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for I am told they were good beings." Johnson. “I believe they might be good beings, but they were not fit to be in the university of Oxford. A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden.” Lord Elibank used to repeat , this as an illustration uncommonly happy.
Dr. Mayo, (addressing Dr. Johnson) “ Pray, sir, have you read Edwards, of New England, on Grace?". Johnson. “No, sir.” BOSWELL. “ It puzzled me so much as to the freedom of the human will, by stating, with wonderful acute ingenuity, our being actuated by a series of motives which we cannot resist, that the ouly relief I had was to forget it.” Mayo.“ But he makes the proper distinction between moral and physical necessity.” BoswELL. “ Alas, sir, they come both to the same thing. You *may be bound as hard by chains when covered by leather, as when the iron appears. The argument for the moral necessity of human actions is always, I observe, fortified by supposing universal prescience to be one of the attributes of the Deity." Jounson, “ You are surer that you are free, than you are of prescience ; you are surer that you can lift up your finger or not as you please, than you are of any conclusion from a deduction of reasoning. But let us consider a little the objectiou from prescience. It is certain I am either to go houie to-night or not; that does not prevent my freedom.”
Boswell.“ That it is certain you are either to go home or not, does not prevent your freedom ; because the liberty of choice between the two is compatible with that certainty. But if one of these events be certain now, you have no sulure power of volition. If it be certain you are to go home tonight, you must go home.” Johnson. “ If I am well acquainted with a man, I can judge, with great probability, how he will act in any case, without his being restrained by my judging. God may have this probability increased to certainty." Boswell. 16 When it is increased to certainty, freedom ceases ; because that cannot be certainly known which is not certain at the time : but if it be certain at the time, it is a contradiction in ternis to maintain that there can be afterwards any contingency dependent upon the exercise of the will, or any thitig else." Johnson. “ All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it."
Boswell introduced the subject of second sight, and other mysterious manifestations; the fulfil. ment of which, he suggested, might happen by chance. JOHNSON. “Yes, sir, but they have happened so often, that mankind have agreed to think them not fortuitous.”
Mrs. Williams told a story of second sight, which happened in Wales, where she was born.--He listened to it very atteutively, and said he should be
glad to have some instances of that faculty well authenticated. His elevated wish for more and more evidence for spirit, in opposition to the grovelling belief of materialism, led himn to a love of such mysterious disquisitions. He again justly ob. served, that we could have no certainty of the truth of supernatural appearances, unless something was told us which we could not know by ordinary means, or something done which could not be done but by supernatural power : that Pharaoh, in reason and justice, required such evidence from Moses ; nay, that our Saviour said, “ If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin.” He had said in the morning, that Macaulay's History of St. Kilda was very well written, except some foppery about liberty and slavery. Boswell mentioned to him, that Macaulay told him, he was advised to leave out of his book the wonderful story, that upon the approach of a stranger all the inhabitants catch cold ; but that it had been so well authenticated, he determined to retain it. Johnson. “ Sir, to leave things out of a book, merely because people tell you they will not be believed, is meanness. Macaulay acted with more maguanimity.”
On a former occasion, Johnson had said, “ Macaulay, who writes the account of St. Kilda, set out with a prejudice against prejudice, and wanted to be a smart modern thinker; and yet he affirms for a truth, that when a ship arrives there, all the inhabitants are seized with a cold.”
Dr. John Cainpbell, the celebrated writer, took a great deal of pains to ascertain this fact, and attempted to account for it on physical principles,
from the effect of effluvia from human bodies. A lady of Norfolk, in a letter to Dr. Burney, meu. tions the following solution of it : “ Now for the explication of this seeming mystery, which is so very obvious, as, for that reason, to have escaped the penetration of Dr. Johnson and his friend, as well as that of the author. Reading the book with my iugenious friend, the late reverend Mr. Christian, of Docking after ruminating a little,' The cause,' says he, ‘is a natural one. The situation of St. Kilda renders a north-east wind indispensably necessary before a stranger can land. The wind, not the stranger, occasions an epidemio cold! If I am not mistaken, Mr. Macaulay is dead ; if living, this solution might please lim, as I hope it will Mr. Boswell, in return for the many agreeable hours his works have afforded us.”
Of John Wesley, he said, “ He can talk well on any subject.” Boswell. “ Pray, sir, what has he made of his story of a ghost ?" JOHNSON.“ Why, sir, he believes it; but not on sufficient authority. He did not take time enough to examine the girl. It was at Newcastle, where the ghost was said to have appeared to a young woman several times, mentioning something about the right to an old house, advising application to be made to an attor. ney, which was done ; and, at the same time, saying the attorney would do nothing, which proved to be the fact. • This,' says John, “is a proof that a ghost knows our thoughts.' Now (laughing) it is not necessary to know our thoughts, to tell that an attorney will sometimes do nothing. Charles Wesley, who is a more stationary man, does not believe the story. I am so that John did not take
more pains to ivquire into the evidence for it." Miss SEWARD, (with an incredulous smile)
What, sir ! about a ghost ?” JOHNSON, (with, solemn vehemence) Yes, madam : this is a question which, after five thousand years, is yet undecided ; a question, whether in theology or philosophy, one of the most important that can come before the human understanding."
Talking of belief in ghosts, he said, “Sir, I make a distinction between what a man may experience by the mere strength of his imagination, and what imagination canuot possibly produce. Thus, suppose that I should think that I saw a form, and heard a voice cry, Johnson, you are a very wicked fellow; and, unless you repent, you will certainly be puuished ;' my own unworthiness is so deeply inpressed upon my mind, that I might imagine I thus saw and heard; and therefore I should not believe that an external communication had been made to
But if a form 'should appear, and a voice should tell me, that a particular man had died at a particular place, and a particular hour-a fact which I had no apprehension of, nor any means of knowing; and this fact, with all its circumstances, should afterwards be unquestionably proved—I should, in this case, be persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence imparted to me." Boswell adds—“Here it is proper, once for all, to give a true and fair statement of Johnson's way of thinking upon the question, whether departed spirits are ever permitted to appear in this world, or in any way to operate upon human life. He has been ignorantly misrepreseuted as weakly credulous upon that subject; and there. føre, though I feel an inclination to disdain and