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1773. He described the father of one of his friends thus : “ Sir, he was so exuberant Ærat. 67. a talker at publick meetings, that the gentlemen of his county were afraid of
him. No business could be done for his declamation.”
He did not give me full credit when I mentioned that I had carried on a short conversation by signs with some Esquimaux, who were then in London, particularly with one of them who was a priest. He thought I could not make them understand me. No man was more incredulous as to particular facts, which were at all extraordinary ; and therefore no man was more scrupulously inquisitive, in order to discover the truth.
I dined with him this day at the house of my friends, Messieurs Edward and Charles Dilly, booksellers in the Poultry : there were present, their elder brother Mr. Dilly of Bedfordshire, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Langton, Mr. Claxton, Reverend Dr. Mayo a dissenting minister, the Reverend Mr. Toplady, and my friend the Reverend Mr. Temple.
Hawkesworth's compilation of the voyages to the South Sea being mentioned ;-Johnson. “Sir, if you talk of it as a subject of commerce, it will be gainful; if as a book that is to increase human knowledge, I believe there will not be much of that. Hawkesworth can tell only what the voyagers have told him, and they have found very little, only one new animal, I think.” Boswell. " But many insects, Sir.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, as to insects, Ray reckons of British insects twenty thousand species. They might have have staid at home and discovered enough in that way.”
Talking of birds, I mentioned Mr. Daines Barrington's ingenious Efay against the received notion of their migration. Johnson. “ I think we have as good evidence for the migration of woodcocks as can be desired. We find they disappear at a certain time of the year, and appear again at a certain time of the year; and some of them, when weary in their flight, have been known to alight on the rigging of ships far out at sea.” One of the company observed, that there had been instances of some of them found in summer in Efex. Johnson. “ Sir, that strengthens our argument. Exceptio probat regulam. Some being found fhews, that, if all remained, many would be found. A few fick or lame ones may be found.” GOLDSMITH. “ There is a partial migration of the swallows; the stronger ones migrate, the others do not.”
Boswell. “ I am well assured that the people of Otaheite who have the bread-tree, the fruit of which serves them for bread, laughed heartily when they were informed of the tedious process necessary with us to have bread ;--plowing, sowing, harrowing, reaping, threshing, grinding, baking.” Johnson. “ Why, Sir, all ignorant savages will laugh when they are told of
che advantages of civilized life. Were you to tell men who live without
He repeated an argument, which is to be found in his “Rambler," against
I introduced the subject of toleration.. Johnson. “ Every society has a right to preserve publick peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the propagation of opinions which have a dangerous tendency. To say the magistrate has this right, is using an inadequate word : it is the fociety for which the magistrate is agent. He may be morally or theologically wrong in restraining the propagation of opinions which he thinks dangerous, but he is politically right.” Mayo. “ I am of opinion, Sir, that every man is entitled to liberty of conscience in religion; and that the magistrate cannot restrain that right.” Johnson. '“ Sir, I agree with you. Every man has a right to -liberty of conscience, and with that the magistrate cannot interfere. People confound liberty of thinking with liberty of talking; nay, with liberty of preaching. Every man has a physical right to think as he pleases; for it cannot be discovered how he thinks. He has not a moral right; for he ought to inform himself and think justly. But, Sir, no member of a society has a right to teach any doctrine contrary to what that society holds to be true. The magistrate, I say, may be wrong in what he thinks ; but, while he thinks himself right, he may, and ought to enforce what he thinks.” Mayo. “ Then, Sir, we are to remain always in errour, and truth never can prevail; and the magistrate was right in persecuting the first Christians." Johnson. “Sir, the only method by which religious truth can be established is by martyrdom. The magistrate has a right to enforce what he thinks; and he who is conscious of the truth has a right to suffer. I am afraid there is no other way of ascertaining the
truth, but by persecution on the one hand and enduring it on the other."
