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and when he thinks fit he'll correct it. But, if a man is accustomed to compose slowly, and with difficulty, upon all occasions, there is danger that he may not compose at all, as we do not like to do that which is not done easily; and, at any rate, more time is consumed in a small matter than ought to be."-WATSON. "Dr. Hugh Blair has taken a week to compose a sermon."-JOHNSON. “Then, sir, that is for want of the habit of composing quickly, which I am insisting one should acquire. -WATSON. "Blair was not composing all the week, but only such hours as he found himself disposed for composition."-JOHNSON. Nay, sir, unless you tell me the time he took, you tell me nothing. If I say I took a week to walk a mile, and have had the gout five days, and been ill otherwise another day, I have taken but one day. I myself have composed about forty sermons. I have begun a sermon after dinner, and sent it off by the post that night. I wrote forty-eight of the printed octavo pages of the Life of Savage at a sitting; but then I sat up all night. I have also written six sheets in a day of translation from the French.”— BOSWELL. "We have all observed how one man dresses himself slowly, and another fast.”—JOHNSON. "Yes, sir, it is wonderful how much time some people will consume in dressing; taking up a thing and looking at it, and laying it down, and taking it up again. Every one should get the habit of doing it quickly. I would say to a young divine, Here is your text; let me see how soon you can make a sermon.' Then I'd say, 'Let me see how much better you can make it.' Thus I should see both his powers and his judgement."
We all went to Dr. Watson's to supper. Miss Sharp, great grandchild of Archbishop Sharp, was there; as was Mr. Craig, the ingenious architect of the new town of Edinburgh, and nephew of Thomson, to whom Dr. Johnson has since done so much justice, in his "Lives of the Poets."
We talked of memory, and its various modes.JOHNSON. "Memory will play strange tricks. One sometimes loses a single word. I once lost fugaces in the Ode Posthume, Posthume." I mentioned to him that a worthy gentleman of my acquaintance actually forgot his own name.-JOHNSON. "Sir, that was a morbid oblivion."
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20.
Dr. Shaw, the professor of divinity, breakfasted with us. I took out my Ogden on Prayer," and read some of it to the company. Dr. Johnson praised him. Abernethy, (said he,) allows only of a physical effect of prayer upon the mind, which may be produced many ways, as well as by prayer: for instance, by meditation. Ogden goes farther. In truth, we have the consent of all nations for the efficacy of prayer, whether offered up by individuals, or by assemblies; and revelation has told us, it will be effectúal."-I said, "Leechman seemed to incline to Abernethy's doctrine." Dr. Watson observed, that Leechman meant to shew, that, even admitting no effect to be produced by prayer, respecting the Deity, it was useful to our own minds. He had given only a part of his system: Dr. Johnson thought he should have given the whole.
Dr. Johnson enforced the strict observance of Sunday. It should be different (he observed) from another day. People may walk, but not throw stones at birds. There may be relaxation, but there should be no levity."
We went and saw Colonel Nairne's garden and grotto. Here was a fine old plane tree. Unluckily the Colonel said, there was but this and another large tree in the county. This assertion was an excellent cue for Dr. Johnson, who laughed enormously, calling me to hear it. He had expatiated to me on the nakedness of that part of Scotland which he had seen. His "Journey" has been violently abused, for what he has said upon this subject. But let it be considered, that, when Dr. Johnson talks of trees, he means trees of good size, such as he was accustomed to see in England; and of these there are certainly very few upon the eastern coast of Scotland. Besides, he said, that he meant to give only a map of the road; and let any traveller observe how many trees, which deserve the name, he can see from the road from Berwick to Aberdeen. Had Dr. Johnson said, "there are no trees" upon this line, he would have said what is colloquially true; because, by no trees, in common speech, we mean few. When he is particular in counting, he may be attacked. I know not how Colonel Nairne came to say there were but two large trees in the county of Fife. I did not perceive that he smiled. There are certainly not a great many; but I could have shewn him more than two at Balmuto, from whence my ancestors came, and which now belongs to a branch of my family.
The grotto was ingeniously constructed. In the front of it were petrified stocks of fir, plane, and some other tree. Dr. Johnson said, "Scotland has no right to boast of this grotto; it is owing to personal merit. I never denied personal merit to many of you."-Professor Shaw said to me, as we walked, "This is a wonderful man: he is master of every subject he handles."-Dr. Watson allowed him a very strong understanding, but wondered at his total inattention to established manners, as he came from London.
I have not preserved, in my Journal, any of the conversation which passed between Dr. Johnson and Professor Shaw; but I recollect Dr. Johnson said to me afterwards, "I took much to Shaw."
We left St. Andrews about noon, and some miles from it observing, at Leuchars, a church with an old tower, we stopped to look at it. The manse, as the parsonage-house is called in Scotland, was close by. I waited on the minister, mentioned our names, and begged he would tell us what he knew about it. He was a very civil old man; but could only inform us, that it was supposed to have stood eight hundred years. He told us, there was a colony of Danes in his parish; that they had landed at a remote period of time, and still remained a distinct people. Dr. Johnson shrewdly inquired whether they had brought women with them. We were not satisfied as to this colony.
We saw, this day, Dundee and Aberbrothick, the last of which Dr. Johnson has celebrated in his "Journey." Upon the road we talked of the Roman Catholick faith. He mentioned (I think) Tillotson's argument against transubstantiation;
"That we are as sure we see bread and wine only, as that we read in the Bible the text on which that false doctrine is founded. We have only the evidence of our senses for both."-If, (he added,) God had never spoken figuratively, we might hold that he speaks literally, when he says, 'This is my body."-BOSWELL, "But what do you say, sir, to
the ancient and continued tradition of the church upon this point?"-JOHNSON. "Tradition, şir, has no place, where the Scriptures are plain: and tradition cannot persuade a man into a belief of transubstantiation. Able men, indeed, have said they believed it." "
This is an awful subject. I did not then press Dr. Johnson upon it; nor shall I now enter upon a disquisition concerning the import of those words uttered by our Saviour,* which had such an effect upon many of his disciples, that they "went back, and walked no more with him." The Catechism and solemn office for Communion, in the Church of England, maintain a mysterious belief in more than a mere commemoration of the death of Christ, by partaking of the elements of bread and wine.
Dr. Johnson put me in mind, that, at St. Andrew's, I had defended my profession very well, when the question had again been started, Whether a lawyer might honestly engage with the first side that offers him a fee. "Sir, (said I,) it was with your arguments against Sir William Forbes: but it was much that I could wield the arms of Goliah."
Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. See St. John's Gospel, chap. vi. 53. and following