Life Of Johnson, Volume 5
by Boswell
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'Cerberus haec ingens latratu regna trifauci Personat.' Aeneid, vi. 417.

[845] It was in 1763 that Boswell made Johnson's acquaintance. Ante, i. 391.

[846] It is no small satisfaction to me to reflect, that Dr. Johnson read this, and, after being apprized of my intention, communicated to me, at subsequent periods, many particulars of his life, which probably could not otherwise have been preserved. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 26.

[847] Though Mull is, as Johnson says, the third island of the Hebrides in extent, there was no post there. Piozzi Letters, i. 170.

[848] This observation is very just. The time for the Hebrides was too late by a month or six weeks. I have heard those who remembered their tour express surprise they were not drowned. WALTER SCOTT.

[849] The Charmer, a Collection of Songs Scotch and English. Edinburgh, 1749.

[850] By Thomas Willis, M.D. It was published in 1672. 'In this work he maintains that the soul of brutes is like the vital principle in man, that it is corporeal in its nature and perishes with the body. Although the book was dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury, his orthodoxy, a matter that Willis regarded much, was called in question.' Knight's Eng. Cyclo. vi. 741. Burnet speaks of him as 'Willis, the great physician.' History of his Own Time, ed. 1818, i. 254. See Wood's Athenae, iii. 1048.

[851] See ante, ii. 409 and iii. 242, where he said:—'Had I learnt to fiddle, I should have done nothing else.'

[852] Ante, p. 277.

[853] Ante, p. 181.

[854] Mr. Langton thinks this must have been the hasty expression of a splenetick moment, as he has heard Dr. Johnson speak of Mr. Spence's judgment in criticism with so high a degree of respect, as to shew that this was not his settled opinion of him. Let me add that, in the preface to the Preceptor, he recommends Spence's Essay on Papers Odyssey, and that his admirable Lives of the English Poets are much enriched by Spence's Anecdotes of Pope. BOSWELL. For the Preceptor see ante, i. 192, and Johnson's Works, v. 240. Johnson, in his Life of Pope (ib. viii. 274), speaks of Spence as 'a man whose learning was not very great, and whose mind was not very powerful. His criticism, however, was commonly just; what he thought he thought rightly; and his remarks were recommended by his coolness and candour.' See ante, iv. 9, 63.

[855] 'She was the only interpreter of Erse poetry that I could ever find.' Johnson's Works, ix. 134. See ante, p. 241.

[856] 'After a journey difficult and tedious, over rocks naked and valleys untracked, through a country of barrenness and solitude, we came, almost in the dark, to the sea-side, weary and dejected, having met with nothing but waters falling from the mountains that could raise any image of delight.' Piozzi Letters, i. 170. 'It is natural, in traversing this gloom of desolation, to inquire, whether something may not be done to give nature a more cheerful face.' Johnson's Works, ix. 136.

[857] Ante, p. 19.

[858] See ante, i. 521.

[859] See ante, p. 212.

[860] Sir William Blackstone says, in his Commentaries, that 'he cannot find that ever this custom prevailed in England;' and therefore he is of opinion that it could not have given rise to Borough-English. BOSWELL. 'I cannot learn that ever this custom prevailed in England, though it certainly did in Scotland (under the name of mercketa or marcheta), till abolished by Malcolm III.' Commentaries, ed. 1778, ii. 83. Sir H. Maine, in his Early History of Institutions, p. 222, writes:—'Other authors, as Blackstone tells us, explained it ["Borough English"] by a supposed right of the Seigneur or lord, now very generally regarded as apocryphal, which raised a presumption of the eldest son's illegitimacy.'

[861] 'Macquarry was used to demand a sheep, for which he now takes a crown, by that inattention to the uncertain proportion between the value and the denomination of money, which has brought much disorder into Europe. A sheep has always the same power of supplying human wants, but a crown will bring, at one time more, at another less'. Johnson's Works, ix. 139.

[862] 'The house and the furniture are not always nicely suited. We were driven once, by missing a passage, to the hut of a gentleman, where, after a very liberal supper, when I was conducted to my chamber, I found an elegant bed of Indian cotton, spread with fine sheets. The accommodation was flattering; I undressed myself, and felt my feet in the mire. The bed stood upon the bare earth, which a long course of rain had softened to a puddle.' Works, ix. 98.

[863] Inchkenneth is a most beautiful little islet, of the most verdant green, while all the neighbouring shore of Greban, as well as the large islands of Colinsay and Ulva, are as black as heath and moss can make them. But Ulva has a good anchorage, and Inchkenneth is surrounded by shoals. It is now uninhabited. The ruins of the huts, in which Dr. Johnson was received by Sir Allan M'Lean, were still to be seen, and some tatters of the paper hangings were to be seen on the walls. Sir G. O. Paul was at Inchkenneth with the same party of which I was a member. [See Lockhart's Scott, ed. 1839, iii. 285.] He seemed to suspect many of the Highland tales which he heard, but he showed most incredulity on the subject of Johnson's having been entertained in the wretched huts of which we saw the ruins. He took me aside, and conjured me to tell him the truth of the matter. 'This Sir Allan,' said he, 'was he a regular baronet, or was his title such a traditional one as you find in Ireland?' I assured my excellent acquaintance that, 'for my own part, I would have paid more respect to a knight of Kerry, or knight of Glynn; yet Sir Allan M'Lean was a regular baronet by patent;' and, having giving him this information, I took the liberty of asking him, in return, whether he would not in conscience prefer the worst cell in the jail at Gloucester (which he had been very active in overlooking while the building was going on) to those exposed hovels where Johnson had been entertained by rank and beauty. He looked round the little islet, and allowed Sir Allan had some advantage in exercising ground; but in other respects he thought the compulsory tenants of Gloucester had greatly the advantage. Such was his opinion of a place, concerning which Johnson has recorded that 'it wanted little which palaces could afford.' WALTER SCOTT.

[864] 'Sir Allan's affairs are in disorder by the fault of his ancestors, and while he forms some scheme for retrieving them he has retreated hither.' Piozzi Letters i. 172.

[865] By Francis Gastrell, Bishop of Chester, published in 1707.

[866] Travels through different cities of Germany, &c.,, by Alexander Drummond. Horace Walpole, on April 24, 1754 (Letters, ii. 381), mentions 'a very foolish vulgar book of travels, lately published by one Drummond, consul at Aleppo.'

[867] Physico-Theology; or a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God from his Works of Creation. By William Derham, D.D., 1713. Voltaire, in Micromegas, ch. I, speaking of 'l'illustre vicaire Derham' says:—'Malheureusement, lui et ses imitateurs se trompent souvent dans l'exposition de ces merveilles; ils s'extasient sur la sagesse qui se montre dans l'ordre d'un phenomene et on decouvre que ce phenomene est tout different de ce qu'ils ont suppose; alors c'est ce nouvel ordre qui leur parait un chef d'oeuvre de sagesse.'

[868] This work was published in 1774. Johnson said on March 20, 1776 (ante, ii. 447), 'that he believed Campbell's disappointment on account of the bad success of that work had killed him.'

[869] Johnson said of Campbell:—'I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without pulling off his hat. This shows that he has good principles.' Ante, i. 418.

[870] New horse-shoeing Husbandry, by Jethro Tull, 1733.

[871] 'He owned he sometimes talked for victory.' Ante, iv. 111, and v. 17.

[872] 'They said that a great family had a bard and a senachi, who were the poet and historian of the house; and an old gentleman told me that he remembered one of each. Here was a dawn of intelligence.... Another conversation informed me that the same man was both bard and senachi. This variation discouraged me.... Soon after I was told by a gentleman, who is generally acknowledged the greatest master of Hebridian antiquities, that there had, indeed, once been both bards and senachies; and that senachi signified the man of talk, or of conversation; but that neither bard nor senachi had existed for some centuries.' Johnson's Works, ix. 109.

[873] See ante, iii. 41, 327

[874] 'Towards evening Sir Allan told us that Sunday never passed over him like another day. One of the ladies read, and read very well, the evening service;—"and Paradise was opened in the wild."' Piozzi Letters, i. 173. The quotation is from Pope's Eloisa to Abelard, l. 134:—

'You raised these hallowed walls; the desert smil'd, And Paradise was open'd in the wild.'

[875] He sent these verses to Boswell in 1775. Ante ii. 293.

[876] Boswell wrote to Johnson on Feb. 2, 1775, (ante, ii. 295):—'Lord Hailes bids me tell you he doubts whether—

"Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces,"

be according to the rubrick, but that is your concern; for you know, he is a Presbyterian.'

[877] In Johnson's Works, i. 167, these lines are given with amendments and additions, mostly made by Johnson, but some, Mr. Croker believes, by Mr. Langton. In the following copy the variations are marked in italics.

INSULA KENNETHI, INTER HEBRIDAS. Parva quidem regio sed religione priorum Clara Caledonias panditur inter aquas. Voce ubi Cennethus populos domuisse feroces Dicitur, et vanos dedocuisse deos. Huc ego delatus placido per caerula cursu, Scire locus volui quid daret iste novi. Illic Leniades humili regnabat in aula, Leniades, magnis nobilitatus avis. Una duas cepit casa cum genitore puellas, Quas Amor undarum crederet esse deas. Nec tamen inculti gelidis latuere sub antris, Accola Danubii qualia saevus habet. Mollia non desunt vacuae solatia vitae Sive libros poscant otia, sive lyram. Fulserat illa dies, legis qua docta supernae Spes hominum et curas gens procul esse jubet. Ut precibus justas avertat numinis iras, Et summi accendat pectus amore boni. Ponti inter strepitus non sacri munera cultus Cessarunt, pietas hic quoque cura fuit. Nil opus est oeris sacra de turre sonantis Admonitu, ipsa suas nunciat hora vices. Quid, quod sacrifici versavit foemina libros? Sint pro legitimis pura labella sacris. Quo vagor ulterius? quod ubique requiritur hic est, Hic secura quies, hic et honestus amor.

Mr. Croker says of the third line from the end, that in a copy of these verses in Johnson's own hand which he had seen, 'Johnson had first written

Sunt pro legitimis pectora pura sacris.

He then wrote

Legitimas faciunt pura labella preces.

That line was erased, and the line as it stands in the Works is substituted in Mr. Langton's hand, as is also an alteration in the 16th line, velit into jubet.' Jubet however is in the copy as printed by Boswell. Mr. Langton edited some, if not all, of Johnson's Latin poems. (Ante, iv. 384.)

