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THE LIFE OF
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
HAVING left Ashbourne in the evening, we stopped to change horses at Derby, and availed ourselves of a moment to enjoy the conversation of my countryman, Dr. Butter, then phy, sician there. He was in great indignation because Lord Mountstuart's bill for a Scotch militia had been lost. Dr. Johnson was as violent against it. 'I am glad, (said he,) that Parliament has had the spirit to throw it out. You wanted to take advantage of the timidity of our scoundrels;' (meaning, I suppose, the ministry). It may be observed, that he used the epithet scoundrel very commonly not quite in the sense in which it is generally understood, but as a strong term of disapprobation; as when he abruptly answered Mrs. Thrale, who had asked him how he did, 'Ready to become a scoundrel, Madam ; with a little more spoiling you will, I think, make me a complete rascal 1 : ' he meant, easy to become a capricious and self-indulgent valetudinarian; a character for which I have heard him express great disgust.
Johnson had with him upon this jaunt, Il Palmerino d'Inghilterra, a romance praised by Cervantes; but did not like it much. He said, he read it for the language, by way of preparation for his Italian expedition.-We lay this night at Loughborough.
On Thursday, March 28, we pursued our journey. I mentioned that old Mr. Sheridan complained of the ingratitude of Mr. Wedderburne and General Fraser, who had been much obliged to him when they were young Scotchmen entering upon life in England. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, a man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him. A man when he gets into a higher sphere, into other habits of life, cannot keep up all his former connections. Then, Sir, those who knew him formerly upon a level with themselves, may think that they ought still to be
· Anecdotes of Johnson, p. 176.