페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

produced in a country; but the country will not therefore be the more populous ; for the people is, sue from it: it can only be said, that there is a flow of people. It is an encouragement to have children, to know that they can get a living by emi. gration." R. “ Yes, if there were an emigration of children under six years of age : but they don't emigrate till they could earn their livelihood in some way at home.”

C.“ It is remarkable, that the most unhealthy countries, where there are the most destructive diseases, such as Egypt and Bengal, are the most populous." JOHNSON. “ Countries which are the most populous have the most destructive diseases. That is the true state of the proposition." C. “ Holland is very unhealthy, yet it is exeeedingly populous." JOHNSON. “ I know not that Holland is unhealthy; but its populousness is owing to an influx of people from all other countries. Disease cannot be the cause of populousness; for it not only carries off a great proportion of the people, but those who are left are weakened, and unfit for the purposes of increase.”

Johnson's notion of the duty of a member of par. liament, sitting upon an election.committee, was very high; and when he was told of a gentleman, upon one of those committees, who read the newspapers part of the time, and slept the rest, while the merits of a vote were examined by the counsel; and as an excuse, when challenged by the chairman for such behaviour, bluntly answered, “ I had made up my mind upon that case ;''--Johnson, with an indignant contempt, said, “ If he was such a rogue as to make up his mind upon a case without hearing it, he should not have been such a fool as to tell it."

3

[ocr errors]

I think,” said Mr. Dudley Long, now North," the doctor has preity plaivly made him out to be both rogue and fool.”

R.“ Mr. E. I dou't mean to flatter ; but when pos. terity reads one of your speeches in parliament, it will be difficult to believe that you took so much pains, knowing with certainty, that it could produce no effecithat not one vote would be gained by it.” E.“ Waving your compliment to me, I shall say, in general, that it is very well worth while for a man to take pains to speak well in parliament. A man, who has vanity, speaks to display his talents ; and, if a man speaks well, he gradually establishes a certain reputation and consequence in the general opinion, which sooner or later will have its political reward. Besides, though not one vote is gained, a good speech has its effect. Though an act which has been ably opposed passes into a law, yet in its progress it is modelled, it is softened in such a manner, that we see plainly the minister has been told, that the members attached to him are so sensible of its injustice or absurdity, from what they have heard, that it must be altered.” JOHNSON. “And, sir, there is a gratification of pride. Though we can. uot out-vote thein, we will out argue them. They shall not do wrong, without its being showu both to themselves and to the world.” E. “ The house of commons is a mixed bo:ly. (I except the minority, which I hold to be pure (smiling]; but I take the whole house.) It is a mass by no means pure; but neither is it wholly corrupt, though there is a large proportion of corruption in it. There are many inenibers who generally go with the minister, who will not go all lengths. There are many honest,

well-meaning country gentlemen, who are in parliament only to keep up the consequence of their fami. lies. Upon most of these a good speech will have influence." Johnson. “ We are all more or less governed by interest : but interest will not make us do every thing. In a case which admits of doubt, we try to think on the side which is for our in. terest, and generally bring ourselves to act accord. ingly : but the subject must admit of diversity of colouring; it must receive a colour on that side. Iu the house of commons there are members enough who will not vote what is grossly unjust or absurd. No, sir, there must always he right enough, or appearance of right, to keep wrong in courtenance." Boswell. “ There is surely always a majority in parliament who have places, or who want to have them, and who therefore will be generally ready to support government without requiring any pretext." E. " True, sir; that majority will always follow

Quo clamor vocat et turba faventium."

Boswell.“ Well, now, let us take the common phrase, Place-hunters. I thought they had hunted without regard to any thing, just as their huntsman, the minister, leads, looking only to the prey. J.“ But, taking your metaphor, you know that in

Lord Bolingbroke, who, however detestable as a metaphysician, must be allowed to have had admirable talents as a political writer-thus describes the house of commons, in his Letter to sir William Windham : " You know the pa. ture of that assembly; they grow, like hounds, fond of the man who shows them game, and by whose halloo they are used to be encouraged."

hunting there are few so desperately keen as to follow without reserve. Some do not choose to leap ditches and hedges, and risk their necks, or gallop over steeps, or even to dirty themselves in boys and mire." BosweLL. “I am glad there are some good, quiet, moderate, political hunters.”. E. “ I believe in any body of men in England I should have been in the minority: I have always been in the minority.” P.“The house of commons resembles a private company. How seldom is any man convinced by another's argument ! passion and pride rise against it.” R.“ What would be the consequence, if a minister, sure of a majority in the house of commons, should resolve that there should be no speaking at all upon his side ?” E.“ He must soon go out. That has been tried, but it was found it would not do.”

Russia heiny mentioned as likely to become a great empire, by the rapid increase of population : Johnson. “Why, sir, I see po 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 reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination. A man is poor; he thinks, I cannot be worse, and so I'll ev'n take Peggy.'” Boswell. “ But hare not nations been more populous at one period than another ?” JOHNSON. “ Yes, sir; but that has been owing to the people being less thinned at one period ihan another, whether by emigrations, war, or pestilence; not by their being more or less prolific. Births at all times bear the same proportion to the same number of people.” BOSWELL. “ But, to consider the state of our own country:-does not throwing a number of farms into one hand, hurt population ? JOHNSON. “ Why no, sir; the same quantity of food being produced, will be consumed by the same number of mouths, though the people may be disposed of in different wigs. We see, if coru be dear, and butchers' meat cheap, the farmers will apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes pleutitul and cheap; and then butchers' meat becomes dear : so that an equality is always preserved. No, sir, let fauciful 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 reuts?” JOHNSON. “ Very bad; but, sir, it never cau have any general influence; it may distress some individuals. For, consider this : landlords cannot do without tenants. Now, tenants will not give more for land thau 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. Laud, iu Englaud, is an article of commerce.

A tenant, who pays his landlord his reut, thiuks 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 tenants should be dependent on landlords :” Joinson. “ Why, sir, as there are many more tenants than landlords, perhaps, strictly speaking, we should wish not,

« 이전계속 »