Abbildungen der Seite

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, 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.

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 bę 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 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 Lincoln's Inn. His Lordship in this Sermon explains

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. 1 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 endeavoured 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

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:

“ Guard us from all temptations of the Foe.”

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. “ 0, 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 Adains 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 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.” JOHNSON. “ 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

[ocr errors]

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.”

On Friday, June 11, we talked at breakfast, of forms of prayer. JOHNSON. “ I know of no good prayers but those in the · Book of Common Prayer.'” DR. ADAMS, (in a very earnest manner): “ I wish, Sir, you would compose some family prayers. JOHNSON. "I will not compose prayers for you, Sir, because you can do it for yourself. But I have thought of getting together all the books of prayers which I could, selecting those which should appear to me the best, putting out some, inserting others, adding some prayers of my own, and prefixing a discourse on prayer.”

We all now gathered about him, and two or three of us at a time joined in pressing him to execute this plan. He seemed to be a little displeased at the manner of our importunity, and in great agitation called out, “Do not talk thus of what is so awful. I know not what time God will allow me in this world. There are many things which I wish to do.” Some of us persisted, and Dr. Adams said “I never was more serious about any thing in my life.”

JOHNSON. “Let me alone, let me alone; I am overpowered.” And then he put his hands before his face, and reclined for some time upon the table.

I mentioned Jeremy Taylor's using, in his forms of prayer, “ I am the chief of sinners," and other such selfcondemning expressions. “ Now, (said I) this cannot be said with truth by every man, and therefore is improper for a general printed form. I myself cannot say that I am the worst of men : I will not say so.” Johnson. “ A man may know, that physically, that is, in the real state of things, he is not the worst man; but that morally he may be so. Law observes, that every man knows something worse of himself, than he is sure of in others.' You may not have committed such crimes as some men have done; but you do not know against what degree of light they have sinned. Besides, Sir,

the chief of sinners’ is a mode of expression for 'I am a great sinner. So St. Paul, speaking of our SAVIOUR'S having died to save sinners, says, of whom I am the chief:' yet he certainly did not think himself so bad as Judas Iscariot.” BOSWELL. “ But, Sir, Taylor means it literally, for he founds a conceit upon it. ing for the conversion of sinners, and of himself in particular, he says, “Lord thou wilt not leave thy chief work undone.'” JOHNSON." I do not approve of figurative expressions in addressing the Supreme Being; and I never

use them.

Taylor gives a very good advice: Never lie in your prayers; never confess more than you really believe; never promise more than you mean to perform.? I recollected this precept in his · Golden Grove;' but his example for prayer contradicts his precept.

Dr. Johnson and I went in Dr. Adams's coach to dine with Mr. Nowell, Principal of St. Mary Hall, at his

[ocr errors]

When pray

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »