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I told him that a foreign friend of his, whom I had 1766. met with abroad, was so wretchedly perverted to in
Ætat. 57. fidelity, that he treated the hopes of immortality with brutal levity; and said, “ As man dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog." JOHNSON. “ If he dies like a dog, let him lie like a dog." I added, that this man said to me, “ I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am." JOHNSON. “ Sir, he must be very singular in his opinion, if he thinks himself one of the best of men ; for none of his friends think him so."He said, “ No honest man could be a Deist; for no man could be so after a fair examination of the proofs of Christianity.” I named Hume. JOHNSON. Sir ; Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishoprick of Durham, that he had never read the New Testament with attention." -I mentioned Hume's notion, that all who are happy are equally happy; a little miss with a new gown at a dancing-school ball, a General at the head of a victorious army, and an orator, after having made an eloquent speech in a great assembly. JOHNSON. “ Sir, that all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher.” I remember this very question very happily illustrated in opposition to Hume, by the Reverend Mr. Robert Brown, at Utrecht.“ A small drinkingglass and a large one, (said he,) may be equally full; but the large one holds more than the small."
' (Bishop Hall, in discussing this subject, has the same image :
1766. Dr. Johnson was very kind this evening, and said
to me, “ You have now lived five-and-twenty years, Ætat. 57. and you have employed them well.”
“ Alas, Sir, (said I, I fear not. Do I know history? Do I know mathematicks? Do I know law ?" JOHNSON.
Why, Sir, though you may know no science so well as to be able to teach it, and no profession so well as to be able to follow it, your general mass of knowledge of books and men renders you very capable to make yourself master of any science, or fit yourself for any profession.” I mentioned that a gay friend had advised me against being a lawyer, because I should be excelled by plodding block-heads. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, in the formulary and statutory part of law, a plodding block-head may excel ; but in the ingenious and rational part of it a plodding block-head can never excel.”
I talked of the mode adopted by some to rise in the world, by courting great men, and asked him whether he had ever submitted to it. JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, I never was near enough to great men, to court them. You may be prudently attached to great men, and yet independent. You are not to do what you think wrong; and, Sir, you are to calculate, and not pay too dear for what you get. You must not give a shilling's worth of court for sixpence worth of good. But if you can get a shilling's worth of good for sixpence worth of court,
court." He said, “ If convents should be allowed at all, they should only be retreats for persons unable to
you are a fool if
" Yet so conceive of these beavenly degrees, that the least is glorious. So do these vessels differ, that all are full." EPISTLES, Dec. ili. cp. 6. "Of the different degrees of heavenly glory,” &c. M.]
serve the publick, or who have served it. It is our 1766. first duty to serve society; and, after we have done
Ætat.57.. that, we may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged.”
I introduced the subject of second sight, and other mysterious manifestations; the fulfilment of which, I suggested, might happen by chance. JOHNSON. “ Yes, Sir, but they have happened so often, that mankind have agreed to think them not fortuitous."
I talked to him a great deal of what I had seen in Corsica, and of my intention to publish an account of it. He encouraged me by saying, “ You cannot go to the bottom of the subject ; but all that you tell us will be new to us. Give us as many anecdotes as you can.”
Our next meeting at the Mitre was on Saturday the 15th of February, when I presented to him my old and most intimate friend, the Reverend Mr. Temple, then of Cambridge. I having mentioned that I had passed some time with Rousseau in his wild retreat, and having quoted some remark made by Mr. Wilkes, with whom I had spent many pleasant hours in Italy, Johnson said, (sarcastically,) “ It seems, Sir, you have kept very good company abroad, Rousseau and Wilkes !" Thinking it enough to defend one at a time, I said nothing as to my gay friend, but answered with a smile, “ My dear Sir, you don't call Rousseau bad company. Do you really think him a bad man?" Johnson. « Sir, if you are talking jestingly of this, I don't talk with you.
you mean to be serious, I think him one of the worst of men; a rascal, who ought to be hunted out of society, as he has been. Three or four na
1766. tions have expelled him: and it is a shame that he
is protected in this country.” Boswell. “ I don't Ætat. 57.
'deny, Sir, but that his novel may, perhaps, do harm; but I cannot think his intention was bad.” JOHN
“ Sir, that will not do. We cannot prove any man's intention to be bad. You may shoot a man through the head, and say you intended to miss him; but the Judge will order you to be hanged. An alleged want of intention, when evil is committed, will not be allowed in a court of justice. Rousseau, Sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for his transportation, than that of any
felon who has gone from the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to have him work in the plantations." BoswELL. “ Sir, do you think him as bad a man as Voltaire ? JOHNSON.
Why, Sir, it is difficult to settle the proportion of iniquity between them.”
This violence seemed very strange to me, who had read many of Rousseau's animated writings with great pleasure, and even edification ; had been much pleased with his society, and was just come from the Continent, where he was very generally admired. Nor can I yet allow that he deserves the very severe censure which Johnson pronounced upon him. His absurd preference of savage to civilised life, and other singularities, are proofs rather of a defect in his understanding, than of any depravity in his heart. And notwithstanding the unfavourable opinion which many worthy men have expressed of his “ Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard,” I cannot help admiring it as the performance of a man full of sincere reverential submission to Divine Mystery, though beset with perplexing doubts : a state of mind to be 1766. viewed with pity rather than with anger.
Ætat. 57. On his favourite subject of subordination, Johnson said, “ So far is it from being true that inen are naturally equal, that no two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.”
I mentioned the advice given us by philosophers, to console ourselves, when distressed or embarrassed, by thinking of those who are in a worse situation than ourselves. This, I observed, could not apply to all, for there must be some who have nobody worse than they are. Johnson. “Why, to be sure, Sir, there are ; but they don't know it. There is no being so poor and so contemptible, who does not think there is somebody still poorer, and still more contemptible.”
As my stay in London at this time was very short, I had not many opportunities of being with Dr. Johnson ; but I felt my veneration for him in no degree lessened, by my having seenmultorum hominum -mores et urbes. On the contrary, by having it in my power to compare him with many of the most celebrated persons of other countries, my adıniration of his extraordinary mind was increased and confirmed.
The roughness, indeed, which sometimes appeared in his manners, was more striking to me now, from my having beert accustomed to the studied smooth complying habits of the Continent; and I clearly recognised in him, not without respect for his honest conscientious zeal, the same indignant and sarcastical mode of treating every attempt to unhinge or weaken good principles.
One evening, when a young gentleman teized him