[878] 'Boswell, who is very pious, went into the chapel at night to perform his devotions, but came back in haste for fear of spectres.' Piozzi Letters, i. 173.

[879] Ante p. 169.

[880] John Gerves, or John the Giant, of whom Dr. Johnson relates a curious story; Works ix. 119.

[881] Lord Chatham in the House of Lords, on Nov. 22, 1770, speaking of 'the honest, industrious tradesman, who holds the middle rank, and has given repeated proofs that he prefers law and liberty to gold,' had said:—'I love that class of men. Much less would I be thought to reflect upon the fair merchant, whose liberal commerce is the prime source of national wealth. I esteem his occupation, and respect his character.' Parl. Hist. xvi. 1107.

[882] See ante, iii. 382.

[883] He was born in Nordland in Sweden, in 1736. In 1768 he and Mr. Banks accompanied Captain Cook in his first voyage round the world. He died in 1782. Knight's Eng. Cyclo. v. 578. Miss Burney wrote of him in 1780:—'My father has very exactly named him, in calling him a philosophical gossip.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 305. Horace Walpole the same year, just after the Gordon Riots, wrote (Letters, vii. 403):—'Who is secure against Jack Straw and a whirlwind? How I abominate Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, who routed the poor Otaheitans out of the centre of the ocean, and carried our abominable passions amongst them! not even that poor little speck could escape European restlessness.' See ante ii. 148.

[884] Boswell tells this story again, ante, ii. 299. Mrs. Piozzi's account (Anec. p. 114) is evidently so inaccurate that it does not deserve attention; she herself admits that Beauclerk was truthful. In a marginal note on Wraxall's Memoirs, she says:—'Topham Beauclerk (wicked and profligate as he wished to be accounted), was yet a man of very strict veracity. Oh Lord! how I did hate that horrid Beauclerk!' Hayward's Piozzi, i. 348. Johnson testified to 'the correctness of Beauclerk's memory and the fidelity of his narrative.' Ante, ii. 405.

[885] 'Mr. Maclean of Col, having a very numerous family, has for some time past resided at Aberdeen, that he may superintend their education, and leaves the young gentleman, our friend, to govern his dominions with the full power of a Highland chief.' Johnson's Works, ix. 117.

[886] This is not spoken of hare-coursing, where the game is taken or lost before the dog gets out of wind; but in chasing deer with the great Highland greyhound, Col's exploit is feasible enough. WALTER SCOTT.

[887] See ante, pp. 45, III, for Monboddo's notion.

[888] Mme. Riccoboni in 1767 wrote to Garrick of the French:—'Un mensonge grossier les revolte. Si on voulait leur persuader que les Anglais vivent de grenouilles, meurent de faim, que leurs femmes sont barbouillees, et jurent par toutes les lettres de l'alphabet, ils leveraient les epaules, et s'ecriraient, quel sot ose ecrire ces miseres-la? mais a Londres, diantre cela prend!' Garrick Corres. ii. 524.

[889] Just opposite to M'Quarrie's house the boat was swamped by the intoxication of the sailors, who had partaken too largely of M'Quarrie's wonted hospitality. WALTER SCOTT. Johnson wrote from Lichfield on June 13, 1775;—'There is great lamentation here for the death of Col. Lucy [Miss Porter] is of opinion that he was wonderfully handsome.' Piozzi Letters, i. 235. See ante, ii. 287.

[890] Iona.

[891] See ante, p. 237.

[892] See ante, 111. 229.

[893] Sir James Mackintosh says (Life, ii. 257):—'Dr. Johnson visited Iona without looking at Staffa, which lay in sight, with that indifference to natural objects, either of taste or scientific curiosity, which characterised him.' This is a fair enough sample of much of the criticism under which Johnson's reputation has suffered.

[894] Smollett in Humphry Clinker (Letter of Sept. 3) describes a Highland funeral. 'Our entertainer seemed to think it a disparagement to his family that not above a hundred gallons of whisky had been drunk upon such a solemn occasion.

[895] 'We then entered the boat again; the night came upon us; the wind rose; the sea swelled; and Boswell desired to be set on dry ground: we, however, pursued our navigation, and passed by several little islands in the silent solemnity of faint moon-shine, seeing little, and hearing only the wind and water.' Piozzi Letters, i. 176.

[896] Cicero De Finibus, ii. 32.

[897] I have lately observed that this thought has been elegantly expressed by Cowley:—

'Things which offend when present, and affright, In memory, well painted, move delight.'


The lines are found in the Ode upon His Majesty's Restoration and Return, stanza 12. They may have been suggested by Virgil's lines—

'Revocate animos, maestumque timorem Mittite; forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit.'

Aeneid, i. 202.

[898] Had our Tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. The present respectable President of the Royal Society was so much struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in an attitude of silent admiration, BOSWELL. Boswell again quotes this passage (which is found in Johnson's Works, ix. 145), ante, iii. 173. The President was Sir Joseph Banks, Johnson says in Rasselas, ch. xi:—'That the supreme being may be more easily propitiated in one place than in another is the dream of idle superstition; but that some places may operate upon our own minds in an uncommon manner is an opinion which hourly experience will justify. He who supposes that his vices may be more successfully combated in Palestine will, perhaps, find himself mistaken, yet he may go thither without folly; he who thinks they will be more freely pardoned dishonours at once his reason and religion.'

[899] 'Sir Allan went to the headman of the island, whom fame, but fame delights in amplifying, represents as worth no less than fifty pounds. He was, perhaps, proud enough of his guests, but ill prepared for our entertainment; however he soon produced more provision than men not luxurious require.' Johnson's Works, ix. 146.

[900] An Account of the Isle of Man. With a voyage to I-Columb-Kill. By W. Sacheverell, Esq., late Governour of Man. 1702.

[901] 'He that surveys it [the church-yard] attended by an insular antiquary may be told where the kings of many nations are buried, and if he loves to soothe his imagination with the thoughts that naturally rise in places where the great and the powerful lie mingled with the dust, let him listen in submissive silence; for if he asks any questions his delight is at an end.' Johnson's Works, ix. 148.

[902] On quitting the island Johnson wrote: 'We now left those illustrious ruins, by which Mr. Boswell was much affected, nor would I willingly be thought to have looked upon them without some emotion.' Ib. p. 150.

[903] Psalm xc. 4.

[904] Boswell wrote on Nov. 9, 1767:—'I am always for fixing some period for my perfection as far as possible. Let it be when my account of Corsica is published; I shall then have a character which I must support.' Letters of Boswell, p. 122. Five weeks later he wrote:—'I have been as wild as ever;' and then comes a passage which the Editor has thought it needful to suppress. Ib.p.128.

[905] Boswell here speaks as an Englishman. He should have written 'a M'Ginnis.' See ante, p. 135, note 3.

[906] 'The fruitfulness of Iona is now its whole prosperity. The inhabitants are remarkably gross, and remarkably neglected; I know not if they are visited by any minister. The island, which was once the metropolis of learning and piety, has now no school for education, nor temple for worship, only two inhabitants that can speak English, and not one that can write or read.' Johnson's Works, ix. 149. Scott, who visited it in 1810, writes:—'There are many monuments of singular curiosity, forming a strange contrast to the squalid and dejected poverty of the present inhabitants.' Lockhart's Scott, ed. 1839, iii. 285. In 1814, on a second visit, he writes:—'Iona, the last time I saw it, seemed to me to contain the most wretched people I had anywhere seen. But either they have got better since I was here, or my eyes, familiarized with the wretchedness of Zetland and the Harris, are less shocked with that of Iona.' He found a schoolmaster there. Ib. iv. 324.

[907] Johnson's Jacobite friend, Dr. King (ante, i. 279), says of Pulteney, on his being made Earl of Bath:—'He deserted the cause of his country; he betrayed his friends and adherents; he ruined his character, and from a most glorious eminence sunk down to a degree of contempt. The first time Sir Robert (who was now Earl of Orford) met him in the House of Lords, he threw out this reproach:—"My Lord Bath, you and I are now two as insignificant men as any in England." In which he spoke the truth of my Lord Bath, but not of himself. For my Lord Orford was consulted by the ministers to the last day of his life.' King's Anec. p. 43.

[908] See ante, i. 431, and iii. 326.

[909] 'Sir Robert Walpole detested war. This made Dr. Johnson say of him, "He was the best minister this country ever had, as, if we would have let him (he speaks of his own violent faction), he would have kept the country in perpetual peace."' Seward's Biographiana, p. 554. See ante, i. 131.

[910] See ante, iii. Appendix C.

[911] I think it incumbent on me to make some observation on this strong satirical sally on my classical companion, Mr. Wilkes. Reporting it lately from memory, in his presence, I expressed it thus:—'They knew he would rob their shops, if he durst; they knew he would debauch their daughters, if he could;' which, according to the French phrase, may be said rencherir on Dr. Johnson; but on looking into my Journal, I found it as above, and would by no means make any addition. Mr. Wilkes received both readings with a good humour that I cannot enough admire. Indeed both he and I (as, with respect to myself, the reader has more than once had occasion to observe in the course of this Journal,) are too fond of a bon mot, not to relish it, though we should be ourselves the object of it.

Let me add, in justice to the gentleman here mentioned, that at a subsequent period, he was elected chief magistrate of London [in 1774], and discharged the duties of that high office with great honour to himself, and advantage to the city. Some years before Dr. Johnson died, I was fortunate enough to bring him and Mr. Wilkes together; the consequence of which was, that they were ever afterwards on easy and not unfriendly terms. The particulars I shall have great pleasure in relating at large in my Life of Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL. In the copy of Boswell's Letter to the People of Scotland in the British Museum is entered in Boswell's own hand—

'Comes jucundus in via pro vehiculo est.

To John Wilkes, Esq.: as pleasant a companion as ever lived. From the Author.

—will my Wilkes retreat, And see, once seen before, that ancient seat, etc.'

See ante, iii. 64, 183; iv. 101, 224, note 2.

[912] See ante, iv. 199.

[913] Our afternoon journey was through a country of such gloomy desolation that Mr. Boswell thought no part of the Highlands equally terrifick.' Johnson's Works, ix. 150.

[914] Johnson describes Lochbuy as 'a true Highland laird, rough and haughty, and tenacious of his dignity: who, hearing my name, inquired whether I was of the Johnstons of Glencoe (sic) or of Ardnamurchan.' Ib.

