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Ætat. 75.

between coarse and refined abuse is as the difference between being bruised
by a club, and wounded by a poisoned arrow.” I have since observed his
position elegantly expressed by Dr. Young:

“ As the soft plume gives swiftness to the dart,
“ Good breeding sends the fatire to the heart.”

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On Saturday, June 12, there drank tea with us at Dr. Adams's, Mr. John
Henderson, student of Pembroke-College, celebrated for his wonderful
acquirements in Alchymy, Judicial Astrology, and other abstruse and curious
learning; and the Reverend Herbert Croft, who I am afraid was somewhat
mortified by Dr. Johnson's not being highly pleased with some “ Family
Discourses,” which he had printed; they were in too familiar a style to be
approved of by so manly a mind. I have no note of this evening's conversation,
except a single fragment. When I mentioned Thomas Lord Lyttelton's
vision, the prediction of the time of his death, and its exact fulfilment;
Johnson. “ It is the most extraordinary thing that has happened in my
day. I heard it with my own ears, from his uncle, Lord Westcote. I am
so glad to have every evidence of the spiritual world, that I am willing to
believe it.” Dr. Adams. “ You have evidence enough; 'good evidence,
which needs not such support.” Johnson. “ I like to have more.”

Mr. Henderson, with whom I had fauntered in the venerable walks of
Merton-College, and found him a very learned and pious man, he supt with us.
Dr. Johnson furprised him not a little, by acknowledging with a look of
horrour, that he was much oppressed by the fear of death. The amiable
Dr. Adams suggested that God was infinitely good. Johnson. “ That he is
infinitely good, as far as the perfection of his nature will allow, I certainly
believe; but it is necessary for good upon the whole, that individuals should
be punished. As to an individual therefore, he is not infinitely good; and as
I cannot be sure that I have fulfilled the conditions on which salvation is
granted, I am afraid I may be one of those who shall be damned.” (looking
dismally). Dr. Adams. “ What do you mean by damned?” Johnson.
(paffionately and loudly) “ Sent to Hell, Sir, and punished everlastingly.”
DR. Adams. “I don't believe that doctrine.” JOHNSON.“ Hold, Sir; do you
believe that some will be punished at all?" Dr. Adams. “ Being excluded from
Heaven will be a punishment; yet there may be no great positive suffering.”
Johnson. “ Well, Sir; but, if


admit any degree of punishment, there
is an end of your argument for infinite goodness simply considered; for,



1784. infinite goodness would inflict no punishment whatever. There is not infinite JEtat. 75. goodness physically considered; morally there is.” Boswell. “But may

not a man attain to such a degree of hope as not to be unealy from the fear of death?” Johnson. “ A man may have such a degree of hope as to keep him quiet. You see I am not quiet, from the vehemence with which I talk; but I do not despair.” Mrs. Adams. “You seem, Sir, to forget the merits of our Redeemer.” Johnson. “Madam, I do not forget the merits of my

JOHNSON Redeemer ; but my Redeemer has said that he will set fome on his righthand, and some on his left.”—He was in gloomy agitation, and said, “I'll have no more on't.” If what has now been stated should be urged by the enemies of Christianity, as if its influence on the mind were not benignant, let it be remembered, that Johnson's temperament was melancholy, of which such direful apprehensions of futurity are often a common effect. We shall presently see that when he approached nearer to his aweful change, his mind became tranquil, and he exhibited as much fortitude as becomes a thinking man in that situation.

From the subject of death we passed to discourse of life, whether it was upon the whole more happy or miserable. Johnson was decidedly for the balance of misery : in confirmation of which I maintained, that no man would choose to lead over again the life which he had experienced. Johnson acceded to that opinion in the strongest terms. This is an inquiry often made; and its being a subject of disquisition is a proof that much misery presses upon human feelings; for those who are conscious of a felicity of existence, would never hesitate to accept of a repetition of it. I have met with very

few who would. I have heard Mr. Burke make use of a very ingenious and plausible argument on this subject; “ Every man (said he) would lead his life over again; for, every man is willing to go on and take an addition to his life, which as he grows older, he has no reason to think will be better, or even so good as what has preceded.” I imagine, however, the truth is, that there is a deceitful hope that the next part of life will be free from the pains, and anxieties, and forrows which we have already felt. We are for wise purposes “ Condemn’d to Hope's delusive mine;" as Johnson finely says; and I may also quote the celebrated lines of Dryden, equally philosophical and poetical:

" When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
“ Yet fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit;
« Trust on and think to-morrow will repay;
“ To-morrow's falser than the former day;


« Lies


Ætat. 75.

