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for the shocking story of Addison's sending an execution into Steele's house. Sir," said he, “it is generally known ; it is known to all who are acquainted with the literary history of that period : it is as well known as that he wrote Cato.' Mr. Thomas Sheridan once defended Addison to me, by alleging that he did it in order to cover Steele's goods from other creditors, who were going to seize them.”
We talked of the difference between the mode of education at Oxford and that in those colleges where instruction is chiefly conveyed by lectures. JOHNSON. « Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of the lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back, as you do upon a book.” Dr. Scott agreed with him. “But yet,” said I, “ Dr Scott, you yourself gave lectures at Oxford." He smiled. “ You laughed," then said I, " at those who came to you.”
Dr. Scott left us, and soon afterwards we went to dinner. Our company consisted of Mrs. WilTams, Mrs. Desmoulins, Mr. Levett, Mr. Allen, the printer, (Mr. Macbean), and Mrs. Hall, sister of the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, and resembling him, as I thought, both in figure and manner. Johnson produced now, for the first time, some handsome silver salvers, which he told me he had bought, fourteen years ago ; so it was a great day. I was not a little amused by observing Allen perpetually struggling to talk in the manner of John
son, like the little frog in the fable blowing himself up to resemble the stately ox.
I mentioned a kind of religious Robin Hood society, which met every Sunday evening at Coachmakers'-hall, for free debate; and that the subject for this night was, the text which relates, with other miracles which happened at our Saviour's death, “And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Mrs. Hall said it was a very curious subject, and she should like to hear it discussed. Johnson (somewhat warmly), “One would not gu to such a place to hear it, one would not be seen in such a place - to give countenance to such a meeting.” I, however, resolved that I would go. But, Sir," said she to Johnson, “I should like to hear you discuss it.” He seemed reluctant to engage in it. She talked of the resurrection of the human race in general, and maintained that we shall be raised with the same bodies. JOHNSON. • Nay, Madam, we see that it is not to be the same body ; for the scripture uses the illustration of grain sown, and we know that the grain which grows is not the same with what is sown. You cannot suppose that we shall rise with a diseased body; it is enough if there be such a sameness as to distinguish identity of person." She seemed desirous of knowing more, but he left the question in obscurity.
Of apparitions (1), he observed, “ A total dis(1) As this subject frequently recurs in these volumes, the
belief of them is adverse to the opinion of the existence of the soul between death and the last day; the question simply is, whether departed spirits ever have the power of making themselves perceptible to us :
a man who thinks he has seen an apparition can only be convinced himself; his authority will not convince another; and his conviction, if rational, must be founded on being told something which cannot be known but by supernatural means.”
He mentioned a thing as not unfrequent, of which I had never heard before, - being called, that is, hearing one's name pronounced by the voice of a known person at a great distance, far beyond the possibility of being reached by any sound uttered by human organs. “ An acquaintance, on whose veracity I can depend, told me, that walking home one evening to Kilmarnock, he heard himself called from a wood, by the voice of a brother who had gone to America; and the next packet brought accounts of that brother's death.” Macbean asserted that this inexplicable calling was a thing very well known. Dr. Johnson said, that
reader may be led erroneously to suppose that Dr. Johnson was so fond of such discussions as frequently to introduce them. But the truth is, that the author himself delighted in talking concerning ghosts, and what he has frequently denominated the mysterious; and therefore took every opportunity of leading Johnson to converse on such subjects. — M. – The author of this work was most undoubtedly fond of the mysterious, and perhaps upon come occasions may have directed the conversation to those topics, when they would not spontaneously have suggested themselves to Johnson's mind; but that he also had a love for speculations of that nature may be gathered from his writings Wroughout. –J. Boswell, June
one day at Oxford, as he was turning the key of his chamber, he heard his mother distinctly call Sam. She was then at Lichfield ; but nothing ensued. This phenomenon is, I think, as wonderful as any other mysterious fact, which many people are very slow to believe, or rather, indeed, reject with an obstinate contempt.
Some time after this, upon his making a remark which escaped my attention, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Hall were both together striving to answer him. He grew angry, and called out loudly, “s Nay, when you both speak at once, it is intolerable." But checking himself, and softening, he said, “ This one may say, though you are ladies.” Then he brightened into gay humour, and addressed them in the words of one of the songs in “ The Beggar's Opera,"
“ But two at a time there's no mortal can bear." “ What, Sir," said I, “are you going to turn Captain Macheath ?" There was something as pleasantly ludicrous in this scene as can be imagined. The contrast between Macheath, Polly, and Lucy - and Dr. Samuel Johnson, blind, peevish Mrs. Williams, and lean, lank, preaching Mrs. Hall, was exquisite.
I stole away to Coachmakers’-hall, and heard the difficult text of which we had talked, discussed with great decency, and some intelligence, by several speakers. There was a difference of opinion as to the appearance of ghosts in modern times, though the argument for it, supported by Mr. Ad
dison's authority, preponderated. The immediate subject of debate was embarrassed by the bodies of the saints having been said to rise, and by the question what became of them afterwards : — did they return again to their graves ? or were they translated to heaven? Only one evangelist mentions the fact (Matthew, xxvii. v. 52, 53.), and the commentators whom I have looked at do not make the
passage clear. There is, however, no occasion for our understanding it farther than to know that it was one of the extraordinary manifestations of divine power which accompanied the most 10portant event that ever happened.