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Dr. Johnson one day visited the court of session. He thought the mode of pleading there too vehement, and too much addressed to the passions of the judges. "This," said he, "is not the Areopagus."
At old Mr. Drummond's, Sir .John Dalrymple quaintly said, the two noblest animals in the world were a Scotch Highlander and an English sailor. "Why, Sir," said Dr. Johnson, " I shall say nothing as to the Scotch Highlander; but as to the English sailor, I cannot agree with you." Sir John said he was generous in giving away his money. Johnson. "Sir, he throws away his money, without thought and without merit. I do not call a tree generous that sheds its fruit at every breeze." Sir John having affected to complain of the attacks made upon his "Memoirs," Dr. Johnson said, "Nay, Sir, do not complain. It is advantageous to an author, that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends." Often have I reflected on this since; and, instead of being angry at many of those who have written against me, have smiled to think that they were unintentionally subservient to my fame, by using a battledore to make me "virum volitare per ora."
At Sir Alexander Dick's, from that absence of mind to which every man is at times subject, I told, in a blundering manner, Lady Eglintoune's complimentary adoption of Dr. Johnson as her son; for I unfortunately stated that her ladyship adopted him as her son, in consequence of her having been married the year after he was born. Dr. Johnson instantly corrected me. "Sir, don't you perceive that you are defaming the countess? For, supposing me to be her son, and that she was not married till the year after my birth, I must have been her natural sou." A young lady'
due respect for them), hut in order to put Mr. Braidwood's skill to the strictest test, and to try the efficacy of his instruction by the must difficult exertion of the organs of his pupils.
The critic was probably Dr. Blair.— Walter Scott.
1 Probably one of the Ladies Lindsay, daughters of the Earl of Balcarres.— Walter Scott.
One of theso, Lady Anne Lindsay, wrote the beautiful ballad of Auld Robin Grav.—/-ftvUwrf.
of quality, who was present, very handsomely said, " Might not the son have justified the fault?" My friend was much flattered by this compliment, which he never forgot. When in more than ordinary spirits, and talking of his journey in Scotland, he has called to me, "Boswell, what was it that the young lady of quality said of me at Sii Alexander Dick's?" Nobody will doubt that I was happy in repeating it.
My illustrious friend being now desirous to be again in the great theatre of life and animated exertion, took a place in the coach, which was to set out for London on Monday the 22ud of November. Sir John Dalrymple pressed him to come on the Saturday before, to his house at Cranston, which being twelve miles from Edinburgh, upon the middle road to Newcastle (Dr. Johnson had come to Edinburgh by Berwick, and along the naked coast), it would make his journey easier, as the coach would take him up at a more seasonable hour than that at which it sets out. Sir John, I perceive, was ambitious of having such a guest; but as I was well assured, that at this very time he .had joined with some of his prejudiced countrymen in railing at Dr. Johnson, and had said, he wondered how any gentleman of Scotland could keep company with him, I thought he did not deserve the honour; yet, as it might be a convenience to Dr. Johnson, I contrived that he should accept the invitation, and engaged to conduct him. I resolved that, on our way to Sir John's, we should make a little circuit by Roslin Castle and Hawthornden, and 'wished to set out soon after breakfast; but young Mr. Tytler came to show Dr. Johnson some essays which he had written; and my great friend, who was exceedingly obliging when thus consulted, was detained so long, that it was, I believe, one o'clock before we got into our post-chaise. I found that we tihould be too late for dinner at Sir John Dalrymple's, to which we were engaged; but I would by no means lose the pleasure of seeing my friend at Hawthornden, of seeing Sam Johnson at the very spot where Sen Jonson visited the learned and poetical Drummond.
We surveyed Roslin Castle, the romantic scene around it, and the beautiful Gothic chapel, and dined and drank tea at the inn; after which we proceeded to Hawthornder and viewed the caves; and I all the while had Rare Ben in my mind, and was pleased to think that this place was now visited by another celebrated wit of England.
By this time " the waning night was growing old," and we were yet several miles from Sir John Dalrymple's. Dr. Johnson did not seem much troubled at our having treated the baronet with so little attention to politeness; but when I talked of the grievous disappointment it must have been to him that we did not come to the feast that he had prepared for us (for he told us he had killed a seven-year-old sheep on purpose), my friend got into a merry mood, and jocularly said, " I dare say, Sir, he has been very sadly distressed; nay, W3 do not know but the consequence may have been fatal. Let me try to describe Ms situation in his own historical style. I have as good a right to make him think and talk, as he has to tell us how people thought and talked a hundred years ago, of which he has no evidence. All history, so far as it is not supported by contemporary evidence, is romance.—Stay now —let us consider!" He then (heartily laughing all the while) proceeded in his imitation, I am sure to the following effect, though now, at the 'distance of almost twelve years, I cannot pretend to recollect all the precise words.
