io6 SAMUEL JOHNSON
asked, with equal propriety, On what they can be thinking? . . .
To every act a subject is required. He that thinks, must think upon something. But tell me, ye that pierce deepest into nature, ye that take the widest surveys of life, inform me, kind shades of Malebranche and of Locke, what that something can be, which excites and continues thought in maiden aunts with small fortunes ; in younger brothers that live upon annuities ; in traders retired from business ; in soldiers absent from their regiments; or in widows that have no children ?
Life is commonly considered as either active or contemplative ; but surely this division, how long soever it has been received, is inadequate and fallacious. There are mortals whose life is certainly not active, for they do neither good nor evil; and whose life cannot be properly called contemplative, for they never attend either to the conduct of men, or the works of nature, but rise in the morning, look round them till night in careless stupidity, go to bed and sleep, and rise again in the morning.
It has been lately a celebrated question in the schools of philosophy, Whether the soul always thinks? Some have defined the soul to be the power of thinking; concluded that its essence consists in act ; that, if it should cease