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JOHNSON. “ I believe, Sir, that is given up. I be- 1772. lieve the woman declared upon her death-bed that it
Ætat. 63. was a lie." Boswell. “This objection is made against the truth of ghosts appearing: that if they are in a state of happiness, it would be a punishment to them to return to this world; and if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, as the happiness or misery of embodied spirits does not depend upon place, but is intellectual, we cannot say that they are less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth.”
We went down between twelve and one to Mrs. Williams's room, and drank tea.
and drank tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. Gray, in prose and verse, published by Mr. Mason. JOHNSON, “I think we have had enough of Gray. I see they have published a splendid edition of Akenside's works. One bad ode may be suffered ; but a number of them together makes one sick.” Boswell.“ Akenside's distinguished poem is his . Pleasures of Imagination:' but for my part, I never could admire it so much as most people do." JOHNSON. “Sir, I could not read it through.” BOSWELL. “ I have read it through ; but I did not find any great power in it.”
I mentioned Elwal, the heretick, whose trial Sir John Pringle had given me to read. Johnson. “ Sir, Mr. Elwal was, I think, an ironmonger at Wolvere hampton; and he had a mind to make himself famous, by being the founder of a new sect, which,
[This fiction is known to have been invented by Daniel Defoe, and was added to the second edition of the English translation of Drelincourt's work, to make it sell. The first edition had it not. M.]
1772. he wished much should be called Elwallians. He Ætat. 63.
held, that every thing in the Old Testament that was not typical, was to be of perpetual observance :
and so he wore a ribband in the plaits of his coat, and he also wore a beard. I remember I had the honour of dining in company with Mr. Elwal. There was one Barter, a miller, who wrote against him ; and you had the controversy between Mr. Elwal and Mr. Barter. To try to make himself distinguished he wrote a letter to King George the Second, challenging him to dispute with him, in which he said, George, if you
be afraid to come by yourself, to dispute with a poor old man, you may bring a thousand of your black-guards with you; and if you should still be afraid, you may bring a thousand of your red-guards.' The letter had something of the impudence of Junius to our present King. But the men of Wolverhampton were not so inflammable as the Common-Council of London; so Mr. Elwal failed in his scheme of making himself a man of great consequence.”
On Tuesday, March 31, he and I dined at "General Paoli's. A question was started whether the state of marriage was natural to man. JOHNSON. “ is so far from being natural for a man and woman to live in a state of marriage, that we find all the motives which they have for remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilized society imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to keep them together.” The General said, that in a state of nature a man and woman uniting together, would form a strong and constant affection, by the mutual pleasure each would receive; and that the same causes of dissention would not arise between them, as occur
Sir, it between husband and wife in a civilised state. JOHN- 1772. son. “Sir, they would have dissentions enough, Ætat. 6s. though of another kind.
One would choose to go a hunting in this wood, the other in that; one would choose to go a fishing in this lake, the other in that; or, perhaps, one would choose to go a hunting, when the other would choose to go a fishing; and so they would part. Besides, Sir, a savage man and a savage woman meet by chance : and when the man sees another woman that pleases him better, he will leave the first."
We then fell into a disquisition whether there is any beauty independent of utility. The General maintained there was not. Dr. Johnson maintained that there was ; and he instanced a coffee cup which he held in his hand, the painting of which was of no real use, as the cup would hold the coffee equally well if plain ; yet the painting was beautiful.
We talked of the strange custom of swearing in conversation. The General said, that all barbarous nations swore from a certain violence of temper, that could not be confined to earth, but was always reaching at the powers above. He said, too, that there was greater variety of swearing, in proportion as there was a greater variety of religious ceremonies.
Dr. Johnson went home with me to my lodgings in Conduit-street and drank tea, previous to our going to the Pantheon, which neither of us had seen before.
He said, “ Goldsmith's Life of Parnell is poor; not that it is poorly written, but that he had poor materials; for nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.” I said, that if it was not troublesome and
1772. ing too much, I would request him to tell me all
the little circumstances of his life; what schools he Ætat. 63.
attended, when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, &c. &c. He did not disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars; but said, “They'll come out by degrees, as we talk together.”
He censured Ruffhead's Life of Pope ; and said, “ he knew nothing of Pope, and nothing of poetry.” He praised Dr. Joseph Warton's Essay on Pope; but said, he supposed we should have no more of it, as the authour had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he did.” Boswell. “ Why, Sir, should that prevent hin from continuing his work ? He is an ingenious Counsel, who has made the most of his cause: he is not obliged to gain it.” John
“But, Sir, there is a difference, when the cause is of a man's own making." We talked of the proper use of riches. Johnson.
. “ If I were a man of a great estate, I would drive all the rascals whom I did not like out of the county, at an election."
I asked him, how far he thought wealth should be employed in hospitality. Johnson. “ You are to consider that ancient hospitality, of which we hear so much, was in an uncommercial country, when men being idle, were glad to be entertained at rich men's tables. But in a commercial country, a busy country, time becomes precious, and therefore hospitality is not so much valued. No doubt there is still room for a certain degree of it; and a man has a satisfaction in seeing his friends eating and drinking around him. But promiscuous hospitality is not the way to gain real influence. You must help some people at table before others; you must ask some people how they like their wine oftener than others. 1772. You therefore offend more people than you please. Ætat. 63. You are like the French statesman, who said, when he granted a favour, ' J'ai fait dix mécontents et un ingrat.' Besides, Sir, being entertained ever so well at a man's table, impresses no lasting regard or esteem. No, Sir, the way to make sure of power and influence is, by lending money confidentially to your neighbours at a small interest, or perhaps at no interest at all, and having their bonds in your possession.” Boswell. “May not a man, Sir, employ his riches to advantage, in educating young men of merit?" Johnson. “ Yes, Sir, if they fall in your way; but if it be understood that you patronize young men of merit, you will be harassed with solicitations. You will have numbers forced upon you, who have no merit; some will force them upon you from mistaken partiality; and some from downright interested motives, without scruple; and you will be disgraced.”
“ Were I a rich man, I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow in the open air. A greenhouse is childish. I would introduce foreign animals into the country; for instance, the rein-deer."
The conyersation now turned on critical subjects. Johnson. “ Bayes, in ‘The Rehearsal,' is a mighty silly character. If it was intended to be like a particular man, it could only be diverting while that man was remembered. But I question whether it was meant for Dryden, as has been reported; for we know some of the passages said to be ridiculed, were
2 This project has since been realized. Sir Henry Liddel, who made a spirited tour into Lapland, brought two rein-deer to bis estate in Northumberland, where they bred: but the race has unfortunately perished.