[915] Boswell totally misapprehended Lochbuy's meaning. There are two septs of the powerful clan of M'Donaid, who are called Mac-Ian, that is John's-son; and as Highlanders often translate their names when they go to the Lowlands,—as Gregor-son for Mac-Gregor, Farquhar-son for Mac-Farquhar,—Lochbuy supposed that Dr. Johnson might be one of the Mac-Ians of Ardnamurchan, or of Glencro. Boswell's explanation was nothing to the purpose. The Johnstons are a clan distinguished in Scottish border history, and as brave as any Highland clan that ever wore brogues; but they lay entirely out of Lochbuy's knowledge—nor was he thinking of them. WALTER SCOTT.

[916] This maxim, however, has been controverted. See Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. ii. p. 291; and the authorities there quoted. BOSWELL. 'Blackstone says:—From these loose authorities, which Fitzherbert does not hesitate to reject as being contrary to reason, the maxim that a man shall not stultify himself hath been handed down as settled law; though later opinions, feeling the inconvenience of the rule, have in many points endeavoured to restrain it.' Ib. p. 292.

[917] Begging pardon of the Doctor and his conductor, I have often seen and partaken of cold sheep's head at as good breakfast-tables as ever they sat at. This protest is something in the manner of the late Culrossie, who fought a duel for the honour of Aberdeen butter. I have passed over all the Doctor's other reproaches upon Scotland, but the sheep's head I will defend totis viribus. Dr. Johnson himself must have forgiven my zeal on this occasion; for if, as he says, dinner be the thing of which a man thinks oftenest during the day, breakfast must be that of which he thinks first in the morning. WALTER SCOTT. I do not know where Johnson says this. Perhaps Scott was thinking of a passage in Mrs. Piozzi's Anec. p. 149, where she writes that he said: 'A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of any thing than he does of his dinner.'

[918] A horrible place it was. Johnson describes it (Works, ix. 152) as 'a deep subterraneous cavity, walled on the sides, and arched on the top, into which the descent is through a narrow door, by a ladder or a rope.'

[919] See ante, p. 177.

[920] Sir Allan M'Lean, like many Highland chiefs, was embarrassed in his private affairs, and exposed to unpleasant solicitations from attorneys, called, in Scotland, writers (which indeed was the chief motive of his retiring to Inchkenneth). Upon one occasion he made a visit to a friend, then residing at Carron lodge, on the banks of the Carron, where the banks of that river are studded with pretty villas: Sir Allan, admiring the landscape, asked his friend, whom that handsome seat belonged to. 'M—-, the writer to the signet,' was the reply. 'Umph!' said Sir Allan, but not with an accent of assent, 'I mean that other house.' 'Oh ! that belongs to a very honest fellow Jamie—-, also a writer to the signet.' 'Umph!' said the Highland chief of M'Lean with more emphasis than before, 'And yon smaller house?' 'That belongs to a Stirling man; I forget his name, but I am sure he is a writer too; for—-.' Sir Allan who had recoiled a quarter of a circle backward at every response, now wheeled the circle entire and turned his back on the landscape, saying, 'My good friend, I must own you have a pretty situation here; but d—n your neighbourhood.' WALTER SCOTT.

[921] Loch Awe.

[922] 'Pope's talent lay remarkably in what one may naturally enough term the condensation of thoughts. I think no other English poet ever brought so much sense into the same number of lines with equal smoothness, ease, and poetical beauty. Let him who doubts of this peruse his Essay on Man with attention.' Shenstone's Essays on Men and Manners. [Works, 4th edit. ii. 159.] 'He [Gray] approved an observation of Shenstone, that "Pope had the art of condensing a thought."' Nicholls' Reminiscences of Gray, p. 37. And Swift [in his Lines on the death of Dr. Swift], himself a great condenser, says—

'In Pope I cannot read a line But with a sigh I wish it mine; When he can in one couplet fix More sense than I can do in six.'


[923] He is described by Walpole in his Letters, viii. 5.

[924] 'The night came on while we had yet a great part of the way to go, though not so dark but that we could discern the cataracts which poured down the hills on one side, and fell into one general channel, that ran with great violence on the other. The wind was loud, the rain was heavy, and the whistling of the blast, the fall of the shower, the rush of the cataracts, and the roar of the torrent, made a nobler chorus of the rough musick of nature than it had ever been my chance to hear before.' Johnson's Works, ix. 155. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'All the rougher powers of nature except thunder were in motion, but there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed any of the inconveniencies, to have had more light or less rain, for their co-operation crowded the scene and filled the mind.' Piozzi Letters, i. 177.

[925] I never tasted whiskey except once for experiment at the inn in Inverary, when I thought it preferable to any English malt brandy. It was strong, but not pungent, and was free from the empyreumatick taste or smell. What was the process I had no opportunity of inquiring, nor do I wish to improve the art of making poison pleasant.' Johnson's Works, ix. 52. Smollett, medical man though he was, looked upon whisky as anything but poison. 'I am told that it is given with great success to infants, as a cordial in the confluent small-pox.' Humphry Clinker. Letter of Sept. 3.

[926] Regale in this sense is not in Johnson's Dictionary. It was, however, a favourite word at this time. Thus, Mrs. Piozzi, in her Journey through France, ii. 297, says:—'A large dish of hot chocolate thickened with bread and cream is a common afternoon's regale here.' Miss Burney often uses the word.

[927] Boswell, in answering Garrick's letter seven months later, improved on this comparison. 'It was,' he writes, 'a pine-apple of the finest flavour, which had a high zest indeed among the heath-covered mountains of Scotia.' Garrick Corres. i. 621.

[928] See ante, p. 115.

[929] See ante, i. 97.

[930] 'Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane.' Macbeth, act v. sc. 8.


'From his first entrance to the closing scene Let him one equal character maintain.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet. l. 126.

[932] I took the liberty of giving this familiar appellation to my celebrated friend, to bring in a more lively manner to his remembrance the period when he was Dr. Johnson's pupil. BOSWELL.

[933] See ante, p. 129.

[934] Boswell is here quoting the Preface to the third edition of his Corsica:—'Whatever clouds may overcast my days, I can now walk here among the rocks and woods of my ancestors, with an agreeable consciousness that I have done something worthy.'

[935] See ante, i. 148, and post, Nov. 21.

[936] I have suppressed my friend's name from an apprehension of wounding his sensibility; but I would not withhold from my readers a passage which shews Mr. Garrick's mode of writing as the Manager of a Theatre, and contains a pleasing trait of his domestick life. His judgment of dramatick pieces, so far as concerns their exhibition on the stage, must be allowed to have considerable weight. But from the effect which a perusal of the tragedy here condemned had upon myself, and from the opinions of some eminent criticks, I venture to pronounce that it has much poetical merit; and its authour has distinguished himself by several performances which shew that the epithet poetaster was, in the present instance, much misapplied. BOSWELL. Johnson mentioned this quarrel between Garrick and the poet on March 25, 1773 (Piozzi Letters, i. 80). 'M—— is preparing a whole pamphlet against G——, and G—— is, I suppose, collecting materials to confute M——.' M—— was Mickle, the translator of the Lusiad and author of the Ballad of Cumnor Hall (ante, ii. 182). Had it not been for this 'poetaster,' Kenilworth might never have been written. Scott, in the preface, tells how 'the first stanza of Cunmor Hall had a peculiar species of enchantment for his youthful ear, the force of which is not even now entirely spent.' The play that was refused was the Siege of Marseilles. Ever since the success of Hughes's Siege of Damascus 'a siege had become a popular title' (ante, iii. 259, note 1).

[937] She could only have been away for the day; for in 1776 Garrick wrote:—'As I have not left Mrs. Garrick one day since we were married, near twenty-eight years, I cannot now leave her.' Garrick Corres. ii. 150.

[938] Dr. Morell once entered the school-room at Winchester College, 'in which some junior boys were writing their exercises, one of whom, struck no less with his air and manner than with the questions he put to them, whispered to his school-fellows, "Is he not a fine old Grecian?" The Doctor, overhearing this, turned hastily round and exclaimed, "I am indeed an old Grecian, my little man. Did you never see my head before my Thesaurus?"' The Praepostors, learning the dignity of their visitor, in a most respectful manner showed him the College. Wooll's Life of Dr. Warton, p. 329. Mason writing to Horace Walpole about some odes, says:—'They are so lopped and mangled, that they are worse now than the productions of Handel's poet, Dr. Morell.' Walpole's Letters, v. 420. Morell compiled the words for Handel's Oratorios.

[939] Ante, i. 148.

[940] I doubt whether any other instance can be found of love being sent to Johnson.

[941] The passage begins:—'A servant or two from a revering distance cast many a wishful look, and condole their honoured master in the language of sighs.' Hervey's Meditations, ed. 1748, i. 40.

[942] Ib. ii. 84.

[943] The Meditation was perhaps partly suggested by Swift's Meditation upon a Broomstick. Swift's Works (1803), iii. 275.

[944] Thomas Burnet of the Charterhouse, in his Sacred Theory of the Earth, ed. 1722, i. 85.

[945] See ante, i. 476, and ii. 73.

[946] Elizabeth Gunning, celebrated (like her sister, Lady Coventry) for her personal charms, had been previously Duchess of Hamilton, and was mother of Douglas, Duke of Hamilton, the competitor for the Douglas property with the late Lord Douglas: she was, of course, prejudiced against Boswell, who had shewn all the bustling importance of his character in the Douglas cause, and it was said, I know not on what authority, that he headed the mob which broke the windows of some of the judges, and of Lord Auchinleck, his father, in particular. WALTER SCOTT. See ante, ii. 50.

[947] See ante, i. 408, and ii. 329.

[948] She married the Earl of Derby, and was the great-grandmother of the present Earl. Burke's Peerage.

[949] See ante, iv. 248.

[950] Lord Macaulay's grandfather, Trevelyan's Macaulay, i. 6.

[951] See ante, p. 118.

[952] On reflection, at the distance of several years, I wonder that my venerable fellow-traveller should have read this passage without censuring my levity. BOSWELL.

[953] Ante, p. 151.

[954] See ante, i. 240.

[955] As this book is now become very scarce, I shall subjoin the title, which is curious:—The Doctrines of a Middle State between Death and the Resurrection: Of Prayers for the Dead: And the Necessity of Purification; plainly proved from the holy Scriptures, and the Writings of the Fathers of the Primitive Church: and acknowledged by several learned Fathers and Great Divines of the Church of England and others since the Reformation. To which is added, an Appendix concerning the Descent of the Soul of Christ into Hell, while his Body lay in the Grave. Together with the Judgment of the Reverend Dr. Hickes concerning this Book, so far as relates to a Middle State, particular Judgment, and Prayers for the Dead as it appeared in the first Edition. 'And a Manuscript of the Right Reverend Bishop Overall upon the Subject of a Middle State, and never before printed. Also, a Preservative against several of the Errors of the Roman Church, in six small Treatises. By the Honourable Archibald Campbell. Folio, 1721. BOSWELL.