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We may

« Lies worse; and while it says we shall be blest
“ With some new joys, cuts off what we pofseft.
“ Strange cozenage! none would live past years again;
“ Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain ;
“ And from the dregs of life think to receive,

“ What the first sprightly running could not give!.”
It was observed to Dr. Johnson, that it seemed strange that he, who has
so often delighted his company by his lively and brilliant conversation, should
say he was miserable. Johnson. “ Alas! it is all outside; I may be cracking

my joke and cursing the sun. Suiz, how I hate tby beams!I knew not well
what to think of this declaration; whether to hold it as a genuine picture of
his mind', or as the effect of his persuading himself contrary to fact, that the
position which he had assumed as to human unhappiness, was true.
apply to hiin a sentence in Mr. Greville's “ Maxims, Characters, and Re-
flections ?;” a book which is entitled to much more praise than it has received :
“ ARISTARCHUS is charming: how full of knowledge, of fenfe, of sentiment.
You get him with difficulty to your supper; and after having delighted every
body and himself for a few hours, he is obliged to return home;-he is
finishing his treatise, to prove that unhappiness is the portion of man."

On Sunday, June 13, our philosopher was calm at breakfast. There was
something exceedingly pleasing in our leading a College life, without restraint,
and with superiour elegance, in consequence of our living in the Master's
house, and having the company of ladies. Mrs. Kennicot related, in his
presence, a lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had
expressed a wonder that the poet who had written “ Paradise Lost,” should
write such poor Sonnets :" Milton, Madam, was a genius that could cut a

Colossus from a rock; but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones.”

We talked of the casuistical question, Whether it was allowable at any time
to depart from Truth? Johnson. “ The general rule is, that Truth should
never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the comfort of
life, that we should have a full security by mutual faith ; and occasional incon-
veniencies should be willingly suffered that we may preserve it. There must,
however, be some exceptions. If, for instance, a murderer should ask you


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" Yet there is no doubt that a man may appear very gay in company who is sad at heart.
His merriment is like the sound of drums and trumpets in a battle, to drown the groans of the
wounded and dying.

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Ærat. 75.

which way a man is gone, you may tell him what is not true, because you
are under a previous obligation not to betray a man to a murderer.” Boswell.
“Supposing the person who wrote Junius were asked whether he was the authour,
might he deny it ?” Johnson. “I don't know what to say to this. If

you were sure that he wrote Junius, would you, if he denied it, think as well of him afterwards ? Yet it may be urged, that what a man has no right to ask, you may refuse to communicate; and there is no other effectual mode of preserving a secret, and an important secret, the discovery of which may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial ; for if you are silent, or hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confeffion. But stay, Sir; here is another case. Supposing the authour had told me confidentially that he had written Junius, and I were asked if he had, I should hold myfelf at liberty to: deny it, as being under a previous promise, express or implied, to conceal it. Now what I ought to do for the authour, may I not do for myself? But I deny the lawfulness of telling a lie to a fick man for fear of alarming him. You have no business with consequences: you are to tell the truth. Besides, you are not sure what effect your telling him that he is in danger may have. It may bring his distemper to a crisis, and that may cure him. Of all lying I have the greatest abhorrence at this, because I believe it has been frequently. practised on myself.”

I cannot help thinking, that there is much weight in the opinion of those who have held, that Truth, as an eternal and immutable principle, ought, upon no account whatever, to be violated, from supposed previous or superiour obligations, of which every man being the judge for himself, there is great danger that we may too often, from partial motives, persuade ourselves that they exist; and probably whatever extraordinary instances may sometimes occur, where some evil may be prevented by violating this noble principle, it would be found that human happiness would, upon the whole, be more perfect were Truth universally preserved.

In the Notes to the “ Dunciad” we find the following elegant and pathetick verses, addressed to Pope':

« While malice, Pope, denies thy page

“ Its own celestial fire ;
" While criticks, and while bards in rage

“ Admiring, won't admire:

3 The annotator calls them « amiable verses."

r While

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It is surely not a little remarkable, that they should appear without a name..
Miss Seward, knowing Dr. Johnson's almost universal and minute literary
information, signified a desire that I should ask him who was the authour..
He was prompt with his answer :- Why, Sir, they were written by one
Lewis, an under-master or usher of Westminster school, who published a
miscellany, in which Grongar Hill' first came out.” Johnson praised them

highly, and repeated them with a noble animation. In the twelfth line, instead
of “one established fame," he repeated “one unclouded Aame,” which he
thought was the reading in foriner editions ; but I believe was a flash of his
own genius. It is much more poetical than the other.

On Monday 14, and Tuesday, June 15, Dr. Johnson and I dined on one of
them, I forget which, with Mr. Mickle, translator of the “ Lusiad,” at
Wheatley, a very pretty country place a few miles from Oxford; and on the
other with Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College. From Dr. We-
therell's he went to visit Mr. Sackville Parker the bookseller; and when he
returned to us, gave the following account of his visit, saying, “ I have
been to see my old friend, Sack. Parker; I find he has married his maid;
he has done right. She had lived with him many years in great confidence,
and they had mingled minds; I do not think he could have found any
wife that would have made him so happy. The woman was very attentive
and civil to me; she pressed me to fix a day for dining with them, and to say
what I liked, and she would be sure to get it for me. Poor Sack! He is
very ill, indeed. We parted as never to meet again. It has quite broke
me down.” This pathetick narrative was strangely diversified with the

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