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Births at all times bear the same proportion to the 1769. same number of people.” Boswell. “But, to con- Ætat. 6o. sider the state of our own country ;-does not throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population?” Johnson. " Why no, Sir; the same quan. tity of food being produced, will be consumed by the same number of mouths, though the people may be disposed of in different ways. We see, if corn be dear, and butchers' meat cheap, the farmers all apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes plentiful and cheap, and then butchers' meat becomes dear; so that an equality is always preserved. No, Sir, let fanciful men do as they will, depend upon it, it is difficult to disturb the system of life.” BOSWELL. “But, Sir, is it not a very bad thing for landlords to oppress their tenants, by raising their rents?” Johnson. “Very bad. But, Sir, it never can have any general influence; it may distress some individuals. For, consider this: landlords cannot do without tenants. Now tenants will not give more for larid, than land is worth. If they can make more of their money by keeping a shop, or any other
way, they'll do it, and so oblige landlords to let land come back to a reasonable rent, in order that they may get tenants. Land, in England, is an article of commerce. A tenant who pays his landlord his rent, thinks himself no more obliged to him than you think yourself obliged to a man in whose shop you buy a piece of goods. He knows the landlord does not let him have his land for less than he can get from others, in the same manner as the shopkeeper sells his goods. No shopkeeper sells a yard of ribband for six-pence when seven-pence is the current price." Boswell. “ But, Sir, is it not better that
1769. tenants should be dependent on landlords ?" JOHN:
Why, Sir, as there are many more tenants Etat.60.
than landlords, perhaps strictly speaking, we should
lands cheap, and so get the value, part in money and part in homage. I should agree with you in that.” Boswe! L. “ So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political improvement.” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things."
He observed, “ Providence has wisely ordered that the more numerous men are, the inore difficult it is for them to agree in any thing, and so they are governed. There is no doubt, that if the poor should reason, 'We'll be the poor no longer, we'll make the rich take their turn, they could easily do it, were it not that they can't agree. So the common soldiers, though so much more numerous than their officers, are governed by them for the same reason."
He said, “ Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with one consent quit it, and go to some part of America, where there is a mild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with the tenth part of the labour. No, Sir ; their affection for their old dwellings, and the terrour of a general change, keep them at home. Thus, we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged spots well inhabited,”
“ The London Chronicle,” which was the only newspaper he constantly took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was assigned to me.
I was diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of it, that my task was very easy. 1769. He would not suffer one of the petitions to the King
Ætat. 60. about the Middlesex election to be read.
I had hired a Bohemian as my servant while I remained in London, and being much pleased with him, I asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a Roman Catholick should prevent my taking him with me to Scotland. JOHNSON. “ Why no, Sir. If he has no objection, you can have none.” Boswell.“ So, Sir,
, you are no great enemy to the Roman Catholick Religion.” JOHNSON. “ No more, Sir, than to the Presbyterian religion.” Boswell. “ You are joking." JOHNSON. “ No, Sir, I really think so. Nay, Şir, of the two, I prefer the Popish.” BosWELL. “ How so, Sir?” JOHNSON.“ Why, Sir, the Presbyterians have no church, no apostolical ordination.” BosWELL." And do
you think that absolutely essential, Sir ?” JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Presbyterians have no publick worship: they have no form of prayer in which they know they are to join. They go to hear a man pray, and are to judge whether they will join with him.” BOSWELL. “But, Sir, their doctrine is the same with that of the Church of England. Their confession of faith, and the thirty-nine articles, contain the same points, even the doctrine of predestination.” Johnson. " Why yes, Sir ; predestination was a part of the clamour of the times, so it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little positiveness as could be.” Boswell. “ Is it necessary, Sir, to believe all the thirty-nine årticles'?” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, that is a question which has been much agitated. Some have thought it necessary that they should all be believed ; others
1769. have considered them to be only articles of peace,
that is to say, you are not to preach against them." Ætat. 60.
Boswell. “ Itappears to me, Sir, that predestination, or what is equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an universal prescience in the Deity.” JOHNson. " Why, Sir, does not God every day see things going on without preventing them ?" Boswell. " True, Sir, but if a thing be certainly foreseen, it must be fixed, and cannot happen otherwise ; and if we apply this consideration to the human mind, there is no free will, nor do I see how prayer can be of any
avail.” He mentioned Dr. Clarke, and Bishop Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity, and bid me read South's Sermonson Prayer ; but avoided the question which has excruciated philosophers and divines, beyond any other. I did not press it further, when I perceived that he was displeased, and shrunk from any abridgement of an attribute usually ascribed to the Divinity, however irreconcileable in its full extent with the grand system of moral government. His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous powers of his understanding. He was confined by
9 [Dr. Simon Patrick, (afterwards Bishop of Ely,) thus expresses hiniself on this subject, in a letter to the learned Dr. Jolin Mapletoft, dated Feb. 8, 1682-3:
“ I always took the ARTICLES to be only articles of commu. nion; and so Bishop Bramhall expressly maintains against the Bishop of Chalcedon; and I remember well, that Bishop Sanderson, when the King was first restored, received the subscription of an acquaintance of mine, which he declared was not to them as articles of faith, but peace. I think you need make no scruple of the matter, because all that I know so understand the meaning of subscription, and upon others terms would not subscribe.”—The above was printed some years ago in the European Magazine, from the original, now in the hands of Mr. Mapletoft, surgeon at Chertsey, grandson to Dr. John Mapletoft. M.)
a chain which early imagination and long habit made 1769. him think massy and strong, but which, had he ven
Ætat.60. tured to try, he could at once have snapt asunder.
“ I proceeded: “What do you think, Sir, of Purgatory, as believed by the Roman Catholicks ?” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted into the society of blessed spirits ; and therefore that God is graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be purified by certain degrees of suffering. You see, Sir, there is nothing unreasonable in this.” Boswell. then, Sir, their masses for the dead ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, if it be once established that there are souls in purgatory, it is as proper to pray for them, as for our brethren of mankind who are yet in this life.” Boswell. “ The idolatry of the Mass ?”Johnson, “Sir, there is no idolatary in the Mass. They believe God to be there, and they adore him.” Boswell. “The worship of Saints ” JOHNSON.“Sir, they do not worship saints ; they invoke them ; they only ask their prayers. I am talking all this time of the doctrines of the Church of Rome. I grant you that in practice, Purgatory is made a lucrative imposition, and that the people do become idolatrous as they recommend themselves to the tutelary protection of particular saints. I think their giving the sacrament only in one kind is criminal, because it is contrary to the express institution of Christ, and I wonder how the Council of Trent adınitted it." Boswell. “Confession:"-JOHNSON.“Why, I don't know but that is a good thing. The scripture says,