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out, as the king passed (1), "No Fox, no Fox!" which I did not like. He said, "They were right, Sir." I said, I thought not; for it seemed to be making Mr. Fox the king's competitor. There being no audience, so that there could be no triumph in a victory, he fairly agreed with me. I said it might do very well, if explained thus, "Let us have no Fox," understanding it as a prayer to his majesty not to appoint that gentleman minister.
(1) To open parliament. The Westminster election had concluded only the day before in favour of Mr. Fox, whose return, however, was delayed by the requisition for a scrutiny. - C.
Departed Friends. — Argument.
Testimony. Heleu Maria Williams. · Knotting.— Oxford. - Newton on the Prophecies. · Nonjurors. — Infidel Writers. Church of Rome. Whig and Tory.- Miss Adams. Fox and Pitt. - Radcliffe's Travelling Fellowships. - Prayer. Jeremy Taylor. - Iffley. - Dr. Nowell. - Rev. Henry Bate. John Henderson. - Balance of Misery.
ON Wednesday, May 19., I sat a part of the evening with him, by ourselves. I observed, that the death of our friends might be a consolation against the fear of our own dissolution, because we might have more friends in the other world than in this. He perhaps felt this as a reflection upon his apprehension as to death, and said, with heat, "How can a man know where his departed friends are, or whether they will be his friends in the other world? How many friendships have you known formed upon principles of virtue? Most friendships are formed by caprice or by chance acies in vice or leagues in folly."
We talked of our worthy friend Mr. Langton. He said, "I know not who will go to heaven if Langton does not. Sir, I could almost say Sit anima mea cum Langtono." I mentioned a very eminent friend as a virtuous man. JOHNSON. "Yes,
Sir; but Langton.
has not the evangelical virtue of I am afraid, would not scruple
to pick up a wench."
He however charged Mr. Langton with what he thought want of judgment upon an interesting oc"When I was ill," said he, "I desired he would tell me sincerely in what he thought my life was faulty. Sir, he brought me a sheet of paper, on which he had written down several texts of Scripture recommending Christian charity. And when I questioned him what occasion I had given for such an animadversion, all that he could say amounted to this, that I sometimes contradicted people in conversation. Now what harm does it do to any man to be contradicted?" BoswELL. "I suppose he meant the manner of doing it; roughly and harshly." JOHNSON." And who is the worse for that?" BOSWELL. "It hurts people of weaker nerves." JOHNSON. "I know no such weak-nerved people." Mr. Burke, to whom I related this conference, said, "It is well if, when a man comes to die, he has nothing heavier upon his conscience than having been a little rough in conversation."
Johnson, at the time when the paper was presented to him, though at first pleased with the attention of his friend, whom he thanked in an earnest manner, soon exclaimed in a loud and angry tone, "What is your drift, Sir?" Sir Joshua Reynolds pleasantly observed, that it was a scene for a comedy, to see a penitent get into a violent passion and belabour his confessor. (1)
(1) After all, I cannot but be of opinion, that as Mr. Lang
I have preserved no more of his conversation at the times when I saw him during the rest of this month, till Sunday, the 30th of May, when I met him in the evening at Mr. Hoole's, where there was a large company both of ladies and gentlemen. Sir James Johnston happened to say that he paid no regard to the arguments of counsel at the bar of the House of Commons, because they were paid for speaking. JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, argument is argument. You cannot help paying regard to their arguments if they are good. If it were testimony, you might disregard it, if you knew that it were purchased. There is a beautiful image in Bacon (1)
ton was seriously requested by Dr. Johnson to mention what appeared to him erroneous in the character of his friend, he was bound as an honest man to intimate what he really thought, which he certainly did in the most delicate manner; so that Johnson himself, when in a quiet frame of mind, was pleased with it. The texts suggested are now before me, and I shall quote a few of them. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.". Matt. v. 5. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."- Ephes. v. 1, 2. "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." - Col. iii. 14. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, is not easily provoked."1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5.
(1) Dr. Johnson's memory_deceived him. referred to is not Bacon's, but Boyle's, and may be found, with a slight variation, in Johnson's Dictionary, under the word Crossbow. So happily selected are the greater part of the examples in that incomparable work, that if the most striking passages found in it were collected by one of our modern bookmakers, under the title of "The Beauties of Johnson's Dictionary," they would form a very pleasing and popular volume. - M.
upon this subject: testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a crossbow, which has equal force though shot by a child."
He had dined that day at Mr. Hoole's, and Miss Helen Maria Williams being expected in the evening, Mr. Hoole put into his hands her beautiful "Ode on the Peace." (1) Johnson read it over, and when this elegant and accomplished young lady (2) was presented to him, he took her by the hand in the most courteous manner, and repeated the finest stanza of her poem. This was the most delicate and pleasing compliment he could pay. Her respectable friend, Dr. Kippis, from whom I had this anecdote, was standing by, and was not a little gratified.
Miss Williams told me, that the only other time she was fortunate enough to be in Dr. Johnson's company, he asked her to sit down by him, which
(1) The peace made by that very able statesman the Earl of Shelburne, now Marquis of Lansdowne, which may fairly be considered as the foundation of all the prosperity of Great Britain since that time.
(2) In the first edition of my work, the epithet amiable was given. I was sorry to be obliged to strike it out; but I could not in justice suffer it to remain, after this young lady had not only written in favour of the savage anarchy with which France has been visited, but had (as I have been informed by good authority) walked, without horror, over the ground at the Thuilleries when it was strewed with the naked bodies of the faithful Swiss Guards, who were barbarously massacred for having bravely defended, against a crew of ruffians, the monarch whom they had taken an oath to defend. From Dr. Johnson she could now expect not endearment, but repulsion. - B. Miss Williams, like many other early enthusiasts of the French revolution, had latterly altered her opinion very considerably. She died in 1828, æt. 65. - . C.