[956] The release gained for him by Lord Townshend must have been from his last imprisonment after the accession of George I; for, as Mr. Croker points out, Townshend was not Secretary of State till 1714.

[957] See ante, iv. 286.

[958] He was the grandson of the first Marquis, who was beheaded by Charles II in 1661, and nephew of the ninth Earl, who was beheaded by James II in 1685. Burke's Peerage. He died on June 15, 1744, according to the Gent. Mag. xiv. 339; where he is described as 'the consecrated Archbishop of St. Andrews.' See ante, ii. 216.

[959] George Hickes, 1642-1715. A non-juror, consecrated in 1693 suffragan bishop of Thetford by three of the deprived non-juror bishops. Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xvii. 450. Burnet (Hist. of his own Time, iv. 303) describes him as 'an ill-tempered man, who was now [1712] at the head of the Jacobite party, and who had in several books promoted a notion, that there was a proper sacrifice made in the Eucharist.' Boswell mentions him, ante, iv. 287.

[960] See ante, ii. 458.

[961] This must be a mistake for He died.

[962] 'It is generally supposed that life is longer in places where there are few opportunities of luxury; but I found no instance here of extraordinary longevity. A cottager grows old over his oaten cakes like a citizen at a turtle feast. He is, indeed, seldom incommoded by corpulence, Poverty preserves him from sinking under the burden of himself, but he escapes no other injury of time.' Johnson's Works, ix. 81.

[963] Lady Lucy Graham, daughter of the second Duke of Montrose, and wife of Mr. Douglas, the successful claimant: she died in 1780, whence Boswell calls her 'poor Lady Lucy.' CROKER

[964] Her first husband was the sixth Duke of Hamilton and Brandon. On his death she refused the Duke of Bridgewater. She was the mother of four dukes—two of Hamilton and two of Argyle. Her sister married the Earl of Coventry. Walpole's Letters, ii. 259, note. Walpole, writing on Oct. 9, 1791, says that their story was amazing. 'The two beautiful sisters were going on the stage, when they were at once exalted almost as high as they could be, were Countessed and double-Duchessed.' Ib. ix. 358. Their maiden name was Gunning. The Duchess of Argyle was alive when Boswell published his Journal.

[965] See ante, iv. 397, and v. 210. It was Lord Macaulay's grandfather who was thus reprimanded. Mr. Trevelyan remarks (Life of Macaulay, i. 7), 'When we think what well-known ground this [subject] was to Lord Macaulay, it is impossible to suppress a wish that the great talker had been at hand to avenge his grandfather.' The result might well have been, however, that the great talker would have been reduced to silence—one of those brilliant flashes of silence for which Sydney Smith longed, but longed in vain.

[966] See ante, ii. 264, note 2.

[967] See ante, iv. 8, for his use of 'O brave!'

[968] Having mentioned, more than once, that my Journal was perused by Dr. Johnson, I think it proper to inform my readers that this is the last paragraph which he read. BOSWELL. He began to read it on August 18 (ante, p. 58, note 2).

[969] See ante, ii. 320.

[970] Act i. sc. 1. The best known passage in Douglas is the speech beginning 'My name is Norval.' Act ii. The play affords a few quotations more or less known, as:—

'I found myself As women wish to be who love their lords.' Act i.

'He seldom errs Who thinks the worse he can of womankind.' Act iii.

'Honour, sole judge and umpire of itself.' Act iv.

'Unknown I die; no tongue shall speak of me. Some noble spirits, judging by themselves, May yet conjecture what I might have proved, And think life only wanting to my fame.' Act v.

'An honest guardian, arbitrator just Be thou; thy station deem a sacred trust. With thy good sword maintain thy country's cause; In every action venerate its laws: The lie suborn'd if falsely urg'd to swear, Though torture wait thee, torture firmly bear; To forfeit honour, think the highest shame, And life too dearly bought by loss of fame; Nor to preserve it, with thy virtue give That for which only man should wish to live.'

[Satires, viii. 79.]

For this and the other translations to which no signature is affixed, I am indebted to the friend whose observations are mentioned in the notes, pp. 78 and 399. BOSWELL. Sir Walter Scott says, 'probably Dr. Hugh Blair.' I have little doubt that it was Malone. 'One of the best criticks of our age,' Boswell calls this friend in the other two passages. This was a compliment Boswell was likely to pay to Malone, to whom he dedicated this book. Malone was a versifier. See Prior's Malone, p. 463.

[971] I am sorry that I was unlucky in my quotation. But notwithstanding the acuteness of Dr. Johnson's criticism, and the power of his ridicule, The Tragedy of Douglas sill continues to be generally and deservedly admired. BOSWELL. Johnson's scorn was no doubt returned, for Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 295) says of Home:—'as John all his life had a thorough contempt for such as neglected his poetry, he treated all who approved of his works with a partiality which more than approached to flattery.' Carlyle tells (pp. 301-305) how Home started for London with his tragedy in one pocket of his great coat and his clean shirt and night-cap in the other, escorted on setting out by six or seven Merse ministers. 'Garrick, after reading his play, returned it as totally unfit for the stage.' It was brought out first in Edinburgh, and in the year 1757 in Covent Garden, where it had great success. 'This tragedy,' wrote Carlyle forty-five years later, 'still maintains its ground, has been more frequently acted, and is more popular than any tragedy in the English language.' Ib. p. 325. Hannah More recorded in 1786 (Memoirs, ii. 22), 'I had a quarrel with Lord Monboddo one night lately. He said Douglas was a better play than Shakespeare could have written. He was angry and I was pert. Lord Mulgrave sat spiriting me up, but kept out of the scrape himself, and Lord Stormont seemed to enjoy the debate, but was shabby enough not to help me out.'

[972] See ante, ii. 230, note 1.

[973] See ante, p. 318.

[974] See ante, iii. 54

[975] See ante, p. 356.

[976] See ante, iii. 241, note 2.

[977] As a remarkable instance of his negligence, I remember some years ago to have found lying loose in his study, and without the cover, which contained the address, a letter to him from Lord Thurlow, to whom he had made an application as Chancellor, in behalf of a poor literary friend. It was expressed in such terms of respect for Dr. Johnson, that, in my zeal for his reputation, I remonstrated warmly with him on his strange inattention, and obtained his permission to take a copy of it; by which probably it has been preserved, as the original I have reason to suppose is lost. BOSWELL. See ante, iii. 441.

[978] 'The islets, which court the gazer at a distance, disgust him at his approach, when he finds, instead of soft lawns and shady thickets, nothing more than uncultivated ruggedness.' Johnson's Works, ix. 156.

[979] See ante, i. 200, and iv. 179.

[980] In these arguments he says:—'Reason and truth will prevail at last. The most learned of the Scottish doctors would now gladly admit a form of prayer, if the people would endure it. The zeal or rage of congregations has its different degrees. In some parishes the Lord's Prayer is suffered: in others it is still rejected as a form; and he that should make it part of his supplication would be suspected of heretical pravity.' Johnson's Works, ix. 102. See ante, p. 121.

[981] 'A very little above the source of the Leven, on the lake, stands the house of Cameron, belonging to Mr. Smollett, so embosomed in an oak wood that we did not see it till we were within fifty yards of the door.' Humphry Clinker, Letter of Aug. 28.

[982] Boswell himself was at times one of 'those absurd visionaries.' Ante, ii. 73.

[983] See ante, p. 117.

[984] Lord Kames wrote one, which is published in Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, ed. 1825, i. 280. In it he bids the traveller to 'indulge the hope of a Monumental Pillar.'

[985] See ante, iii. 85; and v. 154.

[986] This address does not offend against the rule that Johnson lays down in his Essay on Epitaphs (Works, v. 263), where he says:—'It is improper to address the epitaph to the passenger.' The impropriety consists in such an address in a church. He however did break through his rule in his epitaph in Streatham Church on Mr. Thrale, where he says:—'Abi viator.' Ib. i. 154.

[987] In Humphry Clinker (Letter of Aug. 28), which was published a few months before Smollett's death, is his Ode on Leven-Water.

[988] The epitaph which has been inscribed on the pillar erected on the banks of the Leven, in honour of Dr. Smollett, is as follows. The part which was written by Dr. Johnson, it appears, has been altered; whether for the better, the reader will judge. The alterations are distinguished by Italicks.

Siste viator! Si lepores ingeniique venam benignam, Si morum callidissimum pictorem, Unquam es miratus, Immorare paululum memoriae TOBIAE SMOLLET, M.D. Viri virtutibus hisce Quas in homine et cive Et laudes et imiteris, Haud mediocriter ornati: Qui in literis variis versatus, Postquam felicitate sibi propria Sese posteris commendaverat, Morte acerba raptus Anno aetatis 51, Eheu: quam procul a patria! Prope Liburni portum in Italia, Jacet sepultres. Tali tantoque viro, patrueli suo, Cui in decursu lampada Se potius tradidisse decuit, Hanc Columnam, Amoris, eheu! inane monumentum In ipsis Leviniae ripis, Quas versiculis sub exitu vitae illustratas Primis infans vagitibus personuit, Ponendam curavit JACOBUS SMOLLET de Bonhill. Abi et reminiscere, Hoc quidem honore, Non modo defuncti memoriae, Verum etiam exemplo, prospectum esse; Aliis enim, si modo digni sint, Idem erit virtutis praemium!


[989] Baretti told Malone that, having proposed to teach Johnson Italian, they went over a few stanzas of Ariosto, and Johnson then grew weary. 'Some years afterwards Baretti said he would give him another lesson, but added, "I suppose you have forgotten what we read before." "Who forgets, Sir?" said Johnson, and immediately repeated three or four stanzas of the poem.' Baretti took down the book to see if it had been lately opened, but the leaves were covered with dust. Prior's Malone, p. 160. Johnson had learnt to translate Italian before he knew Baretti. Ante, i. 107, 156. For other instances of his memory, see ante, i. 39, 48; iii. 318, note 1; and iv. 103, note 2.

[990] For sixty-eight days he received no letter—from August 21 (ante, p. 84) to October 28.

[991] Among these professors might possibly have been either Burke or Hume had not a Mr. Clow been the successful competitor in 1751 as the successor to Adam Smith in the chair of Logic. 'Mr. Clow has acquired a curious title to fame, from the greatness of the man to whom he succeeded, and of those over whom he was triumphant.' J.H. Burton's Hume, i. 351.

