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Ferne. He came to us immediately, and along with him came Major Brewse of the Engineers, pronounced Bruce. He said he believed it was originally the same Norman name with Bruce. That he had dined at a house in London, where were three Bruces, one of the Irish line, one of the Scottish line, and himself of the English line. He said he was shewn it in the Herald's office spelt fourteen different ways. I told him the different spellings of my name. Dr. Johnson observed, that there had been great disputes about the spelling of Shakspeare's name; at last it was thought it would be settled by looking at the original copy of his will; but, upon examining it, he was found to have written it himself no less than three different ways.
Mr. Ferne and Major Brewse first carried us to wait on Sir Eyre Coote, whose regiment, the 37th, was lying here, and who then commanded the fort. He asked us to dine with him, which we agreed to do. Before dinner we examined the fort. The Major explained the fortification to us, and Mr. Ferne gave us an account of the stores. Dr. Johnson talked of the proportions of charcoal and salt-petre in making gunpowder, of granulating it, and of giving it a gloss. He made a very good figure upon these topicks. He said to me afterwards, that "he had talked ostentatiously." -We reposed ourselves a little in Mr. Ferne's house. He had every thing in neat order as in England; and a tolerable collection of books. I looked into Pennant's Tour in Scotland. He says little of this fort; but that "the barracks, &c. form several streets." This is aggrandising. Mr. Ferne observed, if he had said they form a square, with a row of buildings before it, he would have given a juster description. Dr. Johnson remarked, "how seldom descriptions correspond with
realities; and the reason is, that people do not write them till some time after, and then their imagination has added circumstances."
We talked of Sir Adolphus Oughton. The major said, he knew a great deal for a military man.-Johnson. "Sir, you will find few men of any profession who know Sir Adolphus is a very extraordinary man; a man of boundless curiosity and unwearied diligence."
I know not how the Major contrived to introduce the contest between Warburton and Lowth.-Johnson. "Warburton kept his temper all along, while Lowth was in a passion. Lowth published some of Warburton's letters. Warburton drew him on to write some very abusive letters, and then asked his leave to publish them; which he knew Lowth could not refuse, after what he had done. So that Warburton contrived that he should publish apparently with Lowth's consent, what could not but shew Lowth in a disadvantageous light."*
At three the drum beat for dinner. I, for a little while, fancied myself a military man, and it pleased me. We went to Sir Eyre Coote's, at the governour's house, and found him a most gentleman-like man. His lady is a very agreeable woman, with an uncommonly mild and sweet tone of voice. There was a pretty large company: Mr. Ferne, Major Brewse, and several officers. Sir Eyre had come from the East Indies by land, through the Desarts of Arabia. He told us, the Arabs could live five days without victuals, and subsist for
* Here Dr. Johnson gave us part of a conversation held between a Great Personage and him, in the library at the Queen's Palace, in the course of which this contest was considered. I have been at great pains to get that conversation as perfectly preserved as possible. It may perhaps at some future time be given to the publick.
three weeks on nothing else but the blood of their ca mels, who could lose so much of it as would suffice for that time, without being exhausted. He highly praised the virtue of the Arabs; their fidelity, if they undertook to conduct any person; and said, they would sacrifice their lives rather than let him be robbed. Dr. Johnson, who is always for maintaining the superiority of civilized over uncivilized men, said, "Why, sir, I can see no superiour virtue in this. A serjeant and twelve men, who are my guard, will die, rather than that I shall be robbed."-Colonel Pennington, of the 37th regiment, took up the argument with a good deal of spirit and ingenuity.-Pennington. "But the soldiers are compelled to this, by fear of punishment."-Johnson. Well, sir, the Arabs are compelled by the fear of infamy."-Pennington. "The soldiers have the same fear of infamy, and the fear of punishment besides; so have less virtue, because they act less voluntarily."-Lady Coote observed very well, that it ought to be known, if there was not, among the Arabs, some punishment for not being faithful on such occasions.
We talked of the stage. I observed, that we had not now such a company of actors as in the last age; Wilks, Booth, &c. &c.-Johnson. "You think so, because there is one who excels all the rest so much: you compare them with Garrick, and see the deficiency. Garrick's great distinction is his universality. He can represent all modes of life, but that of an easy fine bred gentleman."-Pennington. "He should give over playing young parts."-Johnson. "He does not take them now; but he does not leave off those which he has been used to play, because he does them better than any one else can do them. If you had generations of actors, if they swarmed like bees, the young ones might drive off
the old. Mrs. Cibber, I think, got more reputation than she deserved, as she had a great sameness; though her expression was undoubtedly very fine. Mrs. Clive was the best player I ever saw. Mrs. Pritchard was a very good one; but she had something affected in her manner: I imagine she had some player of the former age in her eye, which occasioned it."
Colonel Pennington said, Garrick sometimes failed in emphasis; as for instance, in Hamlet,
I will speak daggers to her; but use none.
I will speak daggers to her; but use none.
We had a dinner of two complete courses, variety of wines, and the regimental band of musick playing in in the square, before the windows, after it. I enjoyed this day much. We were quite easy and cheerful. Dr. Johnson said, "I shall always remember this fort with gratitude." I could not help being struck with some admiration, at finding upon this barren sandy point, such buildings,—such a dinner,—such company: it was like enchantment. Dr. Johnson, on the other hand, said to me more rationally, that "it did not strike him as any thing extraordinary; because he knew, here was a large sum of money expended in building a fort; here was a regiment. If there had been less than what we found, it would have surprised him." He looked coolly and deliberately through all the gradations: my warm imagination jumped from the barren sands to the splendid dinner and brilliant company. Like the hero in Love in a Hollow Tree,
"Without ands or ifs,
The whole scene gave me a strong impression of the power and excellence of human art.
We left the fort between six and seven o'clock. Sir Eyre Coote, Colonel Pennington, and several more, accompanied us down stairs, and saw us into our chaise. There could not be greater attention paid to any visi. tors. Sir Eyre spoke of the hardships which Dr. Johnson had before him.-Boswell. "Considering what he has said of us, we must make him feel something rough in Scotland."-Sir Eyre said to him, "You must change your name, sir."-Boswell. "Aye, to Dr. M'Gregor."
We got safely to Inverness, and put up at Mackenzie's inn. Mr. Keith, the collector of Excise here, my old acquaintance at Ayr, who had seen us at the Fort, visited us in the evening, and engaged us to dine with him next day, promising to breakfast with us, and take us to the English chapel; so that we were at once commodiously arranged.
Not finding a letter here that I expected, I felt a momentary impatience to be at home. Transient clouds darkened my imagination, and in those clouds I saw events from which I shrunk : but a sentence or two of the Rambler's conversation gave me firmness, and I considered that I was upon an expedition for which I had wished for years, and the recollection of which would be a treasure to me for life.
Sunday, 29th August.
Mr. Keith breakfasted with us. Dr. Johnson expa tiated rather too strongly upon the benefits derived to Scotland from the Union, and the bad state of our people before it. I am entertained with his copious exaggeration upon that subject; but I am uneasy when