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very good humour, I ventured to lead him to the subject of our situation in a future state, having much curiosity to know his notions on that point. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, the happiness of an unembodied spirit will consist in a consciousness of the favour of God, in the contemplation of truth, and in the possession of felicitating ideas.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, is there any harm in our forming to ourselves conjectures as to the particulars of our happiness, though the Scripture has said but very little on the subject? We know not what we shall be.'” Johnson. “ Sir, there is no harm. What philosophy suggests to us on this topic is probable: what Scripture tells us is certain. Dr. Henry More (1) has carried it as far as philosophy can. You may buy both his theological and philosophical works in two volumes folio, for about eight shillings.” Boswell. 6 One of the most pleasing thoughts is, that we shall see our friends again.” (2) JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir; but you must consider, that when we are become purely rational, many of our friendships will be cut off. Many friendships are formed by a community
(1) Called the Platonist, on account of his voluminous efforts to blend the Platonic philosophy with Christianity. He, Van Helmont, and Valentine Greatrakes, all mystics in their several professions, were patronised by Anne Finch, Lady Conway, (herself a mystic), and all resided for some time in her house at Ragley, where there is a portrait of Van Helmont, and where were found, by Mr. Walpole, several letters of Dr. More. — C.
(2) Bishop Hall, in his Epistle, « discoursing of the different degrees of heavenly glory, and of our mutual knowledge of each other above,” holds the affirmative on both these questions. -M. See antè, Vol. II. p. 311.
of sensual pleasures : all these will be cut off. We form many friendships with bad men, because they have agreeable qualities, and they can be useful to us; but, after death, they can no longer be of use to us. We form many friendships by mistake, imagining people to be different from what they really are. After death, we shall see every one in a true light. Then, Sir, they talk of our meeting our relations : but then all relationship is dissolved ; and we shall have no regard for one person more than another, but for their real value. However, we shall either have the satisfaction of meeting our friends, or be satisfied without meeting them.” BOSWELL. “ Yet, Sir, we see in scripture, that Dives still retained an anxious concern about his brethren.” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, we must either suppose that passage to be metaphorical, or hold, with many divines and all the Purgatorians, that departed souls do not all at once arrive at the utmost perfection of which they are capable.” BOSWELL. “ I think, Sir, that is a very rational supposition." JOHNSON. 6 Why yes, Sir; but we do not know it is a true one. There is no harm in believing it: but you must not compel others to make it an article of faith; for it is not revealed.” BOSWELL. “ Do you think, Sir, it is wrong in a man who holds the doctrine of Purgatory, to pray for the souls of his deceased friends.” Johnson. “ Why no, Sir.” Boswell. “ I have been told, that in the liturgy of the episcopal church of Scotland, there was a form of prayer for the dead.” Johnson. “ Sir, it is not in the liturgy which Laud framed for the
episcopal church of Scotland : if there is a liturgy older than that, I should be glad to see it.” Boswell. “ As to our employment in a future state, the sacred writings say little. The Revelation, however, of St. John gives us many ideas, and particularly mentions music.” Johnson.“ Why, Sir, ideas must be given you by means of something which you know: and as to music, there are some philosophers and divines who have maintained, that we shall not be spiritualised to such a degree, but that something of matter, very much refined, will remain. In that case, music may make a part of our future felicity.” (1)
BOSWELL. “I do not know whether there are any well-attested stories of the appearance of ghosts. You know there is a famous story of the appearance of Mrs. Veal, prefixed to · Drelincourt on Death.'” Johnson. “I believe, Sir, that is given up: I believe the woman declared upon her death-bed that it was a lie."() BOSWELL. “ This objection is made against the truth of ghosts appearing: that if they are in a state of happiness, it would be a punishment to them to return to this world ; and if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite.” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, as the
(1) See antè, Vol. I. p. 166. — C.
(2) This fiction is known to have been invented by Daniel Defoe, and was added to the second edition of the English translation of Drelincourt's work (which was originally written in French), to make it sell. The first edition had it not. — M. [See Sir Walter Scott's Life of Defoe, Prose Works, vol. iv. p. 267.]
happiness or misery of embodied spirits does not depend upon place, but is intellectual, we cannot say that they are less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth.”
We went down between twelve and one to Mrs. Williams's room, and drank tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. Gray, in prose and verse, published by Mr. Mason. JOHNSON. “I think we have had enough of Gray. I see they have published a splendid edition of Akenside's works. One bad ode may be suffered ; but a number of them together makes one sick.” Boswell. “ Akenside's distinguished poem is his 'Pleasures of Imagination ;' but for my part, I never could admire it so much as most people do.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, I could not read it through.” BOSWELL. “I have read it through ; but I did not find any great power in it.”
I mentioned Elwal, the heretic, whose trial (1) Sir John Pringle had given me to read. JOHNSON. “Sir, Mr. Elwal was, I think, an ironmonger at Wolverhampton; and he had a mind to make himself famous, by being the founder of a new sect, which he wished much should be called Elwallians. He held, that every thing in the Old Testament that was not typical, was to be of perpetual observance; and so he wore a riband in the plaits of his coat, and he also wore a beard. I remember I had the honour of dining in company with Mr. Elwal. There was
(1) “ The Triumph of Truth; being an Account of the Trial of E. Elwal for Heresy and Blasphemy, 8vo. Lond.” This is rather the rambling declamation of an enthusiast, than the account of a trial. — C.
. one Barter, a miller, who wrote against him; and you had the controversy between Mr. Elwal and Mr. Barter. To try to make himself distinguished, he wrote a letter to King George the Second, challenging him to dispute with him, in which he said, • George, if you be afraid to come by yourself, to dispute with a poor old man, you may bring a thousand of your black-guards with you; and if you should still be afraid, you may bring a thousand of your red-guards.' The letter had something of the impudence of Junius to our present King. But the men of Wolverhampton were not so inflammable as the common council of London; so Mr. Elwal failed in his scheme of making himself a man of great consequence.”
On Tuesday, March 31., he and I dined at General Paoli's. A question was started, whether the state of marriage was natural to man. Johnson. “ Sir, it is so far from being natural for a man and woman to live in a state of marriage, that we find all the motives which they have for remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilised society imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to keep them together.” The General said, that in a state of nature a man and woman uniting together, would form a strong and constant affection, by the mutual pleasure each would receive ; and that the same causes of dissention would not arise between them, as occur between husband and wife in a civilised state. Johnson. “Sir, they would have dissentions enough, though of another kind. One would choose to go a hunting in this wood, the other