페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

1769.

Sir, does not heat relax?" JOHNSON. "Sir, you are not to imagine the water is to be very hot. I would not coddle the child. No, Sir, the hardy Etat. 60. method of treating children does no good. I'll take you five children from London, who fhall cuff five Highland children. Sir, a man bred in London will carry a burthen, or run, or wrestle, as well as a man brought up in the hardiest manner in the country." BOSWELL. "Good living, I fuppofe, makes the Londoners ftrong." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I don't know that it does. Our chairmen from Ireland, who are as ftrong men as any, have been brought up upon potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality." BOSWELL. "Would teach this child that I have furnished you with, any thing?" JOHNSON. "No, I should not be apt to teach it." BOSWELL. “Would not you have a pleasure in teaching it?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir,. I should not have a pleasure in teaching it." BOSWELL. "Have you not a pleasure in teaching men?— There I have you. You have the fame pleasure in teaching men, that I should have in teaching children." JOHNSON. "Why, fomething about that."

you

BOSWELL. "Do you think, Sir, that what is called natural affection is born with us? It seems to me to be the effect of habit, or of gratitude for kindness. No child has it for a parent whom it has not seen." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I think there is an inftinctive natural affection in parents towards their children."

Ruffia being mentioned as likely to become a great empire, by the rapid increase of population;-JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I fee no prospect of their propagating more. They can have no more children than they can get. I know of no way to make them breed more than they do. It is not from reafon and prudence that people marry, but from inclination. A man is poor; he thinks, I cannot be worse, and fo I'll e'en take Peggy." BOSWELL. "But have not nations been more populous at one period than another?" JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir; but that has been owing to the people being lefs thinned at one period than another, whether by emigrations, war, or pestilence, not by their being more or lefs prolifick. Births at all times bear the fame proportion to the fame number of people." BOSWELL. "But, to confider the state of our own country; does not throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population?" JOHNSON. "Why no, Sir; the fame quantity of food being produced, will be consumed by the fame number of mouths, though the people may be difpofed of in different ways. We fee, 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; fo that an equality is always preferved. No, Sir, let fanciful men do as

they

1769.

Etat, 60.

CC

they will, depend upon it, it is difficult to difturb the system of life." BOSWELL. But, Sir, is it not a very bad thing for landlords to opprefs their tenants, by raising their rents?" JOHNSON. "Very bad. But, Sir, it never can have any general influence; it may distress fome individuals. For confider this: landlords cannot do without tenants. Now tenants will not give more for land 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 fo 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 fells his goods. No fhopkeeper fells a yard of ribband for fix-pence, when seven-pence is the current price." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, is it not better that tenants should be dependent on landlords?” JOHNSON. Why, Sir, as there are many more tenants than landlords, perhaps, strictly speaking, we should wish not. But if you please you may let your lands cheap, and fo get the value, part in money and part in homage. agree with you in that." BOSWELL. "So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political improvement." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things."

<c

I fhould

(

He obferved, "Providence has wifely ordered that the more numerous men are, the more difficult it is for them to agree in any thing, and fo they are governed. There is no doubt, that if the poor fhould reafon, 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 foldiers, though fo much more numerous than their officers, are governed by them for the fame reafon."

He faid, "Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You fee the inhabitants of Norway do not with one confent quit it, and go to fome part of America, where there is a mild climate, and where they may have the fame 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 fee many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged fpots well inhabited."

The London Chronicle, which was the only newspaper he conftantly took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was affigned to me.

4

diverted

diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of it, that 1769. my task was very eafy. He would not fuffer one of the petitions to the King Etat, 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 Prefbyterian religion." BOSWELL. "You are joking." JOHNSON. "No, Sir, I really think fo. Nay, Sir, of the two, I prefer the Popish." BOSWELL. "How fo, Sir?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, the Prefbyterians have no church, no apoftolical ordination.” BOSWELL. "And do you think that abfolutely effential, Sir?" JOHNSON. Why, Sir, as it was an apoftolical inftitution, I think it is dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Prefbyterians 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 fame with that of the Church of England. Their confeffion of faith, and the thirty-nine articles, contain the fame points, even the doctrine of predeftination." JOHNSON. "Why yes, Sir; predeftination was a part of the clamour of the times, fo it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little pofitiveness as could be." BOSWELL. "Is it neceffary, Sir, to believe all the thirty-nine articles?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, that is a question which has been much agitated. Some have thought it neceffary that they fhould all be believed; others have confidered them to be only articles of peace, that is to fay, you are not to preach against them." BOSWELL. "It appears to me, Sir, that predeftination, or what is equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an univerfal prefence in the Deity." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, does not God every day fee things going on without preventing them?" BOSWELL. "True, Sir; but if a thing be certainly forefeen, it must be fixed, and cannot happen otherwife; and if we apply this confideration to the human mind, there is no free will, nor do I fee how prayer can be of any avail." He mentioned Dr. Clarke, and Bishop Bramhall on Liberty and Neceffity, and bid me read South's fermons on Prayer; but avoided the queftion which has excruciated philofophers and divines, beyond any other. I did not prefs it further, when I perceived that he was displeased, and fhrunk from any abridgement of an attribute ufually ascribed to the Divinity, however irreconcileable in its full extent with the grand system

of

1769.

of moral government. His fuppofed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous Atat. 60. powers of his understanding. He was confined by a chain which early imagination and long habit made him think maffy and strong, but which, had he ventured to try, he could at once have fnapt afunder.

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 fo obftinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor fo good as to merit being admitted into the fociety of bleffed fpirits; and therefore that God is graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be purified by certain degrees of fuffering. You fee, Sir, there is nothing unreasonable in this." BOSWELL. "But then, Sir, their maffes for the dead?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, if it be once established that there are fouls 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 Mafs ?"-JOHNSON. "Sir, there is no idolatry in the Mafs. They believe GOD to be there, and they adore him." BOSWELL."The worship of Saints ?"-JOHNSON. "Sir, they do not worship faints; 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 impofition, and that the people do become idolatrous as they recommend themselves to the tutelary protection of particular faints. I think their giving the facrament only in one kind is criminal, because it is contrary to the exprefs inftitution of CHRIST, and I wonder how the Council of Trent admitted it." BOSWELL. "Confeffion?"-JOHNSON. "Why, I don't know but that is a good thing. The fcripture fays, Confefs your faults one to another;' and the priests confefs as well as the laity. Then it must be confidered that their abfolution is only upon repentance, and often upon penance alfo. You think your fins may be forgiven without penance, upon repentance alone."

I thus ventured to mention all the common objections against the Roman Catholick Church, that I might hear so great a man upon them. What he faid is here accurately recorded. But it is not improbable that if one had taken the other fide, he might have reafoned differently.

I must however mention, that he had a refpect for "the old religion," as the mild Melancthon called that of the Roman Catholick Church, even while he was exerting himself for its reformation in fome particulars. Sir William Scott informs me, that he heard Johnson fay, "A man who is converted from Protestantism to Popery, may be fincere: he parts with nothing: he is only fuperadding to what he already had. But a convert from Popery to

Proteftantifm

[ocr errors]

Proteftantifm, gives up fo much of what he has held as facred as any thing that he retains; there is fo much laceration of mind in fuch a converfion, that it can hardly be fincere and lafting." The truth of this reflection may be confirmed by many and eminent inftances, fome of which will occur to most of my readers.

When we were alone, I introduced the subject of death, and endeavoured to maintain that the fear of it might be got over. I told him that David Hume faid, he was no more uneafy to think he fhould not be after this life, than that he had not been before he began to exist. JOHNSON. "Sir, if he really thinks fo, his perceptions are difturbed; he is mad: if he does not think fo, he lies. He may tell you, he holds his finger in the flame of a candle, without feeling pain; would you believe him? believe him? When he dies, he at least gives up all he has." BOSWELL. "Foote, Sir, told me, that when he was very ill he was not afraid to die." JOHNSON. "It is not true, Sir. Hold a piftol to Foote's breaft, or to Hume's breaft, and threaten to kill them, and you'll see how they behave." BOSWELL. "But may we not fortify our minds for the approach of death?"-Here I am fenfible I was in the wrong, to bring before his view what he ever looked upon with horrour; for although when in a celestial frame, in his "Vanity of human Wishes," he has supposed death to be "kind Nature's fignal for retreat," from this ftate of being to "a happier feat," his thoughts upon this aweful change were in general full of dismal apprehenfions. His mind refembled the vaft amphitheatre, the Colifæum at Rome. In the centre ftood his judgement, which, like a mighty gladiator, combated those apprehenfions that, like the wild beafts of the Arena, were all around in cells, ready to be let out upon him. After a conflict, he drives them back into their dens; but not killing them, they were still affailing him. To my question, whether we might not fortify our minds for the approach of death, he answered, in a paffion, "No, Sir, let it alone. It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time." He added, (with an earnest look,) "A man knows it must be fo, and submits. It will do him no good to whine."

I attempted to continue the converfation. He was fo provoked, that he faid, "Give us no more of this ;" and was thrown into fuch a state of agitation, that he expressed himself in a way that alarmed and diftreffed me; fhewed an impatience that I should leave him, and when I was going away, called to me fternly, "Don't let us meet to-morrow."

I went home exceedingly uneafy. All the harsh observations which I had ever heard made upon his character, crowded into my mind; and I seemed U u

to

1769.

tat. 60.

« 이전계속 »