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of there being a dock-yard, the circumstances of which are not agreeable. At Slains is an excellent old house. The noble owner has built of brick, along the square in the inside, a gallery, both on the first and second story, the house being no higher: so that he has always a dry walk; and the rooms, to which formerly there was no approach but through each other, have now all separate entries from the gallery, which is hung with Hogarth's works, and other prints. We went and sat awhile in the library. There is a valuable numerous collection. It was chiefly made by Mr. Falconer, husband to the late Countess of Errol in her own right. This Earl has added a good many modern books.
About nine the Earl' came home. Captain Gordon, of Park, was with him. His lordship put Dr. Johnson in mind of their having dined together in London, along with Mr. Beauclerk. I was exceedingly pleased with Lord Errol. His dignified person and agreeable countenance, with the most unaffected affability, gave me high satisfaction. From perhaps a weakness, or, as I rather hope, more fancy and warmth of feeling than is quite reasonable, my mind is ever impressed with admiration for persons of high birth, and I could, with the most perfect honesty, expatiate on Lord Errol's good qualities; but he stands in no need of my praise. His agreeable manners and softness of address prevented that constraint which the idea of his being Lord High Constable of Scotland might otherwise have occasioned.2 He talked very easily and sensibly with his learned
1 James, 14th Earl of Errol, Hied June 3, 1778. Dr. Beattie, in a letter to Mrs. Montagu, says of him. " His stature was six feet four inches, ami his countenance and deportment exhibited such a mixture of the subbme and the graceful, as I have never seen united in any other man. He often put me in mind of an ancient hero; and I remember Dr. Johnson was positive that he resembled Homer's character of Sarpedon."—Croker.
"Mr. Boswell need not have been in such awe on this account; for Lord Errol's title to that dignity was, at this period, not quite established. He not only was not descended from the Earls of Errol, in the male line, but the right of his mother and grandmother rested on the nomination of Gilbert, the tenth Earl of Errol, who, having no children of his own, nominated (under a charter of Charles II.) his relation, Sir John Hay, of Kellour, to his honours, who accordingly succeeded as eleventh Earl: but his son, the twelfth earl, having 110 issue, was sue
guest. I observed that Dr. Johnson, though he showed that respect to his lordship, which, from principle, he always does to high rank, yet, when they came to argument, maintained that manliness which becomes the force and vigour of his understanding. To show external deference to our superiors is proper; to seem to yield to them in opinion is meanness.1 The Earl said grace both before and after supper, with much decency. He told us a story of a man who was executed at Perth, some years ago, for murdering a woman who was with child by him, and a former child he had by her. His hand was cut off: he was then pulled up; but the rope broke, and he was forced to lie an hour an the ground, till another rope was brought from Perth,— the execution being in a wood at some distance, at the place where the murders were committed. "There," said my lord, "I see the hand of Providence." I was really happy here. I saw in this nobleman the best dispositions and best principles; and I saw him, in my mind's eye, to be the representative of the ancient Boyds of Kilmarnock. I was afraid he might have urged drinking, as, I believe, he used formerly to do; but he drank port and water out of a large glass himself, and let us do as we pleased. He went with us to our rooms at night; said he took the visit very kindly; and told me my father and he were very old acquaintance; that I now knew the way to Slains, and he hoped to see me there again.
ceeded by His two sisters successively. The youngest, Lady Margaret, the grandmother of the earl who received Dr. Johnson, was married to the Karl of Linlithgow, who was attainted for the rebellion of 1715. They left an only daughter, married to Lord Kilmarnock, beheaded and attainted for the rebellion of 1745, whose son was the Earl mentioned in the text. Lord Lauderdale, at the election of the Scottish peers in 1796, protested against Lord Errol's claim to the peerage, questioning not only the right of conferring a peerage by nomination, but denying that any such nomination had been in fact made; but the House of Lords decided that the earldom, though originally a male Kef, had become descendable to females, and also that Earl Gilbert had acquired and exercised the right of nomination. It was still more doubtful how the office of Hereditary High Constable could be transferred, either by nomination or through females; but all the late Earls of Errol have enjoyed it without question, and the present Earl executed it by deputy at the coronation of George IV., and in person during his Majesty's visit to Scotland in 1822.—Croker.
1 Lord Chesterfield, in his Letters to his son, complains of one who argued in an indiscriminate manner with men of all ranks. Probably the noble lord had felt with some uneasiness what it was to encounter stronger abilities than his own. If a peer will engage at foils with his inferior in station, he must expect that his inferior in station will avail himself of every advantage; otherwise it is not a fair trial of strength and skill. The same will hold in a contest of reason, or of wit. A certain king entered the lists of genius with Voltaire. The consequence was, that, though the king had great and brilliant talents, Voltaire had such a superiority that his Majesty could not bear it; and the poet was dismissed, or escaped, from that court. In the reign of James I. of England, Crichton, Lord Sanquhar, a peer of Scotland, from a vain ambition to excel a fencing-master in his own art, played at rapier and dagger with him. The fencing-master, whose fame and bread were at stake, put out one of his lordship's eyes. Exasperated at this, Lord Sanquhar hired ruffians, and had the fencing-master assassinated; for which his lordship was capitally tried, condemned, and hanged. Not being a peer of England, he was tried by the name of Kobcrt Crichton, Esq.; but he was admitted to be a baron of three hundred years standing. See the State Trials; and the History of England by Hume,* who applauds the impartial justice executed upon a man of high rank.
