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1778.

Ætat. 69.

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,

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 themfelves 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 Neep without a dream.” Johnson. “It is neither pleasing,

a nor Neep; 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 Being, who is good as he is great, will hereafter compensate for our present sufferings in this life. For if existence, fuch 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

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 horrour of annihilation consists."

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Of John Wesley he said, “He can talk well on any subject.” Boswell. 1778.
“ Pray, Sir, what has he made of his story of a ghost?” Johnson. “Why, Ætat. 69.
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 faid
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
Johnson
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 profelyte to Quakerism, Miss , a
young lady well known to Dr. Johnson, for whom he had shewn 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 forry 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. Johnso .
(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 Ptolemaick 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

NSON.

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1778.

have been educated. That is the religion given you, the religion in which Ætat. 69.

it may be said Providence has placed you. If you live conscientiously in that religion, you may be safe. But errour 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,

to religion, have we heard all that a disciple of Confucius, all that a Mahometan can say for himself?” He then rose again into paslion, and attacked the young profelyte in the severest terms of reproach, so that both the 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 Weft-Indian climate, where you have a bright sun, quick vegetation, luxuriant foliage, luscious fruits ; but where the same heat sometimes produces thunder, lightening, and 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 folemn 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 imbecillity 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 it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor saving. Johnson. “Sir, that is the

; fo blundering economy of a narrow understanding. It is stopping one hole in

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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 continent of Europe, which you have visited ?” Boswell. “But I can give an entertaining narrative, with

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mariy incidents, anecdotes, jeux d'esprit, and remarks, so as to make very 1778.
pleasant reading.” Johnson. “Why, Sir, most modern travellers in Europe Ærat. 69.
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 enter-
tained 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.
I

.
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 pro-
duced by them.” Boswell. “ I cannot agree with you, Sir. People would like
to read what you say of any thing. Suppose a face has been painted by fifty
painters before ; ftill 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 Isands of Scotland,” had been in his mind before he left London. JOHNSON. “ Why, yes, Sir, the topicks 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,

As the Spanish proverb says, ' He, who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, muft 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,

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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. « Fleetstreet (said I,) is in my mind more delightful than Tempé.” Johnson. “Aye, 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.

'I believe, however, I shall follow my own opinion ; for the world has Mewn a very flatter:

l
ng partiality to my writings, on many occasions.
Vol, 11.

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1778.

Ætat. 63.

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And now I am to give a pretty full account of one of the most curious incidents in Johnson's life, of which he himself has made the following minute on this day: “In my return from church, I was accosted by Edwards, an old fellow-collegian, who had not seen me since 1729. He knew me, and asked if I remembered one Edwards; I did not at first recollect the name, but gradually as we walked along, recovered it, and told him a conversation that had passed at an alehouse between us. My purpose is to continue our acquaintance ?.'

It was in Butcher-row that this meeting happened. Mr. Edwards, who was a decent-looking elderly man in grey clothes, and a wig of many curls, accosted Johnson with familiar confidence, knowing who he was, while Johnson returned his falutation with a courteous formality, as to a stranger. But as soon as Edwards had brought to his recollection their having been at PembrokeCollege together nine-and-thirty years ago, he seemed much pleased, asked: where he lived, and said he should be glad to see him in Bolt-Court. Edwards. “Ah, Sir! we are old men now.” JOHNSON. (who never liked . tọ think of being old). “ Don't let us discourage one another.” EDWARDS. “Why Doctor you look stout and hearty, I am happy to see you fo; for the news-papers told us you were very ill.” Johnson. “Aye, Sir, they are : always telling lies of us old fellows.

Wishing to be present at more of so singular a conversation as that : between two fellow. collegians, who had lived near forty years in London without ever having chanced to meet, I whispered to Mr. Edwards that Dr. Johnson was going home, and that he had better accompany him now. So Edwards walked along with us, I eagerly afsifting to keep up the conversation. Mr. Edwards informed Dr. Johnson that he had practised long as a solicitor in Chancery, but that he now lived in the country upon a little farm about sixty acres, just by Stevenage in Hertfordshire, and that he came to London (to Barnard's Inn, No. 6,) generally twice a week. Johnson appearing to be in a reverie, Mr. Edwards addresled himself to me, and expatiated on the pleasure of living in the country. Boswell.“ I have no notion of this, Sir. What you have to entertain you, is, I think, exhausted in half an hour.” EDWARDS. “What! don't you love to have hope realised ? I see

. my grass, and my corn, and my trees growing. Now, for instance, I am curious to see if this frost has not nipped my fruit trees.” Johnson. (who we did not imagine was attending) “ You find, Sir, you have fears as well as hopes. --So well did he see the whole, when another faw but the half of a subject.

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