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were dropping off; and both Whigs aud Jacobites were now come to talk with moderation." Lord Elibank said to him, "Mr. Robertson, the first thing that gave me a high opinion of yon was your saying in the Select Society,1 while parties ran high, soon after the year 1745, that you did not think worse of a man's moral character for his having been in rebellion. This was venturing to utter a liberal sentiment, while both sides had a destation of each other."
Dr. Johnson observed, that being in rebellion from a notion of another's right was not connected with depravity; and that we had this proof of it, that all mankind applauded the pardoning of rebels; which they would not do in the case of robbers and murderers. He said, with a smile, that "he wondered that the phrase of unnatural rebellion should .be so much used, for that all rebellion was natural to man."
As I kept no journal of any thing that passed after this morning, I shall, from memory, group together this and the other days, till that on which Dr. Johnson departed for London. They were in all nine days; on which he dined at Lady Colvill's, Lord Hailes's, Sir Adolphus Oughton's, Sir Alexander Dick's, Principal Robertson's, Mr. M'Laurin's, and thrice at Lord Elibank's seat in the country, where we also passed two nights. He supped at the Hon. Alexander Gordon's, now one of our judges, by the title of Lord Rockville; at Mr. Nairne's, now also one of our judges, by the title of Lord Dunsinan; at Dr. Blair's and Mr. Tytler's; and at my house thrice, one evening with a numerous company, chiefly gentlemen of the law; another with Mr. Menzies of Culdares, and Lord Monboddo, who disengaged himself on purpose to meet him; and the evening on which we returned from Lord Elibank's, he supped with my wife and me by ourselves.
He breakfasted at Dr. Webster's, at old Mr. Drummond's, and at Dr. Blacklock's; and spent one forenoon at my uncle Dr. Boswell's, who showed him his curious museum;
1 A society for debate in Edinburgh, consisting of the most eminent men.
An account of this society is given in the Appendix to Stewart's Life of Dr. Robertson.—Editor.
and as he was an elegant scholar, and a physician hred in the school of Boerhaave, Dr. Johnson was pleased with his company.
On the mornings when he breakfasted at my house, he had, from ten o'clock till one or two, a constant levee of various persons, of very different characters and descriptions. I could not attend him, being obliged to be in the court of session; but my wife was so good as to devote the greater part of the morning to the endless task of pouring out tea for my friend and his visitors.
Such was the disposition of his time at Edinburgh. He said one evening to me, in a fit of languor, " Sir, we have been harassed by invitations." I acquiesced. "Ay, Sir," he replied; "but how much worse would it have been if we had been neglected?"
From what has been recorded in this Journal, it may well be supposed that a variety of admirable conversation has been lost, by my neglect to preserve it. I shall endeavour to recollect some of it as well as I can.
At Lady Colvill's, to whom I am proud to introduce any stranger of eminence, that he may see what dignity and grace is to be found in Scotland, an officer observed that he had heard Lord Mansfield was not a great English lawyer. Johnson. "Why, Sir, supposing Lord Mansfield not to have the splendid talents which he possesses, he must be a great English lawyer, from having been so long at the bar, and having passed through so many of the great offices of the law. Sir you may as well maintain that a carrier, who has driven a pack-horse between Edinburgh and Berwick for thirty years, does not know the road, as that Lord Mansfield does not know the law of England."
At Mr. Nairne's he drew the character of Richardson, the author of " Clarissa," with a strong yet delicate pencil. I lament much that I have not preserved it: I only remember that he expressed a high opinion of his talents and virtues; but observed that "his perpetual study was to ward off petty inconveniences, and procure petty pleasures; that his love of continual superiority was such that he took care to be always surrounded by women, who listened to him implicitly, and did not venture to controvert his opinions; and that his desire of distinction was so great, that he used to give large vails to the Speaker Ouslow's servants, that they might treat him with respect."
On the same evening, he would not allow that the private life of a judge, in England, was required to be so strictly decorous as I supposed. "Why, then, Sir," said I, "according to your account, an English judge may just live like a gentleman." Johnson. "Yes, Sir—if he can."
At Mr. Tytler's I happened to tell that one evening, a great many years ago, when Dr. Hugh Blair and I were sitting together in the pit of Drury-Lane playhouse, in a wild freak of youthful extravagance, I entertained the audience prodigiously, by imitating the lowing of a cow. A little while after I had told this story, I differed from Dr. Johnson, I suppose too confidently, upon some point, which I now forget. He did not spare me. "Nay, Sir," said he, "if you cannot talk better as a man, I'd have you bellow like a cow."'