[992] Dr. Reid, the author of the Inquiry into the Human Mind, had in 1763 succeeded Adam Smith as Professor of Moral Philosophy. Dugald Stewart was his pupil the winter before Johnson's visit. Stewart's Reid, ed. 1802, p. 38.

[993] See ante, iv. 186.

[994] Mr. Boswell has chosen to omit, for reasons which will be presently obvious, that Johnson and Adam Smith met at Glasgow; but I have been assured by Professor John Miller that they did so, and that Smith, leaving the party in which he had met Johnson, happened to come to another company where Miller was. Knowing that Smith had been in Johnson's society, they were anxious to know what had passed, and the more so as Dr. Smith's temper seemed much ruffled. At first Smith would only answer, 'He's a brute—he's a brute;' but on closer examination, it appeared that Johnson no sooner saw Smith than he attacked him for some point of his famous letter on the death of Hume (ante, p. 30). Smith vindicated the truth of his statement. 'What did Johnson say?' was the universal inquiry. 'Why, he said,' replied Smith, with the deepest impression of resentment, 'he said, you lie!' 'And what did you reply?' 'I said, you are a son of a———!' On such terms did these two great moralists meet and part, and such was the classical dialogue between two great teachers of philosophy. WALTER SCOTT. This story is erroneous in the particulars of the time, place, and subject of the alleged quarrel; for Hume did not die for [nearly] three years after Johnson's only visit to Glasgow; nor was Smith then there. Johnson, previous to 1763 (see ante, i. 427, and iii. 331), had an altercation with Adam Smith at Mr. Strahan's table. This may have been the foundation of Professor Miller's misrepresentation. But, even then, nothing of this offensive kind could have passed, as, if it had, Smith could certainly not have afterwards solicited admission to the Club of which Johnson was the leader, to which he was admitted 1st Dec. 1775, and where he and Johnson met frequently on civil terms. I, therefore, disbelieve the whole story. CROKER.

[995] 'His appearance,' says Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 68), 'was that of an ascetic, reduced by fasting and prayer.' See ante, p. 68.

[996] See ante, ii. 27, 279.

[997] See ante, p. 92.

[998] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'I was not much pleased with any of the Professors.' Piozzi Letters, i. 199. Mme. D'Arblay says:— 'Whenever Dr. Johnson did not make the charm of conversation he only marred it by his presence, from the general fear he incited, that if he spoke not, he might listen; and that if he listened, he might reprove.' Memoirs of Dr. Burney, ii. 187. See ante, ii. 63

[999] Boswell has not let us see this caution. When Robertson first came in, 'there began,' we are told, 'some animated dialogue' (ante, p.32). The next day we read that 'he fluently harangued to Dr. Johnson' (ante, p.43).

[1000] See ante, iii. 366.

[1001] He was Ambassador at Paris in the beginning of the reign of George I., and Commander-in-Chief in 1744. Lord Mahon's England, ed. 1836, i. 201 and iii. 275.

[1002] The unwilling gratitude of base mankind. POPE. [Imitations of Horace, 2 Epis. i. 14.] BOSWELL.

[1003] Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, i. 246-253) gives a curious account of Lord Loudoun, who was general in America about the year 1756. 'Indecision,' he says, 'was one of the strongest features of his character.' He kept back the packet-boats from day to day because he could not make up his mind to send his despatches. At one time there were three boats waiting, one of which was kept with cargo and passengers on board three months beyond its time. Pitt at length recalled him, because 'he never heard from him, and could not know what he was doing.'

[1004] See Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xi. 161 for an account of a controversy about the identity of this writer with an historian of the same name.

[1005] He had paid but little attention to his own rule. See ante, ii. 119.

[1006] 'I believe that for all the castles which I have seen beyond the Tweed, the ruins yet remaining of some one of those which the English built in Wales would supply Materials.' Johnson's Works, ix. 152.

[1007] See ante, p. 40, note 4.

[1008] Johnson described her as 'a lady who for many years gave the laws of elegance to Scotland.' Piozzi Letters, i. 200. Allan Ramsay dedicated to her his Gentle Shepherd, and W. Hamilton, of Bangour, wrote to her verses on the presentation of Ramsay's poem. Hamilton's Poems, p. 23.

[1009] See ante, ii. 66, and iii. 188.

[1010] 'She called Boswell the boy: "yes, Madam," said I, "we will send him to school." "He is already," said she, "in a good school;" and expressed her hope of his improvement. At last night came, and I was sorry to leave her.' Piozzi Letters, i. 200. See ante, iii. 366.

[1011] See ante, pp. 318, 362.

[1012] Burns, who was in his fifteenth year, was at this time living at Ayr, about twelve miles away. When later on he moved to Mauchline, he and Boswell became much nearer neighbours.

[1013] He had, however, married again. Ante, ii. 140, note I. It is curious that Boswell in this narrative does not mention his step-mother.

[1014] 'Asper Incolumi gravitate jocum tentavit.' 'Though rude his mirth, yet laboured to maintain The solemn grandeur of the tragic scene.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet. l. 221.

[1015] See ante, iii. 65, and v. 97.

[1016] See ante, iv. 163, 241.

[1017] Johnson (Works, vii. 425) says of Addison's dedication of the opera of Rosamond to the Duchess of Marlborough, that 'it was an instance of servile absurdity, to be exceeded only by Joshua Barnes's dedication of a Greek Anacreon to the Duke.' For Barnes see ante, iii. 284, and iv. 19.

[1018] William Baxter, the editor of Anacreon, was the nephew of Richard Baxter, the nonconformist divine.

[1019] He says of Auchinleck (Works, ix. 158) that 'like all the western side of Scotland, it is incommoded by very frequent rain.' 'In all September we had, according to Boswell's register, only one day and a half of fair weather; and in October perhaps not more.' Piozzi Letters, i. 182.

[1020] 'By-the-bye,' wrote Sir Walter Scott, 'I am far from being of the number of those angry Scotsmen who imputed to Johnson's national prejudices all or a great part of the report he has given of our country in his Voyage to the Hebrides. I remember the Highlands ten or twelve years later, and no one can conceive of 'how much that could have been easily remedied travellers had to complain.' Croker Corres. ii. 34

[1021] 'Of these islands it must be confessed, that they have not many allurements but to the mere lover of naked nature. The inhabitants are thin, provisions are scarce, and desolation and penury give little pleasure.' Johnson's Works, ix. 153. In an earlier passage (p. 138), in describing a rough ride in Mull, he says:—'We were now long enough acquainted with hills and heath to have lost the emotion that they once raised, whether pleasing or painful, and had our minds employed only on our own fatigue.'

[1022] See ante, ii. 225.

[1023] In like manner Wesley said of Rousseau:—'Sure a more consummate coxcomb never saw the sun.... He is a cynic all over. So indeed is his brother-infidel, Voltaire; and well-nigh as great a coxcomb.' Wesley's Journal,, ed. 1830, iii. 386.

[1024] This gentleman, though devoted to the study of grammar and dialecticks, was not so absorbed in it as to be without a sense of pleasantry, or to be offended at his favourite topicks being treated lightly. I one day met him in the street, as I was hastening to the House of Lords, and told him, I was sorry I could not stop, being rather too late to attend an appeal of the Duke of Hamilton against Douglas. 'I thought (said he) their contest had been over long ago.' I answered, 'The contest concerning Douglas's filiation was over long ago; but the contest now is, who shall have the estate.' Then, assuming the air of 'an ancient sage philosopher,' I proceeded thus: 'Were I to predicate concerning him, I should say, the contest formerly was, What is he? The contest now is, What has he?'—'Right, (replied Mr. Harris, smiling,) you have done with quality, and have got into quantity.' BOSWELL.

[1025] Most likely Sir A. Macdonald. Ante, p. 148.

[1026] Boswell wrote on March 18,1775:—'Mr. Johnson, when enumerating our Club, observed of some of us, that they talked from books,—Langton in particular. "Garrick," he said, "would talk from books, if he talked seriously." "I," said he, "do not talk from books; you do not talk from books." This was a compliment to my originality; but I am afraid I have not read books enough to be able to talk from them.' Letters of Boswell, p. 181. See ante, ii. 360, where Johnson said to Boswell:— 'I don't believe you have borrowed from Waller. I wish you would enable yourself to borrow more;' and i. 105, where he described 'a man of a great deal of knowledge of the world, fresh from life, not strained through books.'

[1027] 'Lord Auchinleck has built a house of hewn stone, very stately and durable, and has advanced the value of his lands with great tenderness to his tenants. I was, however, less delighted with the elegance of the modern mansion, than with the sullen dignity of the old castle.' Johnson's Works, ix. 159. 'The house is scarcely yet finished, but very magnificent and very convenient.' Piozzi Letters, i. 201. See ante, i. 462.

[1028] See ante, ii. 413, and v. 91.

[1029] The relation, it should seem, was remote even for Scotland. Their common ancestor was Robert Bruce, some sixteen generations back. Boswell's mother's grandmother was a Bruce of the Earl of Kincardine's family, and so also was his father's mother. Rogers's Boswelliana, pp. 4, 5.

[1030] He refers to Johnson's pension, which was given nearly two years after George Ill's accession. Ante, i. 372.

[1031] Ante, p. 51.

[1032] He repeated this advice in 1777. Ante, iii. 207.

[1033] 'Of their black cattle some are without horns, called by the Scots humble cows, as we call a bee, an humble bee, that wants a sting. Whether this difference be specifick, or accidental, though we inquired with great diligence, we could not be informed.' Johnson's Works, ix. 78.

Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives the right derivation of humble-bee, from hum and bee. The word Humble-cow is found in Guy Mannering, ed. 1860, iii. 91:—'"Of a surety," said Sampson, "I deemed I heard his horse's feet." "That," said John, with a broad grin, "was Grizzel chasing the humble-cow out of the close."'

[1034] 'Even the cattle have not their usual beauty or noble head.' Church and Brodribb's Tacitus.

[1035] 'The peace you seek is here—where is it not? If your own mind be equal to its lot.' CROKER. Horace, I Epistles, xi. 29.

[1036] Horace, I Epistles, xviii. 112.

[1037] This and the next paragraph are not in the first edition. The paragraph that follows has been altered so as to hide the fact that the minister spoken of was Mr. Dun. Originally it stood:—'Mr. Dun, though a man of sincere good principles as a presbyterian divine, discovered,' &c. First edition, p. 478.

[1038] See ante, p. 120.

