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with her; but we all know the force of first impressions in theology. This young lady was argued with by the divines, and threatened by her guardian, in vain. She persisted in resigning her splendid expectations for what appeared to her the path of duty.
Her father, on being made acquainted with her changed faith, informed her that she might choose between an hundred thousand pounds and his favour, or two thousand pounds and his renunciation, as she continued a churchwoman or commenced a quaker.
Miss Harry lamented her father's displeasure, but thanked him for the pecuniary alternative, assuring him that it included all her wishes as to fortune.
Soon after she left her guardian's house, and boarded in that of Mrs Knowles; to her she often observed, that Dr Johnson's displeasure, whom she had seen frequently at her guardian's, and who had always appeared fond of her, was amongst the greatest mortifications of her then situation. Once she came home in tears, and told her friend she had met Dr Johnson in the street, and had ventured to ask him how he did; but that he would not deign to answer her, and walked scornfully on. She added, “ meet him soon at Mr Dilly’s--plead for me.”
you are to
Thus far as prefatory to those requested minutes, which I made at the time of the ensuing conversation. It commenced with Mrs Knowles saying, “I am to ask thy indulgence, Doctor, towards a gentle female to whom thou usedst to be kind, and who is uneasy in the loss of that kindness. Jenny Harry weeps at the consciousness that thou wilt not speak to her."
“ Madam, I hate the odious wench, and desire you
will not talk to me about her.” “ Yet what is her crime, Doctor?”—“ Apostacy, Madam; apostacy from the community in which she was educated.”
Surely the quitting one community for another cannot be a crime, if it is done from motives of conscience. Hadst thou been educated in the Romish church, I must suppose thou wouldst have abjured its errors, and that there would have been merit in the abjuration.”
Madam, if I had been educated in the Ro man Catholic faith, I believe I should have
questioned my right to quit the religion of my fathers; therefore, well may I hate the arrogance
young wench, who sets herself up for a judge on theological points, and deserts the religion in whose bosom she was nurtured.”
“ She has not done so; the name and the faith of Christians are not denied to the sectaries."
“ If the name is not, the common sense is.”
“I will not dispute this point with thee, Doctor, at least at present, it would carry us too far. Suppose it granted, that, in the mind of a young girl, the weaker arguments appeared the strongest, her want of better judgment should excite thy pity, not thy resentment."
“ Madam, it has my anger and my contempt, and always will have them.”
“Consider, Doctor, she must be sincere.-Consider what a noble fortune she has sacrificed.”
“ Madam, Madam, I have never taught myself to consider that the association of folly can extenuate guilt.”
« Ah ! Doctor, we cannot rationally suppose that the Deity will not pardon a defect in judgment (supposing it should prove one) in that breast where the consideration of serving him, according to its idea, in spirit and truth, has been a preferable inducement to that of worldly interest.”
“ Madam, I pretend not to set Sounds to the mercy of the Deity; but I hate the wench, and shall ever hate her. I hate all impudence; but the impudence of a chit's apostacy I nauseate.”
Jenny is a very gentle creature.-She trembles to have offended her parent, though far removed from his presence; she grieves to have offended her guardian, and she is sorry to have of,
fended Dr Johnson, whom she loved, admired, and honoured."
Why, then, Madam, did she not consult the man whom she pretends to have loved, admired, and honoured, upon her newfangled scruples'? If she had looked up to that man with any degree of the respect she professes, she would have supposed his ability to judge of fit and right, at least equal to that of a raw wench just out of her primmer.”
“Ah! Doctor, remember it was not from amongst the witty and the learned that Christ selected his disciples, and constituted the teachers of his precepts. Jenny thinks Dr Johnson great and good; but she also thinks the gospel demands and enjoins a simpler form of worship than that of the established church; and that it is not in wit and eloquence to supersede the force of what appears to her a plain and regular system, which cancels all typical and mysterious ceremonies, as fruitless and even idolatrous ; and asks 'only obedience to its injunctions, and the ingenuous homage of a devout heart.”
“ The homage of a fool's-head, madam, you should say, if you pester me about the ridiculous wench."
“ If thou choosest to suppose her ridiculous, thou canst not deny that she has been religious, sin
cere, disinterested. Canst thou believe that the gate of Heaven will be shut to the tender and pious mind, whose first consideration has been that of apprehended duty ?"
« Pho, pho, Madam, who says it will ?” “Then if Heaven shuts not its gate, shall man shut his heart ?-If the Deity accept the homage of such as sincerely serve him under every form of worship, Dr Johnson and this humble girl will, it is to be hoped, meet in a blessed eternity, whither human animosity must not be carried."
“ Madam, I am not fond of meeting fools anywhere; they are detestable company, and while it is in my power to avoid conversing with them, I certainly shall exert that power; and so you may tell the odious wench, whom you have persuaded to think herself a saint, and of whom you will, I suppose, make a preacher; but I shall take care she does not preach to me.”
The loud and angry tone in which he thundered out these replies to his calm and able antagonist, frightened us all, except Mrs Knowles, who gently, not sarcastically, smiled at his injustice. Mr Boswell whispered me, “ I never saw this mighty lion so chafed before.”
I have withdrawn myself from a very interesting circle to transcribe for you these extracts. Its social temptations allured me, some five days