"Dinner being ready, he wondered that his guests were not yet come. His wonder was soon succeeded by impatience. He walked about the room in anxious agitation; sometimes he looked at his watch, sometimes he looked out at the window with an eager gaze of expectation, and revolved in his mind the various accidents of human life. His family beheld him with mute concern. 'Surely,' said he, with a sigh, 'they will not fail me.' The mind of man can bear a certain pressure; but there is a point when it can bear no more. A rope was in his view, and he died a Romaii death." l
1 "Essex was at that time confined to the same chamber of the Tower from which his father Lord Cupel 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 fata, their common enemies enjoying the spectacle, and reflected that it was he who had forced Lord Howard upon the confidence of Russell, he retired, and
It was very late before we reached the seat of Sir John Dalrymple, who, certainly with some reason, was not in very good humour. Our conversation was not brilliant. We supped, and went to bed in ancient rooms, which would have better suited the climate of Italy in summer, than that of Scotland in the month of November.
I recollect no conversation of the next day worth preserving, except one saying of Dr. Johnson, which will be a valuable text for many decent old dowagers, and other good company, in various circles to descant upon. He said, "I am sorry I have not learnt to play cards. It is vory useful in life: it generates kindness and consolidates society." l He certainly could not mean deep play.
My friend and I thought we should be more comfortable at the inn at Blackshields, two miles farther on. We therefore went thither in the evening, and he was very entertaining: but I have preserved nothing but the pleasing remembrance, and his verses on George the Second and Cibber, and his epitaph on Parnell, which he was then so good as to dictate to me. We breakfasted together next morning, and then the coach came and took him up. He had, as one of his companions in it, as far as Newcastle, the worthy and ingenious Dr. Hope,'2 botanical professor at Edinburgh. Both Dr. Johnson and he used to speak of their good fortune in thus accidentally meeting; for they had much instructive conversation, which is always a most valuable enjoyment, and, when fount! where it is not expected, is peculiarly relished.
by a Roman death, put an end to his misery."—Dalrymple's Memoirs of Gnat Britain and Ireland, vol. i., p. 36.
1 The late Dr. Baillie advised a gentleman whose official duties were of a very constant and engrossing nature, and whose health seemed to suffer from over-work, to play at cards in the evening, which would tend, he said, to quiet the mind, and to allay the anxiety created by the business of the day.—Croker, 1831. [Myself, when over-worked at the Admiralty. But I did not follow the prescription of my kind physician and friend, and after an interval (Deo gratias) of six and thirty years of health, need not regret the omission.— Croker, 18-16.]
a John Hope, born May 10, 172S, died Nov. 10, 1786. He was appointed, 1761, King's Botanist in Scotland, superintendent of the Royal Garden, and Professor of Botany and Materia Medica, and was recognized as one of the most distinguished botanists of his day. He was an ardent disciple of Linnaeus and one of the founders of the Botanic Garden at Edinburgh.—JEditor.
I have now completed my account of our Tour to the Hebrides. I have brought Dr. Johnson down to Scotland, and seen him into the coach which in a few hours carried him back into England. He said to me often, that the time he had spent in this Tour was the pleasantest part of his life, and asked me if I would lose the recollection of it for five hundred pounds. I answered I would not; and he applauded my setting such a value on an accession of new images in my mind.
Had it not been for me, I am persuaded Dr. Johnson never would have undertaken such a journey: and I must be allowed to assume some merit from having been the cause that our language has been enriched with such a book as that which he published on his return; a book which I never read but with the utmost admiration, as I had such opportunities of knowing from what very meagre materials it was composed.
But my praise may be supposed partial; and therefore I shall insert two testimonies, not liable to that objection, both written by gentlemen of Scotland, to whose opinions I am confident the highest respect will be paid, Lord Hailes and Mr. Dempster.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"Newhailes, Feb. 6, 1775.
"I have received much pleasure and much instruction from perusing the 'Journey to the Hebrides.' I admire the elegance and variety of description, and the lively picture of men and manners. I always approve of the moral, often of the political reflections. I love the benevolence of the author.
* They who search for faults may possibly find them in this, as well as in every other work of litertture. For example, the friends of the old family say that the em of planting is placed loo late, at the union of the two kingdoms. I am known to be no friend of the old family; yet I would place the era of plant