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a saint ; you go to see a man who will be entertained at your house, and then bring you on a public stage ; who will entertain you at his bouze for the very purpose of bringing you on a public stage. Sir, he does not make fools of his company; they whom he exposes are fools already; he only brings them into action.”
Talking of trade, he observed, " It is a mistaken notion that a vast deal of money is brought into a nation by trade. It is not so. Com modities come from commodities ; but trade produces no capital accession of wealth. However, though there should be little profit in money, there is a considerable profit in pleasure, as it gives to one nation the productions of another ; as we have wines and fruits, and many other foreign articles brought to us." BoSWELL: “Yes, Sir, and there is a profit in pleasure, by its furnishing occupation to such numbers of mankind.” JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, you cannot call that pleasure to which all are averse, and which none begin but with the hope of leaving off; a thing which men dislike before they have tried it, and when they have tried it.” BOSWELL: “ But, Sir, the mind must be employed, and we grow weary when idle.” JOHNSON : “ That is, Sir, because others being busy, we want company ; but if we were all idle, there would be no growing weary ; we should all entertain one another. There is, indeed, this in trade:-it gives men an opportunity of improving their situation. If there were no trade, many who are poor would always remain poor. But no man loves labour for itself.” BOSWELL : “ Yes, Sir, I know a person who does. He is a very laborious judge, and he loves the labour. JOHNSON : Sir, that is because he loves respect and distinction. Could he have them without labour, he would like it less." BOSWELL : He tells me he likes it for itself. Why, Sir, he fancies so, because he is not accustomed to abstract.”
We went home to his house to tea.
Mrs. Williams made it with sufficient dexterity, notwithstanding her blindness, though her manner of satisfying herself that the cups were full enough, appeared to me a little awkward ; for I fancied she put her finger down a certain way, till she felt the tea touch it. In my first elation at being allowed the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson
1 I have since had reason to think that I was mistaken ; for I have been informed by a lady, who was long intimate with her, and likely to be a more accurate observer of such matters, that she had acquired such a niceness of touch as to know, by the feeling on the outside of the cup, how near it was to being full.—. Boswell.
at his late visits to this lady, which was like being è secretioribus consiliis, I willingly drank cup after cup, as if it had been the Heliconian spring. But as the charm of novelty went off, I grew more fastidious ; and besides, I discovered that she was of a peevish temper.
There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very good humour, lively, and ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Fergusson, the self-taught philosopher, told him of a new invented machine which went without horses ; a man who sat in it turned a handle, which worked a spring that drove it forward. “Then, Sir," said Johnson, “what is gained is, the man has his choice whether he will move himself alone, or himself and the machine too.” Dominicetti being mentioned, he would not allow him any merit. “There is nothing in all this boasted system. No, Sir ; medicated baths can be no better than warm water ; their only effect can be that of tepid moisture." One of the company took the other side, maintaining that medicines of various sorts, and some too of most powerful effect, are introduced into the human frame by the medium of the pores ; and, therefore, when warm water is impregnated with salutiferous substances, it may produce great effects as a bath. This appeared to me very satisfactory. Johnson did not answer it; but talking for victory, and determined to be master of the field, he had recourse to the device which Goldsmith imputed to him in the witty words of one of Cibber's comedies : “ There is no arguing with Johnson ; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt-end of it.” He turned to the gentleman, “Well, Sir, go to Dominicetti, and get thyself fumigated; but be sure that the steam be directed to thy head, for that is the peccant part.” This produced a triumphant roar of laughter from the motley assembly of philosophers, printers, and dependents, male and female.
I know not how so whimsical a thought came into my mind, but I asked, “If, Sir, you were shut up in a castle, and a new-born child with you, what would you do ?” JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, I should not much like my company.' BOSWELL : But would you take the trouble of rearing it?" He seemed, as may well be supposed, unwilling to pursue the subject; but upon my persevering in my question, replied,
Why yes, Sir, I would ; but I must have all conveniences. If I had no garden, I would make a shed on the roof, and take it there for fresh air. I should feed it, and wash it much, and with warm water to please it, not with cold water to give it pain.' BOSWELL : “But, Sir, does not heat relax?” JOHNSON : “Sir, you are not to imagine the water is to be very hot. I would not coddle the child. No, Sir, the hardy method of treating children does no good. I'll take you five children from London, who shall cuff five Highland children. Sir, a man bred in London will carry a burden, or run, or wrestle, as well as a man brought up in the hardest manner in the country.” BOSWELL : “Good living, I suppose, makes the Londoners strong." JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, I don't know that it does. Our chairmen from Ireland, who are as strong men as any, have been brought up upon potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality.” BOSWELL : “Would you teach this child that I have furnished you with anything ?” JOHNSON : “No, I should not be apt to teach it.” Boswell : “ Would not you have a pleasure in teaching it ?” JOHNSON : “No, Sir, I should not have a pleasure in teaching it.” BOSWELL : “ Have you not a pleasure in teaching men ? There I have you. You have the same pleasure in teaching men, that I should have in teaching children.” JOHNSON : “ Why, something about that.”
1 James Fergusson was the son of a labourer, and born in 1710, at Keith, in Banffshire, Scotland. He learned to read in infancy by hearing his father teach one of his brothers; when only eight years of age he constructed a wooden clock. When old enough to work he was placed ont as a servant to a farmer, and while tending his master's sheep he acquired a surprising knowledge of the stars, and constructed a celestial globe. Some neighbouring gentlemen, seeing his natural abilities, bad him instructed. Eventually he went to Edinburgh, and chiefly supported himself by drawing miniature portraits with Indian ink, which profession he afterwards followed on his arrival in London. He wrote several volumes of mathematical and miscellaneous works, and died in 1776.-ED.
BOSWELL : “Do you think, Sir, that what is called natural affection is born with us? It seems to me to be the effect of habit, or of gratitude for kindness. No child has it for a parent whom it has not seen.” JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, I think there is an instinctive natural affection in parents towards their children.”
Russia being mentioned as likely to become a great empire, by the rapid increase of population :-JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, I see no prospect of their propagating more. They can have no more children than they can get. I know of no way to make them breed more than they do. It is not from reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination. A man is poor ; he thinks, 'I cannot be worse, and so I'll e'en take Peggy.' ?" BOSWELL: “But have not nations been more populous at one period than another?” JOHNSON : Yes, Sir ; but that has been owing to the people being less thinned at one period than another, whether by emigrations, war, or pestilence, not by their being more or less prolific. Births at all times bear the same proportion to the same number of people.” BOSWELL: “ But to consider the state of our own country : does not throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population ?” JOHNSON :
the same quantity of food being produced, will be consumed by the same number of mouths, though the people may be disposed of in different ways. We see, if corn be dear, and butchers' meat cheap, the farmers all apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes plentiful and cheap, and then butchers' meat becomes dear; so that an equality is always preserved. No, Sir, let fanciful men do as they will, depend upon it, it is difficult to disturb the system of life. BOSWELL: But, Sir, is it not a very bad thing for landlords to oppress their tenants, by raising their rents ?"
Johnson :“Very bad. But, Sir, it can never have any general influence; it
may distress some individuals. For, consider this : landlords cannot do without tenants. Now, tenants will not give more for land than land is worth. If they can make more of their money by keeping a shop, or any other way, they'll do it, and so oblige landlords to let land come back to a reasonable rent, in order that they may get tenants. Land in England is an article of commerce. A tenant who pays his landlord his rent, thinks himself no more obliged to him than you think yourself obliged to a man in whose shop you buy a piece of goods. He knows the landlord does not let him have his land for less than he can get from others, in the same manner as the shopkeeper sells his goods. No shopkeeper sells a yard of riband for sixpence when sevenpence is the current price.” BOSWELL: “ But, Sir, is it not better that tenants should be dependent on landlords ?” Johnson: “Why, Sir, as there are many more tenants than landlords, perhaps, strictly speaking, we should wish not. But if you please you may let your lands cheap, and 80 get the value, part in money and part in homage. I should agree with you in that.” BOSWELL: “ So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political improvement." JOHNSON : “ Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things."