clear and positive; as, thou shalt not kill.' But charity, for instance, is
for him, and he'd have had a numerous audience. A man who preaches in
children to be thieves ?” Mayo. “This is making a joke of the subject.” Johnson. “ Nay, Sir, take it thus :--that you teach them the community of goods, for which there are as many plausible arguments as for most erroneous doctrines. You teach them that all things at first were in common, and that no man had a right to any thing but as he laid his hands upon it; and that this still is, or ought to be, the rule amongst mankind. Here, Sir, you fap a great principle in fociety,—property. And don't you think the magistrate would have a right to prevent you? Or, suppose you should teach your children the notions of the Adamites, and they should run naked into the streets, would not the magistrate have a right to flog 'em into their doublets ?” Mayo. “ I think the magistrate has no right to interfere till there is some overt act.” Boswell. “So, Sir, though he sees an enemy to the state charging a blunderbuss, he is not to interfere till it is fired off.” Mayo. “ He must be sure of its direction against the state.” Johnson. “ The magistrate is to judge of that.--He has no right to restrain your thinking, because the evil centers in yourself. If a man were sitting at this table, and chopping off his fingers, the magistrate, as guardian of the community, has no authority to restrain him, however he might do it from kindness as a parent.—Though, indeed, upon more confideration, I think he may; as it is probable that he who is chopping off his own fingers, may soon proceed to chop off those of other people. If I think it right to steal Mr. Dilly's plate, I am a bad man; but he can say nothing
If I make an open declaration that I think so, he will keep me out of his house. If I put forth my hand, I shall be sent to Newgate. This is the gradation of thinking, preaching, and acting: if a man thinks erroneously, he may keep his thoughts to himself, and nobody will trouble him; if he preaches erroneous doctrine, society may expel him; if he acts in consequence of it, the law takes place, and he is hanged.” Mayo. “But, Sir, ought not Christians to have liberty of conscience ?” Johnson. “ I have already told you so, Sir. You are coming back to where you were.” Boswell. “ Dr. Mayo is always taking a return post-chaise, and going the stage over again. Hhh
He has it at half price.” Johnson. “ Dr. Mayo, like other champions for unlimited toleration, has got a set of words'. Sir, it is no matter, politically, whether the magistrate be right or wrong. Suppose a club were to be formed to drink confusion to King George the Third, and a happy restoration to Charles the Third ; this would be very bad with respect to the state; but every member of that club must either conform to its rules, or be turned out of it. Old Baxter, I remember, maintains, that the magistrate should tolerate all things that are tolerable. This is no good definition of toleration upon any principle; but it shews that he thought some things were not tolerable.” TOPLADY. “ Sir, you have untwisted this difficult subject with great dexterity.”
During this argument, Goldsmith sat in restless agitation, from a wish to get in, and shine. Finding himself excluded, he had taken his hat to go away, but remained for some time with it in his hand, like a gamester, who at the close of a long night, lingers for a little while, to see if he can have a favourable opening to finish with success. Once when he was beginning to speak, he found himself overpowered by the loud voice of Johnson, who was at the opposite end of the table, and did not perceive Goldsmith's attempt. Thus disappointed of his wish to obtain the attention of the company, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat, looking angrily at Johnson, and exclaiming in a bitter tone, " Take it.” When Toplady was going to speak, Johnson uttered some sound, which led Goldsmith to think that he was beginning again, and taking the words from Toplady. Upon which, he seized this opportunity of venting his own envy and spleen, under the pretext of supporting another person :
Sir, (said he to Johnson,) the gentleman has heard you patiently for an hour; pray allow us now to hear him.” Johnson. (sternly,)“ Sir, I was not interrupting the gentleman. I was only giving him a signal of my attention, Sir, you are impertinent." Goldsmith made no reply, but continued in the company for some time.
A gentleman present ventured to ask Dr. Johnson if there was not a material difference as to toleration of opinions which lead to action, and opinions merely speculative;, for instance, would it be wrong in the magistrate to tolerate
9 Dr. Mayo's calm temper and steady perseverance, rendered him an admirable subject for the exercise of Dr. Johnson's powerful abilities. He never flinched ; but, after reiterated blows, remained seemingly unmoved as at the first. The scintillations of Johnson's genius flashed every time he was ftruck, without his receiving any injury. Hence he obtained the epithet of The LITERARY ANVIL.