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He said, “This, Sir, no man can explain otherwise.” We stopped at Welwyn, where I wished much to see, in company with Johnson, the residence of the author of “ Night Thoughts,” which was then possessed by his son, Mr. Young. Here some address was requisite, for I was not acquainted with Mr. Young; and had I proposed to Dr. Johnson that we should send to him, he would have checked my wish, and perhaps been offended. I therefore concerted with Mr. Dilly, that I should steal away from Dr. Johnson and him, and try what reception I could procure from Mr. Young: if unfavourable, nothing was to be said ; but if agreeable, I should return and notify it to them. I hastened to Mr. Young's, found he was at home, sent in word that a gentleman desired to wait upon him, and was shown into a parlour, where he and a young lady, his daughter, were sitting. He appeared to be a plain, civil, country gentleman; and when I begged pardon for presuming to trouble him, but that I wished much to see his place if he would give me leave, he behaved very courteously, and answered, “By all means, Sir. We are just going to drink tea; will you sit down ?” I thanked him, but said that Dr. Johnson had come with me from London, and I must return to the inn to drink tea with him : that my name was Boswell; I had travelled with him in the Hebrides. “Sir,” said he, “I should think it a great honour to see Dr. Johnson here. Will you allow me to send for him ?” Availing myself of this opening, I said that “I would go myself and bring him when he had drunk tea; he knew nothing of my calling here.” Having been thus successful, I hastened back to the inn, and informed Dr. Johnson that “Mr. Young, the son of Dr. Young, the author of Night Thoughts,' whom I had just left, desired to have the honour of seeing him at the house where his father lived.” Dr. Johnson luckily made no inquiry how this invitation had arisen, but agreed to go; and when we entered Mr. Young's parlour, he addressed him with a very polite bow, “ Sir, I had a curiosity to come and see this place. I had the honour to know that great man your father.” We went into the garden, where we found a gravel walk, on each side of which was a row of trees, planted by Dr. Young, which formed a handsome Gothic arch. Dr. Johnson calls it a fine grove. I beheld it with reverence.
We sat some time in the summer-house, on the outside wall of which was inscribed, “ Ambulantes in horto audiebant vocem Dei ;” and in the reference to a brook by which it is situated, “ Vivendi rectè qui prorogat horam," &c. I said to Mr. Young, that I had been told his father was cheerful. “Sir," said he," he was too well bred a man not to be cheerful in company; but he was gloomy when alone. He never was cheerful after my mother's death, and he had met with many disappointments.” Dr. Johnson observed to me afterwards, “That this was no favourable account of Dr. Young; for it is not becoming in a man to have so little acquiescence in the ways of Provi. dence, as to be gloomy because he has not obtained as much preferment as he expected ; nor to continue gloomy for the loss of his wife. Grief has its time.” The last part of this censure was theoretically made. Practically, we know that grief for the loss of a wife may be continued very long, in proportion as affection has been sincere. No man knew this better than Dr. Johnson.
We went into the church, and looked at the monument erected by Mr. Young to his father. Mr. Young mentioned an anecdote, that his father had received several thousand pounds of subscription-money for his “ Universal Passion,” but had lost it in the South Sea. Dr. Johnson thought this must be a mistake, for he had never seen a subscription-book.
Upon the road we talked of the uncertainty of profit with which authors and booksellers engage in the publication of literary works. JOHNSON. “My judgment I have found is no certain rule as to the sale of a book.” Bos. WELL. “Pray, Sir, have you been much plagued with authors sending you their works to revise ?” Johnson. “No, Sir; I have been thought a sour surly fellow.” BOSWELL. “Very lucky for you, Sir,-in that respect." I must however observe, that, notwithstanding what he now said, which he no doubt imagined at the time to be
This assertion is disproved by a comparison of dates. The first four satires of Young were published in 1725. The South Sea scheme (which no doubt was meant, was in 1720.-Malone.
the fact, there was, perhaps, no man who more frequently yielded to the solicitations even of very obscure authors to read their manuscripts, or more liberally assisted them with advice and correction.
He found himself very happy at Squire Dilly's, where there is always abundance of excellent fare, and hearty welcome.
On Sunday, June 3, we all went to Southill church, which is very near to Mr. Dilly's house. It being the first Sunday in the month, the holy sacrament was administered, and I stayed to partake of it. When I came afterwards into Dr. Johnson's room, he said, “ You did right to stay and receive the communion: I had not thought of it.” This seemed to imply that he did not choose to approach the altar without a previous preparation, as to which good men entertain different opinions, some holding that it is irreverent to partake of that ordinance without considerable premeditation; others, that whoever is a sincere Christian, and in a proper frame of mind to discharge any other ritual duty of our religion, may, without scruple, discharge this most solemn one. A middle notion I believe to be the just one, which is, that communicants need not think a long train of preparatory forms indispensably necessary; but neither should they rashly and lightly venture upon so awful and mysterious an institution. Christians must judge, each for himself, what degree of retirement and self-examination is necessary upon each occasion.
