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1769. herself that the cups were full enough, was a little aukward: she put her Etat. 60. finger down a certain way, till she felt the tea touch it. In my first elation
at being allowed the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson at his late visits to this lady, which was like being è secretioribus consiliis, I willingly drank cup after cup, as if it had been the Heliconian spring. But as the charm of novelty went off, I grew more fastidious; and besides, I discovered that the was of a peevish temper.
There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very good humour, lively, and ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Fergusson, the selftaught philosopher, told him of a new-invented machine which went without horses: a man who sat in it turned a handle, which worked a spring that drove it forward. “ Then, Sir, (said Johnson,) what is gained is, the man has his choice whether he will move himself alone, or himself and the machine too." Dominicetti being mentioned, he would not allow him any merit. « There is nothing in all this boasted system. No, Sir; medicated baths can be no better than warm water: their only effect can be that of tepid moisture.” One of the company took the other side, maintaining that medicines of various forts, and some too of most powerful effect, are introduced into the human frame by the medium of the pores ; and, therefore, when warm water is impregnated with salutiferous substances, it may produce great effects as a bath. This appeared to me very satisfactory. Johnson did not answer it; but talking for victory, and determined to be master of the field, he had recourse to the device which Goldsmith imputed to him in the witty words of one of Cibber's comedies : “ There is no arguing with Johnson ; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.” He turned to the gentleman, “Well, Sir, go to Dominicetti, and get thyself fumigated; but be sure that the steam be directed to thy head, for that is the peccant part.” This produced a triumphant roar of laughter from the motley affembly of philosophers, printers, and dependents, male and female.
I know not how so whimsical a thought came into my mind, but I asked, “If, Sir, you were fhut up in a castle, and a new-born child with you, what would you do?” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, I should not much like my company. " Boswell. “ But would you take the trouble of rearing it?" He seemed, as may well be supposed, unwilling to pursue the subject; but upon my persevering in my question, replied, “Why yes, Sir, I would; but I must have all conveniencies. If I had no garden, I would make a shed on the roof, and take it there for fresh air. I should feed it, and wash it much, and with warm water to please it, not with cold water to give it pain.” Boswell, “ But,
Sir, does not heat relax?” Johnson. “Sir, you are not to imagine the 1769 water is to be very hot. I would not coddle the child. No, Sir, the hardy Ævat. To. method of treating children does no good. I'll take you five children from London, who shall cuff five Highland children. Sir, a man bred in London will carry a burthen, or run, or wrestle, as well as a man brought up in the hardiest manner in the country.” Boswell. " Good living, I suppose, makes the Londoners strong. JOHNSON.“ Why, Sir, I don't know that it does. Our chairmen from Ireland, who are as strong men as any, have been brought up upon potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality.” Boswell. « Would you
teach this child that I have furnished you with, any thing ?” Johnson. “ No, I should not be apt to teach it.” Boswell. “Would not you have a pleasure in teaching it?" Johnson. “ No, Sir, I should not have a pleasure in teaching it.” Boswell.“ Have you not a pleasure in teaching men ?There I have you.
You have the same pleasure in teaching men, that I should have in teaching children.” Johnson. “Why, something about that.”
BoswELL. “ Do you think, Sir, that what is called natural affection is born with us? It seems to me to be the effect of habit, or of gratitude for kindness. No child has it for a parent whom it has not seen.” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, I think there is an instinctive natural affection in parents towards their children.”
Russia being mentioned as likely to become a great empire, by the rapid increase of population ;-Johnson. “Why, Sir, I see no prospect of their propagating more. They can have no more children than they can get. I know of no way to make them breed more than they do. It is not from reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination. A man is poor; he thinks, I cannot be worse, and so I'll e'en take Peggy.” Boswell. “ But have not nations been more populous at one period than another ?” JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir; but that has been owing to the people being less thinned at one period than another, whether by emigrations, war, or pestilence, not by their being more or less prolifick. Births at all times bear the same proportion to the same number of people.” Boswell. “ But, to consider the state of our own country ;-does not throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population ?” Johnson. “ Why no, Sir; the fame quantity of food being produced, will be consumed by the same number of mouths, though the people may be disposed of in different ways. We fee, if corn be dear, and butchers' meat cheap, the farmers all apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes plentiful and cheap, and then butchers' meat becomes dear; so that an equality is always preserved. No, Sir, let fanciful men do as
1769. they will, depend upon it, it is difficult to disturb the system of life." Boswell.
“ But, Sir, is it not a very bad thing for landlords to oppress their tenants, by Ætat. 6o.
raising their rents ?” Johnson. “Very bad. But, Sir, it never can have any general influence; it may distress some individuals. For consider this : landlords cannot do without tenants. Now tenants will not give more for land than land is worth. If they can make more of their money by keeping a shop, or any other way, they'll do it, and so oblige landlords to let land come back to a reasonable rent, in order that they may get tenants. Land, in England, is an article of commerce. A tenant who pays his landlord his rent, thinks himself no more obliged to him than you think yourself obliged to a man in whose shop you buy a piece of goods. He knows the landlord does not let him have his land for less than he can get from others, in the same manner as the shopkeeper sells his goods. No shopkeeper sells a yard of ribband for six-pence, when seven-pence is the current price." Boswell. “ But, Sir, is it not better that tenants should be dependent on landlords ?” Johnson. Why, Sir, as there are many more tenants than landlords, perhaps, strictly speaking, we should wish not. But if you please you may let your lands cheap, and so get the value, part in
in homage. I should agree with you in that.” Boswell. “So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political improvement.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things."
