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1773. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, you might contrive to teach Ætat. 64. your children extrà scandalum ; but, Sir, the magis
trate, if he knows it, has a right to restrain you. Sup-
children to be thieves?” Mayo. “ This is making a joke of the subject.” JOHNSON.
Nay, Sir, take it thus :--that you teach them the community of goods; for which there are as many plausible arguments as for most erroneous doctrines. You teach them that all things at first were in common, and that no man had a right to any thing but as he laid his hands upon it ; and that this still is, or ought to be, the rule amongst mankind. Here, Sir, you sap a great principle in society,-property. And don't
you think the magistrate would have a right to prevent you? Or, suppose you should teach your children the notion of the Adamites, and they should run naked into the streets, would not the magistrate have a right to flog ’em into their doublets?" Mayo. “ I think the magistrate has no right to interfere till there is some overt act." Boswell. “ So, Sir, though he sees an enemy to the state charging a blunderbuss, he is not to interfere till it is fired off?” Mayo. “ He must be sure of its direction against the state.” Johnson. “ The magistrate is to judge of that.-He has no right to restrain your thinking, because the evil centers in yourself. If a man were sitting at this table, and chopping off his fingers, the magistrate, as guardian of the community, has no authority to restrain him, however he might do it from kindness as a parent.-Though, indeed, upon more consideration, I think he may; as it is probable, that he who is chopping off his own fingers, may soon proceed to chop off those of other people. If I think it right to steal Mr. Dilly's plate, I am a bad man;
but he can say nothing to me.
If I make an open 1773. declaration that I think so, he will keep me out of his
Ætat. 64. house. If I put forth my hand, I shall be sent to Newgate. This is the gradation of thinking, preaching, and acting : if a man thinks erroneously, he may keep his thoughts to himself, and nobody will trouble him; if he preaches erroneous doctrine, society may expel him ; if he acts in consequence of it, the law takes place, and he is hanged.” Mayo. “ But, Sir, ought not Christains to have liberty of conscience ? Johnson. “ I have already told you so, Sir. You are coming back to where you were. Boswell.“ Dr. Mayo is always taking a return post-chaise, and going the stage over again. He has it at half price.” Johnson. “ Dr. Mayo, like other champions for unlimited toleration, has got a set of words.' Sir, it is no matter, politically, whether the magistrate be right or wrong. Suppose a club were to be formed, to drink confusion to King George the Third, and a happy restoration to Charles the Third ; this would be very bad with respect to the State ; but every member of that club must either conform to its rules, or be turned out of it. Old Baxter, I remember, maintains, that the magistrate should“ tolerate all things that are tolerable.' This is no good definition of toleration upon any principle ; but it shews that he thought some
9 Dr. Mayo's calm temper and steady perseverance, rendered him an admirable subject for the exercise of Dr. Johnson's powerful abilities. He never flinched: but, after reiterated blows, remained seemingly unmoved as at the first. The scintillations of Johnson's genius flashed every time he was struck, without his receiving any injury. Hence he obtained the epithet of THE LITERARY ANYIL. VOL. II,
1773. things were not tolerable.” TOPLADY. “Sir, you Shave untwisted this difficult subject with great dexÆtat. 61.
During this argument, Goldsmith sat in restless agitation, from a wish to get in and shine. Finding himself excluded, he had taken his hat to go away, but remained for some time with it in his hand, like a gainester, who at the close of a long night, lingers for a little while, to see if he can have a favourable opening to finish with success.
Once when he was beginning to speak, he found himself overpowered by the loud voice of Johnson, who was at the opposite end of the table, and did not perceive Goldsmith's attempt. Thus disappointed of his wish to obtain the attention of the company, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat, looking angrily at Johnson, and exclaiming in a bitter tone, - Take it.” When Toplady was going to speak, Johnson uttered some sound, which led Goldsmith to think that he was beginning again, and taking the words from Toplady. Upon which, he seized this opportunity of venting his own envy and spleen, under the pretext of supporting another person :
Sir, (said he to Johnson,) the gentleman has heard you patiently for an hour; pray allow us now to hear him.” Johnson. (sternly) “Sir, I was not interrupting the gentleman. I was only giving him a signal of my attention. Sir, you are impertinent.” Goldsmith made no reply, but continued in the company for some time.
A gentleman present ventured to ask Dr. Johnson if there was not a material difference as to toleration of opinions which lead to action, and opinions merely speculative; for instance, would it be wrong
in the magistrate to tolerate those who preach against 1773. the doctrine of the TRINITY? Johnson was highly
Ætat. 64. offended, and said, "I wonder, Sir, how a gentleman of your piety can introduce this subject in a mixed company.” He told me afterwards, that the impropriety was, that perhaps some of the company might have talked on the subject in such terms as might have shocked him; or he might have been forced to appear in their eyes a narrow-minded man. The gentleman, with submissive deference, said, he had only hinted at the question from a desire to hear Dr. Johnson's opinion upon it. Johnson. “ Why then, Sir, I think that permitting men to preach any opinion contrary to the doctrine of the established church, tends in a certain degree, to lessen the authority of the church, and consequently, to lessen the influence of religion.” “ It may be considered, (said the gentleman,) whether it would not be poli-, tick to tolerate in such a case.” JOHNSON. Sir, we have been talking of right: this is another question. I think it is not politick to tolerate in such a case.”
Though he did not think it fit that so aweful a subject should be introduced in a mixed company, and therefore at this time waved the theological question ; yet his own orthodox belief in the sacred mystery of the TRINITY is evinced beyond doubt, by the following passage in his private devotions : “ O LORD, hear my prayer, for Jesus Christ's sake; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be all honour and glory, world without end, Amen.'"
Boswell. “ Pray, Mr. Dilly, how does Dr. Le
land's · History of Ireland sell :” Johnson. (bursting Ætat. 64.
forth with a generous indignation) “ The Irish are in a most unnatural state ; for we see there the minority prevailing over the majority. There is no instance, even in the ten persecutions, of such severity as that which the protestants of Ireland have exercised against the Catholicks. Did we tell them we have conquered them, it would be above board : to punish them by confiscation and other penalties, as rebels, was monstrous injustice. King William was not their lawful sovereign : he had not been acknowledged by the Parliament of Ireland, when they appeared in arms against him.”
I here suggested something favourable of the Roman Catholicks. TOPLADY. “Does not their invocation of saints suppose omnipresence in the saints." Joinson. “No, Sir; it supposes only pluri-presence; and when spirits are divested of matter, it seems probable that they should see with more extent than when in an embodied state. There is, therefore, no approach to an invasion of any of the divine attribures, in the invocation of saints. But I think it is will worship, and presumption. I see no command for it, and therefore think it is safer not to practise it."
He and Mr. Langton and I went together to THE Club, where we found Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, and some other members, and amongst them our fricnd Goldsmith, who sat silently brooding over Johnson's reprimand to him after dinner. Johnson perceived this, and said aside to some of us. “ I'll make Goldsmith forgive me; and then called to him in a loud voice, “Dr. Goldsmith, --something passed