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1783. I talked of living in the country. JOHNSON.
- Don't set up for what is called hospitality: it is a Ætat. 74.
waste of time, and a waste of money; you are eaten
Here he discovered a notion common enough in
On Saturday, May 17, I saw him for a short time. Having mentioned that I had that morning been with old Mr. Sheridan, he remembered their former intimacy with a cordial warmth, and said to me, “ Tell Mr. Sheridan, I shall be glad to see him, and shake hands with him." Boswell. " It is to me very
wonderful that resentment should be kept up so
Johnson. “ Why, Sir, it is not altogether
falling out of the habit,--partly disgust, as one has at 1783. a drug that has made him sick. Besides, he knows
Etat. 74. that I laugh at his oratory."
Another day I spoke of one of our friends, of whom he, as well as I, had a very high opinion. He expatiated in his praise; but added, “Sir, he is a cursed Whig, a bottomless Whig, as they all are now.'
I mentioned my expectations from the interest of an eminent person then in power; adding, “ but I have no claim but the claim of friendship; however, some people will go a great way for that motive.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, they will go all the way from that motive." A gentleman talked of retiring. “Never think of that,” said Johnson. The gentleman urged, “I should then do no ill.” JOHNSON. “ Nor no good either. Sir, it would be a civil suicide.”
On Monday, May 26, I found him at tea, and the celebrated Miss Burney, the authour of “ Evelina" and “ Cecilia," with him. I asked, if there would be any speakers in Parliament, if there were no places to be obtained. Johnson. “Yes, Sir. Why do you speak here? Either to instruct and entertain, which is a benevolent motive; or for distinction, which is a selfish motive." I mentioned “ Cecilia." Johnson. (with an air c animated satisfaction) “Sir, if you
talk of Cecilia,' talk on.” We talked of Mr. Barry's exhibition of his pictures. Johnson.“ Whatever the hand may have done, the mind has done its part. There is a grasp of mind there, which
find no where else. "4
* In Mr. Barry's printed analysis, or description of these pictures, he speaks of Johnson's character in the highest terms.
I asked, whether a man naturally virtuous, or one
who has overcome wicked inclinations, is the best.
You may be surprised (said he) that I allow him to
On Friday, May 29, being to set out for Scotland next morning, I passed a part of the day with him in more than usual earnestness; as his health was in a more precarious state than at any time when I had parted from him. He, however, was quick and lively, and critical, as usual. I mentioned one who was a very learned man. Johnson.' “Yes, Sir, he has a great deal of learning; but it never lies straight. There is never one idea by the side of another; 'tis all entangled: and then he drives it so aukwardly upon conversation!"
I stated to him an anxious thought, by which a sincere Christian might be disturbed, even when conscious of having lived a good life, so far as is consistent with human infirmity; he might fear that he should afterwards fall away, and be guilty of such crimnes as would render all his former religion vain. Could there be, upon this aweful subject, such a thing as balancing of accounts? Suppose a man who has led a good life for seven years, commits an act of wickedness, and instantly dies; will his former good
life have any effect in his favour? Johnson. “ Sir, 1783. if a man has led a good life for seven years, and then
Ætat. 74, is hurried by passion to do what is wrong, and is sud denly carried off, depend upon it he will have the re, ward of his seven years' good life: God will not take a catch of him. Upon this principle Richard Baxter believes that a Suicide may be saved. If (says he) it should be objected that what I maintain may encourage suicide, I answer, I am not to tell a lie to prevent it.” Boswell. “ But does not the text say,
As the tree falls, so it must lie " John
“ Yes, Sir; as the tree falls: but,-(after a little pause)--that is meant as to the general state of the tree, not what is the effect of a sudden blast." In short, he interpreted the expression as referring to condition, not to position. The common notion, therefore, seems to be erroneous; and Shenstone's witty remark’on Divines trying to give the tree a jerk upon a death-bed, to make it lie favourably, is not well founded.
I asked him what works of Richard Baxter's I should read. He said “ Read any of them ; they are all good.”
: He said, “ Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income. Always have soinething saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be more than your exports, and you'll never go far wrong."
I assured him, that in the extensive and various range of his acquaintance there never had been any one who had a more sincere respect and affection for him than I had. He said " I believe it, Sir.
“ Were I in distress, there is no man to whom I should sooner come than to you. I should like to come and have
1783. a cottage in your park, toddle about, live mostly on Ætat. 74. milk, and be taken care of by Mrs. Boswell. She
and I are good friends now; are we not ?"
Talking of devotion, he said, “ Though it be true that God dwelleth not in Temples made with hands, yet in this state of being, our minds are more piously affected in places appropriated to divine worship, than in others. Some people have a particular room in their houses, where they say their prayers; of which I do not disapprove, as it may animate their devotion."
He embraced me, and gave me bis blessing, as usual when I was leaving him for any length of time. I walked from his door to-day, with a fearful apprehension of what might happen before I returned.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAI WINDHAM.
“ The bringer of this letter is the father of Miss Philips, a singer, who comes to try her voice on the stage at Dublin.
“ Mr. Philips is one of my old friends; and as I am of opinion that neither he nor his daughter will do any thing that can disgrace their benefactors, I take the liberty of entreating you to countenance and protect them so far as may be suitable to your station and characters and shall consider myself as
Now the celebrated Mrs. Crouch. 6 Mr. Windhain was at this time in Dublin, Secretary to the Earl of Northington, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.