[1039] Old Lord Auchinleck was an able lawyer, a good scholar, after the manner of Scotland, and highly valued his own advantages as a man of good estate and ancient family; and, moreover, he was a strict presbyterian and Whig of the old Scottish cast. This did not prevent his being a terribly proud aristocrat; and great was the contempt he entertained and expressed for his son James, for the nature of his friendships and the character of the personages of whom he was engoue one after another. 'There's nae hope for Jamie, mon,' he said to a friend. 'Jamie is gaen clean gyte. What do you think, mon? He's done wi' Paoli—he's off wi' the land-louping scoundrel of a Corsican; and whose tail do you think he has pinned himself to now, mon?' Here the old judge summoned up a sneer of most sovereign contempt. 'A dominie, mon—an auld dominie: he keeped a schule, and cau'd it an acaadamy.' Probably if this had been reported to Johnson, he would have felt it more galling, for he never much liked to think of that period of his life [ante, i.97, note 2]; it would have aggravated his dislike of Lord Auchinleck's Whiggery and presbyterianism. These the old lord carried to such a height, that once, when a countryman came in to state some justice business, and being required to make his oath, declined to do so before his lordship, because he was not a covenanted magistrate. 'Is that a'your objection, mon?' said the judge; 'come your ways in here, and we'll baith of us tak the solemn league and covenant together.' The oath was accordingly agreed and sworn to by both, and I dare say it was the last time it ever received such homage. It may be surmised how far Lord Auchinleck, such as he is here described, was likely to suit a high Tory and episcopalian like Johnson. As they approached Auchinleck, Boswell conjured Johnson by all the ties of regard, and in requital of the services he had rendered him upon his tour, that he would spare two subjects in tenderness to his father's prejudices; the first related to Sir John Pringle, president of the Royal Society, about whom there was then some dispute current: the second concerned the general question of Whig and Tory. Sir John Pringle, as Boswell says, escaped, but the controversy between Tory and Covenanter raged with great fury, and ended in Johnson's pressing upon the old judge the question, what good Cromwell, of whom he had said something derogatory, had ever done to his country; when, after being much tortured, Lord Auchinleck at last spoke out, 'God, Doctor! he gart kings ken that they had a lith in their neck'—he taught kings they had a joint in their necks. Jamie then set to mediating between his father and the philosopher, and availing himself of the judge's sense of hospitality, which was punctilious, reduced the debate to more order. WALTER SCOTT. Paoli had visited Auchinleck. Boswell wrote to Garrick on Sept. 18, 1771:—'I have just been enjoying the very great happiness of a visit from my illustrious friend, Pascal Paoli. He was two nights at Auchinleck, and you may figure the joy of my worthy father and me at seeing the Corsican hero in our romantic groves.' Garrick Corres. i. 436. Johnson was not blind to Cromwell's greatness, for he says (Works, vii. 197), that 'he wanted nothing to raise him to heroick excellence but virtue.' Lord Auchinleck's famous saying had been anticipated by Quin, who, according to Davies (Life of Garrick, ii. 115), had said that 'on a thirtieth of January every king in Europe would rise with a crick in his neck.'

[1040] See ante, p. 252.

[1041] James Durham, born 1622, died 1658, wrote many theological works. Chalmers's Biog. Dict. In the Brit. Mus. Cata. I can find no work by him on the Galatians; Lord Auchinleck's triumph therefore was, it seems, more artful than honest.

[1042] Gray, it should seem, had given the name earlier. His friend Bonstetten says that about the year 1769 he was walking with him, when Gray 'exclaimed with some bitterness, "Look, look, Bonstetten! the great bear! There goes Ursa Major!" This was Johnson. Gray could not abide him.' Sir Egerton Brydges, quoted in Gosse's Gray, iii. 371. For the epithet bear applied to Johnson see ante, ii. 66, 269, note i, and iv. 113, note 2. Boswell wrote on June 19, 1775:—'My father harps on my going over Scotland with a brute (think, how shockingly erroneous!), and wandering (or some such phrase) to London.' Letters of Boswell, p. 207.

[1043] It is remarkable that Johnson in his Life of Blackmore [Works, viii. 42] calls the imaginary Mr. Johnson of the Lay Monastery 'a constellation of excellence.' CROKER.

[1044] Page 121. BOSWELL. See also ante, iii. 336.

[1045] 'The late Sir Alexander Boswell,' wrote Sir Walter Scott, 'was a proud man, and, like his grandfather, thought that his father lowered himself by his deferential suit and service to Johnson. I have observed he disliked any allusion to the book or to Johnson himself, and I have heard that Johnson's fine picture by Sir Joshua was sent upstairs out of the sitting apartments at Auchinleck.' Croker Corres. ii. 32. This portrait, which was given by Sir Joshua to Boswell (Taylor's Reynolds, i. 147), is now in the possession of Mr. Charles Morrison.

[1046] 'I have always said that first Whig was the devil.' Ante, iii. 326

[1047] See ante, ii. 26.

[1048] Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 266) has paid this tribute. 'Lord Elibank,' he writes, 'had a mind that embraced the greatest variety of topics, and produced the most original remarks. ... He had been a lieutenant-colonel in the army and was at the siege of Carthagena, of which he left an elegant account (which I'm afraid is lost). He was a Jacobite, and a member of the famous Cocoa-tree Club, and resigned his commission on some disgust.' Dr. Robertson and John Home were his neighbours in the country, 'who made him change or soften down many of his original opinions, and prepared him for becoming a most agreeable member of the Literary Society of Edinburgh.' Smollett in Humphry Clinker (Letter of July 18), describes him as 'a nobleman whom I have long revered for his humanity and universal intelligence, over and above the entertainment arising from the originality of his character.' Boswell, in the London Mag. 1779, p. 179, thus mentions the Cocoa-tree Club:—'But even at Court, though I see much external obeisance, I do not find congenial sentiments to warm my heart; and except when I have the conversation of a very few select friends, I am never so well as when I sit down to a dish of coffee in the Cocoa Tree, sacred of old to loyalty, look round me to men of ancient families, and please myself with the consolatory thought that there is perhaps more good in the nation than I know.'

[1049] Johnson's Works, vii. 380. See ante, i. 81.

[1050] See ante, p. 53.

[1051] The Mitre tavern. Ante, i. 425.

[1052] Of this Earl of Kelly Boswell records the following pun:—'At a dinner at Mr. Crosbie's, when the company were very merry, the Rev. Dr. Webster told them he was sorry to go away so early, but was obliged to catch the tide, to cross the Firth of Forth. "Better stay a little," said Thomas Earl of Kelly, "till you be half-seas over."' Rogers's Boswelliana, p. 325.

[1053] See ante, i. 354.

[1054] In the first edition, and his son the advocate. Under this son, A. F. Tytler, afterwards a Lord of Session by the title of Lord Woodhouselee, Scott studied history at Edinburgh College. Lockhart's Scott, ed. 1839, i. 59, 278.

[1055] See ante, i. 396, and ii. 296.

[1056] 'If we know little of the ancient Highlanders, let us not fill the vacuity with Ossian. If we have not searched the Magellanick regions, let us however forbear to people them with Patagons.' Johnson's Works, ix. 116. Horace Walpole wrote on May 22, 1766 (Letters, iv. 500):—'Oh! but we have discovered a race of giants! Captain Byron has found a nation of Brobdignags on the coast of Patagonia; the inhabitants on foot taller than he and his men on horseback. I don't indeed know how he and his sailors came to be riding in the South Seas. However, it is a terrible blow to the Irish, for I suppose all our dowagers now will be for marrying Patagonians.'

[1057] I desire not to be understood as agreeing entirely with the opinions of Dr. Johnson, which I relate without any remark. The many imitations, however, of Fingal, that have been published, confirm this observation in a considerable degree. BOSWELL. Johnson said to Sir Joshua of Ossian:—'Sir, a man might write such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to it.' Ante, iv. 183.

[1058] In the first edition (p. 485) this paragraph ran thus:—'Young Mr. Tytler stepped briskly forward, and said, "Fingal is certainly genuine; for I have heard a great part of it repeated in the original."—Dr. Johnson indignantly asked him, "Sir, do you understand the original?"—Tytler. "No, Sir."—Johnson. "Why, then, we see to what this testimony comes:—Thus it is."—He afterwards said to me, "Did you observe the wonderful confidence with which young Tytler advanced, with his front already brased?"'

[1059] For in company we should perhaps read in the company.

[1060] In the first edition, this gentleman's talents and integrity are, &c.

[1061] 'A Scotchman must be a very sturdy moralist who does not love Scotland better than truth: he will always love it better than inquiry; and if falsehood flatters his vanity, will not be very diligent to detect it.' Johnson's Works, ix. 116. See ante, ii. 311.

[1062] See ante, p. 164.

[1063] See ante, p. 242.

[1064] See ante, iv. 253.

[1065] Lord Chief Baron Geoffrey Gilbert published in 1760 a book on the Law of Evidence.

[1066] See ante, ii. 302.

[1067] Three instances, ante, pp. 160, 320.

[1068] See ante, ii. 318.

[1069] An instance is given in Sacheverell's Account of the Isle of Man, ed. 1702, p. 14.

[1070] Mr. J. T. Clark, the Keeper of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, obligingly informs me that in the margin of the copy of Boswell's Journal in that Library it is stated that this cause was Wilson versus Maclean.

[1071] See ante, iv. 74, note 3.

[1072] See ante, iii 69, 183.

[1073] He is described in Guy Mannering, ed. 1860, iv. 98.

[1074] See ante, p. 50.

[1075] See ante, i. 458.

[1076] 'We now observe that the Methodists, where they scatter their opinions, represent themselves as preaching the Gospel to unconverted nations; and enthusiasts of all kinds have been inclined to disguise their particular tenets with pompous appellations, and to imagine themselves the great instruments of salvation.' Johnson's Works, vi. 417.


Through various hazards and events we move.

Dryden, [Aeneid, I. 204]. BOSWELL.


Long labours both by sea and land he bore.

Dryden, [Aeneid, I. 3]. BOSWELL.

[1079] The Jesuits, headed by Francis Xavier, made their appearance in Japan in 1549. The first persecution was in 1587; it was followed by others in 1590, 1597, 1637, 1638. Encyclo. Brit. 8th edit. xii. 697.

