Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

Theology. He

have been a man whose

prac. 1773. tice was not suitable to his principles, so that his

'Etat. 64. character might injure the effect of his book, which he had written in a season of penitence. Or he may have been a man of rigid self-denial, so that he would have no reward for his pious labours while in this world, but refer it all to a future state."

The gentlemen went away to their club, and I was left at Beauclerk's till the fate of my election should be announced to me. I sat in a state of anxiety which even the charming conversation of Lady Di Beauclerk could not entirely dissipate. In à short time. I received the agreeable intelligence that I was chosen. I hastened to the place of meeting, and was introduced to such a society as can seldom be found. Mr. Edmund Burke, whom I then saw for the first time, and whose splendid talents had long made me ardently wish for his acquaintance; Dr. Nugent, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Jones, and the company with whom I had dined. Upon my entrance, Johnson placed himself behind a chair, on which he leaned as on a desk or pulpit, and with humourous formality gave me a Charge, pointing out the conduct expected from me as a good member of this club.

Goldsmith produced some very absurb verses which had been publickly recited to an audience for money. Johnson. “I can match this nonsense There was a poem called 'Eugenio,' which came out some years ago, and concludes thus:

• And now, ye trifling, self-assuming elves,
• Brimful of pride, of nothing, of yourselves,



1773. Survey Eugenio, view him o'er and o'er, Ætat. 64.

· Then sink into yourselves, and be no more.”? Nay, Dryden, in his poem on the Royal Society, has these lines:

• Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,

"And see the ocean leaning on the sky; • From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,

* And on the lunar world securely pry."

Talking of puns, Johnson, who had a great contempt for that species of wit, deigned to allow that there was one good pun in “Menagiana,” I think on the word corps.

[ocr errors]

i Dr. Johnson's memory here was not perfectly accurate:

Eugenio" does not conclude thus. There are eight more lines after the last of those quoted by him; and the passage which he meant to recite is as follows:

Say now ye fluttering, poor assuming elves,
“ Stark full of pride, of folly, of--yourselves ;
“ Say where's the wretch of all your impious crew
" Who dares confront his character to view ?
“ Behold Eugenio, view him o'er and o'er,

" Then sink into yourselves, and be no more."
Mr. Reed informs me that the Author of Eugenio, Thomas
Beech, a Wine Merchant at Wrexham in Denbighshire, soon
after its pablication, viz. 17th May, 1737, cut his own throat;
and that it appears by Swift's Works, that the poem had been
shewn to him, and received some of his corrections. Johnson
had read “ Eugenio" on his first coming to town, for we see it
mentioned in one of his letters to Mr. Cave, which has been in-
serted in this work.

I formerly thought that I had perhaps mistaken the word, and imagined it to be Corps, from its similarity of sound to the

For an accurate and shrewd unknown gentleman, to whom I am indebted for some remarks on my work, observes on this passagem" Q. if not on the word, Port? A vociferous French preacher said of Bourdaloue, 'Il preche fort bien, et moi


real one.

Much pleasant conversation passed, which Johnson 1773, , , relished with great good humour. But his conver- Ætat. 61. sation alone, or what led to it, or was interwoven with it, is the business of this work.

On Saturday, May 1, we dined by ourselves at our old rendezvous, the Mitre tavern. He was placid, but not much disposed to talk. He observed, that “ The Irish mix better with the English than the Scotch do; their language is nearer to English ; as a proof of which, they succeed very well as players, which Scotchmen do not. Then, Sir, they have not that extreme nationality which we find in the Scotch. I will do you, Boswell, the justice to say,

say, that you are the most unscottified of your countrymen. You are almost the only instance of a Scotchman that I have known, who did not at every other sentence bring in some other Scotchman.”

We drank tea with Mrs. Williams. I introduced a question which has been much agitated in the Church of Scotland, whether the claim of lay-patrons to present ministers to parishes be well founded ; and supposing it to be well founded, whether it ought to be exercised without the concurrence of

bien fort.'-- Menagiana. See also Anecdotes Litteraires, Article, Bourdaloue.” But ny ingenious and obliging correspondent, Mr. Abercrombie of Philadelphia, has pointed out to me the fol"lowing passage in "Menagiana ;" which renders the preceding conjecture unnecessary, and confirms my original statement:

“ Madme de Bourdonne, Chanoinesse de Remiremont, venoit d'entendre un discours plein de feu et d'esprit, mais fort peu solide, et tres irregulier. Une de ses amies, qui y prenoit intêret pour l'orateur, lui dit en sortant, 'Eh bien, Madme que vous semble-t-il de ce que vous venez d'entendre ? Qu'il y a d'esprit? -Il y a tant, repondit Madme de Bourdonne, que je n'y ai pas vâ de corps." Menagiana, tome ii. p. 64. Amsterd. 1713.

1773. the people. That Church is composed of a series of Ætat. 64. judicatures: a Presbytery,—a Synod, and finally, a

General Assembly; before all of which, this matter may be contended: and in some cases the Presbytery having refused to induct or settle, as they call it, the person presented by the patron, it has been found necessary to appeal to the General Assembly. He said, I might see the subject well treated in the “ Defence of Pluralities;" and although he thought that a patron should exercise his right with tenderness to the inclinations of the people of a parish, he was very clear as to his right. Then supposing the question to be pleaded before the General Assembly, he dictated to me what follows:

“ Against the right of patrons is commonly opposed, by the inferior judicatures, the plea of conscience. Their conscience tells them, that the

people ought to choose their pastor; their conscience tells them that they ought not to impose upon a congregation a minister ungrateful and unacceptable to his auditors. Conscience is nothing more than a conviction felt by ourselves of something to be done, or something to be avoided ; and in questions of simple unperplexed morality, conscience is


often a guide that may be trusted. But before conscience can determine, the state of the question is supposed to be completely known. In questions of law, or of fact, conscience is very often confounded with opinion. No man's conscience can tell him the right of another man; they must be known by rational investigation or historical enquiry. Opinion, which he that holds it may call his conscience, may teach some men that religion would be promoted, and quiet preserved, by granting to the people universally

the choice of their ministers. But it is a conscience 1773. very ill informed that violates the rights of one man, Ætat. 64 for the convenience of another. Religion cannot be promoted by injustice: and it was never yet found that a popular election was very quietly transacted,

“ That justice would be violated by transferring to the people the right of patronage, is apparent to all who know whence that right had its original. The right of patronage was not at first a privilege torn by power from unresisting poverty. It is not an authority at first usurped in times of ignorance, and established only by succession and by precedents. It is not a grant capriciously made from a higher tyrant to a lower. It is a right dearly purchased by the first possessors, and justly inherited by those that succeeded them. When Christianity was established in this island, a regular mode of publick worship was prescribed. Publick worship requires a publick place; and the proprietors of lands, as they were converted, built churches for their families and their vassals. For the maintenance of ministers, they settled a certain portion of their lands; and a district, through which each minister was required to extend his care, was, by that circumscription, constituted a parish. This is a position so generally received in England, that the extent of a manor and of a parish are regularly received for each other. The churches which the proprietors of lands had thus built and thus endowed, they justly thought themselves entitled to provide with ministers; and where the episcopal government prevails, the Bishop has no power to reject a man nominated by the patron, but for some crime that might exclude him from the priesthood. For the endowment of the church being the gift of

« AnteriorContinuar »