He observed, “ Providence has wisely ordered that the more numerous men are, the more difficult it is for them to agree in anything, and so they are governed. There is no doubt, that if the poor should reason, • We'll be the poor no longer, we'll make the rich take their turn,' they could easily do it, were it not that they can't agree. So the common soldiers, though so much more numerous than their officers, are governed by them for the same reason,"
He said, “ Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with one consent quit it, and go to some part of America, where there is a mild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with the tenth part of the labour. No, Sir ; their affection for their old dwellings, and the terror of a general change, keep them at home. Thus, we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged spots well inhabited.”
“ The London Chronicle," which was the only newspaper he constantly took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was assigned to me. I was diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of it, that my task was very easy. He would not suffer one of the petitions to the king about the Middlesex election to be read.
I had hired a Bohemian as my servant while I remained in London, and being much pleased with him, I asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a Roman Catholic should prevent my taking him with me to Scotland. Johnson : “ Why no, Sir. If he has no objection, you can have none." BOSWELL: “ So, Sir, you are no great enemy to the
Roman Catholic religion.” JOHNSON : “ No more, Sir, than to the Presbyterian religion.” BOSWELL: “ You are joking. JOHNSON :
No, Sir, I really think so. Nay, Sir, of the two, I prefer the Popish.” Bos WELL : “How so, Sir ?” Johnson : “Why, Sir, the Presbyterians have no church, no apostolical ordination.” BOSWELL : do you think that absolutely essential, Sir?”. JOHNSON : “ Why, Sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Presbyterians have no public worship: they have no form of prayer in which they know they are to join. They go to hear a man pray, and are to judge whether they will join with him.” Bos
But, Sir, their doctrine is the same with that of the Church of England. Their confession of faith, and the thirty-nine articles, contain the same points, even the doctrine of predestination.” JOHNSON : “Why yes, Sir ; predestination was a part of the clamour of the times, so it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little positiveness as could be.” BOSWELL : “ Is it necessary, Sir, to believe all the thirty-nine articles ?” JOHNSON: “Why, Sir, that is a question which has been much agitated. Some have thought it necessary that they should all be believed ; others have considered them to be only articles of peace ;' that is to say, you are not to preach against them.” BOSWELL: “lt appears to me, Sir, that predestination, or what is equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an universal prescience in the Deity.” JOHNSON : “Why, Sir, does not God every day see things going on without preventing them.” BOSWELL : “ True, Sir ; but if a thing be certainly foreseen, it must be fixed and cannot happen otherwise ; and if we apply this consideration to the human mind, there is no free will, nor do I see how prayer can be of any avail.” He mentioned Dr. Clarke and Bishop Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity, and bid me read “ South’s Sermons on Prayer ;” but avoided the question which has excruciated philosophers and divines beyond any other. I did not press it further when I perceived that he was displeased, and shrunk from any abridgment of an attribute usually ascribed to the Divinity, however irreconcilable in its full extent with the grand system of moral government. His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous powers of his understanding. He was confined by a chain which early imagination and long habit made him think massy and strong, but which, had he ventured to try, he could at once have snapt asunder.
1 Dr. Simon Patrick (afterwards Bishop of Ely) thus expresses himself on this subject, in a letter to the learned Dr. John Mapletoft, dated Feb. 8, 1682-3:
“ I always took the ARTICLES to be only articles of communion; and so Bishop Bramhall expressly maintains against the Bishop of Chalcedon; and I remember well, that Bishop Sanderson, when the king was first restored, received the subscription of an acquaintance of mine, which he declared was not to them as articles of faith, but peace. I think you need make no scruple of the matter, because all that I know so understand the meaning of the subscription, and upon other terms would not subscribe.”—The above was printed some years ago in “ The European Magazine," from the original, now in the hands of Mr. Mapletoft, surgeon at Chertsey, grandson to Dr. John Mapletoft.-MALONE.