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apprehension. MRS. KNOWLES: "The Scriptures tell us, "The righteous shall have hope in his death."" JOHNSON: "Yes, Madam; that is, he shall not have despair. But, consider, his hope of salvation must be founded on the terms on which it is promised that the mediation of our SAVIOUR shall be applied to us, namely, obedience; and where obedience has failed, then, as suppletory to it, repentance. But what man can say that his obedience has been such as he would approve of in another, or even in himself upon close examination, or that his repentance has not been such as to require being repented of? No man can be sure that his obedience and repentance will obtain salvation." MRS. KNOWLES: "But divine intimation of acceptance may be made to the soul." JOHNSON: "Madam, it may; but I should not think the better of a man who should tell me, on his death-bed, he was sure of salvation. A man cannot be sure himself that he has divine intimation of acceptance; much less can he make others sure that he has it." BOSWELL: "Then, Sir, we must be contented to acknowledge that death is a terrible thing." JOHNSON: "Yes, Sir. I have made no approaches to a state which can look on it as not terrible." MRS. KNOWLES (seeming to enjoy a pleasing serenity in the persuasion of benignant divine light): "Does not St. Paul say, 'I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished my course; henceforth is laid up for me a crown of life?"" JOHNSON: "Yes, Madam; but here was a man inspired, a man who had been converted by supernatural interposition." BOSWELL: "In prospect death is dreadful; but in fact we find that people die easy." JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, most people have not thought much of the matter, so cannot say much, and it is supposed they die easy. Few believe it certain they are then to die; and those who do, set themselves to behave with resolution, as a man does who is going to be hanged :-he is not the less unwilling to be hanged." MISS SEWARD: "There is one mode of the fear of death, which is certainly absurd: and that is the dread of annihilation, which is only a pleasing sleep without a dream." JOHNSON: "It is neither pleasing nor sleep; it is nothing. Now mere existence is so much better than nothing, that one would rather exist even in pain, than not exist." BoswELL: "If annihilation be nothing, then existing in pain is not a comparative state, but is a positive evil, which I cannot think we should choose. I must be allowed to differ here; and it would lessen the hope of a future state founded on the argument, that the Supreme Reing, who is good as he is great, will hereafter compensate for our present sufferings in this life. For if existence, such as we have it here, be comparatively a good, we have no reason to complain, though no more of it should be given to us. But if our only state of existence were in this world, then we might with some reason complain that we are so dissatisfied with our enjoyments compared with our desires." JOHNSON: "The lady confounds annihilation, which is nothing, with the apprehension of it, which is
dreadful. It is in the apprehension of it that the horror of annihilation consists."
Of John Wesley, he said, "He can talk well on any subject." BOSWELL: "Pray, Sir, what has he made of his story of the ghost?" JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, he believes it; but not on sufficient authority. He did not take time enough to examine the girl. It was at Newcastle, where the ghost was said to have appeared to a young woman several times, mentioning something about the right to an old house, advising application to be made to an attorney, which was done; and, at the same time, saying the attorney would do nothing, which proved to be the fact. "This,' says John, 'is a proof that a ghost knows our thoughts.' Now (laughing) it is not necessary to know our thoughts, to tell that an attorney will sometimes do nothing. Charles Wesley, who is a more stationary man, does not believe the story. I am sorry that John did not take more pains to inquire into the evidence for it." MISS SEWARD (with an incredulous smile): “What, Sir, about a ghost?" JOHNSON (with solemn vehemence): "Yes, Madam; this is a question which, after five thousand years, is yet undecided: a question, whether in theology or philosophy, one of the most important that can come before the human understanding."
Mrs. Knowles mentioned, as a proselyte to Quakerism, Miss [
]a young lady well known to Dr. Johnson, for whom he had shown much affection; while she ever had, and still retained, a great respect for him. Mrs. Knowles at the same time took an opportunity of letting him know "that the amiable young creature was sorry at finding that he was offended at her leaving the Church of England and embracing a simpler faith;" and, in the gentlest and most persuasive manner, solicited his kind indulgence for what was sincerely a matter of conscience. JOHNSON (frowning very angrily): "Madam, she is an odious wench. She could not have any proper conviction that it was her duty to change her religion, which is the most important of all subjects, and should be studied with all care, and with all the helps we can get. She knew no more of the Church which she left, and that which she embraced, than she did of the difference between the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems." MRS. KNOWLES: "She had the New Testament before her." JOHNSON: "Madam, she could not understand the New Testament, the most difficult book in the world, for which the study of a life is required." MRS. KNOWLES: "It is clear as to essentials." JOHNSON: "But not as to controversial points. The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up; but we ought not, without very strong conviction indeed, to desert the religion in which we have been educated. That is the religion given you, the religion in which it may be said Providence has placed you. If you live conscientiously in that religion, you may be safe. But error is dangerous indeed, if you err when you choose a religion for yourself."
MRS. KNOWLES: "Must we then go by implicit faith?" JOHNSON:
Why, Madam, the greatest part of our knowledge is implicit faith; and as to religion, have we heard all that a disciple of Confucius, all that a Mahometan, can say for himself?" He then rose again into a passion, and attacked the young proselyte in the severest terms of reproach, so that both ladies seemed to be much shocked.'
We remained together till it was pretty late. Notwithstanding occasional explosions of violence, we were all delighted upon the whole with Johnson. I compared him at this time to a warm West Indian climate, where you have a bright sun, quick vegetation, luxuriant foliage, luscious fruits; but where the same heat sometimes produces thunder, lightning, earthquakes, in a terrible degree.
April 17, being Good Friday, I waited on Johnson, as usual. I observed at breakfast, that although it was a part of his abstemious discipline, on this most solemn fast, to take no milk in his tea, yet when Mrs. Desmoulins inadvertently poured it in, he did not reject it. I talked of the strange indecision of mind, and imbecility in the common occurrences of life, which we may observe in some people. JOHNSON:
Why, Sir, I am in the habit of getting others to do things for me." BOSWELL; "What, Sir! have you that weakness?" JOHNSON: "Yes, Sir. But I always think afterwards I should have done better for myself."
I told him that at a gentleman's house, where there was thought to be such extravagance or bad management that he was living much beyond his income, his lady had objected to the cutting of a pickled mango, and that I had taken an opportunity to ask the price of it, and found that it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor saving. JOHNSON: 66 Sir, that is the blundering economy of a narrow understanding. It is stopping one hole in a sieve.”
I expressed some inclination to publish an account of my Travels upon the continent of Europe, for which I had a variety of materials collected. JOHNSON: "I do not say, Sir, you may not publish your travels; but I give you my opinion, that you would lessen yourself by it. What can you tell of countries so well known as those upon the
1 Mrs. Knowles, not satisfied with the fame of her needlework, the "sutile pictures" mentioned by Johnson, in which she has indeed displayed much dexterity, nay, with the fame of reasoning better than women generally do, as I have fairly shown her to have done, communicated to me a Dialogue of considerable length, which, after many years had elapsed, she wrote down as having passed between Dr. Johnson and her at this interview. As I had not the least recollection of it, and did not find the smallest trace of it in my Record taken at the time, I could not in consistency with my firm regard to authenticity, insert it in my work. It has, however, been published in "The Gentleman's Magazine" for June, 1791. It chiefly relates to the principles of the sect called Quakers; and no doubt the lady appears to have greatly the advantage of Dr. Johnson in argument as well as expression. From what I have now stated, and from the internal evidence of the paper itself, any one who may have the curiosity to peruse it, will judge whether it was wrong in me to reject it, however willing to gratify Mrs. Knowles.-Boswell.
continent of Europe, which you have visited?" BOSWELL: "But I can give an entertaining narrative, with many incidents, anecdotes, jeux d'esprit, and remarks, so as to make very pleasant reading." JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, most modern travellers in Europe who have published their travels, have been laughed at: I would not have you added to the number. The world is now not contented to be merely entertained by a traveller's narrative; they want to learn something. Now some of my friends asked me, why I did not give some account of my travels in France. The reason is plain: intelligent readers had seen more of France than I had. You might have liked my travels in France, and
THE CLUB might have liked them; but, upon the whole, there would have been more ridicule than good produced by them." BosWELL: "I cannot agree with you, Sir. People would like to read what you say of anything. Suppose a face has been painted by fifty painters before; still
I believe, however, I shall follow my own opinion; for the world has shown a very flattering partiality to my writings on many occasions.-BOSWELL.
we love to see it done by Sir Joshua." JOHNSON: "True, Sir, but Sir Joshua cannot paint a face when he has not time to look on it.” BOSWELL: "Sir, a sketch of any sort by him is valuable. And, Sir, to talk to you in your own style (raising my voice and shaking my head), you should have given us your Travels in France. I am sure I am right, and there's an end on't."
I said to him that it was certainly true, as my friend Dempster had observed in his letter to me upon the subject, that a great part of what was in his "Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland" had been in his mind before he left London. JOHNSON: "Why yes, Sir, the topics were; and books of travels will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind; his knowing what to observe; his power of contrasting one mode of life with another. As the Spanish proverb says, ' He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.' So it is in travelling: a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge." BosWELL: "The proverb, I suppose, Sir, means he must carry a large stock with him to trade with." JOHNSON: "Yes, Sir."
It was a delightful day. As we walked to St. Clement's Church, I again remarked that Fleet-street was the most cheerful scene in the world. "Fleet-street," said I, "is in my mind more delightful than Tempé." JOHNSON: “Ay, Sir; but let it be compared with Mull.”
There was a very numerous congregation to-day at St. Clement's Church, which Dr. Johnson said he observed with pleasure.