• Vol. ri., p. 61. London, 1773.
I had a most elegant room: but there was a fire in it which blazed; and the sea, to which my windows looked, roared; and the pillows were made of the feathers of some sea-fowl, which had to me a disagreeable smell: so that, by all these causes, I was kept awake a good while. I saw, in imagination, Lord Errol's father, Lord Kilmarnock (who was beheaded on Tower-Hill in 17-46), and I was somewhat dreary. But the thought did not last long, and I fell asleep.
Wednesday, Aug. 25.—We got up between seven and eight, and found Mr. Boyd in the dining-room, with tea and coffee before him, to give us breakfast. We were in an admirable humour. Lady Errol had given each of us a copy of an ode by Beattie, on the birth of her son, Lord Hay. Mr. Boyd asked Dr. Johnson how he liked it. Dr. Johnson, who did not admire it, got off very well, by taking it out, and reading the second and third stanzas of it with much melody. This, without his saying a word, pleased Mr. Boyd. He observed, however, to Dr. Johnson, that the expression as to the family of Errol,
"A thousand years have seen it sbine,"
compared with what went before, was an anti-climax, and that it would have been better,
"Ages have seen," &c.
Dr. Johnson said, "So great a number as a thousand is better, Dolus latet in universalibus. Ages might be only two ages."
He talked of the advantage of keeping up the connections of relationship, which produce much kindness. "Every man," said he, "who comes into the world, has need of friends. If he has to get them for himself, half his life is spent before his merit is known. Relations are a man's ready friends, who support him. When a man is in real distress, he flies into the arms of his relations. An old lawyer, who had much experience in making wills, told me, that after people had deliberated long, and thought of many for their executors, they settled at last by fixing on their relations. This shows the universality of the principle."
I regretted the decay of respect for men of family, and that a nabob now would carry an election from them. Johnson. "Why, Sir, the nabob will carry it by means of his wealth, in a country where money is highly valued, as it must be where nothing can be had without money; but, if it comes to personal preference, the man of family will always carry it. There is generally a scoundrelism about a low man." Mr. Boyd said, that was a good ism.
I said, I believed mankind were happier in the ancient feudal state of subordination, than they are in the modern state of independency. Johnson. "To be sure, the chief was: but we must think of the number of individuals. That they were less happy seems plain; for that state from which all escape as soon as they can, and to which none return after they have left it, must be less happy; and this is the case with the state of dependence on a chief or great man."
I mentioned the happiness of the French in their subordination, by the reciprocal benevolence and attachment between the great and those in lower rank. Mr. Boyd gave us an instance of their gentlemanly spirit. An old Chevalier de Malthe, of ancient noblesse, but in low circumstances, was in a coffee-house at Paris, where was Julien, the great manufacturer at the Gobelins, of the fine tapestry, so much distinguished both for the figures and the colours. The chevalier's carriage was very old. Says Julien, with a plebeian insolence, " I think, Sir, you had better have your carriage new painted." The chevalier looked at him with indignant contempt, and answered, "Well, Sir, you may take it home and dye it!" All the coffee-house rejoiced at Julien's confusion.
We set out about nine. Dr. Johnson was curious to see one of those structures, which northern antiquarians call a Druid's temple. I had a recollection of one at Strichen, which I had seen fifteen years ago; so we went four miles out of our road, after passing Old Deer, and went thither. Mr. Fraser, the proprietor, was at home, and showed it to us. But I had augmented it in my mind; for all that remains is two stones set up on end, with a long one laid upon them, as was usual, and one stone at a little distance from them. That stone was the capital one of the circle which surrounded what now remains. Mr. Fraser was very hospitable.1 There was a fair at Strichen; and he had several of his neighbours from it at dinner. One of them, Dr. Fraser, who had been in the army, remembered to have seen Dr. Johnson, at a lecture on experimental philosophy, at Lichfield. The Doctor recollected being at the lecture, and he was surprised to find here somebody who knew him.
1 He is the worthy son of a worthv father, the late Lord Strichen, one of our judges, to whose kind notice I was much obliged. Lord Strichen was a man not only honest, but highly generous; for, after his succession to the familv estate, he paid a large sum of debts, contracted by his predecessor, which he was not under any obligation to pay. Let me here, fur the credit of Ayrshire, my own county, record a noble instance of liberal honesty in William Hutchison,drover, in Lanehead, Kyle, who formerly obtained a full discharge from his creditors upon a composition of his debts; but, upon being restored to good circumstances, invited his creditors last winter to a dinner, without telling the reason, and paid them their full sums, principal and interest. They presented him with a piece of plate, with an inscription to commemorate this extraordinary instance of true worth; which should make some people in Scotland blush, while, though mean themselves, they strut about under the protection of groat alliance, conscious of the wretchedness of numbers who have lost by them, to whom they never think of making reparation, but indulge themselves and their families in most unsuitable expense.