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of my friend to avoid three topics, as to which they differed very widely; whiggism, presbyterianism, and—Sir John Pringle. He said courteously, "I shall certainly not talk on subjects which I am told are disagreeable to a gentleman under whose roof I am; especially, I shall not do so to your father."
Our first day went off very smoothly. It rained, and we could not get out: but my father showed Dr. Johnson his library, which, iu curious editions of the Greek and Roman classics, is, I suppose, not excelled by any private collection in Great Britain. My father had studied at Leyden, and been very intimate with the Gronovii, and other learned men there. He was a sound scholar, and, in particular, had collated manuscripts and different editions of Auacreon, and others of the Greek lyric poets, with great care; so that my friend and he had much matter for conversation, without touching on the fatal topics of difference.
Dr. Johnson found here Baxter's "Anaereon," which he told me he had long inquired for in vain, and began to suspect there was no such book. Baxter was the keen antagonist of Barnes. His life is in the "Biographia Britannica."' My father has written many notes on this book, and Dr. Johnson and I talked of having it reprinted.
Wednesday, Nov. 3.—It rained all day, and gave Dr. Johnson an impression of that incommodiousness of climate in the west, of which he has taken notice in his " Journey;" but, being well accommodated, and furnished with a variety of books, he was not dissatisfied.
Some gentlemen of the neighbourhood came to visit my father; but there was little conversation. One of them asked Dr. Johnson how he liked the Highlands. The question seemed to irritate him, for he answered "How, Sir, can you ask me what obliges me to speak unfavourably of a country where I have been hospitably entertained? Who can like the Highlands? I like the inhabitants very well." The gentleman asked no more questions.
1 In which it is stated that he, William Baxter, the nephew and htir of the celebrated Kiehard Baxter, was bor u 1650. and died May 31,1723. The edition of Anaereon was first published 1695, und reprinted widl edditions and improvements 1710.—Editor.
Let me now make up for the present neglect, by again gleaning from the past. At Lord Monboddo's, after the conversation upon the decrease of learning in England, his lordship mentioned "Hermes," by Mr. Harris of Salisbury, as the work of a living author, for whom he had a great respect. Dr. Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we were in our post-chaise, told me, he thought Harris "a coxcomb." This he said of him, not as a man, but as an author; and I give his opinions of men and books, faithfully, whether they agree with my own or not. I do admit, that there always appeared to me something of affectation in Mr. Harris's manner of writing; something of a habit of clothing plain thoughts in analytic and categorical formality. But all his writings are imbued with learning; and all breathe that philanthropy and amiable disposition, which distinguished him as a man.1
At another time, during our Tour, he drew the character of a rapacious Highland chief2 with the strength of Theophrastus or la Bruyere; concluding with these words: "Sir, he has no more the soul of a chief, than an attorney who has twenty houses in a street, and considers how much he can make by them."
He this day, when we were by ourselves, observed, how common it was for people to talk from books; to retail the sentiments of others, and not their own; in short, to converse without any originality of thinking. He was pleased to say, " You and I do not talk from books."
Thursday, Nov. 4.—I was glad to have at length a very fine day, on which I could show Dr. Johnson the place of my family, which he has honoured with so much attention in his " Journey." He is, however, mistaken in thinking that the Celtic name, Auehinleck, has no relation to the natural appearance of it. I believe every Celtic name of a place will be found very descriptive. Auehinleck does not signify a stony field, as he has said, but a field of flagstones; and this place has a number of rocks, which abound in strata of that kind. The " sullen dignity of the old castle," as he has forcibly expressed it,1 delighted him exceedingly. On one side of the rock on which its ruins stand, runs the river Lugar, which is here of considerable breadth, and is bordered by other high rocks, shaded with wood. On the other side runs a brook, skirted in the same manner, but on a smaller scale. I cannot figure a more romantic scene.
1 This gentleman, though devoted to the study of grammar and dialectics, was not so absorbed in it as to be without a sense of pleasantry, or to be offended at his favourite topics 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 apo." I answered, " The contest con corning Douglas's filiation was over long ago; but the contest now is, who is to 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 u he? The contest now is, What has he?" "Right," replied Mr. Harris, smiling, " you have done with quality, and have got into quantity."
2 No doubt Sir Alexander Macdonald.— Croker.
I felt myself elated here, and expatiated to my illustrious Mentor on the antiquity and honourable alliances of my family, and on the merits of its founder, Thomas Boswell, who was highly favoured by his sovereign, James IV. of Scotland, and fell with him at the battle of Flodden-field; and in the glow of what, I am sensible, will, in a commercial age, be considered as a genealogical enthusiasm, did not omit to mention what I was sure my friend would not think lightly of, my relation to the royal personage, whose liberality, on his accession to the throne, had given him comfort and independence. I have, in a former page, acknowledged my pride of ancient blood, in which I was encouraged by Dr. Johnson: my readers, therefore, will not be surprised at my having indulged it on this occasion.
Not far from the old castle is a spot of consecrated earth, on which may be traced the foundations of an ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Vincent, and where in old times "was the places of graves" for the family. It grieves me to think that the remains of sanctity here,
1 "I was less delighted with the elegance of the modern mansion than with the sullen dignity of the old castle: I clambered with Mr. Boswell among the ruins, which afforded striking images of ancient life. Here, in the ages of tumult and rapine, the laird was surprised and killed by the neighbouring chief, who, perhaps, might have extinguished the family, had he not, in a few days, been seized and hanged, together with his sons, by Douglas, who came with his forces to ihe relief of Aiichinleck.'' —Johnson's Journey.—Croker.
which were considerable, were dragged away, and employed, in building a part of the house of Auchinleck, of the middle age; which was the family residence, till my father erected that "elegant modern mansion," of which Dr. Johnson speaks so handsomely. Perhaps this chapel may one day be restored.
Dr. Johnson was pleased when I showed him some venerable old trees, under the shade of which my ancestors had walked. He exhorted me to plant assiduously, as my father had done to a great extent.
As I wandered with my reverend friend in the groves of Auchinleck, I told him, that, if I survived him, it was my intention to erect a monument to him here, among scenes which, in my mind, were all classical; for, in my youth, I had appropriated to them many of the descriptions of the Roman poets. He could not bear to have death presented to him in any shape; for his constitutional melancholy made the king of terrors more frightful. He turned off the subject, saying, "Sir, I hope to see your grandchildren."
This forenoon he observed some cattle without horns, of which he has taken notice in his "Journey," and seems undecided whether they be of a particular race. His doubts appear to have had no foundation; for my respectable neighbour, Mr. Fairlie, who, with all his attention to agriculture, finds time both for the classics and his friends, assures me they are a distinct species, and that, when any of their calves have horns, a mixture of breed can be traced. In confirmation of his opinion, he pointed out to
me the following passage in Tacitus, "Ne armentia quidont guns honor, ant gloria frontis" (De Mor. Germ. § 5), which he wondered had escaped Dr. Johnson.
On the front of the house of Auchinleck is this inscription :—
"Quod pctis, hic ost:
Est Ulubris; animus si te non deficit aecuius."'
It is characteristic of the founder; but the animus cequus
The peace you seek is here—where is it not ?—
Hor., 1 Epist. 11, -29.— Crclcrr.
is, alas! not inheritable, nor the subject of devise. He always talked to ine as if it were in a man's own power to attain it; but Dr. Johnson told me that he owned to him, when they were alone, his persuasion that it was in a great measure constitutional, or the effect of causes which do not depend on ourselves, and that Horace boasts too much, when he says, ceqvum mi aninmm ipse parabo.
Friday, Nov. 5.—The Rev. Mr. Dun, our parish minister, who had dined with us yesterday, with some other company, insisted that Dr. Johnson and I should dine with him to-day. This gave me an opportunity to show my friend the road to the church, made by my father at a great expense, for above three miles, on his own estate, through a range of well-enclosed farms, with a row of trees -on each side of it. He called it the via sacra, and was very fond of it. Dr. Johnson, though he held notions far distant from those of the presbyterian clergy, yet could associate on good terms with them. He, indeed, occasionally attacked them. One of them discovered a narrowness of information concerning the dignitaries of the church of England, among whom may be found men of the greatest learning, virtue, and piety, and of a truly apostolic character. He talked before Dr. Johnson of fat bishops and drowsy deans; and, in short, seemed to believe the illiberal and profane scoffings of professed satirists, or vulgar railers. Dr. Johnson was so highly offended, that he said to him, "Sir, you know no more of our church than a Hottentot." I was sorry that he brought this upon himself.
Saturday, Nov. 6.—I cannot be certain whether it was on this day, or a former, that Dr. Johnson and my father came in collision. H I recollect right, the contest began while my father was showing him his collection of medals; and Oliver Cromwell's coin unfortunately introduced Charles the First and Toryism. They became exceedingly warm and violent, and I was very much distressed by being present at such an altercation between two men, both of whom I reverenced; yet I durst not interfere. It would certainly be very unbecoming in me to exhibit my honoured father and my respected friend, as intellectual gladiators, for the entertainment of the public; and, there