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author of these burlesque lines will recollect them; for they were produced extempore one evening while he and I were walking together in the diningroom at Eglingtoune Castle, in 1760, and I have never mentioned them to him since.
Johnson said once to me, “ Sir, I honour Derrick for his presence of mind. One night, when Floyd, (1) another poor author, was wandering about the streets in the night, he found Derrick fast asleep upon a bulk upon being suddenly waked, Derrick started up, My dear Floyd, I am sorry to see you in this destitute state: will you go home with me to my lodgings?" "
I again begged his advice as to my method of study at Utrecht. "Come," said he, “let us make a day of it. Let us go down to Greenwich and dine, and talk of it there." The following Saturday was fixed for this excursion.
As we walked along the Strand to-night, arm in arm, a woman of the town accosted us, in the usual enticing manner. "No, no, my girl," said Johnson, "it won't do." He, however, did not treat her with harshness; and we talked of the wretched life of such women, and agreed, that much more misery than happiness, upon the whole, is produced by illicit commerce between the sexes.
On Saturday, July 30., Dr. Johnson and I took a sculler at the Temple-stairs, and set out for Green
(1) [Thomas Floyd published, in 1760, "Bibliotheca Biographica; a Synopsis of Universal Biography," in three volumes, 8vo, and in 1760, a Translation of Du Fresnay's Chronological Tables of Universal History.]
wich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. JOHNSON." Most certainly, Sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, Sir, it is wonderful what a difference learning makes upon people even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much connected with it." “And yet,” said I, "people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to good advantage, without learning." JOHNSON. Why, Sir, that may be true in cases where learning cannot possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors." He then called to the boy, "What would you give, my lad, to know about the Argonauts ?" "Sir," said the boy, “I would give what I have." Johnson was much pleased with his answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me, "Sir,' said he, "a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has, to get knowledge."
We landed at the Old Swan (1), and walked
(1) The erection of a new London Bridge may render it useful to observe that, with the ebb-tide, it was dangerous to pass through, or shoot, the arches of the old bridge: passengers, therefore, landed above the bridge, and walked to some wharf below it. C.
["Shoot we the bridge!'. -the vent'rous boatmen cry "Shoot we the bridge!' th' exulting fare reply.
to Billingsgate, where we took oars and movea smoothly along the silver Thames. It was a very fine day. We were entertained with the immense number and variety of ships that were lying at anchor, and with the beautiful country on each side of the river.
I talked of preaching, and of the great success which those called methodists (1) have. JOHNSON.
Down the steep fall the headlong waters go,
Darts at the central arch, nor heeds the gulf beneath."
Canning's Loves of the Triangles.]
(1) All who are acquainted with the history of religion, (the most important, surely, that concerns the human mind,) know that the appellation of Methodists was first given to a society of students in the University of Oxford, who, about the year 1730, were distinguished by an earnest and methodical attention to devout exercises. This disposition of mind is not a novelty, or peculiar to any sect, but has been, and still may be, found in many Christians of every denomination. Johnson himself was, in a dignified manner, a methodist. In his Rambler, No. 110., he mentions with respect "the whole discipline of regulated piety;" and in his "Prayers and Meditations," many instances occur of his anxious examination into his spiritual state. That this religious earnestness, and in particular an observation of the influence of the Holy Spirit, has sometimes degenerated into folly, and sometimes been counterfeited for base purposes, cannot be denied. But it is not, therefore, fair to decry it when genuine. The principal argument, in reason and good sense, against methodism is, that it tends to debase human nature, and prevent the generous exertions of goodness, by an unworthy supposition that GOD will pay no regard to them; although it is positively said in the scriptures, that he "will regard every man according to his works." But I am happy to have it in my power to do justice to those whom it is the fashion to ridicule, without any knowledge of their tenets; and this I can do by quoting a passage from one of their best apologists, Mr. Milner, who thus expresses their doctrine upon this subject: "Justi. fied by faith, renewed in his faculties, and constrained by the
"Sir, it is owing to their expressing themselves in a plain and familiar manner, which is the only way to do good to the common people, and which clergymen of genius and learning ought to do from a principle of duty, when it is suited to their congregations; a practice, for which they will be praised by men of sense. To insist against drunkenness as a crime, because it debases reason, the noblest faculty of man, would be of no service to the common people: but to tell them that they may die in a fit of drunkenness, and shew them how dreadful that would be, cannot fail to make a deep impression. Sir, when your Scotch clergy give up their homely manner, religion will soon decay in that country." Let this observation, as Johnson meant it, be ever remembered.
I was much pleased to find myself with Johnson at Greenwich, which he celebrates in his "London" as a favourite scene. I had the poem in my pocket, and read the lines aloud with enthusiasm:
"On Thames's banks in silent thought we stood,
love of Christ, the believer moves in the sphere of love and gratitude, and all his duties flow more or less from this principle. And though they are accumulating for him in heaven a treasure of bliss proportioned to his faithfulness and activity, and it is by no means inconsistent with his principles to feel the force of this consideration, yet love itself sweetens every duty to his mind; and he thinks there is no absurdity in his feeling the love of GOD as the grand commanding principle of his life.". Essays on religious Subjects, &c., by Joseph Milner, A.M., Master of the Grammar School of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1789, p. 11. — B. -Joseph Milner was brother of Dr. Isaac Milner, who died Dean of Carlisle.-C.
He remarked that the structure of Greenwich Hospital was too magnificent for a place of charity, and that its parts were too much detached, to make one great whole.
Buchanan, he said, was a very fine poet (1); and observed, that he was the first who complimented a lady, by ascribing to her the different perfections of the heathen goddesses (2); but that Johnstone (3) improved upon this, by making his lady, at the same time, free from their defects.
He dwelt upon Buchanan's elegant verses to Mary Queen of Scots, Nympha Caledonia (4), &c. and spoke with enthusiasm of the beauty of Latin verse. "All the modern languages," said he, "cannot furnish so melodious a line as
'Formosam resonare doces Amarillida silvas.' "
Afterwards he entered upon the business of the day, which was to give me his advice as to a course of study. And here I am to mention, with much regret, that my record of what he said is miserably scanty. I recollect with admiration an animating
(2) Epigram, Lib. II. "In Elizabeth, Angliæ Reg.' suspect that the author's memory here deceived him, and that Johnson said, "the first modern poet;" for there is a wellknown Epigram in the "Anthologia," containing this kind of eulogy.-M.
(3) Arthur Johnstone, born near Aberdeen in 1587, an elegant Latin poet. His principal works are a volume of epigrams (in which is to be found that to which Dr. Johnson alludes,) and a Latin paraphrase of the Psalms. He died at Oxford in 1641.-C.
(4) ["Nympha Caledoniæ quæ nunc feliciter oræ
Missa per innumeros sceptra tueris avos," &c.]