« VorigeDoorgaan »
stop your foolish mouth with a blue-bag.” At which Mrs. Thrale smiled, and whispered to the Doctor, “My dear Sir, you'll get nothing by blunting your arrows upon a block."
614. Johnson's Silver Tea-pot. I was one morning agreeably surprised by a letter which Mrs. Maria Cosway put into my hand, written by W. Hoper, Esq., giving me permission to make a drawing of Dr. Johnson's silver tea-pot in his possession. Upon the side of this tea-pot the following inscription is engraven: “ We are told by Lucian, that the earthen lamp, which had administered to the lucubrations of Epictetus, was at his death purchased for the enormous sum of three thousand drachmas : why, then, may not imagination equally amplify the value of this unadorned vessel, long employed for the infusion of that favourite herb, whose enlivening virtues are said to have so often protracted the elegant and edifying lucubrations of Samuel Johnson ; the zealous advocate of that innocent beverage, against its declared enemy, Jonas Hanway? It was weighed out for sale, under the inspection of Sir John Hawkins, at the very minute when they were in the next room closing the incision through which Mr. Cruickshank had explored the ruined machinery of its dead master's thorax.
So Bray (the silversmith, conveyed there in Sir John's carriage, thus bastily to buy the plate,) informed its present possessor, Henry Constantine Nowell ; by whom it was, for its celebrated services, on the 1st of November, 1788, rescued from the indiscriminating obliterations of the furnace."
615. Johnson's Watch and Punch-bowl. The ensuing is an answer to one of my interrogatory epistles. It is from my friend, the Rev. Hugh Pailye, canon of Lichfield :-“I certainly am in possession of Dr. Johnson's watch, which I purchased from his black servant, Francis Barber. His punch-bowl is likewise in my possession, and was purchased by the Rev. Thomas Harwood, the historian, of Lichfield. It was bought at
Mrs. Harwood's sale, by John Barker Scott, Esq., who afterwards presented it to me."
616. Dialogue at Dilly's, between Mrs. Knowles and
Dr. Johnson. (1) Mrs. K. Thy friend, Jenny Harry, desires her kind respects to thee, Doctor.
DR. J. To me! Tell me not of her! I hate the odious wench for her apostacy ; and it is you, Madam, who have seduced her from the Christian religion.
Mrs. K. This is a heavy charge, indeed. I must beg leave to be heard in my own defence ; and I entreat the attention of the present learned and candid company, desiring them to judge how far I am able to clear myself of so cruel an accusation.
Dr. J. (much disturbed at this unexpected challenge) said, You are a woman, and I give you quarter.
Mrs. K. I will not take quarter. There is no sex in souls ; and in the present cause, I fear not even Dr. Johnson himself.-(“ Bravo !” was repeated by the company,
and silence ensued.) DR. J. Well then, Madam, I persist in my charge, that you have seduced Miss Harry from the Christian religion.
Mrs. K. If thou really knewest what were the principles of the Friends, thou wouldst not say she had departed from Christianity. But, waiving that discussion for the present, I will take the liberty to observe, that she had an undoubted right to examine and to change her educational tenets, whenever she supposed she had found them erroneous: as an accountable creature, it was her duty so to do.
Dr. J. Pshaw! pshaw !- An accountable creature ! Girls accountable creatures ! It was her duty to remain with the church wherein she was educated : she had no business to leave it.
(1) [See Life, vl. iv. p. 157.; and No. 500. of this volume. " The narrati se of Boswell,” says Mr. Nichols (Lit. Illust., vol. iv. p. 831.), not proving satisfactory to Molly Knowles (as she was familiarly styled), she gave the Dialogue between berself and the sturdy moralist, in her own manner, in the Gent, Mag. vol. Ixi. p. 500.” In 1805, Mrs. Knowles had it reprinted in a small pamphlet. She died in 1807, at the age of eighty.]
Mrs. K. What ! not for that which she apprehended to be better? According to this rule, Doctor, badst thou been born in Turkey, it had been thy duty to have remained a Mahometan, notwithstanding Christian evidence might have wrought in thy mind the clearest conviction ! and, if so, then let me ask, how would thy conscience have answered for such obstinacy at the great and last tribunal ?
DR. J. My conscience would not have been answerable. Mrs. K. Whose, then, would ?
Dr. J. Why the state, to be sure. In adhering to the religion of the state, as by law established, our implicit obedience therein becomes our duty.
Mrs. K. A nation, or state, having a conscience, is a doctrine entirely new to me, and, indeed, a very curious piece of intelligence ; for I have always understood that a government, or state, is a creature of time only; beyond which it dissolves, and becomes a nonentity. Now, gentlemen, can your imagination body forth this monstrous individual, or being, called a state, composed of millions of people ? Can
Can you behold it stalking forth into the next world, loaded with its mighty conscience, there to be rewarded or punished, for the faith, opinions, and conduct, of its constituent machines called men ? Surely the teeming brain of poetry never held up to the fancy so wondrous a personage! (When the laugh occasioned by the personification was subsided, the Doctor very angrily replied,)
DR. J. I regard not what you say as to that matter. I hate the arrogance of the wench in supposing herself a more competent judge of religion than those who educated her. She imitated you, no doubt; but she ought not to have presumed to determine for herself in so important
Mrs. K. True, Doctor, I grant it, if, as thou seemest to imply, a wench of twenty years be not a moral agent.
Dr. J. I doubt it would be difficult to prove those deserve that character who turn Quakers.
Mrs. K. This severe retort, Doctor, induces me charitably to hope thou must be totally unacquainted with the