[1080] 'They congratulate our return as if we had been with Phipps or Banks; I am ashamed of their salutations.' Piozzi Letters, i. 203. Phipps had gone this year to the Arctic Ocean (ante, p. 236), and Banks had accompanied Captain Cook in 1768-1771. Johnson says however (Works, ix. 84), that 'to the southern inhabitants of Scotland the state of the mountains and the islands is equally unknown with that of Borneo or Sumatra.' See ante, p. 283, note 1, where Scott says that 'the whole expedition was highly perilous.' Smollett, in Humphry Clinker (Letter of July 18), says of Scotland in general:—'The people at the other end of the island know as little of Scotland as of Japan.'

[1081] In sailing from Sky to Col. Ante, p. 280.

[1082] Johnson, four years later, suggested to Boswell that he should write this history. Ante, iii. 162, 414.

[1083] Voltaire was born in 1694; his Louis XIV. was published in 1751 or 1752.

[1084] A society for debate in Edinburgh, consisting of the most eminent men. BOSWELL. It was founded in 1754 by Allan Ramsay the painter, aided by Robertson, Hume, and Smith. Dugald Stewart (Life of Robertson, ed. 1802, p. 5) says that 'it subsisted in vigour for six or seven years' and produced debates, such as have not often been heard in modern assemblies.' See also Dr. A. Carlyle's Auto. p. 297.

[1085] 'As for Maclaurin's imitation of a made dish, it was a wretched attempt.' Ante, i. 469.

[1086] It was of Lord Elibank's French cook 'that he exclaimed with vehemence, "I'd throw such a rascal into the river."'Ib.

[1087] 'He praised Gordon's palates with a warmth of expression which might have done honour to more important subjects.' Ib.

[1088] For the alarm he gave to Mrs. Boswell before this supper, see ib.

[1089] On Dr. Boswell's death, in 1780, Boswell wrote of him:—'He was a very good scholar, knew a great many things, had an elegant taste, and was very affectionate; but he had no conduct. His money was all gone. And do you know he was not confined to one woman. He had a strange kind of religion; but I flatter myself he will be ere long, if he is not already, in Heaven.' Letters of Boswell, p. 258.

[1090] Johnson had written the Life of 'the great Boerhaave,' as he called him. Works, vi. 292.

[1091] 'At Edinburgh,' he wrote, 'I passed some days with men of learning, whose names want no advancement from my commemoration, or with women of elegance, which, perhaps, disclaims a pedant's praise.' Johnson's Works, ix. 159.

[1092] See ante, iv. 178.

[1093] 'My acquaintance,' wrote Richardson (Corres. iv. 317), 'lies chiefly among the ladies; I care not who knows it.' Mrs. Piozzi, in a marginal note on her own copy of the Piozzi Letters, says:—'Dr. Johnson said, that if Mr. Richardson had lived till I came out, my praises would have added two or three years to his life. "For," says Dr. Johnson, "that fellow died merely from want of change among his flatterers: he perished for want of more, like a man obliged to breathe the same air till it is exhausted."' Hayward's Piozzi, i. 311. In her Journey, i. 265, she says:—'Richardson had seen little, and Johnson has often told me that he had read little.' See ante, iv. 28.

[1094] He may live like a gentleman, but he must not 'call himself Farmer, and go about with a little round hat.' Ante, p. 111.

[1095] Boswell italicises this word, I think, because Johnson objected to the misuse of it. '"Sir," said Mr. Edwards, "I remember you would not let us say prodigious at college."' Ante, iii. 303.

[1096] As I have been scrupulously exact in relating anecdotes concerning other persons, I shall not withhold any part of this story, however ludicrous.—I was so successful in this boyish frolick, that the universal cry of the galleries was, 'Encore the cow! Encore the cow!' In the pride of my heart, I attempted imitations of some other animals, but with very inferior effect. My reverend friend, anxious for my fame, with an air of the utmost gravity and earnestness, addressed me thus: 'My dear sir, I would confine myself to the cow.' BOSWELL. Blair's advice was expressed more emphatically, and with a peculiar burr—'Stick to the cow, mon.' WALTER SCOTT. Boswell's record, which moreover is far more humorous, is much more trustworthy than Scott's tradition.

[1097] Mme. de Sevigne in describing a death wrote:—'Cela nous fit voir qu'on joue long-temps la comedie, et qu'a la mort on dit la verite.' Letter of June 24, 1672. Addison says:—'The end of a man's life is often compared to the winding up of a well-written play, where the principal persons still act in character, whatever the fate is which they undergo.... That innocent mirth which had been so conspicuous in Sir Thomas More's life did not forsake him to the last. His death was of a piece with his life. There was nothing in it new, forced, or affected.' The Spectator, No. 349. Young also thought, or at least, wrote differently.

'A death-bed's a detector of the heart. Here tired dissimulation drops her mask.'

Night Thoughts, ii.

'"Mirabeau dramatized his death" was the happy expression of the Bishop of Autun (Talleyrand).' Dumont's Mirabeau, p. 251. See ante, iii. 154.

[1098] See ante, i. 408, 447; and ii. 219, 329.

[1099] Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 291) says of Blair's conversation that 'it was so infantine that many people thought it impossible, at first sight, that he could be a man of sense or genius. He was as eager about a new paper to his wife's drawing-room, or his own new wig, as about a new tragedy or a new epic poem.' He adds, that he was 'capable of the most profound conversation, when circumstances led to it. He had not the least desire to shine, but was delighted beyond measure to shew other people in their best guise to his friends. "Did not I shew you the lion well to-day?" used he to say after the exhibition of a remarkable stranger.' He had no wit, and for humour hardly a relish. Robertson's reputation for wisdom may have been easily won. Dr. A. Carlyle says (ib. p. 287):—'Robertson's translations and paraphrases on other people's thoughts were so beautiful and so harmless that I never saw anybody lay claim to their own.' He may have flattered Johnson by dexterously echoing his sentiments.

[1100] In the Marmor Norfolciense (ante, i. 141) Johnson says:—'I know that the knowledge of the alphabet is so disreputable among these gentlemen [of the army], that those who have by ill-fortune formerly been taught it have partly forgot it by disuse, and partly concealed it from the world, to avoid the railleries and insults to which their education might make them liable.' Johnson's Works, vi. III. See ante, iii. 265.

[1101] 'One of the young ladies had her slate before her, on which I wrote a question consisting of three figures to be multiplied by two figures. She looked upon it, and quivering her fingers in a manner which I thought very pretty, but of which I knew not whether it was art or play, multiplied the sum regularly in two lines, observing the decimal place; but did not add the two lines together, probably disdaining so easy an operation.' Johnson's Works, ix. 161.


'Words gigantic.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet.. 1. 97.

[1103] One of the best criticks of our age 'does not wish to prevent the admirers of the incorrect and nerveless style which generally prevailed for a century before Dr. Johnson's energetick writings were known, from enjoying the laugh that this story may produce, in which he is very ready to join them.' He, however, requests me to observe, that 'my friend very properly chose a long word on this occasion, not, it is believed, from any predilection for polysyllables, (though he certainly had a due respect for them,) but in order to put Mr. Braidwood's skill to the strictest test, and to try the efficacy of his instruction by the most difficult exertion of the organs of his pupils.' BOSWELL. 'One of the best critics of our age' is, I believe, Malone. See ante, p. 78, note 5.

[1104] It was here that Lord Auchinleck called him Ursa Major. Ante, p. 384.

[1105] See ante, iii. 266, and v. 20, where 'Mr. Crosbie said that the English are better animals than the Scots.'

[1106] Johnson himself had laughed at them (ante, ii. 210) and accused them of foppery (ante, ii. 237).

[1107] Johnson said, 'I never think I have hit hard, unless it rebounds (ante, ii. 335), and, 'I would rather be attacked than unnoticed' (ante, iii. 375). When he was told of a caricature 'of the nine muses flogging him round Parnassus,' he said, 'Sir, I am very glad to hear this. I hope the day will never arrive when I shall neither be the object of calumny or ridicule, for then I shall be neglected and forgotten.' Croker's Boswell, p. 837. See ante, ii. 61, and pp. 174, 273. 'There was much laughter when M. de Lesseps mentioned that on his first visit to England the publisher who brought out the report of his meeting charged, as the first item of his bill, "L50 for attacking the book in order to make it succeed." "Since then," observed M. de Lesseps, "I have been attacked gratuitously, and have got on without paying."' The Times, Feb. 19, 1884.


'To wing my flight to fame.'

DRYDEN. Virgil, Georgics, iii. 9.

[1109] On Nov. 12 he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'We came hither (to Edinburgh) on the ninth of this month. I long to come under your care, but for some days cannot decently get away.' Piozzi Letters, i. 202.

[1110] He would have been astonished had he known that a few miles from Edinburgh he had passed through two villages of serfs. The coal-hewers and salt-makers of Tranent and Preston-Pans were still sold with the soil. 'In Scotland domestic slavery is unknown, except so far as regards the coal-hewers and salt-makers, whose condition, it must be confessed, bears some resemblance to slavery; because all who have once acted in either of the capacities are compellable to serve, and fixed to their respective places of employment during life.' Hargrave's Argument in the case of James Sommersett, 1772. Had Johnson known this he might have given as his toast when in company with some very grave men at Edinburgh:—'Here's to the next insurrection of the slaves in Scotland.' Ante, iii. 200.

[1111] The year following in the House of Commons he railed at the London booksellers, 'who, he positively asserted, entirely governed the newspapers.' 'For his part,' he added, 'he had ordered that no English newspaper should come within his doors for three months.' Parl. Hist. xvii. 1090.

[1112] See ante, iii. 373.

[1113] 'At the latter end of 1630 Ben Jonson went on foot into Scotland, on purpose to visit Drummond. His adventures in this journey he wrought into a poem; but that copy, with many other pieces, was accidentally burned.' Whalley's Ben Jonson, Preface, p. xlvi.

[1114] Perhaps the same woman showed the chapel who was there 29 years later, when Scott visited it. One of his friends 'hoped that they might, as habitual visitors, escape hearing the usual endless story of the silly old woman that showed the ruins'; but Scott answered, 'There is a pleasure in the song which none but the songstress knows, and by telling her we know it all ready we should make the poor devil unhappy.' Lockharts Scott, ed. 1839, ii. 106.

[1115] O rare Ben Jonson is on Jonson's tomb in Westminster Abbey.

[1116] See ante, ii. 365.

[1117] 'Essex was at that time confined to the same chamber of the Tower from which his father Lord Capel had been led to death, and in which his wife's grandfather had inflicted a voluntary death upon himself. When he saw his friend carried to what he reckoned certain fate, their common enemies enjoying the spectacle, and reflected that it was he who had forced Lord Howard upon the confidence of Russel, he retired, and, by a Roman death, put an end to his misery.' Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. i. p. 36. BOSWELL. In the original after 'his wife's grandfather,' is added 'Lord Northumberland.' It was his wife's great-grandfather, the eighth Earl of Northumberland. He killed himself in 1585. Burke's Peerage.

