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infinite goodness simply considered; for infinite goodness would infiict no punishment whatever. There is not infinite goodness physically considered : morally there is.” BOSWELL. “ But may not a man attain to such a degree of hope as not to be uneasy from the fear of death ?” Johnson. “A man may have such a degree of hope as to keep him quiet. You see I am not quiet, from the vehemence with which I talk; but I do not despair.” Mrs. ADAMS. “ You seem, Sir, to forget the merits of our Redeemer.” JOHNSON. “ Madam, I do not forget the merits of my Redeemer; but my Redeemer has said that he will set some on his right hand and some on his left.” — He was in gloomy agitation, and said, “ I'll have no more on 't.” - If what has now been stated should be urged by the enemies of Christianity, as if its influence on the mind were not benignart, let it be remembered, that Johnson's temperament was melancholy, of which such direful apprehensions of futurity are often a common effect. We shall presently see, that when he approached nearer to his awful change, his mind became tranquil, and he exhibited as much fortitude as becomes a thinking man in that situation.
From the subject of death we passed to discourse of life, whether it was upon the whole more happy or miserable. Johnson was decidedly for the ba- / lance of misery : in confirmation of which I main., tained that no man would choose to lead over again the life which he had experienced. Johnson acceded to that opinion in the strongest terms. This
is an inquiry often made; and its being a subject of disquisition is a proof that much misery presses upon human feelings ; for those who are conscious of a felicity of existence would never hesitate to accept of a repetition of it. I have met with
few who would. I have heard Mr. Burke make use of a very ingenious and plausible argument on this subject :
Every man,” said he, “ would lead his life over again ; for every man is willing to go on and take an addition to his life, which, as he grows older, he has no reason to think will be better, or even so good as what has preceded." I imagine, however, the truth is that there is a deceitful hope that the next part of life will be free from the pains, and anxieties, and sorrows, which we have already felt. for wise purposes
“ Condemned to Hope's delusive mine,” as Johnson finely says; and I may also quote the celebrated lines of Dryden, equally philosophical and poetical :
“ When I consider life, 't is all a cheat,
Yet, fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit
What the first sprightly running could not give." (1) It was observed to Dr. Johnson, that it seemed strange that he, who has so often delighted his conpany by his lively and brilliant conversation, should
(1) Aurengzebe, Act iv. Scene 1.
say he was miserable. Johnson. “ Alas! it is all outside ; I may be cracking my joke, and cursing the sun.
Sun, how I hate thy beams !” I knew not well what to think of this declaration ; whether to hold it as a genuine picture of his mind (1), or as the effect of his persuading himself contrary to fact, that the position which he had assumed as to human unhappiness was true. We may apply to him a sentence in Mr. Greville's “ Maxims, Characters, and Reflections (2);" a book which is entitled to much more praise than it has received : “ Aristarchus is charming; how full of knowledge, of sense, of sentiment. You get him with difficulty to your supper; and after having delighted every body and himself for a few hours, he is obliged to return home; he is finishing his treatise, to prove that unhappiness is the portion of man.” (3)
(1) Yet there is no doubt that a man may appear very gay in company, who is sad at heart. His merriment is like the sound of drums and trumpets in a battle, to drown the groans of the wounded and dying.
(2) Fulke Greville, Esq. of Welberry, in Wilts, the husband of the authoress of the “ Ode to Indifference.” – MARKLAND.
(3) Here followed a very long note, or rather dissertation, by the Reverend Mr. Churton, on the subject of Johnson's opinion of the misery of human life, which I have thought will be read most conveniently in the Appendix. — C. - [See JOHNSONIANA, vost.7
Milton. Anonymous Writings. Pope. . David
Lewis. Sackville Parker. Cook's Voyages
On Sunday, 13th June, our philosopher was calm at breakfast. There was something exceedingly pleasing in our leading a college life, without restraint and with superior elegance, in consequence of our living in the master's house, and having the company of ladies.
Mrs. Kennicott related, in his presence, a lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had expressed a wonder that the poet who had written “ Paradise Lost,” should write such poor sonnets : “ Milton, Madam, was genius that could cut a Colossus from a rock, but . could not carve heads upon cherry-stones.”
We talked of the casuistical question, “ Whether it was allowable at any time to depart from truth ?"
JOHNSON. “ The general rule is, that truth should never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the comfort of life that we should have a full security by mutual faith ; and occasional inconveniences should be willingly suffered, that we may preserve it. There must, however, be some exceptions. If, for instance, a murderer should ask you which way a man is gone, you may tell him what is not true, because you are under a previous obligation not to betray a man to a murderer.” Boswell. “Supposing the person who wrote Junius were asked whether he was the author, might he deny it?” Johnson. “I don't know what to say to this. If you were sure that he wrote Junius, would you, if he denied it, think as well of him afterwards ? Yet it may be urged that what a man has no right to ask, you may refuse to communicate ; and there is no other effectual mode of preserving a secret and an important secret, the discovery of which may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial ; for if you are silent, or hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confession. But stay, Sir, here is another case. Supposing the author had told me confidentially that he had written Junius, and I were asked if he had, I should hold myself at liberty to deny it, as being under a previous promise, express or implied, to conceal it. () Now what I ought to do for the author, may I not. do for myself? But I deny the lawfulness of telling