy and pardon for the irreligious step I now (in compliance with the un. warrantable customs of this wicked world) put myself under the necessity of taking."Boswell. 1 In repeating this epitaph Johnson improved it. The original runs thus:
“ Betwixt the stirrup and the ground,
Mercy I asked, mercy I found."-Malone. 2 Upon this objection the Reverend Mr. Ralph Churton, Fellow of Brazenose Col. lege, Oxford, has favoured me with the following satisfactory observation. in the Burial-service does not mean the resurrection of the person interred, but the general resurrection ; it is in sure and certain hope of the resurrection—not his resurrection. Where the deceased is really spoken of, the expression is very different, 'as our hope is this our brother doth' [rest in Christ], a mode of speech consistent with everything but absolute certainty that the person departed doth not rest in Christ, which no one can be assured of without immediate revelation from Heaven. In the first of these places, also,
eternal life' does not necessarily mean eternity of bliss, but merely the eternity of the state. whether in happiness or in misery, to ensue upon the resurrection ; which is probably the sense of the life everlasting,' in the Apostles' Creed. Sce Wheatly and Bennet on the Common Prayer."—BOSWELL.
We talked of the accusation against a gentleman for supposed delinquencies in India. JOHNSON : “What foundation there is for accusation I know not; but they will not get at him. Where bad actions are committed at so a great distance, a delinquent can obscure the evidence till the scent becomes cold: there is a cloud between which cannot be penetrated : therefore all distant power is bad. I am clear that the best plan for the government of India is a despotic governor ; for if he be a good man, it is evidently the best government: and supposing him to be a bad man, it is better to have one plunderer than many. А governor, whose power is checked, lets others plunder, that he himself may be allowed to plunder ; but if despotic, he sees that the more he lets others plunder, the less there will be for himself, so he restrains them; and though he himself plunders, the country is a gainer, compared with being plundered by numbers.”
I mentioned the very liberal payment which had been received for reviewing ; and, as evidence of this, that it had been proved in a trial, that Dr. Shebbeare had received six guineas a sheet for that kind of literary labour. · JOHNSON : "Sir, he might get six guineas for a particular sheet, but not communibus sheetibus.” BOSWELL : “ Pray, Sir, by a sheet of review is it meant that it shall be all of the writer's own composition? or are extracts, made from the book reviewed, deducted ?" JOHNSON : “No, Sir ; it is a sheet, no matter of what.' BOSWELL : “I think that it is not reasonable.” JOHNSON : · Yes, Sir, it is. A man will more easily write a sheet all his own, than read an octavo volume to get extracts.” To one of Johnson's wonderful fertility of mind, I believe writing was really easier than reading and extracting; but with ordinary men the case is very different. A great deal, indeed, will depend upon the care and judgment with which extracts are made. I can suppose the operation to be tedious and difficult ; but in many instances we must observe crude morsels cut out of books as if at random; and when a large extract is made from one place, it surely may be done with very little trouble. One, however, I must acknowledge, might be led, from the practice of reviewers, to suppose that they take a pleasure in original writing ; for we often find, that instead of giving an accurate account of what has been done by the author whose work they are reviewing, which is surely the proper business of a literary journal, they produce some plausible and ingenious conceits of their own, upon the topics which have been discussed.
Upon being told that old Mr. Sheridan, indignant at the neglect of his oratorical plans, had threatened to go to America—JOHNSON : “I hope he will go to America.” BOSWELL: “ The Americans don't want oratory.” JOHNSON : • But we can want Sheridan.”
On Monday, April 28, I found him at home in the forenoon, and