1772. written since the Rehearsal; at least a passage men

tioned in the Preface is of a later date." I mainÆtat. 63.

tained that it had merit as a general satire on the selfimportance of dramatick authours. But even in this light he held it very cheap.

We then walked to the Pantheon. The first view of it did not strike us so much as Ranelagh, of which he said, the " coup d'oeil was the finest thing he had ever seen.” The truth is, Ranelagh is of a more beautiful form; more of it, or rather indeed the whole rotunda, appears at once, and it is better lighted. However, as Johnson observed, we saw the Pantheon in time of mourning, when there was a dull uniformity; whereas we had seen Ranelagh, when the view was enlivened with a gay profusion of colours. Mrs. Bosville, of Gunthwait, in Yorkshire, joined us, and entered into conversation with us, Johnson said to me afterwards, “ Sir, this is a mighty intelligent lady."

I said there was not half a guinea's worth of pleasure in seeing this place. Johnson. “But, Sir, there is balf a guinea's worth of inferiority to other people in not having seen it." Boswell.

" I doubt, Sir, whether there are many happy people here."


[There is no Preface to “ The Rehearsal,” as originally published. Dr. Johnson seems to have meant the Address to the Reader with a Key subjoined to it; which have been prefixed to the modern editions of that play. He did not know, it appears, that several additions were made to “The Rehearsal" after the first edition. The ridicule on the passages here alluded to is. found among those additions. They therefore furnish no ground for the doubt here suggested. Unquestionably Bayes was meant to be the representative of Dryden, whose familiar phrases in his ordinary conversatior are frequently introduced in this piece. M.]

[ocr errors]

JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir, there are many happy people 1772. here. There are many people here who are watch

Ætat, 63. ing hundreds, and who think hundreds are watching them."

Happening to meet Sir Adam Ferguson, I presented him to Dr. Johnson. Sir Adam expressed some apprehension that the Pantheon would encourage luxury. “Sir, (said Johnson,) I am a great friend to publick amusements; for they keep people from vice. You now (addressing himself to me,) would have been with a wench, had you not been here.-0! I forgot you were married.”

Sir Adam suggested, that luxury corrupts a people, and destroys the spirit of liberty. Johnson. “Sir, that is all visionary. I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of Government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual. Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private man. What Frenchman is prevented from passing his life as he pleases ?” Sir ADAM. “ But, Sir, in the British constitution it is surely of importance to keep up a spirit in the people, so as to preserve a balance against the crown.” Johnson. “Sir, I perceive you are a vile Whig.Why all this childish jealousy of the power of the crown? The crown has not power enough. When I say that all governments are alike, I consider that in no government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government. Had not the people of France thought themselves honoured in sharing in the brilliant ac

1772. tions of Louis XIV. they would not have endured Ætat. 63. him; and we may say the same of the King of

Prussia's people.” Sir Adam introduced the ancient Greeks and Romans. Johnson. “ Sir, the mass of both of them were barbarians. The mass of every people must be barbarous where there is no printing, and consequently knowledge is not generally diffused. Knowledge is diffused among our people by the news-papers." Sir Adam mentioned the orators, poets and artists of Greece. Johnson. “Sir, I am talking of the mass of the people. We see even what the boasted Athenians were. The little effect which Demosthenes's orations had upon them, shews that they were barbarians.”

Sir Adam was unlucky in his topicks; for he suggested a doubt of the propriety of Bishops having seats in the House of Lords. JOHNSON. “How so, Sir? Who is more proper for having the dignity of a peer, than a bishop, provided a Bishop be what he ought to be; and if improper Bishops be made, that is not the fault of the Bishops, but of those who make thein."

On Sunday, April 5, after attending divine service at St. Paul's church, I found him alone. schoolmaster of his acquaintance, a native of Scotland, he said, “ He has a great deal of good about him ; but he is also very defective in some respects. His inner part is good, but his outer part is mighty aukward. You in Scotland do not attain that nice critical skill in languages, which we get in our schools in England. I would not put a boy to him, whom I intended for a man of learning. But for the sons of citizens, who are to learn a little, get good morals, and then go to trade, he may


very well."

Of a


I mentioned a cause in which I had appeared as counsel at the bar of the General Assembly of the

Ætat. 63, Church of Scotland, where a Probationer, (as one licensed to preach, but not yet ordained, is called,) was opposed in his application to be inducted, because it was alledged that he had been guilty of fornication five years

before. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, if he has repented, it is not a sufficient objection. A man who is good enough to go to beaven, is good enough to be a clergyman.” This was a humane and liberal sentiment. But the character of a clergyman is more sacred than that of an ordinary christian. As he is to instruct with authority, he should be regarded with reverence, as one upon whom divine truth has had the effect to set him above such transgressions, as men, less exalted by spiritual habits and yet upon the whole not to be excluded from heaven, have been betrayed into by the predominance of passion. That clergymen may be considered as sinners in general, as all men are, cannot be denied ; but this reflection will not counteract their good precepts so much, as the absolute knowledge of their having been guilty of certain specifick immoral acts. I told him, that by the rules of the Church of Scotland, in their “ Book of Discipline,” if a scandal, as it is called, is not prosecuted for five years, it cannot afterwards be proceeded upon, “ unless it be of a heinous nature, or again become flagrant;" and that hence a question arose, whether fornication was a sin of a heinous nature; and that I had maintained, that it did not deserve that epithet, in as much as it was not one of those sins which argue very great depravity of heart : in short, was not, in the general acceptation of mankind, a heinous sin. Johnson,


" No, Sir, it is not a heinous sin. A heinous sin

is that for which a man is punished with death or Ætat. 63.

banishment.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, after I had argued that it was not a heinous sin, an old clergyman rose up, and repeating the text of scripture denouncing judgement against whoremongers, asked, whether, considering this, there could be


doubt of fornication being a heinous sin. Johnson.“ Why, Sir, observe the word whoremonger. Every sin, if persisted in, will become heinous. Whoremonger is a dealer in whores, as ironmonger is a dealer in iron. But as you don't call a man an ironmonger for buying and selling a pen-knife; so you don't call a man a whoremonger for getting one wench with child."*

I spoke of the inequality of the livings of the clergy in England, and the scanty provisions of some of the Curates. JOHNSON. Why yes, Sir ; but it cannot be helped. You must consider, that the revenues of the clergy are not at the disposal of the state, like the pay of the army. Different men have founded different churches, and some are better endowed, some worse.

The State cannot interfere and make an equal division of what has been particularly appropriated. Now when a clergyman has but a small living, or even two small livings, he can afford

very little to the Curate."

He said, he went more frequently to church when there were prayers only, than when there was also a sermon, as the people required more an example for the one than the other ; it being much easier for

4 It must not be presumed that Dr. Johnson meant to give any countenance to licentiousness, though in the character of an Advocate he made a just and subtle distinction between occasional and habitual transgression.

« ElőzőTovább »