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to me, "Is not this the great doctor that is going about through the country?" I said, "Yes." "Ay," said she, "we heard of him; I made an errand into the room on purpose to see him. There's something great in his appearance: it is a pleasure to have such a man in one's house; a man who does so much good. If I had thought of it, I would have shown him a child of mine, who has had a lump on his throat for some time." "But," said I, "he is not a doctor of physic." "Is he an oculist?" said the landlord. "No," said I; "he is only a very learned man." Landlord. "They say he is the greatest man in England, except Lord Mansfield." Dr. Johnson was highly entertained with this, and I do think he was pleased too. He said, " I like the exception. To have called me the greatest man in England, would have been an unmeaning compliment; but the exception marked that the praise was in earnest, and, in Scotland, the exception must be Lord Mansfield, or—Sir John Pringle."
He told me a good story of Dr. Goldsmith. Graham, who wrote " Telemachus, a Masque," was sitting one night with him and Dr. Johnson, and was half drunk. He rattled away to Dr. Johnson. "You are a clever fellow, to be sure; but you cannot write an essay like Addison, or verses like the ' Rape of the Lock.'" At last he said, "Doctor, I should be happy to see you at Eton." l "I shall be glad to wait on you," answered Goldsmith. "No." said Graham, " 'tis not you I mean, Dr. Minor; 'tis Dr. Major, there." Goldsmith was excessively hurt by this. He afterwards spoke of it himself. "Graham," said he, "is a fellow to make one commit suicide." 2
We had received a polite invitation to Slains Castle.3 We arrived there just at three o'clock, as the bell for dinner was ringing. Though, from its being just on the north-east ocean, no trees will grow here, Lord Errol has done all that can be done. He has cultivated his fields so as to bear rich crops of every kind, and he has made an excellent kitchen-garden, with a hot-house. I had never seen any of the family; but there had been a card of invitation written by the honourable Charles Boyd, the Earl's brother. We were conducted into the house, and at the dining-room door were met by that gentleman, whom both of us at first took to be Lord Errol; but he soon corrected our mistake. My lord was gone to dine in the neighbourhood, at an entertainment given by Mr. Irvine of Drum. Lady Errol' received us politely, aud was very attentive to us during the time of dinner. There was nobody at table but her ladyship, Mr. Boyd, and some of the children, their governor and governess. Mr. Boyd put Dr. Johnson in mind of having dined with him at Cumming, the Quaker's, along with a Mr. Hall and Miss Williams: this was a bond of connection between them. For me, Mr. Boyd's acquaintance with my father was enough. After dinner, Lady Errol favoured us with a sight of her young family, whom she made stand up in a row: there were sis daughters and two sons. It was a very pleasing sight.
1 Graham was one of the masters at Eton.—Croker.
2 I am sure I have related this story exactly as Dr. Johnson told it to me; but a friend who has often heard him tell it, informs me, that he usually introduced a circumstance which ought not to be omitted. "At last, Sir, Graham, having now got to about the pitch of looking at one man, and talking to another, said, Doctor. Stc.—" What effect," Dr. Johnson used to add, " this had on Goldsmith, who was as irascible as a hornet, may be easily conceived."
3 "'When I was at the English church in Aberdeen, I happened to be espied by Lady Di. Middleton, whom I had sometime seen in London: s'je told what she had seen to Mr. Boyd, Lord Errol's brother, who
Dr. Johnson proposed our setting out. Mr. Boyd said, he hoped we would stay all night; his brother would be at home in the evening, and would be very sorry if he missed us. Mr. Boyd was called out of the room. I was very desirous to stay in so comfortable a house, and I wished to see Lord Errol. Dr. Johnson, however, was right in resolving to go, if we were not asked again, as it is best to err on the safe side in such cases, and to be sure that one is quite welcome. To my great joy, when Mr. Boyd returned, he told Dr. Johnson that it was Lady Errol who had called him out, and said that she would never let Dr. Johnson into the house again, if he went away that night; and
wrote us an invitation to Lord Errol'3 house, called Sluins Castle."— Thrale Correspondence, vol. i., D. .118.— Croker.
1 Isabella, daughter of Sir William Carr, of Etal, in Northumberland, Bart. She died in 180S.—Croker.
that she had ordered the coach, to carry us to view a great curiosity on the coast, after which we should see the house. We cheerfully agreed.