He observed, “ Providence has wisely ordered that the more numerous men are, the more difficult it is for them to agree in any thing, and so they are governed. There is no doubt, that if the poor should reason, "We'll be the poor no longer, we'll make the rich take their turn,' they could easily do it, were it not that they can't agree. So the common soldiers, though so much more numerous than their officers, are governed by them for the same reason.”
He said, “ Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You fee the inhabitants of Norway do not with one consent quit it, and go to some part of America, where there is a inild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with the tenth part of the labour. No, Sir; their affection for their old dwellings, and the terrour of a general change, keep them at home. Thus, we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged spots well inhabited.”
The London Chronicle, which was the only newspaper he constantly took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was assigned to me.
I was 4
diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of it, that 1769. my task was very easy. He would not suffer one of the petitions to the King Ætat.co. about the Middlesex election to be read.
I had hired a Bohemian as my servant while I remained in London, and being much pleased with him, I asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a Roman Catholick should prevent my taking him with me to Scotland. Johnson.
Why no, Sir. If he has no objection, you can have none." BOSWELL. “So, Sir, you are no great enemy to the Roman Catholick religion,” Johnson. “No more, Sir, than to the Presbyterian religion.” Boswell. “ You are joking." Johnson. “No, Sir, I really think so. Nay, Sir, of the two, I prefer the Popish.” Boswell. “How so, Sir?” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, the Presbyterians have no church, no apoftolical ordination.” BOSWELL. “ And do you think that absolutely essential, Sir ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Presbyterians have no publick worship: they have no form of prayer in which they know they are to join. They go to hear a man pray, and are to judge whether they will join with him.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, their doctrine is the same with that of the Church of England. Their confession of faith, and the thirty-nine articles, contain the same points, even the doctrine of predestination.” Johnson. “Why yes, Sir; predestination was a part of the clamour of the times, so it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little positiveness as could be.” Boswell. “ Is it necefsary, Sir, to believe all the thirty-nine articles ?” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, that is a question which has been much agitated. Some have thought it necessary that they should all be believed ; others have considered them to be only articles of peace, that is to say, you are not to preach against them.” Boswell. “ It appears to me, Sir, that predestination, or what is equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an universal presence in the Deity.” JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, does not God every day see things going on without preventing them ?” Boswell. " True, Sir; but if a thing be certainly foreseen, it must be fixed, and cannot happen otherwise ; and if we apply this confideration to the human mind, there is no free will, nor do I fee how prayer can be of any avail.” He mentioned Dr. Clarke, and Bishop Bram. hall on Liberty and Necessity, and bid me read South's sermons on Prayer; but avoided the question which has excruciated philosophers and divines, beyond any other. I did not press it further, when I perceived that he was displeased, and shrunk from any abridgement of an attribute usually ascribed to the Divinity, however irreconcileable in its full extent with the grand system
1769. of moral government. His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous Ætat. 60. powers of his understanding. He was confined by a chain which early imagi
nation and long habit made him think masfy and strong, but which, had he ventured to try, he could at once have snapt asunder.
I proceeded : “ What do you think, Sir, of Purgatory, as believed by the Roman Catholicks?” Johnson. Why, Sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted into the society of blessed spirits ; and therefore that God is graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be purified by certain degrees of suffering. You see, Sir, there is nothing unreasonable in this.” Boswell.
Boswell. “ But then, Sir, their masses for the dead?” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, if it be once established that there are souls in purgatory, it is as proper to pray for them, as for our brethren of mankind who are yet in this life.” Boswell. “ The idolatry of the Mass ?”—JOHNSON. “Sir, there is ro idolatry in the Mass. They believe God to be there, and they adore him." Boswell. “ The worship of Saints ?”-Johnson. “Sir, they do not worship saints; they invoke them; they only ask their prayers. I am talking all this time of the doĉtrines of the church of Rome. I grant you that in praćtice, Purgatory is made a lucrative imposition, and that the people do become idolatrous as they recommend themselves to the tutelary protection of particular saints. I think their giving the facrament only in one kind is criminal, because it is contrary to the express institution of Christ, and I wonder how the Council of Trent admitted it.” Boswell. “ Confeffion?”-JOHNSON. « Why, I don't know but that is a good thing. The scripture says, “Confess your faults one to another;' and the priests confess as well as the laity. Then it must be considered that their absolution is only upon repentance, and often upon penance also. You think your sins may be forgiven without penance, upon repentance alone.”
I thus ventured to mention all the common objections against the Roman Catholick Church, that I might hear so great a man upon them. What he faid is here accurately recorded. But it is not improbable that if one had taken the other side, he might have reasoned differently.
I must however mention, that he had a respect for “ the old religion,” as the mild Melancthon called that of the Roman Catholick Church, even while he was exerting himself for its reformation in some particulars. Sir William Scott informs me, that he heard Johnson say, “A man who is converted from Protestantism to Popery, may be sincere: he parts with nothing: he is only superadding to what he already had. But a convert from Popery to