Being in a frame of mind which I hope, for the felicity of human nature, many experience,-in fine weather,-at the country-house of a friend,-consoled and elevated by pious exercises,-I expressed myself with an unrestrained fervour to my “Guide, Philosopher, and Friend.” “My dear Sir, I would fain be a good man; and I am very good now. I fear God, and honour the king; I wish to do no ill, and to be benevolent to all mankind.” He looked at me with a benignant indulgence; but took occasion to give me wise and salutary caution. “Do not, Sir, accustom yourself to trust to impressions. There is a middle state of mind between conviction and hypocrisy, of which many are unconscious. By trusting to impressions, a man may gradually come to yield to them, and at length be subject to them, so as not to be a free agent, or what is the same thing in effect, to suppose that he is not a free agent. A man who is in that state should not be suffered to live; if he declares he cannot help acting in a particular way, and is irresistibly impelled, there can be no confidence in him, no more than in a tiger. But, Sir, no man believes himself to be impelled irresistibly; we know that he who says he believes it, lies. Favourable impressions at particular moments, as to the state of our souls, may be deceitful and dangerous. In general, no man can be sure of his acceptance with God; some, indeed, may have had it revealed to them. St. Paul, who wrought miracles, may have had a miracle wrought on himself, and may have obtained supernatural assurance of pardon, and mercy, and heatitude; yet St. Paul, though he expresses strong hope, also expresses fear, lest having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway."
The opinion of a learned bishop of our acquaintance, as to there being merit in religious faith, being mentioned :JOHNSON. “Why, yes, Sir, the most licentious man, were hell open before him, would not take the most beautiful strumpet to his arms. We must, as the apostle says, live by faith, not by sight.”
I talked to him of original sin, in consequence of the fall of man, and of the atonement made by our Saviour. After some conversation, which he desired me to remember, he, at my request, dictated to me as follows:
“With respect to original sin, the inquiry is not necessary; for, whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evi
1 Dr. Ogden, in his second sermon “On the Articles of the Christian Faith," with admirable acuteness thus addresses the opposers of that doctrine, which accounts for the confusion, sin, and misery which we and in this life: “It would be severe in God, you think, to degrade us to such a sad state as this, for the offence of our first parents : but you can allow him to place us in it without any inducement. Are our calamities lessened by not being ascribed to Adam ? If your condition be unhappy, is it not still unbappy, whatever was the occasion ? with the aggravation of this reflection, that if it was as good as it was at first designed, there seems to be somewhat the less reason to look for its amendment."
dently and confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from crimes.
“Whatever difficulty there may be in the conception of vicarious punishments, it is an opinion which has had possession of mankind in all ages. There is no nation that has not used the practice of sacrifices. Whoever, therefore, denies the propriety of vicarious punishments, holds an opinion which the sentiments and practice of mankind have contradicted from the beginning of the world. The great sacrifice for the sins of mankind was offered at the death of the Messiah, who is called in Scripture • The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.' To judge of the reasonableness of the scheme of redemption, it must be considered as necessary to the government of the universe that God should make known his perpetual and irreconcileable detestation of moral evil. He might indeed punish, and punish only the offenders : but as the end of punishment is not revenge of crimes but propagation of virtue, it was more becoming the Divine clemency to find another manner of proceeding, less destructive to man, and at least equally powerful to promote goodness. The end of punishment is to reclaim and warn. That punishment will both reclaim and warn, which shows evidently such abhorrence of sin in God, as may deter us from it, or strike us with dread of vengeance when we have committed it. This is effected by vicarious punishment. Nothing could more testify the opposition between the nature of God and moral evil, or more amply display his justice, to men and angels, to all orders and successions of beings, than that it was necessary for the highest and purest nature, even for Divinity itself, to pacify the demands of vengeance by a painful death ; of which the natural effect will be, that when justice is appeased, there is a proper place for the exercise of mercy; and that such propitiation shall supply, in some degree, the imperfections of our obedience and the inefficacy of our repentance: for obedience and repentance, such as we can perform, are still necessary. Our Saviour has told us, that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil : to fulfil the typical law, by the performance of what those types had fores hown ; and the moral law, by precepts of greater purity and higher exaltation.”
Here he said, “God bless you with it.” I acknowledged myself much obliged to him ; but I begged that he would