Page images
[ocr errors]

On the Roman Catholick religion he said, “ If you join the papists externally, they will not interrogate you strictly as to your belief in their tenets. No reasoning papist believes every article of their faith. There is one side on which a good man might be persuaded to embrace it. A good man of a timorous disposition, in great doubt of his acceptance with God, and pretty credulous, may be glad to be of a church where there are so many helps to get to heaven'. I would be a papist if I could. I have fear enough; but an obstinate rationality prevents

I shall never be a papist, unless on the near approach of death, of which I have a very great terrour. I wonder that women are not all papists.” BOSWELL. They are not more afraid of death than men are. JOHNSON.“ Because they are less wicked.” DR. ADAMS. “ They are more pious." JOIINSON. “No, hang 'em, they are not more pious. A wicked fellow is the most pious when he takes to it. He'll beat you all at piety.”

He argued in defence of some of the peculiar tenets of the church of Rome. As to the giving the bread only to the laity, he said, " They may think, that in



have since found the poem itself, in “ The Foundling Hospital for Wit,”
printed at London, 1749. It is as follows:

Epigram, occasioned by a religious dispute at Bath.
« On reason, faith, and mystery high,

Two wits harangue the table;
B- -y believes he knows not why,

swears 'tis all a fable.
Peace, coxcombs, peace! and both agree !

kiss thy empty brother ;
Religion laughs at foes like thee,

And dreads a friend like t'other.”_ BOSWELL.
[The disputants alluded to in this epigram are supposed to have been
Bentley (the son of the doctor and the friend of Walpole) and Beau Nash.

[This facility, however it may, in their last moments, delude the timorous and credulous, is, as Jeremy Taylor observes, proportionably injurious if previously calculated upon. When addressing a convert to the Romish church, he says, “If I had a mind to live an evil life, and yet hope for heaven at last, I would be of your religion above any in the world."- Works, vol. xi. p. 190.-ED.)

? [See ante, vol. i. p. 214, where the reference to the 3d June, 1784, should have been to this day, the 10th..Ed.]


[ocr errors]

what is merely ritual', deviations from the primitive mode may be admitted on the ground of convenience; and I think they are as well warranted to make this alteration, as we are to substitute sprinkling in the room of the ancient baptism. As to the invocation of saints, he said, “ Though I do not think it authorised, it appears to me, that the communion of saints' in the Creed means the communion with the saints in Heaven, as connected with “The holy Catholick church?.'” He admitted the influence of evil spirits upon our minds, and said, "Nobody who believes the New Testament can deny it.”

I brought a volume of Dr. Hurd, the Bishop of Worcester's Sermons, and read to the company some passages from one of them, upon this text, Resist the Devil, and he will fly from you.James iv. 7. I was happy to produce so judicious and elegant a supporter* of a doctrine which, I know not why,


· [The Bishop of Ferns very justly observes, that the sacrament is not merely ritual. Had it been an institution of the church of Rome, they might have modified it;

but it was a solemn and specific ordinance of our Saviour himself, which no church could justifiably alter. -Ed.]

? [The Editor does not recollect any scriptural authority that primitive baptism should necessarily be by immersion. From the Acts, ii. 41., it may be inferred that 3000 persons were baptized in Jerusalem in one day, and the jailor of Philippi and his family were baptized hastily at night, and, as it would seem, within the purlieus of the prison (Acts, xvi. 33). These baptisms could hardly have been by immersion.--Ev.]

3 Waller, in his “ Divine Poesie,” canto first, has the same thought finely expressed :

“ The church triumphant and the church below

In songs of praise their present union show:
Their joys are full, our expectation long;
In life we differ, but we join in song:
Angels and we, assisted by this art,

May sing together, though we dwell apart.”_BOSWELL. 4 The sermon thus opens :-" That there are angels and spirits good and bad ; that at the head of these last there is ONE more considerable and malignant than the rest, who in the form or under the name of a serpent was deeply concerned in the fall of man, and whose head, as the prophetick language is, the Son of Man was one day to bruise; that this evil spirit, though that prophecy be in part completed, has not yet received his death's wound, but is still permitted, for ends unsearchable to us, and in ways which we cannot particularly explain, to have a certain degree of power in this world hostile to its virtue and happiness, and sometimes exerted with too much success; all this is so clear from Scripture, that no believer, unless he be first of all spoiled by philosophy and vain deceit, can possibly entertain a doubt of it.” Having treated of possessions, his lordship says, “ As I have no authority to affirm that there are now any “ Guard us from all temptations of the For.”_BOSWELL. [Another distinguished prelate, when addressing the same learned society a few years ago (1822) on this important subject, thus expressed himself: “The

[ocr errors]

should, in this world of imperfect knowledge, and therefore of wonder and mystery in a thousand instances, be contested by some with an unthinking assurance and flippancy.

