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“When it is increased to certainty, freedom ceases, because that cannot be certainly foreknown which is not certain at the time ; but if it be certain at the time, it is a contradiction in terms to maintain that there can be afterwards any contingency dependent upon the exercise of will or any thing else." JOHNSON. “All theory is against the freedom of the will ; all experience for it.” I did not push the subject any farther. I was glad to find him so mild in discussing a question of the most abstract nature, involved with theological tenets which he generally would not suffer to be in any degree opposed. (1)
He, as usual, defended luxury : “You cannot spend money in luxury without doing good to the poor. Nay, you do more good to them by spend. ing it in luxury; you make them exert industry, whereas by giving it you keep them idle. I own, indeed, there may be more virtue in giving it immediately in charity, than in spending it in luxury ; though there may be pride in that too.” Miss Seward asked, if this was not Mandeville's doctrine of
'To the Eternal and Infinite Creator there can be neither probability nor futurity. The action which is future to mortals is only a point of eternity in the eye of the Almighty, and it and all the motives that led to it are and were from all eternity present to Him. Our bounded intellects cannot comprehend the prescience of the Deity; but if that attribute be conceded, there seems no difficulty in reconciling it with our own free agency ; for God has already seen what man will choose to do. — C.
(1) If any of my readers are disturbed by this thorny question, I beg leave to recommend to them Letter 69. of Montesquieu's Lettres Persannes, and the late Mr. John Palmer of Islington's Answer to Dr. Priestley's mechanical arguments for what he absurdly calls “philosophical necessity.”
is private vices, public benefits.” Johnson.
« The fallacy of that book is, that Mandeville defines neither vices nor benefits. He reckons among vices every thing that gives pleasure. He takes the narrowest system of morality, monastic morality, which holds pleasure itself to be a vice, such as eating salt with our fish, because it makes it eat better; and he reckons wealth as a public benefit, which is by no means always true. Pleasure of itself is not a vice. Having a garden, which we all know to be perfectly innocent, is a great pleasure. At the same time, in this state of being there are many pleasures vices, which, however, are so immediately agreeable that we can hardly abstain from them. The happiness of heaven will be, that pleasure and virtue will be perfectly consistent. Mandeville puts the case of a man who gets drunk at an alehouse ; and says it is a public benefit, because so much money is got by it to the public. But it must be considered, that all the good gained by this, through the gradation of alehouse-keeper, brewer, maltster, and farmer, is overbalanced by the evil caused to the man and his family by his getting drunk. This is the way to try what is vicious, by ascertaining whether more evil than good is produced by it upon the whole, which is the case in all vice. It may happen that good is produced by vice, but not as vice; for instance, a robber
may from its owner, and give it to one who will make a better use of it. Here is good produced; but not by the robbery as robbery, but as translation of property. I read Mandeville forty or, I believe,
take money fifty years ago. (1) He did not puzzle me; he opened my views into real life very much. No, it is clear that the happiness of society depends on virtue. In Sparta, theft was allowed by general consent; theft, therefore, was there not a crime; but then there was no security; and what a life must they have had, when there was no security ! Without truth there must be a dissolution of society. As it is, there is so little truth, that we are almost afraid to trust to our ears : but how should we be, if falsehood were multipled ten times! Society is held together by communication and information ; and I remember this remark of Sir Thomas Brown's, Do the devils lie? No; for then hell could not subsist.'
Talking of Miss (2), a literary lady, he said, “I was obliged to speak to Miss Reynolds, to let her know that I desired she would not flatter me so much.” Somebody now observed, “She flatters Garrick.” Johnson. “She is in the right to flatter Garrick. She is in the right for two reasons ; first, because she has the world with her, who have been praising Garrick these thirty years; and, secondly, because she is rewarded for it by Garrick. (3) Why
(1) See antè, Vol. III. p. 100. — C.
(3) Johnson probably means either that Garrick repaid her in her own coin, or helped her in bringing out her play; or, finally, by introducing her into general society. It is not to be won. dered at that an inexperienced young lady, suddenly transported from obscure provincial life into the elegance and splendour of the best literary circles of London, should have at first indulged in some extravagant admiration both of Johnson and Garrick; but it appears from her letters, that her admiration was at least should she flatter me? I can do nothing for her. Let her carry her praise to a better market.” Then turning to Mrs. Knowles, “ You, Madam, have been flattering me all the evening ; I wish you would give Boswell a little now. If
you knew his merit as well as I do, you would say a great deal : he is the best travelling companion in the world."
Somebody mentioned the Reverend Mr. Mason's prosecution of Mr. Murray, the bookseller (1), for having inserted in a collection of “Gray's Poems only fifty lines, of which Mr. Mason had still the exclusive property, under the statute of Queen Anne; and that Mr. Mason had persevered, notwithstanding his being requested to name his own terms of compensation. (2) Johnson signified his displeasure at Mr. Mason's conduct very strongly; but added, by way of showing that he was not surprised at it, “Mason 's a Whig.” Mrs. KNOWLES (not hearing distinctly). “What? a prig, Şir?" JOHNSON. “Worse, Madam; a Whig ! But he is both!”
I expressed a horror at the thought of death. MRS. KNOWLES. “ Nay, thou shouldst not have a horror for what is the gate of life.” JOHNSON
sincere, and that for Johnson she entertained and expressed it before she ever saw him, and when she could not expect him to hear of it again. - C. 1835.
(1) Mr. Murray was a spirited and intelligent bookseller, the father of the publisher of this work. - C.
(2) See “ A Letter to W. Mason, A. M., from J. Murray, Bookseller in London," second edition, p. 20.
(standing upon the hearth, rolling about, with a serious, solemn, and somewhat gloomy air). “No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension.” Mrs. KNOWLES. “ The Scriptures tell us, The righteous shail have hope in his death."" Johnson. “ Yes, Madam, that is, he shall not have despair. But, consider, his hope of salvation must be founded on the terms on which it is promised that the mediation of our Saviour shall be applied to us, -namely, obedience; and where obedience has failed, then, as suppletory to it, repentance. But what man can say that his obedience has been such as he would approve of in another, or even in himself, upon close examination, or that his repentance has not been such as to require being repented of ? No man can be sure that his obedience and repentance will obtain salvation.” MRS. KNOWLES. " But divine intimation of acceptance may be made to the soul.” Johnson. “ Madam, it may; but I should not think the better of a man who should tell me on his death-bed, he was sure of salvation. A man cannot be sure himself that he has divine intimation of acceptance: much less can he make others sure that he has it.” BOSWELL. “ Then, Sir, we must be contented to acknowledge that death is a terrible thing.” Johnson. “ Yes, Sir. I have made no approaches to a state which can look on it as not terrible.” MRS. KNOWLES (seeming to enjoy a pleasing serenity in the persuasion of benignant divine light). “ Does not St. Paul say, I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished my