1777 -1778.

Ashbourne. Personal Disputes.


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- Burke's Definition of a Free Government. Ilam. The Christian Revelation.


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Duke of Devon

Mungo Esop at Prior.

· Dr. Taylor's Bull-dog. play."- Memory.· · Rochester's Poems· Hypochondria.

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Lord Bacon. Topham Beauclerk. "Ode on Solitude." Music.

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- Happiness. — Future State. - Slave Trade.-American Independence. Corruption of Parliament.— Planting.-" Oddity Johnson." Decision of the Negro Cause. Saunders Welch. Advice to Travellers. Correspondence.

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ON Monday, September 22., when at breakfast, I unguardedly said to Dr. Johnson, "I wish I saw you and Mrs. Macaulay together." He grew very angry; and, after a pause, while a cloud gathered on his brow, he burst out, "No, Sir; you would not see us quarrel, to make you sport. Don't you know that it is very uncivil to pit two people against

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much she could be obliged to work, "Why," said Johnson, 66 as much as is reasonable; and what is that? as much as she thinks reasonable."

Dr. Johnson obligingly proposed to carry me to see Ilam, a romantic scene, now belonging to a family of the name of Port, but formerly the seat of the Congreves. (1) I suppose it is well de

scribed in some of the tours.

Johnson described it distinctly and vividly, at which I could not but express to him my wonder; because, though my eyes, as he observed, were better than his, I could not by any means equal him in representing visible objects. I said, the difference between us in this respect was as that between a man who has a bad instrument, but plays well on it, and a man who has a good instrument, on which he can play very imperfectly.

I recollect a very fine amphitheatre, surrounded with hills covered with woods, and walks neatly formed along the side of a rocky steep, on the quarter next the house, with recesses under projections of rock, overshadowed with trees; in one of which recesses, we were told, Congreve wrote his "Old Bachelor." We viewed a remarkable natural curiosity at Ilam; two rivers bursting near each other from the rock, not from immediate springs, but after having run for many miles under ground. Plott, in his "History of Staffordshire" (p. 69.),

(1) This is a mistake. The Ports had been seated at Ilam time out of mind. Congreve had visited that family at Ilam; and his seat, that is, the bench on which he sometimes sat, in the gardens, used to be shown: this, Mr. Bernard Port-one of the ancient family, and now vicar of Ilam- thinks was the cause of Mr. Boswell's error. — - C.

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gives an account of this curiosity; but Johnson would not believe it, though we had the attestation of the gardener, who said he had put in corks (1), where the river Manyfold sinks into the ground, and had catched them in a net, placed before one of the openings where the water bursts out. Indeed, such subterraneous courses of water are found in various parts of our globe. (2)

Talking of Dr. Johnson's unwillingness to believe extraordinary things, I ventured to say, "Sir, you come near Hume's argument against miracles, that • It is more probable witnesses should lie, or be mistaken, than that they should happen." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, Hume, taking the proposition simply, is right. (3) But the Christian revelation is not proved by the miracles alone, but as connected with prophecies, and with the doctrines in confirmation of which the miracles were wrought."

He repeated his observation, that the differences among Christians are really of no consequence. "For instance," said he, "if a Protestant objects to

(1) The gardener at Ilam told me that it was Johnson himself who had made this experiment; but there is not the least doubt of the fact. The river sinks suddenly into the earth behind a hill above the valley, and bursts out again in the same direction, and with the same body of water, about four miles below. C.

(2) See Plott's "History of Staffordshire," p. 88.

(3) This is not quite true. It is, indeed, more probable that one or two interested witnesses should lie, than that a miracle should have happened; but that distant and unconnected witnesses and circumstances should undesignedly concur in evidencing a falsehood, and that falsehood one in itself unnatural, would be more miraculous than any miracle in Scripture; and thus by Hume's own argument the balance of probability is in favour of the miracles. — C.

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