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tressing thoughts, and not combat with them.” Boswell. 66
May not he think them down, sir,” Johnson. “
No, sir: to attempt to think them down is madness. He should have a lamp constantly burning in his bed chamber during the night, and if wakefully disturbed, take a book, and read, and compose himself to rest. To have the management of the mind is a great art; it may be attained in a considerable degree by experience and habitual es. ercise." Boswell.“ Should not he provide amusements for himself? Would it not, for instance, be right for him to take a course of chymistry?" JOHNSON. “ Let him take a course of chymistry, or a course of rope-dancing, or a course of any thing to which he is inclined at the time : let him contrive to have as many retreats for his mind as he can, as many things to which it can fly from itself. Burton's Anatoiny of Melancholy is a valuable work. It is perhaps overloaded with quotation : but there is great spirit and great power in what Burton says, when he writes from his own mind."
Johnson lamented to Mr. Hector the state of one of their school-fellows, Mr. Charles Congreve, a clergyman, which he thus described. " He obtained, I believe, considerable preferment in Ireland, but now lives in London, quite as a valetudinarian, afraid to go into any house but his own. He takes a short airing in his post-chaise every day. He has an elderly woman, whom he calls cousin, who lives with him, and jogs his elbow when his glass has stood too long empty; and encourages him in drinking, in which he is very willing to be encouraged : not that he gets drunk, for he is very pious man,
but he is always muddy. He confesses to one bottle of port every day, and he probably drinks more. He is quite unsocial; bis conversation is quite monosyllabical; and when, at my last visit, I asked him what o'clock it was; that signal of my departure had so pleasing an effect on him, that he sprung up to look at his watch like a greyhound bounding at a hare.” When Johnson took leave of Mr. Hector, he said, “ Don't grow like Congreve; nor let me grow like him, when you are near me."
He gave Dr. Taylor the same sad account of their school-fellow, Congreve, that he had given to Mr, Hector ; adding a remark of such moment to the rational conduct of a man in the decline of life, that deserves to be imprinted upon every mind : " There is nothing against which an old man should be so much upon his guard as putting himself to nurse." Innumerable have been the melan. choly instances of men, once distinguished for firm. ness, resolution, and spirit, who, in their latter days, have been governed, like children, by interested female artifice.
Another time, talking of melancholy, he said, " Some men, and very thinking men too, have not those vexing thoughts. Sir Joshua Reynolds is the same all the year round. Beauclerk, except when ill and in pain, is the same. But I believe most men have them in the degree in which they are ca. pable of having them. If I were in the country, and were distressed by that malady, I would force myself to take a book; and every time I did it I should find it the easier. Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking."
JOHnson said, " A madman loves to be with people whom he fears; not as a dog fears the lash, but of whom he stands in awe." Boswell remarks, “I was struck with the justice of this observation. To be with those of whom a person, whose mind is wavering and dejected, stands in awe, represses and composes an uneasy tumult of spirits, and consoles him with the contemplation of something steady, and at least comparatively great."
Johnson added, “ Madmen are all sensual in the lower stages of the distemper. They are eager for gratifications to soothe their minds, and divert their attention from the misery which they suffer : but when they grow very ill, pleasure is too weak for them, and they seek for pain. Employment, sir, and hardships, prevent melancholy. I suppose iu all our army in America, there was not one man who went mad."
On another occasion he observed, “ Madness frequently discovers itself merely by unnecessary deviation from the usual modes of the world. My poor friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind, by falling upon his knees, and saying bis prayers in the street, or in any unusual place. Now, although, rationally speaking, it is greater madness not to pray at all, than to pray as Smart did, I am afraid there are so many who do not
pray, that their understanding is not called in question."
Concerning this unfortunate poet, Christopher Smart, who was confined in a mad-house, he had, at another time, the following conversation with Dr. Burney. BURNEY. “ How does poor Smart do, sir ? is he likely to recover ?” JOHNSON. “ It seems as if his mind had ceased to struggle with the disease ; for he grows fat upon it.” BURNEY. “ Perhaps, sir, that may be from want of exercise.” JOHNSON. “ No, sir; he has partly as much exercise as he used to have, for he digs in the garden Indeed before his confinement, he used, for exercise, to walk to the ale-house; but he was carried back again. I did not think he ought to be shut up. His infirmities were not noxious to society. He insisted on people praying with him; and I'd as lief pray with Kit Smart as any one else. Another charge was, that he did not love clean lineu; and I have no passion for it.”
Talking of the melancholy end of a gentleman who had destroyed himself. Johnson. “ It was owing to imaginary difficulties in his affairs, which, had he talked of with any friend, would soon have vanished.” BoswELL. “ Do you think, sir, that all who commit suicide are mad?” JOHNSON. “ Sir, they are often not universally disordered in their intellects; but one passion presses so upon them, that they yield to it, and commit suicide, as a passionate man will stab another. I have often thought, that after a man has taken the resolution to kill himself, it is not courage in him to do any thing, however desperate, because he has nothing to fear." GOLDSMITH, “ I don't see that." JOHN
SON. Nay, but my dear sir, why should not you see what every one else sees ?" GOLDSMITH. “ It is for fear of something that he has resolved to kill himself: and will not that timid disposition restrain him?" Johnson. “ It does not signify that the fear of something made him resolve; it is upon the state of his mind, after the resolution is taken, that I argue. Suppose a man, either from fear, or pride, or conscience, or whatever motive, has resolved to kill himself; when once the resolution is taken, he has nothing to fear. He may then go and take the king of Prussia by the nose, at the head of his army. He cannot fear the rack, who is resolved to kill himself. When Eustace Budgel was walking down to the Thames, determined to drown himself, he might, if he pleased, without any apprehension of danger, have turned aside, and first set fire to St. James's Palace.”
Johnson's prejudice against Scotland appeared remarkably strong at times. When Boswell talked of the advancement of the Scotch in literature, “Sir,"
you have learnt a little from us, and you think yourselves very great men. Hume would never have written history, had not Voltaire written it before him. He is an echo of Voltaire.” Bos
But, sir, we have lord Kames." JohnSON.
You have lord Kames. Keep him. Ha! ha! ha! We don't envy you him. Do you ever see