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 have. JOHNSON. “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 à 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 show them how dreadful that would be, cannot fail to make a

· 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 de. vouť 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 denomina. tion. 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 es. • amination into his spiritual state. That this religious earnestness, and in parti.

cular 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 reward 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 å passage from one of their best apologists, Mr. Milner, who thùs expresses their doctrine upon this subject: “ Justified by faith, renewed in his faculties, and constrained by the love of Christ, their believer moves in the sphere of love and gratitude, and all his dulies 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 ling the love of God as the grand commanding principle of his life.” Essays on several religious Subjects, &c. by Joseph Milner, A. M. master of the grammar school of Kingston-uponTull, 1789, p. 11.-BOSWELL. [Mr. Joseph Milner was brother of Dr. Isaac Milner, who died Dean of Carlisle. -Ed.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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,

Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood :
Pleased with the seat which gave Eliza birth,

We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth.”
He remarked that the structure of Greenwich hos-
pital was too magnificent for a place of charity, and
that its parts were too much detached, to make one
great whole 1

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 3 ; but that Johnstone * 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. the modern languages (said he) cannot furnish so melodious a line as

[merged small][ocr errors]

Formosam resonare doces Amarillida silvas." Afterwards he entered upon the business of the

66. All

* [A very just criticism, which, considering Johnson's defective vision, and his consequent imperfect judgment on all the fine arts, may be suspected to have been suggested to him by his friend Mr. Gwynne, the architect -Ed.]

? [See post, sub. 30th March, 1783.- ED.]

3 Epigram, Lib. II. “In Elizabeth. Angliæ Reg."-I suspect that the authour's memory here deceived him, and that Johnson said, “ the first modern poet ;” for there is a well known Epigram in the ANTHOLOGIA, containing this kind of eulogy.-MALONE.

4 [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.-ED.]

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 roused 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 discourse; for the note which I find of it is no more than this:-“ He ran over the grand scale of human knowledge; advised me to select some particwar branch to excel in, but to acquire a little of every kind.” The defect of my minutes will be fully supplied by a long letter upon the subject, which he favoured me with, after I had been some time at "Utrecht, and which my readers will have the pleasure to peruse in its proper place.

We walked in the evening in Greenwich park. He asked me, I suppose, by way of trying my disposition, “ Is not this very fine?” Having no exquisite relish of the beauties of nature, and being more delighted with “the busy hum of men,” I answered “ Yes, sir; but not equal to Fleet-street.” JOHNSON. “You are right, sir.” I am aware that



may censure my want of taste. Let, me, however, shelter myself under the authority of a very fashionable baronet'in the brilliant world, who, on his attention being called to the fragrance of a May evening in the country, observed, “ This



very well; but for my part I prefer the smell of a flambeau at the playhouse."

· My friend Sir Michael Le Fleming. This gentleman, with all his experience of sprightly and elegant life, inherits, with the beautiful family domain, no inconsiderable share of that love of literature which distinguished his venerable grandfather, the Bishop of Carlisle. He one day observed to me, of Dr. Johnson, in a felicity of phrase, “ There is a blunt dignity about him on every occasion.”_Boswell.

Sir Michael Le Fleming died of an apoplectick fit, while conversing at the Admiralty with Lord Howick (now the Earl Grey), May 19, 1806.-Ma


We staid so long at Greenwich, that our sail up the river, in our return to London, was by no means: so pleasant as in the morning; for the night air was so cold that it made me shiver. I was the more sensible of it from having sat up all the night before recollecting and writing in my Journal what I thought worthy of preservation; an exertion which, during the first part of my acquaintance with Johnson, I. frequently made. I remember having sat up four nights in one week, without being much incommoded in the daytime.

Johnson, whose robust frame was not in the least affected by the cold, scolded me, as if my shivering had been a paltry effeminacy, saying, “ Why do you shiver ?" Sir William Scott, of the commons, told me, that when he complained of a head-ache in the post-chaise, as they were travelling together to Scotland, Johnson treated him in the same manner: “At your age, sir, I had no head-ache."

It is not easy to make allowance for sensations in others, which we ourselves have not at the time. · We must all have experienced how very differently we are affected by the complaints of our neighbours, when we are well and when we are ill. In full health, we can scarcely believe that they suffer much; so faint is the image of pain upon our imagination: when softened by. sickness, we readily sympathize with the sufferings of others.

We concluded the day at the Turk's-head coffeehouse very socially. He was pleased to listen to a particular account which I gave him of my family, and of its hereditary estate, as to the extent and population of which he asked questions, and made calculations ; recommending, at the same time, a liberal kindness to the tenantry, as people over whom the proprietor was placed by Providence. He took delight in hearing my description of the romantick seat of my ancestors. “I must be there, sir (said he), and we will live in the old castle; and if there is not a room in it remaining, we will build one." I was highly flattered, but could scarcely indulge a hope that Auchinleck would indeed be honoured by his presence, and celebrated by a description, as it afterwards was, in his “ Journey to the Western Islands."

' [Now Lord Stowell, who accompanied Dr. Johrson from Newcastle to Edinburgh in 1773..ED.)

After we had again talked of my setting out for Holland, he said, “I must see thee out of England; I will accompany you to Harwich.” I could not find words to express what I felt upon this unexpected and very great mark of his affectionate regard.

Next day, Sunday, July 31, I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. JOHNSON. “Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

On Tuesday, August 2, (the day of my departure from London having been fixed for the 5th,) Dr. Johrson did me the honour to pass a part of the morning with me at my chambers. He said, that “ he always felt an inclination to do nothing." I observed, that it was strange to think that the most indolent man in Britain had written the most laborious work, THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY.

I mentioned an imprudent publication, by a certain friend of his, at an early period of life, and asked him if he thought it would hurt him. JOHNSON. “No, sir; not much. It may, perhaps, be mentioned at an election?."

[This probably alludes to Mr. Burke's “ Vindication of Natural Society," a

« VorigeDoorgaan »