After dinner, when one of us talked of there being a great enmity between Whig and Tory:JOHNSON. “Why, not so much, I think, unless when they come into competition with each other. There is none when they are only common acquaintance, none when they are of different sexes. A Tory will marry into a Whig family, and a Whig into a Tory family, without any reluctance. But, indeed, in a matter of much more concern than political tenets, and that is religion, men and women do not concern themselves much about difference of opinion; and ladies set no value on the moral character of men who pay their addresses to them : the greatest profligate will be as well received as the man of the greatest virtue, and this by a very good woman, by a woman who says her prayers three times a day.” Our ladies en

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


such, so neither may I presume to say with confidence that there are not any." “ But then, with regard to the influence of evil spirits at this day upon the Souls of men, I shall take leave to be a great deal more peremptory.—(Then, having stated the various proofs, he adds), All this, I say, is so manifest to every one who reads the Scriptures, that, if we respect their authority, the question concerning the reality of the demoniack influence upon the minds of men is clearly determined.” Let it be remembered, that these are not the words of an antiquated or obscure enthusiast, but of a learned and polite prelate now alive; and were spoken, not to a vulgar congregation, but to the Honourable Society of Lin. coln's Inn. His lordship in this sermon explains the words “ deliver us from evil,” in the Lord's Prayer, as signifying a request to be protected from the evil one,” that is, the Devil. This is well illustrated in a short but excellent Commentary by my late worthy friend the Reverend Dr. Lort, of whom it may truly be said, Multis ille bonis flebilis occidit. It is remarkable that Waller, in his “ Reflections on the several Petitions in that sacred Form of Devotion," has understood this in the same sense:

text (Ephesians, vi. 11, 12) is extremely important in determining a question “which has of late years arisen among christians concerning the existence of “that person, or those persons, to whose influence is ascribed so large a portion of the sin and misery which in our present state surround us. I say, it is of “late years that this controversy has arisen, because it is certain that during “ more than one thousand seven hundred years the christian world (however “otherwise divided) had on this point no difference of opinion.”Heber's Ser. mons preached in England. Sermon IV.-J. H. MĀRKLAND.]



[ocr errors]

deavoured to defend their sex from this charge; but he roared them down! No, no, a lady will take Jonathan Wild as readily as St. Austin, if he has threepence more; and, what is worse, her parents will give her to him. Women have a perpetual envy of our vices: they are less vicious than we, not from choice, but because we restrict them; they are the slaves of order and fashion; their virtue is of more consequence to us than our own, so far as concerns this world.”

Miss Adams mentioned a gentleman of licentious character, and said, “Suppose I had a mind to marry that gentleman, would my parents consent?” JOHNSON. Yes, they'd consent, and you'd go. You'd go, though they did not consent.” Miss ADAMS. Perhaps their opposing might make me go.' JOHNSON. “O, very well; you'd take one whom you

think a bad man, to have the pleasure of vexing your parents. You put me in mind of Dr. Barrowby!, the physician, who was very fond of swine's flesh. One day, when he was eating it, he said, “I wish I was a Jew'- Why so?' said somebody; "the Jews are not allowed to eat your favourite meat. - Because,' said he, 'I should then have the gust of eating it, with the pleasure of sinning.'"-Johnson then proceeded in his declamation.

Miss Adams soon afterwards made an observation that I do not recollect, which pleased him much: he said with a good-humoured smile, “That there

“ should be so much excellence united with so much depravity is strange.”

Indeed this lady's good qualities, merit, and accomplishments, and her constant attention to Dr. Johnson, were not lost upon him. She happened to

[ocr errors]



* [Dr. Barrowby died in 1758, the senior member of the college of physicians. -Ed.]

[ocr errors]

tell him that a little coffee-pot, in which she had made him coffee, was the only thing she could call her own. He turned to her with a complacent gallantry :-“Don't say so, my dear: I hope you don't reckon my heart as nothing!.”

I asked him if it was true, as reported, that he had said lately, “ I am for the king against Fox; but I am for Fox against Pitt.” JOHNSOŇ. “ Yes, sir : the king is my master; but I do not know Pitt; and Fox is my friend.”

“ Fox,” added he, “is a most extraordinary man: here is a man (describing him in strong terms of objection in some respects according as he apprehended, but which exalted his abilities the more) who has divided the kingdom with Cæsar: so that it was a doubt whether the nation should be ruled by the sceptre of George the Third, or the tongue of Fox."

Dr. Wall, physician at Oxford, drank tea with us. Johnson had in general a peculiar pleasure in the company of physicians, which was certainly not abated by the conversation of this learned, ingenious, and pleasing gentleman. Johnson said, “ It is wonderful how little good Radcliffe's travelling fellowships have done. I know nothing that has been imported by them; yet many additions to our medical knowledge might be got in foreign countries. Inoculation, for instance, has saved more lives than war destroys; and the cures performed by the Peruvian bark are innumerable. But it is in vain to send our travelling physicians to France and Italy and Germany, for all that is known there is known here. I'd send them out of Christendom; I'd send them among barbarous nations.”

· [Miss Adams married, in July, 1788, Benjamin Hyett, Esq. of Painswiek, Gloucestershire.-HALL.)

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »