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206 SAMUEL JOHNSON

grace\ when you feel what I have felt in ap- proaching eternity, in fear of soon hearing the sentence of which there is no revocation, you will know the folly ; my wish is that you may know it sooner. The distance between the grave and the remotest point of human longevity is but a very little ; and of that little no path is certain. You knew all this, and I thought that I knew it too; but I know it now with a new conviction. May that new conviction not be vain.

Unlimited obedience is due only to the Universal Father of Heaven and Earth. My parents may be mad or foolish; may be wicked and malicious ; may be erroneously religious or absurdly scrupulous. I am not bound to compliance with mandates, either positive or negative, which either religion condemns, or reason rejects. There wanders about the world a wild notion which extends over marriage more than over any other transaction. If Miss * * * followed a trade, would it be said that she was bound in conscience to give or refuse credit at her father's choice ? And is not marriage a thing in which she is more inter- ested, and has therefore more right of choice ? When I may suffer for my own crimes, when I may be sued for my own debts, I may judge

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