« PrejšnjaNaprej »
In justice, however, to the memory of Mr. Derrick, who was my first tutor in the ways of London, and shewed me the town in all its variety of departments, both literary and sportive, the particulars of which Dr. Johnson advised me to put in writing, it is proper to mention what Johnson, at a subsequent period, said of him both as a writer and an editor : 'Sir, I have often said, that if Derrick's letters' had been written by one of a more established name, they would have been thought very pretty letters?' And, 'I sent Derrick to Dryden's relations to gather materials for his life; and I believe he got all that I myself should have got?'
Poor Derrick! I remember him with kindness. Yet I cannot with-hold from my readers a pleasant humourous sally which could not have hurt him had he been alive, and now is perfectly harmless. In his collection of poems, there is one upon entering the harbour of Dublin, his native city, after a long absence. It begins thus :
' Eblana! much lov'd city, hail !
And after a solemn reflection on his being numbered with forgotten dead,' there is the following stanza :
Unless my lines protract my fame,
And those, who chance to read them, cry,
In yonder tomb his ashes lie.'
Which was thus happily parodied by Mr. John Home, to whom we owe the beautiful and pathetick tragedy of Douglas:
A day at Greenwich.
I doubt much whether the amiable and ingenious author of these burlesque lines will recollect them, for they were produced extempore one evening while he and I were walking together in the dining-room at Eglintoune 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', another poor authour, was wandering about the streets in the night, he found Derrick fast asleep upon a bulka; 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 Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greck 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
· He published a biographical of June 10, in which is described the work, containing an account of dinner given by S- to the poor eminent writers, in three vols. 8vo. authors, of one of them it is said :BOSWELL.
. The only secret which he ever kept 2 'Thus the soft gifts of sleep con was the place of his lodgings; but it clude the day,
was believed that during the heats And stretched on bulks, as of summer he commonly took his usual, poets lay.
repose upon a bulk. Johnson de. The Dunciad, ii. 420. fines bulk as a part of a building In Humphry Clinker, in the Letter jutting out.
The desire of knowledge.
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', and walked to Billingsgate, where we took oars, and moved 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 Methodists3 have, JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is owing to their
Knowledge is certainly one of the means of pleasure, as is confessed by the natural desire which every mind feels of increasing its ideas ... without knowing why we always rejoice when we learn, and grieve when we forget.' Rasselas, ch. xi.
? In the days of Old London Bridge, as Mr. Croker points out, even when the tide would have allowed passengers to shoot it, those who were prudent landed above the bridge, and walked to some wharf below it.
3 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 oco cur 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
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
sense against methodism is, that it Oxford to Wesley and his followers, tends to debase human nature, and continues : -' One person with less prevent the generous exertions of
irreverence and more learning obgoodness, by an unworthy supposi- served, in reference to their methodition that God will pay no regard to cal manner of life, that a new sect of them; although it is positively said Methodists was sprung up, alluding in the scriptures that He will reward to the ancient school of physicians every man according to his works.' known by that name.' Wesley, in (St. Matthew xvi. 27.) But I am 1744, wrote The Humble Address happy to have it [in] my power to do to the King of the Societies in derijustice to those whom it is the fashion sion called Methodists. Journal, i. to ridicule, without any knowledge of 437. He often speaks of the people their tenets; and this I can do by called Methodists,' but sometimes he quoting a passage from one of their uses the term without any qualifibest apologists, Mr. Milner, who thus cation. Mrs. Thrale, in 1780, wrote expresses their doctrine upon this to Johnson :-Methodist is consubject. “Justified by faith, renewed sidered always a term of reproach, I in his faculties, and constrained by trust, because I never yet did hear the love of Christ, their believer that any one person called himself moves in the sphere of love and gra a Methodist.' Piozzi Letters, ii. titude, and all his duties flow more or 119. less from this principle. And though Wesley said :-'We should conthey are accumulating for him in stantly use the most common, little, heaven a treasure of bliss propor easy words (so they are pure and tioned to his faithfulness and activity, proper) which our language affords. and it is by no means inconsistent When first I talked at Oxford to with his principles to feel the force of plain people in the Castle (the prithis consideration, yet love itself son) or the town, I observed they sweetens every duty to his mind; gaped and stared. This quickly and he thinks there is no absurdity obliged me to alter my style, and in his feeling the love of God as the adopt the language of those I spoke grand commanding principle of his to; and yet there is a dignity in their life.' Essays on several religious simplicity, which is not disagreeable to Subjects, &c., by Joseph Milner, those of the highest rank.' Southey's A.M., Master of the Grammar School Wesley, i. 431. See post, 1770, in Dr. of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1789, p. u. Maxwell's Collectanea, Oct. 12, 1779, BOSWELL. Southey (Life of Wesley, Aug. 30, 1780, and Boswell's Hebrides, i. 41), mentioning the names given at Nov. 10, 1773.
A course of study.
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 :
We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth.' 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; and observed, that he was the first who complimented a lady, by ascribing to her the different perfections of the heathen goddesses?; but that Johnston' 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 Caledoniæ, &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 blaze of eloquence, which rouzed every intellectual power in me to the highest pitch, but must have dazzled me so much, that my memory could not preserve the substance of his discourses; for
In the original, struck.
Epigram, Lib. i. 'In Elizabeth. Angliæ Reg. MALONE.
3 See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 23.
* Virgil, Eclogues, i. 5. Johnson, when a boy, turned the line thus:* And the wood rings with Amaril
lis' name. Ante, p. 51.
5 Boswell said of Paoli's talk about great men :—'I regret that the fire with which he spoke upon such occasions so dazzled me, that I could not recollect his sayings, so as to write them down when I retired from his presence.' Corsica, p. 197.