At Dr. Webster's. he said, that he believed hardly any man died without affectation. This remark appears to me to be well founded, and will account for many of the celebrated death-bed sayings which are recorded.
On one of the evenings at my house, when he told that Lord Lovat boasted to an English nobleman that, though he had not his wealth, he had two thousand men whom he could at any time call into the field, the Hon. Alexander Gordon observed, that those two thousand men brought him to the block. "True, Sir," said Dr. Johnson: "but you may just as well argue concerning a man who has fallen over a precipice to which he has walked too near,— 4 His two legs brought him to that:' is he not the better for having two legs?"
At Dr. Blair's I left him, in order to attend a consulta
1 As I have been scrupulously exact in relating anecdotes concerning other persons, 1 shall not withhold any part of this story, however ludicrous. I was so successful in this boyish frolic, 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!"
Blair's advice was expressed more emphatically, and with a peculiar burr—" Stick to the cow, mon !"—Walter Scott.
tion, during which he and his amiable host were by themselves. I returned to supper, at which were Principal Eobertson, Mr. Nairne, and some other gentlemen. Dr. Robertson and Dr. Blair, I remember, talked well upon subordination and government; and, as my friend and I were walking home, he said to me, " Sir, these two doctors are good men, and wise men." I begged of Dr. Blair to recollect what he could of the long conversation that passed between Dr. Johnson and him alone, this evening, and he obligingly wrote to me as follows:—
"March 3, 1785. "Dear Sir,
"As so many years have intervened since I chanced to have that conversation with Dr. Johnson in my house to which you refer, I have forgotten most of what then passed; but remember that I was both instructed and entertained by it. Among other subjects, the discourse happening to turn on modern Latin poets, the doctor expressed a very favourable opinion of Buchanan, and instantly repeated, from beginning to end, an ode of his, entitled Calendoe Maiee (the eleventh in his JUiscellaneorum Liber) beginning with these words, 'Salvete sacris deliciis sucra,' with which I had formerly been unacquainted; but upon perusing it, the praise which he bestowed upon it, as one of the happiest of Buchanan's poetical compositions, appeared to me very just. He also repeated to me a Latin ode he had composed in one of the Western Islands, from which he had lately returned. We had much discourse concerning his excursion to those islands, with which he expressed himself as having been highly pleased; talked in a favourable manner of the hospitality of the inhabitants; and particularly spoke much of his happiness in having you for his companion ; and said that the longer he knew yon, he .loved and esteemed you the more. This conversation passed in the interval between tea and supper, when we were by ourselves. You and the rest of the company who were with us at supper, have often taken notice that he was uncommonly bland and gay that evening, and gave much pleasure to all who were present. This is all that I can recollect distinctly of that long conversation. Yours sincerely,
At Lord Hailes's we spent a most agreeable day; but again I must lament that I was so indolent as to let almost all that passed evaporate into oblivion. Dr. Johnson observed there, that "it is wonderful how iprnorant many officers of the army are, considering how much leisure they have for study, and the acquisition of knowledge." I hope he was mistaken; for he maintained that many of them were ignorant of things belonging immediately to their own profession; "for instance, many cannot tell how far a musket will carry a bullet; " in proof of which, I suppose, he mentioned some particular person, for Lord Hailes, from whom I solicited what he could recollect of that day, writes to me as follows :—
"As to Dr. Johnson's observation about the ignorance ot officers in the length that a musket will carry, ray brother, Colonel Dalrymple, was present, and he thought that the doctor was either mistaken, by putting the question wrong, or that he had conversed on the subject with some person out of service. Was it upon that occasion that he expressed no curiosity to see the room at Dumfermline where Charles I. was born ?' I know that he was born' (said he); 'no matter where.' Did he envy us the birthplace of the king?"
Near the end of his "Journey," Dr. Johnson has given liberal praise to Mr. Braidwood's academy for the deaf and dumb. When he visited it, a circumstance occurred which was truly characteristical of our great lexicographer. "Pray," said he, " can they pronounce any long words?" Mr. Braidwood informed him they could. Upon which Dr. Johnson wrote one of his sesquipedalia verba, which was pronounced by the scholars, and he was satisfied. My readers may perhaps wish to know what the word was; but I cannot gratify their curiosity. Mr. Braidwood ' told me it remained long in his school, but had been lost before I made my inquiry.2
1 Mr. Thomas Braidwood was born in Scotland, in 1715, and died at Hackney, Middlesex, in October, 1806.— Wright,
2 One of the best critics 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 energetic 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, for any predilection for polysyllables (though he certainlv had a