[1118] Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 293) says of Robertson and Blair:—'Having been bred at a time when the common people thought to play with cards or dice was a sin, and everybody thought it an indecorum in clergymen, they could neither of them play at golf or bowls, and far less at cards or backgammon, and on that account were very unhappy when from home in friends' houses in the country in rainy weather. As I had set the first example of playing at cards at home with unlocked door [Carlyle was a minister], and so relieved the clergy from ridicule on that side, they both learned to play at whist after they were sixty.' See ante, iii. 23.

[1119] See ante, i. 149, and v. 350.

[1120] See ante, iv. 54.

[1121] He wrote to Boswell on Nov. 16, 1776 (ante, iii. 93):—'The expedition to the Hebrides was the most pleasant journey that I ever made.' In his Diary he recorded on Jan. 9, 1774:—'In the autumn I took a journey to the Hebrides, but my mind was not free from perturbation.' Pr. and Med. p. 136. The following letter to Dr. Taylor I have copied from the original in the possession of my friend Mr. M. M. Holloway:—


'When I was at Edinburgh I had a letter from you, telling me that in answer to some enquiry you were informed that I was in the Sky. I was then I suppose in the western islands of Scotland; I set out on the northern expedition August 6, and came back to Fleet-street, November 26. I have seen a new region.

'I have been upon seven of the islands, and probably should have visited many more, had we not begun our journey so late in the year, that the stormy weather came upon us, and the storms have I believe for about five months hardly any intermission.

'Your Letter told me that you were better. When you write do not forget to confirm that account. I had very little ill health while I was on the journey, and bore rain and wind tolerably well. I had a cold and deafness only for a few days, and those days I passed at a good house. I have traversed the east coast of Scotland from south to north from Edinburgh to Inverness, and the west coast from north to south, from the Highlands to Glasgow, and am come back as I went,


'Your affectionate humble servant,


'Jan. 15, 1774.

'To the Reverend Dr. Taylor,

'in Ashbourn,


[1122] Johnson speaking of this tour on April 10, 1783, said:—'I got an acquisition of more ideas by it than by anything that I remember.' Ante, iv. 199.

[1123] See ante, p. 48.

[1124] See ante, i. 408, 443, note 2, and ii. 303.

[1125] 'It may be doubted whether before the Union any man between Edinburgh and England had ever set a tree.' Johnson's Works, ix. 8.

[1126] See ante, p. 69.

[1127] Lord Balmerino's estate was forfeited to the Crown on his conviction for high treason in 1746 (ante, i. 180).

[1128] 'I know not that I ever heard the wind so loud in any other place; and Mr. Boswell observed that its noise was all its own, for there were no trees to increase it.' Johnson's Works, ix. 122. See ante, p. 304.

[1129] See ante, ii. 300.

[1130] 'Strong reasons for incredulity will readily occur. This faculty of seeing things out of sight is local and commonly useless. It is a breach of the common order of things, without any visible reason or perceptible benefit.' Johnson's Works, ix. 106.

[1131] 'To the confidence of these objections it may be replied... that second sight is only wonderful because it is rare, for, considered in itself, it involves no more difficulty than dreams.' Ib.

[1132] The fossilist of last century is the geologist of this. Neither term is in Johnson's Dictionary, but Johnson in his Journey (Works, ix. 43) speaks of 'Mr. Janes the fossilist.'

[1133] Ib. p. 157.

[1134] Ib. p. 6. I do not see anything silly in the story. It is however better told in a letter to Mrs. Thrale. Piozzi Letters, i. 112.

[1135] Mr. Orme, one of the ablest historians of this age, is of the same opinion. He said to me, 'There are in that book thoughts, which, by long revolution in the great mind of Johnson, have been formed and polished—like pebbles rolled in the ocean.' BOSWELL. See ante, ii. 300, and iii. 284.

[1136] See ante, iii. 301.

[1137] Johnson (Works, ix. 158) mentions 'a national combination so invidious that their friends cannot defend it.' See ante, ii. 307, 311.

[1138] See ante, p. 269, note 1.

[1139] Every reader will, I am sure, join with me in warm admiration of the truly patriotic writer of this letter. I know not which most to applaud—that good sense and liberality of mind, which could see and admit the defects of his native country, to which no man is a more zealous friend:—or that candour, which induced him to give just praise to the minister whom he honestly and strenuously opposed. BOSWELL.

[1140] The original MS. is now in my possession. BOSWELL.

[1141] The passage that gave offence was as follows:—'Mr. Macleod is the proprietor of the islands of Raasay, Rona, and Fladda, and possesses an extensive district in Sky. The estate has not during four hundred years gained or lost a single acre. He acknowledges Macleod of Dunvegan as his chief, though his ancestors have formerly disputed the pre-eminence.' First edition, p. 132. The second edition was not published till the year after Johnson's death. In it the passage remains unchanged. To it the following note was prefixed: 'Strand, Oct. 26, 1785. Since this work was printed off, the publisher, having been informed that the author some years ago had promised the Laird of Raasay to correct in a future edition a passage concerning him, thinks it a justice due to that gentleman to insert here the advertisement relative to this matter, which was published by Dr. Johnson's desire in the Edinburgh newspapers in the year 1775, and which has been lately reprinted in Mr. Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides.' (It is not unlikely that the publication of Boswell's Tour occasioned a fresh demand for Johnson's Journey.) In later editions all the words after 'a single acre' are silently struck out. Johnson's Works, ix. 55. See ante, ii. 382.

[1142] Rasay was highly gratified, and afterwards visited and dined with Dr. Johnson at his house in London. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote on May 12, 1775:—'I have offended; and what is stranger, have justly offended, the nation of Rasay. If they could come hither, they would be as fierce as the Americans. Rasay has written to Boswell an account of the injury done him by representing his house as subordinate to that of Dunvegan. Boswell has his letter, and, I believe, copied my answer. I have appeased him, if a degraded chief can possibly be appeased: but it will be thirteen days—days of resentment and discontent—before my recantation can reach him. Many a dirk will imagination, during that interval, fix in my heart. I really question if at this time my life would not be in danger, if distance did not secure it. Boswell will find his way to Streatham before he goes, and will detail this great affair.' Piozzi Letters, i. 216.

[1143] In like manner he communicated to Sir William Forbes part of his journal from which he made the Life of Johnson. Ante, iii. 208.

[1144] In justice both to Sir William Forbes, and myself, it is proper to mention, that the papers which were submitted to his perusal contained only an account of our Tour from the time that Dr. Johnson and I set out from Edinburgh (p. 58), and consequently did not contain the elogium on Sir William Forbes, (p. 24), which he never saw till this book appeared in print; nor did he even know, when he wrote the above letter, that this Journal was to be published. BOSWELL. This note is not in the first edition.

[1145] Hamlet, act iii. sc. 1.

[1146] Both Nonpareil and Bon Chretien are in Johnson's Dictionary; Nonpareil, is defined as a kind of apple, and Bon Chretien as a species of pear.

[1147] See ante, p. 311.

[1148] See ante, iv. 9.

[1149] 'Dryden's contemporaries, however they reverenced his genius, left his life unwritten; and nothing therefore can be known beyond what casual mention and uncertain tradition have supplied.' Johnson's Works, vii. 245. See ante, iii. 71.


'Before great Agamemnon reign'd Reign'd kings as great as he, and brave Whose huge ambition's now contain'd In the small compass of a grave; In endless night they sleep, unwept, unknown, No bard had they to make all time their own.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Odes, iv. 9. 25.

[1151] Having found, on a revision of the first edition of this work, that, notwithstanding my best care, a few observations had escaped me, which arose from the instant impression, the publication of which might perhaps be considered as passing the bounds of a strict decorum, I immediately ordered that they should be omitted in the subsequent editions. I was pleased to find that they did not amount in the whole to a page. If any of the same kind are yet left, it is owing to inadvertence alone, no man being more unwilling to give pain to others than I am.

A contemptible scribbler, of whom I have learned no more than that, after having disgraced and deserted the clerical character, he picks up in London a scanty livelihood by scurrilous lampoons under a feigned name, has impudently and falsely asserted that the passages omitted were defamatory, and that the omission was not voluntary, but compulsory. The last insinuation I took the trouble publickly to disprove; yet, like one of Pope's dunces, he persevered in 'the lie o'erthrown.' [Prologue to the Satires, l. 350.] As to the charge of defamation, there is an obvious and certain mode of refuting it. Any person who thinks it worth while to compare one edition with the other, will find that the passages omitted were not in the least degree of that nature, but exactly such as I have represented them in the former part of this note, the hasty effusion of momentary feelings, which the delicacy of politeness should have suppressed. BOSWELL. In the second edition this note ended at the first paragraph, the latter part being added in the third. For the 'few observations omitted' see ante, pp. 148, 381, 388.

The 'contemptible scribbler' was, I believe, John Wolcot, better known by his assumed name of Peter Pindar. He had been a clergyman. In his Epistle to Boswell (Works, i. 219), he says in reference to the passages about Sir A. Macdonald (afterwards Lord Macdonald):—'A letter of severe remonstrance was sent to Mr. B., who, in consequence, omitted in the second edition of his Journal what is so generally pleasing to the public, viz., the scandalous passages relative to that nobleman.' It was in a letter to the Gent. Mag. 1786, p. 285, that Boswell 'publickly disproved the insinuation' made 'in a late scurrilous publication' that these passages 'were omitted in consequence of a letter from his Lordship. Nor was any application,' he continues, 'made to me by the nobleman alluded to at any time to make any alteration in my Journal.'


'Nothing extenuate Nor set down aught in malice.'

Othello, act v. sc. 2.

[1153] See ante, i. 189, note 2, 296, 297; and Johnson's Works, v. 23.

[1154] Of his two imitations Boswell means The Vanity of Human Wishes, of which one hundred lines were written in a day. Ante, i. 192, and ii. 15.

[1155] Johnson, it should seem, did not allow that there was any pleasure in writing poetry. 'It has been said there is pleasure in writing, particularly in writing verses. I allow you may have pleasure from writing after it is over, if you have written well; but you don't go willingly to it again.' Ante, iv. 219. What Johnson always sought was to sufficiently occupy the mind. So long as that was done, that labour would, I believe, seem to him the pleasanter which required the less thought.

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