Mr. Boyd was engaged, in 1745-6, on the same side with many unfortunate mistaken noblemen and gentlemen. He escaped, and lay concealed for a year in the island of Arran, the ancient territory of the Boyds. He then went to France, and was about twenty years on the continent. He married a French lady, and now lived very comfortably at Aberdeen, and was much at Slains Castle. He entertained us with great civility. He had a pompousness or formal plenitude in his conversation, which I did not dislike. Dr. Johnson said, "there was too much elaboration in his talk." It gave me pleasure to see him, a steady branch of the family, setting forth all its advantages with much zeal. He told us that Lady Errol was one of the most pious and sensible women in the island; had a good head, and as good a heart. He said, she did not use force or fear in educating her children. Johnson. "Sir, she is wrong; I would rather have the rod to be the general terror to all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other."
During Mr. Boyd's stay in Arran, he had found a chest of medical books, left by a surgeon there, and had read them till he acquired some skill in physic, in consequence of which he is often consulted by the poor. There were several here waiting for him as patients. We walked round the house till stopped by a cut made by the influx of the sea. The house is built quite upon the shore ; the windows look upon the main ocean, and the King of Denmark is Lord Errol's nearest neighbour on the north-east.
We got immediately into the coach, and drove to Dunbui, a rock near the shore, quite covered with sea-fowls: then to a circular basin of large extent, surrounded with tremendous rocks. On the quarter next the sea, there is a high arch in the rock, which the force of the tempest has driven out. This place is called Buchan's Buller, or the Buller of Buchan, and the country people call it the Pot. Mr. Boyd said it was so called from the French boidoir. It may be more simply traced from boiler in our language. We walked round this monstrous cauldron. In some places, the rock is very narrow; and on each side there is a sea deep enough for a man-of-war to ride in; so that it is somewhat horrid to move along. However, there is earth and grass upon the rock, and a kind of road marked out by the print of feet; so that one makes it out pretty safely: yet it alarmed me to see Dr. Johnson striding irregularlv along. He insisted on taking a boat, and sailing into the Pot. We did so. He was stout and wonderfully alert. The Buchan-men all showing their teeth, and speaking with that strange sharp accent which distinguishes them, was to me a matter of curiosity. He was not sensible of the difference of pronunciation in the south and north of Scotland, which I wondered at.
As the entry into the Buller is so narrow that oars cannot be used as you go in, the method taken is, to row very hard when you come near it, and give the boat such a rapidity of motion that it glides in. Dr. Johnson observed what an effect this scene would have had, were we entering into an unknown place. There are caves of considerable depth; I think, one on each side. The boatmen had never entered either of them far enough to know the size. Mr. Boyd told us that it is customary for the company at Peterheadwell to make parties, and come and dine in one of the caves here.'
He told us that, as Slains is at a considerable distance from Aberdeen, Lord Errol, who has a very large family, resolved to have a surgeon of his own. With this view he educated one of his tenant's sons, who is now settled in a very neat house and farm just by, which we saw from tInroad. By the salary which the Earl allows him, and the practice which he has had, he is in very easy circumstances. He had kept an exact account of all that had been laid out on his education, and he came to his lordship one day, and
1 They were also used by smugglers. Tho patb round the Buller is about three feet broad: so tlmt there is little danger, though very often much fear. — Walter Scfit.
told him that he had arrived at a much higher situation than ever he expected ; that he was now able to repay what his lordship had advanced, and begged he would accept of it. The Earl was pleased with the generous gratitude and genteel offer of the man; but refused it. Mr. Boyd also told us, Cumming the Quaker first began to distinguish himself, by writing against Dr. Leechman on Prayer, to prove it unnecessary, as God knows best what should be, and will order it without our asking: the old hackneyed objection.
When we returned to the house, we found coffee and tea in the drawing-room. Lady Errol was not there, being, as I supposed, engaged with her young family. There is a bow-window fronting the sea. Dr. Johnson repeated the ode, "Jam satis terris," while Mr. Boyd was with his patients. He spoke well in favour of entails, to preserve lines of men whom mankind are accustomed to reverence. His opinion was, that so much land should be entailed as that families should never fall into contempt, and as much left free as to give them all the advantages of property in case of any emergency. "If," said he, "the nobility are suffered to sink into indigence, they of course become corrupt; they are ready to do whatever the king chooses; therefore it is fit they should be kept from becoming poor, unless it is fixed that when they fall below a certain standard of wealth they shall lose their peerages. We know the House of Peers have made noble stands, when the House of Commons durst not. The two last years of parliament they dare not contradict the populace."
This room is ornamented with a number of fine prints, and with a whole-length picture of Lord Errol, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This led Dr. Johnson and me to talk of our amiable and elegant friend, whose panegyric he concluded by saying, "Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir, is the most invulnerable man I know; the man with whom if you should quarrel, you will find the most difficulty how to abuse."
Dr. Johnson observed, the situation here was the noblest he had ever seen ; better than Mount Edgecumbe, reckoned the first in England; because, at Mount Edgecumbe, the sea is bounded by land on the other side, and, though there is there the grandeur of a fleet, there is also the impression